This will be the subject of a future photography project, once Torso is complete, but I wanted to get my thoughts down.

I have always loved photography. It fascinated me even as a child looking through little snippets of life in family albums. I would invent dialogues in my head to accompany them, even when I knew the reality was quite different.

But something changed in me around junior high. I shut down and became afraid to want. I was convinced that it would do no good, as I would never get what it was that I wanted anyway, so why want at all. It was no mere coincidence that it was also around this time when I became very angry.

My anger was directed at my father and anything connected with him. I would become infuriated when my family said I looked like him or that I had this trait or that trait of his. To me this was an insult for to me, at that time, my father was a violent monster who was the last person I wanted to be like.

My father loved photography so I abandoned it; that way I wouldn’t be like him. I abandoned my writing (except for journaling) as well, because it was something that I wanted to be good at (although I didn’t know it then) and I didn’t want to be disappointed yet again when it was taken from me.

My grandmother would tell me that I was too smart to write and I should look into doing something practical for work. She never said a career; it was always “work” or a “job”.

I suppressed these potential passions until both my grandmother and my father died six months apart during my senior year of college. This began my journey of understanding and forgiveness. It also was one of discovering who I am. That lady I am still learning about and probably will be until my death.

It took me a long time to come to terms with my violent past, to understand that my father wasn’t just a monster but a victim as well. He was broken long before I came to be and my presence was not and could not be the cure for his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Through this journey my mental and emotional awakening was followed by a physical one — cancer. For most people cancer leads to fear and worry. For me it was a release. It allowed me to give myself permission to “want” to not only find my passions, but to pursue them.

Cancer taught me how to let go –

Cancer taught me how to forgive –

Cancer taught me how to embrace life.

I want to explore the meaning of “embrace” in a project that takes the audience through a mother’s first embrace of her child to our final embrace of the inevitable.

I’m not sure how it will take shape yet but I anticipate finishing Torso
By the end of summer and begin fleshing out “Embrace” in the fall.


Learning curve


What has this ordeal with my sister taught me?

Well it’s brought up a lot of old wounds. I realize I can never truly walk away from the past. It’s always with me. I have come to terms with my father’s alcohol and abuse. I built a wall around me to protect myself from it. I never wanted to end up with someone like dad, yet that’s my greatest fear.

To be drawn inexplicably to his personality. The charismatic charmer on the outside that masks a raging demon within. It’s what I know. It’s what I stay away from.

Maybe that’s why Dee’s illness feels like such a sucker punch. I wasn’t expecting it.

Now I sit here and I understand me. I can’t ever be with an alcoholic. No matter what I may feel for him. To choose to live that life would destroy me.

I’m not condemning the multitudes who are seeking help and staying sober. I’m proud for them, really.

But whether you see it as a flaw in my character or a strength in my resolve, I understand my limits.

I can’t choose my family. They are my blood and I endure, but I won’t court a love with an addict. To let them into my private world and watch as it crumbles…there would be nothing left of me.

How I wish I were free…to find my own balance without the weights that bind me here. It would be nice to live in Germany for two years. To walk on the shores of Bremen, really explore my heritage. But circumstance won’t allow for it. My timing is off. I need to balance me before I take another into my soul. When I’m ready, he will appear and he will be a good man, a sober man, with a wicked sense of humor. And I will be glad at the person I am by knowing him.