Reflecting on Self-Reflection

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It should be obvious that people don’t fit neatly into predefined boxes, but we seem to find it so convenient to stick ourselves and everyone else into such boxes nonetheless. I mean, a test on the internet told me that I am an INFP (I for introvert), and the details the test revealed couldn’t have sounded more truthful. After all, I am shy and quiet and can feel completely drained in large crowds. I have read and loved Susan Cain’s “Quiet” and felt proud to be a part of the introvert revolution.

And then something strange happened... I started reaching out and felt so incredibly energized. I started taking chances, asking strangers out to coffee and made some of the most powerful friendships of my life. I stood up in crowds of people, completely vulnerable, revealing the imperfect images that contain a piece of my soul, and shared the deepest motivations in my heart. And no one laughed at me, (though a few may have cried with me.)

I have felt more alive and filled with purpose than ever.

In my continuing quest for self-knowledge (and having forgotten my result,) I re-took that test and surprisingly came out ENFP... E for Extroverted. Aren't these traits supposed to be definitive and permanent? Aren't Shy and Extrovert mutually exclusive?

I thought perhaps I had subconsciously lied in my answers... and then it became clear:

The difference between an introvert and an extrovert lies not in their confidence or outward personality, but in the source of their energy.

Introverts gain energy from their time alone, while extroverts gain their energy from the time spent with others. I have always straddled this line, drawn to books and baths and quiet spaces of self-reflection… but truthfully drawing so much of my energy from the people I surround myself with (for better or worse). While my circle is often small, it is that circle that fuels me.

Self-knowledge shouldn’t be used as an excuse… it should be a tool for empowerment. That introvert label looked like it fit, and so I slapped it on and ‘accepted’ that I just wasn't meant to reach out and connect. The problem with this was that I needed those connections to fuel me.

So this is the place that has given me the space to step out and take those risks. With age and all that self-reflection, I know that I can go beyond being shy.

Bravery and confidence are muscles that can only grow by bearing the weight of vulnerability.

The Motherhood in the Raw (20 Mothers) Project was fueled by the desire to create a village and foster authentic connection in the modern world of physical separation and superficial connections, celebrating motherhood in its raw and messy beauty. I am so excited to open up a few more of these sessions early this year. You can get more information and apply to share your story HERE.

The truth is, this connection is what fuels every session that I capture, be it a couple learning to love wholeheartedly, an indie-preneur boldly pursuing the business at the heart of her passion, or a woman growing and embracing the worthiness of her body, mind, and soul just as she is.

For both me and my business, the theme of 2017 is CONNECTION. This is not a resolution, it is a guidepost.

 

5 Simple Tips for Meaningful Pictures of Your Holiday Traditions

Hey friends,

With another skiff of snow I have been getting excited for the Christmas season just around the corner. I still have two weeks to go until we get our fresh tree and I get to spend a day building fresh wreaths and centrepieces to fill the house with pine-y goodness, and I can hardly wait. I still need to get started on my handmade gifts for this year, but there is no fuel for creativity quite like procrastination, right! (Or is that just what I tell myself?)

As the kids and I get busy crafting and baking and wandering in the forest looking for trees, I am always all too aware that these moments pass so quickly, and the years we have together will fly by. I know that the pictures that I capture will be such a vital part of the way that I pass these stories down to our future generations, and my opportunity to relive these days in all their vivid detail.

I suspect you feel the same, so I have a few simple tips to help you capture the stories that will build your family legacy:

  1. Keep it real: The stories that you want your children to remember don’t happen after you ask them to stop what they are doing and say “Cheese”. To capture the pure joy that they feel, let them stay in the moment and be sneaky with your camera. It may take some patience and reminders to ignore the camera, but the genuine expressions will be well worth it.

  2. Focus on your favourite tradition: Consider taking the time to tell a detailed story of one of your favourite traditions, rather than constantly stepping out of the moment to grab the camera. 

  3. Set the scene: Take one or two pictures that show the entire scene (yes, mess and all) to give your photo story a sense of location. 

  4. Capture the details: A rich story is built by adding in close ups of little hands working, favourite ornaments, and other details that fill in the backstory behind the people-pictures.

  5. Remember to set the camera down: It can be a tough balance to stay present and connected in the moment while documenting these memories that will mean so much down the road. Don’t get too caught up in finding the perfect angle and forget to be a part of the story yourself.

I am ready to fill our house with the warmth and joy of the season, and to build the rich memories that will continue to grow the story of our family, our values, and the love that we share. I am also so honoured to be invited to join some of you in your own beautiful traditions.

I know that I often find it hard to balance my need to preserve the joy in these magical moments with my commitment to staying present and connected in the moment. Have you been feeling the same way?

I wanted to let you know that if you experience the same struggle, there is an option that allows you to be fully engaged in the moment and also preserve the memories in an album or video that you can enjoy for generations to come.

I have space in my calendar for no more than 8 more Holiday Magic storytelling sessions before Christmas arrives, if you would like a chance to be included in the frame and have your story artistically told, please get in touch as soon as possible.

Oh, and I am a totally lazy crafter and baker… if you have any great minimalist baking recipes or crafts that don’t need a ton of crazy supplies, I would love for you to share a link in the comments or shoot me an email!

5 reasons to embrace spring for your family portraits

We spent a lovely Saturday together outdoors this week, and it got me thinking about how much spring has going for it. It really is the perfect time to get outside with the ones you love. I couldn't help but think of these reasons not to wait until summer for your family portraits.

spring bicycles and famiy fun
  1. The beauty of new life is all around, with fresh new greens, blossoming trees all over town, and the early wildflowers in bloom.
  2. The kids are so excited to be outside again (without the burden of snowsuits and time limits of frostbite) and they are absolutely in awe of all the new sights and new freedom.
  3. The mosquitos haven't heard that summer weather is here. You have to love a DEET-free day out!
  4. We don't need to wait until obscenely late hours for gorgeous light. I am perfectly comfortable capturing your lives in any light (heck, our day out above was shot at 11 and 3, not exactly perfect light), but that gorgeous, creamy, wrapped-up-all-around-you light is only out for about an hour before sunset, and come June, that is WAAAAYYYY past bedtime for these little ones.
  5. Summer life gets busy, then fall is insane with back to school, harvest, and catching up after lazy summer vacation days, if you don't do it now, you might find yourself saying "next year" and missing out on preserving another year of fading moments.

Spring sessions still available. Book now before the mosquitos hatch and the days get long.

Savouring the Bitter, Sour, and Strong

Each image that I create, no matter the session style or subject matter, has one specific goal in mind; to savour the beautiful, fleeting, and nearly imperceptible details that build the foundation of our lives and our loves. Training my eye to look for these moments and preserve them does not end when I set down the camera, and this is the biggest gift that my photographic journey has given me.

Mindfulness is such a "buzzword" at the moment, that it is sometimes easy to lose sight of what mindfulness can mean in our emotional lives. Finding the word savouring applied to this concept has brought new colour and texture to my understanding of how we can apply mindfulness to our daily practice of living wholeheartedly.

When I think of savouring something, I think of the rich world of food that we have available to enjoy. Some of the foods that we enjoy the most passionately are not obvious choices; they are "acquired tastes." Strong, bitter, pungent, spicy, heavy, sharp... it isn't only the sweet that is worth savouring. Surely we can easily enjoy the sweet as well, but even so, is it more gratifying to devour a tub of Ben & Jerry's or to experience a small gelato with a demitasse spoon, embracing the subtleties of the flavour.

embracing the challenging moments of motherhood

And so I find myself bouncing back and forth with a sleepless, teething baby, fighting to night wean to get a moment of my own body and sanity back, while yearning to comfort him with ease and to get back to bed. And yet, at least occasionally, I find myself reflecting on the beauty of that moment of pure connection. When the two of us are completely without distraction. When he is all need and I am all love. I imagine the details that I would capture in that moment as a photographer... the way his tiny, still-dimpled fingers grasp each other with his arms wrapped tightly around my neck, nuzzling my nose into his soft, sweet skin. All the while praying for this moment to pass, and yet for this memory to stay forever.

tired toddler rubbing eyes

This is how I find myself savouring even the bitter moments. Recognizing what I see and admire in even the sour, pungent, heavy, and sweet moments in the lives of others, and giving myself the gift of savouring and appreciating those moments in my own life. 

beams of light pouring over sleeping baby in crib

This is how I push myself toward unconditional, wholehearted living.

Ready to Join Me?