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.

vessel

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!

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION STARTS JULY 1ST!

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!

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.

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.

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?