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Homesick at Home

I'm drinking out of a coffee mug that used to be mine but I'm not in my kitchen.  A cooler with our last name on it is sitting out in the hall.  One of my favorite floral blouses is in the laundry basket.  It's like that moment that you first wake from a vivid dream and can't tell where you are.  But you know something isn't quite right.  It's like the sinking feeling of dejavu.

Before Zach and I left with our daughter to travel the US for a year, we sold our house in a hurry.  To say it was chaotic was an understatement.  Zach would have gladly set our belongings ablaze in the front lawn to save the hassle of dealing with them.  But we opted for peddling them on our friends and family any chance we got.  Our former belongings are scattered across East Tennessee and on up to Virginia.  I don't miss them.  Each time we gave away another thing I thought it would be so hard.  Once gone however, it was like it was never there.  They were just things after all.

Now as I sit at our friends house, having just crossed the US in a rush to tow their truck home, those things are reminders.  Reminders of the home we renovated.  The home that we brought our daughter back from the hospital to.  The house that we won't be returning to.  

Coming back made it just feel like a long vacation.  That we should walk through our front door and find our house just as we left it.  That we'll sigh and clean and cook and put our daughter to sleep in her crib and crawl into our bed to whisper to each other about the adventures we've had.

It's a strange feeling to yearn for a place that is so close and yet no longer what it was.  Not for us.  I guess that is the duality of what we are doing.  That I both crave more travel and miss a place.  That I feel both lost and more on a path than I have in a long time.  That I both have a home and am homeless.  That I am both homesick and already home. 

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It's strange to see something you've never seen before.  Most of us have been around long enough that we have experienced a lot of this planet.  Sure, there are many places I have never been before.  Something I'm slowly but surely rectifying.  But it is rare for me to think, "Huh, I've NEVER seen this." 

About a week ago I experienced my first full blown sandstorm.  We're talking zero visibility, lightening, thunder, and high winds.  It was awe inspiring and beautiful and terrible all at once.  

It safe to say that I love moody scenery.  I love the drama and the unusual nature of it.  I love fog.  How it envelopes you.  Consumes you.  This had the same mystery to it but was harsher.  The sand danced and shifted until you were unsure if it would come in blankets or waves.  Or would it be completely gone in half a mile.  There was also just a sheer force to it.  While fog creeps, sand dares you to come out and face it. 

I was itching to have a model with me.  Some woman in a long flowing dress.  Some brave soul to go out and be daring and play.  However, we were just rolling through.  It's on my shot list though and I feel privileged to be able to mark something off my list that I hadn't ever seen or experienced before.



Facing Your Fears

I am not a great lover of heights.  I don't mind them but I don't go out of my way to find them.  Just like snakes.  So when Zach's cousin said she wanted to take us rock climbing I was a little skeptical.  And by skeptical I mean nauseous. (For more on our visit to Los Alamos check out here!)

I am a great believer in facing you fears.  I don't like for fear to have control over me.  Period.  I don't like for it to dictate what I do or don't do.  Honestly, I was a feeling a little ashamed at how nervous I was about doing this.  I've been sky diving!  I've jumped off bridges!  Why would climbing a rock freak me out?  When I got down deep to it is was because after having a baby I feel like I have lost part of my athletic self--my daredevil self.  I was worried I physically would embarrass myself.  I was worried that I was being a bad mother by taking a risk.  Worry is just fear whispering to you. 

Lucky for me Zach's cousin Christie is a badass.  She's a mother of five, survivor, and rock climbing instructor.  If she could do it, I had to at least try it.  And I am so glad I did.

The truth is that by the end of the day Zach and I both had fallen a little in love with rock climbing.  For him, I believe it was figuring out the puzzle of where to go next, keeping your mind focused, and being outside.  For me it was facing that fear each moment, being in such beauty, and trusting yourself to make it happen. 


In my experience it always pays off to face your fears.  Whether that is fear of change, fear of loss, fear of heights, snakes, spiders, infestations, whales, or the fear of being alone.  We all have one that makes a nest inside our heart and minds.  Take that fear out, set it on fire, and go live.


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Being a Mom is hard.  People say that to you when you become pregnant.  You believe it but you don't fully understand.  Women will talk about the pains of childbirth, the early sleepless nights, the terrible twos, teething, sickness, fatigue.  They will share their stories.  Which we all need. We need these stores.  We NEED to talk about all of this.  We rarely talk about ourselves though.  We rarely discuss the loneliness, the guilt, the boredom, or even the yearning for a previous life.

I wasn't in love with my daughter.  Not at first.  Everyone tells you that when a baby is born it will change your life.  That you can never imagine loving something more.  I cried big hot tears when they first put her on my chest.  Tears of relief and exhaustion.  I knew that she was mine.  That I wanted to protect her, care for her, and do what was best for her.  But I also didn't know her.  Our love affair was a slow one.  Getting to know each other.  Her revealing her brilliant shining personality one small moment at a time.  And then one day there it was.  That unimaginable love.  The kind that brings tears back when I think of anything happening to her.  I had a lot of guilt at first about not being bonded with her.  People asked if I just couldn't get enough of her.  If I just wanted her with me all the time.  Nope.  I needed space.  I needed to be me without being a Mom. 

These days its hard to find space in a small camper with a one year old.  She sleeps in the same room as us.  She cries, she snores, she coos--she wakes up really damn early.  As a Mom, Photographer, Navigator, Wife, and Researcher I'm still trying to find the balance in myself. And we need to talk about that.  There are days I just want to be one thing.  I just want to be a photographer that day.  Or I just want to be a tourist.  Or I just want to be a lover.  It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the roles and demands.  To pine for a simpler time instead of being present in this whirlwind.  Right now there are no babysitters.  All of my roles are full on all the time and I would be lying if I said it wasn't exhausting. 

But its also beautiful.  There is a lot of living in my life right now.  I get to experience a beautiful world that I shamefully haven't seen before.  I get to roam streets and woods and beaches and swamps.  I wash our daughter under the full moon.  I sing her to sleep amidst the background of crickets, tree frogs, and cicadas.  I read.  I photograph what is before me.  I talk about what is whispering to my soul.  I tell myself the truths I need to know.  It's okay to be overwhelmed.  Live here now.  You are enough.

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Let's talk about magic for a minute.  Not the Hogwarts magic (although definitely amazing).  I want to talk about the kind of magic that happens in the ordinary world around us.  The kind of magic that gives you goosebumps, the kind of magic that births dejavu, the kind of big magic that happens within us when everything comes together.

I'm a believer that magic comes to you when you need it most.  Like a breath of air when you're drowning.  On the road so far we've had a lot of highs and lows.  Much like the rolling hills that we travel down.  Times of pure magic.  Times of exhausted darkness.  We've seen more sunsets, sunrises, and stars than we have in years.  We've had more long talks and held gazes.  We've also snapped at each other and been on the edge of losing it more than we have in awhile.

We had set up camp after a particularly long day.  Lucy June had just not wanted to be in the truck.  She clung to my chest laughing and crying at the same time when I opened the door to try to put her in her car seat.  It's heart wrenching.  She cried off and on all day thanks to fatigue and four giant molars cutting their way into her mouth.  When we arrived at camp she was done. 

Sometimes distraction is our best friend.  So she and I embarked on a small hike.  We soaked in the sun, the new green of spring, and became flush with exertion.  But by the time we came back we were both done.  No one knows the fatigue of being on the road until you do it.  And we were all feeling its full weight that night.  By the time we had made it through a screaming dinner and put her to bed, Zach and I sat in a crushing silence.  Fatigue is also the bringer of doubt.  It whispers to you about your faults--your insecurities--your regrets. 

Out of the darkness glided a Luna moth.  Silent and gliding making large graceful loops into the lamp light.  It mesmerized us.  Brought us out of our own selfish thoughts to gaze at its translucent beauty.  It was magic.  The magic of childhood summers and teenage twilights.  That deep breath of fresh air.  Big magic in small ways. 


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Oh Baby Baby

Indoor_Maternity_San_Francisco_Photography072 In case, I forgot to mention it...Speed Racer and I are pregnant!  We are having a baby and quite soon too I might add!  Our little one is set to make its debut February 3rd, 2015.  So between holidays and preparing for baby, the posts and updates may be few and far between.  I appreciate your patience during this time, especially all of my clients who have already shown me so much patience and love!  I cannot wait to share the next stage in our life with you as well as my photography career.  Here's to the next adventure!

A special thinks also to Kayla with Kayla F Photography!  I cannot get over my amazing maternity session with her and adore each and every beautiful image she took!


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Holiday Sessions!

holiday card Our holiday sessions are filling up quickly!  I know its early to be thinking about the holidays, and you may not want to yet, but just think of already having your pictures done and getting your cards ordered before everyone else this year!  What a load off to have one thing done and be ready to concentrate on fun stuff like, shopping!  (Have I mentioned I'm a little bit of a shop-a-holic?)  Our holiday session is filling up quickly, so contact me today to reserve your time slot!

Happy Monday all!


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Prom 2014


Spring is in the air, which means, it's Prom time again!  I was so excited and thrilled to be asked to photograph some before pictures for Claire's Prom.  I love the Norman family (you may have heard me mention them a time or two) so any chance to get to hang out with them is a good time!



We headed over to a friend of the family's house for the photos.  They had a beautiful park like back yard full of flowers, textures, and beautiful grass.  When you're a photographer, you start to pay attention to different grass, it's just one of those things.  The girls were gorgeous!  I loved both the colors and gowns they chose.


The guys weren't too shabby either and they humored me with all my photo requests, which is all I could ask for.


We had so much fun goofing around and capturing such a fun time in their lives!

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I hope you all had a magical night.  By now, you're graduated and on your way to a new chapter. It won't be easy but remember the friends you have and the awesome memories you built during prom.  Thanks for letting me join in the fun!


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Worley Family


It's hard to believe that this little guy used to be this little baby!  He's growing up fast and he's on the move.  I was so excited to go to my hometown for the weekend to photograph and hang out with Mr. and Mrs. Hokie (and baby Hokie).

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Silas had a big day of egg hunts (complete with mini cookies) with both sets of Grandparents, playing with sticks, running around, and even getting to go up in a big boy tractor.  I love spending a day with families in this way because its like getting to open up a door to their house while everyone is sitting down for dinner and they don't know you're there.  Everyone's personalities and love just over-pours and I just drink it up.



We started with Mrs. Hokie's parents.  We had a lot of fun playing around in the back yard with Silas and experience the  beginnings of spring.


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I love watching Grandparents just come alive around grandkids.  There's something special about that bond.





Although this day was mainly about Grandparents (and Great Grandparents) we managed to get a couple photos of Silas with his own awesome parents.  Being kissed by Mom and getting to be a man with Dad equals a pretty swell day.



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Next it was over to Mr. Hokie's parents for another easter egg hunt and a chance to romp around in the great outdoors.  Grandma's do know the best tickle spots.

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And of course, the day wouldn't be complete without getting a chance to sit up on the big tractor with Granddad.  All in all I think you can safely say that Silas is a hit with his grandparents.  His parents think he's alright too.  I hope that these photos helped capture this growing boy at such a fun stage.  Thanks to all the Grandparents and parents for taking me into your home.  I had a blast!