life after divorce | complexities

it just won't stop hurting.

i don't think it ever can. and i've learned not to expect it to.

this morning we shared breakfast, as a family. cracker barrel is our saturday tradition. we go for the pancakes and the tiny individual bottles of syrup that the kids can handle on their own if they want to. it makes them feel big.

"this is what it used to be like," i think to myself. sticky fingers, forks accidentally clattering  to the floor, both of us smiling over shiloh, our youngest's,  healthy appetite and way with words.  this is the feeling of my family. except we're not a family anymore. not a mom and dad in love spinning our love web over three fiercly adored, though often tiresome little ones. we are a mom and dad apart. nursing wounds we left with one another, while attempting to smile. doing our best to put the kids first, to make them feel that little has changed. that they did nothing wrong, and that though the balance has shifted, no love was lost.

except it was.

no matter how grateful i am that it was "amicable."

no matter how lucky i am to actually have an ex husband i don't argue or power struggle with (and believe me i know i am so blessed!).

the fact remains that our  love has been lost. and i don't care what the context was, death of love is an immense tragedy.  one that  will leave a hole forever the same way a star leaves blackness when it burns out.

speaking of context. let me be clear on something-

i chose this divorce. it wasn't something he wanted. it was me. i assessed the situation, i looked at my mashed up heart to see how much life she had left, and in the end, decided it would be better for me to do the final breaking.

"say whhhaaaaaaa?" you're thinking.... i know.

"then why is she so sad?!"  and,  "how can she possibly  complain?"

the best way i can explain, though it will be oversimplified, is that my choice was based on survival. i could stay in the trap i was caught in (one i created for myself, i don't want to put any blame on him), waiting for death to slowly but surely arrive. or i could gnaw off my leg, and accept the pain and loss sure to accompany the rest of my life. i chose the latter, because it meant that i could live.

beyond the pain of loss, the guilt cuts deepest. hurting someone i spent 8 years protecting. the person i promised never to hurt, who didn't sign up for it, ask for it, or in the end deserve it one bit. from his point of view, the unfairness of the situation is astounding. but then again, unfair is often the way things are in life.  and i cannot defend or disagree, i can only apologize, as i messily try to manage the endless strains of hurt.

then of course the mourning i do for my children. no matter how much i wanted to give it to them, they are never going to get a mom and a dad holding hands on a family vacation to disneyland. period.


my choice makes it clear i'm not of the mindset that one should suffer through marriage for the sake of one's children. but the excruciating moments in which i question myself are often. like when i was alone on christmas day, watching les miserables in the theater, sobbing as fantine gives up not just her dignity but her life for the sake of her daughter cosette, and i wondered how i can possibly justify my "selfish," choice against one of the most beautiful themes in all of humanity. the sacrificial element present in love.


i can't really. i can't make sense of it all. i can only know what i know and do what my gut tells me its gonna take to survive.

time will deaden the potency of my feelings and weaken my memories. it will be called healing,  and i will have knowledge i couldn't have gained in any other way.

despite alllll of that; my pain, my guilt and doubt, my bouts of emptiness and despair, the final fact remains:

i feel hope for life again, and so i would not take it back.

spring is coming. the sun is out a little more these days. its warmth soaks into me in places that were impenetrable before. and i believe in love more than i ever have.

if you've paid attention to my blog for a millisecond, you'll know that  nothing speaks to my heart as strongly, or makes me want to pick up my camera more, than the beauty that is two people committing to one another, and then committing to build a life together. i pride myself on photographing the rawness of that connection-- the quiet daily moments, that strengthen and reinforce that choice. family. relationships. the ties that mean more than any others. and so i'm learning to sit and make peace with the bumps and turns my own family has taken, always with respect, always with wonder.

 thanks for listening.


help uncle marty tell our story

images above taken by jonathan canlas in san francisco about a year and a half ago.

we were sitting in our therapists office. i was crying. a conclusion had finally been reached. the D word (we're still not able to say divorce in front of the kids). nothing felt real. the sense of failure and pain were a 1, 2 punch i didn't know how to move past.. and then there was my marty, my musician, making a joke, trying to softenthe blow just a little bit--

"and yan, i would just really like to thank you  because my third album is now going to be incredible. i've got a lot of excellent content...."

i laugh and shove him, then cry harder because i know its true. and it hurts. but in a slightly better way then before.

marty's third album (under the name of Quail) is our love story. how we fell apart. how we took care of  one other. how we're angry. which way he pulled, which way i pulled.  there is even a song that i wrote,  so that my perspective is represented --which i will sing with marty for-

if -

we can get the album made.

that's where you come in.

you've heard of kick starter right? its a rad company where people with worthy projects who might need a little extra help with funding have a chance to organize donations to that end. marty just launched his kickstarter last week here:

and i want to help him. maybe more than i've ever wanted anything before. call it penance, call it an urgency to hear our story from him (i haven't listened to raw cuts of his songs as i'm a little to vulnerable for just that yet) call it a desire to give a tiny bit back to the man who was the single most valuable tool in building yan photography from the ground up. he harnessed my creative dreams and i would like to do the same for him.

so here's how we do it. if you click on the link above you can choose to donate to the cause of marty recording his third album. i know a lot of you have fallen in love with him and his music over the years. i know christmas is upon us and money can be tight, but if you have anything to give, please help, and please tell your friends. i believe in marty and his talent with all my heart. i believe this album has potential for greatness and i want to see it made so badly.

just to help you get your footing here is a video he and i collaborated on. check it out. i know i'm obviously biased, but i really love it, and this is one of my fav songs.

thank you thank you thank you. not just for the money i would like to believe you're about to donate, but for the immense support, love, and kindness i have recieved during this whole D word process. its been a mother freaking doozy, to say the least. and please, if you know anyone else going through a divorce. be kind. reach out. share some love. they really need it. xoxo



carry on

many of you have guessed by now -and maybe you'll find that you're right.

but to a lot of you, this might come as a shock --

which doesn't mean you've been wrong, necessarily.

so maybe we can all agree that right and wrong in this context, in this post, in this announcement and decision, are mostly unfounded "maybes" and are not necessarily relevant overall--

--and bearing that in mind, it is with a heavy heart i tell you that-

martin, spoken of fondly here as that old lovable uncle marty, my husband, my best friend, the father of my children, the very man in fact, who gave me the nickname yan, and helped me build this business -- that very same martin and i

are getting divorced.

i know. to  every reaction i can possibly imagine anyone reading this having -- believe me, i know. i think i've visited each of those emotions at least twice. shock, sadness, suspicion, reluctance, vindication, relief, guilt, apologetic,  broken--lets just say its not been and won't be an easy road.

i'll give you that.

but i probably won't give you the particulars as to why we are getting divorced- except to say that through tears and long talks and therapy and a separation--we have concluded that in order to heal as whole individuals and parents to our 3 beautiful children-- this is the direction we must go--and we wish to do so with the least amount of pain, conflict and disagreement as possible. to us, to our children, to anyone out there.

is it silly that one of our main concerns is that this conclusion we have reached to end our marriage will reflect negatively on marriage as an institution? that someone will read this who has a broken heart, or who is in love but scared to get married--might read this and think, "well if they didn't make it, what's the point?"

there is a point. believe me. i didn't become a wedding photographer just because that was the easiest gig to get when you own a nice camera--i did so because i believed in it, because the kind of love that inspires marriage awes me and edifies me. and i still believe it. -- the love that motivates two people to swagger down an aisle or into a temple, church mosque (do people get married in mosques? i may have to do some googling)  to say," yes yes yes, i want you forever, please," still leaves me breathless.

i also would like to say that-

martin will remain, the best, purest man i have ever known, with the most angelic eyes, and a nature so gentle, you'd except to see birds, squirrels, and baby deer  gathering round his feet as they simultaneously break into song. he was the most loving, caring husband i could have hoped for, and continues to be a friend and incredible father to our three babies. i considered making this announcement simply a tribute to uncle marty--but decided that overall that might bring about more confusion, rather than alleviate it--

which is exactly what i'm trying to do regarding friends, clients and instagram followers who have been wondering, "what in the gosh darn heck has been going on with yan the last few months?"

now you know.

you know that it has been this  life altering event that has inspired me to start my instagram project #carryondiana. it is a self portrait series that anyone and everyone is invited to join in. the only rules are:

1. that the self portrait be taken with your iphone (or some other smartphone ish device that's not a pro camera)

2. that the portrait be honest and raw in some way, embracing the vulnerability that is the inevitable companion to opening oneself up in that way

3. posted to intagram with the hashtag #carryondiana

--the purpose is to unite people going through, well life. to lend some support, an encouraging word or two. and to realize that you, er, i mean, we're, not alone. this started as a form of therapy for me, and thanks to the amazing participants on instagram, has grown into a project unifying many souls all over the map, and giving us all just a little bit more hope. i'm so so grateful for that.

the pictures you see below are all out takes from the project (which exists, again on instagram). most are my own self portraits with a few in there of some others who are very dear to me . please forgive the very self absorbent, "me, me, me," vibe going on here. i am aware of it, but sometimes to get better, you have to pay a little bit more attention to you. to your soul yelling at you, "hey! look over here! listen to me for just a second!!" that's all i'm trying to do. warning: some of the images do contain nudity (so don't look if that makes you feel icky!) though no boobs, butts, or other parts of that nature are revealed.

lastly, the song that inspired the name for the project is Carry on by Fun. you can listen to it here

its a really great motivator to anyone out there with a broken heart. such a great motivator in fact, i'm also going to include the lyrics:

Carry On by Fun:

Well I woke up to the sound of silence The cars were cutting like knives in a fist fight And I found you with a bottle of wine Your head in the curtains And heart like the fourth of July

You swore and said We are not We are not shining stars This I know Cause I never said we are

Though I've never been through hell like that I've closed enough windows To know you can never look back

If you're lost and alone Or you're sinking like a stone Carry on May your past be the sound Of your feet upon the ground Carry on

Carry on, carry on

So I met up with some friends At the edge of the night At a bar off 75 And we talked and talked About how our parents will die All our neighbours and wives

But I like to think I can cheat it all To make up for the times I've been cheated on And it's nice to know When I was left for dead I was found and now I don't roam these streets I am not the ghost you want of me

If you're lost and alone Or you're sinking like a stone Carry on May your past be the sound

Of your feet upon the ground Carry on

Woah My head is on fire But my legs are fine Cause after all they are mine Lay your clothes down on the floor Close the door Hold the phone Show me how No one's ever gonna stop us now

Cause we are We are shining stars We are invincible We are who we are On our darkest day When we're miles away So we'll come We will find our way home

If you're lost and alone Or you're sinking like a stone Carry on May your past be the sound Of your feet upon the ground Carry on

Carry on, carry on



what his heart looks like

so some of you may or may not remember uncle marty -- you know, the guy i'm married to?

settle down, he's not really my uncle, but when i first met him, before we were even dating--he would refer to himself as uncle marty in this endearing, quirky way, that made me think, "why would anyone ever call themselves that?" but also charmed me into at least wanting to know what he was all about.

and by now, after 8 years of marriage, i have a pretty good idea. because everything uncle marty is about, i'm about too. in face i am his about and he is mine, and all of the things we share in between, our 3 children ranking pretty high on that list.

what you  are about to see, if you are so kind as to click on this video is an amazing song written and recorded by uncle marty. the camera work and editing is, you guessed it, by me. cuz we like to mix and mingle like that. what i love about it is that a lot of the footage is just little snippets of our life. it is this perfect blends of how we each see artistically--him through music, and me through imagery---and because of that its one of my favorite things



we've created.


if you liked the song, be sure to check out marty's album Birds, Beaks, Bones on itunes (under the band name Quail).

now be sure to go check out my talented friend, stacey woods' take on what her world looks like right now



working towards  feeling like this today...hope you are too.

taken with my iphone and edited in instagram. i know i've blogged about instagram before. what can i say?

sometimes it feels like the purest form of photography. such a vision shaper. are you on? find me under the user

yanpalmer. xoxo