The River

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34. There is beauty in everything, when we open our eyes to it. I was up in the Cascades, sitting along the bank of the river with a rustic lunch while my partner fished. The soft rain was falling, as it nearly always does, but underneath the cover of pine it doesn’t fall to the ground. I could have sat there all day. Breathing in the earth, watching the droplets break the surface of the river, the river then reconstituting itself. Water cycle in action. What’s there to say that hasn’t been said before about a pine forest, a river, and a lazy afternoon?

Transitions

4-233. There are transitions in life. That’s the reality of this thing that we are all living. Dottie now looks like a grown child in comparison to her new baby brother. Whereas for three years, all of the attention had been on her, now it is divided by two. And actually, it may be divided 80/20, let’s be real. For a short time. So when I arrived with my camera, and wanted all of the shots – her alone, baby alone, family together, and her with her brother, well….let’s just say that after I photographed her brother alone, effectively ignoring her, and turned to bring her back into the frame, she wasn’t having it. She let me know me that her toy was very, very important. And she had important things to do. A photo with her brother was nowhere near the top of the list.

This happens in all of my newborn sessions with a second child, and it just gets my inner psychologist going. Just like all of us, she was trying to exert some control over this transition that she has no control over. She is so smart and so driven that she’s trying re-establish her role. To carve out a space for herself that has meaning, and is recognized by others that way. That she’s independent in a way that distinguishes her from the pack. Her brother can’t yet be independent, but she has earned this. She has put. in. her. time.

And yes, obviously Dottie only froze me out for like a minute. Then we gave her a power position on a step stool and asked her to do a very important thing – hold her little brother (and soon to be – favorite playmate)’s, hand. And she gave us this.

Thanks Dottie, for your spirit, your fun, and your fierce independence. And for going along with the plan. Even when your toy was infinitely more engaging.

Unscripted

sophiablog32. “Come on, we’re European. Just do what you do and it will be beautiful.”, said Sophia after I asked her if she wanted any posed photos during their newborn session. My kind of lady – letting the art create itself in the reflection of their lives.

Searching for the Light

0004-231. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

As divisions and starless nights feel so profound now…I’m taking today to look back to our leaders who inspired, and find slivers of light. Thank you, Dr. King.

The Wishing Tree

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30. I was listening to an interview with researcher Daniel Goleman on my walk today. He was sharing the story of a New York City bus driver who shocked him into awareness as he boarded the bus. The driver truly looked him in the eye and asked “how are you today?”. The connection was unforeseen. Then Daniel noticed the driver was talking with everyone around him “oh, there’s a great new show at the MET you should check out!” “You’re out shopping for a suit? So and so store is having a sale!” and earnestly acknowledging each rider as they disembarked and walked into the rest of their day. Daniel later discovered that this driver was also a pastor. I’m listening to this last line, and make a left onto Galer Street, here in Seattle, and just about walk straight into The Wishing Tree. Now, I’ve run and walked these same roads more times than I can count, but for some reason I’ve never made this particular left at this particular intersection. I stopped to read a few of the wishes, laminated for protection, and strung with care. With the exception of a few kids, who wished for a “better Pokemon connection” and “a purple unicorn and my own room (written in Spanish)”, each and every card I read wished for love, for better connection with the humans in their lives, for peace and love for their children or for balance within themselves. Every single one. It was actually astonishing. No one asked for a different job, more money, or even for world peace. Each wish I touched asked for love, connection and internal balance.

This is what it’s all about. This is what the bus driver/pastor was bringing to peoples lives that was so astonishingly simple, refreshing, and filling: authentic care and connection.

Here is my practice in this realm these days: when I’m feeling imbalanced – I for a walk. I greet as many people as I can with a smile and eye contact. If I see someone struggling with a package as they try to open their door, I help them. Balance and connection – it’s  apparently what we all want. Who knew?

P.S. Freaking Seattle. Love you guys. You hippies. And yes, I wrote my wish, too.

Hello Goodbye

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29. This one is a hard one to write. For those of you who have never seen her face, but have talked with her many, many times, this is my Studio Manager, Heidi. Spoiler alert: she’s also my sister. Five years and a few months ago, I called Heidi and said “I’ve got to take a break – would you be interested in working with me for just a month? I just need you to answer emails, assure my clients that I will be back and ready to go in the spring, and I will be back from the mountains soon.” She was in the process of planning a wedding and had just quit her job, and so an arrangement was, well, arranged. It was gratefully the slow season, and I needed to trust someone else with my “baby” while I checked out and checked back in with myself.

I came back from a several week trip through Colorado, to find my back-end systems totally organized, and a calm driver rolling along, waving delightedly, and handling it all with grace and professionalism. From Los Angeles.

We never anticipated working together for this long. Not really. But she’s too good to let go. And I’m so grateful for her. For her undying support. Her pride in her work(wo)manship. Her absolute faith and optimism in what we do at Stacey Vaeth Photography. For dragging me into the age of technology, even when I wanted to stay in the days of a hand-written calendar and when texting didn’t exist.

She comes from the world of tech, where businesses change at a breakneck pace. I come from a line of artists, where hanging onto our art and building heritage through it can sometimes be an eternal quest. We educated and challenged each other, while both staying true to our strengths, our beliefs, and most importantly, our sisterhood.

Heidi, you’re an inspiration to me. I could not have asked for a more beautiful transition into having an employee, something I never thought I would want. You’ve taught me that freeing your grip does not have to be scary, and that two minds are better, and a hell of a lot more fun, than one.

Love you girl. As you transition to being a mom of two young ones and a nurturing a couple of older ones too, I’m so proud to be your sister and their Auntie, once again.

P.S. Heidi is (obviously) transitioning out of our Studio Manager role this winter. The part time opening for her position is open through January 20th. We’re so excited for this next chapter and new team member!

 

 

 

 

Oh, Mary Oliver

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28. Mary Oliver, a poet who I wished had been a friend, passed today at age 83. Thank you, you wise, accessible, brave woman. Your words inspired and supported me at so many turns in the road. In reading your work, I was always reminded that simply noticing the natural world really can change everything. An act of such stunning logic that yet is lost on so many. Thank you for leaving us with so much.
Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Song of the Builders
On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.