{broken open} the olivia act

Don’t be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness from the world. Light your candle and step forward

~Amma~

I’ve lit candles. I’ve said innumerable prayers. I’ve avoided social media and the news. I’ve  held my babies closer than ever before. ….but what I hadn’t allowed in was the grieving. Maybe it’s because I am still reeling with my own impalpable grief of losing 2 of the most important matriarchs of my family, and my best friends, not even a year ago, or maybe I just don’t want to face the horrible details of what transpired that day. Whatever the reasons I have sheltered my heart from the immense pain that it truly has been needing to process. Last night…I allowed it in. I allowed the hurt and the confusion to wash over me. I allowed the immense sense of loss fill me. I felt the hopelessness and the heartbreak. I watched the interviews of the parents, and sat in awe of their courage, strength, grace, and messages of light. I took it all in…my heart broken wide open.

I then filled my bathtub, poured an entire bottle of bubbles in, and led my soon-to- be six year old, beautiful girl up to the surprise waiting for her. We played. We giggled. We did what all sparkly kiddos do in a huge bath of bubbles. Blew them, put them on our heads, pretended we were Santa. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Her beauty, her excitement, her innocence, her light. I observed her tiny hands, and I cried. I wept for all that was lost when those 20 babies took their wings, and I wept for those left behind. I cried tears of thankfulness and tears of sorrow all in the same moment, as I allowed those tears to merge with the bubble bath and on my daughter’s precious shoulder as she held me close. Tears have been a common sight for my children…they know that they are good and they know that’s how we heal. They know all too well the sorrow that comes with loss. And luckily, my sweet one, unaware of what occurred on Decemeber 14, 2012, took my tears as missing my mom and grandma once again.

As she intuitively does, she comforted me. She played my ukelele and sang me songs of angels, rainbows, God, love, and how beautiful I am to her. She lifted me, and she showered me with her essence.

Through this tragedy, my beliefs have been strongly reinforced. We are here to simply share our love. To help. To serve. To shine our light to all mankind.

I know that this is exactly how each of the 20 children lived.

I see it everyday in the work I have been called to do…through the amazing tiny beings I get to directly know and cherish.

I am humbled and blessed to be welcomed into children’s lives. To be considered their friend, and to get to know what makes each of them special.

I am honored to help parents capture their children’s light, and their families….and know that I am not only taking pictures, but capturing moments in time that won’t ever be again.

I know we all feel so helpless. I know that each of us wishes we could do something…anything at all. And, we can.

We can do so by being more patient with our own children, ourselves, our lives. We can extend a smile, hold a door, or offer a kind word to a stranger. We can give more in every area of  our lives. We can forgive more easily. And we can volunteer our gifts and our time to where ever we are called.

With this visualization in mind, and in honor of the tiny angels we lost as a nation that horrible day….

Here is my part…..

The Olivia Act  , named after, Olivia Engel, one of the children killed in Newtown, was started by a photographer who wishes to be anonymous. Olivia’s family had family pictures taken a short time before she was killed. Those pictures are precious and now priceless to them. Upon hearing this, this photographer was moved to give away a 30 minute family photo shoot and has challenged other photographers to do the same. We go about our daily lives and sometimes we don’t take the time or have the resources to have family photos taken.

I will be taking nominations for a family who you think would appreciate this gift of memories. The session will take place sometime after the New Year and will include a couple of prints and 5 digital files for on-line sharing, completely FREE to  the family being nominated.  Please email me (bittybphotography@gmail.com) your nominations including a brief message on who you’re nominating and the reason you’d love them to get this. The family chosen will be contacted via email, so please include their email address as well! I’ll be taking nominations anytime between now (December 18th) and December 31st. Please SHARE this blog post so your friends and family will know too! Can’t wait to gift a family with these memories that can’t be replaced or taken away!

Please put “OLIVIA ACT” in the subject line.

And fellow photographers, please think about participating in the Olivia act too.

As always, abundant blessings to each and every one of you.

Namaste.