when i first started this blog, i intended to use it as a way to keep myself accountable for learning the basics of photography.  a way to challenge myself, to keep practicing and sharing it in this space.  it evolved into an online journal of sorts, to sift through my emotions, tease out ideas, and provide some much needed introspection during some challenging days.  in the last few months, my voice has been mostly absent here, and i’ve missed it.  before opening the door again, and spending some time here, i wanted to be able to articulate why.  i’ve whittled it down to this.

sometimes the layers of life pile on top of me so damn much that i start to lose myself.  and by this, i don’t mean i’m too busy.  the go-to, “i’m so busy” is ridiculously cliche and it kind of makes my skin crawl.  most of us are busy.  by layers of life, i mean the choices i make, the ways in which i prioritize my time, the emotions that sometimes feel like i’m hauling around an 18 wheeler.  one of my top priorities – for, i don’t know, forever – has been shared time with others.  i thrive on on my interactions with friends and family, and often feel energized because of it.  as with anything though, there can be too much of a good thing.  when i explore the basis of this priority in my life, i recognize that some of it comes from a natural, core desire in my heart to be connected with another.  i know, deep in my heart, that i want to live this life surrounded by love, for it to nurture and grow, and give lots of love back.  having said this, i will very often re-arrange my schedule to fit in a social engagement, or 20, within a ridiculously small time frame.  i will drive hours on end to accommodate others’ schedules.  i will give and give and give until i run myself ragged.  this is far from a rant of how selfless i am.  quite the opposite.  these past few months, i have realized more and more that perhaps i am being self-serving.  in those instances which i really should say “no”, and still say “yes”, i am fulfilling my need to feel worthy.

my feelings of unworthiness run deep.  i constantly question compliments on any sort of accomplishments, accolades at work, and words of admiration in my role as a friend or artist or athlete or mother.  i think this unworthiness is rooted in my feelings of being a failure as a daughter and a lover.  my mother is essentially a non-existent entity, cutting off ties with her children and grandchildren.  my father, my biggest cheerleader and best friend, died.  my marriage to the father of my child ended, for many reasons, but mostly because of a big mistake on his part and then mine.  my relationship after him also ended, after a long, emotional time intertwined with my feelings of self-doubt and his battle with addiction.  if someone like me – who truly believes that connection and love with another is the only way to live – cannot succeed in life’s most treasured relationships, then how can i be worthy with everything else?  i feel like i’m attempting to create a tower of building blocks where the base is missing.

thus, i return here.  with a new found sense of prioritization, recognizing that i don’t need (or want) to constantly be giving time to others.  time with myself is essential, as i continue to work on my building blocks of self-worth.  though this is a public space, i feel comfortable here, even when i share some messy shit that swirls in my head.  for me, it’s an exercise of self-care, to be vulnerable and articulate my emotions.  it doesn’t have be perfect, it just has to be me.  it feels good to be back.

“owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ brene brown

road trippin’

road tripthere is something magical, to me, in sharing time and experiences with the ones i love.  this past week, the little lady and i put in over 2,000 miles in a road trip full of small and big moments of absolute magic with nature, friends, and family.  we returned home tonight, and as i reflect on our trip, i am reeling in all the memories created and the lessons i learned on the road this week.

*  the windows rolled down, feeling the wind, smelling the air.  blaring the music and singing.  there is something so freeing about experiencing an open road in this way, full of possibilities.

*  stopping and taking pictures when we felt moved.  it was worth the extra few minutes.

*  feeling frustrated that my camera is broken again, and realizing it’s not that big of a deal.  an iphone can capture memories too.

*  accepting offers from people who asked for us to stay at their home, even when i thought we would be an inconvenience.  seeing people in their own little environment is insight into how they live their life.

*  being with tim and laurie and all their animals, and watching coco experience a night on a beautiful farm.  her curiousness and awe in these surroundings was beyond heart warming.

*  stopping in ann arbor for red velvet cake, and walking around downtown, holding hands and enjoying a city neither of us had been.

*  taking a deep breath when we had almost arrived to our michigan destination, seeing the dead end sign, and being damn grateful for the people that awaited us at the end of the road.

*  seeing coco and rowan easily immerse themselves into each other’s space.  realizing that at 8 years old, they already recognize that valuing friendship creates the bright and bold colors woven into the fabric of a happy life.

*  being reminded of the role that kelsey and heather play in my life.  confidants.  mentors.  sources of strength.  incredible friends.  beyond all of that though, they are family.

*  feeling empowered to share my personal and professional goals with people that support me as well as challenge me to think more critically.

*  creating a project of sorts with kelsey to engage our children in a curriculum that will involve them staying connected through learning (and skype).

*  running with heather, which is a time when she and i can be alone.  feeling full from the conversation and productive from the physical activity.

*  meeting family members, sharing meals, and settling into their space through good conversation and laughter.

*  reading part of my favorite book out loud.  and seeing how her words affect others in the same way they do to me.

*  paddling down the flat river as the day and soaking in the sights and sounds on the water as the day winded down.

*  witnessing the raw emotion of gratitude when a gift i gave was opened.

*  taking some time for myself, on a solo run, on a dirt road through farmland.  feeling grateful to be connected to this place, and realizing what i was missing.

*  walking down a long flight of stairs behind an abandoned house to the water, sitting with my feet dangling over the side, taking comfort being by my friend’s side as we chew on life’s latest twists and turns together.

*  running through corn fields with two 8 years olds.  seeing this space through their eyes, full of wonder and awe.

*  saying good bye to kelsey, heather, and rowan in the early morning hours.  driving away, eyes brimming with tears and hearts filled with love.  watching the sun rise over the corn fields and saying hello to a brand new day.

*  coco setting up her tent in new york for the last night of our trip because she wanted to sleep outside.

*  picking apart pistachio nuts on sue’s front porch.  and recognizing my feelings of contentment and happiness in the most simplistic of  activities.

*  late night bonfire and champagne.  and perhaps some barbados rum.

*  walking around a contemplative retreat center, a former monastery, overlooking the hudson river.  slowly working my way through a labryinth.  picking lavender and smelling it in the car for hours afterwards.

*  lunch outside at a little cafe in beacon, new york.  oh, the grape leaves.  they are reason enough for a return trip soon.

*  concluding our trip with yummy ice cream pops that dripped all over my shirt.

*  hearing overwhelming statements of gratitude from everyone we saw, thanking us for sharing time with them.

*  being reminded that my daily priority of nourishing relationships has an impact on others.  knowing that the more i breathe life into them, the more i get out of these bonds.  and being completely overwhelmed by our loved ones desire to tackle life in similarly bold ways.

road triproad tripbesties

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 “the best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.”  ~ cheryl strayed