beach

My world in a seashell

shell

I have many memories of my father. He was a passionate and sensitive man who was raised in a time where it wasn’t really accepted to be a sensitive man. But it was always within him, even if it was stuffed down and suffocated by the masculinity and machismo that ruled the world at that time. Whenever we visited the beach - or the seashore, as he called it - he would marvel at the colors of the seashells. “Just look at the colors,” was a perpetual exclamation as we strolled along the seashore, picking up tiny shells along the way, gazing at the rainbow sherbet sunsets of Kiawah Island, where he retired long before I graduated from high school.

He didn’t grow up embracing the loveliness of the little things in life because his siblings wouldn’t have stood for it. Led by fear (and maybe a little ignorance), they would have given him a proper bashing for it, I am sure. But in his distance from his family and surrounded by people who made him feel safe, he was allowed the space to marvel at some of the most magnificent creations on this planet. Moreover, he was allowed to be more who he wanted to be.

My dad recreated himself over the course of his life. He came from very little, and left behind his upbringing in the East Midlands of Post-war England to start over in the USA - the land of opportunity. In his early days here, he worked hard all day, saving money to make a difference for the future of him and his family. Each night, he would go home to his quarters at the local YMCA, dreaming of his future, scheming of how to get there. He feared nothing, often standing bravely in the face of so things that would many of us crumble and give up. The man NEVER.GAVE.UP. He was resilient, resourceful and had a blind faith in life. Most of all, he was always there for us as a family, holding us both emotionally and physically up when whenever we needed it.

All that is important and significant to who he was as a person....

But along with that, he was vulnerably sensitive. He felt deeper than he would ever have admitted…. perhaps more than he even intellectually understood. He saw colors in seashells and vulnerability in animals. He loved flowers and sunsets and babies and puppies and sent me more cat litter advertisements than I would really admit to most people (“now this is a good ad, love…” was something he said often to my young, art director self). He loved us with silence and strength. His heart was kind, but it showed mostly when he felt safe to show it to you - like a dog that had been beaten down, you had to win his trust and affection. He was a dichotomy of fierce love, strong will, and a gentle sensitivity that is unmatched in most humans.

So each time I walk down the beach, this is what replays in my mind like a broken record: “Just look at the colors.”

I see him, walking next to me, bent over to pick up the nearest shell and marvel at it, like countless others before it. Warm corals. Bright yellows. Creamy pinks. Cerulean Blues. Vibrant purples. He’d look to the sunset and telling me to see as many as I could in my life, reminding me that - like snowflakes - no 2 sunsets are the same. It’s like an old movie in my head, flickering quietly to the background soundtrack of Charleston’s warm ocean waves lapping gently against my feet.

I see him in the seashells and the sunrises. I see him in the babies splashing in the surf and the sandpipers running along the shoreline. And if I silence my mind, I can feel him - his gentle and strong arm, leading me just to where I need to be.

Sunrise, Sunset.

summer sunset

Letting go of a sunset is a little like saying goodbye to something you love. It's bittersweet - painful and a little beautiful all at the same time.

But while each sunset can feel like a goodbye, each sunrise can be a fresh start...a hello all over again. It's a reminder that the circle continues, and life just continues to renew itself over and over again. Each day brings something a little new, a little different and something to look forward to all over again.

The faith comes in the letting go...in the sunset. And the affirmation comes with each new day.

 

 

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.

 

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.

Summertime

A little look at our iPhone summer.

A little look at our iPhone summer.

Summertime in Charleston is full of beach days and pool time, flip flops and wet swimsuits, picnics and prosecco.

We don't always have the budget to travel to exotic locations every year or to go on exciting adventures every weekend. But we do have the budget to go to the beach for a few hours to ride the waves, search for sharks teeth (my new summer obsession) or watch a few sherbet-colored clouds float by the fading summer sky.

We get to dance for a little while longer under these lovely, lingering summer skies. And I plan on doing more of this. More meals by the sea. More days lived by the rhythm of the waves. More schedules set by sunrises and sunsets. And come August 15th, I will sigh a little more heavily as our once simple days wash out in the waves once more. 

Standing on the edge

seashore

We are all standing on the edge. Nobody can be certain of what's to come and take us away or what will be left at our feet. Some days, there are small treasures to be found in the tides that change before our eyes. And others, it feels like there is nothing left...that everything has been taken away in the current and swept back out to sea, leaving us empty handed and broken.

One thing I know is that the treasures will come. If you stand still long enough in the same spot, they will be deposited at your feet like gifts from the sea. If you move, you will find them if you look hard enough. But the treasures will always find you. No matter what.

Be patient. And breathe. It will all come in due time.

Throwback

beach boy

I took this photo towards the beginning of the summer. My son came with me on a family shoot I had scheduled weeks prior and the weather was too nice to leave him at home - even though he wasn't super interested in coming with me.

I love stumbling across photos you forgot about...old ones and new ones. It sharpens the memories a little more so they aren't lost in the back of my mind as I shop for groceries or schedule vet appointments. These overlooked little gems are like tiny diamonds, once again cutting open that forgotten pathway to my heart.

Looking back at this photo, I can almost smell the ocean. I can feel the humid evening wind as it gently tousles his hair to and fro. I can remember the milky light that evening and the warmth of the sea. It all just comes back - melting into one memory and sealing it's way into my heart once again.

 

Baby Love

baby love

Baby love. On the beach.

Sweet, sweet baby love. This shoot with Monica and her sweet family seems surreal in a way. I knew her when we were both single, young professionals and our lives were much, much different. Now here we are, years later, with kids of our own and families to take care of. It seems like a lifetime has gone by in a few short years.

Lucky for both of us, it's a lifetime of love and memories.

 

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."