Here I am, twenty-six years old, for some reason still posting pictures and writing in this space, one of the many ways I journal and log and record – maybe the reason I am into photography in the first place, because memory fascinates me. But, here I am, at such a different place than I was last year, more sure of myself than I have ever been before, more grateful too, more certain of God's faithfulness: less so from the good things that this year has brought and more because it was the hard year before it that brought the good things. To stay on this side of anger and the other side of sadness, that is what I keep coming back to – tough spirit, tender heart.


with you nothing is simple yet nothing is simpler

A few weekends back, in Asheville, with some of the people I love most in the world. I feel so lucky to get to live life with these folks – and their children!

It is a Sunday night. A. and I had frozen pizza, greens, and margaritas for dinner, then he went on solo bike ride and I took a long bath and walked to the co-op for frozen yogurt. As I think about moving at the end of the summer, one thing I will miss is that walk – a brief hello to Charles, checking in on the garden at the one house at the corner of Burch and Exum, the magnolia tree at the corner of Wilkerson, pausing to cross Chapel Hill Street. And then, of course, there is the sweet comfort of grocery shopping, something I'll never quite be able to explain. I love it – seeing what's new, comparing prices, lifting each grapefruit to see which one is the heaviest and juiciest. Do the radishes look good today? Is the ice cream on sale? Should I get the chocolate with cacao nibs or almonds? Unlike so many of life's questions, these are questions I can always answer.

[all 35mm, Asheville, NC]


bear island

We booked a camping site a month or so ahead of time, hoping that we could take a day off work and go to the beach – so glad we made it happen. We had the whole island to ourselves, the best mac and cheese made over a camp stove, and a long, long morning walk on the beach. I am dreaming of getting back here before we move.

[Bear Island, Hammocks Beach State Park, all 35mm]


two years

We spent three glorious fall days in Portland, Maine last October, a tag-on anniversary celebration after spending a few days in Boston visiting grad schools.

And, two years of marriage! (Two years and four months, now.) I tried to write about marriage so much in our first six months being married before realizing I had absolutely nothing to say. It was all so new, so unknown, and there was so much to process and try to understand about myself, much less another human being. I just didn't know how to think about it yet. When people asked me how married life was going, I found I just told them made-up things to assuage their questioning.

But, maybe, now – I'd like to think – I'm coming into it. I know I can say this, at least: marriage has been a safe place for me to grow in confidence in myself, and for that I am grateful. I think that is what marriage should be – not your everything, but the most safe kind of love, along with being a marked reminder of dying to yourself anew every day. I think of this line from Auden: "Afraid of our living task, the dying / which the coming day will ask." Marriage is a risk, a stepping boldly into that fear, into that risk of dying to self, even still as you grow more deeply into yourself. (Of course, there are plenty of ways to do that besides marriage – but it is one way.)

That's my two cents for two years, anyhow. Mainly, I like being married to Austin.

[all 35mm from Portland and some surrounding islands]


put a fence around it

This article, and the listed photographers, especially Graciela Iturbine. I should make my own list of photographers who have shaped my vision.

This jumper – what a dream.

These words, which I have been thinking about all week:

"Now it seemed so horrible to me. And didn’t it explain everything? But I had never wanted to be one person, or even believed that I was one, so I had never considered the true singularity of anyone else. I said to myself, You are only given one. The one you are given is the one to put a fence around. Life is not a harvest. Just because you have an apple doesn’t mean you have an orchard. You have an apple. Put a fence around it. Once you have put a fence around everything you value, then you have the total circle of your heart.”

– Sheila Heti, How Should A Person Be?

I witnessed a birth for the first time last week, and I am still putting my mind around it – and yet, how different it is to witness than experience yourself! But LIFE, BIRTH, wow, it's so crazy. A human inside of another human, life in life, life from life.

[Hamilton, ON, 35mm]


just this side of anger, and on the other side of sadness

Somewhere near San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome on one of the most recent happiest days of my life – I was traveling alone, so this is the only picture I have of myself from that day of wandering.

I am particularly grateful today for mentors and friends who speak so clearly into my life, just when I need it. If you saw me weeping yesterday, it was probably because I just received this:

Prayer for Jessina

Father, I pray for Your child, as if she were my child: but I dare to ask - that if I am actually addressing her - through You - that You are the One doing the talking. Or at least getting a Word in.

And so I ask this:
That You not set her faithfulness against her hopes.
That - in Your very gentle way - You are unsparing in Your claim - on her - 

on all the things You’ve given her; to attend to.
That’s a hard prayer. And You are not a hard master.
She knows - better than I - what those things are.
So may she find, in her circumstances, en famille, in the Circle of her loves - and Yours: 
may she find support: not that support that shuts down, that “pacifies," that places her at the bottom of a deep, dark pool: but the support that stirs up, like the salt spray, the tang and the splash of her deepest yearnings.

Those desires are there for a purpose: not just to anchor her: but to set her free.

It is has been a strange new season of life these past few months – I hate using the word 'season,' and always have, as it seems to indicate some sense of 'this is what was meant to be,' or waiting circumstances out rather than taking active steps or problem-solving – but I can't think of a more fitting word right now. I feel like I am coming into myself, that for so long I talked up a big game – told myself that I was strong and intelligent and beautiful, etc. – without actually believing it. 

I think we all do that in our own way, hoping that if we say it enough maybe we'll inch towards believing it. It seems like in any career you have to be able talk bigger about yourself in order to get anywhere. It is that sense of talking 'bigger,' but more than that, not only taking up space but feeling like it is your space, that you belong there – that is what I am trying to get at. 

That I belong here – I know it more now than I ever have before.

There is a new expression on your face: more determined, but not (yet?) hard. I pray you can stay there, just this side of anger, and on the other side of sadness: and right in the middle of strength: real strength.


for molly and summer

A long time ago, a friend and I were walking home at dusk along College Avenue in Berkeley and she asked me what I thought were the essential things in life, those things that made life worth living. We started making a list, framing it as what we would tell our daughters someday. It has been a long while since I have looked back at it –

We will use cloth napkins.
We will have compost piles.
We will make love to good men.
We will pray for peace in the world.
We will try and be peacemakers in our own world.
We will go by ourselves to fancy restaurants.
We will not make excuses for spontaneity.
We will have slow meals late into the evening.
We will have open doors to friends and strangers alike.
We will try new recipes often.
We will have successful careers.
We will be willing to give those up to be mothers.
We will not let the allure of success control our lives.
We will be bold when love requires boldness.
We will be meek when love requires meekness.
We will see everything as an opportunity to practice virtue.
We will have art on our walls.
We will stop during the day to sit and stare at it.
We will make our own art for our walls.
We will write long letters to far away friends.
We will hum as we wash the dishes.
We will say yes as often as possible.
We will say no when necessary.
We will go to the ballet in the city on a whim.
We will wear lumpy sweaters and red lipstick when we're old.
We will be sexy mothers before we grow old.
We will live in a place where we can walk to the grocery store.
We will walk or bike instead of drive as often as possible.
We will take care of our bodies.
We will not be ashamed of our bodies.
We will grow large gardens.
We will bring our children to museums.
We will never be too old to keep learning.
We will have front porches and sit on them often.
We will teach our children to love traveling.
We will teach our children to love rootedness.
We will make eye contact with the world.
We will learn new skills with each year's coming.
We will dance in the kitchen.
We will stop the car to pick flowers on the side of the road.
We will drop to our knees, everyday.
We will listen to our mothers with patience.
We will give grace to ourselves, and grace to others.
We will choose others before ourselves, without forsaking ourselves.
We will come into the peace of wild things as often as possible.