Change. Reflection. Mystery. Faith.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

{self-portrait session: January 2010}

March already. Really?

That means our brief sojourn in this small, cozy, wonderful white house is half done already... And I have never posted images showing you around. I will do that tomorrow. I'll make it an assignment.

Tomorrow is a Work Day for me. I am not sure I've actually mentioned this system on here--- this Work Day. Back last August, I was at the end of my rope with being busy busy busy as a full-time mama and more-than-part-time photographer. I could NOT get it all done. And a wise, loving, SMART cookie of a friend made me understand that getting some REAL HELP, one day a week, was NOT compromising my commitment and passion for being a full-time mom.

It was an epiphany. If I took ONE day out of my week to get some babysitting for Noah, I was still with him all the time the other six days of the week. That still counts as FULL-TIME, truly.

(and I am not at all in any way, disparaging mamas who DO work outside the home or who have childcare for their little ones several days a week. I am just trying so hard to align my life to what *I* need, and what works for *ME* and my little family. )

So. I raised the white flag. Hollered Uncle. And found a dear friend to watch my kiddo one day a week. From 8:30-4:30. All day.

I drop him off, then come home and sit at my computer and work frantically for 7 hours straight, not even breaking for lunch most times. This work day is for all the business stuff that never gets done when I am editing nonstop. It is the day for working on marketing. For placing orders. For packaging and mailing orders. For emailing clients back. For working on the books. Getting finances back in line. And though it is never enough time, it is working. I am not as crazy as I used to be. Mostly.

And I am in this place in my life where I am trying, DAILY, to find a better balance. And trying to hold to the commitments I have made and the ideals I have set forth for my life. And some things have made all the difference, like this Work Day. Other things are a CONSTANT struggle for me... like daily spiritual growth. And through it all, I am ever reflecting, shifting little things, and trying to talk myself into keeping going, even when it gets so BIG and so MAD that all I want to do is sleep.

And I have pretty much just wanted to sleep a LOT recently. It's this transition from the slower winter... the permission we gave ourselves to settle into this little home and HEAL from the jarring, wild, unpleasant autumn of change and moving... The lazy days of coldness where there wasn't anything else to do BUT sleep and watch cartoons and build blanket nests...

And now, as it gets GORGEOUS outside and my sessions come slamming into full-force for the spring, I am COMPLETELY out of practice with the motivation thing. I am REALLY having a hard time getting my engine revved.

I took another 2-hour nap today, in fact.

And lest you tap your noses and say, "I bet she'd pregnant", let me reassure you--- No. No I'm not. Thought I was for a minute last month, and it was WONDERFUL to have an excuse for all the sleeping... But no. Nope. Not yet. Who knows? Not ever?

So now... I am stuck with the onslaught of a mad mad mad spring schedule, and I am NOT transitioning into it well. I keep letting the laundry/dishes/home cooked meals slide for just a little more "down time"...

And EEK. Who am I to even CLAIM to WANT more kids, if I can't run my household with just one underfoot??! I am such a child. A napping, sugar-eating child.

Haha. Grr.

And change. the word "change" is in the title here... Maybe I should mention some of it here. The only thing we can truly rely on in our life at the moment is that it will definitely, absolutely, completely change in just a few short months. We will leave this temporary house by July. We will need a new home, SOMEWHERE, by July.


Who knows.

Joe is awaiting his fate in the form of grad school acceptance/rejection letters. Schools that are mostly NOT in St. Louis. Will he get accepted? Will we leave Missouri? Will we be turned down? What will we do then? And other BIG questions: Will we get to have more babies? Will we be able to afford them? If we move, will there be clients in a new town? Will my photography be able to thrive elsewhere? Will Joe find a future he can feel joy and peace in?

Change. And IMMENSE MYSTERY. We have utterly NO CLUE about the future. At all. All we know, is that NOTHING will be the same. Home, job, money--- all will change.

And with that change, I am in the process of completely re-vamping my business... Changing my mission statement. Changing my system. Changing my goals. Change is absolutely on the horizon for Emily Southerland Photography. Lots of it. And I can't even really make more moves on that until I know where this business will be based out of. But rest assured, whether we stay in St. Louis or not, come July/August, there will be some major changes to the biz.

And through all of this, there is this compelling, agonizing, healing internal journey I have been trudging through, in the form of "The Artists" Way" book I've been working through. The course takes you through a LOT of self-analysis, a LOT of purging of old ideas, old hang-ups, and tries to get you to find more authenticity as a person. And while the day-to-day tasks are often easy to dismiss as not doing anything significant, now that I am seven weeks into the 12-week program, I have been astounded to see, from some distance, how much is shifting in me and in my life.

I thought I embarked on the program of "creative recovery" to understand myself and define myself better as an artist/photographer. But instead, the journey moved me somewhere else, and is trying so hard to train me how to be an artist/parent. I'm finding that the pull isn't to be a more outward, public, brilliant ARTIST, but to be a more introspective, introverted creative parent. Wife. Friend. Surprisingly, even as the book calls to its reader to allow SUCCESS to happen, I find myself willingly turning away from "success", as defined by the world, and turning more and more to myself for acceptance and strength. Turning more and more to my family for validation and joy. I keep finding myself being surprisingly OKAY with slowing down more and more and placing less and less importance on the world and what the world wants/think/expects.

In some ways, I wonder if my slower blogging is an accidental manifestation of this little surprise twist in my journey. I am writing three pages every day in my notebook... And so I have myself to talk to, and I am beginning to trust myself more. To not need to tell it all outside.

Anyway... this is all very rambling... But this is ME, these days. A strange combination of pensive, lazy, inspired, joyful, fearful, excited, tired... Hurt and fulfilled. Childlike and childish. Growing.... and changing. And it's weird to not have the old assumptions to fall back on, and I wonder if all this weird strange growth and change is partly to blame for being so tired all the time. They say a baby will sleep extra long when they've just learned a new skill--- lots for their brain to absorb and create synapses for. Maybe that's me right now--- the sleep is solidifying these paradigm shifts. And the changes are trying terribly hard to STICK.

Which brings me to faith.

All of this--- the waiting and uncertainty for our future, the changing of my business philosophy, the embracing a smaller, simpler, more family-centric life.... The changes in my attitude and my goals... All of it is taking IMMENSE faith.

And I am not nearly good enough at it. I do not call on my Lord NEARLY enough to ask Him to carry me. I pray.... sure... But most of the time, I try to only be grateful in my prayers, and I don't ask for help. I try to fake like I can manage all of this on my own. I got it. I can handle it. I'm cool.

But I'm not cool. I CAN'T handle all this. This is all HARD. And most of the time I feel like I am failing miserably. And so I need to learn how to have MORE faith-- and ask for more strength. And maybe most of all, I need to work on being better at forgiving myself for these failings. And asking for His forgiveness. And then trying to be ever more humble, pliable, and TRUSTING of what the future is bringing to us.




Lots of boring text in this here bloggy, eh?

And deep, and dense, and not even very relevant to anyone but me...

But it all was straining to get out, so I typed it. And I applaud anyone who got through it all. 'Cause there's not even an incredible moral or climax or resolution at then end to help you all go to bed happy tonight. It was just...... a mind dump. Something I'm kinda good at.


That's me.

What about you?


I'm feeling sheepish, now, and I am going to go post a photo session post now to balance out all this word-stuff.



  1. Emily! I could have written a lot of this myself! Not the part about moving, but ya know. I'm feeling a lot of the same things these days. Redefining and examining success, finding myself feeling OK with working less, blogging less, and so on for the first time. And also, I have one day a week without Marlie to work. Its the only way I make it really. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I would love to have a WOrk Day. I'm just happy to be able to finally have some solid weekly child care for better planning of sessions.

  3. Emily! Beautifully said! Thank you for sharing. I think many of us feel like we don't do ENOUGH. Or that we are failing at what we do get done.'s hard to be good at something, when you're trying to be good at everything. I know I do, anyway. Anyway, just wanted to say you're not alone! Love ya!

  4. What an insightful, inspiring post. I love, love, love the posts with pics but love the thoughtful journal-y posts just as much. Thanks for sharing yourself with us--you never cease to inspire me.

  5. I miss posts like this from you, so I was so happy to find this in my reader this AM. ♥♥♥

  6. I've had many times where I am eaten up inside while trying to stretch my faith and I'm certain there will be many more.
    This always speaks to me:
    D&C 101:16

  7. i got through and i think i really relate to what you're saying. first of all, i think having some outside help for one concentrated day sounds brilliant! and even though it doesn't translate to business changes for me, i think i'm going through the same thing. feeling more gratification in SMALL family accomplishments, jobs i do for hub and kiddos that i previously would have resented, being okay with not always being with someone or constantly meeting new people, a quiet simplier life is becoming more fulfilling. anyway, you said it better. best of luck in the near future. are you guys applying to anywhere in north carolina? because i would personally make sure you have some clients if you were to move there sometime while we're there in the next three years:)

  8. First, GORGEOUS pictures of you. I love them. Love them.

    Second, I needed that mind dump. It did my heart good. I have been having a hard week- dealing with that lousy stage of comparing that can slip into life before we know it. I haven't felt skinny enough, or gifted enough, or affluent enough... all those things. And it has hurt inside and I keep just trying to push it away as if not giving it room to breathe will make it go away. But it stays and I still have those nagging aches that I haven't dealt with. So, your 'mind dump' helped me a great deal. Knowing I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Knowing that I should bravely muse on them as you have. Knowing that someone I love and admire can feel like a child growing up too.

    Thanks Emily. Love you and who you are.

  9. Always inspiring, always introspective and growing. When I read your "ramblings" I always "get it" as if I were writing it myself. Only, you have words for what I'm feeling where I just feel it and have no idea how to express it. A family-centric life is good and I think becomes more necessary as more little ones get underfoot. Although, if you went more family-centric the blog world would miss your transparency. I think we all learn a great deal from your journeys.
    Do you think children cause sugar cravings, because I do!
    Miss you! Love you.
    Happy Easter.


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