Change, transition, the unknown… These are not scary words to me.  Typically, I love the death and resurrection of self, the ambition of a new adventure, the synchronicities that occur and propel my life magically forward.  It’s a potion that makes me come alive.  The unknown is my jam!! When accompanied with chronic fatigue, however, I am learning the unknown is NOT my jam.  It is indeed a graceless jar of shit that tastes like poodley oodley on burnt toast.  The unknown married with fatigue means all bets… are… OFF.   

When I’m tired, I get ANGRY.  I get accusatory.  I tell God and his minion helpers (who so lovingly give me sign after sign that everything is going to be okay, and IS okay) to fuck off and fuck themselves, fuck the cats, fuck the dog, fuck the wallpaper, fuck my camera, fuck my computer, fuck that person, fuck those people, FUCK EVERYONE, fucking fuck the fucking fucks!!! Which is… ahem… concerning.  

I have to keep myself from throwing the cats out the window.  I have to cement myself to the chair when the garbage truck rumbles up right as my daughter is falling asleep. (I do this so as not to stab the driver in the throat with this pen that feels like MY ONE TRUE FRIEND).  Soooo much love for others… 

I’m not my best self when I’m tired.  I know this.  When the doctor told me I had chronic fatigue, I was like– ‘DUH!!! YOU FUCKING IDIOT! FUCK DOCTORS!!!’  

But when I put the brakes on… take a moment to recompose and breathe… OF COURSE, I don’t like feeling like my real self is disappearing or getting lost in the fatigue and mundane of motherhood day to day.  This isn’t who I want to be– for me, for my husband or for my daughter!

And love for self?  OOF.  I can’t even go there right now. 

Surprisingly, I only recently put this two and two together– that being shaken when handling transition during the worst fatigue of your life is not only a new normal but it’s pretty freakin’ understandable!!  It might take a little time to find your magic, girlfriend!  Feeling like a shit pile because I’ve been unable to ground myself, and find comfort in those roots that steady me to the center of the earth and back, I have been beating myself up for the shell that I inhabit.   It’s good to be reminded this isn’t easy.  It’s a deepening of the lesson plan to get me to a new place, which given the day can be totally annoying or exciting… or really, really annoying. 😉 

Rather than beat myself up (or beat up the people/animals/entities around me that love me), I’m focusing on the following…

I won’t always live in a dark house.

Where I live won’t always be decorated with animal heads and fishing reel wallpaper.

I won’t always live on this little sleep. 

The cats won’t always be indoor cats.

The Small Dog won’t always be so jealous or needy.

We won’t always make bupkis money.

Ruby won’t always wake up through the night.

She won’t always need me to feed her, etc. 

I don’t know what’s to come but I know that this time is temporary and I’m doing my best to allow myself a little grace.  What more can I expect on two hours of sleep a night?  

I know there’s a deeper meaning to all of this, lessons I can take from this aside from ‘parenthood= lack of sleep.’ What is the dialogue that runs through my head when I can’t sleep at four in the morning?  What do I tell myself when I look in the mirror?  What are the first thoughts that come to mind when my red eyes are bulging like a Disney villain?  Is that reality or have I also been listening to the worst version of myself while running the worst dialogue? For the love of God, is ANY of it loving??? 

Nothing at all against the word ‘fuck–‘ a good swear can be a grossly satisfying relief when the need to express frustration feels like sickness.  But here’s hoping a deep breathe or two can give me just enough awareness to add some softer words to my vocabulary. I haven’t used ‘shit’ in a while?  Ha! It seems almost godly in comparison to what’s been coming out of my mouth!

*Deep breath*

Here’s to GRACE… Here’s to BREATH…  and Here’s to BECOMING. xoxo

 

 

I found myself stagnate.  In transition.  Feeling a bit unguided.  Stuck. It lead to worry. Fear. Anxiety. An unrelentless need to figure it out.  I had been wringing my hands in desperation and unable to sleep.  With so many variables out of my control, it felt like I was just a passenger in my own life.  It’s a miserable existence that I don’t recommend…  

Insert forlorn photo here!

A Good Question to Ask When You Are Worried

Anxiety. Stress. Worry. It takes it’s toll!

The question that I’ve been asking myself lately?

“How much do you want to suffer?” 

Huh.  Have I been suffering? That sounded like such a heavy experience.  How have I been suffering? What does that look like in my life?  What are the choices I’m making?

How much do I want to suffer???  Not a whole lot come to find out!  The question was a bit eye opening for me. The worry, the fear, the intensity of it all… it did nothing for our situation.  Our house hadn’t magically sold, our debt hadn’t gone down.  We’re not a step closer to buying a home here and I still have no idea how I’m paying September’s bills.  So whyyyyy do it???

Worst case scenario, those bills become past due, my credit I had worked so hard to rebuild turns to shit and eventually, I have to rebuild it again.  Can I live through that?  Of course.  I did it once, I can do it again.  I also have a lot of shame about the amount of debt I’ve gotten myself back into.  Did I overspend… again?  Yup. Did we expect the house to sell a bit faster?  Yeah.  Whoops.  But beating myself up does nothing but let me marinate in my mistakes, still stuck, still fearful.  

How much do I want to suffer?  

I love this because it’s a question about taking back the reins and being proactive.  It’s about controlling what you can.  It’s about being grateful for all that IS.  

I need $700 by September 1st.  That’s all.  And at the end of the day?  I really don’t even need that. 

I just need air in my lungs, a little food for fuel and the rest are just gifts.  I don’t need the timeline for our house to sell.  I don’t need a down payment for a new home right now. I don’t need to know when we finally can move into a new home with more light.  I don’t need to have the answers about my creative life’s purpose yesterday.  And I certainly don’t need to be 60 pounds lighter before I allow myself to feel worthy. 

But my mind went down the rabbit hole and already saw bills past due, bankruptcy, the house in foreclosure, living in this rental shooting poorly lit photos, me dying of heart disease, Ruby without a mother, all of the world on fire, the aliens invading… All of these horrific things because of $700.  When you put it like that it seems… I don’t know… FREAKING CRAZY.   

When I began asking myself this question, I found myself being more proactive. Not about trying to figure it out– but about taking control of my life where I could.  I don’t want to suffer. So how can I gently change my actions and mentality?

Even when I’m exhausted, I’ve been doing my best to go out for walks to move my body, but to also be connected to nature and my intuition. I really do my best to use all five senses to take everything in. (Sidenote:  Highly reccomend a documentary from Iceland on Netflix called ‘Innsaei: The Power of Intuition’— a little slow to start but a few fascinating stories about how we’ve lost our connection with nature and with ourselves).  As soon as Ruby is down for a nap, I meditate because I know it’s the only time I have and who knows for how long!  I’ve been focusing on the spiritual– the mind, body, soul connection because that is what matters. AND when I’m most connected is when I’m most inspired and the ideas come…

There was a couple recently in the news, parents to a beautiful one year old girl, who went into a cave for an ice climbing day trip.  Despite being educated, experienced climbers, they took a wrong turn due to some poor information and ended up burning their packs and their own hair to survive, being rescued in the nick of time. Were they thinking about something like $700?  Not a chance.  The things they thought were important to them, they realized were so insanely insignificant, it was life changing. The wife said she couldn’t even look at instagram anymore because it just didn’t matter any more. 

How much do I want to suffer?  

I don’t plan on suffering anymore. Still human, but I practice letting go daily.  Everything will work itself out because everything always works out for us.  We expect good things.  And it’s not about our own timing. Coupled with the mantra, “My life is changing because I am changing my life” and I’m beginning to realize things are hardly that bad.  And that actually, I’m powerful and capable. And while I will be grateful for the house to sell, to be able to photograph in a house that has good light with a camera without focus issues, figuring out which creative life path will be most fulfilling and help the most people– blah, blah, blah…  it’s nothing I’m going to lose sleep over anymore.

It’s something I’ve been learning recently so I thought I’d share.  How much do you want to suffer and where can you take control?  Questions to take some time on… 

Happy Friday.  🙂

 

 

 

 

MONEY. The four letter word so bad it’s five letters. Money fears are always the f*ckers to our authenticity and manifestation, aren’t they?

This has been an educating and eye opening transition for me being a stay at home mom.  On one hand, I’m always with my daughter which is exhausting but wonderful.  I would absolutely hate being away from her, having to work full time right now.  On the other hand, not having an income– especially not having my own income, has been challenging and scary. Then, the third part of my current conundrum is having this intense desire to create. I have 1,249,823 projects I want to work on that require time, energy and money.  No big!  😉  

I’ll be frank, I zero percent want to go back to work right now.  My body still feels wrecked (which I’m working on), I’m up with our daughter all night (four month sleep regression is a THANG), I’m exhausted all the time, and I know to work on weekends will totally wipe out all reserves.  

I don’t ‘sleep when the baby sleeps,’  I ‘hustle when the baby sleeps.’  I bake, I take photos, write blogs, edit photos, watch tutorials… I am always working.  I am always learning.  I’m not creating because of all of this magical downtime I have, I am MAKING. IT. HAPPEN. in between burps and diaper changes, or at midnight after she’s asleep.

So to spend my ‘hustle time’ working for someone else at an unfulfilling job means I won’t have the time or energy to create (which in itself is a life force sucker), and that– truth be told–  scares the shit out of me. Not because I think my inner artist will shrivel up and die, turning quickly into a depress case (though been there, done that) but because if I don’t start these projects now, will I ever have the perfect circumstances to start them?  Time is a commodity. It’s like paying rent versus the investment of a mortgage.  People that are successful food bloggers are successful now because they put in years of blogging.  Most YouTubers are able to monetize because they have years of videos under their belt winning subscribers not because they have five.  I don’t want to be 65 just having started things. The sooner I start, the sooner the pay off.  Hence, the hustle. You get what I’m putting down?

I know society can be a judgmental, know-it-all biotch.  “If you can’t pay your bills, suck it up and get a job. It’s called being an adult. You do what you have to do for your children. You made the choice to have kids.”  And to an extent, there is totally truth to that!  Sometimes, a person might need to get a job that feels like dying (our grocery store is hiring) to remind yourself that you’re responsible and capable of making money.  It feels good to pay your bills and to be able to afford things.  This makes sense to me as I’ve been spending beyond my means (the whole no income thing).  Money is a karmic lesson I get a lot because I continue to spend.  So, maybe we’re relearning a little somethin’ somethin’ here…

On the flip side, sometimes you have to say no to certain money making opportunities (our grocery store is hiring) because it’s time to believe you’re worth more than a job you hate. That idea is part of an old program or your history. You’ve paid your dues and learned your lessons. Your back doesn’t have to break anymore. You CAN have a job you love. Believe in YOU. Or as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe says: “At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you.”

Sometimes ‘suck it up’ individuals are exceptional at paying bills but can kinda, sorta, really, totally suck at life. Ha! They can sometimes be lifeless or totally unhappy, martyr-and-victim parental units that are dying inside thinking there’s only one way to do life. I promised myself at the start of this child rearing shindig, that I was going to do this different. I don’t believe my life’s purpose is to solely raise my daughter. I believe my life’s purpose is to create, live an authentic life and brings something decent and lovely to the planet as best I can.  It is what makes me feel energized– whole and complete, nurtured and nurturing. And in part FOR my daughter, she’ll hopefully learn through my example she is allowed a fullfulling life as well, and that good things don’t just happen to other people.

So what do you do when your heart and intuition are telling you to create and start these projects but your bank account is saying get a part time job and do the responsible thing? It’s a confusing spiritual merry go round. Personally, for reasons of my own doing, I have both been burned and blessed by stepping out in faith. 

I have waited too long to do the responsible karmic thing and gone into debt without being grounded in reality.  I’ve also passed up lucrative jobs, only to have my aunt email me randomly about a job in the mountains that finally felt right.  I had to borrow money from my sister to move to Mazama to start a life I know I was destined to live.  Hardly responsible. Totally in line with everything I am. And let me tell you, the fine line between those two situations for me right now is the confusing reality between getting knocked on the head in Kansas and having the courage to walk the Yellow Brick Road.  Ha! One is a black and white reality. The other is a vibrant and colorful dream.  And neither is necessarily right or wrong.

This week I dropped my sis off at the bus station down the mountain in San Bernardino.  I was angry and frustrated that I’ve been feeling in limbo.  I felt utterly hopeless, confused. There were some tears.  Did I mention angry?  Anyway, I stopped at one of the turnoffs to have some words with my guides and angels.  For whatever reason, my honesty and the view felt empowering.  The ‘in between’ of manifestation can totally suck (hello, we’re human after all!) but there has always been something incredible on the other end of it when I commit to it.  The mountains reminded me of that.  

The current state of affairs:  I will not apply at the grocery store but I did apply at the local movie theater.  I will reach out to the local tavern about working weekends but specifically for karaoke night (y’all I love my karaoke). I reached out to local photographers to see if they needed weekend help during wedding season because I’ve been dying to have the opportunity to start shooting weddings.  (At the very least, to see if I’d like it).  I’ve reached out to LA headshot photographers to see if they’d be willing to take on apprentices because I would be sooo happy to learn new things.  

I’ve continued to upload images to Shutterstock for some down the road chump change.  I’ve been baking and blogging. I submitted to the Food Network for their baking championship shows. I look for interesting jobs on Craigslist.  I will reach out to local businesses to see if they need food photographs for their websites or menus (which also means I’m working on a photography website).  Our house is on the market in Mazama and I remind myself without attachment to outcome, it could sell at any time.  Weaving, what feels in my soul, like a positive and healthy tapestry… 

I have no idea how this all plays out but I know that it does.  The ‘in between’ is hard, scary and feels impossible but it’s my choice. I know I get to decide to take forty steps back into an old box of possibility or stick to what feels good in an exciting and responsible way.  I know it’ll be in perfect timing and can imagine how utterly grateful and ecstatic I’ll feel later as I can see how the stars aligned.  

And when I am on the other side of this… as a current basket case with sleepless rage tendencies?  I’ll be sure to laugh when people say things just work out for me because I’m a naturally positive person.  Ummm… yeah.  The earful the mountains got would say I’m a total Florence Henderson right here.  😉

We get a choice, friends. Here’s hoping the mountains remind you, too.  xoxo

 

 

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You guys… This week I went swimming in my sisters pool.  It was magical.  

According to plan, I was going to drive to LA, leave Ruby with my sis, have a good swim and then meet friends around 1pm at a local cafe.

My body has been pretty beat up over the years working in the food industry. But then getting pregnant and giving birth has been even more pain I’ve gotten to experience daily.  My feet and achilles are always in constant pain but the major add on since birth has been sciatic back pain.  Carrying my little cherub hits the nerves in my lower back and the pain gets so bad I wince trying to turn over in the middle of the night. Currently, my body is a wonderland… in a war torn country.  😉  

It’s crazy how much we can lose our sense of play as adults. When I was little, I was a total fish.  We had an inground pool that I lived in until my hair turned green.  Years later, however, I lost my gills.  We sold the house with the pool and after college I moved to Los Angeles, living in a land locked apartment building. Crazy busy and always working, I never saw water unless I was doing dishes.

Well, due to a ton of traffic and construction, the typical hour and a half drive took two and a half hours. When I arrived, I only had 20 minutes to spare and toyed with the idea of not going in.  

It felt like it was barely enough time to make a difference.  I’d also be meeting my friends at the cafe looking like a wet rat.  I’d be racing in, racing to get out, racing to get to my friends– all while towing around Ruby.  It just didn’t seem worth it.  I was so bummed.  

Well, thankfully– for whatever reason– I stuck to my guns and made myself go in.  The car ride was hot and I had so been looking forward to it all week, I wasn’t going to drive all of this way to wimp out.  And let me tell you, to be immersed in cool water, especially after a long drive with no AC, felt like LIFE.  I still had lower back pain but it felt incredible to move all of my muscles without strain.  I honestly wanted to stay in there all day!

It was amazing the sounds that came back to me from my childhood like not a day had passed– the lapping of the water in the pool, the way the water drops sounded against the hot concrete while getting out, what your shadow looks like while you’re drying off.  I’m not sure why but it felt so special and meaningful. Where you could tell the years had flown by was in my swimming ability.  Ha!  If you don’t use it, you definitely lose it!  😉  

Anyway, all this to say… It was a wonderful reminder that even with limited time, we have choices.  We decide what our priorities are and I’m so glad I chose to take the literal plunge.  Oh!  And the best part?  I was so happy I didn’t even care I showed up like a wet rat to lunch.  

Is there anything you’ve wussed out on when you could have taken the hiccup of time that you had?  Creating art?  Reading a book?  Singing a song?  Dancing to some music?  Going for a swim?  

This is just a friendly reminder from your Captain… DO IT!!!  🙂

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Like every family that has been created, our birth story is very personal.  Whether you’re a couple, a single mom or adoptive parents, if you have children, we all have lived through a story of chaos and beauty in creating our families.  Despite how much our experience felt like a nightmare, I also know we’re very lucky.  It felt overwhelming and difficult but not everyone has had it so easy.  I’m also grateful we brought my camera.  The experience sits in such a brain fog, I remember everything and nothing. I wasn’t sure if we’d even get around to using it but I put it on ‘auto’ and hoped for the best.  

Here’s our story… 

I was exactly two weeks overdue with Ruby and while my water broke (thanks to a crazy castor oil cocktail), labor just didn’t want to start.  When I got to the hospital on Saturday, we discovered– despite being overdue, I wasn’t dilated at all, not even a smidge. That was pretty shocking. Not to mention, a bit of a blow. 

My mom had been in town the past week waiting, waiting, waiting past my due date like any good Grandma.  In my head, I had always imagined my mom being there for the birth, so I was incredibly grateful that she flew out. Also, being two weeks overdue, I was extremely bored.  We watched a LOT of ‘Call The Midwife,’ which proved to be strangely comforting. 

I happened to get pregnant at my heaviest weight.  (I don’t recommend that route).  The last time I had been weighed was at 38 weeks (below).  At the time, I had gained about 45 pounds.  

When I look at these photos of me in the hospital, I don’t even recognize myself.  The final month my guess is that I gained an additional ten pounds at least, maybe more? To me, I look really, really bloated and unwell.  While uploading photos, I asked my husband if I had actually gained that much weight or if the fluids they had me on caused me to swell.  He said the photos did look like me and that the last two weeks overdue, I got really big.  Jiminy Christmas… 

While in the hospital, they told me my blood pressure was ‘a little high’ so they were going to put me on a magnesium drip. I began an endless bunch of drugs to assist with dilation and after two full days of various medications and painful internal exams, I had finally dilated to 2 cm.  Unfortunately, every time I had a contraction Ruby’s heart rate would dip, and because at this point I had been in the hospital for two days after my water breaking, they thought a c-section was necessary so as not to get an infection or distress the baby. 

Looking back, while the waiting game was annoying, I am super thankful for that.  Soooo many women have had to push painfully and endlessly before having to have an emergency c-section.  This was not the case for me and I’m beyond grateful.

Up until this point I had been working with a wonderful midwife in Loma Linda and we had plans to give birth in their beautiful tub of my dreams.  *swoon* Despite this birth plan, at 39, I was always open to a c-section if complications arose.  Having a healthy baby was all that mattered, as they say.  When we got to the hospital, though, it got really emotional.  Even typing this today, I get nauseous and my heart starts racing.  PTSD is real, homies!

For starters, we had major issues with the blood pressure machine. Each time it started, it would squeeze my arm so hard, it would cause sharp pinching pain so severe I would wince and it would literally take my breath away.  Of course, this made my heart race even faster. Another time, it made my arm swell so much around my hospital wristband, it cut off the circulation in my hand.  My hand grew pink and swollen and my husband had to rip off the cuff.  Another time, it got so tight it just popped off of my arm completely. In these instances, my heart would race from pain and the readings would be off the chart– like 180 and 220. 

While I wasn’t denying I had high blood pressure, some of these readings couldn’t possibly be correct. For whatever reason, the hospital staff wouldn’t listen when we told them what happened during those high readings, like this obese person just couldn’t come to terms with her high blood pressure. No one would take my blood pressure manually even though I asked.  And once, I was told by a nurse that the reason the cuff hurt is because I have high blood pressure.  Ummm… no. 

My poor mom also had nowhere to sleep.  When I was on another round of meds to be dilated, Lliam drove her back home. I think all of us knew it was for the best.  She was able to feed the animals and ‘Mima’ even learned how to work Netflix on her own!  🙂

The nurses were doing all of these really invasive things and I finally asked to speak to the attending doctor. When she arrived and mentioned the reason for the invasiveness was because ‘preeclampsia is pretty dangerous,’ we were blown away. We never knew they had diagnosed me with preeclampsia or that they found protein in my urine. To me, that is a huge deal to not tell a patient because preeclampsia IS dangerous.  I told her if we had known I had preeclampsia, we would have been more grateful for the invasiveness.

She seemed a bit surprised we didn’t know but did her best to downplay it because we were pretty shocked and angry.  And when she was describing my high blood pressure, she–again!!– mentioned the few super high and faulty readings like they were law, partly being taken into account for the diagnosis. Ack!!

This photo was before the epidural.  I toooootally look like my brother.  Ha!

Everyone kept saying how sorry they were that I wasn’t having the birth I wanted like we were upset about not being with my midwife. I’m sure they didn’t mean it this way, but it felt condescending because that wasn’t the case. We were upset because faulty information was used in decision making, and things weren’t being communicated properly. And I don’t know about you, but when I feel I’m not being listened to and I’m not a part of major decisions or conversations involving myself, my body or my baby, my anxiety– and blood pressure– reeeeeally goes through the roof.  It feels like a crazy nightmare, like you’re in an episode of Black Mirror wringing your hands, screaming as loud as you can, and no one will listen.    

Did I have high blood pressure before I gave birth? Yes and no.  At the very start of my pregnancy it was in the low 140’s but when I quit a stressful job, it went down thirty points in two weeks and hovered at 110 for months.  So I know stress and anxiety is a huge factor for me.  When my husband and I moved back to California, I had readings in the 120’s with my midwife toward the end of my pregnancy but at the time we also had no place to live, no jobs, no money, etc.  It was very stressful so we both took that into account.  Another symptom of preeclampsia is protein in the urine and having tested that every week, I was totally fine.  Also, surprisingly, I barely had any swelling in my legs and feet throughout my entire pregnancy so I wasn’t concerned.  Unfortunately, preeclampsia can come on and be diagnosed at any time.  Previous to that, it’s not to say that I didn’t have high blood pressure at some point during my life, I just wasn’t aware of it.  

After two very long days and no sleep, the resident doctor told us we needed to have a c-section.  A very cerebral guy, he spoke like a robot half asleep, showed no emotion and kept giving us information like it was being downloaded.  My husband and I, a little worse for wear, asked him to leave so we could discuss.  We knew it was our only option at this point but needed a few moments together to feel all the feelings.  When he comes back, my husband had changed into a BMW t-shirt.  All of the sudden the doctor’s eyes lit up, he points at my husband’s shirt and says, “That’s a 2002 BMW!”  

He enthusiastically proceeds to talk to my husband about how much he loves working on BMW’s and how it’s probably the reason he became a doctor.  Because… “I figured if I could fix cars, I could fix people.  Except, come to find out, that 24.2% of people react differently to treatment.”  

WHAAAAAAAAT???????????  

For a metaphysical, partially crunchy and super spiritual gal, my jaw dropped to the floor.  Comparing fixing humans to fixing cars, this doctor was literally my worst nightmare.  At that point, I was like “Okay universe, CLEARLY I’m not allowed to have ANY control here.  And that’s cool, I throw my hands up, Jesus done take the wheel already, I surrender!  

“Um… I would, however, like to ask that these people don’t kill me.”  

I wasn’t sure my prayers were being answered as I was drugged, strapped down to my bed and wheeled into the surgery room.  I know this is all routine and standard procedure  but I remember thinking this is probably how alien abductees feel, completely helpless, as a ginormous bright light blinds you from above. I was nauseous and told its okay to throw up if I needed.  But how?  I was strapped down.  Was I just supposed to let chunks drizzle down my face?  

“God, please don’t let me choke on my own vomit and die during my c-section.”

I was so drugged and tired, I fell asleep through the surgery. Lliam had to wake me when they removed Ruby from my guts.  Even looking like ‘Carrie,’ I love her sooooo much. 

They laid her on my neck wrapped up.  All I remember was being entirely uncomfortable and out of it.  I looked up to the plastic separating me from the doctors just in time to see one of them roughly compressing my stomach with their folded hands like they were trying to resuscitate my uterus, or jamming an overstuffed suitcase closed. I could feel it but not feel it. It was insaaaaane. I remember feeling entirely outside of my body and thinking this was the most surreal experience of my life. 

This didn’t feel like a magical moment.  That is why I am so grateful we brought the camera.  Looking back, I’m able to see the beauty in these moments, though they didn’t feel beautiful at the time…. which is pretty much everything I know and love about photography.

Ruby Clementine Donohue was brought into the world on February 12, 2018.  My sister Jodianne’s birthday.  She is an Aquarius with a Gemini ascendant and a Capricorn moon.  🙂

Being overdue, I was for sure she was going to be 146 pounds with a pumpkin head.  I’m grateful she came out at the size she did.  🙂

After the surgery, we were wheeled into a ‘recovery room.’  On a kind note, my midwife told me they moved heaven and earth to allow me to do skin to skin with her and breastfeed after the c-section.  So I greatly appreciated that!!

I do remember how amazing it was to see Lliam with her, a ‘Papa’ for the first time.  He adores her so much.  

All of the nurses and the doctors (and anyone that has met her thus far) kept mentioning her ‘alertness.’  From day one, she’s always looked about intently, taking in her surroundings.  (Or maybe contemplating why the H she chose us as parents!)

We spent two more days in the hospital.  We really just needed sleep– desperately.  We had some really nice nurses but regardless of the situation, I just don’t understand how anyone expects you to recover while being poked and prodded every twenty minutes. Or less!  We were at a teaching hospital so it could be one nurse, groups of people, the cleaning lady,  people I wasn’t even sure of conducting a survey, etc.  We got NOOOOO sleep. I became depressed, teary and angry. Not to mention, we also had to take care of our newborn.  None of this helped my blood pressure.  I felt jittery like I was on 24 cups of coffee but drugged like a sloth.  Thankfully, we had her…

Ruby was jaundice and had to be under lights for six hours.  (When I imported these photos into Lightroom they were insanely blue.  I’m not sure why because they didn’t look that way in camera.  Regardless, I converted them to black and white and thankfully I like them this way quite a bit!).

I know it’s a pretty common thing but damn, it was hard to see her in there.  

I CANNOT FATHOM how parents must feel with their babies in the NICU.  They are my heroes. I am soooo grateful we’ve had no serious concerns with her, I can’t even tell you. 

Baby feet and hands come out soooo gray and wrinkled!  Like they’ve been waterlogged for weeks.  

I was so grateful when the blue lights were over.  I just wanted to snuggle her and tell her that one day we’d be out of this hospital and she would no longer be poked and prodded… You know, except vaccinations. I didn’t mention that part.  😉

She struggled with breastfeeding which was also stressful.  The overworked lactation specialist spewed information at such rapid fire, we didn’t stand a chance.  We were so tired, it might as well have been in another language. Typically, after a cesarean, recovery in the hospital is 2-4 days after birth.  We were so insanely exhausted that by the second day, with Ruby at 100%, we were desperate to go home. 

The doctors, however, weren’t feeling as optimistic.  My blood pressure was inching back up at 138 and they wanted me to stay and be monitored the extra 2 days. When the doctors kept pushing back, however, my panic set in and I got emotional.  Every time they took my blood pressure, it just got higher and higher. We couldn’t take another day.  I felt so shaky and delirious with fatigue, frustrated and helpless, that I felt like if we didn’t leave then, I might never leave.  It felt like they would always find something else wrong, and I knew I would never feel better without sleep.  Against their wishes, we headed home.  

As soon as we drove up the mountain and walked through the door, I felt SUCH a sense of relief.  It was amazing to be in our own space and in our own bed.  My mom was there to help out and I immediately felt like I could breathe.  It was the best decision we could have made for us. 

The high blood pressure did, indeed, come home with me.  That part of my recovery has been the hardest and scariest part by far, and I’ll be sure to share that part of our journey in my next blog. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear from moms and dads about your own birth story.  Do you remember it?  What was the experience like? Was it what you expected?  How was your recovery?  Being a mom is such a wild and incredible experience… how unbelievable that we come into the world this way. 

 

This is a really gorgeous picture of me, right?  Now I know you’re not going to believe this… but YES!  I DO wake-up this way! Now before you hit the ‘envy’ button on your Instagram (because I know how icky one can feel comparing yourself to other mom’s feeds), don’t worry!  Today I’m going to share with you ALL of my tips and tricks so that YOU, awesome reader, can not only look as feed-worthy BUT!  You can also watch your Instagram follower numbers go through the roof.  THIS is how I increased my followers from 504 to 515 in just one year!  And guess what?  You can, too!  

So, let’s get started!  My top ten ways to look THIS good in the morning:

  1.  Keep Your Make-Up On From the Night Before

What??? I know!  With a newborn, I always want to look as fresh as possible for my husband or the public if I have errands to run that day, and the best way for me to do this and still not miss a beat is to keep my make-up on.  This way, when I wake up, I’m all ready looking beautiful and ready to go.  And hello!  TIME SAVER.  Smiley face!

     2.  Wear Flannel

Now I’m not talking about the cute fitted flannel that is hanging in your closet that you can’t fit into anymore.  (Be kind to yourself, Momma!  Wear what’s comfortable!)  I’m talking about the flannel your dad sent you when you first started living in the mountains and you were 86 pounds lighter.  At the time those flannel shirts were fifty sizes too big and you looked like a truck driver, but ever since you got pregnant at your heaviest weight and gained an extra 45 pounds, they look magical!!  You will be warm and comfortable, and the best part?  They’re long enough to cover your yoga-pants-wearing, still-look-pregnant ass!  Now if anyone has yet to see this trend on Instagram, just tell them ‘Large Marge Sent Ya!’  and only the hippest on-trend moms will get the reference. #WearFlannelPeeWee

       3.  Wash Your Hair and Shower Only Periodically

By now everyone knows that a little oil is amazing for your hair!  But I’ve got the no-shower time frame sweet spot:  three and a half weeks!  By the end of three and a half weeks, not only will your hair curl naturally but the scent of your hair will begin to cover up the sweaty musk of the rest of you.  A total win-win!  And newborns= high expenses, so saving daily on shampoo and deodorant?  BOOM. See? You’re already crushing it!  Yay-sies!  

       4.  Continue to Wear Your Maternity Pants

Many women are under the misconception that after giving birth, you should try to fit into the clothes you wore before you were pregnant.  I’m here to tell you,  take your time!  By wearing extremely large maternity sweatpants, you wake up every morning feeling like you’ve lost a ton of weight!  “And when you feel good, you look good!” So true.  #YoureATen

        5.  Drool!

Now that I’ve given up my maternity pillow (lovingly dubbed ‘The Marshmallow Man’), I’ve been snuggling with my husband again.  (Gotta keep the embers burning!)  This has been awesome as I’ve been able to use him as my drool mat.  Unfortunately, my honey just nabbed an awesome, new full-time job so he has to get up every morning by 4:45am.  This has cut drastically into my drool time.  So what to you do? Drool on YOU!  Scientists working with baby pandas in China have discovered that drooling on one’s own skin can not only moisturize but crust the surface of your skin.  

We all know what moisturizing can do, but crusting’s benefits are by far superior to its moisturizing predecessor!  When drool crusts the skin, it keeps all toxins, dirt and oils on the OUTSIDE of the skin as a protective barrier. I’ve begun to use my drool on the daily in place of cover up and you wouldn’t believe how many heads I’ve turned!  Not to mention fast, affordable and convenient.  Truth!

        6.  Chapped Lips Mean You’re a Good Mom

You may have seen gorgeous moms with full, lush lips on Insta and thought maybe you need to catch up on those make-up tutorials.  I’m going to nip those thoughts in the bud!  Imagine this… you’re running around all day– feeding, changing your baby, pumping, on diaper duty– not to mention, all of the household chores.  You’re bound to get a little dehydrated, am I right?  Well, what’s a little dehydration when you know you’re putting your perfect, adorable munchkin first?  When you have chapped lips, this shows you’ve made no time for yourself and other moms will be in awe at how devoted you are to your baby.  Awww…

         7.  Let Your Breasts Leak

Girl Power! That’s right.  When you accidentally sleep through pumping sessions and you wake up to a wet, milk covered t-shirt, don’t hide it.  We live in a patriarchal society that is geared toward the desires of men.  Anything that women have to deal with– periods, leaky boobs, postpartum emotions are ‘icky things’ to men in power. By letting your breasts leak free and naturally, you’re showing your male counterparts that you’re not afraid of being a woman and deserve to be seen.  (Also, as we learned in college, there’s nothing sexier than a wet t-shirt! Am I right?)  #SexyHotFeminism

          8.  Don’t Bother With Manicures

A gorgeous color on nails looks great, I’m not gonna lie.  But when our nails are covered, we can’t see what’s under them. By unearthing what the crud is under our nails, we get to relive what we’ve experienced the past week.  You might be forgetting about the chicken tikka masala you made the night before while you’re little was sleeping, or the dirty diaper you just changed. Like a paleontologist discovering a new set of dinosaur bones, don’t lose your history! Our babies grow up so fast, that every moment counts.  

          9.  Don’t Sleep

This one’s pretty obvious.  The less sleep you get the more time you have to spend with your baby.  And when you spend time with your baby, you have that natural glow that women envy!  And if you’re worried about the bags under your eyes?  No worries. Revisit rule #1!  

        10.  Be Original

And finally… Be YOU!  When you scroll through those #InstaMoms with perfect feeds and all-white branding, how do you plan to stand out?  If you look at the photo above, you’ll notice I took this picture in the bathroom of a house we’re renting.  The lighting is harsh and bathroom is covered in busy wildlife wallpaper and old elixir advertisements. How often do you see THIS on Insta?  Exactly.   AND!  In the photos below you’ll notice how my flannel shirt is plaid like the bathroom wallpaper is plaid.  Coordinating with your background always makes a photo stand out!  Something you don’t see very often.  While you may not get every sponsor or endorsement like the other moms, you’ll get the ones that count and THAT will make all the difference to your pocketbook! 

 

That’s it!  See how easy?  And just to show that you can use these tips in ANY situation, here are some other shots:

 

Pleased With Ourselves Look

Sexy Look!

Excited Look!

 

Thanks so much for reading, you guys!  And if you liked this post at all be sure to subscribe to MandiCrocker and share with all of your friends! Kisses!  *Mwah!*

There is something innately drilled into the core of my being: EXPECTATION.  Especially during the holidays! Whether it’s baking or hosting, going to all of the events, wearing Christmas attire or having a perfectly decorated home, I have had a crazy elf-like compulsion since birth to be Martha Stewart (except if Martha were Ina Garten).  I want ALL Norman Rockwell, ALL the time… in my mind. 

Reality, on the other hand, is an entirely different thing.  Reality is the crazy number of hours put in and the guilt-ridden financial costs spent on hosting holiday dinners for 20. It’s the astronomical number of cookie platters you make for everyone you’ve ever met in your life and the devastation they’re not enjoyed due to special diets, eating vegan or gluten free. It’s the panic of going to every single function in the name of Christmas and never allowing yourself an opportunity to breathe.  BUT YOU LOVE IT, RIGHT???  And like a wing nut, in many ways I do.

But oftentimes, rather than be filled with inspiration and the real joy of the season, it can become a quiet comparison– a festering comparison to the instagram Martha Stewarts of the world that are nailing it, leading me to question all of my life choices.

And the worst part?  Even when I do get it ‘right’ and my life looks like a Pier One commercial for exactly 30 seconds, I’m usually let down.  I can control everything until I can’t.  People are late. There is weather.  Health emergencies.  Car accidents. Job losses. And the kicker?  FAMILY.  Oh, the joys of family! Don’t we all just have the PERFECT FAMILY???!!!  

(People, I adore my family but we’re all so different we ain’t never gonna be Norman Rockwell.  We’re more like you’re 12 year old niece’s watercolor version of Thomas Kincaid you bought at the family garage sale). 

This year especially– being eight months pregnant, the expectation doesn’t stop at owning Ina’s ‘Cooking For Jeffrey.’  Following the baby forums online, every post is about “Show us your nurseries!” or “Look at my maternity photos!”  The nurseries are adorably painted and themed, and– oh my God– these maternity photos are out of control.  Many of these goddess moms look like magical unicorns with their fresh flower crowns, big bellies and ethereal see through robes, walking through rivers, so connected to Mother Earth now as pregnant women… 

Having just moved from Washington to California at the start of my third trimester (and the chaos/reality/energy that comes with making major life decisions based solely on faith and trust), your expectations about pretty much everything are OBLITERATED.  

 

When reality set in and the angels whisper-screamed, “We are well aware of what you want, Martha, but you might want to pray to Mother Mary about what you need,” it put things in perspective right quick.  

We were magically taken care of in every way possible.  Within a month, my husband had his pick of jobs, we found a doctor, we got insurance.  Thanks to a young man my husband works with, we found a place to live for an amazing deal.  It was an emotional rollercoaster of a month, and of course we still have very real and legitimate fears and concerns, but when so much is taken care of for you so fast, you trust the journey.  You trust the angels.  You’re grateful your friends made room at their inn, your donkey is a Mazda Tribute and you’re grateful to not be pressured with a Christ-child.

It has made me think A LOT about expectations… and how not a single one friggin matters.  I kinda knew this already but I didn’t.  Never to this extent. 

What does motherhood really mean?  What does ‘successful motherhood’ look like?  What is a nursery? What is actually important? When all the popular and materialistic pregnancy bells and whistles of our culture are stripped away, as they have been for my husband and I in many ways, what does being pregnant really look like? 

Maybe it’s not about unicorn maternity photos.  Maybe it looks like stretch marks and duck fuzz…

Maybe we’re not branding our baby on Instagram or shopping for baby clothes at Ralph Lauren but we have a nursery!  This is what it looks like: 

The simplicity of having no expectations, makes what you have feel sooo abundant. It makes six bags of gifted baby boy clothes over-the-top exciting to put on our little girl.  

It has me thinking about the holidays… Without money for gifts or the energy for the bells and whistles of decorations, dinners, family or festivities– things that aren’t guaranteed for my husband and I this year, what does Christmas look like now? What does it mean? Is it the worst holiday ever or does it still get to be Christmas?  

Maybe it’s not about having your own tree.  Maybe it’s being grateful for a night with your seester, who does have all her delicious and magical bells and whistles up this year:

Maybe it’s not about a table with family and all the fixings. Maybe it’s an old school shout out to the very first Christmas and what that might look like today:

And if you’re really stripped of everything you’re accustomed to, maybe it’s just the audacity and hilarity of a cat’s butt on your neck while you were trying to write a blog about Christmas:

I think it’s worth a ponder…

For me, once I let go of all the white knuckled expectation about the holidays and pregnancy, it’s been a relief. Suddenly, we’re no longer behind. We’re right where we should be. To have people around that love us is enough. It’s sooo much more than most. Every gift you receive becomes a free fall of emotional gratitude. And at the risk of sounding overly sentimental, the situation itself truly becomes the biggest gift of the season. 

 

 

Yesterday was a long day.  I got up early, meditated, packed bags, ran errands, drove up the mountains, made calls, texted contacts, made plans for Thanksgiving, met up with a realtor, looked at some houses, lost my wallet, went to lunch, met up with my honey, had a meeting with our lender, miraculously managed to get to the cabin that was gifted to us for the night without barfing, more calls and texts, unpacked bags.  Then, I found my wallet.  In a fog of severe ‘pregnancy brain,’  I had managed to zip my wallet into my make-up bag thinking it was my purse.   Yikes. Just one day of many…

Remember when I used to bake and take photos?  Was that a dream?

When we got to the cabin, we were absolutely exhausted and feeling a bit down and out.  While so much has happened, and happened in our favor in a very short amount of time, truly none of it has felt easy.  Lliam was able to find work quickly and started his job last week.  Still without a place to live, he has been car camping while I have been visiting my sis in San Diego.  Yesterday was the first we’d seen each other in a week.  With all that’s going on, it felt like a lifetime.

Talking to the lender was both encouraging and disappointing.  She’s totally awesome… But with one income, we are prequalified for about 46 cents, and 54 cents if we can come up with a $4-6k down payment.  She had a lot of fantastic suggestions and she definitely wants to get us a house in a financially healthy way.  But to jump through a million hoops again, as we’ve already done with the DMV, doctors, health clinics, contacting the IRS for W2’s, etc, finding co-borrowers and taking loans from friends sounded exhausting last night and felt hopeless.  Two steps forward, two steps back.  Needless to say, when we got to the cabin, Lliam and I snuggled the hell out of each other. 

This morning when Lliam left for work I said, “Honey, I’m glad you’re my husband, okay?”  My ‘cute’ way of saying that I loved and appreciated him.  “Oh, that’s so nice,” he says back.  A moment later he pops his head back in and says, “Sweetie, I’m so proud you’re my wife.”

I’m not sure why– because we’re pretty respectful and sweet to each other all the time, but the comment plinko-ed it’s way to the bottom of my heart and warmly made its home there.  My husband is proud of me.  All 846 pounds of pregnant, invalid me– swollen thighs, ass like a barn door, wife that can’t walk more than a block due to joint pain in my knees, that gets carsick every single time we drive up the mountain (despite him driving slow), and can’t contribute financially because car camping in my third bladder-filled trimester feels like death… And yet, he doesn’t just love me, he’s proud of me. (WHY???) But I am also soooo proud of him!!!  The man he is, who he is choosing to be.  How much he cares about this family and works hard for us. The way he rubs my belly excitedly and asks, “How are my girls!?” 

This morning it made me think of the Jack/Rebecca relationship in the NBC show, ‘This Is Us.’  The couple with triplets that has absolutely no idea what is going on but trusts everything will be okay because they believe in their love.  Lliam and I are very different characters on our hit show, but our love and commitment to each other is the same.  Or, in a song I wrote and blubbered through on our wedding day… ‘It’s a life I trust because it’s us.’  It got me thinking so hard about how I’ve been feeling and ultimately, about the love around us.

Every day I wake up in fear and anxiety. There are tears and panic.  I want answers now.  It truly is a daily unveiling– a moment by moment surrender. And we signed up for that.  I can handle it because we felt led to move here. There are such amazing lessons and growth in this and I truly believe we will feel unstoppable, in many ways, forever after.

But when this faith and these lessons, comes at the expense and generosity– and continued generosity— of friends and family, the clock ticks and my stomach turns.  Hey angels! Can’t we move this along for their sake?  It is their burden and mine.  It is the heaviest weight I carry and a guilt I drag behind me.  I know this is a tragic attitude in manifesting a place to live so I do my best to surrender this thought as well. 

Instead, I meditate. I listen to Christmas music. I remember the holiday season is upon us and that I decide what the holidays mean to me. I stay proactive for the sake of taking action.  I say no to the friends I moved here for and instead rest as much as I can. I let myself feel what I need to feel in order to keep my spirits up and vibration high. I realize that ‘This is Us’ isn’t one couple’s love story.  It’s not about one family.  ‘This is Us’ is about ALL of us.  

When I let go of the guilt, I am able to see the real story…   I watch my friends become innkeepers, saying yes to the Christmas story in their own way.  (Less Messiah, more Baby Soul.)  When I told my sis I might have to give birth in a stable, she texted me that she had hay, a variety of animals and even an astrologer present to chart the stars for my visit.  Ha! 

We eat bagels and drink iced tea at Starbucks from the $100 gift card given to me by a friend and angel in Mazama.  $200 in cash for our trip, lovely cards and a Mazama onesie for our little girl! I stay at various faux ‘Airbnbs’– apartments, cabins… every day we have a place to stay. A server being overly kind because I don’t notice until I’m back in the car that my eyes are red.  Lliam’s church gifting us a carseat/stroller combination. Friends of friends that offer a slew of baby items I haven’t even begun to think about yet.  (Oh right, we’re having a baby…)  I feel the angels rejoice like its Christmas…

For months I’ve had that goofy song ‘We are Santa’s Elves’ from Rudolph in my head and had no idea why.  I realize the lesson on this journey might actually have nothing to do with what I manifest in faith. It’s soooo not about me. It has everything to do with seeing the world with new eyes– that Demagorgans at the DMV aren’t truth or reality.  Instead, that kindness and acts of beauty in the world exist now more than ever in humanity.  In goodness, we’re all connected. It’s a planet full of Santa’s Helpers. 

This thought is still a work in progress, maybe… But at the very least, I’m grateful to recognize my friends, family and the world around me, in the below clip…  When you have a world this cute and so excited to help, what’s not to be grateful for?  Makes me want to put on some elf ears and get to work because this?  THIS is us. 

 

With a baby on the way, my husband and I moved to California two weeks ago to be closer to friends and family for support.  While folks from the Methow Valley in Washington are posting photos of beloved snowy adventures, we are looking for jobs and a place to live seven months pregnant while crashing with friends in sunny SoCal.  (Psssh, no big).  😉 

 This was my last contribution as the weekly Mazama Valley Life Columnist for The Methow Valley News. Two weeks into our new adventure, revisiting this column was a reminder to continue to trust and embrace the adventure before us.  The column was originally published in The Methow Valley News October 18, 2017. 

*******************************************************************************************
 
It was 2013 and I had just moved back to Los Angeles. I had been there about a month, interviewing for various General Manager positions with a recruiter.  Sitting in traffic for an hour and a half on the 405, contemplating the very last of my savings, however, I kept turning down work as none of these positions felt right.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to be a General Manager.  I wanted to make a living but I also wanted a life. 
 
I went for a walk that night to let go of my fear, listening to a lecture on manifestation, being in gratitude for the deep pinks that burst out of the Pasadena shrubs, the orange trees and sounds of the breeze— my friend’s family that was letting me stay in their guesthouse.  I had nothing but I had so much to be grateful for.
 
When I returned home there was an email from my aunt: “Why move back to Los Angeles when you can move to the middle of nowhere and be a baker?”  
 
Yes, yes, yes…  My heart raced when I read those words. This is everything I want.  I had just moved back to the city, but in a month’s time here I was already disappointing 100 friends, borrowing $500 from my sister to drive two days to get to this mysterious and thrilling place called ‘Mazama’ for a summer job.  What most would call irresponsible is just how this seeker rolls.  I trust my intuition.  I follow the signs and listen to my guides. I am always where I am supposed to be.
 
I’ve been a contemplative person my whole life and I’ve always sought the spiritual, but to sum up my time here feels overwhelming.  It would require a novel and seven years of hindsight.  What I can say around 500 words, is that when I think of the past four and a half years— everything I didn’t know, who I was and who I would become, the word that resonates is Gratitude.’  My heart runneth over with this word.  
 
Thank you mountains for grounding me with your omnipotence, majestic size and beauty.  Thank you rivers for your crisp, cool water whose constant, clear movement reminds of my own cleansing and renewal.  Thank you light for the way you come through my windows, waking me with warmth and giving me hope for each day.  
 
Thank you trees for your roots that plunge deep and powerfully through the earth reminding me of your wisdom that lasts longer than the span of my meager life. Thank you blue skies for reminding me of goodness, the air in my lungs as life and the reminder that this world we’ve been given is a gift.  Thank you quiet of the woods for being the most amazing friend— allowing me to hear my thoughts clearly and for making my prayers easily accessible to God.   
 
Thank you for helping me become a woman that would take a chance on unexpected love— marrying some weirdo with different colored eyes and crazy hair.  Thank you for teaching me that the impossible is possible, buying my first house and with my honey, making it a home.  Thank you for bringing me teachers that would train and guide my creativity into delicious treats and weekly columns.  Thank you for the courage to start a family.  And thank you readers, for allowing me to share my journey with you.  
 
I knew with everything in me I was supposed to move to Mazama.  It is with this same knowing that we say goodbye.  I have no idea what the future holds in the mountains of California— without jobs, without a place to live, not much saved and a baby on the way.  But if I’ve learned anything, it is that we are always taken care of beyond our greatest expectations.  I’ve learned that God laughs at our plans anyway and, instead,  gives us what we need.  I’ve learned that change can be a huge catalyst for incredible adventure and transformation.  If it has been anything like the past four and a half years?  With a grateful heart and running eyes, I say ‘Bring it on…’  
 
Thank you, Methow Valley.  You all have been the most amazing gift.   We love you and will miss you all!
 

One of my favorite days on Maple Pass.

A couple of months ago, during the height of home renovation, Seattle photography classes and taking on extra articles at our paper, I was asked to do the Fall cover for the Methow Valley Arts Magazine.  It’s one of my favorite assignments.  I love working with artists, hearing their story and doing my best to capture that story in images.  It’s always a unique and interesting exchange.

This issue was dedicated to a local folk singer named Hank Cramer. 

We met for coffee and got to chat for a while.  His wife Kit, a high country wrangler, even joined us for a bit.  They’re really sweet people that have learned over the years what it means for Hank to be a professional singer.  In the process of his successful career, he’s recently been able to help find and produce some other talent (“no egos!”), which it seemed like has been really gratifying for him.  

They live on a ranch in Winthrop, Washington, with horses, dogs and a cat.  

Living in the Pacific Northwest, you may have heard of our wildfire situation pretty much all over our state, coming from Canada and from neighboring Montana, Oregon and California.  The smoke has been thick and intense all summer.  The day we scheduled to shoot, there was an apocalyptic yellow haze that hung in the sky like nicotine clouds.  Not having seen real sunshine for days, we just had to go with it and I did my best. 

I had dreams of horses backlit by golden hour sunlight and dust in the air.  However, without any real light, I’m not going to lie, it was a real struggle to make things interesting. 

Hank serenaded me with his folk music almost the entire time.  It was so nice, peaceful and comforting and yet many times I’d have to make him hold still.  A face captured while singing tends to be what it looks like when you put a movie on pause- ha!  

I think this one is my favorite of the outdoor portraits. 

If you read the biography on his website, you will see that he has traveled all over the country as a musician. It’s pretty incredible. 

I was feeling iffy about the outdoor shots.  I was concerned the haze would feel more gas mask/ war torn than folk singer’s dreamy ranch life, and wanted back-up options. I asked him if we could go inside to get a few more.  I’m soooo glad I did!  He has a little guest house and for whatever reason, the light and the booth reminded me of a cowboy’s early morning cup o’ joe, when the world is quiet, the sun is just waking up to a big day of work ahead. 

Not to mention, I LOVE the moodiness of window light.  The contrast of dark and light can be really haunting and lovely to me.  This is probably my favorite of the indoor portraits. 

And this is probably my favorite of all the shots that day… I just love the light on a musician’s hands.

Since this shoot, I haven’t picked up a camera.  I haven’t edited a picture.  Between all that has been going on to get our home ready for the market, two Seattle photography classes that were within two weeks of each other, this shoot and editing, all while being pregnant with stress fractures in my feet (podiatrist appointment on Thursday- YESSSSSS)…Oh!  And taking on extra article at our paper because our poor editor was down for the count for a couple of months with some crazy back virus…  It was a LOT.  

Now that the house is clean, I pretty much spend all of my extra time meditating.  Ha!  No, really. No check lists, no to do’s, no hundreds of photos to edit… I’ve barely kept in touch with people.  Anything that feels like panic or work or ‘I have to’ has been shelved.  It has been the most amazing few weeks.  I would even use the word BLISS. 

I also packed up all of my baking stuff to make the house look less cluttered, so no baking 24-7 temptations there.  It’s like every instinct in me is saying, “It’s fall- you’re supposed to be making apple pie!”  No, Habit.  I’m really not.  I actually bought a pie at the store yesterday.  Ha!  I BOUGHT A PIE!!!  (Granted the pies at our bakery are kick ass, but still…)

Not to mention, the storage on my laptop is completely full with the photos I have on it. I couldn’t import anything new if I tried!  I bought a monstrosity of an external hard drive months ago in Seattle but the idea of spending time transferring photos right now sounds like a panic attack waiting to happen.  It sounds like death.  Instead, I’m just SO super enjoying the peace, resting in the quiet and recharging as best I can because I know when this house sells, our Relocate-to-California Adventure will require a lot of energy.  

Once we get there, I will be grateful to pick up the ol’ girl again.  Photograph my growing belly, our new life… But in the meantime, I’m focusing on gratitude for what I have right now, manifesting new owners for our adorable cozy cabin and taking in all the beauty our little place has offered us while I still can.  

The past year has been an education in putting away the Type A, 60 hours a week, money is everything, workaholic mentality to learn the joys of a work/life balance.  As dramatic as it sounds, it has been life changing. Now I’m learning what it means to be still.  In that stillness, I’m finding that who I am isn’t defined by work– or even more so, creativity or the projects I’ve finished, it’s who I am in the quiet that is actually me.  The crazy thing is that in doing nothing, I’m not even remotely bored.  I’m just in utter gratitude.  

I’m curious how this all plays out when our little one joins us, crying at three in the morning, needing constant attention.  Maybe the angels know how important this time is for me– to really know and recognize the spiritual being in this physical body bag before our lives flip upside down.  Whatever happens, big changes are ahead and I feel like I’m looking on a future that is so different and incredible than one I’ve ever lived, I literally have tears of gratitude and I don’t even know why yet. 

Also, I love our little Baby Soul… I finally felt a real kick the other night.  WOW.  She was dancing up a storm on her ultrasound the next day.  I can’t wait to meet her… Yes, big changes are ahead.  I know it is going to be such a special time.  As backwards as it seems, it’s– strangely– making me insanely grateful for every moment of right… now.