Rare Bird and December Blessings

Meet my friend, Anna Whiston Donaldson.  An author on the New York Times Best Sellers list and an Author on Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014.  Her book “Rare Bird” has taken flight and I couldn’t be happier for her success.   It has come at a great cost and she has truly made lemonade out of a huge basket of the sourest lemons anyone could be given.


A few years ago there was a huge, major rain storm in our area.  It poured a record amount of rain in a very short period of time flooding areas that normally you would never have to worry about.  For many people the Derecho storm is remembered as the night that traffic slowed to a halt and they were inconvenienced because they got home from work late.  But for those of us in our small town, that is the night we lost Jack.  Now Jack was not a celebrity before he drowned in that creek that night.  He was a regular 12 year old boy having fun with his friends by a creek when he probably lost track of his footing and got swept away and caught under a bridge.   I remember that night clearly because at the same time Jack was playing by that creek I was trying to cross that exact bridge to get to my daughter’s school for a parent night that should have been cancelled.   We all have memories of where we were the night Jack died.

Jack’s mom, Anna, happened to be (and is still currently) a blogger in our area and I had been a reader of hers before accident.   Anna continued her blog after that night and as a reader it was sometimes too painful to read.  I had to click to open the posts carefully knowing that my heart would probably be raw in fairly short order by the words that would jump off the page. There is nothing that prepares you to read the words from the heart of a mother who suddenly lost their child.   You just knew that you wanted to check in with her to see how she was doing but you also knew that your make-up would be totally smeared as a result.

I didn’t know Anna personally at this point, I know of her and I knew her story.  Some of her previous neighbors go to my church I knew of her through three degrees of separation.  I decided that should change.   After Anna wrote a particular touching post about what to do and say to a person who is going through what her family went through, I decided to reach out.  I didn’t know how she would accept my offer, but decided to do it anyway.  Based on what  Anna wrote, there was no such thing as an inappropriate thing to say or do for a grieving family as long as your heart is in the right place.  So I sent her a quick message introducing myself to her and letting her know that when and if she ever wanted new family portraits taken, to please give me a call.  It would be my gift.   To my surprise, I got a message back in fairly short order thanking me for the offer and letting me know that she was interested but not quite yet.

I tucked that away and a couple months later send her another message just letting her know that I hadn’t forgotten about the offer.  All she needed to do was to say the word when she was ready.  This time, she was ready.  So we coordinated the details and planned our session.

It was a pleasure meeting her for the first time and also meeting her husband, Tim and lovely daughter.    At that point she had started her book and I think she mentioned it briefly.

Fast forward three years and Anna has taken her grief and opened her heart all  through her book “Rare Bird”.  If you haven’t ready it, I recommend it.  It is not a horribly depressing account of losing a son.  It is a story about a mom who lost her son suddenly and how she dealt with the immediate aftermath and chose to carry on.   It is written in short, easy to read chapters and you won’t want to put it down.  Will part make you sad? Yes.  Will parts make you cry?  Probably.  But will you be glad you invested your time in getting to know Anna a little better? ABSOLUTELY!

What does all of this have to do with me?  Well, as a result of that photosession, my images have now been published in Women’s Day Magazine.  They contacted me directly and asked for use of one specific image from the family portrait session we had.  After checking with Anna, I was happy to allow them to use this image in an article they have written about her in their December issue, on sale now.  After picking up a copy of “Rare Bird” go to the nearest grocery store and pick up a copy of Women’s Day magazine to read the entire story.

Rare Bird in Women

I am thankful that I know Anna and I am especially thankful that her story is being read by so many.  You should read it too.  Go pick up a copy today.

Here is a link to her blog

An Inch of Gray

Don’t delay and get your copy today.





The year is winding down but if you are in need of a portrait session of any kind I would love to speak with you.  Winter is a great time to refresh your headshot.  I would love to connect with you.

Contact me online here:  Dorie Howell Photography Contact Page

OR, Find me on Facebook here:  Dorie Howell Photography on Facebook

OR,  check our my website here:  Dorie Howell’s official website

OR – pick up the phone and give me a call.  I would love to hear from you!  703.766.8399

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