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When I die there should be no sad songs for me…

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In September of 2017, on the cusp of my fortieth birthday, I set a new decade resolution to spend more time with my ninety-three year old grandfather. As a documentary photographer, with an interest in communities, I asked my grandfather if he’d like to do a portrait and interview project in his retirement community. My grandfather said, “yes.”

My goals for this project were simple. I wanted to have quality time with my grandfather, I wanted to honor and appreciate this last chapter of his life and the community that he chose to spend it with. When I asked him who he wanted to focus on for the project, my grandfather chose the coffee group that he religiously meets with every morning except for Sunday.

The result of that project was a book of portraits and interview excerpts called The Coffee Group that I shared with my grandfather’s community in summer of 2018.

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On March 19th, 2019, my grandfather, Robert Harper, passed away at 5:30am. He was the foundation of our family and he will be greatly missed. I will be forever grateful for the time I had working with him on this project, and his words are a comfort as we figure out how to recalibrate our family without our navigator. Here is my grandfather’s portrait and interview from the book:

Robert Harper, Geography Professor/ Author

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Sally and I met working on the high school paper. Working on the paper was really the first time that boys and girls had a chance to work together. Everything was separated, so none of us had any experience with the other sex in a social way. At Christmas that first semester Sally and I were working together, she invited me to go on a hayride sponsored by her club. Well, we went on the hayride and I was thrilled with her. But I was shy around girls, and really, adults too.

Afterward I was afraid if I called to ask her out she might say, “no,” or I might have to talk to her parents, and I didn’t want to do that. So I put it off and put it off. That’s when my best friend, George McCoy, locked me in the basement and said he wouldn’t let me out until I called her. But once that happened the dam broke and we were dating all the time.

I thought she was great. She was prickly, but we got along and I just liked being with her. She was my best friend. I was really thrilled when she put on a card one time, “The best thing I ever did was say, ‘I do.'”

My life was serendipity. It all just bubbled along. A wartime wedding and the GI Bill changed my life path. I enjoyed writing the textbooks. I enjoyed teaching. I enjoyed some of the work with organizations. I didn’t always succeed at stuff when I tried, but generally I did. I didn’t plan my life, but my life couldn’t have come out better, except that I wish Sally had lived longer, and I had lived not so long.

I was always kidding her, saying that I’d die and she’d marry some other guy. She pooh-poohed that. I certainly didn’t expect to be the one to live the longest. I don’t want to share my life anymore with anybody except her. I’m a one-woman man.

I don’t dream much, but when I dream I have almost never seen her in a dream. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss her, but I’m a pragmatist. My feeling is that when something happens, it happens. And when it’s over, it’s over, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So there’s no sense mourning about it all. You just have to go onto the next chapter.

I always was afraid of death because I didn’t think there was life after death, but now I’m to a point where it really doesn’t matter to me. When I die there should be no sad songs for me. I have had a good life. But I don’t want anybody trying to extend my life. There’s a difference between living and existing, and I don’t want to just exist.

I grew up in a religious, Republican family. Very traditional. Very conservative. Sally did too. But I think the University of Chicago changed our perspective. There was a lot of social concern and discussion of issues like that. Sally always was afraid she’d become a communist going to that school. But it changed our perspective on life. So once we rejected that old system, it was a matter of learning a new system.

I certainly have shifted from traditional Christianity to feeling that some kind of world religion will ultimately come out of this, and that a lot of religion is just superstition. When you think about how poorly most of the people have lived on the Earth, they were certainly looking for a world that was better than their lot. The poorer you were, the more you wanted.

I don’t really think that there’s life after death, but if there is, I hope they let us look down to see what’s going on in the world, because I think we’re at the beginning of a revolution that is going to change life as much as the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution. I think this information data revolution is going to revolutionize your lives and the lives of your kids. It’s going to be a whole different ballgame.

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For more about my grandfather and how much he meant to our family:

https://paigegreenblog.com/2007/08/15/traditions/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2008/08/26/bathing-beauties/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2009/09/21/apple-dumplings-root-beer-saloon-my-grandparents-and-me/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2009/08/17/65-years-photos-for-my-blob-part-i/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2010/01/12/my-grandpa-will-always-be-my-favorite-santa/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2011/09/26/you-made-my-life/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2012/01/01/why-am-i-doing-this-again-best-of-2011/

https://paigegreenblog.com/2016/01/04/i-want-to-learn-how-to-drive-a-monster-truck-in-2016/

 

Plastic Expectations in Baja

One of my new year goals was to reduce our family consumption, especially of plastic, and then we went to Mexico, where it seemed we were more dependent on plastic than ever. Here is what I learned….

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Seductive plastic playgrounds may not be as sexy up close, unless you like holes in your slides.

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But rusty metal ones will save the day.

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Coco Loco only looks like a guinea pig pooped in styrofoam, it is actually amazingly tasty.

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Although nothing is as good as a coconut served in nature’s packaging (we agreed to save the straw forever.)

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Plastic goggles and flippers are essential for swimming with whale sharks.

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But not as essential as actually practicing swimming in the cold ocean ahead of time.

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There was more screaming with whale sharks than swimming with whale sharks for our kids, but we agreed we’d try again after Ally learns how to swim. (oops)

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Plastic signs can be very helpful for finding your perfect chill spot.

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But even a wood sign isn’t that helpful if you don’t know how to read yet.

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Plastic film cameras (that you have never used before) can give you lots of blurry results.

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But it is possible to capture the cutest kitten love session behind the plastic trash cans when you get that focus right.

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All plastic aside, the most important lesson we learned is that we can travel together as a family internationally. After our last family trip, we were too concerned that our kids might not do very well traveling in a different country and could bring our trip to a halt that we didn’t do much planning beyond our accommodations.

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So now that we know we are capable of exploring the world as a family, our next challenge will be to travel the world as sustainably as possible.

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So our kids grow in to people who say “yes” to adventure. And “no” to plastic, with the exception being plastic cameras, of course.

Top Nine of 2018 (no algorithms were used in the making of this list)

000059560010-BetsyBeach2018paigegreenI did the Top Nine photo generator on Instagram, but I didn’t agree with the photos it chose, so I picked my own.057_000048360009These Top Nine (plus one) aren’t photos that other people “liked” best.

JJ-026_000037260010They are not photos that an algorithm deemed worthy enough to show other people.

079_000059800005-SCBeach2018paigegreenThey are not photos that I was hired to take, or that will help get me new jobs.

Ally4-2018000039120004They are photos from my life that I like best.

000059640007-SCBeach2018paigegreenThey are photos that remind me to slow down and make time for my own life.

045_000067360002They are photos that remind me that life is short and I only have one chance to live it.

BookClub000064790010-e-b-w45x5They are all photos taken on film with cameras that quite likely will not give me results that I expected, but they almost always give me photos that I love.

000009470002So here is to a slow new year, ignoring algorithms, being present in our own lives and having experiences that will likely not be what we expect, but will almost always be what we love.

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Grateful that photos don’t speak…

…so you don’t hear the whining and fighting from the 5.75 and 3 year-old boys who were tagging along on our last-minute Fourth of July escape to Mendocino County.

My hope is that these peaceful and calm photos (with my patented no whining kid filter) will eventually reshape our memories, so we remember ourselves as the perfect family, and we will remember this trip as the perfect summer getaway with the right balance of culture and quiet… 01-0065-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen02-0002-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen03-0067-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen04-0122-MendocinoGreenHarris07022017paigegreen05-0017-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen06-0023-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen07-0040-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen08-0049-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen09-0051-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen10-0062-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen11-0075-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen12-0079-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen13-0090-MendocinoGreenHarris07012017paigegreen14-0115-MendocinoGreenHarris07022017paigegreen15-0140-MendocinoGreenHarris07022017paigegreen16-0152-MendocinoGreenHarris07022017paigegreen17-0160-MendocinoGreenHarris07022017paigegreen18-0165-MendocinoGreenHarris07022017paigegreen19-0167-MendocinoGreenHarris07022017paigegreen20-0172-MendocinoGreenHarris07032017paigegreen21-0175-MendocinoGreenHarris07032017paigegreen22-0173-MendocinoGreenHarris07032017paigegreen23-0180-MendocinoGreenHarris07032017paigegreen24-0198-MendocinoGreenHarris07032017paigegreen25-0199-MendocinoGreenHarris07032017paigegreen26-0204-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen27-0205-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen28-0207-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen29-0210-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen30-0212-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen31-0226-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen32-0228-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen33-0232-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen34-0235-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen35-0244-MendocinoGreenHarris07042017paigegreen

If anyone has tips on how to travel successfully with children, so instead of whining they sweetly thank you for the enrichment you are providing their lives, I would love to hear them.

In case you are curious to learn more about the places in the photos above, this is where we went:

Elk:

Private Cabin

Elk Creek Beach perfect for fort building.

Mendocino:

Flynn Creek Circus we were not as in love with the fighting theme this year, but still a talented bunch of people and fun to see what some people can do with their bodies.

Point Arena:

Fourth of July Parade such a sweet small town parade with quite a diverse population.

Manchester State Park Beach long walk to get to the beach, but worth it.

Fort Bragg:

Skunk Train heaven for kids, especially the model train museum, and you can bring your dogs on the train too!

Glass Beach very crowded, but still neat to discover glass treasures and explore tide pools.

Willits:

Frontier Days very authentic look at life outside of the Bay Area bubble… my kids now want to be cowboys.

Roots of Motive Power neat free activity that is great for all ages.

Stop collaborate and listen…

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Holy Jenga, the sun came up on a new year. (After 2016, I wasn’t so sure it would.)

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But the last thing we need is another blog post about how bad things were in 2016.paigegreenfarmphoto01162012-0010

I figure, since most of our history books are filled with one-sided perspectives, and those perspectives aren’t always very factual…paigegreennaomimeyers2016-film-000003410007

And since we now live in a society that prefers make-believe over reality…000061930010

Why not write my own history of 2016. So here goes…paigegreensaragottfried08242016-152

It was amazing. paigegreenhabit09022016-0912

My house was always clean.paigegreenhabit09022016-0035

My kids never fought. img_0662

The IRS gave us lots of money back after our audit. paigegreengloria05182016-0181

I have perfected the work/life/love balance.paigegreenfarmphoto01162012-0160

Orangutans are making a come back. Syria is rebuilding better than ever and…000086800005

Hillary Clinton won the presidency.  paigegreenkatemcpherson06032016-070

OK… so maybe not. paigegreennaomimeyers2016-film-000003410008

But instead of dwelling on the darkness…paigegreensarahentrup06232016-224

I am going to focus on the light…paigegreenlinsey03062016-056

And extend an invitation to more of the awesome…000086810006-bookclub112016paigegreen

And less of the shitty for 2017 (unless it’s compost.)000038550010

But there is an extra challenge for me, because entering this new year means entering a new decade. paigegreenmiranda092016film-012

I am not thrilled about my new decade starting the same year that our country offers the potential of nuclear war, or starts burning so many fossil fuels that we cook our way back into a primordial soup.

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Oh man, if I didn’t have kids… I would jump off of this doomed life raft so fast…

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And jump on to a booze cruise in Mexico, preferably one with lots of milkshakes and tequila.

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But thanks to raging hormones that took over my good judgement in my early 30’s,

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I now have two small people who I am responsible for.

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And I desperately want those two people to live in a world where police don’t shoot citizens they were hired to protect, presidents don’t encourage hatred and violence, warlords don’t kill innocent children, and companies don’t destroy the planet or wipe out species for products like ivory, palm oil and shark fins.

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So I have lots to do in 2017. The party is over.

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It is time to get to work.

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Because it is better to solve problems than cry about them (although I have little to no control over my tear ducts thanks to having kids, so crying is probably going to happen regardless.)

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But through the tears you may hear our family theme song, “If there’s a problem, yo, I’ll solve it. Check out the hook, while my DJ revolves it.”

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And for the real history books (and because I promised to focus on the good)…

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Here are a few of my actual favorite moments, projects and memories of 2016 and a new song (from La La Land) for the soundtrack of a new decade….

 

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A bit of madness is key to give us to color to see

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Who knows where it will lead us?

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So bring on the rebels

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The ripples from pebbles

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The painters, and poets, and plays.

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Here’s to the fools who dream.

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Crazy, as they may seem.

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Here’s to the hearts that break.

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Here’s to the mess we make.

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Here’s to a work-our-asses-off new year.

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Thank you for all of your love and support.

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I look forward to seeing what we dreamers create together in 2017.

(Drawing by Christian Anthony)

 

 

 

 

 

Zero to Two happened fast, too fast…

Two years ago, I started this blog post:

Welcome to the world baby, Alistair Henry Harris…

_44A0092We waited a long time for you to arrive.   000061900007A long, long time.

000061910012And you didn’t come how we expected…

IMG_7010But you eventually came.

IMG_7027All whopping 10.2lbs of you.

IMG_7029Everyone was excited to meet you, but no one more excited than your big brother…

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And then, as it happens with the second child, I blinked (and didn’t finish this blog post) and suddenly TWO YEARS flew by…

Ally_44A9060-2And now you are a little boy who has become very serious about baseball…

paigegreenAlly-000076640010-2Making people laugh…

Ally_44A9139And dance parties…

But best of all, you have a relationship with your brother…boys14042016bwthat just keeps on getting better and better.

ally_44A9101Happy To You, Ally Boo Boo! To show you how much we love you, we are going to get you some shirts for your birthday, so you aren’t half naked in all the photos in your next birthday post.

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(MTV video footage by: Laura Schneider.)

The Greatest (White Shark) Love of All….

My oldest son loves sharks. Passionately.
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The other day he really wanted to watch a movie about them, but I couldn’t find one that doesn’t involve sharks killing people.
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So I found a documentary about a young man, who also loves sharks, and spends his life photographing and studying them.

paigegreenGrouponAquar01082016-076But sharks are endangered, so instead of watching sharks kill people, we ended up watching people kill sharks.
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I stopped the documentary pretty quickly when they started showing the illegal long line fishermen pulling in 60 miles of fishing line with dead sharks, turtles and other fish (60 miles.)
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At first my son said he wanted to keep watching the movie. But I told him it was making me feeling bad, so I wanted to see how he was feeling. And suddenly he was as upset as I have ever seen him (about something other than toys or injuries) over what people are doing to sharks.
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After lots of discussion, the good news is that now he says he wants to be a marine biologist when he grows up…
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Well, marine biologist-pirate who sinks fishing boats to protect sharks… IF there are sharks when he grows up.
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 I really hope there are sharks when he grows up.
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So thanks to our shark loving son, we are changing the way our family eats fish (to the dismay of my sushi loving husband) and luckily there are good resources to help us learn what to eat and what to avoid…
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Because we’d much rather have sharks (who were around with the dinosaurs) than a plate of sushi any day.
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Thank you, Laura Schneider, for the family photo, coincidentally featuring a shark magazine. And thank you, Christian Anthony, for taking my Great White Shark LoveHeart request. 

To learn more about sustainable fish and how you can help check out: http://www.focb.org/

What photos of children on a beach should look like…

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Today I received my film from our annual family trip to the beach, which included four rolls filled with images of my two boys (ages 3 and 1) and their cousins running on the sand and swimming in the ocean.

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At the same time I am looking at photos of my three-year-old on the beach, the world is furiously debating a very different photo of a three-year-old boy on the beach: the photograph of Aylan Kurdi’s tiny body in a bright red T-shirt and dark shorts, face-down in the surf.

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Aylan, his 5-year-old brother, Galip, and mother, Rehan, 35, were among 12 people, including other children, who died after two boats capsized while attempting to flee their war-ravaged homeland, Syria.

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To hear the little boys’ father talk about what happened in the ocean and how he tried to save his sons is unbearable. I feel a sadness for him I did not know was possible before having my own kids.

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If there is any comfort that can come to the father of Aylan, hopefully it is that because of the photograph of his three-year-old son dead on the beach, the world is now finally paying attention after:

  • four years of armed conflict
  • 200,000 deaths
  • more than 4 million refugees, mostly women and children,
  • and an estimated 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, including 5.6 million children, according to the UN.

What if the photo of this one sweet boy washed up on the beach can help save the 5.6 million other children who are still living in danger?

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What if everyone who saw that photo of little Aylan on the beach signed a petition to allow more refugees in their country and sent a donation to nonprofits who are on the ground working to help refugees?

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So in honor of Aylan Kurdi, I have signed a petition and sent a donation, because I want to live in a world where the only photos of little boys on the beach look like this…paigegreenBeach09022015-000074240006To learn more about how you can help the migrant crisis please click here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/28/world/iyw-migrant-how-to-help/

 

What hate burns, love rebuilds…

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As we get ready to wave our American flags this weekend, I feel extra proud of our country because of the recent human rights accomplishments we have made with the Supreme Court ruling in support of gay marriage.

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Now I want us to take our celebration of love and human rights to the black communities of America and put an end to racism, starting with rebuilding the black churches that have been attacked in the South.

daughters-2webWe can not stand back and let their churches burn to the ground as the Confederate Flag flies over their heads.

40170013I was born and raised in South Carolina, so I know how essential churches are to these communities and it breaks my heart that these acts of terrorism, committed by our own citizens, still happen and that we, as a country, are not doing more to prevent them.

belton-07-01webI want to do something to let these communities know that we will not tolerate this kind of violence in our country and that we will help them through this tragedy.

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So I looked for an organization that is raising money to help the black communities rebuild their churches and I found a website created by the Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) and I have made a donation.daughters-webBecause when I wave my American flag this weekend, I want to wave it with pride. Pride in the belief that we are a country that stands up for love and human rights for all of its citizens.arannmississippiIf you would like to join me in standing up for love and human rights this Fourth of July, please click here: “What hate burns, Love rebuilds.”

11261802_10153287217550020_5731177427677169330_nThank you for your support and Happy Fourth of July, from my family to yours.

Happy 2015: Once in a Lifetime…

Well, it’s that time of year again…paigegreen2014paigegreenAOCSF082014-017-1

Meaning it’s time to dig through the memories of last year…

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Pull out the highlights…

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And make big plans for the coming year…

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Thing is, I have been chasing big plans for the past 15 years…

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Finding a job turned into building a career…

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Six years of saying, “my boyfriend Arann,” turned into five years of saying, “my husband Arann…”

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One great dog love was lost and another amazing dog love was found…

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Paying the rent turned into paying the mortgage…

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And two people became four…

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So now that all the important life boxes have been checked…

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I have a lot of brain space that is available for rent…

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But instead of searching for the next big thing…

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I would rather slow life down…

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And celebrate how amazing things are right now…

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Because the most important lesson I learned from 2014…

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Is that life does not always go as you planned…

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And it all can change so fast without any warning

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So in 2015, I am looking for more of this…

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paigegreen2014paigegreenEdwinTammara110714-062

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paigegreen2014paigepageKellyAaron100514-495

paigegreen2014paigegreenAnna110514-050And less of this…

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Because hopefully there will be more harvests…

paigegreen2014paigegreenDaVero92414-088More drinks…paigegreen2014Paige_Green_Peets_DUO_WIP2_v2_FINAL_Rd1(2)More cook books…breadrevolution2014

More clothes…

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And more weddings…paigepageDaniAdam092014-0579

 

But these two will only be like this…

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Once in a Lifetime.

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So Happy 2015 (five days late.) Here is to a year of no big plans.

 

 

 

 

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