A Single Saturday

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I am not a big fan of winter, yet I live in the Midwest where winters can be brutal. Admittedly, this winter has been quite mild, still, even just the drop in temperature tends to send me indoors. So, as this weekend rolled in with highs in the sixties and seventies, I could not help but feel compelled to get out and…well…soak it up! Winter blues are a very real thing and this was an amazing cure for me. While our winters may not be ideal, we really do live in a beautiful state, if one only takes the time to look around. I hope at least once this year you find some time to get out, find a gravel road and let it take you wherever it wants to. Turn off the phone and tune into your surroundings. Get lost and find what you might be missing.

Photos were taken in Warren and Madison Counties.

When and How #ppiwinter2017

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Taken with a Canon PowerShot SD750, Lens 5-17mm, F3.5, ISO 320.

Vibrant, vivid snapshots…moments captured in time…not by man-made mechanical devices but frozen in memories…moments of violent sadness and pure joy. Snippets of life…preserved…some obvious while others…random.

We all have them, those memories from our past that come back to us in flashes, so vividly accurate that we revel at our ability to recall even the smallest details. It’s these pieces of my past that I imagine will be what possesses my mind at the end of my life. Some so sad they hurt my heart to remember and I’m quick to push them away, and others so full of sweet happiness that I long desperately to relive them again and again.

I attended my first photography conference last weekend. It was fantastic and frustrating…awesome and overwhelming…it was…exactly what I needed! (I will be sending a handwritten thank you to the person who suggested it to me. It was just that good.) The first day there, I met four other photographers who were attending for their first time and we quickly became friends. Two are talented, working photographers who have spent many years working hard to get their businesses going. One was returning to photography after taking some time off and two of us are just on the fringes of learning how to turn what we love into something that might actually pay the bills. The conference itself had some amazing speakers that were motivating and informative but it was these four ladies that truly inspired me and have given me hope for my future in photography.

After the conference I came home and have spent the past week digesting and filtering through the notes and information. Several times I sat down and, in vain, tried to prioritize my list of to-do’s. Completely overwhelmed and distracted by everything I have to do, this morning, I decided to let go for a while. Not really knowing why I scrolled through all my photos and stopped on this one. Taken on April 23, 2010 with my point-and-shoot, I felt my eyes well with tears as the memory of this day flooded in. I had taken hundreds of photos before this and knew that I enjoyed photography but this was probably the first day that I decided to go out and just shoot, just for me. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have the equipment of a professional and I had no clue what aperture or f-stops were.

While this is clearly not a professional photo, it will always be one of the most precious in my photography life. Today it serves as a huge reminder of how far I’ve come and that it isn’t just about getting the perfect shot. It’s about living in the moment and appreciating and preserving these beautiful memories. This barn/coop is no longer there. It fell over just a couple a years later. It broke my heart upon returning to find it laying in a pile of boards and weeds but I’m grateful for what it represents to me now…a beginning.

Frozen Empty

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A message to myself.

It’s time to stop…Just stop! Stop with the apologizing and self-deprecating thoughts, and beating yourself up. Stop avoiding what you want because it’s too hard or not what you think is expected of you. It’s time to stop feeling frozen and empty while you try to live a life that is not yours. It’s time to just realize that you are okay and that your life, is YOUR life. You should not be living it according to what others may or may not think and how they might perceive you. No one else is responsible for your happiness anymore than you are responsible for theirs. 

My life has never been what you would refer to as…normal. Raised by my grandmother, I grew up on Merle Haggard and evenings spent watching black and white musicals. My idols were Gene Kelly and The Oak Ridge Boys. I had a crush on Adam Cartwright, until I discovered he was bald and I spent my days, day dreaming of being the next Jane Austen or Debbie Reynolds or both. We moved, alot…and that’s an understatement. One year, we moved 4 times. I’ve had countless “first days” of school and had packing down to a science. Through my twenties my best talent was my ability to rearrange furniture. Only now, in my mid-forties am I able to finally be okay with leaving my sofa in the same spot for more than a year. Instead, when that nagging feeling that it’s time for a change comes along, I rearrange books or clean out a closet.

Along with my somewhat gypsy attitude I’ve developed what I thought was an annoying habit of changing jobs. My career has been a source of much anxiety over the past couple years. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that a real career was something you found or worked into. It involved a cubicle or office and spending your days solving problems or creating new processes and managing people or departments. Monday through Friday, nine-to-five, dress up and save for your retirement. The fact that I have not been able to accomplish even a remote semblance of a successful career has driven me to near madness but I’ve finally…FINALLY…figured out this is not who I am. For years I have tried to mold myself into someone I was never really meant to be. Anytime I’ve had an office, I’ve found myself staring out the window (when I was lucky enough to have one) and daydreaming of what was happening on the other side. Meetings, while sometimes fun and interesting, were generally spent doodling in purple ink and wondering why so much time is spent talking about how to do something rather than just doing it.

Truth is, I’ve had some great jobs, and some not-so-great, but every single one has brought people into my life that I cannot imagine not knowing. Every position, every project, every new relationship, has taught me more about myself and the world around me. So, while to many it may seem irresponsible and immature, I am no longer going to apologize or feel ashamed for job choices I have made or will make. This journey is mine and the way I see it, as long as I live by the golden rule and I take care of the people in my life, then I get to travel my road how I see fit. My journey is not like anyone else’s and I don’t want it to be. I’m not one of those who discovered their path early on and that’s okay. I admire those people and I’m profoundly happy and proud of those who have been able to live their dreams and I am going to be profoundly happy and proud as I work to live mine.

New Year…New Chapter.

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Ringing in the new year is both exciting and stressful. At least, for me it is. I miss the New Year’s of my childhood when my only goal was to stay up and watch the crowds of beautiful people, in a city I could only dream of visiting, as they raised their glasses in jubilation and counted down those last few seconds of the old year. How exciting it all seemed; the confetti and music and midnight kisses.

I have enjoyed my share of exciting New Year’s celebrations and I still like watching the ball drop and counting down those last moments of a year with family and friends but the inevitable New Year’s resolutions and goals to have a better, happier or more productive life have added an element of…sadness…and a sense of failure.

Every year, as the calendar counts down to December 31st, I find myself looking back. Reviewing the year, no…years, gone by. With each passing day I am more and more defeated as I add up the accumulation of goals-not-met, weight-not-lost (or worse, weight gained), and dreams unrealized. Stepping into my, still, unorganized closet makes me angry and the stack of unread books in the corner nearly brings me to tears.

Knowing all of this, I still found myself sitting down and making a list of what I hope to accomplish this next year. And, like other years, rather than being excited about the possibilities of the coming year, I just felt sad. So…I walked away from my list. I ignored it for days and almost gave up on the idea altogether. Over the Christmas holiday I didn’t think about the list at all.

With only a few days before Christmas, I suddenly found myself overwhelmed with as I went thought my to-do’s. I had not finished my shopping, we needed to get new tires on the Jeep, I wanted to make sure things ready for a highly anticipated visit from Corbin, the refrigerator was all but empty and the house was badly in need of a good cleaning. Fortunately, I was also coming up on a few days of much needed time off. It was during those days off and getting everything done that I realized I was approaching my list for the new year all wrong.

During that week I had a list of what I needed to accomplish but I didn’t put any pressure on how or when those things were going to get done. Instead, I decided to enjoy the process. Shopping became more about just enjoying the feeling of the hustle and bustle and hearing my favorite holiday music and sometimes overhearing peoples animated conversations about their crazy families. I spent an entire evening wrapping presents and watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. And the cleaning got sprinkled in between various other chores and activities so I never felt like I was really cleaning at all. And best of all, I didn’t look back and chastise myself for things I might have missed or didn’t get done and funny enough, neither did anyone else.

All these years I have approached my New Year’s Resolutions or Goals or whatever you want to call them, by first looking back at my failed attempts and missed opportunities, vowing to not let it happen again, only to be more disappointed at the end of the next year. This year, my New Year’s plan is to simply stop punishing myself for my past and look forward to the coming year and the possibilities that it holds.

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.”       Author Unknown

 

Fall…Ohhh…Me! Day 55

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Ever feel a bit like the mailbox in this picture? Dented, rusty and caught up in a tangle of spokes and weeds? As I approach the end of 2016 I was reviewing some of my photos this morning and came across this one from 2014. It struck me because it bears a strong resemblance to how I feel some days, particularly in my professional life. I don’t know if there is anything worse, when it comes to job/career, then doing something you don’t enjoy and feeling completely stuck.

Admittedly, I am happy with the progress I am making towards my photography. This year has been a year of learning and gaining confidence and taking small steps to prepare for what I hope to be a fulfilling career. Like a child, however, I find myself very impatient. I wish I had discovered my passion for photography when I was much younger but I am not one of those people. It has been a long and adventurous road that finally brought me here and now I don’t want to wait any longer. So these past couple of years have also been a huge lesson in patience and tolerance. While talking with a friend about how frustrating my daytime job is, I flippantly made the comment that maybe I’m not suppose to be happy in my work because it forces me to work harder on my photography. While at the time I thought I was just being ironic, I realize it actually makes sense.

I have enjoyed photography for several years now but for a few of those years I was blessed with full-time jobs that I really did enjoy. A year after moving back home to Iowa that streak would end and I would find myself driving to and from work in tears more days than not. Yet another year later and I’m finding myself in a similar state. Every day becomes more and more painful and uncomfortable but I am learning to appreciate the long, endless days because they are driving me to work harder on what I do want. No longer feeling comfortable and fulfilled has given me focus. I am tired of feeling like I have no control over my own life and I don’t want to be stuck anymore. I know what I want and it’s up to me to reach out and take it. So while I am still cautious and beyond nervous, I look forward to the coming year. I have big dreams and a big God and wonderful family and friends who love and support me. Oh…and a daily dose of motivation…off to work I go.

Fall…Ohhh…Me! Day 50

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Recently I tagged along with my husband and son as they made some preparations for their upcoming hunting season. While hunting is not an activity I find particularly exciting, it was heartwarming to see the enthusiasm that father and son share. Jake was nothing but smiles as he lead me around to their favorite staging spots and pointed out signs of deer activity. I myself found the scenery and small hike exhilarating, and was glad to be able to share in a small part of what is obviously something special between the men in my life.