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 ❤️❤️

Inspiration (or, lack thereof)

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“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The last few months have seen a flurry of photo sessions of many flavors leaving little time to work on my blog or my art photography.  2014 was very good to me professionally, so, this is not a complaint.  I intended to take the month of January to get back to my blog and art, however, ended up taking on two projects that, once again, put everything back on the shelf.

I have been seeking inspiration and feeling the need for a new perspective.  A new path, if you will, for the next steps on my journey.  I thought my trip back to my hometown in the Ohio river valley would do the trick.  With railroad tracks on my mind, my goal was set – a cold, grey day on the old, rusty rails in my small town.  I envisioned capturing haunting images of the overgrowth and the deteriorating trestle over the little river.  The best laid plans.  The overgrown tracks were gone, apparently replaced long ago with a bike trail and the trestle most likely collapsed into the river long before the bike trail came to town.  I got one thing right, it was cold and grey.  My camera stayed snuggly in it’s bag, I didn’t venture out once, and somehow I caught flu.  I came home sick and uninspired.

Fast forward to yesterday.  With the hope of a new vision or direction still looking bleak, an artist friend and I went to visit some galleries in San Francisco in preparation of an Open Studio this spring that will feature her paintings and my photography.  First stop, an old coffee shop on the pier.  As I sat with my coffee looking out the window of the empty cafe, I felt the first hint of an inspirational wave approaching.  Before me, the perfect vision out of the dirty old window.  As if the Bay Bridge was painted on canvas.  Snap.  As we waited for the curator to welcome us to the gallery, I turned to take in the Bay between two old warehouses.  Below me, above the water of the Bay were the rusty, overgrown tracks of some railroad of long ago.  Built on a trestle, these tracks came out of nowhere below and reached into the Bay, disappearing into the grey morning fog.  This remarkable and eerily beautiful sight, presenting as if it was staged exclusively for me.  Perhaps it is true.  I am a child of the universe and the universe is unfolding as it should.  I didn’t need to travel 2,000 miles to find my inspiration, 20 miles was enough.  The universe conspired to make it happen.  Snap.

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September 11

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“Imagine all the people living life in peace” ~ John LennonImage

This is an updated edit from the post I made a year ago.  New photo thanks to Ted Mattison and his awesome lunch box.  Today, I sit next to my now ten-year old daughter and tell her the story of what happened on September 11, 2001.  Believe it or not, I have no longer kept the horrific details of that tragic day away from her.  She has learned of the terrorists, and she now understands there were horrible wars being fought on lands far away and she comprehends that America continues to fight a war on terrorism.  She also knows that the leader of these atrocities, Osama bin Laden, is dead.  Thank you, President Obama!

Do you remember where you were the morning of September 11?  Of course, you do.  We all do.  As I mentioned before, the cats were unusually restless and woke us at 6:00 a.m.  There was no small child yet; though the Bean was starting to sprout.  Those who know me understand that I will never willingly get out of bed at 6:00 a.m., however, on that day, I did.  The phone rang and I knew immediately it was not going to be good news.  It was my friend, Lisa, from D.C. calling, “turn on the news”.  The first tower had already been hit; and, Paula Zahn was announcing it was a small plane.  As she spoke, the view behind her was of the twin towers with smoke billowing out of the first.  I stared in disbelief; the unthinkable was approaching the second tower.  I watched, in real-time, as the jetliner smash into the second tower.  I thought how surreal life had just become.  I contemplated turning off the television.  I was one month pregnant with the  Bean in what I’ll simply describe as a very sensitive pregnancy.  This was so horrific and tragic, I didn’t want these emotions filtering through by body and soul.  As much as I thought I should, I didn’t turn off the television.  In fact, I could do nothing, but, watch for the next week.

On this day, I am now able to share with my now thriving 10 year old, the story of one victim that hit very close to home.  Our friend and contractor was at the house the morning of the attack.  He and I sat in silence waiting to hear the news.  His nephew was a financial planner for Cantor Fitzgerald.  He arrived every morning that week and we watched.  One morning, he called.  He would not be coming to the house today.  It had been confirmed, his nephew had been killed.  What hit me the hardest was that his nephew’s wife was also expecting.  Her now ten year old never got to meet her father.  I count my blessings every day.

My husband flew into D.C. last May, moments before President Obama made the announcement….Osama Bin Laden was dead.  Bryan was able to join the thousands of revelers just after midnight at the White House.  He described it as a moment of  beautiful mayhem that he will never forget.  Americans coming together in celebration that terror and evil did not prevail.

The Bean and I now have long talks about 9/11.  She has seen the images and watched the video of this horrific moment in time.  She is not afraid.  Based on what she shares with me I think she intends to be part of the change and forward momentum that America needs to make this country become again a place where people live in harmony and find and enjoy their freedoms.  Sounds corny, but, let’s see what happens!  Peace!

The Dreamer

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Quote of the Day:  “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” Harriet Tubman

There was a period of time when my daughter lived in costumes ranging from princess to Dorothy and Alice.  There were no boundaries where she might show up in character.  Preschool, grocery shopping, flights across the country , traveling through Italy and hiking on our mountain in the fog.  It was a magical time for both of us.

The greatest gift my mother gave me, was allowing me to dream.  She was a dreamer who dreamed of doing great things despite the hardships she faced after fleeing her country of Romania during WWII.  I believe she accomplished that.  Now, I pass this gift on to my little one.   She, too, dreams of doing great things in this world. Good for you, my little princess!  The world needs more dreamers, like you!

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