26 October 2014

Mother's meeting - week 39

Week 39 | 2014

It took Chuck and I a long time to find a baby group that we could be part of. When he was a wee baby he was a nap monster. He wouldn't nap on the move, he wouldn't settle in a pram or in my arms and, if he fell asleep in the car, he would almost certainly wake when the wheels of the car came to a standstill.

He was a baby that needed his naps and I was [and remain to be] a mother who needed them just as much as he did. This made getting out and socialising with my bebe difficult for a long while. Even now he has a good two or three hours in the afternoon. These days I'm more relaxed about timings and have even been known [on rare occasions] to let him miss his nap if we have a very good social event as an excuse.

We were well into Chuck's second year of being when I finally found a local group of mamas who met regularly at a time that suited our nap regimen. You never really know how these meets are going to go - lord knows I've been to my fair share of them and have come away bored and feeling isolated, so often they are clingy affairs. I usually find myself on the side lines, struggling to integrate. I even had a stab at starting a local mama and baby group which fell flat on its face when the 4 members of the group [of which I was one of them] failed to ascertain a time and day for us all to meet regularly.

So I was very pleased when another local lady reignited the fire of the local NCT coffee morning and it was a success! Finally Chuck and I are part of something familiar, something regular. Friendships are being forged and, for the first time, I feel as though we belong; we are welcome; we are accepted. We are home.

I am seeing my son grow, develop in personality and in independence. And somehow, it is rubbing off on me.

I will forever be the person who questions themselves. I am learning to accept this about myself while trying not to let it hold me back as I have done for so so long. Such wonderful things can happen when you feel comfortable with people.

I have felt comfortable enough to share my passion and interest in photography with the group and, encouraged by my mama compadres, I have taken photographs in public, of other people's children - for the first time ever. Some of which you see here - today. I cannot underestimate the value of this personal milestone.

To say I was anxious would not be an understatement. But I pushed myself to do it and I'm so glad I did. I'm beginning to develop my craft in ways I had never expected and this group's influence cannot be denied. And subsequently, I am nervously looking forward to taking some more private shots of some of these amazing kiddos and their families. I'm scared but I am trying to embrace the fear and not hide from it. This is a fundamental change in personality.

My first-born son, Chuck, is really the catalyst for all of this change. I owe him everything.

Belatedly linking up with Jodi.

9 September 2014


Cornwall 2014 from Stephanie Barker on Vimeo.

July you were kind to us. The weather was sweet and holidays with friends expanded and simultaneously shrunk our horizons. New ways of life were shown to us. Birthdays and birthday celebrations were had. Love was here. Siblings came into the picture. Life changed forever, again.

We will not forget you in a hurry July. We will not.


Week 36 | 2014

Three months ago I downed tools, literally, and abandoned my camera with no good reason but fear and rejection. I'd fallen into a self-propelling trap of seeking reassurance and acceptance from those that I admire and as such I made the mistake of seeking validation from a very dear and talented friend.

She did not make the noises I was hoping to hear, and through no fault of her own, it left me feeling hurt and unmotivated to continue on my journey. It railroaded me. It stopped me dead in my tracks and I lost all desire to continue because I'd filled myself up with self-doubt. My own worst enemy.

While I was disappointed with my friend's reaction to my work, I realise that my reactions to her comments were nothing but my own doing. I alone am the one that can take myself on this journey.

I spent some time abstaining from photographing altogether while I ironed out the creases in my damaged, delicate mind and finally, after about a month, I picked up my camera again. I realised that the only person missing out here is me. I'm the one missing the moments I want to cherish on film. I'm the one who will have months' worth of gaps in my 52 project photobook. I'm the one who will not be able to look back on these pictures and remember; remember that I was there, I pressed the shutter, I was the one privileged enough to be present for all these moments with my son. For that reason alone, I need to pick up that camera and push through my inadequacies.

This is a constant issue for me and while it remains I'm not going to progress to anything, not that this means I know how to overcome it. All I can do is try and carry on trying until it feels like second nature. Like breathing. I don't question myself every time I take a breath do I, so why for everything else?

Seeking affirmation and praise from others has got to stop - it's a brick wall that I trip over every time. So what if somebody doesn't like my images? I'm not taking pictures of our life as a family for anyone else's benefit but our own. So it stops here. M'kay?

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity


4 June 2014


Since taking part in the 52 project and Living Arrows I have been taking an abundance of photos and choosing just one image per week is proving difficult. I'm trying so hard to force myself to be better at self-editing but it leaves so many images that I like behind that I have decided I have to do something with them.

I'm planning a monthly round-up of the outtakes, like a 'month in the life of' sort-a-thing - a bit like my ten on ten contributions so far.. I'm certain there's a linky going round that already does this - I need to find it! But expect that to be appearing shortly, even if I do have a lot of work to do - I'll be going back all the way to April at least and that's going to be a lot of photies.

A photo of my son | once a week | every week | in 2014

Chuck: you are blossoming my dear. You are like the seasons. You have a natural force and a sweet determination behind you pushing you forward every day.

You are fast becoming a little boy and we converse now, all the time. You told me your first story the other day. It talked about how our cat, Squeasel, was flitting between being trapped inside our kitchen bin and playing on the ipad. We needed to get her out of the bin and when we did, she put our other cat, Fat Pat, into the bin in her place. Obviously Pat now needed saving from the bin and from Squeasel, who kept putting her back into the bin; when she wasn't busy on the ipad. Obviously.

As each day progresses though, my respect for you grows. I'm working, constantly, on remaining compassionate and patient. I genuinely believe it's paying dividends though. You are so pleasant, friendly, calm, confident. I believe that having somebody you can constantly depend upon and trust is really enabling you to be yourself; without fear. Even though you probably aren't yet able to understand it fully, I think you know I always have your back. In fact, I don't think you have any clue of the alternative and that fills my soul. This is my goal.

Linking up with Jodi and Living Arrows.


28 May 2014


A portrait of my son | once a week |every week | in 2014

Your beloved blanket is well and truly on its way out. I've tried to find resources to fix it but so far I've failed. I'm told it can't be done so I guess the only option is to make you a new one. I'd like to try and make it myself, even though I can't [yet] crochet, so that if [when] you reject it can, at least, remain as a handmade token of love. Even if you don't [won't?] love it. I'll understand if you can't love you new 'Bee'. Afterall, you've lived with and loved this blanket of yours from the day you were born. You love it so much you have embraced the giant hole in the centre and have incorporated it into your relationship with the soft [and smelly] blanket. You wear it as a poncho and run around chasing the cats. You are accepting of the changes this blanket is presenting to you.

Perhaps watching your blanket disappear before your eyes will be a good lesson in loss for you but until then I'll do my best to find something to help keep your relationship with your best friend going strong.

And despite appearances here, you were having fun when I took this photo.

Linking up with Jodi and Living Arrows

20 May 2014


A portrait of my son | once a week | every week | in 2014

Here you are - showing the world - your true and natural glow. You are not a serious boy, despite how many of these photographs are depicting you. Here you are in your element. Joy is never far from your face. You are a light, my child. You are a light.

Linking up with Jodi and Living Arrows.

Melting pot

Pale bluey-grey eyes, like mine, only brighter, shinier - younger.

Hair that grows like grass, like mine, only lighter, smoother and softer, like silk. But it still gets knotty as heck, like Mama's.

A chin that has yet to define itself as Mama's or Pappa's, but we're all praying for Daddy's chin.

Impressive hands, feet and height which has to be a Barker trait. I'm sure you'll grow up to be a bear one of these days.

Loud, crazy, energetic, wacky and loopy. And funny! You may very well grow up to be "weird and annoying", but in the most endearing of ways.

Impatient and grumpy in relation to lack of food and sleep. Sorry Floppit*, that's my bad.

Compassion and tenderness and free-love - all yours kiddo, all yours.

Truly giving and naturally friendly and so so trusting.

Stay you little man, stay you.

*My latest term of endearment for the little man. A natural combination of Flower and Poppet and I can't stop myself from saying it, no matter how daft it sounds.

12 May 2014

Ten on ten - May

A feverent toddler greeted me this morning at an eye-wateringly early 4.20am. I don't know what has happened to his sleeping pattern but the last few weeks have been fraught with sleepless nights and early mornings. I'm guessing there must be some kind of goings-on, developmentally, for the little fella. That or it's his teeth but I'm not so convinced it's the latter. All I do know is that a slew of early mornings and disturbed nights makes for long, grumpy days. For everybody concerned. I'm hoping that Chuck manages to grasp whatever new skills are forming in his brain soon so we can all start to wind down and begin to enjoy the long, bright days - instead of dreading them. 4.20am really has no business being so blummin' bright.

Despite the early start to today I was determined not to let last week's momentum slip away from me, so here I am with May's ten on ten. I confess, I'm both a little proud and surprised that I managed to pull this out the bag so quickly...

I'm really beginning to see the benefits of a challenge like this. Not only is it useful for progressing one's skills but it's also helpful in highlighting to me my weaknesses - both photographically and personally.

This month's 10th was unique. I had a day off and, while the boys travelled an hour up the M1 to see Grandma, I got to enjoy getting dressed at leisure, meet a friend for coffee/beer, talk [uninterrupted and using adult words] and discover that I have gone a few steps backwards in terms of personal development recently. I think there's probably a longer post brewing here about how becoming a stay-at-home mama has huge implications on a woman's life - and not necessarily the usual changes you'd expect to hear about. I'll have to have a deep ponder on that one and see if I can pull enough words out of my cotton-wool head to articulate myself properly. Why do you think I use images so much? I've lost a heck of a lot of words over the last two years.

Anyhoo - I hope you are enjoying these projects. Join in, the benefits are completely surprising.


11 May 2014

All caught up

It's a miracle. Not only have I gotten myself caught up on the 52 Project and Living Arrows but I have published 3 posts to my blog - in ONE week - and with the imminent arrival of this month's ten on ten project I'm set to have 5 blog posts in a week. Phew. That's me done for the year.

No. I'm not going down like that. I'm sticking with this momentum and I'm at the very least vowing to stay on top of the projects that i've tasked myself with this year. I can't wait to see how it all pans out come the end of the year. I'm planning on making photo books for each project as keepsakes as also as a tangible visual reference to my [hopeful] progression in photography. I'm really quite excited.

16 - Sitting still, if only for a moment.
17 - Exploring nature during a weekend away. You remind us so much of Ryan Adams in this little denim jacket.
18 - Concentrating on playing cars in the garden and wearing my favourite tee-shirt of the moment.
19 - Taking a moment to yourself, engrossed in a spot of television.
© Hello Poppet. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig