This lesson of AOH (Aperture of the Heart-my photography class) was a big one for me. I wanted to share a few random thoughts on it because like all of the other lessons so far, I felt it needed to be documented. Maybe no one else will ever read these words, maybe my daughters will need them at a certain time in their life and I’m not here. But it was pretty profound and something was realized that’s taken over a decade to fully comprehend. Maybe you need it too.
“My outside self might mark me as a certain age, but my inside self isn’t defined by time. I’m every age I’ve ever been.”
All of a sudden after hearing those words, some of my feelings and emotions made sense. Some things you don’t “get over” or quit feeling because of time. They might still sting the same way they did when that event happened, no matter how you’ve matured or changed with age. That’s ok. Everything that has happened to you is yours and you get to tell it. Your version matters.
However, Earth is forgiveness school and it starts at the dinner table. Families are hard. Life is hard. As a deep feeler and one who is also a “fixer,” we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement on the ones we love the most. They have to do it on their own. We have to release them. We all have baggage. We all have some sort of trauma. We are all screwed up and broken. But God. His grace is a healing balm, a spiritual ointment that soaks in and seeps out. It’s a mystery too. That He extends it to me and to you as well as everyone else that we think doesn’t deserve it. None of us do. But He gives it, so should we. If we don’t, what was His sacrifice on the cross worth? Everything.
That realization makes me retreat back into my shell and feel shame. That I’ve been given grace but it’s so hard to accept for myself and extend to others who have broken me. However, that shame is also a tactic from the enemy because he knows we’ve been bought with a price and that grace is freedom. Grace finds us where we are. It doesn’t leave us there either. It carries us forward and teaches us how to mend our hearts and use them as an extension, an olive branch to rebuild bridges that were once torched to ash. It’s a lesson I’ve known but am still learning. I’m learning to be me again and to also be free.
A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine shared a photography class on instagram. I soon recognized the photographer who had curated the course as the same one who recorded a video for them-sharing their child’s tragic accident that took his life. I knew this person was highly respected and valued because of the relationship with my friend and how she’s sat with her during this journey of healing. I knew this was something to consider.
So I did. I’ve always wanted to take a photography course and get to know my camera better, learning how to shoot my family from my view and what I see daily. But what I didn’t expect was that this course would revisit a lot of my own wounds, sadness, and insecurities. A deep dive into things I’ve carried for years. This course was on healing and using photography as a form of that. Capturing the beauty in our everyday, no matter the circumstance.
To be really transparent, if I would have known that, I probably would have kept scrolling. Not because I don’t think it’s absolutely wonderful, because it is, but because I’m good at suppression (or so I thought) and I’d rather upack feelings when they are bubbling over or not at all.
So here goes, I’ve paid for it and I’m showing up. The introduction alone hurt and I had a good cry so I can only imagine what the next six weeks will bring. This year has been about showing up for the hard, even when I don’t want to. As said friend mentioned, “you showed up physically for the #75hard, now it’s time for the inside work.”
I wanted to use this space to document here and there along the course as well as share my photos. I won’t be sharing every day but I’ve been getting really good at forgetting things unless I write them down. I often need to revisit points as well. Here are a few things just from getting started that I wanted to share as well as this short journal entry:
“I didn’t realize how much I needed this course or why I even signed up. I was in tears just in the introduction with how much I related to her words with the stage of life I’m in right now. Feelings of defeat and wondering if I’m worthy. I feel lost and stuck. Trauma suppression has made me realized I’ve never fully allowed myself to live my life. I’m always waiting on the other shoe to drop and have built such a fortress around my heart that I’ve missed out on a lot of precious time and being fully present in moments where I was just surviving. I have to see the joy in the everyday even if circumstances aren’t ideal. I can’t be the glue anymore because I’m barely holding myself together.”
How our brains make memories and how the art of paying attention can change everything. We live distracted, future focused lives…..worry has become a habit for so many of us (ME), our decisions often being made from a place of fear instead of faith. We have unconsciously wired our brains to be experts in the craft of worry. Our brains attract the bad and deflect the good.
Research shows, a negative experience takes only one second to imprint it’s memory on our brains, while a positive memory takes at least 15 seconds. If we aren’t actively present during the positive experience for that amount of time, we aren’t retaining the memories. The very act of slowing down, savoring a moment, and then revisiting it later helps solidify that memory into the brain. (enter photography) Intentional presence while letting the camera be a magnifying glass for grace. Our bodies store emotions. They can also be healed by positive ones.
I LOVE taking photos. Photos have always been so special to me. One of my favorite things to do is sit down and looking at family photo albums, especially those of my great grandparents. When we started our family, I told myself I’d work hard at getting photos of us to hand down too. I love documenting our life, not because I think it’s perfect, social media worthy or that I’m trying to show off and have something to prove. But because I truly love it. I find beauty in the mundane or the pretty room I worked so hard to put together as a safe space for our daughters to share. Some might see a beautiful tidy bedroom that’s never messy but when I look at it, I see our girls playing with horses all over the floor and I can hear their giggles in my head. I love seeing new life in a baby calf on the ranch or my daughter beaming with pride on her horse, even an outfit I wore on a day that I wasn’t feeling my best but it made me feel better because it was cute.
I think often we see others on social media and are quick to judge. Some just truly like to document and keep it as a scrapbook. We have no idea what’s going on beyond those squares or that 5 minute snapshot of their day. It’s just a moment, we can’t begin to know how hard it is to walk in their shoes. We cannot compare or assume we understand someone’s outsides or the small snippets they choose to show to the world to what’s really going on inside, or even to ourselves. We have to remember to be gracious.
So I’ll be saving posts from this 6 week journey in my Aperture of the Heart category. It’s already been pretty hard but also such blessing for me in starting to heal. The photo above was taken today, being fully immersed in watching my two enjoy their morning after homeschool, jumping on the trampoline and just being kids.