There’s been this running theme in my life for the last few years, it’s all about telling your story. When I was doing a lot of photography my business theme was Let me help you tell your story and my own personal motto has been Tell your story for quite some time. Before I became a photographer I was a jewelry artist. I made soldered glass jewelry with butterfly wings encased inside them, I also often included small words and phrases. Many times these were custom orders with words that the client requested because they were so important to them. A name, or date. Something as simple as a reminder to breathe. All of these things were part of someone’s story, and part of what I believe made my Gypsy Wings line so special. Honestly, I believe these things so deeply that I had the words inked permanently into my skin about a month ago.
After making and selling custom jewelry online for 7 years, I finally closed up shop. I loved what I did, but it was time to move on to new adventures. This was about the time I wrote and published Rain Check. However, the desire to create has never left me. I just wanted to do so in different ways… Which is why I ultimately joined Keep Collective.
From their website: a collection of ONE-OF-A-KIND, interchangeable Keepers and Keys. Each one is a wearable touchstone, an instant reminder of the big things, the small things, and all the things that matter.
This customizable collection is the perfect way to tell your story. You can collect different keys (charms) and Keepers (the bracelets and pendants) and wear them in unlimited combinations. As soon as I got a good look at them I was hooked. My favorite part is that everyone gets to design their own, I loved being the creator and designer of Gypsy Wings, but I am so excited to share the opportunity for others to make something of their own that they will cherish.
So, I guess this is my official announcement. I am now a designer for Keep Collective and I look forward to seeing what stories you have to tell. If you are interested if finding out more about the jewelry, feel free to message me here. Or you can join the group I have created on facebook, HERE. I will be hosting some online socials very soon and for anyone local I will be having some here locally as well. If you would like to poke around my shop, feel free! You can find that HERE. <3 <3 <3
“Look at this, Georgia.” She said, showing me the photo she had just taken. We had spent the afternoon moving through the rooms in her house, carefully examining and trying to represent the words clarity and confusion. Both of us getting excited at the newest photo we took. Interesting that we each had a difficult time seeing our own images, but instantly saw the raw, true beauty in the photos we took of each other. I was curled up in her bathtub, leaning against the wall and strategically covering as much of my body as I could. “Look, do you see this? Do you see you?” For the millionth time I found myself on the verge of tears. It was hard to look at. It isn’t easy to confront yourself in such a way, to strip down, not only figuratively but literally… but that’s why we were doing it in the first place.
Can I just tell you, it is exhausting, being ok. Being ok takes a lot of energy. People expect you to be ok more often than not, and they don’t know what to do when you’re lost in the trenches. It takes effort to maintain the appearance of ok. Taking down the bricks and exposing my heart during our session felt immense. Allowing my wounds to be seen and witnessed… It was both what I needed and what I feared. What I know is that walking through the darkness is bringing me some of the clarity I so need, but to get there I have to sit in the shadows and rest for awhile.
The last few months have been a mixed bag of emotion for me. While I am profoundly grateful to have experienced some life changing events, there are moments where I feel broken by some of the after effects. On the hard days it feels like confusion takes over, throwing me completely off balance. The thing is, I don’t know how it happened. One day everything was good. Then there was a shifting of tides and the sand was washing away under my feet and the water was pulling me, dragging me out to sea… and now sometimes it seems like keeping my head above water is the best I can do. This isn’t every moment of every day of course, it isn’t even every day. But the confusion and sadness and disillusionment make their appearances often enough.
All I know is that I can’t see the end of the path from here. I’m on a road that twists and turns, and right now the sun is low and it’s hard to see through the trees and I can’t see around the bend up ahead. I also know that the sun will set on this day, or this week, or this month, and when it does I will wake up and watch the sunrise.
I’m meeting myself at the intersection between being ok, and not, and I’m wading through the confusion to where the light will illuminate the truth.
To learn more about The Holy Contradiction project, please read our posts here and here.
Each shot in this post was a collaboration, images of me were taken by Jessamyn, while images of her were taken by me and I did the edits you see here. To see Jessamyn’s interpretation of our session please visit her here.
What is it that you need? I asked myself. Hand pressed to the mirror, searching my own eyes for answers. To find myself again. The only way I know to find myself is to go deep. So I picked up the phone and sent a message. Our conversation went a little like this:
Me: I think we should do a photo session soon. I need to be seen.
Jess: Yes. I do too.
Me: I don’t like where I am. I don’t like what I see, or what I feel, so I need to witness myself through someone else’s eyes.
Jess: It’s always so easy to see someone else’s beauty. Why is it hard for us to see that in ourselves?
It grew from there. This idea that we needed to dig down and explore all these hard things, document the process of moving through difficult emotions, and really honor it. Because there is no joy without pain. There is no light without dark. Each of us is a wonderful, holy contradiction, and we can choose how we live that. We can choose to hide from our pain, to dull it. Or we can choose to walk through fire and feel it because there’s something amazing on the other side.
Our project is still somewhat evolving, but for now we will be exploring these things together with collaborative portrait sessions, using whatever tools we feel moved to play with. Sometimes that’s our big fancy cameras, sometimes it’s the camera on our phones. The important thing is to capture the essence of whatever words we choose to build the sessions around. We will also occasionally use self portraits if our schedules don’t allow us to set aside the time for the collaborative sessions. We are sharing all of the images from each session with each other, and it will be a surprise to each of us which images the other chooses to use. Each session will be built around a theme of two contrasting words which we hope to represent both visually, and with words.
Making our project public isn’t easy. Allowing someone to witness you and photograph you when you are raw and vulnerable is hard. Spending time with those photos, looking into your own soul… it’s hard. Putting them out into the world for anyone to see? Hard. Already, it’s been so interesting to go through all of the images of her and myself and notice how different I feel about them both. Like Jess said, it is easy to see someone else’s beauty, but extending that same grace to ourselves can be really difficult. Maybe the further we get into this project, the further into our own healing we get, the easier it will all become. That’s my hope anyway.
You can view Jessamyn’s introductory post here.
A boy of nearly three years old was watching a movie in the next room while I balanced our still very new four month old on my hip and waited for the results to appear in the window of the pregnancy test I had just taken.
He was a surprise. But the best kind of surprise. We weren’t planning to do this again so quickly, we already had two babies. But then again, sometimes the best things aren’t planned at all.
He came right on time. Sliding into our arms in the guest bathroom because I wouldn’t move to the birthing tub in the living room. I remember that I got a massive leg cramp during the contraction that brought him earthside, so strong that my calf ached for days. And I remember crying after he squeaked his first sounds. I remember my midwife using oxygen on him, just for a minute because he was a little slow to pink up, but he really was fine.
His labor was the longest I had experienced (at that point) at around seven hours or so. My water broke and we all thought he may be coming very quickly, because his brother’s labor was only one hour. But then, nothing happened and after our midwife arrived we all decided to take a nap. Several hours later she asked me to roll over for an exam, and at that point something in my body kicked into gear and the contractions came, fast and hard. He was in our arms less than an hour later. He was the biggest baby I’ve had. 9 lb. 3 oz and 21.5 inches long. A full head of white hair, the likes of which none of us, even our midwife had never seen.
Happy Birthday Kael Morgan. Each day with you is a gift to us all. I hope that your tenth year is filled with all the wonder and magic you have brought into our lives.
I missed the full moon.
This probably seems weird to most people. So what, it’s just a full moon. But to me it means a lot of things.
I’m not sure if I missed the moon because I wasn’t paying attention, or if part of me was avoiding it on purpose. The moon was a big thing for me over the last year and maybe part of me wanted to ignore it this time. Because sometimes when I think about the magic it just hurts and it’s probably easier to ignore. Let’s say that my River has not been exactly calm lately…
I do not like that I missed the moon. I also do not like this aching swirl of emotions. It’s this rollercoaster of joy and gratitude that shifts to tentative hope, and then plummets to disappointment and occasionally fucking despair over things that are entirely out of my control. Things that were supposed to be different than they are, like anyone ever has control over how things end up, right? But I’m still naive enough to hope when there’s a big flashing sign in front of me telling me that I need to move on.
People keep asking me, “how are you?” And I’m fine really for the most part. My day to day life is good. I have a beautiful life, I love it. And then they ask me questions I have no answers to and I smile and make something up and then find a way to change the subject. Because that’s easier than trying to answer something I don’t know or understand.
Anyway… I’m not sure what the point of this post even is, other than I’m trying to get back into the habit of daily writing, and even if it’s vague and boring I’m going to write what I can. And at the end of this month when the next full moon comes around, maybe I will be out there, ready, making my lists again. I could use some magic.