When I was in kindergarten, we lived in a small town where I could walk to and from school on my own, or with a group of neighborhood kids (times were different then, obviously). Not many of those walks home were particularly memorable, but one of them was …the day I got home and discovered the doors were locked and my mom was nowhere in sight. I knocked – no answer. I shouted, but no reply. I remember beginning to panic, and running around the house looking through the windows to see if she was there or if something was wrong. She was nowhere to be found. I don’t know if that would have been a big deal to any other 5yr old kid, but it was to me. There was no latchkey program, and my mom worked at home. So being greeted by her everyday when I got home from school was the norm.
I remember crying, calling for her, looking everywhere. I even recall noticing one of her dresses draped over the living room chair – a pink dress patterned with mauve roses – that it was my favorite of dress of hers, and that I always noticed how pretty she was when she wore it. Several minutes went by and suddenly I heard a faint something-or-other that interrupted my wailing (LOL). I quieted myself and wiped my eyes; and looking off into the distance, far down the street, I saw her. My mom was waving her arms wildly, calling my name – and running to me as fast as she could. A couple of minutes later we were on the front step wrapped up in each other, and all was well in my world again. Nothing had even happened really; she’d been in an appointment that ran a little long and didn’t make it back to the house in time to welcome me home like she normally did after school.
Not a big deal, right? Of course not. But what was a big deal, what did matter, and what always stuck with me – was seeing her run to me as fast as she could, calling my name.
These many years later, I find that little has changed. She’ll call or text sometimes and say, “What’s going on?” …and when I tell her what it is, she’ll say “I knew it. I knew something was wrong – I could just feel it.”
And so to the selfless, faithful, steady, nurturing, present, devoted, supportive, strong woman I call Mom – the one who still comes running when one of her own needs her – to her I say Happy Mother’s Day. I love you, Mom.
Going through some archived images earlier this week, I stumbled across this black and white photo I shot of my son Dylan (left) and his cousin, Jace. This was ten years ago, almost to the day. These two boys were best of friends, and took every chance they got to do exactly what you see here – to run, explore, discover, laugh, and play. There were sleepovers and blanket-forts, plastic guns and pretend bad-guys, and running through sprinklers on hot days. This feels like a lifetime ago, honestly. My 14 year-old nephew Jace was just accepted into a program that will allow him to take college courses this fall as a freshman in high school. He’s bright and kind, loves his family (and rabbits, chickens, goats, and most every other kind of animal) and has big – and good – ideas about where his future will find him. Dylan is 14, too. If he’s not running track or lifting weights, you’ll find him with his headphones on, working on his singing voice. He’s quite a talented vocalist already, and has his sights set on doing something with music when he gets older.
It’s cliched, but I don’t know where the time goes. An image like this one shocks me into remembering just how quickly life moves, and how much discipline it takes to fully engage the now. Ten years have brought a lot of changes my way – mostly good, but some have been profoundly difficult, even life-altering. And there have been times I’ve been so busy surviving, just making my way – that I miss what’s happening right in front of me. The same year I took this photo, country recording artist Trace Adkins released “You’re Gonna Miss This” …a moving melody about this very thing. In the chorus, he sings –
You’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back.
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.
These are some good times, so take a good look around
You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.
There’s no secret that makes living in the present easy; I think it’s a series of small course corrections we make as we go, until hopefully they become habits that enforce healthy boundaries and help us say “no” to good things so we have room to say “yes” to best things. Like anything it’s a process, less about the destination and more about who we are (and are becoming) on the journey. It does require being teachable, though, and the humility to recognize that sometimes even our best ideas and intentions fall short, that there’s always room to improve – especially when it comes to the people that matter to us most.
Trace Adkins was right. I do miss “those” days. But seeing these images helps me remember I have days and moments like these happening right now that I don’t want to slip past without giving them a good squeeze, and absorbing all the love and fun and goodness from them I can while they’re here.
So friends, here’s to course corrections, to being teachable, to being fully present in the now, and pursuing the Best.
Until next time…
Temperatures are finally warming up and the days are getting longer – always good news for photographers in Ohio who like to work in natural light! We’re busy gearing up for summer projects, which reminded me of this editorial I shot last summer with model Dani Dikeman. We loved the idea of the proverbial summer road trip as context for a fashion shoot, and happened to have access to this incredible, restored 1965 Mustang for the project. Knowing styling would be key, we brought in friend and colleague Erin Maloney, who did an amazing job putting these Boho-chic looks together. They were the perfect expression of summer fashion for the wandering-gypsy-spirit of the character we had in mind for the shoot. My go-to makeup artist Leigh Ann Ehmann did her usual stellar job on both hair and makeup, making sure Dani’s looks were as carefree and natural as they should be for a top-down, summer cruise through rural countryside.
To my friends at Kingston Kustoms – thank you for the car! The ’65 Mustang was beautiful, and your team did a phenomenal job on the restoration. We’ll definitely be partnering with you again for future projects! And also, special thanks go to Kaitlin Hatton – my studio intern last summer, and photo assistant for this shoot. Kaitlin was a real asset for the duration of her internship, and was beyond helpful on-set for this project. Here’s hoping your summer of 2017 will be full of sunset adventures and horizon-chasing!