Tag Archives | Julie M Terrill

Blue Heron’s Dance by Julie Terrill

I carry your ashes
to the banks of the river
this warm, windless Southern evening.
Eyes closed, arms and heart wide open,
we dance and spin below the full moon
as we did the night we wed
a mere thirty-six moons before.
Tonight it is the heavy, humid air
that clings to me in tight embrace.
Blue Heron joins our dance,
wing tips nearly skimming
the water’s surface
and pulls me from my reverie.
There is peaceful, haunting beauty
to be found within
the circling steps of grief’s dance.

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

Restoring Myself with Self-Portraiture by Julie M. Terrill

Self-portraiture has proven to be a useful tool in my growth, not only as a photographer, but in my personal life as well. I am not talking about selfies, though I do have some selfies that I love. These images are portraits using my DSLR, a tripod, a remote shutter release, light meter and purposeful composition. I conceptualize a shot, set it up, run into the frame and using the remote shutter release, give myself the same directives I would give to other subjects. After several shots I go back to the camera to see what needs to change technically and aesthetically and repeat the process. As a result I learned how to better communicate my directives to my subjects by becoming more specific and more easily understood.

My first experience with this process was in workshop on self-portraiture by Kate Inglis. I signed up as a way to gain a greater understanding of the people I photograph. Our assignment was to capture ourselves where we are in this moment our personal journey. Where was I? Newly widowed, grief stricken, lost… The image I had conceptualized was the stripping away – the stripping of my walls, of grief, of fake strength and finally surrendering to tears.


At first it was uncomfortable and awkward. I did not enjoy the process. Sadly, I hated my images and didn’t want to share them with the other participants. I was so critical of my body that I couldn’t see the artistic beauty of the shot. The self-deprecating internal dialogue spewed forth. My perception of my body quickly expanded while my confidence withered until it occurred to me that I would never view that same image of another woman and compare her to the Michelin Man or the Staypuft Marshmallow Man. For the first time I afforded myself the same gentleness and grace that I gave others. I chose an image that I could see as beautiful and I decided to share it at the end of the workshop.

Using monthly self-portraits I documented my emotions, thoughts, feelings and growth. These images reflect periods of grief, depression, anger, acceptance and strength. While I still take self-portraits, the changes are now more subtle. I didn’t think I wanted to document this process but am glad that I did.

The images are powerful reminders of the restoration process of becoming ME again. Though I was initially resistant, the process was everything I didn’t know I needed. I am eager to see what insight future sessions will hold.

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

Spaghetti Tuesday by Julie M. Terrill

It must be 6:30 am. My eyes are still closed but I can feel her looking at me.

I know that when I open them Bee’s nose will be millimeters from mine and her chocolate brown eyes will be watching me intently, tail wagging happily. In silence I meet her gaze and smile. She is a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and even with my bedframe on risers we are nose to nose. She reminds me of the lion statues that stand sentinel at the doors of The Chicago Art Institute. She remains still until I say in a barely audible whisper, “you are invited.”

With a bound she joins me for our routine belly rub in silence. It is not that I am grouchy. I just don’t like to talk for a while. My family knows that a smile and a wave is the extent of my communication for the first few minutes of my morning. My mom says this has always been the case.

Bee and I enjoy our quiet snuggle and then I hear it… Rain! I love the rain and don’t want to waste a moment of it. I rush out the back door and dance barefoot in the grass. My flamingo-print pajamas are soaked and I sing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Bee watches and waits on the dry porch.

Provided there is no lightning, it is a pretty safe bet that if it is raining I am outside dancing.

Back inside I heat some water and go dry off. I steep my favorite tea, purchased during a recent trip to Ireland, and make a mental note to order more soon. I am enjoying my Irish Breakfast Tea in the dragonfly mug I received from my friend McGillicuddy. With a nod, I raise my mug to her and send a quick text telling her so.

The rain falls harder and the wind picks up.

After tea, a bagel and some blueberries it is time to get down to the business of Spaghetti Tuesday.

Not long ago I was a photographer and writer paralyzed with fear, unable to muster the courage needed to hit the send button on the growing number of email queries and pitches that were instead relegated to my draft folder. I had quite a collection of essays, photographs and stories that waited unseen.

I was unaware that gathering the basic tools and materials needed to build my dream of a creative life was not enough. I did not yet possess the skills to utilize those tools. Fear of ridicule, rejection and dismissal reinforced my state of inertia. I desperately needed to change and was referred to writer and business coach Christine Mason Miller. Christine re-framed the process for me.

You know how some people throw a piece of spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks and is ready? Christine told me to throw my creative spaghetti out into the universe and see what sticks. Undercooked spaghetti is not a personal rejection; it simply needs a little more time.

Brilliant! Spaghetti Tuesdays are now a part of my weekly schedule.

Today’s spaghetti-throwing menu features half a dozen photo submissions to the stock agency, two article pitches and two applications for Artist In Residency programs. I update my Curriculum Vitae, compose both Artist’s Statements, Project Proposals and upload my portfolio. One of the AIR programs is in Europe and it is likely that I will not hear from them, but that’s okay. It’s just spaghetti.

I laugh as I remember the photo I sent to Christine of the words “Throw Spaghetti” written in purplish lipstick on my shower wall.

The rain stops and dark clouds hang low, heavy with the promise that this lull will not last long. I grab my sneakers, Bee’s leash and harness and we head out the door. Bee, as always, is incredibly curious and I indulge her. We slow to check out every puddle and I rescue each wayward snail lured onto the pavement by the storm. My house is in sight again when the raindrops resume and I, of course, dance. Bee is far less amused and picks up her pace now eager to return home.

We dry off and I wash up before I head to the kitchen to begin chopping fragrant herbs and colorful vegetables. Red roasted peppers, purple onions, deep orange carrots, golden corn kernels and bright plum tomatoes paint a colorful swirling palette in my stock pot. While the soup gently simmers and the glass lid clouds with condensation I work in my office space that sits adjacent to the kitchen. On one desk sits the gourd I have been working on for three weeks. Already etched with the wood burner, carved by hand and lightly sanded, today it is ready to begin staining. Slowly and meticulously I daub the tan stain over the uncarved portion of the gourd’s hard shell until my family returns home. I ladle supper into colorful soup mugs that were a Christmas gift.

I am pleased by the anachronism as I reach for the antique silver soup spoons that I love to use, chuckling at how my kids won’t use them because they were purchased at an antique store and were “used.”

It has been a good day, rainy days and Spaghetti Tuesdays usually are.

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

Thin Places by Julie Terrill

I heard about a Celtic belief that this realm and the next are separated by a veil that is substantially thinner in sacred sites. I was immediately intrigued and began researching how to experience these ‘thin places’ for myself.  It didn’t take long to discover that it is almost easier to find information on what a thin place isn’t than what one is. Thin Places are often holy sites but not all holy sites are thin.  Thin Places are generally quiet; not flashy or showy. If there is a gift shop it is likely not a  thin place. They are often not easily accessible. Okay… but what are they?

As a photographer I was unsure how I would capture this intangible element that I didn’t entirely understand but trusted that I would do so in a way that was representative of my experience.  I had a list of suggested sites gleaned from many hours of research. The town of Mountshannon and nearby  Inis Cealtra, or Holy Island, had somehow managed to elude the books and websites I had referenced.  I learned of it from our host while checking into our cottage the day we arrived in Ireland.  She gave me contact information for Gerard, the boat captain, who has a tiny kiosk at the Mountshannon Harbor.  There he schedules boat rides and sells photos and books on the history of the 50 acre island, most of which he authored.

The island’s artifacts, spanning in age over 6,000 years, illustrate its long existence as sacred ground. Dating back to 4,000 BC, Pagan bullaun stones with carved depressions to collect water are found across the island. There are five churches in various states of ruin and excavation as well as grave stones dated from 898 AD through present day. The island is peaceful, enchanting and bucolic, with cows grazing while they, too, walk the historic pilgrimage path around the island.

In Killaloe, Linda my travel companion, and I both felt deeply connected to a stone chapel built in the 6th century along the banks of the River Shannon. Saint Flannan’s Cathedral was built 700 years later at the south end of the chapel,  an ornately carved screen separated the two spaces. We entered the chapel in reverent silence. Occupying the otherwise empty space was a scattering of ancient stone artifacts, including a high cross and a large stone inscribed in Viking script on one side and Ogham on the other. The massive wooden doors slammed shut behind us and a reverberating din filled the stone walls. The acoustics were amazing. I began to sing very softly, quite surprised that my voice carried through the building. Just as quietly, Linda joined me and our song echoed through the chapel.

Stone circles dot the Irish countryside and predate Christianity, originating in the Bronze Age dating 2,000 – 4,000 BC.  Just standing amid these stones is bucket-list material. But placing my hands on the altar stone in the center of the circle, I was overwhelmed with an indescribable connectivity to the countless hands that had been laid on the same spot for six millennia.

Some sources I researched cited the Cliffs of Moher as a thin place. This seemed counterintuitive to me. Between the cliffs and a huge bus-filled parking lot, is a large visitors center with several cafes and a numerous of gift shops. Instead, Linda and I parked in a dirt patch several miles from the visitor’s center and its throngs of tourists. We walked alongside livestock pastures, traversed a number of stone walls and hiked in relative solitude as a small rise gave way to an Amuse Bouche for the eyes, there to delight and entice us with the promise of what lay ahead.  We arrived at a mossy bluff where the earth, sea and sky intertwine forming the beautiful tapestry of The Wild Atlantic Way.  This was an incredible vantage point to photograph the legendary cliffs.  I sat on the thick carpet of moss that cushioned and cradled me. I felt strangely compelled to put away my camera to be fully present.  This was a new phenomenon. I usually felt more present and more me with my camera in hand. Eyes closed and feeling completely at peace, I felt as if I was sitting in the lap of God; a little girl enveloped in the protective, loving arms of my Father.  It was not until the wind stung my wet cheeks that I realized I had been crying. Linda and I remained for hours on our bluff in silence, journaling and knowing we found the undefinable experience we had been seeking.

I do not believe it is necessary to travel to the British Isles for this experience. I think a thin place can be deeply personal. A space where the veil is whisper thin for me may not evoke those feelings for anyone else. I have such a place in the woods of Maine. A fern filled clearing under a canopy of leaves is my place to connect with the earth, myself and my faith; usually barefoot, always with gratitude.  My thin place is not marked on any map or on a list of sacred grounds. I can return there, or to the mossy cliffs, by simply closing my eyes and opening my mind.

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

The Magic of Believing by Julie Terrill

I remember the moment so vividly: Mary Martin standing inside my television, looking right at me, taking a step closer to the screen between us, and imploring me to save Tink’s life by clapping my hands if I believed in fairies. Well, of course, I believed in fairies! Why wouldn’t I? Standing and clapping louder and louder, I helped Peter Pan save the life of Tinkerbell. It had been a close call. Thank goodness she could hear me!

During this time, my biggest fear was The Basement Monster. I surrendered countless toys that escaped down the basement stairs, resigned to accept they were gone forever. He had a huge collection of toys with wheels, balls, Silly Putty and Slinkys. And, if a basement monster was not scary enough, the steps down into his shadowy domain had no risers. I was certain he could grab my ankles and pull me down between the steps to join the collection of missing toys, never to be seen again. When I began to question the monster’s existence, there was a shift in power — his diminished as mine grew stronger.

Unfortunately while engaged in the business of growing up, many of us forget the power in the magic of believing. I recently encountered the essence of my younger self. She had been waiting for me in Ireland. It made perfect sense. Ireland is, after all, a land filled with the stuff of fairy tales: castles and turrets, waterfalls, rainbows, fern-filled gullies and sacred wells holding water blessed with mystical abilities. There are idyllic villages of thatched roofed cottages, a Giant’s Causeway and lush emerald woodlands that evoke visions of hobbits, trolls, dragons, pixies, nymphs, princesses and Robin Hood.

 

The enchanting fairy forests in the far southwest reaches of the island thrilled the exuberant heart of the inner four-year-old who had heroically rescued Tink from imminent death. Together, we delighted in the discovery of dozens of tiny doors, cottages, bridges and ladders tucked away throughout the woods, as well as tiny gifts left for their wee inhabitants.

Each year, over half a million seekers who rely not on what can be seen but on the certainty of the unseen, make a pilgrimage to one of Irelands holy sites. Clootie trees and holy wells are often found at these destinations. Originally, the faithful would dip a strip of cloth into the well and say a prayer for healing as they tied the strip to a branch. The cloth deteriorated and the knot fell away as the grip of the pilgrim’s ailment also released. Clooties have been tied at holy sites for over 5,000 years, but now with polyester and other non-biodegradable fabrics, this practice is discouraged. I encountered a greener version at a stone circle in County Kerry. Several hundred prayers and wishes, including my own, were written on paper left on the tree.

I could not possibly have planned the many serendipitous moments that reconnected me with the spirit of my imagination, creativity and the power of belief. In the wise words of Gus, the shuttle driver for a local pub, “Tis Ireland, lads. Expect the unexpected.”

 

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

A Journey for the Senses by Julie Terrill

Whether traveling domestically or internationally, I go to farmer’s markets to feel the pulse of the region. There I can begin to understand the local people, indigenous crops, handcrafts, economy, and pace of daily life.
hong kong market

Hong Kong markets were a cacophony of unfamiliar sounds, smells and products, which whirred with crowds that carried me along.  The large street markets that stretched on for blocks in Chiang Mai, Thailand were an amazing experience. One can purchase everything from live frogs to tiny peppers packed with heat or dried fish by the barrelful. There is even an entire market devoted entirely to bananas.  However, I discovered I much preferred the small markets in the northern rural areas of Thailand where I communicated with farmers, fishermen and artisans in a pantomime exchange, as they offered me food to taste or used gestures to convey information about their wares. I tasted everything that was offered.

Almost everything…

When an English-speaking man strongly urged me not to eat the chunk of greenish gray gelatinous stuff handed to me by the fish lady, I thanked her graciously, pretended to take the tiniest of “no-thank-you-bites” and heeded his advice.  I once even witnessed a flash mob dance through a market in Frankfurt.

beets

There is no need to leave your hometown to take a veritable field trip for your senses. Local farmers markets are one of my favorite simple pleasures and I try to go weekly. Fruits and vegetables remain in the field until ripe. Colors are more vibrant. Grapes taste grapier. Freshly harvested herbs and spices have a sensual, earthy quality that is traded for the convenience of dried grocery store herbs.

I buy handmade pasta, breads, cheeses and juices as well as local seasonal produce, flowers and honey. I like to be  proactive and know where my food comes from, that it is sustainably farmed and is organic.

Spice Market

Farmer’s markets broaden my culinary horizons as well. In Maine I bought fiddleheads at a small market  from the woman who picked them. She happily taught me how to prepare them in her favorite manner.

Ojai California’s market has an amazing fromagère who produces the best lemon quark I have ever tasted… Okay, it is the only lemon quark I have ever tasted but it is, in fact, stupendous!

When I asked about watermelon radishes at a market two miles from my home, the farmer was only too happy to cut one in half, revealing a lovely pink sunburst inside, and shared several recipes as we munched the crisp treat. His son said that his favorite way to eat them is roasted, which I discovered is also my family’s favorite as well. The caramelization on the outside is a wonderful contrast to the savory fuchsia middle.

If you too strive to be a traveler, not a tourist, and want to eat like locals, don’t only dine in restaurants. Visit the local markets as well.

smoky market

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

 

Everything I Never Knew I Always Wanted by Julie M Terrill

Sonora Dawn, Prickley Pear on Velum

Most of us tend to want our blessings to be wrapped in pretty packaging, leaving little doubt that what has been received is, indeed, a gift. I have found that many of my blessings come in the guise of old crumpled up newspaper wrapped around a stinky fish. My initial reaction might be, “Ugh! I don’t want that!”, but somewhere, buried deep Leonardoinside, there is a blessing waiting to be discovered.

I recently developed a visual impairment due to the side effects of a medication. Surgeries have restored my vision, but for several months I was unable to drive, read, and, most disappointingly, work on my photography.

Photography is part of my “ness”, a term my kids use to describe the essence of one’s soul. Photography is part of my Mommyness, my Julieness; without it I wasn’t quite me.

I decided still attend an upcoming class in alcohol inks,

discovering a beautiful and vibrant way to express my creativity that did not require visual acuity. Ink paintings are supposed to be abstract or impressionistic. Perfect! Not only was it therapeutic to acquire a new set of creative skills, I’m incorporating alcohol inks into my photographic work, rendering hand-embellished images with a unique dreamscape quality.

Even though I resisted this particular newspaper-wrapped, stinky, dead fish—my temporary visual impairment—it brought gifts I never even knew I always wanted.

Thank goodness I didn’t throw it away.

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bioJulie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for photojournalism. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She has been a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and has experience with commercial architectural photography, portraiture, and travel photography.

In addition to her professional experience behind the camera, Julie is the parent of seven young adult children, four of whom have special needs. With collaborative projects and thematic field trips, she has used her love of photography to help gain an understanding of their view of the world.

Julie is currently planning for a trip to Ireland, where she is looking forward to capturing the details of Ireland’s thin places and applying for Artist-in-Residence programs with the National Park Service.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

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