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

 

 

A snapshot of your child’s life.

There is no place to compare our children to others.  Not to others in our household, not to others in school – because there is not one child out there like another.  They love different things at different times, they learn things at different speeds. Their minds are so busy with taking in every bit of information, categorizing it, filing it, re-filing it and this is a never ending process.  WE CAN encourage and lead by example… and we can accept that some children will learn information in different ways.  Finding what they excel in and celebrating that can give them encouragement to work on some of the things that they maybe aren’t learning as quickly.  Every child has something that can be celebrated… find that in your child.

Today, start a list… by listening.  For a week keep a piece of paper on your counter and start writing down things that your child says, what interests them and make a collection of who your child is right now.  Do this yearly, monthly, however often you can and put it with a photo when you are done.  This is the most amazing memory book you can ever assemble – it allows you to see who your child is – a snapshot of their personality.  Then take a day and celebrate all the things that make your child amazing and unique.

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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.

The number 1 way to keep a flower alive.

 

Black Calla Lily

Black Calla Lily by Jeanine Thurston

I’m going to tell you straight off… I KILL FLOWERS.  Not on purpose, but if you leave them in my care… well – they don’t last long.  And… I’ll attribute that to my LOVE of flowers – you always want what you can’t have, or in my case what I can’t maintain.  I find them fascinating!  The shapes, the colors and because I can’t grow them or keep them alive for long, I have decided that photographing them and hanging them on my wall is my only option.

So the number 1 way to keep a flower alive?  Hang a portrait on your wall in a print or canvas… PERFECT FOREVER.

Go ahead – comment below – what is your favorite flower?  It may be the next one I photograph!

Floral Series

Photographer: Jeanine Thurston

 

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Photographer: Jeanine Thurston

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Photographer: Jeanine Thurston

Don’t miss any time you can take photos of and with your family.

Don't miss any time you can take photos of and with your family.

My grandmother passed many years ago from cancer and this is the last photo I have of her, my mother and myself. It doesn’t matter who takes the photo… or the fact that there is a nice JELLO advertisement in the background!lol But it does matter that I have this image. It is one of my most cherished photos. Yeah – of course I wish we had nice professional portraits of the three of us… but this will due and just a reminder of how AWESOME she was. My grandpa is fading, but still around… but still love photos we have of him too.

The Wedding Bouncing Board

Oh, yes… it’s exactly what I mean.  You scour websites, you have a million questions about your wedding… why?  Because for most of you, this is your first wedding.

So what do I really mean by Wedding Bouncing Board?  I’ve been in the wedding industry for over 25 years, and personally photographed over 800 weddings.  I am grateful to have some of the most amazing contacts in the wedding industry that are located all around the globe.  Myself and my invaluable network of vendors that I work with all have opinions… because… well, we have seen A LOT OF WEDDINGS, we have been involved in A LOT OF WEDDINGS, and our opinions and suggestions are based on real world experience.

So lets sum this up and give you the goods.  We aren’t here to tell you “don’t do” or “do” anything.  What we are here for is to answer your questions in a very experienced way.  Go ahead, flowers, timing, planning, DIY, invitations… we will be giving you some of the pros and cons to see what your options and realities really are.  Of course all final decisions are up to you, but if you need someone maybe outside your wedding planning box to give you some ideas or helpful hints… this is the place to be!

If your question seems to hit a nerve or something we think needs to be a little more detailed, we will do a separate blog post on it too.

Go ahead… pass this along to your friends.  With 25 years of experience and over 800 weddings I’m happy to help any way I can, and if I don’t know the options or answers – I know how to get some from some very influential people in the wedding industry.

COMMENT HERE  and tell me what you want to know!Image

Writing a letter.

The lost art of communication.  We text, we tweet, we send the occasional short e-mail.  Who here remembers writing a letter?  Who remembers receiving a letter by mail?  Some will write a short bit in a thank you note… but that’s not what I’m talking about.  Who of you have actually written or received a full blown 1 or 2 page letter from a friend?  Can you remember when the last time you received one or sent one?

Challenge of February.  Write 3 letters to friends and mail them… one full page minimum.  Send them in the mail and then let me know how you felt, and then follow up to see if you get any feedback from who you sent it too… and even more so – if you receive a letter back.

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The wedding chronicles.

The planning.  You meticulously plan your beautiful wedding day.  Planning consumes your time and thoughts.  You pull inspiration from every corner of your life.  Exhaused – the last few days before the wedding bring excitement and maybe a little anxiety while you have to finish a few tasks, welcome guests into town, and realize that you will be walking down the isle shortly.  You can breathe deep if you have had little to no drama in the process, while others are overwhelmed and just want to skip to the fun part… the honeymoon.

The wedding day.  A few months or maybe a year or more have passed and the wedding/ceremony day is here.  You may loose some sleep the night prior; but now it’s time to let go.  Remembering that you are the ones that everyone is there to celebrate.  Letting go may be the hardest thing you do, because up to this point – you have detailed a minute by minute plan of how your day will flow.  Regardless of how long the day actually is – it will fly by in a few blinks of your eyes and you will only remember a very small fraction of what happened on the day of your ceremony. Wedding planner or not – you try hard to let go of the details and just enjoy what this day actually means to you and your loved ones, as well as the future you have ahead of you.  The day passes… and as much as you sigh partly in relief that the day is over, it is also a little sad that such an amazing event ends so quickly.  It is a roller-coaster of a day, of emotions, of excitement, and a culmination of all your hard work months previously.

The honeymoon.  Pure celebration of you being with the one you love, typically outside of your normal reality.  Fun or relaxing… it is time needed to bond, to reflect on the ceremony day, and to be yourselves.

Back to reality.  All of the ups and downs of planning, all of the crazy busy and chaos of a ceremony day has come to the end.  You come back to real life as you know it – at least you think.. but returning to work or your normal routine.  Then you realize something little may be missing… with the months of planning prior, you may feel a little bit of loss as well.  Those days scouring Pinterest, the trips to fit the dress, searching for vendors actually filled up more of your time and were more enjoyable that you remembered and many think – what to do now.  Always best to fill your time with fun stuff for a few weeks to let yourself down easy.  After a few weeks you get a chance to look at photos and videos and reminisce about your day.  Looking through the photographs you look at each other and giggle or shrug your shoulders… wondering what that person was saying when they made that funny face, asking “who was this” for an extended family member you may not know from your spouse’s side of the family, or even say “I had no recollection of this happening at all.”  The beauty of photography & video documenting your day.

5 year anniversary.  Hopefully you pull out your wedding album yearly, but now a few years have past.  You may have moved onto children, and in that case you graze over photos and tell stories of your wedding day.  You are proud to show off such an amazing event, you get flutters seeing you and your loved ones so happy together, and if you have kids – “mommy you looked beautiful” may pass their lips.

15 year anniversary.  You may have had a few or many ups and downs in your life together already.  Stresses and strains, wear and tear at you after this long.  If you have children – they are getting older and your lives together may be more about them.  If it’s just the two of you, you may have drifted a little apart to find yourselves again.   And if you’re lucky you are just in love as the day you met or more.  Regardless of your situation – you pull out your wedding album to renew your sense of why you came together as a couple.  With a few more wrinkles maybe, but your had the best photographers and all you see in your photographs are the smiles, romance, and emotions that made you love that person all those years ago.  See… we all change a little, but the wear and tear of life doesn’t change the base… you can still see the twinkle in someone’s eye if you look hard enough, you can still see how their smile is ever so slightly changed if you look hard enough.  Your photographs of your wedding day are gold at this stage – snapshots are fun and great too – but photographs that can show you the love and connection you have/had with one another have become priceless in reminding us that no matter how much life has changed around us that there where amazing things at play to bring you together and fall in love.

50 years together.  You still visit your wedding album together, and you can feel an amazing sense of accomplishment that you have been tried and true and weathered many storms together throughout the years.  You have build a legacy through your children and grandchildren.  Or if you decided no children.. you have still accomplished great things together.  If you do have grandchildren, your wedding albums are mesmerizing to them.  They see how beautiful you are, they come to realize the value in both their grandparents and parents and the love that made this happen.  You as an individual, and you as a couple have affected this world in some way, and most likely many ways.  If you have passed your love down to other generation – just seeing the love in photographs from your wedding day can give your children and grandchildren hope that they too can find that kind of lasting love.  You may assure them that it wasn’t easy – but that it’s about the journey, it’s about caring for someone maybe a little more than yourself, and a legacy to leave them.  

Every day is a gift.  Every love is a miracle. Give 100% and only expect 20% in return.  Forgive, and move forward.  Treat your loved one like they are a queen or a king, and be their support always. And look at your wedding photographs closely and often – there is a reason you connected… look hard and find it over and over again by reminiscing about the beginning of your life together.Image