It’s been quiet on the site lately, and for good reason. Life is made up of different seasons, and while we have enjoyed times of health and abundance and new life in the past, February and March were not that for us. We battled some serious medical issues with our kids, and today we said goodbye to my father-in-law at his funeral, after he passed away only 37 days after being diagnosed with cancer.
I cannot even put into words all that has gone through my mind in the past month and a half… fears of losing my second-born as I struggled to watch him breathe, processing a diagnosis for my father-in-law that we never saw coming, and then realizing that his time with us would be far shorter than any of us anticipated–all of it was gut-punching and breathtakingly fast and has left us reeling a bit.
In the midst of it all, though, I have found solace in the tiny moments of joy that I see around us, even in the midst of pain. And more than ever, I have been thankful that my children and I have many photos celebrating our loved ones and their place in our lives.
As I thought of my father-in-law, Bill, I knew there were a few photos that I had taken last year that really captured my favorite things about him: his love for my kids, his smile, his vibrancy. As I went on my computer to find them, I realized they were taken last year on April 10. I don’t take nearly enough photos everyday of my family, but on the 10th of each month, I’ve made it a discipline to cart along my “big camera,” even when inconvenient, and force myself to take 10 photos. I am so grateful now that I was “forced” to do this, and that my littlest one will have some images that show just how his grandfather delighted in him.
These photos would likely not exist without 10-on-10. And likewise, I have some true gems from last year that I was “forced” to take because I was participating in Project 365 (a picture a day, everyday, for a year).
10-on-10 is the easiest personal photography project I have undertaken. Ten photos on the 10th of the month. It is achievable, contained to less than 24 hours, and even though it may seem like these photos are unimportant, you cannot possibly foresee now just how important they may be in the future. At the very least, your children will be able to enjoy seeing a glimpse into your everyday life and know just a little bit more of you, even if you are just chronicling a “boring” day.
If you feel ready to take on something even more ambitious, try the photo-a-day challenge. I let my Project 365 slip this year, but I’m ready to tackle a photo-a-day again for the next 100 days, for the Choose Joy 100 Day Challenge (yes, I just made that up). It just so happens there are 101 days between April 10 and my anticipated due date for baby #4, so it seems fitting to approach the next 100 days as I ready for this child with a heart of gratitude, joy, and hope.
Because for me, that is what a personal photo project is all about: each photo should be an affirmation of the joy, love, hope, and faith that embody your everyday. This is why I am so passionate about photographing your “blessed everyday”–because I love seeing the real-life, unvarnished love that we share as families and humans.
Please join me for one of these challenges (10-on-10 or the Choose Joy 100 Day Challenge), and please comment below if you do so! Embrace this opportunity to celebrate your lives and your loved ones. Your photos don’t have to be award-winning or meet some invisible standard; just let your love and “you” shine through.
In the meantime, I want to share the photos that I am now so grateful for, from last April’s 10-on-10 collection.
Today my 5-year-old showed courage I didn’t know she had.
I have three kids, 5, 3, and 1, and they all have very different personalities. And while Grace is a nurturer, sensitive to others, and smart as a whip, well… she’s not the bravest girl by nature. She sees danger in a lot of things, and often lets fear rule her. This is just one of the things that makes her a very close facsimile of her mother.
I never knew fear the way I know it now as a mother. The responsibility of protecting, nurturing, and loving my littles in the best way possible is a tremendous one, and I often fear I am not worthy of this privilege. I admit to being a worrier by nature; the fact that I ended up with kids with potentially life-threatening allergies and one has asthma seems an almost cruel twist of fate. I have many fears for my children, and too often I fixate on them, literally letting them keep me up at night.
But today Grace was my teacher, and I her student. After weeks of having her new bike sitting in the garage and finding various excuses not to ride it (“I can’t find my helmet,” “today I’ll just ride my scooter”), she finally got on (“on flat ground though, mama, if I am going downhill it will be too scary”). It wasn’t that her fears were gone. She just managed to power through them. And isn’t that what courage is? Not the absence of fear, but the deliberate choice to take action, to take back the reins from fear.
I was so proud to see her riding down the street on a “big girl” bike, her trike now happily inherited by her brother.
I pray that I can be a more courageous mother to these little ones… for Grace, who needs to see a strong mama moving past the fear; for Eli, whose health issues have caused my hair to grey at age 34; and for Seth, now so little and indeed needing to be held close… but who even still needs space to grow and learn and skin his knees. May I find the courage to balance loving, protecting, and nurturing them, while still realizing that the training wheels must one day come off in order for them to thrive.
It’s April, and I’ve reached 100 days of Project 365! Project 365 is simple: take one photo a day for 365 days. I started on January 1, but some people start on their own birthday, a child’s birthday, or simply some random day!
Some fun facts from my first 100 days of Project 365:
* 4 photos feature coffee
* 6 photos that I appear in
* 16 photos do not include a face
Being “forced” to photograph everyday things daily can be challenging. Let’s be honest; my life is hardly glamorous. 🙂 But it is mine, and I want to celebrate it! Today I’m sharing 10 personal favorites from my first 100 days of Project 365. (To see them all, please check out #365blessedeveryday or browse my instagram account @theblessedeveryday.)
1/1/14: the first pic of the year. Love this pic of my boys.
1/6/14: “Talk to the Hand”–only 6 days in, and Eli was already weary of pictures
1/21/14: Late-night shenanigans. Giggles in bed.
1/23/14: Not a perfect picture technically, but love the pure joy on G’s face.
2/7/14: at the shooting range, one of the few photos of me so far!
2/8/14: inspired by Hitchcock. Project 365 gives me the chance to experiment with some different concepts.
3/21/14: love the light streaming through the window
3/24/14: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride? The kids take Lightning out for a spin.
3/27/14: one of my favorite images so far, father and son.
4/3/14: I have lots of sleeping baby photos, but none do I like more than this one, which was captured with the iPhone while Seth was in his carseat.
It’s never too late to start a Project 365. Is this a project you could join? Or is the more modest Project 52 (a picture a week) more realistic for you? Have you ever completed either? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!
A sneak peek at my first 100 days of Project 365, as captured on Instagram.
I can scarcely believe it, but today marks day 100 of my Project 365! I’m pretty excited about this milestone, and I’ve also learned a few things along the way…
In previous years, I have attempted one Project 365 (which lasted about four days before I went down in a ball of flames) and one Project 52 (a picture a week). Both times were failures, and yet this time I’m succeeding! What changed?
This time I am committed; I am going to do this. And I have found a few strategies that help me…
Five Things I’ve Learned in the First 100 Days of Project 365:
1. Accountability is key!
I forced myself to be more accountable this time by joining Instagram and posting daily. Knowing that I have told other people that am participating in Project 365 and that I will have people to answer to if I don’t post has really helped me along. There have even been a few 10 p.m. text messages asking, “Where’s your pic for today?” that saved me from forgetting a day!
2. An iPhone picture can be a worthy way to capture your life.
Very few of my Project 365 photos have been taken with my DSLR. At this stage in my life, I don’t take out my DSLR often, for a variety of reasons (I don’t want my kids getting “camera fatigue,” I don’t want to have to worry about it with three kids getting into everything; the phone is nearly always with me). And even with just my phone, I have captured some precious memories.
3. Choosing a theme or particular challenge can provide inspiration.
There are a variety of photo “challenges” out there that offer prompts for your Project 365. Some people find these really help. @ClickinMoms on Instagram has a weekly post listing your prompts for the week. I haven’t done the prompts, but I have decided to challenge myself with certain areas of my photography (i.e. a meaningful “headless” photo, or use negative space creatively) to make my Project 365 more than just a series of snapshots.
4. Embrace the imperfections and even the “boring” days.
Not every day is going to be one that you deem photo-worthy, but that’s sort of the point. Project 365 isn’t a highlight reel; it’s a documentary of a year in your life, boring moments and all. Accept that not every photo is going to be a prize-winner, and not every day will be full of exciting moments. Embrace your reality.
5. Project 365 is really a project of gratitude and celebration.
Most importantly, recognize that Project 365 is really about celebrating the little things (and little ones perhaps!) in your life and honoring them, and about reminding even yourself that there are details and moments worth noticing everyday. Project 365 is awesome because it is helping to train me to look at the world with more gratitude, respect, and love.
Are you following my Project 365? Tomorrow I’ll post 10 of my favorite photos, but if you want a sneak peek, go follow me @theblessedeveryday on Instagram, where I share my daily photos, and search #365blessedeveryday.
(And please link up with your Project 365 if you are participating, too!)
I am so honored to have been invited by my friend Davina Fear to be a part of a very special project. Davina gathered 25 photographers and writers to join together to offer simple, easy ideas to share your love with your family. After spending hours devoted to compiling them all, she has created a beautiful little book, “How Do I Love You?”. Included in this group are notables from around the world such as Brooke Snow, Josh and Jenny Solar, Elizabeth Halford, and people behind A Beautiful Mess. I admit I’m a little starstruck to be included in such a group!
This book is perfect for Valentine’s Day, with enough ideas to pick one for each day until February 14.
To get this book (free!) and find out more info, visit Davina’s blog post on “How Do I Love You?”.