Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lake Bonaparte

This past weekend, my daughter and I went to Lake Bonaparte in upstate New York to do a photography workshop with Jan Phillips (that's Jan in the photograph). This area of New York is bucolic and peaceful this time of year and it was good to get my mind off my troubles.

There were four other women there, from as far away as Alaska and as close a a couple of hours away by car. Hazel graduated first in her class of 100,000 at the University of Bombay. Lisa is the mother of adopted daughters from China. Sandy is a chaplain with an artist's eye and a tale-teller's voice. Lura, quiet and calm, has lived in some very exotic places and came from Alaska via San Diego for the weekend. We spent the days out and about shooting scenery, each other, and in some cases being very paparazzi-like! My daughter was a photographer's dream, lying in the freezing water, hiding in the cornstalks.

One of our goals for the weekend was to get a photograph of ourselves that we could use for promotional purposes. The first full day, we paired up and set out in the rain and wind. My partner was Lura. She was methodical and careful about her shots. I was more haphazard. When we got back to the house and looked at what we'd gotten that day, I hated how I looked in every shot. Nothing wrong with Lura's eyes; it was all in my vision of myself.

The next day, I decided to do something different. I asked Lura if she would photograph me talking about what has been going on lately in my life. The breast cancer and my dad's death. And so I sat, wrapped in a beautiful shawl, cried my eyes out, and Lura shot photo after photo.

As we looked at the photographs that night, I was proud of myself for letting her shoot my sadness. And the others were moved too, I think.

At one of our ceremonies, I released my fear of radiation. I've felt calmer since then. And by stilling my grief and fears in front of the camera, I feel better able to move on. I want my sadness and my breast cancer behind me. I'm tired of saying, "As soon as this is over...."

I'm so grateful to Lura for being present and a witness for me that day. I'm grateful that I got to know the other amazing women. I'm grateful that I was with my daughter for the weekend.

Thanks to all of you - Jan, Jean, Lura, Lisa, Sandy, and Hazel - for everything.

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