Darrah Parker » Slice of Life Photography

the year of me

meta·mor·pho·sis (noun)
 
1. change of physical form: a complete or marked change of physical form, structure, or substance

2. change of appearance or character: a complete or marked change in appearance, character, or condition

3. supposed supernatural transformation: a transformation caused by supposed supernatural powers

me, on my wedding day. photo by daniel sheehan.On January 1st of this year, I declared this the “Year of Me.” I did not declare it out of selfishness. I declared it because it was necessary. I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I knew that this year, something had to change. This was the year I was going to listen to my gut and find the things that made me happy. This was the year I was going to be fearless and try new things – just to see what would happen. This was the year I would make space in my life so that I could breathe. And that is just what I did.

A lot has happened in a short amount of time. And it was all a conscious choice.

Eleven and a half months ago, I declared this the “Year of Me.” Eleven months ago, I got engaged, turning this into the “Year of We.” Eight months ago, I took a watercolor class. Six months ago, I bought my beloved camera. Six months ago, I bought my beloved laptop. Six months ago, I started this blog. Four months ago, I started running. Eleven weeks ago, I got married. Eleven weeks ago, I fell in love with Paris. Ten weeks ago, I decided I would quit my job and pursue my passion for photography. Three weeks ago, I quit my job.

I’ve been writing this “Year of Me” post in my head for months, thinking that I would share it in December, when most people start reflecting on the past year. But I’ve had a lot of time to reflect lately. A week ago today was the first Monday in years that I didn’t have to leave the house and go sit at a desk for eight hours. The very next day, I had my wisdom teeth removed. (Hmmm…there must be symbolism in there somewhere.) I have spent the past week healing (in more ways than one.) I have moved from the couch to the bed and back again more times than I can count. I have spent quality time with Oprah, my cat, and chocolate pudding. I haven’t picked up a book or written a blog post in days.

I have stopped everything for the first time in years.

If you’re anything like me, stopping is not easy. I’m so used to go-go-going and even when I have an excuse to do nothing (i.e. major dental surgery), I am making lists in my head of all of the things I should or could be doing. I had gone right into “poor me” mode when I realized that what I was experiencing was a gift. This is exactly what I asked for all those months ago (not the dental surgery, but the time to breathe.)

I think it will take a little more time for me to accept the new pace of my life and to fully grasp what has happened this year. What I have experienced is a metamorphosis. Life as I know it has changed, both externally and internally. And yes, sometimes it feels like a supernatural transformation aided in this change.

But I know that I did this. I chose this. I was cheered on by the most amazing husband, family, and friends. And for that, I will feel forever grateful.

Life is about experimenting. Life is a funky adventure! It’s about making choices and seeing what happens next. As the “Year of Me” comes to a close and I make my way into the “Year of Me, Part 2″ – I invite you to consider claiming next year the “Year of YOU”! If not for a whole year, maybe start with a week or a day. You deserve it.

For now, I have a few more choices to make to get me through the next few days and weeks:

I choose adventure and risk over playing it safe.

I choose to be okay with slowing down.

I choose to be okay with not knowing.

I choose gratitude.

I choose family.

I choose to laugh.

I choose to love.

I choose to breathe.

I choose to be.


What do you choose?

week of life

About a month ago, I read about the Week of Life project on Shutter Sisters and knew I had to participate. The basic premise is that people all over the world document their lives with photographs for seven straight days. You can start any time and you can participate multiple times. At the end of the week, you post nine photos from each day.

I’ve had a blast looking at other people’s weeks. I’m fascinated by every day life, especially of people whose lives are different from mine. You can check out the lives of people from Germany or Slovakia or Italy (in which pizza makes an appearance multiple times…what’s not to love about that?)

I was excited about participating. Week of Life reminded me of my very own Slice of Life Tuesday, which I started as a way to force me to be creative and take photos even when I thought I didn’t have any time. Week of Life would have me carrying my camera around every day all day for seven days straight. What a great way to get me in the habit of photographing everything I see.

So I chose the day I would start: Saturday, October 24. Little did I know that it was going to be the gloomiest, wettest, grayest week of the year. And little did I know that it would also be the week that I’d decide it was time to quit my job. I have to be honest. It was a difficult week. I was confused, I was unhappy at work, and I was dwelling on that happiness when I got home. I spent a lot of time on the couch in my pajamas, looking out at the dreary sky.

How, oh HOW was I supposed to take photographs in the midst of all of this? How, oh HOW was I supposed to take photographs of the things I enjoy most – color, light, joy (to name a few) – when I wasn’t seeing a whole lot of that around me?

There was a split second when I considered postponing the photo project to a happier week. But then I decided this is the EXACT week I should be doing this. As I hemmed and hawed over what to do next in my life, I found a way to get out of my brain and to step outside of myself by picking up my camera. And every time I did, I found I could breathe easier, I could see more clearly, and before I knew it, there was a smile on my face.

That is the power of art. That is the power of doing what you love.

When I look at my Week of Life photos, I see a journey. I know what I was feeling on each day.

I’m particularly fond of Friday’s photos. I knew that day that I would be giving notice on Monday. It was the first day it hadn’t rained all week and I was finally able to get outside with my camera. It’s almost like the color came back into my photos that day.

For anyone who says they don’t have time for creativity and anyone who is having a particularly difficult week, I want to encourage you to try out this exercise. Take photos of your dishes. Take photos of your toes. Take photos of your dirty laundry. I promise you will start to see the world around you differently.

Please let me know if you decide to try this out. And if you share them on your blog or on Week of Life, please leave a link in the comments below.

*****

Some of my Week of Life photos are posted above. You can view the rest of them HERE. Most are straight-out-of-camera shots, another way to share the world just as I saw it.

my last day

 

Today is my last day at my job.

As this day approached, my mind kept wandering back to the phrase, “leap and the net will appear.” When people make big changes in their lives, it’s often said that they are taking a leap. And I suppose that’s what I’m doing. But at a certain point, I stopped viewing it that way. I had to for my own sanity. Leaping makes me think of jumping off of cliffs or out of airplanes — two things I have no interest in doing. I wanted to feel like my decision wouldn’t result in a concussion or a twisted ankle. Instead, I wanted my decision to feel safe, exciting, and completely doable.

So today, when I hand over my badge, leave the building, and walk to my car, I will not be leaping. I will be taking a step. And each day that follows today, I will take a step. Sometimes it will be a big step, but more often than not, it will be a small step. And with each small step, I will get closer. To what? That is not for me to know right now. And that is a beautiful feeling.

I am leaving amidst questions of “what are you doing next?” and “you really don’t have a job lined up?” But I do have a job lined up. It’s the one I’m creating and crafting to suit my life, one step at a time.