Beginning Thoughts, by Linda Baylis
Posted By: Me Ra
My name is Linda Baylis, and I am one of the ‘RECIPIENTS’ of the 2009 SOAR! Scholarship. Last month, together with more than 260 amazing women, I took a leap of faith. I took my hopes and dreams and my vision of a different future and compiled them into a two-minute video. Then I waited. And as I waited, I began to watch.
I watched as a community of women, courageous and inspiring, emerged to support and encourage each other. I watched as more and more entries appeared each day and heard stories of hardship and struggle. There were those that made me cry. There were those that made me laugh. There were those that inspired me by their passion to help others, and those by their creativity. I watched women bravely share their inner selves for all to see. And as I watched I began to wonder.
I began to wonder how someone like me could deserve an opportunity like this. I had so much to be thankful for, so many blessings. Alongside such need, I became overwhelmed. And alongside such talent, I became discouraged. I am not a photographer. I am not an artist. I am simply a mother with a camera and a dream. A dream of a career doing something I love. And a dream of a more balanced life. A dream I am not sure I would even have voiced before learning about this scholarship. A dream I only dared to imagine might come true.
So for me, this was an unbelievable start to the decade. The reality is still sinking in. To think Me Ra and Brian were in my home, sitting on my couch, meeting my children, my husband, andbelieving in ME. I pinch myself and relive it again. This is more than I expected. This is more than I deserve. Not only have I been given this unbelievable opportunity and some amazing gear, I have had two incredible people come into my life overflowing with excitement and hopes for me. And this is just the beginning.
Along with excitement, this opportunity also comes with a great sense of loss. Since December 8th I have watched you all share your dreams and your hopes and take huge leaps of faith. I have heard stories of loss and of pain I can’t begin to imagine and been inspired by the things you have all overcome. I have come to think of many of you as friends. Together we have been on an emotional roller coaster filled with twists and turns and incredible highs and lows. I know exactly how much each of you has invested in this process and I wish we could all be recipients.
But I truly believe in Me Ra’s vision that is the driving force behind this whole endeavor. To reach out and make a difference in the lives of not just three women, but each and every one of us. Having spent time with her, I have witnessed first hand her amazing heart, her capacity to love, and her ability to inspire and mentor. And OMG… that LAUGH is just simply contagious! I did not want to let her leave. While I might have an easier road ahead of me, I am not an ‘only child’ and I know she has great things in store for us all!
Through the announcement you have shared my excitement, you have shared my surprise, and I know while you waited you shared my nerves and anxiety. Through the SOAR! website I have shared your disappointment as you watched something you hoped for so badly seem to slip out of reach. I have been humbled by your ability to reach out with kind words in celebration, support and encouragement, and have watched as you dust yourselves off and continue following your dreams. But now you are not alone. Together, you are force to be reckoned with!
As I begin to regroup and contemplate the path ahead of me I find myself looking back to how this all began. As you are all painfully aware two minutes is not a long time to express your dreams, share your stories, and demonstrate that you have ‘what it takes’. Creativity does not always oblige and technology will most certainly challenge us. For me simply creating this video was an amazing achievement. Somehow all things aligned and for that I am thankful. But what my take on pop culture inspiration failed to achieve, was to show you who I really am and why this opportunity means so much to me. And I think that’s important to address today.
Two years ago I came across a problem I couldn’t control, despite the support and resources available to me. I was diagnosed with a chronic inflammatory form of arthritis that causes swelling and stiffness of the joints. I struggled to complete the simplest of tasks – changing a diaper, driving a car, putting on shoes. I couldn’t even hold a camera. Each day was filled with pain, and I could barely take care of my children.
Learning that I had an incurable disease was the biggest challenge I have ever faced and a difficult period of my life. At a time when I should have been enjoying those fleeting and oh-so-special moments with my new born baby and my sweet toddler, I found myself retreating to a dark place full of fear and negativity and struggling to come to terms with a future different to the one I’d imagined. While I was incredibly thankful I wasn’t dealing with something much worse like cancer, or a sick child, and my condition was treatable, I could not overcome the self pity, bitterness and sense of loss I was experiencing.
So my story of tenacity, when applying for this scholarship, was how I found my way out of this place. How I reclaimed my life and took control of my health, and didn’t just accept conventional approaches. About how the experience has made me a stronger and more confident person determined to live in the moment and make every day count.
Because I feel like I missed a significant part of my boys development I have become fierce about capturing memories – their smiles, their frowns, especially their tantrums! I have become focused on building a career that gives me the flexibility I need to maintain a healthy work – life balance, and over the past year, have been trying to get a small business off the ground to help me achieve this, not as a photographer, but offering album design services to photographers as I develop my own skills and experience. But the dream has always been there. And now it is real.
For me the timing has never been better. 2010 will be an amazing year, and I am excited to SOAR! with you all. While this scholarship is a great opportunity, it also comes with great responsibility and I promise I will not take this lightly. I hope this continues to be a safe place for us to support and motivate, share and learn from each other. I promise to put my own fears aside, to believe in myself as Me Ra and Brian do and to share everything I learn along the way. I am so humbled, grateful and excited to begin this journey – with Me Ra and Brian, Lindsay and Jennifer, the sponsors and mentors and of course, with all of you.
And a final word if you’re still with me – the Sony A330 DSLR totally ROCKS! I can’t wait to learn more! My favorite features so far are the SteadyShot INSIDE and the tilt-mounted LCD screen that make capturing those tempting toddler tantrums oh so much easier! Huge hugs to SONY and huge, hugs to you all!!!