Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light



My Heart Is Full

It is 12:50 a.m. early Sunday morning. My day began at 9 a.m. Saturday. I am beat, but too excited to sleep yet.

I cannot begin to express what an amazing day it has been!

First I had the opportunity to sit at the feet, so to speak, of 4 Zurvita Ambassadors via skype and phone. They talked to us about how to build our business and answered any questions we had. I haven’t had a chance to process that, but I will soon and am looking forward to it.

Next up was the wedding of my beautiful friend, Susan. I have been so honored to have a behind the scenes look at their relationship as it has been unfolding over the past several months. Today, I was able to stand by both Susan and Mike documenting the celebration of an incredible love story. I’m so grateful to my good friend, Lennox, for offering to be my second shooter. He did an incredible job and made my day more enjoyable.

Hopper (119)-wb


Great Day!!!

Today has been really great. I am so exhausted that I don’t have much to say so I’m just going to post one of my favorite pictures from today.

This is my friend Tammy. She is compassionate and quick to laughter. She is sincere. She loves deeply and fully. I love how she loved me when I sat in her car crying telling her of my broken heart. I also love how she is not afraid to speak the truth and ask the hard questions.

She is getting married in a few months. I’ll be doing her engagement photos soon. I am so looking forward to that.

Photography Journey

10:55 a.m.- At Slow Train studying Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. I have so much to learn. I know more than I used to know, so that’s good. With my film SLR I took my photos on the green auto mode or all the little icon settings, but certainly didn’t branch out there on my own. Then I got a digital point and shoot. I remember the moment I began to figure out a setting that I now know was the exposure compensation button. We were at an old ship wreck on the northern coast. The sun was shining through the clouds in such a way that the rays seemed to be illuminating only the ship wreck. I stood there fiddling with buttons until the the picture on the LCD screen showed me what I saw in real life.

[I seem to have lost that picture in the masses of my photo library.]

Later that year in 2007 my friend, Cecelia, asked me to do her senior photos. I asked if she was sure. i used my little Kodak digital p&s and my Pentax film SLR. By this time I think I had Photoshop Elements 4 or 6 for the mac, but I didn’t realy know how to use it. My freind is from Africa and I’ve found that sometimes hwer skin tone had a strange oraang tint to it. I turned those hpotos into black & white.

Later on, another friend asked me to do her wedding photos in April of 2008. “Um, hello??? This thing on? I don’t know how to do a weedding. I’ve never done one before.” My friend understood that and believed I could do it. She asked me how much I’d charge her. What? Heck, I should pay you for trusting me with such a huge thing. I told her it would be my gift to her. I didn’t even have a digital SLR at the time. I didn’t know what I was going to do. They ended up paying me $300. I was so surprised. Fortunately I had my friend Bryanna be my 2nd shooter. I missed both the cake and the kiss. THE KISS!!!! This couple had never even touched before the wedding rehearsal. [It was a LONG kiss!!!] I learned so much from that wedding. For instance, the lighting at the McMinnville armory sucks. I now know how to take care of that with white balance before I shoot.

In June I shot another wedding. It was great. I was a little more at ease. My sister-in-law assisted me on that wedding. We had a blast! Again, I learned a lot from that wedding. Like, check the background to make sure there aren’t any garbage cans or half of cars that I’d need to later edit out! That clone tool and I became buddies!

Two months later I was the second shooter at Bryanna’s wedding. Whew! That was a relief. So much nicer being the second shooter. It was fun even if I did get the burn of my life. I learned from Krista to check things like hair and the veil so stray hairs don’t need editing out.

It is now 2011. I know so much more than I did in 2008. I just looked at some old photos and cringed a little bit inside. But you know what? I’ve been looking at an old blog of one the top photographers in the wedding industry. Her photos were good, but not stellar like they are now.

Yes, I do have so much to learn, but am confident that I will learn. Each day setting aside time to work on the art and business of photograhy: shooting, editing, organizing, reading, client meetings, album design, learning. Always learning and growing.

I see how for I’ve come compared to where I want to be and I realize that this is a road of hard work ahead. Not a road that I have been well prepared for. Learning to get out of bed when I don’t want to and go to bed when I don’t want to. Saying no, or saying goodbye when I have to move on to the next thing. I’m more motivated these days. Maybe because I finally believe that I can reach these lofty goals I have in life.

What a day!

Well, I am pretty tired so this is going to be a quick post. I’ve had a full week already. I displayed some of my photos at the art walk this evening. I didn’t realize how draining and yet energizing that can be. Met a few people, talked to a few more. Listened to good music, took some pictures, and my favorite part of all: holding & dancing with baby Mikaiah. I actually go to see her twice today! As you can see in the photo, she already adores her Auntie Dar!

The Unknown

I spent much of today working. I had several photos printed, then brought them home & either framed or mounted them. I stressed. I got mad. I didn’t yell at anybody, though.

I met this morning with my Traci & Tracy. It is always so very good to meet with them. We’ve been friends for so long. It’s like family. Our lives are growing and changing. I wonder where each of our families will be in another year. There may be a time when our 3 families no longer live close enough to meet once a week. That makes me treasure this time all the more. No matter how expensive gas is, I won’t give up my weekly T-time.

So, my tiny town of Sheridan is having its first Art Walk tomorrow. My friend convinced me to display a few photos. I said no at first, but then I said yes. Earlier this evening before I was supposed to go down to begin setting up I felt like not showing up. The only problem with not showing up is that I said I’d do it. Then if I don’t do it, my word is worth nothing. Also, it’s a slightly dramatic move. It’s what I did in junior high when things scared me or got tough. I got there and had several minutes to myself before my friends got back. I tried to pray, but all I could say is, “Father, you’ve gotta help me through this.” Then I’d wonder if I was too demanding so I’d say it again, only I’d ask in a nicer tone of voice.

I have 16 photos there.

There’s a table next to me with another photographer’s work. There’s the local newspaper office displaying photos by Susan Ragan. I know there’s several other photographers around, too.

There I go again. Comparing.

I need to sleep. I have much to do, but I’m going to go to bed. I was planning on being in bed over an hour ago.

I didn’t fail to plan, I just didn’t follow the plan.


In general, I haven’t enjoyed Mondays. This one has been great, though. I think it’s because my Sunday was filled with friends, laughter, and good conversation. You know the kind of good I mean? I mean where two people are talking back and forth and hearing one another. Stirring up and calming down. Feeling vulnerable yet safe. That’s a good feeling. It fills my bucket. Which is to say, it makes me feel full and happy…like a Thanksgiving dinner with my favorite people.

So, I think it sets me up for a good Monday to have a good Sunday.

I slept through my alarm. I vaguely remember thinking how awesome it was that I could turn off my alarm & not even wake up. Next time I’ll say, “Get thee behind me, satan.” Seriously. I woke up just in time to wake the kids thus not getting in my Bible reading time. I was running late practically all day, but was productive. That feels good, too.

I went to Shutterbug to order some prints. While there I found out that my friend had a baby. I felt so bad for never knowing she was even pregnant. I am going to call her soon. Really, I am.

Then I headed to Wal~Mart to pick up dog food, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. Always toilet paper.

I forgot to go to Goodwill. I still need some frames. Maybe tomorrow I’ll go to the art store for matte’s. Sigh. So much work.

Oh. I forgot to tell you, didn’t I? Maybe I did. I can’t remember if I forgot or not.

My little town of Sheridan has been doing a monthly First Wednesday event where the small businesses stay open later. The townsfolk walk around getting to know eachother. There’s food and games for the kids sometimes. This month they’re featuring the town’s artists. Last week I was asked to display some of my photos. I’m kind of pretending like I’m totally cool with it, but the fact is that I’m totally freaked out. Freaked out enough that earlier today I wanted to say, “You know what? I don’t want to hang my photos. This is a dumb idea. I don’t know what I’m doing.” I didn’t say it because I didn’t know how to do it without sounding like the 12 year old 8th grade version of me. That, and I didn’t want that 12 year old to get laughed at. Oh, and my 11 year old daughter was with me.

I’ll be displaying 5 photos that I love. I think I probably love them because 4 of them don’t exist anywhere else. I just looked at them and there is one that isn’t my favorite. So really, I love only 4. I accidentally deleted the RAW & JPEG files months ago when transferring files. So, sad.

Here’s a slideshow of a few of the photos I’ll be showing. I think I’ll have a total of at least 16 to choose from. Not sure all of them are actually good enough. Not sure what people are expecting. I want to know what they’re going to think of me or what I do. I know that I’d really like to display things more creatively, but am not brave enough to do so…or creative enough, actually. My ideas are only half ideas and I don’t want to talk about them to anyone.

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Swirling Twirling

Today is Saturday. In some circles it’s considered the Sabbath. Well, technically, it’s the Sabbath whether or not one “considers” it. It just is. I wonder what this means to me. What am I to do on such a day? Is it worse  if I yell at my kids today.

Purple. I slept in a purple shirt. I plan on wearing a different purple shirt today. Dusty is wearing a purple bandana that matches perfectly with the shirt she chose today. I should tell her that. I should also tell her how beautiful she looks today. It’s hard to do that when I can hear her in the other room being mean and bossy to the other kids. Back to purple. My clipboard is also purple as is the binder that holds my home management e-books. I will also wear two different shades of purple socks. What is it that draws me to that color today?

My purse is not purple. It is red. I also love red. It is a ruby red on one side and black on the other. The ruby red side is embroidered. My good friend brought it back for me from Cambodia in 2009. That seems like so long ago. Speaking of 2009. I seem to have lost a bunch of pictures from the hard drive crash. So sad. I’m over it now. Not much I can do at this point.

Meandering thoughts wandering around in the vast cavern of my mind. I’ve been told I think too much. What was said today? Something about me thinking so much that  it prevents me from doing what needs to be done. That probably isn’t what was said, but it’s what I heard.

Meandering. Swirl. Twirl. Like a little girl in a red dress that floats out in a big circle around me when I spin in circles. That’s what my thoughts are like. How do I harness those things? I do quite well in harnessing them when it comes to planning or doing something filled with fun. Just like a little girl would.

We sponsor a child in Ghana. We have never written him. As time goes by I feel worse and worse. It is time we change that. It is time we bless him not only with our money, but with our life. This morning as I was lying in bed I thought of how fun it would be to make it our family project. Our first letter would be an short apology then an introduction to our family in words and pictures. I could do it newsletter style, but holding real photos is always better. Then the following letters could be about just one of our family members. What they do, love, don’t love, their favorite things and so on. I don’t know. Just a thought. It would help us to remember to pray for him, too.

Swirling. Twirling. Meandering along a well-beaten path. Thoughts, hopes, fears; all mingled together.

What am I? 12?

Today I’ll be heading back into my old stomping grounds for a reunion of classes hosted by the class of 1990. It’s an all day event of food, friends, and swimming in the creek. Can’t say I remember the last time I swam in that creek.

I had a dream last night about this reunion. It was strange.

It starts off with me driving up a newly paved road to a home I didn’t recognize, though I’ve been there before. I just chalked that up to the 20 year gap in between visits. Oh, I mention the paved road because the home is out in the country. I sit down with a group a people and within moments one-by-one everyone leaves that circle and joins another. So, I am left sitting alone. So I get up and wonder if I should go over there, but if I do and they all leave then I’ll know for sure that it’s me they’re leaving. So I turn to sit in my chair again and the seat of it is gone and I wonder if I broke it or if it never had a seat in the first place.

So, I decide to wander around. I wonder if anyone will recognize me. Someone does, but I can’t remember her. Oh what a horrible feeling. She doesn’t look familiar at all! She tells me she came by earlier, but not very many people were there so she drove on by. Ah, I can relate to that. Shoot, I almost didn’t show up at all, but I don’t want to miss out on all the fun that will be had. I’d rather be there and feeling all awkward than at home wondering if I could have had fun.

I find myself walking down this long pier toward a ship, one that looked remarkably like the ship from the Love Boat. It was windy and the pier was slippery. I wondered how deep the water was and if I could swim if I fell into the water. Then we get to the end of the pier and there are these large square platforms made out of plastic that we’re supposed to get on. I’m like, “WHAT????” I wondered how I was supposed to propel  myself over there when the wind was violently whipping these things around.  So, I get onto one. My plan was to lie down on it, but for some reason I stood up and I tried pushing myself over to the other side where eager hands were waiting to catch hold of the rope that was on the platform. I don’t make it all the way. I prepare myself to plunge into the icy water 50 feet below. I already start moving my arms and legs like I’m trying to tread water and get myself back up to the surface.

An amazing thing happens! As I’m making these wild movements I’m moving backward toward  another ship that is docked right next to the pier. (The other one was at the end of the pier.) Anyway, I’m flying through the air! It’s like I’m Mario or Luigi and it’s pretty cool except that I almost miss the ship. Somehow I grab on and the captain tells me to, “Toughen up, you can do it. Climb on up.” I think of whining, but instead I say, “Well, that’s what I would say to my kids, so I guess I better figure out how to do this.” Next thing I know I’m climbing up the side of this ship and making my way over to the destination ship. I can’t remember how I actually got on the ship, but I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh, that was so easy this time. Why was it so hard the first time?”

I then told a couple of friends about flying through the air and they smiled politely and nodded their heads. Then I thought, “Did I just dream the flying thing up?” Then I stood up and realized the whole thing was a dream.

I don’t have any cool interpretation for my dream. It is rare that I remember them in so much detail and I try to pay attention to them when I do. As I type this I am remembering other little details, but it’s all disjointed. Just snippets of a life I lived in my sleep.

I have to say I am feeling much anxiety over this reunion. I mean, what if nobody even recognizes me? What if I truly am left all alone? All my jr. high/highschool insecurities are on my like a dog on a bone. It all boils down to wanting to be good enough, cool enough, pretty enough. Now we add to that the feeling of wanting to be successful enough, married or single enough (which I am stuck in the middle), have enough kids, too many kids, good kids, rotten kids. Am I pretty enough? Tall enough? Thin enough?

Then I remember that we’re not all that shallow. I remember that there are probably others feeling some of these same things. We all carry the joys and sorrows of the past 20 years. Some of us have walked them alone, some of us have walked together.  Some of us are financially wealthy, but relationship poor. Some of us are more financially poor than we’ve ever been, but are rich in relationships.

Some of us are fighting for the life of our child. Jill Wood is fighting for the life of her son Jonah. He has a rare genetic disease for which there is no cure. It is so rare that there hasn’t been any research done for it. She is not fighting alone. Many of the people at the reunion have already begun to fight with her. Some will learn about it and begin to fight. On August 27th I will be attending a fundraiser at Methven Family Vineyards. There’s wine tasting, a silent action, and live music by Lennox Fleary.

Here’s a way for you and I to fight for him together. For every photoshoot that you book with me I will donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Jonahs Just Begun Foundation. Now is a great time to get the senior photos and even the Christmas photos done and out of the way. You can contact me at

Let’s fight this so Jonah can live!

See Jonah and hear Jill on WPIX in an interview about Jonah. Here!

This always happens!

I sit down to write my blog and my mind is blank. My thoughts are scattered and I can’t remember what I waxing eloquent about while driving along the country roads. Man, I write the most beautiful blogs while driving. It’s absolutely amazing!

Aside from the raging migraine I’m still fighting, I’ve been having a great time. My days and weeks are full. I’m learning how important it is to manage my time wisely. Next I’ll learn how to do it.

Over the past year or so I’ve had quite a few health issues that have been alarming to me. My good friend, Shannon, recommended Dr. Popp in Woodburn. So far it’s been a great experience. He is kind, gentle, thorough, and a good listener. He doesn’t make me feel stupid for the shape my body is in. I know it’s my fault. I won’t go into my specific health issues, but I will say that after one day of taking the whole food supplements I slept all through the night. I haven’t done that for months…maybe even over a year. Also, it looks like my hormones may be balancing out. That’s a relief. I go back every week for several weeks to check in. I should mention that he is affordable. His goal is to help his patients feel better.

I had a great time doing a photo shoot with Lennox. It knocked my socks off. Well actually, it was my shoes. I walked right out of my shoes in the middle of a very muddy field. One minute I’m walking along snapping photos, the next minute I’m walking out of my shoes. The mud stole my shoes. Lennox carried my shoes and camera out of the field for me. That left me to walk out of it in my socks. Can we say all say “yuck” together? I was laughing the entire time, though.

photo by Lennox Fleary

Ah, then it was time for the weekend. The beautiful, fun-filled weekend. Friday we walked down to Slow Train Coffee and Teahouse to listen to Isaac, Anthony, and Lennox play music.  There were others, too, but I was too late to hear them. I love going to the coffee shop for music. There’s good food, warm drinks, good music, and good conversation with great people. It’s like hanging out with family, except there isn’t any fighting. The coffee shop has seriously helped me to love living in Sheridan. This is my community. This is where I belong.


Saturday brought National Pie Day to my home. I had planned this party long before I knew it was actually National Pie Day. Who thinks up these things, anyway? Scads of people began to show up. Pie crusts were being made, recipes looked up, recipes messed up, and yummy pie creations. It was such a blast that I didn’t actually take pictures of the pies. Maybe next time. Oh, and the best part is that my kitchen was all clean at the end of the night.

Sunday I joined a group of friends to head up to Portland to see my friends’ band, In My Opinion. It was amazing! I was so impressed with the drummer, Anthony. It’s been a long time since a drummer has impressed me. Quite honestly, I didn’t know if I would enjoy it. I had only heard Isaac in an acoustic setting, which I totally love. I also had the opportunity to take pictures at the show. This was really the first time I’ve taken concert shots. It’s a little nerve wracking, actually.


Monday brings a migraine. I have an essay on that. I think everybody who knows a migraine sufferer should read it. I’ll have to post it one of these days. I knew that I would be getting one. My health has been getting better. However, I have been instructed to stay completely away from oats. I didn’t realize that I was eating something with oats in it last Thursday. Since then I’ve had trouble sleeping and trouble keeping my food down. My stomach has been in pain and very sensitive. My major migraine triggers are lack of food and sleep. So, it was no surprise when it did arrive, but it certainly wasn’t welcomed.

This coming weekend brings more music. I’ll be heading to the High Rack in McMinnville to catch Lennox, In My Opinion, and Auburn. More pictures will be taken, of course. I only hope they turn out great. I’m not sure what to expect as far as the set up and lighting. I didn’t bring my entire set up to the Portland show, but maybe I will for the McMinnville one. The following night I’ll head to my hometown to listen to music I’ve never heard of at the Wildwood. I grew up with the sisters who own it and I love what they’ve done to the place. It was called Vic’s when I was a kid. My dad and I ate there every day after my mom died. Though it looks different it still gives me the feeling of coming home. Who says you can’t go home? (Even if it’s Willamina.) I still feel like an outsider. I look at the familiar faces and wonder if they remember me?


I’ve been thinking about choices lately. What do I do with my days? My thoughts? My actions? Am I ready for change? Do I really want to change? I am great at procrastinating. That’s not something I want to be good at. I need to have a plan. I do have a plan, sort of. I need to implement that plan. I need to work harder. Always harder, right? Maybe not harder, just more effective. I tend to freeze when I get overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed far too often. This becomes a vicious cycle. This must stop. I really like reading the blog posts from Tsh (pronounced “Tish”) over at Simple Mom. She lives up to the title. Her methods help simplify things. I’m ready to start using my brain binder/household notebook/control journal again. I printed off her daily docket. I filled it out today, but was still struggling with a migraine. I like it because it forces me to list only 10 things to do that day, then choose 3 of those to be my MITs (Most Important Tasks). The form also has a place to fill in a sort of time line to help keep myself on task. I printed off several copies and will be making myself use them. I also printed off a 6 page worksheet of goal setting questions. I need specific questions to get me started in the process. I need to make my goals specific and be able to break them down into mini-goals. You can find both of those resources here.

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