P E R S O N A L || Wake Up Calls

Monday had been marred with stress already when I got the news that my Dad had a heart attack. Being the first time my Dad has really ever been at a point where he was actually down and out, I was thoroughly shocked. And a little scared. Okay, a lot scared.

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I finally got to see him today, all snuggled up in a hospital bed, wrapped in those crunchy, unsoft hospital blankets, wrapped in light from the huge windows, spearing watermelon and fake eggs with a stainless steel fork. He was quiet, and soft spoken. His jokes came, as they always did, but the delivery was less than boisterous. It was then that it hit me. My Dad was human. Vincible. Not INvincible. Not eternal. He was very real. Very human. Prone to crazy things like getting sick, and having heart attacks, and being betrayed by his body, a body that was always fit and in shape. That man that always seemed to stand against anything and succeed….was laying in a bed, trying to get back up as quickly as possible.

I don’t know why, but when I got down to my car, and looked at my hands, I started to cry. I know it’s warranted, healthy even, to process emotions. And I know I’m not the first person to shed tears aplenty in that hospital parking lot. I bet some other person was also sitting behind the wheel of their car, hands gripping on to the steering wheel, as if squeezing it would give them the answers, or at least the solace they so desired.

But life’s funny that way, I guess. One minute, you’re fighting personal demons, thinking about how much you need to do, mentally calculating how many weddings you need to book in order to travel to Ireland and capture thick green hills and crashing waves and old cobblestones, the next, you’re calling siblings, making sure they have someone to hold on to, and making sense of the madness, and trying to quell the overwhelming desire to drive 150 MPH all the way to the hospital.

I guess I’m writing here because words make more sense than swirling heart ache. Typing it out makes more sense than thinking it and trying to make sense of it all in my head. Transparency, and responding in love, my two mantras, have always served to give me solace, peace, and answers when I needed them, so I use them now.

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So today, I’m holding myself. I’m allowing myself to have moments to feel it out, to let the emotions wash over me, to accept that we’re all getting older, that life has a cycle, that fear and anger are emotions with as much right to exist as love and graciousness. I’m reminding myself that I don’t have to have all the answers. But even more importantly, I’m reminding myself that I’m not in control. It doesn’t have to be okay by me….I just have to tip my hat at it. It’s a lesson that keeps lapping at my toes, like a tide rushing in to smooth and refine the sand. I have no control. And even if I hate it, sometimes, just knowing it’s a thing is all I need.

And I’m gonna make more time to be with my family, regardless of the fact that we’re hours apart. Distance is nothing compared to the missed memories I was regretting as I waited to hear how he was doing. My Dad, thankfully, is made of crazy strong stuff (he’d have to be, to drive himself to the hospital while having a heart attack), and he’s already chomping at the bit to go back and do more fishing. I love my Dad, and my family, and I need to make sure I let them know it, not just with words, but with actions too.

❤ Thanks for letting me share my heart here, captive audience. Now go hug a family member or a pet or a piece of furniture. Something. Go on! Get!

P E R S O N A L || Weight Loss Journey :: Update

It’s been about a month since I decided to be transparent about my struggle with losing weight and keeping it off.

When I started, I had lost 14 lbs. That number remains the same. Even with cutting out most gluten (except for rare splurges with friends…..very rare) and eating masses of lean proteins and vegetables, AND adding in 20 minute walks with Liam twice a week, (I’d do more, but my knee already hates this part!) I’m just chilling there, in the same spot.

It got so distressing and discouraging I spoke with my doctor, who recommended that we get a dietician that he trusted on board, as well as run tests to see if my body is trying to tell me something! He’s a pretty smart doctor, you guys, and I’m a fan of him, so we’ll see what he says.

In the meantime, I’m feeling discouraged. And, frankly, I’m bored. I spend hours and hours in the kitchen juicing, slicing, dicing, cleaning vegetables, cleaning the kitchen, and frankly, it’s killing me. Liam absolutely *hates* it.

I wish there was an easier way to do this that didn’t involve taking tons of time to make all these dishes and foods, you know? I’m a mom with two businesses and a husband in school–this is really beginning to hinder me! My doctor asked about my eating and exercise history, and agrees that most of my work should be directed and continuing to eat healthy, and as I lose weight, my knee will no doubt be more capable of handling more work.

You can keep up with my food-eating adventures on Instagram!

http://www.instagram.com/shmilyface

And here’s a look back at some of my favorite captures from last month!

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What about you guys? Anyone ever find themselves so close the beginning, but struggling so hard? What do you do? How do you change up your routine? And do you have any time-saving tips? I’m scouring the internet anyways, but I’d love your thoughts and tips and personal stories of success OR failure! I think there’s an amazing opportunity to learn from both!

P E R S O N A L || Liam and Spring Break

TJ finished his Winter Quarter, Spring Break is underway, and Liam and I have been soaking up our time with the sunshine as often as we can! This is my final weekend before being slammed with 6 weddings over this month, and I tell you, though I’m thoroughly enjoying every minute with my beautiful family, I can’t wait to dive headfirst into these weddings! They are my second great passion! (Family is first you guys, duuuuuuh)

We love to share little moments with our family, and some of you have seen some of these on our personal pages, some on our business page, but here’s the whole collection from the last week for you to peruse. Momo makes several adorable appearances, and Liam’s eyes (which seemed green a few days ago, and are now more of a hazel color, causing mass confusion as to which eye color he’ll end up with) and thick lashes will be seen often. I can’t tell if his eyes, his toothy smile, his chubby cheeks, or his chubby little legs are my favorite. Probably all of them! ❤

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

Spokane Family Photography

What Shmily Face Stands For

I love telling people about my photography business. I’m all about hidden meanings and crazy ideas, which is probably why I like the Indiana Jones and the Oceans movie collections so much. So when I was thinking about making my passion into something that had a banner that would give people a glimpse into the heart of what the business was about, I knew I wanted to convey three things in one.

1. I wanted to show people that *I* love them. I’m not talking like your Mom, or your Spouse, or your Children, but as someone who genuinely thinks you are WORTHY, and VALUED, and worth CELEBRATING. I love that everyone has a story, and everyone has battle scars and victories. I wanted my clients to feel that, and I wanted my name to be a warmth you felt when you read it—something that made you smile, made you maybe even want to look a little further.

2. I wanted to show people how much God loved them. Every time the sun peeked up over those hill tops, every time a bird made the perfect edition to my portraits, every wrinkle and laugh line and tendril of hair that sways in the wind that I can catch—I can personally say that I feel like that is God, or Energy, or the Earth, or whatever you want to call it—but it’s the heart of what gave us our emotive and spiritual side, and I wanted to showcase *THAT* while also showcasing how much I loved them as well.

3. I wanted people to be able to show *other* people that they loved them. That’s why we get pictures done, right? You get wedding pictures to celebrate and immortalize your love. You get family pictures to celebrate and immortalize your memories of that time of growth in your lives. When ever you take a picture, or get your picture taken, it’s because you’re passionate about something, and you want to share it with someone else. And I wanted to be helping you show love. And it’s a humbling aspect, a beautiful and tremendous responsibility, and a great task that I take on PROUDLY. And every time able to share that for you, because that’s what my gift is.

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So when I was thinking of the name of my business, I realized all three things were so incredibly important, so perfectly aligned with my heart, I couldn’t downplay any of them. And a phrase that had been uttered to me by important people in my life came to mind. SHMILY.
2013-09-27_0035.jpg SHMILY is actually an acronym. It means See How Much I Love You. You see what I did there? I made it a point to keep the things that were important to me IN the name of my business, as a beacon to those souls that would connect with mine. I’m not just a photographer. I’m a story teller. I’m immortalizing you at a point in your life. I’m showing you love, sharing love,helping you share your love to.  So now, when someone asks me the name of my business, now you know that I’m saying  “I love you, He loves you, and it’s awesome that you want to share your love in this way.”

P E R S O N A L || Battling My Weight and Finding Myself

It was in 5th grade that I was first told I needed to lose weight. My sisters were all blessed with athletic bodies and a far better understanding on how to maintain that. I, on the other hand, had developed a deep and abiding love for the glorious flavors that danced on my taste buds, and reveled in it. And food loved my hips, my thighs, well….all of me as well.

That story continued throughout middle school, throughout high school, and until now, I just accepted this lie that I was an overweight photographer that was lucky to get a husband. I’m not even kidding. That was where my self-esteem was at. And I don’t blame my childhood. I don’t blame anyone. I know now that what I needed was education. I had no idea why pasta and potatoes weren’t good for me—only that they weren’t. It seemed stupid that I couldn’t eat ice cream and fried oreos and gelato every day. YOLO, you know?

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But you know when you shop around on Netflix, and you can’t find a good movie, and the only Liam Neeson movie is the one with the wolves and you don’t like blood, so you find yourself in the documentary section deciding if you want to see something about losing weight or watching grown men go to a My Little Pony Convention?  So after you watch the My Little Pony documentary, you decide you need to bleach your brain with another documentary, so *then* you watch the other one?

That happened to us. Well, me, but TJ watched the first one with the same horrified/amused fascination that I did. The second one he watched because, well, he had already grabbed a blanket and pillow, and if there’s one thing we should know about TJ, it’s that he hates being uncomfortable, or moving from his couch, or being called a hipster, even though he’s totally a hipster. (Love you, honey! <3)

Anyways, so I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and then the other one (Time for Change?) and I was so inspired (seriously, watch them!) that I started juicing THE NEXT DAY. And at first, it was SO. Hard.

I won’t get into ALL the nitty gritty, because this is a blog post, not a novel, and because the detox, the subsequent love-affair with Mint Tea and Wheat Grass, and the questionable juicing my husband did is really for another time. But I will say that something shifted. I realized I *could* eat without pasta and spuds all up in my diet. I *could* be okay with eating HUGE salads.

And just like that, I realized I had found my success story.

We all dream for that, right? That moment when you find “The Diet” that gets you back to your high school size? Or even lower? It’s actually not said until after you do it, until after you’ve lost the weight and kept it off, but I’m daring myself to make the commitment and stick with it. I know that if I say “this is my success story,” on the internet, in front of a ton of people who may think I’m a little hasty, I risk failing out loud, which is a huge fear.

But I also know that it gives me a reason to choose to eat my orange—instead of my cookie. And it gives me a reason to keep at it, even when I do (inevitably, by the way) mess up and sneak a Ferrero Rocher or 4. I know that by telling my friends, my family, and my brides that I’m trying something scary that’s marred with failure, I’m giving them (you) an opportunity to help me succeed.

So here’s where I tell you what I need from you:

Follow me on Instagram: @shmilyface

Painless, right?

I’ll be sharing my meals and stuff there. And occasionally, you’ll hear back from me *here* on the blog, and I’ll tell you what I’ve learned, what I’ve struggled with, and what I want to do better.

Now, if the incentive of staring at cell phone pictures of poorly lit meals isn’t enough for you to make the right choice, I also share sneaky peeks of my photo shoots there, AND I also share pictures of Liam and Momo. And I occasionally share pictures of TJ’s beard!

So follow me, encourage me, and forgive me when I fumble, and help me to get down to a healthy weight—because even though I’m doing it for myself, it doesn’t mean I have to be by myself. ❤

P E R S O N A L (sort of) || Mirabeau Duck

I was leaning against a large rock, waiting for a client to show up, and TJ was cleaning lenses. The cool autumn air filled with smells of leafy bonfires and snowy undertones bit at my nose, and I reveled in it. I loooove Fall.

To my left, a rustling, a soft sound of grass being tread on. I look over, then down. Next to my feet was a duck. It stared at me frankly, assessing the camera in my hand, my fluffy curly hair, and shuffled off to TJ. We both laughed, and I got a shot of the duck. We fully expected it to move away and wander on, but it didn’t. Instead, it hopped around, drinking water, shaking droplets off it’s feathers, and looking over at us, as if waiting for us to take it’s picture. It gazed at me over it’s bill.

“Paint me like one of your French Ducks, Jack.”

What the heck, why not? For the next 2 minutes, we shot the duck in the water, on the shore line, in the grass, and through the trees, and I realized I was taking shots that reminded me of a pensive senior session. The only thing missing was a hand balled up, underneath that little bill.

It brightened my afternoon, made me laugh, and when I was culling images from that shoot, I came across these, and realized the duck never got their sneak peek. They’ve probably been checking every day, and here I am, ignoring it. Sorry, Mirabeau Duck! Here’s some from our mini-session with the duck.

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P E R S O N A L || Liam’s First Birthday

Normally, I don’t share personal pictures on here-there’s so much excitement and beautiful people to share with you, I never have time. But now that wedding season has ended on a beautiful note, I’ve had some time to lift my head up, and look around.

It’s fall! Trees are changing color, the smell of burning wood, fall leaves, and pumpkin-everything permeates the air! It’s my favorite season to dress for, my favorite season to shoot in, and my favorite season to eat in.

But more than that, Fall is now home to the celebration of the most precious and amazing gift I’ve ever received, my little one, Liam. It’s been a YEAR since he was born, ONE. FULL. YEAR. I’ve been running around like crazy preparing his party, and buying presents, and stopping to have a good cry when I realize my baby isn’t a baby anymore.

Ready or not, he’s walking, gabbing and pointing, laughing with me, and just this morning, I picked him up out of his crib, and his little hand held my cheek, and he looked at me like I was his greatest treasure. I just about squeezed his guts out, you guys. That’s how precious that moment was.

Take a look at some pictures I caught of him playing on his birthday! ❤

That awkward moment where you try to surprise them, but when you open the door and turn on the light, they're already awake, and playing with toys.

That awkward moment where you try to surprise them, but when you open the door and turn on the light, they’re already awake, and playing with toys.

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His favorite book, "If I Were An Owl" by Ann Wilkinson.

His favorite book, “If I Were An Owl” by Ann Wilkinson.

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We got him a toy that's actually a kid friendly housing for my iPhone, so he can watch Big Block Sing Song, but now he can't send cryptic messages on Facebook, via Siri. <.<

We got him a toy that’s actually a kid friendly housing for my iPhone, so he can watch Big Block Sing Song, but now he can’t send cryptic messages on Facebook, via Siri. <.<

Do you have any traditions for your kids’ birthdays? Did you have any when you were a kid?