I’ve learned from 2015

It’s Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve, the last day of the current year, and I sit here with a list of resolutions, swayed not by the common pitchfork attitude of how awful the “new year, new me” community is, and instead I vow to myself to keep trying. To try HARDER. These resolutions are not ways to revamp my whole life, or completely change. They are meant to be encouraging, thankful that we are given fresh starts. We get the blessing to wake up at least one more time, so why NOT serve to do better?

2015 started for me with a sense of finding my new growth. To move forward and to be the new best Debbie I could possibly be. I still stick with that resolution. I wont feel badly that I didn’t complete my master task of self promises for this year, and instead I will look at what I DID accomplish, and not what I didn’t check off.

Ive learned its okay if I don’t mark off everything on my daily to-do lists. Life will go on anyway. Its okay that I don’t have a 6 pack of beautiful abs, I am healthy, and worked out, and tried. I adjust the safe zones of where my adorable husband can hug me, and I still (as does he) think Im okay looking the way I do. Its okay that I didn’t win glorious awards and photographic accolades, because my clients smiled when they received their images, and referred me to their friends and family members, which is what I do this for anyway. Its okay that I struggled in motherhood. Each year brings fresh challenges with no guidebook and I have to wing things, and fight my way through them, often without achieving what I wanted to do, sometimes with tears, and (more than I wanted to), with some yelling and fights. However my girls were loved, taken care of, fed, clothed and encouraged. Ive also sadly lost some friendships that I cared deeply about, and that has to be okay too, even though its painful, for I really have to accept the seasons of the relationships that enter my life.  God has placed new people in my life who not only come with a friendship, but have opened my eyes to new dreams, new paths, and showed me you are never too old to start something new. Ive learned that I can’t go forward while looking back. I want to grow. I want my personal life, my home base AND my business all to evolve. Ive taken the steps to do that: partnered with one amazing team, to encourage other female boss ladies as part of the Modern Femme Conference; enrolled in the Master’s AKademy with my ever motivating mentor, Abbey Kyhl   and I cannot wait for this multi week long learning and advancement process, unlike ANY other mentoring experience Ive attended. I have writing classes now, to long fulfill my ultimate dream of writing a book! I am beyond excited to have actually sat down and created a writing plan and time to actually do this, and explore my creative outlets, and one way to help was actually having OFFICE SPACE!!! This alone is a huge dream! Along those lines, I also started a small homemade gift business, creating mugs and stamping jewelry. Not to be a million dollar business but without doubt a craft I want to grow! I have served more this year than any other year of my life, and this is something I want to invest more of my time into. I believe we can make a better world by being better people. I want to be kept humble because I know it could be worse, and I want to be thankful, because Ive known worse. One way I can do this, is with being accepted as a Magic Hour Photographer and my signing up for next years Dressember and Feed Supper, both supporting causes I am wanting to help more. debbielaughlinphotography-MyFamily-3debbielaughlinphotography-xmasheadshot-1debbielaughlinphotography-MeandAaron-111debbielaughlinphotography-redandwolf-3 copydebbielaughlinphotography-Holiday-161977780_10153880167730323_824875718_o

I know there will be many changes in my life this year. There always are changes. I have a lot to look forward too, and a lot that probably wont get done, and thats okay too. First to change will be this blog. No longer wanting to be boxed into ONLY a photographer, I want to use this great tool as an online journal of sorts, to map out and plan and replay the adventures that happen to me in parenting teens and college kids, my writing journey, the conference with MFM, my photography and also my personal journey as a woman in her 40’s finally accepting that beautifully broken is her own sweet kind of perfect! HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!!!

My Beautiful autumn 2014 bride and grooms!

I love autumn! Im a November baby, thats one of the reasons, but come on! Its beautiful! The leaves change, the weather is perfect and everyone seems happier just looking forward to the Christmas and Thanksgiving seasons. Weddings filled my calendar! October was my busiest wedding month for the second year in a row, and I see why. My own wedding was celebrated in that month too. Late september and my 40th birthday on November 1st were also wedding dates for me! More DIY prettiness; two more ladies celebrating; beautiful drives to a winery, to Richmond and Charlottesville; a nor-easter storm to contend with and the prettiest backyard wedding Ive been to complete with a sweet “first look”! I also got to attend a beautiful styled shoot & workshop hosted by my favorite photographer (read about that herewhich has really impacted the way Im looking at my business now! 2015 will be better than I could have dreamed! Its thanks to mentors like that, and clients like YOU, as well as beautiful weddings like these!

I have one last pretty wedding this year, coming in December, but for now, here are some of the images I just love from autumn!

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My Spring & Summer Brides

In this very blessed second year of my business, I was beyond thrilled and excited to be the photographer telling the stories to the following spring and summer brides! I was fortunate enough to see two beautiful elopements in the outer banks, attend a tea party mad hatter style, shoot in downtown Richmond at an old railway, plant a tree in a storm on arbor day, capture seriously romantic DIY country weddings, travel to Ohio for an old friend, capture beautiful brides saying I do, go out on a cruise of July 4th, ride on some awesome golf carts to get the perfect shot, literally see a “shotgun” wedding and watch a sailor come home from deployment and finally get his girl! To each and every one of my spring/summer brides, I dedicate this blog to you! DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-111 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Tom&Marina-101 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Maggie&Jeff-762 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-13 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-12 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-WedPic-1 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Engagements-1 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Katelyn&William-1 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-AndyRobynWedding-1 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-506 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Barbara&Ed-18 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Barbara&Ed-16 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-1 copy 2 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mina&Kevin-4 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mina&Kevin-3 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mina&Kevin-1 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-255 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-227 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Tom&Marina-150 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-103 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Laighann&Tim-6 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Laighann&Tim-1 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Heather&JP-17 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Dana&Glenda-5 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Dana&Glenda-4 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Bridals-2 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Tom&Marina-117 copy DebbieLaughlinPhotography-SpiritofNorfolkWedding-369 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-SpiritofNorfolkWedding-80

Friday Night Wine Nights: Getting to Date 23, date 2, 3 & 4.

dating_quote_4The “type”.

Did I have one?? Some of my friends seemed to think so, and even though I disagreed, since my relationships had been with VERY different people, I heeded advice.
IS this what date 1 was so much not like me at all?? Was a I subconsciously seeking a “type”?
After the cold debacle of my first online experience, I decided to go against type. To look for other “types”, or at the very least, establish a type.
As a society, we label people all the time, so I assumed this could be socially experimental, and offer me a chance to meet people that I wouldn’t normally meet if indeed I had been limiting myself. After all, if God has a plan for me, then wouldn’t my denying the experience of meeting people be my going against a God I love? Yes.
Date 2. The Funny One.
I consider myself to have a funny sense of humor, so maybe since laughing was a trait I wanted, Id read the online profiles to find a hilarious one. I did, and it really truly cracked me UP! He was smart sounding, his intelligence was dry, and sharp. Being from the UK, I fancy myself as a similar type, so I imagined laughs and giggle all night.
The date was set.
The hair was curled.
The outfit ready.
The place found.
The butterflies started.
The date didn’t show.
Not. SO. Funny.
Lesson from this, I can actually get a lot of reading done and don’t mind dining by myself, something I treat myself to now.
Date 3. The Christian.
Faith is a biggie on my list, so it only made sense to seek someone out who was on a similar path.
Again: Date set.
Again: Hair was curled.
Again: Outfit Ready.
Again: Butterflies.
Text after 10 minutes of not so patiently waiting, telling me after considering my profile, he didn’t think we were going to be compatible as he got a sense that I was going to be difficult to date having children already.
Well. Wow. Ok. Hey, at least he was honest. Still stung like crazy. I felt weak.
I also finished a really good book.
Date 3. The Nice Guy.
I mean, after all Ive gone through, THIS was someone I needed to meet, and asap before “all the nice ones were gone”. I looked, I “winked” online, I conversed. Mr nice likes kids, seemed polite, could spell, and had everything interesting to discuss. No mention of faith but thats private to many, and he wasn’t on the mission i was after all.
He also showed up. Well, he IS nice. We stayed there having a beer, laughing, talking, and before you knew it, 3 hours passed. He even put this as his status on social media after, how nice it was to not realize 3 hours passed. Sweet. NICE. Sad thing is, we were actually compatible friends in the making. I knew I wanted to retain a friend here, and in fact he became my daughters soccer coach, and we hung out an an ODU game, and he attends my church now. He is really nice. I hope he finds someone equally as nice.
And yes, he knew about this blog 🙂

Friday Night Wine Nights: Getting to date 23

I am starting this getting to know me section so that friends, family and clients can read about my journey so far, to understand who I am, why I love what I do, why Im excited to do more, and how it feels to walk a little through the roller coaster of a life Ive led up until now. Im going to be blunt. Open. Honest. Real. DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Debbie-1

On November 1st I will be turning 40. An incredible milestone by my standard, after holding a fear for a long time that I will pass on early, like my mum sadly did.
Looking forward to what my new “era” will hold, I will be blogging new experiences Im going to try, setting little life goals and business goals, chasing a dream of book writing, and hoping to grow older more gracefully than fearfully.
Part of who I am came after my divorce, 8 years ago, when I finally finally found myself, or found MOST of myself! Realizing who I was, where I was going and what I wanted were GIANT steps to gaining the confidence to plow full steam ahead as a single mum, running a home based business. A giant part of that, was dating. I had one beautifully broken long term relationship after my marriage ended, and quite honestly, it was my first heartbreak. It took a long time to get past that, and when I did, I did what I never in my dreams imagined I would ever do.
I WENT ON 23 FIRST DATES
With different people. Most from online dating websites. I know I know… there are a lot of crazies out there. Trust me, Ive met many crazies in person too, however I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be in love. I wanted a romantic movie in my real life, and once I decided to begin, I was ready.
The hardest thing about dating was creating my profile.
Selfies were not big back then, and recent images of myself were not flattering, because when you are in a relationship, you tend to get comfortable and just forget the rest. I pulled a variety of semi decent shots from my not so smart phone, and even some from myspace, see? I told you it was BACK WHEN… None really looked like I did now, some looked like how I wished I still looked, and some looked like the me I wanted to forget.

View More: http://elizabethhensonphotos.pass.us/eastbeachbabesDeciding on a few images, I then wrote what I wanted. This part was easy. I knew what I didn’t want, and wrote that. I literally wrote I didn’t want one night stands, casual flings, young boys, non-christians and people who didn’t like children. I also stated I was open to them having children. After all, most single men my age were probably in the same stage of life I was. Right? I also said I was starting the journey to find a real relationship. On the dating website I wrote that! Why waste time? Time was precious. I didn’t want to date people interested in not being a consideration for a relationship. I was determined to say the least.
Boy did I get some responses. Both in favour of my honesty and bluntness. Some out and out calling me a bitch. Some sending lewd suggestions imagining they could sway me into one of the aforementioned casual nights. I wont go into all of the details, and I wont mention any names, since in my head, to keep a straight head on myself, I gave them names of my own.
Date 1. The “cold” date.
I love tattoos, I have 9 now, all little, but 9 none the less. SO I was thrilled when a seemingly nice young (old enough to date me!) man chatted using proper grammar and asked me to happy hour for a cocktail and a bit of a chat. I agreed. I dressed up, then thinking it was too much, dressed down. Then realizing my pi’s were not a good first impression, dressed back up a little, to a church friendly non provocative jeans and casual top ensemble that left no signs of cleavage and a pile of discarded clothing in my trail.
We met a a busy bar in a well lit area, can of spray mace in bag beside me. I was ready.
He was outside waiting, dressed in not so great a first impression “Even your mom thinks Im hot” tee-shirt. Maybe he was being funny? I let it slide. He shakes my hand then one arm awkward hugs me. The smell of fries and other food stuff tempting me to eat, when I had on purpose not eaten in an attempt to squeeze into the last years skinny jeans. Mistake on my part.
We walked in, ordered a drink. Wine, kept it simple, bought my own too. Another precaution of mine.
We actually talked about the weather, and he admitted his mother got the shirt. I laughed. I would do that to a son probably too. Well, ok, maybe not THAT tee shirt.
Then he said he had ran late because he got a new tattoo, and asked if I would like to see it. So of course, he had big arms and who wouldn’t want to see nice arms. At least, I assumed it would be his arms.
Date 1 pre-ceeded to not so casually pull out his male member and put said member on stool, and asked what I thought.
????????????????????????????????????
“Are you cold?”, I asked.
He didn’t find that nearly as funny as I did.
End date.

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Investing In Me | The Abbey Kyhl Evolving Workshop, Virginia

Imagine my favorite photographer/business owning/mother, whom Ive followed for a long time, who inspires me, and writes blogs to encourage, shoots incredible images, teaches other photographers the fine art of balance…are you imagining? Then, imagine her here. In my present home town, after MY husband picked her up at the airport, and finally imagine MY excitement, at getting to spend two overwhelmingly amazing days in her company, and her assistant Jacki, as well as in the company of some equally eager-to-learn photographers, and you have imagined my experience at the AK Crew workshop, Virginia, hosted and run by Abbey Kyhl.
Last month I spent the days counting down until I was sitting in my chair, incredulously looking at how NORMAL she looked! LOL. She was real. She was here. And she brought to me the hands down best experience in workshop form that i have EVER been to, without a doubt the best investment I have made for my business growth, and I will even say that quite honestly I grew personally.

As she talked about how I can take back control of my time, return to a life of planned FREE TIME, of being a better wife and mother and friend, I became emotional. I was hearing someone tell me, and encourage me, to be the woman I am FIRST, to make myLIFE my passion, and not my business, and that I would STILL be able to provide amazing client experience to the business I love so so very much! She made it okay that business should not be your passion, if it was, you would put it before absolutely everything that you already had going on within your life, and forget about some important things, some special family time, or some other memory because you felt somehow that your business would fail if it didn’t get 100% of the best part of you. I was making it 100% priority, and taking on so much, that I was neglecting even more.

Now, I LOVE LOVE what I do. Being there for the most important events in people’s lives is an honor, an honor. I get excited by new shoots, seeing the final images, looking at the canvases and prints chosen by my clients. However, Abbey was right, my life should be, and IS, my passion!

I do NOT have enough space to cover exactly how inspired I was, and all that we covered from business systems to social media, to even un-friending people on Facebook, and the freedom you would have to enjoy life again, and still maintain a successful small business. I am so ready to begin implementing all of the things I learned, and I have already begun. Re-branding is underway, forming stronger client interaction has begun, and deciding what my specialties shall be is next. I am so ready to bring you the next chapter of Debbie Laughlin Photography, so ready to bring my family and best friends a whole new refreshed Debbie.

If you are a photographer, I strongly encourage you to join the AK Crew and look into these workshops! I am not exaggerating when I say it WILL change you!

Abbey – THANK YOU so very very much, for bringing your knowledge to us, for making sense, for supporting us even now after the workshop. I cannot wait for the next one…

Enjoy the following images from the styled shoot portion of the workshop, styled by some amazing vendors!!!

Planning, Design + Styling Michelle Amarillo Event Planning | Florals + Styling Studio Posy | Dress Maya Couture | Stationary The Girl Tyler | Makeup Beauty + Baubles | Hair High Voltage Hair by Crystal Casey

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This Kiss

kiss  (kĭs)

v. kissedkiss·ingkiss·es
v.tr.

1. To touch or caress with the lips as an expression of affection, greeting, respect, or amorousness.
2. To touch lightly or gently: flowers that were kissed by dew.
3. To strike lightly; brush against: barely kissed the other car with the bumper.
v.intr.

1. To engage in mutual touching or caressing with the lips.
2. To come into light contact.
n.

1. A caress or touch with the lips.
2. A slight or gentle touch.
3. A small piece of candy, especially of chocolate.
4. A drop cookie made of egg whites and sugar.
Here it is! Valentines Day! The day where Love gets put on the front burner, and people draw lines between consumerism and passion! Where single people unite, and married people forget… Well, not all of them, but sometimes! Im honor of a day that is dedicated to the open display of love, I have put together some of my very favorite kisses from my sessions!
xoxoxoxox
p.s. Don’t forget that chocolate is on sale tomorrow!!!!
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImagevalentines day, pucker,

2/13/13| Personal

Before you tell me Im using the wrong date, Im not. Not in the sense of the way Im going to use it in this post. Im aware that today IS indeed 2/13/14.. One whole year after the date in the title, and therefore, One whole year after the REAL date of my wedding. Yes, its true, and I am sure this comes to a huge surprise to some of you, as we made the decision to NOT tell everyone. Even some of our friends and family members. We celebrated very happily a wedding celebration in October, of 2013, and my dad flew over from Scotland, and several people flew in from Aaron’s home state of Texas.  Was it shotgun? no. Was it rushed? no. Were we lying to people? No… So why? Three reasons: Lauren, Caitlin and Rory.  Blending a family comes with a new set of rules. Raising girls comes with challenges as it is. Trying to raise young women of faith makes these things even harder. We are trying to be examples. Right and wrong… I lean on a lot of my own mistakes and things Ive learned to try and make better the decisions that face my daughters. Does it always work? No. Is it my fault? No.. What I CAN continue doing is leading by examples. Good ones. And being that faith and my desire to be a better Christian woman is so important to me, when it came to dating as a single mother, I tried very hard to be open with the girls. All the while acting and conducting myself accordingly in what I thought was how I should be! I let them see my heartache, and tried through that to say to them thats its ok to hurt, and you can get through it. That we don’t always get the life we think we want in that moment. I didn’t like them seeing me eating mass quantities of ice cream and crying, but as a mother, it was very real. As was letting them see when someone treats me well, because as my engagement to Aaron proceeded, I wanted them to see how they too should hopefully be treated one day. I tried to be the fiancee that I hoped would encourage the girls in the promise of love, and so because of this, and a good deep talk from my pastor, Aaron and I decided to make the big “move” in together, and to do that “right”, we also made the decision to marry.

There was no big dress and bridesmaids, I was at my church with some people close to our hearts, though a few were missing. We told my 19 year old, who was there at the ceremony, and in telling my 12 year old, we were met with mixed emotions and confusion, BECAUSE there was no big dress or bridesmaids. She still believes that was “civil” and our REAL wedding was October 5th, with all of the trimmings.

For us, in that moment, it was what we knew in our hearts was right. It wasn’t about the guests, or the fairy tales. it was taking the commitment and the love we had for one another, and our family, seriously. It was us trying to walk the walk in front of the ladies we are trying to raise. It was for US, it was real, and it WAS 2/13/13.

I could sit here and say sorry to everyone who didn’t know, but I can’t. I believe in my heart it was right, and it was for us. And thats exactly how it was celebrated. Now, now its time to share with everyone else.

I loved the event that was our wedding day, in October. We finally go the fun and the frills and the families together. It was personal and intimate and mostly DIY so we could enjoy something tailor made to our loves and our families combining. I think we both feared people wouldn’t show up if they knew they already missed the big premier!

Marriage is hard enough, without complicating it even more. So as everyone gears up to celebrate Valentines Day tomorrow, we are sitting here reminiscing about this day one year ago. Our commitment to one other then, is as strong as it was in October, and just as dear to us today.

Happy Anniversary, Aaron. _MG_2147-3053996259-O _MG_2153-3053996846-O

Thank you to Holly at Shutterly Sweet Photography for these images!

“The Greatest Love On Earth!” a styled shoot

I am very proud to FINALLY announce, alongside Jennifer Krieg Photography, I will be hosting a beautiful styled shoot, for photographers of all levels, using a circus inspired and “Water For Elephants” themed design throughout! The event will be filmed by Holly of Shutterly Sweet Photography, so we can forever remember this event!

This styled event will be taking place on February 23rd, 2013, on a scenic and secluded private farm, Southern Gaits Paso Fino Farm. This location is a picturesque horse farm, with well over 30 horses of all colours in our background! There is a gazebo, a lake and an array of shrubs, in the winter look. Also, a swing. How fabulous we get to seat a bride on one of those!

We are so fortunate in that we will be joined by some amazing and talented vendors, who will be providing floral, hand crafted background pieces, hair and make up, paper products and our cake! We will feature a bride and groom, as well as bridesmaids, a best man, and some small children as our “extras”. We will even have the honour of using one of the prettiest white Paso Fino horses I have seen!

We will have several stations and photography opportunities available. We will be offering complimentary head shots to all participants also. Following the shoot, we will have a champagne and desert gathering in the stables, to toast what is sure to be a wonderful success!

The investment for the event is $150, with a $25 discount available if you sign up before January 18th. Please follow the link below to view our page and invest! Following confirmation of your participation, you will be added to a private Facebook group, where you will see sneak peeks posted as they are finished or in progress, and vendor information for the event! I am SO SO very excited about this and hope to see you there!!!!

Information available, as well as ticket investment, through this link: http://debbielaughlinphotography.com

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My New Year Resolve…my new word for the year too..

Ive been trying to think of the word to be encouraged by, for the whole year. Just one word, to motivate and excite me, to overcome things with, to challenge myself with, and to hopefully all around make me a better person. After all, with each new year comes new resolutions and promises to oneself about the “New You”. I however, have spent the past 5 years learning to love the old me. And you know what, Ive decided Im not so bad afterall! I have met challenges, had my heart broken, single parented my way through a bevvy of draining and rewarding parent-trocities and really learned to trust more in myself and faith. It worked for me. I got through it. I even got a “happy ending”, by marrying someone who treats me like a princess!

So, rather than find a new me, Id like to keep bettering the REAL me. To hone my photography craft to the next level, to take my business to new markets, to be a better mother, a more patient person, a better friend, a deeper Christian and a more content Debbie. My word is Refine.

v. re·finedre·fin·ingre·fines
 verb \ri-ˈfīn\

: to remove the unwanted substances in (something)

: to improve (something) by making small changes

v.tr.

1. To reduce to a pure state; purify.
2. To remove by purifying.
3. To free from coarse, unsuitable, or immoral characteristics: refined his manners; refined her speaking style.
v.intr.

1. To become free of impurities.
2. To acquire polish or elegance.
3. To use precise distinctions and subtlety in thought or speech
This will guide me in all areas of my life. Not just personal. Not just photography. Not just in faith. Because Im not just ONE of these things. Im ALL of them.
I have grown sadly accustomed to comparing myself personally and professionally to those around me who, on facebook anyway, certainly appear to have it all together. However, I know there was life before Facebook, and while I commend these people for having such a great outlook and command over a mulitude of things, I am “old enough to know better” and see beyond a social media status to accept its not all bubbles and kittens.
I also resolve to start a blog, a series of 4 or 5, on being a seasoned mum. Baby balancing in a chaotic life is crazy enough, and focus tends to be on actual important physical needs. However, our offspring do not remain cute energetic toddlers and infants forever and I know there are mothers,, and fathers, like me out in the http://www.com universe who may learn from, or commiserate with, some of the challenges us hard working (in all senses of that word) mothers of children/teens/young adults face, that we cant get past with a visit to Toys R Us. First blog will be posted tomorrow, and I hope you come back to read, with totally honesty, how it is for this business owning mother of two, and step mother to one, deals with the challenges of blending families, juggling personalities and maintaining control of her sanity, all while being a great wife and whole person!