J* Family | Sullivan County, PA photographer by Lisa Robinson-Howeler

I loved photographing this family at their home in rural Sullivan County.

Their small country farm with their chickens and easy access to hunting land is my idea of an ideal place to live, since I grew up not far from where they live. 

Before I got there, Mom had one specific request; her daughter wanted a photo of her with her chicken.


It was so much fun to watch the children chase the white and gray rooster to make sure she could have her photo taken with her favorite farm animal.

If you're interested in a storytelling session similar to this, at your own home, be sure to contact me via my contact tab at the top of the page, or at lisahoweler@gmail.com

10 on 10 November: Calming my Racing Thoughts by Lisa Robinson-Howeler

This is part of a 10 on 10 post I do with a fun group of photographers. We share ten photos from the previous month on the tenth day of the month. Find the next blog to follow at the bottom of my post.

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My mind will spiral away into a hundred directions if I let, especially now on the day after my son's eleventh birthday. It will wind down a future road we haven’t even seen yet and veer off trails along the way into a dark wood of the unknown.

He hugs me now, asks for me to sit with him and if he can just sit with me. There will be days when he won’t ask anymore, won’t want the hugs and the affection and I’ll regret the times I chose cooking or cleaning or photo editing over his hugs.

Lisa R. Howeler Photographer

I feel the panic rise within me at the idea of him not asking for me to put my arms around him one day and I have to chase the thoughts away and focus on today not tomorrow. It’s a constant struggle for me, an over thinker, to stay grounded in the moment and not swerve into the future or sometimes even the past. But the past is gone. It doesn’t hold the same power of fear as the unknown, the unseen world of what’s ahead.

Each day I have to ask God to help me focus, to help me calm the racing thoughts that invade my spirit and to quiet the voices that whisper unspeakable horrors that could await me or my loved ones.

Lisa R. Howeler Photographer

It’s a spiritual battle my mom reminds me and she gives me verses to write down and read daily. And I have been because without them my thoughts take flight and not in the way that lifts a person but in the way that drags a person down into a pit of fear, doubt, and destruction.

So today I focus on him. On his smile, on his laughter and on how he loves me, how he lets me hold he still, how he still likes to tell me about what interests him and what he dreams about, how he still holds my heart eleven years after I first held him in my arms and saw my soul in his eyes.

To continue the circle visit Caroline's blog.

Lisa R. Howeler Photographer
Lisa R. Howeler 2017

Just love her by Lisa Robinson-Howeler

So often I try to figure my 3-year old out.

Why is she napping today when she slept in late, but yesterday I woke her up early but she didn’t want to nap at all?

Why is she throwing a fit about bath time when normally she loves bath time?

Why has she suddenly decided she’s afraid of the dark when I always turn off lights before bed and she’s been fine?

Why does she now have breakdowns over almost everything- usually related to the fact she wanted to “do it,” whatever “it” was and daddy or I did “it” and now her whole world is burning down in flames.

Lisa R. Howeler Photography

Then, one day, after a particularly brutal series of breakdowns, a thought popped into my mind out of nowhere: Don’t try to figure her out. Just love her.

It wasn’t a conscious thought. It just suddenly came into the tangle of thoughts I was having at that moment as she fell asleep in my lap. Yes, it felt like God was saying it, reminding me that sometimes I need to stop overthinking, worrying, over analyzing and just live and love.

And lately I’ve needed this reminder when it comes to her, not because I don’t love her or loving her is hard but because I keep trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with her when nothing is wrong with her.

She’s three. Her emotions are jumbled inside her and she hasn’t yet developed the mental capacity to recognize them, handle them or make sense of them.

Lisa R. Howeler

 

I’ve been so overwhelmed with her behavior lately, and my feeling of inadequacy I’m figuring out what triggers her tantrums I’ve heard myself more than once ask “what is wrong with you?!” as if she can actually answer a question she doesn’t even know the answer to.

Imagine my heartbreak when I heard her say in the midst of a tantrum one day “I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Why can’t I calm down?” We were in the bathtub, trying to relax her and her eyes pleaded with me as if I could answer her, explain her out of control feelings. I heard my own voice in hers because her words are something I’ve said so many times before. I’ve asked God out loud what is wrong with me when I am in the midst of a mental crisis because my mind won’t stop racing through all the what ifs or the why mes

It is truly a weakness and problem I have. I over analyze. I mentally dissect issues and situations so much that eventually I have completely lost sight of the actual issue and have spiraled mentally into a hundred different directions and in the process thrown myself into a pit of desperation driven anxiety.

Most often I do this with my own health but also the health of my children, my husband and family members.

And when I’m not over analyzing I am desperately trying to escape my panicked What-if based thoughts through meaningless distractions.

When my toddler asked me “what’s wrong with me?!”

I took her gently by the arms and I looked her in the face.

“There is nothing wrong with you,” I told her, firmly. “You are normal. You’re struggling with how to handle your emotions. That’s all. You’re normal, you’re ok and I love you.”

She stopped crying and let out a big sigh.

“Okay,” she said and I hope she heard me, really heard me.

As for me, I don’t know how many times God will have to tell me nothing is wrong me with, that I’m not broken, that He loves me no matter what before I listen, but I hope I’ll keep hearing and keep listening.

Lisa R. Howeler

Mama guilt and afternoon rest by Lisa Robinson-Howeler

She woke up this morning, looked at me and said “pretend you’re mama puppy.”

That meant she was baby puppy and barked and whimpered at me while I was mama puppy and had to bark all my answers at her.  It was a bit too early in my day to be barking morning greetings to my child but she asked and she’s cute and I would rather be greeted that way then with the morning news or an angry text message so I obliged her.

We started out as puppies but then we became tigers and she wanted to wake up and tell daddy she was a tiger. He was at his part time job so I had to text him her new identity  instead.

There are two days a week we wake up and it’s just her and me hanging out together until the afternoon. Her dad is at work and her brother is at school so we cuddle in bed and she talks about her favorite subjects, puppies and Doc Mcstuffin and this week PJ masks. I treasure those days but they can also be hectic and exhausting because I spend that time bouncing between waiting on and playing with her and trying to check off my to-do list at the same time.

Lisa R. Howeler @Boondock Ramblings

Most days I keep my patience but some days, like today, my patience wanes and I snap “just give me five minutes to finish one thing!” When really I need like 50 minutes.

For about four months, probably longer, she’s been refusing early naps, instead only wanting to nap after I’ve picked her brother up from school and need to start dinner. This wouldn’t be a problem if one, she didn’t want me to hold her the entire time and two, she didn’t try to sleep for two hours and effectively push her bedtime off to an hour not fit for this 40-year old let alone a 3-year old.

When she said, shortly before 1 pm, that she wanted a nap I grumpily told her I didn’t believe her and didn’t want to leave my computer work just to have her once again refuse quiet time or a nap once we got upstairs to her room . She burst into tears and I carried her upstairs to her bed, to a place she has been refusing to rest in for almost six months. She cuddled against me, pulled the covers around her, asked to nurse and fell asleep. Boom. Just like that. I don’t think she has fallen asleep before 3 p.m. since sometime in the spring.

And now here I sit filled with mother guilt and praying she isn’t coming down with an illness or that the head bump she took yesterday afternoon when she slipped while chasing her brother with a plastic sword didn’t cause some kind of damage we were unaware of.

This quiet time, curled up under this comforter in the darkened bedroom is a gift, a moment of respite, a chance to regroup and refresh and I should be thankful, not suspicious, not aggravated or resentful.

Lisa R. Howeler @Boondock Ramblings

It is a gift and I want to accept it and treasure it and hold it close in case it is a fleeting one. Her naps may interrupt the flow of my day but those moments, much like unexpected detours in our life, are needed interruptions to force me to slow down, focus on the present and take time to physically and mentally rest.

Author Emily P. Freeman talked about being present in the moment and taking time for rest in the latest episode of her podcast “The Next Right Thing.”

“When it’s time to be still, do so without an agenda so that when it’s time to move, you can do so from a place of love,” she said. “Part of remembering our soul’s center is engaging in practices that help to make space for God to move.  One of those practices for me is the practice of being still. If you feel scattered without a center, like you’re flying out in all directions, let these few moments be a speed bump in your busy day. . . . Say the day in your mind - the date, the month, the year. This is where you are, this moment is what you have. You can only be one place at a time. So be here now.”

So during my little girl’s nap time, with her asleep on my arm, effectively pinning me to the bed with her, I said to myself the date and the time and breathed in that moment - that gift of being present in the moment and in a period of needed rest but also in a period of being alone with her.

Lisa R. Howeler @Boondock Ramblings