because I don’t want to forget
because they are fleeting
because this moment will never happen again
because ordinary is worthy
it’s like hitting pause
just for a moment
Don’t forget the ordinary
Before there was Now You there was 52 Weeks of BAM. Four years ago in May of 2010 there was a group on Flickr created by a talented and insightful woman named Tiffany. It was during this time I began to feel connection with other women from around the world. It was a time of transformation. She created a movement, she did! I had joined Flickr in September of 2009. I had been posting little tad bits of my life here or there and pretty much daily. I began to notice there were groups, Bench Monday, Facedown Tuesday, and Fence Friday. I noticed there were sort of relationships being formed within these groups. I knew a local photographer who dissed Flickr, she said it was too clicky (giggle….get it clicky) So she wasn’t into it. I can see how she may have felt that way. In the beginning I would be lucky if one person looked at my photographs or even left a comment. Yet I would notice within these groups people seemed to have these strange relationships, like they knew each other or something? I didn’t really understand or get it, until 52 Weeks of BAM came along.
I joined. The timing was just right. I had just turned 40 and I had just lost my grandpa whom I adored. It was a very emotional year of grasping the fact he was really gone and also tripping out that I had entered a new decade. Week by week I would take a self-portrait.
It was so WEIRD turning the camera on me. I had previously been all about the family, the kids our trips and even on our trips there was an obvious absence of me. Sometimes motorcycle man would say “here let me take a picture of you and the kids” and that was always nice, or I may remember to use my timer and take a family shot but more times than not, the kids and Rich outnumbered me in our photographs. And honestly it was a slight feeling of being transparent as in, not being a part of, but more like being an observer of.
I’m sure I’m a typical mom. We put our family before us. It’s a natural thing to behave this way. It’s our honor to be a mother, we should get a badge for it for sure. But Tiffany she began to tweak the way I viewed motherhood.
I began to think back at my own mother. I have vivid memories of my mom. I can close my eyes and see her and even remember her scent. When I was a little girl, she smelt like green apples and her eye tooth sort of popped forward before she got braces as an adult. She had silky blond hair and she always looked gorgeous, she was in charge of her figure. She worked out in tights and leotards at the gym, she did aerobics and drank tab soda. She had a really clean house and worked full-time and volunteered at my school. She was basically a rock star and my inspiration of what a woman was capable of, which pretty much meant I could do anything, she owned her own business too, so not only could she cook from scratch, sew my clothes and be a terrific mother, she could have a career too.
BUT I also wished she had taken more pictures of her and me together and especially I wish there were more images in print of her. She IS a radiant woman with a down deep belly laugh. Can you imagine had she been in a group like this the images that may have happened?
Today, I’m just looking back. How it all began and how awkward it felt in the beginning to turn the camera on myself. And in this practice I realize it IS an art, it’s not about “oh look at me! I’m amazing and adorable” It’s about capturing a mood, what was happening in that day? The proof, I was there, I was fully present. And sometimes the moods are not good. And yes, many mainstream every day women may think this strange what I do but I’m not mainstream and I’m rather proud of that little fact.
Please remember. You are not transparent. You are not on the outside looking in. YOU are a part of the story.
This morning I received a wonderful email from Miss Moonspinner and she introduced me to a girl called Mindy Gledhill and in this email she paid me a really big compliment, she said this song reminds her of me, it’s called pocketful of poetry. Holy wow, that’s a big deal. It means number one she really, really KNOWS me. Cause well, I’m in constant wonder? and I’m most happy when I’m writing, poetry, stories, words….just words. I love words but simple ones not very complicated sophisticated ones. I’m very simple you know. I wonder what makes those glow in the dark things, glow in the dark? How is it bubbles have the most magnificent opalescent rainbows inside? I wonder how feathers are made perfectly to help those birds to fly? I wonder how all those men built that big bridge that we faithfully drive on top of to cross the water? I’m in constant wonder? It’s a big joke around here with motorcycle man because since I’m in constant wonder and amazement about things I will often ask him as if he has all the answers. “Rich how come this? How come that? I wonder why they do it that way, do you know why?” He will laugh and say, he doesn’t know the answers but sometimes he makes things up just to make me giggle. We are a good team, the pair of us. So I made up a nick name for the all-knowing motorcycle man, I will from time to time call him BOK and that stands for book of knowledge. Long story short, I would much rather be writing and making pretty things, and taking pictures and of course hanging out with my family and friends and mostly just playing and having music constantly playing all the time like an enourmous sound track to our life…. but I do know we must work, I suppose we just must. But I wonder what it would be like to do what I love so it wouldn’t feel like work? People do it. I know this to be true but could this be me? Could I just write words and take pictures of things and make a living? hum…. I wonder??
ISO 2000, 5.6 1/5000
Sometimes being a mom, a part-time working one who works half the day then takes the other half to pick up one set of kids at 2 and the other at 3, it doesn’t leave too much extra time to take photo’s then write about them plus, cook, clean and find time to be healthy. So these pictures are certainly simple and for sure taken in my own backyard and in the bathroom, and kitchen window however as boring as these images may seem there is a story behind each one. Not only is there a story but I’m rather proud of myself with this prompt because I shot on full manual. When I went on the PNW retreat Deb also shoots a Canon so she showed me how to shoot on the BIG letter M. I mean I have shot on M before but just sort of half crazy cause I will dial this way and that until it looks decent and sometimes it can take lots of dials to get it right. Oh, the revelation! I just need to center the line inside the light meter, just place it in the middle and all is good. And these my friends are straight out of the camera, no touch ups or photo editing which hello is not really my expertise (yet) anyway.
The first image is of a special pierce of jewelry. It was a gift from my mom and it was bought while she was in France visiting my sister. My mama knows I love birds and well, it has a bird on it. It also has some very powerful words in French. I had no idea what the words meant until my little sister came home for a summer and interpreted them for me. In English it interprets “Little of us have the strength to change the story” And these words are powerful and true. Do you have the strength to change your story? Think about that? It takes enormous strength to change your life story, rather than just take it for granted living it with no real effort is far easier. Now I love the necklace even more. And I took this image in my very own backyard. I hung it from a tree branch and the wind kept swaying it back and forth so long story short…was not easy to shoot this on manual and manual focus! But this one looks pretty decent in the natural backyard sun light.
These next two images were taken in our down stairs main bathroom. We have two bathrooms in this house but this is the family favorite. All five of us prefer it and use it most often. It has a nice deep tub, beautiful natural sunlight, sparkling white subway tiles (when clean) and now perfectly deep black walls. It’s kind of dramatic now that it’s been painted black. So I took a pretty red rose from one of my rose bushes grandpa left me. The smell, oh how I wish you could inhale this rose, it’s perfect. I took it using two settings. I show you both.
ISO 2000, F4, 1/2000
ISO 2000, F/20, 1/60
My last images are at my front kitchen window. In the morning it gets the very best light but by late afternoon which is when I took these images the lighting isn’t as spectacular yet still it’s okay. I use this window when I bake in the afternoons and I shoot photo’s of my food. And it’s of a feather that I have stuck inside of a potted plant. Because if you know me. You know I also love feathers.
And this is my version of the lesson natual light, which technically is more of a photo prompt than anything else and if you want to see how two people who live in two very different places view things in natural light, visit my friend Christina at 22limes
“while you were away”
He said “I made the bed and was sure that the butterfly was at the bottom, like you like it”
“while you were away”
“While you were away, I meant to change the oil in your car, but it didn’t happen. I did take the girls to a movie though.” “While you were away, I didn’t vacuum or sweep but I went on a ride with my friend in the hills”
upon my return
It didn’t matter that the vacuuming didn’t happen or the sweeping didn’t get done or that second to be born’s shoes were left by the kitchen sink.
all that mattered was. I was HOME.
what would a self-portrait class be without a self-portrait.
Before I get to the meat of things. Which will take much thought and careful consideration. I want to share what is always dear to me. I find beauty in the details. In the little tiny small details that surround me. One of my most favorite things to do is to slow down. To look around with intention. To take in the blessings that have been showered upon us. They are everywhere and often get missed. Not on purpose but sometimes people and this means me too get busy and they just don’t notice. I like to take deep breaths, inhale, exhale, touch, give honor to. It has not always been this way. It’s a learned behavior. (not always… because after all we are born with it) When my babies were little I barely had time for a moment of quiet. I missed so much. I mean I documented their moments with video and pictures but so often I just rushed through my days, just trying to make it to the next. Now the most amazing thing has happened and largely due to the fact that I have watched and learned from women wiser who have taught me to embrace to take in each moment as if it could be my last. And it’s working for me. It has me thankful and gratitude creates good attitude, this is true. So below I share some details of my weekend and I send my deepest gratitude to our teachers Kristin and Meredith who put their brilliant heads together and came up with an idea called NOW YOU workshop that has touched the lives of many women now, not just touched but changed and also it has grown real live friendships. This one single idea. Ideas change lives, ideas should never stop happening. You may think it’s all been done before but always always it’s worth trying because as Salvador Dali says “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” it is so true. later I will share the people, the love, the relationships but now I share the details.
the gift of a notebook couldn’t be more perfect for me, I was jotting notes from the moment we got it.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
When death happens I think of this scripture because it’s so true about having a time for everything. This weekend was a time to build, laugh, embrace…but in having that honor…. death arrived. And before I can talk about the happenings of our weekend I find it in my heart today to first honor my beautiful and beloved Aunt. She is my mom’s Aunt actually, a great-aunt to me. The last living person in my grandpa’s generation. She was my grandpa’s sister. There were four children to the hard-working couple who came here from Oklahoma in hopes of a better life and to escape the dust bowl. I just spoke of them last week in fact. I included this image of my family history. The sweet little girl is my Aunt.
There was first a little girl who passed when she was just three, then there was my Aunt Louise and her real name was Berttie Louise (pronounced Birdy) She didn’t like her first given name so we all knew her as Aunt Louise. Then there was my grandpa, his name was Gerald but he went by Sandy because their last name was Sanders, then the last to be born another boy, Ronald, who went by Ron. And my Aunt she was beautiful like a movie star. Even in her aging she was beautiful to me. She left us on Saturday. She crossed over at 3:30 in the morning and I like how there are two three’s in her passing. She was in pain, she went quickly and I’m thankful for that only I never said good-bye. I was supposed to see her upon my return from Oregon. I didn’t want to cancel my trip because it was a monumental trip. A trip for growth, a trip I had to do. I had to be brave. And in making that choice I missed her passing and I missed my good bye. Mourning was even addressed on our weekend trip and how it’s important to mourn. Her viewing is this Friday, her service will be graveside Saturday. My first cry was with Cinnamon at the top of the hill in a public restroom. I shared with her quickly of the news. I shared with her my confusion on how I should be, what I should feel? In that quick span of time I managed to also share how when I turned 40 it was supposed to be the best birthday of my life so far, how we had big plans to go away and my grandpa was sick again from cancer and without hesitation, I cancelled our plans to go away so I could spend each weekend with him until his passing. It was the best decision I could have made. I had one final conversation with him where we shared deep secrets and special thoughts with one another before he got really bad and it was on the exact weekend I was supposed to go away. He wanted me to go. He wanted me to enjoy my celebration but in this particular case I could not. It was a May 3rd 2010, my 40th birthday when I got a phone call after work that he wasn’t doing well and may not make it through the night. I left. I just dropped everything and I left to be with him. I wanted to be there when he took his last breath. And I was able to hold his hand, gently talk to him, to just sit, to be near him as he took his breaths and got closer to death. It took him three days to let go. And during that time we held on tight, we stayed close. I will never forgot my 40th birthday it will forever be associated with his passing. He left me roses and a hat, and plenty of memories. When I see an egret I think of him. I saw an unusual amount of them after his passing. One on my rooftop in fact which was a first and so far a last. I will never forgot and I mourned properly.
But now, now I was away and I wasn’t sure. So it went like this, one moment in the bathroom with Cinnamon where I shared my heart quickly and I began to cry and she embraced me. And right there at the top of the hill in that public restroom I had a moment. And now I will never forget my monumental trip, the one I took alone when Aunt Louise left us.
So today I just want to honor and respect her with a few images from a few years back. My mom and I with littlest and only girl went to help her clean her house. She always kept a very tidy and clean house and in her older age and deteriorating health she couldn’t clean like she used to. So we cleaned for her. We polished her salt and pepper shaker collection, we washed windows and sorted through old mail. But we also just sat and visited and for me, I had my camera with me. I document the details, the moments so that’s what I did 5 years ago when we helped her clean her house. And I saw her a few times after this and sadly in the busy life of being a working mom, I didn’t see her as much as I could have. She didn’t live too incredibly far away. And to be honest I feel not so good about that part. Why does death do that to us? I should learn from this. I should learn.
Here are the images from that day. Not all the images but the ones I find special. She didn’t want me to take her photo because she didn’t think she was beautiful any more but trust me she was. And I just had to respect her wishes so the two photo’s I have are from the back. One my little girl took for me. I asked little Abbie to go behind us and click a picture. I wanted a picture where I was next to her without her getting upset that her image was being taken.
And I realize now in art there is healing. I also had my camera with me in my grandpa’s passing. I photographed his hand in my sisters, I photographed the roses in his garden, the ones we gathered to place by his bed, the guardian angel coin, the times my mom stood next to him and put cool clothes on his head. I photographed it all, even the clock and the rocks, and the sky. I had to. It helped. So at least I have learned in art there is healing.