what are you leaving behind?

my friend, erin, and i have emailed back and forth for a while now.  she just gets me. and i adore her like no other.  she is wise beyond her years, for sure. i actually think i should pay her for therapy...or life coaching...or something. yesterday, as we were talking about the depth and meaning of this project and this project, she shared the following in one of her email replies:

who is to say that you aren't already on your 18 year project? these photographers had no idea... i'm sure that during their journeys- they questioned 'what the fuck am i doing?' 'this is pointless' 'i need to be doing something more' 'what does this mean to me?' they questioned... and they kept searching. and they kept doing. and suddenly something revealed itself a sickness, a death, a life, an opportunity. something revealed itself. and i am sure- that in some circumstances- like the man that died- that it didn't reveal itself to him even in his death. it simply was something he did... he didn't realise the impact it would make on other people. --- ...so with your personal work-- do you tell that story to your kids? do you consider what you are leaving behind for them? what you are telling them about yourself, your life, your wisdom-- and also- what the journey has been like with them in your life.

so, what are you leaving behind for the world? but most importantly, what are you leaving behind for your children?

and i sat here in tears, as i soaked in every word she wrote. photography is so part of my life, sometimes i ache -- as i keep questioning, searching and doing.  i wish i could explain it better, but i'm not sure i can.

and my kids... what AM i leaving behind for them?  the thought pains me daily, as i want to leave them with more than just their memories.

erin shared with me how she writes to her daughter, claire, every day. i had started documenting thoughts / advice to my kids a while back, but maybe i should include open, free-flowing writing to them too. i mean seriously, what would happen if i died tomorrow? next week? next month? steve's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and died only a few months later. steve was five. his mom was my age.

and i have this fucking amazing gift that i've been blessed with, but it has hindered my ability to capture the normal, everyday life of my family. treasured, simple moments. (yes, i've blogged about this before. probably multiple times.) again, i feel the universe is yelling at me and telling me to get my shit together. on multiple levels. in regards to many things. i need to figure this out. what's my problem?  why can't i shoot fricken snapshots anymore?

with that said, i share a simple moment. a moment i want to pass on to my children...

last week after gymnastics class, ryder said,

the coach said that if i go to level four, i have to cut my hair.


ummm. no!! you're not cutting your hair because of level four. girls have long hair and do gymnastics.  they don't have to cut their hair when they go to level four. you can just wear it in a ponytail, if they're worried about it going in your face or something.

over the days, the conversations about boys with ponytails continued. i let my kids know that boys can totally wear ponytails. it's NO BIG DEAL (i'm not quite sure my husband is fully buying into that fact, although he does roll with it).

and then one day last week, i came home and sky had put ryder's hair in a ponytail, to include green barrette decoration. he left it that way all evening. i told him how great it looked and asked him if i could take a couple pictures.

he's not game to wear a ponytail to school, but i love the fact that he's embracing the possibility.  and it was awesome that my friend, kathy, was able to share with ryder, some photos of her college-age son wearing a ponytail.

ryder likes his long hair (yes, i ask him). i LOVE his long hair. no way in HELL is my son cutting his hair to simply to conform with what boys gymnastics has always done in the past. i was in the military for 10 years and i understand abiding by rules, BUT i'm not sure i will be cutting my son's hair for gymnastics.  i mean seriously, he's six and in gymnastics...not 18 and in the military. i will definitely be questioning when that time comes.  and i hope i make my children proud for doing so.