A charmed life begins later for some…

Early vs late bloomers….  Is one better than the other?   For the first 56 years of my life, no one has ever uttered the words, I wish I had HER life.

At the age of 54, I met Jene Youtt, a lighting designer, part time photographer.  As the story goes, on our 3rd date, he asked me what my dreams are… I have none, I replied.  In almost an inaudible whisper he said “Yes, you do”.    I wept.

I did have dreams,  dreams that were set aside for marriage, college and the impending birth of my daughter.  Thinking I was on top of the world, the rug was pulled out from under me with the “I love another” confession.  Timing is everything in life and that was probably the worse timing ever.  Or was it?  I raised Danielle pretty much on my own with 2 weekends a month spent with her father.  Opened a pottery shop with a friend, that was a dream come true.  Short-lived, but a dream, none-the-less.   I went to work at an advertising agency in NY and had worked in print production ever since.

But I had not pursued my dream – I loved to draw, to paint to create.  I remember I saved my brownie points and money to buy a girl scout camera when I was about 9 or 10.  My first attempt at photography – was answered with why are you wasting money taking pictures of stupid stuff.  “Cause I like to”  wasn’t a good enough answer.

Anyway fast forward…. the stress of working in corporate advertising had been draining me and after Jene asked me that question, I started to think.  Yeah, my dreams…. my life.  My daughter was married with 2 little girls – it was my time now.

So I dabbled in water colors again and even started crafting a wearable art jewelry line (which has sold at Midoma, NYC, 24 Crows, VA and Barking Lizards Gallery, Brooklyn as well as right off my body).

Jene breathed life into my dreams, and he had dreams too.  One of his was to go to Panama and retire, hmmmmmm, in Jan 2006, I decided to use my frequent flyer miles for airfare to see what all the ex-pats were buzzing about.   That’s where I rediscovered my not only my love of photography but also where my artistic sensibilities were uncovered.  By uncovered, I mean appreciated by others.  Jene retired – however, is still living and creating his art in NYC.

Jene mentored me in the lighting and some technical areas of photography mainly by bringing me along on some of his photo sessions.

His lighting design made my images shine and he is the first to admit that he wishes my images were his. He gave me some hot lights and I unleased my “Inner Sanctum” body of work.

In Oct 2006, we traveled through Italy for 3    weeks.  Discovering more about ourselves.  April 2007,  I retired.   A radical move since I was 3-1/2 years away from being able to tap into my 401K, and 6+ for SS.

Now people really started to envy my life….  (one of uncertainty) but I always managed and felt confident enough in my financial planning that I could do this.

It took me awhile to settle into somewhat of a routine… I used meditation as a way of finding myself.  Having no other responsibility than to myself was a strange phenomena and believe it or not I am still trying to get a handle on it – finding the balance.  ‘Summertime and the livin was easy’ ….  I did bask in it, gardening and all that stuff.

To celebrate my new found freedom, Jene and I rented a studio apt on La Rive Droite approx. 3 blocks from the Seine and the Louvre.  10 days in Paris – Fall of ’07
Ingesting all the art, culture, food and wine we could, it was really a nice feeling being part of a neighborhood.

Jene’s photography was being exhibited in a number of NY Metro Galleries and his work caught the interest of a NY based curator for Ississ Gallery in Kyoto, Japan.

Thirty of his dance and cloth series were selected for a solo exhibit in April 2008.  We spent 2 weeks in Japan and 8 adventure filled days in Cambodia.

A trip of a lifetime.  15% of my profit from the sale of any images from my “Cambodia – Past & Present Tense” series will be donated to the Children’s Hospital of Angkor Wat.  A foundation we learned about from John McDermott, an American born Siem Reap transplant.


Angkor Wat buddha

When someone believes in you, they help pull you up – so both Jene and I are beginning to emerge… getting gallery group exhibits and selling some work.  I am on my way.  A slow process for sure but moving in a forward direction.

I am trying to focus on my photography and printing, while keeping up with my website and marketing oneself.   I created a series of emotional nudes called Inner Sanctum” and started to develop a style.  Of course being a gemini, I easily get distracted by shiny objects and love shooting flowers and children.   Jene and I paired up in a business venture of fine art portraits – Labor Of Love Pix – weddings, bump, birth and beyond.  And I am currently working on a personal project telling one woman’s story – Her Journey with Breast Cancer” and that is developing into something more then just her story.  Carmen’s journey starts with 11/13/09 entry so scroll down to read from the beginning if you’d  like.

So yes… all of a sudden I am leading a more charmed life – maybe I will become famous and my limited edition prints will command $10,000 but for now, I am doing what I love, with the man that I love and I don’t think life gets any better than that.

Maybe these are the golden years everyone was talking about…  retire and be healthy enough to do what you love.  I would hate to think that they were during my 20’s when I was struggling but for those who put off being responsible for anyone but themselves, this may be your golden years so enjoy every moment.  Sage advise for everyone…  plan for the future – live for the moment with open hearts.  We never know when it will be over.

Soon, I will be heading off to meet my dear friend in Hong Kong.  Pat has been working there for almost 5 months and we will spend 2 weeks in Australia and New Zealand before she heads home mid April.

So yes… a charmed life for sure, a long time coming but worth the wait.


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Filed under Barking Lizards, camera equipment, Jene Youtt, Juan Michael Porter, labor of love, lights, Mary Durante Wehrhahn, NY Metro art galleries, photography, Uncategorized, wedding photography

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