It Is Up to We

Rohn Engh

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The title above, of course, comes from that fortifying phrase, ‘if it is to be it is up to me. ’ In those formative years long ago, Jeri and I agreed to work as a team, including marriage. We recognized that the core of our togetherness was our desire not to just make a living, but to make a life.

But what happens when youthful dreams do not sustain you ? People get older. Or when what you’re doing becomes routine, even boring. In our case, we have silently asked ourselves…Are we still on the right track in our desire to ‘make a life’ together? To engage ourselves in what we love doing? Can we overcome this hurdle or that problem?

If it is to be it is up to we.

The telephone company has sent us a pink slip, the bank has given us 30-days to come up with the overdraft money, the IRS wants us to come in for an audit, a subscriber has written us an unkind letter.

Sure, we have gotten off track in those 47 years. That’s part of being human. But we always came back to the same question, “Are we making a life that’s worth living?”

If you assumed that living on a Wisconsin farm is all peaches and cream, well, yes, most of it is. But not 100%.

We’ve had our ups and downs. As man and woman, our emotional needs periodically differ (Men Are From Mars –John Gray), or we’ve had those predictable crises (Passages –Gail Sheehy). But we have always been saved by the strength of our shared desire to live our wonderful lifestyle on our rural farm.


There will always be depressing days. But you know something? When you’re working as a freelancer, you can always look forward to the something good happening, too. An unexpected check will come in the mail, or a new client will phone you.

Look at it this way: whether you’re at a high (100%) or a low (1%), the middle is 50%. If you’re experiencing a 45% day, figure out some way you can get it up to at least 51% –that’s positive. Many an election or game has been won by 51% -and that’s a positive on Monday morning.

My Dad always used to end his letters to us, “Keep in a good frame of mind. ” We keep that in mind when feel we are straying from our life’s path.

If it is to be it is up to we.


And then there’s the physical frame. There may be another hurdle to confront us tomorrow, but the biggest hurdle we’ve faced so far began in 1966 when our 3-yr. old, Jim, developed seizures. Pediatric neurology was in its infancy so we took it upon ourselves to look for help through the media. Newspapers, magazines, TV (we even appeared on the Today Show for a 9-minute segment). We established a newsletter for parents dealing with similar challenges. Medical science has not come up with an answer for Jim, who is now 43. Jim’s seizure problem has not improved, but we haven’t let this interfere with our aim for Jim and ourselves to live a life worth living. Jim keeps experiencing his own successes. He wakes most mornings with a smile.

I’m now 77 and Jeri is 68. Society has a way of pressuring us to ‘act our age’. But that’s usually defined by the previous generation’s conception of what “old” is. Because our parents physically fell apart just after retirement (there was little emphasis then on nutrition, exercise, and healthy living), today’s pop culture regards as “old, ” as someone with aches and pains and on medications. Or at least that’s what the TV commercials would have you believe.

We may have a health problem emerge tomorrow, but right now we are healthier than when we were in our 30’s when we were racked with colds, headaches, and allergies. The answer may be in the dozen or so vitamins and minerals that we take daily (and have for forty years), or in our affirmative attitude of ‘keeping in a good frame of mind’ - or a combination of both.

We are both physically active (when you live on a farm, there’s work to be done). Jeri is a talented pool player and a 15-year member of the WPBA –the women you see on ESPN. As I write this, she is playing in a regional tournament in Tucson, AZ.


If you are two stock photographers, working together as a couple, I hope you will tack this phrase up on your office wall and read it when things look dark. . .

If it is to be it is up to we. Couples: You have a long and fruitful life ahead of you and I hope the unexpected curve balls that freelancing sometimes hands out to you will not deter you. I hope my writings will steer you away from the negativity that can distract you daily in the media.

Whether you have chosen to live in an urban high-rise in Atlanta or a mountain cabin alongside a trout stream in Colorado, if you both engage yourselves in something wild horses couldn’t pull you away from, you’ll find that a lot of good fortune is going to come your way.

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. Telephone: 1 800 624 0266 Fax: 1 715 248 7394. Web site:


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