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Week In The Life™ 2015 | Tuesday Words & Photos

Today I'm going to start my journaling with either "she" or "he" or "I" in an attempt to capture/write more about who each of us is right now (in alignment with my 2015 intentions). 

Please remember, as I share these photos with you, that this is my life. These are my moments and my stories and my real emotions and feelings. Please remember that we all have pain and we all have great joy. Please remember that I'm not pushing anything other than advocating for you to document and celebrate your own life. Please remember that real life is just that, it's real - which is often messy and most of the time doesn't fit into a simple little box that is easily photographed. 

My goal is sharing my real life with you is to encourage you in your own memory keeping. We probably lead different lives. You might not know what it's like to go through a divorce. I don't have a lot of experience with death. You might not know what it's like to have a child who deals with a very real disability that will impact the rest of his life in various ways. I don't know what it's like to have all boys. You might not know what it's like to see the possibility of a new relationship after divorce and you might not understand that the "normal" path you have always thought you'd follow might just not be the way it ends up. There are so many things I don't know about what it's like to live your life. 

A few years ago when I originally ran  31 Things, someone complained that I should not be teaching a workshop like that (writing about my life) when I was going through very hard times. It was too depresing for them. They didn't like the stories I was telling. They didn't like the sadness in my voice or the grey tint to my perspective on my own life at that time even as I tried to focus on the good. I will never forget that person's comments because for me, writing stories - even the ones that aren't always sunshine and rainbows - was part of the way I survived during that time. Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you are in a time in your life where it's really hard. Maybe this project or taking photos or writing about your life experiences becomes a lifeline for you as well. 

My point today, let's be kind and compassionate and encouraging to each other as we share our stories. Let's be the ones who lift each other up instead of tearing each other down. Let's remember that there isn't one path we all walk down throughout our lives. 

Here's a look at my Tuesday: 

I am thankful for his kind heart. 

I believe in the ebb and flow of life. 

Those of you who have followed along with this project for a number of years might remember other shower photos I've taken during Week In The Life™. The first one was taken during a time when it had become very evident that Chris was going to leave and my hands were over my eyes ( 2011) and I think I've taken others as well but I couldn't locate them on a quick search last night. 

These shower shots have become for me a story in and of themselves. 

Some people think it's crazy that I'd take my camera into the shower. For this one I turned on the water and then stepped inside with my camera in hand, knowing that I would take one or two shots right as the water was beginning to come over my face. This was the third shot. As soon as I took it I put it back outside the shower. 

I try to pay attention to the things I see all the time in new ways, or at least attempt to appreciate their beauty. And lines, always there are lines. 

She asks, "Mom, how do I get to that place where I can type the words?"

He sleeps. When we first brought Sam home he found this basket and it's been his spot ever since here in the office. 

She brought me a non-fat latte. We work.

The challenge to myself, when documenting starts to feel mundane (during Week In The Life™ and in life generally), is how can I see this scene differently? How can I see us sitting in the office differently? What happens if I shoot from above or below or on the ground rather than straight on? What happens if I go to the other side of the room vs. in the doorway. I'm conscious of these things as I'm shooting and I enjoy the creative challenge of attempting to see differently through the lens. This is one of the techniques I recommend to people who say their life is boring or their story uninteresting or that they do exactly the same thing everyday - my challenge to you is the creative task of seeing your life, your surroundings, your routines in a new light. It's one of the beautiful ways we are invited to grow through the process of this project - regardless of whether you have kids or a spouse or no two days that look the same. 

And in the very same breath, I still love the repetition. I love seeing the same shot in the same location over and over again - it might look like nothing has changed. Look again

What is a typical week in the summer for us? We don't really have one. Sometimes the kids are gone with Chris. Sometimes we are all gone on an adventure together. Sometimes they have camp. Sometimes they are with my parents. This week there is no camp so there's a lot of lounging and just hanging out. This is the first summer that camps felt less mandatory in terms of my ability to get the work done I need to do. My kids are getting older - they are able to occupy themselves and/or we have a friend or two come over for a playdate/hang out time. During the day while I'm working they do a combination of reading time, screen time, outside time, and general just play in your room time (usually that's legos for Simon and barbies or other people/animal toys for Anna). They don't play together much - the seven year age difference and the cognitive differences are both part of that. They do watch movies or shows together and have gotten pretty good at agreeing on what they are going to watch. Sometimes they will play a game together but most of the time they are doing their own things. Having some weeks that are definitely unscheduled is really nice - as well as having scheduled weeks with more activities. I like having both as a part of our summer lives. 

He sleeps. A lot. 

I fix a quick breakfast/snack for myself and both kids. 

She has pineapple, bacon and a hard-boiled egg. He has cantaloupe, bacon, and an english muffin. 

He was done with the photos early today. Both wear robes in the mornings. She has two pink ones - one that is almost beyond too small. He has a navy blue one and two Star Wars robes in his rotation. He needs a belt. 

I have cantaloupe, bacon and a hard-boiled egg. 

I'm having a hard time focusing. Might be that I know it's a transitional time as summer winds down. Might just be that I'm restless. Sometimes when I don't have immediate deadlines I have a harder time focusing (even though there are always deadlines) - it wasn't always that way but now that I'm overall producing more work it seems to be the case - almost like I don't know what to do when there's not something very specific to be done. It's always in flux. I mentioned on a podcast recently ( this one) that one of the things Katie and I are doing in the office is that when we get our tasks done for the day then we need to be done - as in leave the office, go do something else, live our lives. The kind of work I do can be consuming and my personality tends towards being all-in. In order for it to be sustainable, I have to take breaks and step away (mentally and physically) and have other hobbies and fill myself up in other ways. 

He watched way too many Scooby Doo episodes today. But he did go on a walk. A few weeks ago I implemented a 30-minute walk task for each day. He's got the Nike app on his phone and he walks for 15 minutes around the neighborhood and then turns around and walks 15 minutes back. He listens to movie scores (Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and classical music while he walks. He has been really open to this suggestion and I'm so thankful. 

She and I have caprese for lunch. 

He sleeps. Again. 

We work. My posture isn't usually that straight. 

She found this in a basket of things from her birthday party a few months back (remember how it was a later-in-the-year-friend-party?). It was wrapped. She shared it with each of us. 

He has an hour of reading to do each day. He often falls asleep. Today it was on the couch in my office. 

After Katie leaves for the day around 4pm I usually start dinner or do a pick-up around the house. Today I picked up just a bit before we took Sam to his first vet appointment. 

She had a meltdown in the care on the way to the vet. She'd like to be able to stay home with Simon or by herself, but it's not time for that yet. 

I had a meltdown because I forgot the paperwork from the Humane Society that had Sam's medical records. 

He ate three tostadas tonight and cut his own strawberries. 

I cooked artichokes for myself and Anna. 

He had horse lessons. Chris and I take turns getting him there and supporting him through his ups and downs. He's currently frustrated because they are intentionally switching horses to help him develop his skills communicating with the horses. He, as you might imagine, would rather ride just one. It's a lesson in sticking with it, in practicing things that are hard, in communicating and in not giving up. It's always been a fine line for us as we make activity choices for him - easy or hard, stick with it or let it go.

After all that, he actually got to ride his favorite horse tonight.

She and I ate dinner and then headed over to the pool for her to get some sillies out.

After we were there I wished I'd brought my suit. 

As we drove back home she requested Taylor Swift. She always requests something from her playlist now. 

By 8:30pm we were all back at the house for popcorn and a show before bed and working on this post. 

Thank you for sharing your stories with me. They fill me up. They give me hope. They teach me. 

Let's keep telling stories together. 

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99 thoughts

  1. Bellaa75 says…
    08/19/2015

    Thanks Ali for sharing your story. Personally I love it when you post the challenging stories, it makes it feel real and that your life isn't all roses. It makes me feel like my life and my challenges are ok. Your openness is a huge part of what I love about your work. It's funny as I was in the shower today, I went in there to escape my kids arguing and thought I wish I could get a photo as there was such a story to tell but didn't think I could. Tomorrow it's on my to do list. Thank you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. thecraftytokyoite says…
    08/19/2015

    Love this week, especially your intro. I've been holding back on posting a few things that are truths for ME, but afraid of judgement by others. But when I think about myself and how I feel when I read others' blogposts and stories, I never judge. So, I don't know what I'm afraid of.

    Your photos make me so happy! Especially seeing photos of you and Aaron. They give me fuzzies :) Also, I totally had the same robe as Anna. But in college. Haha

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. amytschubert says…
    08/19/2015

    I love this post. I love your heart. I love how dedicated you are to recording the stories -- easy and hard, big and small.

    xo

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. lime says…
    08/19/2015

    I love that the stories you tell are real and honest, thanks for sharing them with us so freely. I think it's good to get a different perspective on life than my own.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. HelenP says…
    08/19/2015

    I too love your openness, Ali. Big love to you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. lkfisher says…
    08/19/2015

    I'm slow clapping this post. nicely said.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Kristyjammo says…
    08/19/2015

    Your honesty, your openness, your gift to us all is humbling and kind.

    Your way with words help me to be more open and creative with my stories of our life.

    It's a gift that you share this with us all. THANKS.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. sbee says…
    08/19/2015

    Thank you for sharing Ali. I am a long term reader of your blog, and was part of the original 31 things class, and never once have I felt negatively to your sharing. You are so real and authentic and you give me some perspective on my own ups and downs. You always make me feel that I need to look deeper when I tell my stories. Thank you for that.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. jessiw says…
    08/19/2015

    I would much rather see the whole story than just the "good" or "great" parts of your life....or anyone's. I believe it brings a deeper connection between the one sharing and the one reading, because it lets us know you. All of you...not just a face you put on for the world. Honestly, my Tuesday wasn't perfect for me, and I intend on documenting how imperfect, and at times frustrating, it was. I do love looking at your photos though. I think sometimes I feel disappointed with mine because I get too many of the same angles. I'm currently working on that!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. cathyzielske says…
    08/19/2015

    I just love you so much. That is all.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. skvale says…
    08/19/2015

    I personally have always loved reading your blog. Your honesty and openness are very refreshing. More people need to do this in my opinion.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. coutch says…
    08/19/2015

    I love your openness and I LOVE your honesty Ali.
    Don't mind the "haters". I've learned that some people are NEVER happy.
    You are awesome!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. spagirl says…
    08/19/2015

    Thanks for sharing Ali. I've always admired how open you are. And accepting... never judging. I'm thankful for you and your words of encouragement to tell our story.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. cruisin_ali says…
    08/19/2015

    Love getting up in the morning and having my "Ali time". I got used to starting my day with you during december daily and loved your blog posts. Week in the Life is yet again the pick me up and true inspiring experience I was hoping it would be. Thank you Ali for being part of our loves and being part of my Week in the Life! p.s.. just wondering how Aaron feels about all this documenting?!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. mtercha says…
    08/19/2015

    I'm sorry that you had to preface your blog post about yesterday about being your life and your choices, etc. I love how real you are, and I too love your heart. You're so gracious, and like I said a million times, a good person. I tell my kids, my life lessons, is if they live their lives and practice kindness, to others as well as themselves,I'll have done at least in part, my job.

    Anyway, I love your pretty white shirt! Katie looks great, too. And I may have to try a shower photo, though that presents a challenge. This is what I was trying to say before, I love how you inspire and challenge me. Thanks for that, and always, thanks for sharing. Michelle t

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. suzq910 says…
    08/19/2015

    Your life and my life are very different. I am older, widowed, childless and retired. I find reading your words gives me a glimpse into your reality and an appreciation of mine - where I am now and where I have been. My life is not better nor is it worse. It is just different. I always appreciate your insight and perspective and your willingness to share. The fact that people will judge is so not healthy for anyone. Thanks for keeping it real. Thanks for helping me focus on the stories I have to tell.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. JenHart says…
      08/19/2015

      Yes!

  17. SuWrite says…
    08/19/2015

    Ali, I've been a long-time reader of your blog and I've always loved your honesty, realness and vulnerability. Your stories have helped us to write more stories of our own. Compassion--yes! Let's lift each other up, not tear each other down. As I've learned a long time ago, you can have pain but you don't have to be a pain. Love to you, Ali and keep on sharing.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. gina200 says…
    08/19/2015

    Thanks as always Ali. Love your words.

    My revelation yesterday that might help others with selfies. My daughter taught me to put the self timer on 3 seconds and then take the selfie. You can push the button and have 3 seconds to look at the camera opening or wherever you want. One of my biggest issues is I'm usually looking at the screen or scrunching up my face in unnatural ways when the photo is taken.

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. lasteve1 says…
      08/19/2015

      Are you using an iphone? There is also a 10 second option that I feel like gives me more time to get settled and feel "natural" when it takes the photo.

    2. gina200 says…
      08/19/2015

      Thanks!! I am. I was talking about the selfies that everyone does where they just stick out their arm and take it. I still can't get it so I'm looking at the camera. The three seconds is enough for me to look in the right direction and pretend like someone else is taking it. The 10 second delay has been good for other shots like making breakfast. I'm trying to be as incognito as possible so am mostly using the iphone this week.

  19. kcp_ says…
    08/19/2015

    Yours and Cathy's are the only blogs I check everyday. It is bc you have an honest voice and a realness to you. Can't believe someone would say that to you. Your workshop, your voice. They can be all sunshine on their own project. Love your work and photos.

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. JenHart says…
    08/19/2015

    I loved your post Ali, I appreciate that you haven't tried to gloss your life up, even though it is gorgeously lit and beautifully taken through the lens, your words ground it with perspective and an understanding that we are all living different lives with different seasons, sometimes all in one day.

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. abragg79 says…
    08/19/2015

    I wish you didn't have to justify your life and stories. :( I wish people could just accept other's stories and move on. You are amazing (and, I know you didn't write all that for people to say stuff like that but I still want to say it) and I love that you share your struggles along with your triumphs. It makes me feel a little less alone as I navigate my own life which is full of its own struggles and triumphs (sadly, a few more struggles than I'd like lately but it is what it is). I also love knowing that you have meltdowns as well. ;)

    Thanks for sharing. Lovely photos (as always) and wonderful words.

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. mtercha says…
      08/19/2015

      Just wanted to say that I always appreciate your comments. You said it so well, and I blab trying to figure out what it is I'm trying to say. It's been more challenging here then I'd like, I know how you feel about that. Hope all gets better for you.

    2. Joyceeg says…
      08/19/2015

      I feel so honored to have a peek into your life and I LOVE that it is so real. None of our lives are perfect and documenting them helps us to learn to separate the grain (the good stuff) from the chafe (the negative stuff). It helps me, at least, to see how good life really is even while the circumstances stink!

  22. jenlevin says…
    08/19/2015

    This is a beautiful post. I have long admired the way you write and tell the stories of your life, especially in challenging times. Your positive attitude, the way you look for the good and life lessons in the most challenging of times, and the grace with which you tell the stories has influenced me so much over the years.

    I appreciate your willingness to share your life and stories with us. I appreciate the encouragement you give us to tell our own stories. I am a better storyteller and memory keeper because of you. I truly mean that. I have learned so much from you over the years. THANK YOU!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. mtercha says…
      08/19/2015

      Yes, I'm a better story teller, too, since finding Ali.

  23. summerleaf says…
    08/19/2015

    Ali- THANK YOU. Thank you for being you. Thank you for sharing your life and your thoughts and your creativity and ... everything with us! I love your words and your photos. I love the stories you tell - no matter if they're about challenges, sad times or good times. It's all a part of life. I'll never forget how much I admired you for the way you handled going through your divorce. You were so awesome. So I completely have to disagree with the person whose words you still remember today.
    What I also disagree with is a comment someone made on the picture you took with Aaron. I'm a Christian too and when I saw this photo, I had a very warm feeling inside and a smile on my face and I felt very happy for both of you. It is such a cute and sweet scene. A perfect moment :)
    So go Ali! I appreciate you very much. <3

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. dpetrick4 says…
    08/19/2015

    I love your posts and your honesty..you welcome strangers into your life and home and that is brave and very inspiring!! thank you for another encouraging post, I am currently feeling like this week is "off" to me and having troubles documenting it the way I had originally thought I would but I am pushing through anyways and at least trying! most evenings I am done capturing life after dinner time but i hope to get at least one or two evenings in this week..thank you for always inspiring!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. paulette1980 says…
    08/19/2015

    Bravo for always keeping it real, that's why you have such a grand audience... xo

    Reply 0 Replies

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