Self-love: the post-Valentine’s day edition

It’s been far too long since I shared a post here, so in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a little bit about the most over looked type of love, self-love.

Now, I am not going to tell you that I have this down.  In fact, I’m no where close.  This is a constant work in progress for me.  It’s funny really, because people tell me all the time that I come across as being super self-confident, when in reality, I’m the furthest thing from it.  Maybe I fake it well, or maybe it’s simply that we are all perceived by others in a completely different way than we perceive ourselves.  I have found that other people’s perceptions of me are much kinder than my own perceptions of myself (for the most part anyway), and this is exactly why we need to do a better job of loving ourselves.

Like I said, I’m no expert at this.  I struggle most days to be kind to myself.  I am definitely my own worst critic and I take that job far too seriously.  But in the end, the only person I can really count on to be kind to me, is me.  So how can we do a better job of that?

I have taken to keeping a journal.  I try to start out every morning by writing down who I am, who I want to be, and what I love about myself.  What I have to offer to this world is also on the list, as well as what I want accomplish in my life.  It reminds me why I get up in the morning.  And mostly, it reminds me to cut myself some slack and to love myself even when I’m having a bad day.  It also reminds me where I strive to go from one day to the next.  That direction helps me to stay focused on my goals; the big ones, not the small day to day stuff.  I’m talking about the big life affirming, feel good goals that drive our actions.  Goals like; raising two humans to be confident, kind, loving beings.  You know, the stuff that really counts.

This journaling has helped.  Of course, it doesn’t happen every single day because I’m human, and some days I’m just getting by.  This too could be something I beat myself up about, but why?  I don’t have to look for reasons to beat myself up.  Those reasons have a way of jumping out at me all on their own.  This is something I’m doing FOR ME, so I have to remind myself to forgive me when I screw it up.

Perhaps the sad part of this is that it’s much easier to forgive myself when I let ME down, but so much harder to forgive myself when I let someone else down.  Do you find that to be true for yourself as well?

So, how else can we practice self-love?  There are literally so many ways, but I want to focus on the ones that I think are most powerful.

  1. Saying no to something you don’t have time for, or don’t want to do.  How simple is that?  Just say no.  Not taking something on that you aren’t excited to take on is a very powerful form of self-love.
  2. Walking away from an unhealthy relationship.  Yeah, I said it.  If it’s not good for you, it’s hurting you.  To leave behind something that doesn’t serve you anymore isn’t selfish, it’s self-love.
  3. Allowing yourself time and space to think.  When my kids were little and I was a full-time stay at home mom, I would sometimes put them down for a nap early so I could have some quiet.  I felt tremendously guilty about it back then, but now I know it was self-love.  They were safe and I got the space I needed.  That was good for everyone.

So, how do you practice self-love?  How do you remind yourself to let the small things go?

Reflections: love, support and other things

I don’t know about you, but this year has been an absolute whilrwind!  I’ve been reflecting on how my life has changed considerably over the last 12 months.  I’m now a single mom after 14 years of marriage and the bread winner for a family of three.  Not everything I wanted to accomplish this year got done, but I did accomplish so incredibly much!

I feel incredibly lucky to look back on 2016 and realize that I’ve been absolutely surrounded by some totally amazing amounts of love and support.  Relying on other people has never come easily to me, but I also realize that I am not an island. The support of good friends really does make a huge difference in our successes.  I am blessed to have that support from a lot of different people over the last year.

My biggest accomplishment this year was writing my book “The Business of Confidence” and it’s companion journal “The Act of Confidence.”  Both were definitely a labor of love, and they both took considerable hours away from other things I hoped to accomplish, but they were certainly worth it.  I’m so thrilled to be reaching a far bigger audience with my message of self-love than my small studio could ever reach alone.  In the end, that is what this is all about for me.  Accepting myself and my own worth, and helping others to accept theirs.  I couldn’t have done it without the amazing people who surround me everyday.

What have you accomplished this year?  No matter how big or small, I truly believe that you have to celebrate those accomplishments to better celebrate yourself.

I challenge you to reflect on your year.  Where do you find your biggest source of support?  What forms of love have you been blessed with this year?  How will you use that love and support to spread more into this world?

reflection and support

Are you a planner?

I have a strange dichotomy in my life.  On one hand I am that girl that plans things out.  I make endless lists and I don’t like to wait until the last minute to finish things up.  But I’m not his way with everything.  In fact, when I shoot a session I rarely plan anything out.  My clients clothing choices and personality dictate how the session will go. I choose the lighting setups and posing in the moment.  My passion for what I do drives the process.

When it comes to a creative endeavor, I’m perfectly happy letting things take their own course and evolve.  Evolution is important to my work process behind the camera.  In the rest of my life though, it’s quite the opposite.

My list making habit probably borders on compulsive. There’s a list of what needs to be accomplished, what needs to be purchased and even an order for which these things needs to happen.  It’s partially because I like the feeling of scratching things off that list.  It’s also partly because without a list, I’m afraid I will forget a large portion of the things that need to be done.

I’m sure I’m not alone here.  As a mom I already have a multitude of items to take care of in any given day.  I’ve always been a list maker, but it’s certainly much more prevalent now than ever before.  Between taking care of my two kids, runing a business, writing (2 books now!) and taking care of a house and life in general, I am unbelievably busy these days.  Organization is my safety net.  I need for things to be tidy in order to focus.  In fact, if my house is too messy, I have to clean it up before I can do anything else.  Chaos makes me feel unfocused, so I have to reign it in in some small way.

What about you?  Are you a planner?  How do you stay organized?

“Me” time

I have been extremely busy the last few months.  Between writing my book, running my business day to day and adjusting to my life as a single mom who is also dating (a WHOLE other post), I have pretty much been running in circles.  It has shown in my health and in my sleep patterns.  I’ve been pretty exhausted lately.

Yesterday I took a mental health day.  I ignored the laundry that needed washed, the dishes that needed to be done and I chose me.  I spent the day on my couch in my yoga pants watching bad movies and eating junk food.  I even took a mid afternoon nap!  Any you know what? I don’t feel bad about it.  I don’t feel bad about the extra calories I ate, the laziness of my day or the disarray of my house.  And do you know why I don’t feel bad?  Because I deserve to take some time off and do nothing, guilt free.

You deserve it too.

I’m not good at being lazy.  I tend to be on my feet from the moment I get up in the morning, until I decide to go bed, usually after midnight.  I tend to burn the candle at both ends.  I like to be busy.  I like to feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in a day.  But I also know that “me” time is important.  It’s important for my physical health and my mental health.  Now that I’ve finished my book, it’s time to refocus.  It’s time I started taking time for myself on a regular basis, so that I don;t get burnt out on life.  I haven’t decided how that will look yet, but I suspect it will include some form of exercise, since that has been lacking in my life lately.

What do you do when you take “me” time? How often do you do it?  Is it scheduled into your week, or do you tend to push until your body makes you take some downtime, like I often have?

It’s finally here…

I know I’ve been absent from my blog here lately but it’s for a very good reason. I was finishing up my book “The Business of Confidence”. And now it’s finally ready!

It’s no secret that I love what I do but the reasons for that are often misunderstood. This book is all about why I do this, how I got here and what the boudoir experience does for all of us. I truly hope you’ll take the opportunity to check it out.

I’ve been a writer my whole life but had never put those skills to use in this way. Publishing a book is pretty scary and exhilarating all at the same time. I’ve included a lot of my personal journey in this book, which makes me feel extremely vulnerable. Vulnerability is how we grow though, so I’m very glad I did it.

Please check out my book on Amazon HERE.

13 things I hope my daughter learns from me

We just celebrated Mother’s Day, and it has me thinking a lot about my role in shaping my children’s lives.  At the age of 10, my daughter has a lot personality all her own.  She also has some insecurities that are already apparent.  Here are 13 things I hope she learns from me.

  1. Love yourself. First and foremost, love who you are, and treasure it.
  2. Be brave.  The more something scares you, the more likely it is that it’s something you should definitely do.
  3. Chase your dreams. They won’t fall in to your lap on their own, but they are worth chasing.
  4. Believe in yourself.  You can do ANYTHING you set your mind too.
  5. Don’t let money be the reason you don’t do something. If it’s important enough, you’ll find a way.
  6. Take care of your health.  Allow yourself to rest and recharge when you need it.  The little things can wait.
  7. Know that you are beautiful, no matter what you look like.  The most beautiful things about you come from within anyway.
  8. Be independent, but also know it’s okay to lean on the people you love when you need too.
  9. Don’t settle, ever.  You deserve better than that.  Everyone does.
  10. Know that walking away from something with good reason isn’t failure; it’s pragmatic.
  11. Embrace change.  It will happen anyway, but if you look forward to it rather than dread it, it won’t be as hard.
  12. Find what your passionate about, and don’t let it go.
  13. Love completely.  Sometimes you’ll get hurt, but it’s worth it.

10 things I love about spring

Spring is my favorite time of the year. It symbolizes growth and rebirth. Growth is extremely important to me. If you aren’t growing and moving forward, you are standing still.

In honor of this favorite time, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things about spring.

  1. Buds on trees – a promise of what’s to come.
  2. The first flower buds peeking out of the ground.
  3. Tulips.
  4. Open windows.
  5. Spring cleaning – there’s something refreshing about purging unnecessary stuff that I find satisfying.
  6. The smell after a spring rain shower.
  7. Planning the vegetable garden.
  8. Flying kites.
  9. Baby chicks – I am that crazy chicken lady.
  10. Self renewal.

What is your favorite part of spring?

Fear, vulnerability, and letting go

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I don’t photograph nature very often, but I do spend a lot of time outdoors, and I take a lot of inspriation from being outside. When I’m photographing, I prefer to be in my studio with studio lighting, because that is where I have the most control, and therefor, where I feel most at ease. Despite that control, I also feel extremely vulnerable there, and I’d like to tell you about that.

I know that walking through my door for a session takes a ton of courage on my client’s part. But you are not the only one who feels vulnerable. You are not the only one exposing yourself. And you definitely are not the only one who feels fear.

I have been photographing women long enough to know exactly what it takes to get good images of you, but that doesn’t stop me from being terrified with each new face that walks through my door. You see, I feel just as vulnerable as you do. I take my job very seriously, and I want you to leave feeling amazing about yourself, and feeling beautiful and empowered. If I screw up, that doesn’t happen. The thing I fear most in my job is letting you down.

The tree you see pictured resides in my backyard. It’s a magnolia tree. Every spring it blooms these huge, gorgeous pink blossoms, and it fills the air with a downright heavenly smell. The blooms last for only about 2 weeks, and then it sheds those petals into a beautiful carpet of pale pink on the ground. It’s the perfect metaphor for every single photo session I do in my studio.

That tree comes out of every winter with bare branches. A mere shadow of it’s former self. Soon, tiny buds begin to form. The blossoms open slowly at first, unsure if they will become something beautiful, or simply shrivel and fall short. Soon, they embrace their circumstances, and open into something magnificent, only to find that they finally have to let go, and fall to the earth below.

You see, I have to leave my fear at the door in order to embrace your session. I have to let go of my vulnerability, and find confidence in myself and in what I know, and I have to put as much of myself into you, as you put into me. Together, with trust in each other and a mutual understanding, we can create something magnificent.

 

Why boudoir is a feminist act

I absolutely consider myself a feminist.  I believe we are all equal.  We all deserve to be treated the same, paid the same, and have the same benefits.  That being said, men and women are different creatures with different needs, wants and desires.  Women are often treated as though our needs and desires are bad or shameful.  That double standard (sex is good for men, but bad for women) is so pervasive in our world that it colors how we perceive everything.

 

Many have questioned me about boudoir.  I have been told I am objectifying women, and holding women back by making them sexual objects.  That simply isn’t true.

 

Objectification happens when a person is looked at or treated like an object by someone else.  Objectification is done by one person to another with out their consent.

 

Boudoir is an experience.

 

It’s about claiming your own sexuality, and choosing to showcase it in the manner you deem fit.  It’s about embracing an aspect of your true self, and allowing that one aspect to be free for a time.  It’s about femininity, and the things that make us women.  Most women have breasts.  Women have hips and thighs, and other body parts.  Embracing, loving and showcasing your own body parts is empowering, not objectifying. Women are soft, vulnerable, beautiful, elegant, shy, coy, daring, brave, sexual, loving, kind, provocative…

 

We are many things.

 

Boudoir isn’t just about what we look like, but also about feeling, emotion, texture, mystery, confidence…

 

It’s about everything that goes into making us who and what we are.

 

Boudoir is a feminist act because we are claiming our own bodies and our own souls.  We are CHOOSING how we are seen, and how we see ourselves.  We are making a choice to be vulnerable in a positive way. We are choosing to be ourselves and embrace everything about us that makes us women.

 

Boudoir is an act of bravery.

Women supporting women

As you may know, March is Women’s History month.  And let’s face it, there are a LOT of amazing women throughout history.  As a sex, we’ve done some pretty some amazing things, despite being second class citizens for the majority of our time on this earth.  And those of us here in the United States have it very good, because there are many places in the world were women are not nearly as lucky.

The one thing that I find unfortunate about our current society is that we spend so much time judging one another, and so little time supporting each other.  We judge other women for their clothing choices, their lifestyle choices, their mates, their jobs, etc.  I choose to be different.

I choose to support and uplift my female counterparts.  We are all capable of amazing things, but we need to be reminded that we are capable of them.  Sometimes our worst critics are the voices inside our heads.  We can overcome those voices, but a little outside encouragement sure helps to drown them out.

We need to cheer each other on, celebrate each other’s achievements, and help each other to rise above.  That is how we make history.

 

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