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I Want to Remember by Michelle GD

I am keen on the little bits that make up life, and I explore them with camera in hand.  Certainly, there are the photographs of my growing children and the holidays and the vacations.  But what intrigues me most are the pieces of all that…the pile of shoes left by the back door, the crushed candy cane spilled on the table, the afternoon light streaming through the window on our second-last day of vacation.  That is what I want to capture.

And I find the search for the bits and pieces appear in my self-portrait work as well, quite literally at times.  I might take a traditional shot of my face.  But the shots I really love are the ones that capture pieces of me.  Glimpses.  Those are the shots that remind me what I was doing on a given day; those are the images that trigger memories of what I was feeling that day.

Like many of us, I am generally the person taking the photographs of everyone else.  And that suits me just fine.  Truthfully, the reason I turn the camera on myself is not so much so that I appear in an occasional family shot – although that’s nice.  The reason I turn the camera on myself is because I want to remember.  I want to remember me.  I delight in making photographs of everything that shapes my life.  But, even in the delight, there is the potential for getting lost.  I do not want to be lost.

And so I turn the lens.  It’s not every day, but I make an effort to position myself on the other side of the camera on a regular basis.  It’s a practice I’m developing and, though I’ve been doing it a couple years, I am astounded each and every time by just how healing the experience is.

My shots reflect wherever I am on a given day.  Sometimes they’re playful in nature; sometimes they’re restrained; rarely are they staged.  But when I look back at each of them, I say to myself, Ah, yes.  That.  Me.  Then.  It’s powerful.

It’s not about a good hair day or showcasing a perfect life.  Not at all.  It’s about looking, with intention, at where I am in my life.  Where am I standing in the midst of all my little bits?  What am I feeling?  What am I holding, literally or figuratively? How am I doing…for real?

Because I want to know what I’m doing and how I’m feeling, for real.  I want to understand how I fit with the other pieces of my life.  Self-portraiture allows me a process for exploring that, for celebrating that.  It allows me a means to express what otherwise might get trapped inside.  I want nothing trapped inside.  I want to see and understand, as best I can, all the pieces of my life.  I want to remember the shoes and the candy canes.  I want to remember how the afternoon light fell through the window.  And I want to remember how that light fell onto me.

Editor’s Note: *text previously published in Bella Grace, Issue 4, 2015

About the Author: Michelle GD

Michelle GD is an artist living in Virginia. Using writing and photography as forms of meditation, she explores the connections between the beautiful and messy bits of life. You can find her at MichelleGD.com.

A Quiet Thrill by Michelle GD

I am like a child again when the meteorologists call for snow.   Looking out the window frequently, watching the sky, holding my breath just the tiniest bit.  Did it start yet?  Is it coming?  I remember being thrilled by snow as a child.  I am still thrilled (perhaps more?) as an adult.

With snow come challenges of slippery roads and cancellations.  As I child, I cared only of the latter; as an adult, I must consider both.  Still, I eagerly await the first flakes.  Sometimes the birches blow in the wind; sometimes they stand like statues.  Sometimes the sky seems an even wash of grey; sometimes, if I look closely enough, I see darker greys and lighter greys and greys in between.  Always, I feel like the world at my feet is in the midst of some pause.  Or maybe it’s just me.

As I wait for the snow, I am surely in the pause.  I am present and attentive.  I feel alive.  I watch excitedly for changes in the sky and on the ground.  I am in awe once those changes arrive.  The blanket of white laid upon the ground, the hush accompanying the laying of that blanket.

I remember that hush as a child.  For a few years, we lived in upstate New York, just south of the Canadian border.  We got a lot of snow there; I had many opportunities to step into that hush.  Now, my family of four lives in Virginia, and we don’t experience the frequency or amount of snow I enjoyed in those childhood years.  But we do get snow; I do step into the hush.  And every time I step into the hush, my shoulders drop a little lower, and my eyes widen in wonder.

The beauty is not a surprise to me.  And yet, every time it snows…it surprises me.  It delights me, softens me.  Every time it snows, I step into the pause.  I am present and attentive and alive.  And isn’t this what I continually practice, no matter the season?  The presence, the attention, the alive-ness?

This time of year is busy for many of us.  We are celebrating and decorating and making merry.  Likely, we are also reflecting on a calendar year about to close, and preparing to open another.  It’s a time of year full with work outside ourselves (all that merry-making); it’s also full with work inside ourselves (all that reflecting).  It’s a time of year filled with so much.

Just the other day, it snowed.  I was grateful for Nature’s invitation; she called me in, and I responded.  I stepped into her pause, I felt her hush.  She beautified my world that was already beautiful, and I like that she didn’t out-do herself…she was humble and just-right.  I left the busyness and merry-making of the house, and walked through the falling snow with my kids.  We laughed, and we were silent.  I felt snowflakes on my eyelashes, and watched flakes rest but a moment on the lashes of my kids…each snowflake a gift.  Each one an invitation to pause, to notice, to be a little bit amazed.

There’s something in that pause, that being a little bit amazed.  There is a certain release I feel, as if I lie back and the world catches me and holds me.  Though I must do my part:  I must, on occasion, allow my shoulders to drop; I must allow my eyes to widen in wonder. I must anticipate, and I must receive.  I must allow myself to lie back and be held by the beauty of this world.

Now do you understand why a forecast of snow thrills me to my core?

About the Author: Michelle GD

Michelle GD is an artist living in Virginia.  Using writing and photography as forms of meditation, she explores the connections between the beautiful and messy bits of life.  You can find her at MichelleGD.com.

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