Twenty-five years ago today, I was newly married and in my last year at the University of Georgia. I was also newly pregnant in this Christmas photograph taken with my dad and step-mom, but they didn’t know it yet. Barely twelve days into the pregnancy, there were no tests available back then that were sensitive enough to confirm what I already knew.
I hadn’t planned on adding a baby to my goals for the new year and even though it was very early, I was already worrying about how I was going to balance being a mom with the career goals I had for myself.
For years when I looked at this photo, I focused on the briefcase I was holding and the memory of the feelings I had at the time. My excitement over their gift was tempered by my fear of the future. We were uninsured for pregnancy and were already living pretty frugally and I just couldn’t see how we were going to manage it.
I may have been smiling in this picture, but the secret growing inside me dominated my thoughts that Christmas and I worried that Cullene would sense that something was different about me.
That tiny bean of a baby became my daughter Miranda and it is largely for her that I began this blog in June 2008. From the time she was born I worried as many mothers do that something might happen to me and she would never know how much I loved her or who I was. That eased a great deal as she grew up, but when I choose to marry John and move to another country some of those feelings resurfaced.
I thought writing about my life here might be a way for her to see what was happening with me in England. I also hoped it might help to maintain and strengthen our relationship even though I was so far away.
‘Gifts of the Journey’ evolved very quickly into something more as I bravely wrote and made public those first bog posts. I found myself sharing many things I would have normally kept private. Thoughts and stories that while not as revealing as some might think, were huge leaps of faith for me as I posted things about myself that I worried might be too much.
Today marks my 500th post and it seems right to use a Christmas photograph that once made me think of things I was afraid to say.
When I look at it now I can see what I didn’t then. I was so fearful about the future that I missed my father’s hand on my shoulder and my hand touching Cullene. I missed how embraced and supported I really was, grounded by Cullene’s careful, nurturing nature, and braced by my dad’s belief in me.
Age and introspection have a way of clarifying things and I can easily recognise the benefits I receive from those of you who read my posts and are kind enough to support me through your comments. I may not always comment … I’m slow with email too, but I always, always, read and appreciate your thoughts and the time you take to share them.
Your interest in my words creates a lovely ripple effect in the pond of my emotional life and I am grateful for your continued presence and friendship.
Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate this day and thank you all for the gifts you share with me.
Merry Christmas to you also Elizabeth, and to all those who you care for. Thank you for the support, nurturing and encouragement you give in turn. With love, Mxx
Merry Christmas, Mariellen and thanks so much for always, always, being there to chat and offer support even though we’ve had to do most of it through email and from distant parts of the world. Finding good friends like you has been a wonderful gift of this blogging journey. xx
Merry Christmas to you as well. Another beautiful story and post from an absolutely terrific writer. Sometimes there are people who have a gift and your gift is the ability to take words and mold them into something truly amazing. Here’s to another 500 blog posts!
Merry Christmas to you too, Sara. (Mountain Woman) You’re too sweet with your compliments, but I am grateful to have them. I’m never quite sure what most people think about what I say here and I would hate to think my words had no impact at all. I’m keen to keep blogging in 2012 so you’ll see more of me here.
I started reading your blog when we were both in Kelly Rae’s class two years ago, and I think now, the most important thing that came out of that class was getting to know you via your written word. Your openness about taking risks and following your heart has inspired me on many fronts, as well, I am sure, for many others. I don’t often comment, as your way of writing is always complete in and of itself….you are one of the gifts that I am grateful for when my email tells me you have written something new. Merry Christmas!
Stacie, you are making me blush! It’s a gift for me to know that you enjoy my writing and thank you so much for taking time to tell me. Because I’m not really an artist, I didn’t feel as nice a fit in Kelly Rae’s class as those gifted with ability like yours. You make such beautiful jewelry and I was glad to see from your post today over at your website that you have settled into your calling and let go of your doubt. Good for you! I hope your Christmas has been as lovely as mine.
Merry Christmas Elizabeth. Thanks for sharing this story my friend. I am grateful to have been part of your journey for the past 12 years. Joy and peace to you and yours this holiday season. Love Mollye
It’s always a nice surprise to see a comment from you, Mollye. I love that we are still connected 12 years later. I remember when we used to do projects together as well as the day I discovered your amazing ability as an artist. I love the piece I have of yours and I often catch myself staring at it several times a day and seeing new things or finding inspiration in where the images take me. Big hugs and love to you, Mollye.
Merry Christmas to you as well. Blogging can take us on a meandering road but somehow we always end up back where we need to be– as this beautiful story illustrates. Congrats on your blogging milepost.
Thanks Winsomebella, and Merry Christmas to you. I always appreciate when really good writers and photographers come by my place to see what’s happening and especially when they come back. Thanks for doing that and for leaving the comments you do. Your writing is filled with insight and your photography always makes me feel as if I’ve been dropped into an isolated place of pristine beauty. I’m looking forward to seeing more on your space in 2012.
It is not a surprise that people get more support through the written word, than through speech.
When we talk we never get to say all that we intend, and long after a conversation, we wonder why did we did not say such and such, at the time, I believe that speech and response is instinctual, (is that a word),
Anyway, what I mean is we dont plan what we are going say at any given moment in many conversations, or,” we do not think before we say”. But when we write, we do take the time to plan and think what we will say, we have the time, and so, what we say and mean and feel comes over so much better, than as a spoken word. When someone says, write me a letter or email, they are asking for more than is given within a conversation, which can for some be very limiting.
Well done Elizabeth and John, as I am sure this is more of a partnership than you both realize.
Merry Crimbo to both of you, and to all those, who interact in this place.
Tony and Jacquie.
Merry Christmas Tony, you are always so good to leave me kind and supportive comments. I rarely have time to comment back (I’m too slow) and would never get anything else written if I did as many bloggers do, but I always appreciate what you say. I hope 2012 brings some nice surprises into your life and thank you again for being so constant.
Thank you, once again, for sharing some touching thoughts and congratulations on your 500th message. Include me with those who upon finding a new post in the inbox are eager to find out what’s on Elizabeth’s mind at the present. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos.
Merry Christmas to you & John and to all of those you hold dear.
Sue from Kazoo
Merry Christmas Sue and thank you for taking time to comment. I can’t tell you how big my smile was when I read your comment earlier today. Huge would not be an adequate word to describe it. Happy New Year to you and thanks for coming back.
Merry Christmas to you, John, Miranda, Cullene, and all the people I have the pleasure of “knowing” through your very special blog. Your thoughtful words always speak to me, and I am thankful that I stumbled onto your blog a couple of years ago! You pop into my thoughts randomly throughout my daily routines in the same town where I know you have spent many of your days. Thank you for your boldness, your fearlessness, your willingness to share your life with strangers! All the best to you and yours in the new year!
Hi Elizabeth. Notices of your blog have been popping into my email for a year now and although I love to read your journey I’m not sure I’ve ever taken the time to leave a message. So hello! I love dropping in on you but time is in short supply when I am at the computer so I don’t comment. Just to let you know I love your writing, you have a gift for telling it how it is. I hope you will keep up documenting your journey. Happy 2012. With love, Kerry.