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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. 

 

I recently heard a story from a friend who was pregnant with her daughter 20+ years ago.  In her first trimester, she got so tired she was afraid she wasn’t going to be able to drive the hour or two she needed to get home.  Thankfully, she did make it home but when her husband arrived, he found her asleep on the stairs of their front porch with a car in the driveway that had been running for three hours.

First Trimester Fatigue… IT’S A THING AND I’M TALKING ABOUT IT. 

I have to admit (and tend to joke with my husband) that I have two emotions right now:  TIRED and RAGE.  So consider yourself warned!  For various reasons, there is definitely some cranky pants anger attached to this blog.  It has become very clear to me that people are uneducated about first trimester pregnancy.  Women go through intense shit early on and because they’re not showing yet, people (husbands, bosses, friends & family, society) don’t believe them and/or make a lot of assumptions. 

It has me feeling all… 

I had no idea before I got pregnant how freaking draining it is and, ultimately, I am dumbfounded it isn’t discussed more???  Maybe that makes me a whiner? Or maybe this is a societal thing where we like our pregnant women ‘glowing’ and ‘grateful.’  We are supposed to keep quiet and endure female pain on our own.  God, don’t we do that enough? 

I am soooo grateful to finally be ‘out’ about our pregnancy.  It has been a challenge having 26 different symptoms and when you’re at your lowest, needing support, you’re not allowed to ask for it because you’re not allowed to tell people about it.

Now that I can tell people, I’ve been shocked by the lack of empathy and belief from some. There are people I have trusted with the info that I have asked for support and their reactions lead me to believe they think I’m overreacting.  Do they think I’m just tired because I’m overweight? (Also, a thing).  Am I just milking it?  Some women’s husbands think they’re wives are trying to get out of chores or get angry when there’s not a meal on the table.  This also goes hand and hand with emotions.  Does what I’m saying hold no truth because it’s coming from heightened emotions?  It’s maddening (especially when you have more than one job and a million different activities on your plate) to be considered lazy or emotionally crazy or… or.. or…  UGH.  

Pre-pregnancy, when I thought of someone being pregnant, I only thought of two things:  morning sickness and crazy ice cream & pickle cravings.  I assumed women got really tired in their last trimester (which they do), being entirely ginormous, carrying  a ton of extra weight on swollen ankles.  In my clueless assumptions, I thought the first trimester was supposed to be a breeze!  “You can still exercise and have sex!”  Knowing what I know now, feeling the way I do, to brush fatigue under the rug just feels like another impossible standard for women to maintain and a societal construct that we’re supposed to endure.  

Every woman is different for sure, but for me, I can only compare this fatigue to my trip to India– spending ten days in the chaos of an awesome country with little sleep, and then taking a sleepless 20 hour flight home.  I wake up that tired every other day.  The rest of the time I don’t wake up India-tired, I feel ‘food sick’ tired.  Where you’re finally over your bug but are still really weak.  There are days where I don’t want to do the littlest things like email my parents or call someone back because all I have energy for is melting into the couch.  Like when you’re drunk and laying down anywhere will do. This is not typical.  I have to-do lists for my to-do lists.  And don’t get me started on nausea… 

In all of my 38 years, I think I’ve taken three or four afternoon naps.  My wheels spin, I can’t calm my brain in enough time, I’m just not a napper.  In this pregnancy?  I could nap almost any time of day.  I often don’t have the time to allow myself that luxury but when I do, I’m out like a light.  I’ve gotten up, driven down valley to get groceries and by the time I’m there, I am so wiped out, I do worry I won’t be able to get home.  On an inappropriate scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it to curl up at the grocery store for a month nap on a shelf with the large bags of cat food?  #noshame

This is actually what the first trimester looks like….

I took a quick photo from my cell phone at a hotel in Seattle.  I had my photography class and then my husband and I celebrated our first year anniversary.  It was so entirely exhausting, I could barely keep my eyes open.  I am soooo lucky to have him. He is super supportive and understanding.  He doesn’t judge me or belittle me.  He listens, he rubs my twitchy legs, he buys me chips for my nausea, he snuggles…

Also, God bless the internet because I know I am not alone!  Care to hear from other women?  Be sure to read the comments. 

The Bump

Pregnant Chicken

The Guardian

My favorite line is from Pregnant Chicken, “Fatigue is such a lame word. When I hear it I think of a yawn, stretch, and flutter of the eyes. Pregnancy fatigue in the first trimester is a BEAST.” #PREEEAACH

Not to mention that I am a line cook, lots of movement, on my feet. I work in a hot kitchen on packed summer nights.  Or I get up early for the breakfast shift which is worse because I haven’t slept due to three trips to the bathroom that night.  It’s brutal.  Not to mention my other jobs, trips to Seattle, photography class homework, home reno, etc, etc, etc… What’s the lesson here?

If someone you know is pregnant and claims to be tired, believe them.  It is waaaaay more than ‘tired.’ Know that it is an exhaustion that makes them feel like they barely exist.  Know that it has nothing to do with laziness or exaggeration and support them any way you can.  

And pregnant ladies… I SEE YOU.  Ask for what you need and F*CKING TAKE IT.  When almost one in three pregnancies ends in miscarriage, your biggest concern is taking care of yourself and your baby.  And nothing is worth that loss.  I know it’s easy to say… But don’t be afraid to disappoint people.  SAY NO.  The people who care are the ones who deserve your loyalty. Word?

Now, I want to hear from you!!! Tell me your stories… Who’s first?

What was the hardest part about your first trimester?  What was brutal?  I am hear to listen and would be grateful for your honesty!  In my opinion, the truth of the reality we experience only normalizes things in culture and makes us stronger…  Thanks for listening. xoxo

 

 

 

 

Pregnant.  I stared at the little plus sign for quite a while.  Am I sure it’s a plus?  I was running on such adrenaline, is it possible I made a mistake?  Do I just want it to be a plus and it’s not a plus?  I can’t believe I actually want it to be a plus…. Do I really want it to be a plus? Who am I????

Back in college with my girlfriends, our goal was to get degrees, an education and rack up a slew of fun experiences, but there is a joke in Christian college that women are mostly at school for their ‘MRS. Degree.’  And ooooooh, I was soooo on board for that major!  Amongst my friends, we all wanted to be married, find our ‘soul mate’ and have a gaggle of children.  

However, after NOT meeting Mr. Perfect at Christian college, I moved to LA to pursue acting.  I figured if I wasn’t going to get married out of college like everyone else, I wasn’t going to put my life on hold.  As I soon learned, finding my ‘soul mate’ was going to be a challenge. LA is not the kind of place where you’re going to find a laundry list of good guys, Christian or not. With a host of gorgeous women to choose from, in an incredibly (can-be) superficial environment, there really is no incentive for men to get married.  I was chunky, shy, lacked confidence and it just never worked out for me.  So I kept making choices outside the marriage box. 

Another year went by, and then five.  Ten. I continued to get older.  When you see that marriage might be something that never happens for you, you begin to see your life differently.  You lessen your tunnel vision.  The box opens and there is a whole world out there, outside of kids.  Few women get to see it really– wild possibility outside of the cultural norm. I widened my dreams to include travel and adventuring.  I learned that living passionately and choosing directions different than most energized me.  Twenty years later, I found myself asking if I even wanted kids.  I could barely relate to my 23 year old self.  

Then I unexpectedly met my honey at the age of 36, we got married at 38 and the baby inquiries rolled in.  I realized I still had time.  Very little time, but time.  There was a lot of pressure.  I am older.  Could we even have kids? When we talked about kids we decided we wanted them but we’d always kind of laughed nervously about it and never made any plans, mostly due to the financial monster that lurked behind the idea. It’s crazy to open your door to that guy.  We’d never be able to afford to have kids.  Let’s let the universe decide!  If it happens, it happens… And then it doesn’t have to be our fault. Ha!

I went to see my psychic while I was visiting in Los Angeles.  She was terrible! She answered none of my questions.  Instead, she told me there was a ‘baby soul lurking out there that wants you to be her mommy.’

Ummm…  

I ignored that and asked her if I should play the lottery.  Do I have lucky numbers?  When do I get rich?  She said that all of the creative things we had been talking about won’t happen for a few years really anyway, so why not have a baby girl!  

I told her that my husband and I were on board with letting the universe decide and she shut that down pretty quick.  She said that the baby wants to know it is safe and that you’re excited and more than “Egh, whatever, kid.”  She said we’d need to take responsibility and invite her.  None of this sounded like a surprise financial windfall from a deceased, unknown relative to me. 

I mentioned to the psychic that I felt like, for many reasons, I was finally discovering myself for the first time and that my life was just beginning.   I had all of these creative aspirations, I didn’t want to feel like my life was being put on hold again. She drew some cards, took a breath and then said that this child is ‘gifted intuitive’ and while I don’t exactly remember what she said…  what I heard was… This baby is going to make you laugh.  This baby is going to be a muse.  This baby is going to help heal.  This baby is going to get you out of your head.  This baby is going to teach you how to love yourself, others and the world around you.  This baby will breathe new life, not suck it out of you. 

It is A LOT these ears have put on Baby Soul. Ha! 

I always thought I was going to have a little girl.  I think it’s the close connection I had with my mom as a child.  Yet, in all of my adventuring I had never allowed myself the idea that a child would do anything but drain me and make me crazy. I imagined myself as the neurotic mom on ‘Modern Family’ and I immediately hated the idea of that person.  Or, the opposite, that I would entirely put my life on hold and live for my child, like I see soooo many women do.  I think I just needed to hear somebody say that this was going to be an inspired thing… even add to my existence? 

*Mind Blown*

So, here we are… After the shock wore off, an excited reality has set in.  Again, I have lessened my tunnel vision.  The box has opened and this time there is a whole world in front of me that shows a different kind of adventure where all of my loves, and a new love,  will meet. Once again I am energized by choosing a path different than what I had envisioned for myself, choosing a path that feels scary but true. There is a plus sign and with it comes an intuitive, little Aquarius baby!  We’ve been calling her Baby Soul.