“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell a story. Make some light.”
~ Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux
I started thinking about turning 50 before I even turned 49. Milestone birthdays will do that I guess.
It wasn’t so much a feeling of dread – quite the contrary really. Having experienced the loss of loved ones whose young lives were cut short…it has changed the way I feel about aging. Knowing how fragile life is makes me incredibly grateful to be alive. And so it was with this mindset that I started thinking about how I wanted to acknowledge this significant birthday.
My first thought was to do some kind of year-long project leading up to my birthday. Make something meaningful. A few of my original ideas included a scrapbook of photos of myself from each year of my life, hand-lettering 50 of my favorite quotes, or possibly some kind of photography series. But finding (or making) the time to incorporate a project of that scale into my already very full life felt overwhelming. And anxious and overwhelmed is certainly not how I wanted to feel coming into my 50th year.
So I sort of put the idea of a project on the back-burner although I would revisit it from time to time…I’d play through my ideas over again and each time circle back to the same conclusion. But I never completely abandoned the idea. Instead, I prayed that the right project would reveal itself which would both honor my desire to create something meaningful and the respect the limitations of my resources.
Fast forward a few months, when one evening last fall I happened to be looking for something in an old blog post. And as is so often the case, an hour later I realized that I had, once again, fallen down the rabbit hole of stories and memories from my almost eight years of blogging. But even though some of the pictures make me cringe and my writing style was not yet refined, those older blog posts are still some of my favorites. Many of them were written during a huge transition in my life, so there is a certain rawness to those posts that feels very honest and sincere. In addition, it was also during those early years of blogging that the seeds of my photography practice were planted. As my blog grew, my photography practice grew, and in the process, I learned a lot about my life during those years.
Anyway, the next morning I was washing my hair in the shower. Which, by the way, is second only to vacuuming the carpet with regard to when I do my best thinking. Thoughts of blogging and photography and growing and learning were circling around in my head. And that’s when it occurred to me that maybe this could be my birthday project. Rather than create some kind of new content to celebrate my birthday, honor my birthday by celebrating the content that I have already created.
Celebrate the journey…it was perfect in its simplicity
And so in the process of lathering, rinsing, and repeating, I fleshed out the idea a little more. The number fifty obviously came to mind, and after a few minutes of brainstorming, I decided that I would put together a compilation of my 50 favorite blog posts. Then I would share them on my blog (maybe with a little commentary), one each day, starting 50 days before my birthday.
Next came the process of deciding which posts to include in my series. Since I started my blog in August of 2010, I’ve published over 1300 posts, so narrowing that body of work down to 50 was a little more challenging than I expected. But as I went back through my archives, I found that many of my favorite posts seemed to organize themselves fairly naturally into five categories. So using these categories as a guide, I narrowed down my final list to ten posts in each of the following categories: Photography, Nature (Seasons/Gardening), Ordinary Life, Empty-Nest (Motherhood), Faith (Gratitude).
I wouldn’t necessarily call this series my “greatest hits”. This will not be a series of my most popular posts (i.e. most viewed) although some these posts really seemed to resonate with many of you. But rather, this series will be an anthology of sorts. And to the extent that my blog is the story of my life, this series will be a collection of some of my favorite stories. Stories that, at the time, felt super-naturally inspired. Stories that seemed to write themselves. Or stories that seemed to really capture the sentiment I was trying to express or the place I was in. These are stories where the actual process writing of them helped me gain clarity or peace. Stories that documented my journey in photography in a particular way. Stories that documented my growth as an artist. Stories that helped me find my voice. Stories that helped me to see my life differently.
Because that’s what this entire journey has been about for me – learning to see my life differently. Growing, learning, evolving…and this is exactly what I want to celebrate.
So here we are. Tomorrow, marks 50 days before my 50th birthday and will be the first installment in my series, Light Seeking::50 Stories about Light, Faith, and Learning to See Life Differently. And as I take this time to revisit these stories, I sincerely hope you enjoy revisiting these stories with me.
And, finally, I just want to express my gratitude to you…for coming to visit me here, for every kind and encouraging word, for allowing me to share my stories with you. I am grateful beyond words.