Wednesday, September 24, 2014

{The Journey Film | Part I Filming} Downtown Greenville, SC

The Journey Film is a documentary that I stumbled upon via a friend last year. Incredible because I had my own inexplicable "butterfly experience" six year ago when my sister died.

It changed my life.
While I thought it was a really odd coincidence ... at the time, I realized it's actually a phenomenon that has happened strangely to many people. The Journey Film's website reads this:

Monarch butterflies have appeared in times of tragedy and loss. Every year, millions migrate to reach Mexico on ‘Day Of The Dead.’ Coincidence?
So what is my butterfly story? You can read it here.

Fast forward almost six years later from when I saw the butterfly at the Shepherd's Gate door entrance and here I was again... telling this story for a camera and an incredible crew of people. People who have dedicated their time and travels to telling the stories of monarch butterflies and who they grace along their path.

I have been called the "Butterfly lady" along with all kinds of other similar names. People send me butterfly related things all the time. It never gets old.... because every time they recognize a monarch and think of me... I in turn am reminded to think of my sister. And how precious life is... to chase dreams and not sit still. To even in a fragile state, be beautiful, know my direction and command attention.... just as those alluring orange butterflies do.

For the first part of the trip we returned to Greenville. Downtown specifically. Where my sister and I have fond memories of Downtown Alive on Thursday nights. The last shot below is an emotional one for me as I stood at the door and photographed myself. This was the door the butterfly flew from directly to me and circled my head. It is hard to fathom that something so simple will change your perspective, which in turn can change your life. As I stood there, I thought about the person I am now and how far I have come from that day. Grieving my sister's death has become easier to deal with... though there will always be a hole in my heart for her. When she comes to mind... I smile more now than I cry. And sometimes I wonder if she knows that in that perspective shift six years ago that came from loss and heartache - I wonder if she knows that I rebuilt who I am and then redirected where I wanted to go. I left my fears behind. I began to find myself. I sought my dreams. I took that bull by the horns and I haven't looked back.

I'm doing it Jess. What I love. And I'm trying to live to the fullest. Never taking any of it for granted. And though I'd trade every single bit of it to have you here, losing you taught me all of what matters.

Downtown Greenville, some of the spots we used to walk. The downtown is lush and beautiful... full of historic flavor and quintessential Americana. Jess worked downtown for a while and she loved it! I can totally see her city girl side and remember her telling me about how she loved downtown Greenville!

The Downtown Alive sign hangs where the event kicks off each Thursday. One of my favorite memories of my sister happened here. It still makes me smile when I think of it. 

Lots of memories here. It's changed a bit over the years. Incredibly, I remembered right where it was though. I think of Jess as an internal compass - always pointing me in the right direction.

Always finding hope in my photography. Grow and bloom where you are planted. In all circumstances - you can thrive.

The awesome crew doing what they do!

So very odd {as I am usually behind the camera} to be in front of it. I admit, I could never model or be an actor. I am awkward as all get out! Lol. But I can talk about my sister and my love for her. All day long. 

We had lunch at a really fabulous place called the Green Room. Fried green tomato, bbq pork and sweet potato fries. Southern food you are SO very seducing!

The women's home where my sister's life was changed. Jess' last few years on earth were rough. She had dealt with some battles. In coming here she met some incredible people. Minda - you changed my sister's life. You and the beautiful women you work with - thank you. Thank you for making her last few weeks alive, a time when she was de-cluttering not only her life, but her heart. God in essence was packing her bags. And she was dreaming about heaven and writing about it in her journal. So my asking why she was taken from us so early is really irrelevant because God had plans for her in Heaven. Jess, I am sure you are up there making people laugh and playing your guitar with a flower in your hair.

This was the first place we stopped when I went to my sister's funeral six years ago. We stopped here to meet the women who had changed her life. This was also where the monarch butterfly flew directly from this door to me, literally circling my head and at that very moment I thought of Jess. I didn't think that she was the butterfly - but I do believe God allows His creation to bring us comfort. To give us signs of peace. The next day I would find a sign of peace that I hadn't expected... at her funeral I would take one item of hers... her Bible. And inside of it, within the book of Romans I would find a little paper with a monarch butterfly on it. And her handwriting below it saying, "the change of life". Coincidence? Or did she put that in there for me not even knowing how it would make me reconsider and shift my perspective of life. It is truly a vapor. We should live and love today. Run with it and never look back.

Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Will never stop telling your story Jess. Or how it changed my life. I love you and miss you sweet sis.