See Me

Grandpa

In almost every home I ever lived in I can remember my bedroom. The only place I could go to and escape an annoying younger sister and a sometimes bully of an older brother, it was my sanctuary.

I lived here with my grandparents on my dads side. I’m guessing I somewhere around 3 or 4-years old and have absolutely no memory of my bedroom here. I have no idea how long I was here or why I left but it does hold one of my earliest and favorite memories.

I loved my grandpa Charles.  Every morning he would take a walk around the block before heading off to work. Looking at this picture now I can still remember, quite vividly, standing on the top step and jumping into his arms, thrilled that he allowed me to tag along. I remember walking beside him and holding his hand and thinking he must be the tallest man in the world. On the walk back, just a block from home, I would always beg for him to lift me up so I could look over the edge of the bridge and watch the rushing water. I loved watching the water but I loved walking with my grandpa most and this always added a few extra minutes to our time together.

I know my parents loved me in their way but grandpa Charles was the first person that really seemed to see me. Sadly he passed away when I was only five and it would be years before I ever felt like someone really saw and cared about me again. Those walks will always be a precious gift to me and probably the reason I enjoy walks so much.

 

The Town That Built Me

Introduction

So, they say that you can never go back home and, that sometimes to find yourself you have to get a little lost. Well, I’ve gone back home many times over the last 30 years or so and parts of home have changed so much that I often get lost. What’s my point? Well, first off, you can go back home, physically but I think what they mean is that it’s never going to be the place you once knew it to be.  I’m venturing into a new blog, maybe more appropriately, a journey blog to explore those two concepts. Going back home and finding yourself.

I’m not a huge fan of the term “find yourself.” I’m not lost. Not physically or mentally (depending on the day and who you ask). I know where I am. I’m just not always sure how I got here. I’m conscious of the fact that life, choices and maybe a little fate have brought me to this mid-forties, family with a dog, mostly responsible adult, but how exactly? I honestly am sometimes surprised at the outcome of my life so far. This is not the road I was on in my early twenties for sure, and looking at my childhood and statistics, I should probably be a homeless dropout with too many children and addicted to alcohol or drugs. I’m beyond grateful for where I am and the people and experiences that have brought me here. I’m not out to question if I deserve this, I know I don’t. I just want to take some time to look at where I’ve come from and truly appreciate the journey that has been my life so far.

I was born on December 8, 1970, the second child to a mother and father that by all accounts should not have had children. They tried but their own torments prevented them from being parents. They divorced when I was too young to remember and my brother and I bounced between them and grandparents until we finally landed with my mothers mother. I’m forever thankful that this allowed my brother and I to stay together along with a younger sister. We grew up in Marshalltown, Iowa. A quiet, not too large, not too small, midwest town.

This blog will follow as much of my childhood as I can piece together by the homes we lived in (and there are many), along with other places of significance to me. As I’ve grown older and people have moved away I don’t find myself visiting much but when I do I find that I miss the little girl that use to roam the alleys and streets on her bike in pursuit of her brother and his friends.  The girl that believed angels were never far away.  The girl that use to sit in her bedroom window watching the lights of town and listening to records (or vinyl for you millennials) dreaming of the boy that I knew was out there waiting just for me with no thought to what a broken heart was.

Simply Happy

Creek

What do you love? What drives you? What gets you out of bed and out the door everyday? Go beyond the obvious. We all love and feel a passion for our family and loved ones, no question. I’m talking about that thing in your soul that is yours and yours alone. That one passion that has been given to you like a sweet and precious gift that lights your heart on your darkest days?

For me, it’s this. The beautiful, magical miracles that surround us in the landscapes of our daily lives. Rich colors, a multitude of textures, light, shadows, tones, soft curves and rigged lines. As a photographer I often hear that we should carry our cameras with us at all times but I’ve learned that I have to find a balance or I’d never make it to work or home for that matter. (Well, eventually I’d make it home.) I encounter scenes daily, sometimes several times an hour, that I desperately wish I could capture in a frame. In those moments, like this one, that I find myself fortunate enough to be blessed with the right equipment, the time and the perfect light, I am simply and joyously happy.

 

 

 

One of Many

One of Many

A pile of leaves in varying stages of yellowish decay. Some maple, some oak, maybe some linden and birch. Blending together into a menagerie of fall.

Today, as I’m skimming through a batch of photos I took at a local park I feel a great deal like one of these leaves. Just me in a pile of thousands of others. I don’t really stand out even though I may have qualities that are uniquely my own. I don’t feel or look much different despite the reassurance that there is only one me. Truth is, as a person, I’m okay with blending in. I don’t like to be in the spotlight. I prefer to cheer on those who are comfortable being front and center. However, when you’re trying to run a business, your success hinges on how you are different from all the others. How is your product going to stand out? So my goal is to figure out how do I overcome my fears? Not so I stand out but so my work does.

I often joke that I am “behind” the camera for good reasons. First, I simply do not like to have my picture taken. I am not a photogenic person and I know that. Second, I just prefer to be behind the scenes and let those who are photogenic, so-to-speak, have their moment in the limelight.

This year has been an incredible roller-coaster ride as I learn to navigate this new world. I’ve enjoyed some really exciting accomplishments and struggled through a few terrific failures. Some days I have wandered around completely lost and not really sure what I’m doing and where I’m suppose to go next but then by God’s grace someone calls or I get an email that encourages me to just keep showing up. I’m looking forward to a challenging year ahead and continuing to grow and learn. Even though I may blend in among all the other wonderfully colorful leaves, I feel confident that I am right where I’m suppose to be.

Simple Joy

Edit

Today was a rare day off and an opportunity to get out and enjoy some of the fall color before it fades to the dull, brownish-gray of winter with no snow. Morning brought a fun little trip with a friend to look at barn wood that quickly turned into an hour of great conversation and a few moments of awe as I was introduced to a barn wood paradise only minutes from my house. The good vibes continued into a birthday lunch with my beautiful daughter and then back out to the gravel roads of Warren and Madison county where I feasted my eyes and my camera on the pure beauty of fall. A little run in with some escape cows and a small river blocking the road only added to the adventure of what was a simply fantastic day.

A Closer Look

I hope it’s okay that I jump up and down and cheer wildly? Not because my favorite team (Greenbay Packers) pulled out an amazing win in the last seconds or because I’m finally caught up on editing, or because I was just promoted at work. No…those things are completely wonderful and will receive their due but today I want to celebrate this beautiful, wonderful season!!

I adore fall. The color, the smell, the coolness in the air. Being able to enjoy the anticipation of the coming holidays before it’s so hectic that you don’t have time for a potty break much less time to enjoy the perfect pink of this gorgeous mum. Fall is fabulous!

This fall for me is especially wonderful because I finally find myself completely content with the crazy and chaos of my life. I don’t know if it’s midlife seeping in and lulling me into a quiet happiness or the fact that I am making more focused and purposeful choices about my life. It’s probably both but before I let myself get too caught up in the why I think I’m going to go and just enjoy it.

Youth Lost

Youth Lost

I sometimes miss those shy, awkward years when I didn’t really know how to be anyone but who I was. The days when I willingly sat on the old skateboard my brother and I shared and allowed myself to be the guinea pig and be pushed down the hill from school to our apartment conveniently located at the bottom of said hill. When I spent my days wearing my brothers hand-me-downs and it didn’t occur to me to care. When I lived for rain and playing in the puddles in my bare feet. When a snow day was not an inconvenience but a chance to finally build the best snow fort on the block. And when summer afternoons brought the sound of backyard baseball games instead of ring tones and video games. So, if you happen to see my wandering around on a rainy day in boys clothes and bare feet, don’t worry, I’m just taking a time out and remembering what’s important. Just don’t let me play with any skateboards.