Thursday 6 June 2013

Women Who Dare to Dream 4 - Tahnee from Milk Please Mum

I honestly have no idea how I first stumbled across Tahnee's blog - Milk Please Mum, but I know that her gorgeous photos of her beautiful family had me pouring for the the next few hours over her previous posts.

Tahnee's incredible talent for capturing those quiet almost missed moments is such a gift, and not just for her family who will be able to relive those moments forever through her beautiful photos, but for all of us whom are privileged enough to take a peek ourselves through Tahnee's blog.

I am so inspired through the fact that Tahnee's dream is centered around her incredible gift, and I'm beyond thrilled that she is sharing that dream here with us.

Hello there! So lovely to be hanging out at the beautiful Sonia’s while she’s away, lying on a beach, cocktail in (each) hand. That doesn’t sound creepy at all -visiting when there’s nobody home..

While Sonia and her beautiful family are living it up on holidays for her big birthday bash, coinciding perfectly with her mid life crisis (yes, Son, I’m on to you), a few of us found the key under the mat and are taking turns at her keyboard in the newly emptied office, tapping out a guest post. And yes Son - I could totally see more yellow in here! 

So my brief -
 write whatever you want - your dream, your heart, your voice! I love how specific that was.. thanks Son! You should probably get yourself a cuppa - this is a looong one.

Dreams are funny things. And corny. If you
 google dream quotes, you’ll find some crackers. And of course there’s always Pinterest to help you find the perfect quote, colour, text and layout to give you the boost you’re looking for when you hit a fork in the road or lose sight of THE BIG DREAM or it’s 2am and you just cannot stop pinning and make yourself go to bed. 

But I do like a bit of corny, so this is right up my alley.

I grew up in a house where encouragement flowed freely and while my parents both worked jobs they had no passion for, they had no hesitation in relaying that old faithful, you can do anything you want to if you set your mind to it. And I always believed it. Still do. 

I am an eternal optimist and I hope I always stay that way. I take after my mum there. She is one of the most positive people I know. 

My dad is the complete opposite. The facts will determine his outlook and what he believes. Things are usually either black or white. Perhaps the contrast is what makes for a 35 year strong, happy marriage. I certainly hope so - because I married my father (at least, someone just like him).

I am the positive and my husband is the negative. We had very different upbringings and so far - in my lifetime anyway - I am a firm believer in that we are all products of our parents. 

Of course we are all unique, with individual personality traits that were randomly pulled together when we were too minute to even see. Traits that will be with us forever, that can never be altered, no matter the disciplinary boundaries set or best manners taught, traits that will drive us crazy as parents as we see glimpses of a future fourteen year old staring back at us in our two year old. Of course there are the exceptions to the rule - there are always the exceptions - but on the whole, the little life carved out for you by your parents as a Small, awkward Medium and eventually Big, will determine how you look at the world.

When asked in my teenage years what I wanted to be when I grew up, a good length of time was spent replying with
 accountant. What the?! The thought of that right now makes me shudder. I was good at maths and - shock horror - actually enjoyed it. Until year 12. And that was the end of that. 

I did well at school and many subjects came easily, English one of them. In saying that, I worked really hard to get good grades. Anything lower than a B was considered a failure (by my own standards). I think the high achiever in me is one of those predisposed personality traits I was talking about. That one definitely came from my dad. Ever the perfectionist.

Once the ridiculous notion of becoming an accountant flew out the window, I really had no idea what I wanted to be. 

Another ridiculous notion in itself is that a sixteen year old SHOULD know what they want to do with the entirety of their grown up life. So many of my friends knew. They knew what uni they were going to attend and what they needed to do to get there. 

By the time my final year of school wrapped up, the thought of continuing with MORE study made me feel nauseous. So I got a job. Maybe dipping my toes in the pool of The Real World would make my decision of what to
 be, for me.

I fell into a job that was found by word of mouth, a positive to living in a small town. Turns out when your big bro needs a lawyer, the help came with a side of employment. Bonus.
Ten years were spent working my way around the smallest and biggest firms both here, in the country and city, and overseas. I really loved what I did. The work was fascinating and challenging - until it wasn’t.

The spark fizzled at just the right time, when hubby and I were ready for a baby. Cue my retirement from the big, fancy, city office life, hello SAHM duties in the burbs.

Happiness right there.

I was one of those people who wanted children from a very early age. 

I have three siblings and a very large extended family with my dad one of seven and mum one of four. Cousins were everywhere and family gatherings resembled entire small town populations. I liked the noise and chaos. And the love. When friends told me they had three or four cousins - in total - I thought that couldn’t possibly be true - and then felt sorry for them. I thought we were normal. Turns out we weren’t.

When I finished work before our eldest arrived, I knew I wouldn’t return to that life. At least I had extremely high hopes of never returning to that life. I knew the best of that life had passed and my mindset had changed. 

The daily grind of city life was not something that was appealing to me as a mother. Dropping the kids at childcare was never an option for us. We live simply and make sacrifices for me to be able to stay home while the kids are young. Because it goes so fast.

SO damn fast.

My mum used to sew all our clothes as kids - yes ,the matching kind. There is photographic evidence that my brother was forced to wear a hot pink jumper to match my sisters and I, so we were easily spotted in the crowd at the annual country show. As a mother of three now, I have NO idea where she found the time to sew four sets of clothes, hundreds of times over. I can barely finish one simple dress for my daughter in one evening sitting at my machine. 

She has always been creative and crafty, trying her hand at anything that called for her imagination and capable touch - sewing,
 fimo, cake decorating, hairdressing, photography, painting, drawing. She should have been a children’s book illustrator. I tell her often, and there is still time. 

My dad should have been a carpenter but was guided into the family business from an early age and that is where he stayed until his retirement. Dad touches nothing, no task undertaken, unless he is wholeheartedly certain that he can successfully complete the task to 150%. This includes tasks like washing windows. The man irons PYJAMAS. Thanks for the anal gene, dad. Thankfully the passing of such gene fell just short enough to exclude me from ironing pyjamas.

The culmination of these attributes and talents, haphazardly plucked from each gene pool, has served my siblings and I well. 

Very well. 

Without the creative flare handed to me by my mother, or the anal perfectionism granted from my father, I am certain I would not have managed to find my way through my adult years, to arrive at a place where I had the courage and determination to feel I was capable and talented enough to turn my dream into a reality.

Cheesy? Yes, but true. 

The old
 you can do anything you want to if you set your mind to it has always rung in my ears when trying something new, something scary, something that required faith and faith alone. And now I say it to my kids.

When I grew up, I wanted to be a mother. 

Just a mother. 

It will forever be my greatest achievement in this one, precious life. 

But I can have more - and I want more. 

I have always been the quiet one - sitting back and taking it all in, watching quietly, analysing a situation before opening my mouth or sharing my view. Making people want to look at me, see me, notice me, was never on my radar. Until now. And even now, it still makes me feel uncomfortable. But it’s necessary. Necessary for success.

Quite organically, and completely unknowingly, my little life pointed me in the direction of my camera more and more. I have always loved taking photos - a gift passed to me from my mum - and my love for the lens has grown considerably over the past 18 months. 

I learnt to use my camera properly, to shoot manually, to be fully in control and responsible for what my camera would produce. I welcomed this new challenge and the only intent I had when behind the lens was committing to increase the calibre of my
 iPhoto library. 

The push I needed to continually improve (without realising at the time), was my

Gradually, my photos grew better and better until I had strangers emailing me to comment on how my photos made them feel, and family and friends asking me to take their photos. Recognition of my ability to take good photos, to create emotion in the viewer, gave me the courage to feel I could do this. Build a little business, around my little family, that would serve to satisfy my need for a creative outlet (that I had searched for, for years), yet still be present in my role as a SAHM while our children are still little, and to feel as though I’m not leaving this world with something left to give.

My list of regrets in this lifetime is short. Shorter than most I would think. 

While my friends were sitting in university lectures, I was travelling. I spent my 21st birthday horse riding in Prague and have seen places many won’t in their lifetime. 

This country girl made a life for herself in a big city, found life long friends and a wonderful husband. I grew and birthed three sweet babies, raising them with the tiniest of family support networks while the majority of my family lived two states away. 

In this world of excess and debt, together hubby and I managed to build an environment that enables me to stay home with our children while they need me. 

I began a
 blog that would allow me the freedom to empty my thoughts onto the keyboard on a regular basis in the hope it would serve as a little solitary therapy, perhaps connect with some like minded women, and develop a space where I could dump my photos and tales to share with far away family. I never expected that it would be the guiding force to push me to stand up and make people notice my craft. The photography industry is saturated. With HUGE talent. Yes, I must remind myself there is room for all of us, even the amateurs, the learners, the dreamers like me. 

My little voice has been recognised amid a sea of talented women and writers in this year’s
 Kidspot Voices of 2013 rubbing shoulders with women I have long admired. 

Last weekend I flew to Canberra to photograph three families, all in the one day. Families that welcomed me into their homes and believed I was good enough to fly to another state in order to document their family lives at this moment in time. 

Most, if not all of these things were scary. But I did them. And I did them well. And it’s not about how much one can achieve in their lifetime - it’s not about bragging. It’s about achievement. There’s a big difference. If we feel proud of our achievements, we should show it.

There is a lot to be said for a positive attitude. If you believe you can, you’re half way there. If you believe you can’t, then of course you can’t. You just told yourself you couldn’t. 

Dreaming is brave - and chasing them is even braver. Sometimes we are more focused on what people may think about us chasing our dreams, than the actual chasing. Voicing our desires and making plans to achieve them leaves us bare and vulnerable. 

What if we fail? 

What if we don’t succeed? 

The sky will not fall in, the world will not stop spinning. It’s scary. Yes. But it’s the best kind of scary. It makes you feel alive and present, alert and inspired. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good way to live.

So, from one dreamer to another - start chasing, my friend.
 What are you waiting for?

Images 1 + 7 /
 Tim Coulson  

You can also find Tahnee on Instagram and Pinterest.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for our next guest in the Dare to Dream Guest Post Series.