Oct 25, 2010

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A Letter To My Younger Self

The other day, I was taking photos of crimson and gold leaves in a landscape that just a few weeks before, was still green.  The gradual changes in its appearance struck me and I was sent back in time to my earlier days of adulthood, prior to the many twists and turns my life would take.  As I sat there in the changing colours of the season, thoughts about the changing seasons of my own life prompted this letter to my younger self:

My Dearest Self,

You're barely 20 years old, but already your ambitions and desire to climb beyond your humble beginnings make me proud.  Though your family supports you and is proud as well, they are struggling with difficult things right now, so your departure for the 'real world' goes somewhat unnoticed.  This will make you stronger though, as you learn to rely on yourself and the inner warrior that you are.

But beware.  Being stoic and independent will come at a cost.  You'll come to refuse help or support from anyone, afraid to burden them with your problems; and thus, many bad decisions will follow as you fend for yourself and jump the gun.

Although you've always been mature beyond your years, you lack proper guidance.  You are so caught up in moving forward and leaving your past behind that your forge ahead and ignore the warning signs your intuition is giving you.  Within the next two decades, this will all catch up with you and bring your stoic walls down.  Don't be afraid though, it will all eventually be o.k.

You will develop a persistent physical ailment that will sometimes disable your body and cripple your spirit.  There will be suffering as your ego struggles with accepting that you need others during these difficult times.  You'll also be frustrated at the lack of understanding and quick judgments people make based on your seemingly 'healthy' appearance, and sometimes you'll feel sorry for yourself.

But you will have a few strong friends along the way that help you find acceptance and compassion for yourself.  You will eventually drift apart in proximity, but the closeness and gratitude you feel for them will always remain in your heart.

Over time, you'll lose alot of independence, the driving force that lead you here, and you will have to rely on your spouse and family for things you cannot accomplish alone.  You'll feel alot of guilt about it as you are less able to support them and yourself and you'll compare yourself to more 'able-bodied' women.  But alas, this is a waste of precious time!  Your inner strength wil eventually emerge and with complete surrender, you'll come to see that every challenge has hidden opportunities.  In your simple and secluded lifestyle, photography and art will be your greatest solace.

Hold strong to your resilient spirit and always remember who you are. Share your gifts with those who receive them.  Know that you are loved and blessed beyond belief.

In love and compassion,

If you could write to your younger self, what would you say?

Oct 13, 2010

Solemn Visitors

The weather has been glorious this Fall.  It has given me extra opportunities to get out with the camera and shoot nature in its jewelled Autumn splendour.  I have favourite places I love to visit this time of year, and the cemetery is one of them.

Many people find these final resting places eery, cold and sad.  I on the other hand, enjoy them immensely.  I love the care that people have put into celebrating their lost loved ones.  I'm always touched when I see fresh flowers, cherubs and candles on the graves.  I sense alot of peace there, in spite of the grief that death brings for those of us left behind.  The stone angels are my favourite thing about cemeteries.  They evoke a deep sense that we are protected, sheltered and loved - here, and beyond this world.

On my visit last week to St. John's Cemetery near my home, I photographed these three angel statues; they are part of my new collection called Guardians.

 A grieving messenger marks the grave of an infant who died much too soon, many years ago.

 'The Prayer'
A winged child looks toward the sky in devotion as he and his twin flank a large family gravestone.

'On My Shoulder'
A beautiful angelic guardian holds two doves-their song brings a smile to her lips.

Also present at this most serene location were these precious creatures.  My daughter noticed them first as we got out of the car.  There were three of them - a mother and her young ones.  Curious but unafraid, they watched as we studied the older stones and looked for angels to capture.

They too, looked as though they were visiting the stones, pausing every now then to investigate.  I could have watched them all day if they had decided to stay with us.  Solemn and silent, they moved in and out of aisles and trotted gently, disappearing eventually up the hill into the forest. 

The day was warm and the colours made brighter by the sun's brilliance.  In the distance, a blue jay sang while we sought and sat with our favourite stone guardians.  We got a lot out of that visit, and not necessarily just photographs.  It was a truly blissful afternoon.

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