Tag Archives: Messy Beautiful

Photoshop Therapy

Robin Botie in Ithaca, New York, photoshops a friend flying in clouds over trees..“Can you make a picture of me flying in the clouds?” my friend had asked, looking up from her wheelchair. That was 3 weeks ago. After cancelling and rescheduling several times, we were finally together in her apartment squeezed between the wheelchair, a big armchair and a card-table.
There were questions to consider: Would she fly horizontally or vertically? Did she want wings? What should she wear?
In my collection of cloud photos there were wispy cirrus clouds in a blue sky over trees. There were bright sunlit mackerel skies. But she wanted thunderclouds, lightning, maybe a tornado. “For my dark side,” she said.

It was raining when we shuffled outside to shoot her in a flying pose. She stood against the brick wall just outside the door, flapping her wings.
“You don’t look very happy to be flying,” I said. “Look down at the ground like there’s something special down there.”

Back inside, I inserted the chip from the camera into its slot in the computer. We sat at the card-table and chose a shot from the 21 images of my friend twisting, turning, banking into the wind with arms outstretched. I cut-and-pasted her form from the brick background to the photo of storm clouds.
“I need to be smaller. No bigger. Can you make me higher in the sky? A little more to the right …” she orders.
“You’re too pale,” I say. “I’m adding blush to your cheeks.”
“What about the dark circle under my left eye?”
“I can fix that.”
“Something’s missing: what am I pointing at?” she asks. “Should we put a rat in the picture?”
“I don’t have any photos of rats. What if we add another shot of you?”

“Let’s name this one ‘Ascension,’” she says, two hours and four pictures later. “Besides making me prints, what are you going to do with all these?”

A friend flies over stormclouds in Ithaca, New York.

Glennon Doyle Melton's book, CARRY ON WARRIOR has just been released in paperback.

I’m still fixing. I’m still a part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir, Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released last week in paperback, CLICK HERE!

Stuck Fixing My Messy Beautiful

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, is reflected, praying with cameraIn March 2011, I turned into frozen mud.

I always believed I could design my way into or out of anything. To design is to start with something, a lump of clay, a need, canvas and paint, or a girl who died of leukemia and her grieving mother, and then turn it into something else. For me, to design is to fix and to make beautiful.
But in March 2011, cancer killed my daughter. I could not fix that. I froze. Like mud in winter. Who am I, I wondered? Am I still the mother of a daughter? Who or what am I supposed to fix now?

The day after she died I discovered my daughter was a writer. So I began to write. I wrote our story. And rewrote it and kept writing. Here was something I could fix. I could edit the manuscript endlessly.
But this is messy. In rewriting, I relive the times in and out of hospitals with my daughter. I bring her back to life for twelve chapters and hold my breath as I watch her die. Then, dragging my dashed spirit up off the floor, I fix the next half of the book where I travel alone to Australia with her ashes, come home, and begin a new life. Over and over again, I write and relive every day. For three years.

“When are you going to get a real job with health insurance?” my mother nags.
“It’s time to move on to something else,” says a friend.
“I’m designing my way to healing,” I try to explain. But the truth is I am stuck.

Writing led to blogging. Almost everyone has lost someone or something they love. I ache to fix the pain as another relative is diagnosed with cancer, a friend’s son kills himself, a stranger online reaches out for support.
“There’s life after loss,” I blog on my website, and write the stories of my own struggles in the hope of helping someone else.
Blogging led to photography. I wanted to add pictures to my stories.

My frozen mud began to thaw when I discovered Photoshop with all its fixing tools: a Patch Tool, a Dodge Tool and an Add-Anchor Tool, a Magic Eraser, a Magic Wand, a clone Stamp, …and a Healing Brush. Photoshop lets me redesign my universe. The opportunities for change are endless. The beautiful truth is there are some things I can fix.

“Can you make a photo of me flying in the clouds?” an elderly friend asks from her wheelchair.Glennon Doyle Melton's memoir, CARRY ON WARRIOR, is out in paperback now

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!   And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!