The latest...

Holding Hands with Fear...

Last night I was asked to be a part of a 3 panel judging team of a photo competition at the Baltimore Camera Club.
Putting your work out there is an incredibly vulnerable place to be
…and honestly, for me on the judging side (after all…who am I to judge others?) …I felt incredibly naked and fraudulent.

Judge intros threw me into the spotlight…the hot seat that I so desperately attempt to avoid.
Heart pounding, I briefly introduced myself, sat down…
…and realized after a few short minutes…that I survived.

Fortunately, my fellow judges were welcoming, sincere and honest…
…genuinely sharing the why behind the scoring.
What worked.
What didn’t.
….and I found comfort in that and ultimately in myself...to share my opinion on the art before me...
...delicately, but honestly, handling someone’s heART...wide open…bracing for criticism.

After the competition, I was approached by several people, offering positive feedback and thanks for my participation.
I’ve gotta admit, that really hit home.

2018 is shaping up to be transformative year…
…as I continue to realize that I (...that we...) must embrace...

Holding hands with fear.

Liam. Popham Beach, ME. 2017.

Liam. Popham Beach, ME. 2017.

Family...

It’s hard not to wonder during the day to day struggles…

…if we’re doing the right things.

 

As we navigate the logistics of getting them from here to there.

As we attempt to stay afloat.

As we weather the emotional storms and unknowns around every corner.

As we ride life’s roller coaster.

 

…but glimmers of light find their way in

…in the spaces in between

That whisper…

You’re doing OK.

You’re getting thru to them…

…in small, yet meaningful ways

 

…about what we all mean to each other

 

Family.

Maine Summer 2017-744.jpg

The BIG Give in 2018 Follow-Up...

At the end of last year, I repitched an idea I had from 2015 called The BIG Give. In short, I proposed telling someone's story over the course of an entire year.  A BIG ask. A BIG give. A truly vulnerable place to be.

The call for entries fell on receptive ears and I was humbled to read heartfelt emails from people detailing why I should document their lives. In the end, I chose the very first submission by Niger Alabi, a single mom in Baltimore city. 

 'I became a mother at the age of 16. Despite the odds, I completed high school with the rest of my class magna cum laude and I hold two degrees. I never let anything stop me from achieving my goals.  I now have 3 beautiful children and my story is that of a mother who does it all. I work,  cook,  clean,  help with assignments,  volunteer in my community,  donate to great causes,   contribute to other members of my family,  and I make life fun.  My life is a rollercoaster but, I would not change it.'

Today we met for the first time. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we weren't sure what to expect. Niger and I greeted each other with a hug and each child shook my hand, wondering who I was and what I was about.

Over the course of almost two hours, we shared stories about our lives -- our struggles and triumphs. We discussed the project and what it might be like over the course of the year...and I think the kids warmed up to the idea of what it might be like to see me on a regular basis. I admitted to never having been to the part of town that I now found myself in. We talked about the struggles of Baltimore city, the aging infrastructure, bureaucracy, the need for funding and housing...and the importance of family. 

By the time I left, I knew in my heart that this project was going to be rewarding in so many ways. We left each other with handshakes and hugs and excitement for what's to come.

I hope you'll continue to follow along as I document the Alabi family...

Rodney, Blessing, Niger + Demitri : January 15, 2018

Rodney, Blessing, Niger + Demitri : January 15, 2018

The BIG Give in 2018...

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I happened to be scrolling thru old blog posts and stumbled upon this idea from 2015. It never got the traction I was hoping for so I've got my fingers crossed that it'll happen this time around. C'mon 2018!

NOW, more than ever, we need our stories. They resonate in ways that ground us and make us feel that human connection. They inspire us to live our lives to the fullest and reach out to each other in person...outside of the digital world. They give us hope. They allow us to shine our light.

I can’t tell you how happy and appreciative I am these days.

I’m getting older, sappier…and have my moments, where I can be the grumpy ole, cynical man…

…but mostly, I’m truly happy.

 

I think a LOT about LIFE.

About time.

About those closest.

Those in need.

…and I find myself wanting to be there…for everyone

…in any capacity that I can.

So much so that it pains me at times.

…and I realize

It’s impossible really.  But still.  I try.

I’ve come to accept it’s just in me.

…and it’s a good problem to have.

 

So in light of these ramblings…

I want to celebrate.

…and the best way that I can do that with you…

…is to do so in photos.

 

I truly LOVE telling stories with a camera.

…and for someone out there, I want to tell yours.

…over the course of an entire year.

Yes.

An entire year.

 

…and honestly, I don’t want to define too many specifics.

As in, we’ll meet up ‘x’ times on these specific days.

 

I want this to be fluid.

Real.

An open, working, window into your world.

…and we’ll determine the when/where,

...as life and it’s ever changing moments and circumstances…move us.

A celebration of the everyday.

Your story.


What’s it going to cost you?

Your time -- which I know is truly valuable.

Your willingness to be who you are…and share your story.

 

What you’ll receive?

A kick ass series of photos, documenting your story over the course of a year.

…and I mean…KICK ASS.

Keepsakes for a lifetime.

 

So there it is.

 

If you’re in Baltimore or close by, jump on this opportunity.

It’s a great one (..at least I think so. Crazy perhaps).

If you’re outside the area, you can still participate by nominating someone…

…or perhaps you’ll decide that the session fees saved are worth rolling into travel costs to get me to you.

Yep. Have camera. Will travel.

 

This should be fun.


Are you in? ….or know someone that should be?:

 

Send an email to john@thewairehouse.com with the following:

-Photo of the individual/family/business

-Tell me a little about you, where you’re located and why I should be documenting your world for a year

-Preferred way for me to reach out to you if you’re chosen

 

To encourage participation, this BIG give will only occur if we get a minimum of 58 entries (it’s a lucky number).

So jump aboard. 

SHARE this please.

 

I hope to be telling your story soon…

Smells like Christmas Spirit...

Friday, post work/school.

December 1st.

We're all feeling the Christmas spirit...

...so we roll out as a family to get our tree, with my mother in law in tow.

It's 4PMish. Sara and I are feeling sluggish after a long week so we opt for some coffee, then we're off on our adventure.

Just before 5PM we arrive at the Misty Valley farm stand in Hunt Valley -- a tradition that started prior to our kiddos.  Finding a tree this time around was quick, even though focusing on it was difficult with everyone heading in different directions, hiding...then chasing each other...then hiding again.

A few candy canes, a couple of wreaths and a safely secured tree atop our truck later...we knew our timing put us up against a hangry crowd...so we quickly decided on Carrabba's. 10 minutes later we were rolling in, just before the dinner rush.

What appeared to be a low key, fairly empty restaurant turned into a frustrating wait...watching people arrive after us and get seated before us. Our kiddos were becoming restless. My mother in law was analyzing the situation. Sara and I were considering our alcohol options.

We walked out, swearing and thinking about the nastiest review in the world and opted to poke ours head in Outback to check on the wait. We were seated immediately and enjoyed great service and  a good meal.

Bellies full, we asked for the check as my mother in law was having a back and forth conversation with herself (out loud)...considering boxing the blooming onion leftovers....leaving them....oh who am I kidding?....she was gonna take them with us the whole time, as her unfinished salad sat in front of her. Apparently the blue cheese wasn't settling well.

Before heading home we decided to make a quick pass at the liquor store for some wine. I joked about the leftovers as we pulled into a parking space and the mention of the onions (and their smell) alongside the blue cheese curdling in my mother in law's stomach tapped something deep inside. The kids were amused and I have to admit that Sara and I may have smiled at each other. As Sara went for wine, her Mom stepped out for some fresh air and to dispose of the prized leftovers.

Homeward bound, all three kids spent the entire trip making puking sounds, enticing my poor mother in law to do the deed. After pulling into the driveway, she was one of the first to pop out...and within seconds, was leaning against the telephone pole, barfing like nobody's business.

We'll be talking about this one for years...

Reflecting on Maine...

We're back after a week in Maine and similar to years prior, I'm left with fond memories, itchy bug bites, a few extra pounds and a thought or two bouncing around in my noggin.

These trips continue to shape and define me. I'm able to breathe a little deeper and minimize the inputs...which helps to tune in to what's left. Maine is rugged and beautiful.  It makes me appreciative and has taught me to take care of who (and what) I have in my life.

I'm already missing waking up alongside my family. As loud and crazy as things can get, those characters make life worth living. I'm always battling with what I should be doing with myself when I'm away from them -- 3 things became abundantly clear along the trip and I'm committed to ensuring that I stick to doing them:

  • Documenting life photographically
  • Writing
  • Making

Documenting life has grown in importance in my life as I've built a family of my own. Images take me on a journey, tapping the memory floodgates. Telling these stories...my own and those who's trust I've been lucky to earn...has become core to who I am. It feeds my soul and makes this ole heart pound a little stronger.

Writing is something that I never seem to do enough of...but when I do, I always feel good inside. I'm looking for ways to incorporate more in my life thru daily journaling and weekly blogging.  If I'm being honest, those ways have always been there. I should rephrase that to say...I'm making time to write. Period.

Making is something I just always think about. Perhaps I'm already doing it via documenting and writing...but there's a piece of me that feels like I need to be physically making something with my hands.  That's not going to happen sitting behind a desk. I need to get off of my arse...and make.

As I jump back into the routine, I've gotta remember these words. I've got to hold fast to my compass and stick to the path I'm carving (and craving).

Bath, ME with the ones who matter most...

Bath, ME with the ones who matter most...

Minimizing Inputs...

It’s been 15 days without social media and I’m still alive. Business is thriving and the family front is as crazy as ever. 

It took about 8 to 10 days for me to finally stop reaching for my phone.  It really is crazy to see how conditioned I was and now that I’ve spent a whole lot more time with my head up…it’s almost frightening to see how many of us are going thru life with our faces glued to screens.

I’ve noticed a shift in my thought process…where I feel like I’ve become much more appreciative of everyone and everything that surround me. 

Let’s face it -- all of this has a limited shelf life.

Conversations are deeper, more prevalent.  

Time, which has always seemed so hard to come by, is slowing and is actually beginning to feel like I have more of it.

Call me crazy.

Any which way I look at things, curbing the inputs has minimized the ‘noise’ in my life/head…and maximized my outputs.

Run...

Since Chris Cornell passed, I haven't been the same.  I needed this from the Foo Fighters...

[Intro]
Wake up
Run for your life with me
Wake up
Run for your life with me

In another perfect life
In another perfect light
We run
We run
We run

[Verse 1]
The rats are on parade
Another mad charade
What you gonna do?
The hounds are on the chase
Everything’s erased
What you gonna do?
I need some room to breath
You can stay asleep
If you wanted to
They say that’s nothings free
You can run with me
If you wanted to
Yeah you can run with me
If you wanted to

[Chorus]
Before the time runs out
There’s somewhere to run
Wake up
Run for your life with me
Wake up
Run for your life with me

In another perfect life
In another perfect light
We run
We run
We run
Run!

[Verse 2]
We are the nation’s stakes
If everything’s erased
What you gonna’ do?
I need some room to breathe
You can run with me
If you wanted to
Yeah you can run with me
If you wanted to

[Chorus]
Before the time runs out
There’s somewhere to run
Wake up
Run for your life with me
Wake up
Run for your life with me

In another perfect life
In another perfect light
We run
We run
We run
Run!

[Chorus]
Wake up
Run for your life with me
Wake up
Run for your life with me

In another perfect life
In another perfect light
We run
We run
We run
Run!