Today, today on my 33 year of life, I share this.
What the year has brought me.
I’ve tapped into this immensely vibrant and raw capacity to love my daughter beyond imaginable.
I’ve learned what it means to be a mother, the greatest gift in the world.
I’ve found a strength, oh a strength beyond what I had known.
It’s brought a slowness, an immense slowness - creating space and time to honor, to appreciate, to take in the small, the greatest moments of life.
A need, a desire, to write, to share the humble expressions on my soul.
Some of the hardest conversations with my husband in learning what it means to be parents, together.
An immense, I mean immense appreciation for my body, this vessel who supports my life,
supported the growth of my daughter and has continued to serve as her nourishment throughout her first year of life.
A need to ask for help, humble need for support.
An awareness in my connection to documenting, storytelling as I grew with questions that would never have answers.
This obsessive desire for a clean, nourishing, diverse, culturally educational house.
A deeper appreciation for being an entrepreneur and having a flexible schedule and a community that supports me beyond comprehension.
Hardships followed by breakthroughs.
Laughter followed by anxiety attacks.
Pain followed by overwhelming love.
Clarity followed by confusion.
Commitment followed by utter exhaustion.
Presence followed by chaos.
Euphoria followed by depression.
Lost friendships followed by strengthened ones.
Humble expression followed by judgments.
I have come to love, to understand, to honor it all, all that I am in this lifetime.
I share when inspired.
I do what my soul desires.
My daughter is my greatest teacher.
My husband is my best friend.
Nature is my sanctuary, my medicine, my home.
Presence is the answer.
I am the river.
Everyday I am learning, I am growing, I am becoming more me.
For this, I am so incredibly proud, honored, humbled, grateful to live this life.
This week, this week has been filled with nostalgia as this time last year (2019), every single day I anxiously waited for the day my water would break, my contractions would start and our little love would join this world. We thought she was coming July 27th, her estimated due date was July 2nd, she joined the world on July 11th at 12:22am.
As soon as we found out I was pregnant, I very mindfully, intentionally, cautiously began creating this connection, this space, this wholeness with the soul growing inside my womb. After she was born, I laughed at myself as I had spent so much energy on creating this serene space for her to grow in my womb that when she arrived, we literally didn’t know what to do with her or ourselves. The energy came from the deep understanding that beyond her DNA, her environment, oh is her environment so critical and that, that started the moment we found out I was pregnant. Here are some of the ways I prepared for this little love, our daughter Orion to be joining our world.
The photos and words are linked so be sure to check them out for additional details.
#1 : I bought this book and received this pregnancy journal.
The Book :
Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful - a beautifully written book with breathing practices, yoga poses and some deeply loving insight into being a mindful pregnancy mama. Having a deep connection to yoga this book was truly one of the most beautiful resources with calming yoga poses, affirmations and very encouraging passages. It is light. It is supportive. It is gracious. It was everything my soul needed, especially in the early stages of my pregnancy.
The Pregnancy Journal :
I cannot tell you how immensely grateful I am for this journal as it was gifted to me by a dear friend. I documented in it constantly, sharing all that was happening in our world. I coupled this journal with an HP Sprocket photo printer - a little handheld printer that connects to your phone printing 2x3 photos and used them throughout my pregnancy to print photos and write, write all that was happening. Both myself and my daughter now have this extensive journal and photos of intimate accounts of my pregnancy. Document friend, please document. You will not be disappointed. I promise you that.
#2 : Best decision ever - to work with my dear friend and sister, Erin as our DOULA.
Ah, my body breathes so beautifully every time I think about and share our Doula experience.
We connected with and made the best decision ever to work with my dear friend and sister Erin as our DOULA. Oh my goodness, I cannot sing her praises enough. To have the honor, to be guided by a soul, a mama herself who is so present, so educated, so sincere, so calm. She was everything we needed in our lives, on this journey.
We met multiple times throughout my pregnancy where she would share such insightful information about birth, our options with wanting to have a natural birth in a hospital and just so much about the process as a whole. As birth became closer, she really helped navigate us through our options with being given an induction date in knowing that everything is an option, not a mandate. Most people feel as if it’s a mandate and with her help and support - we felt so empowered.
And then, then she got the message that my water had broken. She coached my husband and myself through the whole early labor and when it was time to head to the hospital, she met us there, right as we pulled up. To be wheeled into the hospital, with both my husband and my sister friend DOULA inspiration - everything, was truly one of the greatest feelings. At one point, Dan ran me into a wall and the laughter, oh the laughter - it moved the earth.
Throughout every stage of my labor, she was there. In the early stages, she offered props, poses, support, massages, oils. As my labor progressed, she kept me in the most supportive positions, cold washcloths on my head, she was just there, encouraging me every second of the way. As my labor really intensified and I was ready to give up on this planned natural birth and get an epidural, she encouraged me to get through one more hour, “one more hour” she said- which in turn got me through my labor, naturally.
Her words, “the only way out is through” sang in my head that whole day and even still as one of my greatest teachers. When my labor had progressed and it was time to push and all the things were happening - she wiped my butt, changed my gown and held me close. As I began pushing, she sat right by my side, the entire time. Calmly, encouragingly, gently guiding me to push.
As if that wasn’t glorious enough, throughout the process, she so graciously documented monumental moments. When my daughter was put in my arms for the first time, she took a video that is quite frankly my favorite piece of media in this whole world. After my daughter was born, she ensured I got food in me and we were immensely taken care of before she left.
She was with us - during 24 hours of an all natural labor.
She encouraged me - to believe in myself, to be fully present and bring to life this birth, this birth I had dreamed of.
It, it became a reality thanks to my incredible sister friend, Doula Erin!
#3 : I read all the books, I mean all the books.
By nature, I am a researcher. I just love learning, I love reading, I love “preparing” myself as much as I possibly can. With this, I did a lot of research on pregnancy books, were gifted and recommended a few and before I knew it, I had and read a new book almost every month throughout my pregnancy.
Although there are nine books in this photo (and are listed out below - bottom to top), there are a few that I would highly recommend, in this order.
In order from this photo (bottom to top) :
# 4 : Monthly and eventually Bi-weekly Pregnancy massages in my third trimester
Even just typing that headline, I feel this immense feeling of being SO blessed to have had the time and resources to invest in monthly and eventually bi-weekly pregnancy massages. This was really important to me as I was really committed to having a natural birth. I had been doing yoga throughout most of my pregnancy, walked nearly everyday, AND I wanted to be sure my body was relaxed and open. Pregnancy massage enabled this.
What was so beautiful about this very experience is that Reenie came right to my home, in my living room. I scheduled it for when my husband was still at work, just the right time to where after, I could just be in the bliss without having work, photoshoots, etc. It was beautiful.
The last massage I had was the day I had lost my mucus plug. Although it would be another week before my daughter would arrive, it was so special to have Reenie here, guiding me along. I remember her even saying, “it will still be some time, she’s not ready yet.” That was the truth.
#5: I wrote a letter to myself, my biological father and created a new mom spread
This was very intimate, very intimate. It was really important that I connected with, honored myself for this transition from being everything I was to everything I would become - now being a mother. I sat in bed one day and wrote a letter to myself. There was so much love. There was so much grace. There was so much acknowledgment. There was so much honor. There was so much life. Please, take the time to do this.
Next, not on the same day, but around the same time period - I wrote a letter to my biological father. Without going into it all here - he left us just before I turned two, to never return and eventually take his own life. There has always been a lot of anger, a lot of resentment, a lot of questions - that he would never be able to answer. I wrote to him. I expressed myself. I forgave him. I opened the space for him to be present. It was hard. It was really hard. Yet, it was exactly what was needed. The next reading I had with my all time favorite medium, he was there. Front and center. He was there. And I believe, each day, he is here. I have invited him in.
Finally, I took some time to really connect to my oracle and tarot cards and did a new mom spread. What beautiful insight this was. I pulled seven cards, from three different decks.
Here is the spread.
These are the decks I used.
It was beautiful.
#6 : Encapsulated my placenta
Ah, am I so immensely grateful for this decision. The placenta is this magical organ. My body grew this organ to supply my growing daughter with all the proper nutrients to ensure her health and growth. My body then gave birth to it after my daughter was born. This still blows my mind. The human body is truly extraordinary.
I decided to encapsulate my placenta as when the body births it, so many of the mom's nutrients, iron being a huge one becomes depleted. This can be seen as a huge contributor to postpartum depression. It was really important to me, to consume all of these nutrients my body had been creating and living off for the last nine months. Thankfully, our Doula is a super human and had the resources to do this very process. I took these for the following weeks and months after her birth and feel it helped with my mental state and energy immensely.
#7 : In addition, to the above, I also :
Becoming pregnant while being an entrepreneur, a wedding, couples, family, lifestyle photographer. For the longest time, that phrase right there, felt like such an oxymoron. How could I ever have time to be a mother? After all, I work for myself. My income isn’t consistent throughout the year. I spend all day, everyday, working. If I’m not shooting, I’m editing. If I'm not editing, I’m replying to clients, scheduling posts, going to networking events, attending trainings, oh, the list can go on and on.
I’m a planner. Then, insert a massive laugh from the universe. Or, at least I thought of myself as a planner. My husband and I sat down one day, a meeting. After some very emotional conversions, we had a plan of spending the next two years, traveling this country, growing my business, him pursuing his firefighter career and when that two years was up, we would start trying for a baby.
A little over a month later, we woke one Friday morning. Something was different, very different. He looked at me and said, “I think you need to take a pregnancy test.” I giggled and said, “I think you’re right.” The next few hours were spent getting a pregnancy test and taking it in a restaurant bathroom as we had breakfast plans. I took the test, my stomach dropped. I walked back out, sat down at the table and I’ll I could do was smile, smile as wide as that restaurant. I was in fact pregnant. We were in fact going to be parents.
Two years earlier than planned, two years earlier than expected. I am SUCH a believer that all happens just as it should and I knew, just knew this was divine timing. This little love was meant to be a part of this journey. Excitement, love, joy, it all - in the back of my mind, what about my business? What about my summer weddings? What about taking time off? I’ve never taken time off. What about all that I’ve worked so hard for? How am I going to run my business and take care of our daughter? The questions, as you could imagine, kept running through and through.
Have you been in a similar space?
Are you in a similar space?
My friend, here is what I did.
Here is how I wholeheartedly embraced being a mother AND an entrepreneur AND a photographer.
During my first trimester, I ensured I remained healthy, continued about my sessions, my business as usual and waited until after our first ultrasound to tell our family and close friends. As all progressed healthy and we were moving into the second trimester, I began to make a plan as we wanted to share the news as we moved out of our 12th week of pregnancy.
There was a lot that needed to be organized before the public knew about our pregnancy as my little loves due date was July 2nd, 2019, of which I had FIVE weddings scheduled to document right around that time. I knew, I had to have a conversation, a verbal conversation with each and everyone of these clients. But, before I could do that, I needed to have a plan as I wasn’t just going to cancel documenting their weddings and call it a day. You’ll learn, if you haven’t already done so, that I don’t operate like that.
I called my photographer mentor, explained everything and asked his availability for each of the weddings I had booked. He was available for them all. I then negotiated if he could match the pricing / packages I gave them. This, this was a huge favor as he did so. He’s been in the photography business for far longer than I - so with his gear, expertise, staff, his prices are a lot higher than mine. In addition, I reached out to a few of my favorite second shooters, my associate photographers asking if they would want to associate shoot for me. I gave dates, specifics, pricing, it all. After all those conversations, I scheduled calls with each and my clients. I presented them with three options :
Humbly, all my clients received this information with so much grace, so much love, so much understanding. Each of their decisions reflected exactly what they needed, what made them most comfortable and my, did it leave me with a heart wanting to burst in gratitude. As if I didn’t already love my clients and my business enough, then all of this happened, and although terrified to make those calls, all unfolded beautifully.
After connecting with the clients whose weddings were affected, I connected with one more couple whom I would be 34 weeks pregnant documenting their wedding. If they were comfortable, I wanted to move forward. They were and holy hell, I think I scared every single one of their wedding guests in thinking the babes would be delivered that very day. I was very large, very large throughout my pregnancy. We then shared with the world and my heart exploded with excitement.
I decided to take three months off. One month before the babes due date (July 2nd) and two months after as my first wedding back was September 7th, the babes was born July 11th. For this, I am so grateful.
Initially, I thought I didn’t take enough time off after the babes was born, but truth be told, my peek photography season creates a lot of downtime, which in itself, feels like an extension of maternity leave. The month before was critical, for me at least. My last session was documented at 36 weeks. It was difficult, very difficult. I was massive. I couldn’t see my feet, let alone bend over. My breathing was probably a bit scary. My energy, whittling away. I spent the remaining, nearly five weeks, catching up on my editing, scheduling posts, creating content for when I would be out, closing as many loops as possible, walking constantly, dating my husband, reflecting, connecting, just being in the space, her in my womb, me on the outside world.
My community was immensely supportive. I had to refer out work while on leave. Some of my favorite clients started working with new photographers. I missed getting to document monumental events that I otherwise would. This was hard. Yet, it truly was exactly as it was supposed to be.
My first wedding back was truly such a dream. The couple was amazing. The family that surrounded them, felt like my own family. Do you know what they did for me? The mother of the groom knew I was breastfeeding. She set up a chair, next to an outlet in one of their back bedrooms, just for me to pump. Oh my heart. It was perfect.
I went back to seven weddings and just over 30 sessions to close out the rest of the year. Looking at it now, sounds a little crazy, but at the moment, it felt right. With each wedding, I mastered pumping between locations. With each wedding, the following day, I felt like the best version of myself. With each wedding, I had to flow with the present reality. At one point, the babes stopped taking her bottle, only wanting the source, so the week of a destination wedding in Northern California, I had to buy a plane ticket for my mom to come up with the babes. Again, it was perfect. Exactly as it should be.
Everything truly unfolds just as it's meant to.
It all worked out so beautifully.
Since then, I’ve really had to learn how to manage my time. What used to be working all day, is now done so during the babes nap times (which is about three hours a day) and when I have support. For a while that support looked like my mom coming all day on Tuesdays and our nanny coming for two hours on Fridays. What used to be in person meetings, has become a phone call or email. What used to be immensely curated content, is now inspired content. What used to be a lot of stressing out about growing my business, is now supported by intentionally and authentically connecting with and sharing with my clients, my community.
All the questions that immediately circled my brain, with time, the answers came, and came quite naturally. You see, I mentioned it at the beginning, what is meant to be will be. My daughter, Orion came at exactly the right time. I am, in fact, a better, more present, mother, photographer and entrepreneur. You too, can do it.
From top left to bottom right :
1. The last wedding I photographed at 34 weeks pregnant!
2. My first wedding back, eight weeks after my daughter was born.
3. Pumping in the car from the first location to the second location (p.s. I got an adapter for the car and it was a life saver)
4. How I rolled on wedding days - pump, ice blocks, cooler, milk.
5. My mom, myself and Orion flying to Northern California around four months old as she refused her bottle and would only breastfeed.
6. Orion and I on her first flight - the pilot knew it was her first flight so he let us go in the cockpit.
5/19/2020 0 Comments
I was in the middle of a coaching session with one of my all time favorite souls and coaches, Donna Bond. She asked me a question, I gave a reply, she asked me another question, then I blurted out. The specifics of the question, reply, question, I cannot remember. What I do remember and what keeps repeating in my head is my ah-ha moment realizing,
I can communicate in photographs, what I cannot in words AND I can communicate in words what cannot be captured in a photograph.
I kept repeating this over and over again. You mean to tell me, after all these years, after all these coaching sessions, all this development work, all the mediums that have communicated from the other side and here, here was my answer.
For years, I’ve known there is more to that which I am sharing, so much more. That more, is my deep love, my connection to, my desire for written expression. For all too long, I thought if I didn’t focus solely on photography, this passion of a profession that I’ve turned into a full-time business, a corporation, reaching goals beyond what I imagined when I originally started, that people, the outside world wouldn’t take my photography seriously.
That, that is so far from the truth.
Yet, for so long, I believed it to be so.
I believed that I could only express myself in my current art form.
I believed that if I did multiple things, neither would be taken seriously.
I believed that there was someone out there, who is better, who has been sharing longer, who has an audience far greater than mine.
These beliefs, oh how these beliefs are so limiting, so far from the truth. They’ve kept me playing small, only letting small slivers of my words surface. Oh my friend, I can communicate in photographs, what I cannot in words AND I can communicate in words what cannot be captured in a photograph.
The key word here is AND.
The linking world.
Both are true.
Both are possible.
Both are equal.
Both are absolutely necessary for me to contribute to this world in the way that resonates most deeply with my soul.
Both are true for the simple fact that they resonate with my entire being.
I CAN COMMUNICATE IN PHOTOGRAPHS, WHAT I CANNOT IN WORDS AND I CAN COMMUNICATE IN WORDS WHAT CANNOT BE CAPTURED IN A PHOTOGRAPH.
Today, those limiting beliefs, the fear, the playing small - there is no place for that. What I know to be true is that expression comes in all types of forms. Just as there are 7.8 billion souls living right now on this earth, there too are 7.8 billion ways of witnessing, of processing, of reflecting, of being in connection to all that is around us.
My words, my connection to both, matters and matters deeply. Just as your words, your connection to that which resonate so deeply within your entire being, matters and matters deeply. You see my sweet friend, your expression is inspiration for my expression and my expression is inspiration for the next person's expression and so forth and so forth.
Here, right now.
I believe that I can share both, photographs and words.
Here, right now.
I believe that you, my community will honor both these truths and take them both for the wholeness that they are.
I believe that what I see, what I have to say matters deeply, especially in a world that could use constant inspiration, motivation, positivity and a hell of a lot of optimism.
You see my friend, light cannot exist without dark.
Day cannot exist without night.
Black without white.
Sweet with our salty.
They need one another to explain the other.
For me, for my soul, for my purpose, here on this earth, today, right now, photographs and writing, writing and photographs exist together. Fully together!
I CAN COMMUNICATE IN PHOTOGRAPHS, WHAT I CANNOT IN WORDS AND I CAN COMMUNICATE IN WORDS WHAT CANNOT BE CAPTURED IN A PHOTOGRAPH.
Being a creator, is living with and in intention, mindfulness, sincerity. Creating space for connecting to a power, greater than myself.
Through being an entrepreneur, I learned and understood the importance of personal development as the more I worked through the inner workings of my soul,
the better I could communicate, connect and then share that very exchange to the outside world.
With this, I have daily rituals, routines, practices, inspirations that keep me both grounded, while jumping on a continual basis to make my dreams, my present reality.
Below are my definitions and insights into my daily practices!
For me, these are my definitions for tools, tool belt and the daily practices that are formed with them!
Some examples of what a daily practice can look like,