i saw a facebook status quote from a photographer|artist dana de luca, ‘When you look at my photographs, you are looking at my thoughts’.  this made me stop and think.  this is similar to the way i feel about my photographs.  how i feel, what i am thinking and who i am are often reflected in my photos.

it has been a long time since i’ve posted.  there are some significant things happening in my life that have me flooded with emotions; happy, sad, and loneliness.  these emotions have me chanting more than ever.  although i discovered some months ago that i’ve lost me i didn’t really reflect on that nor did i do anything about it.  what did that mean, actually?  how would i find me?  i also realized i am not happy.  although i have suffered with depression, that is not the feeling i am having.  the feeling i have is my life is someone else’s, not mine.  i live to please others thinking i will find my happiness in doing that and, obviously, was wrong.  i also thought i found happiness in someone and immersed myself into that until i realized that i was even more unhappy and gave someone this huge burden by being responsible for my happiness.  what would it mean for me to be happy?  well i had two pretty incredible friends tell me that i couldn’t find happiness until i found it in myself first.  what???  well they were right.  until i could be happy being me, doing things for me, and finding myself i wasn’t going to be happy.

a month ago i quit my photography class.  the stress of my unhappiness, the friendship i had that went sour and the flood of emotions at home had me overwhelmed and ended up quitting one of the most important things to me, my photography class.  photography is usually the place i can escape to and pour my emotions into and instead i walked away.  i felt ashamed, depressed and without a place to dump my emotions.  that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing at the time because i had to turn inward spiritually and re-discover me.  i have been so amazed at what has resulted because of this.  i have old friends showing up in my life that i haven’t seen or spoken to in years, i have discovered new friends and i have had the confidence to stand up for myself (still a work in progress).  while this has not been easy and there is still a lot of emotion wrapped up in all of “this” it is still exciting and progress is being made.

i picked up my camera today and instead of wrapping myself up in ‘what others might think’ or in over thinking what it is i wanted to take photos of i just captured a bit of my surroundings.  no master plan, no agenda, just photos showing representing visual thoughts|feelings of how i am looking at life around me.

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as a mom i find that one of my biggest goals and challenges is helping my kids be comfortable with who they are and to always be comfortable in sharing how they feel no matter how difficult and scary it can be to do so.  this is important to me because i struggle with this, personally.  i am not comfortable in my own skin.  i am not comfortable communicating my feelings.  i believe my feelings are not important or that my feelings show how insecure i am so, instead, i try not to communicate them.  all of this out of fear and being vulnerable.  i fear being vulnerable.  i sit back and wait for others to take charge as if my own feelings and ideas are worthless.  i don’t want this for my kids.

i want my kids to know that sharing feelings is scary but when you share them that is when you become empowered and happy.  don’t hold back like i do.  don’t wait for others to direct you in life, direct yourself.  life is full of many struggles so if i can help my kids overcome this one early then that is one less thing for them to be challenged with as an adult.  i do believe that challenging our vulnerability and shame is our key to happiness.  those that are truly happy don’t let the two hold them back, they tackle it head on!

my son loves to wear dresses, loves to paint his nails and recently applied fake nails to his fingers. there is so much fear in society about boys dressing like girls. i embrace and love the fact that my son loves to explore his imagination and encourage him to do so.  children are not born with fear, we give it to them.  dressing up is a way for children to role play, be creative, explore their imaginations and a way to share their feelings.  i want to encourage this as much as possible with no fear.

today i am battling with my own fear of sharing my feelings with someone and not knowing what the outcome of that will be.  i fear the worst (my comfortable place to go).  so while i am dealing with these fears on the inside i will spend my day praising my kids for sharing theirs.

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In class on Thursday we had the privilege to attend the lecture from Amanda Koster of SalaamGarage.  She shared an experience that really touched me especially the quote “I didn’t even know he was my neighbor”.  It was about a young boy who’s family, except for his two, younger,  siblings died of HIV|Aids.  She spent a lot of time with this young boy and was able to tell his story for the NGO.  A neighbor woman heard his story, because of Amanda’s work, and said “I didn’t even know he was my neighbor”.  She happened to be a women of means and was able to help support the 3 young children from that point forward.  He was her neighbor but she knew nothing about him.

This lecture along with the quote that inspired my last weeks project from Nancy Ford Cones (“It is a dead sure thing that if you cannot make pictures in or around the home, it is positively hopeless to go abroad and find them.”) made me think of my home, the community in which I live.  I thought of all the neighbors I have and realized how few I knew anything about.  I used my community Facebook page and asked for volunteers for my assignment this week, there were 2.  I then met with them, and spent time talking to them, getting to know them before I even picked up my camera.  What was interesting is they don’t know each other and they (and me too) live within walking distance of each other and both people have a HUGE musical interest.  G’s home had one wall, floor to ceiling, filled with CD’s and JP had 2 walls dedicated to albums.  I’m glad to know my neighbors.

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“It is a dead sure thing that if you cannot make pictures in or around the home, it is positively hopeless to go abroad and find them.” ~ from a book I’ve been reading lately called Against the Odds: Women Pioneers in the First Hundred Years of Photography. Quote by Nancy Ford Cones.

I I was really inspired by this quote because I found photographing in my home very difficult.  I can go into most any environment and take photos but when it comes to mine, I struggle.  I’ll take photo’s of my home and family for others but not often.  So, this photographer and her quote really inspired me to take another look at my environment and photograph it.  Here are the photos I submitted this week for class.

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I found myself in a vulnerable position this week.  I’ve been dealt a life that has me protecting my emotions, my feelings.  I am a sensitive person so often wear my thoughts, feelings and emotions on the cuffs of my sleeves but circumstances in life had me toughen that up a bit so in fact I’ve been cold and withdrawn.  Recently, I came in contact with something that had me chipping away at this barrier.  Not fully breaking it down but enough where I put those emotions, some of them, back out on the cuff of my sleeve.  They didn’t have to be there long before they were stomped on and crushed once again and now this time the barrier is stronger and more protective.  I’m unsure what it would take for me to trust and open myself up again.

Brene Brown talks about the power of vulnerability here and how it leads to happiness.  So, I am going back and listening to this incredibly powerful lecture and hope that I can somehow find my happiness in this.

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Last night I started my 3rd class at PCNW, a photography school.  The class is Women in Photography and will provide us with a history of women photographers (so far the first ones we discussed are AMAZING), and we will visit art museums around Seattle visiting exhibits focusing on women artists.  There are so many in Seattle right now and this class is taking full advantage of it.  One of the exhibits I am most excited about is the elles:pompdou.   What perfect timing to have this here AND we get a private tour of the exhibit!

I typically have first day of class jitters when I review the syllabus and hear about the artistic backgrounds of my classmates.  Last night was no exception.  The women and one man in my class had some pretty incredible talent behind them so a bit of my insecurity came out.  I then reflected on my prior classes and remember feeling the same way the first day and then also remembered how much I learned and how much I grew in each class.  I wanted a class that would help me break out of my conservative shell.  I want to explore my creativity and I believe this class will help me do that.  Our assignments are given based on the women photographers we are studying and we are to draw inspiration from these women and create our own images so it leaves a lot of room to explore and challenge our own creativity.  I find that my comfort zone is when the assignments are a little more literal so feel this may be my opportunity to break out of my conservative self and challenge it a bit.  My blog will be a journal of my journey in this class, the good with the bad.  Enjoy.

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This summer I’ve been photographing for PALS Doulas.  They are in the process of upgrading their website to with photos showing the work they do and examples of medical providers they work with.  My final part of the assignment these past two days was photographing a doula and medical provider working together with a laboring woman and a doula having a pre-natal visit with her client.   More of my PALS work can be found here and here.

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Driftwood, for some it is a piece of wood found washed ashore.  For others, it is a sculpture, a piece of art that is often added to a home or garden to be enjoyed.  I photographed the opening of a women’s clothing consignment store in a small Seattle neighborhood, Madrona.  I’ve lived in Seattle for over 15 years and have enjoyed watching Madrona grow from a sleepy neighborhood into one that is quite charming.  I feel the addition of retailers like; Juniper, Glassy Baby, Hitchcock and Driftwood have been instrumental in this neighborhoods growth.

This summer I had the pleasure of assisting the owner of Juniper with the lighting for her store.  Since opening her store, she’s had the same lighting and this summer wanted to add new lighting to reflect her taste, her style and to give a little punch of light to some dark areas in the store.  I have experience with lighting so was happy to help and photographed the new lights here.   So, after having worked with Lisa I was hoping to do more.  I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into Driftwood and was asked by Natalie if I would photograph the opening of her new retail location (across the street from her old space).  I was thrilled.  These are the photos from that night.  (it’s a long one).

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i was born in the fall and love fall for that reason and many more.  the crisp mornings, the shadows and the incredible lighting of the days are a few of the reasons this is my favorite season.  now that i have kids i look for many opportunities to explore fall with them.  one of my favorites are farm tours.  i didn’t grow up on a farm but my dad did.  i used to spend a few weeks every summer at my grandparents farm and feel so appreciative of that opportunity.  i loved to explore the farm as a child and some of my fondest memories were; taking the cows out to pasture and bringing them back, fishing in the pond and playing make believe on the farm equipment (i pretended the farm equipment were spaceships and the nuts and bolts were the controls).  yesterday we took our kids out to whidbey island for the 2012 whidbey island farm tour . here are the highlights…

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I’ve been struggling with my own self worth.  Now, I’ve struggled with this for most of my life but now I want to do something about it.  I’m tired of having my own pity party always thinking I am not worthy of ______ (there are so many words I could use in that blank).  I have a family and realize the importance of challenging this in me so that I can be an example to my family of overcoming those obstacles|challenges, that hold me back.  I realize how often I have thoughts of complaint or negativity, when instead I should {want to} have thoughts of appreciation and joy.  This has become so important to me that it is consuming my thoughts day and night.   To have the life I want requires me to look inside myself to create that life.

Today I had a friend stop by and I shared with her my thoughts and feelings.  She was so inspiring.  She shared with me her own life experiences of similar struggles and what she did to overcome them.  As she said “I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps and take a hard look at myself”.  I know the feeling.  We can point our fingers outward with complaint but if we are seeking to change our lives we need to take that finger and point it inward.

I am embracing this Fall season with open arms.  As the trees shed their leaves I, too,  am shedding mine; my leaves of negativity and complaint.

 

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