These are the people in my neighborhood

I hate Texas.

I hate Austin.

And in our house the only swear word you are not allowed to say is hate. But it is so accurate in this instance.

Years ago, just before we left on our Airstream adventure, I got super scared. I called a therapist and scheduled an emergency appointment with him and Thomas. I wanted to back out.

“What is your biggest fear?” he asked. “What is it that you’re so afraid of?”

I explained that the purpose of this trip was to find our Home. That I had moved every two years and just wanted to find a place to lay down roots. And then I started crying and said these words, “My biggest fear is that something will happen and we’ll end up in some terrible place… like Texas.”

Thomas laughed. The therapist laughed. “That will NEVER happen!” They assured me.

And here I am.

For the last 5 years I have tried to fall in love with this place, and failed. I’ve tried to love the city streets and the crowded parks. The libraries bigger than hotels and the hotels for miles. I’ve tried to love the dry earth that cracks like the heels of the old ladies at church, their swollen feet shoved into too-small sandals. I’ve tried. And failed.

And then last week I realized I am never going to love Austin. In fact, I may never not hate Austin. I decided to stop trying to fix that, and instead just accept it. I live in a place I hate. I didn’t get the happy ending to the Airstream adventure that I wanted and my worst-case finding-a-home fear came true.

I accepted it. I cried. I kind of had a mini tantrum, and then I went outside for some fresh air. And my daughter was playing with the neighbors. And I realized, I hate Texas, I hate Austin, but my goodness, I LOVE the people here.

So I grabbed my camera, because that’s how I love people, and I started snapping. Nothing special, no rivers, no epic over the top emotions. Just my people. They are enough.

And that’s how my new photo essay was born.

I am photographing the everyday people here who have my heart. I accept that the place itself is awful, but the people, my goodness, they don’t get any better.

“These are the people in my neighborhood : Day 1”

Bear Creek 2

Usually my blog is rivers, rivers and more rivers. Because, well, that’s where my soul lives and where I make the art that speaks most closely to my personal story. But then sometimes I gather with some incredible women in an adorable little house in the woods in Texas for a weekend and a giant cold front hits right after a giant flood so the rivers are totally off limits so you dance and play in a field in the rain. And it becomes its own kind of magic.

This is Heidi.

This is Megan.

Bear Creek 1

I am going to share more images from the retreat I just held in November, and I know I should write beautiful things to go with these photos, but I have this thing where I like to let things speak for themselves. It’s no secret that I love to write (my next Kickstarter is coming SO SOON AH!) but when it comes to certain memories, experiences and artwork, I just like to leave it alone and let it emit its own glow, if that makes sense. I hope it does.

Anyhow, here are Sharah and Joah in a warm milk bath. It’s actually coconut milk coffee creamer, and the whole room smelled like toasted almonds.

Lily, 9

This weekend I held a super small retreat in Driftwood, Texas. Leading up to it I was in a car accident, and then my son got sick and then my Dad and daughter and then the morning of - I woke up with a fever. I told Thomas I wanted to cancel. I begged him to let me cancel. But he, in his gentle and beautiful way, simply said, “Once you are there, it will all be magic.”

Day 1 I had the greasiest top knot you’ve ever seen and tears streaming down my cheeks. I was up the night before with my sick girl and I made a promise to myself a million years ago that if I was going to put myself out there, then I’d do my best to always tell, and be, the truth. So that was me. Welcoming my guests with a virus, mid panic attack, gift bags in hand.

It was messy and beautiful. We laughed until we cried and also just plain ol’ cried. We ate BBQ and pizza and store-brand sour cream and onion chips. We played in the rain and met a few goats and were visited by a curious coyote. We made weavings and pottery and bonds that I am certain will last forever.

I shared my shooting secrets and presets and business advice but more importantly, I shared my struggles, unfiltered, and allowed myself to be seen completely.

I could have canceled but I didn’t. I could have beat myself up for not being polished and poised, but I won’t.

It was incredible in every way. In all the ways that matter.

I want to share all of the images from this weekend, and I will (maybe), but for now, here are 4 frames of Lily in the backyard of where we stayed. In the rain and in her power. My girl.