on cups half empty, half full, and running over

My cup runneth over. Cup half empty or half full. We’ve heard these sayings time and time again, but recently I’ve been pondering on them as I practice gratitude.

We live in a really wonderful, awesome world but it’s a world that also struggles with scarcity culture. The culture of “never enough”, “not good enough”, “not pretty enough”, “not smart enough”, fill in the blank with whatever your personal not _______ enough is. We’re not just trying to improve, not only striving to be better humans, we’re obsessed with perfection that doesn’t exist and it’s driving us crazy.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to be motivated, but when we’re constantly comparing ourselves to an unrealistic expectation, we come up short and end up feeling hopeless about life. After all, when we look at our neighbor who has been training for a marathon for half a year and think “wow, I’ll never have a body like that”, but we’ve only just begun running ourselves, how can we possibly measure up? When we look at advertisements that show men with wrinkles and rugged visages but women are not allowed to have a single flaw, being retouched and photoshopped to unattainable perfection, how couldn’t we feel betrayed when we buy that face cream and never see the falsely advertised results?

When we look at someone else’s family and say “They’re happy all the time. They have a big house on a hill, huge yard with a picket fence, and two perfect children. They have everything I want.”, we don’t see what happens behind closed doors. When we see an Instagram highlight reel of sponsored vacations and seemingly flawless influencers living the life we’ve always dreamed, we feel a major surge of jealousy at best, and crippling depression at worst.

So what can we do when we’re faced with images of supposed perfection everyday, our inner voice unrelentingly whispering our flaws?

Let’s discuss healthy goals. A healthy goal is something that is within our power. We can’t say, “from now on I’m going to make everyone like me”, or “starting tomorrow, I’m going to have a better behaved kid”. Those aren’t things you can control, and to set a goal outside of your power will make you feel defeated. Do you want to be healthier? Practice self-care. Set a goal to drink more water. To take a morning walk. Do you want to feel more balanced and centered? Set a goal to do what makes you feel calm. Take an evening bath. Listen to soothing music. If you want to see a change within the people around you, it starts with you. How you act/react is so important, how you treat them, the boundaries and standards you set will influence the people that come and leave your life. Small, attainable goals will add up to new habits and a healthier lifestyle.

Gratitude practice is so important in the face of outside facades of perfection. We can look at that gorgeous influencer on a vacation in Paris and realize that, yes, they have been dealt a good hand. But also, they’re using a photo filter and editing, and they probably don’t have as perfect a life as you think they do. Another note, you could just unfollow them. Control what you’re putting in your brain.

We can also then look at our lives and say, you know what? My life is pretty dang good too.

Look around you. You have people that love you. The leaves dancing in the breeze are beautiful. The sound of birds singing is lovely. You have a beating heart within your chest, lungs that sustain you. You are a miracle, and none of the stuff they’re telling you that you need is necessary for a good life. All you need for a good life is a gratitude mentality.

We don’t need our cups to run over. We don’t need an excess of so much stuff we don’t even know what to do with it. All we need is what we need, and the right mindset to realize we already have it.

summer magic

Summer hasn’t been my favorite season since I was a kid. I loved it then for the wildness, the freedom. Being outside all day, every day. I can conjure memories of laying on freshly cut, soft green grass and staring up into the sky looking for pictures in the Michigan clouds. I remember swinging over a ditch by a willow branch. I climbed that willow tree and tested my fear. I remember what the sunsets felt like. I was developing my sense of nostalgia watching the colors burn the horizon. I remember running through a sprinkler, being out on the lake as often as I possibly could, water slides, firecracker popsicles, toasted marshmallows, sparklers. How could I forget?

I have the blessing of experiencing all of this with my daughter now. I see the way strings of lights reflect magic in her eyes. She uses a cardboard box to sail over imaginary seas, walking planks and plundering pirate treasure. She drinks from a hose, belly laughs, twirls ‘til she’s dizzy, floats with a brightly colored tube on the bay. She looks for dancing, dappled light beams in the corners of our home. She lives for tales of Neverland and Peter Pan, spends all day reading on her bed, sings at the top of her lungs, jumps into oncoming ocean waves in nothing but her underwear, creating the fibers of her own childhood magic.

Brought to us by summer.


Show of hands, who here struggles with worthiness?

When Photo Native put out the call for instructors, and I found myself filling out the form, I seriously felt like it was a little cloud of inspiration over me. I was a human vessel for inspiration working through me, and I finally understood personally what Elizabeth Gilbert describes as Big Magic. It felt like these ideas were barely mine, my hands were operating from an unknown source of courage, urging me into this arena. I accepted.

I see the lineup for Photo Native (you guys, it’s a good one!) and the industry brilliance that will be represented there, and I find myself backing away into the shadows. I keep thinking…did they get the right girl? Are they sure they meant ME?! I understand now what imposter syndrome is! I have been working my tail off for the past 7+ years teaching myself this craft, refining it, trying and erring and trying again, learning from my mistakes, mastering many parts of it, earning recognition for it, and I still don’t feel worthy.

You know what? Enough of that. It’s not bragging to say I have worth. It’s not egotistical to love myself, to see something good in who I am and what I do. To celebrate what I have overcome, who I am despite what I’ve been through. I truly believe that I came to this planet for a purpose, and part of that purpose will be brought to life at Photo Native next year. It won’t be perfect, I can promise you that. But it will be real. What I have to share is going to come from a place of authenticity and humor and softheartedness.

I purchased my ticket to Photo Native when they did the surprise super early bird registration, before they announced any instructors, because I knew that this is the creative conference I wanted to go to. I didn’t know I was going to be teaching. All I knew was some of the photographers I admire most have taught at this conference in the past (see also: WENDY LAUREL), and I believe in their motto: You Belong. Before even being part of the Photo Native family, I felt that.

Here are the details for PN2020:

WHO/WHAT is Photo Native for?: “If you are looking for not only artistic inspiration, solutions to burnout, and reigniting your creative fire but also, just as importantly, new knowledge, strategies, and skills that will best serve you in business marketing and financial success, you're going to love Photo Native. Come learn how to up-level your business, be the creative powerhouse we know you are, and join an incredible community of artists for three days of inspiration and growth.”

WHERE: The Goodland hotel in Santa Barbara, California. (Cue all of the heart eyes you guys)

WHEN: February 17-19, 2020

HOW much?: “A Class Pass for Photo Native is $850 and includes two keynotes, both days of classes, four meals, the Native Party and Native Social, as well as access to video recordings of both days of classes to be made available after the event. There will also be social and network opportunities, snacks and beverages, and other fun perks. Native Shoots, Business Boost classes, and other add-ons will be available for purchase as well this fall. You must purchase a Class Pass in order to be eligible to reserve your spot at a Native Shoot/Native Dinner/Business Boost.

Your Class Pass includes access to networking opportunities and socials, attendance at your choice of classes offered, learning from our inspiring keynote speakers, meals, and the chance to shake your groove thing at what we promise will be the greatest party ever.  You’ll also have access via Facebook to recordings of both days of classes after the event so you can soak in every ounce of knowledge shared. You’ll make invaluable connections and gain the skills you need to increase your abilities and grow your business.”

LODGING: “We have a secured a special group rate of $179/night for Photo Native attendees at The Goodland, right where Photo Native is taking place. We’ve also had the Good Life fee (aka, resort fee) reduced from $25 to $15 a night.”

What am I teaching about? Gratitude practice in creativity and business. "Gratitude practice has become the heartbeat of my creative life. It is essential for revival (and creative, impassioned survival). I have noticed a dramatic difference in the days when I practice active gratitude or when I merely glaze over the beauty that’s right in front of me, engrossed in the hustle. What creates a full creative life? What allows us to see those connections, shapes, colors, light that translates so beautifully into photographs? Daily decisions that add up to positive contributions to ourselves, our families, our community, our art, our world. At the heart of this is the quiet beating heart of gratitude. We will be covering how to navigate blogging, social media, brand, client interaction, creating art, everything we do everyday through the rose colored glasses of gratitude. As we become more aware and train ourselves to notice, we become more cognitive, coherent people who contribute more and contribute better things to our art and the world.”

I would LOVE if you join me. YOU BELONG!


daring greatly

I’ve been reading Brene’ Brown’s book, Daring Greatly. It’s based off the part of Theodore Roosevelt’s talk Citizenship in a Republic given in 1910 where he said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the [wo]man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if [s]he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Emphasis on [wo]man by me)

Let that sink in for a minute.

If you’re sitting in the bleachers criticizing those out in the arena working their tails off while you don’t even try, you have no right to.

If you aren’t out there doing and someone else is, even if they stumble or fail, they still earn the credit for trying.

If you aren’t striving valiantly, but you watch someone else put their heart out there in the open vulnerably and get their trash kicked while you critique, your words are not worthy of them.

To those putting themselves out there: keep doing you. Keep being you. Keep feeling. Continue being soft. Keep trying. Don’t give up. And definitely don’t listen to the idle naysayers who have no credibility. To achieve anything great, you have to fail. Get back up and try again! Strive valiantly. Be constantly engaged in a worthy cause, know enthusiasm, be devoted. If an invitation to the arena is extended to you, accept it. Put yourself out there. Grow. Never be labeled a “cold and timid soul”. The world needs warm, brave hearts. The world needs YOU.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you’ve wanted to learn from me in person, I have an amazing opportunity for you! As of today, it’s official that I will be teaching at Photo Native 2020 in Santa Barbara! I can’t even begin to verbalize what an honor, a dream come true this is for me. I would love if it you came, if I got to meet all of you, if you became part of this community with me. You Belong!

going home

It’s the eve of my annual back-to-Michigan visit, and per usual, I’m feeling a myriad of emotions. I’m excited to see my parents. To watch my daughter take my dad’s hand and follow him out into his big backyard covered in green. To see her play in the same rooms at my mom’s house that I played in when I was little. To catch up with friends I grew up with, survived school with, laughed during class with, and see our babies play together.

Then at the end of the day, those beloved people will all go home. They’ll go back to work, back to their families, back to their lives. And I won’t be home. I will feel a cavernous ache.

Michigan does not equate to home for me anymore. This is probably the most defining event to have ever happened in my life, figuring out what home is. I used to desperately want out of Michigan. I wanted to move anywhere, be anywhere but there. Then it happened, and I didn’t know why we ever decided to do it. I knew the second our car passed that border, we’d never be able to truly go back.

People tend to call visiting home a “vacation” but it really isn’t, it’s so much more emotionally taxing than any vacation. Unpacking all of that baggage of “Have we made the right decision, raising our kid so far away from her grandparents?” and “So what should we do in our downtime between visiting people? We’re exhausted, but we don’t truly have anywhere to go.” and “I want to spend more time with one of my best friends but I feel guilty not spending that time with my family”, and the honest-to-goodness lament I feel about two days into any trip of “I miss my bed!”

I soak in as much time with my parents, my grandparents, my friends as I possibly can. I want to stare into their faces and hold their hands and just be there as much as a person could be, trying to tide me over until my next trip, without overwhelming them. Without being a burden on them, intruding on their day-to-day lives. But my daughter is tired. She misses the comforts of home, and she doesn’t want to sit in someone’s living room all day long. We end up leaving before I feel I got any sufficient time with any particular person, and I’m dying to get home but I also feel like I leave a piece of myself in Michigan every time we go.

I don’t regret moving to California. I absolutely, truly love it and have met most of my closest friends here. I would never take it back, and I don’t have any plans of leaving. I grew more in that first year living here than I have in all my years of living combined. (That also may have had something to do with it being my first year as a mom.) But I have had to redefine for myself what home means. It isn’t the lush green of Michigan anymore. It’s not even California. It’s the people I live with. The tribe I’m surrounded by. Those people in Michigan are definitely part of that, but the place itself isn’t. That’s what home is. People.

bohemian rhapsody

Show of hands, to all my artists out there, who watched the movie Bohemian Rhapsody and was completely changed forever? I FELT things, man! Freddie Mercury was an actual artist. He pushed boundaries, stopped caring about what other people thought and lived his truth. He stopped trying to suppress who he was, who he was always told he was supposed to be, and embraced his weird. He never would’ve made it to superstardom if he hadn’t experimented, if he kept following the narrative other people wrote for him. And for that, the world is forever grateful.

We need innovators, movers and shakers, new perspectives, fresh eyes. It’s the only way we progress! Think about medical field, and how many advances have been made because we have people out there thinking outside of the box, instead of taking the traditional route that their predecessors did.

Art is exactly the same. You have to stop looking at other people’s work, and start focusing on who you are, curating art that is an extension of unique you. Instead of poring over how your work isn’t like so-and-so’s, studying their Instagram and photographs on Pinterest, why don’t you get out and experiment? Figure out what you like! Write down things that make you feel. Is it the sunset? Is it connection? What does that connection look like? Could you try to capture it (either in the moment or in careful re-creation?) Maybe you’re the only one who loves that particular thing. Maybe you’re the only one who can give voice to it. Maybe it has to be you. Maybe that’s exactly what the world needs. Maybe nobody has seen anything like it before, and it would be sensational. Nobody is going to notice you if you’re trying to blend in. Nobody will be able to remember you if you’re like everyone else they’ve ever seen. And nobody is going to be excited or passionate about it unless you are. Get out there and create some art that only you can make!

The following are some of my weirdest photos, most experimental, most true to me…and also the ones that have received the most likes.

different, not bad

When we first moved to Long Beach, we were submerged in new friends and neighbors, people reaching out to us, including us, getting to know us. We put ourselves out there to make friends, said yes to as many engagements as we could, walked up to complete strangers and introduced ourselves. Months later, as it naturally tends to do, we’ve fallen into a groove that sometimes looks like a rut. People know who we are, we don’t get as many invitations, we aren’t checked on as frequently. And that’s okay! It’s normal to eventually fall under the radar. Some days haven’t seemed as okay though, and they left me longing for the community we had in our previous town.

Tehachapi is a little mountain town east of Bakersfield, California and west of Mojave, land of seeming unending desert and spaceship rocket testing. When I first found out we were going to be moving to California from Michigan, I was ecstatic. I was going from a little 32,000 population city in the midwest to CALIFORNIA. People of Michigan dream of vacationing there (especially in winter). There was a split two seconds where I felt elation just before reality crept in. We had a newborn baby, and we were leaving both sets of our parents, our support system, our friends, everything we had known. Tehachapi didn’t turn out to be the beachside California town everybody envisions when they think of the Golden state.

We also majorly downsized. We thought we had outgrown the city that we had, and we were nearly immediately stir crazy in our new town with a population of less than 13,000. The town boasted beautiful panoramic mountain views all around, some quaint little eateries and downtown but not much else. The biggest store it had then was a Kmart. We said we could only last living there for maybe a year.

But the people!

Year after year went by, and we had a hard time imagining leaving, and it had very little to do with the town itself. Our church felt like home. We walked in each Sunday to greet some of our best ever friends, and the congregation felt like one big family reunion (most of the time). We banded together to fight the itch of feeling stranded and had playdates every day. Our daughter started going to school, dance, and soccer and we had a good life there.

When we decided to move again, I was determined to love wherever we ended up immediately, lest it be like Tehachapi where I dragged my heels and hated it until it was time to go, and I realized how much I actually loved it. Long Beach IS that quintessential California beach town. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. As I sit at my computer, I can look out the window and see palm trees. I went to a photographer meetup today because there are so many people in the industry, so many opportunities here. We go to the beach at least once a week. We have a Target in our city! Lots of them!

But amid all the hustle and bustle and everything good that Long Beach provides, it can also be a little lonely. People are busy. They’re working. They’re doing. They already have their people, and they don’t have to band together to survive or else go crazy. There’s still kindness, there’s still friendship and connection. It’s just different.

But not bad.

I’ve had to realize this. There is a chasm between different and bad. And in my quest to be content, and be thankful, I’ve had to fight thoughts of comparison. Our life here, now is good. Just different.

intentional living

I’m a minimalist.

You might not know it at first glance looking at my house, but realistically I’m trying to be a minimalist, and it’s a work in progress (plus more of a challenge when you’re sharing a living space with other humans).

Being a minimalist is very on trend right now, what with Marie Kondo taking over Facebook memes (and I’d like to say, for the record, that I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up before it was cool). I think some people perceive minimalism as people who keeps their house so clinical feeling that it’s more like a doctor’s office than a home. Some people might adopt that take on it, but for me, it’s a little different.

Minimalism, to me, means living intentionally. Not possessing much more than I need. With that, I value what I have more. I am intentional about what I purchase. Intentional about what takes up space in this small rental home. Intentionally choosing what represents me, what brings me joy to be surrounded by.

This is a far cry from the generation before, who held onto anything and everything in case they’d one day need it. Sure, those people may have their day when they lose yet another extension cord and have to go digging in their attic to find their spare one, but to me, the peace of mind is worth so much more than keeping extra junk around. If I need a new one, I’d rather borrow it, thrift it, or buy it cheap somewhere else.

With that, I am far from pointing fingers to those of you who hold onto all of your keepsakes from childhood with white knuckled determination! This, like most things I share, is just what works for me.

My work is a reflection of this kind of mentality. When shooting film, you have to be absolutely present. Every shot counts. If you push the shutter, there’s no take-backs. No erase button. The number dial will move up one more and you’ll have one less exposure on that precious roll of (expensive) film. Thankfully, as opposed to digital where I’d be connected to the result on the LED screen, film allows me to be present. To fully compose, expose, and focus (literally and with my lens!) on what’s right in front of me.

This has become something of a meditation practice for me. And with any meditation practice that I do, I leave feeling so much better in the wake of it.

What are you surrounded by? Does it bring you joy?

Do you notice?

on gratitude

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

Gratitude is FUNDAMENTAL for living a fulfilled (creative) life.

The more gratitude I have, the more I appreciate the work I’m creating. This in turn gives me that craving to continue to create.

It helps me to see the beautiful things in other people, the beautiful things in my own life, and to capture them with the filter of gratitude (which of course is a magical recipe all in itself!)

My driving force used to be photographing those things in other people that I wanted documented for myself. I would take a photo and think ughh! I wish I had a photo like this of my own family. But that lack of gratitude and coveting left me hungry, and the searching for meaning and creative fulfillment (along with lifelong fulfillment) was unsuccessful.

Now I feel thankful to be able to witness. To be able to have the opportunity to document. It’s part of my life, too. Your story now becomes part of mine, and I am so, so thankful.

I can only experience this transcendent goodness when I am actually HERE. Living this life. Sitting with myself, my thoughts, my heart. Aware.

I am not about the hustle. There are things that need to be done, sure, but it’s a quick way to get burned out and lose all the magic and feeling and meaning that was so strongly lighting that fire within yourself to do anything useful in the first place.

If I want to feel gratitude, feel like what I have is enough, I have to sit with myself. This is why you can find me at the beach at least once a week! I sit with the waves and my thoughts and my heart and watch the sky turn colors and I leave completely renewed. You might not live by a beach, but I’m willing you can find a forest! Or mountains! Or a quiet room, porch, windowsill, field, area with open sky, etc. What feels like church to you? What feels holy and evokes the absolute best out of you?

Whatever it is, find it. And sit with it.

Be. Receive. Give thanks.

then and now

In my last post, I discussed progress and the difference between then and now. Since my switch to film, I’ve had a lot of people reach out and ask me how I get consistency in my Instagram feed and say that it seems like I have a strong visual voice. (I’m flattered by any and all positive comments by the way, so keep em coming ;) )

Here’s a few things that worked for me to get closer to a visual voice that is true to my art and what I’m trying to create that brings ME joy (WARNING: not for everyone! These tips may apply to you but you’ll still have to put in the work of figuring out what speaks to YOU individually!)

  1. Figure yourself out. This is probably the hardest work to be done, but once you do it, the rest is fairly fun and easy. You’re going to need to look inside yourself and figure out what makes you truly happy. You’re going to have to observe your life, look it in the face (the good, bad & ugly) and see what gets you out of bed in the morning. What have you always enjoyed? Which subjects in school were your strong suit, and what about them did you excel at? These may not be huge money-makers, but nobody said this was a get rich quick scheme! This is all about finding satisfaction in your art (and in your life!) Yan Palmer’s Teethkiss workshop (more about that below) is an amazing helpful resource for this.

  2. Learn. I recommend you look a little more intentionally when scrolling through your Instagram feed. Who are the artists whose work stops you in your tracks? Do they offer classes? Mentorships? eWorkshops? You may consider checking out the Clickin Moms store to see if your favorite photographer has a class offered there, or even discover a new photographer with a class topic that you’re drawn to. I’ve done classes by Ben Sasso which are short and sweet and full of good info. I also love Wendy Laurel’s Seeing Double PDF for any digital or film photographers interested in mastering double exposures. But HONESTLY, if you want to take your creative life to the next level (for EVERYONE, not just photographers), I canNOT say enough good things about Yan Palmer’s Teethkiss Workshop. It includes a huge, in-depth PDF with videos, and I opted to buy the hard copy too and have taken extensive notes and done a LOT of beneficial work. Yan is magical. If you’re looking for an all-in, in-person photo conference experience, I attended Yeah Field Trip last year and was forever changed. My next conference on my wishlist is Photo Native! I’m hoping to make it in 2020. Put in the work, fork out the cash, and INVEST yourself! If your budget is tight, check out some helpful photography podcasts. My current fave is Brooke Schultz’s Heartful Podcast.

  3. Experiment. Shoot at all times of the day, inside and outside, of people or mountains or weddings or births or architecture. Shoot upside down, laying down, from up high, underwater (use proper underwater housing, of course!), spinning, double exposures, long exposures, the sky is literally the limit. Shoot into the sun, or play with shadows, but (if I may) ALWAYS DO IT IN MANUAL. Master your camera. Know what it can do, and know how to do it.

  4. Connect. Meet up with creatives with a variety of interests, backgrounds, specialties, and passions. DO NOT limit yourself to only connecting with like-minded individuals! I started a little once a month meetup with some fellow photographers in Southern California, and it amazes me how different we all are! We have common ties too, of course, but we grow as we learn from one another (and anyone in SoCal is more than welcome to join!) I did a group 10+10 online mentorship with Cathlin McCullough which I also really loved! It was helpful to get three other people’s perspective on similarities and differences in my work compared to work I admired.

  5. Don’t give up. Like any good love story, the flame sometimes turns into embers and we have to reignite the spark that once carried us through creating our best yet work. If you’re feeling the burnout, start at step one and try it all over again! As changing humans, we have to continue to learn what we love and what inspires joy as we grow. What used to call you to life may no longer, and that’s okay! Find what does now. And DO IT. Find new classes for this new passion, dive in head first and feel the fire again. And when that fire extinguishes, don’t give up! Keep that cycle going


on progress

I have arrived.

Sometimes that egotistical little thought pops in my head. It’s far from the truth, but I’m also really proud of the work that I’m putting out there that’s so different from the work I was putting out there not long ago. I had a 10+10 board (10 of my favorite images that I’ve procured, next to 10 images that inspire me. Again, if you haven’t purchased the goodness that is Yan Palmer’s Teethkiss Workshop, you really should!) that was so completely far from what I wanted my work to look like, it felt hopeless. I’ve been in business for 7 years now, and for some reason I could never catch up. What I wanted my work to look like didn’t match what I was creating.

I switched to film last year, and as soon as I dove in, there was no going back! I’m procuring art that makes me feel, photographs that I love. My work is where I want it to be!

For now.

You know that old over-used saying that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey? I cringe at cliches as much as the next girl, but this one happens to be true. Our whole lives are about growth, learning, bettering. What’s good to me now may not resonate with me in the future. The art we create speaks differently to each of us at different points in our lives.

It’s frustrating sometimes. The evolution. Sometimes I just wish I could stay content, always be satisfied. And yet, once I outgrow this cocoon, what lies ahead is sure to be beautiful! I never want my work to grow stagnant. I always want to be true to what makes me feel, even if it requires a lot of work and learning and sometimes uncomfortable growth.


Before moving to Long Beach, I had PRAYED that Heavenly Father would prepare a friend for me.

After all, I was leaving a tight-knit community in Tehachapi and surely lightning wouldn’t hit this lightning rod twice.


A dear friend that I had met at Yeah Field Trip earlier this year was the welcome wagon for me in the first week of being the new kid in town. While we were together, she asked if I had seen a post on Yan Palmer’s private Teethkiss group that we’re both part of (as fellow Yan-Fans) by a girl with kids who had just moved into OC and was looking to make friends.

I contacted her immediately, after seeing we BOTH love Yan and BOTH belong to the same church and BOTH have little girls. Basically a recipe for instant friends.

I showed up at her house and it felt like I had paraded in on a friend whom I had known for years. Christina is kind, she is light, she is good, she is talented, she is MOVING AWAY (cue all the sad face emojis).

I feel like Heavenly Father dealt me a hand that was TOO GOOD and He was like, let me adjust that a little bit, and swapped some cards around and is seeing how I handle it now.

I’ve always had a love of film. I’ve been toting around a camera since I was a kid, burning through film my parents would send to a cheap lab and have made into 4x6s. I relearned that love when I met my best friend who had gone to school for photography, and I relearned to love it again when my dad bought me a used Canon EOS 3 off of ebay for Christmas last year. And it sat collecting dust in a cupboard, because I was too scared to use it and fail. Too scared to burn too much money and put my family in financial ruin too, but that’s another story for another day (ha!)

Christina rekindled a fire that is burning through me (and all of my film!) and I am forever grateful. She helped me, she inspired me, she provided me with a sounding board, and yummy food.

She taught me that for her, creativity goes hand in hand with spirituality. It is the same. I don’t think I will EVER forget this, because it’s one of those powerful truths that gets etched on your heart forever and resounds in my head every time I pick up my scriptures or pick up my camera.

I’m really sad she’s leaving.

But my loss is your gain (Sacramento and surrounding areas!). If you haven’t checked out her website, PLEASE do. She really is such a trailblazing talent.

only one

This post has been a looooong time coming. I’ve hesitated.

No. Don’t put your heart out there like that.

No, do it! You should say something.

But what about the repercussions?

So on and so forth. You get the idea. But if you’re reading this, then you can probably guess that the angel (or devil) on my shoulder spoke loudest.

I have an only child.

I get a LOT of feedback on that, almost daily. It’s gotten better in the past year or so, but it used to be that I couldn’t go to my mailbox without my neighbor asking me, “So when are you gonna give her a baby brother?”

Or hearing people chime in and say “But she needs a sibling!” or “Well you’ll want to hurry before there’s too big of an age gap” or my personal favorite, that “Only children end up dysfunctional”.

My life story is far from being fully written, but to anyone who might be concerned: I absolutely CAN have an only child! And so can you.

Who wrote the rulebook anyway? One is too few. Three, (definitely more) is too many. So two children is apparently the socially acceptable, normal number of children allowed to be had or else the world will cease to turn on its axis the way it’s supposed to.

Aside from the fact that this is absurd, and coming from a well-functioning person who was raised as an only child myself (with the exception of my half sister who is 18 years older than me), it’s extremely hurtful.

I know some people only truly care. I know they ask, comment, suggest out of love. But at the end of the day, it STILL hurts. What if I were someone who was struggling with infertility? What if I were someone who had other causes, stories happening behind the scenes that you weren’t aware of that did not allow me to have any more children? What if all I could think about all day, every day, all my heart yearned for was to have another child? To give my only a sibling? I have been all of these things at some point or another, but whenever I heard a tip from an unknowing passersby (or family member. or friend. or church member. etc etc) it felt like salt pouring into a wound.

Aside from that, what if I were someone who only CHOSE to have one child? What if I did something so crazy as to ask to not be fit in a box? I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am married. I do not have a big family. Those things can all coexist peacefully. I don’t fit into a box, and nobody else should feel they have to, either!

This post is also out of love, a call to awareness, a voice reaching out into the abyss hoping to reach an ear who may need to hear it. I am with you. You are not alone. It really, truly is okay to have only one child. It’s also okay to have many children. Or none. So long as you take care of those God-given babies, who am I to judge?

Below is my best friend (muse) and her family, who have chosen to have more than one child and I love them in spite of it ;)

long beach

My first ever blog post on my grown-up, real website is about Long Beach, which should tell you that this city means a great deal to me. But I’m kind of embarrassed to say it wasn’t my first choice.

Not even close.

Our family made the big trek from Michigan out to California four and a half years ago, unwillingly. We always said we would move ANYWHERE except California.

Then I thought I was going to have to leave California, and I realized then just how much I love it. (Why is it that with most things in life we only realize how much we love it if we’re going to have to lose it?)

We had some choices to make about school and work and what our next move was going to be. Long Beach has always been a contender, hypothetically, but it was never my choice. Then it was my only choice.

My heart has changed SO much in the handful of months since that decision was made, but everything fell into place for us in such a way that I know we are meant to be here. We came down to house hunt with only 3 weeks until we needed to find a place, and we only had two prospective homes available to see. We expected that the Los Angeles housing market would be pretty competitive, and I went into it feeling a little hopeless.

We were instantly accepted at the first place. Then the second. The decision was easy once we met our landlords, who are like surrogate parents/grandparents to us (we went with the second home).

I have adopted this city as my own instantly. It’s diverse, colorful, green, sunny, friendly, and close to the beach. Why would we ever leave?