**this post is an update and continues upon my previous one, so if you haven’t read that through, a reference or two may be lost. Happy reading!**
Today I’m writing from a happy place, mentally speaking. I’m nested at my desk, hot tea at my side, and a full project schedule on the go for the week. My last post was written from the lowest point I’ve experienced in my short life, but it’s still raw and fresh in my memory. I have muddled through loss and pain in the past but never before have I felt betrayed by my own thoughts and feelings and been so scared of my own mind.
When I reached the point where I couldn’t take it anymore, we made some decisions to tackle what we were able to control. We made big changes in our lives and in my work, and so far (five weeks later) it’s been life changing. I say that without the expectation that it will remain that way, but with a cautious hope that it may. Our lives have been brightened and made more simple by clearing away the clutter and focusing on our exercise and time together. The kids are learning to skate, and we’re getting back into the freedom and fun of playing/watching hockey – did I mention we had the opportunity to photograph the Stanley Cup with our good friends at The Landing Studio?! It’s been a much better start to our year than I could have hoped!
With the personal life changes made, we decided that the business needs the same care and attention to it as well. I now have a bit of help with client communication, invoicing, and culling/editing gallery images. This won’t change the final product of my photos, those final edits will still be my own, but it will improve the general flow and turnaround of in the office. With the personal changes we’ve made, I have found a renewed excitement for the “business” aspects of photography & graphic design. I don’t have a lot to update you with as of yet, but there will be so many exciting things this year. The busy season is gearing up in March and I cannot wait to see what it will bring!
Before I go, I want to add that I’m here to talk if you are interested. My story isn’t exciting or impressive, but I think it’s more common than I realized. It took years of drowning to sink to that low, and looking back I can see warning signs that I didn’t understand the importance of at the time. I can’t say that I am able to help, but I am here to listen and will try to understand.
With mental health in the spotlight today, remember that we need to minimize wait times to make quality care affordable and available to everyone alongside the need to normalize discussions on mental health. So in sharing our stories today remember that talk is only a small part of change.
Every few years I feel like I’m starting all over again in life. I felt like that when I was learning how to plan a wedding, and again when I was learning how to find my footing as a new parent and most recently while learning how to run a business while maintaining a life as a mom. Between those big life changes come the smaller shifts. When nothing big in life has changed, but something inside is suddenly very different.
If you’ve been following along you know that last fall I hit a major breakdown in my work/life balance and had to rearrange our lives to do things differently. It all seemed to be looking up going into Christmas, but what you haven’t heard about yet is the rock bottom low that I hit in January. It has been a terrible month of anxiety and tears, and uncertainty. In the spirit of helping others and of #BellLetsTalk day, I am being open about it and have been sharing with anyone who takes the time to listen. I have no history of mental health issues, and aside from the patches of general unhappiness that sometimes creep into the lives of busy working couples there is nothing that I could point to as a catalyst for this. All I know is that one morning just a few days into the new year I cried all day long and it spiraled quickly down from there.
What followed were two weeks of constant weepy crying – not sadness, just crying – and an endless loop of rambling obsessive thoughts about things that happened years ago and are far out of my control today. I was sure that I had ruined my husband’s life by marrying him, and lamented over decisions made and friendships lost decades ago. These were things I’ve rarely thought of through the years and some hadn’t even crossed my mind until now – it was really the strangest things that I latched onto. It didn’t matter what I tried, I couldn’t break free from the obsessive loop of thoughts until my chest felt like it was going to explode and I cried myself to sleep.
After two weeks of exhaustion and confusion, my husband and I sat to talk. I could barely handle being be home with the kids, I was a walking zombie at the end of my rope and able to recognize the fact that these thoughts were not my own, and that the weepiness devoid of sadness and emotion was a massive big red flag. I poured my miserable little heart out and we came up with a plan of self care to be followed shortly by a visit to my doctor.
Since I have a history of iron anemia paired with vitamin deficiency, we decided to start there. We changed our diet completely and added a full set of vitamins and daily workouts. For good measure we’re ripping the house apart to get rid of the clutter that tends to bring me down on a good day, and completing renovation projects in hopes of finding some combination of lifestyle changes that will help me get back to feeling more like myself.
Fourteen days into our massive lifestyle overhaul and I am just starting to feel better than I have in a long time. The past two days have been good mentally with a few mild episodes, but it’s such an improvement over the weeks prior. Physically my body is noticeably stronger, my mind is sharper and I’m not taking that for granted – we’re watching very carefully; reevaluating every day. So far so good. Something seems to be clearing the fog, and my thoughts and emotions have been nearly back to normal. I don’t know if this will be a part of my life going forward, and I don’t know what triggered this event, but I do know that a medical appointment and full blood work panel are in the works. I want to better understand the changes I can make to live a healthier life and that includes taking better stock of my emotional and mental health from now on.
Nearly everyone that I’ve shared my story with this past week has given me assurances of “me too” and they have all trusted me with their story. We need to keep the conversation going and raise awareness, because until it happened to me just a few short weeks ago, neither my husband or I even know the signs and symptoms we could have caught. So today, share and get involved with #BellLet’sTalk. Let’s help other moms, dads, business owners, adults and teens alike know that they are not alone, and that we’re here to listen. And that most of us have a story of our own.
This season of my life has been more challenging than I dreamed it would be. That’s not a complaint. My life is good – amazing husband, two beautiful kids, a comfortable home and a career that I love, but underneath it lately there is a wave of emotion I can’t seem to control. A realization that time has slipped away and I miss so much of my old life. Old friends and family, past hobbies, high school hangouts and people who shaped the person that I am today. I feel a deep longing for all those once familiar things that have fallen out of my life despite being happy and grateful for everything I have here and now. It’s not sadness, but it is hard to put into words.
It could have been the loss of our big gentle hound dog, it might be the season itself with our cold days and extended darkness. With my birthday a few weeks away it could be that this is just a part of the way things are at this age and stage of life. It’s a milestone year for our high school graduating class, and that could be the catalyst. I don’t know. I do know that the few handfuls of pictures I have from those years don’t show nearly enough of the friends and family I want to remember right now, especially my dad. When you get your digital images downloaded, please print them out. There’s nothing quite like holding them in your hands while the memories play out. Especially if your digital storage fails!
What are you looking for in your wedding photographer? In your wedding photos? Are you hoping to document the day as it unfolds or do you have a list of picture perfect shots with all faces forward? What about the edits on the final images… do you love the light and airy style or the grainy ones full of drama and emotion?
There are so many photographers to choose from and questions like these will help you narrow down the one who fits best with your personality and style. Each of us approaches the day differently and since we’re going to be side by side from the moment your dress goes on until your first dance, you’ll want to be sure you like me personally as much as you like my style.
If you knew me years ago you would be surprised to find me passionate about weddings and all things surrounding love. Through the years I’ve witnessed some truly great love stories in this world and those beautiful people have brought me to this amazing place in my work. I am so surprised to be here but I couldn’t think of anything I love to do more. I spend my days with couples who are wildly in love and celebrating with the people they care about most in this world – how special is that!? Each couple and wedding is unique and perfect, and I feel honoured to be the one chosen to tell their story.
If I look back through my favourite images, very few of them include someone looking straight at the camera. They are of couples lost in each other and living in the moment. Those pictures show movement and emotion, and you can feel it when you look at it. Those are the images I want to give you. The ones that take you back to your wedding like it happened yesterday where you’re breathing each other in and there is no one else in this world. I don’t pose couples, but prefer to guide and prompt them to interact together. I want us to have fun while we document your wedding, enjoying every adventurous minute of it. Most of all I want to ensure our goals for your photos are the same.
2018 brought us many things. A lot of work, for which I am thankful and madly in love with, and a lot of learning. Up until the last week of November I had been doing public school at home and online with my two littles (Gr 2 and Kinder) through a wonderful school with teachers who went above and beyond to help us every step of the way. Through October and into November the stress of losing our sitter and my full time work load came to a complete breaking point and we had to move them into traditional school. I lost more than 90 hours of work time between sickness and loss of childcare through October & November and you can imagine the stress of that backlog – I am still catching up. It took a few weeks of meetings and evaluations to get them in, but the staff and teachers there are equally amazing and we’ve truly lucked out with the classes they’ve been placed into. It’s been a month and I’m still crushed by the guilt I feel for doing what was best for me and my work instead of what I feel is best for them. The guilt of not meeting client needs the way I strive to, and the guilt of not enjoying much of our daily life outside of the hours spent staring at my work projects. Throughout this process we’ve been very gently asked if we have considered having our oldest evaluated for the autism spectrum. It has crossed our minds in the past, but we’ve always assumed he’s just lovably quirky. Now I’m wondering if we could have had tools to better guide him earlier if we had paid more attention. So much stress and guilt. 2018 is ending on a bit of a sour note mentally.
When I started to drown in October I knew it would be tough to catch up so I stopped booking projects for December. Soon December stretched into January, which is now creeping into February. My reasons have changed though as my projects have caught up. What started as an effort to keep my head above water has become a purposeful reworking of the structure in my business. I have contracted projects for magazine publications, a new magazine project of my own, and a few other commitments to keep me on my toes, but as far as sessions go I won’t be shooting until the end of February and it feels so incredibly good to step away. I am purposely blocking that time off to build a solid administrative foundation. Something I have never had the chance to do. The biggest change to come: I am hiring someone to help with social media posting and basic photo edits (culling from the bulk raw shots and prepping those selections for me to run the full edits so the style will still be my own). The goal is to offer speedy turnaround times on gallery deliveries, and to let me have more breathing room to appreciate this little family of mine outside of the actual shooting that I love so much. Josh and the kids carry the weight of my busy-ness and it’s something my kids don’t deserve. I want my evenings free for them while C & E are small enough to want our attention. I can’t recall the last time I curled up with them at bed time and wasn’t counting the minutes to go back to my desk.
What are you doing differently in 2019? I’m not talking resolutions here. I mean what steps have you taken to change things? To do things a little differently and live more closely in line with the life you envision? In my personal life, I want things slow and simple and uncomplicated. I plan to rid this house of at least half of the items we have crammed in here and move my work space further from our living space to create a bit of separation. You?
Everyone has moments of realization. Those ones where out of nowhere you are hit with knowing a painfully obvious truth that everyone around you instinctively knew all along while you fumbled around in the dark. My latest has been the realization that my soul has seasons just as Earth does. The optimism and blooming of Spring when I am full of new ideas and ready to take on the world. The industrious and steadiness of Summer when I feel like I’m cruising along hitting all of my goals. When I start to wind down and withdraw it’s like boarding up for the chill of Autumn, indulging in rich flavours and scents to prepare for the coming cold. Finally Winter when I’m withdrawn and full of quiet reflection and soul searching.
It’s so easy to see now that I’m in the midst of a change, and I can’t imagine how I missed it all these years. I’ve always been aware of my moods and phases this way, but never in relation to the larger cycle of the seasons that lead our lives. To my surprise, my natural rhythm seems to be opposite to that of the Northern Hemisphere I’ve called home every day of my life. With the heat of the summer I find myself retreating inside to wait out the burning heat, knowing that I will thrive again when the cool breeze makes the leaves dance in the street and the gardens are ready for harvest.
How do you weather the off-season? Where you crave alone time and find yourself digging deep to nourish the spirit of creativity and inspiration. Do you embrace it and carve a new path in your day to day routine? Or do you fight it and try to stay a steady course? I don’t think I have the energy to fight it this year, but more importantly I don’t think I want to. Last year I made the decision to let the ebb and flow of life take me where my body and mind needed to go, and the result has been nothing short of life-changing. I am happier than I have been in years, but that comes from a place of appreciation and love as well as ambition and a desire for change, not idle waiting. If I had the chance to give advice to the 2008 version of myself, I would tell me not to waste so many bitter and miserable years trying so hard to find myself and let it happen the way it’s meant to. What would you say?
What is the best marriage advice that you have been given? The best advice I received was from a good friend who told me to argue well & fair; not with anger or defensiveness. Through the years it has taught us to really hear what each other is saying and see things from their perspective. I am a better person for it, and I’m lucky that my husband Josh feels the same way.
We fell in love quickly, and easily. We became friends in the spring and by summer we were inseparable. Getting married was the easiest, most natural decision we’d ever made. We had already faced one big crisis when my dad passed away, and together we made each other better. We’ve been together eleven years, and with the little bits of insight I’ve gained I can safely say that my big piece of advice is this: Marry the one who makes you stronger. The one who gives you the energy and support to meet the challenges in life and wants to be on your team, right there by your side. That can look like many different things, but to me it’s the way he supports my business and the hours I spend invested in it. The way he speaks to me when we disagree – with purpose and consideration, never to overpower or force his point of view. I think back to last Spring when we spent one long week discussing which school to enroll our oldest into for first grade. We would put the kids to bed, sit down with each other, and talk back and forth for an hour or two until it was time to take a break for sleep. This went on for days, but it didn’t affect our day to day life with the kids, and we eventually found a compromise.
So, while your wedding is a magical and beautiful new beginning, it is never too early to start working on the foundation of a great relationship. I know Josh and I don’t have all the answers while we blunder through work and parenting together, but being mindful and intentional in the way we treat each other is what matters most to us and I know that will see us through. What do you make priority?
Watching the sun set this evening brought a smile to my face. Two weeks ago, Kaitlyn from Life in Action Weddings and I picked up her friend (and our model-to-be), a stunning gown from Unforgettable You, a beautiful bouquet from Wildflower Florist, and headed out on the road looking for inspiration. We had a bit of a vision and a lot of heart going into the shoot, and while we all walked down the beach together laughing and trying new techniques in the setting sun, I remembered why I love photography. Why it’s so raw and powerful and moves my very soul. Watching Sarah in the sunlight and sand while we danced and splashed was the highlight of my year so far. There is something very special about doing something you love without the pressure of product delivery. I can take chances and push the limit of what myself and my equipment are comfortable with. While it doesn’t have the small intimate moments and love that a wedding day has, it was enough fun for us to start planning the next adventure before we had the pictures uploaded back home!
This edit style is authentic and it’s one that I’ve been in love with for a long time now, but haven’t had enough images to play around with. It’s a style I would love to work with more in my wedding deliveries, and comes straight from the heart. If I’ve learned anything as an artist, it’s that following your heart will take you to places and adventures that you could never imagine. I feel like this is exactly the place I am meant to be, and who could ask for more?
People change, right? Our style changes, as well as our personalities and taste (looking at you black & silver living room decor from 20 years ago).
Well as a photographer, I have grown and changed over the past six years. More than a set style, I want my pictures to make you feel something. Through the years that has meant different things to me, so when I’m feeling nostalgic I look back through sessions past to see how we have all changed through the years.
Something hit me this week though: I wondered how my images from then would look if I were to edit them in the styles I love and create today? Bam!! Bumble’s Second Glance was born! It will be a new recurring feature showing images from the past with a twist of today’s style. If you see one of your images featured and love the alternate look, send a message and I will make sure you get a copy! And if you have an image from sessions past that you adore and would love to see freshened up please say hello!
This image is simple, but it is full of meaning to me. That’s what photography was created for, right? Scotland has called to me since I was little, and in 2008 my husband Josh (then boyfriend) and I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel there to stay with family. It has always been Josh’s first choice destination so despite being far away from financially ready, we jumped at the chance knowing we would never get another.
Having grown up in a forest, moss and trees hold a most special place in my heart. They bring back memories of long days as a child spent running wild in the woods picking raspberries and gathering morels with my cousins. Our trip in the Scottish countryside reminded me very much of home. Different, of course but perfect and familiar in so many ways.
The image below is a collection of memories. That thin, cheap ring in the middle of this picture was bought at a little vendor on the Royal Mile in Edinborough. We wandered through historical landmarks and self-guided tours with only a few dollars to get us through the week, and that tiny thing was a big deal to me. I loved it as much as I loved Josh and the beautiful country we were traveling.
If you are planning your wedding or a family photo shoot, find ways you can tell your story and bring meaning to the day. You won’t regret it!