Onslow, together.

Thomas and I spent a few days in North Carolina back in May without the kids.  We were there for his sister's wedding and the whole trip flew by really fast.  We made it a priority to spend some time at our favorite beach a day or two after we got to town.  It was nice for what it was.  We spent about an hour, walking in the surf and looking for shells and sharks teeth before we were ready to go.  We aren't used to being alone.  We aren't used to quiet or calm or boredom.  Sometimes it feels like we're held together, as a family... all of us strung along, holding hands with the children between us... together... connected.  One day the kids will all have let go, one by one and there will be that space between us that only we can close back up again.  We'll have to learn what it means to be alone together.  In the quiet, calm part of our lives.  
I've been looking forward to that adventure a lot, lately.  When I look over at him and I'm just too tired, too anxious to push the stress and the effort of life from between us and instead snuggle down between the twins for the night.  That time will come. 
I went back through these images this afternoon.  None of them appealed to me at all when I uploaded them right after the trip.  We were too goofy looking.  I wasn't very intentional while I was shooting... just kind of snapping away as we walked around... it was more of a preoccupation than documentation.  We were so awkward at times.  But, when I looked through them today we were beautiful.  We were parents with four young children on the other side of the country.  We were awkward, but trying.  We were owning it.  We talked about how much more fun our lives are right now with all the wild the children add to it.  We'd much rather be there with them.  But, we weren't.  So, we left.  One day we'll have the time and the energy to find each other on that level again.  But, at that moment, we just wanted some BBQ and a nap in the air conditioning, together!    

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A lot has happened since my image of Thomas holding Fox in the shower went viral.  I wish I was able to relish in the spotlight but, I've always been uncomfortable there.  There was so much positivity.  But, social media is like a game of telephone and the message never makes it to the end.  

I've always been an open person.  Photography is a way to let that part of myself thrive.  I opened myself and, ultimately, my family up to the world and while so many people were lighting their flames of hope and unity and progression around us... the darkness crept in one Tuesday afternoon in the form of a local police detective and three workers from the Department of Child Services.  

We were threatened and harassed and investigated due to calls made to local tip lines.  These past weeks have been infuriating and terrifying but never embarrassing.  There is no shame in telling the truth.  I always thought that there was no bravery in telling the truth either... or, at least, that there shouldn't have to be.  But, this was all a huge eye-opener for me.  I see now the power "perception" has been given in our society.  That, even if I'm telling my truth, some people will only be able to see it through the truth of their life experiences... their fear, their shame, their doubt, their hate.  Maybe that's obvious and a lesson that I should have learned a long time ago.  Either way, I'm not ignorant to it any longer.  And, that hurts.  That scares me.  I'm scared of how easy it feels to just surrender to other people's perceptions.  To cover ourselves up because of the shame of theirs that they are projecting onto us.  How easy it feels to fall into the habit of guarding ourselves, our lives, our children against dangers by saying that we have somehow invited the negativity... the threat into our space just for being.  NO.  NO. NO.  I reject that victim blaming mentality.  I reject the idea that if we haven't done anything wrong, we have nothing to worry about when people with authority nudge open the door to our lives and start looking for ANYTHING that they can twist into an offense.  They came looking for it.  They will find something.  

In our case, they found plenty to be offended by.  Plenty of concerns.  But, they couldn't present any of it without their own shame and judgements dripping off, so thick that there was nothing else to do but to throw them out.  I guess we're lucky for that.  We tell ourselves at the end of these interviews and phone calls and meetings that we're so lucky.  And that makes my stomach turn.  

This is the part where I usually apologize for rambling... that this wasn't thought out and has kind of gotten away from me, a bit.  I won't do that today.  Because, this is the first time I've even been able to write about this.  I have my people, that have circled around me and have heard my cries... my fury... my fear... But, I haven't been able to cry out to the public.  Not until just now.  I'm just so happy that any of this came out of my finger tips.  That I was able to bare a little of my heart on this, here, while it was still tender and not completely hardened to it all yet.  

 

Moving forward... I'll be sharing less.  I might not share my personal work at all for a while.  Before all of this, I felt like my work married the way we truly lived, the struggle, the triumph, the love, the mundane parts of our day-to-day with my desire to share it in a heartfelt and purposeful way.  I need to find a balance between all of that again.  I guess not even this metaphorical marriage is free from the need for compromise  And, if you know me at all, you know that I'm always willing to take the time and space that I need to ensure that the how and why behind my work is as honest and intentional as possible!!  

I'm happy to have this new website and blog to build up from nothing.  I have my old blog set to private... probably indefinitely.  But, here... I'm looking forward to growing a business after we move to Tampa.  One that encourages others to share their truths.  Hopefully the tiny ripples I'm making as I slowly move forward will eventually result in a wave of change... hopefully one day, bravery won't be necessary to just tell the truth.