Thursday, October 31, 2013

Samhain Gratitude

Today I am grateful for the adorable kids in my life. My Goddaughter, above, enjoying her Halloween as a zombie princess and my neighbor and new friend's baby, below, being the cutest baby chicken for Halloween.  Children remind me to play and see the world with fresh eyes. Plus, they always make me smile.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gratitude In Letting Go, Forgiveness, Food, Messages and Surprise Gifts

Today I am grateful for small steps in letting go, affirmations of self forgiveness, messages of support from friends, sharing awesome food with neighbors/new friends and a surprise gift from a sweet friend.  I can't wait to sit down and get into this book from Chris Orwig. Already I've read a blurb in it about my favorite street and portrait photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. 

"We must avoid snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole." -Henri Cartier-Bresson.

That quote can be applied to so many things in my life right now.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

On Being Homesick and Grateful

Crane Beach

Have you ever thought about doing something so big that it would be considered a major life change and thought, “I could do that. No problem. It'll be an adventure.”? Like picking up your life and moving it 3,197 miles from your family and everyone you know and love? No sweat, right? It's an adventure. You live for experiences and you love to travel and get out there and see the world!

Well, have you ever gone through with it and it turned out to be “no problem”? Because if you have, I need to know how you did it. I'm gone 3 weeks and 3 days from the town I consider my home and I'm a homesick mess.

I miss my son the most. This is the first time we've lived in separate towns, let alone clear across the country from each other. (Well, apart from being across the country from him when he was 9 months old because I was called back into the Marines for Desert Storm.) For the last 23 years, no matter what, it's always been him and I. Even if we weren't living in the same house or the same part of town we were always connected. We're still connected but now I can't just drive across town and have coffee with him or go on a hike with him or go have Terminator Milkshakes with him at McMenamins.

It. Is. Painful. So painful.

Part of me feels like a huge baby and if he's handling it well, then why can't I? The other part of me says, “Well of course it hurts. He's your son.”

He's my son.

Chances are he will eventually move out of Portland (maybe) and if I was there in Portland when he moved away, would I feel the same as I do now? Of course I would. But knowing that Portland was where he jumped off from and feeling like I'm holding a sense of space for him to come back to would be so much different then where I sit right now 3,197 miles away from the place we've called home for the last 11 years.

I miss my son. I know that somehow this distance will turn out to be good for both of us, but right now all I know is that I miss him.

I miss Portland, too. I miss the small towns in the big city. I miss being able to call up a friend and go grab a beer just for the hell of it. I miss the quirkiness. I miss knowing where everything is. I miss the queer community. I miss my friends.

There are things I haven't yet done here on the East Coast that I'm sure once I get some funds coming in and do them I'll start to feel the adventure part of this experience. One of those things being spending time with fellow photographer Syd London in New York. Seeing Times Square for the first time. Maybe even seeing Brandon from Humans of New York out and about shooting more beautiful photographs for his project. Or visiting my sister in Connecticut. Photographing a New England winter, spring and summer. Getting down to Florida to finish up my own project shoots. Meeting lots of new people.

In addition to being homesick, other things are eating away at me during this transitional time. Like the way my leaving Portland looked to a few of my close friends based off of things that were posted on a social networking site. (I swear those sites will be the death of society.) Things weren't as they seemed and there didn't seem to be any room for clarity from me. There's so much pain wrapped around that. I want to reach out but don't even really know where to start at this point. Perhaps time will make things clearer with regards to reaching out or leaving it be. I don't know.

Giving up my Oregon drivers license and replacing the plates on my car with Massachusetts plates was emotional. I took care of those things last week and almost cried at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Seems like such an odd thing to cry about. Although, waiting for over an hour and giving up the money for it all really should have made me cry.

The good news in all of this is that after being here for only 3 weeks I've landed two part-time jobs. One at a doggie daycare here in town and another at an IT company that's only a 7 minute walk from the house. I started the IT company job today and it seems to be a good gig. The people are nice and I'm learning new-to-me software, which is always a good thing for the resume'. My mornings are spent at the doggie daycare and starting my days off with doggies makes me very happy. It sets a good tone for the day. (The job where I'm paid the least and picking up poop is where I'm the happiest. Go figure. If only I could survive on that job alone.)

In the meantime, I continue to do tons of internal soul searching trying to figure out what makes me happy and how I can get paid to do it. Since I've been here, I've figured out that wedding photography is not where my passion lies. The project is where my passion lies. Maybe after this one is done, there will be another. Writing has been heavy on my mind lately, as well. The outline of a story for a book has been making it's way into my thoughts. My Mom has been encouraging me to start writing again. I'm getting other signs from the Universe to write so I need to just do it. With the holidays coming I'm going to need a distraction. Plus, I keep hearing how terrible New England winters are so I may be buckling down inside to stay warm during my off hours. It'll be a good time to write.

Also on the advise of my Mom, I will start focusing on what I'm grateful for in each day. Starting today and every day through the end of the year I will do my best to write a blog post about that which I am grateful for. Today, I am grateful for my two jobs and the income they will provide. I'm also pretty proud of myself for landing them so soon after getting into town. I certainly hit the ground running when I got here and it's paid off.

Friday, October 11, 2013


Scarlett and I at Crane. Photo by Tracy Kali.
I've been in Massachusetts for just over a week now. Autumn in New England is gorgeous. The leaves are changing and the Autumn colors are amazing. I can't wait to get out with my camera and explore a bit.

The town where I now live is much smaller then Portland. The population here in 2010 was 13,175 so you can imagine the adjustment. Before I moved to Portland, though, I lived in Ashland, Oregon for a couple of years and the population at the time was around 19,000 so I've lived in a small town before. I really love small town living. What's nice about this place is there's a large city only about an hour away. Not that I'll be down there all that often, but it's nice knowing that it's there.

One of the really awesome perks to living here is the beach. We are about a 15 minute drive away from Crane Beach. In the winter they open it up to dogs and horses so we've been down to the beach with Scarlett a couple of times since I've been here. I can imagine spending some quiet time down there on the beach with my camera, my journal or a good book. I'm really looking forward to doing that.

This past week has been all about job hunting. I've had 3 staffing agency interviews and a few rejection letters from Liberty Mutual Insurance. I'm really hoping to find something within town that I can walk to but I'm not limiting myself. A walk to work would be ideal so I'm putting it out there into the Universe. I've applied for a couple of jobs here in town even though they're not in the accounting field. Honestly, I wouldn't mind not going back but I have it to fall back on so why not.

I've also made a connection with a local photographer who may use me as a second shooter at a wedding in May. We've made plans for me to observe her during a family shoot on the 26th of this month so I can see how she shoots and pick her brain on anything. She's been doing photography since the mid 1980's and is willing to teach what she knows, which is awesome. I'm always open to learning from other photographers. Specially those who are making their living as photographers. It's very inspiring to me. I can't wait to make it down to Brooklyn to spend some time with Syd London. That will be amazing.

I'm missing my Portland community quite a bit this week. I keep reminding myself that I was there for 11 years and it took the better part of those 11 years to build that community so it'll take time to build another one here in New England.

Next week will be all about finding a job, as well. Any good employment juju you can send my way would be much appreciated. Once I start getting a paycheck again I can refocus on the photo project, which is what I really want to be doing.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mid Move

As I type this post on my iPhone, I am sitting at a rest stop off the I-94 East in Minnesota. It's beautiful here, as you can see from the photograph above. I'm about mid way through my journey to the other side of the country at this point. I left Portland Sunday morning and have endured long days of driving but have been rewarded with beautiful scenery along the way.

Sunday morning's drive through the Gorge was accompanied by lots of tears, to say the least. All of the emotions that I had been holding on to poured out of my year ducts as I drove. Certain places I past brought back lots of memories that at first I thought I was saying goodbye to but later realized that I was taking them with me. Just because I'm leaving the place I've called home for the last 11 years doesn't mean I'm leaving the memories behind. They get to come with me as I make new ones and these places will always be here for me to travel back to both physically and mentally. 

A friend of mine asked me how I knew it was time for me to move away from Portland since I'd always felt I would never do so. The project has opened my world and my perspective on what I consider home to me. My world has expanded past Portland and Oregon since beginning work on the project. Traveling has become a form of healing for me, as well. So, there was a point that I came to several months ago where I began to feel the need to move on. After beginning to feel that need several other things began to happen. My connection with people from the East coast whom I now consider to be my friends and my reconnection with a past love all fell into place.

Reconnecting with my past love may seem sudden to some but our connection is intense and we have history so, honestly, there wasn't far to go. The Universe seemed to conspire to make everything fall into place. Places where our timing was very off in our past relationship have become perfectly aligned at this point. The past 5 years that we've spent apart have provided us with the growth we've needed to come back together and be even stronger as a couple. In all honesty, I never saw this coming. Which makes it so much more special.

My connection with fellow photographer, Syd London and her awesome partner Jay Toole has been such a gift. They are on the East coast and excited to welcome me there. Others whom I've made connections with through the project are excited to have me there, as well. I am looking forward to seeing what those friendships bring to our future. 

Most of my updates on this journey have been posted on my Facebook page. With the amount of driving I've been doing I've been pretty exhausted by the end of the day so I haven't made a lot of time to write. If you'd like to follow along over there, you're more then welcome to look me up and send a friend request. All I ask is that you send me a message with the request letting me know you're coming over there from here. I think this is the link:

Time to get back in the car and get some more miles under my tires!