After 274017 days of rain, we woke up this morning, March 1, 2019, to… MORE RAIN, ha! I’m not going to complain; my garden is going to be BRILLIANT this spring! (Can I just say how desperate I am to get my hands in the dirt again, pulling weeds, tending to my flowers? It’s my therapy, source of vitamin D, and, second to photography, my favorite thing to do).
February was a GOOD month. Despite being the shortest month of the year that’s typically pretty miserable weather-wise (which it was), our days were filled with soul-fulfilling work projects and achievements (for both Logan and I), trying new things, friends old and new, delicious food, surprises, self care, and an obscene amount of Ariana Grande. It was a month where I continued to be stretched creatively, and pushed further from my metaphoric “safe harbor”.
It was, unfortunately, also a month for grief, of learning how to be a friend to a best friend dealing with loss.
Sweet Caroline turned one in January, and due to her being ill for our first scheduled session, we spent Super Bowl Sunday walking Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, snapping every step and smile. This little girl is sugar and spice and… EVERYTHING. Period. Her little face just makes me smile.
I have had the honor of photographing her mama’s maternity session, Caroline’s newborn, and six-month photos too! Being invited again and again to document Caroline’s growth is deeply humbling. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to grow with her, too.
Continuing with the theme of clients I love to photograph, I was THRILLED to see The Morgan Family once again last month. I photographed Greyson’s newborn photos not too long ago, but came back for his mama’s maternity session, and will see him again soon for his new baby brother’s newborn photos.
Beth’s family were my neighbors growing up, and I spent many an afternoon with their family, with whom I am a little creepily obsessed. They all definitely hold a special place in my heart.
I had yet another fabulous evening with Nest— a running club came in for a pub night— and I photographed everyone hanging out and rehydrating. I’m gearing up for what’s surely to be a fantastic spring with Kiln Creek, and I am really excited to bring some ideas I have to life.
One session I had didn’t go the way I thought it would, though. Friends of mine, Luke and Ashley, asked me to photograph them, as they wanted some shots of them to use for social media. Once I began shooting, it quickly came to my attention that I needed to expand my knowledge and experience with posing. Admittedly, I think I’ve become a little too comfortable with the way I shoot. During our session, I decided that I needed to up my game.
To be clear, Luke and Ashley didn’t criticize me in any way. I came to my own conclusion— had an AHA! Moment, if you will— that I need to break the mold a bit. I have always maintained that I do not want to become stagnant in my work. That’s not to say that what I was doing was wrong, or looked bad. I just think I have some things to work on, and my session with Luke and Ashley brought it to my attention, front and center. I needed that kick in the pants.
There is always room for improvement and self awareness, right?!
I know I said gardening was my therapy, but I am pretty sure that stepping into her cozy storefront and collaborating, but mostly me running my mouth, is another form of therapy. I’m so grateful to her and our friendship/working partnership. She inspires me constantly.
February was a month I doubled-down on my commitment to take care of myself. For a long while I had been putting off going to the doctor for some issues I was experiencing. Finally, I made an appointment. After feeling like my concerns weren’t being taken seriously within that practice, I switched to a fabulous new GP, and I couldn’t be happier.
I had been feeling extremely rundown, lethargic, and heading to bed, only to immediately pass out, no later than 9 PM most nights for quite some time. Mentally, I was feeling depressed for no reason, and generally pretty lousy all-around.
After having my blood drawn, and the results were in, they showed that I was super low on B-12 and Vitamin D. For the last four weeks I’ve gone in for B-12 injections, and I now take Vitamin D supplement. I’m pleased to say that I have much more energy! It has been a massive relief to know that I do not have an autoimmune disease, and that nothing major looks to be amiss. For that I am grateful. Everything else looked [surprisingly] awesome.
In addition to leveling out my vitamin deficiencies, I got two new pairs of eyeglasses, had some dental work done, and even went back to yoga. One of the biggest moves I made last month was to commit to physical therapy.
When I began shooting weddings, I didn’t realize how much of a physical toll they can take. Fairly soon after I went full-time I began regularly seeing a chiropractor. In the last year I began getting monthly massages with CBD oil, and using kinesio tape before long wedding days. Both have helped with my pain. However, due to overuse and generally not being in the best shape, I came to realize that certain parts of my body need special attention… like my hips.
On the recommendation of my fantastic new doctor, I began physical therapy twice a week. On my FIRST DAY I got relief in the forms of some exercises to do at home, and a new fire in my belly to begin weight training after I am finished with my PT. I learned that weight training prevents more injuries from overuse than stretching.
I have never before been so excited about my health! I knew that I was exhausted, and I knew that I badly needed to shift focus onto my wellness— both mentally and physically. Like many moms, or women who are just plain BUSY, I put it all off. What were first little whispers telling me I needed help, over time, became my mind and body pleading with me. I’m proud of myself for taking the first steps in prioritizing my health.
With all that, I decided to give myself proper days off to fully engage in things that I enjoy doing, like reading, playing Sequence with Logan, watching TV with Gibson (we’re currently bingeing Chef’s Table, Medal of Honor & 7 Days Out on Netflix), going to the library, journaling, hanging out with friends, and taking time for quiet reflection.
All of these thing have impacted my life in a tremendously positive way. I am motivated to continue this year with a new, health-focused mindset that isn’t strictly focused on losing weight.
A few years ago I began writing in my journal that I desired quality female friendships in my life. For a long time, I just didn’t have any, for a whole host of reasons. So I journaled and I prayed.
In came Lauren—a literal answer to my prayers. Over the course of the last 2/3 years, she and I have become incredibly close. It’s funny because I’ve known Lauren since high school. We weren’t really friends then, and I think if someone had told either of us that in 16 years we’d be kindred spirits, BFFers, that I would be extending my visits to Florida to include sleepovers at her house… I’m certain neither of us would’ve believed them.
On Thanksgiving Day 2017, Lauren learned that her mama was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On Christmas Day of that year, Lauren became engaged. Since then, our phone calls have been a dizzying mix of emotions— the highs of marrying a FANTASTIC guy who is deserving of her and planning her dream wedding, and the lows of Sandra’s illness progressing.
Lauren married that fantastic guy last September, and, blessedly, Sandra made it to the wedding— not an easy feat. On the wedding day, I asked everyone to leave the room where they were getting ready for about five minutes.
As Sandra was helped to the bed, these two took a look at each other and had a few moments of connection. In those precious few minutes, I took these two images with an understanding that these may be the last photos Lauren would have of her and her mom in a joyful space.
It is with deepest regret that I write that Sandra passed away one week ago today, a determined fighter, loving mother and wife. While I didn’t have a chance to know Sandra, I know that her legacy is a lasting one. Lauren is one of the most intelligent, compassionate, and loving humans I’ve ever met. She too is a fighter, and I know Sandra will live on through both Lauren, and Lauren’s daughter Lila.
Rest in peace, SE.
February was a month of learning; learning how to properly listen to my body and care for it, learning how to lean into the discomfort of growth, learning how to trust myself even more, and learning how to be a friend through hard times.
Looking back over these lessons, I cannot help but recognize that perhaps the most important lesson of all is to surrender.