Spring means...New things are coming.

There seems to me that I have so much content in my head but can’t find words to share the impact that grief and loss have had on me during spring this year. The ending of cool weather and the start of warmer weather brings with it an array of different and complicated emotions.

Our son Alex set off on his journey on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) just as Spring was launching and has been on the trail for over a month so far. Most of our correspondence is via text message with our ability to track him via global navigation. We also have been able to FaceTime with him and that was one of the best gifts my husband received for his birthday. (LOVE TECHNOLOGY) Spring brings with it celebrations of birthdays, Easter, and this year one of the best super blooms in California history. There have been engagements and birth announcements. I’ve been busy with photography and just a feeling of excitement. Yet with those feelings comes the overwhelming sense of what is not…

I recently was reading the results of taking the Enneagram test and although the language is different then other personality tests (I’m a 7) much of the content is the same. I love people, fun, and things that aren’t rote or routine. I love to laugh, meet people, I can be passionate and if not tempered that passion can become a tangent. I’m learning to quiet the busyness in my head to tap into the creative part of me. All this to say not much about me has changed. The only difference is most of those traits are now filtered through grief and loss. I’m feeling like so much of my life has been about others and now that I’m older and possibly wiser I desire to have a purpose. To look at the world through a different lens and to serve my community in ways that make the world a better place.

So part of what spring has done for me is it has helped to shape some of my next steps…these actions look more like a pebble than a stepping stone and they’re the things that are moving me forward. There is still a pause in me…it comes with the territory. My family~John, Alex and Evan have always been the people who’ve propelled me…to hold me…to challenge my thinking when I get to deep into my head. Now I just have to step into what I’m supposed to do. I’m a little scared. I’m actually really petrified, but I’m at a place where as of today I’ve experienced my most significant loss. Loss changes us…well it has changed me. So as I look for those things that inspire me towards purpose I bring along with me the brokenness that is my heart. I look for a way to find comfort in the mission that God is calling me to.

Post Script~Many of you may know that our son Alex is raising money for Donate for Life West as part of his journey on the PCT. In addition to that April is National Donate Life Month and he wants to raise awareness about organ donations. I’ve added the link to the GoFundMe account below. Please donate if you can.

https://www.gofundme.com/PCT-NDLM?sharetype=teams&member=1914332&pc=ot_co_dashboard_a&rcid=009a7141efd04e32b1b79026faa2e765&fbclid=IwAR2b_ZljQYTMg4zIIl8PNeKJZZHOxu-IMH3GAbPP8JoBqQLcKc_FoQwai8s

Where have you been?!?!?!

It has been a while since I last blogged. I’m not sure why only that life has been a bit glum, and the words have disappeared. Perhaps the words came earlier in this journey because the desperateness I was feeling from the initial shock of Evan dying or maybe they just continued so that the Lord could guide me towards a path of healing. Perhaps I have no idea, and in my way, I want to find the answers. All I know is that my words had gone silent. 

So much can be said about this season. As a person trying to promote a business and also reaching out to those who are hurting I sometimes find myself in the unfortunate space of having envy. Now that can look like a lot of things when you break it down, but I mostly envy all that will not or all that is yet to be. Guess that’s why it’s called envy. There is no end to it and society is enslaved by it. We live in an age of being in people’s front room by merely scrolling through IG or FB and drenched in people’s opinion just by responding to a post or thread. The noise and chatter are overwhelming, and it leaves little room for pondering or true evaluation.

I think that what I need is understanding as the places that I land on and the threads I scroll through leave me empty, shattered and unloved. I want a connection with people, and I am connected, but many times it feels as though something is missing. Most of the time I feel the emptiness of Evan not being here. Not that he would be with me at every event or outing. It's just that I miss him. It probably doesn't help that my husband and son are on a backpacking adventure and are on week two of a 4-week journey.  

I sometimes think with all that is going on I've forgotten the sound of my voice. 

Recently I spent time in the mountains and found little time for reflections as the busyness kept me from thinking or pondering too deeply. It wasn't until I traveled back home and the hollow feeling of loss came over me and left me feeling overwhelmed and anxious…nauseous really. When I finally got home and uploaded the photos from my nature walk in Yosemite that I thought that somehow in the busyness the Lord brought comfort as is His way when it comes to my photography. Photography gives me space to feel the full impact of what is going on within my heart and mind for grief is a constant thing.  It doesn’t rest or take a break. Sometimes it's a quiet whisper other times a raging sea...It can go from a sweet memory to a full-on belly cry. But alas it is constant. 

Grief is hard. And as much as we try to avoid it, we can't. We are all grieving something or someone. So when I'm feeling consumed by it. Shunned by it. Avoided by it. I have to remember who I am and to whom I belong. That the Lord is near to the broken-hearted. That He holds my tears in a jar. That those that I love He sees and that He sees me. He comes close to me. He values me. He sees my worth, and my heart ache. It doesn't scare Him or frighten Him. He comes CLOSER! So much comfort.  

The Gift of a Family Through Adoption

Just about a week ago I had the unique opportunity to capture the adoption proceedings for a new friend. This particular adoption was unique in that the family of the adopted child was part of the process and it was something I have always wanted to participate in. The adopting family, The Hemsley's, have two biological children and now with this adoption, they have three adoptive children two of which are siblings. The whole family took an oath of commitment and it truly was an awesome experience. 

One of the sweetest parts for me...well there were a few really...was that UC Davis has this program called Princess Pals at UC Davis check them out on Facebook. These are undergrad med students who dress up and attend special events for kiddos. I've posted the Facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/PrincessPalsUCD/

The other sweet thing is that Renee Hemsley, Executive Director, of https://www.hopes-anchor-inc.org/about which is a group that Encourage, Equip, Educate, Engage the Foster and Adoptive communities in Yolo County. She is passionate and fully engaged. Putting hands and feet to the needs of foster and adoptive families. It was a blessing and honor to serve their family as they do what they are called to do. Yolo County has been doing some great things and I'm grateful for my connections in this community.   

Lastly, what made this extra special for me is that this all happened on the day that would have marked my Dad's 89th birthday. It was pretty amazing!!

Road Noise

As I continue down the road of grief I am struck by the things that take me from such great joy to weepy tears. I'm not even sure how to quantify it or give it a number on a scale. I spend a lot of time reading and listening to books. As I've shared in other posts I am listening to a book on Heaven and a book on waiting. Both of these areas in my life have been a struggle. Kinda like that kid that wants to be president at the place that they work even before they learn how to count back change at the register.  As I've said in previous blogs Heaven has always been abstract to me and because my faith points me to Jesus and the bible I don't really want to speculate about it. I want to know what the bible says as that is foundational...my center. On top of reading/listening to many books I am attending a faith-based small group on grief called Grief Share.  All these things keep me a float...keep me moving...processing. They keep me reaching out to grasp what is really not something you can grasp. So what it does is give me strength. It gives me Faith to look beyond what I can see and it gives me Hope that what I think and believe are Truth and that at some point it will bring peace and understanding. 

Roads are a funny thing. I've spent most of the summer on the road either on the east coast or west coast but always on the road. I went on a road trip this last weekend and we had times on this trip where the highway was smoothly paved. The road noise was minimal. You could hear the stereo in the car without having to crank it up and the skies were clear....smooth sailing so to speak. We then had places where the road was so rough from years of weather and chains from vehicles that you could not even hear yourself think. You couldn't hear the radio. You couldn't even have a conversation as the noise in the car was so loud and storms that nearly blinded you as you drove down country roads in the dark. Sometimes you turn down a road that you think is the right one and all of a sudden you are at a dead end. You make a plan that you are going to leave at a certain time. You stop just to get food and go to the bathroom no extra stops just to realize it took you about the same amount of time as it did when you enjoyed the journey. Stopped and looked at the sights. Made memories and took your time.

I share all of this because grief is very similar to the road trips I've been on and to be perfectly honest life is this way as well. It takes me to places I didn't want to go. Sometimes I enjoy where I'm going and the effects of it leave me refreshed and my burden is lightened. Sometimes the noise is so loud I can't hear what is being said to me and I zone out. Sometimes I just want to get home...to do it my way. I forget about all the beauty that is around me and if I had just stopped...walked around...and practiced pondering I would have gotten home in just the right amount of time and enjoyed the journey.

Evan, we love and miss you so very much. Every memory is bittersweet and filled with the what if's and why not's. As I travel this road I hope to have less of those questions but for now...It is September and that means that you have been gone 10 months....but really it is for eternity.    e·ter·ni·ty  əˈtərnədē/ ~  noun ~ infinite or unending time. 

http://www.visitcalifornia.com/attraction/sundial-bridge

https://www.amazon.com/Real-Heaven-What-Bible-Actually/dp/0801016134 

https://www.amazon.com/Wait-See-Finding-Peace-Pauses/dp/0781413559

http://albanycarousel.com

Thank you, Mom. I can't wait to see what you capture next....

Last year I was challenged to take my art out into the world. This challenge came in the form of a letter written from Evan but I had also many friend who told me I should try. So I did and it was successful. I placed in many of the shows I entered and won small monetary prizes for those placements. I'm glad that I did it and it helped me see a different side of photography....

I was unsure if this year I would be up to the task of placing my photography in the numerous shows that I had last year. Some of my motivation was that Evan and Alex really helped to move me forward and honestly putting your work in shows is time consuming. But I felt that I had a few piece that I could enter and my motivation was different this year so I entered a few shows along with entering the California State Fair. I've included those piece in this blog post.

Being an artist is unique and beautiful. It can also be demanding and test you in ways that you thought impossible. Sometimes I think that it was more then I bargained for this thing I do. I want to say that since the loss of Evan my world has changed...I can't really describe it but I feel the full impact of my loss every single day. I was out yesterday and nearly every place that I went or drove past had a memory of something or brought back to me a conversation I had with Evan. The other night I was out looking for picture frames for photos that I was placing in an art show I ran into some dear friends who asked, How are you??? Well at that moment I was deep in the process of trying to get frames and I was great but as I talked further I was grateful to get through a conversation about how I was without tears. Please don't take that the wrong way...for me that is a step forward in my healing. I want to be at a place that the very conversation about Evan does not destroy me.....crumble me to a "bucket of tear"so to speak...."grief ambush" as it's called in my small group study that I'm doing. I want to be able to have conversations that invite people towards me...to not be afraid to see people or have them avoid me or feel awkward. To be real grief is scary....and awkward...and crummy but it is also part of the process of loving and being loved. I'm grateful to have loved Evan and that he loved me too. There is so much joy in that...if I hadn't loved there would be no sadness or this grief that I have. Maybe that is what is different is the full impact of our love is felt in loss. Yes...I think that's what is different is that I know that if I love fully the full impact of the loss of that becomes very clear and painfully real. It goes back to something I believe the Lord is showing me.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror.....1 Cor. 13:12.