Canada Day 5: This is Where I'm Happy

Full Disclosure: I am writing this blog post over 2 years after this day happened.  768 days later, to be exact. Nov. 20, 2016.

This trip marked the end of my feeling on top of the world with sharing my photography and the beginning of a long journey of learning how to edit, organize, share effectively.  I would spend hours looking through my hundreds of images from each day, unsure what to cut and what to keep.  It seemed like a big puzzle...some images wouldn't garner much attention on a one-image social media share, but were still good images and were an important part of a collection.  Others were constructed, artistic, storytelling images that wouldn't be popular but I knew were an important part of my developing voice.  Others still I knew would work well in the stock photography market I was just entering.  I wasn't sure what to keep and what to ditch and where to put it all that it could be used.  (Here, I've included all types.)  And when I did decide what moved me, I had to learn how to edit and sort trends from style from correctness in my editing, to know which is which and make confident artistic and technical decisions for each image as well as a collection as a whole.  I had to stay consistent but also grow.  And life with two little ones was moving rapidly.

Right after this trip, I had to dig in and work on a wedding I had filmed over the summer and was struggling to finish because of the learning curve.  Editing that film taught me so much.  (It ended up winning an award for best wedding film in Maine for that year! I was astonished!)  But it took me until December to finish, wiping out any time for keeping up with personal work.

That December was also Christmastime with our two sweet little ones and I did not want to miss a thing.  Around the same time, I became pregnant again.  Then I started working on a group project as well as developing course content for my workshop, knowing there was a time-sensitive need for a video workshop for photographers.  I also shot four client films, and by the time I did all that, April was here.  I had just enough time to teach the workshop and finish client work before we left for France for the summer of 2015.

I kept up with personal work as well as I could while we were there, and I did so for over a month.  But by the time we got to Paris, I was (unbeknownst to me) developing pregnancy-related anemia...plus, Paris was experiencing a news-making, historic heat wave, and nowhere had air conditioning.  I was just tired.

When we returned from France, we spent less than 24 hours at home before driving up to the family cabin in Lincoln, Maine for a week or two.  When we returned, we had less than 48 hours until our moving truck arrived to take our stuff to South Carolina.

I had sold our washer/dryer, and that began the 2-month saga of vagabond living with no washer/dryer and no air conditioning while pregnant and anemic.  Even our new house in SC did not have central A/C (it does now; we just had it installed a couple days ago.  I'm writing this November 20, 2016).  

After we spent 5 days driving down from Maine and nearly 2 weeks in a hotel while Geoff started his new job, we moved in, but things were chaotic.  I had to drive the kids around town looking for a daycare to take them for a day or two so we could address the exposed electrical wiring and lead paint.  I spent 2 days just finding them care, driving around, trying to pawn off my two most precious treasures, very pregnant.  We sang a lot in the car.  

The fall semester was what you might imagine it would go like with our oldest starting Kindergarten 5 days after the moving truck finally arrived, my husband starting a new job, our daughter being 3, and me having anemia getting worse (and still having never met with a midwife).  As time went on, I did meet with her, started iron supplements, preschool started, I taught 2 more sessions of my workshop, and Christmas and 2016 and the baby came, 17 days late.

Our baby was born with a tongue tie we didn't know about until she was 10 weeks old.  It required 2 surgeries and long recoveries, a process that stretched out from March to the end of May, right around the time school got out. The kids were home 24/7 for the summer, I had zero childcare options, and not much motivation to get everyone ready and go out, especially with Geoff either working or working on fixing our house, and no A/C, still.  I felt smothered, physically, and mentally.  Summer was just a haze.  We *did* go to Hawaii for half of June/July, which was amazing, like the clear spot at the end of the telescope.  It was so wonderful having Geoff with us.

School started again this fall, this time with my oldest in first grade, my middle in preschool, and the baby going with her, two days a week.  I have 2 days I can work.  I'm officially working part-time and I have room to breathe - to grocery shop alone, to teach my class...and *maybe* maybe...to finally catch up on all the adventures we've had these past 2 years. 

It has been incredibly difficult emotionally and artistically to see everyone else get ahead and leave me behind.  So frustrating to *know* that I've shot the photos, I've done the work...I just couldn't get off the ground culling, editing, and sharing with so many other demands on my time.  I don't regret a thing.  But boy, does it feel good to clean house and find these things I've been wanting to say and release them.  To finally, finally be able to use the voice I've been developing relentlessly, shooting every single day.  I have over 66,000 images from the past two years alone to cull and develop and share with you, and that doesn't even include the videos.  I have hope that this stream of work will continue and catch up while I also edit and publish my current work, but I have learned the hard way that I have so much less control over life than I might imagine, given that I choose to follow my heart and ideas and opportunities.

I now know that I can't do it all.  Editing, computers, social media...it can wait.  Adventure, childhood, a marriage...it cannot.

And so I want to show you that despite the daily grind of school and dinner and computer work...this is where I'm happiest.  Away from home, away from clutter, away from obligations, away from any road that I even know the name of.  In fact, I cannot even tell you where this place is, because I don't remember nor could I return there.  I do know that as we were leaving St. John, Canada, and drove a ways, I saw a horizon I thought looked beautiful...nothing else...and I asked Geoff to take that exit and go that way.  

"But there's NOTHING there.  Literally - there are no signs for gas, restaurants, anything."

"Yes, I know.  It's perfect.  Let's go! Take it! "

And he did.

He drove until we saw the coast, then turned to sidle up to it.  He stopped when I said I wanted to stop.  We found a way down, coincidentally not far from our car.  It was windy and wonderful and we found the most exquisite rocks I have ever seen: colorful, striped, spotted...like Easter Eggs.  I didn't know it then, but one of the rocks I took that day from this beach I would use to mark the burial site of the child I would lose when I miscarried just a few months later.  It was a trip well-spent, preparation for going untold places you could never go again.  For going where I'm happy, blindly.

 

My EverydayEmily Mitchell