Forever seeking to be heard.

For a brief time that I remember – my mother truly escaped herself & the confines of her mind and the limitations that it imposed on her being – this was many years ago. It’s when that freedom ended again that I had decided that I needed to explore and to be free and never be trapped by my own mind and the fear of all the limitations that life, other peoples opinions, and this false set of rules that age builds like a massive wall – like a prison.

My mother struggled with depression and anxiety, and the drugs that she was told kept her feelings normal.  When she died of cancer this past year – I haven’t wanted to really talk about it – because cancer wasn’t the thing that I felt killed her.  I went to one of her oncology appointments after she was diagnosed.   The day before this appointment we had a very long talk about what she wanted… she had already been through some chemo at this point with no results.  Yet we sat there with the doctor to discuss her options going forward.  As the doctor was talking, her eyes glassed over as I could see her giving up and going back into whatever everyone else wants.  The Doctor stopped talking and my mother clearly said she did NOT want any more chemo.   See – the chemo that they were trying was not proven in any way to help my mom’s type of cancer but the Doctor said we should still try it.  But as she spoke those words I do NOT want any more chemo… nobody in that room heard her except for me.  They may have heard her words, but they quickly dismissed them as un-true or not valid.  The Doctor immediately pipped up saying that by not continuing to at least try with chemo it was like she was committing suicide.

MY HEART STOPPED WHEN I HEARD THOSE WORDS OUT OF THE DOCTORS MOUTH…. and I was screaming the top of my lungs from the inside that he had no right to say that and this was NOT anything like suicide… all that I muttered out was “I don’t agree with that statement at all” and then I squeezed my mom’s hand and told her “that isn’t true, and you make your own choice”.  It was the most unprofessional thing I have ever heard and I will hear his voice ringing in my head for the rest of my life.  He played the bully.  He did not know her, and did not understand that she did have an opinion and a reason for her opinion – and that everyone has a right to choose for themselves.  He pushed off her feelings of not wanting to continue with chemo as her depression talking.  I don’t care how many cancer patients he has been through – he not ONCE asked her why she felt that way or tried to consider her feelings or understand that what she wanted actually had thought and purpose behind them.  He boasted that “if it worked” instead of 3-6 months to live she could live 6 months -5 years longer.

STOP. But at what cost?  Why wasn’t this part of the conversation? Why was everyone pushing off her feelings as invalid? Because she suffered from depression?

My mother describing her cancer to me is one of the most grueling horror stories I’ve ever seen.  But… it wasn’t much different than what I pictured when she talked about her depression.  She spoke to me about this dark hand that was reaching up from inside her and crushing all of her organs so much so that she couldn’t speak and nobody could see this or hear her screaming for relief.  Her voice didn’t matter – all that mattered is she needed to make as many people happy as possible.  Her pain didn’t matter.  Her voice didn’t matter.  Her thoughts didn’t matter.

She talked about her death like this all my life – she even had told me how old she was going to be when she died – and she was right.  The last two months of her life were miserable, she wasn’t eating well, she wasn’t sleeping well… and all she said was I do NOT want any more chemo.  She continued with the chemo because her Doctor and others said she had to at least try once more.  She died 2 months after our meeting with her Doctor (with the additional chemo treatment).

I know this will be very disturbing to people and will be upsetting to others.  My point in sharing is we need to become better listeners… and not just to a persons choice or reply – but to understand what is bringing another person to their choices.  Not just for major things like  life and death decisions – but LIVING decisions.  We don’t all have to agree, and we don’t all have the answers – but listening to understand means that you value that person.  Valuing their methods or madness to any decision affords that person value in themselves.

My mom was a strong woman that had many hard life situations to deal with from a very young age.  MY MOM WAS AN ARTIST, A THOUGHT FILLED WOMAN, A SURVIVOR, A LISTENER…. she was just finally broken because she had to be strong for too long.  She has given me strength to make life decisions that are best for me, and the strength to know that falling down means nothing if you get back up.  I will forever be a  seeker – and spend my time enjoying the journey instead of focusing on an end.   ~love you mom

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Artist: Sandra Cragin                                                                   Title: Listening

 

 

Want to retire in less than 10 years? Yeah – me too!

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I’m looking for 3 ROCK STARS for my Nerium team. I want 3 people that are ready to change their life completely for the better. People that love to help others. People that want to make a difference in their financial future and the future of others. All of this with products that are proven.. with real results… and help people look and feel better.

Oh… and people that want a car in 90 days or less, cash bonuses, and to retire in less than 10 years WITH money in their bank account.

Is that you? Contact me ASAP! fototails@gmail.com

NO SALES EXPERIENCE REQUIRED… a roadmap to success included, and your very own HUGE support team to help you succeed!

http://jeaninethurston.nerium.com

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No more buckets of ice water?

Here ya go – a heads up for OCTOBER 2014. SO… because everyone has their own favorite charity for their own special reason, here is the deal for OCTOBER 2014.  I have decided for the entire month of October… you make a $150 donation to the charity of your choice(or more)… and let us know which charity it is (with all their contact info to post about on our blog) and I will photograph your 90 minute studio session (Denver studio only) for FREE. Yep… that’s it – simple… and it doesn’t require dumping any ice water on your head. Contact jennyb@fototails.com to book your date/time or call us at 720-566-9770.
Or…
Because I happen to love one specific charity in particular. For any $150 donation (OR MORE) you make to the Chordoma Foundation in memory of Tiffany Otto-Cragin in Sept or October 2014. I will photograph your 90 minute session for FREE and give you a $100 print credit.

WISCONSIN/MINNESOTA PEEPS: For any of you in the Wisconsin, Minnesota area – that would like to participate – I’m extending this in the form of a gift card that you can use in the summer or fall of 2015 when I am in your area.

Pass this along to anyone in and around Denver area, Boulder, Ft.Collins, Colorado Springs… etc.

or for gift certificate that can be used in MN, WI area after July 2015.

Photography forward project. Happy Camera Monsters 1.0

THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING GREAT.

My mind was a jumble of thoughts on my way home from the studio one afternoon.  I had a million ideas in my head.  One of which was some art that our very own “Jenny” had posted about a friend of hers.  Now, she has told me over and over how talented her friend was… and sometimes it takes the right time and place for that to connect to you personally or professionally.

Back to the drive home…. I had one of those awh haaaa moments when if I didn’t tell someone I would bust so called Ms Jenny to bounce some things off of her – particularly about her friend Karen’s art.

So it begins the Photography forward project.

FEBRUARY 14TH, 2013… yes, we are starting this on Valentines Day.  10 custom created pieces of “domino art” will be dropped off at various locations in Denver & surrounding areas.  This each piece of art is called “Happy Camera Monster.”  Each piece of art is a little different, a very custom piece of art – and I have to say – they alone should make you smile.  They will all be numbered and will be attached to a card with exact details and information too.

In a nutshell.  On February 14th, 2013 I’ll post some hints to locations where they will be… or an un-suspecting person may just happen upon one.  If you’re watching our blog and facebook pages you may just get a jump on being the first to get to a location.

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YOUR BONUS: If you are one that finds or is gifted one of our Happy Camera Monster dominos, call us at (720)566-9770 or e-mail jennyb@fototails.com and you will get a free 1 hour studio portrait session at our Denver, CO studio.  Catch is… to get the session you have to bring the domino to your portrait session so we can take one image with the domino.

CHILDREN’S TREE HOUSE BONUS:  If you choose to purchase any prints from your session, with your first online print order we will donate $10 to Children’s Treehouse Foundation of Denver.  To learn more about Children’s Treehouse Foundation please click here to find out what an amazing organization they are in helping families dealing with cancer.

THE PAY IT FORWARD BONUS.  At your portrait session we will take one image of you with the Happy Monster Art that you have.  Now… after your session, we will put that piece of art on a new card for you to pass along to anyone you know for them to use for a free portrait session.  The catch?  It always has to be someone new, you can’t use a Happy Camera Monster more than once yourself – but you can pass it to whomever you see or know that would love a portrait session for them or their families.

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Over the coming year we will be keeping track of our Happy Camera Monster dominos and are hoping that they make their way all around the Denver area or maybe even to people just visiting.

As you can see our Happy Camera Monster Art is currently in progress with the very talented hands of Karen Windness!  I can not WAIT until they are all complete with their cards, and I’m even more excited to start dropping them off at locations in a few weeks.

Every time we get one of our Happy Camera Monsters pass through the studio we will share a photo and blog post too!

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Children’s Treehouse Foundation

We will be working closely with Children’s Treehouse Foundation in the coming months.  I wanted to take a minute to tell you a little about their foundation.  Please feel free to visit their website for more information as well at Childrenstreehousefdn.org

The Children’s Treehouse Foundation’s psychosocial intervention programming is unique because of its special focus and delivery system.
It’s About The Children
It’s a given. Cancer affects the entire family. Yet in too many situations, the undeniable psychosocial impact on the children whose parent has cancer goes unattended.This may lead to ongoing stress and anxiety for the children, evolving into maladaptive behavior throughout life. Our mission is to redress this critical oversight.
 
Parents In a Crisis
Many parents dealing with cancer acknowledge they don’t know how to talk to their children about their cancer. This breakdown in communication not only heightens the stress and fears of the children, but also isolates them and precludes them from being an active member of the family. We are committed to help fill this need.
 
Enhancing Hospital Services
Hospitals are clearly the haven in treating the parent with cancer. Yet even as they know the parent’s treatment proceeds best when their concerns of their children are diminished, far too few provide adequate emotional support for the children involved. Our emotional, group-support programming for children bridges this gap.
 
Training the Facilitators
Enlightened, trained, professional facilitators at cancer centers are the keys to assuaging the fears and anxieties of children whose parents have cancer. Clearly, social workers, nurses, clergy, life center specialists, or others, when armed with new insights into the children’s psyche, and provided with the proper tools, are uniquely qualified to help the children in their new unsettled environment.
 
Closing the Caring Loop
Finally, they all come together: Fearful children, anxious parents, a healing facility, and caring, thoughtful professionals. And almost like magic, the children learn how to cope with their feelings, parents become aware of richly improved family communications, and facilitators know, in their heart of hearts, that the trauma and travails of the family are measurably reduced. We’ve closed the caring loop.
Our Role, and Benefits
  • Professional Training: The Children’s Treehouse Foundation provides cancer centers and hospitals with professional training to enable them to launch support programs for the children whose parents have cancer so they are better able to cope in that unsettling, frightening, and stressful environment. 

    They receive training and program manuals, a power point presentation, a DVD, and children’s activity material developed by the Foundation’s CLIMB (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery) program, funded in part by the Avon Foundation.
     

  • Family Support: By providing group-support programming, the family burden of dealing with cancer, and the inevitable stress, is significantly reduced. Parents need support and help in communicating with their children.
    They tell us: 
    • “I don’t want to alarm my children, but I don’t know want to lie to them either. How much should I tell them?”
    • “I think my child understands, but I don’t know. He never says anything to me about my cancer.”
    • “What should I answer when my daughter asks, ‘Are you going to die?’
  • Children need support because they tend to 
    • imagine the worst
    • experience intense feelings of shock, disbelief, denial, fear and anxiety
    • mistakenly believe they caused their parent’s illness
    • act out their feelings, displaying behavioral problems

    Here’s what children tell us during the CLIMB support program: 
    “I really don’t feel like playing.” 
    “I wish this NEVER happened.” 
    “It feels like it’s your fault.” 
    “I want to BEAT SOMEONE UP!” 
    “I’m afraid of going to an orphanage.” 
    “You don’t feel safe.” 
    “You feel like you want to help a lot.” 

A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.

There will be no portrait photos in this post.  This letter wasn’t mailed – it was at my doorstep when I got home a couple months ago.  I read it, I cried, and read it again – probably a hundred times by now.  It wasn’t easy to read – and honestly, as much as it validates what I do for a living – I wasn’t sure I was going to share it either.  If you choose to read through the letter, you will know why I’ve finally chosen to share it.

July 2nd, 2011

Jeanine – 

Today I am writing for a couple of reasons.  I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind.  I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.

You photographed my wedding, you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby.  I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family.  After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you..  Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.

That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.

On Sunday I called and cancelled our session.  Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and colored ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip.  This was just 4 days since canceling our session, already totaling over $200 for un necessary things.  My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor.  It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly.  I will be leaving my husband, my 6 year old girl and my now 2 year old – not by choice.  It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.

I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased this few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now, and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat. 

Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me.  The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them.  Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it.  If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth.  I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.

My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos.  I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.

Karen L.