‘Gratitude puts everything into perspective’

I’m starting to write this weeks assignment for the photography course ‘illuminate’ on my 52nd birthday. We have to be grateful for birthdays for its a privilege of being given another year to celebrate and enjoy life. Some get to celebrate many and others are only limited a few. But it’s the quality moments within those years we are most grateful for. I have looked hard into all the things I’m grateful for before when completing a Facebook challenge for a month. After such an emotionally traumatic event like losing a family member you sometimes have to look a bit closer and harder to the things around you and see the beauty in all the small things that begin to become the larger, more important things in life and the gift of being alive.

I took myself out of my comfort zone of the house and took 100 steps out into the big wide world to capture nature at its finest in several shots using Jacob’s camera and my mobile phone. From the photos I took I had to choose 5 to work with. Only one of the five photos were taken inside, it was raining that day so I took a long walk inside the house and stopped at the 100th step. As I examine the photos I had to explore the compositional idea of ‘Perspective’ in my images. The only one I didn’t mange to capture in any of my photos was ‘negative space’ but that’s ok, I’ll keep looking for that one shot in others I will continue to take. I had to look at the rule of thirds, framing, point of view and type of camera. I took 100 steps, stopped and found my focus point – ‘today I’m grateful for…..’

‘Gratitude is said to be the memory of the heart’ – Joseph F. Smith. The photos I chose to share and write about evoke some memories from within my heart. I will tell the story behind why I took that particular photo highlighting the hidden message of gratefulness.

The rules of thirds – ‘let the warm glow of the setting sun kiss life’s hurts away.’ The sunset was too beautiful not to capture. We are grateful for everyday we’ve been blessed with and Jacob taught us this during the last month of his life. Treat everyday like it’s your last. On the days that have been particularly bad, (if we’re lucky) we get given another beautiful day to get things right, to make it better and to start again afresh. The time I took this photo was pretty much the same time that he took his last breath at 4.33pm in the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunset like this, and the sun shone down on his face through the window for the rest of the afternoon. ‘Here comes the sun’ by the Beatles sang out of the iPod just after we lost him. I am grateful to see another sunset, all the different colours, to be living in a beautiful place by the lake, to be given another day.

Framing – ‘choose to shine.’ I really love bright shiny lights, like the twinkling stars in the sky and the fairy lights at Christmas time. You can never have enough around the house and with the invention of solar lights we get to see more of the magic that the sun is capable of. Jacob loved lights too. He decorated the house inside and out at Christmas time, the more the merrier was his motto. His name would have been in lights one day as he would have become the famous cinematographer he always wanted to be. He used his special bright lights in all of his YouTube movies he made with friends to give the desired effect. The cherry blossom light shines even brighter when switched on but the little buds still stood out in this photo, still bright in times of darkness. We got the tree after his passing. This little tree adds brightness to his memorial area outside, near his drinking and toasting bar and bell. The lights bring a sense of calmness just like watching the embers flicker in a fire.

Point of view – ‘we are tree-mendously grateful.’ The circles on this tree stump indicates how many years it’s been alive. Although this one has been chopped down, shortening its life as it had been poisoned by a human who was in search of a better view for their home. Such sad reason to cut short a life of something that’s living. Just as Jacob’s life was cut short we can still celebrate and cherish the memories he left us in life just like the circles of life in the tree. Every year, every moment, every memories of his life like 20 rings in the stump. New trees have been planted to replace the one that’s been lost, to provide shelter and comfort for all those that relied on her. Not quite possible to grow another Jacob, although I do have his curls of his first hair cut. Maybe the new trees will be future additions to our family who carry on his name and striking features.

Type of camera – ‘plant smiles, grow laughter, harvest love.’ I used my mobile phone camera for this shot indoors. I’ve discovered over time that I haven’t got a green thumb. I put time and effort into loving all things green in pots and gardens but they never seem to love me back. I’m am grateful for all the other things I’m good at though as you can’t be good at everything, but there’s no harm in trying. Unfortunately the big black thing in the photo surrounded by rocks was once a beautiful succulent. I had been watering it in the hope of bringing it back to life. But it was not to be (not yet anyway) but on a closer look a tiny fragile fine thread of life was breaking through the dirt. It made me think of how I could save Jacob from the common cold and other viruses but I couldn’t save him from the thing that took him. The nurturing mothers instinct comes through in nature and life – to nourish, love and protect.

The last photo, number 5 I like to call ‘creep it real’ makes me smile. It encompasses our family’s weird and wacky love for horror movies. Not sure of the real reason for the monster puppet to be in the tree or how it got there but I like how we can see it more in winter and less in the summer as the foliage changes in the seasons. Grief is like the puppet some days you see and feel it other days you don’t. To carry on the weird and wacky love of scary movies I’m going to see one tonight with my grown up kids Amy and Rachel for my birthday – ‘The conjuring 2.’ Ben’s chickened out and Pete (my husband) will be listening to music DVDs at home after a session at the pub. Jacob will be with us as we cover our eyes and peek through our fingers at the scary bits, just as we did all together in the lounge room watching scary movies together, a favourite thing Jacob loved to do. The simple things in life…..by watching a movie and listening to music you can take a break from the heartache of real life and be immersed in make-believe and fantasy and taken to another place and space. ‘We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones’ said the famous writer Stephen King.

I enjoyed taking the 100 steps photography challenge just as much as did doing the grateful challenge on Facebook. In Lexi Behrndt’s own words – ‘I talk about him, not because I’m constantly living in pain. I’m not anymore, but in my world, this is my normal, and I’d rather live honestly and out loud. Joy, love, happiness, and gratefulness are my everyday, but so are death, loss, heartache, and grief.’ I will continue to be grateful for all the little things in life and on earth, for I’ll see Jacob in the those little things like the sparkles of light on the water from the sun, the colours in a rainbow, the changing of the seasons, the new flowers of spring, the rain in the storm, the scares and thrills from the newly released horror movies  and in the wind that says his name through the trees.

Today I’m grateful it’s my birthday – I am another year older, wiser, and more grateful.

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