I create. It’s who I am.
I’m most content when I’m sitting at my computer editing images, or spreading watercolor paints on paper and watching the colors meld, or drawing with charcoal pencils, smearing and feathering the shadows with my fingers. It’s my own wonderful form of meditation; time has no meaning, sounds fade away, and it’s just me riding the bubbles of ideas and surprises that surface.
This past year, as I grew ill, my bliss blew away bit by quiet bit. Slowly, imperceptibly, the leaves floated from my tree of creativity and an important part of myself became barren. It began with my cancelling photography appointments because I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. Climbing the stairs to my office to edit images or painting in my little studio required too much effort. I thought I was in a funk and needed some rest and to eat better. I never would have predicted cancer and I never would have predicted that a year would go by before I would do another photography session.
When I learned of my leukemia I wanted to document the experience through art. I tried to draw and paint, but the images came out muddy and messy, a reflection of how I felt. I tried to do a self-portrait photography challenge to show my journey back to health, but I lacked the incentive to follow through. I needed an outlet, but anxiety, a foggy brain from the chemo, and depression stood in the way. That’s when my daughter asked me to write. She told me I could use my blog to share my cancer journey and maybe others could relate. Telling stories through my blog kept the creative tickle scratched, and acted as a pin-light in the darkness. But it wasn’t enough.
I missed my camera. I missed my paints. I waited patiently for my muse to return; for spring to bring new leaves to my tree of creativity. And finally, it happened. Penny, a neighbor and friend of the family, has been walking my dog for me. While brainstorming thank you gift ideas with my parents, the suggestion of a pet photography session for Penny’s dog, Millie, came up.
A photography session? Could I do that? Am I ready?
I felt the fog lift, just enough… and in it’s place was excitement.
That’s when I pulled out the camera equipment, charged the batteries, and scheduled the session with Penny. In the days leading up to our appointment, I watched the sunlight as it moved across the garden where our photo shoot would take place, and I imagined the images I would create among the flowers. I also researched and purchased an excellent photo editing laptop, knowing I could take it on the road when I started traveling.
Sunday came and the door bell rang. I felt nervous and excited, and then the photographer in me took over.
“Hi, Penny! Come on outside. We don’t want to lose the light.”
“Let’s put Millie in the basket here.”
“Okay, now just sit on this little stool and, cheek to cheek, look this way.”
“Wonderful! Oh my gosh, the flowers look so pretty. I’ll add even more in post so you’re surrounded by them.”
“Here, Millie, that’s a good girl.”
“Oh, Penny, I’m having so much fun. This is so good for me!”
We laughed and moved about the yard. Quick glances at my camera screen told me I was capturing what I wanted. Joy, and a sense of knowing, welled inside me as my fingers moved quickly across the nobs of my camera, adjusting settings, and fill flash. Nothing was forgotten. It all came flooding back, like an old friend, warm and comforting. That night I edited into the early hours of the morning. I wasn’t tired, but I was inspired.
Soon after delivering the images, another neighbor called.
“We love the photo’s you took of Penny and Millie! Would you be willing to do a session with us and our dogs? We’ll be happy to pay you.”
And just like that…
Who I was… who I AM… has been restored.