As the dust settled on my divorce, one thing was clear. I was determined to come out of this period of my life better, not bitter. So, because I’m a writer and I can do this sort of thing, I wrote myself a do-over. This website was constructed as I began a journey to reclaim my life. How it was to unfold was unclear — I did know it was going to involve photojournalism, the situation of women in the world, travel and unwaveringly my role as a mother to two teenage daughters.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones. With only a few years of alimony ahead of me, an obligation crept in to honor the person inside of me I’d been pushing aside and burying for so long. Asking when it was in my life that I felt most myself, the answer came easily. Before I was married, I worked for a time as a photojournalist in South Africa.
Despite being way out of my comfort zone, there was nowhere else I wanted to be and nothing else I’d rather be doing. I questioned why I admired her, the person I used to be and took it to another level. I found women today, who are working at the top of their game as photojournalists and wrote them into my life. I could no longer be the one flying across the globe documenting the lives of the disadvantaged, but I could connect with those who are in the process and emphasize the importance of the work they do.
Over the past year, I’ve met with fifteen women who share with me one woman in particular whom they’ve photographed; who’s had an impact on them the most. Through stories of loss, neglect, and silence, what’s being communicated says as much about the women photographed as it does about the photojournalists themselves. Through their work an exquisitely feminine statement emerges, as does a wonderful approach to the world. It speaks of refraining from judging a woman by her surroundings or by her condition and lends respect for the person there, in the world being recognized for all she is.
Have I been living vicariously, making up for lost time? Perhaps. Reclaiming a sense of what I’d let slip away? Most definitely.
I’m a mother whose been raising her kids for the last fourteen years so there are no regrets. However, precisely because I am a mother, I have to keep pulling that thread. It’s for them I’m writing this book. Primarily, it’s to set an example and to show them a mother who is being true to herself. It’s also a way to show them the world so they will come to know it in a broader sense, beyond their own doorstep. Admittedly, this is also my way of educating them as girls in the world, to be wise and strong without giving too much power to the ones choosing to wreak havoc.
Recently, a statement came in from someone I met at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Chiang Mai Thailand. He’d just read one of my blogs and was compelled to comment. Not only did Neal’s words sit well with me but they strengthened the thread. They enforced, for me, the importance of recognizing the journey — not just our own but of those we encounter.
“From slightly afar (I taught a course, photographed and blogged the Foundry workshop in 2012 in Chiang Mai), I saw this story developing. At first I didn’t understand what was happening, but then I realized that it was a truly tender story evolving, and mostly because of a smart and perceptive mother taking some risks, but betting on the payoff. As her story shows, it did pay off, proving the wisdom of Kendall’s intuition.” Thank-you Neal Jackson and all my fellow travellers who “get it”.
If anyone asks why I’m working on this book, quite simply, I reply, “I feel I didn’t have a choice.”