My attempt at a panoramic photo using an iPhone app. It didn’t work out as planned because I couldn’t get the timing right. You have do a 360 at just the right pace or the image is choppy but if you go too slow it causes the breaks you see in the clouds. This is the Lefurge Woods Nature Preserve. One of the places I frequent in the warmer months.
This winter has been brutal. I’ve experienced temperatures colder than I’ve ever felt. I’ve seen more snow than I’ve ever seen, enough to last a lifetime. I can’t remember what flowers, dirt and grass smell like.
As soon as the snow melts I will be on the trails looking for signs of life and hoping to photograph a flower.
So just like that you put it out there. One of my favorite bloggers puts it out there and I’m glad he does because his journey has been inspirational and has helped me. Thank you for sharing it. For the first time I will kind of put it out there like that.
But it feels strange to say the last part. Not because I’m embarrassed by who might see it or ashamed that I could not keep my family together, rather I don’t want that last part to define me. It’s true I’m getting divorced but it’s not who I will be. I won’t be the divorced guy with kids. Alright so for a while as I pick myself up I will be just that. You don’t spend 20 years with someone, lose them, then not be that for a while at least.
This morning I was looking at pictures stored on an external hard drive and I came across one from the summer of 2004. It was on a trip north and the first time we all went to Ludington as a family. My kids were ages 6, 5, 4 and 2. When I type that out I think “wow how do you do that?” Well the answer is obvious but still I can’t imagine being pregnant for that long..like back to back.
Looking at the photos from that vacation I can’t believe how much my kids have grown. They went from not even being in school to having two in high school and two in middle school, I want to hit the brakes. My mother always told me I was growing up too fast but as a kid that’s all I wanted to do. Now I get it. With kids, ten years brings so many changes. You do see them grow up so quickly.
Over the years I’ve documented life in journals and photographs. I go back to them periodically. Sometimes I dwell on the past but mostly I go there to remember. So many of those memories are awesome I know I’ve really been fortunate over the years to have this family and create the memories. Things of course were not always great or even good but I always believed they could and should be better. There was never a time when I gave up that hope, always willing to work at it.
-When our first child was born I thought the right thing to do was to work opposite shifts. That way one parent could be home with him at all times. Kids need their parents right? Over the years we become passing strangers handing off the children then heading out the door. That was a bad plan. Couples need to spend time together. I regret that.
-When I was introduced to the church she knew growing up, I was fascinated by what I heard there. Here was something that seemed to be solid. An element that was missing from my life. A foundation that I could build my life on and ensure my family would be happy and in harmony. In truth it burned me out, I just got so tired. I became angry and frustrated then controlling. It’s never fair to set expectations for a person that you can’t even attain yourself. Expectations can be a dangerous thing that should be used with caution. I didn’t realize that and I regret it now. I’m sorry for expecting her to be a certain way and not listening to what was happening.
-The distance caused by those years. The sadness I felt was not expressed appropriately. As a child I used anger to escape my surroundings. All the things I faced then were, in my mind, made bearable by being angry. If I was angry nothing could touch me. With anger you don’t need other feelings, a security blanket even if a poor one. I used that blanket as an adult. It wasn’t an anger that made me say hateful things or hurt people but it was there. My anger prevented me from opening up and saying I was hurting inside. By the time I got it under control, with help, it was too late. The defensive wall had been built up years before and I would never be able to reach her.
-For most of my marriage I made less money. I’m not at all saying that’s wrong or that somehow a man is less of a man because his wife makes more bread. I never felt less of a man and she never made me feel that way because of that fact. But I watched how she worked her way up the ladder, always moving forward and always excelling at each task. It has been quite inspirational. She opened my eyes to something different. The desire to excel and reach. Without that I would not be where I am now in business. I’m grateful for that.
-As a kid I always hoped to one day find a wife. She would be someone who had a good childhood and we would get along really well in our house. The house would have good food in it and a no fighting rule. We would hang out at the park and spend time together being happy. She would smile at me and I would hug her then we’d eat sandwiches. That’s what I thought as a kid. Lucky me I got that. Even when things turned she tried. I remember it well.
-There are things that happen in life that change you. They change you and open your eyes in ways you never imagined. When she gave birth to our fist child it opened up my heart. He was on the table and looked up at me. My heart melted and instantly there was a love I never experienced. That was an amazing feeling. I got to experience that four times. I’m so grateful for my kids.
I’m only 43 years old and if I live as long as my grandparents I have not even lived half of my life yet. My choice is to continue to be a hard worker and to make myself better, spend time outdoors and be a father of four. I will not always be the guy who got divorced.
Photo taken at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens a few springs ago. When visiting the gardens I always try to walk quietly, camera ready, on hopes of an encounter with wildlife. On this day the butterflies were in abundance, mostly these orange butterflies on orange flowers. Approaching them was quite easy and getting close up shots didn’t seem to startle them at all.
Later on I would have an encounter with a coyote while quietly walking a trail. I heard rustling in the bushes and thought it might be a deer. Before I could get close enough to react it was running deep into the brush so I only caught a glimpse of the head and back as it ran in an out of tall grass.
I take photographs of things because I want to capture that moment forever. Something catches my eye and I want to enjoy it again later, that’s the beauty of photography. My guess is that’s the case with most people who like taking pictures. You take the picture and later on you look at it and remember. It could be a landscape, objects like a new television or car, or family members. It’s the family pictures I’ve come to value the most over the years. While I enjoy a good view of nature I really love the family pictures. Over the years I’ve taken plenty of family pictures most of them while on vacation.
Looking at the pictures I am reminded of the time it was taken. My memory is poor but when I look at a photograph I can remember details about that moment and what life was like for me during that time. Not all memories are good ones.
Yesterday I visited my mother and she showed me a picture. It must have been from the late 80’s because I was wearing a B.U.M. Equipment hoodie, remember that brand from back in the day? I was standing in the doorway of a friend’s house with my Miami Dolphins hat tilted forward and my hand displaying the middle finger. What is it about flipping off the person taking the picture? It seemed like the thing to do back then. What a punk.
I remember my life during that time. I was 17 or 18 years old, recently left home, and was staying with a friend. There were no rules and each day our task was to party and hook up with chicks. We thought it was a blast and if I’m honest with myself it was. But I was a punk, I remember that too. My mother asked me if I wanted to borrow the picture to show my kids, I declined but it’s very likely she already showed them. Mom has no boundaries like that.
Then there’s the picture below. It was taken around 2003 at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes less than a year after our last child was born. As a kid my dad would take me and my brother north almost every summer and that was one of our stops. Man those were some of the best times of my childhood. Of course it wasn’t always fun and games as there were lessons to be learned but for the most part it was a fantastic time. Naturally I wanted to share some of the places with my own family. When we were expecting our first child in 1997 we went north to Ludington and from there drove further north to Petosky and Charlevoix. It was the first time I visited those areas since I was a kid.
I remember what my life was like then. It wasn’t perfect, needed improvement but that’s life too right? I know I felt like the world was mine. There was nothing that could take away my joy and I didn’t imagine it could change. It’s when this image was taken that I wish I could go back to.
The photo was from around five years ago I think or perhaps closer to 8 during our first vacation in Tennessee. I remember the cabin we stayed in had a splash pool in it and when we arrived our dog jumped right in but he was so young I don’t think he knew what he was doing. One of the kids pulled him out. I had a great time on this vacation and wish I could rewind to it.
We went back a couple years ago for a vacation with her family, there were 12-14 of us who stayed in a large cabin in the hills. It was a great and we saw more than we did on the first trip.
I have a friend who lives in the Memphis area so there’s a good chance I will see Tennessee again.