My husband and I had just been through a very tough season mere months before 2016 began. We were starting to see a fertility specialist after years of trying for a baby. It required mulitple trips to Charleston and costed us a pretty penny to have a bazillion tests done. When we were about to go through with a plan with the fertility center, he fell from a ladder at work and injured his neck and lower spine pretty dang bad. Two weeks after that, he had a seizure. Needless to say, knowing he'd be out of work until Spring, his spirits were down by the time his 30th birthday rolled around in January. I wanted to make it special and take him to do something I knew he'd love. He is fascinated with old war planes and ships so I suprised him with a trip to Charleston to tour the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. It was a beautiful weekend getaway and was much needed.
Despite the cold, we always found time to be outside and go on our normal walks. I credit this activity to helping us manage stress and also talk without being distracted by technology. It was definitely a tough season for us, but we came through it stronger.
Spring arrived and reminded me, yet again, of why it's my favorite season. Winter can be so grey, discouraging. I use it to do a lot of soul searching. It sounds lame, but it's true, as you can clearly see Spring is the season I have the most to write about. The first photos in this set were taken on a day when i was in desperate need of a creative escape from the reality of all the pretty things. Sometimes it seems as though every one else's life is producing these beautiful colors and yours is as drab as the winter weather.
I'll quote from my journal here:
"In the golden of my living room, i sat contemplating what makes a person seem beautiful. Why must we always smile at a camera? So many hide behind a smile, their truth slowly rotting away their teeth." | "There are days, more often than not, where you've closed yourself off to any sort of feeling, afraid of what it may manifest itself into. You tell yourself that feeling nothing seems better than feeling everything. Tears begin to fall around my mouth like parenthesis, ice cold on my skin. Only happy tears are warm." | "And then there's days where all you can wrap your brain around is the idea of hope. The possibility. The concept that you are right where you are supposed to be according to His plan. The fact that you have to appreciate your life just as it is, in every aspect. The pain, the beauty, the hurt, the excitement, all of it. Learning that you can't pick and choose your own emotions, you just have to let them manifest and accept that they are part of what makes you you. The people who love you most sincerely will empathize; feel what you feel, and you will know then and only then that you are loved, just as you are, mess and all."
I have a quote on the mirror of my car that I wrote, "Accept what you can't change, be thankful for what you have right now." It's a great reminder that while we may not be able to conceive right now, at least we have each other.
As Spring continued, the Aralia Cottage blossomed with beautiful sights and sounds. The Azaelas bloomed bright pink, the grass came out of its winter slumber revealing lush green blades. The Aralia Bird Cottage was squeeking with hungry babies. Every afternoon when i got home from work, i would sit in my hammock and watch Mama Bird fly away to find food and bring it back to her babies. It seems the main bird species of our cottages are Brown Thrashers. The sounds didn't stop with squealing baby birds, it continued with squealing little ones as we baby sat for a friend of mine and also kept our nephew several times. I took my sister-in-law horseback riding for her 18th birthday, along with my sister, in April. In late May, Nick and I set out on another road trip to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. (Seriously can't believe it's been 4 years since our wedding!) We stayed with my cousins in North Carolina, then drove to the far west corner of the state to go hiking on Roan Mountain, then on to Grayson Highlands, Virginia where we walked in the presence of wild ponies. It was a season of renewal and adventure, a season I look forward to every year.
Ahhh Summer. Glorious, hot, humid Summer in the South. It's a constant love-hate relationship. We love the long days but hate the bugs. We love the warmth but not the thick humidity. It's my second favorite time of year because the water is finally warm enough to be in. My River Sessions return and business explodes, hence the reason I don't have a ton of photos for this season. This Summer brought so many fun times. I had High Tea with one of my best friends, where we got to wear fancy hats and sample lots of tea and delicious food. Nick and I added a 10 foot blow up pool to our backyard, which we took full advantage of during those hot summer days. Our nephew had a blast playing in it when he stayed with us. We spent some more time visiting my cousin in North Carolina and going on more hikes with her, one of which was to an awesome river spot. If we ever move, it will be to her area because I already have a river spot picked out for River Sessions. ;) hehe :)
As the season changed and we said goodbye to humidity and hello to crisp breezes, more adventure awaited us. Earlier this year I met with a fellow photographer, Katherine Dalton, discussing ideas I had for a personal project. She is primarily an engagement & wedding photographer, so I also reached out to have her photograph Nick and I. Katherine being Katherine, I knew she'd be up for the adventure of photographing us on Roan Mountain; one of our recent favorite places! We've aparently gone camping and hiking more than I realized this year! When the cool fall nights finally kicked in, it was time to take our dogs camping with us, so we met my cousin and her friend back in NC. One of my favorite memories from this year has been during fall. Our little girl, Saber, turned 10 years old! We threw her a birthday party and had our parents, our dogs' friend Bella along with her parents come over for some birthday shenanigans! Saber obviously knew the party was for her because she would not share any of her toys or treats! :D I made little treats like "Pupperoni Pizza", "Puppy Chow" (Reese's cereal), "Kibbles & Bits" (chex mix) and passed out Doggie Bags with doggie treats for the pet owners :) I don't even care how cheesy that sounds because we all had a great time! I'm thankful for friends who will pick up my camera unasked and snap photos of Nick and I! The ones of us dancing in the kitchen are what you can find us doing quite regularly! The year ended with a trip to my Grandaddy's farm, spending Thanksgiving with our families, picking out a Christmas tree and going to the Carol Lighting event & STEVIE NICKS concert with one of my best friends! It's been such a good year, despite the stress that we often feel in life. Let us always remember to be kind to one another, forgive one another and spread love. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. Kindness goes a long way and happiness is contaigous. Shine On!