Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blank Page

I've been staring at this blank page all day... first with annoyance at myself that I couldn't think of anything to write. Then, it turned into a sort of mild dread... that the day was going to get away from me quickly. Now, it's actually a panic - that time is almost out and I am in danger of skipping a day of this challenge.

After 3 weeks of posting, every single day... I think I have officially run out of things to say. :) And I'm actually surprised it took me this long. lol

I know I have said in the past that weekends are hard for me to write a post, and that is a lesson I have learned, but the more specific lesson is that I need to be more prepared - if I want to write something more substantial, I have to start way earlier. :) I have a few more thoughts on passion vs hobby that I'd like to touch on, and a few more sessions I want to share, but it will take me more than just a few minutes at the computer. So, today was going to be another filler post, destined to sink to the bottom of the pile. One I'd write, just to write. :) But then, staring at the title of "Blank Page", at the top of a blank page - it gave me an idea for a post, one about a metaphorical Blank Page.

After we lost our first dog, Ruger, at 9 years old to a slow-growing and undetectable-until-the-last-minute cancer (Hemangiosarcoma), I struggled for months, lost in grief, wanting him back but knowing it was never going to happen. The kids were 18 months old and were in the throes of an intense emotional expression phase. They needed all of me, they were going through an incredibly demanding period, and some days I would just break down at a moment's notice, start sobbing in the middle of the living room on my knees while they were playing around me and they would all look at me, like - what the heck is going on with you? But, I couldn't stop! I would see the spot on the carpet he would lay most of the day, and I would lose it. I would walk by his empty food bowl, and I would lose it. You get the idea. I was emotionally fragile, and the thoughts that helped me most were the ones that promoted the idea that his life had an impact on me and others. I think this is Grief 101 - the comforting thought of keeping his spirit alive somehow was what kept me going for the few weeks afterwards.

I first thought about writing a book to get the message out about Hemangiosarcoma - since its symptoms mimic so many normal aging problems, it is almost always caught late, and almost always a death sentence. We had 4 days. Those few people that catch it early enough to do aggressive and expensive treatment catch it by complete accident. So, I thought if I could help with awareness and in turn help to save other dogs, Ruger's life will have had such a huge outreach!

I have also mentioned that I considered many careers with animals in the past on the search for a lifelong match. These ideas intensified after losing Ruger. I thought about helping out at animal shelters, starting my own wildlife sanctuary, taking over an existing wildlife sanctuary in the area, dogwalker, dog kennel, vet tech, zookeeper... anything that would get me working with animals, anything that would make a positive impact. After I while, I had to concede that none of those options are high-paying - high-reward, but not high paying. :) I gave up after a while, knowing that I would never be able to give up my day job to work with animals because we just would not be able to afford that luxury.

Soon after abandoning those ideas, the idea of researching and writing a book seemed daunting as well, if not wholly impossible with my current demands as a mommy. I wanted to get the word out, shout it out about this horrible disease that was being caused in part, by the regular, dry dog food most dogs eat - but I felt so minuscule, such a tiny voice that still knew so little about the cancer and the cause, that I pushed it aside for the time being. I searched for another idea to latch onto to fill that void, something that would help other dogs and their owners in Ruger's name.

I also have to mention that after my kids were born, I started taking pictures of them non-stop. I had my little point and shoot and I think they heard the little click-tweak sound of the shutter more than they heard my own voice. :) I learned to love it even more than I did before kids, and that is a story many mom-tographers turned professional photogs can replicate. Passion was stirred in giving me an exciting and truly meaningful subject to photograph.

I have touched before on the fact that I struggled and searched for a career to call my own, an actual "what I want to be when I grow up" dream career, not just I "I fell into this job and now I'm stuck" career. The metaphorical Blank Page I speak of now is in the Book of My Life. Every page something about me that will be my eventual legacy. Everyone has one, and I had just finally written on the Mommy page about a year and a half before, the Wife page 8 years before that, the many things about me transcribed on multiple pages to leave behind - the story of my life. But I had yet to fill in the "Career" page, or the more wordy "What I Was Meant To Do On This Earth" page. I had many "jobs" pages, but no career one written yet, and I hoped that empty page would have something written in it by the time that I died.

Looking back, I must have put all of these observations together subconsciously because one fall morning, I opened my eyes after a restful night of sleep (it seems a lot of my life epiphanies occur in bed... hmm... lol) - I remember seeing the dresser next to my bed with such clarity - and I just knew it. I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. As if someone, overnight, had written two words onto that Blank Page for me - Dog Photographer. It was instantly accepted, something that would allow me to spend time with dogs just like Ruger, and dog parents that loved their pets as much as we did. "Working" with people and dogs in this way sounded insanely perfect. :) The bonus is that it was an option that would let me work with dogs in a healthy time of their lives, not a point of crisis. And that sounded amazingly easy, a no-brainer. I could give a gift to people that cherished their dogs, and I would be spending time with my favorite animals on the planet. Sometimes, I really think He knows what He's doing. :)

I know they say hindsight is 20/20, but I almost did a facepalm when I had the realization - a "duh!" moment if there ever was one. Why did it take so long to put 2 and 2 together?!

And that's how my Blank Page was filled, how the idea for my new path was born. He filled in my page overnight, and I was set right that very morning.

One of the first doggies I ever photographed - sweet Casey. :)

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