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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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This Blog or That Blog?

Life has been a tad bit crazy since deciding to move to Virginia and it hasn’t settled down since we arrived. There has been no settling for us. To our credit, we wake up every day and tackle life. Good, bad or indifferent, we are still in the game. Yay us! Sort of.

My health has taken quite a hit since moving here. I was concerned about it before moving but did my best to keep my worries private. Sad to report, that my concerns were well founded. My health is worse in Virginia. I am dealing with all the old problems and a bunch of new health challenges. I am researching and working to get myself together again. It’s just taking some time. But the life that I have envisioned for years is still just far enough of reach that I can’t get there. It sucks. Back to the drawing board.

There are days where I have a lot of down time and up till now, I have mostly been sleeping, recovering and willing my body to get it together. I’m not sure how well that is working but where the mind leads, the body will follow. So I’ve been told.

During the times of quiet, my mind keeps thinking about blogging and writing. It’s been a struggle to get it going. For the first few months, we had no internet. It’s only been within the past 30 days that we have internet in our home. Then there is time. I’m the only driver in our home so currently, I drive 2 people to 3 jobs. It was 2 people to 4 jobs for first few months. I didn’t have much time to sit still while juggling 2 people with 4 schedules. But we’ve made it work.

One of my biggest excuses has been this insane idea of starting a brand spanking new blog. I’ve been searching and trying out new names. I’ve been resisting coming to this blog to build on what I have already started. A mini identity crisis? Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes I don’t want to tie some of my thoughts with my photography but it is so much easier to manage if it is all in one place. Does this blog allow me to do that? I don’t know but why start over? Plus, I can’t think of a new blog name that I like.

So, for now I am just going to get back to the keyboard. Hopefully.

I’m terrible at this…

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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Right Foot In. Left Foot Out.

Do the hokey pokey and turn yourself about…

Right Foot.
My right foot stepped out a few months ago. It jumped the gun announcing that we were moving and packed up half of the house. It lead our minds and our hearts halfway in to a new adventure. We were exited and terrified.

Left Foot.
The left foot planted itself firmly, right where we are and said no, we are not leaving. It opened the door on jobs, raises in income and reminded us of everything that we loved here in Arizona. We love the West and in our hearts, Arizona is home.

So, now, with my left foot firmly in a comfortable place and my right foot dangling about in the scary unknown, I have arrived at an impasse.

I do not know if I should stay or should I go?

I don’t know what to do. I just keep crocheting, writing, researching and asking the question…what do I do? what do I want to do? I am hokey-poking about, turning in all kinds of circles and I haven’t a clue.

Damn it…

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

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Oh! The Resolutions…

I confess. I don’t have resolutions.

I never do. Many years ago, I made the New Year’s Resolution to never make another one. It is the only resolution that I have ever kept. Now, before anyone flips out and lectures me about the importance of making goals, please give me at least a blog post to explain why I do not make resolutions.

I was in my early twenties when I bid a final farewell to many of the New Year Eve’s traditions. I do not rub my hands in bowl full of coins for more money. I do not eat black-eyed peas or herring on a cracker for good luck in the coming year. I do not frantically change my calendar to welcome in the new year. I do not do any of that stuff and I do not make resolutions to fix my weight, my job or my soul.

I do acknowledge that these traditions are social activities that bind us together and therefore they hold importance in society and communities. Eating black-eyed peas or making wishes together are common activities that we can focus on instead of our differences. In short, they bind us together in a common act or desire. We all want to hope that our lives will be better in the new year. In reality, they are superstitions that do not actually have any credible influence on how much luck manifests in the next year of our life.

Why did I quit good luck superstitions or new year resolutions?
There were two reasons.

Reason number one. I never managed to keep or fulfill any of my resolutions. In truth, by mid February I had all but forgotten my carefree resolutions. I came to understand, that my resolutions were no different than any of the other good luck activities. I did not really give any serious thought to what I set out to change. I hastily, and in my early years, drunkenly, prattled off a list of my faults that the New Year was going “correct” for me.

Reason number two. When good luck or the magical “new” year did not produce a whole new me, I became discouraged. I concluded that I was a bad person responsible for the entire universe gone awry. I was the ultimate failure because even good luck could not come my way. This was a dangerous internal dialogue that no amount of black-eyed peas was going to fix. Wishing wasn’t going to make see myself in a more positive light.

Good luck was not the answer. It never worked. On a hap-hazard, laughter filled, wine induced New Year’s Eve, I announced that I was never going to make another resolution and trust luck to fix all my problems. Instead, I started making goals. I focused on three goals a year that I was responsible for manifesting in my life. That’s is when things began to change. I no longer sat back and relied on fate to solve my problems. I took time to consider the direction that I wanted my life to go, made goals according to my plans and then worked on meeting those goals. Sometimes I do not actually make my goals.That is okay. I work toward them. I have discovered that working toward my goals shows me what I need to do make to them a reality. I practice reality every year not good luck.

Hard work will be the primary tool in shaping the life you desire. 2017 did not hate you. 2018 is not going to magically make your life better. The New Year is not a fix all moment. It is a day on the calendar. Nothing more, nothing less. It is a good time to reflect on your life and your goals. It is a good season to come up with a plan. It is a great idea to celebrate with family and friends. These things are absolutely true. Superstitions and good luck are not the Universes handymen to problem solve your life.

I don’t intend to sound harsh but that was the difference for me. Resolutions, black-eyed peas and bowls full of pennies relied on some good luck fairy to swoop down, waiving a magic wand that was going to make all my problems disappear. When that didn’t happen, I could easily blame luck because I did not have the life I wanted or wasn’t the person that I wanted to be. I held no responsibility in the outcome of a year, an entire year of my life. Making goals meant that I was responsible and accountable for my how my life turned out. I made the choice to do away with superstitions and empty wishes. I embraced the reality that I was in charge of my goals coming true.

Maybe, reality is cold and harsh. At the end of today, the New Year is not going to bring you a better life or make you a better person. January 1 is just a day on a calendar. Sure, it is the beginning of a new calendar year and that is good for marking time but not so good for life changes and life plans. The next 364 days are in your hands.

My goals for this year are really a continuation of the direction I was headed in when 2017 ended.

Goal 1- Establish an online blog and business. This has been developing for many years. I am getting close. Closer than I have ever been.
Goal 2- Move out of the Valley of the Sun. I need to get out of this valley for a variety of reasons. Health and happiness being the top two.
Goal 3- See my mom, Jeri. I’ve seen her once since April 1993. It sucks.

These next three goals are kind of a given in my life. They apply no matter what year.
Goal 1-Be kind. Learn to practice kindness every day.
Goal 2. Be thankful. Learn to spend more time expressing gratitude and less time complaining.
Goal 3. Photography. Learn more. Do more. Grow more.

Make goals in reality not resolutions hoping for good luck to fix your world. You’ll get a whole lot more accomplished and next New Year’s Eve, you can be proud of what you have done and not spend the evening blaming the calendar for not making all your dreams come true.

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