It’s that time of year for an end-of-the-year-wrap-up post. I’m going to start this off by using a paragraph from last year’s post, but it still applies this year: "This year was full of so many challenges, both personal and professional. I loved, trusted, lost, nurtured, neglected, obsessed, gave, took, and learned quite a lot. I realize I have a lot more learning to do. If I were to sum up what I learned the most, through everything, it is the fact that what you feed grows and what you neglect dies. That applies to relationships, business, craft, body, mind, spirit, and yes....even plants”.
Life is full of challenges, and that's ok. But, I’d also like to sprinkle that with the tiny bits of magic and light I experienced as well, and to give credit where it’s due.
1.) The Canid Project: I started the non-profit project this year. It’s still in its fledgling stage and I’m working when I can to get the programs figured out and started. I have a great feeling about it, and I am so happy to have met the people I have so far through it. I look forward to working with them all, and continuing to be inspired by them daily.
2.) I obtained a state permit to rescue, rehab, and release The Canid Project’s first litter of orphaned Red Foxes this year. It was a labor of love and I could not have done it without the public’s support by way of monetary donations, Wish List goods, fox food donations, and physical labor to help construct the first enclosure. Thank you, Leslie Lattimore of Wings of Hope, Melissa Collins of LDWF, The Fox Project in the UK, Julie Amador, Mike Ginn, and to all the public and my students who helped. You all are stars. As for the foxes, they taught me more about kindness, sacrifice and selflessness than anything or anyone else could have. I saw their little individual personalities grow, blossom., and mature. It was nothing less than magical to me. I have one female who stayed in the area after release, and she's been courting with an outsider male; I've been lucky enough to glimpse beautiful brief moments of their inner world by way of trail cameras. I am so very grateful to have had this experience this year. The days with the foxes, even now as I observe from afar, are some of the best days of 2017.
3.) Getting to experience Africa with many of my students from Baton Rouge this year was an amazing experience. I hope they left as inspired and as full of love for that place as I have.
4.) Having one of my photographs displayed in the Smithsonian in Washington DC and receiving a highly honored title in this year’s Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition. Thank you to Chris Byrne, Anthony Ishak, Lucas Bustamante, and Daniel Dietrich for accompanying me to the celebratory events and being such great company. l love you guys and I am very lucky to call you all friends. I look forward to the projects we have planned. PS Chris and Anthony, you guys perfectly balance my anxiousness! :) I And a huge thanks to the Frelighs for being such amazing hosts, and new friends.
5.) All the amazing photographers I was able to meet, even if briefly, at this year’s Wildspeak event! You all are my biggest inspirations.
6.) Meeting Brittany Crossman, my photographer fox-loving kindred spirit. She has been such a bright light this year. I know that no matter what, she will be a friend for life. It’s rare to meet someone who you see so much of yourself in -so many of the same values and ethics and interests (and even your quirky weird ways-and I mean that in the best way). It’s nothing less than a beautiful thing to experience; you realize you’re not so alone and not so weird after all. ;) Thank you, Brittany, for being such an amazing support, inspiration, colleague, and friend. You’ve taught me so much this year and I want nothing more than to support you in your photographic journey in any way I can. I am so glad we met and look forward to what we will accomplish in 2018. Love you to pieces!
7.) My continuing work with David Lloyd in Africa. David has been the most supportive and inspirational mentor to me over the past 3 years. I am forever indebted to him for all he has provided me and I am in constant awe of his amazing photographic work. Thank you, David, for allowing me the opportunity to continue working with clients, and my own photographic work, in Africa with you.
And as I ended my post last year with these words below, so I will end this year’s post as well:
“The future is bright. I'll continue to do better, be kinder, and work harder, and for 2018 I'll add to that: CONSUME LESS and GET RID OF THE STUFF. And by stuff, yes I mostly mean the inanimate objects that clutter, but I also mean the ideas, people, habits, etc. that do not contribute to my becoming the best expression of myself.
Surround yourself with the people you love and those who love you, do the work that ignites your soul and makes you want to never sleep, visit the places you dream of seeing, help those who need it, be kind, be grateful, be of service to others.
And above all else...don't make excuses for not doing any of those things. I'm sure people tire of hearing me say it, but seriously-just do it.
We have one life, people. Make it count”.