I need to write this down. Not because I am afraid I will forget. I won’t forget. But because I may need to revisit these thoughts at some point and be reminded of the sacred, holy workings that are always taking place in unseen, liminal spaces beyond the reckoning of this human mind of mine.
I made the decision to leave the teaching profession a few months ago. In reality and in hindsight, I had known it was time for a long time. Maybe years. But accepting it was extremely difficult. Because on most days, I love what I do. Because being a teacher felt like an ingrained part of who I was. Because I am a creature of habit. Because of the stability the job provided.
But in my gut I knew.
And when I finally accepted this truth, I felt intense and tremendous relief. What lay ahead didn’t matter - I just knew at that moment that I was leaving one path and stepping onto another. It was a bittersweet thing turning in my resignation letter but I did so with utmost confidence. Because I knew what I wanted.
Or so I thought.
Funny how life goes. I can say with absolute surety that not one single plan I have made in my life has come to fruition. Not one. And I have been better for it because of that. What I do know with absolute certainty is that every time I have trusted my intuition and listened to that deep inner knowing, I have never been led astray. Never. Surprised, perhaps. Distraught and sad, even angry and totally bewildered at times, but never led astray. I ended up where I needed to be - in the most beautiful places with the most beautiful souls by my side.
I believe Life brings us the people we need at the right time. And I can definitely see that in this last year - I have an abundance of people to thank and I am forever humbled by their love and support.
But back to my utter faith when turning in my resignation - yeah. It wavered. It shook. A rattling, loud shaking down. I was so certain that I wanted to be a birth photographer and birth doula. So. Sure. But the inquiries didn’t come. And when they did, they fell through. And I wrestled and questioned and wondered if I had somehow jinxed my own damn fate by not having enough faith. And I became discouraged and afraid. And then it hit me - hard - that I had been resisting the change by trying to control the change. And then that led to the fear getting hold of me. And fear is a tricky damn beast.
But fortunately the Universe continued to put things in place and was quietly working and unfolding while I tried to control every damn thing to make myself feel better. And wouldn’t you know - the moment I said, “Universe, I don’t know what you want from me, but here I am. I am going to keep showing up until you show me,” and started to lessen my grip on my perception of control, that is when I felt the biggest shift.
Over the last few weeks, I have witnessed some beautiful things. Signs. Connections. A path opening up.
The first sign: A massive, beautiful, slow moving meteor while the sun was coming up and I was drinking my coffee on a Thursday morning a few weeks ago.
The second: 3 hawks swooping overhead brushing wings and dropping down close to me the following Saturday morning as I stepped outside to hang laundry.
The third: A nighthawk clipping directly over our heads as we sat in front of a blazing fire watching the day end.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth: Owls. Beautiful, beautiful owls. I am deeply connected to owls. It has been told that owls are messengers of the Spirit World and guides from our Ancestors and I believe it. One appeared while I was talking with my dear friend about an upcoming Blessingway that I will be part of and documenting; it landed on a tree outside my window and stared, unblinking until it winged away. The second one I saw about an hour later as I was outside tending the garden with Chris; it was sitting low in a tree by our creek. And the third was about an hour after that...I decided to walk down to our creek near the little bridge Chris built and cut some azaleas that were blooming and as I came around the trail to the bridge, I literally stopped in my tracks and my breath stopped because there in front of me, less than 10 feet away and on a branch so low I could have brushed my fingertips across its feathers sat a Great Horned Owl. It stared at me intensely and then turned its head, shuffled its feathers, and dozed. All I could offer were my silent prayers of gratitude and hope it was enough.
These signs tell me I am loved. And that I am being guided. And that I am not alone. I don’t feel ready for what is next because I don’t know what is next. But what I do know is that I feel tremendous comfort and a deep sense of reassurance in the path I am now walking.
And that, that - is everything. The rest will work out if I just keep moving forward and showing up. My feet know the way.
Every birth. Every time.
A woman's body is just magic. To carry and grow a life and then bring that life into the world - I get emotional at every single birth.
Surrounded by her husband and her mamma, Katie welcomed her baby girl into the world on the morning following a labor that started with the Harvest Moon.
(See Part I here.)
Gathered & Found, Birth Photographer and Doula // Serving the Greenville, South Carolina & Asheville, North Carolina areas // Birth Photography
Because I couldn't wait to share this. Because doing this work fills my heart up and brings me joy and allows me to see the Divine. Because I spent the day in soul-filling company and in the sunshine and in the forest along the water. Because this is the work I dream of. Because -
This is my gratitude splayed wide open.
It does my heart good to sit down and make these monthly films. December was good to me - snow days, safe travels, "digging" for gemstones with the boys, a cranky old horse who half-heartedly tried to buck me off (not featured, but it won't hurt my feelings if you're amused while envisioning it), cracking up with my sisters, Nerf guns, a happy chicken, and a bonfire.
We traveled home for Thanksgiving...2 of the 4 days were solid driving, but lord, it was worth it. This is a smorgasbord of all that went on - gathering around good food, celebrating Chris' and Dad's birthdays, tree climbing, puppies, dogs, chickens, and loading cedar logs. You know, the usual when you go home to Southwest Missouri.
In October, I decided to sign up for an online filmmaking workshop with Everyday Films. And while it isn't perfect and I've critiqued it a million times, my final project makes me all emotional and means so much to me because it is the now of my life. It is my beautiful, imperfect, good, good life. And I am so grateful for it and for this new medium of expression.
I realize it probably sounds cliche to say this, but every birth changes me. Every birth.
It was so powerful and so beautiful to watch Katie labor. The trust and confidence she had in her body. The calm, the centering. Her labor was so instinctual and full of trust. Her husband there, quietly attentive, reading and anticipating her needs. Her mamma there, so supportive and calm and strong. I think Katie drew so much strength from the energy and unyielding support they brought. And her midwife and nurse created such a nurturing environment.
Labor responds to love and gentleness and support and quiet knowing. Consider the people in your life who intuitively know how to create the environment you need during birth. Because you'll never forget how you felt during this time. And if you're in need of a doula or labor support, please reach out to me.
Wise women have said to me -
Lean into the thing that calls to you.
The desires of your heart are there for a reason they tell me.
And I believe these things.
It doesn't mean there hasn't been resistance. Because there has been.
Because pursuing something of this magnitude means giving up some order. Giving up control.
But not responding to the gentle insistence felt way down deep became heavier than the courage it took to ask for this.
I feel deeply called to do this work.
So, here I am.
And I am changed. On a cellular level. My heart walking around in my hand as I watch each story unfold. These feel like some of the most important photos I have ever taken.
If you would like to have your birth story documented, please reach out to me. I'll be taking a limited number of clients for the remainder of 2018.