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Looking for my Phojo

I am struggling to find my phojo.

It began fading while I was preparing, packing and moving to Virginia. Moving consumed so much of my energy that my photography dwindled to an occasional shot of my cats or moving boxes. I have some nice shots that document our life at that time but I sincerely regret that I did not have time to haunt my favorite photo places one more time. There is also a growing list of places that I had intended to get too in Arizona and photograph but due to health, money or time, I never got the chance and that haunts me.

The drive out to Virginia was horrendous. It is a whole other blog post. We spent four days in the car. Sleep. Eat. Drive. We made no stops in hotels or touristy photo ops. We just drove, juggled our resources and did our best not to yell at each other. By the third day, my body completely gave out. I could not stay awake for one hour unless I slept two. It was two days of sleeping and trying to stay awake long enough to drive. Nothing would keep me awake but, again, that is another post. Needless to say, I did not have time for photos.

Now, the first few months here have been a deep struggle between health and settling in our new place. I’ve had a few opportunities to get out and shoot but, well, I just don’t have the motivation. I have no interest in anywhere. Whenever, I ask around about places to shoot, I get a Civil War Memorial or a cemetery. I have no interest in shooting a cemetery. It’s just creepy and gross. Civil War…I’ll pass…I have too much anger and too many issues over southern history to spend my days photographing it. Just typing that sentence makes me angry.

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I miss the Salt River, the wild horses, the cacti, the canyons…I miss shooting Arizona. But, I am here not there. I am trying not to complain. I am trying to be positive. I am trying not to cry all day. I am trying to keep looking ahead and moving forward. So, I have stopped photographing Virginia because, because I am furious at it. I left Virginia in 1993 and I never intended to return here. I never intended on moving to the east coast. Ever. Period. Forever. I hate it here.

But I am here. I miss shooting. I am taking lots of photos of my kids and the cats. A more intimate look at my life right now while I sort out this anger toward Virginia and the south…

I can’t believe I moved here.

Jamie

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Where Do You Get Oranges?

Fresh oranges for the win!

One of my early jobs in Arizona was as a cook/van driver at a daycare. I prepped meals and snacks for, on average, 150 people a day. Breakfast, lunch and 2 snacks a day. I was also responsible for transporting the school age children back and forth to their schools. At the time, I handled 5 elementary schools and one private preschool. My list of responsibilities also included making a monthly menu, ordering kitchen supplies, organizing deliveries and all the prep, cooking and clean up in the kitchen. Not included in my job description but, something that I handled every day was staff birthdays and shopping for the teachers supply list which often included a weekly run to an education supply store and a local grocery store. I was a busy woman! I enjoyed the job tremendously and if my health had remained prosperous, then I would have stayed at this job for a long time.

I received a produce order twice a week for all of my fresh produce, however, on occasion there would be problems with my produce order. One morning, when fresh orange slices where on the menu for snack, my produce order did not arrive on time. Rather than just grabbing some other item from the shelf, the daycare (and me) made every attempt to adhere to our posted monthly menu which meant, if  the menu included fresh oranges slice for morning snack, then I have to offer fresh oranges, not shelved crackers. This particular morning, our oranges had not arrived, so I headed to our local grocery store to buy enough oranges for 135 preschoolers.

I hustled into the grocery store, grabbed a grocery cart and went straight to the produce section. I loaded 9 or 10, 5-lb bags of navel oranges into my cart. I stopped for a moment to see what else I needed to purchase when an elderly woman approached me. Arriving at my side, she looked at my 50 pounds of oranges, looked up at me and said, “Good Lord, woman! Don’t you know anybody with an orange tree!”

I laughed and said “What?”. Very quickly all the pieces started rolling together in my mind. In Arizona, citrus fruit trees are in abundance. The ability to enjoy fresh from the tree oranges is often, as far away as your closest neighbor. I am certain that to this lovely, elderly woman, it would have been far more economical to befriend someone who owned an orange tree. Having put it all together, I chuckled and said, “No, you don’t understand. I work for a daycare…”

She shrugged her shoulders mid-sentenced and walked away leaving me laughing in the produce section.

It’s been almost 20 years since this happened. To this day, whenever I eat oranges, I think of this hilarious encounter. Today, I am thinking about it a little differently. The elderly woman was trying to help me save some money with her suggestion. I tried to explain that I was purchasing oranges for a licensed childcare provider and I was only able to purchase items from certified vendors. She refused to hear my explanation and walked away thinking something entirely different about me and the situation.

It got me thinking. Have you ever been doing something or planning something and an outsider comes along and passes judgement on you without knowing all the reasons why you are doing whatever you’re doing? Has there ever been a time in your life when others looked at you and your actions with incorrect ideas simply because they did not take the time to find out what your goals or obstacles were? Have you ever done this to someone else?

Of course we have. Both scenarios have occurred because we often judge without knowing all the details of the circumstances. In our, incomplete, judgement we often think we are right and the other person is wrong. We tell others what to do before we know all the information or feelings or goals involved in a situation. We know better than they do. We know more than they do. We simply surmise, we are right, they are wrong. We are all guilty, at one point in our lives, of telling other people where to get their oranges.

We have to learn to really listen to each other needs or desires and then offer advice or wisdom once we know all the facts. And I mean ALL the facts. Because, I’d bet you a bag of oranges, we rarely know every reason behind someone’s actions but it is much easier to judge that they don’t have a clue about orange trees than to wait and learn what they are dealing with in life.

Take time to listen, really listen to others. Take time to build trust in relationships so that others truly confided in you. Take to time to understand other people lives or goals that are often very different than your own. Take time to practice patience.

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

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Lonely Girl

Loneliness.

At one point in time, in everyone’s life, we all come face to face with the formidable opponent called loneliness. None of us are immune from experiencing seasons where we feel like we have been hung out in the storms of life all by ourselves. I wish I could change that but it is simply a fact of life that we all must learn how to wade our way through. No amount of wishing will ever change that reality. We all will face loneliness. Each of us will be alone at some point for whatever reason.

I must stress that it is imperative to say, loud and clear, I have had tremendous support and friendships throughout my life. I have been on the receiving end of some of the greatest outpourings of love in my life. I am extremely thankful for the people who joined my life and provided support whether it was in the form of friendship or money or just a phone conversation to let me vent my frustration. I am an abundantly blessed gal in this department of life. I see these loved ones. I acknowledge their gifts and help in my life. I am in both debt and gratitude to some superb people.

I am not speaking about having a life void of family, friends, loved ones and all the brilliant, extended support they contribute to our lives. I am talking about the loneliness that shows up right as you are about to fall asleep and in the dark, you come face to face with the stark reality that despite generous love and support, when it comes down to the grit of life, it is only you.

Your life may be full of loving family and friends but when the gnarly, huffing, beast of loneliness stares into your soul, you are stripped of all pretenses and you know, you are the only one who is responsible. You are the only one who is going to catch it when the shit hits the fan. You are the one who will feel the brunt of any bad choices. You are the one who has to muster the strength to carry it, whatever it is.

Loved. Supported. Encouraged. Helped. Alone.
Truth is, we can have all the extended love and support in this world but still be alone.
At least, I have always felt this way. Maybe this is my truth.

I had one of those lone moments again today. Only this time there was added element. I’ve been looking for housing in Prescott. It is turning into a nightmare. Any place that we can afford, doesn’t take pets. Any place that takes pets, we can’t afford. That is only part of the problem. The few places that we can afford and allows for pets don’t have rental units open for months. Which means, if we move and have no place to live, I am spending our savings on a hotel while we wait for a place to live and I can’t do that because as a mother, as a human being, this reality makes you the biggest failure. Ever.

I was on the verge a major meltdown today when I stopped myself, closed the bedroom door and applied for a job in Prescott. When I successfully applied for a job, I sat staring at the computer screen and was overwhelm with the ugly glare of that haunting, burdened beast. I uttered, to myself, “I never thought I would still be alone at almost 50 years old.” That’s the blaring, cold reality. I am still alone and responsible.

When I was a naive, 23 year old, single mother whom struck on her own to make the best life anyone ever had come true, I envisioned a life that blossomed and grew as I headed into my senior years. I dreamed of a large loving family and a warm, picture perfect home with a roaring fireplace. Life did not turn out like I tried to make it happen. Instead, I am alone, carrying more responsibility, handling one crisis after another and just starting over again. Hell, I’ve started over so many times, I can’t even remember how many times I’ve done it.

I don’t know what this is but it is not the life I set out to create and the older I get the colder it gets and the more alone I am.

Just not cool, life. Just not cool.

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

 

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Where are you?

Sunday, December 17, 2018

It has been a long time since I have had time or energy to write. The seasonal job proved to be more than I anticipated. It was a tremendous struggle to work the job and complete the temporary assignment. The job itself was not difficult but it was physically demanding. I spent many nights in pain, unable to sleep and barely able to function for days. I am happy to say that I did fulfill the job assignment and it ended on a good note. I am now in recovery mode physically but happy to have seen it through to the end.

I thought a lot about writing, photography, crochet and moving while I was shipping out all those custom order Christmas cards. I find it humorous that some times an easy way to identify what is important to us is by the things we miss in life. If we do not miss some thing, it must not have been that important. Photography, I knew I would long to do again. There is never enough photography in my world. Crochet, was a bit of a surprise but I do find it relaxing. I also enjoy making practical and useful items. Blankets, scarves, hats, those sort of things. Writing. This one really surprised me because for the most point I have fostered a love/hate relationship with writing. It is something that comes natural to me but I have resisted it with a fierce determination for the majority of my life. I often have words, sentences or paragraphs rolling through my mind. I think about words just like I see photographs. Typically, I push them aside till they fade away into oblivion. I was caught off guard when I discovered that I actually missed being at home pounding at the keyboard. I literally stopped in my tracks when the desire to go home and write filled my mind and heart. So, here I am.

Moving.

Moving has been an adventure in my own mind. It always is though, isn’t it? Relocation, whether from one house to the next or one city to the next, it turns everything upside down. My decision to move proved to be no different. In the past few weeks, I have researched a variety of cities, in a few different states for a kaleidoscope of reasons. I’ve been to Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. I have scoured coastal cities, mountain towns, bustling downtown neighborhoods and quiet college towns. I have cried a little, laughed much, wrestled with anxiety and had a few “hell no’s” for good measure. I have crunched numbers until my calculator up and walked away disappearing forever.

Through all the researching, discovery and indecisiveness, where have we landed?
Arizona.

The thought of leaving Arizona proved to each of us that this magical state we live in is indeed home. As I explored the idea of living anywhere else, my mind quickly focused on counting the days till I could get back to Arizona. The more I considered leaving Arizona, the more I realized that I just wasn’t done here. There is so much more that I desire to do and see here. I would often tell myself that adventure lies anywhere but my heart just could not let go of the fact that I wasn’t finished here. As the weeks hurried by it became very evident that we wanted to stay in our home state of Arizona.

And where is Arizona? Believe it or not, that is only about 99% decided, maybe 98%. There is a slim chance we may only move a far as a different apartment in Chandler. We are however aiming for Prescott or Prescott Valley area. We’ll know in 12 days if we make it.

Be Brave.
Jamie Christine

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Friday’s Thoughts and a Photo

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Two weeks into this new blogging adventure. I am beginning to establish a habit of writing every day which is something that I have not done in an extremely long time. Probably close to a decade since I abandoned any and all writing. I think my writer’s brain may be leaping, no sputtering, back into action kind of like an old superhero who shows up to save the day but just can’t quite leap over tall buildings like she could in the old days. None the less, I think about writing every day now due to the blog and that is a tiny leap to save my day.

I think a lot about the direction I would like to take Bent Blossom. I think the needle on my compass is twirling in circles as if captured in a magnetic force field causing it to spin wildly in no particular direction. In July, there was a major crisis in my life concerning my son which upended our lives. It was one of those events where instantly you knew things were never going to be the same again. My life is not the same and it will never be heading in that direction again. Foolishly, hopefully, I thought it would have settled into something by now but the dog days of summer have passed and autumn should be here any day now and still nothing but uncertainty greets every sunrise. Old things are passing away. I wait impatiently for new things to sprout. So, I don’t know where the blog is going because the compass has yet to cease spinning. Right now, I have blog and I write every day. That’s all I know.

Still no word from my job interview on Monday. Some friends are saying that if they had interviews all week they may wait till Friday to make a decision. I completely understand. I also am acutely aware the rent is due in 11 days. I need money today not in 3-4 weeks from maybe Friday. So, I’ve agreed to an interview tomorrow for some seasonal warehouse work. It’s one of those if you show up then you are hired. I’m praying I can do it. I’ve got two bad knees, Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain and who knows what else is wrong with me. Twelve hours of warehouse work is not ideal but neither is being homeless so I feel like it is a pick your poison situation. The warehouse work is temporary, just till the end of the year. Praying I can muster enough for that length of time and get us caught up a little financially. We shall see.

Ah, yes, the photo. This is a shot of a night-blooming Cereus or Queen of the Night as we call it here in the desert. I absolutely adore these flowers. It is always a treat to see them bloom on the cacti but you have to be outside at night to witness them spread their flower wings and decorate the night desert. I used the headlights from my car to light up this bloom and grabbed some great shots.

With that, I am drawing today to a close. I have many errands to run tomorrow. I probably should sleep.
Be brave.
Jamie Christine

 

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Connections

October 3, 2017 – Day 3

I am moving in slow motion this morning. I woke up with one of the worse migraines ever. Nausea, eyeballs hurt, dizzy, blurry vision and my head felt like someone was pounding on it with a sledge-hammer.  Iced my head for an hour, took some medicine and drank some coffee which is my magic combo for chasing away migraines. Currently, it is down to a soft roar of a headache. I am doing my best to function as much as possible.

I am also moving slow because of something I did yesterday morning. Typically, I keep my blog and Twitter separate from my Facebook page. Sounds silly, I know, but I do it. I do not let A know what B is doing or more precisely, what B is saying. There it is. I may honestly share my thoughts with a few but there a few folks that I just do not tell things too.

I have a problem speaking up. Sounds absurd because if we are close or I really click with someone, I never shut up. I could talk for hours. However, if the situation or person causes me anxiety, I clam up. Sharing my blog with my Facebook has my hands shaking and heart pounding. Tremendous anxiety at the thought of connecting the two worlds.

What am I afraid of? Rejection? Abandonment? Judgement? Maybe all of these or none of these.

When I five years old, I entered kindergarten like most kids. After two weeks, my mother receives a phone call from Mrs. Flood, my teacher. Mrs. Flood inquires if I am deaf and can I speak. My mother laughs and tells her, at home, I never stop talking. My mother thought that perhaps all the recent changes in our life had something to do with it. In the world of anxiety, it is known as selective  mutism.

Selectivemutismcenter.org describes the conditions as follows:
“Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure, and relaxed.”

Me in a nutshell. I’ve battled this all my life. My most recent scrimmage was the job I just walked away from in a flurry of tears. It was a customer service job processing insurance claims on the phone. The closer it came to me getting on the phones, the greater my anxiety, the more tears and panic attacks until I simply could not move. Paralyzed by fear, unable to articulate my situation and fears so I had to walk away, crying.

Connecting Facebook, Twitter and my blog is something I have never been able to do because I either can not speak or the fear of people hearing what I think or feel or say is just too great. Seems so stupid doesn’t it?

In so many ways, I am still that mute five-year old girl and no body even knows it. I make excuses for a get-together or clubs or jobs or lunch dates. I never know when it is going to strike. I’ve spent the majority of my alone because of anxiety. Sometimes, it is so great that even simple things like paying the rent or getting a tire fixed is just too much for me. I must have help but help in a way that nobody knows they are helping.

It sucks. Anxiety so severe you can not buy a tire sucks. In one way, I do not want people to know. I just want to be normal. In another way, I wish I could explain it everyone so that they would not think that I was just lazy or using them or whatever ill thought they think of me when I don’t behave like they think I should. My own family doesn’t know severe it is. That’s terrible.

And so, now I realize how disconnected I am and have always been.
Connection. Yeah.

Be Brave.
Jamie Christine

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What is Bent Blossom?

October 2, 2017
Two days in a row.

For today’s post, I would like to explain how Bent Blossom came to be and what you can expect to see as things unfold. IF things go as planned. If life has anything to do with it, things will almost never go completely as planned. Which sometimes that is good. Sometimes it is not so good.

Okay, I do not entirely know what I am doing. Surprise!

As mentioned yesterday, I have been starting blogs for an extremely long time. I would start them, get everything set up, write a few entries and then loose my motivation. Eventually, I simply went back and deleted them. I can honestly say that most of the time I quit blogging because the blogs, well, if they didn’t make money, they fell to wayside in my busy life. All of my blogs, with one exception.

Around 2013, I started a photography blog. I kept up with for months because photography is one of my greatest passions in life. I wasn’t make money but that did not matter. I was taking photos, connecting with other photographers and sharing my work. I loved it. Then, in May 2014, my oldest son died. Everything stopped. I have yet to find the motivation to return to that particular blog. I’ve wiped all the entries. The next few  years, I refused to write anything at all.

April 2016, the blogging bug comes back to me. I argue with myself for weeks. I was absolutely determined not to write another word as long as I lived. After my son’s passing, it was close to a year before I picked up a camera. Writing, as far as I was concerned, was off the table for ever.

You know what they say, never say never. Slowly but surely picking up the blogging again crept back into the forefront of my mind. I tried returning to my previous photography blog but it never manifested. Every time I went there, I was overwhelmed with my son’s passing and eventually just stopped going to that blog.

Anyway, back to April 2016. I felt the blog itch starting so, I came up with a name. Bent Blossom. The name came from two things. Years ago, I had a blog titled, Happy Little Wallflower. I loved the name. I considered resurrecting that name but happy was not quite how I felt after my son’s death. Then I heard, Pink sing, “Just a second we’re not broken just bent, and we can learn to love again.” from her song, Just Give Me a Reason.

Bent. Yep. Life has surely bent me, in a million different ways but I am not broken. God only knows if we ever learn to love again.

Blossom. Well, I just love flowers. It also tied into the Little Wallflower.

Bent Blossom. There you have it. That’s how it started. Where is it going to go from here?

Well, here’s what  you can expect. I will show up. I will share. I will be honest. We’ll just go from there.

Be Brave.
Jamie Christine