So long, 25…

Good morning. Today is my 26th birthday. And it’s your birthday for longer if you’re up earlier, right?? So I got up extra early and cleaned a bit, cleared the dishes in the sink, made a big fresh pot of coffee, and lit a bunch of candles and insense so I could just relax at home and enjoy my day… HOME. (Yesss!)

To be honest, I’m kind of sad to see 25 go… I think it’s seriously been my favorite year thus far. There was so much I learned at 25. So many things I went through… New emotions, new lessons, new excitements, new experiences, new thoughts and feelings… And so many things I just plain ENJOYED.

My little home and my little family. Myah is my bestest girlfriend. She’s with me every day. We have our little routine, and she comes with me everywhere. My husband is my heart. He’s my rock. He’s my best friend. My everything. We have grown so much as a couple in the past two years and having known each other our entire lives, sometimes I feel like there’s not a single ounce of each other left to discover… But there is. Every single day, there is. He’s an amazing person. He is my support. He loves me despite my flaws. So cliche, but so true. I won’t bore you with mush and gush, but I feel so thankful in the growth we have shared together… Stronger. Deeper. Closer. Simple things. The little things. They are the big things. Dinner time. Morning kisses. Yes we argue. We aren’t perfect. But we resolve. We work hard at it. We do each day together. No. Matter. What.

My business. Ya know, I remember being so young – about 14 or so – and realizing that being a photographer is what I wanted to do… But I was already one. I took pictures all the time. But never did I think that at 25, I would be where I am now… Still at the beginning, but so far from where I started. Photographing for my LIVING. I owe it all to the Lord. To all of my clients. To my friends. To my family. To my husband. I never thought that on September 5, 2012, I would quit my 9-5 desk job and meet all of this head on. But I did. It was scary at first, but I have been so blessed ever since, and have grown more and more through the experience. Sure, it’s exciting to do what I love to do and be an artist, work from my cozy home and capture love on camera… But it’s hard work! Starting a business is hard. It’s scary. I woke up many days with questions. “Am I good enough for this?”, “Am I doing the right thing for my family?”, “There are a billion photographers out there… I’ll never compare…”, or “What if I fail??” But the more I questioned, the more I became solidified. The more I was pushed down, the more He raised me up. When I was feeling discouraged, that’s when the light would come through… It’s been an amazing journey. I feel so grateful to be where I am. I can’t even believe it sometimes. Growing up, my dad would always tell my brother and I – RELIGIOUSLY – “Do what you love to do, the money will come…” And here we are. Jesse’s playing music and creatively expressing his talents each and every day… I couldn’t be more proud of him… And I’m photographing. But it’s not even about the money. That’s another thing I’ve learned. Money doesn’t matter. Sure it makes things easier but it’s all in how you handle it. Being appreciative of what you have. Simplify. Be prudent. Dad didn’t mean that if you do what you love and be “happy”, you’ll be rich financially. He meant, you’ll be rich in one of the most important ways you can be. And it’s so true. God created us each with a gift or two. And when we do them, we are doing what we were created to do. Anyway, enough about the rant with work – I just feel grateful that this year, in all of it’s craziness and bookings and weddings and scheduling and ahhh, it’s been amazing. And I am so blessed. BEYOND blessed. And I love all of you! Each session, wedding, etc. has taught me something. Every single one. And I’m open for learning, so I can’t wait to see what this year teaches me… So I guess all of that to say, no matter what you do for a living, whether you love it, hate it, feel “eh” about it, strive for something more. You are capable of more than you may think you are. Whether it’s to find something that brings you joy more so that what you’re doing now, or to perfect what you’re doing and love – always strive to be better. Work towards it because you deserve it.

GRACE. Without going into a preachy rant, I have learned GRACE this year. Giving it, and receiving it. You never know what someone is going through, has gone through, or will go through. You never know when the next moment could be your last, or their last. We like to think we know what the future holds, but we don’t. Think twice about the way you talk about or to people. No matter who it is. The lady in the check out. The mailman. Your family. WHOever. We all deserve grace. You never know if someone just lost a loved one or maybe their job, or perhaps were diagnosed with something… Or maybe they’re just bitter from various things in their life… Maybe it’s just a bad day. I know I have an attitude at times and it’s so easy for me to just roll my eyes at people or disregard others… But WE ALL HAVE A STORY. The world is full of so many good things, but also a lot of CRAP. And things happen in our lives and it’s up to us to decide how we are going to face it. So be an example to others of strength, compassion, GRACE, and just a simple smile. We never know how far it may go. I love to watch people. I often wonder where they’re going, where they’re from, who they love, what their talents are… People are so interesting. So with this in mind, my road rage has diminished (slightly…), I try to always ask the check out lady at Target how SHE is doing today, and I wish I did this more – but I’m trying to remind myself to tell my family and closest friends how much I love and appreciate them… And extend grace when grace is needed. It’s tough! But I know that I’ve needed grace extended to me and want to strive to give it to others, too.

I have also developed more of an appreciation for myself. This sort of goes along with the whole grace thing. Giving grace to OURSELVES is huge. Without going into details and stories and specifics, I have been super hard on myself over a lot of things in the past, whether I could control them or not. We all suffer from this and have been through it. But this past year has taught me to LOVE myself. No matter what. I was created in love, created to be who I am, and should be thankful for who that person is and who I am developing into. And that process will never end until we pass on… I have anxiety, I worry, I stress, I can’t do it all on my own… But that’s WHO I AM. I have accepted that. And that makes it easier for me to lean on others, just DO THE NEXT THING as my mom says, and go through life appreciating what is truly important and worry about TODAY. Not tomorrow. Who are we to think we know what tomorrow brings? Only God knows that. And He will bless it. Even in the darkness, He brings light. It’s amazing. Truly amazing. So in my deepest worries, fears, negativity, rock walls, I’m not alone. Learning to love yourself is a battle. But it’s necessary to find goodness and peace and love. Because without finding that inside of you, how can you really give that to others?

Another thing I have developed is such an appreciation for my PARENTS. When we live at home, we have such a different perspective on them. On everything. But our parents are just older versions of us. They really are. Still trying to find their way, move forward, live, get through, find joy… I wish I could do so much more for my parents and I really should. I look back on my years growing up before I moved out sometimes, and I just wonder how they did it. I was a pain in the ass! OMG. They taught me so much that I am finally now seeing the blessings from. They are still together. They have always done everything they can for us. Food on the table. Clothes on our back. Christmas mornings. Rides to school. Teaching us to drive. My mom is so giving. She always has something for Tyler and I, every time we see her, whether it’s a newspaper article, a coupon, a new shirt, anything… She’s always thinking of us. And she is always – ALWAYS – looking for that silver lining. She will point it out in an instant, too. She tries to do good in everything she does. And she always matches. Her earrings match her scrubs which match her socks. So cute! She = CELEBRATION. She celebrated EVERYTHING. And I plan to carry that onto my children. My dad just wants us to be HAPPY. He wants the best for us. He wants us to be safe. He would cook breakfast for us 24/7 if he could. World’s best french toast – hands down! My father is the truest example of dedication to family that I have ever known. No matter what his emotions and struggles are, he puts his family first. I love my parents and am so grateful for them. They are so darn cute, too. I love being at the house this time of year, especially. Mom has everything all cozy and decorated, and dad’s always got a pot of cinnamon sticks and clove on the stove… sitting in his chair reading cook books while Mom clips coupons and eats popcorn… Love your parents. They had to raise with your ass! Lol…

I could keep going on and on about the little things I want to share, how I feel “seasoned” and the ways I feel I have grown as a person, a woman, a friend, a wife, but that’s ok… Some things are just meant to stay inside of our hearts and minds, and reflect outwardly through us. And I am NO WHERE NEAR perfect. But I want to be better. And life truly is short. Time goes by SO FAST, it’s crazy. I really feel like I just graduated high school, sometimes. And I’m still young. Super young! With so much ahead! I just want to slow down and appreciate it for what it’s meant for. And I want to encourage all of you to do the same. Treat yourselves. Be good to yourselves. Be gracious to others. Surprise your significant other. Indulge a bit. Get to that higher place. Love life and LIVE it. Capture it. Hold onto it. But let go when needed. Don’t take things too seriously, but at the same time – reflect on what is truly important. Find what that really is for you.

I have enjoyed getting older. I feel more secure in who I am every year that passes, and am thankful for that. I’d much rather be 26 than 17. So, happy birthday to me! Time to refill my coffee cup and blog about the McNamara’s maternity session, edit a wedding, and enjoy this day… Thanks for reading and enjoy your Tuesday! Treat yourself to something today! Hell, I might just make myself some cupcakes…. (Organic and sugar free, of course!)

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