the one with all the tulips.

Tulip Time 2010Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-57 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-32

Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-31 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-320 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-44 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-54 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-27 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-61 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-43 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-56 Tulip Time 2010 Tulip Time 2010 peek-a-piper little dutch girl. Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-39 Veldheer's Tulip Farm. Holland Michigan-77

When we grow up Addie and I want to be Dutch and live on a tulip farm.

august eighteenth.

August 18, 2009

Anna is pretty much one of my favorite people on the planet. On August 18, 2009 Anna was down in the dumps. She had suffered a miscarriage earlier in the year and had since been unable to get pregnant. She was sad. She was frustrated. Feelings I know very, very well. We both like to take pictures, so we headed to the magical land of the Indiana State Fair.

Ferris? Ferris?

Jason Mraz was playing that night, I had just been paid for something blog related and I decided that Anna and I were going to see Jason Mraz, because hello? It’s Jason Mraz.

Photo by Jason Mraz of the crowd, from the stage.

through the looking lens

Photo by me of Jason, from the crowd.

In case you’re not familiar with Jason, here’s some stuff he sings:

I won’t worry my life away.

Life is wonderful.

Find out for yourself the strengths you have inside of you

Awful happens all the time, don’t let it kill you.

He also did a cover of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing, is going to be all right

The weather was perfect, the company was perfect, the night was perfect.

sunset on the bleachers

good job

jason jumps

And the best part? Anna went home that night a little bit happier.

“I can’t even thank you enough for picking me up when I was down.”

*********************

*
*
*

August 18, 2010-Exactly one year later.

Anna’s due date. Twin girls. Two little Annas.

“It’s a big round circle of joy that includes you.”

*********************

Hey God? Thanks.

unsilenced.

Several months ago I read a post on Violence Unsilenced that stirred up some deeply suppressed and ignored feelings.

I took those feelings and I wrote.

They are feelings and experiences that shaped me into the lovely and disastrous person I am this day.

The words I wrote are up for anyone to read, however I feel I must send you over there with a warning.

What happened to me is not uncommon.

And that must change, and the best way I know to bring about change? Talk.

So here I go…

Every situation is complicated and unique, and there is no stereotype. Every single survivor of abuse is different from his or her comrades, and by sharing stories here we can educate ourselves as to just how pervasive domestic violence and sexual abuse/assault is, and how it crosses all cultural, racial, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic lines. This is our society’s collective issue, not simply a problem of those directly impacted. There are 70 million blogs out there, and one in four women will experience abuse in her lifetime. We who are active in the blogosphere have a responsibility to listen to our friends and to spread the word, so that we can strip abusers of this critical power. I also believe very, very strongly in the cathartic power of writing.

Mission Statement from Maggie, of Violence Unsilenced.

the long unfair journey…

I am tired.

Emotionally and mentally exhausted.

But I don’t think you’d notice if you didn’t know me.

I can turn it on and off.

I can fake, oh, how I can fake it.

Imagine being hip deep in a thick muddy sludge.

You’re in a bit of a pickle, sometimes it could even be considered a funny pickle that you’re in. And if you stand there and look around you can make jokes with those on solid ground around you.

But you can’t stay in sludge forever. You have to get out. You must get out. You’re missing too much being stuck.

And so you lift one leg at a time, inch by inch attempting to move it forward. You can’t talk while you do it, let alone make jokes. It’s imperative you focus all of your energy on moving forward, even if it’s just millimeters.

You begin to think, “Hey, this sludge isn’t that bad, the sun comes out sometimes, I can still talk to my friends…why try so hard to get out?” It’s like Dorothy in the poppy fields, sure, the Emerald City is right there and she went through so much to get there…but just…a little…nap…a rest…

No.

Lake Michigan

You have to get to the other side. Out of the crap. Out of the slime. They have cupcakes, horses of a different color, hugs, reality television and comfy couches on the other side.

But most of all that other side has rest. Rest for your weary brain, mind, heart and body. A place where you can charge back up and prepare yourself for your next unknown trip into the sludge.

This is the slowest most unfair journey I’ve ever been in. And it may never end for me.

But I’m grateful that I can talk about it.

And that I know for a fact that other side is there, waiting to give me the rest I deserve.

the one about the mental health of moms.

**direct link to my article here.**

A long time ago I was asked to participate in an annual online rally for and in behalf of new moms on Mother’s Day.

The topic is postpartum depression and I was asked to write a letter to new moms about how “this too shall pass.”

There are 24 women participating, doctors, authors, nurses, social workers and most of all, moms.

The reminder email came while I was in an ugly place. I had intentions of writing witty prose about how you’ll look back at those days of PPD and pat yourself on the back for making it through.

But I never had time to pat myself on the back because I was thrown headfirst (no pun intended) right back into the depression I have always had. I’m afraid to go back and read what I wrote and submitted…it will go live later tonight (a new post is going up every hour all day.)

But after reading through the other submissions that have gone up this far I am proud knowing that I wrote mine when I did. The other women have written brilliant things. And it is going to help a lot of new moms see the silver lining, and maybe after reading 24 survival stories they will be able to keep calm, call their doctor and carry on.

My submission doesn’t have such a happy ending. Yes, postpartum depression ended for me, but the other depression, the one not induced by sleepless nights, colic and wacky hormones has not ended, nor will it ever end.

But what I learned is that my depression will never be the end of me. I will keep going.

Some days will be uglier and far more exhausting, and those days may turn into weeks.

But I will keep going.

Because I know, I KNOW, that even though I can’t feel it now? There’s happiness out there. And I will keep myself surrounded by those things that bring happiness until one day the outside and the inside click. And I will be able to truly enjoy my lovely little life without a giant black cloud enveloping my brain.

The articles are brilliant, a lot of the women you may already know. I will link mine directly when it goes up (here it is!) but until then, there are a dozen others already up, moms who get PPD and got through it. Once, twice sometimes even four times.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. But if it’s not so happy for you today, don’t feel guilty, because the happy isn’t all there for me today either.

xo

the way I see it.

I can remember, perhaps a little too vividly, a time when I was asked to put my camera down for a photo with another person. I had been hiding behind my camera all weekend. It’s a fantastic excuse to get out of talking to people. As soon as my camera left my hands I felt as though I was standing in the middle of a room naked and all eyes were on me.

here but not there, hiding.

I literally had to choke back tears. The people around me had no idea what was going on and I wasn’t about to bombard them with my little episode. As soon as the picture was taken, my camera was back in my hands and I ran off to hide until the panic wore off.

It sound so stupid to write that now. But knowing how I felt at that moment, it wasn’t stupid, it was real.

Cody said in his post about managing my depression that one of the biggest things he attempts to do for me when I’m sinking is to distract me, and the very best way to do that is with my camera and Photoshop (and my new crush, Lightroom.)

On my flight back from LA last year I was a sobbing, shaking mess, that is, unless I was able to have my laptop open and work through the photos Heather and Mike allowed me to capture at Maddie’s service. It was on that flight that I realized that photography is my safe place.

support

At the Blissdom conference in February I was in a much better place emotionally, and rather than hiding behind my camera, I used it as a way to get to know people. On the night Harry Connick Jr. performed I walked around taking pictures of everyone at the party.

Blissdom 2010 Day 2

I didn’t delete a single photo.

Blissdom 2010 Day 2

Every click of my shutter revealed the most lovely women, radiating with happiness.

Hallmark Beauties.

It was intoxicating.

Blissdom 2010 Day 2

I would imagine that the way people look at me when I’m taking pictures is the way I look at runners. With a giant question mark above their head. Sure I’d like to like to run, and I’m sure it’s enjoyable to those who do it…but…I don’t get it. It looks so, boring.

Love this.

And then there’s the people who hold their cameras up, demand that their children sit up straight and smile. *sigh* I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that, yay for capturing an occasion! It’s just not very, natural.

little laughing dutch girls.

Rarely, if ever, do I point my camera at something just to take a picture of it. I see things differently. When I look through my viewfinder I see angles, shapes, colors, reflections, movement and emotions. I see stuff other people don’t.

McCarren Airport Seats

My mom left me a comment years ago that said “It’s becoming extremely clear to me why, even though you lived with Emilie and me, you grew up in a different place. Your brain is amazingly awesome.”

Tulip Time Parade

Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my brain is amazingly awesome, because sometimes it plays horrible tricks on me, however I do know for a fact that it works differently.

Amish at the Tulip Time Parade.

And I’m actually, finally, kind of grateful for that.

dear emily,

emily and rage

Thank you.

Thank you for bringing me with you to the house you grew up in.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your family (and Emily’s family? Right back at you yet.)

Thank you for twirling batons with my kid and letting me borrow your sweater.

Thank you for being a friend so fantastical most other humans pale in comparison.

You? Are simply lovely.

One of the greatest blessings in my life and possibly the best thing the Internet has ever given me.

You make motherhood more beautiful than anyone I’ve ever met.

emily

Thank you for being my friend.

something great.

Two weeks ago I sobbed to Cody about my need to be somewhere that wasn’t Indiana.

The two main requirements were that the somewhere had to have soft warm sand and water that touched the horizon.

I felt so stupid and selfish. There I was in a brilliant new house on a soft warm bed sobbing about being somewhere else. Cody and I will celebrate our nine year anniversary next month and we have never been away on (what I consider) a real, grown up vacation that required passports, resort fees or even bathing suits.

Wah. I know.

But the trip means more to me than just a getaway, I want Cody. To myself. All to myself. For days on end. No where to be, nothing to do but each other and maybe sleep. I can say with complete confidence that after nine years of being his wife and the stuff we’ve been through, a chance to be alone together on a beach thousands of miles from “real life” wouldn’t stink.

But it just can’t happen. It’s neither realistic or possible right now. “Real life” is all up in our faces.

But God took mercy on me today and I ended up on an unseasonally warm sandy beach of a great lake.

lake michigan

Where perfectly blue water met a perfectly blue sky.

I had warm, soft sand between my toes, my camera and some of the people whom I love most in this world there with me.

No, it wasn’t the tropical beach with fruity umbrella drinks, swimsuits and Cody I had planned out in MY head.

It was Lake Michigan with sippy cups, Emily and very sandy underpants.

God? Your mysterious ways? They’re working, and I’m paying attention.

magic rock

Thank you for today.