iphone

Weathering the Storms.

Before the storm

I have spent an unmeasured amount of my life running away from the approaching devastation of storms. Afraid of the turmoil and unknown elements they would bring, I tended to protect myself from what might be instead of just standing inside of what is.

Over the years, I have found the things we worry about happening rarely – if ever – come to fruition. In other words, I have spent a lot of time fussing about nothing. I attribute this to not listening to myself or trusting my gut and paying far too much attention to what others opinions are.

As I get older, I seem to get more sturdy with trusting my inner voice. It often whispers quietly and gently, and can be drowned out by the many other opinons, thoughts, and voices that surround me. But if I listen, it’s clear, persistent and confident in it’s conviction. I just have to listen and be still enough to hear it.

This ship – MY SHIP – is the one I have to steer through the stormy seas. So I do what’s best for me with each decision I make. I have to trust myself and know that, even if I am wrong, it’s all going to pass over eventually. Each “wrong” decision is just another opportunity to learn. Each storm I stand through, another lesson. And each time I listen to myself, another chance to build that relationship of trust with myself all over again.

Dear Little Girl.

Little girl

Dear Little Girl.

You. Are. Beautiful. You are braver than you think, kinder than you know, and smarter than you give yourself credit for. You have gifts inside that are just waiting to be uncovered and unearthed. But it's up to you to do it.  

I know you. And I know you are scared. I know you somehow took on the notion that you weren't good enough, smart enough, pretty enough... I understand that you don't feel right in your skin. Too big, too loud, too different than the others that seem to float together like a school of silvery little fish, floating in a rhythm that seems to sync up perfectly while you float alone, trapped in netting you are just too tired to try to escape from.

My whole life, I have been watching you...your strength and your whole-heartedness are unmatched. I have seen you do the impossible. Given these circumstances, who could possibly survive? Yet... still, I have seen you bravely carve the most unique life path - not knowing what's next, not knowing where it's leading. I have watched as this world stripped you shamefully bare and expected unrealistic things of you. And through your tenacity and utter heart, I have watched as you delivered every last one. 

It's not you who is failing. It's the world who has failed you. It has destroyed hope in all the places you were supposed to feel safe. But still, here you are. On the eve of your birthday, still smiling, still full of heart, still courageously standing in the storms of life.

You are mine. And I am yours. And I am here to guide you through the rest of this journey, full of love and void of fear. I am here to show you how to navigate the rest of this twisting, unchartered path of life. So take my hand. Don't be afraid. We have got this...together.

Love,
Me

 

The Island

island

I have been isolating myself like a little island drifting slowly form the coast for years now. Once attached and part of the world, trauma, insecurities, and the wear of the daily grind has brought me to my knees, making me withdraw from so many things. After a while, it's hard to see the shoreline. It's hard to feel attached.

Each time I experience something big that I can't explain or solve, I tend to withdraw. I am not sure why, but I usually make a deep dive inward to search for solutions - swimming around in muck and mire of it until it settles and I can see a little more clearly.

Talking things out when I am struggling is painful for me because it brings up the thing I am perhaps trying my hardest to avoid - answering the questions I don't yet have answers to. So I drift...away from the things that ground and attach me until I come out of it on the other side with all the right answers.  In the process, I become an island in a storm - sea pummeling my shores, wind wreaking havoc on my flora.

The thing I have come to find is that nobody has all the right answers. Ever. And you know what? That's okay. I am learning that daily. And practicing it even more frequently.

And until I perfect it, I will be here, building bridges back to that coastline.

Owning it

IMG_2384.JPG

Lately, I have been taking on too much.

Too many projects. Too much responsibility. Too much drama that doesn't belong to me. I am like a dry sponge just looking for something to soak up right now. And often, that means I am soaking in the wrong things...because to a dry sponge just wants something. Anything.

When I am in that dried up space, I try to pause for a second. Take a breath. And just be wherever I am. I quickly let go of what is not and hold on to what is – air...water...life...love...family..sunrises... sunset. These are the simple things. But they are the essentials that are as life affirming as they are neccessary.

We are all bombarded daily with stuff that doesn't belong to us, yet somehow tries to own us and take us down. Traffic. Deadlines. Money. And even just the simple, day to day activities like having food to eat, clothes to wear, and keeping a roof over your head are really stressful. But they don't have to own us. We have to learn how to own our own selves within this framework. The first place to start - every day for me is to take a simple breath and pause.

It's as easy and complicated as that.

Breathe.

reverb yoga

Working as a full time photographer is not for the faint of heart. With long (and very odd) hours of shooting and hauling gear around paired with even longer hours of sitting at a desk editing photos, it can be taxing on your body. Big meetings with board members, cancelled conference calls, and some seriously cut throat competition in the world can only add to the stress of an already taxing career.  On top of this, there is gear to keep up with, technology to sort through, and a craft that requires a lot of your heart and soul and energy.

In order to show up for a demanding career (and let's face it...life as a full-time, single parent), I have learned over the years that I have to show up for myself first.

Let me be clear for a moment.

I have lived under the notion for years that the only way for me to be a successful photographer or designer (or anything, really) was for me to work so hard at it that I had no energy left for anything at the end of the day. I was collapse-into-bed-tired all the time. And for a long time, that worked...to a degree. For 15 years of a career on my own, I hustled and hid behind a shroud of what I like to call "bizzyness." During that time, I had a toddler to manage by myself, 2 dying parents to tend, and a sister who passed away somewhat unexpectedly. Needless to say, I crashed.

A few years after my sister died, I bottomed out. Around the time of her death, I hit an all time low. It crept in slowly at first, like a rising tide. And then suddenly and swiftly, I was pulled under. I was depressed, anxious, sad and suddenly - alone. And I didn't know how to fix it this time. I was left with no energy to face the dance of each day, let alone a career I had worked my ass off to establish.

My body, mind, and soul was forcing me into a stillness I hadn't known before. I had no energy for anything. So I listened by being still and listening. And in that space, all I kept hearing was "This plane is going down. Put your oxygen mask on first, Libby."

The interesting part is that the oxygen mask looks different for all of us. It's disguised a little. My mask won't fit you. It only fits me. It fits me in the shape of getting right with my body, mind and soul. It fits me by shedding layers that don't belong to me...they belong to someone else.

Truth be told, it simply boils down to the essential practice of self care, doesn't it? Practice....because it takes a lot of repetition before you actually see results. It's like weight loss and skin care and anything you do to shed the layers or transform yourself. It's a practice. A routine. And it's life saving.

So if you are bizzy, or busy, or anxious, or depressed, if you are looking for an answer or a way out of your current situation, or if you just need to regroup...Stop. Pause. And put your mask on first. Because truthfully, the main thing you need to do is to slowly catch your breath and pull that oxygen mask over your own face first... and breathe.

Just breathe.


If you need help, someone to talk to, or just have questions about what all this looks like for me, please feel free to reach out. I am not going to sell you a product or sign you up for anything. I am just here to share my story and journey with anyone who needs help.

Happy Birthday

Birthday cake

In honor of another year around the sun, I have a list of 47 things I learned at each stage in my life. Enjoy!

1. Take baby steps.  It's not worth worrying about the magnitude of what has to get done. Take it in all in little baby steps and before you know it, you'll be on the other side.

2. Throw a tantrum. Not really...but every now and again, it's okay to just blow off a little steam and tell the world how you really feel.

3. Find comfort in your momma... or anyone that you are close to.

4. Get dirty. Eat Mud pies (okay, maybe not really). But get dirty. It's the only way to experience life. Hands muddy. Face marred.

5. Never stop learning - Learning is key to growing. Always keep a wide open mind and learn to say "I don't know" more often than you feel comfortable with.

6. Keep showing up. Even when you don't want to. Whether it's in first grade or just being a parent, sometimes showing up is the hardest part.

7. Always try to create something. Being creative isn't just for kids. It's for everyone. Finger painting, drawing, getting messy are just a part of how we learn and open out minds.

8. Be kind. Compliment someone. Help people who aren't as fortunate. Stand up for someone being picked on. Help someone who is struggling. A little kindness goes a long way.

9. Don't always listen. Sometimes tuning out the world is the best thing you can do. Turn off the news. Tune out the bullies. And keep marching your little march.

10. Grow gracefully. Getting older is no joke. But relish in it. Stop worrying about the number and just be you!

11. Realize your strengths. You have your own set of gifts. Use them.

12. Don't abuse yourself. Don't say bad things about yourself. Don't mistreat your body. And don't let anyone else do either.

13. Change is inevitable. It's been proven. You will change. Your body will change. Don't fight it. Just roll with it.

14. Handle pitfalls with pride. Sure, sometimes you make a fool of yourself.

15. Change is good. Even when it doesn't seem like it, change is a good thing.

16. Fall recklessly in love. Trust me on this.

17. Understand your true beauty. Not physical, but the beauty that makes up the whole you. See the you your family and friends see.

18. You are always just beginning. That's the beauty of life.

19. Follow your drumbeat. This can be hard to do. Especially when it's out of rhythm with those around you. But listen closely to that beat. It's trying to tell you something.

20. Slow down. Seriously. Stop rushing life.

21. Party like it's 1999.

22. Be proud of your accomplishments. They are always bigger than you give yourself credit for.

23. Hard work pays off....most of the time. This isn't always true. But most of the time, hard work pays off. You will always feel better knowing you put in the effort.

24. Shed that which no longer serves you. Friendships. Relationships. Weight. Things. Get rid of it if it doesn't fit you.

25. Stand your ground. No matter what others say, think or feel, make sure you are unwavering in your beliefs.

26. Love deeply. Sometimes it won't be reciprocated. That's okay. Because even though deep, feeling, big love is scary, It's the only way.

27. Lose yourself for a while. Free fall. You never know what could come of it.

28. Find your tribe. This is important. Your people know you. They come in the strangest forms.

29. Live on your terms. It's gonna piss some people off. But do it. Trust me.

30. Try new things.

31. Be ready for unexpected magic. It comes when we least expect it.

32. Dig deep. Sometimes we have to dig deep... even during the best parts of life.

33. Love unconditionally.

34. Buckle your seat belt. Life is a bumpy ride. Make sure you are buckled up for all it's twists and turns.

35. You can do hard things. You can. You have. And you will.

36. Listen. The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to listen intently.

37. Don't be afraid of letting go. Everything comes to an end, whther we want it to or not. Seasons end. Life ends. It's all a cycle. Try to embrace it.

38. Give yourself some breathing room. We are not meant to push through with limitless energy. Take a step back. Catch your breath.

39. Get close to God. Or the universe. Or karma. Whatever it is you believe in.

40. Rest. Or pause. Or just watch Netflix. Just remember to recharge. 

41. Go back to your roots. Know where you come from. It will answer a multitude of questions. Trust me on this.

42. Travel. A lot. See the world. Experience as much newness as you can. It's the best part of life.

43. Nourish yourself. Eat well. Sleep. Move. Drink water.

44. Trust your gut.

45. Ask for help. There are people out there who want to help you. Just look around. They are so very close.

46. Understand what you suck at. And stop trying to do it.

47. Lean in.

 

Summer Storms

summer storm

When the storms roll around, what do you do? Do you hide in the corner shaking like a scared puppy? Do you retreat as far away as possible so you can get out of the path of destruction? Or are you a "wait it out and see what happens" kind of person?

The other day, when this storm rolled in, I was ready to retreat. I was done with storms (it's been a long, rainy summer) both literally and figuratively. But watching this spectacle change by the second was compelling me to stay. These quick storms that move through are firey and fast, but they can be some of the most beautiful things to witness with their continuously morphing clouds and their intense colors and shapes shifting right before you.

As the storm came through, we waited it out an watched the mesmerizing clouds. I could have watched all day until the threat of lightening became more real than imagined and we all packed up and headed for home - wet chicken packed tightly back into our coolers. I was happy to be in the car, headed safely home with all my people in check.

I learned something though as I watched this storm and the people around me navigate it's perceived threat. I am quick to flee any crisis. Maybe I have had enough of tempting fate in my life or maybe I am just a chicken, but this storm looked ominous and imposing, and frankly I have had enough of that to last a lifetime - emotionally speaking. Honestly, I have never liked storms. Thunder scared me as a little girl and the rain always makes me feel like something is going to need repairing (hazard of living in the south in the summer and through hurricane season).

But maybe the storms are really just what I need. A big, fat reminder. Something to shake me up...challenge me to think and stop running away from problems that will be there with or without the storm. Or maybe the storms are there to remind me that sometimes things blow through quicker and easier than we think. That it isn't always about destruction. That sometimes facing it all is really what we need, so we can be present and be witness to all of it.

Whatever the case, I am glad I watched this morph, shift and change my view. Because honestly, a little storm might be all I need to face the reality of life.

Fifteen.

Fifteen.

How did we get here?

You are now well into in high school. A full-blown teenager. A rising sophomore. You are a rugby player and really close to becoming a full blown adult black belt – a true testimony to your grit. You are almost driving now - which scares the heck out of me. You are 6 feet tall (or more) and truly more beautiful than anyone I know - inside and out. You are kind and compassionate. You are braver and far more daring than most people I know. You are more patient than anyone I know - despite what your last name indicates. And you are so gentle and sweet with animals that it truly melts me.

I can't believe what an amazing human being you are. As much as I hate the passage of time and mourn that little baby that grew up way too fast, I am inspired and full of awe at who you are becoming. It's such an incredible thing to witness from this side of life.

I don't worry now about the the things that regular parents think about – the trouble you'll get into and the mistakes you'll make. That's how we learn, grow, evolve and become. What keeps me up at night now is whether this world will break you. I worry that it will convince you to be something you are not, or stifle that which you are. Because what you are is truly one of the most beautiful spectacles I have ever witnessed.

Your gifts are great, Graham. Your heart is huge. On your birthday this year, all I wish for as you blow out the candles is that you keep that with you forever. Don't let this world break you. Don't let them take you over. Own YOU... because what you are is a beautiful soul.

Fifteen is big. Take precious care of this age. But mostly, enjoy every last second.

Love,
Momma

 

The summit

 Raven Rock Falls. Lake Toxaway, NC

Raven Rock Falls. Lake Toxaway, NC

I just got back from a three week escape to the mountains of North Carolina, just off of Lake Toxaway in a cabin in the woods. While that may sound like a luxury to many people, I think it was completely necessary for me at this point in my life/career/year. I had reached the pinnacle of burnout. I was tired, cynical, doubtful and hurt. Being a photographer isn't for the faint of heart - especially in a market like Charleston where you can't swing a cat without hitting someone who carries the moniker around with them. It was time for a break. 

While I did break a little, I also did a lot of work. Not in the traditional sense of the word, but I did a lot of work on me...goals, dreams, values, and overall wellness. I meditated. I wrote. I thought. I slept...boy, did I sleep. And I challenged myself...physically, mentally and spiritually.

One of the most memorable moments on the trip for me was this hike to Raven Rock Falls on theToxaway River Trail. It's a special hike that takes you back and forth over the river to ultimately end up at this spectacular site - a towering 60+ foot waterfall that cascades and ends in a frigid pool by your feet. It wasn't my first time hiking this trail, but let's just say after 20 years, it felt like my first time hiking anything.

I expected to be challenged physically, but what I wasn't expecting is the emotional ways in which the hike would challenge me. I struggled, always last in line in the group. My footing was unsure. My body was cumbersome. I was sweaty and hot and hungry and nothing felt right. And to be honest, I felt downright mad about it all. I wanted to turn around and go home. I wanted to stop...to just sit there, like a stubborn mule on the rock, refusing to move forward. I felt as frustrated as a little child in my skin.  But the group pushed me to forge ahead to the final summit.

During the second half of our hike, I noticed something shifting. With each step forward, I saw us working together as a group. We looked out for each other. We took our time. We shared stories and laughter and our water rations. Suddenly, my perspective changed. Pushing through the hard parts encouraged me more. I wasn't thinking of how miserable I felt. I was thinking of how much fun I was having, how beautiful this was, how healthy and strong I felt. I stopped worrying and started just living in the reality of the moment. I stopped fighting the currents and let it take me where it was going to.

It is said that nothing good comes easefully. And I have to agree with that. Life's greatest moments are challenging - sometimes even when you are on vacation. While I took some time off this month from work, I was still working. My "work" became checking in with myself. My hike was a reminder that while there may be challenges and slippery rocks underfoot, you just have to keep on going. You may fall. You will stumble. You will sweat and maybe even cry a little. But you have to keep going. It doesn't have to be pretty. But you do have to finish what you started. 

So as I keep climbing through life - sweating on the path, slipping on the rocks - I will remember it's not always easy. But it is always worth it in the end.

 

On Saying Yes.

  I confess...I say YES to this a lot .

I confess...I say YES to this a lot.

I have spent the past month or so angsting over a fairly large decision for myself. I have wrestled with it, turned it over and examined it until I can't even stand it or myself anymore. I was relaying this to a friend of mine and told her the pros and cons and ins and outs of every minute detail. She listened...patiently. And watched as a squirmed around in my own self trying to convince myself that YES was the thing to say.

She was quiet and then from the clear blue said these words to me: "Just because the word "yes" is a positive word doesn't always mean it's the right answer for you."

LIGHTENING BOLT.

It was as though someone gave me permission to say no to something – even though the best and most logical answer would be a resounding "YES." But sometimes, just because it's right on paper, doesn't mean it's right for your life.

We often should ourselves right out of the things we really want to do because the world does it that way. I am, by all accounts, the most unconventional soul on the planet. I am a single mother. An artist. I work for myself. None of these things compute on paper. Yet somehow, I am still here. Standing on my own two feet and doing just fine.

If I had always listened to the shoulds, I would be married to someone I didn't love, working in a job I didn't want to be in, and just not taking any chances on myself. And isn't that part of life? Taking chances on yourself? Saying yes when you should say no and no when you should say yes?

I haven't made any decision yet, but now I know when I do, I will make if from a place of authenticity rather than obligation. I will decide from a place of freedom rather than ownership... love rather than fear.

So next time your YES rolls around, make sure to gut check yourself on it. Listen to what's inside. And do what's right for you. Because sometimes your YES looks like a NO.

Getting Balance

  My awesome spring break view.

My awesome spring break view.

I had a shitty "spring break."

Let me explain...

Like many of you, I have a school-aged son that was on spring break last week. We don't have a lot of spare cash these days, so a trip was not happening. Instead, I thought of the bright idea of camping for a few days in the mountains (something I have actually only done once in my life...smart thinking.). We set our plans and started the wheels of our camping trip in motion.

Of course, life being what it is, the universe had some other plans for me. Or maybe I wasn't fully committed in the first place. But my plans changed course somewhere the week before. Some great, unexpected work came up. My teenager had some specific ideas about his social plans. And then I slipped into saying yes to far too many things I didn't want to do. So our camping trip got cancelled, I worked a lot, and then became an unpaid Uber driver for my son in my spare time.

As the week progressed, I started to get increasingly more frustrated. I was mad at life...mad at myself. I felt trapped and owned by some imaginary rules I had set up for a life that I was supposed to live. And it only got worse as I scrolled through social media to see friends enjoying Caribbean vacations, European adventures, and good old US road trips. What's worse was that I knew in the truest part of myself that I was the one responsible for the way this week was panning out.

When I started to reconcile what was happening and got real with myself, I realized a few things.
1. I was in desperate need of a break.  I work weekends a lot. And when the typical work week rolls around, I am usually still working. While I do set my own schedule and have lots of freedom to make appointments and go grocery shopping at odd times, I tend to still feel like I need to be getting work done during the Monday-Friday, 9-5 hours as well. To top it off, I was going on weeks of constant work without a break. I needed a change. 
2. I was telling myself a story that wasn't real. Not everyone I knew was on a spring break vacation. In fact, I knew more people that had to work than those that did not. Spring break trips are a luxury, not a right. And I needed to hip check myself on that.
3. I was feeling sorry for myself. And that wasn't allowing me to live on a higher "vibe" - if you will. I was sulking and wallowing in self pity instead of changing my reality. Once you change that, everything changes. Literally...everything.
4. I wasn't seeing the amazing opportunity around me. I live in a place with abundant beauty. I am 15 minutes from the beach on a good day (5 minutes from one of the most gorgeous parks in the world). I have gift certificates to 5 local restaurants. I have a sister with a pool in her very own backyard. Enough said.
5. I wasn't saying "NO" enough. Not to my son. Not to his dad. Not to friends or neighbors. I was doing things I didn't want to be doing. I was creating my own misery and my own sense of disappointment.

Once I started seeing all these things, I began changing my story. I planned an Easter Brunch to see family I hadn't seen in months. I went to the beach. I watched the sunset. I played with the dogs. I went for a walk with a friend and talked about some amazing topics like meditation, family, and life changes that we are both on the precipice of making. Once I took the wheel back, I lived in the presence of joy and gratitude instead of wallowing around in my own self pity.

The best part of this shift is that it only takes a moment to change your mindset. For me, it finally happened when I got real with myself and realized I wasn't listening to my inner voice saying - SAY NO...YOU NEED A BREAK! I was trying to please too many people - clients, family, friends, neighbors. I wasn't voicing what I wanted to do. But once I finally followed through for myself (albeit with begrudging sighs and protesting from my teenager), everything shifted. In that simple moment of saying "This is what I want," I stopped being a victim of my circumstances and started taking care of myself. I started enjoying where I was in the moment.

  Squad. Goals.

Squad. Goals.

  My heart and soul got some much needed beach time too!

My heart and soul got some much needed beach time too!

  Beach time with friends where I mixed in a little work with a little pleasure.

Beach time with friends where I mixed in a little work with a little pleasure.

  Looks like they #brunchedtoohard.

Looks like they #brunchedtoohard.

 

Sometimes saying what you want isn't about being selfish or narcissistic...it's just about taking care of yourself. Simple, kind gestures that say "Hey wait...I'm important too!" Make yourself answer the call to do more for you. You know when the teeter totter of balance of your life looks like a chunky kid from gym class is sitting on one end with sandwich and a Snickers bar laughing at you for being trapped way up there. Take control back. He's not in charge.

Just get some balance.

Forge Ahead

sky

When we are caught in a sea of uncertainty, the best thing to do is to find a spot on the horizon line to focus on and paddle towards it with all your might. The seas may get rough. The winds and currents may be unforgiving. But you will always end up at your destination if you keep focusing on where you are headed. 

So eyes forward. And forge ahead.

 

Your Path.

I talk a lot about paths and roadways. I think perhaps because often mine hasn't been clearly marked and traveled (and also because I love a good hike or roadtrip). I always was attracted to the unclear path...the one with adventure and uncertainty along the way. I don't know why this appeals to me except that it seems like I just never felt that I wanted to march to the safe beat of a predictable drum. I wanted a path of the explorer and the adventurer. I wanted to be anything but ordinary.

But aren't we all that way? We are all looking to forge our own unique, individual path? Even if we take the predictable route, there is still individuality on the path - because it's ours. Nobody has the same experiences - even on that well worn path. There are always twists and turns, branches in our way. or fallen trees that trip us up. It's still our path. Even if it looks as recognizable as the next guy's...school, job, marriage, kids, soccer games, holidays, etc.

The important part is that you are forging ahead. The essential part is that you are experiencing it for all it's worth - the good and the bad. The ups and the downs. The hurdles and the turns. Take them in. Drink them up. They are life. This is your life.

This is your path. Define it. Own it. Walk it proudly.

 

Cracked wide open

There are a few times in my life when I have been broken apart. It's the kind of cracking open where you never quite put yourself back together the same way - in the way a seashell gets broken open after housing something so delicate and tender for so very long. You feel permanently broken in some way. And while these breaks can be repaired, the fracture leaves you vulnerable and wounded - fleshy soft innards now exposed. 

As it turns out, while being cracked wide open can be painful, it is also somehow beautiful as well. It leaves you changed, but somehow ready for something new. There is more space to fill up with less of what you don't need there anymore. There is more room for all the important things - growth, expansion, love, freedom. There is now room for learning and becoming something new. There is space in the vulnerability.

The thing I have learned is this: the beauty often comes from the breaking. The best part comes after all the smoke dissipates and the clean up begins, because what you are left with is often precisely what you needed to begin with.

Broken. Beautiful. Wounded. And ready for change.

Lessons in a foggy morning.

Fog

The other morning on my sunrise walk, without warning, the fog began to roll in at a rapid pace. We usually see fog come in from the sea at night around here, quickly burning off after the sunrise, but this fog came in from the land AFTER the sunrise. I thought I heard someone yelling to me, as if to warn me of it's impending arrival, but I couldn't be sure that my mind wasn't playing tricks on me.

The whole thing was so disorienting. You couldn't see very far in front of you which made me feel as if I was suddenly going the wrong way or something was going to be there that perhaps shouldn't be. Briefly, I felt like I didn't know my right from my left or which direction I had come or where I was supposed to be going. Instead of panicking like I wanted to (it's been a theme for me lately), I held on to what was true and what I did know. I trusted my senses - my hearing, touch (dry sand/wet sand) and what sight I had left - to lead me where I knew to go. Eventually, I ended up exactly where I had started, heading to the water and following it to back to the boardwalk and then on to my car.

This is something that happens daily for us. The fog rolls in leaving us disoriented. Sometimes you don't know where you are supposed to go. So you evaluate your choices. Sit and wait for it to pass. Or follow your instincts and carry yourself onward. Either is a good choice. Both will get you out of it. But both rely on you trusting yourself.

If you ask me, the trust is the hardest part. When we are hurting or down, our trust in ourselves can waiver. It can be shaky and confusing. It can be disorienting to feel along in our own fog. But most likely, you know what to do. Stop panicking. Breathe. Trust. You will almost always end up where you need to be.

 

Into the woods

forest

I grew up with a forest for my back yard. Not a national park, but woods so deep they never seemed to end. I would get lost back there for hours, wandering and wondering about things that only I knew about in my own head.  I would lose time – examining leaves, tree bark and chasing fireflies as I quickly forgot about time and how I measured up in a world that seemed to be so limiting for me...even then.  I would stay out there until I was called back for dinner or bedtime, weary and drunk from the air that seemed so fresh and pure.  So it's no wonder that even today,  I still feel most at home in the woods.

There is a sense of embracing that envelopes my soul when I stand amongst the trees still, hearing the crunching and snapping of the twigs and leaves below my feet. I don't worry about who I will encounter or what I may come across. I feel supported - as though there is nothing to worry about but me, the breath in my lungs and the muscles in my body. I feel loved and protected. I feel safe....and understood.

I don't live near much of a forest these days. So every chance I get to be amongst the comfort of the tall trees and the quiet rustle of the ground covering is like some form of unpaid therapy to me. We travel far and wide so I can breathe in the earthiness of forest floors as I my every step seems to kick up another smell as I leave behind another worry, another issue, another problem. And nobody seems to mind as I stop to catch my breath as we climb higher and further away from every little thing that was tying me up in the first place.

And I just fit right back in - comfortably into this world without boundaries or borders to tell me what I have done wrong or right. I fit right back into to home.

 

A day off

 An iPhone shot of my long day away.

An iPhone shot of my long day away.

This weekend, after working for about 4 weeks with no break, I did something uncharacteristically me. I took a whole day off. No emailing. No photo editing. No picture taking (except with an iphone). Nothing. I needed to get away from social media, email, photoshop and all the things that pull me in a million different directions.

This happened after a bit of a realization on my end on Saturday and something I admitted out loud: I wasn't happy.

Don't get me wrong. I am filled with appreciation and gratitude for everything I DO have in my life. But something wasn't jelling with me. Too much work and stimulation. Not enough downtime. Too much pleasing everyone. Not enough pleasing myself. There have been deadlines and hustling and meetings and computer time. But everything in my life felt a little chaotic.

This was a sign to me that I was overdue some time to decompress. I needed to do something for me. Self care and self preservation is most important. So, I headed to the beach where I always feel like I can breathe again and plopped myself down and decided to just BE.

I talked to a friend. I sat and stared at the waves. I watched my son swim and frolic in the sea. I walked along the edge of the shore. I dug my feet in the sand and let it crumble between my toes. I did all of this, over and over again, until I felt better. I did it until I realized that all the things we feel and see and want are all only dictated by the stories in our head. I did it until i realized what I really wanted was right in front of me, right at that very moment. Peace. Love. Friends. Family. It was all right there.

Often when we go seeking what we want more of, we realize it's been right there with us all along. For me, it's always been helpful to strip away the noise...the cell phones, the computers, the deadlines and the things-to-do lists. I can come back to what's real and what's most important...

For me all it boils down to is love. Pure and simple love.