A blog post by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

My dear, dear friends,

I don’t really know how to best word this, so I’m just going to come right out and say it.

I’ve decided to stop blogging here at Pink Ronnie.

Some of you may have already guessed this from my last blog post, and from my messages on Facebook.

I can’t even begin to describe what a big decision this is for me. After all, Pink Ronnie has been a part of my life, my identity, a part of me, for twelve years now….

Blogging here has kept me sane. Blogging here has kept my creativity fuelled. Blogging here has kept me going. Blogging here has given me precious friendships. Blogging here has made me the person I am today.

It’s been hard grappling with my own decision. I’ve been in denial, and I’ve been in doubt. This went on for quite a number of weeks.

It was only on Monday night when Rick and I stayed up late talking, that it finally clinched for me.

Yes, yes, this is the right thing for me to do…

* * *

It all started a few months ago when I started to sense that something wasn’t quite right.

I would have long lists of blog post ideas typed up and ready to go on the computer, but every time I sat down to actually write, I felt uninspired. Words no longer came forth as easily as they once did. Rick’s mum would come over on Tuesday, I would head off to the cafe to supposedly write a week’s worth of posts, but even after six hours of uninterrupted time with endless cups of coffee, I would come home with one post if I were lucky.

Something was definitely wrong.

As much as I enjoyed writing about business, blogging, clothes, decor, and my obsession with being organised, I was starting to grow resentful that it was depriving me of time to write for myself. To journal for myself. And for our family.

I was also becoming weary of the constant pressure to keep up with other bloggers. Every time someone else came up with an awesome idea for a blog post, I would hear that horrible voice in my head taunting me: “Well, silly, why didn’t you think of that?”

Instead of feeling uplifted by my blogging, it was beginning to drag me down.

I should’ve done something about it right away. But because I had committed myself to blogging daily, it meant that I’d robbed myself of any breathing room to step back and re-assess what I was doing.

It was only when our personal lives erupted with circumstances beyond my control that I gave myself permission to take a proper break.

Without the daily pressure to put up a new blog post, the fog gradually lifted.

One night, very early in the morning, it suddenly became crystal clear.

I knew what I wanted to do. Needed to do.

* * *

I love this space here, I really do.

But the reality (and this is what hit me at 2am in the morning while Rick lay happily sleeping beside me) is this: I’ve outgrown this space.

Whilst I love every inch of this blog, every post that I’ve written, and every image that I’ve shared here, I’m ready to move on.

I’m ready to embark on something new. Something that I want to do with every fibre of my being.

Please don’t get me wrong. It breaks my heart to even say this.

After all, I’ve poured so much heart and soul into this blog.

These last two years, in particular, have been truly special for me: I discovered photography through this blog. I discovered an online community. I discovered where my passion truly lay and which direction I want to take my work into the future. And I discovered you guys.

And oh my heart, you guys have exceeded all my expectations.

* * *

So where to from here?

I can start by telling you what I’ll never stop blogging about: memory keeping. This is my true passion, and I will no doubt wax lyric about it until my dying days.

However, I no longer want to do this in my personal online space.

Instead, I’ll continue to share all my memory keeping posts over at our LIFE:CAPTURED blog, Preserve Your Story. So if you’re interested in keeping up with my posts about design, photography, photo books, story books, memorabilia, journaling, Project Life, self-portraiture, cameras, etc. then please bookmark the URL and make sure you add our blog to your Bloglovin feed. Trish may post from time to time, but mostly, it’ll be me.

I’m excited about this change because, well, why wouldn’t I be? A blog dedicated solely to memory keeping, photography, and the like? That has my name written all over it.

* * *

But there’s more.

And this, my friends, is what makes my heart flutter.

That night, as I lay in bed listening to the sound of Rick’s breathing, my mind drifted back to our two nights away, celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary. Down in the Southern Highlands, we had two whole days to ourselves, and each of us spent that time indulging in the things that we truly loved to do: Rick read (three books) while I journaled and captured our time together through my lens. Both of us came home thoroughly refreshed and energised. Even though I’d written something like 8,000 words, not for a moment did any of it feel like work.

Because, really, when I strip everything back, that’s where my heart lies: documenting the story of us.

It all comes down to this: I want to preserve our story.

Our family’s story. Our children’s story. My parents’ story. Cameron’s story. My story.

I want to tell real stories.

Stories of our everyday life. Stories of our everyday rituals. Stories about little moments, life-changing moments, and all the moments in between. Stories of motherhood. Stories of fatherhood. Stories about raising boys. Stories about innocence, and stories about becoming. Stories about childhood and how quickly it passes us by. Stories of joy and laughter. Stories of heartache of tears. Stories of light and shade. Stories of never-ending love and stories of undying grief. Stories from the past. Stories from the present. Stories of past generations, this generation, and the next generation.

A lot of this I already do here on Pink Ronnie, but I want to start afresh.

It’s time for a blank canvas. A clean slate.

And so, I am creating a brand new space.

It will be simple, and stripped back.

It will be a written memoir, and a visual memoir.

A memoir of days, both past and present.

And if you want to join me on this new journey (and I truly hope you will), then please, go on over and have a peek. It would be so wonderful to have you.

* * *

And so, this is it.

My last post on Pink Ronnie.

It’s almost too surreal.

My eyes are moist with tears as I write, because this is surely the end of a huge chapter of my life.

I don’t know what to say anymore, except this: Thank you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have all been so kind, so kind, to me.

I have read every one of your messages, and each time, I have felt immense gratitude.

A million times thank you.

With all my heart, thank you.

Love always,
Ronnie

“And for us, this is the end of all the stories…
But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.”
The Last Battle, C.S.Lewis

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

This is a post especially for all my Bloglovin followers. I messed up when I was publishing my last post (literally speaking), so I’m afraid most of you would’ve missed it. The announcement is that I will no longer be blogging here at Pink Ronnie. Instead, I am starting afresh at a new space, called The Shoemaker’s Daughter. It will be a personal memoir – both written and visual. I will also keep sharing memory keeping and photography posts over at our new LIFE:CAPTURED blog, Preserve Your Story, so if you’d like to keep reading those posts of mine, make sure you add us to Bloglovin. I wanted to make sure you were all aware of these changes before Bloglovin deletes my Pink Ronnie blog from their feed and replaces it with The Shoemaker’s Daughter. As for the blog itself, I will leave Pink Ronnie online indefinitely for now, and I’ll try to still reply to comments if people leave me questions here.

Thank you for all your love, kindness, and support over the years, and I hope that you will join me as I embark on this new journey.

Love always,
Ronnie xo

Where do I begin?

Where do I begin? A blog post by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Dear friends, there is a lot to say to you.

It is almost four weeks since I last wrote a post. It has been very strange to not share with you for such a lengthy period of time, and I have dearly missed our conversations here. Still, I make no apologies for it – the time away from this space has been crucial in allowing me to cope with everything that has transpired in our lives this past month.

* * *

There are some things that I can tell you.

I had an early miscarriage – or at least I think I did. (Who knows? Sometimes your mind throws up roadblocks to protect yourself from the pain.) My mum got diagnosed with a cyst in her brain, and though we were later advised that we didn’t have to worry about it, it was a shock nonetheless. Around the same time, the boys were all sick. One by one, each of them fell victim to high temperatures and lethargy, and there was even one trip to the hospital. Needless to say, neither Rick nor I managed to get much sleep during this time. Our exhaustion was bone-deep, and our resilience to the ordinary, everyday stresses of life grew wafer thin.

There are also the things that I can’t tell you about.

The things that have filled me with anger. And hurt. And anxiety. And anger all over again. Things that have kept us up late at night. Things that have made me question this life that we’ve chosen. I have felt trapped, helpless, and suffocated. I have wept endless tears of frustration. I have been challenged to tolerate, and to forbear. To forgive, and to not resent. To love, and to not hate.

Even now, as I write this, there is no resolution.

But there is the sovereignty of God, and in Him I do trust.

And because of that, there is hope.

And a determination to stand firm until the very end.

* * *

Amidst all of this, there was Cameron’s seventh anniversary and birthday.

It came upon us before I even had the chance to prepare myself.

The day of his anniversary was beautiful and bittersweet, with much to be thankful for. His birthday, the day after, was much harder to endure.

Though I have not yet written down all the details, I fully intend to do so.

Because I always want to remember.

Cameron, you are loved and missed. Every single day.

* * *

In withdrawing from my blog, I also withdrew from social media.

The time away has been deeply cathartic.

Not just for my emotional health, but also for my creativity.

Without all the internet chatter in the background, I was able to focus on creating something that I wholeheartedly believed in, without being distracted by what others were doing.

My work became my sanctuary, in a way.

Being able to build and create something from scratch kept me grounded (and sane) while the world around me seemingly spun out of control…

* * *

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder.

But even though I missed this space of mine while I was gone, I did not find myself longing to return.

This was somewhat of a surprise, but not a completely unexpected one.

For some time, I have felt the slightest desire to make a change.

One night when I couldn’t sleep, I lay in bed thinking about this blog, and all of a sudden, it dawned on me. I knew what I needed to do.

Tomorrow, I shall write about the decision that I’ve made. And friends, I hope that you might continue to journey with me as I start a brand new chapter…

As always, thank you for your constant love, support, and friendship. Ronnie xo

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Today was Cameron’s due date. In four days time, it will be his seventh anniversary on the fifteenth. With all that’s consumed our personal life in this last month, I have barely had more than a few moments to grieve. To remember. To shed tears for my son.

Yesterday, I started reading what I wrote last year on his sixth anniversary, and I wanted to share it with you all. Once more, I am reminded of the power of words, the importance of journaling, and how I never want to forget any part of this journey…

* * *

I want to remember how I lay in bed by myself this morning, entranced by the grey light seeping through the blinds. Even though I could already hear the three boys up and about in their room, I savoured that solitary moment to help me get through the rest of the day.

I want to remember how Jamie was upset because he wanted daddy. When I finally placated him, I invited all three of them to climb onto our bed. Angus and Pete immediately made their way to the head of the bed. They plomped themselves down onto the pillows and pretended they were in a car. Jamie, being the tiny rebel, stayed in the middle of the bed and wouldn’t budge even when I asked him to sit beside Pete for a photo. Eventually, I lay down on the bed with the three of them and we took a ‘group selfie’ with my phone camera.

I want to remember the short but heartwarming exchange I shared with Deb and Liz at church later in the morning. Deb had asked me how my week had been, and I replied by telling her how teary I’d been all week. Liz came over as well, and I opened up my locket to show them the photo of me holding Cameron close to me at the hospital. I felt so vulnerable opening up my locket, but I’m glad that I did.

I want to remember how Maria remembered that it was Cameron’s anniversary. I was incredibly touched. She embraced me at least three times that morning.

I want to remember the chat we had with Brett, our student minister, after church. We told him it was Cameron’s sixth anniversary and that we were headed to the Memorial Gardens to meet our parents. He was suitably understanding and didn’t say too much or too little.

I want to remember seeing the white Peugeot and the silver Toyota in the car park. Our parents had parked next to each other, but with one empty car spot between the two of them. Naturally, Rick pulled into the empty spot. I could see our mums in the distance, and my heart immediately lifted.

I want to remember how my dad walked up to our car, took Angus, Pete and Jamie by the hand, and led them over to the grass area. It was sweet to see the three of them holding hands, and walking in a line with my dad. Meanwhile, I grabbed the picnic rugs, my Canon EOS and a bag of jackets while Rick changed Edward in the back of the car.

I want to remember seeing Cameron’s plaque for the first time since we were there last year. It looked exactly the same. Mary had placed a small bunch of flowers in a bronze vase next to it, and it was perfect.

I want to remember how we spread out on picnic rugs and then everyone disappeared to bring food and chairs from the cars, leaving only Pete and myself. Pete immediately took off his shoes and sat down on the picnic rug, telling me that he wanted to eat. I sat down in front of him and he wrapped his arms around my neck. It was the sweetest embrace.

I want to remember the blue sky and the blazing sun. It had rained last night and all morning it had been heavily overcast. Yet, just as we were setting up our picnic, the clouds parted and the sun shone down on us.

I want to remember the amazing picnic that our mums had prepared. Within minutes of sitting down, Mary took out egg sandwiches, salmon sandwiches, Vegemite sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches along with salad, crackers, dips, cheese and bananas. My mum in turn brought out half a dozen pineapple buns from the Asian bakery as I’d requested along with a thermos of hot tea.

I want to remember drinking that tea. It was still warm, and it was my favourite type of tea as mum had made it with evaporated milk. We drank it using the mugs that Mary had brought along. Mine was yellow. The tea brought me comfort and made me smile.

I want to remember the ANZAC biscuits that Louise had baked for us. She’d passed them onto Mary to give to us, and they were absolutely delicious. They were perfectly chewy and crunchy all at once, and the boys loved them. I told everybody to hold up their half-eaten biscuits so that I could snap a photo to show Louise later.

I want to remember how I asked Angus if he wanted to come with me to Cameron’s spot. He happily agreed, and we both got up and walked together, hand in hand. We sat down opposite Cameron’s plaque. He asked me again if Cameron was buried there, and I told him that Cameron’s ashes were under the ground just in front of his plaque. I explained that even though Cameron’s remains were here, he was actually somewhere else. In heaven, with God. As always, Angus understood perfectly. We sat holding hands under the sun for some time and then we started picking clover out of the grass together. We gathered a small bunch and we placed this in front of Cameron’s plaque. Soon after this, Pete came over and told Angus to chase him. I watched them run off together, and naturally wished that their elder brother were here to play chase with them too.

I want to remember how Jamie sat on my dad’s lap some twenty metres away from the picnic rug. Rick was the first to spy them together. We both grabbed our phones at the same time to try and capture the sweet scene before us. Rick told me later that he’d been close enough to hear bits and pieces of their conversation. Apparently, they were chatting about all the things that they could see, like the birds and the planes. When Jamie finally noticed him, Rick could hear him say, “What’s daddy doing?”

I want to remember how Edward happily sat in his pram for almost the entire time we were there. He didn’t really want to eat, so I held his tiny hand and chatted to him through the sun shade while I ate. After some time, my dad sat next to him and then some time later, when everyone was off wandering about, my mum took over. I was sitting over by Cameron’s plaque with Angus by that time and even then, I could hear the laughs and giggles that came from inside the pram. Mary later told me that mum had Edward completely entranced and that the two of them had a total conversation happening. Later, after our family photos, Grandpa held Edward in his arms and he instantly fell asleep…

I want to remember how Rick took me by the hand towards the end and we walked over to Cameron’s spot together. We didn’t really say anything. We simply looked at the words that we’d so carefully chosen more than five years ago. ‘In memory of Cameron Angus Mason, beloved first child of Richard and Rhonda. Died 15th Sept 2007. Born 16th Sept 2007.’ I’d seen that plaque and those words so many times and yet I still felt a degree of disbelief and incredulity. Could it really be that our precious boy had died? Our baby? “I miss you, little guy,” I heard Rick say. “Me too.”

I want to remember how I stayed behind at the very end. Everything had been packed up. Everyone had walked back to the cars. Yet again, I sat down in front of my son’s plaque. I looked at the words, but they no longer registered. My eyes misted over, and I started to cry. Through my tears, I sang ‘I Cannot Tell’ – the song that I would always sing in the shower when I was pregnant with Cam. I sang, and I cried. I cried, and I sang. I took off my locket, opened it up and placed it next to the bunch of clover. I stared at the tiny photo of me holding Cameron in that last hour, and wished with all my heart that he had not died. “Hey little guy, I miss you so much…” I yearned to stay there longer, but I knew we had to go. I reached down and picked up my locket, and touched the soil one last time.

“I love you, Cam. I love you from the bottom of my heart…”

And with that, I turned and walked away, my heart heavy and full of love all at once.

Dear friends…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

…I can’t even begin to describe all that’s taken place in our lives this last week. There has been a lot of turmoil, a lot of anxiety, and a lot of heartache. Please know that I do intend to return to this space when the fog has lifted a bit. For now, I need to focus on my family, as they are my utmost priority.

Much love,
Ronnie xo

(Thank you to everyone who’s contacted me about being a part of the soft launch of our LIFE:CAPTURED site. Your enthusiasm and support has greatly encouraged me during this time. I will be in touch with you very soon.)

Motherhood is…

Motherhood is.... by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie(www.pinkronnie.com)Motherhood is.... by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie(www.pinkronnie.com)

worrying about my children when they are sick.

holding their hands when they wake up feverish and burning all over.

stroking their foreheads.

whispering in their ear that I’m here, and that it’s okay.

giving them endless cuddles.

wishing that I could do more.

feeling helpless. Utterly helpless.

picturing worst case scenarios.

praying that they’ll get better soon.

thanking God for these precious little lives…

(You can read the other posts in this series here.)

Printable by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Last weekend, I attended a Christian conference for women here in the Northern Beaches called Inspire. It was held at and organised by our partner church, St Faith’s in Narrabeen. The two main talks were about thankfulness and forgiveness, and I was greatly challenged on both these topics. In particular, the speaker Kara Gilbert issued us a coffee shop challenge: the next time we meet up for coffee with friends or family, we are to do our best to not grumble or complain about anything at all, and instead, to only talk about things that we’re thankful for. I think this is a tough one, but I’m up for it! The day ended with a Q&A panel session, and one of the questions was about contentment: How can we, practically speaking, find contentment when our entire lives seem to be geared towards ‘the next thing’ – whether it’s finding a relationship, getting engaged, getting married, having children, getting a good job, getting a better job, having more children, seeing your own children get married, etc. In response to this question, one of the speakers shared these words, which been ringing in my heart and mind ever since: “You can’t do anything about yesterday. You don’t know anything about tomorrow. But today. Today is a gift. Embrace it. Cherish it.”

Printable by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Honestly, none of us knows what will happen to us tomorrow. It doesn’t matter how many projects I plan, or how many lists I write, or how organised I try to keep our house – tomorrow, it could all be pulled out from under me. The best thing I can do, in amongst all of that, is to thank God for today and to embrace it. And so friends, with this printable, I encourage all of you to embrace today with me. Like last time, I’ve created a 6×4 card and a 3×4 card. Use them as filler cards for Project Life or simply tape them to your wall as a gentle reminder that today is what matters.

The photo was taken back in July when we were down in Gerroa on our family holiday. A few of the boys had woken up before dawn, and both Rick and I had gotten up to resettle them all. As I was walking back to our bed, I happened to peek through the blinds, and I saw this: an immaculate sunrise. It, quite literally, left me breathless…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Last Tuesday, Silvie from Little Gem Flowers supplied these beautiful blooms for my photo shoot with Trish. Silvie had been the mastermind behind the stunning florals for our second LIFE:CAPTURED workshop so I was pretty stoked when she wrote back to say she would be happy to help us out again. I’d sent Silvie a very vague brief by email – something along the lines of “some purple flowers and maybe some neutral-coloured ones.” Despite my bared-boned instructions (and my obvious lack of savviness when it comes to florals), she somehow managed to grasp my vision and we ended up with some blooms that were simply perfect for the shots: white daisies, pale pink magnolias, beige orchids, purple sweet peas, dusky pink carnations, violet orchids, and my personal favourite – orange pincushion flowers…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

I wrote about a week ago that I’d been battling a good dosage of self-doubt and insecurity about my creative work. So much so that it’d become quite a stumbling block for me, and I was finding it hard to push ahead with my business timeline. Obviously, I’m not alone in this, and I also know that this is something that will come up again and again. So today, I thought I’d share three things that have helped me along the way this past week.

The first I’ve already spoken about. I reached out to my friend Liz who shares a similar design aesthetic to me – I guess you could say we are both minimalists at heart. But more than that, I admire and respect Liz for her work ethic, her humility, her kindness, and her genuineness. She is truly one of a kind, and I’m so thankful that we’ve become friends through our blogs. I trust that no matter what question I ask of her, she will reciprocate with nothing short of 100% honesty. Anyway, in one of my more severe bouts of self-doubt, I wrote Liz a rather heartfelt email – inquiring about her experience in building and launching her Paislee Press brand, and whether she thought I was heading in the right direction. Despite the fact that it was close to midnight her local time, she wrote back immediately and basically implored/instructed me to keep going. This was exactly what I needed to hear, and every time I find myself hesitating and doubting, I simply repeat Liz’s mantra to myself: “Just keeping going.”

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

The second thing that has helped me was watching Joy Cho‘s video from this year’s Alt Summit. In her speech, she talks about her creative journey and all along the way, she shares her experience of creating something from nothing. It reminded me of a post that Elise once wrote on her blog: the fact that everybody starts from zero. Together, Joy and Elise’s words have reminded me of two simple truths. First of all, it’s pointless to compare myself with other people because everybody has to start at the same point (ie. at zero). And second of all, hard work is what matters. Behind every thriving brand or business is someone who has put in days, weeks, months, years of work. It’s almost ironic that I needed to be reminded of such wisdom, considering it’s what I grew up hearing from my parents. I guess our parents are (almost) always right after all.

And the final thing? Going away. Having two whole days of not thinking or worrying about my work or business was arguably the most helpful thing that could’ve happened. Two days of being free to indulge myself in rest, relaxation, and the things I actually enjoy doing: writing, journaling, reading, and chasing light and shade. It was incredibly refreshing for my creative soul, and I came by utterly re-energised to take on what lies ahead and to make it happen.

What has your experience been like with battling insecurity about your creative work?

(More flora here.)

Lessons in self-portraiture, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Lessons in self-portraiture, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Lessons in self-portraiture, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

If you don’t have a tripod, use your partner instead.

When Rick and I were away last week, we both got to indulge our creative loves: Rick read (three books) and I took (more than a thousand) photos. There was so much light and shade in the cottage we were staying at that I just couldn’t stop clicking.

There were also beautiful rooms and, therefore, beautiful backdrops, so I could hardly resist capturing some self-portraits while the sun threw beautiful country light all over the weathered, timber walls.

Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to bring my tripod. (Or more accurately, I didn’t think to bring it along at all.)

Thankfully, my trusty sidekick of a husband was more than happy to stand in for me.

I would set up the shot, frame the composition exactly as I wanted it, and then Rick would take over and hold the camera where I’d had it.

It worked a treat, and even more awesome was the fact that I didn’t have to use the self-timer and wait ten seconds between each shot.

Rick was incredibly patient and put up with my endless instructions.

“Keep the lines straight. Don’t tilt the lens. Can you count to three? Just keep clicking! Try not to get the floor. I want more ceiling. Let me have a look…”

On the way home, I made an offhand comment to Rick about needing to bring my tripod next time so that I wouldn’t have to interrupt his reading, and you know what he said?

“No, don’t bring the tripod. Use me instead. I liked being a part of it.”

Have you taken any self-portraits lately? Feel free to link below.

(You can see the other posts in this series here.)

Around here

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (www.pinkronnie.com)

Around here, Rick and I had, quite literally, the perfect romantic getaway.

Around here, we are feeling completely refreshed.

Around here, we are loving being re-united with our boys.

Around here, the boys had the most wonderful time with their Pa and Nan.

Around here, I have the most amazing in-laws, ever.

Around here, we are rested and recharged.

Around here, I am excited for what’s to come.

Around here, I am thankful for all that I have…

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. (How has your week been?)