While it feels like it wasn’t so very long ago…counting the years on my fingers and toes and now apparently starting in on my knuckles, clearly, it is evident that it has indeed been quite some time that I’ve been a fan of a now retired talk show host out of Chicago, Illinois. I closely followed her throughout high school, groupie-like in college, through to her last aired show in 2011, and now on her “OWN” network. Along with, surely, a gazillion others, I have adored Oprah Winfrey. In years past, I did attempt to acquire tickets to her show, my stars just never aligning to allow this endeavor to transpire. Although my therapist has provided little sympathy, my life has managed to continue on as normal (ish).
Last fall, Oprah put together an event called SuperSoul Sessions, which was promoted as “11 life-transforming talks from spiritual thought leaders, change makers and wisdom teachers.” This event was basically a series of TED-talks by some of Oprah’s favorite and most inspiring speakers brought together under the one roof of Royce Hall nestled in the middle of the UCLA campus. Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown (ummmmm, yes, those who know me know I adore Brene Brown) were among the list of influential speakers that spoke at this event. The videos of each presented talk can be found here if you’re interested in taking a listen.
Only a couple months ago, I noticed that a second series of SuperSoul Sessions were scheduled and I opted to include my name on a presale notification list. Upon receipt of an email, and only a few short minutes later, I received confirmation that I had indeed purchased two tickets to Oprah’s SuperSoul Sessions, Series 2. I continue to relay to Mr. Hatten that I’m unaware of the logistics in HOW this happened. The “Add to Cart” button actually did a little hop under my cursor arrow as opposed to the alternative. Tricky. Little. Bugger. Regardless, I had two tickets and nothing on my calendar for April 9, 2016, soooooo, you know. Why not? And for good measure, let’s go ahead and make it an abbreviated family vacation. As for my extra ticket??? Let’s make this a mother-daughter adventure. Boom. Done. Finally…Oprah Winfrey and I are one step closer to being besties. Just Oprah and Gayle and me… (sigh).
Because this was a family adventure to the Sunshine State, we opted to stay in Anaheim for obvious (i.e. mouse) reasons. At 6:30 AM on our special day, Little Miss and I took the rental car to the freeway and began our trek. While I know that she probably didn’t grasp what I can describe as the magnitude of the opportunity we were so lucky to be a part of, I do think one day she’ll look back on it fondly. She landed a cold virus only the day before and minimal rest had her weary but she played along like the most steadfast trouper. Sandwiched between Bel Air and Beverly Hills, two Montana girls landed on the stunning campus of the University of California, Los Angeles, on an overcast and rainy, yet beautiful day, to see Ms. Oprah Winfrey herself, among a few of her good friends. Upon a brief security check and receipt of our program and fancy “SoulSessions” bracelet, Little Miss and I began to make our way to our seats. A few short steps in, we realized we were being followed by two handsome men. With a hop in my step and a few words dancing in my noggin (“I. Still. Got. It.”), we paused and turned around slightly to let them pass. Only they didn’t pass…they paused when we paused, and walked when we walked, camera gear and get-up capturing our entire journey to our seats. To which we sat in, and glanced at each other with goofy, snickering grins as our little friends with the camera contraptions walked away.
My soon-to-be best friend stepped on the stage shortly after 9:00 AM in front of an audience of what I could gather 98% women and 2% men that found the courage to be the 2%. Little Miss and I sat together and listened to a golden list of authors, actors, and inspirational speakers. Among this list, Cheryl Strayed, author of the best selling book, the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Kris Carr, Marie Forleo, India.Arie, Kerry Washington, and of course, Oprah. Following a charming lunch under a tent in the rain, we each found in our seats a fun surprise, a TOMS backpack filled with goodies.
The day was special. And meaningful. And an event I won’t forget. Special and meaningful, why? Turns out, not because I was able to put a check-mark by a long-standing bucket list item. Not because I was able to listen to a handful of today’s most influential speakers. Nope. This day was so very memorable because I was able to have my little girl next to me sharing in a day in which provided a heap of positive messages, one CONSISTENT message of encouragement to simply “be oneself.” And if there is any message that she cannot possibly hear enough, it’s that one. Of course in my eyes, she is perfect just as she is…but my hope for her is that she can embrace all that she is and know that she is enough. Enough in every way. She will have ups and she will have downs but my wish is that her spirit will always soar, the light within her not be dimmed, and that she will not reserve an ounce of the gifts she has to offer during any almighty battle against fear that she may face. Fear of failure. Fear of judgment. And yes, sometimes even fear of success.
To her, I would say…
And of course, as Cinderella said it best…
Have courage and be kind.
My lively passenger on the way…
My BFF on stage…
My lively passenger on our way back…
Just us. (And that shirt!)
For months, these life elements have been at the very top of my heaping piles of endless other thoughts…other thoughts of any mother in her late thirties, I suppose. You name it…dinner ideas, kids activities, life dreams, tackling that 10 pounds, and that constant thought of really needing to trim our dachshunds long toenails. Yet, “connection” and “meaningful conversation” keep finding their way to my inner thoughts in an unavoidable manner.
In the last few months, I’ve begun a bit of journey in my heart. Technically, I think it started last year when I was pondering taking this year off from my photography business, but at the time I didn’t really know that what I was feeling would be the start of this journey. I’ve said it before but without a doubt now, I know that I thrive on connection. I think we all do really. I’ve just finally realized how much I crave it…daily. Connection makes the most ordinary day the most fulfilling day. And, as I get older, I have high expectations for each day…it OUGHT to be fulfilling…there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.
A few moments have transpired in the recent couple of weeks and particularly, over this weekend, that have me astoundingly shaking my head. Connections and meaningful conversation, right? THOSE topics have been dancing in my noggin for months. I went to our church service on Saturday evening and, as for the sermon topic?? Yes, “meaningful conversations.” Pastor Keith has indeed taken on the topic of meaningful conversations. Of course he has…go figure, right? Not only is he talking about it, but he also introduces a girl named Jeni, a resident artist at the Archie Bray. Jeni, new to Helena, only a short time ago sat in on one of Pastor Keith’s recent sermons, which led to her meeting him for coffee, which led to her proposing a challenge/project serving the purpose of connecting a community. As for the project? It is called Cups of Conversation. Let me explain…
Jeni beautifully crafted ten sets of coffee cups, each set contained in an equally beautiful wooden container (crafted by another remarkable artist named Gwen) that are to travel on a journey for the next thirty days. Each recipient of the set shall, within 24 hours, invite someone they do not know well to share a drink and share a meaningful conversation before passing the cups along to someone else. After hearing the challenge, I had two thoughts on my mind. One, I was so tickled to see someone push forward with a simple idea to actually make it happen. So often, we are plagued with fears of failure and logistics that we sit on worthy ideas that sadly, never surface. THIS was the result of the opposite…I have a deep sense of pride for someone I don’t even know personally…not to mention the inspiration I feel to begin tackling the projects brewing in my own noggin. And as for my second thought…if I were to have those cups, who would I choose to join me?? This followed with an urge to whoop and holler and cheer loudly over the simple yet inspirational thrill of the entire project…but to the disappointment of those around me who may have been entertained by the notion, I opted to contain myself…mainly, for sake of not embarrassing Mr. Hatten. I left the congregation hall with a wavering and aimless walk and stirring thoughts…and like a pretty healthy tug though, I walked by and grabbed one of those sets of cups. I thought to myself “I’m doing this…why not?” Friends, I’m not easily sold on things, I’m not. My mother has been attempting to talk me into using essential oils for well over a year and continues to share with me the endless uses for them…and I’m still ignoring her. But, this project? I believe in it. And I believe it has some serious potential to open doors. And you know, it just seemed right…I have, after all, been plugging and pondering “meaningful conversation” for months now.
I went home. I entertained some ideas. There were three persons on my list of possibilities. Two ladies whom I do not know very well and whom I have been intrigued by during the course of this year. And my third choice…“my best friend from college.” Seemingly crazy idea of a choice, considering the project, I know. I’m supposed to pick someone I don’t know very well…and then proceed to have a meaningful conversation. But, you see, we WERE very close…in college. Then came our twenties. Life just happens and life seemed to do just that. It happened. Not without some sadness that goes along with change, our friendship just kind of ended. At the time, I remember it feeling like she moved on. Yes, my heart hurt and yes, there were times I was pegged with insecurities. HOWEVER, particularly where I am today, I recognize that there’s a difference between being in one’s twenties and being in one’s late thirties. Certainly some pretty significant differences. Mainly being…growth.
Following the sermon on connection, the Cups of Conversation project, and following a heap of internal deliberation during a family movie night of watching “Christmas with the Kranks,” (random, I’m aware) my mind was made up. I chose her. I chose a good friend from my past whom I haven’t had a meaningful conversation with in over a decade. I chose her because it just seemed right. And with the invitation via a short series of text messages that evening, we scheduled it. We scheduled a “Cup of Conversation.” Most importantly, at the end of these few, yet powerful notes we shared, I was left with an unexpected well of tears when she said this:
“See you then and know that I love you.”
I cried. I cried because THAT is connection. And THAT is God’s whispers and guiding nudge.
(These cups are about to embark on a powerful journey…I feel it. It’s only just beginning but I encourage you to follow along at www.facebook.com/cupsofconversation. Better yet, ask someone outside YOUR circle to sit with you for a meaningful conversation. Your heart will thank you later for it. Oh, and I’d love to hear about it.)
Surrounded by family and good friends, and after only
a few many years, our good friends made it official.
“You have known each other for a long, long, long time, through the first glance of acquaintance to this moment of commitment. We all know the story, you’re on an exotic cruise, Tim buys an autographed Joe Montana college jersey, and oh yeah, you decided to get married. From that moment of Yes to this moment of Yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car, over a meal, or those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.”
A beautiful day that I couldn’t have been happier to have been a part of. On a bonus note, the officiant was a hottie.
Your vows may have been spoken in minutes, but your promises to each other will last a lifetime.
Two months. Maybe three.
At LEAST two months I’ve been throwing around in my head this particular post on my blog. Sometimes, words just downpour…and other times, all I get are a few sprinkles. FINALLY, I just have to choose my route and throw this bugger together. So, today is it…here goes.
Plain and simple…God whispers.
My pride will not prevail as I tell you that I’m human and I do indeed fall into a category of those who don’t always listen to those whispers. Those whispers that are a soft hand with a gentle guiding nudge toward a new or different direction.
Toward the end of 2014, I feel like God tugged the top of my ear and took a peek inside…pretty sure He felt a bit ignored. And just like that, I heard whispers.
I’ve been pondering this decision for a while but I have decided to officially take 2015 off from most of my client photography work.
Various reasons come into play but the biggest are these:
- I guess the number one reason really comes down to “time.” Our kiddos are growing into busy little buggers, which means more hustle, bustle, homework, activity-involvement, and stray water bottles and juice boxes in the van. And while some of you may also know, I’ve worked a half-time job as an engineer for years and still continue to do so. I’ve been asked on many occasions why I don’t just solely do photography…and to that I always have had a fairly simple response. This just works for me. On many levels really. And the folks I work with are certainly some of the very best there are. So, point being…something has to give for a bit.
- My daughter asked at least a dozen times last year if I’d teach her how to take photos with my first camera. More often than not, I said, yes, absolutely…just as soon as I finish up <insert whatever project I was working on at the time>. She hasn’t asked again in a few months. Because I know that her curiosity surely hasn’t disappeared entirely, I plan to take some time to rekindle that bit of fire and follow through with my promise. I adore spending time with that little girl.
- My son asks me nearly every day after school if I will play hockey, baseball, or football with him in the front yard. I do try to oblige with a smile most of the time; however, sometimes, I feel the need to make dinner or work on random tasks. I’ve realized recently that my little guy probably isn’t always going to want hang out with his ol’ mom and I better eat all this up for as long as I have it sitting right in front of me.
- My oldest kiddo has four scrapbooks. My youngest has zero scrapbooks. I wouldn’t mind attempting to even out that score a bit. Anyone else have this predicament?
- Life is passing me by. MY life is passing me by. Luckily it isn’t too far out of reach to grab it up and live it up. It’s a good life and when my little turkey’s don’t need me as much anymore, I want to be able to say that I nailed it…I rocked that whole mom-thing. Sure, I’ve made mistakes. We all do. And I sure know that I’m not done making them. But I’m going to dodge a few of those mistakes and toss a few potential regrets to the side.
So, will I be shooting in 2015? Yes, without a doubt. What will I be shooting? I will be shooting whatever will allow me to absorb these special and limited magical moments with my family and I’ll be shooting simply for me. I have a few special opportunities on the horizon that I look forward to conquering…and certainly sharing as well.
Taking a glimpse of the years I’ve been fortunate to be on this side of the camera, I have developed life-long friendships with incredible individuals that I may not have ever had the opportunity to know and the thought of “what if I hadn’t met them” brings me nothing but a hint of sadness. I love them…and I can’t begin to describe my gratitude in our crossing paths. Photography is magical that way.
The core values of Skye Hatten Photography are composed of a love of life, an appreciation for simplicity, and a craving for sentiment and emotion. While it’s been a journey of discoveries, I think that’s what it has ALWAYS been about really. And why? Because those values are mine. With that, I love being behind the camera and you can sure bet that’s where my place will continue to be. But for this year, I’m taking a breather. I look forward to the opportunities and special projects ahead…and I surely look forward to continuing to share this journey with YOU.
And since no post is really a post without images, I’m sharing some of my favorite images from 2014…what a great year!
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