There are moments, everyday-nothing-special moments, that stick in my memory. I don't know why those moments stay with me and other things, bigger things, don't. But one morning, several weeks ago, I woke up and in that transition between asleep and awake, I suddenly remembered a moment from 26 years ago. And then I started to cry, when I realized how that one everyday-nothing-special moment has shaped my life.
I was a kid, around 12 or 13 years old, and I have a clear memory of staring out the window and just letting my thoughts drift. My family and I were in the middle of this terrible phase, and everything was hard and dark and scary. At first I don't remember thinking much of anything--it was like my brain just stepped outside for a moment--but eventually I started daydreaming, and my thoughts landed on thinking about nature. I thought about how much I like rainy days, because they are so cozy. And how much I love spring, because the flowers bloom and the weather gets warm. And then there's winter, with sledding, snowball fights, and snowflakes. The more I sat there, the more things I thought of. I realized that for every season of the year, there is something to enjoy and something to look forward to. Something delightful waiting just around the corner.
This was nothing short of a miracle for me, because I wasn't looking forward to much of anything back then. Fear was our constant companion. I was afraid to go to sleep at night. I was afraid of making the wrong move. Even breathing felt a little risky. Hope was hiding in the corner, hogtied and shivering. But that day she had gotten a hand free, and was waving it in the air, letting me know she was still there and she had no plans of leaving. She may have been in the fetal position, but she was THERE.
That little glimmer of hope lifted my heavy heart, and for that moment things didn't feel quite so dark. It was like I had been in a completely dark room, and then the moon came out, and everything was still dark, but it wasn't quite so impenetrable now. There was an ever-so-slight glow that softened the edges. That glow was one of the things that saved my life. Because hope, once found, is a stubborn little thing. She hangs on for all she's worth, and she plants seeds everywhere she goes. What grows out of the seeds could surprise even the biggest cynic.
It sure as hell shocked me. Because over two decades after that moment, I picked up a camera and rediscovered my love for photography. I took a lot of pictures, of everything that would stand still for me and a few things that wouldn't. My kids quickly got to the point where they would groan when I pulled the camera out. I started pointing it at nature, because nature never got sassy or rolled its eyes at me because I told it to act natural. It already WAS natural. And honestly, photographing nature gave me as much joy as photographing my kids. I could sit and stare in wonder at a flower for an amazingly long time. Trying to take an accurate photo, one that caught its loveliness and delicacy, felt like trying to capture a miracle in action. Because that's what a flower is. It's a miracle. My kids are a miracle, too, but it's hard to capture that when they are sticking their tongues out at me and pushing each other over. Flowers never do that. My camera taught me to see the magic in everything, no matter where I was. It reminded me to put my focus on beauty, and hope, and light.
Eventually all those photos led to the creation of Amy's Seasons Photography, an online store where I sold my photos of nature. And I created this blog, where I write about the joys and the messiness of life. But it wasn't until that morning, a few weeks ago, when I put it all together. When I realized that learning to look for the beauty in the world was the same thing as learning to look for the beauty in your life. That, just as I found that day at the window, when you can see hope outside, it is just a little bit easier to feel it inside. And so, I am dedicating my photography business to using nature as a way to help people see the hope and beauty found in the world, no matter the season they are in. It's the visual arts version of this blog, basically. I am really excited about this direction, and eager to get started. I'm planning to gift my photos to friends and family members that could use a little hope, and I'm working on talking some of my friends into being brave and sharing their stories of hope and struggle on here. Because they are awesome and amazing and their stories need to be shared.
My photography website is part of this website, because it is part of my own journey. If you feel lead to, you can check it out here. I also changed the name of the photography business to Hopeful Hearts, to better tie in the feeling I want to keep front and center, and to allow for growth and the next steps. Because I know now that I just might have some more surprises coming my way, and I want to have room in my life for them.