Photo-Heart Connection: January

I'm still contemplating starting a 366 project. The big issue for me seems to be do I want to take the time to decide each day which photo counts for the project. I take photos almost every day as it is (and I keep a gratitude journal on my iPod touch which has a daily photo... maybe that is already my 366).

This month, though, I have found another project that calls to me. Kat at Kat Eye Studio is hosting a monthly photo-heart connection series. Her photo for the month can be found here (along with a link up of participants). (The button I am using to link through to the series is not working, at least I can't see it, can you?

I actually looked at a lot of my photo archives this month, because I was going back over the year, so I am (personally) going to disqualify those photos (I know Kat includes them, I'm just not going to, it widens the field way too much for me).

I am including the old film I processed this month, even though it was shot very long ago.

And it comes as no surprise, I'm sure, that this is where my heart went, when I looked back over my month.

California. 2008. My father-in-law and his wife's back yard, shot through a disposable camera that sat in boxes and drawers for almost four years. My two year old in jeans and a tank top I dyed for him, in one of my first LWI batches.

The rolled up cuffs and too-big-in-the-butt pants. Oh, my heart. He was still in diapers, but on this trip we had switched to disposables, which gave him the worst rash. The cloth diapers were so much better, but we were going to be traveling for six weeks and there didn't seem to be a way to wash them -- or carry them all -- with us, especially in Europe, where we went next.

We did the best we could.

I have so many memories of this epic adventure. My first trip with Remy on my own (we flew to California and then to Europe where we met up with M, who had been working in France while we were in Cali visiting the grandparents). The good and the bad of being on my own, essentially, with a child who didn't sleep.

My heart both hurts and rejoices in this photo. It's a wabi sabi connection, this real life mothering. It is the most pain and the most joy I have ever known. It is work beyond imagining and reward beyond capacity.

And I survived it.

I survived being woken up every two hours (or more). I survived being woken for the day at the crack of dawn and then not knowing if he would nap or not. I survived a ten hour red eye to Paris -- well, I did manage to leave my passport in the seat behind me, but the very amazing flight attendant found it and me in the customs tunnel, after I'd panicked and a very kind stranger who spoke more English than I spoke French had already turned around with me to go try to retrieve it.

I am blessed.

(I am also absurdly kind to almost everyone I meet, and this helps people want to help me, I think. I empathize with flight attendants who work in the post-9/11 air travel field. People who fly are generally irritated and take it out on the people who have the least to say about anything. Not cool. I make sure I don't act that way when I fly, even though I am just as irritated as anyone with the tiny seats and the lack of awesomeness. /End rant)

I survived.

There were times (all through early infancy and into toddlerhood) where I did not know how I would possibly survive, but I did. And I am so proud now that I did. Despite it being the toughest years of my life, despite the hole that threatened to swallow me into a pit of despair so big I couldn't climb out, I climbed out. And I am whole again.

Compared to that, what else could I choose? What other photo could capture my heart the same way?