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Thankfulness Photo Challenge ~ Week 2

Last week I shared the purpose behind this challenge and the photos from the first 7 days. Today I am excited to share that I have managed to stick with and have not missed a single day since I started. When I started I wasn't sure I would be able to complete a photo shoot every day as I have attempted to do the 365 Day Photo Challenge a few times in the past but sadly have never been able to complete it. But one of the great things about the Thankfulness Photo Challenge is something I forward to doing everyday. It has also helped me stay focused on the positive things in my life amongst all the challenges and obstacles I've been facing over the last past year. So without further ado I present to you the photos from Week 2: November 8, 2017 - November 14, 2017:

Day 8: Volunteering at Dragon Con

In 2012 my little sister got me a 4-day membership to Dragon Con for my birthday. I had a blast but also had a really rough time with the crowds and several massive panic attacks while I was there. The following year I decided to try volunteering and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I've been volunteering with the Load-in/Load-out since 2013 and just completed my 5th year this past Labor Day Weekend. The other volunteers, especially with the Dragon Hauler crew, have become like a second family to me. I've made some amazing friends and I can't wait until I get my postcard in the mail letting me know that I get go back and volunteer again next year.

Here are some of my other favorite photos from Day 8:

Day 9: Sam Rapier

I met Sam Rapier in 2014 when I went to CPS training. At the time I was on crutches and recovering from the second ankle surgery which made for an interesting experience, especially because I almost wasn't able to go even though I had been accepted due to the finances but Sam advocated for me and helped me get a scholarship so I could go and not have to worry about sleeping in my car or trying to commute every day. After CPS training we became friends and more than that he has become my mentor and in a lot of ways my muse. Not only has he encouraged to experiment with new art mediums (including spray paint "space paintings", the plaster masks, Rorschach paintings, etc.). The photos above are mixture of pieces I've created based on things I've learned from him and also some of his work that he's given to me. But the thing I am the most thankful for is that Sam taught me about living in recovery and helped me find my voice. First through art and then later the courage to speak up and even seek out public speaking opportunities.

Here are some of my other favorite photos from Day 9:

Day 10: Max and Mommy's 7 Anniversary

On Nov. 10, 2010, I adopted Maximus Mut (Max) and he rescued me. After losing his "big" brother Tiberius Bones the same year my world fell apart. After I lost T-Bone I spent the next 4 months in and out of the psych unit trying to deal with the grief and guilt from his death. I had considered adopting several different pups but it never worked out. Labor Day weekend 2010 I decided that I was ready and had planned to go to Petsmart to find a new pup but instead I ended up in the psych unit for the last time which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because Max was born on September 1, 2010.

The funny thing is, I was originally planning to adopt one of his brothers but they were being fostered together and they were hoping to find them a home together. But they asked if I would be willing to meet their litter mate who was a little close which turned out to be an awesome twist of fate because for Max and I it was love at first lick. At the time he didn't have a definitive name, they were simply referring to him as "Rascal" which fit his personality but wasn't quite right. The little guy, who at the time was a mere 7lbs, quietly passed out in my lap as we made the long trek home and after a time we figured out the right name. See it had to be something special. Something that meant something more than just what we would be called. And that is why his name is Maximus Mut Croas (Maximus = Latin for Greatest and Mut = German for Courage)

Hoping for another 7 great years, and here are some of my other favorites from Day 10:

Day 11: Balanced Running

When I was a kid I was an athlete and one of the greatest things about being an athlete was a being apart of a team. I was never a great runner but after the first surgery I was able to get back out there and start doing it again which was great. Then in the summer of 2015 I discovered Balanced Running and once again got to be a part of team. The coaches at Balanced Running have helped me learned about so much more than just running. Coach Tina Klein and her husband Coach Dale Klein have taught me how to recognize the different between pain vs. soreness and that while it's ok to push through soreness it's important to allow injuries to heal and not push through the pain.

Saturday was one of the days that I dread. I got up early so that I could make to practice on time (7:30 a.m.) which was a bit of a struggle because I was worn out and Max was curled up next to me but I got up and made there early. During the warm-up routine I was a bit sore but didn't think to much of it. I didn't even make through the first 1/2 mile before the pain hit, and hit hard. I wanted to push through it but I knew better and bagged the run. I was hurting, both physically and mentally as I made it back to my car with my head hanging from both disappointment and shame. And as I was sitting in my car fighting back tears before I headed home Coach Dale came to check on me. And he reminded me that right now my only training focus is rehabbing from the various injuries I've been dealt this year. I will eventually get back to where I was, and then be able to work toward my larger goals, but for now I just need to remember to be kind to myself and continue with the prehab/rehab routine.

Here are some of my other favorites from Saturday's shoot:

Day 12: Mom's Creations and learning the value of giving to others

For as long as I can remember my mother has been make creations out of plastic canvas, most of which she has given to others either as a way to say thank you or donating to those less fortunate. When I was a kid she made Advent Pockets for my siblings and I and a few years ago she made new ones for my nephew and everyday from Dec. 1- Dec. 24 she gives him little trinkets as we count down the days until Christmas. She also made him his very one blocks when he was an infant, most of which have survived the last 8 years. She has even made me several props I've used for Max's various photo shoots, including the pumpkin we will be using later this week for his Thanksgiving photos. She has also made baskets, smilie faces, and others creations at the request of my nephew to give to his teachers for the last 4 years.

And these are all things I'm thankful for, the thing I'm the most thankful is that she taught me from a young age the value of making things to give to other people for a variety of reasons. It's something I have always taken for granted but I realized that it was her example that led me to eventually continue my yearly crochet hat project. It was also through her example that I learned I could use art as a way to express my feelings when words failed me. And here are a few more photos of some of her work:

Day 13: GMHCN

I was first introduced to the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network at the beginning of 2013 when some recommended I check out the Bartow Co. Peer Support Wellness Respite Center. And while I don't use their services as often anymore I am thankful for the support I have received there. They are the reason I was able to get set up with Briggs & Associates and eventually applied to go to both GPSI & CPS training back in 2014. It was through Samuel Rapier that I was introduced to Alexia Jones and the R2ISE Theater. Earlier this year I got the opportunity to attend the RESPECT Institute and while I haven't had the chance to share my RI story yet it was a great experience. I've met a lot of great people through the GMHCN and in a lot of ways the place where I really started to focus on my recovery in ways I never thought of before. I've learned a lot about myself through the various programs and training opportunities I've had through the GMCHN that have helped me become the person I am and put me on the path I'm currently on both personally and professionally. There are a lot of great people I've met through GMHCN and thankful that I have them in my life.

Here are a few more of my favorite photos from Day 13:

Day 14: Creativity

One of the things I always thankful for is when my muse hits me with the gift of creativity. From a young age there have been 2 things that I've always identified myself as, an athlete and an artist. When I was a kid I loved creating things. Whether it was drawing, painting, or various other crafts. When I first decided to pursue photography professionally I was using a simple point & shoot Kodak camera I purchased for myself for my 30th birthday as my 35mm film camera was still at home while I was living Georgia, which I thought had gotten misplaced but thankfully Dad knew exactly where it was so I was able to retrieve it when I came home for Christmas that year. But one of the things I enjoyed doing was gathering completely random objects and then setting them up to take photos. Over the years I've collected a hodgepodge of various trinkets including toys from happy meals, stuff from the Dollar Tree or just things I've found along the way. When I get bored and want to flex my creative muscles I pull them out to take photos of them. It's one of the ways I taught myself some of the basics of photography and it's also a way I experiment with different techniques while at the same time honing my craft. Plus it's kind of fun playing with various objects and seeing what kind of images I can create.

Here are some more of my favorites from Day 14:


Well that's a wrap for Week 2 of the Thankfulness Photo Challenge. It's a bit surreal realizing that we're almost half way through the month and Thanksgiving is a little over a week from now. This project has been a great experience and hope you have enjoyed the photos.

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