Lessons in Living


Two years ago today I woke to what I now look back on as a life altering phone call.  I guess to be more accurate it was a life altering voice mail.  I’m not exactly a morning person so when an early morning call came in from an unrecognized number in an area code far away from home I sent it to voicemail and tried to go back to bed.

Sleep was a bit of a stranger that week and after laying there for 20 minutes I gave in and decided to get up.  I started by checking the email and Facebook notifications on my phone and found a message from my good friend Toni that piqued my curiosity about that phone call I’d sent to voicemail.

She’d mentioned another friend had received notification that he’d won one of the categories in a photography contest and asked if I’d heard anything about my entry.  I didn’t think notifications were due until the following week and with everything that I was dealing with on a personal level it wasn’t even on my radar.

I checked my voicemail and discovered that call was from the photo editor at American Photo Magazine and the message she left told me I’d not only won the “Trash the Dress” category but that image had been selected as the overall grand prize winner too.

Having a hard time believing what I’d just heard I listened to it a second time and then called her back. Afterall the TTD category was more a part of the Destination Weddings and Honeymoon Magainze half of the contest so it seemed surreal that it could have been chosen as the overall winner for both.

An excruciatingly long game of voice mail tag ensued. I’m not sure how we kept just barely missing each other but after a couple hours I really had to get out the door and onto the day’s tasks to avoid spending several hours in traffic.  She called again while I was driving from Kirkland to a funeral home in Tacoma where I needed to sign off on arrangements for my dad who had died a day and a half before.  I exited 405 and pulled into the parking lot for Fry’s to call her back. With Abby in the car I knew I needed to go inside to make sure I wasn’t interrupted with an ear piercing bark fest if a crow flew overhead or someone rode by on a motorcycle.

I remember sitting in the little café and calling her back.  I remember trying really hard not to cry when it all hit me as we chatted and I was given some of the most exciting news of my career.

I’d really won the big set of prizes:

They really wanted to put the image on the cover.  (It was a horizontal image so I had to “settle” for a double page spread.)

I really was going to be published in two national magazines.

I really was going on a free trip to a luxurious resort in Mexico.

This really was the beginning of a lot of amazing things.

And I really couldn’t call my dad and tell him.

And yet I felt like I knew so strongly how he would react that I could almost hear his response.


And somehow that comforted me.

Here I am with my dad and brother eight days before this call.  It was essentially our last trip outside and we took him home for hospice a day or two later:

I love this for so many reasons but mostly because we had to break a lot of “rules” to get someone from the cardiac icu outside and I appreciated doctors who had worked with him for years knowing how important it was and doing whatever it took to make it happen.

Without realizing it I started drifting into a fog that would thicken and last for months.

The magazines came out.  My prizes arrived. Opportunities starting coming my way.

Life slowly got back to normal.  Whatever that is.

Last April Dave and I finally went on that amazing trip to Mexico.  We saw Mayan ruins, swam with fish and rays, snorkeled in cenotes, and took full advantage of room service and the swim up bar.

When I started putting this post together I meant to make it about the trip and keep the context of everything fun and lively but it seems to have taken a slightly somber path as the words flow from my head to the screen.

These are the top ten pictures I planned to include to show off the fun we had in Mexico (the first of which was the view from our suite:

And then a few days ago I got a call from a woman putting together a last minute wedding for her  father in law and looking for a photographer to document their ceremony and celebrations this weekend.  He’s sick and probably doesn’t have a lot of time left so she managed to plan the entire event in ten short days.  Amazing, huh?   I’d had the day blocked off for months with intentions of doing something to honor my dad and was immediately interested.  Since my dad was a wedding photographer and one of my biggest fans and I really don’t think there could’ve been a better way to honor him this year that spending the afternoon with an amazing couple and their closest friends and family.

Here are a few favorites that I hope you enjoy.  And then I hope you are inspired to log off and go live life with the ones you love most.

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  • Sylvia - Ah Sacha, what a great post! From your grand prize winning photo (which is amazing by the way and totally deserving) to the story about your Dad and the wedding you shot yesterday. That couple and you were a great fit. I’m glad that you were the one able to give them those lasting memories!April 29, 2012 – 11:47 am

  • Brandey Lindberg - This made me cry… Beautiful!
    April 29, 2012 – 6:23 pm

  • Tiffany Perkins - So touching. Thank you for sharing such a personal piece of your life, and what an incredible gift you gave this family. The photos of the bride and groom are just beautiful.April 29, 2012 – 6:54 pm

  • Sarah Belcher - Now I want to do an underwater couple photo session…April 29, 2012 – 7:09 pm

  • Donna LeBlanc - Sacha, This blog entry, the photo of you and your brother and your dad, and the photos of the lucky couple are beautiful. We never know when or how our lives will touch others, and you magically manage to always bring such feeling to all of your photos. I know your dad was watching and telling all the others just how proud he is of you! I’m betting he had something to do with arranging the whole thing, especially since you had the time already blocked out on your calendar! Thank you for being who you are!April 29, 2012 – 8:13 pm

  • Jeanette Harry Alvau - Joy beyond words… I am truely and deeply touched by your work, your heart, and character. I literally started sobbing when I saw the first picture of them, especially after reading from the top and admiring your beautiful photos. I could not hold back the tears of joy as I looked at their pictures, again, and again, and then I showed them, and cried some more, and gave thanks to my Father in Heaven for His blessings to my family and I. May you feel the Lords eternal love in your life, Sacha.April 30, 2012 – 4:44 am

  • Julie Watts - You made me cry reading this. I think our loved ones have a hand in our lives no less after they are gone…maybe in some ways, they have more of one. The whole part about you blocking off that day to honor your dad, then that wedding came up, I mean…come ON. That was no accident. This post really filled me up and I not only have goosebumps but I’m so incredibly happy for you. It is the most inspiring thing to watch the world (and yourself) discover what you are meant to do and what you are capable of….amazing.April 30, 2012 – 2:29 pm

  • Sacha Blue - You are so very welcome and I’m excited to share the rest with you very soon. 🙂 April 30, 2012 – 5:14 pm

  • Sacha Blue - Thank you 🙂April 30, 2012 – 5:15 pm

  • Sacha Blue - Thanks 🙂April 30, 2012 – 5:15 pm

  • Sacha Blue - Sarah Belcher You should. 🙂April 30, 2012 – 5:16 pm

  • Sacha Blue - Thanks @[10735283:2048:Tiffany Perkins] 🙂April 30, 2012 – 5:17 pm

  • Pauline Harry - Very nice! We are so appreciative of your generosity and ability to capture this occasion in their lives. Pictures are invaluable in our lives! I’m glad they were able to share a piece of their lives to fill in your loss. May you be comforted and filled with joy!April 30, 2012 – 11:08 pm

  • Shay Winget - Sacha, you are amazing. Your art is beautiful, but more than that you are a beautiful person. Thank you for opening up and for taking the time to make beautiful memories for a great looking couple.May 1, 2012 – 5:46 am

  • Kristie Reid Ayers - Beautiful Post! It made me cry. I am so glad you were able to do that wedding! Amazing heart!May 1, 2012 – 6:26 am

  • Carol Andrews - Julie Watts sent me a FB message this morning about you….I am so happy she shared with me that you are an extraordinary woman… and yes! You are !!
    You are living your life fully with heart, body and soul!
    You are my kinda girl…. best wishes, and hope to meet you more on FB.
    CarolMay 1, 2012 – 8:52 am

  • Sarah Wilson Sweetman - This made me teary – Sacha, you have a beautiful heart and a gift you gave this family. thanks for posting this!May 1, 2012 – 2:41 pm

  • Sarah Belcher - Sacha Blue Hubby got me an underwater camera for mother’s day. I’m gonna do it.May 9, 2012 – 3:34 am

  • Jennifer Wilcox - To great people with big hearts come great blessings. I really believe in Karma and you deserve it! Gorgeous image!May 18, 2012 – 6:47 pm

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