A Letter On My Doorstep
Forever seeking to be heard.
For a brief time that I remember – my mother truly escaped herself & the confines of her mind and the limitations that it imposed on her being – this was many years ago. It’s when that freedom ended again that I had decided that I needed to explore and to be free and never be trapped by my own mind and the fear of all the limitations that life, other peoples opinions, and this false set of rules that age builds like a massive wall – like a prison.
My mother struggled with depression and anxiety, and the drugs that she was told kept her feelings normal. When she died of cancer this past year – I haven’t wanted to really talk about it – because cancer wasn’t the thing that I felt killed her. I went to one of her oncology appointments after she was diagnosed. The day before this appointment we had a very long talk about what she wanted… she had already been through some chemo at this point with no results. Yet we sat there with the doctor to discuss her options going forward. As the doctor was talking, her eyes glassed over as I could see her giving up and going back into whatever everyone else wants. The Doctor stopped talking and my mother clearly said she did NOT want any more chemo. See – the chemo that they were trying was not proven in any way to help my mom’s type of cancer but the Doctor said we should still try it. But as she spoke those words I do NOT want any more chemo… nobody in that room heard her except for me. They may have heard her words, but they quickly dismissed them as un-true or not valid. The Doctor immediately pipped up saying that by not continuing to at least try with chemo it was like she was committing suicide.
MY HEART STOPPED WHEN I HEARD THOSE WORDS OUT OF THE DOCTORS MOUTH…. and I was screaming the top of my lungs from the inside that he had no right to say that and this was NOT anything like suicide… all that I muttered out was “I don’t agree with that statement at all” and then I squeezed my mom’s hand and told her “that isn’t true, and you make your own choice”. It was the most unprofessional thing I have ever heard and I will hear his voice ringing in my head for the rest of my life. He played the bully. He did not know her, and did not understand that she did have an opinion and a reason for her opinion – and that everyone has a right to choose for themselves. He pushed off her feelings of not wanting to continue with chemo as her depression talking. I don’t care how many cancer patients he has been through – he not ONCE asked her why she felt that way or tried to consider her feelings or understand that what she wanted actually had thought and purpose behind them. He boasted that “if it worked” instead of 3-6 months to live she could live 6 months -5 years longer.
STOP. But at what cost? Why wasn’t this part of the conversation? Why was everyone pushing off her feelings as invalid? Because she suffered from depression?
My mother describing her cancer to me is one of the most grueling horror stories I’ve ever seen. But… it wasn’t much different than what I pictured when she talked about her depression. She spoke to me about this dark hand that was reaching up from inside her and crushing all of her organs so much so that she couldn’t speak and nobody could see this or hear her screaming for relief. Her voice didn’t matter – all that mattered is she needed to make as many people happy as possible. Her pain didn’t matter. Her voice didn’t matter. Her thoughts didn’t matter.
She talked about her death like this all my life – she even had told me how old she was going to be when she died – and she was right. The last two months of her life were miserable, she wasn’t eating well, she wasn’t sleeping well… and all she said was I do NOT want any more chemo. She continued with the chemo because her Doctor and others said she had to at least try once more. She died 2 months after our meeting with her Doctor (with the additional chemo treatment).
I know this will be very disturbing to people and will be upsetting to others. My point in sharing is we need to become better listeners… and not just to a persons choice or reply – but to understand what is bringing another person to their choices. Not just for major things like life and death decisions – but LIVING decisions. We don’t all have to agree, and we don’t all have the answers – but listening to understand means that you value that person. Valuing their methods or madness to any decision affords that person value in themselves.
My mom was a strong woman that had many hard life situations to deal with from a very young age. MY MOM WAS AN ARTIST, A THOUGHT FILLED WOMAN, A SURVIVOR, A LISTENER…. she was just finally broken because she had to be strong for too long. She has given me strength to make life decisions that are best for me, and the strength to know that falling down means nothing if you get back up. I will forever be a seeker – and spend my time enjoying the journey instead of focusing on an end. ~love you mom
NEWBORN CASTING CALL: DEC 2014 – JAN 2015
ITTY BITTY YUMMINESS.
FRESH BABY SKIN.
I’m looking for the teeny, tiny, itty, bitty yumminess that we call newborns! Casting CALL starts NOW. I have some newborn awesomeness in props that I want photographed…. so if you have… will have soon… or know if ANYONE having a newborn baby that is 2 weeks or younger IT’S TIME FOR SOME ART!
DECEMBER 2014 – JANUARY 2015… HERE IS THE SCOOP!
Must be a newborn that is 14 days old or LESS
UNDER 7 LBS (for any premies that showed themselves early)
Photoshoots will be at my Denver Studio, and if you qualify the session and one 11×14 canvas print will be FREE. Qualification will be determined by the above and our schedule availability! Photographer will have 100% creative control, so we can’t do a list – shoots will be based on our vision.
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
* If you have a newborn e-mail us immediately so we can get you on the schedule.
* If you are due in Dec or January e-mail us immediately with your approximate due date so we can set a tentative date and then adjust it for when the baby actually arrives.
PLEASE POST AND SHARE EVERYWHERE!!!
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For every newborn 2 weeks or less photographed by me in December 2014 – January 2015 they will be entered into a drawing on February 1st, 2015 for a BABY BOOK!
A snapshot of your child’s life.
There is no place to compare our children to others. Not to others in our household, not to others in school – because there is not one child out there like another. They love different things at different times, they learn things at different speeds. Their minds are so busy with taking in every bit of information, categorizing it, filing it, re-filing it and this is a never ending process. WE CAN encourage and lead by example… and we can accept that some children will learn information in different ways. Finding what they excel in and celebrating that can give them encouragement to work on some of the things that they maybe aren’t learning as quickly. Every child has something that can be celebrated… find that in your child.
Today, start a list… by listening. For a week keep a piece of paper on your counter and start writing down things that your child says, what interests them and make a collection of who your child is right now. Do this yearly, monthly, however often you can and put it with a photo when you are done. This is the most amazing memory book you can ever assemble – it allows you to see who your child is – a snapshot of their personality. Then take a day and celebrate all the things that make your child amazing and unique.
Chances we didn’t take.
Now is not the time to give up on your dreams.
No more buckets of ice water?
Here ya go – a heads up for OCTOBER 2014. SO… because everyone has their own favorite charity for their own special reason, here is the deal for OCTOBER 2014. I have decided for the entire month of October… you make a $150 donation to the charity of your choice(or more)… and let us know which charity it is (with all their contact info to post about on our blog) and I will photograph your 90 minute studio session (Denver studio only) for FREE. Yep… that’s it – simple… and it doesn’t require dumping any ice water on your head. Contact email@example.com to book your date/time or call us at 720-566-9770.
Because I happen to love one specific charity in particular. For any $150 donation (OR MORE) you make to the Chordoma Foundation in memory of Tiffany Otto-Cragin in Sept or October 2014. I will photograph your 90 minute session for FREE and give you a $100 print credit.
WISCONSIN/MINNESOTA PEEPS: For any of you in the Wisconsin, Minnesota area – that would like to participate – I’m extending this in the form of a gift card that you can use in the summer or fall of 2015 when I am in your area.
Pass this along to anyone in and around Denver area, Boulder, Ft.Collins, Colorado Springs… etc.
or for gift certificate that can be used in MN, WI area after July 2015.
How does your memory work? The power of a printed photograph.
How does your memory work?
“How does your brain lay down and retrieve memories? Your brain is made up of 100 billion neurons. As you grow and develop, these neurons are ‘wired up’ to each other, and communicate through thousands of connections – synapses. Memories are formed when certain connections are strengthened.” ~sciencemuseum.org.uk
Regardless of the times when you talk and think nobody on the planet understands you – humans do remain great communicators. We use language by way of symbols and words that represent our feelings, ideas, actions, and qualities. This is complex – and yet our lives are becoming seemingly more complex and the flood of information and memories can get ‘filed’ in rarely recovered folders in our mind.
A photograph has the power to recover memories, increase mood – reminding ourselves of positive times that improve how we feel now. Looking at a printed photograph is valuable – people hold them or look at them in an album or on a wall and reminisce about the past. What is an experience 20-30+ years ago – and possibly long forgotten can create a “remember this” in your mind and bring stories increasing bonds between people. A printed photograph can make you remember your daughter bursting with laughter on the floor, the way your son loved to run fast as he could, completely free, and it can bring back stories of your grandmother and how she would hug you or the smell of fresh-baked bread. It revives your senses, it re-files your memories putting more pleasant thoughts in the current files of your mind. It brings you tears at times too – and that is what makes a photograph valuable.
It’s not just a piece of paper. It is lifetimes of vivid book marks connecting your memories. A printed photograph is one memory that connects many memories and sorts them in a more pleasant order…. that is what makes one photograph so special.
Think about your favorite few photographs that come to mind and take a minute to reflect on the emotions that those photographs provoke – that is the power of a photograph.
A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.
There will be no portrait photos in this post. This letter wasn’t mailed – it was at my doorstep when I got home a couple months ago. I read it, I cried, and read it again – probably a hundred times by now. It wasn’t easy to read – and honestly, as much as it validates what I do for a living – I wasn’t sure I was going to share it either. If you choose to read through the letter, you will know why I’ve finally chosen to share it.
July 2nd, 2011
Today I am writing for a couple of reasons. I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind. I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.
You photographed my wedding, you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby. I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family. After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you.. Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.
That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.
On Sunday I called and cancelled our session. Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and colored ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip. This was just 4 days since canceling our session, already totaling over $200 for un necessary things. My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor. It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly. I will be leaving my husband, my 6 year old girl and my now 2 year old – not by choice. It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.
I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased this few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now, and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat.
Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me. The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them. Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it. If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth. I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.
My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos. I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.