Hey! I'm Emily... homebody, amateur philosopher, professional photographer, mama and wife. This is my little world-- a place for me to preserve the little snippets of my life that bring me joy, make me think, or show my creative leanings. I'm so happy you're here. If you get a minute, please introduce yourself in the comments. If you like what you see, you are invited to follow my blog through your RSS Reader. Just click the link at the bottom of the page to add me.
Thank you for being part of my little world... :)

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Us:

Us:

Thursday, September 30

Beth's Family {St. Louis Family Children's Travel Photographer}

And Part 2 of the Massachusetts sessions, Beth's family. Beth is a kindred soul to me. We are both gregarious, and often just a teeny bit bigger than life. So when she told me her vision: Formal wear. Red. Pearls. A rakish dad with loose bowtie. I was like:

WOOOOOOHOOOO!!!!

I ADORE concept shoots. ADORE. And if anyone could make this idea look FABULOUS, Beth could.

Check it:

Mallet Family 
Oh. My. Goodness. Did you see the littlest one? More of him later, and you will SWOON. And the sweet princess daughter? And the WILLING DAD, who let his wife rent a tux for him??

I love this family.

and I love Beth. How lovely is she with her daughter?
Mallet Family

Mallet Family

And the boys-- so cute!
Mallet Family

Mallet Family

And again with their solo shots- I LOVED getting moments with each kid, one-on-one, to slow down and get to the heart of THEM, as an individual:
Mallet Family

Mallet Family

And the oldest son is QUITE the individual!! Ha!
Mallet Family

But this youngest son?? Oh, he had me at "hello". *swoon*
Mallet Family

Mallet Family

Mallet Family

Mallet Family

And Beth's hubs--- what a good sport! You KNOW she is drooling at these shots of her hubs in the tux... :)
Mallet Family

And how cute are they together??
Mallet Family

But my favorite shot-- the one I imagined, then worked INSANELY hard to make a reality in post-processing... is this--- The TRUE portrait of a family of three kids:

Right? Right?? I feel like this every day, and I only have ONE kid!!

Thank you Beth (and Marc!) for letting me make this wild, wonderful vision a reality for you. I hope you adore these as much as I do!

*

Sarah's Family {St. Louis Family Children's Travel Photographer}

Did I leave anyone hangin' last week?? I fell off the face of the blog after Friday, and am just coming back.... and I wonder if anything feels unresolved to any of you? Is there any aspect of my random writing last week that I wasn't conclusive about that you'd like to know more about? I'm an open book!! Leave me a comment and I'll happily ramble on whatever part of Life-ness you wish I had talked more about... :)

*

Until then, I really really really really need to blog the rest of my summer sessions. I have so many, and loved each one, and it's just SAD they haven't gotten to see the light of day on here... 

So--- I'm posting two today, both from Massachusetts, both amazing women with three kiddos apiece. We shot their session concurrently, and it was a wild evening of kids, cupcakes, flustered mamas, manic photographer singing wild songs to keep attention, and magic moments of actually pulling it all together when the moment counted. I know both Sarah (the mom of THIS session) and Beth, the other mama, will agree that it was.... interesting.... But it was also thoroughly fun (for me ... and probably the kids) and ended up in a very satisfying success of a session. 

Still... Next time I suggest to a client that we can do two families of 3+ kids at the same time, remind me I am nuts. 

Sarah, I love looking at these again--- miss you!

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

these shots of just the kids are my favorite--- LOVE the light, love their sweet faces, love their three totally different personalities!
Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

Willis Family

And then the beach--- We had to get some at the coast! the sun was nearly GONE, but we made it work!
Willis Family

Willis Family

*LOVE*

Friday, September 24

Friday!...

Friday nite, 11:34pm.... After wrestling with my slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow internet all night (I just wanted to watch a movie or the rest of the new Glee episode while I edit, Mr. Internet? PLEASE??) I finally settled into some good editing while watching a DVD (When In Rome--- I was thoroughly happy with it. Don't knock me for giving in to cutesie movies. They were made for folks like me!). I'm working on the fun "bessie" session I talked my sister and her friends into, and I'm loving it! Editing is kinda fun these days, now that I have less of it.

But now it is 11:38, and ya know what? As per my new philosophy of life, I'm not gonna sweat the deadlines just now. I have a few more days to finish these photos... And my sweet hubs is actually gonna go to bed at the same time as me tonight instead of the work-week hour of 10:00pm... So I have a friend who's awake RIGHT NOW to go hang with, and it would be remiss of me to stay on this computer any longer editing. 

Or writing, for that matter. 

So.... Lofty as my goal is to write something every day this week, this little blurt will have to do tonight. I have someone really important to me waiting for me to go snuggle with him on the couch. 

And THAT is how I live my life these days. Remembering to remember what is the most important to me. 

G'night, all! Happy weekend!

*

(enjoy this lil' old pic of my sweetheart and me, in the first weeks of our dating, spring 2004. Taken with my film camera set on self-timer, set in the grass in front of us. It's still one of my very favorites:)
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Putting MY Stories Higher On the List

September is nearly done. Can anyone believe it?? There's been some delicious hints of real FALL in the air-- the pumpkin spice drinks are back at Starbucks, St. Louis Bread Co. has the pumpkin bagels... There's been lots of apples from local orchards... We even had some nice cool weather the other week. (Not THIS week, unfortunately! Ugh!) I know I'm not alone when I say that fall is my absolute favorite season. HANDS down. And with the changes, subtle but there, that show that it really is on its way, I have had many warm, fuzzy cravings and memories and plans hatching.... I listed many of them last night in my post. Today, I was thinking about apples and apple orchards... Thinking we definitely needed to make time to bring Noah there again like we did last year. 

And that got me thinking to last year, when I took Noah to the orchards with my mom and dad and a couple of siblings. If I remember correctly, Noah was NOT in a great mood for some of it--specifically any photo opportunities I tried to get him to cooperate for. He DID love the little petting zoo, the playground... and loved the apples. He was in heaven picking up windfall apples from the ground, and I was kept busy trying to sift through his pickings as they went in the bag, making sure the rotted, gross ones didn't get included and paid for. The more I thought about that day, the more memories came back--- Noah picking out pumpkins, but being grief-stricken when we had to leave... Noah loving the hayride tractor.... 

And it hit me---- I took PHOTOS that day. I took LOTS of photos. I remembered trying to get ONE good photo of him in his cute sweater, sitting in the rows of trees, and him BARELY cooperating. And I remembered handing my camera to my mom and getting a couple of photos with him. There were PHOTOS of that day. 

So.... where did they end up? I pride myself on being pretty in-the-know about my personal photos. I have them ordered by month and year, and I have a pretty good memory as to what image comes from what month. I have reason to pop in and out of my personal photo folders a lot, so I am pretty confident in my knowledge of the images I have. Even the ones I never got around to editing. So I thought. But when I suddenly recalled these missing orchard images, I had a true moment of panic. I had not thought of those images in nearly a year, and I most definitely had not seen any of them in that long. I suddenly feared that in one of my hard drive cleanups/file transfers, somehow this batch of images had gotten deleted forever. So... I went and looked as soon as I was home. And nope.... they didn't get deleted. They were right there, in October 2009, in the "originals" folder... Sad, neglected... Forgotten. 

I've finally been making time, the past few months, to get my sorely neglected personal photos sorted, culled, and put into coffee table books. I am done with 2007 and most of 2008. The exercise in organizing and sorting has been a telling one---- it is clear to me that:
A. I take far more photos than I need to
B. I am far more sentimental than I should be when it comes to culling
C. I have let my personal photos fall to a place of such non-priority in my busy life that it is TRAGIC.

Here it is: The de-prioritization of my own photos, in favor of working on the professional photos I take for other people is one of the most heartwrenching casualties of my "too busy, too fast, too stressed" life. 

This summer, my sister and I went to see Toy Story 3. By the end, of course, I was BAWLING. I was delighted by the tender end to the movie, and interestingly, besides being charmed and amused by the movie, I left the theater with this resounding epiphany that our own little lives, our own little stories should be the most important focus of our energy-- specifically, that I shouldn't be procrastinating telling my own stories. Gosh, typing it out is almost embarrassing, because it seems so OBVIOUS. But as obvious as it should be that we need to put our own stories first, I find that as a pro photographer, I am critically guilty of failing to do just that. 
I LOST the orchard story. For nearly a YEAR. And didn't even know I had lost it. What a shame to have a head so full of other photo tasks unrelated to my family... What a waste to spend all my creative time and energy on other people's kids. I mean, sure, it's my JOB-- so I'll still work on other people's images.... But there's something VERY wrong in the balance I was maintaining that continually put MY photos at the bottom of the list. 

No more. 

I want to remember why I began taking photos in the first place--- because I am a sentimental fool who wants to remember every magic moment in my life, and therefore snap a gajillion images to do that... I want to take out the camera just for fun, and then FINISH the images so my family can enjoy them. It is pointless to get the photos together 3,4, 5, TEN years later.... We need to have our NOW photos ready to enjoy.... well, NOW. 

So. With my decision to take far less sessions a month, I am also making the decision to try to maintain my personal images better. To chip away at the 2009/2010 pile of photos a little at a time in such a way that I might stay a little closer to caught up... And when I take a whole slew of new images from my little life, I want to cull them quickly, edit them lightly, then LET IT GO if they are not PERFECT. Let them be what they are and tell the story, instead of sitting, forgotten. What is the point of photos that get forgotten?

So. One more new goal I've been working on: I want MY family's stories to get told...to fulfill the purpose of my life as sentimental photographer. I want to stop putting this last and making excuses that put a zillion other things first. 

It's a monster goal... and if I could just take LESS PHOTOS, I'd already be rocking this goal. But... well... it'll be a lifelong effort. But well worth it. 

For now, it's only a small repentance for my lost years of personal photos sitting gathering "dust" in folders on my hard drive, but I treated myself to some one-on-one time with my favorites from that orchard outing last year. I wanted to get them out and apologize to them, and edit them and get myself pumped for this year's version of the outing. So, enjoy:

Viva la Autumn, and long live our personal photos and stories!

Circa October 2009:

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(seriously.... **swoon** How did those go unnoticed for so long? I adore them!! I love my little stinker kiddo. He is my sunshine.)

Thursday, September 23

These Days: September 2010

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These Days:

* Noah is as passionate as ever about trains. He loves Chuggington on TV, and the Metrolink tram in our town, and railroad crossings, and the fact that the Schnucks brand of cocoa puffs featured a cartoon train on the front... He is hooked and passionate. Love it! 
* I am making time to sew at least 30 minutes a day, at least 4-5 days a week. It centers me in a way that should make my mom laugh-- since when we were kids, I was FLABBERGASTED that she LIKED to sew and did it to relax. I was FLOORED. I hated sewing. But now, in that way at least, I have become my mother. 

* We take "family walks" now and then, just around our neighborhood. Noah loves them, and talks about our neighborhood in such a knowing way. 

* Our mornings are not early, nor are they frantic. Noah wakes about 8:30, which wakes me. Joe is gone by then, having biked to the Metro for work. After Noah and I sit in his room playing a bit, we mosy down to eat cold cereal and read scriptures in the most leisurely fashion. I have to remind myself to change out of pjs early, so we don't keep that pace ALL day. :)

* I am shooting significantly less sessions a month... something I decided to move towards this summer. It is PERFECT right now--- the balance between work and family. 

* I am editing a fun session I talked my sister and her friends into.... something I wanted to do for ME, and needed models for. It is making my heart happy to see these sun-drenched, personality-filled images as I edit. LOVE LOVE LOVE that shooting less for work enabled me to shoot Joe's Mime Shoot and now this Bessie Shoot. For ME. For MY heart. 

* Noah and I made cupcakes yesterday. We made pink frosting for them because on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse they have "Moo Muffins", which look exactly like pink frosted cupcakes. I've been  promising him we'd make "Moo Muffins" for weeks now. 

* I am caught up on my personal photos through mid-2008. That sounds awful, but for me, that is nothing short of a MIRACLE. :)

* This fall I want to: go to a Cards game, take an Amtrak train trip to Herman or Jeff City with Joe and Noah so Noah can ride a REAL train, go to an apple orchard, go to a pumpkin patch, go to a corn maze, have a weekend away with just Joe, do mini Halloween portraits for my friends' kiddos, make the coolest tent for Noah's Christmas gift, convince Katie to fly out and hang with me, make apple or pumpkin butter, have a flower-making crafty girls' night.... and on and on....

* I have introduced Sound of Music to Noah, and he LOVES it. That makes my old-fashioned, "played-Maria-in-high-school" heart HAPPPPY. He adores the Goatherd song, sings "Edelweiss" nearly perfectly, and loves "So Long, Farewell". Oh, and knows nearly every word to "Do, Re, Mi". It's ridiculously cute. I'm creating a nerd boy, I know it. 

* I'm between iTouch app addictions right now. After conquering Peggle and Plants Vs. Zombies, and getting 2+ stars on all the newest levels of Angry Birds, I confess that I am not finding anything worthy of replacing those bits of awesomeness. 

* I am writing randomness tonight because I promised myself I'd write every day this week, but after last night feeling so GOOD--- like I had managed to actually put into words some of the amazingness I've been feeling, I just don't have any additional energy to reprise it... for now. I have lots of thoughts brewing... about money, and about my work and how it has shifted... But.... MEH. Today, you get a random list.

* And it is 12:15. I should go to bed. Tomorrow is my Work Day, and I have mucho emails to catch up on, a pricing guide to edit, some orders to place, some bookkeeping, and all the other "behind the scenes" stuff that goes into running a photography business. I should get good sleep so I maximize my time away from Noah. 

so... for now, adieu, adieu, to you and you and yoooooooooooou!

Wednesday, September 22

Slowly, Slowly.... Stop and Take It a Bit More Slowly....

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{This is sitting next to my computer. It is the tiniest, most perfect little pumpkin from the farmer's market. I love it. And the books it stands on.}

 *

{And see what is on my desktop screen behind the pumpkin? Love my mime.}
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The most profound change in our home and our lives, here in Kate's House (what Noah calls our home:)), is the conscious decision I've made to SLOW DOWN. In every facet, in every way, but most marvelously, in my parenting and my time with Noah.

When I made the decision to make drastic changes in order to find my "center", I went on Amazon.com to my long-neglected "wish list" and treated myself to two books I had always meant to read. The first was In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honore, and the second was Mitten Strings For God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry by Katrina Kenison. Both had always appealed to me, but ironically, I never seemed to have the TIME to let myself read them. These books on MAKING TIME. Irony. Ha.

So along with more of Gift From the Sea, I tasted bits of these other two books over the course of a four or five week period. It was fantastic, miraculous, beautiful how intricately and perfectly each book complemented the others, in complete coincidence. That's what's called SYNERGY---(The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects). Total synergy that the universe would see fit to bring so many disparate pieces together for me at one time, and have them all work in harmony to gently, firmly change my whole mindset about life.

The critical key each book gave me when I agonized over the question "HOW HOW HOW do I find that center? That still axis? HOW?" was to STOP. Slow down. Find a bit more solitude when you can... But even when you are in the midst of your everyday life, kids and husbands and obligations all still pounding at you, SLOW DOWN.

Nowhere in my life has this new concept been more profoundly inspiring to me than in my life as a young, stay-at-home-ish mama to a toddler.

Me, before:
Filling the days with outings when I got restless, letting Noah talk me into small toys at the store, trying to run extra errands every day but then running out of time for lunch--- fast food became the solution far too often... In the times we were home, mama would try to fit in little bits of work at the computer, in spite of telling herself she was only "Emily Southerland Photography" after bedtime or when Joe was around... There would be playdates, fun new "educational shows" to record for Noah to try out, stolen moments online while shoo'ing the kiddo away to go play... Googling swimming lessons/soccer lessons/etc. and thinking that it was time to begin that kind of "enrichment"....

Me, now:
Since Joe has begun his job, I have begun a gentle, simple little daily routine with Noah. There is not a lot of strict structure, but there are elements to the day that I have always valued, but never seemed to "have time" for. Now, there is nothing but time. Why? Because I no longer FILLLLLLL the time with meaningless wanderings/external activities/restless habits...
Now, we play. Noah helps me with chores. We read more books. He is learning how to amuse himself while I sew a bit each day. The TV stays off as much as possible and music is much more present. We go outside for little bits of time. Many days, we don't even get in the car once. Some days there is art, and other days there is just lots of imaginative play and an eager little "helper" as I go about my tasks. We have spent FAR less time going here and there, stuck with fast food lunches. And when we DO plan outings, they have more purpose, and are infrequent enough that they are now a great deal more special. And I don't buy him little toys/treats/doodads every time we go into a store. He simply doesn't need the junk, and I am tired of inadvertently teaching him to CONSUME at every turn. To be material instead of self-sufficient.

This new pace... this new FLOW to our day, is largely inspired by the wonderful reflections of Katrina Kenison in her book, Mitten Strings for God. She has been able to put into words what I have been yearning for, and in such a way that she empowers me to make these changes. She writes, "Most of the mothers I know feel they should spend more 'quality time' with their children... At the same time, we despair of finding those extra moments in our busy days. We are two-career families, stretched to the limit... Our obligations and routines seem to fill all of the available time we have-- for our children and for ourselves. But they do not necessarily leave us or them feeling emotionally nourished." pg. 168
Oh how this was ME. She was describing ME. How would I ever manage to find more TIME in my crazy life??

She acknowledges that it is not easy, or even natural for most of us these days... she admits, "For me, this adjustment is not second nature; it requires a deliberate turning away-- not only from the popular culture at large, but also from the well-defined responsibilities of my daily life. It demands, instead, a willingness to answer a much fainter call, a call that is easy to ignore or to miss altogether... ." She says that she, like most of us, was groomed to be supremely productive, and that productivity was the measure of WORTH. "Yet the to-do list that I update each morning does not begin to reflect my feelings about what's really important."

Oh my, that is TRUTH, and bears repeating:

The TO-DO LIST we all keep does not begin to reflect our feelings about what is really important. 

So why are we so chained to it?

The truth is, we don't have to be. And so I've chosen NOT to be. Oh, the to-do list is still there. It will always be there. But somehow, in slowing down, peeling away some of the extras I thought I needed (playdates, errands, projects)... somehow, as slowly as I tackle my to Do List these days, it actually seems to get checked off more. And BETTER. I am more mindful of what I choose to spend my time on, every minute, and therefore there are far less lost minutes.

I cherish this new mindset.

And you know what? Noah is THRIVING under it. He is THRIVING. And I can tell. I call sense the profound shift in energy and spirit in our home because I have SLOWED DOWN.

I have kinda of painted myself into this corner where I have a reputation for being insanely busy, all the time. I did it to myself. It WAS truth. And it has been truth for so long that I think it would surprise most of my dearest people to really see how untrue it now is.

I am no longer insanely busy.

Or, if I AM, sometimes still, it is because I CHOSE to be so, and was mindful of what it would take to commit to the things that fill that particular day in my calendar. Like yesterday, with the jam and the sticky and the dishes and the TRIFLE too.... Sweaty kitchen goddess that I was for two hours... It was hectic. But I chose it. And it was not sandwiched between seventeen other commitments that day. In fact, Noah and I had a beautifully unscheduled day leading up to his nap and my kitchen madness. And once the kitchen was cleaned up from the craziness, the rhythm immediately jumped back to SLOW.

It does that all the time now, after mindful chaos. It jumps right back to SLOW, and feels so right. I choose to stop filling my day with noise and mindless running here and there and filling every minute.

A cherished line from Kenison's book, one that embodies this feeling in my home these days:

"On this day, we did not rush forth. We stayed home instead and worked and played in this one good place."

Amen. Amen. Amen.

*
(A hurdle still to overcome, however, is this absurd inability of mine lately to GET MYSELF TO BED. Check Facebook and email again? Why yes, of course I will. As soon as I click "publish". Can you belive I am also contemplating watching a bit of the Biggest Loser opener?? At 12:42am?? BED, girl!! BED!!)

Monday, September 20

The Still Axis in the Center of the Wheel. I WANT This.

Life is…. Noisy. Wouldn’t you agree? There are kids yelling, laughing, asking, pulling… Spouses needing the scraps of you that are left after the kids get done with you. The house—the laundry, dishes, yard, small tornadoes caused by everyone in the house. The work— in your home or out of it, where you must be resourceful, innovative, creative, and efficient.  And then, if there is any time left, there are the extras—the friendships to grow and maintain, the social groups and activities, the hobbies and passions, the outside interests. The favorite TV shows. The internet—facebook, Twitter, blogging, message boards….
Life is…… NOISY.

Most times, we manage it. We might even thrive at it. I admit it:  I have done a pretty dang good job of coping. Balancing. Even succeeding at managing the mayhem and enjoying myself in the process.

But. I reached a point this summer where I realized that I had been MANAGING my life for so long, that I had forgotten how to find MEANING in it. I was burned out. Dried up. Tired. Uninspired. And sick and tired of the noise.

I was LOST. Really and truly lost. Somewhere between 2007 and today, I got lost. I managed to have a grand time in the fog--- I look back at the last three years and have nothing but gratitude for the journey and the experiences… But somewhere, even in the full little life I was leading, I still managed to lose myself.

Sometime in July, I picked up a small book I had read pieces of here and there, Gift From the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I turned to the page I had last been on, months before, and begun a chapter called “Moon Shell.” And read these words:

“…It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.”  Pg 38

And here began a massive change, a shifting in my M.O. – my “modus operandi”, (approximately translated as "method of operating".) I read more, devouring Anne M. Lindbergh’s quiet, deep wisdom. Read like I was drowning—because I really kind of was. And in the middle of this inspired chapter, she presented an image that has become my lifeline. She said that we, as busy, modern women, are like wheels--- with relationships, obligations, and activities revolving around us, turning turning turning, busy busy busy… But that we need to learn to find stillness within this wheel--- to be the “still axis within the revolving wheel”.  She said that if we are not careful, the activities and “noise” of our lives will begin to act as “centrifugal forces” on our spinning wheel, and we will be pulled off center.

Aha. THIS was me.

My life, spinning around and around me, often too fast to really keep hold of--- photo sessions, play dates, due dates, bills, grocery shopping, trips, hobbies, naps, local friends, long distance friends… relationships… Dreams. Fears. Spinning, spinning…. And I had gotten to the point where even the good things were pulling me off center. ALL of it was. I had no STILL CENTER AXIS to my crazy wheel. And I had forgotten how to get back to center.

The more my noisy life barreled on, the less I knew how to refill my spirit, my soul, my “well”…. And I forgot how to truly tune in and grow and heal.

Lindbergh describes this feeling:
“…We are hungry, and not knowing what we are hungry for, we fill up the void with endless distractions, always at hand—unnecessary errands, compulsive duties, social niceties. And for the most part, to little purpose. Suddenly the spring is dry, the well is empty.” Pg. 41

That. Was. Me.

And it would seem that in a great, efficient, modern world like ours, there should be TIME to learn how to get one’s soul back… But the irony of having so much at the tips of our fingers is that “with our garnered free time, we are more apt to drain our creative springs than to refill them….We try to muffle [the soul’s] demands in distractions.” I have been so guilty of this!! Having forgotten how to really nurture my heart and spirit, I would lean towards “quick fixes” to feel soothed and comforted--- I would take extra naps… I would indulge in a pedicure. I might eat something sugary sweet. I might crash and burn out after a long week and end up in my pjs on the couch, doing NOTHING for three nights, becoming a zombie in front of crappy TV. Did any of these “comfort fixes” really FILL my well? Absolutely NOT. They were mere band aids for a hemorrhage of soul. They did not heal me.

Something had to give. Something had to change. I was in fear of losing my very SELF, and had not realized it for so very long... But for some reason, by the grace of God, I have been waking up to this issue, and have been handed some incredible inspirations and motivations to get me back on track. I know for an absolute fact that the Lord is absolutely carrying me through this time in my life, and that He is incredibly relieved I am finally waking up… ready to CHANGE. Finally.

So many things have been changing since this started in July… So many little epiphanies. So many incredible blessings. So much SYNERGY in the universe, pushing me along to my goals. I am so excited to share some of it. So excited to “preach it, sista”--- to get more women on board--to begin sifting through the NOISE and finding out how much of it is really necessary, and what we can let go of. I could be a motivational speaker with all the excitement I feel about these things! It’s borderline annoying. Ha! But really…

The thing is, I am a mess. Really. I am naturally lazy, totally chubby, I tend towards selfishness, I get competitive, I don’t brush my teeth every day. I’m not afraid to reuse something from a dumpster if it has potential. I watched the entire series of The Bachelor Pad. That’s gross. All of it.

But I am also always striving… Trying to change. To understand more. To grow. And for some blessed reason, I have been given an incredible opportunity this summer to wake up and try to change a little.

So. I’m gonna share some of it this week. I’ll try not to get all “Oprah” on you. I’ll remember to show you the not-so-ideal sides, too. I do NOT have it all figured out. But… I am feeling deep joy these days. And I want to share it.

So. That seems like more than enough for one post. TOO MUCH, probably. Yikes. Boring.

So I’ll come back tomorrow…. Write your eyes off a bit more tomorrow. For now, since I mentioned maybe adding some images once in a while, here are some shots from my busy little "Noah naptime" today. Both the good AND the messy:

So, I made jam. Then I made a trifle. Random, yes. But happy:

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That's a raspberry cheesecake trifle there. I had some cake that needed to be used, and trifle seemed easy. A cream cheese/whipped cream filling.... Raspberries/peaches/shaved semisweet chocolate...
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Mmm.... chocolate. Mini chocolate chips added for fun. How about that closeup!?

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But of course, all that busy kitchen-ness left me with all this:
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Pretty much EVERY dish, used.

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And more mess.... Plus the pretty little jars of jam I made:
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*sigh* LOTs to clean up, when all I wanted to do was go take a nap. So I took one more photo of the prize--- To remind myself it was worth it:

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And then I got back to work. And really, it didn't take too long to get back to this:
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And the resulting clean emptiness was ALMOST as good as the nap I missed. 

Almost. 

Off to bed with me, folks. Toodles!