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When I do sleep, my dreams are vivid – omens with oceans washing over me, or waiting for me, splashing at my feet as I maneuver wobbly obstacle courses above. They are the untangling of my daily life, in a maze of walls, a crooked old house with zippers along the walls, chairs that slide along floors, unfamiliar faces, and never a bathroom. They are deep and soul rattling, waking me with an urgency to take note, to sit at three in the morning and replay them all, like gathering heaps of laundry to into my arms to then sort and put away in each proper drawer. 

Mostly, I breathe and stare at the ceiling or the glass of water at my bedside and just listen to the beat of my heart.

But nights, lately, haven’t been for sleeping. 

It’s been nearly six months since I last paused to write anything non-work related. The whole soul-shifting-shuffle of 2019 has still felt as though it was settling, though nicely. At the end of last year, Vinnie and I took turns shifting focuses, learning to lean together into the unknown, each, I think, holding the other’s hand and hoping the other had a slightly better idea of how our (financial, work-related) future would look. 

It’s an uneasy thing to be young and leaving college and have a lifetime of bills to pay ahead of you, without any idea of what you want to do, exactly, or how you’ll make anything work. It’s downright terrifying to be forty, with four children, and the motions of change in the wind. 

I’m not leaving photography. I still love and enjoy it as a whole, but my heart isn’t in the sales pitch or the rat race of trying to stay competitive or hunting down leads for brides and hoping to book X number of weddings per year. If anything now, every wedding is so much time away from my family, that it feels like almost too large of a sacrifice to shoulder. Alex will be driving before the year is over. Lila is thirteen. We’re about to hit the springtime where my youngest chase after one another, each sliding into their next year within two weeks of each other. Eleven and nine. Nine. My baby will be nine. Nearly a decade has passed since I was last pregnant.

And so, I’m slowing down, with intention. I’m accepting that I will continue to do Simply Mella, but as it comes organically to me because that is where I am the happiest. That is where it started, as an organic movement in my life, one that carried me and has served us all so well, from a trailer park in Hudson to this happy houseful here in Manchester. 

As I’ve let my photography become more organic, I’ve been delving more and more into working with Thrive Outdoors and the year-long building of our Community Leadership Center in Manchester. We’ve been making connections with businesses and with families in our community. We’re marketing so many new programs and hoping beyond hope that registrations will fill, that salaries can be paid, that all of us who are in it for the sheer love of the work that we’re doing, will be able to continue. It’s simultaneously the most exhilarating and exhausting experience of my life. 

The unrest in the ocean of my dreams is all of this. And more. 

When one dreams about the mighty ocean, one is full of emotions that are deep and strong like the tides.

It’s Valentine’s this week. It’s not a holiday we generally pay too much attention to, save for candies for the kids and maybe a dinner out. Poor Vinnie learned early on that chocolate will be tucked away in my drawer and never eaten and flowers will die at a rapid pace, given my black thumb.

This year though, my heart is in it. Even in all of the uncertainty, the depth of emotions and the tides of my spirit – my heart is so utterly overflowing with soul-satisfied happiness. I’m positive that all of the shiftings have been and will continue to be good, that change brings growth, that the entirety of the past year has been something well worth the wait. 

There are good things coming. 

Spring is coming and I know it will hold some of the best and most beautiful moments this heart has ever known. 

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Writer, Photographer, Wife, Mother to four rambunctious and amazing children.

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