I’m long past due with my writing, I know. And now it’s hard to know how to begin again… mostly because I’m not really sure who my audience is anymore, and how many have kept up with my time off the road on Facebook. After my long silence how many who know my story are still there? How many who read this are new here and don’t really know the story at all?
Before I dig into The Journey (part two), you newbies to my blog should know The Journey actually began in 2011, when I set out solo in a 35’ motorhome with my two dogs… and my camera gear… with no defined plan. That journey lasted a full three years and took me zigzagging across the country and a good portion of Canada. My days were full… of hiking, kayaking, and driving… all the while surrounded by the most incredibly diverse landscapes. My heart was full… because my travel afforded me the opportunity to visit many old friends and loved ones across the country, not to mention all the wonderful new friends I met along the way.
It would be easy to assume my journey was all about travel and adventure… and photography, but that would be WAY over simplifying what lead me down that path. For that reason I’m restarting my blog with “The Fork in the Road”, which I wrote shortly after setting out on my Journey.
Very soon I will follow up with the brief story of what took me off the road, and the very special reason I’m out here again… on my Journey In Focus!!
The Fork in the Road [Posted on January 24, 2012]
Some might wonder (those who weren’t privy all along) what started all this. What would possess a single middle age woman to give up a perfectly comfortable home, her business and most of her worldly possessions for a solo, unplanned journey across the country in a motorhome??
It’s really a long involved story, but I’m compelled to share it, at least in brief. I can’t say there was a precise moment when I knew I needed a drastic change in my life, but for years I’ve been haunted with the feeling that we, as a society, are on the wrong track. We’ve lost our footing, our “grounding” with this earth. That connection seems like it should be an innate part of the human spirit. It appears that our connection to nature… to our natural surroundings… has recessed a bit more with the passing of each generation. For the longest time I’d been shaking my head… zooming through my days… and thinking “This is just WRONG! Life is a GIFT and we are all wasting it, scurrying around like little rats in a maze!” I refuse to believe that we are meant to live our lives in such a way.
In addition, although I achieved much success and reaped many rewards in my career as a photographer, I became very disillusioned by where the industry had taken me. The economy was not the only culprit. Technology played a bigger hand for me. Not only did it bring photo buffs out of the woodwork and into the “professional” realm, more importantly it changed my workflow tremendously. I was no longer in my “groove” and was spending far more time at one of five computers than I was creating art from behind my camera. In addition, one of the key ingredients in my success was the personal connection I developed with my clients. How do you develop a truly personal connection via the internet??
For years I tried embracing this change. (Huge kudos to those who have and are happy there! This is not a reflection on you!) That’s what we’re taught to do right? Embrace change. It’s not like I’m inflexible or incapable of change. (I guess I’ve proven that! :-)) But I asked myself one day, “Why should I?” When I’m so displeased with the change that was forced into my life, why should I feel the need to embrace it? Instead of embracing, and conforming to these changes, I’m choosing to embrace my ability to MAKE a change… to find my way back to a life I feel passionate about! For years I’ve longed to simplify my life substantially, it was just a matter of finding the right time and method for doing so.
In the mean time I had to honor the promise I made to myself after my divorce six and a half years ago… to hunker down and maintain a rather sizable and burdensome property, my daughter’s home since she was four, until she graduated from high school and headed off to college. With blind faith I started purging as that time was drawing near, and clearly things are happening as they are meant to because I went into contract on the sale of my home the week she graduated from high school, and handed off the keys one week after she started at UNT. (I love and miss you my sweet girl! Thanks for riding out those brutal waves with me!)
So why the Winnebago? I had no precise destination. The Northwest (still home to me) has been tugging at my heartstrings for years, but then what? Re-establish my portrait business? As much as I love creating beautiful heirloom portraits I have no desire to be anchored to another studio, even if it is on my property. Frankly, I have no desire to be anchored to any property for a while. I’ve always been filled with a sense of wanderlust, and completely enthralled by the beauty of our world. It’s never ending, and I’d be happy spending the rest of my life taking it all in. After the successful release of my book, The Dogs of Central Park, I decided I’d like to work on more books in a series. After much pondering I realized I had no reason to be anchored anywhere for now, and many reasons to be mobile… with MY dogs. An RV, which I had never dreamed of owning by the way, was the perfect means for doing just that!
No fan of technology and now I’m blogging??? I know… still hard for me to believe sometimes. The blog began as a way for family and friends to keep tabs on me. It’s basically a diary of my travels and a way to share my images along the way. I wasn’t expecting the interest that has developed in my journey, and it’s that interest that compels me to explain better why I am out here… on my “journey of discovery.” The focus of my journey is not just photography. It’s a spiritual journey as well. It’s about seeking peace and balance. It’s about healing and rekindling a fire and passion for life. It’s about letting go… of stress, of things, of the burdens that keep us trapped, unable to truly enjoy this amazing gift of life. Mostly it’s about living life fully and celebrating the blessing of each day.
A question was posed to me in the comment section of this post that I feel compelled to add, as it is all the more enlightening…
Brent asked, “What have you learned about yourself that you didn’t know before you started this Journey? Anything surprised you about yourself or how you reacted to any particular situation?”
My reply… Brent, the simple (and somewhat humorous) answer is I’ve learned a lot about RVs and RV maintenance, and that I have a good aptitude for figuring things out as I go along. But in answer to what I think you’re really asking… I learn a little bit more about myself and life with each new day. Much of what I’ve learned has been more of an affirmation of what I’ve always focused on believing in… that I am strong. I am brave. I am capable of doing anything I believe I can do. Most people assume that I just AM these things. I’m not really. Not by nature. I am these things because I BELIEVE these things about myself. Anyone who knows me, or has ever heard me speak, knows that I am a very firm believer in positive thought and positive affirmation. Every big task I tackle, I take my thinking from “I think I can.” to “I can.” very quickly, (it is a discipline) and this is one of the biggest tasks I’ve ever tackled. So one thing I’ve learned Brent, is that I really CAN!!
I have also reaffirmed that my “church” really is in nature. It’s along the shores, or deep in the forest, or at the top of the highest peaks looking out over these amazing vistas that I experience my most spiritual and awakening moments. These are the moments that bring heaven closer to earth. They are moments that are impossible to experience while standing on the pavement and overshadowed by the craziness of our lives. It’s not always easy being alone out here, but even when alone for days on end, it’s hard not to be filled with joy while standing in the midst of such grand beauty.
What I’ve learned about life is really more of an affirmation as well, as I’ve been on this journey in my heart and soul for several years. Each day is a new treasure to me, as I believe they are meant to be. It’s been painful for me to find so many friends (old and new) and family members living such burdened and disillusioned lives. The state of our country and economy is taking a huge toll on everyone, but what I think much of it boils down to is that it is hard to let go of what we’ve worked so hard to attain. And sadly, what most of us have attained over the years is just stuff… it’s belongings. I’m sorry if this seems insensitive to some. I am not insensitive to the anguish I’ve observed. On the contrary, it hurts me greatly to see the suffering. But the reality of it is that most of what we own, we don’t need. It’s just hard to let it go. What we don’t know until we move past it is that letting go gives us freedom. I know it’s very different when we’re FORCED to let go, and my journey was only possible for me because I seriously hunkered down and prepared for it, but we could all live simpler lives. The key is finding joy in simpler things. The things that don’t cost money. The beauty of the world around us. Moments of complete tranquility and peace. Deep and sincere relationships with family and friends.
The image above was actually shot by my friend Chris Fritchie right before we set out on our journey. Our former home in Frisco TX, our new home on wheels, and my roadies, Jazzy and Sadie…oh how I miss your sweet soul Jazzy!