WILDlife

Silence Between the Notes

I've had this as my email auto-response for this week, but I think it also belongs here...
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"Music is the silence between the notes"

 -Claude Debussy

I truly believe what sets me apart from the sea of other photographers is my ability to hear and capture stories that others miss. I teach international photography classes, and speak at conferences around the country, and truly, at the end of the day, the number one tool I encourage others to have is the ability to unplug, and just listen.

So often, though, in today's world, people live glued to their screens. For some, this works. But for me, it would be impossible to be the artist I am, and live in such a way.

In order to continue being the soul-filled storyteller that I am, I have to live a life filled with gorgeous mindfulness and awareness. Tucked in my Airstream in the woods, spending afternoons capturing snails at the lake with my little ones, or morning sunrise walks through path-less forests.

It may seem to have nothing to do with photography, but in truth, it is everything.

I promise that you and your email are important to me. I promise that I will sit down with my warm tea by the lake, and read your words and respond. It just might take a bit longer than someone who lives glued to their phone. My dedicated 'office' hours are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and I answer all messages in the order they are received.

There are people in the industry who tell me I am crazy for running a successful business this way. They say I need to answer all messages within a few hours, and I understand where they are coming from. I do. But for me, the unplugged moments spent in deep and complete reverence of the world around me, are what make me, me. They foster my ability to hear the music between the notes. And I never want to lose that.

If you are looking for someone who is constantly going-going-going and lives on her computer day in and day out, I am not the girl for you. Thankfully, I believe there are no mistakes. That you reached out for a very beautiful reason. And, I am willing to bet, you're one of the ones who totally get it, too.

View More: http://michellegardella.pass.us/patti

Austin, TX

"I would love to live like a river flows...carried by the surprise of its own unfolding." - John O'Donohue

 

Two weeks ago, I was lying on my back on the freezing cold floor of the Airstream. I woke up that morning, turned to kiss Lily's cheek, and suddenly the entire world spun around and around in all directions. All at once I was upside down and backwards.

Vertigo.

It happened once before when I was pregnant, but that certainly wasn't comforting. My eyes darted back and forth and all I could do was shout for Thomas.

I tried to walk it off, but that made everything worse, and so there I was, flat on my back, for 8.5 hours.

As I laid there so many thoughts raced through my head. As much as we loved living in the Airstream and exploring incredible pockets of the world, I could feel it coming to a close. I had heard Braedon crying a few nights before in the middle of the night, and when I asked what was wrong, he said he missed having friends and a school. Each day Lily questioned when her tap dance lessons began again, and Thomas shuffled around never saying a word, but I just knew. I just knew.

You would think being stuck to the floor for an entire day would be torture, but here's what happened: Thomas took the children to our super amazing friend's house in Houston and I had the entire 8.5 hours to myself. In silence. The Universe literally put me in time out. I couldn't move even if I wanted to. And in that space, in that giant block of solitary confinement, something really incredible happened: I let go.

When we set out on this adventure, I knew nothing was certain. We didn't even map out our course. But, I did know the ending. I knew it the way a child knows the lullaby sung to them each night. I knew it without knowing. It was part of me.

I could see the image in my head. So clear. The waves crashing all around my hips, my legs tangled in sea grass. I’d be laughing. The way marathon runners laugh when they feel the ribbon slide across their bellies. That finish line: The Powerful Pacific Ocean.

As I lay on the floor, tears rolling down my face at times, I let go of that image. I surrendered. Whenever I am physically sick, there is always something I am being taught, and that day, the lesson was undoubtably: balance. I was sick beyond belief and freezing cold, but sometimes the most crucial lessons are the hardest ones to swallow.

So I closed my eyes and whispered a prayer, "If this whole incredible journey is coming to a fork in the road, could I please be shown clearly which direction is truly meant to be."

A few days later, a remarkable, unbelievable, too-good-to-ever-be-true job offer arrived for Thomas. A few days after that, an incredible private school accepted our children. A few days after that, the sweetest little bungalow I have ever laid eyes on opened up for rent in a picturesque city neighborhood, and they chose our application.

Well, shit. That's pretty clear.

I will not lie and say it was an easy surrender or transition. Picture a two year old having a three-day tantrum and that's probably pretty close to accurate. But even in my most defiant moments, I held tight to those flat-on-my-back-world-spinning-truths.

Balance.

Is it possible to have a home, and remain untethered? Is is possible to put our children in school and not compromise their spiritual and intellectual liberation? Is it possible to have a day job and still feel deeply rooted in your family?

I don't know. But what I do know is that I refuse to answer NO without trying. Without opening my heart to the flow of endless possibilities that life has to offer. I am ready to explore a life of balance. Of camping in the wilderness completely unplugged some days and others cooking muffins in colorful paper cups for the library fundraiser...

Did I fall in love with Austin? It wasn't love at first sight, no. But I did fall in love with the spark in my children's eyes, and the way Thomas stands so much taller.

Is this everything I have ever dreamed of for an ending? Maybe not, BUT, this is all part of the beautiful and ever-changing current of the adventure I signed up for over a year ago. This isn't the end. Not even close.

Maybe it's time to just sit still for a moment, and work on some of my own inner healing. Light my own heart-flame that so needs some tending. Maybe this is everything I need (even if not so much of what I want) in this moment.

I am grateful.

And when I tell you this place has the most gorgeous river waters I have ever seen in my entire life, please know I am definitely not kidding.

I hope you'll come to visit, so we can explore them, together.

 

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Him. Always.

My sweet boy. So often I sit down to write you love letters. To share about how much I love your laugh, your imagination, your kindest heart. I admire you more than anyone. I am so humbled to be your Mom. But each and every time I try to put pen to paper, the tears begin to fall, and I end up curled up on your bed, my palm on your heart as you sleep, smelling your hair and whispering how much I adore you.

 

 

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