I have been thinking about writing this post for a long time. It's been something I've wanted to do and something I have dreaded doing because I haven't known what to say.
Earlier this week I sat down and just started typing. It was a little bit of a disaster because 1) I didn't start until 11:30 p.m. at which time I really, really should have been taking advantage of the quiet house to catch up on my sleep and 2) because I was simultaneously consuming a rather sizable glass of white wine.
What resulted from this late-night, grape-infused, stream-of-consciousness episode was a whole lot of typos and an essay that began with an explanation of the mystical properties of red jasper and turned into Evangeline's birth story---?!?!?!?! Which is a fascinating narrative, no doubt, but wasn't exactly where I had meant to go. I don't think.
"Just post what you've written so far," Todd said two nights later as the blog continued to sit as it has for months, unrefreshed.
But, um... no. Not yet anyway.
What I mean to explore is I have stopped blogging. I'm not really sure how to explain what's been going on around here as it all feels quite complicated and also incredibly, boringly simple.
Which sounds rather dramatic so let's just get to it.
Basically, in June we welcomed our second daughter in 16 months and her birth was profound and amazing but DIFFERENT than what I had expected. Then the summer progressed and I found that I was wrestling with myself in ways that were sad and amazing and different, too.
"This is not you," Todd said to me one afternoon as I sat in the living room, probably nursing, probably crying, unable to rally for a little family adventure, feeling angry at him for what he was asking of me, angry at myself for being so annoying and angry, then feeling sad for my angry feelings and despondent about not being able to get it together. A nasty cycle of defeat that characterized my moods of late. Some days there were euphoric highs and at other moments there were miserable, mopey lows. AND! It was so blasted hot last summer. Do you remember? July was like 4 degrees hotter than normal every day. That is a lot. The heat made me crazy too, I swear.
"This is just something that is happening to you," he observed.
I continued to stew and cry, but he was right and it helped to hear those words. Still, if these depressive episodes weren't my true essence, they were my current reality. It took time and patience and grace and the development of a very specific coffeeshop habit to regain my sure footing in the world.
In this time of heat and crazies and tears (and joy! and iced coffee!), I realized that my heart was conflicted about my "plan" to return to my wedding work. I had these two beautiful little girls and the opportunity to dive back into a very busy season of work coupled with a very busy season of life and all I wanted to do was LESS. What had been manageable for me as a working mother of one baby was suddenly so obviously not going to work for me with two babies. I don't know why I didn't recognize this before the new baby arrived. Let's just call it naive optimism. She's been around before.
And, most importantly, considering what would be required of me and my family to "make it work" illuminated the real truth: my heart wasn't in it. My heart was elsewhere.
So, I have been saying "no" to new wedding inquiries, "no" to new clientele.
But by saying "no" I also have liberated myself and my schedule so that I can say, "yes." Yes to more more time with my very young and (quickly growing!) children. Yes to more weekends home with my family. Yes to the opportunity to teach photography to four sections of middle school boys this spring. Yes to more weddings as a second shooter (all the fun; none of the stress!!). Yes to new creative outlets and ventures.
Basically, these recent months have been amazing. Different than what I had anticipated for myself. But -- without a doubt -- amazing.
Every day, and with every new inquiry, I have the luxury and responsibilty of feeling it out and deciding if my heart and mind and family are ready for me to take on more work and additional projects and give more of my very best to my clients. It could be that in one month I will decide yes, I am ready. Or in six months. Or in one year, or in six years. For now, though, I'm not ready. I'm elsewhere, pointing my heart, mind, and my very best in other directions. Because if I'm going to be completely honest, my clients have always been fantastic, but I have been feeling more than a little disenchanted with my industry.
That's all I'm going to say about that right now.
Which brings me back to this blog.
When I started Making Use I considered it a tool for my business. It was a journal of my projects, artistic vision, inner thoughts, outer experiences. My website was the portfolio. Together, these online spaces would be a place to share and connect with my clients, my friends and family, and potential... whoevers.
Very quickly, I realized that I liked this blogging thing. I really liked having a place to write, and it was fun to share and document my work and life. There is a strange pleasure in re-reading my archives. I remember much of it but other posts are like new discoveries of moments and places I had forgotten, and would have forgotten forever had I not shared them here. Usually, I find myself thinking, "I like this lady!" as I read my own words. That's a good thing.
Now that I'm spending more time at home photographing for myself and less time out in the world photographing for others, I feel increasingly conflicted about how to approach this space. My professional work only made up a fraction of this blog's content, and I certainly have enough backlog of wedding and other "work" content to see me through the end of this year if I wanted to re-hash it all now. It's the other stuff that's trickier. Comments, emails, and general feedback have always conveyed that my most popular pieces were the personal ones--writing about marriage back in 2009, the travel stories, writing about my children and motherhood.
My biggest concern is my children and how much of their lives I am willing to make public. Todd and I are consenting adults but they are innocent and oblivious and I never want them to have to say, "Hey, Mom, will you stop posting about me on the internet now?" That just doesn't seem fair. But, if I write about my current comings and goings and share photographs that I'm making these days while trying to edit out my family I will be ignoring my most obvious and heart-felt subject matter. I just cannot decide how to move forward, and that indecision has become a ginormous road block. Or writer's block, if you will.
I have discussed these concerns with several wise people near and dear to me and got some stellar advice that basically says, "get out of your head and get back to writing, Mere!!!" but so far composing this post and hitting the "publish" button is as far as I've gotten. That's a step in the write right direction, though, right? Write? Har har har.
I'm starting. I'm writing. I will figure it out.
In the meantime, while I am still undecided about how exactly to address my life and children on this blog, and whether to continue it at all -- or elsewhere -- here are some photographs from the last month or so, mostly featuring the two ladies I spend most of my days with now.
They are my most vivid dreams come true.
^^^ We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary with a night away at Colina Farm. I was looking forward to sleeping through the night (finally!) but somehow we still ended up awake and whispering in bed at 3 a.m. Oh well.
^^^ A rogue snowstorm in March left us without power for three days. Luckily we were able to escape to my parents' house.
^^^ Another late snow.
^^^ Flora's first trip to the Emergency Room. Beans (plural!) up the nose.
See? Quite complicated and incredibly, boringly simple.