Echoes: the Project

Over the past year, I've become increasingly aware of just how fast my time with my children is passing. Around my birthday and Thanksgiving, it hit me that I had only 5 Christmases left with my son before he will likely leave home for college. I have just a few short years of childhood left before I'm relegated to an advisory role in his life. This terrifies me, and makes me incredibly sad, but also motivates me to really treasure this time, despite being replete with power struggles and mood swings and pre-teen mouthiness. 

I wrote a poem that captures some of my emotions surrounding this time (it's called Echoes and can be found here). I've also decided to let it drive a series of images that explores some of these themes.

In this series, I want to explore the beauty in what I generally find annoying: my children's constant messes. Before you roll your eyes and click away, think about it like this--every day, I nag and yell and scold about the shoes on the floor, the dirty socks stuffed in the couch cushions, the books and papers and toys strewn about. I'm sure you spend a good bit of time doing the same thing, if you are a mom with kids at home. Yet, in this period of reflection, I am fully aware that one day, I will (in some small way) miss this: the clutter that comes with childhood. The noises, the messes, the chaos and unending laundry. And although, I in NO WAY am advocating that we all just embrace the mess and live like hoarders or wild animals, what I am suggesting is that, even in the aggravating reality, there is a beauty to be found. 

Here are a few images I captured today to get the project started. I'd love to hear your feedback on it, or to see you "find the beauty in the mess" in your own home. 

board game
paper airplane
socks on floor

I've lost it

My joy, that is. I've completely lost my joy. 

There wasn’t a single event that stole it from me. No life-changing experience that robbed me of it. Instead, it was a steady chipping away, piece-by-piece, by the annoyances and hassles of daily life. Years of neglecting myself, of giving all of my time and energy to the service of others, without taking time for things that make me feel alive. The daily realities of being a mom—a thankless, tedious, repetitive job with little thanks and lots of bad attitudes—have left me feeling smaller and more weary with each passing day. 

I don’t think I’m alone in this experience. I think for many mothers, it is easy to find ourselves at this place—worrying, anxious, exasperated and on edge. The constant vigilance it requires to keep our children safe and thriving takes a toll, and when you add to that the pressure to somehow make this life worthy of a Pinterest board or something lovely to post on social media, then suddenly it all seems overwhelming. 

I used to be a woman that took risks, that laughed loud and freely. I knew the value of silliness and feeling free to dance, to sing, to really live. Somehow, I've lost that. I don't know if it is the constant fear-mongering that happens in our culture, the zillion news stories or website links outlining the many ways we can SCREW UP OUR KIDS, whether it be through toxins in baby wipes or chemicals in our food or by turning our backs for just a second when they are playing. Or maybe it is just the toll of being so busy, running our kids from place-to-place, the constant demands on our time by schools and clubs and sports, never stopping to just be. Or is it the addictive device we carry, the constant source of entertainment that has trained us to feel we need to be consuming media at all hours of the day? I don't know, honestly--but I know for certain that something has to give.

So, I'm on a mission to find my joy. I want to be present in the moment. I want to introduce my kids to the silly, spontaneous, fun person I used to be. I want to stop seeing my life as a checklist and remember it as a journey, approaching it with curiosity and hopefulness for what beauty may lie around the bend. And since imagery is one of the languages I use to communicate, you can expect many images and even videos of this journey to come. 

Follow me on Instagram if you haven't already--that will be the easiest place to find my photos, using the hashtag #findingmyjoy. Feel free to join me in this journey, just tag your images with #findingmyjoy so I can find them and be inspired by your journey, too (and tell me in the comments below so I can know to look).

Wishing us all a more joyful journey ahead.