PART SIX: #annalovesmornings
We’re backtracking for a moment. I know that I kind of left you all on a cliffhanger last week, but I need to talk about coffee and how it saved my life before I dive into grief and how it changed my life.
If you follow me on Instagram, chances are you may have noticed the coffee pictures littered through my feed. If you’ve been following me for long enough, you may remember when the coffee pictures were pretty much the only thing in my feed! And, if you’ve been following me for longer than that: Well, first of all… Bravo! And thank you! And second of all, if you’ve been following me for that long, you may remember when this journey began for me.
But if you’ve been following me since early 2014, you may remember when this journey started for me.
Slow mornings are my jam.
When I first started taking pictures of my coffee every morning, waaaaaaay back in 2014, it all started with a slow morning. Just me and my coffee, breakfast, and some alone time.
It was actually kind of funny… Justin and I had just gotten furniture so we finally had more than a kitchen table with a set of chairs and a massive amount of empty space in the apartment. All of a sudden, we had a couch and a loveseat and a coffee table for our tiny TV.
The origin story of my coffee photos starts with a loveseat.
I moved it near the heater vent, which was also right underneath the window, to keep my feet toasty on cold mornings. One of my mom’s friends had gifted us some home goods, and I found a few perfect couch blankets packed away in one of the boxes. Couch blankets are kind of like gold to me. You can never have too many blankets. One for the back of the couch, one to cuddle up with, a lap blanket for the cats, a warm fuzzy blanket for those cold Wisconsin winters… Basically, what I’m saying is, give me infinite comfort items.
But, back to the coffee! And the loveseat in front of the window! One cold February morning, I got up and had some Cheerios at the kitchen table while I waited for my coffee to brew. I poured myself a cup into a pretty flower mug that I had gotten from the thrift store, and sat down on the loveseat underneath my favorite couch blanket to enjoy the quiet while Justin was still sleeping.
Those slow mornings and taking pictures of my coffee helped me to fall in love with photography again.
At the time, I was battling with my anxiety and shame over taking a break from my business after getting burnt out from working at a commercial studio. I was still getting in front of my camera and taking self-portraits on the regular because I was blogging on my personal blog, but the coffee pictures inspired something different.
They made me slow down and focus on the art. The light. How special this moment, right here and right now, really is. Taking a photo of my coffee every morning helped me to start to come back to myself after I felt like I was wandering around in the darkness for so long. Even with Justin’s support, and the friends that have always supported me, moving to Waupaca and essentially starting over again inspired the same feelings of homesickness that had arose in Savannah for me.
Maybe it was our empty apartment, and finally having furniture to fill the space and a bed so we could stop sleeping on the floor. It felt like I was starting to put roots down in Waupaca. That I had found a sense of home again after witnessing family as I knew it kind of implode around me.
The coffee pictures started showing up more and more in my Instagram feed, so much so that I created a hashtag to keep track of this series that I was building.
And thus, #annalovesmornings was born.
My #annalovesmornings series has really grown with me through the years, seeing me through times of rough transitions… Suffering, loss, grief, putting myself back together again, reaching for my dreams, and everything in between. Taking a photo of my coffee every morning has become as ingrained into my morning routine as the very act of making coffee itself.
The coffee photos have ultimately been a way to track my growth through the years.
Looking back, I feel so strongly for my 22-year-old self. She was so lost in the process of “finding yourself” and did so much growing up that year. I want to give her a hug and tell her that everything will be okay. You will stop making stupid decisions. You will save your relationship. You will survive moving back in with Justin’s parents. You will make it through everything life throws at you in the next four years, and — most importantly — you will eventually dust off that old photography dream of yours through sheer amounts of grace and grit and courage.
Taking pictures of my coffee every morning even helped me to discover new hobbies that I couldn’t even imagine my life without now. In early 2015, I picked up knitting and it’s become my favorite way to start a cold, snowy morning: just my coffee and the clacking of my knitting needles as I chug away making slow progress on some blanket or another.
I have always viewed my #annalovesmornings series as one of the ways of coming back to myself, through anxiety and shame and coping with all the stupid decisions my former selves had made. Through everything I have been through since starting this series, the good and the bad, my routine of making a cup of coffee and having some alone time with my camera has always brought me back to the tiny pockets of joy that exist in my life even when I’m wandering through the metaphorical darkness.
My morning routine has gone through cycles over the years. These days, I’m more likely to stay inside and drink my coffee from the warmth and coziness of my bed and all those blankets in the winter, still in my pajamas with bedhead and all. When it finally starts to get nice outside in Wisconsin, I get the itch to spend my mornings outside again. I’ll sit out on the deck when the driveway is still an ice slick (I’ve lost one too many coffee mugs that way), and once the ice is finally gone I’ll venture out and take a walk around the yard.
Morning light has become like a best friend to me over the years. From sleepily watching it dance across the walls of our empty apartment, to feeling the warmth of the sun on my face as I sit outside and drink my coffee on a summer morning, it has become a constant in my life.
One day, I will sit down and sift through my #annalovesmornings archives and make a book of all my coffee photos. It will be a perfect coffee table book, but it will also secretly be a time capsule of all my former selves. The coffee photos have become a way for me to look back and see, over and over again, how much I have grown over the years.
It all started with a cup of coffee and a slow morning and a need to find a way for photography to fit in my life again after taking a break from my business. After six years, I’m still constantly falling in love with my craft over and over again through the art of slow mornings.