Randee Meckley is a 35-year-old single mother of three, ages 2, 8 and 10, and the “dog mom” of Jasmine, a black mini Dachshund blind from birth.
Two years ago, Randee found herself unemployed. Not good for a woman with the disposition of a hardcore working dog. You know these animals: they need to do their job.
Prematurely, Randee arrived at a sort of midlife crossroads: she was a woman with a past, one whose “present” was a potent mix of big questions and burning desires, one with a future not yet begun.
Adventurous by nature, Randee says, “I’m the one who would call the family and say, ‘I’m in Mexico — just calling to let you know!’ so the family is ready for anything.”
Mulling her future, her passion for photography stubbornly in focus, she came upon a book, Write Things Down, Make it Happen. Thanks to family and unemployment benefits, she actually had time to really consider her greatest desires before having to take a job.
About this time a friend stationed in Iraq who was missing home and family set Randee to thinking about that — “Why don’t people go visit their soldiers?” she wondered. Thanks to the nudge from the book about making things happen, she began to do just that.
Randee set about learning what it would take to get to Iraq, adding the question: what about taking my camera and storytelling? Thus the wheels were set in motion, quickly connecting threads that had been fluttering loosely in Randee’s life.
She departs for Iraq Feb. 2 to work for a month as a photojournalist, capturing the stories of two subjects about which she is passionate: dogs, and working women.
Randee’s preparation alone is FULL of great stories: passing muster to enter a country at war, meeting amazing people who have shared their stories with her, not to mention basic necessities like a bulletproof vest and appropriate footwear.
In a conversation less than two weeks from her departure, Randee answered the question most people ask: “Why are you doing this?”
“I’ve been unemployed for quite some time and desperately needed to find something that would make me feel useful. I really want to show people that anything is possible, that they can do anything, so I set out to prove it. I wanted to do something that would help people, and hopefully, entertain them . . . I want people to be happy. I want people to realize that if they have an idea they should check it out, find out what it takes to make it happen — it can be done!
Randee with her children ages, 10, 8, and 2.Luckily my family is very close-knit, and grandma can step in and fill the “mommy” shoes while I am on my mission. Speaking of the kidlettes, they are not so sure about the whole idea of Iraq. They are excited with me, but not excited for me to be around ‘war stuff.’”
This story thus far is remarkable. And it only promises to get better. Randee intends to get as close as she can to streaming live her daily experiences. She will be posting on her website, RandeeMeckley.com, on Facebook and Twitter, and when the focus is pets, on SpotMagazine.net and Spot’s Facebook and Twitter outlets.
For many of us it will be as close to Iraq — or any country in conflict — as we’ll ever get. The images and tales are bound to be inspiring, breathtaking, frightening and disturbing. In short, the stuff of life.
Born December 06, 1974, in Grants Pass, Oregon, Randee Meckley is an American photojournalist and doting mother of three. As a freelance photographer, her work, still virtually undiscovered by publishers, covers the range of life and emotion. Motivated by the exuberance of her children, she aims to see the world through her lens as new and as fresh as if through the eyes of a child. Her passion for photography and story telling led her to embark on her own assignments. She began her career documenting the lives of Oregon Grass Seed Farmers, Oregon Wine Country and eventually she challenged herself by creating her own assignment taking her halfway across the world to Iraq.