Welcome, welcome. Not entirely sure what the full expression of these will be just yet, but to be honest – it’s only fitting that I jump blindly off this cliff as I do with everything else in my life.
The truth is – I’ve been wanting to write. And I’ve been wanting to share more of myself in a way that doesn’t feel as suffocating as coming up with the right IG caption. Why? Because inherently, photography is a vulnerable art. You agree to allow yourselves to be seen by me, and I don’t know – a part of me just feels like you should have the opportunity to know a little more about the person behind the lens capturing your love/your milestones/your business.
I picture this being a stream-of-consciousness-type situation. Whatever’s on my mind or on my heart, I’ll share it here when I feel compelled. Maybe you’ll resonate with some of what I share..and maybe you won’t! All the same to me, take what you need <3
I’ve never really identified with being a writer – but that’s sort of funny to me because as I look back on my various side hustle pursuits and the building of this business, it’s always sort of been a main character in my creative process. But maybe this space is different, more personal.
[I will warn you – this is not the place to come for polished writing, perfect grammar and structured essays about life. I am messy, scattered, wordy, run-on-sentencey – I write how I talk & think. Admittedly, that means a good dose of healthy chaos and a little bit of mess]
…I am not the best with summer. Taylor [my husband if you are new here] always makes fun of me because I spend the first part of the year anticipating summer and then once it’s here I can’t wish it away fast enough. He calls me a summer-hater. As much as I adore the warmth, the sun, the swimming – summer stresses me the fuck out. And I’ve felt that way long before becoming a wedding photographer.
I just feel *pressure* in this season no matter what I do. A contrast to The Rainy Day’s call to rest & cozy up, The Summer Sun is a demanding bitch. Almost as if to yell “Get outside, go play, go create, ADVENTURE, do something, ANYTHING, dammit!” And while I love all of those things, I just find that I get overwhelmed extremely easily during this season. In the summer months, it never feels like there are enough hours in the day to do all of the things. This is ironic because the sun goes down a full 6 hours later than it does in the winter.
But enough of me complaining ~~
This summer was full of ups and downs.
Professionally, I feel like I really came into my own as a wedding photographer this season. I got into such a beautiful groove – I was busy busy but feeling oh so blessed. My couples have been the 1000/10 type of humans. I live for the energy of a wedding day – the people, the chaos, the celebration. I really fell in love this year. I’ll never forget when my own wedding photographer, Laurken Kendall, warned me at my wedding last summer – “Just wait, you’ll be obsessed and unable to stop” – or something along those lines in referring to embarking on this journey full-time. And she was right. Looking back at this summer – it blows my mind that my job is to capture love in all of its forms. Not just between the couple, but between friends, family – people are reunited at weddings. It’s a beyond beautiful thing to witness and make art out of. It makes my heart feel full. I feel like my purpose in this world is to make people see how beautiful they are when they are surrounded by love and there’s nothing I’d rather do more. I simply feel *lucky* – but also proud, because I worked my ass off to get here!
Personally, my heart was broken by the loss of our beloved pup, Ryder. Back in April, our guy collapsed on the table at his grooming appointment. It was so serious and sudden that they called us right away and we whisked him off to the Pet ER. What we didn’t know at the time – this would mark the beginning of the end for our boy. A summer that was full of professional highs, was also full of dread and anxiety. Day by day, Ryder was losing functionality in his legs. It was impossible to ignore that we were going to have to say goodbye to our first baby – we just didn’t know how soon. Looking back, it’s easy to see how heavy this was weighing on us. We were TIRED this summer. I didn’t do much outside of what was required of me at work. We put Ryder down on August 14th. It was one of the hardest, most painful days of my entire life. But it also brought us closer as a family. I think Taylor, myself, and Winona were all extremely comforted by how much we all needed and loved on each other during this time.
We miss him every day. But the beauty of losing a senior pet is the peaceful closure. Ryder lived an unbelievably adventurous and long life for a dog. We took him EVERYWHERE – and he loved it. He was the star everywhere we’d go. I had to get used to being approached on the street while walking him. Some days he was an introvert’s nightmare – but what a lesson in just meeting people with love. Every person we’d come across would soften just at the sight of him. We loved being his, and he loved being ours. He keeps sending us signs as golden retrievers – we see them now more than we ever have. And my heart just knows he is still with us. Taking care of us and guiding us in spirit every day – and also keeping Winona company when she gets lonely in the house by herself.
Spiritually, I was broken down to be built back up better. For the past three years, I’ve been on quite a journey. We don’t need to get into all of the details – but I had a spiritual awakening sometime between 2020-21. I don’t know how to explain it – but basically, I saw the world and my place in it one way before — and then post-spiritual awakening, I saw everything completely different and it compelled me to change almost everything about my life. God/Source/Spirit whatever you want to call it is now an ever-present voice in my life that I turn to often nowadays. I don’t think that it was a coincidence at all that this also happened to be the time that I felt called to pursue my dreams of becoming a photographer. I can’t even wrap my head around how perfectly timed (albeit VERY chaotic) my life has been. I wouldn’t have this business [or see the success I have] had it not been for the guidance I’ve received. That might be new for some of you – I really haven’t shared a lot about how intertwined my spiritual and entrepreneurial journeys have been. But to be honest, I know I wouldn’t be where I am without it.
This year has been particularly spicy in the healing department. There were a lot of things I was being called to let go of and walk away from in a season where the lesson was to choose myself. It is almost unbelievable to me how many things I have shed over this past year. It’s been a long, treacherous road – but I know in my heart that on the other side of this is a happier, more peaceful life where I feel powerful and confident.
Sobriety. In particular, I felt the call to get myself sober this year. For context, my relationship with marijuana and alcohol wasn’t alarming by any means, but it also wasn’t a relationship I was enjoying either. When it comes to alcohol, I spent my college years partying *hard* like pretty much every other Big Ten student. Throughout my twenties, I pretty much maintained the habit through happy hours and nights out with friends on the weekends, but in 2021 – I started noticing my body reacting very differently to alcohol. Every SINGLE time I would drink, even just one beverage – I would feel like shit. And not just in my body – in my mind. It’s like I would descend into this darkness and it would just feel so bleak. It was obvious that I needed to walk away completely – even if I was hardly drinking at that point.
I decided to quit in March of this year. These last 6-months living a non-alcoholic lifestyle have been SO good for me – my body feels the best it ever has – but most importantly, I feel like I am getting my mind right. In my experience, especially at the end – nights drinking alcohol would go hand in hand with intense depressive episodes. Anytime I would drink, I would launch into a darkness that felt like it was just getting bigger and more consuming. I had a sort of last-straw moment where it was so obvious that I was being my own worst enemy by continuing to try drinking and I just didn’t want to do that to myself anymore. It was actually quite scary. But I am really proud of myself for taking control and finally having the strength to give it up. It’s overall been a really easy transition for me and one that was truly life-changing.
Couple quick tips for anyone trying to quit:
As for marijuana, I really don’t have a lot of bad things to say about it other than I developed a codependency to it that eventually came to bother me and want to change. I’ve been self-medicating my anxiety & insomnia using marijuana for the past 10 or so years. For the longest time, it wasn’t a problem – I would just smoke right before bed, and I could go on trips and take breaks and would feel just fine. Overall, I was just happy to not be on meds (I didn’t have a good experience with them in high school) and to be sleeping. That was until 2021 when I traveled to Salt Lake City and experienced 4 nights of full insomnia without marijuana and it shook me to my core. It was clear that I had gotten to a place where I couldn’t really function without it.
It wasn’t until I came across a TikTok of Stevie Nicks talking about her addiction to cocaine. She said that someone had confronted her, calling out that she wasn’t the type of woman who wanted to be controlled by anyone or anything (BLESS) – so why does she let cocaine run her like that (OOF)? That statement hit me like a ton of bricks for how intensely I resonated in my relationship to mary j.
So I am now on Day 10 of my marijuana detox and I am not looking back. The first week was a time, but not the worst. Maybe I will write more about my experience once I am able to look back on it as opposed to being in the thick of it. But after 10 days in, I am already starting to notice my moods balancing out, my energy levels skyrocketing & sleep is getting easier and easier every night. AND – my dreams are back! They are wacky as hell, but I really did miss dreaming every night. A lot to look forward to in my post-marijuana life – that’s for sure.
Sure, it frustrates me sometimes that other people seem to be able to use substances for recreation and not get to the places I got to which made me want to quit. And who knows! Maybe someday I will be able to reintroduce alcohol and weed back into my life on occasion, in small doses. But more importantly, I am SO excited to meet sober me. I know that I am going to be a better business owner, wife, friend, daughter, and hopefully someday momma. For anyone else who has gone through tough transitions like this – I see you. Changing yourself and breaking bad habits is one of the hardest things we do in this life – but if you’re feeling compelled to change, there’s a great reason for it. Keep believing in yourself and that desired future. One step at a time.
All in all – this year has been really really hard. I feel like I am being pushed/pulled/tested/pressured beyond ALL of my limits. But I know in my heart it’s because there is a life that is lighter on the other side of this.
But in all seriousness, I really do feel as though I am stepping into a new chapter (maybe starting a new book? LOL) and it feels better than ever. As a family, we feel a weight lifted and are excitedly preparing for what’s next. There’s been talk of big moves, babies and maybe even big career changes. But for now, we are just taking it all day by day. Our immediate future is going to be FULL of travel (starting with our European honeymoon in a few weeks) and I am looking forward to all of the new things, new projects, new connections, NEW FOOD, we will get to experience this year. But all in all – just happy to be on the ride ~~
Until next time XO