Virginia // Portrait

I’ve been sitting on this one for a long time, unsure of how, or when, to share this session. Here goes.

This is my friend. My dear friend. She has had a long year. (or two…or 12.) She has been married, had two beautiful children, and been divorced. She has fallen in love. She has been let down. She has gotten back up, only to be let down again. She has tried and worked and made something from nothing when others would have quit. She is a mother, a professional, a sister, a daughter. This however, is not about those things. This is not about what she is. It is about who she is. And who my friend is, is fierce. Full of shiny confidence and quiet insecurities. Bright. Seeking. Desiring. Searching. Sharp of mind and quick of wit, she is more than the bullets on a PTO bio sheet. She is not school fundraisers or horse show entries, she is not lunches packed or groceries bought. She is fire, and finally, after so long – I am seeing happiness in her again. I found this piece this morning in my email – and I feel it appropriate today.

From the brilliant, bright star Maya Angelou:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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Temecula Engagement // Hannah + Mike

He said over and over, ‘am I smiling?’? She laughed. I held the shutter. Moment. Frozen.

We walked and talked, they told me about ten years of getting to know each other and growing and ten years of never having gone to the movies. No really. They’ve never gone to the movie theatre together. I think it’s pretty incredible.

They’ve been dating for ten years. To Hannah and Mike, it seemed natural. To me, it was this amazing feat that you don’t find very often anymore. Let’s be honest – dating is not the same as marriage. Personally, I feel like dating, in many ways, is harder. Before marriage, everyday is a true choice. There is no paper that binds you, no rings, no same last name, or any of the other traditional type of ‘I belong to this person and they belong to me’ rituals that outwardly show the world you are otherwise spoken for. You can walk away at any time…for no reason at all, and don’t have to file paperwork to do it. In a time when relationships don’t seem to last as long as they used to, these two have been making the choice, everyday for over ten years. They’re making the choice everyday for love. For the love of another, for giving their hearts daily because they want to – because they want to share dreams and struggles and adventures. They make the choice everyday because together they are so, so beautiful. While we walked through the beautiful fields, they told me about the dog they want to have someday, her plans to be a nurse, and Mike’s love for painting. When one speaks, the other watches. They glow for the other, they move together like the top and bottom of a melody, independent chords flowing together to make the most beautiful music. I asked him to dance with her underneath a huge oak, and while they laughed I stood off in the distance and took them in…seeing what they would be in 40, 50 years. I can see them dancing under the same tree in their 70’s, and then having a picnic with their grandchildren on the hillside behind them…with a big lazy Lab curled up near their feet taking a nap. Maybe Mike will paint a picture of it one day…and in it Hannah’s hair will be swirling in the wind and her blue eyes will be shining at him the same way they did this day.

Hannah and Mike are getting married this October in Idyllwild, and I can’t wait to spend the day with them.

Enjoy friends.

With Heart,
H

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Lauren + Elvis

This isn’t an engagement session…though it was a session booked by a girl, that wanted to be photographed with the love of her young life.

I did a post a while back on why we ride, and sessions like these bring me back there, back to why I started. I began this journey photographing horses exclusively, planted in fields and on the backside of fences and tracks and perched on pipe corrals – and I was on fire. I couldn’t wait to get home, to load my images, and to share them with the world. To see what I could do, what I could give, and how I could inspire people to see themselves and their horses they way I saw them. This session brought me back to that. Lauren is about the most lovely young lady I’ve had the pleasure to know; and over the past year and a half I’ve watched her grow from a girl into a beautiful young lady – but with maturity comes challenges. Academics become more challenging, friendships begin to become more complicated than they once were, boys and boyfriends are suddenly part of the picture, and the simple life we lead as children becomes convoluted and crowded….and it’s difficult to make time for the things that were once so important to us. That said, when I meet a young lady who, through the challenges of teenage life, has managed to maintain time and space for a pony that has meant so much to her – I am inspired. Elvis came into Lauren’s life soon after she lost her father, and for the years since, has been a neck to hug, a shoulder to lean on, a partner to fly with, and a friend to share secrets with. He is a pony in every manner of the word, and until very recently, could only be fully understood (and ridden) by Lauren.

Over the past year or so, Lauren has grown from a girl to an almost 6ft tall young lady that I’m quite certain will grace the pages of Vogue eventually…but with that, she has literally outgrown little Elvis. Just as Elvis found her when she needed him most, however – a family that was in need of a very special pony has found him. At our barn, we have all joked that Elvis hadn’t worked out for any of the people that had previously looked at him because he didn’t want to be bought. He was waiting to choose his family – and I’ve never seen such truth. He is happy, and seems ready; and so does Lauren. We chose to do their session at Del Rio Farms – where Lauren and Elvis have ridden everyday with trainer and farm owner Dee Gleason, where they have galloped bareback, flown over fences, and shared long talks about the things that girls and their horses discuss….everything.

Enjoy friends.

xx
H

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Because you love me.

This year I am 31 years old. 31 years of living, of learning, of mistakes and try again’s – of growing and experiencing and loving. I have seen so much change, and my life has at times been unstable…in true gypsy fashion; the path of a wanderer is often uncertain. Of the things in my life that have held strong and true however, at the top of it all is one person. My dad. Today is his birthday, and I’ve spent the morning thinking about what I can do from 2,000 miles away to let him know that there is no word that could be printed in a card to convey how special he is, and to thank him for the love and support he has given me.

My dad and I, we have done some living together. Adventuring, I like to call it. We have seen highs and down and dirty lows, he has shopped for prom dresses and horse trailers and sifted shavings and shoveled poop and built me a barn, he has picked me up from the holes I have dug myself into and dusted me off, telling me to keep at it and push forward. “Heath, you’re not a quitter.” No, I am not a quitter…because I am, in so many ways, my father. Dad started his life over after he and my mom divorced; and started his own business. If you ask my father today, he makes very little of the things he has done; but I know where he started, and now people come from all over the country to have him build their homes – not only because he is a gifted builder and designer, but because he is a good man, the best man; and people can see it from the moment they shake his hand. My father is so, so strong. One of the things I remember from my earliest years was my dads huge arms, and his tattoos. He used to have this big eagle on his arm, and I always thought that it made him look so tough, tougher than the other dads. He always, and still does, wear his hat backwards when he works, and every single one of my friends had a crush on him and thought he was the coolest dad ever. I watched my dad work midnights at the paper mill, and then get up and work construction by day so that we could have a beautiful home (that he built), so that I could have horses, so that my brother could have a four wheeler and play hockey, so that every year we could go school shopping and Dad and I could go to the Gap and he could pick out my wardrobe…because quite honestly, for the first 25 years of my life (and still at times, though I’ve finally got the hang of dressing myself), my father had better fashion sense than I did. My dad has always driven a great truck – a Ford truck. I learned how to drive in my dad’s white F-150 flare side; ‘White Lightening’. He let me drive the truck up and down the roads of the Acres were we lived, after picking me up from my grandparents house downtown where I would hang out during the afternoons – watching Days of Our Lives with my Gram and Gramp. He is a mirror of my Grandfather in so many ways, and after losing my Gramp over 10 years ago, and my Gram this year, it only stands out to me more how important my Dad’s strength is to my entire family. That strength that I thought was all in his arms when I was a little girl is so, so much more. Even though he is the youngest by far, the family calls him for advice, they call him to handle things, they look at him when things are falling apart…and he is always there, standing, unwavering, even when he has every right to fall to pieces. Whenever the Earth begins to shake, he stands strong.

Over the past few years I’ve taken to calling the long conversations Dad and I have, like clockwork, every time I’m home – ‘Jod-erventions’ – and quite honestly, if you’re stumbling in life…you should look him up and sign yourself up for one. They work. Some of my most frustrating and enlightening times are 1am conversations with my father about work, about kids, about marriage, about where my life is going and what I want for it. He thinks that they’re just a pain in my tail, but what he doesn’t know is that I actually look forward to them, and what he has to say. People often survive hardship in life, because we are, as a rule, much more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. The key, however, is what you do with that aftermath. Will you continue to just survive, or will you flourish? My Dad chose the latter. He came through hardship and stood on a crumbled foundation, and made a decision to rebuild. He rebuilt a life, not only for himself, but in that rebuilding, he laid the foundation for me in ways he’ll never fully know. He rebuilt, and he always pushed forward. He did not quit, and never opted for the easy road, for no rewards worth having come from traveling the easy road. He taught me to be truthful, with myself first, and with others. When friends were telling their parents elaborate stories to get out of the house on the weekends, I was asking for exactly what I wanted to do, and having conversations about good choices and being safe and drinking and drugs and consequences while others were locking those talks with their parents away in the furthest corners of their closets. We were being honest, because it was just us…and we couldn’t afford not to be. As I have moved forward in life, my dad has continued to be honest with me, telling me when he thinks I’ve made a bad decision (even when I’d rather not hear it), telling me when he thinks I need to make a change, when I’ve done well, telling me he doesn’t understand how people afford to live their crazy Californian lifestyles, while I tell him I don’t know how people can survive the frozen north and driving 40 minutes to the grocery store. I can tell him anything, I call him for everything, and he has never failed me, from giving me the groundwork for life to talking me through changing out the skill saw blade over the phone because I didn’t know I needed an allen wrench instead of a screw driver. Brillant, I know. He loves his life, does exactly as he pleases, and apologizes for nothing he isn’t genuinely sorry for. He is Papa to my baby boy, the most handsome man in the North Country, ‘Big Perk’ to all of the guys, baby brother to my Aunts and Uncle, the defender of our family, the keeper of promises and my heart of hearts…and when you say ‘Jody Perkins’ around town, people all smile and have something good to say. My dad is a man’s man, a daughter’s hero, and the best friend a person could ask to have. The older I get, the more my father comes out in me; and the more I am grateful for each and every difficult day, every time he has told me my idea isn’t great, and every time he has been quietly proud when I’ve been successful, because I don’t need him to say much. I can tell, and I hope that he can as well.

Because he has loved me, I am strong. I live boldly and without fear, I am willing to work and sweat for the things I want, and I am never, every sorry. Because my Dad has loved me, I know how to love unconditionally. Because my Dad has loved me, I value my strength as well as my mind, and am not afraid to go toe to toe for what I believe in. Because my Dad has loved me, I live each day hoping to be a better version of myself…I hope that one day my son looks at me and see’s the same strength, the same conviction and character, and the same unfaltering love that I see in my father.

Happy Birthday Pops. You’re my shining star.
Forever,
Sport

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Deborah - April 14, 2014 - 7:00 pm

A beautiful letter of love.

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Open for….

Life.
Love.
Hurt.
Possibility.
Passion.
Pain.
Ideas.
God.
Sunshine.
Touch.
Laughter.
Talk.
Fear.

Truth.

The last one. Truth.

I heard a line the other night; ‘The world is too fragile for people to be untrue. There’s too much at stake and life is too short for lies.’

I lie. Often.

I lie about how my day is going. I lie about what I think, about how I feel, about what I want, about where I’ve been, about where I wish I was. Not all of the time, not everyday, but I do it. I think we all do it. I did last week; after I dropped my son off at preschool. After one of the worst morning drop offs in the history of our 4 and a half years together, complete with leg clinging and lying on the ground and “Why don’t you love me, I just want to be with you, Everyone leaves me, and Please don’t leave me here”, I left feeling dejected. I walked to my truck with my 4 year old screaming in the background, looked in the rearview mirror to ensure he wasn’t scaling the fence to follow me…and I pulled out of the parking lot. I drove down the street, parked, and cried so hard that I instigated the headache from hell as well as ‘who’s that crazy woman with her blinker on’ looks from about 8 other parents leaving the school. I cried, because I was not in control. I could not fix this feeling of sadness and abandonment for my baby, and I hated myself for it. I wanted to crawl into a dark hole and avoid my life until, I don’t know…forever. I had originally planned out a beautiful, productive day – and now I was paralyzed with anger, with bitterness, sadness, and plain, butter knife to your heart grief. However, I had coffee to get and clients to email, there was work that needed to be done and a life that needed tending to…and I had no time for honesty about my feelings or what I was going to do with them. So I lied. I lied to myself and said ‘it’s no big deal’. I lied to the girl making my coffee and said “I’m great!”, and I lied to my best friend and said that the morning was going perfectly, because quite honestly, there are people around the world without clean water, and who the fuck am I to complain? While I don’t feel that, in a moment of clarity, I will kick this habit and become some beautiful beacon of truth and crystal clear transparency in my existence…I will, in the best way I know how, give it a whirl, because I have been inspired. I have been shown that honesty can be a safe place, a place where I can bare my most raw wounds and not be shunned; where I can dream out loud and be appreciated – a place where I can listen; be seen AND heard.

So in a day when I know there is so much uncertainty floating around me; when I know there are hearts and minds wondering, ‘what next’ – I want to share my honest answer.

I have no idea.

And for the first time in my life, that feels alright. In fact, it’s even starting to feel good, and I wish that sort of feel good for everyone wondering in the world tonight. In this place of love and honesty, I have been able to finally connect. To bring myself to the table with all that I am; a creator, a writer, a struggling, sometimes tearful, almost always joyful mom, a lover, a friend, a dreamer, a partner, a woman. As I sit at that table, with my being laid out in plain view; I am vulnerable. One day, I may get hurt. My uncovered self may end up wounded, and I will feel broken. What I will not be, however, is sorry. I will not be sorry, for life is too short for lies. There is too much at stake in this life to carry around our hopes and truths in a basket secured on our back under lock and key. There is too much at stake to allow a single person to stay in our lives that does not deserve to be there. To the ones that leave us, we will not be sorry for the lessons they have left us with. For everyone leaves us with a lesson, and to say otherwise is a lie – and life is too short for lies.

So tonight I will tell you my truth…and that truth is that I am sure of very few things; except for these.

A smile can change your day, and your life.

When in doubt, buy yourself some flowers.

Comparison truly IS the thief of joy. There will always be someone with more. This is called life.

When you least feel like it, hug someone. (when you most feel like it too)

Clean sheets are a game changer. So is a clean closet. And a clean desk. (I have none of these right now)

Sitting in silence can be greatest reset button in the universe.

Make time everyday for something that brings you great joy.

Appreciate other people’s strengths and accomplishments. Putting other people down is an ugly thing to do. Period.

Never miss an opportunity to kiss your lover and tell them why you adore them.

Stand in the rain (face to the sky) whenever possible.

Feed your body, your soul, your heart, and your animals (including your children) with equal enthusiasm.

Forgive.

Be. Present.

with heart,
H

ps. These two are getting married next weekend! 🙂

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