Monday, August 1, 2011

Illuminate Week 3 - 100 steps

For the next few weeks I will be taking part in an online photography course called Illuminate, taught by a sweet new friend and baby loss mom Beryl, from Be Young Photography

For week three of our online photography course Beryl has challenged us to pick a starting place, then take 100 steps and when we stop, look for something to take pictures of. I began with 100 steps from my front door ... that brought me across the street to my neighbors yard. They have some beautifully done landscaping as the entrance to our neighborhood:

Taken on my camera's foliage setting:

Taken in auto setting:

Taken in sunset setting:

The yellowish orangish flowers really caught my eye, so I took a few more steps and got closer to get better shots of the flowers, and a strange little green bug:

These were the pictures I liked the best from my attempts at the 100 steps challenge ... but I did try it a few other times:

On Wednesday at a little farm store by my mom's house
On Friday in the grocery store by my house

Feel free to visit those links sometime and tell me what you think.

The second half to our week three assignment was a journaling part. We were supposed to write about the things we are grateful for. I confess, the picture taking was much easier for me this week, than the journaling was. Grief can be overwhelming at times (ok, a lot of the time). It can can consume us if we let it. I liked the 100 steps project, because it helped me to get up and move, and then when I stopped I needed to look for something that appealed to me, something I wanted to photograph. My world feels sad and lonely many days, but I can make a conscious choice to look for the beauty, to look for things that bring a tiny bit of joy.

So as I walked I thought about what I was seeing and what am I grateful for? I am grateful for the ability to even take a walk. I can physically stand on my own two feet and walk. I have freedom and safety to leave my house and walk whenever I want. My home and my city are not in the middle of a war zone, be it gang wars or the wars in the middle east, there are others in this world who can not take a walk unless it is absolutely necessary. And even then instead of looking for things of beauty and joy they are looking out for life threatening dangers with every step. I am grateful to live and walk right here where I am.

Hmmm ... seems I have a tendency toward unhappy thoughts ...
So ... try again ... what am I grateful for? What brings me joy?

I do appreciate the beauty, the colors, and the textures in nature ... looking at the flowers in my pictures above I have to wonder how God knew that yellowish orangish pedals would look so nice with a brown center and green stem? Perhaps one of the reasons I like photography is so I can capture just a bit of that beauty to hold on to. But I must be honest here for a moment ... sometimes the fact that there is beauty in the world seems unfair, makes me angry even. There was beauty in my life ... but beauty I could not hold onto ... I have to ask: why can certain things work out so perfectly and yet others fall apart so miserably? Why must we live without the beauty and joy of our babies?

Did it again, didn't I? Ended up at negativity.
Trying again ...
gratitude and joy ...
What brings me joy?
What am I giving thanks for?

I've tried this before ... I read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp ... well I read half of it. I began reading it in January, before we got pregnant ... our life is kinda crazy busy so I would read bits and pieces here and there but then after losing our baby ...well, I had a hard time picking it up again. I've been meaning to, I have wanted to pick it back up ... but there it sits on the dinning room table with other things I have not had the energy to pick up lately.

So I went to her Ann's blog today, so I could provide a link for you ... in case you are interested in her book or her idea of recording our own 1000 gifts in a book or a list ... and then, what do you know ... I find today's post most inviting and she has even posted some free printables for the month of Aug ... maybe that will be a good pace for me to start. Anyone want to join me? Here is the link:

So I guess today I'm thankful for other moms like Ann who blog about real life, who write books that challenge me. I'm thankful for other moms like Beryl who come up with amazing ideas like combining our love for photography with processing this grief we know all too well. I'm thankful for other moms who can relate to my days, though I am deeply sorry that each of you know this road we are walking. I am grateful that many months ago I bought Ann's book and a journal of my own to start listing my One Thousand Gifts. I'll end today by sharing what I wrote back in January for my first 10 gifts:

  1. The feelings of my soft bed and warm covers, as I lay awake hearing four of the people I love breathing in their sleep.
  2. Bible verses that assure me God wants good for me
  3. The lines and by Allen's eyes ... especially when he smiles (still makes me go weak in the knees, after all these years)
  4. Inspired ideas early in the morning (while I'm still in bed) ... Ideas of how I can best use this day to bless my family
  5. God's grace and prodding that helps me carry our the ideas to bless my family
  6. A laundry basket to carry clean clothes in, instead of trying to carry the whole load in struggling arms
  7. A wonderful and gorgeous, loving husband who is willing to cook dinner
  8. The ability my lap and my arms have to comfort sick children
  9. My whole family together in one room tonight
  10. Sleep & rest after a long day


  1. Heather, as I read your post today, I imagined you taking those 100 steps
    The process of recovering from grief and loss certainly resembles taking steps - although not in a straight line. Grace to you as you walk through this challenging season.
    BTW - the photos are lovely.

  2. I love what you've shared this week Heather. I love that you took your 100 steps and then go in closer to see what was beyond the surface. What an awesome little green bug perched there in that flower.

    I know you said you had a difficult time with your journal this week but I love your honesty and I love what you've done. This is the real journey of a baby loss parent. It isn't rainbows and butterflies. We feel pain, hurt, lost, confused. A lot. But the more we can search for little bits of joy and beauty in our world, the less often we'll feel that stinging sensation that grief brings. And it's ok to let the unhappy thoughts creep in as you find those bits of gratitude too. It's impossible to be happy and grateful 100% of the time.

    I hopped over to your other posts and links this week. How brave of you to take photos on your grocery trip! I love that you were willing to tote your camera along for that journey. It was interesting to see your travels through an ordinary shopping trip. :)

    And Ann Voskamp's book and teachings sound so intriguing. I will have to check out her work in more detail too. It really does go hand in hand with our assignment this week.

    Really nicely done this week, thanks for sharing yourself yet again.

  3. I love your flower photos. Stunning colors. And just like Beryl said, your honesty is refreshing. It is hard to have a rosy outlook on life and focus on the good when you feel like such a big piece of you is missing.