Let The Worrying Begin

It is the middle of the night where I am. I have slept two hours and I am wide awake.

I thought it was just to get up to go to the bathroom. I awoke slowly, it was one of those times I could feel myself waking up. My hearing returned first, I sleep with the TV on, always, I don’t do silence well. It goes back about 4 years.

I could feel my eyes trying to open. It was like I was almost having to force them open.

I got up and of course went to the bathroom and realized I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten supper. I was busy thinking about what I need to say on Friday.

I have been asked, because “worse came to worse” to speak at a photography event where I work on Friday. Apparently, I wasn’t their first choice.

I am not going to tell other people how to set their cameras. I am not going to tell them how to use their cameras. I am going to tell them how I got into photography. I am going to tell them my story.

The problem is, how am I going to tell it. How do I start it? How do I put my life out in front of a group of people sitting there staring at me???

I am going to practice on the entire wordpress world. Thanks for being here.

My road to photography was unexpected. My world came crashing down around my feet 4 years ago. My husband died. He had been sick for several years. The last 4 years of his earthly life were pretty rough on us both. He had battled a diabetic foot ulcer for two years only to be diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma.

For four years, I was not only his wife, I was his nurse. He was in a wheel chair and I was up all hours of the night to make sure his medicine was administered correctly. He meanwhile, was busy fighting for his life. Literally. He almost died when his foot got infected and they honestly didn’t think he would make it.

When the cancer arrived, he told me that if it weren’t for me, he would never take the first treatment but he wanted to stay with me for as long as he could.

I never told him what to do, he made his own decision and once it was made, I dug my heels in and we went to battle. It was like fighting a monster that you couldn’t see. We battled it together. Until a Tuesday mid day arrived and he took his final breath.

I managed to get through all the funeral stuff, then real life hit me right in the face. Everybody, well almost everybody, went away. The people I thought I could depend on had walked away, I now realize they were making room for people I needed to be on my personal board of directors. You know those go to people, the people you need in your life.

There was a big gaping hole in my life. I had been available to assist him 24/7. When he got so sick I could no longer take care of him, I had moved into the nursing facility with him.

What was I going to do now??? I didn’t want to come home. There was no reason for me to come into the home we had shared. When I was home all I did was cry. My life was over or so I thought at the time. Plan A was literally sit on the side of the road and wait to die. I honestly said that to people.

I would leave work and go to the local high school track and walk until it was dark. I would come home fall into bed and cry myself to sleep. I would have to physically exhaust myself to sleep. I was running from life. I was running because I was scared. I was running from the pain. I was just running because that was something I could control.

That is when I started chasing sunsets. I would see a pretty sunset and go in search of the best place to see it. Funny I think back about it now, one of the roads I went down often in those early days was leading me right past where my person lives and I didn’t know it at the time.

I would walk for a while them the sunset chasing would begin. I would go and sit on a mountain perch that I loved and wait. Those were the prettiest colors I had ever seen and they were different every day.

One day I just so happened to have a point and shoot camera with me and I took a picture of the sun reflecting off a puddle. I never really thought about it. It was just a picture. From that point on though, my camera went with me. I went to new places. I wanted to see what I could see. I felt invisible at the time. Nobody could see me, nobody wanted to see me. I might as well not exist. I was lost, alone and afraid.

Once, I entered a photography contest at work. Another one of the photographers, who is much more talented than I will ever be came in to look and calmly told me that I had “a good eye”.  I was sitting at my desk and he had come in and we began talking about photography. One of his entries in the contest is one of the best photos I have ever seen. We knew each other enough to speak, but I didn’t know how he would change my life. I guess that moment changed my life in many ways. It was my person. If I had to say this moment changed my life in a positive way, that one would be it.

I wanted to record moments and things that others saw as ordinary because of their simplicity. I wanted to show that the everyday hum drum things that people overlook or don’t see any beauty in were wonderful and they existed for a reason. Maybe I was trying to see myself in those days.

My first exhibit at work, was a story through images. It started with “Downward Spiral” and ended with “The View is Better From The Top”. It was a different look at things.

I didn’t realize that my story, the things I was seeing like rusty locks on cables, the table and chairs in front of the coffee shop, the country road in front of my parents house and butterflies would speak so loudly to the souls of other people. It did. I wasn’t doing it for them, I was doing it for me. I was trying to find a reason to live not just survive. I didn’t even realize I was telling a story.

As my “eye” and my story progressed so did my equipment. I had gone from the little Sanyo point and shoot to a Nikon Coolpics. I had called my person when I had made that purchase. I was needing to know I had made a good choice. He was as always encouraging. I bought it at a warehouse club and I really thought I had done something. This camera was the one I used for my first “paying job” although I am still sitting on those photos. After ummmm….2 or 3 years. My person went with me. I was scared and had no idea what I was doing. He at one point handed my his camera and said here try this one. Oh my word, I got out a Chevette and into a Corvette in that moment. I gave him a look after the first couple of shots and I wanted a camera like that. He admitted later that he knew exactly what he was doing.

Then came the day my mother gifted me with a Canon Rebel T4i. Oh my word, I was happy and terrified at the same time. Two lenses that I would have to switch out. Once again the first person to know was my person. He readily agreed to go that day and help me acclimate to this new equipment. I think he might have gotten nervous when I told him that I hadn’t eaten that day because I was so excited and we were out in the middle of nowhere and my sugar might get low. So, we stopped at my friends restaurant to get a bite before continuing on our journey. Before the day was over, we were crawling on the ground taking photos of moss. It was great.

Once I got this camera, which is the one I still use, there were all they crazy words I had never heard before “Shutter Speed”, “Aperture” , “ISO”, “Depth of Field”. There were knobs and buttons I didn’t know how to work. I had a lot to learn.

I listened intently, I watched carefully, I tried and failed and got frustrated but once again I was enjoying my life. I was enjoying learning from him. I was having fun again. I was enjoying being with him. He was slowly but surely making me realize that my life wasn’t over, There was a whole world out there and it was okay if I lived, laughed and loved again.

There are many people who have been part of my journey. My person, my mom, my best friend, my cousin who is a professional photographer. Even those who have doubted me have taught me things about motivation.

It isn’t a story that a movie will be made from but it is my story. Through this medium, I have realized that I surely did have tunnel vision and once the blinders were removed, to quote Louis Armstrong “I think to myself, it’s a wonderful world”.

I’m not sure how this talk will come out. I will give it my best shot and hopefully just maybe, it will help these other folks to tell their story in their way and if needed, maybe find healing along the way.

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