For the last two years I have only used my name as my logo. Before I commited to something permanent, I wanted to be sure it was both personal, and reflective of who I am. Here is the story behind the tulips: Those of you who know me well know that I had a very close relationship with my grandmother in Montana who passed away in the fall of 2010. She was my everything; my rock in this world of insanity. Growing up, she was both my safe haven and my guiding light. She was a strong German woman who was widowed in the 70's. She was no-nonsense, but loving to the extreme. She was passionate, loved to laugh (and goodness did she have a hearty laugh!) and loved to cook. She was a devoted Jehovah's Witness, and although that is not my chosen religion, I remember going out in service with her as a young girl, and loving to watch her speak to people. My how her eyes would just light up. Name an occassion, and my Gma was always the cook and/or baker for it, per the request of those involved! She had the most wonderful stories of her childhood and early adulthood in Germany. Even the sad ones were told in a positive light. I think that's one of the things I loved most about her; her ability to always look at the positives in every situation. She made the best of whatever she had, as so many in her generation did. She loved to garden, and oh my goodness could she grow some flowers. She had quite the green thumb! Her favorites were always her tulips and her daylillies, but especially her tulips. Got an idea of where I'm going with this yet? :) She had the most beautiful tulips in her yard. When she was placed in a nursing home for rehab, it was her tulips that she missed the most, and seeing her other flowers bloom as well. My gma was very fortunate to have a wonderful, loving church family from the Kingdom Hall to be there for her and take care of her when I (and the rest of her family) moved to Georgia. During her last few years, she grew especially close with a beautiful young woman named Emilie. Emilie and I were similiar in age and had similiar backgrounds. I have no doubt she loved Gma every bit as much as gma loved her. Emilie gave gma some amazing silk tulips that looked so real, you had to check twice to make sure they weren't. My gma loved those and they were without a doubt her favorite flowers ever. They were always front and center on her living room table. In the end, they were with her in the nursing home, then in the assisted living, and finally in the Hospice room. My Gma passed away at Hospice at the age of 98. I was with her the last 6 days of her life, leaving her bedside for only two hours in those last days. It was the most wonderful time of my life, given the circumstances. Emilie and I held her hands as she took her last breath. It was something I will never forget. I owe her so very much. I have no doubt that she is the reason I am who I am today. My passion for living, for nature, for loving; they all were nurtured by her.
Shortly before her death and even months after, I came to find she had a passion for photography as well. She had photo album upon photo album with so many images she had taken. I had no idea she loved taking pictures so much. I remember her with a camera when I was a child, but I guess I never really noticed just how much of my life and the lives of those around her she was capturing. I even found a stash of pictures of me through the years that she had taken and held onto. It was a most wonderful thing to find. It was this that really pushed me to pursue photography professionally. I had been playing around with it for a few years already, shooting manual and learning every day. But it was finding all those images after gma passed away that it finally "clicked" (pardon the pun). You only have moments in this life, really. Time passes by you before you know it. Make the most of it and live every day as if it's your last in this beautiful world. Even if you don't get professional portraits taken, make it a point to get together with a friend and take pictures of each other's families WITH the mom in the picture. Twenty years from now, it won't matter if you have an extra 20lbs on, or if your hair isn't "just right" or if you don't like this or that about yourself. What will matter is that you weren't in the picture.
So yes, I have totally rambled on and off topic. If you've made it this far, I applaud you. I am very very passionate about my work and sharing it with others. I am always looking to be inspired, and I look for inspiration in the most mundane things. It's those little things, those little places, that hold so much. All you have to do is look. THAT's why I have tulips for my logo. Every day that I see it, I'm reminded that life is precious and short-lived. I'm reminded that I can always improve and be a better person than I am now. I am reminded that I can both gain inspiration from others and in turn hope to inspire others. But most of all I'm reminded of the love I had for my Gma, and the love she had for me. I miss you so much, Gma, and think of you every single day. Thank you for being my inspiration.
Here is my favorite picture of my grandmother and me, about a year before she passed away. This image was one of several taken by my good friend Jenn Wasserman of Jenn Brooke Photography on one of my visits to Great Falls, MT. I love it because you can see the joy in my grandmother's eyes. We were in her home, surrounded by everything she loved.
This image was also taken by Jenn. So thoughtful, and it is SO my Gma. Her bible, her study guides and her glasses.
And here's the picture of her beloved silk tulips.