Adjusting to life in Illinois has been interesting to say the least. I am just trying to take it all in at a one day at a time pace.
I am realizing that with this new space and place I don't have to constantly walk around on eggshells anymore. I don't have to fear what people think they know of me or how they define me.
I have changed a lot in the past two years. Losing my father has caused me to change how I looked at the entire world around me.
One morning I woke up and I looked in the mirror and saw a person I did not like...a person I did not know. I spent ten years of my life trying to fit into a mold I did not belong.
I spent the next year searching and I found myself again. I found my reason and purpose to be in this world. But I still felt incomplete. I was surrounded by people who didn't want growth or change in their lives. Or they wanted it, but were not willing to fight for it.
You are a lot of who you put yourself around. Their energy and vibes feed into you. Not only in our friends... but our neighborhood and community too. When I realized this, I knew I had to leave. I could not strive to be the person I was meant to be and have the life I wanted for my family in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
My husband and I spent the next year researching places to live. We looked into about 10 states, but only put in for job transfers in Washington, California, Illinois, and New York.
We were approved in both Washington state and Illinois. However, we went with Illinois because they offered more money, was closer to family, and had several gated communities / subdivisions.
I wasn't sure what to expect and how my life would fall into place into place here... but so far I am loving the direction things are going.
Every afternoon it's been nice weather, Poppy and I have been walking the nature trails in our subdivision. Poppy brings her tablet to take photos and I bring my camera.
The beautiful spring birds are out. My favorite are the Redwinged Black birds and the Tree Swallows. I had to look up their names on google and now I am inspired to journal them. I ordered a "birds of Illinois" book and plan on learning as much as I can.
You can probably expect a lot more pictures like this (smile). I really enjoy bird watching and nature photography as a whole. It's relaxing and nice to have something I can share with my toddler.
I continue to struggle with not having you in my life anymore. We're coming up on two years since you've been gone, but lately it feels like day too...not year two. I worry that I am not getting better. Sometimes I fear that I will never get better.
I find myself angry a lot. At myself, at the world. At everyone who can get up in the morning and live their lives. I am so livid that nothing feels the same. Like the colors around me. The greens in the grass, the golden oranges in pinks in a sunset. They don't look the same to me. They look off... like when I didn't set my apature properly. Like I am looking at a world with not enough light.
I am haunted by the things that were not said. Before you died.. the morning you passed you told Robbie there was still so much you wanted to tell me and it kills me that I will never know.
I am not the most loving person in the way of hugs or physical touch. And I wish, as an adult I would have hugged you more. I wish I could have given you more actions than words. And you know what I think about? Holding your hand as you passed and the last time I did that before that day. I think I was 12 or 13... you grabbed my hand to cross the street and I remember thinking oh god what if someone from school sees me. I feel guilty now for thinking that.
I am a mess of guilt and burdens that I know are not exactly mine to bare but it doesn't stop me from feeling them all. Knowing things were not my fault doesn't help me sleep at night.
We are soon entering the 3rd month of 2018. Tavo and I are faced with a life changing decision and I have no idea what to do. We are so very lost and I desperately need your wisdom. I feel like you are the only one who could have lead us in the right direction. Honestly, dad? My life has been a string of choices that haven't always been in my best interest since you passed. I find it so hard to even think about the direction my life should go as to me... my whole entire world has stopped moving.
I guess... here is some good news. I have reached back into therapy. That is where this letter is coming from. I am trying to deal with my PTSD in a constructive way. This letter. I know you will never ever read it, but maybe some day someone will come across it. Maybe it will help them.
I love and miss you. I hope there is more for you. I hope in some way you are still you and you are happy. I love you very much and I think about you every day. I know if I could be half the person you were my kids will be ok.
I will continue to write to you. And I hope that some day these letters won't be so sad.
I really thought that this year it would be easier. I could come into November feeling productive. Host a #LungCancer project, have a happy Thanksgiving dinner, smile on your birthday... but I have not been able to do anything. I still struggle to get up in the morning. And this past month has been one long string of what feels like never ending anxiety and depression. I could give you a fancy metaphor about dark deep holes forming below me that I fall into. Not being able to climb out...That feeling of absoulte hopelessness. But....Maybe simply saying that the part of me that died in June of 2016 is now killing what was left of the person I used to be. If you could see me now, I know you would not be pleased with what you saw.... Still, even that isn't motivation enough to claw even a tiny hole to peek at the light that was once there. I used to be the happy friend. The one always making jokes and people enjoyed being around. Now I have no one left. And I can't blame them as I don't even want to be around myself. I miss you, dad. You were the only person who understood me and loved me unconditionally. You were more than a father, you were my best friend. I wasn't ready to say goodbye. None of us were. There were just so many things that were unsaid. You were supposed to see Ashlie graduate and tell Poppy stories. I don't like being the oldest in the family. I don't know how to guide and keep everyone together. I feel like I have failed you and I can't keep my promises. As I write this I just feel even more crazy as I know you will never read it. Your consciousness, your energy is moved on into space or the Earth... you.. the things that made you, you are gone. And grasping that just tortures my mind. I am so tired of being tired.
This morning on Snapchat I saw some awesome posts by Brenda Waworga. If you don't know who she is, please check out her work http://www.brendawaworga.com ! She is a really awesome photographer with over 300k followers on her social media. She is absolutely fantastic with her craft!
This morning she did an expectation vs reality behind the scenes that really shows what a difference a pro photographer makes vs someone with just a cellphone. It also really digs deep into the quality of work because let's face it - not all "professionals" can work with anyone and any circumstances. And even buying a 2k camera doesn't mean your images will come out like these. Some need their studio, or that perfect location. While some of us can find inspiration wherever they are. I think it separates the photographers who did this for money, or the ones that do it for ART. The ones who always strive to do better and improve. Always learning. Always teaching and sharing. I have been doing this a little over ten years now and I still find myself striving to be better. I think there is always room for improvement.
So taken from Brenda's post, I got a little inspiration this morning, I would love to share with you guys my own behind the scenes. I know a lot of people wonder where my pictures are taken and you may think you need the perfect location. And honestly, that does help. But sometimes you have to make the most of what you have. It is a lot of hard work at first and learning your camera.. Then it's a lot of inspiration and finding your muse. Building a beautiful image in your mind and putting it out there making it a reality.
A little background on this... As you guys know, I love abandoned buildings and houses. We were heading to one location to find out it had no access at anymore. I do not believe in breaking into the places I visit, so this location was a no go. We were Definitely bummed and not sure what we would do. But then I saw a little grassy area next to the parking lot and we decided to take some pictures over there.
I still consider this to be one of my absolute favorite shoots. It was random and an unexpected location, but we really made the most of our surroundings. Photography for me is absolutely about creating something magical and memorable. I am so glad that Brenda came out and showed just how these images are done and the work photographers actually put in to make these perfect shots.
Thanks so much for reading! If you would like to see a few more images from this shoot... I have them in an album here: https://sugarygiggles.pixieset.com/native/
These are my purchases. I feel really good about it and plan on talking about my new pretty stones in a future post.