The End Of Another School Year

There's something so magical about the seasons that bookend a school year. The spring and fall gifting us with changes in colour and landscape. We see those changes with our eyes and we feel them in our bones. It's like a coordinated dance between nature and nurture when it comes to moving our family through those transitions. 

It is funny, though, that spring comes and wakes everything up at a time when the school year is coming to a close. And then fall comes along and ushers us into hibernation, just as our kids are preparing to take on the challenges of a new year. 

Maybe that's how the dance is supposed to go. We quiet the noise around us, so we can focus on the steps we need to take to learn new things and navigate new relationships. And then colour and light come and splash themselves everywhere and we wave our arms and celebrate how far we've come. 

A few weeks ago, I had the idea that my sister and her kids should take time out of their busiest season of the year to join our parents and my kids for a long-needed grandparent/grandkid photo session during my family's busiest time of year. 

It's never as easy as I tell myself it will be, but we pulled it off anyway. Thanks to the patience and skilled eye of local photographer, Lisa Tullett — who had to put up with photographing six squirmy kids under the high noon sun — we now have a lovely collection of photos taken during on a gorgeous spring afternoon. And they're perfect. 

With my oldest graduating from elementary school and my youngest graduating from kindergarten, I'm so glad to have photos of this moment in time. It has been a year of great changes and triumphs; a year when family was a priority and individual accomplishments were met. And we were able to do so much of what we hoped to because of the support and help my parents gave us so generously — thanks, Mom and Dad.

I'm of the mindset there can never be too many photos. Because with each photo comes a story. And with each shared story comes the strengthening of a family's bond. I see so many stories when I look at these photos of my kids and my family. And it makes me glad to know my kids and nephews will be able to look at them someday and have their own versions of these shared moments. 

Thank you for this beautiful gift, Lisa. Local friends: you can find out more about Lisa's gorgeous photos on Facebook and Instagram. Lisa is also offering one day photography workshops for budding photographers of all levels during the week of July 11 -14th. Check out her Facebook page for details.

Happy summer, everyone. Thanks for lifting me up and carrying me through another school year. I'm so glad you're all here. 






Self-Portraits and Stories



Maybe it was the ocean that convinced me to go. 

So I could stand at the edge of a place it was okay to be still. 

Pack layers, she said, ocean weather is unpredictable. 

I rolled up sweaters, pulled a wooly hat from a closet, and hoped she was right.

I wanted to hide in layers and folds.  

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We met for the first time, over a home cooked meal, in a welcoming, warmly-lit room. 

Each of us carried there by our own reasons.

For two days, I would spend my time among strangers learning how to use my camera to find a story

I went in knowing we would use one another as subjects.

I understood we would have to be vulnerable to do it.

But our teacher, she knew more.

She understood we would have to share our stories, before we could find them in front of the lens. 

She called out our names one-by-one, and then paired them with another.

She asked us to sit face to face and eye to eye.

She told us to speak and listen. 

Who are you?

We asked each other in turn. 



And I thought of the last time I had been so honest in answering those words and how long it had been since I laid myself bare and let real words like scared and sad, instead of good and fine, tumble from my mouth.  

Who do you think I am? 

I asked him while focusing my eyes on the wall over his shoulder; I was afraid to catch the look on his face when he answered. We were together for a few months by then, and I knew something important was happening between us.

We were beginning to share our stories, and we were at the beginning of our own.

I had done some hard work to move past my childhood insecurities and embrace my biracial heritage. I had reached a place of gratitude for who and where I came from. And yet, because I wanted him to feel about me what I felt about him, in those earliest days together, I told myself it was easier to pretend I was whoever he wanted me to be. 

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But we can't stay hidden in layers and folds.

Who are you?

She asked again, before telling us we could only find the answer if we asked ourselves, too. 

So we stood and posed and stared into the lenses of our cameras, while daring ourselves to peel away layers and encouraging others to let go of theirs. 

Because life is as unpredictable as the ocean where I went to stand.

And though we dress in layers to insulate against fear and pain, we can undress and heal again and again. 



My guess is Polynesian princess, he said, because that makes a good story. 

But if it turns out you're not,

if you're just you,

I'll take you just the same. 







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Wherever the Road Takes Me


She was one of those ever-so-rare kind of people.

She never believed the success and accomplishments of others would take away from her own.

She gave her expertise generously and offered her support freely. 

She was one of the greatest mentors I've ever had. 

And when I lost her, I didn't know where to go.

I haven't been able to write the way I want to, or take the chances I hoped I would. 

I feel like she was helping me become that kind of writer, and it can't happen without her.  

Then I was invited to fly to the east coast and insert myself into a small group of talented writers, photographers, and musicians—where surely my shortcomings would be put on display—and I didn't think I could go. 

Heartache made my feet heavy and fear told me to stand still.

Until her words came back and grabbed me by the hand, 

I'm always surprised when I offer to read someone's work and they don't send it;

I wish more people believed in themselves.

And I felt her pull me towards the person offering me a place to go.

An ever-so-rare kind of person

Generous and supportive.

Hopeful that I'll accept her invitation to believe in myself. 

And I'm scared that it won't work, and I'm scared that it will. 

I'll walk to the ocean tomorrow and throw my tears into the waves, while I let myself imagine the writer I might become without her.

And then I'll find my words in their hiding place and throw them into the clouds, where I know she'll be there to catch them.  






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