Personal | Family Portraits and Self-love

I’m not quite sure how to start this post. Its been weighing on my heart and mind a lot for the past couple of months, so to finally sit down to write it feels a little… overwhelming.

See, 2015 was a fantastic year for my business. I had amazing clients, shot amazing weddings, and created some amazing images. With success comes struggle and A LOT of hard work. So much hard work that my priorities got a little out of whack. Running a full time business, along with being a full time mommy and wife, accompanied by a couple of challenging years in my personal life, left little time for any self care.

So, here goes.

The end of 2013 to the end of 2015 was not what I would call an easy road, personally. Right before Christmas of 2013, one of my best friends, my youngest daughter Charlie’s Godfather, was killed in a tragic work accident. 2014 was a year, unfortunately, filled with a lot of grief.

2014 – 2015 was my oldest daughter Macie’s first year of preschool. Macie is an extremely smart, beautiful, and FUNNY little girl that blessed me, almost 5 years ago now, by making me a mommy for the first time. She changed my life for the better. I thank God every day for the two most precious angels he’s given me in the form of my two daughters.

Last spring, her preschool had a parents day in which families were allowed to come and observe their children. It was a rough day for me. What I expected to see was my daughter playing, laughing, doing her work, etc. What I instead saw was her struggling to fit in. None of the children were being “mean” to her, but none of them were really including her either. Focusing has always been a struggle for Macie. Loud noises, eye contact, transitions, babies crying (the worst!). Everything I told myself were just little quirks came rushing through my head when I was watching her that day. So much so that I remember pinching myself as I stood there alone trying not to cry in a room full of strangers.

 That day was the day my husband and I decided to look into getting Macie evaluated for ASD (autism spectrum disorder). The following couple of days was the first time I ever heard of SPD (sensory processing disorder). Both of which, my daughter has.

I struggled with if I should even put this out there. I don’t want my daughter labeled. Macie is extremely high-functioning. Meaning, 99% of people I’ve discussed it with have been “shocked” by her diagnosis. Doctors were initially doubtful, teachers, friends, and even family. In a way, you’d think that would make me happy. But when you know in the depths of your soul that something just isn’t right, its exhausting being questioned; even if from a loving place.

So onto the “Family portraits” part of this post. I’m embarrassed to say, its been over two years since my own family has gotten pictures taken together. I’m a photographer for goodness sake! What a hypocrite I am to suggest that everyone should be in photos when I myself find it so hard to get in front of the camera. I’ve gained a good deal of weight since having my youngest daughter almost three years ago. Some people exercise to release stress (or drink, or do drugs, or wood work… you get the point), I eat. I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m tired, I eat when I’m stressed. I always have, and I “probably” always will. I mean, we have to eat right? My eating habits paired with a pretty challenging couple of years brought me to an unhealthy place. One in which I wasn’t comfortable in my body, let alone in front of the camera.

But my mindset has changed. Throughout the challenges, there has been blessings too. One of them, is my dear friend Amanda Gyuran. Amanda is a health coach that I met through the recommendation of a mutual friend. But she’s not your typical health coach. She’s a health and wellness, eating psychology coach, working with women of all sizes and stages of life, focusing on one thing: loving who you are right now. Not at a size 4, with a skinnier face, and less wrinkles… NOW! I’m so blessed to have met her and have really made strides into changing my mindset for the positive.

2015 was a year full of challenges, revelations, and exhaustion. I share all of this because I believe that going through these struggles are what defines you. Also, the Facebook, social media, happy rainbow bikini selfie world we live in, is just so… false. People are so scared to be real and vulnerable these days, and I don’t want to be one of them.

2016 is going to be different. It will be a year of self-love, self-care, and slowing down. It will be a year of smelling the roses, correctly prioritized priorities (is that a thing?), and happiness. It will be a year of enjoyment, of fun, of getting in front of the camera so that my daughters have a tangible memory of their mother. 2016 will be a year of enjoying this imperfectly perfect life, and cutting myself some, seriously overdue, slack.

To start the year off right, I asked my amazingly talented friend, Erin Schmidt, of E Schmidt Photography to come to my house and shoot a family lifestyle session. I don’t know what I was so scared of!? These images are some of my favorite images of all time; imperfect self and all. We will always have these images as a reminder of the love that we share and the beautiful life that we have been given. Thank you so much Erin for these gorgeous images. I cherish them.

Now, go live your life. Go look in the mirror and realize how beautiful you are. Go cut yourself some seriously overdue slack. And, go get in a couple of pictures with the people that mean the most to you. I’d love to help you with that. <3

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A very special thanks to my wonderful friend Sarah Marzec for coming over super early that morning and giving me and the girls a glam session! <3

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