A lot of us talk about various times during this horrible journey where a shift begins to happen. It's nothing concrete or tangible, it may not even be something we can easily define… all we know is that something has changed in us and the way we view what has happened to us. That is the shift.
Since the new year began, I've been feeling as though something within me is on the move… some part of me is pushing outward and trying to pull me with it. Somewhere in the middle of this, I happened to write this post about sharing our stories through images. In that post, I shared a few very personal portraits of me. I'll be honest, I felt seriously freaked out to share that. Even though I take hundreds of photos a week, always I am behind the lens. It is somehow entirely more vulnerable for me to step in front of it. Far more vulnerable than sharing paragraphs of honest, raw words even are. So this all makes me quite nervy. But something shifted after I posted those pictures. A part of me woke up it felt like, or realized it wanted to do more of that. I owe that in large part to the profound support from everyone here who read and commented on that post.
It's been a little over a month since that post, and I am now in my 5th week of a year-long self portrait series. It already feels like I've been working on it for months. I have become so completely consumed by it - body, heart, mind, and soul. I cannot quite explain what is happening, I just know I am feeling pulled very strongly into it… and when that happens, I listen. I have an infinite number of visuals in my mind that have formed about what grief feels like - and what my journey of grief has been thus far. In these early weeks of this project I realized that I am stepping into something very deep and profound for my own healing by beginning to create these mental images literally and visually.
After writing hundreds of thousands of words over the past year and a half, writing really began to lose its healing effect for me in the past 3-4 months. It's as if my very soul was saying it is time to tell my story another way. So I've been struggling with this for a while now, continuing to try and write, and struggling more and more with it. Continuing to be on the lookout for what will feel more right. As soon as I began shooting these images a few weeks ago, it clicked. I knew instantly that I had found my new direction. I have to laugh a little because really it was right in front of my nose all along… literally. The very camera that my fiancé bought me for my 27th birthday, which started my journey with photography five years ago, which I still use to take all of my photos. The camera that gave me some of my first breaths of calm and peace and stillness after he died. Its been here all along. And while I've put my soul into all of my photos since he died, never had I thought to put my body into them until now. And I know, in the way that I know the grass is green, that this is where I am supposed to be for the next part of healing myself.
I won't stop writing entirely of course - I still have things I want to share through words, but they will be taking a back seat and serving as a support to my photos. On my creative blog, where I am posting each weekly image, I will also be sharing some of my journaling and other thoughts that pertain to the themes of each image.
This is an excerpt from the full post for the image above:
“I often imagine what it would be like if I stumbled on a sacred doorway to the other side and cautiously walked through the threshold… what would it be like? It would be a still, sacred place with an air of mystery around it. A space deeply connected to nature, so much so that even the trees have bowed in unison with its purpose. I wonder what it would look like as I stepped through to the other side? Would it look just like woods here, only filled with those I love who have passed on? Would I see him standing there, through the trees, and would we sit down together on a fallen log and share all the adventures we have both had since we last saw each other?
Or would it look like something entirely different – would I have no arms or legs at all? Would we be but two ambient forces flowing in a vast, open plain? Would there be no words, or any need for words? In this version, our spirits infuse more and more closely until we eventually become as one – the very original of how we began. Both of these visions give me hope. They help me see how beautiful it will be to share of my life on earth when I return to the ones I love on the other side.
How do you imagine a gateway like this to be? Is it somewhere specific, does it look or feel a certain way to you? What do you imagine it to be like on the other side if you stepped through that portal? How does make you feel to imagine sharing with those who have passed on about your life here on earth since you last saw each other? What sort of stories will you have to share?
Personally, I think its so valuable to form our own individual stories of these aspects of death. Sure, its all just imagination - but folks, imagination is a powerful tool for coping with reality. It helps me to keep my sights on what’s important… allows me focus on the kind of stories I want to create in my life.
Asking these questions serves as a reminder that our journey with those who have died is not over. We are merely on a long trip apart. Our job while still on earth is to live a life so rich and full that we arrive back home overflowing with grand stories of adventure and bravery and love… especially love. Stories that we will sit down and tell to our loved ones – or that they will infuse into their own being – and their souls will shine to see how boldly we have met life… to see that no matter how much pain we endured, we never let it stand in the way of our greatness.
To Read more and follow the project weekly, visit my blog, 12 Months of Creativity. And again, thank you for being here, for reading, for encouraging me, and for being part of my journey forward. You have made such a difference in my life.