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A Birthday Epilepsy Stroll (with my favorite aliens and the NSA)

Writing is linear. Living with epilepsy is not.

So this blog post has started to resemble my life. I am trying to translate it for “you normals.”

First: I had an amazing birthday on Saturday. My two children spent the day with me. They woke up early and followed the schedule that they had created. We left the house so that we could arrive early to volunteer at the 23rd Annual Epilepsy Stroll. I photographed the event for the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California . My children were beautiful and supportive.

I felt blessed.

 

 (bryan farley)

Second: I noted how I had grown as a person with epilepsy during the last six years. Six years earlier, I attended my first epilepsy walk. In 2009, the epilepsy stroll was also on my birthday. I look different now. I act different. In 2009, I was afraid to identify as a person with epilepsy. In six years, I have become an outspoken advocate. While my children have learned that epilepsy is a life threatening medical condition, my children have also learned that epilepsy is an amusement park (and a concert… and an opportunity to serve others.) My son smiled when he told me how much he enjoyed seeing me happy on my birthday.

 (bryan farley)

Third: The challenge – translating for others

In 2010, I discovered how to explain epilepsy to those who have never had a seizure. I created invisible aliens who shoot electric ray guns. The aliens only shoot us. We can’t see the aliens, but we begin sensing when they approach. Sometimes we can feel them… maybe smell them. Their auras smell like invisible aliens who wear almond extract and shoot electric invisible rays.

Invisible Electric Alternating Current Aliens

 (bryan farley)

Forth – Being Cavalier

Want to know something funny? I don’t know how to measure my effectiveness. For the last three years, it seems that the only person who has read my blog is Brad Paisley and my mother. (I am not making up the Brad Paisley comment; not so sure about my mom.) On the old Epilepsy Foundation site where I was the only featured blogger with epilepsy, the page views declined.

I wonder if Eric Snowden and his mother read my blog. If Snowden never read my blog, nobody reads my blog… not even the NSA. If I can’t attract an idealist whistleblowing computer geek who has epilepsy, I should just post photos with silly captions.

 (bryan farley)

Fifth: Always Grateful

So, I might not be always grateful, but I get there eventually. If I fall down, I hurt, but I find a way to be grateful for the lesson. Sometimes it takes a long time.

I am grateful to the superheroes who support their friends and family. You inspire me. I am grateful to people who encourage me to keep shooting these types of events, especially in the beginning when I didn’t feel comfortable.

If you want to learn more about my first 30 years with epilepsy and how I became grateful, you can read my old blog posts here. It took a while.

 (bryan farley)

Sixth – More Family

I often join team and photos. (I joined the Moore Family above). The greater epilepsy family is one of my many families. I have been fortunate to comment about our growing family the last few years. I hope that I can continue to do so. My posts will continue to be added here for now.

 (bryan farley)

I can also continue collecting photographs that are epilepsy related. Here is my collection of the last six years.

 (bryan farley)

This simple photo is one of my favorite epilepsy photos. I took it before we entered the staff entrance Saturday morning. My daughter is smiling and holding my tea mug that one of my photo students gave me this year. My son is wearing a green Mission San Jose Warriors beanie. Mason is also sticking “rabbit ears” over my head. The rabbit ears remind me of the photos I took at my first national walk for epilepsy. I was so nervous, I did not know how to be a person with epilepsy and a photographer. All the people looked like they had something sticking out of their head… aliens.

 

Farley Family Photography Pilgrimage

My two children visited our regular location with me for our annual photo adventure. This year the meadow had been replaced by a construction site. (bryan farley)

For the last seven seasons, my children and I have visited the same location for family portraits. We bring at least two cameras and take photos of each other. My daughter took the picture of me that might still be at the top called the “featured image.” In 2010 I called this trip the “Farley Photo Pilgrimage.” A high school friend and her children joined us the first year; another high school friend and his daughter joined us last year. The kids’ mother joined us once or twice. Every year we visited the same meadow… until this year.

My two children visited our regular location with me for our annual photo adventure. This year the meadow had been replaced by a construction site. (bryan farley)

This year the meadow became a construction site.

My two children visited our regular location with me for our annual photo adventure. This year the meadow had been replaced by a construction site. (bryan farley)

We visited our new construction site on my birthday this year. It seemed appropriate to visit a construction site at the beginning of a new year since our family is being rebuilt. Families and meadows are constantly changing.

 (bryan farley)

If you are interested, you can view more photos from the 2010 trip that ended with a visit to the doctor for stitches.

 (bryan farley)

You can also find pictures from 2013 by looking above or clicking this link for older photos for when I liked my images saturated.

 

The 2015 MLA Kindergarten Portraits

When my 11 year old daughter began kindergarten at Melrose Leadership Academy, I had a simple idea. I thought I could photograph each kindergarten class as long as my children attended the school. I live in the neighborhood. How difficult could it be?

 (bryan farley)

As I tell my photography students, simple and easy are not the same. “Simple” is difficult and my simple idea has become more difficult this year. I teach in a district an hour away from my home. We have the same breaks, so I don’t have a week to visit the school.

 (bryan farley)

There is another complication. I try to create something different each year. MLA was at a different site the first three years, so those pictures all look different from the more recent images. Each year I wonder how I am going to create something interesting. Last year, I gave the kids magnifying glasses. This year, the students photographed me with my smartphone.

 (bryan farley)

I encourage the students to participate so that they will learn how to tell their stories better. When I first started photographing the kindergarten students, I called MLA an experiment. Parents did not know if the school would survive another year, but the school has grown. I have also seen the students grow in their ability to tell their own stories.

 (bryan farley)

I don’t know how I will create the kindergarten portraits next year. I will probably give them a light and let them point me in the right direction.