Archive of ‘Life’ category

Moment by Moment | on The Creative Mama

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Today I’m over at TCM with a few thoughts on balance, and seeking it moment-by-moment. This post literally came to me all at once while I was driving earlier this week. (Seriously, I get so many post ideas while driving, and then at the light I scramble to get them all on paper before it turns green!)

Have a wonderful weekend!

There is No Line

I started blogging when I was sixteen. I had just started college, and I met a few people who had Xanga sites. I liked the idea, and started one for myself. I wrote about my life, my spiritual journey, some poetry of sorts. I enjoyed sharing bits and pieces of my life with whoever might be interested. Eventually I stopped posting there. Soon after Manny and I got married, I started a little Blogger blog, which later became Seeking Equipoise. I blogged about my first pregnancy and my journey into motherhood, my reflections on balancing family and business… and now there is what you see before you.

During the last few years, I’ve also had a separate blog for my business. I didn’t necessarily keep them separate on purpose. I knew I should have one connected to my work, and I just continued to post here as I’d always done. But somewhere along the way, the lines began to blur. My work is my life is my work, and so on. It all gets photographed. But what gets posted where? Just because it of my own children rather than someone else’s doesn’t necessarily make it less professional. My hope is that there will be no difference in quality between my personal images and my client ones. They are all my work. And why shouldn’t my clients get to know me, and see my everyday life and read my random thoughts, if they wish to? In fact, I want to my clients to see all that, because I am my business. This is a one-woman operation, and as much as I am hired for my work and my style, I am hired for me. The personal connection with each person I photograph is so incredibly important. The personal aspect isn’t a lack of professionalism- it’s an acknowledgment that the only thing that makes my business unique from any other photographer is me. The way I see things, my vision and voice, and my personality. Who I am as person and how I see the world are inseparable from who I am as a photographer and how I run my business, tell peoples stories, and interact with my clients.

In short, it no longer feels right to separate ”personal” and “business” on my blogs when there is no true separation in reality. So this week I migrated all of this year’s Seeking Equipoise posts to my photoblog, and from now on all new posts will be there. I’ll admit that I feel a bit of nostalgia about leaving Seeking Equipoise. It’s been like a comfortable old friend for so long. (Silly? I know.) Anywhere I’m posting will undoubtedly be mine in the same way this has been. I’m planning to keep this site up for archive’s sake. If you’re a regular reader I do you hope you’ll follow me over to the HMP blog (and add it to your feedreader, etc.) Much love, and see you over there!

(Obviously the above photo, from a recent beach visit, is unrelated to this post. I just can’t stand to blog without at least one image in the post.)

This Year.

It’s the evening of the very first day of this new year, and as I sit here typing I can hear leftover fireworks being set off not far away. Last night they went on for hours. My own celebration was simple and quiet, which was just fine with me as I enter the eighth month of my pregnancy.

I have always loved New Year’s Eve. It’s the welcoming of something fresh- three hundred and sixty-five days, yet to be written and full of promise. This year I’m anticipating so much change as our family grows by one. There will adjustments and challenges, and the complete joy that a new baby brings. There will be the continuation of my constant search for balance in life as I must learn all over again to simultaneously be wife and mama, photographer and entrepreneur, and still just me- all in a new way.

There will be some frustration (I already feel it) in finding that balance. Even now my body tells me to slow down and I’m not yet ready to. I have set the start of my maternity leave for mid-February, when I’ll be full term. I have much to do between now and then, but I really want to get to a place where I can turn off my business mind for a few months and focus completely on my family. I want to give them all of me in that time- I need to.
I want to focus my lens on them as well, and get back to that place where each expression and sweet moment makes me reach for a camera. I want to document us- our life as family- because as much as I love doing this for my clients and I am incredibly thankful that this is my job, this gift I’ve been given must be used for my family. Looking back at the folders of images I’ve taken over the last few years I noticed a trend in my work that bothered me a lot– as my business became busier, the number of pictures I took of Seth decreased. During his first year, during which I worked very little, I was always photographing him- sleeping, eating, smiling, playing. The following two years I still brought my camera out with us from time to time and I still took pictures of Seth, but not nearly as many, and often hardly any of the everyday life stuff- the details I’ll want to look back on and share with him later. It would simply not be okay with me if one day my grown boys ask me why there weren’t so many photos of them over the years as my career grew. They are truly my most important subjects. So I am going to start a habit- I guess you could call it one of my New Year’s goals- of documenting the lives of those I love the most. I know that artistically it will do nothing but sharpen me as well.

Last year, I chose the word thrive for 2011. It turned out to be quite fitting, though there were so many times in the last year when I didn’t really feel like I was thriving. But spending more than half the year growing a baby inside, and growing personally and spiritually in ways my soul desperately needed, definitely made it an appropriate word for the year.

In 2012, it is not one word but two:

be present.

This is one thing I have never been particularly good at, and yet I know so many areas of my life need it, and will more so than ever this year. Mentally, I am so often everywhere but the current moment, and I know it contributes to so much worry and mental chaos.
I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on that here soon… but for now, happy new year!

{Do you like our fun with sparklers from last night? I’ve been wanting to play with light and long exposure for several fireworks-type holidays in a row now, and this time I finally had a decent tripod. So when Manny got home from work yesterday I dragged him outside and had him do some light-writing for me. :) Seth absolutely loves them too, as you can see. I’m so glad, because I was inexplicably terrified to go near them when I was little.}

Adventure, etc.

I want to be honest for a moment, and I’m hoping I can express all this in a way that doesn’t sound horrible or whiney or ungrateful, etc.
Sometimes I get antsy. I feel too domestic for my own personality. If you’d asked me when I was 18 what I imagined my life would be like at 24, the words travel, spontaneity, and well, adventure would likely have been involved. I think at that point I pictured myself globe-hopping for my fabulous work as a successful documentary photographer, not really tied down, just being young and free. I thought I’d wait a while to have kids, even to get married.
Now, I want to be completely clear that I have zero regret over the path my life has taken. I met my husband when I was 18, graduated from college at 19, got married right before my 20th birthday, started my business at 20, and at 21 I became a mother. Now, at 24, I’ll be a mom of two boys and building my own business doing something I love. It has been a whirlwind and truly an adventure in its own amazing way. And I love it all. I’ll bet that my 18 year old self couldn’t have dreamed all that up for anything.
Still there is part of me that sometimes feels like I’ve become boring. I haven’t been outside the country in six years, and haven’t even been on plane in almost two. I don’t get out as much as the average 20-something, and really would usually rather get a bit of extra sleep. I keep a budget and get excited over saving $31.86 at the grocery store, and feel pretty accomplished if the house is clean by the time I go to bed at night. I love my work, but right now it is very local and does not grace the pages of major magazines. It is humble and small. Sometimes I look at other photographers, and other people, who are constantly jetting off to this awesome city and that beautiful country, who wear really awesome clothes and hang out with really awesome people all the time and generally seem so glamourous, and I feel a bit lame and domestic in my normal everyday existence and ache for more adventure.
But then I have to remind myself to stop comparing and embrace my own story. Raising young kids is for sure far less glamourous, but it is not less. It is the adventure I’m meant to be living at this point in time. It is an awesome gift, and a weighty, important responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I am also so thankful that I can have a career simultaneously, even if it has to be limited for a while. And thankful that I’m actually still young, and my kids will only be little for a while. They will grow, and my work and life will change yet again. I’ll be able to travel and take bigger jobs eventually, and do more of the things I used to dream of doing. Maybe I’ll get to share some of those adventures with my family. And I know for sure that I’ll miss this time when they’re tiny and need me all the time.
But now, if I can see my current everyday life for the beautiful adventure that it is, maybe I can be a model for my kids of living fully exactly where you are, and of looking inwardly rather than comparing oneself to everyone else. That is one of the greatest gifts I can give them, because one thing I have learned (and continue to re-learn) is that happiness is in the state of your mind and heart, not your outward situation.

24.

So first I must tell you, yesterday we finally found out that baby #2 is a…

BOY!

I’ll have to share  some pictures from our reveal party, which proved to be such a fun way to find out with our family and friends. It’s still sinking in- I’m mom to two boys! Seth is going to have a little brother. I know it’s going to be amazing. Now we’re starting to discuss names, which is always interesting. At this point we seem far from any decisions.

In the midst of party preparations over the last few days, I never got around to finishing and posting my annual list on my birthday. Last year, I made a list and posted it here – things I wanted to do in the year to come.

Friday I turned 24, and as I looked back on that list I realized that one thing I’ve learned thus far in life is that flexibility is key. Plans changes, situations change, and rolling with it- allowing myself to be molded by change rather than resisting it- is a good idea.

So, here’s what happened with my list last year– 24 before 24:

1. Have a balanced and successful business — Well, I’m getting there. I feel like I’m definitely doing better than I was one year ago.
2. Go on a weekend getaway alone with my husband — Check! Some pictures here.
3. Take a family vacation somewhere cool — We had an amazing time in Key West in June. I shot it all on film. See here and here.
4. Make cardio exercise and yoga regular parts of my schedule again — I have been working on this, and getting back into now that a lot of the early-pregnancy sickness is over.
5. Take more pictures of the people I love — I have been, though I do want to be better about bringing my camera along when we go out.
6. Be a better friend — I hope so. So thankful for my friends.
7. Be more selfless and generous — A lifelong goal and learning process.
8. Grow technically and artistically as a photographer — I can definitely say I have this year. I feel good looking at work from a year ago and knowing I can do better now and that my vision is more refined.
9. Make Seth’s birthday cake from scratch — Well, it wasn’t totally from scratch, but I did make it. The cake part was from a box. Sometimes compromise is necessary :)
10. Get published — Yes indeed, in Palm Beach Woman Magazine. See here.
11. Travel to shoot a wedding — I didn’t. I’ve shifted focus to mostly portraiture. When I do shoot weddings they will be local for now, for the sake of my family.
12. Learn to make good bread from scratch — Going to have to move this one to my new list… :) I bought the book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day- now I just have to try it out.
13. Bring Seth to the beach more often — Sure did! We’ve been loving it too.
14. Paint a mural on the wall of Seth’s room — Decided not to, but I do want to do some art for the kids’ room. See below.
15. Finally get Seth’s room all set up — We did, and now we’re doing an overhaul soon to make room for his brother or sister. I can’t wait to get it finished, with a crib and things on the walls.
16. Create a nice outdoor living area in our back yard — That is always a work in progress. We have twinkle lights on the fence now, and they make me smile.
17. Have friends over for dinner more often — We have a standing bi-weekly dinner date with a couple friends, and it’s been great.
18. Have more date nights with Manny – We try. Date days too.
19. Journal more consistently, on paper, just for me — Yes, and I’ve come to really need that again.
20. Take a dance class again — Hmm, someday I will.
21. Learn more Spanish and work on it with Seth too — I still want to, but it is so hard to find time devote to learning a language.
22. Read some of the books I’ve been meaning to get to — I did read more this year. It is such great stress relief/escape.
23. Start over with my garden and maintain it this time — Started over, yes. Maintained… well, can I blame it on 4 months of headaches and morning sickness? My basil is still doing great though! I think right now in my life, fairly low maintenance herbs are the way to go.
24. Use up some of my yarn stash with some fun crochet projects — I did a few projects, and I have plans for more as Christmas gifts.

So overall I feel like I accomplished quite a bit. I’ve been jotting things down for a few weeks now for my new list…

………………………….

25 before 25

1. Have another beautiful, peaceful homebirth.
2. Continue to work our way though the Total Money Makeover plan to financial peace.
3. Learn to make great bread from scratch.
4. Continue to see growth in my business and perfect my practices as a business owner. {Including but not limited to: mastering in-person order sessions, refining my client experience, being more organized, and marketing better}
5. Continue to grow in my craft and become a more skilled photographer; continue to refine my unique vision and voice, and shoot with authenticity.
6. Find a balance and rhythm as a mom of two and family of four.
7. Go on a family trip, hopefully to Maine. {This is somewhere I have literally always dreamed of bringing my family– it is such a special place to me.}
8. Have our family captured by a photographer I truly admire. {I have someone specific in mind, but I don’t want to name names until I know it’s going to happen.}
9. Seriously declutter and organize our home.
10. Express gratitude for the specific gifts I am given each day.
11. Acquire and master some new photo gear. New lens(es), and a medium format film outfit I hope.
12. Spend more time outside, especially during the cooler months.
13. Make the majority of the Christmas gifts we give this year, and actually get them finished before Christmas.
14. Be more present for my family on a daily basis- learn to be less distracted when it’s time to focus on them.
15. Do art projects with Seth more often. So worth the mess :)
16. Make habits of the things that make me feel healthy, like being active and avoiding the foods that make me feel crappy.
17. Write more often.
18. Shoot for myself regularly. Document my family. Remind myself that photography was first my passion, then my job.
19. Overcome my intense shyness and fear of people, and make deeper connections.
20. Become more involved in our church and get to know some people there.
21. Relax more. Combat my tendency to worry and stress with the peace that’s already within me.
22. Go for more walks on the beach. Also downtown, at the park, etc. Just lots of nice walks :)
23. Go see a band/musician I like live. I seriously didn’t do that at all in the last year, which was the first concert-less year in my recent memory. Not acceptable.
24. Put together a sweet room for my kiddos to share. I never got to do any type of “nursery” for Seth since we lived in a little one-bedroom apartment for his first seven months. SO this time I’m looking forward to reveling in the creative nesting instinct :)
25. Waste less time online. Life is too short, too precious- I want to live it actively.

………………………….

My husband made sure my birthday was really special, with a surprise prenatal massage in the morning, a great lunch out, and then dinner at a fabulous Indian restaurant! It was so nice to spend a relaxing day with my boys (all three, it turns out!). I’ve also recieved some really special things from family, including a Nook reader from my parents and my dad’s vintage Nikonos underwater film camera. I’m definitely feel super blessed in so many ways.

Last, but not least, Happy Halloween! : ) Have a wonderful day, friends!

xoxo

Community

Last Friday I spent the evening with an amazing bunch of artists and art lovers at a little coffeeshop in West Palm Beach (by the way if you are local and haven’t been to Harold’s, you’re missing out!) This gathering is called Lyrical, Ink. and it happens every month. I’ve known about it for a little while now, but last week was my first time going because getting away on a Friday night when you have a two year old is not quite easy. But now I’m determined to make it happen, every month if possible.

This night fed my soul in a way I needed so much more than I realized. The creative energy was palpable and alive- poets, musicians, actors, and visual artists- all in this safe environment trying out new material and sharing works in progress, and just sharing our love for the art and the process. I sat there surrounded by these people and just felt content, like I’d gotten back in touch with a part of myself that can be easy to forget in the midst of the million other things that life swirls around us every day. Oh yeah, while I adore my roles as mommy and wife and organizer of this home, etc., there is another part of me. And it is still there. It is the artist, the girl who is a creative being and has a need to connect with similar souls. We as humans have an intrinsic need for community, and I think we need it in different forms, too. For me, those forms are close family and friends, spiritual community (something I’m still kind of searching for), community with other moms (found in our great playgroup), and then last Friday night I found a piece that had been missing: creative community. I am so thankful.

I’ve posted more photos I took that night over on my photography blog, so do go check those out when you have a minute. Also, go like Lyrical, Ink.’s Facebook page, and if you’re in the area make plans to come to the next one, on October 21st!

Faith

Back in June, I posted a bit about my spiritual journey. You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned it since. It is not for lack of things happening in that area, I assure you. It’s more that I’ve been unsure about how much to share, and how to put it into words.

In short, God is doing something in me. He is pulling me back to Himself in a way that is so undeniable, even to my sometimes slightly cynical self. In my search for what was actually true in the universe, I ended up back where I began: God. {Specifically, the Judeo-Christian God who has made Himself known to humanity since the beginning of time, and who became human and sacrificed Himself to mend the relationship that we broke in our attempt to be independent from Him.}

How I came back to this belief can only be explained as divine intervention, because I can tell you that at first my logic fought it kicking and screaming. God was patient with me. I began to be confronted over and over with that message that He wanted me back, that He is who has said He is, and that no I didn’t “blow it”. At first I told myself that it was all in my head, and that it sounds nice so of course I want it all to just be true. But the pull became incredibly strong, and the messages so “in-your-face” despite that fact that I was trying for a while to ignore them. Once I allowed myself to entertain the possibility of it being true after all, I prayed (talking to God directly for the first time in a few years) that He would help me to see the truth and to believe it, whatever it was. Then a floodgate of understanding opened up- understanding of what faith actually is, and understanding of how crazy His love for me is that he would pursue me and reveal Himself to me despite my stubbornness. But really, that is basically the common theme throughout the entire Bible- stubborn people being pursued by a relentless God, humbled and changed by His love and overwhelmed by His truth.

It can be difficult to accept, but I think there are some things that can simply never be grasped by the human mind- that will simply never make total sense to us. That is why faith has to be the foundation of a relationship with God. Faith… believing in things for which there is no proof. It’s the reason some of the more intellectual, scientific types think that “religious” people are crazy, brainwashed, misguided, uneducated, or simply buying into fairy tales. It’s the reason that in the midst of studying the Bible at a Christian university, I stopped believing it. I wanted everything to make sense to me- I wanted to understand it myself before believing. I wanted proof and logic. But I’ve come to understand that if my human brain could wrap around God and all his intricacies and vastness, He would not be a God worth following. Essential to His very nature is the fact that He is so beyond our comprehension.

The Bible says that now it’s like we’re looking “through a glass, darkly”. Our vision is obscured, and we lack the ability to see clearly. Studying and learning is definitely of great value, but we have to always keep in mind what faith means and how utterly important it is. Trusting that God is Truth and Love and that we can fully trust Him with confidence despite the fact that He’s beyond our mental ability to explain- that is Faith. That is how a relationship with Him works. If we choose to accept that, He with show us more of Himself. He will confirm our faith in so many profound ways- large and small- that trust becomes easier and deeper. His love for us becomes so much more than simply a concept- it can be felt and known. It becomes part of you and overflows into that way you live and think. That is a Christianity based on faith and relationship- not rules or doctrine or rituals, but faith and love and the hope they bring.
That is the only Christianity I want in my life.
And the fervor with which I desire it (desire God in my life) grows every day. It takes me by surprise, and I find myself aching for Him in a magnetic kind of way- craving that relationship, more closeness, more knowledge of Him, more Faith.

Real life

I have been at a loss for words when it comes to this blog lately. What to share? I’ve tended to be so introspective, even withdrawn. This pregnancy has been hard on me physically and emotionally. I envisioned this vibrant, active time, and instead I have been sick and in pain (with migraines) practically every day for the last few months. It is discouraging. And my mind fills with worries, about being good enough for these two souls I’ve been entrusted with. About being enough, and having enough. I’ve been in such a delicate place that I tend to fold in on myself a bit… self-preservation.

And so I have written little, and my camera has sat almost completely unused when it comes to personal work. There has been the same roll of film in my F5 for weeks and weeks. I wonder if I’ve lost my creativity. My mind feels dry. And I miss the creative flow so much.

I know it is temporary. I’m starting my second trimester and should start feeling better soon. And I would hate to sound entirely negative- it definitely hasn’t been all bad. There is joy, and excitement about this new member of our family. Seth and his antics keep me laughing. I’m happy to be in love and planning to celebrate four years of marriage in a few weeks.

I have such a drive to focus on this little family- more and more I’m realizing again how precious and utterly important they are. I crave real life, and real relationships. I am tired right now of the internet and the separateness it allows in our lives- communicating without connecting, wasting hours with nothing to show for it at all. I want to disconnect more from this screen so I can connect with myself, and my family and friends, and the world in a tangible way. But writing is soothing, so I’m not saying goodbye here. I hope that as my heart gets stronger again I’ll have more to say.

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