Breathe.

reverb yoga

Working as a full time photographer is not for the faint of heart. With long (and very odd) hours of shooting and hauling gear around paired with even longer hours of sitting at a desk editing photos, it can be taxing on your body. Big meetings with board members, cancelled conference calls, and some seriously cut throat competition in the world can only add to the stress of an already taxing career.  On top of this, there is gear to keep up with, technology to sort through, and a craft that requires a lot of your heart and soul and energy.

In order to show up for a demanding career (and let's face it...life as a full-time, single parent), I have learned over the years that I have to show up for myself first.

Let me be clear for a moment.

I have lived under the notion for years that the only way for me to be a successful photographer or designer (or anything, really) was for me to work so hard at it that I had no energy left for anything at the end of the day. I was collapse-into-bed-tired all the time. And for a long time, that worked...to a degree. For 15 years of a career on my own, I hustled and hid behind a shroud of what I like to call "bizzyness." During that time, I had a toddler to manage by myself, 2 dying parents to tend, and a sister who passed away somewhat unexpectedly. Needless to say, I crashed.

A few years after my sister died, I bottomed out. Around the time of her death, I hit an all time low. It crept in slowly at first, like a rising tide. And then suddenly and swiftly, I was pulled under. I was depressed, anxious, sad and suddenly - alone. And I didn't know how to fix it this time. I was left with no energy to face the dance of each day, let alone a career I had worked my ass off to establish.

My body, mind, and soul was forcing me into a stillness I hadn't known before. I had no energy for anything. So I listened by being still and listening. And in that space, all I kept hearing was "This plane is going down. Put your oxygen mask on first, Libby."

The interesting part is that the oxygen mask looks different for all of us. It's disguised a little. My mask won't fit you. It only fits me. It fits me in the shape of getting right with my body, mind and soul. It fits me by shedding layers that don't belong to me...they belong to someone else.

Truth be told, it simply boils down to the essential practice of self care, doesn't it? Practice....because it takes a lot of repetition before you actually see results. It's like weight loss and skin care and anything you do to shed the layers or transform yourself. It's a practice. A routine. And it's life saving.

So if you are bizzy, or busy, or anxious, or depressed, if you are looking for an answer or a way out of your current situation, or if you just need to regroup...Stop. Pause. And put your mask on first. Because truthfully, the main thing you need to do is to slowly catch your breath and pull that oxygen mask over your own face first... and breathe.

Just breathe.


If you need help, someone to talk to, or just have questions about what all this looks like for me, please feel free to reach out. I am not going to sell you a product or sign you up for anything. I am just here to share my story and journey with anyone who needs help.

The Aftermath

hurricane watch

For the past few days, we have been in hurricane preparedness mode around here as Hurricane Irma barrels towards the southeast. Fortunately for us, it's taken a turn. Unfortunately, it looks like Florida is in the cross hairs at the moment.

I would be lying if I said I hadn't shed a tear over this, both for me and for those in the path of this. Let me clarify...

I am well aware that there is nothing I can do about a storm barreling in my direction. You have to be prepared and do the work. Outside of that, it's just time to buckle up and brace yourself for the ride ahead. I know this. But still...reasoning and logic rarely come into play when you are faced with trauma.

You see, for about 3 years (actually more like 10 if I am being real), we had some very sick people in our family. My mother was on dialysis and my father was on chemo...sometimes simultaneously. At the same time, my son was pretty young...around 3 years old. I also had 2 dogs and a cat that I had to worry about.

To say that the preparing for an event like that was stressful would be an understatement. Thinking of all these moving parts completely overwhelmed me. Have you ever tried to find shelter from a storm inland where there was a dialysis center? Hospitals? Hotels/shelters that took pets? Even with resources, help and support, this was monumental. Every moment between August and October felt like I was in panic mode in those days.

To this day, I get amped up over storms. I am one of the people searching for water early. I am calling hotels that take dogs. I am buying batteries and making sure we have coolers stocked with essentials.  I worry and fret and stay glued to the TV, despite not wanting any part of it all.

And then...

Then it happens. It hits. Or it doesn't (because this time, you were lucky.)  And, just like that... it's all over. The aftermath is what you are left with. You are left with the cleaning up and the sorting back out and putting things back where they belong and sorting through all the broken things that you either need to throw away or repair or keep even though it's broken and bruised as a reminder of where you've been and just how much you are capable of all on your own. 

The big storms come through our lives for a reason. They are hard. They are harrowing. They are horrific. But they are their to teach you...to be prepared, to always have a plan, to know where to ask for help, and to always ALWAYS have some tools on hand to do the dirty work of the aftermath.

 

Sending love and light to everyone in the path of this storm.

You can donate now to the American Red Cross.

Happy Birthday

Birthday cake

In honor of another year around the sun, I have a list of 47 things I learned at each stage in my life. Enjoy!

1. Take baby steps.  It's not worth worrying about the magnitude of what has to get done. Take it in all in little baby steps and before you know it, you'll be on the other side.

2. Throw a tantrum. Not really...but every now and again, it's okay to just blow off a little steam and tell the world how you really feel.

3. Find comfort in your momma... or anyone that you are close to.

4. Get dirty. Eat Mud pies (okay, maybe not really). But get dirty. It's the only way to experience life. Hands muddy. Face marred.

5. Never stop learning - Learning is key to growing. Always keep a wide open mind and learn to say "I don't know" more often than you feel comfortable with.

6. Keep showing up. Even when you don't want to. Whether it's in first grade or just being a parent, sometimes showing up is the hardest part.

7. Always try to create something. Being creative isn't just for kids. It's for everyone. Finger painting, drawing, getting messy are just a part of how we learn and open out minds.

8. Be kind. Compliment someone. Help people who aren't as fortunate. Stand up for someone being picked on. Help someone who is struggling. A little kindness goes a long way.

9. Don't always listen. Sometimes tuning out the world is the best thing you can do. Turn off the news. Tune out the bullies. And keep marching your little march.

10. Grow gracefully. Getting older is no joke. But relish in it. Stop worrying about the number and just be you!

11. Realize your strengths. You have your own set of gifts. Use them.

12. Don't abuse yourself. Don't say bad things about yourself. Don't mistreat your body. And don't let anyone else do either.

13. Change is inevitable. It's been proven. You will change. Your body will change. Don't fight it. Just roll with it.

14. Handle pitfalls with pride. Sure, sometimes you make a fool of yourself.

15. Change is good. Even when it doesn't seem like it, change is a good thing.

16. Fall recklessly in love. Trust me on this.

17. Understand your true beauty. Not physical, but the beauty that makes up the whole you. See the you your family and friends see.

18. You are always just beginning. That's the beauty of life.

19. Follow your drumbeat. This can be hard to do. Especially when it's out of rhythm with those around you. But listen closely to that beat. It's trying to tell you something.

20. Slow down. Seriously. Stop rushing life.

21. Party like it's 1999.

22. Be proud of your accomplishments. They are always bigger than you give yourself credit for.

23. Hard work pays off....most of the time. This isn't always true. But most of the time, hard work pays off. You will always feel better knowing you put in the effort.

24. Shed that which no longer serves you. Friendships. Relationships. Weight. Things. Get rid of it if it doesn't fit you.

25. Stand your ground. No matter what others say, think or feel, make sure you are unwavering in your beliefs.

26. Love deeply. Sometimes it won't be reciprocated. That's okay. Because even though deep, feeling, big love is scary, It's the only way.

27. Lose yourself for a while. Free fall. You never know what could come of it.

28. Find your tribe. This is important. Your people know you. They come in the strangest forms.

29. Live on your terms. It's gonna piss some people off. But do it. Trust me.

30. Try new things.

31. Be ready for unexpected magic. It comes when we least expect it.

32. Dig deep. Sometimes we have to dig deep... even during the best parts of life.

33. Love unconditionally.

34. Buckle your seat belt. Life is a bumpy ride. Make sure you are buckled up for all it's twists and turns.

35. You can do hard things. You can. You have. And you will.

36. Listen. The best thing you can do for yourself and others is to listen intently.

37. Don't be afraid of letting go. Everything comes to an end, whther we want it to or not. Seasons end. Life ends. It's all a cycle. Try to embrace it.

38. Give yourself some breathing room. We are not meant to push through with limitless energy. Take a step back. Catch your breath.

39. Get close to God. Or the universe. Or karma. Whatever it is you believe in.

40. Rest. Or pause. Or just watch Netflix. Just remember to recharge. 

41. Go back to your roots. Know where you come from. It will answer a multitude of questions. Trust me on this.

42. Travel. A lot. See the world. Experience as much newness as you can. It's the best part of life.

43. Nourish yourself. Eat well. Sleep. Move. Drink water.

44. Trust your gut.

45. Ask for help. There are people out there who want to help you. Just look around. They are so very close.

46. Understand what you suck at. And stop trying to do it.

47. Lean in.

 

Summer Storms

summer storm

When the storms roll around, what do you do? Do you hide in the corner shaking like a scared puppy? Do you retreat as far away as possible so you can get out of the path of destruction? Or are you a "wait it out and see what happens" kind of person?

The other day, when this storm rolled in, I was ready to retreat. I was done with storms (it's been a long, rainy summer) both literally and figuratively. But watching this spectacle change by the second was compelling me to stay. These quick storms that move through are firey and fast, but they can be some of the most beautiful things to witness with their continuously morphing clouds and their intense colors and shapes shifting right before you.

As the storm came through, we waited it out an watched the mesmerizing clouds. I could have watched all day until the threat of lightening became more real than imagined and we all packed up and headed for home - wet chicken packed tightly back into our coolers. I was happy to be in the car, headed safely home with all my people in check.

I learned something though as I watched this storm and the people around me navigate it's perceived threat. I am quick to flee any crisis. Maybe I have had enough of tempting fate in my life or maybe I am just a chicken, but this storm looked ominous and imposing, and frankly I have had enough of that to last a lifetime - emotionally speaking. Honestly, I have never liked storms. Thunder scared me as a little girl and the rain always makes me feel like something is going to need repairing (hazard of living in the south in the summer and through hurricane season).

But maybe the storms are really just what I need. A big, fat reminder. Something to shake me up...challenge me to think and stop running away from problems that will be there with or without the storm. Or maybe the storms are there to remind me that sometimes things blow through quicker and easier than we think. That it isn't always about destruction. That sometimes facing it all is really what we need, so we can be present and be witness to all of it.

Whatever the case, I am glad I watched this morph, shift and change my view. Because honestly, a little storm might be all I need to face the reality of life.

Fifteen.

Fifteen.

How did we get here?

You are now well into in high school. A full-blown teenager. A rising sophomore. You are a rugby player and really close to becoming a full blown adult black belt – a true testimony to your grit. You are almost driving now - which scares the heck out of me. You are 6 feet tall (or more) and truly more beautiful than anyone I know - inside and out. You are kind and compassionate. You are braver and far more daring than most people I know. You are more patient than anyone I know - despite what your last name indicates. And you are so gentle and sweet with animals that it truly melts me.

I can't believe what an amazing human being you are. As much as I hate the passage of time and mourn that little baby that grew up way too fast, I am inspired and full of awe at who you are becoming. It's such an incredible thing to witness from this side of life.

I don't worry now about the the things that regular parents think about – the trouble you'll get into and the mistakes you'll make. That's how we learn, grow, evolve and become. What keeps me up at night now is whether this world will break you. I worry that it will convince you to be something you are not, or stifle that which you are. Because what you are is truly one of the most beautiful spectacles I have ever witnessed.

Your gifts are great, Graham. Your heart is huge. On your birthday this year, all I wish for as you blow out the candles is that you keep that with you forever. Don't let this world break you. Don't let them take you over. Own YOU... because what you are is a beautiful soul.

Fifteen is big. Take precious care of this age. But mostly, enjoy every last second.

Love,
Momma

 

Below my feet

Taken on the magical trail to Rainbow Falls in North Carolina.

Taken on the magical trail to Rainbow Falls in North Carolina.

I have always been magnetically pulled to the forest and the mountains, drawn in to their mystery, their intrigue, their strength, their magic.

I have forever been comforted by the trees, standing tall and holding out their arms, protecting me from the harsh realities of life.

As I walk down the forest paths, I hear the familiar sound of my feet hitting the ground, crunching leaves, kicking rocks and snapping twigs. It reminds me once again to be present and grounded – heart beating, lungs breathing, moving forward.

The further I get from myself, the more I need the forest to hold me up. I need it to ground me. But mostly, I need it to remind me that I am equally as overwhelmingly important and humbly insignificant as each tree, each leaf, each twig on the ground below my feet.

The adventure of being alive...

One of my most favorite photos ever. I dream of this day every day.

One of my most favorite photos ever. I dream of this day every day.

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing. It' doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

The summit

Raven Rock Falls. Lake Toxaway, NC

Raven Rock Falls. Lake Toxaway, NC

I just got back from a three week escape to the mountains of North Carolina, just off of Lake Toxaway in a cabin in the woods. While that may sound like a luxury to many people, I think it was completely necessary for me at this point in my life/career/year. I had reached the pinnacle of burnout. I was tired, cynical, doubtful and hurt. Being a photographer isn't for the faint of heart - especially in a market like Charleston where you can't swing a cat without hitting someone who carries the moniker around with them. It was time for a break. 

While I did break a little, I also did a lot of work. Not in the traditional sense of the word, but I did a lot of work on me...goals, dreams, values, and overall wellness. I meditated. I wrote. I thought. I slept...boy, did I sleep. And I challenged myself...physically, mentally and spiritually.

One of the most memorable moments on the trip for me was this hike to Raven Rock Falls on theToxaway River Trail. It's a special hike that takes you back and forth over the river to ultimately end up at this spectacular site - a towering 60+ foot waterfall that cascades and ends in a frigid pool by your feet. It wasn't my first time hiking this trail, but let's just say after 20 years, it felt like my first time hiking anything.

I expected to be challenged physically, but what I wasn't expecting is the emotional ways in which the hike would challenge me. I struggled, always last in line in the group. My footing was unsure. My body was cumbersome. I was sweaty and hot and hungry and nothing felt right. And to be honest, I felt downright mad about it all. I wanted to turn around and go home. I wanted to stop...to just sit there, like a stubborn mule on the rock, refusing to move forward. I felt as frustrated as a little child in my skin.  But the group pushed me to forge ahead to the final summit.

During the second half of our hike, I noticed something shifting. With each step forward, I saw us working together as a group. We looked out for each other. We took our time. We shared stories and laughter and our water rations. Suddenly, my perspective changed. Pushing through the hard parts encouraged me more. I wasn't thinking of how miserable I felt. I was thinking of how much fun I was having, how beautiful this was, how healthy and strong I felt. I stopped worrying and started just living in the reality of the moment. I stopped fighting the currents and let it take me where it was going to.

It is said that nothing good comes easefully. And I have to agree with that. Life's greatest moments are challenging - sometimes even when you are on vacation. While I took some time off this month from work, I was still working. My "work" became checking in with myself. My hike was a reminder that while there may be challenges and slippery rocks underfoot, you just have to keep on going. You may fall. You will stumble. You will sweat and maybe even cry a little. But you have to keep going. It doesn't have to be pretty. But you do have to finish what you started. 

So as I keep climbing through life - sweating on the path, slipping on the rocks - I will remember it's not always easy. But it is always worth it in the end.

 

A Father's Day Tribute

My crazy, mixed up, loving crew.

My crazy, mixed up, loving crew.

By all accounts, this shouldn't work.

We are the most unlikely family, filled to the brim with our own set of colossally hard issues and significant problems. Together, through this thing called parenting, we have raced against a losing current and hurdled over more obstacles than an Olympic horse jumping event. 

Yet, somehow...

Somehow, against all odds, the better advice of therapists, friends and our families, with a lot of time, effort and communication, something sticks us together like bonding glue. Through it all, we have we cobbled together a family and a history that normal people wouldn't stand a chance with. Some days I am surprised we are still standing here in the middle of this life together.

But that's us. Against all odds. Different. Like a mix of ingredients for a dish that sounds really bad on paper... until suddenly you taste it and you are transported to a new world, full of flavor, character and spice. We are an unusual blend of flavors that somehow fits together.

So now we stand, shoulder to shoulder, 15 years into this game changing thing called parenting. It's been back breaking work together and apart. (Or at the very least, wine glass breaking). Some days, I really don't know how we have made it this far.

What I do know is that listening has worked. Hard work has worked. Bloody, sweaty, tear-filled hard work. Gut-wrenching hard work.

But mostly, Love has worked. Unlikely, unconventional, unrelenting Love.

Happy Father's Day.

 

Summer Benchmarks

sleep

It's always been strange to me that we live in a world that values busyness over self care. We boast about work hours, job accomplishments and GPAs only to ignore the fact that we are simply undernourished and exhausted.

For me, summertime is the best time to actually allow yourself to unplug. It's the perfect time to let your body wake up when it needs to, eat what you hunger for, and really get some good quality soul time in. It's a perfect time to reset your self care routine and start fresh. Take a vacation. Start an exercise program. Cook fresh foods. Read a new book. And, of course, sleep in until mid morning (or, as in the example above, very late morning).

For me, summer is about changing those benchmarks you have been trying to accomplish. It's not about hours worked or grades made....it's about how you feel. Are you recharged? Rested? Refreshed? Do you feel healthy? Did you exercise you mind, body and soul today? These are my benchmarks of successful summer.

And by the looks of things, I think we are well on our way there!

 

Fly your own plane.

When I was a little girl, the only religious teachings I can remember were those from the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull that my mom used to read to me at bedtime. At that time in my life,  the book felt mind-numbingly boring to me - a then 4 or 5 year old little girl. But try as she might to give us some spiritual guidance, it just wasn't getting in.

Or at least so I thought.

Honestly, the book is a really interesting fable of a seagull bored by life's conformity and the daily grind of finding food. He needed more out of life and for him, flying was his passion. Unlike the others scrounging for food, all he wanted to do was to soar easefully above the clouds. He was a different soul - an outcast in a world that just didn't fit him.

As this little seagull soars to new heights, he transcends some of these earthly ideals and finds himself in a higher level of existence. As he climbs higher in the book, he climbs closer to his true self, and closer to his purpose.

My mom and I rarely spoke of religion or God. We didn't speak of setting goals or moving into a higher level of anything. But somehow, this book - despite my toddler sized boredom with hearing her reading it each night at bedtime - is something I have returned to in my life over and over again. Maybe it made an impression on mebecause it was so significant to her. Or maybe it's message of pushing boundaries somehow seeped into my being. Regardless of how it got there, somehow it got in. And to this day, this book something I refer to time and time again.

Out of anyone in our little family, I veered off all the prescribed paths. I did the unexpected. I kept trying to be the person the world expected me to be, but it never quite fit - like a pair of tight underwear, it just wasn't comfortable on me.

So away I fly (in my own plane, as my brother-in-law says to me all the time). Up in the sky. Working hard each day at being the person nobody expects me to be. But just seeing the world below from this deep and endless blue sky.

"You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way."

 

Sunrise, Sunset.

summer sunset

Letting go of a sunset is a little like saying goodbye to something you love. It's bittersweet - painful and a little beautiful all at the same time.

But while each sunset can feel like a goodbye, each sunrise can be a fresh start...a hello all over again. It's a reminder that the circle continues, and life just continues to renew itself over and over again. Each day brings something a little new, a little different and something to look forward to all over again.

The faith comes in the letting go...in the sunset. And the affirmation comes with each new day.

 

 

On Saying Yes.

I confess...I say YES to this a lot.

I confess...I say YES to this a lot.

I have spent the past month or so angsting over a fairly large decision for myself. I have wrestled with it, turned it over and examined it until I can't even stand it or myself anymore. I was relaying this to a friend of mine and told her the pros and cons and ins and outs of every minute detail. She listened...patiently. And watched as a squirmed around in my own self trying to convince myself that YES was the thing to say.

She was quiet and then from the clear blue said these words to me: "Just because the word "yes" is a positive word doesn't always mean it's the right answer for you."

LIGHTENING BOLT.

It was as though someone gave me permission to say no to something – even though the best and most logical answer would be a resounding "YES." But sometimes, just because it's right on paper, doesn't mean it's right for your life.

We often should ourselves right out of the things we really want to do because the world does it that way. I am, by all accounts, the most unconventional soul on the planet. I am a single mother. An artist. I work for myself. None of these things compute on paper. Yet somehow, I am still here. Standing on my own two feet and doing just fine.

If I had always listened to the shoulds, I would be married to someone I didn't love, working in a job I didn't want to be in, and just not taking any chances on myself. And isn't that part of life? Taking chances on yourself? Saying yes when you should say no and no when you should say yes?

I haven't made any decision yet, but now I know when I do, I will make if from a place of authenticity rather than obligation. I will decide from a place of freedom rather than ownership... love rather than fear.

So next time your YES rolls around, make sure to gut check yourself on it. Listen to what's inside. And do what's right for you. Because sometimes your YES looks like a NO.

Ten.

mom

Ten Years.

A decade has passed since you left us...a decade since our little party ended too early for my liking.

Ten years is a long time to love something you can't see or feel or touch or hear or talk to. It's a long time to love something that is no longer tangible. I can look at these pictures and try to remember what is was like to walk down that sunny street with you on that crisp fall day, or what it was like to eat chocolate together, or play Yatzee before bedtime, or just melt into the the comfort of your soothing, strong voice on the phone.

But it's not the same, is it? Memories always feel like they become more translucent as time goes on until suddenly and without warning, you can't see them anymore.

In ten years, I have become a pro at living around the hole you left behind. I did my fair share of falling into it's clutches in the early days. But now I know how to co-exist with it – dodging it's jagged edges and walking around it's stony cliffs. Sometimes I stand on the edge of it, just looking in... just remembering. But I know now how to climb out and dust myself off. I know where it is. And I know how to live with it.

Death changes the landscape of your life. Grief and sorrow become the pit you live around. You lose your way. You lose your sight. You lose your sense. It's disorienting and all-consuming – like being in a storm at sea without a mast to your sails or oars to a boat. And through it all, you still have to pretend like you have some semblance of control.

After ten years now, I have figured out that this landscape that I got used to in my early days will keep changing. Life will continue to shift things, so we can't get too attached to the view. Babies will be born. Children will graduate and become adults. Family members will pass on. Relationships will fail. Trust will be lost and found again. Friendships will be made. Love will be had. It's all part of the landscape of life: it's ever-changing. 

So I will just strap on those hiking boots and keep learning how to make it through the dry, harsh deserts and deep, musty caves. I will swim and sail through dark, stormy seas and slink through the wild, sticky heat. In the end, I hope see it all and witness the brilliant spectacle that is life.

In the meantime Mom, just keep being that shiny star, helping me navigate this ever changing terrain. I still need you.

With love,
Libby

 

Getting Balance

My awesome spring break view.

My awesome spring break view.

I had a shitty "spring break."

Let me explain...

Like many of you, I have a school-aged son that was on spring break last week. We don't have a lot of spare cash these days, so a trip was not happening. Instead, I thought of the bright idea of camping for a few days in the mountains (something I have actually only done once in my life...smart thinking.). We set our plans and started the wheels of our camping trip in motion.

Of course, life being what it is, the universe had some other plans for me. Or maybe I wasn't fully committed in the first place. But my plans changed course somewhere the week before. Some great, unexpected work came up. My teenager had some specific ideas about his social plans. And then I slipped into saying yes to far too many things I didn't want to do. So our camping trip got cancelled, I worked a lot, and then became an unpaid Uber driver for my son in my spare time.

As the week progressed, I started to get increasingly more frustrated. I was mad at life...mad at myself. I felt trapped and owned by some imaginary rules I had set up for a life that I was supposed to live. And it only got worse as I scrolled through social media to see friends enjoying Caribbean vacations, European adventures, and good old US road trips. What's worse was that I knew in the truest part of myself that I was the one responsible for the way this week was panning out.

When I started to reconcile what was happening and got real with myself, I realized a few things.
1. I was in desperate need of a break.  I work weekends a lot. And when the typical work week rolls around, I am usually still working. While I do set my own schedule and have lots of freedom to make appointments and go grocery shopping at odd times, I tend to still feel like I need to be getting work done during the Monday-Friday, 9-5 hours as well. To top it off, I was going on weeks of constant work without a break. I needed a change. 
2. I was telling myself a story that wasn't real. Not everyone I knew was on a spring break vacation. In fact, I knew more people that had to work than those that did not. Spring break trips are a luxury, not a right. And I needed to hip check myself on that.
3. I was feeling sorry for myself. And that wasn't allowing me to live on a higher "vibe" - if you will. I was sulking and wallowing in self pity instead of changing my reality. Once you change that, everything changes. Literally...everything.
4. I wasn't seeing the amazing opportunity around me. I live in a place with abundant beauty. I am 15 minutes from the beach on a good day (5 minutes from one of the most gorgeous parks in the world). I have gift certificates to 5 local restaurants. I have a sister with a pool in her very own backyard. Enough said.
5. I wasn't saying "NO" enough. Not to my son. Not to his dad. Not to friends or neighbors. I was doing things I didn't want to be doing. I was creating my own misery and my own sense of disappointment.

Once I started seeing all these things, I began changing my story. I planned an Easter Brunch to see family I hadn't seen in months. I went to the beach. I watched the sunset. I played with the dogs. I went for a walk with a friend and talked about some amazing topics like meditation, family, and life changes that we are both on the precipice of making. Once I took the wheel back, I lived in the presence of joy and gratitude instead of wallowing around in my own self pity.

The best part of this shift is that it only takes a moment to change your mindset. For me, it finally happened when I got real with myself and realized I wasn't listening to my inner voice saying - SAY NO...YOU NEED A BREAK! I was trying to please too many people - clients, family, friends, neighbors. I wasn't voicing what I wanted to do. But once I finally followed through for myself (albeit with begrudging sighs and protesting from my teenager), everything shifted. In that simple moment of saying "This is what I want," I stopped being a victim of my circumstances and started taking care of myself. I started enjoying where I was in the moment.

Squad. Goals.

Squad. Goals.

My heart and soul got some much needed beach time too!

My heart and soul got some much needed beach time too!

Beach time with friends where I mixed in a little work with a little pleasure.

Beach time with friends where I mixed in a little work with a little pleasure.

Looks like they #brunchedtoohard.

Looks like they #brunchedtoohard.

 

Sometimes saying what you want isn't about being selfish or narcissistic...it's just about taking care of yourself. Simple, kind gestures that say "Hey wait...I'm important too!" Make yourself answer the call to do more for you. You know when the teeter totter of balance of your life looks like a chunky kid from gym class is sitting on one end with sandwich and a Snickers bar laughing at you for being trapped way up there. Take control back. He's not in charge.

Just get some balance.

Muddling through

This new momma has got this motherhood thing down.

This new momma has got this motherhood thing down.

We all want to look like pros at whatever task we are handling - work, make up, dinner, motherhood. But in reality, most of us are faking it along the way - sort of like we do those first few weeks with our brand new baby. It's excited, exhausting, and exhilarating, but in reality, we are just winging it all hoping for the best outcome. Even though it all looks happy and easy on the outside, we are still on shaky feet behind closed doors.

Truly, I think it mostly works when we "fake it 'til we make it"... that is until something big comes along and gently reminds us that, in truth, it's all overwhelming. 

Just remember...the moment you feel like you are out of your league, stop, look around, and remember that you've already gotten this far in life and done just fine. All you have to do now is keep going. And truly, while it may not always look like this on the outside, nobody else really knows what they are doing either. Take comfort in knowing you have muddled your way through more than one time in your life and I am certain you can do it again.

 

Born to Feel

Holly McGetrick, of Dandy Boutique, totally keeping her cool backstage at Charleston Fashion Week 2017.

Holly McGetrick, of Dandy Boutique, totally keeping her cool backstage at Charleston Fashion Week 2017.

"Chill out." "Keep your cool." "Stay calm." "Easy does it."

These are all things we hear when under pressure, on fire, jazzed up, or completely stretched.

But why? Staying even in a sea of waves is virtually impossible unless you are a sociopath. When the waves of depression, frustration or fear crash over your head, it's perfectly acceptable to lose it once in a while. The key is not directing that energy to the nearest innocent bystander. But I think sometimes losing your cool is okay.

When you are in panic mode, stop yourself and ask yourself this simple question: will this matter in 5 minutes? 5 days? 5 years? If the answer is a resounding "NO!", then take a deep breath and try go about your business keeping your focus on the big picture. If the answer is "YES!", by all means proceed to lose it. Because I stifling it ain't gonna do you any good, sister.

We were meant to have emotions. We were created as sentient beings. It's normal to feel anxiety, panic, anger, hurt and frustration. As a matter of fact, it's tied to our basic survival insincts. The only difference is now, the threats aren't saving your life against a saber-toothed tiger. We have adapted since surviving wildebeests and other creatures. But the instincts are still there. Our perceived threats are very different now than they were 1 billion years ago.

So next time someone tells you to calm down, smile to yourself and do your thing. Because baby...you were born to feel.

 

Lessons in less

From brunch at The Darling Oyster Bar where upon I couldn't finish all the food we were given. A nice problem to have.

From brunch at The Darling Oyster Bar where upon I couldn't finish all the food we were given. A nice problem to have.

I often get caught up in the "I don't have enoughs" when in reality, everything I really need is right in front of me. I am clothed, have clean water, have a lovely roof over my head, power to my home, relatively good health and even extra food in the refrigerator and pantry...just in case. And often times, I can't eat all the food that is given to me because, you know what...it's just TOO MUCH.

I try to stop myself there, but in this privileged society, it's hard for me to say I don't need a haircut, some new clothes and perhaps that awesome new iPhone 7 Plus with it's sweet portrait setting that makes a cell phone camera look a little dreamy. (I mean, it IS my job after all).

Sometimes, I even make myself believe I don't have enough to do the things I need to do. I need a better camera, better lenses and a new computer for my job. I need a new pot to properly cook that coq au vin perfectly. And I could definitely use that special, fancy sea salt we ran out of to make that dish taste extra perfect.

If we balance out the "nice to haves" (new haircut, new shoes, new camera) more realistically with the "need to haves" (power, water, warm clothing), we suddenly start to see the shift happen. We start to feel the gratitude for what we have instead of what we don't have. Instead of seeing this lack as punishment, maybe see this as a gift.

I found this paragraph from a photographer I follow (stalk?) today and it really brought this concept I've been mulling over for weeks into fine-tuned focus.

"There are so many challenges to living our dreams: not enough money, not enough time, not enough knowledge, etc…. But the truth is, those are all one kind of problem…a lack of RESOURCES. And if you’re putting off living your own dream because of a lack of resources, then I’ve got news for you. NOBODY has all the resources they need. In fact, the very nature of big dreams is striving for something that’s not yet within our reach…it’s ALL ABOUT A LACK OF RESOURCES. So what can we do with what we’ve got to get there? It’s simple: you need to be more RESOURCEFUL. There’s a big difference."  - Chase Jarvis

Well...ain't that a kick in the pants? Instead of stopping us in our tracks, maybe we could use our perceived lack as a way to be more creative. That lens I want only makes me work harder for the photo I need. That pot and finishing salt I don't have makes me work a little more creatively in the kitchen to come up with another way to cook. So in the "lack" is actually a life lesson. Creativity is equal to Resourcefulness and is extremely necessary when you are working towards ANY goal. 

And for that lesson today, I am grateful.