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my best creativity // seattle film photographer

This is going to be a post with few photos & many words.  Be warned.

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There was this two week period of time that happened in November, where I was in Scottsdale, Arizona for five days, was in Seattle for three days that consisted of two out of town visitors, a family birthday party & a wedding, then in New Orleans for five days, and then home for a weekend of celebration for my birthday.  This two week period was not unlike many times that travel sort of takes over my life; however, there was something different this time.

The difference was that I missed my family, terribly.  And the difference of that fact more than any other time, was that I had been mulling over a talk that I had just heard from Davina Fear, where she had said, “Give your best creativity to the people you love most.”  I’m not sure why when she said that at that very time, that my heart was fully open to hear it, but it was.  I couldn’t get that poignant statement out of my head.

“Give your best creativity to the people you love most.”

All at once I realized how much creative energy I had put into the lives of others & emotional energy I had put into the notion of always trying to please everyone, that the two people in this world that I needed to most spend my creative & emotional energy on were last on that priority list.  I realized that I had sort of checked out of parenting (“she’s practically an adult!  she doesn’t need me anymore!”), and was basically going through the motions of marriage… all the while hoping to spend as much of my time documenting the growing lives of other families & celebrating the marriages of other couples.

And what made this realization especially difficult, is that it had come to me only on the second day of this period of time where I couldn’t be there to show my family how much I wanted to be there for them.  How much I loved them, missed them, and wanted to make concentrated moves towards being a better partner, mother & artist.  Instead I was gone, I was home but barely there because of everything else going on, and then I was gone.  The second week that I was gone, I was supposed to be enjoying what was my very first visit to the seriously incredible city of New Orleans, but instead I was in a creative slump that nearly debilitated me from taking any photos of this city that I had quickly fallen in love with.  I only barely shot three rolls of film the whole week, and all I could think about was when I would be home & when I could come back to NOLA with my family.  That’s all I wanted.

So, I say all of this because I have almost no photos from what I consider to be one of the most fascinating & beautiful cities that I’ve ever visited (the few above are all I have to show)… it’s up there with Merida & almost identical, oddly enough.  The history is rich, the city is vibrant in the face of adversity, the streets are old, the people are friendly but cautious, and beauty can be found between each blink you take.  But with every blink that I took, I saw flashes of my daughter, with beauty unmatched, and the years of her short life that I’ve spent concentrating on beauty & light elsewhere… and I thought so much of the times I told myself that my marriage can wait because it will be around “forever,” and I thought about my art always playing second fiddle to my business.

I’m not sure where I will go from here.  I do know that these two weeks were two of the most introspective weeks that I’ve had in ages, and I don’t want them to be for naught.  I want to publicly out myself, as a person who sees her faults & wants to take the excuses I’ve made for those faults & turn them into opportunities to overcome them.  I want to make strides towards being a better person, in my home first, in my heart (and art) second, in my actions towards those outside of my home third, and in my business… I want to be proud of the person that I am to the people I love most.  I guess I’ve written this ridiculously long & personal post so that I feel like I’m being held accountable, but I also hope you’ll learn from my mistakes & do this always & without being told (unlike I did!)… and I equally hope that you’ll also learn from my realization that it’s really never too late to do just this.  To give all of you to the ones who need you, including yourself (!!!), and aim for a life where the rest will just fall into place based on this simple notion…

“Give your best creativity to the people you love most.”

*Update* um, to make it even longer than it already was… this post received a lot of positive feedback, along with a photo that I posted on my instagram last week {see photo here}, and I am in awe & so appreciative of everyone’s honesty on the subject of truth, creativity, and family.  One message that I received from my friend Karen really hit home, however, and I’d like to share it here:  “Life is a balance and you are just finding yours, be easy on yourself.  I am not saying that what you have written in this post is not valid or right, I agree that your best should be given to your family.  Davina is a badass, I have read her blog for years.  But I also want you to please factor in that by having a job, creating precious images for people at some of the most important times of their life (and the sacredness that comes from that) has probably made you a better mother and wife. That there is some precious thing that is gained by having a job, doing it really, really well (you are really, really good at your job), that is measured in self-confidence and self-esteem which makes you better for your family than you would be if you didn’t have that (I sorely lack those things). You are this incredible role model for your daughter, I cannot help but think you are a rockstar to her. You are to all of us, people who don’t even know you, and I can’t begin to tell you how important your rolemodelness (yeah totally made that word up) will be in her life as she moves into adulthood.  Yeah, you gave a lot to your clients, maybe even more than you should have, but please don’t beat yourself up for doing a job with love and caring and for not just phoning it in. For making a living and providing for your family and as I understand saving towards a future that spends the rest of your life traveling with them and doing it all with so much love.  You probably can’t even measure what value your photos have to those people AND the value you gained from working and having that sense of a job well done.   Gosh your blog, your instagram tells such a story (your story) of love of life, love of family, love of friends.  I look at your blog and it is SO easy to see how big your heart is and how full and how large the place your family takes up in that heart.”  This message was so encouraging to me that I was literally in tears early this morning as I read it!  As you all know, my heart is very open to sharing & I love hearing what others have to share as well… and feel deeply comforted to hear that my work & my words have resonated with so many.  Thank you to all of you that have opened up to me in the past week or so over the struggles/triumphs in life, and for sending such warm & loving vibes my way!

Melissa@Julia's Bookbag - Thank you for sharing your story Catherine! I think this is important for all creatives to hear…..xoxo

Bunn Salarzon - Thank you for sharing your story. That quote is with me now as a great reminder.

Heather - It is always lovelier to see all of one’s colors than just a select few. Thank you for sharing. xoxox

Jillian - You are one of the strongest and most creative individuals I know and I am so so lucky to have you in my life. Thank you for those words!

Barbara Fox - Love your honesty and words from the heart. On your creativity: it’s over the top! Your photos catch that certain essence… that truth… that story. And your love and attention to your family shines <3

samm blake - beautiful words. This idea is something I’ve been struggling with a long time and great reading about it from your perspective. love you!

Karen - You are truly an amazing human being and you are a role model for me too. xoxo

Jen Lynne - Beautiful, just beautiful Catherine! You are an amazing mother, wife, friend and photographer, thank you for sharing this with us! Those words are echoing in my mind now :)

Shauna Heron - Ahhh Catherine… you are the real deal. So grateful to have connected with you during those two weeks. <3 <3

Aileen - This is such a great post that I’m so glad I’ve seen. And yes yes yes, what an incredible message from Davina, one that I too now will carry with me. It encapsulates what has been on my heart, but not expressed in words. But yes yes yes to your friend Karen’s message to you. You are amazingly inspiring Catherine, from those you know, to those you don’t even know. When I think of you (and we’ve never even met), I know a woman who loves her man, who is an incredible mother to her daughter, who celebrates simple loving times together, and who all dream together as a family — and I don’t think that’s just you showing “your best” on FB. I think that is genuinely who you are as a person. No, don’t beat yourself up. If you feel that need to turn yourself more towards your family, to give them more of what your clients maybe see, then by all means do that, but know that it’s not b/c you haven’t been doing it right all along, rather, it’s simply b/c you feel in your gut that you need to do that now. And you strike me as someone who not only loves from her gut, but who listens to her as well. Wholly and fully.

Greer - Thank you for sharing. This really hits home for me. I love the photos that you took. Please come back soon:)

Brandon - Lovely work, Catherine!

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