The Biggest Little Personality | A Berkeley Family Documentary Photo Session

Meet the Patch Family; Dave, Stephanie, 9 month old William, and golden retriever, Chloe:

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The star of this session was William, of course, and (as you'll see) he was immeasurably adorable. At nine months old, his personality is really beginning to develop, and it was so fun to see the different elements of his shine through. This cutie took so much pride in picking himself up, cruising along the couch, and feeding himself like a big boy (maybe with a little help from dad at times). Needless to say, this was a fun one!

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Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons.
— Unknown
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For My Daughters: La Clase De Música

Just a funny little story about daddy, love bugs.

This week, because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, dad was able to join us at your beloved clase de música on Monday. I think he was able to see how enraptured you two are by the songs, dancing, singing, playing instruments. It made me think of a sweet story that I thought you girls would like too.

Daddy had just gotten home from a show in the city and was especially impressed at how the 8-piece ensemble (metal band at that) was able to stay in sync so well with with one another. He was so impressed, in fact, he stayed to chat with the band and when he asked, somewhat rhetorically, "how the hell do make music like that?!" the man guffawed, and said, "the only thing you need to make music are two ears... (then placing his hand on his chest) and a heart."

Poor daddy had to learn the hard way that you turn into drama-mama when your shoes get taken off in music class.

Poor daddy had to learn the hard way that you turn into drama-mama when your shoes get taken off in music class.

Vee, you NEVER have been more excited to be in music class. You were showing off your moves to daddy from the moment you walked (more like sashayed) through the door.

Vee, you NEVER have been more excited to be in music class. You were showing off your moves to daddy from the moment you walked (more like sashayed) through the door.

You twirl the ENTIRE 45 minutes in class, Ru. As you can see I'm always quite amused by it :)

You twirl the ENTIRE 45 minutes in class, Ru. As you can see I'm always quite amused by it :)

Dancing with scarves is your very favorite thing to do in music class. Vee, you love getting goofy with them too. Silly billy!

Dancing with scarves is your very favorite thing to do in music class. Vee, you love getting goofy with them too. Silly billy!

Then of course you love to jam at home.

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Hoarding the recorders (I won't tell sissy!)

Hoarding the recorders (I won't tell sissy!)

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Sis was serenading you, Vee. hehe

Sis was serenading you, Vee. hehe

I love you my little musicians,

Mom

Mini-Session Wrap-Up

What do you get when you mix a beautiful California fall backdrop, one super goofy photographer (a couple rad assistants I might add), a bunch of cutie patooties and their amazing families? Any guesses?! Some INSANELY FUN mini-sessions, that's what!

Here's a little sampling from my fun fall sessions at The Little Farm at Tilden Regional Park and UC Berkeley. Be sure to drop me a line >here< to stay up-to-date on future mini-session dates and other offers.

Enjoy!

As you can tell, I LOVE what I do!

Welcome To This Vibrant World - Part Two | An Oakland Newborn + Family Lifestyle Photography Session

Who can forget this amazing family?

If you need a refresher, check out part one of their family photo session collection riiiiiiight here.

What a pleasure it was to not only meet this local East Bay family but to get to hang out with them TWICE in a matter of just a few weeks, I mean, how lucky am I?! For this second newborn and family session I had the privilege of meeting Sean, Milo and Liam's loving grandfather. When I say loving I mean completely, utterly, undeniably smitten grandfather. Take a look:

I think Milo's sweet smile says it all! This is one deeply loved grandfather. And, of course, any child with that capacity for love, must have an amazingly loving family to demonstrate it right back:

And, what could be more important than self-love? Liam knows what I'm talking about:

Documenting this family is a sheer joy. I can't wait for the next time!

Featured on Life + Lens Blog | "Father's Day Inspiration."

The Warrior's took home the NBA Championship last night. I was woken up by a kiss from my amazing (and amazingly happy) husband. The girls were in great moods all morning and went down easily for nap. I flipped a perfect omelet and actually had my tea while still hot. How could this day get any sweeter, you might ask? How about getting FEATURED on Life + Lens Blog's "Father's Day Inspiration" post!

Two features in two weeks!? (okay, one day over two weeks but "two features in 15 days!" just didn't sound right). What an honor!

On Memorial Day, Joe, Ruby, Vera, and I walked up to the UC Berkeley campus, as it is a quick twenty minute walk down the street. On the way we stopped to grab sandwiches and when we got to the campus, laid out a blanket to have a low-key picnic on the grass. The girls had other plans! The moment they got out of their stroller, they were on the GO. Daddy, to the rescue, found a nook (California Hall) to read the girls a book in. But, that was short lived. I think the stairs were far too tempting. Then, as per usual, Ruby wasn't too happy about being put back in the stroller, so daddy caved and let her play some more. What a softie.

I'd have to say what made this day especially memorable was, as we were strolling through campus preparing to exit, we heard "The Star Spangled Banner" resounding from the bells of the Sather Tower. It was a lovely reminder of why we were able to spend the lovely day with one another.

Some more photos from Memorial Day:


For My Daughters: Twinheritance

Hi boo boos,

We had some friends over last night to watch the Warriors game. You two have really made progress in your reaction to daddy -- well, pretty much everyone in this case -- hootin' and hollerin' at the top of their lungs when something exciting happens in a game. In fact, you even joined in; flailing your arms up in the air and shouting "yeah! yeah!" when you noticed the commotion. Vera, you have always been especially sensitive to abrupt noises. I'll never forget, when you were just a few months old daddy had a little cough and you would WAIL each time he cleared his throat. It made for some long nights, but was certainly adorable. So NOW, your growing ability to pause and determine the type of reaction you have to those loud noises, it just makes me so proud of you.

 
Here you are, Vavvy, strutting your stuff at Hazel's school carnival last month

Here you are, Vavvy, strutting your stuff at Hazel's school carnival last month

 
Daddy asked you to pick out your own outfit on Saturday, Ru. You got SOOO excited and, when you did your fashion show for me, holding your plush doggie "Door" tight in your arms, you giggled with delight! Then daddy and I did too!

Daddy asked you to pick out your own outfit on Saturday, Ru. You got SOOO excited and, when you did your fashion show for me, holding your plush doggie "Door" tight in your arms, you giggled with delight! Then daddy and I did too!

Girls, I've had something on my mind lately that I want to share with you. Two days ago, on June 6th, you turned 21-months-old. I think for any other mom in the world they might say, "Today you girls are 21 month old! Only 3 more months until your 2nd birthday!" Something of that nature. But, for me, you girls turning 21-months old immediately made me think of one thing. My mom. Your Grandma Melody. 

I'm very sure, by the time you read this, you will have been told approximately 1,000,000,000 times that it is "sooooooo amazing" that you are twins that have a mommy that is a twin and uncles that are twins. Well, at the risk of sounding redundant, I will tell you that it truly is amazing, love bugs. In fact, back when mommy was just a few months old, your uncles, auntie, and I were photographed by the local newspaper in Fresno and your grandma and grandfather were interviewed for a little article about just how unusual it is to have two sets of twins! Kind of cool, huh?

This article says "19 months," but I think your grandma may have been too tired to do the math. Oh well!

This article says "19 months," but I think your grandma may have been too tired to do the math. Oh well!

Aside from the sheer amazing-ness of you girls being twins, I often times ponder (and probably even more often am asked by strangers to ponder), "How in the world was your grandma able to manage so many children at once and (on days when your Great grandpa couldn't help) on her own?!" As, shortly after this, your grandfather was no longer in the picture. Then, sadly, my next thought is "I'm not sure she did manage."

Eight days old. Eight. Days. That is how old your siblings would be today if mommy (and daddy) had a second set of twins at exactly the same interval as your grandma Melody did. I've been thinking a lot about how it would be to incorporate two newborns into our family. Even with the wonderful support system our family has, it would be a struggle. A struggle financially? Sure. A struggle physically? YOU BET! A mental struggle? Let's just say, I am sure I would probably be too stressed for my own good. Period.

You were so fascinated by your cousins' slinky, Vee. You knew you were being silly and just kept on doing it. I love that about you!

You were so fascinated by your cousins' slinky, Vee. You knew you were being silly and just kept on doing it. I love that about you!

Ru, you want to be a big girl so bad! I think these girls were jealous of your sweet shoes ;)

Ru, you want to be a big girl so bad! I think these girls were jealous of your sweet shoes ;)

I think I may be subconsciously skirting the main reason I want to share this with you. So, I want to be frank. When I said that I am not sure your grandma was able to manage all four of us at once, what I am saying is that she allowed that stress to get the better of her.

Your grandma Melody had Bipolar Disorder.

Simply put, when she was up, she was up -- extremely energetic, creative, impulsive. It was during these "up" episodes that she would go on her vision quests, of sorts; once vanishing for a couple weeks, returning home to tell us she had been seeking out her biological family, spouting off tales of her adventures; never alluding to her real goal of trying to find understanding and acceptance of her own childhood struggles.

And, when she was down, she was down -- erratically violent and abusive, recklessly self-medicating, and deeply depressed. It was during this time that I would find myself pacing outside her room, told "LEAVE ME ALONE!" in my 8-year-old effort to comfort her as she loudly wept behind her locked bedroom door. My heart still breaks for her in recalling those low moments.

Because she is no longer living, the only way to recollect those very dynamic moods is through the hindsight of memory. Unfortunately, however, in an effort to protect both you girls as well as myself from the pain of my past, it's difficult for me to ruminate on your grandma's mental condition. So, for these thoughts to cross my mind, upon you girls reaching 21-month-old, I wanted to be open and honest about them with you.

I guess the big thing I want you to know is that you don't ever have to be ashamed of your feelings. Right now in your life you are both unabashedly honest about how you are feeling and what is on your mind. It is an admirable quality to be freely expressive of your emotions. Even if it is not the most positive of emotions sometimes.

One of your very favorite books is "Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman. Whenever we get to the page that reads, "So hold your head high and don't be afraid to march to the front of your own parade..." I repeat it emphatically, as the thought that you would choose to be anything other than YOU in an effort please others would be depriving the world of the unique marvel of Ruby Joan and the unparallelled wonder of Vera Kathleen. So, I'll reiterate it again:

 

 

Hold your head high

and don't be afraid

to march to the front

of your own parade.

If you're still my small babe

or you're all the way grown,

my promise to you

is you're never alone.

Promise promise.

Being chased by daddy on the UC Berkeley campus. You are so beautiful Ruby!

Being chased by daddy on the UC Berkeley campus. You are so beautiful Ruby!

I love this expression, Vee. You were NOT happy when we first arrived at Hazel's carnival (you CANNOT deal with no nap), so we left and decided to try going again after you girls had eaten and calmed down a bit. I'm so glad we did. You were roaming all over that elementary school lawn like you owned the place. Love that sass!

I love this expression, Vee. You were NOT happy when we first arrived at Hazel's carnival (you CANNOT deal with no nap), so we left and decided to try going again after you girls had eaten and calmed down a bit. I'm so glad we did. You were roaming all over that elementary school lawn like you owned the place. Love that sass!

At Illum's 2nd birthday party, you girls wore your new swimsuits that your cousin gave to you. Ru, you were most excited to swim...

At Illum's 2nd birthday party, you girls wore your new swimsuits that your cousin gave to you. Ru, you were most excited to swim...

and Vee, I think you were most excited to show off your new suit :)

and Vee, I think you were most excited to show off your new suit :)

I love you so much boo boos,

Mom

 

 

 

18/52: Silhouette


Yesterday I had the pleasure of doing a family photo session with a lovely family here in the East Bay. You’ll be seeing much more of them in the weeks ahead. When I arrived at their home, this man opened the door, greeted me with a welcome smile, and alerted to his wife -- nursing their precious 12-day-old son, photographed here as well -- “honey, the photographer’s here!”


What a beautiful life.

For My Daughters: Tuesday Tomfoolery

Hey boo boos,

You two have grown increasingly more sweet with one another over the past few months (thank. GOODNESS!). Now, unlike a few months ago, when daddy or I ask either of you to "give a [insert toy/snack/pacifier/musical instrument/book here] to your sissy" you actually DO! I'm afraid with your *terrible twos* rapidly approaching, that magnanimous attitude may change a bit, so I'm going to relish in it for now.

On Tuesday, you were being particularly silly and sweet. Quite a lovely combination of traits for me to witness. I decided it would be the day I would open up your Minnie Mouse instrument set you got as a gift for your first birthday. It said it was for ages 3+ so, being the worrywart you know I can be at times, I held off for a long time to open it up for you girls. Only thing is, it had a transparent case. You poor things had to stare at the maracas, whistle, castanets, A RECORDER; all without the ability to actually PLAY with them. So, when I finally pried open that case, you two were hysterically giddy...

You were very inventive, Ru, utilizing the recorder as a drumstick. Much better grip. Vee, you weren't so taken with the innovation.

You were very inventive, Ru, utilizing the recorder as a drumstick. Much better grip. Vee, you weren't so taken with the innovation.

for about five minutes.

During those minutes, though, we sung and played "If You're Happy and You Know It..." because that's how mommy gets you girls to do silly commands like, "touch your nose, dance around," or, of course my favorite, "give sissy kisses!"

Moments before a sissy smooch!

Moments before a sissy smooch!

You were battling a bit, Ru, with the whistle. I showed you how to play it several times. But, you just couldn't quite get it. After you got frustrated and threw it on the couch, sis took her opportunity to snatch it. Didn't look like you minded.

There's a grin on that cutie face. Nice snatch, Vee!

There's a grin on that cutie face. Nice snatch, Vee!

 
"I don't need no stickin' whistle!"

"I don't need no stickin' whistle!"

 

After a while I thought I'd try "If you're happy and you know it, pretend you're sleepy" 'cause you've been so silly with fake snoring lately; especially you, Vee. Instead, you girls did the SWEETEST thing. You laid your heads really gently on the couch and just looked right at mommy. I kept the camera down so my eyes weren't blocked by it (and hoping it wouldn't be a distraction). I could cry even right now just looking at the sweet expressions on your faces here:

The moment was short-lived.

You started up with the shenanigans once again.

When daddy walked in the door, he grabbed the camera, thinking the light looked cool on my face, and took these photos of me. I figure you might think they're silly.

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I love you,

Mom

For My Daughters: Temps

Hi lovebugs,

Yesterday was "Take Your Kids To Work" Day. So,  I decided that it would be fun to dress you up in band t-shirts and head over to daddy's work for the activities they had planned. What a fun day it was!

First order of business: mess with the blinds.

First order of business: mess with the blinds.

The sun was shining so brightly on your face here, Ruby. But, I wanted you both to see how elated your dad was to have you two (and mommy) come spend time with him at his office.

The sun was shining so brightly on your face here, Ruby. But, I wanted you both to see how elated your dad was to have you two (and mommy) come spend time with him at his office.

Ru, you were fascinated by the enormous window overlooking the streets. We counted the cars and whenever I would get to 3, you'd say "niiii... ten!" A for effort, my love.

Ru, you were fascinated by the enormous window overlooking the streets. We counted the cars and whenever I would get to 3, you'd say "niiii... ten!" A for effort, my love.

There was a band there just for kids your age! They were called the "Alphabet Rockers" and performed songs all about things you girls love: animals, the ABC's, food... very heady stuff.

Your first concert! You go INTO IT, Ru!

Your first concert! You go INTO IT, Ru!

Daddy's company brought in a frozen yogurt cart, as well. Needless to say, you two were ALL OVER that. Good thing there were plenty of distractions, otherwise I'm afraid, when I took away your yogurt, we would've seen the biggest tandem tantrum (you see what I did there?) in Schmidt history!

Vera, your eyes were on your prey!

Vera, your eyes were on your prey!

Cool kids with your Beatles and Bob Marley shirts.

Cool kids with your Beatles and Bob Marley shirts.

Vee, you took a while to warm up to the whole new environment. You set in the comfort of daddy's lap for quite a while, but, as soon as you were acquainted with your surroundings, there was no stopping you (literally, you were running circles around your daddy and me!).

Vee, you took a while to warm up to the whole new environment. You set in the comfort of daddy's lap for quite a while, but, as soon as you were acquainted with your surroundings, there was no stopping you (literally, you were running circles around your daddy and me!).

Daddy and his girlies.

Daddy and his girlies.

At one point, dad went downstairs to grab your diaper bag and I was chasing after both of you like a crazy person! One moment I stopped you, Ru, from pulling down a (very expensive yet unmanned) laptop from a table, then turned around to see you, Vee, about to take a sip of an abandoned, opened soda container. By the time your dad got back, I had worked up a sweat and, almost certainly, everyone in the place knew your names (middle included) from me bellowing them loud enough for you to know I meant business.

Chaotic as it is at time, there's no way your daddy or I would change a single thing about your exuberant, budding personalities.

I love you two crazies!

Mom

15/52: Balance


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Dear Lovebugs,

The moment your daddy and I discovered that we were going to have you both (at once!), we were thrilled and, believe it or not, relieved. As you know, your Auntie Michele and I are twins, and your Uncle Marshall and Uncle Marco are, too. So, we weren’t as surprised as others in the same circumstance may have been. But, that didn’t mean our jaws didn’t drop when the midwife, quite taken aback herself, asked me to “count the heartbeats” on the ultrasound monitor. It gives me goosebumps, even now, just thinking about that moment.

The several weeks leading up to that first ultrasound, I had experienced horrendous morning sickness; feeling extremely queasy all day; displeasing scents within what seemed like a mile of me setting me into fits of dry-heaving, resorting to shamelessly lying down on any stable surface as an attempt to calm the perpetual spinning in my head. You can ask your dad to tell you the stories about just how bad it got. At points in those first weeks of your gestation, I certainly asked myself, “How the hell do women do this more than once?!” No fun, to say the least. Yet, at that moment, when we discovered that all of that morning sickness was due to the fact that there were two of you -- and, more specifically two robust, life-giving placentas -- within me, I learned to embrace the discomfort, knowing that with every twinge of nausea was a sign of your further, healthy growth. In the cheesy, infamous words of John Mellencamp, it hurt so good. Bad, I know.

On the day you were born, once FINALLY in our arms, a new type of feeling overwhelmed me; fear. Not fear of being a good mother to you two. Not fear of being able to feed you two. More so, I feared that I would be able to strike the right balance when it came to dividing myself between the two of you. What if you both needed me -- to nurse, to wipe your tears, to stroke your head, to kiss your boo boos, to read your favorite story, to dance cheek to cheek, to go down the slide with -- at the same time, and, I simply couldn’t attend to those needs without hurting one of you by tending to your sister first?

I will say, in the last 19.5 months, some days it has been very difficult. But, really not as many as I had feared. You see, one thing I had taken for granted is the times that you two would, indeed, not need me whatsoever! For instance, a couple days ago, Vera, you were playing with one of your toy boxes and ended up dumping it out and climbing inside of it. I grabbed you one too, Ru, as you were giggling uncontrollably at your sis sitting in there. Needless to say, you two were blissfully unaware of mommy’s presence.

I love you silly girls,

Mom

7/52: Dramatic Light


From the moment my daughters could reach up and grab at my face, they have tried to pull off my glasses (and, many times, have succeeded). The other day, with a particularly hectic day transpiring, I became especially flustered at their fervent efforts to rip off my spectacles. I hate feeling frustrated with the girls and, even more so, when I realize that their actions are directly related to their curiosity of the world around them; something I will strive to never quell.

So, while popping another load in the wash I had a moment of *mom-spiration*. If the girls had their own pair of glasses, they could explore that fascination without, ya know, making me pretty much blind.

They loved the idea.

Thoughts on Dr. King and Photojournalism

Joe and I went to a Warrior’s game on Monday. He had the day off, as it was Martin Luther King Jr Day. In remembrance of Dr. King’s birthday there were several beautiful tributes scattered throughout the ball game. Joe and I chatted a bit about how truly incredible it is that one person had such magnetism, to say the very least, to unify a once staunchly polarized society; most impressively surrounding an issue that many believed to be a foundational, even defining aspect of that 1960’s society.

I got to thinking about how King was not only charismatic in his speeches, his profound writings, but also quite strategic in his use of sociological dramaturgy to aid in creating resonance and eventually activism for the Civil Rights Movement. I believe the images documenting communities protesting en mass, illustrating youth objected to ghastly violence at the hands of those who were supposedly there to protect and serve, or depicting peaceful students being viciously tormented for sitting at a lunch counter; all of these images paved the way for what I believe the essence of photojournalistic documentation should be: a means to bring to light a visual representation, that illustrates an otherwise verbal/written explanation or presumption, in which someone may find resonance, invoking and stirring up latent sentiments, deep significance, and overall sense of connectedness to your fellow man or woman.

Here is a (lengthy) paper I wrote several years ago regarding the concept of dramaturgy in two specific campaigns for social justice; one of Dr. King's and the other of César Chávez. If you’re interested, Take a look.

A picture may be worth a thousand words. But, it also may impress upon in the hearts of many who do not need words, only actions, to describe how it affected them.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Take care,

Melissa

2/52: Family


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This is Scarlett.

Not the raggedy-haired, wide-eyed, boogie-nosed little girl. Not the teddy bear. She’s the one with the antenna-like appendages, clutched tightly in the ever-loving grasp of Vera’s left hand. Scarlett is unequivocally a member of this family.

We introduced “loveys” when Ruby and Vera were about 7-months-old and transitioning to their cribs. Generally speaking, a lovey is an inanimate object, usually doll or blankie, used to comfort the child and offer a sense permanence; especially handy when introducing big changes, like them sleeping in an entirely new location! Around the time the girls were born, we had received a gift from their Aunt and Uncle that live in New York. This gift included a set of pajamas -- which they *just* were fitting into at 7 months of age -- with an accompanying doll, assumingly meant to be used as a lovey. So, we gave it a shot. And. It. Worked. At least for Vee. She ritualistically rubs Scarlett’s “feet” all over her face and, just *like that* her eyelids start to droop. Truly it’s miraculous.

Long story short, Vera can’t even contemplate sleeping, be it nap or bedtime, without Scarlett firmly in hand. And, of course we had to pick a lovey that is super tough to duplicate. Though the girls’ Grandmom (“Mum-mum”) did find a nearly identical one, as Scar is getting haggard real quick. Yay for grandparents! Though now Vee thinks it’s amazing that there are TWO Scarletts to snuggle her to sleep. Oops.

1/52: Where You Live


This one is particularly literal. But, I have good reason.

We just returned home to Berkeley after going back East to see my husband’s family for just about two weeks. Unfortunately I brought back a bit of a sinus cold/ headache. So, for the last couple days we’ve stayed cozy in our jammies, said “the hell with it” to taking down holiday decor (scant as they were), flipped through our books, jammed to our music, and basked in this lovely California sun via the light of our living room window.


It’s good to be home!

My Icarus Complex


Photo Credit: Meghan Schmidt

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Daedalus, before embracing his precious son, Icarus, for the final time, cautioned him:

“Take care to wing your course along the middle air;

If low, the surges wet your flagging plumes,

If high, the sun the melting wax consumes:

Steer between both:

Nor to the northern skies,

Nor south Orion turn your giddy eye,

But follow me.

Let me before you lay rules for the flight,

and mark the pathless way.”

In one ear and out the other.

My “Icarus Complex.” That’s what I call it.

I’m sure you know the type...

The type that daydream in the back of the class and, only when called upon without warning, you come to realize were lost in their own thoughts for the last hour...

The type that seemingly have no verbal filter, chatting insistently while interrupting you mid-sentence in a thoughtless but well-intended attempt to wedge in their two-cents without the slightest regard for courtesy...

The type that find such true insight and resonance in a piece of music that, while bussing to school/work/home, they can’t help but ignore the stares as they tear up and get lost in the melody…

The type that grin widely and wave hardily at a beckoning stranger, moments before cowering in embarrassment as they catch a peripheral glimpse of the oscillating hand (and eyes) of the intended recipient behind them…

The type that actually stop to smell the roses; then grab their camera, put on the perfect lens, adjust their settings, take seven photos of the roses from differing angles, stop to smell them again, look around for where their friends wandered off to, then go on their way...

The type that find it impossible to not express (all over their face) what they are feeling the instant they are feeling it...

The type that, though try as they might -- be it bleaching their arm hair to the point of numbness, extreme dieting to be able to beat the scale and squeeze into smaller jeans, even traveling the world in an attempt at self-realization -- simply will never fit into the mold society deems appropriate for them.

Now, I’m sure you’re savvy enough to know that this is me we’re talking about here. These types are my people. I love, nurture and wholeheartedly accept these aspects of myself now. But, there was a time I neither loved nor accepted my strange brew of idiosyncrasies.

Although I feel I’ve been an anomaly since birth, being in one of two sets of twins, I do have several very specific life experiences -- some of which I will doubtlessly share at another time on this blog-- that help to shed light on my disposition. From childhood abuse and severe trauma to bouncing from one temporary home to the next as a very young child (until my aunt and uncle intervened when I was nine), the chances of me becoming a square peg were pretty much guaranteed. But, you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Let me explain my “Icarus Complex.”

I tried so so hard to conform. To fit in. But, I wasn’t being my authentic self. Like Icarus, in trying to be somebody I wasn’t, I foolishly flew higher than my fabricated wings could handle because I thought it felt right, and, as a result, felt myself plummeting into a sea of negative emotions. For a long time I felt constant, overwhelming anxiety, bouts of paralyzing depression, unfounded heated jealousy and, probably worst of all, an aggressive, unrelenting sense of self-doubt.

I felt doubt in my ability to truly listen to and reciprocate happiness or even sympathy for dear friends. I felt doubt in my ability to excel academically when rightfully challenged by a plethora of highly intelligent peers. I felt doubt in my ability to grant the type of emotional support and understanding that my husband so instinctively and consistently provides me. I felt doubt in my ability to connect to my daughters in such a way that they fully understand the aching love that swells in my heart for them, the unconditional appreciation I have for their uniqueness, and yet still the deep-seated, petrifying knowledge that I mustn’t shield them to the sometimes harsh realities of this world (at this point in their lives their “harsh realities” include not being allowed to eat books or dip their hands in the toilet water, but you get the idea). And, I think perhaps more than anything, I felt doubt in my ability to escape the self-fulfilling prophecy of somehow following in the footsteps of my mother.

So, I had a decision to make:

A. Sink under the weight of the negativity and ever-mounting stress.

B. Continue to doggie paddle through, dodging the tempests as they come.

C. Stop the wading, grab onto the outstretched hands reaching in from the shore, dry myself off,  fashion some kick-ass wings, and soar.

Through the encouragement of my insanely supportive and creative husband, as well as other dear friends, I chose C. This Icarus survived, is wiser from the long journey, is forgiving to herself (mine’s a chick). This flight may still be foolish and undoubtedly filled with risk, but I believe that taking flight despite the risks is related to the profoundly interconnected nature of the human spirit and overall meaning for purpose in this life.

So as I stand here at the precipice of this tower, prepared to embark on this new flight, determined to stay the course, staving off the storms as they come. But as I hunker down in preparation to push off, I will reflect upon these befitting words of Oscar Wilde’s...

“Never regret thy fall,

O Icarus of the fearless flight

For the greatest tragedy of them all

Is never to feel the burning light.”

and take the leap.