Hello, dear long-lost readers! Happy New Year! I feel like I've been away for a month, but I'm back and rested and ready to (try to) keep you entertained and inspired in 2011! I had my first shoot of the year yesterday, and while I looked at newborn baby Kate through my lens, I couldn't help but think - however trite it might be - that her life is an empty canvas, a work of art yet to be created.
(Gorgeous, right? More to come soon!)
On my way home, I thought further about that idea... about how as we get older and have experiences and make choices, our canvas is populated with friends and jobs and lovers and children and hobbies and what-have-you, and how we frequently take for granted that our lives are moving in a particular direction. When we least expect them, though, there are major changes in the canvas, by choice or by chance or by acts of god, and we are forced/given the opportunity to recreate areas of our lives anew. Every year, January 1st offers us a paintbrush - we think about the changes we'd like to see and resolve to pursue them.
Last year at this time, I was halfway through a master's degree in nursing, getting ready to start the spring semester, and feeling like I wanted to poke my eyes out. You see, nursing was a second degree for me - a few years out of college, I was living in New York pursuing a job in food writing, feeling jaded by a business focused entirely on hedonism and consumption. I started thinking about my passions and - long story short - decided to go back to school for midwifery. I wanted to find work helping others in a way that would be both meaningful and essential, and helping bring new life into the world seemed to fit the bill. By the time I finished nursing school, had a child of my own, and worked with several midwives as a labor and delivery nurse, though, I began to doubt whether primary care was really the best fit for me. I started the graduate program mostly because that had been my plan all along, but after just two semesters, changed concentrations into a non-clinical field. This left me in the position of being capable of learning the material, but feeling absolutely no drive to do so. Classwork was drudgery - moreso than it had ever been for me. I resented every book I had to read and paper I had to write. Then, somewhere in the second week of January, there was a snafu with my registration, and I ended up having to wade through all the nightmarish red tape that is the collective registrar's/bursar's office for the second time in as many months, but this time, it had to be done in the span of a single day, during which I was caught in a cacophony of hold music with the registrar's office, the irritated voice of my adviser, and the needful cries of my three month-old infant. At one point, I lost it, and my husband, after listening patiently to my entire rant, said: "Quit".
"Sure, why not? You hate it."
"But I CAN'T quit! What else am I going to do?"
"Why don't you take some time off of school and really pursue your photography? You always complain that you don't have enough time for it... Maybe you could become a photographer!"
And that, dear readers, is the not-so-brief story of how I took what felt like a wild leap of faith and landed here. A whole fifth of my life's canvas was painted over in the span of the last twelve months, during which time I've taken seven classes and over 10,000 photographs, not a single one of which I've resented. Quite the opposite of getting burned out, the more I learn, the more I want to know. 2010 was a year of dramatic personal and professional growth for me, and I hope 2011 will see more of the same... in fact, I'm working to make sure that it does.
What changes - big and small - await your canvas in 2011?