The month of June brought Bryan and I our five year wedding anniversary. Yep. Five years. We were children when met nearly 15 years ago. Now, with a child of our own, children we are no longer.
I began my photography business shortly after Lucinda was born. For over 3 years I have either been nursing a newborn or raising a toddler in unison with growing a business. I have worked every free second. As a testament to my constant working, my business has thrived far beyond my wildest expectations. My tiny girl has lost her baby features and is fast becoming a bright, sweet and generally well mannered child.
A wise friend once told me that a 'yes' to one thing is a 'no' to something else. The -something else- that I often say to to is myself. Dear readers, I can tell you that saying no to yourself all the time isn't a keen idea. Dear readers, I can also tell you that last fall I was deeply depressed. A deeply depressed person is not a good mother, a good wife, a good friend or a good photographer. I had put myself in last place.
I hate asking for help or admitting that I need help at all. If I were drowning, instead of simply asking for a life raft, I would probably have a thought sequence that looks something like this:
Just swim harder. You're not swimming hard enough. You're not a good enough swimmer. Maybe you should just drown. Yes, I think I'll drown. That's a much better solution than just asking someone to reach in and pull you out of the water. Goodbye world.
You hit rock bottom sometimes. I did.
I have always been a scrappy sort of make it all work, do it all, give it all, type of person. I worked full time through college in a difficult major with no help. I slept in my car between classes. I studied during breaks at work. I ate poorly and mostly in my car. I drove from school to work to home and back to school. I was so exhausted that I sometimes forgot to go to classes that had been at the same time all semester. I was so exhausted that I sometimes went to class on a Saturday, thinking it was a Tuesday and wondered where everyone was. Instead of going backpacking in Europe or laying on a sunny beach during spring break like my co-eds, I just worked harder. Many of my professors urged me to go to graduate school. "You belong in academia Jessica. You have a mind for research. Don't waste your mind. You're gifted. You could make a difference."
At the end of four years, I walked away with high academic honors. I also walked away with nothing more to give. My intentions to enroll for a Ph.D. were abandoned. The rigor of a fast track graduate program was more than I could withstand in my emptiness. I took a waitressing job alongside many other well educated food service workers who became my confidants and companions. The job was physical and visceral. A much needed remedy for my overtaxed and potentially wasted mind. I stayed there for a long time- a blissfully long time. It was a soothing remedy to those difficult college years and it balanced me out.
The month of June was also a remedy. It was the counterbalance to May. It was my life raft. I am learning to give to myself and that is a great gift to everyone around me. With some trepidation I am also learning to accept and ask for help. I'm grateful to all those who have pulled me back to the surface, seeing what I needed when I refused to ask for it.
After a hectic May, I took respite and didn't produce many personal photographs. The few shown below are from a night away that Bryan and I took on our anniversary weekend. We had dinner at an amazing farm to table restaurant, where we had our fill of locally grown spinach, onions, mint, feta and strawberries. We rented a room for the night at Buckland Farm- a small, working, organic farm that oozes realness and charm. The weekend we stayed with them, they happened to be celebrating the summer solstice with live bluegrass in the barn and a bonfire. Let me tell you, I love a rural party where the menu includes homemade kimchi and pickled garlic-scapes from the garden. In the morning we had a simple breakfast of farm bacon, farm eggs and granola on the porch. We took a walk into the woods where the pigs were rotated. The piglets were more than obliging to accept belly rubs. We thanked our new friends for their gracious hospitality and drove home, where we are now awaiting July.