I have this friend, and she lives too far away, you see. It’s only a few hours, but with life and work and spouses and family time fills quickly, and the spaces left for each other are few, as it is with most things these days. But her and I, she and me, when we do find the time to connect it’s real. It’s whole and wonderful and complete. And it’s as if time really is simply turning in a circle. Friendships like this are rare, and space that can be filled with easy quiet or raucous laughter interchangeably, is even more so. I could sit forever in silence with this gem of a lady and still feel as though I’ve shared my soul (though I thoroughly enjoy our conversation, and the laugh-until-your-face-hurts-and-your-muscles-give-out humor that comes with it). I wholeheartedly treasure her presence in my life, and every single fleeting moment we spend in each other’s company.
A few snapshots of morning coffee with my dear friend, Anda (more to come of this girl soon!):
“…..and both of them remained floating in an empty universe where the only everyday & eternal reality was love…..”
. ~Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Edited to add these Polaroid 440 film scans from our time together:
When Cortney and Trent asked if I would be able to document the impending birth of their baby – I jumped and squealed at the opportunity. I absolutely adore birth photography – and moreso, I’m am a photographer because I am wholeheartedly addicted to the amazing experience that is making images and telling stories for people. The only catch, I explained, was that I had a wedding on April 6th, and that would be the only day I’d be unavailable to be on call. Cortney and Trent more than understood and, with a hand placed on her growing abdomen, Cortney solemnly swore that her baby would stay incubated safely in her womb until after April 6th.
Shortly after midnight on April 7th, minutes after her oath had expired, Cortney texted to let me know that her water had broke and they were headed to the hospital. A few hours later, I watched with watery eyes and a catch in my throat as their daughter entered this world and two of my dear friends became parents.
Life isn’t promised to us, you guys. Not one bit of it. It’s fleeting and precious and filled with so much awful stuff sometimes. Heartache. Loss. Uncertainty. Cruelty. But it’s filled with so much good stuff, too. We just have to be poised to SEE it. To bear witness to it. Life is full of whimsy and wonder. It’s overflowing with joy and miracles and love and beauty. Life is remarkably incredible – and new life is the most awe inspiring of all. Watching this little girl enter into the world – experiencing the pure bliss and agony and release and calm and chaos of childbirth – is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done, and I’m so honored to share a few images with you.
Images of a two people who just became three, and the story of how two hearts grew exponentially larger, and infinitely more full, in the blink of an eye.
“A good storyteller speaks something into nothing. Where there is an absence of story, or perhaps a bad story, a good storyteller walks in and changes reality. A good storyteller doesn’t just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story, too.”
~Donald Miller | A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
I read Donald Miller’s book months ago, and the moment I put it down I began composing a blog post about it in my head. But this page sat blank. Empty. Story less. I didn’t know how I was ever going to put into words exactly how the book changed my life – exactly what it meant to me. What it still means. I still don’t know how to put it into words other than to ask you to read it for yourself. Because some things can’t be explained through words. Some things are so much bigger than that. The Don’t Give Up Project is another such thing.
I’ve been home from Colorado for one week, one day, and a handful of hours and in this time I’ve realized that even with my profound ability to put words on paper, I’ll never be able to explain this experience. To describe it. This is not a story that I can tell – it’s a story you have to live. That you have to see.
That you have to feel.
I’m not going to try and explain what those three days in Colorado meant to me – or how they’ve changed me. Because I’d only ever do a bang-up job. And this life – this one life – and the amazing people I met and spent time with in a lodge on a vast expanse of mountain land, deserves so much more than a bang up job. So instead of writing – something I tend to rely on to make images speak – to make them matter – I’m going to do something different.
Because I’ve done something different.
I’ve actually gone and made a few images.
Don’t Give Up Project from athena pelton on Vimeo.
I do need to extend a huge and heartfelt thank you to Ash + Jeremy Parsons for allowing me – or rather, all of us – to become the best versions of ourselves. And to discover, together, exactly who those people are. And the same amount of gratitude goes out to each and every single one of the people I shared the lodge with. Each of you are so talented and have so very many gifts. Thank you. For enriching my life. For being my friends. For endeavoring with me on this incredible journey. I love you all so very much. And an extra thank you to Amy Seeley for her amazing musical talent. You can download the song in my video, “Home Without You” on iTunes, but I highly recommend buying an entire album. Or two. Trust me on this one.
And to anyone who’s ever dared enough to dream so big it was scary…..don’t give up.