Feast your eyes on pieces from The Life Feast’s positive psychology, photography class

The Life Feast student Karen Goedert’s photograph of bird prints over a light snow on street pavement.
Karen Goedert

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When her two daughters got to the age of wanting to participate in many Steamboat Springs activities, Lizzie Larock found herself in an ironic situation.

“I was driving them to all these cool activities — art classes, music, sports, and I was so excited for them,” Larock said, “but I was bummed for myself, sitting in the car, waiting for them to be done.

“It seemed like a weird parenting message to send: that you should spend all this time in childhood enriching your life, then give it all up once you’re an adult,” said Larock, who’s lived in Steamboat for 22 years. “I’d talk with my friends, and it was like we were losing our personalities, talking about booster seats and summer camps. So, I said, ‘We need to change this.’”

And she did. She signed up for her long-lost dream of piano lessons and was the sole adult playing at the group recital. She auditioned for Cabaret at the Chief Theater. She picked up her camera more often — a hobby she’d had since she was 16 and her minor in college.

“Even though we live in a drop-dead scenic area, I’ve always been the person who takes pictures of weird things on the sidewalk,” Larock said.

Friends who showed up to support her creative endeavors began getting involved in their own set-aside passions.

“I saw that my choices were giving people permission to jump back into creativity while still adulting,” Larock said.

Larock’s quest for creativity grew into her putting together a seven-week, online photography workshop rooted in the principles of positive psychology — the study of strengths that enable individuals to thrive and lead meaningful, fulfilling lives — in which Larock earned a CAPP — certification in applied positive psychology — from New York’s The Flourishing Center in 2017. Larock’s class is called “Life Feast,” and its students will display their photography in a group gallery for the first time during the Friday, May 3, First Friday Art Walk.

If you go

What: Life Feast students’ photography exhibit
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 3
Where: Squire Studios, 842 Lincoln Ave., Suites 8 (above Lyon’s Corner Drug)

“Most (Life Feast students) are older than 40, haven’t done anything creative in a long time and spend most of their time going from work to kids events and back again,” Larock said. “Their photos are absolutely fantastic and so worth telling the town about.”

The show displays pieces from every chapter of the Life Feast class, culminated from weekly prompts such as “flip your focus: perspective,” “adventure, serendipity and leaving our comfort zones” and “awe.” Each prompt is a topic of positive psychology, introduced in a 20-minute video that integrates concepts of photography with examples, tutorials and tips.

Each module is steeped in reflection in writing and class discussion, both during an in-person segment of the workshop in Larock’s studio and over the video-meeting platform Zoom to include the remote students. Discussion continues between classes in a private Facebook group.

For example, the “slow, flow and savor” module encourages participants to reflect on a positive experience from the past 24 hours, writing down each detail about it for two minutes to label the experience as meaningful and to deepen the imprint of the experience in the brain by savoring it. The prompt then has students reflect on experiences that have drawn them into a “flow” state, both in childhood and adulthood.

Finally, students are tasked with taking a SLOWto — a slow photo — with slow being left to each student’s own interpretation. Maybe their photo utilizes long-exposure and slow shutter speed — skills Larock teaches students how to use on an iPhone; maybe it’s a set of photos featuring the same subject every day at the same time, highlighting subtle, slow changes in the scene.

The Life Feast student Karen Goedert’s photograph of a tree.
Karen Goedert

“We move a million miles an hour (in everyday life),” Larock said. “We need to slow down and notice what’s around us.”

The show displays 23 photos by 12 photographers who’ve completed the Life Feast series.

“It was pretty amazing, the way Lizzie was able to bring out the creative side of us,” said Life Feast participant and Steamboat local Karen Goedert. “She’s put it in my head to spend time on creativity instead of always rushing back into ‘mom mode.’”

A photograph by The Life Feast student Dianne Bertini.
Dianne Bertini

Goedert, who took photography workshops as a high school student and explored creative writing in her 20s, is the photographer of two pieces in the Life Feast gallery: one of bird prints meandering around in a thin layer of snow over street pavement and one of a tree, striking against the sky.

“The show is definitely getting everyone out of their comfort zones,” Larock said. “It’s opened people up to the possibilities of focusing on what’s going right rather than what’s going wrong.

Other photographers displaying Life Feast pieces include Steamboat locals Sue Chen Davies, Susan Geeslin, Dianne Bertini, Christine Walsh, Katy Martin and Maria Linna and out-of-town artists Beth Killough, Shea Cochran, Kristen Burris, Paula Loud and Jennifer Maginnis.

A reflection-themed photograph by The Life Feast teacher Lizzie Larock.
Lizzie Larock

“Getting back into creativity doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of rearranging your life,” Larock said. “It can mean instead of being in the car checking emails while you’re waiting for your kids to be done with their activities, you take a walk and take a photo or two.”

Larock notes she encourages photographers to not rely on Steamboat’s natural beauty to take the easy pretty photo but instead, look more closely and find the more interesting, more unique shot because beauty is a perspective, not a place.

“You don’t have to have really obvious beauty around you to see beauty everywhere,” Larock said.

The Life Feast student Shea Cochran’s photograph of a tree through a rainy Seattle window.
Shea Cochran

The Life Feast gallery showcases the beauty students have found, obvious and subtle, close to home and far away, starting at 5 p.m. Friday, May 3. For more information about The Life Feast course, visit

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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