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My Daughter Didn’t Dance

Today, my daughter didn’t dance, and it broke my heart.

 

Lily-Ann celebrated her sixth birthday almost a week ago.  On July 20th we had friends and a few family members over to the house to help her celebrate.  She’d decided on a Goddess Girls theme this year.  We all dressed in chitons, played games I created based on the characters in the books, ate ambrosia cake and drank nectar punch, and everyone wore the winged sandals we made as our party favours.  After her party, she told me that all her birthday dreams and wishes had come true.  It was an awesome day.

Click the photo to see the rest of her party pictures.

Click the photo to see the rest of her party pictures.

 

The two weeks leading up to her sixth birthday, the girl had been going through some rather big developmental changes.  It was clear she was becoming a “big kid” and leaving the “baby” behind.  I was so excited for her.  She was growing in leaps and bounds right before my eyes.  I was proud of the conscious choices she was making, and happy for those things that were changing even without her awareness.  As much as I loved my baby, my toddler, and my little girl, I love the big kid she was becoming even more (if that’s possible).

My little girl loved going to the movies.  She loves the stories, the action, the music, the popcorn…  cuddling up in the dark theater.  More than any of that though, she loved to dance.  Ever since that first movie we went to, we’d let her run up to the front as soon as the credits started, and we’d watch her dance.

Those first few times, she’d wipe out…  a lot.  We’d hold back though, and just wait.  Then, with even more resolve, determination, and grit she would dust herself off and dance her heart out.  Sometimes spinning all the way from one side of the theater to the other, arms held wide, face to the sky, feeling the entire world whorl around her.  And she would take my heart along for the ride.

It was secretly my favourite part of the movie too.

There were times, when others would get caught up in her passion too.  When individuals, couples, and families would stay to watch her dance.  Some would clap for her.  Others would tell us how amazing they thought she was.  And there were those who would simply smile, their eyes full of gratitude.

I think her dancing reminded people of joy.  We so easily forget how much of it there is in this world.  We get so caught up in things that really don’t matter and we forget how to be swept up in it.  Joy can fill the heart with rapture and our lives with light.  Lily-Ann gave that back to people, even if it was just for a while.

Today, when the movie ended, and she got up to dance, my heart soared – like it always did.  She got up to the front, and she stood there.  I watched her posture change, and watched that joy melt away.  Then I watched her walk back to her seat.  She sat back down and said “I’m not going to dance today.  Maybe a different day, but not today.”  And I started to bawl.  I wasn’t loud, but I couldn’t stop the tears.  They poured down my face.

Lily wasn’t sad.  She was happy.  But that pure innocent joy, without a care about what anyone could think, was gone.  She really is a big kid, and with that comes both good and bad.  I look forward to what this next stage has in store for us, but I desperately mourn for my baby – who was here with me only weeks ago.

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Nothing but a Passion for Joy and Love.

I’ll be honest, my brain has been swimming today.  So many possibilities to consider, so many opportunities on the horizon, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.  Once I’m able to get a few things nailed down, and have made some decisions I’ll feel a lot better.  But for now, I’m a little scattered and unfocused – which isn’t great for writing.

I really do wish I could share some of this with you.  My blog is often times a way for me to unload, and I do use it (and you) as a sounding board when I’m working through things.  But this time, I feel the need to hold back… at least until I make some precursory decisions.  There will either be some major changes coming up in my life, or things will continue pretty much as they are with some minor changes.

Opportunities can be a difficult thing.  Some require a leap of faith, while others require you to jump through hoops… either way there’s a lot of action.  And possibly the most difficult thing can be choosing between multiple opportunities that come up at once.  That’s what I’m doing now.

While I may not have much worked out just yet, I do know one thing:  Whatever path I choose, I won’t change.  I will still make decisions based on joy and love.  After all, what’s the point of following our passions if they don’t include those two things?

That seems to be the one thing that has always remained the same for me…  a passion for joy and love.  I’m a very diverse individual, I wear a lot of hats.  There are a lot of things that give me purpose, and a multitude of things I could find happiness doing.  I don’t fit easily into a neat and tidy little box, and I’m totally cool with that.  In all things, my passions seem driven by joy and love.  And as long as you can find those two things in whatever you do, you can find peace doing just about anything.

Hows that for a long winded diatribe about, well…  nothing.  LOL

My many hats and the people they’ve brought into my life.

I know the natural thing to blog about would be the girl’s first day of school… but to be honest? I’m just not mentally prepared to go there.  While she had a lot of fun, I missed her terribly and I’d rather focus on something positive.

I’ve been very blessed by the people who have been part of my life.  Whether they come and go, or whether they stay…  While I’ve had my share of asshats, I’ve also had a lions share of people who are truly wonderful.  People who are genuine, compassionate, and who want to do what they can to change the world for the better.

My twitter account tag line states “One woman, many hats”…  and yeah…  my life has taken me through all sorts of circles, and in each of those I have come to know some pretty fabulous people.  Moms, eco-warriors, social justice advocates, third-wave feminists, people active in the fight for equal rights, and those fighting for the rights of our animal companions…  Passionate people doing what they can to make things better for us all.  And I feel very blessed to count myself among them.

Many hats.  Yep.  It can be exhausting wearing so many…  but when I look back through all the people those hats led me to?  All those people who have enriched my life in countless ways?  It’s been worth it.

Photography as a Cash Grab.

It always surprises me when I hear stories about things other photographers have done as a cash grab…  but perhaps it shouldn’t.  For so many, that’s what this business is about…  well, for many in many types of business that’s all that business is about.

I’m a photographer because I love life.  I love capturing life.  I love stopping that perfect moment, and storing it forever – perfect, without failure of memory.  I love photography.  I charge what I need to, and no more.  It’s not a cash grab for me.  It’s not about finding the peek that our area can support and charging as much as possible.  I charge what I have to, in order to make photography viable for me, and no more.

Today I heard a story from a client, about a family who purchased a couple of Groupons recently from a photographer in our area.  My client (who also found out about me through Groupon – I was the first photographer from Saskatoon who was featured) had raved about her experience to this other family.  So when they saw another photographer there, they jumped at the chance to purchase two groupons – one to keep, one to give as a gift.

When this family contacted the photographer, they asked if it would be possible to use the groupons for graduation sessions.  The photographer said that would be just fine.  Later, the photographer changed their mind telling this family that she had so many people requesting graduation shoots that she decided to add an additional fee for all graduation portrait sessions…  so they could have their graduation booking by paying the additional fee, or they’d have to book some other type of session.  That, in my eyes, is soooo wrong, on soooo many levels.

Perhaps things like this shouldn’t surprise me, but they do.  Really, talk about the ultimate cash grab.  When they realized the demand was high, they go back – even to people they had already said yes to – and say “yes, but only if you pay extra”.  I just can’t imagine doing something like that.

There are enough mediocre photographers out there, billing as if they aren’t – 0ffering a couple hundred low res images on a disk for a few hundred dollars (and then charging out the nose for prints or one high resolution file).  It’s hard enough for people to put their trust in us, without us having to battle these types of negative experiences.  It’s no wonder that so many people have reservations about hiring a professional photographer.

If you don’t LOVE what you are doing it shows.  It becomes about the cash grab, about taking people for as much as you can.  And I find that to be so disheartening.

Photography is more than a job (or at least it should be).  Photography is about passion, about pride.  It’s about how you see the world.  It’s about taking others through the lens with you – and introducing them to the beauty you can’t help but see.  Opening their eyes to what was already there.  Taking their hand, and bringing them into your world, sharing a very deep, very intrinsic part of yourself.  As soon as it becomes about the money, you can’t hold onto that.  As soon as your eyes become clouded by dollar signs you lose sight of the rest.

So, for those who have been taken advantage of…  take heart.  There are photographers out there who are in it for the love of something more.  Sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper, and look a little harder to find us.

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