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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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Relocation Campaign

In 13 days, I will be moving to Lynchburg, Virginia. It’s a long, stressful story as to how we are getting there but we are going. In fact we are going if we have to sleep in our car and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for days. We are going even if we don’t have the money to go.

DSCN2255crop However, since the idea of pb&j for days on end is not appetizing for an untreated diabetic, we have started a Go Fund Me fundraiser. Please click on the link to ready our whole story of how Lynchburg, Virginia came to be our destination. Donations are immensely appreciated!
Relocation Campaign with Go Fund Me

 

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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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Out of Gems

Occasionally, I play those cheeky games on Facebook. I limit myself to one at a time because they tend to be time-consuming and you always reach a point in the game where it is nearly impossible to be successful without purchasing on all those special, sparkly gems that you need for all those extra game goodies. All those lovely unicorn trees and dancing water flower sprites inevitably end up being a requirement to complete a mission or adventure. These games are designed so that eventually you will need a sparkling pink marshmallow boat load of gems in order to be successful. In a cruel twist of fate, the world you were building suddenly comes to a screeching halt unless you dig into your wallet and surrender those debit card digits. There is always that small amount of money that you easily rationalize spending. “Pft! It is only a $1.99”, however, once you give into “it is only” then everything becomes a slippery slope and soon, you need more gems so you spend more money on precious glittery little gems to fill your cartoon kingdom with yummy flying magic dragon tarts.

Meanwhile, here in the real world, I live on a tight budget that does not allow for too many gem purchases. My household tends to allocated our money for more tangible items such as food or a place to live. I know that there our other households where twenty dollars a month isn’t a deal breaker but at my house, there are weeks where twenty dollars is the difference between eating or not. That is just my less than sparkly reality. I do, however, still enjoy playing a game every now and then.

More often than not, I have to stop playing in all those magic kingdoms because I arrive at that tipping point where I can not continue dwelling in my fantasy world without purchasing gems. I lose out on missions or special buildings due to lack of gems. The worse ones are the special missions for extra wonderful prizes in which I start the mission but find that I am unable to successfully complete it because I lack a sparkly boat load of gems. Eventually, I quit playing.

A few weeks ago I quit another one of these games. I spent weeks building a shiny, thriving city. I attempted special mission after mission, only to fail, repeatedly. My wonderful, carefully planned city became a futile exercise in wasted time. I invested hours planning, decorating, harvesting and selling all kinds of weird items only to run out of time. Every mission designed to only be successful if you purchase gems and use them to grow 300 boots on a tree in less than 24 hours. Sigh. Discouraged, I quit showing up every day.

A week after I abandoned my city. I was grocery shopping when it occurred to me that all these failed missions are ireily similar to how I feel some times. I feel like, years ago, I started out to build a life. I had huge sparkly, magical dreams. In hindsight, all those unicorn, marshmallow, glitter filled, sugar plum visions were fruitless missions that I was unable to complete due to lack of gems. All those elusive gems necessary to a construct a successful life, whatever they were, I was missing them.

Instead, I attempted to succeed despite where you are or what you have. I am not sure that has gone well. My kingdom looks more like a nuclear bomb went off rather than a joyful world of success. The moving to Prescott endeavor is a perfect example. I’ve wanted to move to Prescott for close to a decade, no lie. Finally decide to go for it only to discover that affordable housing for a family with pets is near impossible to find, let alone secure. I need a gem to finish this quest. I have no money to click and make one appear.

I am at the point where I have to ask, do I abandon this effort or do we pursue further?
Where are all the gems?

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