My journey as a full time mother ended as I overcame debilitating fybromyalgia. I became obsessed with catching up on what I missed. Surely I must have felt accomplishment in raising 4 fine children. We taught them to reach out to others, that love, family is always their haven from distress, to believe in their dreams...(Samantha's here, Sydney's here.) But I have learned... not everyone has what I have, not material things...we have been homeless, lived small and large. No matter, we have love, faith, hope...and it get's shared.
I decided to accompany a daughter for Hurricane Katrina mold remediation relief work, alongside young adults from everywhere. A kitchen crew couldn't show up, so I worked 12 hour shifts cooking for up to 350 volunteers. The gifts I learned in being a mother, I could offer to these kids far from home who saw firsthand the pain, upheaval, destruction as well as joyful appreciation of those they were endeavoring to help. I could feed them, encourage them, give them the advice their parents would have, hug them and comfort them. Those from broken homes...I could give them love, encourage their dreams, believe in them, buy them gifts, send them pin money.
They asked me about my life, I realized that I had been living to inspire, mothering...always. I grew up with so much pain, as the oldest felt a need to protect my siblings...to be inspired, to inspire them that we could grow beyond what we were living. I taught them and neighborhood kids to ride bikes, took care of a high school classmate so she wouldn't have to abort her baby, created jobs for myself teaching people how to run their antique businesses, decorating homes to show people they have more than they think, fed more people than I can count, took in people even when we had little. (A trailer outside our cottage became the "south wing" when a family stayed.)
Whatever I knew or had, I tried to be there. A stash of old film cameras to give aspiring photography students, supplies for artists, cookbooks for chefs to be, photography of kids for moms who can't afford a camera, I have been there for the birth of babies, the death of loved ones, I have taken people to rehab, sat with them in family court, read the bible to people with no hope...and most of that has been for people not related to me by birth but by love. Sometimes I feel worthless, like I haven't done enough, yet because of living my life for others...it has been a life worth living. But it's not over, not by a longshot. I am making a wish for myself, to master photography. I have been inspired!
I have an idea to photograph people in my hometown, the people you see as you drive by and wonder about their stories. The amputees in wheelchairs with flags, the tattooed guy on his bike with a cat in a basket, the lady who lives in her van behind Carl's Jr., the old men who hang out at the doughnut shops, the field workers at harvest time, the shepherd in the little trailer... I can talk to anyone but I really need the skills to photograph their stories. Most people only know about their towns through how they personally live. If they could see how others in their hometown live, would they put a little more effort in helping?
To be inspired by others and learn about Amy Wenzel Workshops, click here.