Of Hope and Expectation, and Finding Color Again

Bangkok flower market. From 'Of Hope and Expectation, and Finding Color Again' by ivoryhut.

Finding color again. It was a phrase I heard Penny De Los Santos utter back in 2010, when she spoke about the darkness that filled her world after a personal loss, and how eventually, a trip to India brought color back into her world. It was a phrase that resonated loudly within me.

For the past 3 years, I’ve been struggling to to re-awaken my motivation for many things that used to bring me great joy: writing, creating recipes, music, and making pictures. I tried many times, failed many times, then eventually stopped trying. Life got too busy, providing me with a convenient (albeit valid) excuse to put everything else on hold while we worked on rebuilding our home. Even when I resolved to try again, everything I did felt forced. There was no flow. Nothing seemed right. I wasn’t looking for anything to come easy; I merely wanted what felt familiar and natural.

If you’ve seen my recent tweets and Instagram photos, you’ll know that we just returned from our first vacation in years, traveling to the opposite side of the globe. It was a trek back home to the Philippines for me, followed by a first for our small family: a tour of Thailand. I packed my camera equipment with a mixture of excitement and detachment. I knew there would be great photo opportunities all over Asia. What I didn’t know was whether or not I would find the desire to capture them.

Thailand was a complete immersion in an astonishing world so different from my life now. Everything was new: the smells, the sounds, the merchandise, the flavors, the landscape, the people. We explored palaces, street markets, sailed (okay, more like motored on a boat) to a spot on the Mekong River where you can see Myanmar to the left, Laos to the right, and Thailand behind you. We drove down highways flanked by rice fields, the lushest hue of green I’d ever seen. We watched school children play soccer with towering ruins from the 13th century as their silent audience, and heard temple bells ringing outside our hotel room, followed by a wave of saffron robes finding their way across courtyards, monks barefoot and holding bowls to receive their food for the day from the people of the city.

I fell in love with Thailand. With the light in that beautiful land. With its people, especially the children. And my camera loved it so much I have scars on my right hand because my skin began reacting to the small amount of latex in the camera grip. I didn’t care; I just kept shooting.


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When I first spoke of the battle to re-kindle my desire for photography after having lost my entire collection of photos, it was photographer Stephen Scott Gross who cautioned me not to embark on a mission to rebuild my lost portfolio. He warned me against pre-judging every new shot, comparing it with an old one I had lost, gauging its worthiness as a replacement. I still remember what he told me: that when expectation enters the picture, it changes the dynamic. And it’s true. Expectation comes with limits and demands, often arbitrary and unkind. Expectation opens you up to disappointment because, ultimately, it’s a pass-fail course. But hope—hope always looks forward. When something hoped for doesn’t come to pass, it isn’t a failure; it merely means it didn’t happen at that time. With hope, there is always next time. And another time after that. And hundreds of next times after that. For as long as it takes.

And so it was with Thailand. I left with the hope that I would find something that would make me love photography again the way I used to, but I was ready for the possibility that it wouldn’t happen for me then. I let go of all expectations and merely held on to that hope, and the faith that it would someday come back to me even though I had no clue when that someday would be. It was hope that helped me get past myself. And hope brought me back my love for photography and helped me find my colors again.

Thailand hill tribes. From 'Of Hope and Expectation, and Finding Color Again' by ivoryhut.


31 Responses to Of Hope and Expectation, and Finding Color Again
  1. Ethan
    March 22, 2013 | 3:24 am

    Welcome back friend…in more ways than one!:)

    My instragram feed was better because of your wonderful pics over the last couple of weeks!

    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:09 pm

      Thank you, my friend. It was a much-needed vacation. Glad to be back!

  2. Malou
    March 22, 2013 | 7:12 am

    So glad you’re blogging again – I’ve missed it! So happy you’re getting your groove back. In time too – with Google Reader closing, I’m in the process of examining which blogs to bring over to whatever new service I will subscribe to. Now I know to bring you over. :)

    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:10 pm

      Aww. Thank you for the encouraging words, Malou.

  3. BeccaV
    March 22, 2013 | 8:57 am

    I just checked your blog the other day thinking my feed burner wasn’t working right and saw you hadn’t posted in quite some time. I am glad you are back! (beautiful photos too!)

    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:12 pm

      I, too, was shocked to realize it had been *that* long. Feels good to write again.

  4. Amy
    March 22, 2013 | 9:45 am

    Saying “I’m happy for you” doesn’t quite cut it. But I am. Very. You have such a gift with words and pictures … or rather colors! I’m excited for you and can’t wait to see what you share with us all.


    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:14 pm

      Thanks, Amy. Love the new avatar! You’re looking prettier and younger. Ya need to share your secret. :)

  5. JillP
    March 22, 2013 | 10:06 am

    I’m so glad you found color again! Welcome back!

    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:14 pm

      Thanks, Jill!

  6. Wenderly
    March 22, 2013 | 10:22 am

    You are exquisite sweet friend. Sometimes we need a little black and white in our lives (as painful and bleak as it might be) to really *see* the color. Your words and photos resinate with me so. And I am filled with Joy to know that, for you, a new chapter begins. Sending you hundreds of 10 second hugs.

    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:24 pm

      I hope one of these days, I’ll get at least one of those hugs from you in person. We’d better make that happen soon, grasshopper. :)

  7. Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom)
    March 22, 2013 | 10:32 am

    amazing images. looking forward to hearing more from you. absolutely LOVE that last image…

    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:15 pm

      Thanks, Amy. Yes, he was adorable. He followed us that morning and was such a cute little ham. :)

  8. Donna Boucher
    March 22, 2013 | 10:54 am

    I’m glad you feel ready…
    to add to the beauty.

    your gentle voice was missed

    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:16 pm

      I missed writing too. It finally felt right again. Thanks, Donna.

  9. Paula
    March 22, 2013 | 1:30 pm

    Sometimes we do have to travel far away to find our home within ourselves again. I’m so glad that you made this trip.

    Thanks for sharing this *homecoming* so beautifully with us. Welcome back :)

    • ivoryhut
      March 22, 2013 | 10:18 pm

      Thanks, Paula. One of these days, I’ll write a proper thank you for your support and all you’ve done for me. I’m deeply grateful for that.

  10. Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon
    March 23, 2013 | 12:29 pm

    So lovely to see this in my feed. Namaste my friend.

  11. Betty Ann @Mango_Queen
    March 23, 2013 | 4:51 pm

    Welcome back! I’ve missed hearing from you. What a lovely post and gorgeous photos from Thailand. You’ll have to show us more of your photography! Looking forward to more soon. All the best to you!

  12. Lindsey (Cafe Johnsonia)
    March 23, 2013 | 7:15 pm

    So, so happy you’re back! I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so excited to see a new post pop up on my reader. :)

  13. Kel
    March 24, 2013 | 9:39 pm

    So glad to hear it! I love the final picture — the color is fascinating! Hugs to you!!

  14. Michelle
    March 28, 2013 | 2:11 am

    I’m so happy to hear that you’re again finding joy in your passions. Keep posting- you’ve been missed!

    May 13, 2013 | 12:13 pm

    sitting here reading this and the tears flow – and my heart leaps w/happiness at seeing your images and reading your words again Erika – welcome home!

  16. Lona
    May 27, 2013 | 8:01 pm

    I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility problems? A few of my blog audience have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera. Do you have any tips to help fix this problem?

  17. B&B Brugge
    July 4, 2013 | 4:56 am

    I am very happy for you that you have found the colors again. Nice post with amazing pics. I loved reading it.

  18. Colleen (Souffle Bombay)
    July 23, 2013 | 7:45 pm

    I have missed your pictures Erika – your eye is amazing and your pictures tell a story! These photos are fantastic, thanks for letting me see a piece of the world that was your vacation!

  19. Mary
    August 11, 2013 | 7:07 pm

    I’ve missed your posts and photos as well. I sighed and am still smiling over that last image. What a precious little boy amidst all the colors. Praying peace and continued joy as you re-discover your love for photography.

  20. Marilyn
    September 2, 2013 | 9:41 pm

    I discovered your site via another, but hadn’t looked in a long time. I am so glad I remembered this evening–your pictures are wonderful.

  21. Gwen @simplyhealthyfamily
    September 22, 2013 | 9:14 pm

    Such a beautiful story. Your photos are magic. I will have to Pin this to read again and again. So happy to have found your space on the web ;}

  22. Tracy
    October 8, 2013 | 4:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing a great experience and fantastic images.

    I found your post because I, like you had, have lost my passion for photography or anything else. It feel forced…you give me hope that my passion can be rekindled!

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about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

If you want to learn more about me, here are 43 things I'd like to do. Here's a little something about my name, in case you were wondering. Here are some other places you'll find me:

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Yes, I made my own chocolate chips. Nutella chocolate chips, to be exact. Then I made cookies. Lots of cookies.

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One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.