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Week 36 // Balance


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I’ve been waiting for this image for a long time. Over the past year it has evolved in various forms until the idea of creating a story around heartstrings came up. The original of the idea came from hearing a story about a woman’s near-death experience recently, in which she described leaving her body but seeing literal strings connecting her heart to all the other hearts around her. That clicked for me as the perfect concept for this shot.

I’ve sat with all the images from this shoot for over a week now because so many of them turned out to be very powerful. So much so that I’m thinking I will break it out into its own smaller series – in color. I’ve certainly had a hard time choosing just one for this series, but this is the one that is speaking to me today.

The heart story. Connections, love, vulnerability, tension, fear, courage. The heart is a raw, wild place inside us that we only ever allow a very select few to see. Personally, I like it that way.

There has been, all my life, this constant tension between myself and the outside world. I have lost far too many people in my 32 years to be frivolous about who I attach it to. This isn’t something that has been caused by my fiance’s death, but likely by the death of my mother when I was very young and likely also to the dysfunctional nature of my childhood. I turned inward when she died, and spent much of my time within my own heart and mind. Safe from the pain of losing others. Over time, I became an expert at keeping connections at bay… but in the background, I always knew there was something about this that I didn’t like. It was all too easy to sever ties with most people because I never let them connect to me in the first place.

My fiancé’s love changed all that. He crept into the depths of my heart in ways that I had not allowed anyone else to. His essence wrapped itself around the deepest, darkest, most vulnerable parts of me. There was no fixing, just existing. Together. Wrapped around each other’s darkness. And around each other’s light. I let him all the way in. When he died, I could do nothing but bleed for a very long time. The brokenness made it impossible not to.

So it was his death which actually began to change something in me. In particular, the trauma and shock of how suddenly he died. It ripped my heart right out of my chest. What I didn’t know back then, is that although this meant my heart was now more vulnerable than ever, it also meant that it was more out in the open to receive love. That’s the thing of it – to receive love, to create connections, we must be willing to put our hearts out into the open and risk them being ripped apart.

It’s a terrifying thing. In the past few months, there have been some powerful shifts for me that have led to new challenges. There have been events and people who have come into my world which have pushed me to decide whether I will continue working to keep my heart our there in the world. Beginning to date again, and move into deeper friendships with men again, has been one of the biggest struggles of late. Particularly because it began to present itself so without warning and it has uprooted all sorts of things I had yet to begin to work through.

As I move forward, I’m learning a new balance with the outside world. I am not hiding my heart away like I used to. Finding less need for that now. I am not leaving it out in the open either though. I am holding it close to me, grasped firmly between strong hands – protected, but connected. Allowing others to grab hold of my heartstrings without letting them pull me out of balance. Choosing people who will not want to pull me out of balance. From here, I can loosen or tighten my grip as needed, in order to feel safe. And I can trust others respect that and do the same for themselves. The tension is no longer a negative. It is no longer out of balance on one side or the other, but instead like two equal forces, myself and the hearts of everyone else around me, creating power, energy and stability in the space between us.


“Still, Life” is a year-long self portrait series exploring the journey of grief. You can read more about the project in this post. To see the full image gallery visit 2014 PROJECT. Please share with anyone who you feel can relate to the imagery, my hope is that it gives many others a visual for something they are going through in their own lives.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. You are so strong, Sarah. x

    Sunday, March 8, 2015
  2. I’m speechless. What a powerful post Sarah. xo

    Sunday, March 8, 2015
  3. Shannon Tara #

    you are an amazing woman, Sarah. Blessed Be the wise woman. Especially pleased to see this ‘work of heart’ on International Women’s Day.

    Sunday, March 8, 2015
  4. Julie Carrillo #

    so powerful! Simply, beautiful!

    Sunday, March 8, 2015
  5. Sheena c #

    Love this. I too lost a fiancé 7 1/2 years ago. At one point I thought of never date again. Then Derek came back into my life. It’s crazy how one person can change your world. Prayers for your strength and happiness! Your work is very moving and you are truly gifted!

    Sunday, March 8, 2015
  6. Anne Marie Higgins #

    Dearest Sarah, Searing, powerful image and story. As always, thank you for opening your heart and soul to share your talent and inner most depth and wisdom.

    When Tim died and my heart and piece of my soul left with him, I turned to a Shaman for an amazing experience called “Soul Retrieval.” I highly recommend it. I’m sure you can find an experienced Shaman, if it interests you. I’m happy to hear you’ve begun to date and open your heart to others. I am so grateful we’ve opened our hearts to each other in our work on my cover and through our amazing community of SSI.

    I just returned from an amazing soulful experience at Miraval in Arizona where I spent time with a Shaman and many intuitive healers along with having wonderful spa treatments, hikes in the desert, great food and total relaxation…much needed. Your trip to Alaska looked fun on FB.

    Much Love and Light, Anne Marie

    Sent from my iPad


    Monday, March 9, 2015
    • Thank you so much Anne Marie! Your trip sounds SO wonderfully healing oh my goodness. I can just imagine you out there. I love Arizona. Such a great energy out that way. So grateful for you in my life!! <3

      Monday, March 9, 2015
    • i am finding some of my replies on here never went through! I want to thank you for your support, and your beautiful words and guidance. I am so very grateful we have been brought together despite the reasons! I think I will very much end up going to a shaman one of these days!

      Wednesday, May 6, 2015
  7. Ruth Kalter #

    Sarah you have no idea how apropos this is right now for my niece, my sister’s daughter, who is also 32 and going through big shifts about her relationship to her grief over losing her mother at age 11, and how she has managed relationships with men and women since then. I forwarded it to her and she said, “this was just what I needed right now.” You are doing such good work psychologically and artistically and it is blessing other people so much. I can’t think of another word that suits better than “blessing.” Thank you.

    I’ll be in touch soon about the article.



    Monday, March 9, 2015
    • Thank you SO much for sharing this Ruth. Wow. I am so honored that you have shared this, and that our paths crossed. Thank you! Talk soon.

      Monday, March 9, 2015
    • Hi Ruth, I’m not sure my reply came to you before (having trouble with some disappearing replies lately!) but thank you for this note. You know it means a lot to me… particularly that it meant something to your niece. That loss of mother continues to be the deepest one i think for all our days – and I have found the same… it has affected all my relationships to both men and women in my adult life. Thank you again for all your continued support!

      Wednesday, May 6, 2015
  8. I can not put into words what your images provoke. I can say, however, how absolutely blessed I feel to know you as a creative sister.

    Sunday, April 19, 2015

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