Friday, January 25, 2013

What Do You Call Yourself

I’ve had many careers in my life.  At the time, each one felt random as I seemingly stumbled into one job after another.  Looking back, I see how each of those careers formed a stepping-stone pathway to who I am and what I do today.  
For so many childhood and teen years, as most of us do, I called myself a Student.   The monkey bars, finger paints and any projects involving glue, glitter or modeling clay were definitely my thing.  I was a tomboy, so climbing the highest trees, being the neighborhood quarterback, and making up a rough and tumble nighttime game we called, oddly, German Camp which involved a “guard” with a flashlight.  Hmmm.  Anyone else spend far too much time watching Hogan’s Heroes growing up?  I remember being fearless, ready for any adventure and I read books like I was afraid they might be taken away.  My very best days were spent sitting in the tippy-top of a cottonwood tree high above the rooftops with a book, looking far away into the distance...wondering what adventures were out there.  

As I got older, I discovered grandmother and my mother sewed beautiful, well-made clothing.  I have photos of my mother, myself and my doll wearing matching dresses and two stunning quilts my grandmother hand stitched to remind me of their talent.  How like magic it was to snip snip some fabric and stitch it all together to create something unique and beautiful?  Empowering as well, to create such practical loveliness from so little using my two hands. I excelled at installing zippers and the neighborhood ladies brought their sewing projects requiring a zipper to me.  No one thought to mention that I might actually study such things as I grew older.  Those projects were fun, so I did them on the side.

Financially, college was wasted on me.  I didn’t know what I wanted and flitted from field to field studying a bit of everything - mastering, or discovering a lasting passion for...nothing.  After leaving school, I longed for adventure.  An extended trip to Europe between my freshman and sophomore years had ignited a need to explore the big, wide world.  I wanted to experience different cultures, ancient architecture, spicy, new food  and so I began to call myself an Explorer. 

When two friends moved to the exotic and very far-away West Coast, I thought that sounded fine.  California might well have been a foreign country for all I knew of it, so I slept on their sofa for a few months while I found a job and a place to live.  You don’t need great skills to show up, look presentable, answer a phone, make coffee and work the crossword puzzle all day - so I mastered my first office job and earned enough to pay the rent, drink margaritas and play at the beach.  Gathering a little polish, I moved on to bigger companies to answer their phones and make their coffee until someone discovered I could type like a fiend and so I could now call myself Secretary and then an Executive Secretary and then Executive Assistant right on up to Assistant FF&E Coordinator for a large hotel construction project.   

Volunteering to work a fundraiser for a big-shot East Coast politician landed me in the weird world of politics - for which I was (and am) entirely unsuited.  But it was an adventure and I was thrilled to explore a brand new Coast.  During this time I called myself a Fundraiser and Event Planner and I became quite comfortable asking perfect strangers to write checks for absurd amounts of money without blinking.  The first time I asked someone to write a $10,000 check and they did -- on the spot -- I almost choked.  

It wasn’t until a number of years later, when “my Party” ended and I was rudely booted out of a job, that I took some years to stop and wonder about what I might choose to call myself next.  Nothing in particular leapt to mind, so when my husband and I moved and I had the leisure to pay attention to the world around me -- very much like a child again -- I searched out a new home and nurtured my inner Interior Designer.  I became reacquainted with my old love of textiles, color, things that sparkle in the light and creativity.  After tossing a well-made camera into the mix, it became  something of a challenge, to end up as anything but a photographer. 

In this present moment of time, that’s what I call myself, a Photographer.  It’s a good fit.  I am filled with delight when I become aware of unusual, or unnoticed, visual treasures that surround us as we journey through life.  Mostly, they are ordinary things, there for all to see, but I capture them to show you their simple, perfect beauty --  each one a visual gift.  I’ve called myself so many things.  As I look back at the personal path I created with it’s jogs and turns and mis-steps, I am surprised to see each one leading rather naturally to the next and I turn forward and wonder what the next stepping stone will be.  

Come visit my shop  Wishing you great adventures along your own path,
E. England

Note:  The lovely stepping stone path shown here is from: