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.
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.
In a childhood full of dysfunction and constant upheaval there was one man who, for a brief time, gave me much needed love and protection. At that time, I was young enough to not really understand the intimate details of our family problems, but fortunately, I was old enough to retain some of the memories of this man. Charles Wogan, my grandfather on my father’s side, would be a rare stabilizing force in my early childhood. While I don’t remember his face, I somehow have a inner memory of kind eyes. My favorite and most vivid memories were the daily walks he and I shared. We always walked the same route and crossed over the same little creek where he would always stop and hoist me up to sit on edge of the cement barrier. We would linger there, mostly in silence, as we watched the water trickle under the bridge, until he’d finally say, “Well, it’s almost dark. Better git before you grandmother starts to worry.”
I don’t remember exact details but at the age of five, I lost the one person in my life, at that time, who I believed truly loved me. He died of a heart attack, ironically while he was in the hospital recovering from what I believe had been some sort of heart episode.
A few days ago, I took an unplanned road trip to my hometown and found myself standing at his grave. While I can vividly picture my grandmother and the last time I saw her, it isn’t my memories of her that draw me here. It’s the memory of a man who gave hope and love to a little girl who felt abandoned and unworthy. The only adult in my early childhood who seemed to genuinely take an interest in my welfare and looked out for me while he could. I don’t visit often but it always leaves me feeling humbled and blessed to have had him in my life.