my darling wildflowers

Several years ago, I started following the most adorable mom on Instagram.  She was ripe with her 4th child and I was drawn to her artistic images of every day life, but most of all I was drawn to her.  Joy Prouty.

Years went by and I followed her family.  Hardships, beauty, traveling the country in their trailer and I knew I just had to be friends with her.

I feel like in my lifetime I have yet to meet anyone who felt as deeply about life as I do, but I had a feeling that Joy did (I was right!).

When she announced she was doing a Wildflowers Workshop on a rural island in Florida, I was nursing in bed and my heart started pounding.  This was my chance.

I headed into the workshop feeling pretty strongly that I knew what it would be.  I didn't think it would be a very classroom like setting, I knew we would all probably share heartaches and joys and cry a lot.  As the oldest of 5 girls, throughout my life I have found groups of women sharing together to always be very powerful.  I knew it would be like this.  Embarrassingly I didn't care one flip about photography.  I just wanted to be Joy's true life friend and sleep all night for a few nights!

What I didn't expect was not only becoming bosom friends with Joy, but making 17 other bosom friends.  True blue bosom friends.

Take 17 women from all walks of life and put them into a room...

I try not to judge, but I can't help it sometimes.

The girl from Charlotte who has two puppy children and always posts ridiculously perfect tablescapes and gourmet food, even days after moving homes.  I kind of resented her before I even met her!  Her and her perfect life.  But oh how I loved her from the moment we met.  Spunky and sweet and genuine and so so sooo funny.

We are having a sleepover next week.

Then there was the "have it all together" photographer who was so on point with every little trick of the trade, who I saw break down (in a good way) and find bits of herself I think she hadn't seen in years.

The mother of 4 who I bonded so deeply over the part of our hearts that were broken after deciding not to have more children, she didn't even strike me as the kind of person that would want to be my friend.  She was steady and mature and pleasantly calm.  The kind of mother we all wish we had...but I found myself texting her late into the night the day before my last baby's birth day.  Because she was the only one that understood.  I love her so much it hurts!

I could go on forever about each and every treasure I befriended.

Although I'm quite familiar with the bonding of women together, Joy facilitated such genuine sharing of our souls.  I can't even describe it.  I didn't feel alone.  In fact, I felt so supported and loved and encouraged.  Probably more than I have ever felt in my life.  In a  room of deep feelers just like me.

Woman by woman we bared our souls and then that second night we all stripped down naked and yelled our fears into the sea and ran into it holding hands.

I love to just be.  I have a hard time taking pictures when I'm experiencing something so personal.  So I don't have a lot from our time together but these images just give a feel of what the worksop was like.

In the end,

I was nourished as an artist, and even given the permission to use that word!  I learned technical things about photography that is taking me to the next level where I can be confident.  I learned about my worth and how to price myself where time away from my family wasn't wasted. I ate and felt cared for and laughed and cried enough for a year.  It was a turning point in my life and I am forever grateful.

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Soul baring.

Skin baring.

Letting our spirits soar into the sky like birds released from a cage.

Passions unlocked.

Worth spoken.

Surrounded by a womb of such genuine love.

A tiny sliver of what heaven will be like.

My wildflower friends.

www.helenjoy.com