Dear 2020 Self: (At 13, A Letter to My Future Self)

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“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” ~ Max Ehrmann

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Portrait Series Documenting the Journey of a Group of Silicon Valley Teens to Graduation in 2020 (and Beyond)

Part 1: “At 13, A Letter to My Future Self”

I have been planning for this photo series for many years and could not wait until the magic number “13”. I wanted to make portraits of my daughter and a group of her peers at the age of 13 and ask them each to write a letter to their future 18 year old self; their 2020 self.  However, the project wouldn’t end there. Each participant has agreed to meet me again in 2020 for another portrait/letter session, and perhaps again in 2025.

I began this project last summer, during their 13th year and asked that they write their letter before turning 14.  I have known most of these kids since their pre and elementary school days.  And, while 7 middle schools, 9 towns, and a countless number of sports teams, music groups and art programs now separate them, they have all remained friends or have become acquaintances.  The kids of the Silicon Valley all seem to know one another.

I’m thrilled to introduce this group of teens, each of whom I will have the privilege of documenting with photographs on their journey to 2020.  After each child’s name I’ve included one word their parents were asked to use to describe them when they entered preschool.  I look forward to watching them grow and witnessing the young adults they will become.  Godspeed!

Tyler   ::EnthusiasticTyler

Ally   ::EmpatheticAlly

Eli   ::UndauntedEli

Ava   ::GregariousAva

Kiley   ::CreativeKiley

Matthew   ::CuriousMatthew

Meagan   ::ActiveMeagan

Jackson   ::InterestedJackson

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She’s Going to Be a Handful!

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“May you always know the truth and see the lights surrounding you.  May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong and may you stay forever young.” ~ Bob Dylan

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It is the eve of her birth, thirteen years later.  In documenting our journey, I will tell you she sits upstairs as I type this post, in her newly updated “teenage” bedroom, FaceTiming (is that a word?) with her girlfriends. “We’re doing homework, Mom.”  Basically, “beat it”!

B and I are reminiscing, as we do every year about this evening 13 years ago; the dinner party with our best friends, Joe and Teresa.  Bets were on.  Joe says, “she’s going to have that baby tonight”.  Bryan says, “nah, we’re 3 weeks out, let’s break out this yummy bottle of Monticello”.  So they did. They partied on and I went to bed.  Joe almost won the bet and Bryan paid the price of a red wine hangover at 3:00 a.m. with the Bean on the way.  She arrived in perfect form.  As I stared at this little, almost alien looking being in my arms, all I could think about were the words of our French amnio technician telling us at 16 weeks when we asked if he knew what it was.  He a said, “IT is a girl, and she’s going to be a handful!!”  I emphasize he is French, because it’s sounds so much better with his accent.  Go ahead, say it with a French accent … much better, right?!

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In all seriousness and I know I’ve said this before, I often wonder how it came to be that I was so lucky to get you, Aya Bean. You are truly an amazing human being; you are kind, you are generous, you are loving, you are fierce and courageous, you care and are considerate, you love nature, you love animals, you love your friends and are interested, you are joyful and honest.

Happy 13th Birthday, sweet Aya Bean, my forever handful! ❤️ Enjoy the ride! #stayfierce #likeagirl #enjoytheride

and, Happy Birthday, Ed, the other love of our lives and the Bean’s best friend (the guy in the first picture). I can’t wait to see where the journey takes the two of you.  She’s a lucky girl to have you in her life ❤️❤️

Small Things

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“Do small things with great love.” ~ Soul Pancake

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Recently, I had the privilege of spending a Saturday morning at the beach in Half Moon Bay with two beautiful, little girls.  We were there to get some snaps for the annual Christmas card and updates for the parents and grandparents.   The older daughter, serendipitously, is a member of the Class of 2020 =).  It seems appropriate, in my efforts to stay true to my blog, that I share moments and thoughts from this particular photo shoot.

These captured moments lend to my goal to remain true as straight photographer (look it up) in a digital world.  In my amateur days, I was once told by a professional that I must define myself in order to be a successful.  You must promote yourself as garden photographer, an equestrian photographer or commercial photographer.  Well, those who know me know why I will never compartmentalize myself or my photography.

The girls were a delight.  Always wondering and worrying if I got the shot, I paced a bit and stumbled over some seaweed that, when hooked in my toe, began to form an arc.  The girls looked at it, and, saw a heart.  They finished creating the seaweed heart, and, then giddily went on to make their own in the sand.  Two beautiful, loving sisters at the end of magical morning at the beach.  The last shot of the day (the one above) is always my favorite.

Peace and ♥

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The Wonder Years

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“Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you’re in diapers, the next day you’re gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house, like a lot of houses. A yard like a lot of other yards. On a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back…with wonder.” ~ the wonder years

Ally3 (1 of 1)When did this happen?!!  Wasn’t it only yesterday I was on the beach in Half Moon Bay with the other play group moms (and, John) thinking I will not survive a toddler!  Thank you, thank you, thank you, John, for chasing them, swimming with them, building castles in the sand and letting the ladies lie around sipping wine, catching our breath and discussing if we will make it until they start pre-school.

Today is a day full of new beginnings … middle school … a new school, new friends, new clothes (yes, no uniforms!), and, no mom and dad walking her to her classroom for the first day of school photo, hug and goodbye kiss.  I will snap that shot from the front porch in a few hours, and, off she will go to meet up with her new classmates; now, officially referred to as the Class of 2020.

One day may you look back on this time with wonder.  Godspeed, my little Bean! xoxo!!

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The Inspiration

Forever Young

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Quote of the Day:  May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true, may you always know the truth, and see the lights surrounding you, may you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong; and, may you stay forever young.”  ~ Bob Dylan

This has been a very emotional week.  My best friends from childhood will be gathering in my hometown, celebrating 30 years from our graduation from high school.  First of all, 30 years from ANYTHING is emotional; but, high school is another story.  I have always believed in the saying “make new friends, but, keep the old ~ one is silver and the other is gold” and I now instill this same philosophy in my child.

It is such an important philosophy for me to hold close, because there have been so many chapters in my  life.  I sometimes wonder if the small child will have such a big book, with so many chapters to lug around.  Perhaps her own novel will be more concise, less dramatic and; therefore, require fewer chapters.  My intuition tells me it will be the latter.  Whatever her story may be, I will tell her this: “friends will come and they will go; however, the impact of the lessons and gifts they bring will stay with you forever.”   As I write my blog, I generally try to parallel my daughter’s life and journey with my own.  Whether that is good or bad, it always brings the same resolution; that no matter how much life changes, it really does remain the same (with much better technology 🙂 ).  Thank you, Steve Jobs ~ may you rest in peace!

Whether it is the result of the many chapters of my life, the moves from coast to coast or the distance I live from my childhood home, I have always had this idea that I would never reconnect with my friends from childhood.  Well, that idea went completely out the window when Zuckerberg came to town with his baby, Facebook.  Initially, I thought Facebook was silly and trite; but, then I succumbed to the idea and, BOOM, Kathy appeared.  We saw each other’s names and “accepted” a friendship (maybe there should be a “re-accept” button).  I said, “come to California” and she said  “okay”.  We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in over 30 years.  I pulled up to the curb at SFO and we were both crying before I even got out of the car.  We talked for 5 days straight, remembering idiosyncrasies that were long forgotten.   Every time I laughed, she cried, because it was a memory so profound within her ~ with that, I cried because I remembered that laugh from my childhood.  A laugh that only she could resonate.

So I dedicate this week’s blog to my 8th grade best friend forever, Kathy, and the Milford High School Class of 1981.  It’s been a joy reconnecting with you all.  May we find some other old friends along the way, may we find joy in our own personal journeys; but, most of all may we stay forever young in our hearts and in our souls.  I love you all and thank you for my childhood.   I wish this wonderful kind of childhood for my daughter and all her friends on their journey to 2020!  Godspeed!

Barbie

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Quote of the Day:  “The woman wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her.” ~Naomi Wolf

I’m tired.  I’ve been editing all day.  I can’t even figure out how to turn off the italics on this blog.  With that said, I’ve decided to keep it light.

Hold on to your hats all you politically correct mommy and daddys; I gave my daughter her first Barbie when she was 2.  Yes, according to many of you, I have set her on the path of complete destruction of self esteem and body image.   And, I wasted no time in doing so.

Call me selfish.  I loved Barbie when I was a kid.  I played with my Barbies until I was, embarrassingly, too old to be playing with Barbies.  I don’t think Barbie messed with my self image.  I had and continue to have great self esteem and body image; and, I looked more like Skipper on a good day.  The only thing Barbie did to my psyche was plant the seed of my dream of moving to California.

Barbie has many roles in our home.  Initially, she served as a chew toy for my teething 2 year old.  As the child grew, I couldn’t wait for the dialogs and role playing we would do with the Barbie stash we collected from my childhood home.  She, recently, received the gift of a Ken doll which thrilled me because the communicating and relating could now include boys; the species which she finds utterly disgusting.  However, my daughter wanted nothing to do with communicating and relating with her dolls.  The Barbies are, of course, all horse riders.  There is no dialog exchanged, no dating and picking outfits for the day at the beach.  There is only walk, trot and cantering.  The Barbie townhouse serves as the hotel in which they stay for the horse show.  There is no pink Barbie convertible, only the Breyer Trailer and Pickup which will take the Rider Barbies to the horse shows.  As for Ken, he is the designated Groom.  In his ascot and bellbottoms he mucks the stalls.  Always with a silly grin on his face.

With the addition of our newest baby, the pup, Barbie has come full circle.  She is once again a chew toy.  To the chagrin of the child, anything left on the floor is fair game.  CEO (of a Software Technology Company) Barbie is now missing her nose, arm, leg and some patches of hair.  Oh well, Babs, age gets the best of us all!

I took these shots as I am gearing up for a shoot I will be doing in a few weeks and needed to play with some settings on a new lens.  Chew toy Barbie was handy.

When I uploaded the photos, my mind immediately jumped back to when I was 8 years old.  Oh, the joy and endless hours of imaginative play I got out of these dolls.  It takes more than a plastic toy to destroy self esteem… don’t you think?!