365

#knowyourfarmer

veggies

I am lucky enough to get a farm share from one of the best farmers I have ever known - Jim Martin of Compost in my Shoe. His food is grown with love and heart that you can certainly taste  in every juicy tomato and in every spicy leaf of basil. It's magical food.

I wish every farmer - big and small - could provide this for the world. Maybe when we get back to the smaller farms, the quality instead of the quantity, we can all have a chance at eating good food that is good for us.

Good food - grown with sunshine, water, and love.

Learning to fly

beach boy

I recently posted this photo of my boy on my personal Facebook page. It got some unusual attention from friends and family alike - not because it's a particularly good photograph, but perhaps because of the caption I wrote with it:

"My heart. Just roaming this planet. All exposed to the elements and the cruelty and the joys of life. With no protective gear. Just some love from his momma. I do love him ever so much."

I think this resonates with all of us, doesn't it.

To me, parenting is a lot like watching my heart roam naked around the planet. All the vulnerability we have is exposed to the elements - joy, pain, fear, frustration, love -  walking around with nothing to protect them. That's how it feels to be this person's mother.

When they are little it's easier. They stay closer. And the problems are more clear cut: I'm hungry. I'm tired. I'm wet. I'm frustrated. But as they grow and learn and start to spread their wings and fly, the issues life deals them aren't so black and white. Problems become more complicated. The topography of life changes - the dips in the road, the twists and turns, the mountains to climb...they are all there. And all you can do for them is sit and watch and hope you have done a good job at giving them a half-way decent road map to all of it.

As my son ages, the complexity of parenthood becomes more and more apparent. Gone are the days of kissing boo boos away, wiping the tears and giving him a Popsicle to forget his troubles. There are no more easy distractions from frustrations, pain or hurt. He is just there. Exposed to it all.

And learning to fly on his own.

 

 

 

Forest and trees.

  Taken for a client at Lake Greenwood, SC.

Taken for a client at Lake Greenwood, SC.

Sometimes I feel like I can finally see the clearing in the forest. The trees spread out, and the edge of the heavy, dark woods starts to disappear.

Then, like a blindfolded hostage, I am led back to the woods - to a new place - and left standing there trying to find my way back to the edge once again.

 

Support Staff

catnap

Our cat, Fez (or Mrs. Fezziwig if we are being formal) has taken up residence on my desk for her daytime naps now (mmmhmmmm...it's super convenient). I am not gonna lie. I feel a little hijacked by her constant watch and grooming schedule. She keeps one eye and 2 ears on me all day - sleeping while I type, napping while I design, watching while I edit photos or write. If I get up, she is very aware of my movements. She seems intent on being close, which make me wonder what is happening in that tiny body. Is it her advanced age that makes her need to be near me? Is it her way of making peace with me for peeing on my curtains? Or is it her way of making sure no food opportunity gets by her? Regardless, she is staying uncomfortably close these days.

I am fascinated by what brings creatures the comfort they seek. As I type, my Golden Retriever sits a yard away. The cat is sleeping peacefully by my left hand. Our black mix dog, Sasha, sits by my right foot. None of the spots look particularly comfortable. But they are all within immediate view of me. I am their person. I bring them food, water, access to the Great Outdoors, adventure, treats and everything in between. They seem to love being as close as possible at most times of the day.

I supposed I get the same comfort from them, too. I listen to them sigh, pat them on the head as I walk by them, and offer them words of kindness and praise when I can. Maybe, in a way, I am offering this to myself as much as anyone. Could it be that it's me who is getting the comfort from them while they diligently do their jobs keeping watch? Perhaps they know my needs more than I really do.

So I guess it's not so bad after all having a napper at my left and two on my right throughout the long days at my desk. It's probably what I needed all this time to get through these longer days - a little extra encouragement and a little more love to make it through editing, designing, writing and facebooking  with a little extra support by my side.

 

 

Time for Summer

Time to sleep in and catch up. Time to stay up late and sleep in even later. Time to soak up the sunshine, let the wind blow our wild hair and smell the salty air for a few minutes more.

Time to read a book, eat some ice cream, watch a movie, and sleep in later than I should. Time for more sunsets on the beach with wine and warm water, laughter and love. Time for doing a little bit of nothing and a lot of everything.

Time for rest.

It's time for Summer.

 

Part of the Journey

direction

Check the map. Check it twice. Know where you are headed. Not specifically, but generally. Know the direction. REALLY know it. Know the pit stops and time it takes. Just move in the general direction of your dreams.  Point your compass and go.

And don't worry. You will get there. Just know there will be bumps in the road. And detours along the way. It's all good. It's all just part of the journey.

Wonder

  From a recent shoot at Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC.

From a recent shoot at Ashley Hall School in Charleston, SC.

Never lose your sense of wonder, little one. Don't stop learning or dreaming or thinking about things - little bugs and big trees. Never forget to be curious about life, about the stars, about how this world actually goes on - day after day, year after year, producing more life and more variety than we can even imagine or see with our own eyes.

But, little one... never be the person who has to know all the answers. You don't. You don't have to know everything. Nobody does. After all, there is a freedom to not knowing things.

There is freedom in the wonder of it all.

Aiming true

lake

I just wrapped up a 3 day small towns tour of South Carolina and Georgia for a very special client of mine. We went to 7 smaller towns in the region and explored all of what makes those towns special in their own way. I loved every moment of exploring those authentic little corners of our the region.

Not surprisingly, this trip didn't feel like work at all. And if I had to be fully honest here - I have always wanted to do this on my own time. I felt an overwhelming amount of gratitude on this business trip. I am making money doing something I really have always wanted to do.

Work hasn't just come to me because I had a dream though. Hard work, determination, defining what you want and remaining true to that are really the biggest keys in creating your joy. You have to have a dream. But your dream doesn't just fall into your lap because you declare it to be your dream. You have to do the legwork to make it happen. 

I really have put some time and effort into my career as a photographer. I work hard every day. I hear the word "no" a lot. My ego has been deflated many times and I have made a boatload of mistakes.  But in the end, I think that is what lays the foundation for growing gratitude. It's even sweeter when you finally land in the spot you were aiming for in the first place.

As we were driving through the back roads of Georgia, I realized that in life you are always right where you are supposed to be at any given moment - regardless of whether it's good or bad or boring or indifferent. I took a deep breath, smiled and gave thanks for right where I was...lost in the middle of pastures and farms, between small towns and little lakes. Pointed right in the direction of all my dreams. 

And finally aiming true to myself.

 

 

 

Listen...

lowcountry landscape

Listen closely in these moments. Listen for the birds. Listen to the wind. Listen to your heart and the silence within it.

These are the special times. where stillness rises and gives way to chaos. Where love shines through the cracks.

Be still. And hear your heart.

Welcome Back Summer

beach

There is that one day for me every year that it suddenly feels like summer. The weather is warmer. The days are longer. And everyone's mood is lighter by far.

The day isn't marked on a calendar. It isn't circled in red marker with a highlighter over the word "Summer!" It just has a feel - sort of like I have crossed some invisible threshold to a space that allows me to linger a little longer and relax a little more. A place where I don't have to rush or wake up early or set a rigid schedule.

A day where we can all just say for a moment "Welcome back summer. Let's linger a while."

Tiny Squares

  A recent snapshot from my Instagram feed.

A recent snapshot from my Instagram feed.

In many ways, this is what my Spring has looked like. And at the very same time, this is also not at all how my Spring has looked. Sure, I have seen my fair share of new life, beautiful landscapes and miles of gorgeous green. But there are a lot of gaps that are here that you can't see at all. There have been spaces filled with heartbreak and hard times. Love and loss. And moments where tears filled my eyes and my days. But these moments were in there too. These were the snapshots of my days that I clung to in between those other - and often unbearable - times.

My reason for posting this is not to tell you I have had a hard spring. Nor is it to tell you I had an easy spring (which I did not). It wasn't written to share all too intimate and unnecessary details of my life (keeping things professional here). It's actually to remind us of something important.

We all know that Instagram and Facebook make everyone's lives look envious at best. But those are simply moments - snapshots in between the other parts. Everyone is carrying their burdens. Lots of people have laundry and chores and days filled with nothing but work and computers. Some people have crosses to bear that most often we cannot see - heartbreak, stress, struggles that don't appear in those tiny squares next to their napping cat or the pie theu just made from scratch. But we fill their gaps with a story that we are telling about them. We are filling the gaps with our story. However, that's not our job. Our job is to tell our story.

Whatever your story is on the inside is okay. Whatever story you are telling on the outside is okay too. It's all okay. Because it's your story. Some people want to only hear the good. And others want to hear the real parts - the meat and the details. (Those are special people. Keep them close. They will support you through the details.)  Just remember, you have to keep telling your story however you want to remember it, not how the rest of the world wants to see it. It is your story after all.

If I told you my story over the past 10 years - mostly it's been good. It has looked like this photo in my heart. But truthfully, I could tell you they have been the most formative and difficult 10 years of my life. I lost 2 parents. I said goodbye to countless aunts and uncles. And I even buried one of my sisters. I have raised a boy from toddlerhood to a blossoming teenager and bought a house. I took myself half way around the world, been on some fantastic trips, and loved many people. I have even shifted careers. But what I will most remember about these years is not the trial and tribulation. It's moments like the ones you see here...these snapshots of my life. They represent it all - new and old, big and small, bold and fragile, cloudy and bright.

It's all there looking back at me in those tiny squares. 

Girls

 From my shoot yesterday at Ashley Hall School.

From my shoot yesterday at Ashley Hall School.

Look at you girls.

Confident. Strong. Able. Smart. Believing in yourselves. You seem joyful and full of heart.

My wish for you is this: remember this moment. When I captured you, you didn't seem worried about your hair. You weren't thinking about your thighs. You were happy and free and light. You were using your bodies to run and jump and stretch. You were using your minds to think and solve and create. You were using your hands to touch and make and feel.

In a few years, you will compare yourselves to the others around you. You will look at people and think they have it made. You will wonder why you never measure up. You will look at yourself in the mirror and question if you are enough for this big, scary, crazy, judgmental world.

STOP.

Don't do this.

Remember your shining face. Look at how gleeful you are. Beautiful, open, and full of heart.

That's where your value is. This is your happy place.

So go out there. Run. Play. Think. Create. Feel. Because on the inside, this is who you will always be. A carefree spirit with walls that have yet to be built. Only a foundation of strength and courage.