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June 04, 2009


Wow, great pictures! Feeling a little bit inexperienced now when I click the button! Really, really enjoyed looking at how someone thinks through the pictures they take and why. I'd like more!

Kathleen - I thought your choice of viewing each picture through a scope is interesting. Reminds me of how often we feel we are "not measuring up" because of our narrow scope - we don't see the whole picture, parts are not visible. And more often than not, the parts not visible are parts of ourselves, our talents, our being, our mission.

This is where we need each other to see the whole picture -- and it takes the form of that wonderful energy -- systergy.

Thanks for featuring these, Whitney. I love this series and the idea behind it. this definitely got me thinking!

I read with much sadness about Susan Boyle's defeat and the sorrow which ensued because she wasn't measuring up. Such impossible standards. Your story through photograph speaks of the child not measuring up but I am not getting how the mother figure isn't measuring up?

This is a familiar theme I experience weekly. Mothers can be unaware that their children want to just be with them. Laugh, play, be touched, validated, recognized, cherished. We get so busy doing what is determined to be necessary that our children get set is easier to hire someone to engage and play with our children. This mother has her standards and her little one can't make sense of why he is on the ride alone. Being present, staying in these precious moments...savoring our time with these little gifts were're blessed with, will make our lives is their time...ours will come again.

You are so talented! I am a big fan of your work. These images bring me to tears. The sadness in that boys' eyes- it's heartbreaking. I absolutely love the image where he is holding his mother's leg with his need for her and her posture, so detached and coldhearted. Speaks volumes,very powerful. Keep up the good work and congratulations on your recent success!

This made me reflect on the expectations I have placed on my children. They are all adults now, but I still expect things from them. And perhaps that is not all bad. I expect them to be responsible employees, to continue learning, to be caring individuals, to live within their means. I guess the key for me, is when they might not "measure up" to my expectations that I love them fully anyway. I would hope they would do the same for me. As always, I am impressed with the quality of your work Kathleen. Thanks for sharing your talents with me and my family.

I have always loved your work and i particularly love these photos. I love the tattoos, her hair and sunglasses - the little things really stood out and told me the story of this dynamic to me. wonderful!

beautiful. inspired. sublime. warmly, -melanie-

I am so glad to have received Whitney's email with a link to this post. Kathleen, you've done an amazing job! As a new mom, who is crazy enough to still be in a PhD program, I am beginning to understand the intense feeling of 'measuring up'. There are so many ways as a woman, a mother, a wife, a teacher, a student, a daughter, a friend that I feel I don't measure up. What I loved most about the photo essay was that the people you captured where so somber. I think that's one of the problems of trying to measure up. We (I) focus too much on what I'm not achieving and miss the beauty, and fun of the situations at hand. You've captured the emotions perfectly. Well done, and thank you!

Love the pictures. I also love the one with the boy clinging to his mother's (very toned, I might add) legs. As if at this park with a million external stimulations, he only want to be with her. How often I need to embrace my children more and just enjoy our being together and not running off to the next thing.

These photos say a lot, like many of your images, there is so much being stated without the viewer being overwhelmed by the image itself. I love to look at the people who often run an amusement park because they are usually as gritty and real as the amusement park is flashy and superficial. You have done a superb job at repeating these two diametric themes. Very subtle, very beautiful and full of information. Well done.

Gorgeous work that really does tell a story, and like all good stories, tells much by choosing its "words" sparingly, leaving lots of room to find ourselves in the story and hence interpret it in personal and specific ways. I can't help being struck, too, by the patina of these pictures, the nostalgic feel of this story, and its timelessnes. "Nostalgic" and "timeless" would seem mutually exclusive but somehow they both fit. I come away from this story with a sense of something lost, something that has passed away, some cultural desire that now eludes us. I'm not sure what it is. I see it in the signs at the park, and in the mother's shoes, and in the boy's white shirt.


Bonnie mentioned "but I am not getting how the mother figure isn't measuring up."

first of all, this is a fictional representation of my idea. The actual Mom, in real life, is a fabulous person, excellent mother and spectacular friend. The son is an energetic 3 year old, a cool kid!

In the story "Measuring Up," the mother is so "June Cleaver." She is perfect, dressed impeccably and her obviously higher than middle class. If you notice, the park is empty except for her and her son. Could she have rented out the space to please her son??? I don't know, but it's rare that one gets an amusement park to themselves...

Is the son pleased, happy? Is the Mom measuring up to his expectations, to her own?

In every scenario of our lives, the players come with expectations. What are the son's expectations for his Mom, what are her expectations for her son? Are the cast of two characters meeting/ measuring-up to the others expectations. Do mothers expect too much from their children, do children expect too much from their mothers?

The essay is meant to ask questions...

... and then there is the last frame.

the child was given the day, the park, and who knows what else. Perhaps all he wanted was his mothers love. Did she measure up?

the mother stands there proud, but without affection. She is obviously involved in her son's life, but HOW is she involved in his life? I feel that she may think that she's shows well to an onlooker, perhaps to her child too. her child loves her (as demonstrated by the last frame), she is the perfect mom, perfectly dressed and perfect body and perfectly providing...
but is she really perfect?

what is perfect? what does it take to "measure up?" I guess that is left to each of us to figure out.

Hey aunt kathleen it's talon. Awesome pictures! I love it! You are so talented. I'm so glad I have such a talented aunt. Hope to see you soon! Love ya


All that external stimulation and yet the boy loves to be near his mom. Doesn't society spend a lot of time on encouraging activities that will allow "child development", while forgetting that mommy/child development can happen without the bells and whistles? Or Ferris Wheels.

Beautiful pictures! So thought provoking. I want to tell that mother to change into jeans, a tee and sneakers and ride the ferris wheel with her son already!!! :)

More should take up photography to really see what is going on around them. Well done. Most mothers I know do not fit this image of motherhood--so nicely put together, for the most part we are disheveled, burped on and bulging, but our children could be just as sad as we show up to the game and spend it talking with others in the bleachers or on the phone totally missing our child's plays. This could also be done with a mom in humble dungarees juggling other people's and relatives problems missing the here and now moments to cherish with her own family, absorbed in her imagined spirit of service, but totally missing the letter and heart of the law.

Reminds me of Pinocchio...
I find it interesting that the opening picture of "Measuring Up" includes the words: RULES, Not Ride, Alcohol, Narcotics. How appropriate... Some of the larger fears we have as parents for our kids in relation to "Measuring Up"... and yet, doesn't the last picture seem to show that love is simply the key to guidance? But, I do have to wonder where the other kids are (have they already turned into donkeys)?

Kathleen - These pictures are really fantastic, as always. Thank you for being an example of someone who is doing what they love!

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About this blog

  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.


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