My photography is another form I use to heal. I remember sitting in my friend's kitchen exactly one week after the bombings. She looked at me and asked if I had taken any pictures since that day. I said I hadn't even picked up or even looked at my camera. We both agreed I should pick it up again. I would take pictures on most of my visits to the memorial at Copley Square. I would then go home and go through them, reflecting on how much love and beauty was shown through every message. Every single time, there would be new items and messages or I would notice something in a way I hadn't before. Then, I slowly started to take pictures of clients again. I was nervous to do my job. I was afraid the shaking would freak people out. I was afraid that I would shake while trying to soothe a newborn. I found it hard to talk about anything, so the thought of having to make small talk with clients at my shoots was overwhelming. But, once I was doing it again, I realized how nice it felt. It was a beautiful distraction. There is a quote I love. Well, there are SO many I love. ;) "Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing." I have built my career and really, my life around this. I see beauty in the smallest detail, in the moment of a child spinning around, or in a place others may never pay attention to. Once I found that again, after the initial fog, it helped. I would still lose it at times and get caught up in the endless thoughts and flashbacks in my head or the anxiety in my body, but I would always come back to it.
So, photography and writing has helped. However, another thing that has helped is music. I have spoken about music before in this blog. I grew up with music playing all the time. My grandmother had music on at most times and so did my mother. I was always interested in not only the music itself, but also the lyrics. I am drawn to songs that have a deeper meaning and a positive message. Like many people, I have different playlists for different moods and purposes. In general, I enjoy listening to upbeat music, but at times, I like only mellow songs. I've been thinking recently about last year and the music I listened to. In the weeks after the bombings and at times throughout the year, I would listen to the same three songs. I don't remember why or how I chose these songs, but I have been reflecting on this lately. The first song was "Jesus walks" by Kanye West. I hadn't heard the song in a long time and for some reason, it ended up on that playlist of 3 songs. It makes sense when I think about it. The first lines are;
We at war
We at war with terrorism, racism, and most of all we at war with ourselves
God show me the way because the Devil trying to break me down
The third song was "Patience" by Guns and Roses. Seriously, this list couldn't be more diverse! This was my reminder to be patient. This seems like it's only a song about love, but it has a different meaning to me. It means that anything you want and can't have right then requires patience. For me, that thing I couldn't have, was my peace. I would be able to find it again, but for the time, I had to deal with everything else in order to get it back.
So, those are the three songs I listened to, not really paying attention to what it was telling me, but I do believe the message reached me on some level. As time went on and I had times when I needed upbeat music, one of the main artists I turned to was Michael Franti. He is one of my all time favorite artists. His music is positive and meaningful. I saw that he was coming to Boston last September and my aunt and I decided to go. I had been listening to his songs a lot. One in particular was 11:59.
It was 11:59 and 59 clicks
The whole world's burning but the clock just ticks
Over and over
Every single day
Some people steal while other people pray
To God, to man, machines or whatever
Some of us just lost faith all together
"No way," they say, "It can't be this way"
That's why so many people stand up and say
One love, one blood, one heart, one soul
And one drum and only one rhythm
One tribe and all of us singing
We went again the following month to see him in Rhode Island and brought my little cousins and my uncle. This year, we got another opportunity to see him. On Friday night, we went to see him at the Pavilion. I was beyond excited. In the last couple of months, since I have found more peace, I have listened to his and other upbeat and positive music consistently. One song in particular is "I'm Alive". Last year, people would say things either to or around me such as "People (or "you") should just feel lucky to be alive and move on. At least they (you) didn't die or get injured". This was a very ignorant and simple statement from people who could have no clue what I, and many experienced that day. I knew I was lucky, but it wasn't something that I could truly feel while my body and brain were in such chaos, constantly processing what I saw and felt. Now, I feel it. I truly feel blessed, as I did before April 15 happened, to be alive.
As we sat watching the opening bands, my leg started to shake and I noticed the feeling creep into my chest. I talked to myself, trying to acknowledge, but not frustrated at this happening. Even though I know it is probably the crowd and the noise, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what is causing it. I always start to feel like I need to know exactly what it is in order to deal with it, but I realize that isn't necessary. I do think at that moment, it was the base that would hit pretty hard and vibrate everything, that caused the anxiety. My friend, Shawna, who was standing up dancing, suddenly leaned over, one hand on my shoulder and one hand on my knee, looking right into my eyes, and said, "Are you okay?" I said yes and that I thought it was just the base. She suggested I stand and when I did, it helped alleviate it a bit. It wasn't until Michael came on that it went away completely. The rest of the concert, I felt great and enjoyed every second.
Last night, I had the opportunity to go to another concert. My uncle had an extra ticket to Jimmy Buffet. I decided it was a nice way to continue the weekend. I had some things come up this last week that were somewhat shocking and upsetting and felt I needed to spend as much time having fun this weekend as I could. As we made our way through the crowd into the venue, I felt my chest start to flutter and tighten. The crowds do it every time. As we sat, my leg started to bounce and it started to get really fast, which hasn't happened in a while. I don't know if it's because there were so many more people in front of me and around me combined with just walking through the crowd or what it was. It stayed with me until the concert started and then as I danced and sang along, it went away.
It's still very strange for me to have the anxiety hit. I have always loved concerts and while I haven't always been a big fan of large crowds, they never affected me more than making me a little annoyed. So, to feel the way I do when i'm first in them is difficult. However, exactly one year ago today, I ended up spending most of the Bon Jovi concert in a bathroom stall shaking and crying. This weekend, I let the anxiety come and then I let the music push it away. I'm thankful for that.
A little update before I finish. I have been writing my book and am looking forward to sharing it. I've had a mix of emotional and anxiety filled times in the last few weeks, but I've also gone away for a couple of days at a time and found some wonderful peace. I am working on keeping balance every single day and planning my next step which is working hard, writing my books, and going to Italy.
I will share some more things that happened this last couple of weeks in the next post since this got pretty long. :)
Thanks, as always for reading,