Yesterday I was mad. Not just a little heated up, but over the top angry. And, the fact that I could not put my anger in its right place made me furious. Didn’t my anger know I had important things to do! 2020 is the year of Gratitude, and I have articles to write, plans to make, people to meet, photos to capture, and stories to gather. And didn’t my anger know that I am a woman of peace and love? My mission, no matter how lofty it seems, is to make this world a better place by uniting people with different ideas and belief systems.
The irony is that I was upset with an organization that has different ideas and belief system than my own. Yes, please, let me have that anger with a large helping of humility. That stopped me dead in my tracks. I glanced in the mirror and did not like what I saw. I want to say that I took the high road, let go of my anger, and continued my journey to spread peace and love to all the nations. But I felt I justified in my rage. I was right, and they were wrong. I recounted all the years of feeling discounted, rejected, and judged by this group. No, despite the image in the mirror, I held onto my anger. After all, I earned the right to feel this way.
I spent my entire day wondering how I, an angry woman, could move forward with The Gratitude Project. How could I launch a project to encourage the building of bridges between communities when, in this circumstance, I was refusing to place the first plank or hammer the first nail? Late in the evening, I found the answer. In an attempt to do something positive, I began to look at photographs that I had taken in the fall. Perhaps I could edit a few images. The first picture I saw brought tears to my eyes and I felt a knowing in my heart. I was humbled for the second time of the day.
The photo was of a Maple Tree. I have always thought if love were a tree, it would be a Maple. They are big, tall, strong, and have branches that extend slightly upturned like arms to hold children just right when they climb upon them. The light honey-brown wood is stunning and often used in home construction. If that is not enough, they even feed us with their sugary sap.
The Maple tree reminded me that we are all one. As I studied the image, I noticed first, the trunk, then branches, smaller branches, and finally the leaves. Each had a unique shape, color, and texture. The tree was magnificently complex and beautiful. My mind shifted and I began to think of the trunk of the tree as God, the branches as nations of people, breaking off into smaller and smaller groups, and finally, the leaves as individuals. Again, I thought, we are all one.
How is it then that my anger could possibly be justified? By withholding my love, forgiveness, and compassion from any group, I, in turn, withhold it from myself. I have been building and maintaining this wall of anger for over thirty years. Sadly, I only recently realized that it is not impacting the group that caused me pain. Instead, it has hurt the people I love the most and me. For that, I am truly sorry.
So, to answer the question, how will I, an angry woman, go forward with The Gratitude Project? I will deconstruct the wall. It will take time. It will take practice. And, it will take an abundance of Grace and Gratitude.
Authors Note: Would you or your organization (e.g., community group, retreat) like to participate in The Gratitude Project? Please feel free to contact me at Gail@Lakehousecc.com.
Song of the Post: Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) By BYU Noteworthy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Mtpk4jeVA
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2019© Gail Howarth, Living At The Lakehouse, and The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gail Howarth, Living At The Lakehouse, and The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
It happened one day when I was up to no good! I was perhaps four or five years old. I had grown fascinated with a small black box, and the shiny silver cone shaped attachment that was capable of creating massive explosions of light. It seemed that whenever mother used the black box, it created quite a ruckus! Laughter and excitement filled our home. I wasn’t sure what it did or how it worked, but I knew I had to find out what it was that made people so happy.
Mother stored the black box and all of its parts in a larger yellow brown cardboard box on a high shelf in her bedroom. I watched her time and again, as she sat on her bed and carefully replaced each part into its own special cutout within the box. I knew the shelf was too high for me to reach, but I was determined that one day when the moment was right, I would see and touch everything inside.
Opportunity literally knocked one day when a neighbor stopped in for coffee. While mother and our neighbor chatted and laughed in the kitchen, I snuck off to her bedroom. I, carefully and quietly, climbed up each of the shelves until I finally reached the box. With the coveted bounty clutched close to my chest, I cautiously lowered myself down the shelves.
I sat cross legged on mom’s bed with the box before me. Time stood still as I began my examination. First, I traced each of the red and white letters on the outside of the cardboard box. Though I could not understand at the time, the letters formed the words, Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. Then, I held my breath and slowly lifted the lid. My nose tingled as the slightly acrid chemical smell of film and burnt flash bulbs was released into the air. My heart raced as I lifted the black box from its cutout. My tiny hands explored every button, lever, circle, and even the leather strap. Next was the shiny cone shaped item. This part was not nearly as interesting as the first, so I quickly connected it to the black box, as I had seen mother do so often. I plucked a bulb from its holding place and admired the smooth surface. Then I placed it in the cone.
I was feeling quite satisfied with my accomplishment. I had successfully escaped my mother’s notice, climbed to an impossible height, captured the desire of my heart, studied and held it in my hands, when it occurred to me, I had forgotten one thing. What about the explosion of light? And what about that sizzling sound that accompanied the light? I lifted the black box once again, turned it toward myself, and started pushing buttons. Suddenly, the flash went off! I sat in a stunned blind silence. I feared I would never see again! And that is when the wailing began. Of course, my mother and the neighbor rushed to the bedroom. Alas, my coup was discovered. I expected a lecture, but instead mom just held me and laughed. I suspect she thought that nearly blinding myself was punishment enough for my misdeeds.
This event is significant for a couple of reasons. First, it was the beginning of my career in photography. One would think that the experience would have discouraged me, but it did quite the opposite. Second, and most important, is that it was when I invented the Selfie! Though I understand that it took a good forty five to fifty years to catch on, I feel proud that I could so significantly contribute to this “new” genre of photography.
In all seriousness, this was the beginning of my fascination with the camera. The ability to freeze a singular moment in time is pure magic. My hope is to capture compelling images of beauty, love, joy, and of things long forgotten. My photography has been, and will continue to be, a work in progress. I would like to acknowledge and thank a few photographers for taking the time to teach and inspire me along the journey. They are: Master of Portrait Photography, Jennifer Praniewicz of Jenuine Creations; Master of Sunsets and East Coast Living, Helen Cogan of Helen Photography; Master of Portrait and Landscape Photography, Tammy Bair-Riner of Tammy Riner Photography; and last but not least, Master of Macro and Unique Perspective Photography, Roxie Coeling of PicturedRox.
Thanks to Carmel Steffen for editing.
For more of Gail’s Photos please consider: http://www.lakehousephoto.com/
© Gail Howarth and Living At The Lakehouse, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gail Howarth and Living At The Lakehouse with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.