Today I spent most of the day weeding my flower gardens and reflecting on the past few years and how my life has changed. Nowadays, working in my shop, taking photos, blogging and trying to squeeze in a few hours to work in my garden is my new normal. Of course, that is a wonderful thing! I also work full time as a police dispatcher/911 operator. My Painted Door is the calm in my life and working as a police dispatcher is the chaos.
To deal with the chaos that comes from a high stress job, I discovered things that helped bring me inner peace. Photography, gardening and painting are at the top of my list. My Painted Door is a combination of all the things I am passionate about.
A few years ago I had a very challenging year with both work and my personal life. There were many days that I needed to get away and I would often end up here on the shores of Lake Superior. I spent endless hours taking photos and learning. It was my "Calgon take me away" thing to do.
Although I have lived in Thunder Bay for about 30 years now, I never really took the time to enjoy our waterfront and had never seen a tugboat up close and personal. Now I love tugboats and I am completely fascinated by them.
If these tugboats could tell a story, it would be about a crazy lady that showed up night after night with a Tim’s coffee in hand, set up her tripod and stayed past dark. A crazy lady determined to learn photography.
Or about a crazy lady so determined to learn that she crawled out of bed at sunrise over and over again to find beautiful light.
And returned at sunset to see what that light would bring.
Or perhaps the tugs would tell a story about a crazy lady that sometimes came for a visit, but never even got out of her truck. She just stared out the window in silence, lost in her own little world and watched.
Photography has made me "see" life in a very different way and my adventures have been amazing.
I took photos on calm days to find reflections in the water.
On cold days I discovered the beauty of the sunrise reflecting off the ice.
I stayed out past dark in spooky places that I likely should not have been.
And when storms came and everyone else was running for shelter, I grabbed my camera and made my way to the lake hoping to capture the storm.
Have you ever wanted something so bad that every waking moment is dedicated to it? For two years I sacrificed many things chasing a dream to learn how to use my camera. And then my life changed.
Now I take photos for my website and the photography is completely different than what I am comfortable with. Sometimes I struggle with stuff - painting the right piece, choosing the right colour, taking the right photos and trying to come up with a tutorial that makes sense. But I am not a quitter. Never have been. I have to keep telling myself that I am not failing, I am just failing forward - making a whole bunch of mistakes and hopefully learning something from them. I have to constantly remind myself that this is a journey and I am no where near the end.
A have a bright pink piece of paper taped to the wall in my office. On it is a letter that one of my favourite photographers, Joe McNally, wrote to one of his students. The words always encourage me to pick up my camera and write one more blog post and continue to learn.
“My dad told me on numerous occasions “hang your own shingle”. I’m still standing and lots of others fell away or played it safe or never tried. The simultaneously wonderful and daunting thing is that there is so much still to do, so much ground to cover and my best work is still out there, somewhere. I am on a safari here, the great picture hunt, as someone once called it. I don’t know if this makes sense. You are just beginning to write your pages, and the one thing to remember about this early rough draft, is that it hardly matters what you do exactly, as long as you continue to become something close to what you might imagine you want or need to become. Imagination is better than knowledge.”
I believe this letter applies to all of us. Maybe it is not about the "great picture hunt" for you, but what are your dreams? What is your next adventure?
Now that I have poured my heart out to you, please feel free to share some of your dreams. I'd love to hear from you!