I've been really excited about making videos with my canon 7d. I have little to no idea how to make a good quality video, and my jerky zooming is enough to almost make me sick, BUT I figured the only way to learn is to just experiment. I am quickly falling in love with these little videos of the girls. I feel like they are really accurate of the mundane things that fill our days, and yet it's always a little tricky because the day I decide to bring my camera a long and document, I am no longer able to be as present as I normally am or would like to be. I figure it's more than worth it, because 90% of our days really look and feel this way, at least to me and there is just something magical that photographs alone don't always capture. This little love tree is just a few blocks from us and we walk by it multiple times a week. The girls must have over 20 love notes, (mainly just tags with their names on them!) But this morning while on our way to the park it seemed appropriate to finally document all the sweet details. These videos are worth more than gold to me.
Summer was uniquely overwhelming and exciting, and quite honestly, more than I could handle. I said yes to everything because for the first time in a long time I felt like I could. Those old habits of believing I can do it all, and be it all are hard wired inside of me. All I have to do is open myself up to one thing, and it's not long before I have committed to everything. every.thing. Over committing myself wasn't as disastrous when I was single. By the end I was often in a tizzy, but I was alone in my simmering internal chaos. But add a husband and two spirited little people and overcommitment quickly becomes a recipe for disfunction. I am not a mulitasker and I do not like to have my hands in a little bit of everything. I crave simplicity and single minded tasks. I want to do a few things really really well. And yet it is always fascinating to me how quickly I find myself in situations where I am juggling a million and one passions. I've learned that consistency is not my strong suit, and yet I desire it more and more. I need stability and consistency to be creative. But opportunities and momentum come to be in waves, and in seasons. Even the type of work I align myself with is seasonal. So naturally it makes sense, financially and creatively that I should say yes as it's offered. But I am learning even in the season of yes, it is no very necessary to say no. I am learning boundaries.
Now that it's October I am finishing up loose end projects which is a big sigh of relief. There is still a lot of bait dangling in my face, but I think I am finally learning. I am turning things down because my heart can't live another interrupted, distracted day with my girls. They are my priority, and I want them to feel this with my actions, not just my intentions and words. Also, I am doing it for me, I want to feel connected and in my own skin again.
We moved apartments last week, thankfully just down the street from our old place. I purged and organized, truly organized. The girls were with Chris' parents in Atlanta so I was able to put the time and effort into being through, which is not something that has every happened since becoming a mother. It feels so good to know that my keepsakes are in one organized bin and my photographs and journals in another. Something about knowing where my most prized possessions are, allows me to sleep better at night.
I recently deleted thousands of messages and drafts from my email inbox and I temporarily deactivated my Facebook account. I have a hard time keeping up with replying to text messages let alone responding to Facebook messages and or worrying about who is having access to who, what, when, where, why, while I am trying to be as present as possible in the flesh. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate and respect the beautiful side of social media (I LOVE instagram!) and I've learned that life in the extremes only creates the pendelum to swing back and forth without ever finding balance or home. So claiming that I am anti social media is only going to create the exact opposite emotion a year or two from now. Deprivation just doesn't work. Which is probably why I've spent the last 6 months drooling over the idea of owning a car. Good things are often found in the tension of good and bad, the pro's and cons. So little is black and white. In any case, I just want to be more choosy about where I am online. And I want to be honest with myself and my limitations. If I can't honestly connect and make time for a few hundred people in my normal day, then I probably shouldn't try to do that online. The idea of this, and the pressure of it all stresses me out, and is probably what I dislike about social media the most. The illusion that we can and should connect with as many people as possible, or at worst, just consume them. It's all too familiar with what I already struggle with in real life, overcommitment, and being spread too thin in relationships.
I miss this space, where my heart once flowed freely and I had no idea if anyone ever read it, because likes and views were not applicable. It also feels healthier because it's more appropriate for full stories, not one or two liners that leave much for assumption and misunderstanding. I suppose I am not too deeply invested in whether or not I am misunderstood (well, I probably am, a little more than I would like to admit) but if I am going to share, it feels to do so a little more wholeheartedly.
I am hoping to slow down and take my time, that old pastime I knew so well before Bijou was born. Sometimes I am in awe at how good I was at taking my time. Food, transportation, domestic endeavors, all of it. I still walk for miles to get to where I need to be, and I never resist the urge to stop and smell a flower, but all those things that aren't fun, like dishes and folding laundry, it's all just become a big race to see how fast it can be done. How quickly can I check things off the list, get the dinner on the table, get it all cleaned up, and get those overtired kids in bed. How fast, before I sit down to myself and realize I am empty because I missed out the little gifts waiting inside those seemingly undesirable chores. How quickly I suddenly miss them when they are bed and wish that I would have taken just a few more minutes before tucking them in.
I keep feeling like this is my seasons of saying no, but really I just can't wait to say yes to all those mundane things that filled me fuller than I ever thought imaginable. I don't want to start and finish my days, I want to be inside my days, with my two favorite little ladies, and I want to teach them this lost art of slow living. I don't think it's not as far from me as I often worry, in fact it is so tightly woven into me, I couldn't dare run fast enough to escape it. I don't want to reflect on each year and make small talk about how fast the days, months and years keep flying by, I want to be one who takes her sweet time, her obnoxiously sweet time, so that when my babies are leaving home, or when I am old, tired and gray, I can honestly feel like it was more than enough. So that I can say there was time, and I made it all mine.
Watching them rummage through second hand treasures was like getting a glimpse into their relationship seventy years from now, as eccentric old ladies, and endearing (sometimes cranky) sisters. I could see their distinct, predictable posture, I could almost hear their silly banter. But I tried not to daydream of all those years sandwiched between. I tried to come right back here. And stay. Until Bijou started screaming, and Octave starting whining, and I started dropping things, and everyone was looking at me to get it together. Then I decided it was okay to day dream about quieter, cleaner, more collected times. I dreamed of the day Octave was finally bored with pushing every last button (or maybe it was just me who finally learned to stay centered) and Bijou had learned how to beautifully express herself through words rather than blood curdling, demeaning screams. I dreamed of all three of us thrift shopping, and going out for fancy cocktails. We laughed about this day, and all the crazy days prior and it all made for some really good stories. I love good stories, so I'm chalking all these years up to just that. Funny stories, messy stories, beautiful, gut wrenching, honest stories.
It seems that the moments I capture most these days are from this angle, behind them, a little more distance between us than there used to be. It's equally encouraging as it is heartbreaking. Ok, if I am honest, it's a little more heartbreaking. Next week the girls are heading to Atlanta to visit their Nanny and Pop, and while my stomach hurts thinking about them being on the other side of the country for an entire week without me, I know it will be good for all of us. Christopher and I will get time to connect and move apartments, (thankfully, just down the street) and I will hopefully finish up all of my loose end dance and photography jobs, so that come mid October we can settle into a brand new family rhythm. I am relearning that almost everything I feel and experience is bittersweet, and the reality of watching them grow into their own unique and independent selves is just that.
A video of all the magic and chaos that stirs inside our walls. To capture the essence of our days, and the apartment we called home for two years.
You stayed up late in your bed, so eager to tell me every last detail while I was away. This is what it will be like years from now, I think. I won't always know first hand what you experience, I'll just hear it through your eyes, and feel it in your words. I felt estranged not being there, for all this seeing and doing. I always have been. I've always wanted to be. It was new, achey, and beautiful in the selfless sense. Your enthusiasm pushed warm tears down my cheeks. This enthusiasm is your marrow and my luster. It's us.
I held on to your every last detail, like a tight rope walker, managing her space between the highest of stakes. They often feel this high. Life or death. “I don't want to mess this up,” i whisper under my breath. You are everything that is good.
You didn't need me today, but still, you wanted me. Still, you waited for me. And on your pillow was a picture of me at your age, in my favorite red dress, thick brown locks, blue eyes that lingered. You've kept it near, all this time. I walked in and you placed my picture on your infamously sticker stuck window siIl. I was back home now, the distant thought of me came closer and suddenly, tangible was my flesh, not a moment captured, preserved through two decades and a few loose years.
I could hardly accept your seasoned body language, and that honest, innocent dialogue that is so uniquely you. Oh what I would give to hear this voice for all the days of my life. It’s still right here and now, but somehow I already miss it. Nostalgia has always usurped my joy. But i love nostalgia, and i live for love.
It’s complicated, but i thrive on simplicity.
Oh Octave. There is no conclusion to my heart cry, there is only this. A mama’s immaculate intention, and her batty, messy love. My love. So.much. love.
This summer hasn't really felt like summer, and I can't believe it's almost come and gone. I've struggled with balancing motherhood and a strong desire to pursue my creative endeavors. It's tricky because it feels like this has been my season of dreams coming to fruition and I can't help but say, "Yes!" And yet their childhood is fleeting and I feel it and see it more and more every day. This summer I've spent more time away from them than ever before. In reality it is still not much, but it has felt like a lot for what I'm used to. With all that said, in a few months time, I got to perform again after WAY too long, visions and plans for a new time and space for young dancers is well underway, and photography jobs seemingly keep falling into my lap. I feel so incredibly full and blessed, and a little tired, but mainly just happy. I planted these seeds years ago and now thing are coming full circle. They always do.
Last weekend I got to take Nikki's senior portraits. (Eek!) I was honored that she even asked and was giddy, while secretly trying to play it cool. This season of life is almost intoxicating. The world is at her fingertips, and yet when you're so close to end, it can seem so far. I remember it so well. I remember the confidence of knowing exactly what I wanted but the angst of feeling stuck, fulfilling commitments I never was excited about making in the first place. I am pretty sure the only class I never dared skipped my senior year of high school was photography. I wasn't ditching my other classes and heading off to do what teenagers like to do, instead I would lock myself in the dark room for hours on end. If I wasn't locked in the dark room, I was at my dance studio hours before class, blaring the music, improving, choreographing, and writing. 12 years later, not much has changed. Except I don't have to skip or make excuses for anything, I can be where I want to be, with the people I want to be with, doing what I love. I can't believe I am finally here. You know, that time and space where it feels like everything you've ever dreamed about is starting to come together. I guess I never really realized that until just now, as I started typing this.
It's officially unofficial, I am in the baby beginning phases of creating my own photography business. Beautiful opportunities and experiences keep coming my way, so while I thought maybe all of this was premature, I guess maybe it's not. I think it's time to watch the seeds I've watered over the last few years start to bloom. Sorry, but I'm feeling strangely cheesy. But sometimes those cliches just work, and I'm not too cool to use one. You guys, I've got buds. Buds! Pretty ones. I mean, it doesn't hurt when your subject is as stunning as Nikki. Seriously, what a treat it was to capture her. And how sweet it is to be right here in this time and place. I am beyond grateful.
i know what she’s thinking. one, because she tells me, but even more, because i was once her looking at the world, hypothetically.
to her, and all the other calm, collected, enlightened people who cross our path, it’s a wonder why i’m sitting so calm and casual, sipping a margarita, watching my daughters reek havoc on this city. They all look in judgement. I used to care, now i’m just too tired, too worn, too connected to the promise of cycles and seasons… their time will come. judgment never escapes full circle understanding. It’s okay. i feel rooted, enough. for now. And I used to do it too. it feels good to have hypothetical children. it’s necessary and novel, a part of growing up, defending, redefining, before finally throwing it all in flames. Children, they do that. my life is a wildfire. I’m only glad it’s wild. The fire scares me, it always has.
I just never knew it would be this wild. I’m sure i bring a lot of it on myself. I like to say yes, I like to invite everything real and raw, which means I invite epic beauty, and intangible, uncharted chaos. I wonder, how will they, (now the center of my story,) remember me? Half naked, and at best impossibly grey, obnoxiously non committal, painfully human, and fun? I mean, come on, I am a lot of fun. But they run circles around me before I ever wake up (literally.) I just. can’t. keep. up. And now it finally hits me…maybe i’m not supposed to.
I’m watching smoothie pour outside the bath, into the baseboards, the nooks and crannies that i will be far too tired to ever clean. Why did i ever think it was a good idea to give them chunky peanut butter smoothies (for dinner) in the bath? For someone who can hardly bare multi tasking, i find myself here, smoothie filled base boards, milky waters, saturated bath mats, and already unclean children, bathed in peanut butter diluted soap. They are happy (for now) so I just keep writing. I had to write, i felt myself disappearing between strangers glares of disapproval, and my suffocating confidence. But i’ve got this, and i probably wouldn’t doubt half as often if i never went out. But I do. I exit my apartment saying something like, “here is my beautiful mess,” but not everyone considers this beautiful, just the sweet old ladies that earnestly seek me, finding me, telling me. They know it all too well. I am their long, lost, yesterdays, they wish they could do all over again. So, here i am, in the muddy thick of it. I love it, I really do, just don’t assume my exasperated “ahhhh,” or my silent sipping, tequila solitude is an honest reflection of the worlds that are competing and quarreling, before finally rebirthing under my sun kissed skin.
I still have not cleaned the base boards. I probably won’t. There is so far too much to revel and uncover, it’s got nothing to do with my housekeeping, and everything to do with the my fire burning beneath my chest. “Don’t fear,” I whisper, “It’s wild, it’s fire, it's yours, you’ve got this.”
I never understood why mom took so many pictures of my sisters and I growing up. It kinda drove me crazy, and I swore I would not put my kids through that. Well, like the old saying goes, never say never, because so many things don't make sense until you walk in someone else's shoes, ESPECIALLY your own mothers. I would like to think I'm different, and that all my picture taking is justified because I hardly ever make my girls pose for me. Our approach may be different, but our hearts still cry for the same thing, to preserve and remember. Last night my Aunt pulled out her old projector, and all the 8mm film passed down through the generations. We watched films of my spunky mama, and her sister. I saw her infamous Aunts I always heard so much about, and saw my favorite cousin Jane as a baby. My heart swelled with purpose and meaning. Watching my people, watch our people, remembering and preserving the idiosyncrasies that make us, US. We can depart from our families and pave our own way, if we want and need, but I'm convinced that most of who we are can be found in our blood and bones, and all our beautifully, messy stories. The feelings that emotions that brewed beneath my chest last night could never be bought, and they could also never be as powerful if they had only been passed down orally. There was something so poetic and profound visually taking in the past. I'm so grateful for the women before me who documented the mundane, and I can't help but want to give my daughters that very same thing.
I went back to nyc for the first time since I left after my dance program. It was hard to wrap my brain around all that has happened since then. Travels, love, marriage, babies, heartache, more love, and adventure, just in a different sense. I left wanting something profound to happen, I thought maybe something needed to come full circle. I'm not so sure it did, but I had a damn good time. I talked, and danced, drank and ate with the wonderful people I shared an intense year of my life with 10 years ago. The reminiscing was the best, and maybe that is what I craved most. Remembering is good for my soul, and I don't often have the time and space for that with two little people who are counting on me to make magic happen. It was good to let my hair down, stay up late into the night, or early morning, and see the city all brand new. It was good to see myself, in new light but then realize that everything and nothing has changed since then.
On my last night, over proseco and an amazing rooftop view, my dear friend and mentor talked about the difference between being a seeker and a finder. Naturally I am a seeker. I spent my teens and early twenties perpetually seeking. I came back to NYC with the same mindset, mind and muscle memory maybe. At first I felt kind of disappointed, something felt a little off, and it was more than my cancelled connecting flights and lost baggage 2 out of the 4 days of my trip. I heard his words, something clicked and it resonated with me. I thought that maybe now it's my time to exhale and observe, to coast, and let be. And find. I want to be a finder.
I brought my professional camera thinking I was going to get a lot of time to capture the city, but surprisingly I didn't use it once. These are all from my iPhone 5.
My sweetest daughters, there are a million and one things I cannot give you, but I CAN teach you to be, explorers of the world. And I'm confident that after eighteen years with me, you will know how to find whimsy and delight within the sacred mundane. Here is a little glimpse into our everyday. May you hold this as sacred as I do.
xo, your tired weary mama
Today I met my match at the grocery store. He, who identified as she, was generously spraying whipped cream on top of a humble sample of strawberry shortcake. Disapproving looks were given, but she remained sure. In a way she had to, society was already against her, long before she unapologetically indulged in samples. I envied her steadiness. It was something I suddenly longed for. I consider myself an ambassador for non verbal communication. Posture and body language captivate me beyond measure, and so when we locked eyes, not much needed to be said, we both understood the other's intentions. Only she had nothing to hide, and I had everything to lose.
We found solidarity without a single word ever spoken. We were sample hustlers. The ones that have perfected the art of acting unusually curious about the new product we are trying, knowing full well we will never buy it, not today, not any day. In fact we may have only walked into the grocery store for that sample. Or at best we might have conveniently forgotten a key ingredient for dinner, so our eager tastebuds could be justified, and we could experience another new sample.
She finally broke the comfortable silence. ”Come here, just look at her," she insisted, pointing to an un orderly flower amongst a painfully obedient bunch. It was true, her shape and texture was really something. "And just look at these billy balls," she pointed, "they are my absolute favorite." "Mine too!" I calmly boasted, "they always have been." It went on and on, we dissected and praised the entire bouquet, and gave human characteristics to an array of flowers I might have walked right past, if it wasn't for this kindred spirit, and her shameless portion of whipped cream. I walked away deeply satisfied and smitten, but wishing our encounter and poetic exchange was not such an anomaly. Vulnerability has long been one of my strong suits, and yet this experience felt a little more foreign than familiar. It seems I've been a little out of practice. Or maybe I have just lost touch with my people. Probably both, but I want more of this. More rebelious flowers, more vulnerable takers, and of course, more samples.
I haven't been taking a lot of photos of my girls lately. I went almost an entire week without taking a single picture, which is a lot or a little depending on your perspective, but for me it felt rare. I've been wanting to be more intentional, and get back to how it felt when I fell in love with capturing my girls, which was inspired by the quirky candid moments that magically fell into my lap. I knew a reset was necessary when I found myself bribing Octave with a lollipop if she would just sit still in a good patch of light. She refused and I begged, and she refused again. I felt a little ashamed of myself, and completely out of touch with how I want to parent and document. Even if I did get that "good shot," I am pretty sure all I would remember is the fact that i had to bribe her, which would mean so little and defeat the entire purpose. Aesthetic is important, however if I have to try too hard to make something come together I am no longer inspired. I want to capture posture and movement, and the fleeting candid moments of life. If these moments happen inside good natural light, there is not much more I could ask for.
I've noticed that the few photographs I have captured in the last month are faceless. When I look back at them, I feel at a distance, and slightly removed. Interestingly enough it kinds of reflects what motherhood feels like right now. I am struggling to find a rhythm. I am confused about my place, and doubting my voice. And it is just so loud. Painfully loud and overwhelming. However, I am finding a deeper sense of myself outside of motherhood which is refreshing and fun, and long overdue. I'm trying not to make too much of this, because if there is anything I've learned it's that things shift rather quickly with little ones, or maybe it's just me, and I happen to have little ones. Right when I feel pushed to my max is when something soft and sweet invites me in, giving me rest and new perspective. Nothing last forever, so while I'm here a little longer, I'll observe my life and it's details from a little different angle, even if feels a little foreign or makes me feel uncomfortable, because it might just be exactly what I need.
There seems to be a trend with my daughters Birthday’s. I am a baker, a good one, but on this one day, I just can’t get it right. It’s been this way from the very first cake I set out to bake for Octave. And now the emotions run deep, and each year there is much anticipation and always a little bit of heart ache. It seems everything goes a-wall, and while majority of the time I am fairly agreeable, and go with the flow, the cake mishaps wind me up tight. It’s easy for me to relinquish control, except for in this one small area. Aesthetic is important to me, perhaps even to a fault, particularly when it comes to my food and drink. I used to get strangely emotional if my coffee spilled over on to my cup and saucer. My husband can remember my eyes welling up with tears when a barista carelessly handed me my coffee, spilling the crema down the side of a once perfectly white canvas of morning. This was on one of our first few dates, which was awkward and inevitable, and now seems suddenly strange that we made it to another date. I guess this idiosyncrasy does not accurately describe who I am or how I navigate the rest of my life, but maybe it just keeps things interesting, albeit frustrating if you happen to be around me while I’m baking a cake, once a year, for the people I love most. But the good news is, I am growing, exponentially, because it’s been years since I’ve enjoyed a blemish free coffee, and I’m still here to tell about it. Today I just laughed when I started baking in my bathrobe to learn we were out of baking powder. And then I even smiled and enjoyed frosting inconsistently awkward cupcakes. I picked out the best of the bunch for showcase, and placed them in a fool proof container at the door, but it wasn't long before eager helping hands picked them up, jostled them around a few good times, leaving them unable to discern their up from down. It was such a picture of motherhood, which might actually be the only thing that has ever given me a good dose of reality.
I know Birthdays and the rest of life are not about these trivial details, but for me, it makes sense that the heart and intention should match the eye. But this is not always the case. I have such good intentions. The End. That's kind of what everything feels like lately, good intentions falling short, or just straight up missing the boat. Sigh. The day is done and I’ve had a good bout of tears, not because of these cupcakes, but a little, (a lot) to do with the battle of a four year olds impressively strong will, and a lot to do with my sweetest little Bij turning two. TWO! This was my reflection before silly things like expectations and chaos, and cupcakes…
She feels like coming home, and resting inside a humble confidence. It feels like trying on a vintage family heirloom, or looking into a mirror that has no mishaps and regrets. She seems to have a little bit of everyone running through her, a special something we can’t quite put our finger on. But I feel it, deeper than the strongest surge that brought her into my weary arms two years ago today. After so much anticipation it really was HER, the Bijou Haru I met and dreamed up a decade before. The Iittle girl I talked about one balmy California night, with my soul sisters and a bottle of petite sirrah. It was always her, the missing link, an unfulfilled ache, that quiet space that always longed to be known. Happy Birthday to the one who keeps me rooted and sure, and always brings me back home.
Rainbow Chip Cupcakes
Recipe slightly adapted from Date Night In
(makes 24 cupcakes)
Homemade Rainbow Chips:
10 oz white chocolate chips
1 tsp. coconut oil (or other preferred oil)
4 different food coloring
5 egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. whole milk
2 3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. whole milk
1 c. rainbow chips
2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1/2 c. unsalted butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 c. rainbow chips
Melt chocolate chips and oil in microwave or on stove top. Stir often as not to burn, and remove when all the chips are smooth and melted. Divide chocolate into 4 small bowls. Add a few drops of coloring to each and stir until combined. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and smooth out each color across the paper, as shown above. Place in the freezer for 25 minutes or until set. Chop up chocolate into small chips and place in an air tight container for up to a week.
Preheat oven to 350.
Separate eggs whites into a medium size bowl and whisk together 1/4 c. milk and vanilla. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle hook attachment, combine flour, corn starch, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Mix until combined. Add softened butter on top of the mixture and mix for 30 seconds. Slowly add the remaining 3/4 c. milk while mixing on medium speed for about a minute. Continue to mix while you pour in the egg white mixture. Mix everything together for another 30 seconds. Add rainbow chips and mix until just combined.
Place softened cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Cream together with a hand beater or stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add powered sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat until well combined. Fold in the rainbow chips. You can make ahead of time and store in the fridge for a few days or frost immediately.
Bake cupcakes at 350 for 20-26 minutes. Let cool completely and frost to your hearts content.
When there is little to say, there is much brewing. When I am able to articulate the beautiful calamity under my ribs, is often when it's already passed and processed, sorted and transformed. It just moves on. I, move on. Quickly. Because I stayed there deeply. The relationship between the feeling(s) and the sharing, are like two ships passing in the middle of the night. And sometimes what i say and do feels dishonest, but only for this reason, I can't help that my head and heart play catch up. Writing is not therapeutic for me in the muddle. It's sometimes too thick to move, it's presence to heavy for choice. So I stay and ruminate and quarrel, and give and take and give, and stay some more. And then just like that, all rather quickly, it's gone. Another season hovers just above my once weary slumber. It's eager for me to wake, to say something profound, but it doesn't dare, it knows I've been working, digging and brewing. This new found gold, it's mine to illuminate, and I know just how to share it. Only then can I reach for my paper and pen.