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Kindness Matters

DSC_8716This past week I binge watched a documentary segment called the Kindness Diaries. This was one of the best documentaries I have ever watched. I highly suggest checking it out for yourself. The short synopsis is a man travels the world on relaying only on the kindness of others. Once in a while when he meets someone extraordinary he repays that persons kindness with a life changing gift.

This documentary got me thinking how can I incorporate this message of kindness in my own life? What can I give selflessly to others? I began to think about my photography. Wouldn’t it be amazing to travel to some of these poor underprivileged places and tell the stories of these people. While I would love the opportunity to do that some day. I had to bring myself back to reality. Currently it is not within my business financial means and I have two very small children who depend on me and a husband who works crazy hours. Traveling to Africa or India or any other impoverished country is just not in my immediate future. I can only hope that someday I will be in the place to do that but that place just isn’t today.

A few blog posts back I talked about blooming where you are planted. Instead of giving up and saying well I will just wait till my children are older, and my business is flourishing so much that I have the time and money to go on this journey. I thought about what I can do today in the circumstance I am in. What can I do to spread the message kindness matters? After some long deliberation I came up with a plan. A plan to incorporate kindness into my business. I am not sure if many successful CEO’s or companies think about kindness when they are rolling out their business plans, probably not but I don’t want to be like everyone else I want to be me. So here is my kindness matters initiative. Here is me doing my part to spread joy & kindness to other’s in our community and maybe one day eventually the world. I realize that while I think family photos are priceless and invaluable. I realize that if you are struggling to pay your bills, or survive investing in family photos would be out of reach. I believe everyone deserves to preserve their family memories no matter what your situation.  To do my small part in spreading that message of kindness.

I have decided that once a year, I will offer a kindness matters event to our community.  The main reason for this event is to spread the message of kindness to others. Like throwing a rock in a pond and watching the ripple that small rock spreads through the water. Im hoping to bring that to our community.

The price for this event will be set by you, not me. The honor system pay what you can afford. If you can afford to pay more to help pay for someone who can’t thats wonderful. If you can’t afford my normal session fee but would like to have amazing family photos then pay whatever you can. The only thing that I will ask in return that in some small way they pass on an act of kindness to someone else. I hope to inspire others to use their gifts to do good and spread the message of kindness and love. If everyone did one small thing to selflessly help someone else wouldn’t this world be a much better place.

Investment

Coming out of the Shadows

DSC_6676_3It wasn’t until recently when speaking with a friend that I ever in a million years thought I would put these words on paper or share this story with anyone, much less share it for the world to see. I decided to share my story in hopes of inspiring others to share theirs and to shine light on a topic that has for so long been in the shadows.

Before my princess Ella came along, I became pregnant when my husband and I were just dating. It was a complete shock to the both of us, but from the moment we found out, we were both thrilled. It was also an extremely busy time in my life, and I was not paying any attention to my body and what it needed. Matt and I got engaged and we started planning our wedding. We backed out of the convenient condo we were going to buy together and instead purchased a home in Fishhawk. We told our family and friends because I was already pretty far along when we found out and I was past the point of worry. Our entire life changed in the blink of an eye for this surprise but loved baby. Then one morning when I was just getting ready to open my eyes, I felt soaked and wet all over. When I woke up, Matt was screaming. I looked down and I was covered in blood. It looked like something out of a horror movie. I knew immediately what was happening. Matt tried to stay calm and positive. I got in the car and rushed to the hospital. When I got to the hospital, they rushed me into a room and explained to me what they were checking, even though I already knew. As part of this, I had an ultrasound done. During the ultrasound, the woman conducting the ultrasound abruptly stopped the test and asked me to go to the bathroom and push as hard as I could. I was so scared and shaking; I wasn’t even thinking about what she was saying. In that bathroom, I delivered my baby in the toilet. I let out a piercing scream, my eyes swelled up with tears and my legs were shaking. The nurse was right outside the door. She came in and held me up. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t move. All I could do was cry. I rested at the hospital, further tests where taken and eventually I was discharged.dsc_0136_1

While the actual miscarriage was emotionally scarring and devastating, the months following were equally as emotional. No one talks about what it’s like to leave a hospital without a baby. There are no baby books written on how to announce that you are no longer expecting. I worked up the courage to tell my closest family and friends and asked them to relay the information to everyone else. The support I received after having my miscarriage was almost non-existent. People were afraid of me because no one knew what to say or how to act so they didn’t say anything which to me was even more heartbreaking. The people that did say things were never helpful. The words that were supposed to comfort me in one of my darkest hours just crushed my soul even more than it already was. I was told that my baby was not a real baby, just a ball of cells. I saw my baby and it was so much more than just a ball of cells, it was a gorgeous human being. Another person told me the best thing to do is just forget about it move on. How could I just forget about the little life that had grown inside of me? The sweet soul that never had a chance to live. Not one person sent me flowers or a card, offered to bring me a meal, or something as simple as hold my hand as I cried in grief.

After I had both Ella and Lila, I received balloons and flowers, cards and meals. The support I received after losing my baby was close to nonexistent compared to the outpouring of support I received after my two daughters. Granted, there was no baby for anyone to gush over and I know it is hard to gush over a depressed and broken-hearted mama, but both of these categories of moms need support, acknowledgment and love.

I thank God for the small act of kindness from a wonderful nurse during my follow up appointments. She scurried me off to a separate room so I would not have to sit in a room full of pregnant women and babies while I waited for my appointments. I thank God for this sweet stranger who shared her story with me and offered me kindness and comforting words during some of the worst moments of my life. Her sweet words and inspiration helped to get me through some of my hardest days.

DSC_9406During the months that followed, I became more and more depressed and withdrawn. No one could understand why I couldn’t just get over it. I would see pregnant women and newborn babies and I couldnt help but be envious. Why did my baby die and theirs live? After what seemed like forever, I finally got pregnant with our rainbow baby Ella. While Ella didn’t replace the baby we lost, she did help to mend my broken heart. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about our sweet baby. Every night we include the baby in our night time prayers. While I’m not sure the girls understand yet, both of them know that they have another sibling in heaven. My children and immediate family and friends know that we suffered a loss; most of the rest of the world doesn’t until today.

I recently realized that I am part of the problem. Why there is little to no support for women who lose a baby? I have kept my loss a secret. I have kept it some shameful, taboo thing that shouldn’t be talked about as to not make people uncomfortable. I am telling my story in hopes to shine a light on the sadness and yet very common occurrence of miscarriage. I want family and friends of women who haven’t suffered a miscarriage to know that, although we don’t get to take a baby home, we need just as much support and love. I want them to be aware of the words they say and the “advice” they give. While you might mean well, to a fragile and broken mamma that just suffered a huge loss, your words may be a knife in their heart.

I want women who suffer miscarriages to have support systems of love and light around them. I want people to realize that no matter how far along a women was, she lost a precious baby that she loved and adored and a part of her will never be the same. I want other women to have the support I didn’t. I do not blame my friends and family for not offering me the support I need, because I am part of that problem. Miscarriage is a taboo subject that is not talked about and because of that people are afraid to approach it. People don’t know what to say or do, so ignoring it seems like the best option. I’m here, coming out of the shadows and telling my story. Maybe one day if we all stop hiding in the dark and bring our stories to the light more people will know what to do and how to act and what to say. My hope is more women share their own miscarriage stories and shed more light on this topic. It was painful and scary to put myself out there and write this but if it helps one struggling mama, it was so worth it. Remember that wonderful nurse that whisked me out of the waiting room, offered a hug and told me her story was for me? I hope I can be that person to someone else.

Investment

This is 6 months

DSC_1075Yesterday I got out my dreams notebook. Don’t laugh guys!! When I first decided I was going to give this business thing a go, I was gifted this pretty silver notebook. In that notebook I wrote my business plan and all my goals and dreams for this little dream I had for myself. As I was reading through it, it got me thinking about my business, where it’s going, the progress it’s made and how it’s evolved so much over the last 6 months since launching. If you told me 6 months ago I would be booked up months in advance, be collaborating on projects with fellow photographers, growing into new and different avenues of photography as well as launching a business management system because I had too much business for little old me to manage by myself, I would have laughed inyour face and called you a liar. Never in my wildest dreams did I think all of this would happen. To be clear it didn’t just happen; I have worked my tail off to make it happen but I have also been so blessed by love and support from all of you.

DSC_1056_4Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in growing, pushing and launching yourself farther that you forget about looking back. Why look back? Looking back is just as important as looking forward. We need to look back to remember where we came from and how far we have come. When I started this business my goal for the first year was to do five sessions a month. I wrote that down in my business plan that I still have in my little notebook. Five sessions a month. That was success to me. Now there are days where I do that in one day, and at the end of those days I beat myself up over not doing six. While looking ahead and planning for my future is so important and crucial to my business and life, I always need to remember to look back at that girl who wrote down in her notebook five sessions a month as her ultimate goal. What would she think about where I am today? She wouldn’t beat me over the head for not doing more or pushing myself further and harder. She would be jumping up and down with joy, utter excitement and disbelieif!!!DSC_1117_2

Taking some time and looking back at that book of my dreams and aspirations for this little business made me realize how hard I am on myself. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way either. Maybe we aren’t all business owners but even as moms this can happen. We push and push our kids and ourselves to be the best they/ we can be. When we reach that goal or that milestone do we rejoice and jump up and down with excitement, or do we keep on pushing and propeling forward to the next thing?

DSC_1140In this day and age we don’t make time for joy and celebration, it’s just more pushing to do more and better. I think all of us can benefit from slowing down and looking back at who we are and how far we have come. Whether that is though our business goals and endeavors, personal goals, or the mom who made it through potty training or colic; take. time to stop and celebrate and take time for joy. We need to pat ourselves on the back and say job well done! We did it, we made it!DSC_1055

Investment

The Why?

DSC_0726.jpgI have been asked a lot recently why I am a photographer? What made me get into this business. Can I be honest for a second…. Photography is an awful business to get into. One quick google search can tell you that. Photographers are a dime a dozen. Even the iPhone has a portrait mode now. What does anyone need me for? *Shakes head* But seriously, no one goes into photography thinking this will be a profitable industry right now. Then again, I don’t feel like anyone would go into any creative business because of the profits; however, any business has to be profitable to be prosper.

So why did I choose this industry? First let me start off by saying this – I don’t think I necessarily chose photography, but rather, photography chose me. Let me give you a little background about myself. I  have always loved to create. Creativity is ingrained deep in my soul. In high school at the age of 16 I worked at a small high end home decor boutique in a fancy shopping center. I loved creating beautiful stories with gorgeous merchandise in the store and clients homes. By the time I was 17 I was the buyer taking off school to go to trade shows and expos. I loved every moment of it. By 18, I became a partner in one of the three locations. Unfortunately, this was right before the recession hit. I foresaw that things were changing and sold my shares in the business. I went to work in my families recession proof medical supply & sales business (hey family if you’re reading this! I love you and am very thankful for the opportunity, but this was the worst and most boring job I have ever had.) Fast forward to a few years later – an amazing person took a chance on me after I had been out of the retail business for a long time (unless you count selling walkers) I got a job doing what I loved again. I got a job as a manager at Puma. I don’t think she has any idea how much she has inspired me (if you are reading this Mandy – you rock!). *Side note* I can not say enough amazing things about Puma as a company, what they stand for, and how they treat their employees. Go buy their shoes and apply for a job there! At puma I got back to my creative side doing visual merchandising while I was a manager. Unfortunately, while pregnant with Ella hyperemesis gravidarum got the best of me and I was forced to leave.

For the last three years I have not used one creative bone in my body. Unless you count figuring out how you can sneak out of a toddlers room undetected during bed time, or how to get crayon off of a flat screen television. After a couple of years of being knee deep in baby paraphernalia and spit up. I decided I needed something for myself. I wish I could say I had a epiphany. That isn’t the case though; it was more of a slow progression of realizing that I love my children more then anything, but I no longer participated in a single activity I  enjoyed. Since becoming a mom, I always took a lot of pictures of my kids. I enjoyed capturing the milestones of their lives. The fleeting moments that passed so quickly. I decided to do something for myself that I enjoyed. How selfish of me. I decided to buy a camera and take a photography class. I soaked up a wealth of knowledge in my first photography class and decided this was something I needed more of. I saw bits and pieces of my identity as a person not just as a mom come flooding back. One photography class turned into two and three and four turned into workshops and photoshop classes and photo walks and mentors. Somewhere along the road, I decided I wanted to give this thing a go. It was one of the most nerve-wracking decisions I have made. But what if I fail? What if no one wants me to take photos of them? What if all I get is crickets? Fear is not my story. Working my rear-end off and giving this thing my all is.

Back to the why? Why did I choose to enter a industry that is supposedly oversaturated, where some say the failure rate is a whopping 95%!!! My why is because I believe in myself to overcome the odds of failure rate, and I refuse to allow numbers to become my demise. I believe that if you do something you are so passionate about that you love, and you work your rear-end off you will rock it. My pictures tell the stories of my clients, but they also tell my story as an artist. Photography is so much more then a job to me. Photography is my creative expression. Photography is my art. So even with smart phones and new technology, where everyone is a photographer, I still believe that I can beat the statistic. I believe in myself, and my passion for beautiful, creative, unique images. No smart phone can touch that!

Blog

The Laetsch Family Spring Lifestyle Session

This adorable family kicked off my spring lifestyle sessions. The boys had a lot of fun exploring Dover Sydney Trails. This is awesome park/ trail which offers so many beautiful place to take photos. They choose a sunset session. The lighting was absolutely perfect to capture these amazing images. Their neutral outfits complimented the lush green vegetation surrounding them. I enjoyed being able to capture these images for them. Not only are they wonderful clients but also one of my best friends. The love of their family shines through in these memories.

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Blog

Bloom Where you are Planted

DSC_0411 copy.jpgToday true to my OCD about holidays I headed to the garage and took out all of my spring decor. I also finished planting the rest of my spring flowers. It looks like spring exploded in my house. Let’s get real, I live in Florida and there’s no such thing as spring. As I am hauling all of this floral paraphenial out of their storage cubes.Im wiping the sweat off of my forehead because its 80 degrees. Of course I decided I needed more adorable seasonal decor so I headed to target. On my target run, I came across a saying that resonated with me. Bloom Where You Are Planted. I love how a good portion of my ahh-haa moments happen at target. In the dollar section of target this saying spoke to me.

What exactly does it mean to bloom where you are planted? So many people wait till certain points in their life to pursue their passions. They wait till they have more money, are more financially secure, till their kids are older, when they have more time. People put off being there best self until they are in the best situation. Are you ever truly in a best situation though? Life always comes up and gets in the way. You wait and say to yourself I will start my diet tomorrow, I will wait to pursue my passions till the kids are older. Next year when I can save up more money I will launch my business. Why are we holding out on our best self? The longer we wait the more unobtainable it becomes truly.

Bloom where you are planted. Wherever you are in life. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in. Bloom, flourish, grow exactly where you are now. Grow into the best mom you can be for your kids, or the best wife, the best entrepreneur or whatever your passions are. Do not waste any more time waiting for ideal conditions. Flowers grow in cracks of the concrete, to remind us we too can grow and flourish even when we think our circumstances aren’t perfect.

If we are already flourishing and already growing it is our job to plant a seed in someone else. To encourage and educate someone else so there flower blooms just as big as ours.   Life isn’t a competition but a collaboration. Flourish each other and lets all bloom in our own, less than ideal circumstances. We can always be better versions of ourselves and today starts the journey.

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First blog post

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Transformations 

We have begun our journey of remodeling our home. We are starting with our master bathroom. There is nothing left of the bathroom besides the wood framing and a lot of dust and debris. In all the mess the one thing we did not demolish was this small window
I woke up this morning slightly overwhelmed and stressed about all the chaos that comes with remodeling. That small light shining through all the mess changed my view this morning.

I thought about how there were many transformations going on all around me, that I didn’t even realize & while messy and dirty how incredibly grateful I am for all the change
Our little house, my hobby now turned into a business, me as a mother, and me just as me, a complicated human are transforming.I am transforming just as much as this little house is. I am transforming into who I was before all the pregnancies and the babies and lack of sleep. Heck I’m transforming to someone even better then I was pre-babies. I am now a wiser, kinder and more patient version of my old self *Thanks Children*
While I am overwhelmed by it all. I am also excited. I am overjoyed to be creating again in my home & my business ❤

I’m letting my light SHINE. Sometimes when all you see around you is ruin, one light makes all the difference. I challenge all of you to be that light in what seems like a epic mess. Shine your light bright and transform something whether its yourself, your home, your realtionships or your passions. Shine your light bright.