Early last year, when I embarked on a brand new project with my new friend, I felt like one long, lost soul. Life was chaotic and crazy for me, a mom of three young, hysterical, energetic, strong-willed ladies (read: stubborn, hard-headed, doggedly determined). I was trying with all my might to home school them, run my house, and a fledgling small business all at the same time. Oh, and also treat myself like a human being (as opposed to my self-martyring mom role I sometimes can play when I’m overwhelmed). Oh, and be a good wife! And friend! The time for me seemed nowhere to be found, and I was slowly folding inward with my introverted self wishing for more ways to express myself, my darkness. I was feeling trapped, claustrophobic, like I was keeping a part of myself locked up. “How can I get out of here?!?” I thought. The restlessness of my brain was just too much, and I just had no idea how to calm the beast. Do you ever feel that?
Anyhow, as most lost souls are found, I just kept walking the path of life, doing my best to navigate with the life skills that I had, and adding more in as I learned them. Thanks to said friend, I stumbled across some books by Brene Brown (if you haven’t read them, DO), and wow did she add to my skill set! I learned so much about vulnerability and courage and bravery and honesty, and I also learned painfully honest truths about my worthiness and self-esteem. After a great deal of reading and discussing with my esteemed friend, and several vulnerable interviews into our project, I was finally inspired to try a different form of creativity from my photography. I knew it had been brewing inside me. I knew I wasn’t doing enough, creating enough. I heart photography, believe me I do, but I also love to create in other ways; physical, hands covered in paint and glue and glitter that you can’t get off kind of creating, and I was missing out on that. Like my soul was craving it. My darkness wanted to be unleashed! Explored! It wanted me! We interviewed this watercolor and illustration artist, Jenna, from Mon Voir, and my mind was blown. (That’s her messy watercolor pallet up at the top.) I so much appreciated her vulnerability and courage to be so honest with us about the process of art and what it means to her. That the process of art, and what you learn about yourself during the process is what matters, not the outcome. She was incredible and inspiring. Thank you, Jenna! From there I dove in, and haven’t looked back.
After some research and getting involved in the creative community more, I found this really great community online called Get Messy Art Journal, and it’s been just incredible. The support of the creativity, and the process, and everything that goes on in between beginning a project to the final product, being an artist can feel like a lonely road sometimes, and they make it so much more fun. They also encourage you to art journal every day, or as often as you can manage. Which sounds impossible, and has been for me so far. It’s been really hard to fit it into my schedule, and I’ve really learned a lot about carving out art time for myself. Especially in this latest season of prompts they came out with, the Season of Lists! If you know me, you know that I am a lover of lists. I will spend my downtime making lists. It’s relaxing and fun for me. It helps me to feel prepared and organized and in the know. So when I found out that they were doing a season of lists, 30 Days of Lists over 6 weeks, I was so stoked! I was in for the challenge. And it was super difficult for me to keep up. I didn’t get to art journal every day, I would do a bunch of a week’s worth of work in one or two days after spending the week writing out the lists. But I gave myself grace, and tried my best to keep up, and get the most out of the process as possible. And it was wonderful, and I’m so proud of myself for finishing. And really, only a few days after the season has ended, so I wasn’t so behind after all! The process of making my beautiful, messy, tiny art journal was as freeing and cathartic as I thought it could be, and my darkness is pleased to be expressed in the process, not the outcome.
In the spirit of lists, and because I just got off of 6 weeks of writing the best lists ever, I thought I’d share my pearls of wisdom that I learned during the Season of Lists…in a list! Here it is:
I can create art purely for myself, without care of external input.
Creating something every day helps me to feel more human.
If I don’t create every day, I feel like I am missing a part of myself.
The world needs me to create my art. No one can create my art but ME.
I am unique.
My voice matters.
I will never be perfect, I will just be me.
I enjoy spending time exploring my darkness while creating.
Grace is very important to have for yourself so that you can give it to others.
Healthy self talk leads to better results than negative self talk.
Being a part of a community of people who also feel the need to create every day is inspiring and life altering.
When I create, I am a better person.
Without further ado, here is a Flip-a-gram of my little, mini-messy art journal for the Season of Lists…
I sat down to my computer this morning feeling very overwhelmed. Just with the usual things. Work, motherhood, homeschooling, responsibilities, life, not feeling like there are enough hours in the day to get it all done the way I want to get it done. My oldest daughter is still at her first slumber party, and I’m still grieving (since I dropped her off last night) over the little girl that she isn’t anymore, and the young lady that she is becoming. I even took a picture of her before we were in front of her friends so I could commemorate the event. She was still embarrassed. Where does time go?? There’s times I can barely remember what they were like as a baby, and then there are these stark moments of remembrance, and feeling like it was just yesterday that I held them in my arms for the first time, tears streaming down my face with joy and wonder at the life we would experience together. And now here we are, still in the young years, but feeling like we are on a freight train that is barreling through life, not slowing down for one moment. Thanks, John Mayer, for the metaphor.
It’s fitting that when I sat down, feeling all of these feelings, that I should look up the topic I scheduled for myself to write about for today. And low and behold, it says “Balancing work and motherhood, 365”. Well, I don’t feel like I’m balancing work and motherhood very well at all right now. And I have been royally failing at my 365. Like, King size royally failing. So, the first thing I did was get off of my computer, play a few games of Uno with my middle, get in a few minutes of snuggle time with my still sleeping hubby, enjoy a second cup of coffee whilst pondering the fun my oldest is having, and watch my youngest hang off my leg. I needed to just calm down, be all in with my family, and feel grateful for it all so that I could erase that yucky “I suck at balancing” feeling. Sometimes when I think I’m checking the block to overflow their cup with love, I realize that it’s really my cup being filled, too. Refreshing. Gave me such a new perspective for this blog post.
The morning reminded me of my very first (and still only) Connecting Things event I went to last November. It was a chilly morning, I was feeling so nervous I wanted to barf all over my carefully picked outfit and one of my only pairs of “business” shoes, as I call them. ( I own more “mom” shoes than “business” shoes these days). My friend tells me that my barfing feeling is really just living. So now I call them my barfy butterflies. Because that sounds more palatable to me. I’m barfing because I’m living! Anyway, I’m on my way to Connecting Things, feeling barfy/alive because I’m hugely stepping out of my comfort zone, and into the arena, to go put my introverted self into a situation in which I must be social, and represent myself as a business person. ACK! I feel afraid of that sometimes. People looking at me like I’m a business person, and then laughing hysterically at me, pointing and saying “Who do you think you are?!?” But I digress. I took the risk, and walked into the mob of people that come to these events. I only talked to the people sitting in front of me, but that’s okay. Baby steps, right?
So, the speaker at Connecting Things, Dane Sanders, wrote his speech to speak directly to me…and the hundreds of other creative entrepreneurs in the crowd. You can watch it here. It’s truly inspiring. He talked about what it means to decide to be a BUSINESS OWNER, and how it’s attitudinal, you have to choose it. I left owning my Business Owner title more proudly than I ever had. And have been working on owning that ever since. Dane said “Deciding to BE an owner is the most difficult part of becoming a creative entrepreneur.” And I would totally agree. The business end of this shindig has been at times excruciatingly painful, but it has also brought great joy and satisfaction. And I have to learn to take each in stride with grace and humility, and continue to walk the path I know is right, even when it’s difficult or painful. Because the joy and satisfaction always trumps the excruciating pain, if not makes it even more beautiful.
But my take away was this… BE ALL IN. In whatever you’re doing, in that moment. Be all in. Taking care of business? Be all in. Spending time with your kids? Be all in. Doing you? Be all in. Hanging with your man? Be all in. Barfy butterflies? Definitely be all in. And when you feel like you can’t be all in? Be all in. It’s worth it.
My even bigger takeaway was the note I wrote myself when Dane talked about being “all in”…
When I thought about why I’m really scared of being all in, I realized that when I’m not, I’m looking at everything from a birds eye view, making my lists of things I need to do to make myself feel like I accomplished something that makes me feel productive that day, or makes my life feel more organized and less chaotic. The people in my life are not productivity tasks, so we have a problem there. Furthermore, I shouldn’t be doing a bunch of things on a To Do list, just to feel productive, because truly at the end of the day, productivity doesn’t mean anything to me. I end up thinking about all of the missed opportunities with my kids because of what I felt I needed to do instead. Instead of just being ALL IN, wherever I’m at at the time, I spend time making lists so that I don’t have to be all in. So I can check boxes, and maybe not feel that fear that I am not being productive in life.
Dane talked about lists, and said “Don’t create a To Do list, create a To Be list.”
Be a kind and loving person, to others and to myself
Be authentic, courageous and honest
Be the mom and wife I want to be
Be a person who makes a difference in the world
Be a BUSINESS OWNER
Be an artist
Be a creator
Be a mover and a shaker
So, onward and upward. I stopped using the word “balance” in my life, and started practicing being all in, wherever I’m at. Being all in to me means just normal, authentic me, doing my best at whatever I’m doing at the time, and trying to put my heart and soul into it. Even when I don’t particularly enjoy what I’m doing. And giving myself grace when I fail. There’s growth in failure.
What’s YOUR To Be list?? I want to hear it!
I have to be honest, I had barfy butterflies about posting this blog post. Because it’s vulnerable and honest. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about being all in, it’s that you have to take risks, even when it feels uncomfortable (or barfy). Full photographer’s disclosure: No matter what you see displayed on websites or social media, it is not always possible to capture every meaningful moment in perfect lighting and composition. Those shots are almost always set up, or stumbled on by coincidence. Even photographers take photos that aren’t great in technique, but are still so meaningful! When I’m using my iPhone, my photos are often if not almost always imperfect. So to accompany a post of discomfort that is lacking in photos, here’s a real life look at some of my 365 photos I mentioned I’ve been failing at, sans any editing or filters, straight from the iPhone:
Sisters <3 I just love them
A little photo shoot set-up for Kaylan’s birthday. You will NOT want to miss that blog post 😛
She started her own business, Caring for Cleaning. Some days she shows me up and teaches me what it means to choose: BUSINESS OWNER!
Getting instructions from on of her customers…
Out on the job, making herself proud!
A little theater rehearsal…
Baby Hulk resides here…No really. She does.
If you’re wondering why some of my iPhone photos are smaller than others, I’ll be sharing some photo tips on the blog next week to help you with taking good quality photos from your phone! It is possible!
Thanks for reading along and joining on my vulnerable journey of trying to live all in. I’d love to hear about how you choose to live all in!
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Happy New Year, world!! Take a deep breath. Can you smell it?? Can you smell that new year smell? That smell of new beginnings, new opportunities, new projects, new adventures?!? It’s here!!
I’m a lover a new beginnings. I’m one of those people who will wait until a Monday to start something new, like a habit or a diet or a new schedule, because it’s the beginning of a new week. So you can imagine what the beginning of a new year feels like. Complete BLISS! I’ve spent the last 2 weeks hibernating in my house, preparing for and organizing for the tornado of life that will be coming at me again starting this week. Lists and schedules and menus, oh my! Even now, the new year has started. It’s January 4th, 2016. BUT, since today is Monday, this is the official “start” to my new year. I’m so excited I can barely stand it. Happy first Monday of the year! I encourage you all to be kind and loving to yourselves!
As a lover of new beginnings, and a despiser of endings, I’m not always fond of that “looking back” part of the end of the year. I’m usually day dreaming and planning the next year. But this last year, 2015, it’s had a particular glow to it for me. And I found myself fondly reminiscing on the ups and the downs of the year, and all of the things I learned about myself and my life and my relationships. It was truly an incredibly year for me as a woman. And that’s something I have to stop and appreciate, and then daydream about how I can make next year even more incredible.
It’s hard to put my finger on what made 2015 so incredible for me. I’m already blessed with a loving husband, 3 charming girls that keep me on my toes, and a small but supportive family and group of friends. What can you really ask for outside of that? I am so grateful. But I had some extreme internal growth this year that has been undeniable. I know the catalyst of this change for me was the incredible books written by Brene Brown. If you haven’t checked her out before, and you’re not afraid to talk about vulnerability and shame, I would highly suggest putting hers on your book list this year! You will not regret it.
I was also incredibly blessed to happen upon a friend in the past year and a half that has been a catalyst for change in my life. Sometimes I say she’s the friend I needed when I was a kid in school, we probably would have been besties! But there’s a reason I wasn’t allowed to meet her until now. I think we feel equally as lucky to have found each other in this journey of life. At this phase of life. And now we are working on a project together that has led us on a fantastic journey I’ll never forget. We began I Heart Costa Mesa at the beginning of the year, tooling around Costa Mesa, interviewing all sorts of people and businesses. What you learn about life from embarking on a project like that with someone else is innumerable. We’ve met so many people who have some piece in the growth I have experienced this year. People who have opened their hearts and shared with us vulnerably and honestly. And let me shoot them in the same way. I am forever grateful.
We started a new part of the project just in the past few months. Hearts of Costa Mesa. Our first interviewee gave us a quote that I won’t ever let myself forget. Here he is, as a reminder for 2016, as well as some of our other shoots from this phenomenal year. Here’s to another life learning year on this journey called life! Thanks for following along with me. Happy New Year, all!
“I love that you guys are doing this project. The very act of stopping and paying attention to someone – choosing to photograph them in their best, most human light and to just let them tell their story – well, I would say that’s a holy act. It’s a life-affirming and loving act.
“It’s not that the hatred and the judgement don’t still exist in the world, but you are purposely choosing to focus on the love and mercy.
“It’s like when you watch The Sopranos and people say,’That glorifies the mafia, that glorifies violence.’ Well, no. It just humanizes a person who happens to be doing really awful things; so you end up loving him on some level even if you also really hate him. You’ve been privileged into seeing the humanity of the person, and all of a sudden you find it really, really hard to hate someone when you see their humanity. It’s just difficult.
“How do I hate someone who is human just like me? Through my eyes, it’s impossible.”
Wow, what a year we have had! We are even missing a few since those articles haven’t published yet. 2016 is slated to be pretty rockin’, so stay tuned, read up, and follow along! And thank you to everyone who helped me learn my lessons of 2015. I am forever grateful.
Spring has sprung! We’ve been livin’ it up outside as much as we can. So beautiful! Curren tried out a fashion class at Fashion Camp with her friends. She loved it! My little fashionista in the making…
And we had a family bonfire. Beautiful weather, beautiful sunset, yummy smore’s. Only so many photos. I was busy havin’ fun!
This girl!!!! My heart.
Here’s me including myself in the photos! That’s my shadow, and there’s everyone else 😀
If you would like your life captured in photos, contact me today!
Onto another March adventure, whale watching!! This was so much fun, the kids had a blast. I probably blogged about our trip whale watching in April 2014, and we didn’t see anything while we were out, so they gave us vouchers to come back and try again. So here we went! We actually saw a whale, and tracked her for a bit, and some other sea life. It was a beautiful day to be out on the boat in the sun. This was Jordi’s first time on a boat like this, she really enjoyed herself. This was also our first day ever giving her a ponytail. I was kind of obsessed with it, but saved you from all the pictures of it. Haha! It was adorable. The other 2 wanted their hair up so it wouldn’t blow around, so Jordi wanted hers up, too. It’s still too short, but we did what we could. She has since moved onto some really darn tootin’ cute pigtails, which you will see in posts to come.
And the beautiful sunset we came home to that evening. It was a lovely day.
If you would like your life captured in photos, contact me today!