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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Never Been to Spain

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“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” ~ Pablo Picasso

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I dreamed of one day going to Spain.  I had the opportunity to join my best friend after graduating from high school.  I opted to stay home with a newly scored boyfriend, while she and two other girls traipsed around Spain and Portugal with their backpacks.  BIG MISTAKE!  This is the time in your life for youth hostels, Eurail passes and free spirits NOT high school boyfriends and lousy summer jobs.

Lucky for me, opportunity knocked again last summer.  “Where would you like to go to celebrate your half century on this planet?” Bryan asked.  Without hesitation, “Spain”.  So, almost 32 years to the day, we headed to Spain.  No backpacks, no youth hostels (thank you Airbnb); however, I opted for the Eurail pass rather than a car or flight from Barcelona to Málaga.

The trip was remarkable.  We were free spirits in Spain, me, Bryan and Ally, each of us having a dear friend by our side.  It may have taken awhile to get here, but, it sure was worth the wait.  I will have an apartment in Barcelona again, one day.  I will travel back to Málaga and Marbella and sit with a sangria in hand, a flower in my hair and watch the sun set over the Mediterranean.

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All photos rights reserved

@woodside images | jsinclair

 

Secrets

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“A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”
― Diane Arbus

I had intentions with the photo.  Frame was set.  I was going to capture a moment.  I think we all know where I was going with this.  Caption would read “When I grow up I want to be just like her”.   However, every good photographer/artist knows you need to make sure the composition is just right.   I knew it was all wrong; but, I went ahead because I love the two beings so much I just had to take the shot.  I would see if I could “weed out” the noise in the background later.

After uploading the photo, I decided, it’s just one of those shots you need to leave “as is”.  DOF is good in the foreground, but, the rest is just a hot mess.  I leave it and share it because every photograph has its own story.  The dude in the background is always by my side at the hunter rings.   We stand together on the same line and our clicks are in sync 99% of the time.  I still have a few fails.  I can see that he is wondering what I’m up to at this moment.  Well, my friend, I have little secret 🙂

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!

Saying Goodbye

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Quote of the Day:  “Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”  ~ Seneca

Today the small child will say goodbye to her beloved pony, Hailey.  There is so much I want to say about the journey of this child and pony, however, I am too teary eyed to type.  So, what I will say is “thank you, Hailey Duck” for making such a remarkable impact on my child.  For teaching her courage and determination and for allowing her to achieve such great successes by working so beautifully together with her.  You showed her you CAN reach for the stars and, in doing so, get a little slice of heaven.  A piece of my heart breaks today.  You will, forever, be missed.

Go West (paradise is there)

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“If you’re going to San Francisco ~ be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” ~ John Phillips

I believe it was 1970, the year I turned 7, and I had just purchased my very first album.  It was Crosby Still Nash & Young’s DejaVu.  Wouldn’t that be cool if it were true!  In reality, my first album was the The Partridge Family Album; however, DejaVu came shortly thereafter.  After spending many of my days trying to master the Tracy Partridge tambourine (while standing on the coffee table) I believe it was the 20th replay of “I Think I Love You” that sent my older brother over the edge.  He tossed the record and put on DejaVu.   I listened to Teach Your Children over and over because they said “hell” in the lyrics and it was the first time I could say that word without receiving a bar of soap in my mouth.

During the 70’s I was completely enchanted with the hippie culture.  I dreamed of moving to San Francisco to join the flower children and wear flowers in my hair.  I had left David Cassidy behind and fallen in love with Neil Young.  By the time I was 13 I had decided I would forego college, move West, find Neil and marry him.  By high school, I still was determined to go West and leave my boring, conservative upbringing far behind.  Still enthralled with the hippie culture, me and my high school friends tried as hard as we could to hang on to the coolness of the 60’s and 70’s.  We hung out on a hill we called Sugar Mountain, smoked pot (okay, I didn’t smoke; but, I wore pot leaf earrings and settled for the contact high) and listened to Neil.  All, of course, while wearing our Harvest t-shirts we silkscreened in shop.

Ah, the best laid plans.  Perhaps the 80’s got the best of me.  Big hair, bad clothes and a college degree made sure I didn’t move to California.  Not only did I NOT move West, I moved East and worked for big law firms.  The good news is that by the 90’s I had given up the big hair and my wardrobe improved dramatically.  I wore Ally McBeal skirts, made a bunch of money and landed a cool husband (probably thanks to the Ally McBeal skirts).  He wasn’t the rock star I had planned on, however, he proved early on that he could party like one (while still maintaining gainful employment) and assured a life far from boring and conservative.

They say you are born with a vision, a “birth vision” if you will.  So, as it turns out, I am living happily ever after in California.  Sugar Mountain is nearby.  Sometimes I wear flowers in my hair, especially when I am photographing flowers.  My daughter, Ally (named after……KIDDING!!) loves to wear hippie clothes and peace signs; and, sometimes I wave to Neil when he drives by.  I still don’t smoke pot, but, every once in awhile I stumble across an isolated plant or two in the mountains thanks to the old hippies who still lurk about.

It’s good to be home!

Charming Life

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Quote of the Day:  It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. 
William Shakespeare 

My daughter said to me a few weeks ago, “Mama, I’m so lucky”.  I couldn’t help but smile as she said this, because, at the time I agreed whole heartedly with her.   However, if you look at the definition, it will tell you that luck is a success (or failure) brought about by chance rather than through one’s own actions.  Lucky, yes she is; by chance or accident, I don’t think so.  I am a firm believer in karma.  The energy you put forth is the energy that will always come back and surround you.  Okay, perhaps I’m walking down my path of kooky, hippie ideology; however, it is such a privilege for me to watch and be a part of this small child’s life.  Her energy has such a positive and profound effect on me.  The child has a dream and passion that motivates and drives her.  She has a heart of gold that has not be affected by the negativity that life can sometimes throw your way.  She has a conscience in her soul and a kindness in her heart that I pray will stay with her as she continues on her journey.  Wherever you are and wherever you go you will take this energy, charm and light with you and it will be contagious.

It does not come as much of a surprise that the name of her new best friend and first horse is Charming.   Yes, my small child, you are lucky, however, it is the energy within you that brings such luck your way.  Stay true to yourself and to your dreams, and may you forever have a charming life!