14 March 2013

Chasing a Dream

For the most part, I am a very level-headed, non-airy-fairy kind of girl. I like practical. I like logical. I like relevant. And for the longest time this is how I lived my life. Practically, logically, relevantly. Which is all good and proper, I suppose. I did the right things. Made the right decisions. Followed the obvious paths as they came up before me.

And then one day, along comes this crazy idea that I can be a bit creative, a bit whimsical, a bit magical. All of a sudden, a road opens up before me that is so alluring, so enticing, so very much where and who and what I want to be. That road is photography. The destination is for me to have a fully fledged photographic business where I can call the shots (forgive the pun), where I can be creative, where I can do something meaningful, that will last.

At first this road looks pretty straightforward, pretty smooth and even. So off I go! As anyone who has taken on a challenge like changing your profession can tell you, these roads are never without obstacles. Before I knew it, the stroll became a hike, became a climb, became a marathon. This road has  not been without complications, but I have met each hurdle head on. And yet the road stretches out before me - further to go than what I have already travelled. Much further...

PLUS, there is a lot of traffic on this road, isn't there? Wowee! Everywhere you look is a studio, a camera resting on a tripod, a flash across the crowd, a photography course here, a discounted lens there. Etching a little niche out for oneself in a very full market is nothing to sniff at. It takes guts. It takes getting yourself out of bed every morning and taking on the world. It takes shouting a little louder to make sure your voice is heard. It takes putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. It takes talking to strangers. It takes learning new skills. It takes support and encouragement from your nearest and dearest. It takes having a fan - someone who believes in you and what you're doing, who reminds you daily that they think you are terrific and that you are not, in fact, crazy.

All the time, I cling on to my dream, my hope that one day I can bravely face the world and say: "Look! This is me! This is what I do! And I'm proud to show you, because I know I did good!"

Very recently, while finding my way on this journey, I was offered an escape route to the road I knew before. I was asked to return to the field of nursing as a research assistant. The pay was exceptional. The hours were great. It was an easy exit. For a moment, I stopped. And I had to take a good long think.

Was it even a question? You may ask. This was a ticket back to a normal life, a normal job, a normal income. Security. Respect. What I have now is not normal. I do not earn a living wage. I do not contribute to the financial upkeep of my family. These are difficult times. The economy is ultra shaky. The cost of living is enormous. Why would I even hesitate at an offer like this?

The job offered would have required of me to be involved in an area that is in direct opposition to my dream of photographing pregnancy and newborns. I wondered how prospective photographic clients would react if they knew I had worked in the field of termination of pregnancy, conducting, recording, facilitating. There was a moment where I held Nursing in my left hand and Photography in my right hand, weighing them up against one another, feeling their individual as well as their combined weights in my hands.

I had to make a choice. And either choice excluded the other option. I was at the point of no return. Either I took up the offer to research second trimester abortions, offering me a foot in the door back into the profession I first qualified in, and forget ever trying to truthfully capture the magic of pregnancy and the newborn photographically, or I turned the offer down, a sacrifice, and continued my journey on a road which is difficult, to say the least, which takes me further away from the profession I started out in, with no guarantees regarding my safe arrival at my imagined destination. I chewed on my options for a long time. Really, I did.

I chose the dream.

I wonder... what would you have done?

16 November 2012


I've been busy.

Busy finding my feet. Busy learning. Busy practicing. Busy implementing. Busy making mistakes. Busy correcting mistakes. Busy learning some more. Busy getting inspired. Busy hitting my head against a brick wall. Busy giving up. Busy picking up the pieces. Busy second-guessing myself. Busy knowing that this is 'It". Busy thinking I'm mad. Busy chastising myself, because I'm not mad. Busy looking for opportunities. Busy losing opportunities. Busy studying. Busy growing.

Busy. Busy. Busy.

And the crux of all this 'busy-ness'? Well it's this, really. It's me realising that I have the potential to do something great that makes me happy, that fulfills me, that is meaningful to others. And as I've travelled this road, camera in hand, learning as I go, I've realised more and more that this is something I WANT to do. I want to make photographs. I want to create beautiful memories.

Here's the history:

When I left high school, finances were extremely tight. I had toyed with the idea of studying photography, but whenever the topic came up in conversation, the extreme costs involved in photographic equipment and film processing brought those conversations to a rapid close. The option was not even up for discussion. Just like the option of studying art at school, or doing pottery as an extra-mural were not feasible options for a family living on a very tight budget. Nope. I had to do something that I could pave my own way in. And nursing turned out to be it. Studying nursing in South Africa meant that from day one, I, a student nurse, was an employee of the state, and as such received a salary for services rendered. Nursing turned out to be the option that allowed me to get a degree and not have a student loan to pay off at the end of the day. (I had been fiercely warned about the evils of a student loan, or any loan in fact, as part of my Defences against the Evil world of Insolvency education).

I ended up specialising as a midwife, and I ran a well baby clinic for several years. And while I loved the moms and the babies, and while I practised safe and scientific nursing, I wasn't really happy. Not really. I remember working in the labour ward of a women and children's hospital in Pretoria, and how every day as I drove to work, I would cry. I was in tears about what the day would hold for me. The fear of losing a patient loomed over me like a dark black cloud. And then I'd get to work and deliver babies and it was AMAZING. Driving home I'd be on a super high, singing, bopping, busting moves to the radio. The following morning would see me, a hysterical driver heading off to work again. And the day would end in me high-fiving myself all the way home. And so it would go. What a completely hectic emotional rollercoaster!!

12 years later, far from my antenatal classes and breastfeeding consultancy, with a pretty decent camera in hand, I have been able to reawaken that small voice that whispered to me in high school. The one that was silenced because , well, this is the real world and we don't always get what we want, and "dreams coming true" is a wishy washy Disney slogan. Maybe, just maybe, with a little bit of luck, and just the right amount of passion, a dream can become a reality.

And I think it's pretty clear how lucky I am ;-) .

So, I have been busy. Busy learning. A LOT! About my camera. About light. About people. About colour. About air and what it holds. About sparkles. About reflections. About shadows. About darkness. About focus. About blur. About memories and what they really mean to people. The more I've learnt, the more I want to learn. And the more I feed this passion, the more I want to tie it to the other areas of my life that I have loved. The preggy mommies. The precious babies. I want to create something meaningful, incorporating the things that I love.

So this is where I am. Or, maybe I should say, this is who I am. And those of you who know me well, know that this has been a long time coming. But I'm ready to say, "Yip. I'm gonna do this thing!"

So hold on to your knickers, people. I'm shooting for goal! (excuse the pun!)

19 June 2012

To tell the tooth...

Alright. Confession time. Before I begin, may I just say that as a child I developed a deep infatuation for the resident tooth mouse. I wrote him letters with each tooth I lost. I read his replies over and over again. With every displaced incisor, my excitement was more for the news I would receive from my little mousey friend than for the few cents he would reimbursed me with. Naturally, having daughters of my own, and fond memories of that entrepreneurial little rodent, it seemed only fair to replay the fantasy for their sakes. When the first tooth came out, my children's friendship with Taffy began. Letters between my girls and the mouse travelled back and forth, always accompanied by whoops of laughter as they read about Taffy's adventures and the plans he had for their teeth. But I digress. I said it was confession time, and confession time it is. Let me rewind to the evening that my eldest daughter lost her first tiny little tooth. A bitter sweet moment it was. A step away from innocence. A simple progression towards independence. Tales of the tooth mouse were related as the precious little pearl was ceremoniously placed at the foot of her bed, an offering to a furry stranger. A slice of cheese was left for the midnight collector, just in case. That night the tooth was collected, replaced by a shiny coin. And the first mousey epistle was left, offering much thanks for the cuspid. But that little tooth... That tiny, sparkling, perfect little tooth! What was really to become of it? Taffy had mentioned that it was perfectly suited to a pathway he was constructing in his garden. But as I held it in the palm of my hand, I was faced with a mild dilemma. Call me sentimental, but for the life of me, I just couldn't bring myself to drop that little dentyne nugget into the trash can. So i kept it. And i kept the one that came after that as well. One day, i thought, when the proverbial cat was out of the bag, I would show my offspring their collection of precious dental memories, and they would be ennthralled by the magic of it all. There have been (unfortunate) instances when my darling husband has had the honor of assisting Taffy's financial reimbursement, and those little teeth have not found their way into my safe-keeping, but have ended up in a local landfill- much to my horror, of course. Look, don't judge me, ok? I know of mothers who have kept their children's shriveled umbilical cord stumps! Judge them, because THAT'S weird. But teeth, not so much! It's unlikely that teeth will attract the same predatory attention as a bit of dried bloody tendon. No cat will be scratching at my bedside table looking to snack on a tooth, right? Have you found yourself unable to discard some precious momento of your baby's childhood?

23 January 2012


A funny thing is happening to me. And not funny in the haha-I-put-my-knickers-on-inside-out kind of way. More like funny in the have-you-ever-noticed-that-the-lining-in-your-knickers- always-opens-to-the-front kind of way.

Everything is losing its flavour. The edible and the non- edible.

Salty is not salty enough. Sweet is blah. Spicy is off-putting. I eat because there is food available (for which I am truly grateful). But the mojo, the chutzpah, the yum avoids me. I don't feel like eating. I get hungry, but my hunger is not satisfied with any culinary delicacy.

And the things I do seem bland and tasteless. Repetitive, uninspired, boring. My desire to eat and to do is diminished. I am floating in a grey, muted haze, like a moth entranced by a flame. Inside me a voice is screaming silently, trying to wake me up. And I know it will pull me back onto the path. I want to get back on the path. I just cant seem to will myself away from the haze. I need a bolt of energy to my chest (and a kick in the pants, I know). Something to shake the dust off.

I have plans and wishes and dreams I want to fulfill, but it seems the spirit is willing and the flesh is weak. Invisible restraints hold me down. I am tired of them. I want to be free of them, but I just don't have the bold insistence to break the chains. It's all a matter of self-will, I see that. I must will myself away from the bland wasteland. And wanting to be free and energized and driven, I find myself sedated and unenthused and thinking that perhaps I'm not willing the change with enough determination.

Dr Suess, may he rest in peace with the least of a crease in a fleece from his niece, defined my trappings. He called it "the waiting place".

The good doctor assures me that the waiting place is only temporary. That a time comes when you get up and get going because today is your day, you're off to great places, you're off and away!

But not yet.

11 October 2011

Home Sweet Home

After a week in the Kruger National Park, which was wondrous and amazing and such a priveledge, we returned home to our 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, study, open-plan, well-lived in home.

And I realised (again) that I really love my home. I am a homebody. I want to be at home. I like being at home. When I'm away, I miss my home. My home is definitely where my heart is.

I want to share some of my favourite things about my home with you. Starting today, I will post some of the little things about this place that make me happy. Just for the heck of it.

So for today's showcase, the floor! When we were house-hunting all those year's ago, this was the very first thing that jumped out at us when we happened upon what is now our home.

Throughout most of the house, oven-baked terracotta tiles cover the floor. Each is slightly different to the next, with tiny flaws and defects that add to their charm. In fact, there is actually one tile in my living room that has a small hole chipped into the top of it that is the perfect shape of a heart. Do you see it?

I think I love my tiles because they aren't perfect. Like me. They are uneven and bumpy and discoloured and quaint.

Nestled in between some of the tiles are small ceramic tiles which just add a splash of "unusual" to my home.

I love my tiles <3 !

26 September 2011

A good life will go on

Wow. How many times have I stared at Blogger and thought: You bad, bad blogger. Sit down now and write something. Anything. For Pete's sake, just do it!

Has there not been anything to write about? No. There has been plenty. Then why not write?

When I started blogging in 2008, it was to deal, in part, with my newly diagnosed (although an old-time companion) depression. Everytime I wrote a post, I saw it as cathartic, therapeutic. And each time I posted it to my blog, I thought to myself, there, I'm a little bit better. The next time I write, I will be happy.

And I tired, on the whole, to keep things upbeat, humorous.

By the time I shut "Midwife Crisis" down, I was convinced that I was no longer in need of anti-depressants, psychiatrists or blogging as cheap therapy.

And so I started this blog, thinking that I would be Wonder Woman, free of Sadness, entertainer of the masses. Hmmm. And I guess the bus stopped there. I wrote less and less, principally because when the time came to write, I would have only sadness to speak of, and I really didn't want that to be the main theme of my blog. So I refrained. And I refrained. And I refrained some more. And basically, the result was that NOTHING happened to my blog. Just empty silence. Charis had, apparently, left the building!

But a part of me wants you to know that I'm still here. That I'm still waking up in the mornings, pushing through the days, and falling, finished, into my bed in the evenings.

And there are good things. Many good things. Creative things. Happy things. Funny things. Beautiful things. Exciting things. I have a good life.

I have a good life.

I have a good life.

And I suffer from depression.

I have a good life and I suffer from depression.

Somehow the one denies the other, but here I am, a physical representation of this mad irony. Good life. Depression. Ouch.

My dear BFF, Sprinkle, is so good about here blogging. Everytime I see a new post up, I cringe, thinking about the wasteland happening here at Chronicles.

But, I am inspired. I will be true to myself. I will not hide the sadness. It is part of who I am. And if you can accept that some days will be good days, and some days will be bad days, and somehow a good life will persevere through it all, then I will continue.

Thanks for listening.

28 April 2011

Dear Blog

I suppose it is a heinous crime to have a blog and not to keep a blog - possibly the same as having a goldfish and not feeding it. I am guilty, I confess, of gross blog neglect. Can there ever be pardon for this foolish sin?

So I'm just checking in. Again. I'm still here. I live. I love. I inhale. I scream. I cry. I ache. I ponder. I laugh. I make. I break.

Since my last confession, so much has happened. My DH resigned his fairly prominent job. My baby started grade 1. I found me a business partner happy to think along the same lines as me. The guinea pig was raped by her son - oh the horror! I started a story. I stopped it because it was becoming so very, very sad. I started another one that looks more promising. I started a ladies' art night once a week which is TERRIFIC! I lost a LOT of money through an unscrupulous con artist. I painted a canvas or two. I took MANY photos of food on request and have yet to hear what the requester thinks - might not, but that's family for you. And I thought a long time about my life till now and have realised that I most probably will not ever go back to nursing (unless my DH remains unemployed for very much longer... watch this space).

So things continue. I think of you often, sweet Blog, and of all the things I know I want to tell you, and then I think of that family of mine and how much trouble I'd be in if I said the things I want to say, so I hold my tongue, and my breath, and feed on the blogs of others.

But I am here. I carry on. And I will try a little harder to check in more often.