today we've invited our dear friend, kelly ishmael, to write a little something special for us. we were completely blown away with her story and it's connection to gratitude. i hope it resonates with you, too. kelly is a mother, writer and photographer, living in the midwest, blogging at minding my nest. you can connect with kelly there or on instagram @kellyish. thank you, kelly! we are so grateful for you.
b + L
With a Little Help from my Friends
Two weeks ago at this time, rather than being gathered around a Thanksgiving table with my family, I was, instead, gathered at a women’s photography retreat in northern California. Forty-two women from around the globe met up at Westerbeke Ranch for a three days of inspiration, learning, and creative connection.
It was an incredible experience.
So, in addition to the inspiring classes, as residents at Camp Firefly we were treated to a magical setting, charming cabins, and delicious food. Plus, we also had the opportunity to start each day with either a guided hike through the rolling hills of Sonoma County or a guided yoga practice with our fellow camper, Vanessa. And because staying connected – heart, head, and hands – has been my focus this year, I chose yoga.
I’ve taken a fair amount of yoga classes over the past 15 years, and one of the things that I really appreciate in a yoga instructor is that they don’t take themselves (or yoga for that matter) too seriously. Which is exactly what I loved about Vanessa’s class. Because of her gentle and compassionate spirit, her class was accessible for all levels of students. And I just felt completely at ease.
Near the end of class on Friday, we had worked through a gentle flow series and she was guiding us through some balance postures. Which, in general, just so happen to be what I struggle with the most. But especially on that day… probably because I’d had two cups of coffee. At any rate, as I am unsuccessfully trying to balance on one leg and shine my heart to the sky, Vanessa comes up behind me and gently asked, “Is it OK if I help you?”
Let me pause right here to say that asking for help is not exactly in wheelhouse… just ask my mom. Fiercely independent is more like it. But something about being at camp in that class made me feel safe. So I nodded my head, graciously accepting the support. And as Vanessa gently pulled my torso into hers she whispered, “It’s OK… I’ve got you. Lean into me.”
I’ve been thinking about that lovely exchange off and on for two weeks. Someone to lean on when you’re feeling shaky… isn’t that what friends are for? And more specifically to photography, having a more experienced friend to boost you up… to encourage you and make you feel safe. Support like this can make all of the difference.
I know this from personal experience.
My experience at Camp Firely was small dose of what I have experienced in the past five or so years that I have been practicing this art. This connection to like-minded souls… kindreds on this journey in discovery. It is truly one of the unexpected joys of photography for me. One for which I am so, so grateful.
In closing I would just like to express my thankfulness to Beth and Lindsay for inviting me here today. But also for the special community they have created for us, guiding us with their intentional practice of gratitude. Encouraging us to see our lives differently. And special thanks to all of you for the fellowship and support you have shown me along the way.