There’s this place filled with creative thoughtful people who share many of the same philosophies and respect each other when their opinions differ. The thing that bonds these folks together is a common love for the art of photography. Strange thing, though, this neighborhood? It’s virtual. It’s Flickr and blogging and Facebook (and others I’m sure). It’s women who check in on each other when one hasn’t been around for a while. It’s a mutual admiration society in the best way, and it’s a visual feast. It’s friendships 2.0 – weird, maybe, to your grandmother. People who’ve never met – sharing intimate details of their lives with each other and trusting one another with secrets. It’s following your gut instinct and it’s impossible to explain to our kids (whom we would never ever allow to do the same). It’s meeting a bunch of strangers for lunch and conversation and it’s some of the most intimate friendships I have ever had. I can’t fully explain it except to say that we don’t get to choose our actual neighbors. And while I’m beyond lucky in that department, there’s something to be said for creating boundary-less networks and filling them with souls who we just plain connect with.
Last month hundreds of these women (I don’t mean to be sexist, but I can’t actually think of any men in my network) took part in an annual ritual of thanksgiving. We counted our blessings in images every day for thirty days. We went about our days considering what we had to be thankful for (and photographing some of them). And while I’d like to tell you that I spend my entire life like this, it wouldn’t be true. But for one month all the nit-picky crap was overshadowed by the small blessings of every day. And of those, there are many.
At the onset, I thought of it as a useful exercise in creative photography. Before long, though, my thinking had begun to change. New habits perhaps? A movement toward a glass-half-full mentality? I’m hoping.
Insert reality check: the things which annoy me daily did not go away. Scrubbing toilets did not become a joy and long dark cold afternoons did not suddenly become light and warm. But truth be told, things I may have previously ignored became drops filling my glass beyond that halfway line. So today, though I might not write about it, or even photograph it, I will walk through my day looking for the things I’m grateful for.
And I’ll start here. With you, my friends.
now that i’ve sufficiently lowered my expectations (and possibly yours) i’ll forge on ahead to the next stage of all this and share some of my truth.
i’ve got cookies in the oven—it’s a sunday thing. my family, set in their ways as they are, is suspicious of any recipe that takes them away from our standard chocolate chip—time honored and committed to memory. and yet, i can’t help but venture out in search of something greater. today’s experiment comes to us from the most lovely of blogs. do visit molly and come back and thank me.
as i write, there is a small child skipping around the sofa clad only in superhero underpants and a backpack. he is in the midst of a running dialog with himself and, although i can’t hear every word, i’m confident it includes the fighting of evil forces in the universe. where does the fascination with superheros come from, i wonder. i’m told that ‘boys will be boys’ but just between you and me, i’m not buying that—i believe that parenting can prevail (somewhat) over such stereotypes. having said that, however, i let my boys play with dolls and yet they often choose weapons. can you explain this?
as i look up now i think it’s only right to tell you that he has changed into a batman costume with a surgical mask covering his mouth and now is armed with a helicopter.
i danced with my father last night.
there is no feeling in friendship quite like the feeling of being known. and no matter how insightful or magnetic a connection, nothing can take the place of longevity.
i’ve been busy of late with projects that all came to a head at the same time. the involvement has been a pleasure but i’m somewhat overburdened and believe i need a stern lesson in saying ‘no’.
tomorrow we embark on a journey. an annual pilgrimage of sorts. bathing suits and sweatshirts and jeans packed tightly into the car which heads to a ferry. a week of sandy toes and salty air. a week of navigating the politics of a nine year age difference and two children. it’s no different, really, from what we do every day. but on vacation things are heightened. the joy and relaxation right along side with the bickering of boys. i read this and frankly, don’t have much to add right now.
I met a woman this summer who told me that she had trouble enjoying summer because of the lack of routine. She said she wasn’t sure what to do with herself because she was outside of her normal schedule. That conversation stayed with me for weeks and kept popping into my consciousness. It’s only now, on this first morning of returning to our prevailing household routines that I am understanding why, exactly, her words made such an impression on me: I thought she was crazy.
I couldn’t understand what she was talking about. I love days when we get to wake up and let our moods dictate our activities. To me, the two scariest words in the English language are ‘office job’. Now, don’t misunderstand here, I’m a creature of habit to be sure. If there isn’t a cup of coffee within the first five minutes of my morning, my entire day will be off. And I believe wholeheartedly in the value of certain routines for my kids (stories before bed are crucial for example)—but I’ll be the first to tell you that there’s no rhyme or reason to which ones give me comfort and which ones make me shiver with anxiety.
As much as I love the summer routine of having no routine at all—with each passing day in August, as the sun sets a few moments earlier, there is an anxious undercurrent of knowledge that it’s going to end. That soon, all the going-with-the-flow and doing-what-we-feel is going to give way to alarm clocks and set schedules. Certainly it all has it’s virtues: new beginnings and fresh starts among them. In our religion it’s the season for repenting to those you’ve sinned against and (my interpretation) contemplating your goals for improvement in the current year. All worthy.
This particular autumn brings change for my family. A new school for Jake. A solo trip across the country for Niall and I. More designated working hours for me. Growth and forward movement.
And so I take my anxiety and swallow hard. Step forward into the next season and set that alarm clock.