Friday, December 31, 2010


I've said enough about my 365 experience, so I'll leave you with the images (set).

Happy New Year!

What ya got, 2011?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Part 2 of 365 Wrap up 9:10

All pictures were chosen today because they work with the themes below.
Drum roll cause it's almost over with this post (2 more pictures)...
Part 2

The second thing I really underestimated about a 365: it was life changing.  My best and favorite photos were snippets of our life: ordinary moments that occur every single day.  Usually they're left uncelebrated & unappreciated.  But we do them again & again.  I realize now that my life is just a series of moments strung together.  Photography made me stop & look at them.  It made me highlight their beauty.  And when you are highlighting the beauty of found toys & a dirty pile of clothes, your life becomes full of opportunity to discover magic.  This is where I need to walk a fine line.  There are tons of bloggers that write beautifully & craft gorgeous photos their lives.  You're certain that their children never fight over toys, have never eaten something from a package, they've never snapped at their spouses, & they've never heard "You're a meanie."  (note: I heard "Meanie" three times yesterday) I quit reading those blogs & I never want to create those types of feelings.  Please don’t think that I walked around my house saying: Look at that gorgeous pile of filthy  dishes.  I’m going to wait & see just how beautiful mold will look in the morning sun.  Oh, look at that poo-stained piece of underwear.  Why should I teach my child how to wipe properly when he creates ART with every shit?!   We have the same bad days, the same arguments, the same whining, all the same shit that drives a family insane from moment to moment.  But photography interrupted those crap moments with a shimmer of gorgeousness.  Sometimes I was able to stop & appreciate.  Other times I was filled with too much anger & annoyance to care.




I would almost venture to say that 2010 was as life changing as the year I had my first son. This might be difficult for some to sallow.  He's your baby for god's sake & this is a couple of photos!  I hear it.  I do.  But go with me.  365 was a life change that I decided to control.  Every day, I was the one that made a choice for myself.  I let photography turn from a hobby into a passion.  When we decided to start a family that was the last bit of control I had with that life changing decision.  I'm not a control-freak, but everyone likes to feel like they have a pinkie on life's steering wheel.  After the decision to go off birth control, everything else was sort of like a sucker punch.  If that's too negative for some: a surprise hug from a stranger.  I like the sucker punch though.  Your life is going to change whether you want it to or not and children teach that you cannot control your life in the ways you’re used to.  That old type of control only means disappointment & added stress.  When you become a mother things cease to be about you & rightfully so.  Your life has to change in order for you to survive & nurture your children.  You begin the long journey towards becoming someone else & sometimes that can be at the expense of your self.  Many think selflessness is the way to be a good mother.  I’ve never felt that way, but somewhere along the way I got lost.  And during the 365, I started see a glimpse of that old woman again.  A very wise & good friend said something that stuck with me.  I’ll paraphrase because it wasn’t necessarily about women, but it runs along side my ramble.  Before kids were were these fun/cool people, why wouldn’t we want to be those same people.  Kids can take something. I think it’s finding a balance which I wasn’t doing a good job at achieving.  And it’s about finding out who you’ve become.  Mothers can inform other mothers about this change.  They could say, "Trust me.  You'll change with each milestone the kids encounter"   But new ones won't listen.  I wouldn't have seen it until now.  It wasn't a huge lump or a hairy mole on my face.  It was subtle.  I didn't realize it until I was wrapping up the 365 & I was trying to figure out why I loved it so much.  With the first kid, I would have said "I've got a handle on this.  I get free time with work."  Second kid, I would have said, "I've done this before..."  But by the time the second didn't need me as much (start of 2010), I got space & a little time to relax.  I would tell new mothers don't wait for that space to magically appear.  But I'll save that advice.   They won't listen because they're different...


 Up until my children were born, I knew who I was.   My mother shoveled self-esteem into us like Sloppy Joe's on a Tuesday.  And I ate it up.  I figured it would keep me full & satisfied throughout my life.  After my son was born, I realized I was changing, but I didn’t take the time to reflect on it.  Birth changed me in ways that were unimaginable & my life will always be full because of my children. But the 365 made the new me/the mother me a better person. It gave me a chance to work on something that was mine.  I didn’t only edit while the kids were sleeping.  Daddy’s here & he knows how to read books & play games too!   I got to escape into the office to edit & craft an image.  I got alone time that I appreciated.  Work alone time isn’t the same.  Alone time in the car with a sleeping kid isn’t the same.  Alone time after they're in bed isn't the same either: you're exhausted by then.  Alone time with something that fuels your passion is completely different.  Alone time while someone else is being responsible is luxurious & a must.  If as a mother you’ve never felt like you lost yourself, great!  If you knew who you were the second you changed that first diaper, I’m really happy for you.  But I didn’t.  And didn’t take the time to face that new person.  That new person isn't brand new & fabulous.  It's a version of the pre-kids woman, but I think a little softer.  It's a version that wants to be a little selfish from time to time.  It's a version that realizes she doesn't have to do every little thing.  This version will still bitch about doing every little thing & will prance around in the martyr sash whenever she wants.  This version doesn't focus on the doom & gloom that sometimes seems to swirl around the world.  This version will change again when it's time.



365 was life changing because it made me see the beauty this world offers.  It reintroduced a confidence that I forgot existed within me. It made me branch out & try different techniques.  It made me reach out for help.  It made me appreciate friendship.  The end of college & directly after is when I made some of my closest friends.  I thought friend-making days were behind me.  I didn’t try or care to add more to that group.  The 365 helped me create stronger connections to current friends & helped me find friends online that I desperately wish lived closer.  It gave me a chance to be less critical.  It gave me freedom.  It gave me something that was mine.  It gave me pride.  It gave me an awareness not based in fear.  It gave me all the other cliche crap associated with life-changing events.

I don’t believe that a 365 is the answer to life’s problems.  I don’t think that everyone will have the same results.  I don't think it's perfect for mothers.  I don't think every mother will say, "Oh yeah.  That's is me" at the finish.  I don’t think everyone who picks up a camera will feel its impact.  We all have something that will drive us & will enrich our lives.  For some it’s a good book & for some it’s a 365 project.  We just have to find it.  And we must find it for our families and for ourselves.  I'm looking forward to a break with the picture a day business.  I'm guessing I'll still take at least one, but it will be because I want to not because I have to.  I have no idea what 2011 will hold.  Will it be as life changing as 2010?  Who knows, but it will be different.  I’ll have a whole new string of moments to appreciate & loathe.  If I could revisit that afternoon in late 2009 & hear that woman ask, “Is this it?  Is this what life is going to be like?”   I’d answer that woman confidently with a smile & a pat on the ass, “Hell, yes it is!  Keep juggling, bitch.  And go do it with flare!”


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Part 1 of 365 Wrap up & 8:10

{This truly shows the power of processing.  Prior to taking the photo, this is exactly what my eye saw.  But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't capture all of warmth or glow.  Processing helped.}

I figured I'd break up my 365 revelation into two parts & post prior to 1/1.  I'm not sure how much time I'll have once Friday arrives.  And who wants to read someone's ramblings this close to the New Year?  I don't...  I want to be celebrating!

Part One, people.

When I started questioning a 365 for 2010, people voiced their opinions loudly.
Do it! It was life changing!: were the themes of these comments.  How difficult could a picture a day be?  Life-changing?  Seriously, it’s a picture, people?: ran through my head.  By the end of 2010, I can honestly say that I was wrong.  The 365 was hard & it was life changing.

In late 2009, I remember standing in the kitchen making pb&j sandwiches.  And I thought: Is this it?  Is this what life is going to be like?  I didn’t question it as if my next move was going to be an escape to Mexico under an alias.  I just questioned it like I had pondered other moments in my life. Was my reality living up to the view I had constructed in my mind before the incident had happened?  It never does because it's impossible for that to happen.  My first pondered moment was in middle school after I finally worked up the nerve to shave my legs.  I figured it would propel me into some other level of adolescence.  I’d emerge fuzz-free & almost a woman.  A few days later I realized I was still Erika only with shinier pasty legs.  I walked around with nicked knees & my mother’s voice in my head, “Why start now?  Once you start, you’re always shaving.”  Damn, she was right.  Years later, I stood in my kitchen feeling the same way.  I was fixing lunches with a load of laundry just out of eyesight.  Kids were hungry, again, dishes were piling up, and I had work to do.  I felt like I was always going to be juggling different balls while walking down a long tunnel.   Believe it or not, I wasn’t depressed.  I didn’t want to sell my children at the Farmer’s Market & I didn't regret having children.  I have children that are not close in age, so I realized things don’t get easier when they’re potty-trained.  Someone throws a new ball into the mix.  On that day, I just felt like I was juggling and walking through life.  And I couldn’t see how things would ever get easier or slow down.

I decided to start 2010 off with a project.  Not because of that moment in the kitchen.  Honestly that moment never crossed my mind when I jumped into the 365.  I really wanted to use my 365 project as a way to remember our year.  I didn’t want to become a better photographer.  I didn’t want to discover new things.  I just wanted to take one picture a day that would jog my memory in the future.   I proved myself wrong.  In a huge way…

With my 365, I discovered that I am a photographer.  In 2009, I was uncomfortable with the P word.  It took forever for me to breakaway from the title “I Just Like To Take Pictures.”  It doesn't help that people think your photos are only great because your camera isn't a Point n' Shoot.  I've had people say that to me & I've heard countless other photographers discuss the sting of this statement.  I was slowly emerging from the curse of a good camera.   But no one was asking me to take their picture, so how good could the photos actually be?  I loved them because they focused on my most cherished moments.  I loved them because they smacked me in the heart.  There's doubt if anyone else will feel the same emotion.  But by the time I began the 365, I was starting to realize that I was just plain good at something & I didn't need other people asking for photos for me to see that.  I did have a new obstacle in 2010 which was my hang-up of processing.  I spent a good portion of 2010 thinking that my photos were only good because I edited with Photoshop.  I felt like I was a hack or a cheat because I tossed an action on a photo & tweaked some levels.  Anyone with big check, good computer, & enough time could create fantastic images too.  Right?

At the end of my 365, I can say that I'm completely over those myths.  If I never get paid another dime for a photo, I will always tell people that I’m a photographer.  Payment does not make you a photographer.  Lots of payments don't make a really good photographer.  I know many people that have rarely if ever been paid & they are far superior to lots of professionals.  I also discovered & accepted that I have talent with composition & processing.  Just because I have an expensive camera & expensive processing tools, I still have a talent that can’t be replicated by spending the same amount of money on tools & programs.  Give any of the same tools & time to a stranger that lacks passion or an eye.   That stranger won’t be able to do what I can do.  I have also grown enough that I have confidence in making that statement.  Look at my stuff & say you hate it or it isn’t that good.  I’ll believe you, but I won’t care.  I might be wounded, but I'll use that to grow.  Some might read this paragraph & think that’s rather cocky.  If I wrote, “And I did it alone & I'm the best,” that would be ballsy, bitchy & cocky.  I would not be able to make these statements if it weren’t for the hundreds of people that inspired me & for the core group of friends who keep pushing.  For the first part of 2010, I was frightened of what people would think about my images or words.  I've learned that it's perfectly fine to take a picture anywhere in public.  No one will question you & you'll have gotten the shot you wanted.  I’ve learned that people are supportive & nurturing.  I’ve learned that a community will hold you up and make you see what you can’t.  Number one, my 365 made me a photographer.  It made me a better one & it made me an artist. 

Part two tomorrow...
I'm also going to be reposting this on Erika Ray Photography.  Probably not Part Two though.  I'm still unsure of my voice on that blog.  I guess that's something I should figure out in 2011 too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

7:10 (365 Countdown)


Monday, December 27, 2010

Tonight, I'm a Martyr. And I could give a shit.

I try really hard to not play the martyr role.  Maybe everyone around me would laugh & ask "Give up, lady.  You're a martyr through & through."  But I try not to.  Honest.  I do.  But as the kids get older, it seems harder & harder to fight that character.  But only as a true martyr would say: Aren't mothers created to become martyrs?  Really?  When the baby is placed in our arms, it comes with a little Martyrdom card hidden in the receiving blanket.  Maybe some mothers find it & others are blinded by their infant's beauty.  Like it or not even with the most helpful partners, I'm guessing that all mothers take on more.  The balance in a house with children is never quite level.  We do the shit jobs.  We rush when called.  We just do more because we can't fight it.  And eventually all good women can't help but feel like we do it without a thank you.  Maybe I'm relishing in my martyrdom today & I'm the only one that rushes or picks up shit.  Maybe I'm the only one that would like a hardy "Thank You" from all parties.  If I am, let me wallow.  Let me be a martyr for a day so I can get it out of my system.

Today, I was lazy & didn't make  or plan a full meal.  But I also didn't serve them cereal.  We've had cereal a lot lately because of sickness.  They could not have cereal one more day.  So I made grilled cheese.  They both ate their sides but shoved the sandwich out of sight.  "Eww" was the collective groan at my table tonight.  I'm tired.  There's laundry to be done.  There's dishes to be washed.  I made dinner & you say "Eww"?  Are you kidding me?  As each boy left the table disgusted with dinner, I sat among the untouched plates.  I made dinner.  I made dinner again that wasn't eaten.  Again!  It wasn't lentils or tofu which I've done & won't apologize for because sometimes they eat it.  It was grilled cheese.  GRILLED MOTHER FUCKING CHEESE!  I scrapped it in the trash.  Did the dishes.  Settled fights.  Covered up kids for the second time.  Folded laundry.  Made a side dish that actually made me say a genuine "Eww".  And wrote a Boo-Hoo post.  Tonight, I could give a shit if I play the martyr role.  Tonight, I'll wear it like a badge of honor.

I'm a martyr.
Tomorrow, I'll try to not be.


p.s.: Here's my 365 countdown picture.  Fitting.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

5:10 (365 Countdown)

Read more here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

4:10 (365 Countdown)

Because these boys & this type of moment is the reason I wanted to do a 365.  On day 119 I could have declared victory, but I continued in hopes of capturing more.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

3:10 365 Countdown

My 365 would not have been possible without my friends & family.  Because I really tried to take a picture of something memorable from the day, there was a lot of interrupting moments with a camera snap.  "I'll be back.  I need my camera." was said in some form at least a hundred times this year.  I'd like to think I was good at sneaking a shot, but I'm sure that wasn't the case.  Let's be honest, only I think that there's nothing wrong with a snap during dinner & only I think the shutter clicking is quiet.  I am positive this was irritating.  Thank you family & friends for putting up with this annoyance. 








Merry Christmas to you & your families!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas . . . Crap

The season between Thanksgiving and Christmas has never been a particular favorite of mine. Everyone seems to be extremely busy, rushing around to get the perfect present or the it toy of the year. Trust me, I’ve been there multiple times with the Girls. One year, Dave and I were hell bent on getting them Furbies and enlisted Bridget to buy them. On our ride back from Temple a week ago, they shared with me that they never really like the damn things and that they smelled weird. Basically, they didn’t like them but were too afraid to say so. I wonder how many other presents they didn’t really like and feigned enthusiasm for us. As the Girls have gotten older, they supply us with a list, usually with links and sizes and specifications on what to cut if it is too much. Nine times out of ten, nothing gets cut since their gifts tend to be something like a new nose ring or underwear from Victoria’s Secret. Sometimes, though, I get a little nostalgic for the days of toys and things that made noise.

She's protecting my knitting; from whom . . . no clue

This Christmas, things are still a little sedate on the present front, but it’s also taken a turn for the mellow with the decorations, too. Weather presented an issue for the lights, so we didn’t put them up. I’ve been really busy with our local education association, so we didn’t have a tree. We have one up now . . . but the return of Olive has changed the way we decorate it. She’s only tried to eat the lights, branches, and ornaments fifty bajillion times. Keeping a can of compressed air next to the tree has been the gift that keeps on giving in our house. It seems to be the only thing she’s mildly afraid of.

If only that damn cat believed in Santa Claus or was deterred by that f-in Elf on a Shelf book, I might have a chance of making it through the season with the tree intact.

- Jill

PS - We did start a new tradition of sorts last night, but the photos will have to wait until tomorrow . . . and so will the story.

2:10 365 Countdown


I need to say that these days were the most surprising & the most satisfying of 2010.  On these days, I met women that I only knew online.  For months, I had been inspired by their images & left a few words of appreciation.  With the first meeting, my work put me in Laura's hometown.  She agreed meeting me at a local bar.  After the ease of that meeting, I was excited to meet more of these women.  My family & friends still tend to get worried about me hanging out with strangers.  But I have never felt like these women were strangers & every meeting was fantastic.  My 2010 was better because of these specific days. 




[ carmen ]

Jessica Valle

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

1:10 365 Countdown.


I remember taking this photo & thinking that the project was going to be easy.  I caught the dog, Coop, & daddy in his jammies.  It's everything that I was hoping my 365 would be.  Moments that occur everyday which usually go unnoticed.  But I'm actually surprised that I kept this photo.  It isn't as crisp as I would have liked back then.  Sharpness was something that I was obsessed with back then.  Slight blur on a photo & I would have either tossed it or converted it to a Black & White.  But the above good points must have won out & I'm glad they did.  


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Coming. Can you See it? I Can!

Not Christmas, silly!  Everyone knows that day is coming.  I'm waiting for it to get here & blow over.

But the big event is coming.  I'm starting to feel it.  Starting to smell it like freshly baked bread that you can't see, but you know you'll be using butter on something in about 20 minutes.  The end of my 365!  While I've been dreading the daily photo for about a month now, I'm getting nostalgic about the end.  I'm working on a 365 movie & I ran it yesterday.  With Cooper on my lap, we quickly flashed through our year.  The winter went by faster than I remember.  The summer was a blink.  I remember the days I was sick.  I remember the days that I laughed too much.  I remember the days that I cried more than I should have.  Cooper took turns saying, "Remember" or "Don't remember" during the slide show.  I remembered everyday.  And yesterday I remembered the project with a fondness & joy that won't be matched in a long time.  Probably never will be.

Tomorrow, I will only have 10 photos left to snap.  Part of me is superstitious & wants to put up my "365 Thoughts" post now.  I'm afraid if I drop the camera, leave it in Target, the kids bathe it, or the dog shits on it, I'll be so devastated I won't be able to address my real feelings.  But the other part of me feels that if I do post it, one of those things will happen.  I'm not sure if I google "Clean dog shit off of camera" I'd get the answer I was looking for.  A middle ground for me will be to post some favorite photos or thoughts that came with the photo.  I'm not sure if I'll do it here or on the other blog, so add the other one to your Reader or check over there if you feel like reading about my year. 


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Facebook Love

Facebook is funny.  Isn't it?  I'm weird when it comes to adding people as Friends.  I have two Flickr contacts that "Liked" my page.  And I wrestled with adding them as Friends on Facebook.   We aren't strangers.  We comment regularly on each others' photos.  I figure if they wanted to be Friends, they would have done it.  Perhaps they have the same feelings about their Facebook as I do.   I felt like my Facebook was different than Flickr or this Blog because I looked at it being more personal.  How silly is that?  I share my tampons pictures on this & my Flickr page!  I would never do that on Facebook.  Never.  But I love Facebook.  I have discovered more new music this year because of the site (mostly because of this pusher).  I've read funny news stories that I would never have seen if it weren't for Facebook.  I got my holiday addresses in record time because of a quick email.  Half of those people, I've never had their email addresses prior to the Facebook age.  But I also hate Facebook.  I hate seeing where people are spending their days.  Especially if I'm in the middle of Nowhere, I hate when I see someone is on vacation or lunch at a favorite spot.  I'm happy for them, but I want to be somewhere spicy.  This is going to be a crazy statement, but I hate when people get overly mushy in their status updates.  My kid just threw up all over me, but I love them so much.  And isn't motherhood worth it?  Really?  I fucking hate when my kid pukes on me.  I get it.  I do.  Some people that just are Half-Full types.  I love the quick connection, pictures, interests, news bites, & all the other junk that comes with Facebook.  I even started a page for my photos.  So if you Like my photography page, would you get mad if add you? 

I swear that when my kid pukes on me, I won't romanticize it in an Update.  I'll be pissed.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

I feel like this guy.

I'm not a Christmas person.  I don't try hard to be one.  I don't think that I'm doom & gloom about it either.  I don't care if it's over-commercialized or over-hyped.  I just get lost somewhere in the hustle & bustle.  I don't think about what traditions we must continue.  I just do Christmas.  Gifts are slowly starting to trickle in to our hiding spots.  Items are being scratched off our lists.  I will make sugar cookies in the shapes of Christmas.  Reindeer will be slathered in frosting & Snowmen will have red hots for buttons.  Santa was visited, the picture was taken, & soon it will be added to our collection of past visits.  Christmas cards are stuffed into their envelopes & I'm using Facebook for good these days instead of seeing where my friends are having lunch (I hate that feature).  "Have you moved?  I think you've moved?" was typed a dozen times yesterday to a dozen different family members.  By the last one, I thought maybe I should just do a virtual card next year.  But I won't.  I'll get a hard copy in the mail.  With no letter.  I hate letters. We'll donate to giving trees & buy some new toys for Toys for Tots.  We'll root through our bins & weed out the toys that are broken or unloved. Rudoplh and Charlie Brown's Christmas have already been watched twice.  Elf and Christmas Story are on the play-deck.  Because we aren't traveling this year, it feels like a bit of stress has been lifted, but it also feels odd and unfamiliar.  We'll celebrate this weekend with Mark's family and my family will drive over a week later.  But this year, the boys will roll out of their own beds.  They will have to scream for us instead of running to the tree.  Mark will check if Santa visited and I will start the coffee.  They will get their "Morning Of Presents" picture taken and only then will they be allowed to run towards the presents.  When it's all done and the wrapping paper has been tossed and their favorite toys are opened, that's when Christmas joy will overtake me.  Until then, I'll bitch about what has to be done.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I seriously almost lost my mind yesterday & this was the exact moment.  If you've read Jill's previous posts, you'll understand that stress is rampant between us.  I can't really figure out why either.  Jill mentioned it might be the new site/business, but I doubt that.  I'm trying to take it easy with that new venture.  Winter photographs aren't the easiest to produce.  I just wanted to get it up & toss it out into the world.  I will be updating the site with a few shoots I've done in the past couple of months.  But it isn't stressing me out.  Work has been busy & I have had to travel quite a bit.  That's probably the main culprit of my stress.  Sitting in the car for hours isn't pleasant.  Coming home to an empty fridge isn't satisfying.  Playing catch up with every single aspect of home life can be icky & time consuming.  Yesterday, it almost broke me.  And there was nothing else to do but drink.

Currently, I'm handling more territory than usual.  I had some time & I agreed to help out in Buffalo.  I have never been able to get direct flights out of Columbus, so I had to make a choice.  Fly to Newark or fly to Cleveland.  I'd rather connect through hell over Newark, so Cleveland it was.  Connections mean early flights.  I drove to the airport at 4:15 a.m. & hoped for the best.  I know that you can't count on the weather in Buffalo.  I decided to avoid weather websites before my trip.  There's really no point as it will change in a second.  I got to Cleveland late & watched the Buffalo flight get delayed by 30 minutes & then an hour.  And finally I heard, "Sorry folks.  The Buffalo flight is canceled."  I had two other options to get to Buffalo. As the rep was explaining these options I heard another airline rep tell a passenger that Buffalo's weather was going to be crappy (not her word) tomorrow, I decided to just go home.  She got me on a noon flight & I was thrilled to get a free day at home. 

Across from the customer service counter was a bar that had an inviting sign, "We have Christmas Ale!"  Christmas Ale & Red Cups are my bright spots during the holiday season.  Christmas Ale is like cheer in a bottle.  Great Lakes added a little extra joy to this beer.  After two, I'm likely to run through the streets screaming, "Merry Christmas!"    After four, you might find me with antlers crashing an office party.   I spoke to my customers, called a colleague, & decided it was late enough in the morning for a beer.  I wanted to record this moment for my 365, so I whipped out my camera.  Lined up & went to focus.  Nothing.  Zip.  I fiddled with the menu options, but nothing seemed out of place.  I detached the lens.  Still stuck on the wrong focus spot.  I pulled the battery out & hoped for the best.  But nothing changed.

I sat & worried over my Christmas Ale.  What did this mean for my 365?  Was I going to only line up shots in my bottom left area of the lens?  I've got 60 days left & this shit happens?  I felt defeated.  Even the Ale wasn't tasting as good as it should have tasted.  60 days!  So I ordered another one & hoped that it was only the lens.  My plan was to fly home happy & toasty.  But life had one more plan.  The noon flight didn't take off until 3 p.m.

I got home & tried a new lens.  Same issue.  The focus was locked.  I was starting to become frantic.  And then I looked right below my controls & saw a little "L".  Hmm?  That "L" stands for "Lock."  Perhaps...  Maybe...  Click.  Problem solved.  Don't you hate when tiny things drive you mental?  When it's the easiest fix that has alluded you for so long?  With that little switch my stress began to melt away.  I finished the edits on a clients' shoot.  More stress slipped down the mental drain.  Organized & upload the shoot.  Sigh.  Emailed a link to the client.  Let a little more seeped out.  Read "Aww.  I love them" from the client.  And I felt pretty good.  If I only had some Christmas Ale, I'd celebrate.  Maybe I'll fly back to Cleveland...


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Joining The Party A Little Late

When I started reading about Reverb10 on various blogs, I didn't really understand what it was all about. But after a little bit of investigation (ahem . . . I configured Google Reader on my cellphone), I think I grasp the meaning. About an hour ago, Erika called and asked if this was a normal part of the year to feel stressed. I thought it was in response to my earlier post, but I don't think it was. So in order to feel somewhat "normal" at the end of 2010, I'm joining Reverb10 . . . and hoping to begin 2011 in good shape. Here are the first five posts:
  • December 1: Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you? My word is unbalanced. I spent most of 2010 in a very unbalanced state. The Girls had left for school, and I don't think I really knew who I was or what I wanted. For the past 18 years, the years when most people are figuring out who they are, I was their mom. Granted, I still am, but when you parent from a distance, it changes your perspective. A year from now, I'd like my word to be moving, not in the literal sense, but in the sense that I am moving forward with a lot of thing. 
  • December 2: What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? Honestly, I don't really write unless it's on the blog or for samples for my students. So much of my writing is tied up in teaching others how to write that I forget I am actually a good writer. Eliminating the doubt behind that and setting up some time to actually write could help me remember that girl who craved writing assignments from Sister Mary Whatshername. 
  • December 3: Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). Jordan and I decided to head out in search of the perfect wide, open space. It was a prompt from Picture Summer, and I really didn't have any idea what I was going to do. I asked if she wanted to head to the Water Gap in search of some broad expanse of the mountains, and surprisingly, she said yes. We drove and drove and drove and took a turn up a road called National Park Road. The hard paved road turned to crunchy gravel to corrugated dirt to dirt mixed with green grass. Still, we pressed on, stopping periodically to snap a photo or two. All the while, we talked, which is something that we hadn't done much of this summer. On that day, trying to figure out if we were headed to our own version of Deliverance, I felt alive. 
  • December 4: How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? A lot of wonder has been in spent in self-doubt, which seems to come naturally these days. However, I find that I never, ever tire of learning. Something piques my interest? I'll spend hours reading all about it. Watch movies on it. Find patterns that reflect it. I guess you can't turn off the student in me any easier than it is to turn off the English teacher. 
  • December 5: What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? I let go of the ideals that I have formed in my brain. The constant need to fix things. The desire to have the "perfect" life. Because none of that exists . . . but at least I can acknowledge it these days. 
There . . . that feels better!

Conferences BAM


When Life Gets In the Way

There was a time in my life when I believed that stress didn't exist. I even was dumb enough to say that to a group of people. I wasn't incredibly young; hell, I think I was in my mid-30s and Lord knows I had encountered my fair share of stressful situations: having children while still in college, finding out that one baby was really two, coming out of college in a recession, applying for Welfare . . . all pretty stressful. Still, I never really felt it.

But lately, stress is becoming a little more known in my life. Last year, several people commented, "You look like you've lost weight," which is always nice to hear. However, I knew it was coming from lack of eating properly. These days, I'll eat sometimes to stay awake if I am doing something that needs to get done . . . which isn't a good idea. Knitting has always provided a kind of stress relief for me. Even that, these days, is compounding the stress that I feel. The night before Thanksgiving, I decided that it was high time to finish one of my sweaters. I had plans to wear it to school the next week, and I knew that I needed to finish the sleeve . . . that's right, one little sleeve. I picked up the stitches but felt that something was wrong. See, on the other sleeve, I remembered the number configuration, and this sleeve was not the same. After some "heavy math" and questioning Dave about my calculations, I discovered that I had fucked up this sweater AGAIN. Seems that this time, instead of felting the damn thing, I put too few stitches on waste yarn for the sleeve. If you are a knitter, then you know that this type of thing is fixable by doing one thing: ripping it out. If you aren't a knitter, then think of something that you can't fix save for starting all over. Note that I said AGAIN. I won't bore you with the details, but you can read all about it here.


After a minute of dumb-founded confusion, I started crying. Dave came over and held my hand, telling me that it would be okay, but sometimes you just know. The Girls came back from a friend's house about that time. Later, they would tell Dave that they thought my father passed away. No, Grandpa is still kicking . . . but your mother is a knitting failure. I pulled out all of my easy knitting projects and decided to finish them since I needed that kind of "pick-me-up." I took the sweater to my Knit Night just to see what everyone thought. Pretty unanimous: rip the sucker and start over.

Honestly, if wool burned, I would have a pile of ashes right now instead of a bag full of shit.