Today's interview is with the amazing Ann Widner of Little Visions Photo & Jewelry Art.
Tell us a little bit about yourself….who you are, where you’re from, what kind of cereal you like, etc?
My name is Ann and I live in St. Louis, Missouri with my hubby, my rescue beagle, and my orange tabby cat. I love photography and making the glory of God more visible to people. When I’m behind a camera, I feel alive! After years of taking and accumulating lots and lots of photos, I didn’t know what to do with them anymore. My favorite cousin suggested I make my pictures little and put them on jewelry. That’s how Little Visions Photo & Jewelry Art came to be born.
Tell us a little bit about your journey to this point in your life.
At times it seems as if I’ve travelled a long road, even though I’ve literally never lived outside of a three mile radius in South St. Louis. It’s been a sometimes smooth and at times treacherous journey. Growing up with an abusive father affected me deeply, and I’m still healing and learning and growing from my rough childhood and adolescence. One thing I’ve always known, deep inside myself, is that I’ve never had to journey alone. “I will hold you in my heart forever, Annie,” are the comforting and hope-filled words that God has always spoken to me and still speaks to me now.
What kinds of challenges have you faced through your journey, what you did do to get through them?
I’ve had clinical depression and severe anxiety on and off since I was in my early teens. My mom, who passed away last year, was my biggest supporter back then. She sacrificed so much to keep me in school and leading a fairly functional life. Her faith in God was strong, and I think that is her greatest legacy to me. She taught me that God never gives up on us, even if we give up on ourselves. She instilled in me a sense of hope and the knowledge that even when I’m despairing, if I only cry out to the Lord, He will answer, me, comfort me, and give me His hope and light.
Throughout my life He has sent so many people to encourage and support me… friends, doctors and therapists, teachers and professors, and co-workers. Medication was also important in getting me through; I used to think that it was a sign of weakness to take medicine for a mental illness. But I know it has helped save my life.
The greatest gift God has entrusted me with is my husband, Greg. Being in a good relationship is a blessing but it is also hard work. Through the years, we’ve learned to always talk things through and to give each other enough space to be ourselves.
What advice do you have for others going through this kind of situation?
Know that things will get better. They always do. When I was a teenager, teachers would tell me, these are the best years of your life. Well, they’re not. They’re probably some of the most difficult years you’ll live through. If you’re feeling depressed or lonely or desperate or trapped, please know it does get better. Hope is alive! Be proactive about getting help and support for yourself. Don’t give up! Keep asking for help until someone hears you. And when your family, friends, or teachers offer help and support, accept it. Know and utilize your resources! We’re all here in this world together to help each other.
Who / what inspires you when the going gets tough?
Two things help me. One is that I’ve got a very strong support network which includes my husband, friends, family, doctors, and my pets. And the other thing that keeps me going is my faith. Sometimes I get angry with God and myself and don’t want to rely on Him. When I’m in distress and finally do call out to Him, He always, always, always brings me His peace and hope. I’m so very grateful for this gift. I don’t deserve it, but He loves each one of us so much that He always remains with us, even when we don’t want Him around or think we don’t want Him around. He’s a faithful God, that’s for sure.
What do you think is the hardest thing that young girls today face?
I think that the constant barrage of messages that young people get from the media is the most challenging thing that they face today. And there is so much busyness and lack of quiet and stillness in life that they don’t have the chance to really get to know themselves. Many adults have this problem, too. And when you don’t know yourself, it’s difficult to learn to be grounded and make good and healthy decisions.
What advice do you have to help them through it?
Try to turn off your computers, cell phones, ipods, tv’s, radios, etc. Even for a few minutes a day, simply be still and listen. Many times it is in silence that God speaks to us the loudest. Even a few minutes of silence gives us room enough inside to discover ourselves.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a message about your future, what would you say?
Don’t rush. Be patient. Bad times pass. Reach out for help when you need it. Be grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. And be sure to give back. The world needs you!
You can check out her work by going to the following sites:
Etsy shop: www.annwidner.etsy.com