How to be Amazing

Rowan has always been incredibly strong and flexible. She learned to do headstands against the wall when she was two and can easily do splits, straddles, and backbends. It isn’t something she’s ever had to practice. It’s always been a skill set she’s naturally had.

Recently we decided to put her in gymnastics, and she has loved every second and has grown in leaps and bounds. Two weeks ago she had a chance to watch the “big girls” in the gym. They were practicing for their next competition, and Rowan saw them doing their floor routine, which included walkovers, handsprings, round-offs, and leaps. She hasn’t stopped talking about it, and she’s always wondering, “Are the big girls in the gym right now, Mama?” I catch her practicing leaps and splits in her room, but she’s getting frustrated with her limitations. She is seeing a big, new world of gymnastics, and she’s ready to do those amazing things, too.

But she’s not ready. Her little body is strong and is doing amazing things already, and she’s been selected to move to the pre-competitive team this summer. She has a natural talent and skill that the coaches want to build on and foster into something more. I love that she’s learning at such a young age that to reach for amazing isn’t by chance or without hard work.

Last year, I had a long-time, very loved client ask me how I was so amazing after I delivered her images. I’ve thought about that comment often since then, and the truth is, I do not consider myself to be amazing. I don’t ever want to feel amazing or that I’ve arrived or reached my goal, and since then I’ve considered what it takes to truly become what you dream of being? To stretch and reach towards that pinnacle?

Instead of that pinnacle in the last several months, I’ve surprisingly found a space of relative comfort and confidence. I’ve written before about conquering the gap that Ira Glass so eloquently described. The chasm that beginners find when embarking on a dream is intimidating; it’s frightening. The self-doubt and the frustration can be incredibly overwhelming, and it’s easy to get lost in the muck, to splash around in it and get stuck.

Comfort and confidence is a welcome shift from anxiousness, fear, and frustration. After endless hours of practicing, of analyzing, of studying. Endless hours of searching for my heart inside of my images and style. It’s incredibly satisfying to finally exhale. I enjoy feeling more confident about my work and my style. But it’s also nice to know I’m not amazing. Because that means there is still so much more to do, room to grow, and progress to make.

One day I’m sure Rowan will do a walkover and handspring. She will be one of the big girls in the gym and will find so much more comfort and confidence. And I hope that she understands that amazing isn’t a destination. Amazing is a reaching, a longing, and a desire for more that is never quite achieved, and that’s what makes it beautiful.

how to be amazing lifestyle photography girl jumping

Trust the Flight

On every flight, I grip the armrests pulling my knuckles tight. Impulsively, I resist the lift of the plane into the air. I push myself down into the seat and grasp for the safety of the ground below. My fear of flying, my tendency to expect the worst, to stress the possible and terrifying outcomes, makes the lift the worst moment of the flight.

But eventually, the plane pulls off of the ground, fighting gravity and the weight of passengers, luggage, and the sheer heft of itself. It’s a familiar struggle between the momentum generated to take flight and find lift and the desperate pull of gravity, of the earth’s roots, and the safety of the ground.

Three weeks ago, white-knuckled, I pressed myself down into the airplane seat, resisting the lift. I tensed, held my breath, and closed my eyes all while attempting to appear completely calm. I was on the way to Connecticut for a visit with a dear friend and a mentoring session with the wonderful photography team, Justin & Mary. Within that tension and breath holding, were many questions about my future dreams and goals, overwhelming fears about moving forward along a given path, and doubts regarding the choices I wanted to make.

I walked into my mentoring session the same way I boarded the plane: anxious, nervous, and afraid. We talked finances, we talked about dreams and a vision for my business, and we reviewed my website and social media accounts. Little by little I felt myself approaching take off. I felt myself impulsively pulling back; I heard myself making statements that were safe because I wasn’t sure I was brave enough to fly in the direction I thought I might want to.

I knew then that I had two options. I could walk away, stay grounded. Or I could trust the flight.

When Mary told me that she could tell just from my galleries that my true heart and soul was with my families, that because I choose to see and honor the beauty and complex imperfection of my own family’s blended history, I can also see and capture the beauty in the imperfection of the families I work with, tears filled my eyes. Mary saw my heart, and at that moment I felt safe enough to finally acknowledge it. I knew at that moment that I was finding the trust to finally lift off.

For months, I had been stuck in the moment before the lift, of fighting the flight. The moment just before the tires release their hold on the earth. I was struggling to stay grounded, safe, and rooted because choosing anything else felt too risky, too lofty, and too unknown.

But in the midst of this struggle there comes a point where the plane must fly. And we must too. We have to trust the flight and relax into the lift. Whether they are small, quiet changes or big, scary dreams, there’s a point where the fight to stay safe is no longer worth the struggle. We must grow.

We must fly.Mentoring with Justin and Mary

Pacey, Gage, and Rowan | Personal

I was chatting with one of my clients a few weeks ago and confessed that I had absolutely no pictures of my three kiddos together other than quick snapshots with my cell phone or very, very informal shots with my camera. Rowan has been with us for over three years, and we have nothing of them all together! How crazy! Our last formal family portrait was over six years ago. And we have another photographer in the family, too! How shameful is that!? So when last Monday turned out to be unseasonably warm and sunny, I ran to Target to piece together outfits, picked Pacey up at the bus stop, and zoomed over to Stumpy Lake in hopes of catching the sun before it dipped behind the trees. I know how hard it is to take pictures of your own kids. It’s so much easier to get frustrated, and funny how your kids find it easier to not listen because “it’s just mom.” On the way, I explained to the boys that I needed them to be as cooperative as they could because recently Rowan is a little stubborn when it comes to pictures. I had been talking up our pictures all day with Rowan, and she seemed on board, but three year olds… well, you know! I may have also bribed with ice cream. You have to do what works, right?! For all of the pressure to make it to the park with enough time left with the sun and the few moments I had to firmly get the boys back on track with me, I am so glad I took advantage of the chance to get these photos of them. I mean the sunlight! Seriously, Stumpy Lake is where it’s at for long grass and gorgeous glow at sunset!! 2014-12-01_0001 2014-12-09_0005 I sersiously couldn’t love them more!! Can you tell how much Rowan adores her big brothers?!2014-12-09_0003   I cannot get over how old they are looking. Gage still has a tiny bit of the little kid look, but Pacey is all teenager.2014-12-09_0010 2014-12-09_0009 The purples and pinks that came out when the sun started dipping below the tree line… Love!2014-12-09_0011 After the sun went below the trees, we hopped back in the car and drove down to the fishing/overlook bridge that runs alongside the lake’s edge. The post-sunset blue hour was so, so awesome! I had gotten into a rut of starting sessions too early for fear of running out of time, but the result has been fighting a too strong sun. I’ve finally trusted in my abilities to capture what I needed during the true golden hour and twilight hour, and it’s been so worth it!2014-12-09_00042014-12-09_00122014-12-09_00132014-12-09_00062014-12-09_0008 Only her big brothers can get smiles and laughs like this. I probably don’t want to know what they were doing over my head!

And yes, we are going to have our hands full in about ten years. This was entirely her idea!2014-12-09_0015 Which of course led to this, and it might be my favorite from the night. It’s captures the three of them perfectly!2014-12-09_0014