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. 


I'd love to have you share a link to your TUESDAY words and photos below. Please link directly to your post vs. a general blog link. In addition you're invited to come over to the free Week In The Life™ Community Gallery & Message Board.

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99 thoughts

  1. jess8869 says…

    Thank you thank you! Real life is not perfect and not always fun or what we think it should be. I love how you share your life and how you document it! It has inspired me to do the same even though I have no kids or significant other. Someone asked me about what I was doing and I said I was documenting my week they thought it was cool! So even though I do the same thing everyday as (I say to my patients when they ask what is new I say nothing work, eat, sleep repeat.) I am going to find the difference in each and and document! Thank you again!

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  2. KarenC says…

    Beautiful photos and honest words. Your WITL inspires me to look at my life from different angles, both internally and externally.

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  3. briel says…

    100% yes.
    Thank you Ali.

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  4. nhudson says…

    Ali, you have no idea how many people's lives you have changed.

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  5. marysara says…

    I just want to say thank you! You are truly an inspiration and I think that you rock and are beyond awesome. I loved 31 Things and can't wait for More 31 Things.

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  6. ValDee says…

    The words at the beginning are so important as there is just so much mean spirited comment out there and far too often its about women by women. Surely if you don't like a blog, you just move on, theres millions of others out there. I can't understand what good it does to spew out horrible words-it just makes those who write this stuff look jealous and petty minded. Ali, this is a beautifully written, beautifully photographed post and the most motivating piece Ive read in a long time.

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  7. Borcherding says…

    Hi Ali. EVERY year when this project comes around I tell myself I should do it and some years I start... and then bail for one reason or the other. And this year was no different. I knew NOT to start because I was NOT prepared at all. ANd if there's one thing I've learned about myself and a project like this is that, for me, I better be prepared or there will be absolutely NO follow through. This post, and describing how all of us are in very different places in our lives, really really hit home with me. It's my daughter's Senior year.... next year she might be away at college (can't think about it)... my husband will be starting a totally different job in a few weeks and things will be totally different around here... your words just really had me thinking about our life NOW and how very different our lives will be NEXT year and how freakin cool it will be to compare the two. So, I am determined to be inspired all week by YOUR pictures and words and then get my butt prepared to do MY project next week. :) Thanks Ali for always encouraging and pushing in that gentle way that you do. YOU ROCK!!

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  8. dgatmon says…

    I so appreciate what you shared here. What you wrote has really touched me and I have been thinking about it all week. This is my first year doing WITL and OLW and both have meant a lot to me. I so appreciate how honestly you share the joy and the pain and honest process of life. We have to feel the pain to feel the joy, and I so appreciate how you acknowledge it all, and offer creative and interesting ways to make meaning of our stories. I don't really scrapbook and both OLW and WITL feel like a lifeline to me, to process and reflect the pain and joy I have been going through, and make meaning of my experience. Your work has been an important positive influence in my process and a source of creativity and hope. Thank you!

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  9. khess136 says…

    Oh, Ali, I am blessed that you continue on....sharing your real life with us! Without empathy we can't really know what it's like to really love. Without the hiccups, setbacks, and life challenges we would never grow. Thank you so much for just being YOU! I am married to the wonderful man to whom I said "I do" 45+ years ago, yet we've also experienced a 4 month separation and hard look at our marriage in that time. I've buried a baby. I've gone through the scares of cervical cancer with a younger daughter. I live with an older daughter's severe anxiety issues. I've buried both parents. All this embroidery has stitched me to the woman I am today. I unquestioningly trust, I have deep abiding faith, and I look to blog sisters (most who I have never met in person) for grounding. Your post today is especially poignant for me as it would've been my mom's 100th birthday. Rock on!

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