The Epitome of Finding Meraki

I decided to quit my day job and to pursue a career as a full-time photographer. I needed to find my meraki and what better way was there?
— Clare Cassidy

Meraki is a Greek term meaning to do something with soul and creativity or love, to put something of yourself into your work. So, here I am, in my Meraki (my motor home), with my boys on a beachfront site and looking outside my bedroom window somewhere in Florida. So far from home, we have traveled 6,000 miles before arriving at this spot. And I have traveled a thousand times more internally.

2016 was the year that truly tested my character. Honestly, I half failed, and epically. And the other half? Did amazing. There were a lot of moments when I felt incredible anger toward so many people, even to the ones I loved the most. The only area where I was amazing was my photography.

There is so much passion in me, and when you mix passion and anger the results usually are hideous. I needed to channel it somewhere, and through photos I was able to present my raw and ugly anger in a beautiful way.

With the revelation that my photos healed me when, honestly, no one and nothing else could, I decided to quit my day job and pursue a career as a full-time photographer. I needed to find my Meraki, and what better way was there? What could be better than uprooting myself and traveling full time to see different places with my beautiful boys in tow? I honestly believed it would be a 99.9% beautiful experience.

Clare's three boys. Image by Clare Cassidy

Clare's three boys. Image by Clare Cassidy

I expected for this journey to be a way for me to heal from my mess and to emerge as a whole and healthy person at the end. Also, I expected for my boys to see life the way I do, to see the importance of pursuing your dreams.

It has not turned out that way.

It has been 4 1/2 months now, and there is no sugarcoating it: It has been more difficult at times than I could have expected. With high hopes and with brimming excitement as a photographer and mother at the beginning of the trip, I never thought I'd learn the hardest truth, and that is this: Being a mom sucks. Simple.

This trip was made purely for my own selfish reasons, and I've been assaulted with so many internalized, guilt-riddled questions. I questioned my motives in #findingmeraki. Am I doing this as a mother for them to experience something awesome, or did I do this just for my own selfish reasons? And is that a bad thing? Are my boys miserable because I refuse to relent to their wishes to end this trip? Will they resent me? Will they see that I have resented them from time to time?

And, ultimately, do I suck at being a mom?

They have had their fair share of hating the trip and wanting to go back home. I know, though, that later on down the road, they will remember this as one of the best years of their lives. Nevertheless, we have to go through this present moment, and there were times when I was ready to throw in the towel with this trip solely on the basis of parenting.

I've found myself saying this a lot lately: "I could do this for the rest of my life if I was alone."

Then I worry that I am unearthing a deeply repressed wish, that I wasn't in a relationship or that I wasn't a mother.

Image by Clare Cassidy

Image by Clare Cassidy

Since I was born with a vagina, ovaries and a uterus, I've been doomed to feel such conflicting emotions: loving the motherhood experience, and then 100% hating it, regretting it even. And, ultimately, I also know that if I regret being a mom, even for the slightest moment, I am considered vile for even feeling such a thing.

Then, there are the photos I took of my boys. I look at them and I feel incredible emotions. They take my breath away. They stop me in my tracks and make my heart skip a beat.

What you see, in my photos, is 110% real. They tell a story. They capture the essence of what I see in them.  I hope that they will see it too, that despite my occasional regrets of late, I wholeheartedly and deeply love each one of them. They are the love story of my life, and they are the source of my passion. And despite that ugly portion of truth I've had to swallow, they are the epitome of my being whole.

How can something so raw and potentially damaging also be something so beautiful?

For that, I believe, is what my Meraki is.

Image by Clare Cassidy

Image by Clare Cassidy

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Clare Cassidy is a mother, teacher, activist, and photographer. Born deaf, alongside with her identical twin sister, they both grew up taking photos and making short films. Their love for photography is still very evident nowadays. Clare's first and foremost love of her life would be her three boys, of course her husband and her cats, too. Her three boys are what motivate Clare to pursue her dream to be a traveling photographer. She is always up for challenges, especially when it comes to creating artistic photos that create powerful statements. You can follow her whole journey here.

Words: Clare Cassidy