Julia & Lindsay
Newsworthy: Everyday acts of kindness. (1)
A new blog series highlighting the art of caregiving.
Photo narrative by: Lindsay Hyland
©Suzanne Fiore Photography
I have three sisters. My sister Julia, who shares the middle with me, was born with developmental disabilities. We’ve always had a unique relationship as I had to learn how to communicate with her in ways that were different from how I communicate with my other sisters. When Julia sees me she comes right up to me, smiles, and says “Nose!”. This might seem strange to other people but this is Julia’s personal word for me. It’s her way of saying hello and I love it.
When people first meet Julia, they might not realize that she is capable of showing love but it is these moments that have proven that Julia can make really wonderful connections with people, especially her family.
Julia loves her home and we often find ourselves spending time there. It might be just for a quick hello, or for lunch, or for an event that the house is having. The staff at the house will find any excuse to have a family gathering and I know Julia is delighted to have us all over to her home for birthday parties, holiday parties, and special events!
I often bring Julia with me as I run errands. With our busy schedules, this is one way we can spend time together! I enjoy bringing Julia grocery shopping with me. She is such lovely company and helps make the most mundane activities fun!
Having Julia take an item off the shelf and put it in the cart might seem like such a simple task but it took Julia many years to accomplish.
Julia also really enjoys going for walks. We will usually take a nice walk around her neighborhood but we sometimes head over to The College of Staten Island Campus which is close to Julia’s home. It’s a lovely campus to take a walk through. It is also the old site of The Willowbrook Institution.
Julia was born just as Willowbrook was closing and I tend to wonder what life would be like for Julia had she been born 15 years earlier. Willowbrook was such an awful place and I always pray that we never go back to that. I wonder what it was like for the siblings of those individuals living in Willowbrook. Did they have the same fears I have for Julia? Did they wonder how their sibling was being treated? Did they even know how awful it was?
Walking around this campus makes me think about all the hard work it took families to fight for a better quality of life for their loved ones. I can’t help but feel grateful to the individuals who helped shut down Willowbrook. Julia would never have grown into the amazing woman she is today if she had lived there. I am so grateful to those individuals before me who advocated strongly for programs to help support individuals with disabilities.
Growing up it was a lot easier to spend time with Julia as we were all under the same roof, sharing space and having fun. As we got older, and all moved out of our childhood home, including Julia, it got harder and harder to see each other as often as we’d like. Luckily, Julia lives in a lovely community residence run by AHRC about a ten minute drive from my house now.
It’s really wonderful to see Julia living as independently as she can. The staff at the house continually challenge her and teach her new skills, as well.
It makes me so happy to see Julia so happy. It’s a true testament to the hard work of her Direct Support Staff. They love my sister like she is a part of their family, and in fact, the house she lives in is part of our family too! Julia doesn’t just live in a house, she lives in a beautiful home with her wonderful roommates and support staff. I can never find the right words to thank them for all they do. Their job is not easy and they are terribly underpaid for all that they do in order to create the most amazing quality of life for my sister. I am so grateful to them all because I do not think I would be able to give Julia the same quality care on a daily basis. I am relieved to know that there are men and woman who have gotten to know my sister just as well as I have, if not even better than I know her, and this makes me very happy.
Often, after spending a day with Julia, she looks up at me and says, “wanna lay down? wanna go snuggle?” and this means she is ready to go home. To her home, not mine. And when I watch her run into her room and grab her toys I can’t help but think of how happy she is and how different life might have been for Julia if there weren’t many people who believed she had the potential to be where she is today.
If you are a sibling of an individual with special needs, please find information, resources, and support here.
If you’re a sibling in New York City check out sibsNY.
Fun with this new family is featured here today! I love meeting new clients and this family was no exception. The parents welcomed me into their home and we immediately connected and had a wonderfully relaxed and enjoyable session. I also had the pleasure of meeting their son’s loving Nanny. When I was teaching music, and had the opportunity to witness not only the parent child relationship but also the Nanny child relationship, I always thought how lucky that child was to have an extra dose of love and support around him or her – when the Nanny was as wonderful as the one who works with this family.
When I walked into the family’s house with my equipment, this young boy gave me the biggest smile as if he knew me and was excited that I was there! He, and his family, were a joy to photograph! So grateful to have been invited into this loving home.
Thank you for sharing your incredible families with me this holiday season! I have thoroughly enjoyed working with each and every one of you. I also took a photo of this incredible family – my own. Wanted to share them with you in return!
Happy Holidays from my family to yours!
I’m always so grateful to the families who have asked me to photograph them from the beginning of my photographic explorations until now. It’s a special honor to be able to capture their children as they grow over the years. In addition to that honor, it’s always exciting for me to meet a new family and to have an opportunity to witness new relationships. On this day I had the best of both worlds. I’ve been photographing the first set of kids featured here since the oldest was a 1 year old boy! He is so comfortable in front of my camera. I’m sure you’ll see it in his poses! His younger brother makes me work a bit harder, but when I find him, his face melts me. The second pair of siblings I met for the first time on this day. They were adventurous, fun, creative, smart, and shared an obvious bond with their friends! I encourage you to think about bringing another family along with you for a back to back photo shoot! It makes it an extra special experience for everyone – especially the kids! It was an absolute pleasure to photograph these two families on the same day!
I can honestly say that, when I start my day photographing a family in the park, I am 100% content and carry that energy with me for the rest of my day! Getting to have that feeling makes me so grateful to my clients for giving me that gift!
I had a wonderful morning, this weekend,with a family that I photographed when their oldest son was a newborn. We met in a park that I hadn’t been to before and the sun showed itself enough to keep us warm. I so enjoyed reconnecting with the Rangel family and to have the opportunity to get to know their sweet and adorable boys. I also LOVE this season! (I may have mentioned that in other posts!) Playing in the leaves or throwing them in the air, building piles of leaves and kicking them around just never gets old to me! It’s my favorite time of year. Today, we also went digging for treasures. Yes – we found gold!
I love meeting new clients! This family braved a very cold and windy day but we had SO much fun. They had an enormous amount of energy which kept us all running around and helped us to stay warm. They have an obvious, loving bond between them which always makes me realize how lucky I am to witness so much support and love. I was also reminded how much I used to love playing with the fall leaves when I was a kid. Ok maybe I still love that! All in all – I felt very grateful for the opportunity to capture this playful, fun-loving family!
This family…..I can’t say enough about how much I love photographing them. Not only are they beautiful models, but they have become dear friends who make my work feel incredibly joyful! They have given me their support from the beginning of my journey as a photographer. Having that much consistent faith from them has helped me build confidence in my business. I couldn’t be more grateful. As you will see from this session, we have lots of fun together!
I struggled to find words that felt right for me to share today. I’m still struggling. A lot of words are there but they are coming up with layers of feelings. So I am staying present with all of it for the day and taking it one moment at a time. In this particular moment, because I feel the urge to say something, I look to my work.
I had the honor to photograph a wedding in September that was filled with meaning, support, and a sense of calm. The focus was on the joy of love, the gratitude for life, and doing whatever was necessary for people from many walks of life, and with many different beliefs, to enjoy celebrating together. I have been working on these pictures, that also represent equality, and I am grateful that I have this opportunity to share this with you all today. I do know that some very specific clarity, for me, lies in my strong belief in equality for all people. It helps me to feel empowered, through some of my current fears, to share this example that speaks to the beauty of equality. Laurie, one of the lovely brides, was my roommate when I lived in Seattle, and she’s my dear friend. She fought very hard for marriage equality and I know that she would be proud to be part of a continued reminder of what we all deserve to have in this country and around the world. The feeling that we are heard, seen, and treated as equals, in a safe and respectful way, is extraordinarily important to me and I feel it is important to take an opportunity to express myself in a way that speaks to that deeply rooted principle whenever possible. So I share this with you as a way to stand up for, and share, my beliefs. I continue hoping that we can all, one day, join together for an occasion like this one – where the focus will be on the joy of love, the gratitude for life, and doing whatever is necessary for people from many walks of life, and with many different beliefs, to enjoy celebrating together.
The wonderful people in this post have been supporting my photography pursuit since I began. They always made sure to call me when I would make trips back to New York from Seattle to continue capturing their lives. I feel so very honored that they are still asking me to photograph their growing family. We always have so much fun! I recently photographed their newest child when he was only a few weeks old and, only months later, he’s sharing his gentle and patient personality with me. I am especially excited to feature a very sweet bumble bee to you on Halloween! She has always brought a lot of joy to each and every session we’ve had. She holds a special place in my heart. I’m thrilled to share her joyful energy with you today! Happy Halloween!
PS: (You might spot a lovely ladybug as well.)
I started my fall sessions with this energetic and loving family. We had such a wonderful morning and this season is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the yellow tinting, the leaves beginning to fall to the ground, the crisp air, and the low, golden sun. This family also invited their nanny to join them for their family photos and it was so wonderful to see how much love these creative and fun girls receive from all of the adults around them! We had a wonderful time together! Enjoy taking a sneak peek into how much joy is shared in this family.