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Posts tagged ‘hope’

The Voyager

portrait_week40

This may likely be my last post here until I make my way to my new home and get settled in up north. I came across this passage in a wonderful book I just finished last week, and I knew it was fitting for this moment in my life, and this image:

There is a time known as the between. The between voyager travels through uncharted territory, navigating dangers, attempting passage into the next life. There are times in life, after a death of some kind, when we are open to the slightest shifts, when our powers are acute, when we can change the future. The between voyager temporarily possesses an immensely heightened intelligence, extraordinary powers of concentration, special abilities of clairvoyance… flexibility to become whatever can be imagined, and the openness to be radically transformed by a thought or a vision or an instruction.” – Excerpt from the book I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn

I can’t deny that, secretly, I love being on the edges of life. I always have. I love that moment when you are looking out into the unknown and part of you is scared, but part of you is ready to hoist yourself out, almost recklessly so. You want to go, to explore and find out what’s out there. Your fears start to diminish as an insatiable curiosity begins to burn and draw you towards the sun. That moment, just before you leap, when the air feels electric and uncertain and powerful. When your legs feel unsteady but your eyes are ablaze with something deep in your soul. It is a moment I have been in love with since I was a child.

In just less than a week now, I will be embarking into uncharted territory. I’ve spent the past few weeks tirelessly going through every box and bag that I own… all of which has sat in storage these past three years since he died. Ironically, yesterday I came across an interesting old photo. It was from the last time I was packing up my entire life, a few months after he died. This picture, showing boxes piled up to the ceiling in my small Dallas apartment, had a timestamp on it for this very same week. I was so shocked. How surreal that on the very same week three years ago, I had just finished packing up my life, and I have just finished doing the same this week. For a moment, two versions of me existed… taking deep breaths in quiet moments on the edges of tomorrow. One is a tomorrow I have lived for the past three years. The other, a tomorrow I do not know yet.

Despite how difficult this journey has been since he died… stepping out into the unknown and allowing life to happen to me was the best decision I ever made. I have learned more about myself and about life than I ever thought possible. I have met so many incredible people – most of which I never would have met had I not taken this chance. I know with much more certainty the things I hold important. Although still in the early stages, I am also now committed to doing meaningful work that matters to myself and helps others.

I don’t quite know who I will be as I enter this new world, nor do I know how this new land will change me. All I know is that I will be changed, and that excites me. I’ve been changing by darkness for years now, and I’m ready to be changed by the light again. Who’s with me?

Week 30 // Warrior Woman

Portrait_Week30

(The music I would play with this image)

I have wanted this shot for a long time. Despite having the visual of this in my head for most of this year… I’ve learned I cannot entirely plan when they will be created. They come when they are ready. I am so thrilled this one was finally ready.

I’d been wanting to take a trip down to the coast for some time now for the series and finally could not ignore the calling any longer. So last week, I packed up all my gear and drove down to my hometown just a few hours south of here. Padre Island National Seashore is just a 20 minute drive from where I grew up and is somewhere I spent a great deal of my time as a child. The wilds of that beach ground me in ways no place else on earth does. I only had one morning to shoot, and what luck that a beautiful overcast sky rolled in just in time that morning. I shoot almost entirely under overcast skies or at dusk and dawn when the light is softest.

The weather made for a bit of an added challenge. About every ten minutes or so for the entire morning, an intermittent drizzle would start up. That’s not a terribly big issue normally – I have a poncho for my camera – but when you have to angle the camera upwards facing the grassy slope of a sand dune… well, the whole front of the lens is defenseless! At least I got in a good workout having to run up and down the slope every time it began to drizzle. Arg.

It was worth it for this shot though. It is so much more than what I first envisioned all those months ago. It represents a very new place and energy within this journey for me…

Portrait_Week30_2

image detail

Tears come to me while trying to write about this image. She is the warrior in me. The part of me that has stared into the face of unfathomable pain and death and has not backed down. She wields the darkness around her – commands it, uses it, does not let it overtake her. She is the part of my that faces the unknown with bold determination.

Even on the very week of his death, when I was broken beyond anything I have ever felt or imagined… when I could not even feed myself… there was an ever-so small part of me standing up on this hill. I even recall telling a friend in those early days that “life can take everything it wants from me, but it will not ever stop me”. That part of me – so inexplicably determined – was declaring my right not only to survive, but to thrive. And ever so slowly… crawling through mud, climbing from pits, struggling beneath grief, she has grown strong. She has been waiting for this image for a long time.

I know this was the time for it to come because of a few major events of the week which fueled me with some serious strong energy. Something I haven’t shared within these blog posts is the other weekly obsession of my life: Crossfit. This intense sport focused on a combination of high intensity cardio, strength training and olympic style lifting has had me hooked from day one – which coincidentally enough, was just a week after I began this photo series.

So these two long-term committments have been with me week in, week out, all year… pushing me mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. And the weekend prior to this shoot, I competed in my first competition.

I never dreamed I’d be competing in a thing like this – or in anything athletic. I quit believing I was an athlete around the age of twelve. This year has changed that. And this past week at the competition, I got back in touch with that little athlete I was so many years ago. I found her, and discovered – to my complete joy – that I am still every bit the fierce competitor I was all those years ago. I just didn’t give her a chance to shine until now. When I walked out of that competition, I felt strong. Stronger than I have felt maybe ever in my life. And prouder than I’ve ever imagined to be of myself. I can say with certainty that the physical and mental journey of growth in Crossfit has fed into my work immensely… probably most notably in this week’s image.

I also gained a bit of a viral surge this past week via a few wonderful blog posts – which were shared by others blogs, on Facebook and Twitter. Then a few more blogs contacted me to share it, and just today I had another request! Comments have been flowing in from so many (thank you ALL!). The exposure has brought me to tears and broken my heart wide open in the most amazing way. I have poured so many endless solitary hours into it’s making, doubting if it will ever make much of an impact out there to anyone. Lonely hours. Frustrating hours. Deeply emotional hours. Tired hours (speaking of, it’s already 1am as I write this!). I have wanted nothing more than for it to have a great value to others going through the darkness of grief. To inspire them in some way. Give them hope, or at least an image to relate to.

Suddenly, with this surge of exposure, it feels like the tides rushing into me – each comment and share washing away me from all the solitary time spent. Allowing me a glimpse of where I dream it might go one day. It gives a bigger meaning to his death and my “after” life. The more people it reaches, the more deeply connected I feel to him – as if we are co-creating this thing together. I rather think we are. Still a team somehow, just in a very different way than ever before.

Thank you.
And remember how strong you are.

_

“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.

Milestones and Melt Downs

What a day. I never fathomed a person could go through so many emotions in 24 hours. Two important things happened today. 1) I had the most major melt down I have had since the day Drew died. 2) I had my very first sale on my Etsy shop!!! I HUGE milestone for me that I have dreamed of for many years! Our buyer is going to be getting this adorable little needle felted toadstool in a bottle very soon at her door! So that’s the short-n-sweet of my day. If you’d like to read the knitty-gritty, there is plenty more below… I don’t often post journal-entry type stuff cuz it’s pretty raw and messy… but I dunno, what the hell. I hope you enjoy the drama more than I did ;)

I barely eat breakfast…
I have a 10 o’clock appt with my therapist. I’m empty. Then the Rihanna song comes on in the car… “Bulletproof, Got nothing to lose…” I’ve always liked this song, its empowering. And then for the first time I realize in the chorus she is screaming the word “Titanium”. As soon as the word hits my ears I just explode into this tsunami of shock. That was the word he used to describe me in an early journal entry he wrote, just before we began dating… “I love the way her eyes light up and the curve of her eyebrows when she laughs. She’s got a creative streak a mile wide, wider actually. And her character is stronger than friggen titanium. And that’s why I fell hard for her”. That word – titanium – has become part of my identity since he died.

Tears are rocketing from my eyes and I am screaming at the music, at God, at the universe, at Drew, at my dead parents, at my whole life… screaming at the air that is coming out of me. My eyes are so blurry I can barely see the road. I don’t even try to hold it together. I just scream-cry like a crazy person thru the entire song as Rihanna belts out “titaniuuuuum” at me over and over. Its horrible – but its exactly the amount of horrible emotion that this deserves. And I know it. This is the first time I have totally lost it since the day he died. I have lost it a little, and cried many many times – but nothing like this.

And then the song was over, I pull myself together enough to call my therapist to let her know (still half crying) that I am running a little late. She asks if she can make me some green tea. I love her for that. Like, deeply feel connected to her over the idea that while I am driving there she is making me a cup of green tea. It is something to hold on to, to get me where I need to go.

Therapy goes well – filling her in on some of the positives from the past few days does help to pull me out of the pit I am in.
When I leave, still very emotional and very torn apart missing him, but now I have some spunk in me. Now I have some drive and determination. She tells me before I go that the first thing I am to do is to go eat some frozen yogurt. I smile. And I go do just that.
While I’m at the yogurt place,
I make a few calls. Then I check my email for something and I realize I have a few emails from Etsy. Hm. I open the first one and low and behold it is the moment I have dreamed of – my first first Etsy sale! Talk about an emotional day. I am instantly crying right there in the yogurt shop, but smiling all the while. I am thinking of how dearly I want to be able to call him and tell him about it – but knowing also that he is right there with me sharing the experience somehow. I just know it. I call his mom and a few friends to share the wonderful news. I am beaming. His mom and I both agree Drew is smiling down at me and is thrilled from afar. Not only is this a huge positive just for today, it’s been a dream of mine for many many years. Best of all, my buyer is one of you! And that support means the world to me. So thank you Laura!

And so now it is the end of a long day…
I plummet back into dispair quickly after work. Really barely make it through work today and decide finally that I cannot survive work right now. I am taking more time off. I call my brother in the evening, and it does help to pull me out of the pit. Somehow, he always is able to pull me out – even just a little. Thank you bro. I still only eat a pathetic amount of food all day. But hey, at least it’s something. And it leaves room to drink more calories in dark beer – so that’s a bonus. Rock bottom so enormous high and back down again. Now, just past midnight, after taking my first bubble bath in well over a month and talking to one of my best friends.. I think I am finally somewhere in the middle.. in a small little space of peace. And so that is why I will say… goodnight my friends. Thank you for reading. And sweet dreams. <3

 

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