I do not think there will ever be anyone alive who knows me as well as my daughter does. She just GETS me, down to the darkest corner of my soul and I'm exceedingly grateful and hugely relieved for that bond because oftentimes I feel as misunderstood as a spider is and as often as I feel it, I also know that I am. But the dandelion thing. Most people just think I spend my days mindlessly taking photographs of these fluff balls because that's all I can photograph and I'll never grow as a photographer if I do not venture further than the landscapes of my lawn. It's not only about that and little to no one ever takes the time to figure that part out. It's about a connection. About the emotional roller coaster they send me on. The pure joy that spurts out of my every pore when I see one. But it's more than that, it's very much about finding metaphoric and spiritual value in something I have this strange and very deep connection with. So when I receive a whatsapp from Avalon with the words below painted all over my screen, I just know that she knows that it's not just a 'thing' I LOVE to photograph but a deeply embedded connection to something that lifts the corners of my dark edges, something I can see myself in; stubborn, ever-changing and ethereal and a metaphor for all of life; a work in progress. It is so much more than just a pretty picture of a dandelion yet when others look, they often fail to see. It is not just a picture. This is the way of the busy, disconnected world. And few will read this post because it's far too long and they'll just 'like' the image because "Ooh that's pretty". Lucky for me there is one person who gets it. And that's enough.
It was spring time and a teacher said to his little pupils, “I saw something the other day, and I wonder if any of you have seen it. If you know it, don’t say what it is. I went out and saw it coming up from the ground about ten inches high, and on top of it was a little round ball of fluff, and if you went WOOF, a whole galaxy of stars flew out. Now what was it like before the little ball of stars appeared?”
One said, “It was a little yellow flower, like a sunflower, only very small”
“Yes, but what was it like before that?”
One of them said, “It was a little rosette of green leaves coming out of the ground”.
“Now, do you all know what it is?”
They roared back, “Dandelion!”
“And did you ever pick dandelions?” Most of them said yes, but the teacher said, “No, you cannot pick a dandelion. That is impossible. A dandelion is all these things you mentioned, and more, so whatever you picked, you only got a fragment of something or other. You can’t pick a dandelion, because a dandelion is not a thing. It is a process and a performance. And, you know, everything is a process and a performance – even you.”
- Osho -
"Lila is a variant of the female given name Leila, derived from the Semitic word for night. Over time it has come to mean Dark Beauty or Dark-haired Beauty. In Spanish lila is the word for the color lilac. In German it means purple.”
I sauntered into the kitchen sleepily, preparing to make coffee for my husband and me. The kettle needed filling and while the water poured into the empty space I noticed a motionless bee on the windowsill. My heart hurt. I put the kettle in its frame and forgot about coffee as I picked the little worker bee up gently. Her leg moved slowly. Hope. Cradling her in the cup of my hand I created a cocoon with my other and blew warm air from my mouth into my hands. Her tiny body responded. More hope. I grabbed some honey and put a small blob of some more hope onto my hand which she immediately started to lap up. The time on the clock was 07h50. My focus had shifted and my husband knew it was now his task to make the coffee.
I walked around my kitchen blowing warmth into my hand and talking shushed words of encouragement to an insect I am hopelessly in love with. She responded weakly to her tonic, wriggling in the sticky substance as I was struck by the irony of a bee possibly dying in honey, something she had a hand in creating. I hoped she was not writing in pain. I’ve had a bee die in my hand once before and the signs looked as though they may be pointing in the same direction.
I kept embracing hope as I continued rooting for her. Forty minutes later she lay motionless in the palm of my hand and I thought it would be best to leave her there until I was certain her last minutes were made as comfortable as a bee can be. I got distracted with my phone while still cupping her in my hand when I felt something move. My head shot down to my palm and my heart thumped in shock as my eyes watched her on all six legs primping and preening herself in the cradle of my humanness . My eyes grew a thick film of sodium chloride solution. Belief.
It took another twenty minutes for her to clean herself of the honey I had tried to feed her. She stayed on my hand as I watched life return to a miraculous and determined little creature. I was in awe at her need for survival and smiled quietly to myself as I watched her small wings buzz in intervals as she continued to prepare herself for flight. I moved outside while I took some photographs of her as the sun draped us both in its morning warmth. At 09h17 her wings fluttered suddenly, sucking the air from my lungs and she proceeded to fly onto my forehead as I laughed in amusement. I could have sworn I felt her give me a grateful peck on my head but that’s just the emotional idealistic human in me. I called my daughter to help me get her off my head and as Montanna put the little marvel back in my hand, she stayed for but one more sweet moment before she took to the sky where a girl with wings belongs. With it she took my belief in hope and a reminder of one of the most powerful quotes from one of my most favourite movies; Sea Biscuit, “You don’t throw a whole life away just because it’s banged up a little”
I decided to call her Lila before I found the meaning so fitting when I looked it up: She almost died in the cold of the night. She is so a dark-haired beauty. Bees love the fragrant lilac flowers of the Lavendar bush and purple is one of my favourite colours which is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.
Yesterday a bee flew into my bedroom and landed on my finger while I was busy at my computer. Today I saved her friend’s life. There is always hope if you care enough to make your beliefs come to life. Goodbye Lila, what an enlightening pleasure it certainly was to meet you.
I just recently finished reading this book and I cannot begin to tell you how much I cried and in turn found a chasm deep within me to forgive and let go of a past I know now was not my fault. I knew before I opened the book that it was going to be like that; intrinsically healing. I knew because there is so much of Lily inside me; a little girl who lost her mother at far too young, brought up by an abusive father who had far too much pain inside him that he knew what to do with, so he hurt himself and everyone else who got too close.
The story resonated so deeply that I will cherish it's message for as long as my mind and heart can hold onto it. I always thought my mother selfish for committing suicide, for abandoning me to take care of my younger sister and myself without even leaving me a manual at the age of seven on how to BE a mother. That's how long I have been one. But none of what she or my father did was because of me, it was their own 'stuff', their own demons and it's taken me a long time to exorcise them by finding that hard and angry space within my throbbing heart to bend to my knees and honour their stuff that I cannot own but tried to for so long. It's not mine nor will it ever be. All I've ever really searched for throughout these years of trying to make sense of why I was born to two truly damaged souls was a clue somewhere in all that chaos that perhaps they did love me. That I actually mattered to them. Because their actions demonstrated quite the opposite. I will never really know that answer but I comfort myself with the fact that I am still here and a certain amount of love must have been present to allow for that to happen. I guess they loved me in the best way they, in all their brokenness, knew how.
This is the one of the most powerful lines in the book and it was the final moment where it all came full circle for me. The penny dropped with a resonance so loud that it thundered in my soul long after the words had left my eyes.
So, to all of you who are or aren't or cannot be, Happy Mother's Day...find that Mother in yourself before anything or anyone else because she's there, waiting for you to tell her you love and cherish her.
“You have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside”
- Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees -
It has been a while since my last confession. Since then, we have lost our dogs, our home, my father and my grandmother. I'm still waiting for the fist of grief to punch me with all it has in the gut, you know...for that torrential wave of "what the fuck just happened?" to come. The year of 2016 was a year overflowing with loss, for everyone. For myself though, some of it was so painful I'm petrified to explore that cavern, yet some of that deprivation brought enormous relief, like getting rid of poisonous people, people who literally made me sick with their toxic persona's. It's never a bad thing to kick the waste products out of your life. Moving on...
I've started something that I hope will be completed before the end of this year, 2017. It will be the portal into my own magical kingdom of finding the healing my soul so desperately needs. There is so much more I need to let go of that I'm clutching in my angry fists. I'm holding on so tightly that my fingernails have embedded their half-moon curves into the palms of my spongy hands like eerie Joker grins, taking the piss out of me and my inability to just accept that certain inalienable questions will never have answers that make enough sense to comfort my racy mind. I must take steps with purpose towards my own sanity knowing that some apologies will never come, some will be as insincere as the souls they get spat out from and some truths just need a shovel and a tremendously deep grave.
This is how the story of the rest of my life begins...
The last time I saw my Dad, he was an unrecognizable shell of the big soul he was so proud to be; wafer thin with a bulging belly as the cancer was making its final preparations to steal his closing breath from his infected lungs the very next day. It was confusingly painful and difficult for me to see what was once an alive and energetic man so frail, so beaten and used up by this thing that baffles medical professionals into not being able to find a cure. He was being voraciously consumed from the inside and there was not a thing I could do to save him. Nothing. There is nothing quite like that kind of vulnerability.
I had to let him go.
There are words my Dad breathed at me before I had to turn away and let the cancer take him from me, yet it was not so much the words he uttered, but the power in his eyes when he looked at me, those amber flames bearing into my hazel soul looked more alive than they had for so long. He pointed at me with his crooked fingers and spoke directly to my core and when the words were spent, my thoughts caught in my throat and all I could do to respond to him was nod in acknowledgment and bite both my lips together from the inside of my mouth, hard.
Why does it take a child so long to listen to their parents? I never had the most endearing relationship with my father so I suspect anything he said I naturally or subconsciously just rebelled against. He'd been telling me this for so many years and as I sat next to his Hospice bedside, his parental guidance felt more urgent than ever. "Write a book Lezzet, you have a brilliant way with words", is what came out.
It has begun.
I shall live forever and ever. I shall find out thousands of things. I shall find out about people and creatures and everything that grows and I shall never stop making magic
- The Secret Garden -
Let them be little...'cause they're only that way for a little while
- Unknown -
Since we have been in this house from 2013, I was really hoping that I would see more Rain Spiders and much to my despair, I have had a whole TWO encounters. Until last week when I had more encounters in three days than I did in the whole three years we have been here. Three males and one female in three days. Felt like Christmas had come early. So here they are, the beauty and mystery of the Huntsman...the gentle giant.
It was time for a change because you know, a change is as good as a holiday. A new logo. So I did a quick whip of something nothing spectacular and did not make a big thing of it, I just subtly started introducing it into my watermark and then uploaded the profile picture onto my Facebook page quietly last week and that was that. Unexpectedly, a personal message pops into my Inbox that went like this:
"Glad you've chosen the Dandelion. When ever I see your pictures of them, I always think of it as many hands and fingers, always ready to help anyone. And when the wind blows and one is detached, it's symbolic of the help you've given without reward or sometimes even thanks or appreciation...but you never did it for them, you did it for yourself, to grow and spread your beautiful nature further."
It's moments like these that render me speechless...and moments like these that keep me motivated. I did not think anyone noticed, not that it's important, but when people do, it just gives me that extra 'umph' into my triumph to keep going.
Grateful to this special human for making me feel like what I do matters xxx
The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it
- Arnold H Glasow -
I have not recorded any of my own thoughts or feelings for quite some time but today that changed. Do you believe in synchronicity? Described by the dictionary as: "the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection". Because whether or not you do I'm going to tell you a story of hope, a story of what happens when you follow your dream despite the perceived obstacles. A story of how I saved a life without even being conscious of it. I have to share this story and I hope that it will travel far and wide because quite frankly...I never, not in my wildest imaginings, ever thought that through doing what I love, that is, the art of photography, I would get a message like this:
'I auction off items on a a website called Listia...a person on that website reached out to me .... fanned me.. I became a fan. The profile image associated with the account was the word Meraki.....and its definition. My heart skipped a beat. ..each time I reread the definition..the experience was profound.. I knew I had discovered myself. I googled the word. I wanted to know more about the definition. I chose your link and when the page opened ..my soul levitated. The images are perfection....I realized instantly.....That I am TOO ! I eyeballed and absorbed your offerings. Your photos are a balm to my soul. Before I found you.....I was feeling trapped and brutalized. Afraid to tell anyone or ask for help. After viewing your work...My fears went away....I called my friend...and I asked for help. She is coming for me at noon tomorrow. My things will go in storage and I will be out of harms way. You have saved my life and I thought you should know that I am grateful. Your love is in your work.....it hit my heart chakra like a Mack truck and set me free. I shall never forget you & your wonderful gift. Your work is Ethereal!'
"I'm sitting here in my corner of the world, sunny South Africa, in disbelief trying to process what just happened and I'm having a whirlwind of emotion course through me. I never...not in a million years...ever thought that my photographs would save a life. Ever. I don't know where you are from but from the little I see on your profile I'm guessing you're in the United States.
I cannot begin to even encapsulate how you and your story have penetrated my heart and soul...you've changed the game for me and I'm absolutely in awe of how this has happened. I...little ol' me with my pretty little pictures, saved a LIFE. That's too big for me to comprehend. It's difficult for me as the creator of my work, to see it as an outsider would because I'm in too deep, it's too close to me. All I know is how much I love to do what I do and when someone like you comes along and takes the time like that to explain how my work makes you feel and what an enormous impact it made...becomes the fuel that encourages me to continue to touch people with my soul...even though I never really knew I did, until now. Because there are times when I wonder what the hell I am even doing this for. You are my answer.
I am truly honored and absolutely blown away - I never thought that my work would reach a heart so far away and help you make a stand and fight for the life you deserve.
You are amazing and you have imprinted my heart with a sense of accomplishment that I could never place a monetary value to. Ever ever ever. You've given me a sense of purpose and that I'm on the right track. That is priceless.
Thank you beautiful human I wish you all the strength and courage possible as you embark on your journey within.
Your journey to you".
Now I'm not sure about how any of you who might read this feels, but that up there...what happened between two people geographically miles and miles apart, to me is extremely powerful. From a heart in Atlanta, Georgia to another in Johannesburg, South Africa came a meeting of two souls that will never be the same again because of this connection. Because of what I do with my imagery. The last few days I've been lying on my belly in the earth, completely collapsed with photographing a tiny little flower that blooms only in Winter. A survivor. I am besotted with this little floret because it is really very small but the detail and depth of this little blue flower that hardly anyone notices is just indescribably beautiful. It is known as a Veronica Umbrosa or more commonly, a Georgia Blue. I'll let that sink in a while ;)
There are indeed times, dark times, when I often wonder if what I do is worth it, spending a large amount of my time making pretty images and captioning them with quotes that some are not drawn to at all, annoyed by the sickly sweet taste of motivational quotes that hold no weight because they're tedious, being silently sneered at by professionals in the photographic industry because I do not have the credentials or have not earned my 'place' amongst the big guns. And you know what? That's perfectly ok. My journey here, holding hands with photography, is very different to the journey of others. I've lost things because of this gift; people who I thought were my friends and people who were not my friends at all and whose true intentions were to exploit me because I have a talent that they felt intimidated by. People I trusted. I didn't ask for this thing I do with a camera...it just magically happens. In the balance of what life is, with the blessing comes a curse...having to feel bad, suppressing myself for being able to do something many others wish they could but are unable to. Because that is not their purpose but they fail to see it. And that is not my fault. Yet I pay that price.
When you do what you intrinsically love, it never comes easy, it comes with sacrifice and hard work and time spent away from the people you love. It comes with doubt. LOTS of doubt. Am I good enough? Do I make my point? Do people understand? Can I actually take a photograph or am I just kidding myself? Can they see my heart? I am affected so powerfully by taking photographs, the connection I make with my subjects and the words I choose to pair them with - it is not something I randomly slap together because it seems like the right words that fit with the picture. No. It takes a lot of time, carefully crafted with thought and consideration to piece the two together because they are two pieces of a whole. I have to feel that little explosion between the words and the photograph. It must mean something. Carefully typed, paying close attention to the spelling and grammar and that the entire presentation looks beautiful. I do not do sloppy and careless, I am conscious to the very last detail. Totally against the rule of "photography should speak for itself". But this is who I am...there is no one else out there like me and as much as many try, they will never be able to replicate the soul that I pour into my images or the finished product. This is not just something I do for 'fun'...this is who I am. There is a big difference.
Let this story be a beacon of light in the darkness to you to encourage you to follow your heart's calling...to follow that dream that keeps recurring, the goal you are too afraid to set because there are bills to pay. Follow the whisper of your soul because, like me, you might not be aware of who is watching, who you are reaching out to or inspiring or who is affected by what you do, no matter what it is. Every one of us is special. Every one of us is here because we have something important we need to do. There is no race to get to the finish line, there IS no finish line and we are not here to be better than the next person and anyone who thinks that has missed the point. We are here to help each other make this journey more enjoyable, more meaningful, more beautiful . We are here for love. Make the reason you are here count yet in that process, be mindful, know your worth, trust your instinct and do not allow people into your space who do not truly celebrate who you are. You are obligated to no one.
Do not be afraid or intimidated by the big mouths who appear to know everything by attempting to make you feel insignificant. They do not know YOU. If you function from a pure place, without an agenda, a place of kindness or goodwill, a place that is genuine and untarnished by a world gone mad, eventually it will filter through the noise of the 'know-it-all's' and reach the intended audience, the ones who get it, the quiet ones who see you without the need to ever meet you, the ones who recognise and feel your heart for what it truly is because they see and feel themselves in you. The ones who appreciate your existence. And that is a beautiful thing. A thing that cannot be bought with all the money in the world. A thing that makes life and all it's glorious triumphs and losses, a life so worth living.
Have the courage to push on and listen to the call of your soul. You could very well save a life.
This image is for you Mz Georgia...thank you for you and for making such a beautiful entrance into my space.
You think you've seen her naked because she took her clothes off?
Tell me about her dreams. Tell me what breaks her heart. What is she passionate about and what makes her cry? Tell me about her childhood. Better yet, tell me one story about her that you're not in.
You've seen her skin and you've touched her body. But you still know as much about her as a book you once found, but never got around to opening
- Unknown -
Life has these moments...the ones that take your breath away are some of the most beautiful because they are life's little reminders that we are part of miracles that happen every day. Sometimes these miracles take a lot of hard work and sacrifice and sometimes they also involve beautiful people. This right here? This is a beautifully PROUD moment. A very fulfilling one that would not have been possible without the support of my beautiful sister.
My first major month-long exhibition in Cape Town where fifteen of my images will be showcased in a gallery called Beautifull Life - how perfectly apt...because although life is cloaked in all kinds of moments, moments no one knows of and moments that are out in the open...we are living a Beautifull Life and I could not have asked for a more appropriate venue in which to begin my photographic exhibition journey in.
I have a Beautifull Life with Beautifull People in it who create Beautifull Moments for me that I will carry in my soul forever.
One of Meraki Imagery's finest "Moments"...
Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere.
How I see it...
I see, speak and write in metaphors because I feel there is much we can learn from nature, people and our surroundings as depicted in my photographs and why I enjoy sharing my thoughts. Not in any attempt to convince or convert you to my way of thinking, seeing or feeling but to share how I see and experience MY mind map of the world. You at no time have to agree, all I ask is that my views and the views of others who wish to express theirs are kindly respected. So relax, get comfy and just enjoy. Happy reading!