Sunday, November 13, 2016

Therapy


As I prepared to drive north, I plugged my iPhone into the cassette adapter and tapped on the audible.com app. I knew exactly what I needed to hear on my two hour drive - the words of Brene Brown. I pressed start on her book The Gifts of Imperfection, which I also read a few years ago. As I pulled into the Starbucks drive-thru lane I stopped the book. The book wasn't narrated by Brene, I needed Brene's voice as much as her words. Instead I chose The Power of Vulnerability - Teaching on Authenticity, Connection and Courage. Only four months had passed since I last listened to this, but I am a different person than I was four months ago.


My drive north would bring me to a place filled with memories - Ludington State Park. I had been to the park only the week before with my daughter and her dog, Findley. Before that it had been almost a year and a half since my last visit, and before that at least a couple of years, which seems utterly ridiculous for as close as I live.


Being there had awakened all my old loves of the place. The only problem with last week was that it went too quickly. On my agenda for that day had been the 1-1/2 mile trek out to Big Sable Point Lighthouse, where I hadn't been since 2011. But my daughter, being the stickler for family traditions had insisted we do the walking loop around the dam, followed by our packed picnic lunch. After lunch, when Findley would be slightly tired we could take a leisurely stroll on the Lost Lake Trail. At eight months Findley's two speeds are fast and faster, so there was no leisurely stroll and I barely had time to raise my camera and take a few snapshots. But even with Findley's fast pace it was still four o'clock by the time we returned to the car. The journey to the lighthouse would have to wait for another day.


Only a week later, on a perfect early November day, sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60's, I was suppose to be home doing house projects while my daughter and Findley were gone for a few days and I had the house to myself. It is hard to get big cleaning projects done with a puppy running around. But instead I found myself in my car driving back to Ludington State Park and this time I would get to the lighthouse.


Even though I have been coming here for over thirty years, the drive into the park never fails to take my breath away. The summer homes and trees abruptly end and all that's left is the road, the dunes, and wide open space.


I pulled into the beach parking lot at 9:30, still early enough to catch some good light at the Big Sable River outlet to Lake Michigan.


Satisfied with my photographic captures thus far, I set off down the gravel two-track path to the lighthouse. About a half mile down the road, I came upon a sign that said Historic Shipwreck and the arrow pointed over the dune toward Lake Michigan. Hmmm...I didn't remember this from five years ago. Over the dune I went. As I came over the first dune this is what I saw...


Not a shipwreck, but it did give me that fluttery feeling inside. The bench begged to be photographed but it also beckoned for me to come and sit. I took off my camera backpack laid it on the bench and settled in for a therapy session with nature.


In Brene's sessions that I listened to on the way up she talked about the year she spent in therapy, therapy she needed to deal with her own issues that were arising from her work on shame and vulnerability. Maybe that's what I needed, a year of therapy to figure some of my crap out. But as I sat on that wooden bench surrounded by sand dunes, blue skies, Lake Michigan and lot of open space, I realized that photography is my therapy. I have access to it any time I need it, not just in scheduled fifty minute sessions. It may not talk to me in a physical voice like a therapist would, but it does have its own language, and I can hear it if I am only aware.


A few people commented on my last post about how self-aware I am. I am because I intentionally try to be. I want to figure myself out, where I am, and where I am headed. It is not a straight and narrow path, it is a constantly winding switchback without an end in sight.


One of the questions I asked myself as I sat on that bench. Why am I always anxious to travel and explore new places? Especially when places so close to home are amazing and filled with wonderful memories. Too often when I go to new places I feel rushed, always looking for "the shot" and usually not finding it, leaving me disappointed in the trip. But then I come to a place like this park, one that I know well and I can find all kinds of things to photograph, still not always "the shot" but the memories carry just as much weight here as perfect light.

I need to stop chasing the new and exciting all the time and instead seek the familiar places that I love. I think my photography and my writing will be stronger because of it.

22 comments:

  1. What a beautiful outing you had with your daughter and her young dog. I love the lighthouse shot. Travelling to new places is fun and can be inspiring, but places we know already and enjoy can create a feeling of comfort, like being in the presence of an old friend.

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  2. This is exactly me too. We are so similar in so many ways. It's 3 years ago since we shared Brene together - do you remember?

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  3. Oh what a magical place full of endless possibilities photographically speaking. But, far more a spiritual place I wish I could visit it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today.

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  4. Best therapy in the world, in my opinion. Several weeks ago when my father died, I took up my camera at tried to capture what it looks like when someone is gone. It was such a challenge, and my images may only mean something to me and no one else, but each time I took up that camera and looked through my lens my heart healed a bit more.

    I don't know what I would have done had I not had this way to create, to express my self.

    Yes. It is therapy. I totally understand that.

    Thank you for putting this into words. As always, your images are so beautiful.

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  5. What a truly magical place this is, Sarah!
    You have the most beautiful views there.
    I love Lake Michigan, especially in the winter.

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  6. Hello my friend, so glad you were able to go out and explore and have some therapy time. Wonderful photos and you know I loved the lighthouses.

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  7. Photography can be great therapy - begging you to look at things in new ways - to express yourself - to speak in a visual language. I might be a little more of a homebody - I enjoy going new places and seeing new things - but often just prefer to stay home. My camera helps me see the familiar in a different ways. Sometimes, though, I find my camera to do just the opposite - especially when I'm somewhere new. Sometimes I'm too focused on getting that elusive perfect shot, and forget to just enjoy the moment of seeing something new. It's a weird balancing act for me. This is a beautiful place! It's wonderful that it's so close to your home. I'm guessing that you could visit it at different times of day, different seasons, different weather - and continue to see new images each time. I will be interested to see where your journey of self-awareness takes you. You seem to be learning a lot from the curvy path you've been taking - a straight line might be a tad boring, anyway...

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  8. I loved the picture of the bench. I believe it was begging for you to sit down and ponder. Those moments are so healing for me. Take care of yourself. Hugs! Bonnie

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  9. Since my knee surgery and not being able to explore very much, I am finding that I am looking at familiar things in new ways and from new angles. I love your spirit of adventure and ways of seeing.....

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  10. Such beautiful pictures and storytelling. What a beautiful location!

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  11. Places we love and the memories they hold can have the same effect on us as people we love and the memories they hold...love and joy and gratitude.

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  12. This was a beautiful post, Sarah, your thoughts and words as well as the photographs. Photography is therapy for me, too, as is nature. Both take me out of myself...out of my head, when it's stuck in what my mom used to call "squirrel-caging." You know, when your thoughts just go round and round like a small animal in an exercise wheel. Interesting, your insight about new vs. familiar. I'm looking forward to hearing more about that.

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  13. It does look quite lovely there Sarah and I'm glad you went back. I love travel also and I do find great photo's when I go but this fall we were not able to travel...so I did my neighborhood...those photo's are labeled "in the hood"...I could literally go forever and find new and beautiful things to shoot...yes, being in the hood is not a bad thing for either of us...but I don't recommend you stop traveling either...beautiful post...I love the one with your daughter and Findley.

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  14. Photography is my therapy too. :) I love the blue skies you captured, such a lovely backdrop for the beach grasses. I think revisiting familiar places helps me look past the obvious 'good shots', seeing instead the details and uniqueness of a place.

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  15. So beautiful.... that first photo - I'd give a lot to be able to spend a few hours kicking back in a place like that, on that verandah, on that bench!

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  16. I find myself falling into similar traps when I am out and usually end up disappointed as well. The words and photographs in this post take my breath away.

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  17. Going some place new always causes my head to whirl and like you, I'm almost desperately looking around to try and capture everything. Going to places I've been before is must more relaxing and I see things in a slower manner. I like them both, though, the new and the old! Lovely area you revisited!!

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  18. Love that shot of you and your lovely daughter on your hike. You look so cute together.

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  19. I also have the wanderer bug, to get on the road and search out new places. But then I come home and realize how beautiful it is right in my back yard. I always figure being away makes me appreciate what's right here.

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  20. That shot of you and Mallary is so sweet...I can hear the giggles! I love that lighthouse and the path to it is sublime. I can see why you love this place.

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  21. You paint a remarkable picture of a wonderfully serene place. To me, it invoked the welcoming feeling of coming home after a long journey. Much like you, I am always looking for the perfect shot, not for photography but for watercolors. I search high and low for the new and unusual. Maybe I should try to look closer to home.

    Leonardo @ US Health Works

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)