The Fear Sessions 2.

Today is was said…..”I wish I could be more like you.”

For starters…no you don’t. You don’t want to live up here in this head. It doesn’t sleep much, craves coffee and sometimes alcohol at all the most inappropriate times, harbors plenty of self loathing that I am in a constant battle to take a baseball bat to, is a heart that hates to stand still and just wants it to be quiet and so loud that I don’t have to hear anything at all, a lover of sex and intimate real talk, of all things dark and not spoken of in proper conversation and an awkward goof of a girl that still carries the rejection of youth under her skin. You is a great place to be…and you should stay there. That said – there isn’t a more humbling, shake my ass down to Earth thing someone could say to me. Cause friends, the thing is, often I wish I could be more like you, whoever you are. In this little episode of the Fear Sessions, however, I’m going to rattle off a few items that I do just a little differently…why they terrify me, and maybe that transparency will give someone else the courage to test the waters as well.

I swagger, stroll, stride, run, and sometimes even trip….to the beat of my own drum.
I’m on no one else’s timeline in life. This is not always to my advantage, but it’s who I am, and I am coming into a really lovely peace with it. I’m not a big fan of social obligations, and ‘we should’s’. What kind of word is ‘should’ anyway? It doesn’t even roll off the tongue well. Say it 5 times. You’ll have a distaste for it as well. Should lives in the same dimly lit room as content, settle, obligation, can’t, and too-much. Sometimes I throw them some food by mistake, but I quickly slam the door and take to starving them again…because those miserable monsters deserve none of me. Does that make it easy to swagger to my own beat? No. I often watch others rolling with the flow, letting someone else call the shots and define their time, their plans, their life…and sometimes it looks….easy. Easier. Walking my own path has it’s many disadvantages. Since I don’t hold tight to obligations, sometimes I miss the mark on societal ‘good person’ things. I don’t often send thank you cards….even though I love it when I get one. I’m not good at returning phone calls, planning play dates, or long term planning anything, for that matter. I don’t always get looks of admiration for going my own way. Often, actually, I get looks of contempt. I’ve grown accustomed to it…and don’t take them personally. Each of us is swaggering through life at our own pace, in our own way, and some people just haven’t found their beat yet. It will come eventually, and in the meantime, they have nothing to do with me and my soul drumming circle. The majority can be intimidating, ruthless, and unforgiving. So can a heart full of regret for a life lived for everyone but yourself – because one day your kids are going to grow up and have their own lives, your friends are going to move away and move on, and your parents and your spouse are going to die. You’re going to be left with YOU, and the life and experiences that you chose. Think on that.

I don’t spend time wishing for things.
I just do them, because I will never be more ready than I am today.
Obviously, I wish I could fall into a cool million dollars. On the daily, however, I don’t sit around wishing for things I don’t have, can’t afford, or that are otherwise unavailable to me. If it is that important to me, I find a way to get it. If it isn’t, I let it go. People wonder how I support my lifestyle, have a couple of horses, and work for myself…and to this I’ll offer a very straight answer. I make it happen, because it’s important to me. I may have to work until I die, because I don’t have an extra dime to put into a retirement account each month. I also might die tomorrow…and I’ll die racing the wind and flying through this life with my heart and soul aflame. I’ll go down whooping and hollering and singing at the top of my lungs and feeling, FEELING until my heart bursts wide open, and then I will bleed passion and wildness and be born again. I may never retire, but I will never stop living the life I have dreamed to save for a day I may never even see. There are times I am rattled to the core when a friend mentions having 100k in their IRA….when I think, ‘I’m going to be poor and homeless when I’m 70′. For a moment, I consider throwing everything I have built away. I consider getting a job with good benefits, with a 401k, and setting myself up for the future. Then, I laugh…because fortune favors the bold, and I am nothing if not bold in my pursuits. Wishing is a waste of time. If you want something, find a way to get it. If you want to be wealthier, think bigger and work harder. If you want to be healthier, make better choices, for your body is the most important instrument you will ever own. If you want to receive more love, give more love. Live abundantly. Spend less time wishing….more time doing.

I am not afraid to walk away.
From a job, from a place, from a person, from a conversation…or from that word ‘should’.
So often, we feel like if we walk away, we are failing. “What will they say?” There it is again…the ‘they’. The opinion of ‘they’ invokes more fear, hesitation, and misery than almost anything I can name. I walked away from someone in my life once, someone near and dear to me; one of my very best friends. I walked away because they were not valuing me, and through their choices were essentially treating me like a piece of garbage in order to make their life easier. As if it wasn’t painful and miserable enough missing this person in my life, I had to answer to the ‘they’. ‘What happened? What did you say? What are you doing now? What will you do next?’ Now; I know full well that this person loves me the best way they know how, and in their mind, wants the best for me. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets the best of us. We are put into tough situations and forced to make hard choices, and someone gets hurt. This time, I was the party getting the shit end of the stick, and I was broken about it. So I had to leave, and not just leave a little bit. I had to detatch, cut off, and lose the limb for a while. I stopped speaking to mutual friends temporarily, some permanently, and even found myself putting my closest friends at double arm’s distance, because some of them were trying to walk a fine line in maintaining relationships with both parties…and I couldn’t…still can’t…have it in my life. All is not fair in love and war. Nothing is fair, and it doesn’t matter who, or what the love involves…you have to value yourself enough to walk away when the object of your love and effort is no longer valuing you. If there is something in your life that is not serving you, be it a job, a relationship, or a pair of jeans….get rid of it. If it’s a good job, you’ll get another one like it someday. If it’s a good relationship, it wouldn’t be treating you like garbage, and you need to stop lying to yourself. If it’s a good pair of jeans…the GAP is never going out of business. Invest in people, experiences, and things that FIT YOU. I will never look good in high waisted anything, nor will a person who can’t be honest with themselves look good with me. Hold onto what feeds your soul. Leave the rest.

I am not afraid to enjoy my life, and admit it.
Martyr.
Heard of it? I have been the world’s biggest one. Throwing myself straight into the trash can for everyone around me…and sitting and womp womp womping about it.
And then, I stopped.
I love my work. LOVE MY WORK. Everyday. I love my life. I love my family. I love that I don’t have to wake up at 5am and make a 2 hour commute anymore, that most days I get to wear jeans and boots and other days I get to dress up however my heart desires; that I can work from any coffee shop in the world and that I see my horses EVERY single day. I love that I only have one child, and that I can give all of my time and attention to him. I love that I’m married to a man that knows better than to ever believe that I’ll have dinner on the table at 5, or 6, or ever. I love that I drive a pick up truck instead of a sedan and that I show up to school pick up in clothes often covered in mud and sweat. We are constantly bombarded with ideas of servitude in life, and that if we’re enjoying ourselves too much, we must be living ‘frivolously’, and that frivolity in joy is something to be frowned upon. Down goes my bullshit flag. I know there are a good handful of people that think to themselves ‘hmf, she had that one coming’, anytime something less than wonderful happens to me. Here’s the kicker – they’re right.
I did have it coming – because this life is a polarity, and for every high, you will receive an equal low. For every success, you will have a failure. If you never try for anything, you can never succeed, you will never fail miserably, and you will ride the flat line of life for the long haul. I would rather die. This life is only happening one time folks. Today never happens again. Never, ever, ever. I’m not saying you need to drop your life and run off and be all Dances with Wolves or anything, but do SOMETHING today that’s worth your while. That’s just for you…that you would be proud to tell your great great grandchildren you took the time to do…for yourself.

This one’s for the ladies.

I don’t need a man.
Yep. Said it. Meant it. Don’t need one. For anything.
I can change my own lightbulbs, mow my own lawn, hook up my own trailer and build my own fire. I can frame a house if I need to, and if I get stuck, check it out….www.youtube.com. There is NOTHING that you can’t conquer with YouTube in your corner.
Men are so wonderful. I’m married to one, they’re some of my best friends, and I’m raising one. I don’t need one to validate my existence or do my heavy lifting though…and I certainly don’t sit around in my life waiting on one to be my missing puzzle piece. I did that once. Tossed things away for a man, thinking he was the missing link. That he would love me, and all of my fears would disappear, I would be whole and fulfilled, and never want for anything again…because he said he would always choose me; and he did. Until the day he woke up and chose someone else. In the blink of an eye.
Just like that. Coming full circle…I was left with my experiences, and the life I was choosing and building for MYSELF.

My lady tribe sisters, don’t wait your life away on a man…or a woman, or a Nordstrom’s sale. None of them is going to fill the space in your soul. They only person we’re guaranteed to spend forever with is ourselves. Buy yourself the damn flowers and chocolate…then you’ll actually get the kind you like. See the movie by yourself, or go with your friends. Take the vacation, buy the horse, buy the house, have the baby, take the chance. The partner for you will just make it more fun, even more adventurous, and share your love for your own soul swagger…and this person will be happy and thankful that you’re the kind of self loving, DIY in life goddess that isn’t sitting at home tapping your fingers waiting for him to facilitate your next move.

All of this perceived self assurance; yet I am still gripped everyday with the fear that I will one day wake up and realize that I have not realized my own life at all. So I will keep pushing the limits everyday, because I am worth it, and it’s the only way I know. I’m always happy to have you join me.

With Heart,
H

Deborah - February 18, 2015 - 8:10 pm

“…a heart full of regret for a life lived for everyone but yourself.” I get it. I am working on this one, learning to let go, to say “no.” It doesn’t come easy, this one, but I am trying. xox

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Soul Sessions // Hayley

New Love. There is nothing more exhilarating. Nothing that will cause the heart to race, the blood to boil, and the air to taste sweeter.
New love is the nutrition of our souls; be it the love of another human soul, the love of a new found passion pursuit, the new puppy you rescued from the shelter, or the new friend you made at the coffee shop that seems to be your long lost soul sibling. New love. It fires us up, makes us reach farther, want more, think bigger, dream louder. When love is new, all things are possible…and we forsake the consequences of ‘what if it fails?’. We don’t care….because in new love, failure is not on the menu. Only love. There is only love.

I have known new love so, so many times. I have fallen forwards, backwards, sideways, and upside down into the crystal pool of possibility and passion, for people and for pursuits, and most recently, for myself. New love is exhilarating to watch, and in the images below, I saw it.

Hayley is in new love with a boy…a boy I’ve known for half his life, making it all the more fascinating for me to observe. When she speaks of him, her soul dances the same way the grass danced in her images. She shines for him, of him, and about him, and it is so beautiful.

If it’s been a while since you’ve felt new love….go out for a drive today. Find the open road. Roll down the windows, and turn up the volume to some music that moves you. Put your arm out the window, the way you did when you were a kid and let the wind move around your body as you cut through the air. Sing. Chase the sun down, or up, or both. See that new love and all of it’s possibility is everywhere. Leap forward into the most exhilarating times of your life.

With Heart,
H

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The Fear Sessions 1.

Lately I find myself having the same conversations with people, over, and over, and over. I love this. I feel like it’s this beautiful way that the world is telling me ‘yes, tell them again. They need to hear it from you.’ These conversations are things I feel so strongly about, issues that I have struggled with, that I have STRUGGLED WITH, for months, for years, for a lifetime. Now here I am, ready and wanting to live transparently and authentically, in hopes to empower others to do the same.

A common struggle is that of identity. We all want one. Likely, we all have one. Mother. Father. Wife. Sibling. Child. Employee. Boss. Giver. Taker. PTA Mom. Party girl. The list of words we label ourselves, and each other with, is endless. For some reason; we exist in this space where something always has to be on top, something always has to be numero uno; and the rest has to get pushed down, be less important. We can’t be boss and mom and daughter and rodeo cowgirl and wife and creator and traveler and speaker and writer and coffee connoisseur and have all of those things be equally important to us, can we?

Yes, we can.

We are all afraid to admit that one thing is not enough for us. If we say that being a mother isn’t enough, or that spending time with our partner doesn’t fulfill our emotional needs, we must be admitting failure. That we have not chosen well, that we are not committed, and that we are in fact, shit. We listen to that voice that says, “Grow up, and commit. Settle down, you’re too old for this, and you will fail anyway.” And we do. We don’t settle down, we just settle. We tell ourselves that we are ‘content’ with the way things are, that it is ‘good enough'; and that we are lucky to have what we have, because someone to your left or right has it far worse, and thank god you’re not in THEIR shoes (did you hear about Betsy and her husband? They’re getting a DIVORCE. insert head shakes here) A little insight friends. Yeah, Betsy is getting a shitty divorce and had to move into a tiny ass apartment with her two kids, but Betsy is now working on her new Etsy store selling her awesome knit scarves and writing guest blogs for one of her favorite sites and having a cocktail with that friend she NEVER got to catch up with on the 2 nights a week the kids are with their dad. But she’s got no money in savings and no husband, so Betsy’s life must suck. Insert my head shake here.

I’m not flying the flag for divorce,(really) or vacating your relationships, and certainly not for leaving your children, dogs, or goldfish behind in your pursuit of a full life. I’m flying the flag of empowerment, of embracing that those things are all a PART of your full life. It took me a great long time however, to understand that it was OK that they weren’t my WHOLE life. For a few months I had to go without roping and riding one of my horses due to an injury; and I was broken. I was lost. Then for a spell I stopped writing; for I was afraid what truths I might say if I sat down and put pen to paper…and I wasn’t prepared to read my own story, much less share it. And I was broken. I was, again, lost. I was not full. Existing through the days, fine as appearances go, but dying on the inside. I was not living my purpose, and that is the greatest wrong we can do to both ourselves, and the world we live in. When we ignore our purpose, the things that call us and light us on fire, we forgo our contribution to the universe, and in turn ignore the stamp we are meant to leave on this life. I have met so many women who are stuck. Stuck in this space of ‘must’ and ‘should’ and these conversations about the things they would love to do but ‘well, I just don’t have time for that with x, y, and z going on’. I’m here to drop the bullshit flag on you. That’s an excuse, it is blame, and it is unaccountability for your own life. There is no reason you can’t manage x, y, and z and still do that thing you would LOVE to do. Further there is the conversation that takes it’s turn when I ask ‘what would you do, if you could do anything at all? What would you be? If life as you knew it stopped tomorrow, and you were no longer required to make dinner, or pick the kids of up from school, or work at your job that you hate – WHAT WOULD YOU DO?’ And often the answer? “I don’t know.” This answer comes from a place of self hate, of worthlessness, of ‘I am not good enough’. This answer is unacceptable and it makes my heart cry and beat the floor of my soul with it’s fists. You are good enough, and you are ready. Right now.

I can sit here at my computer, or stand in front of you, and speak about self hate because I have been one of it’s greatest victims. I am no stranger to mistakes. I make them daily, in my attempt to grow in my life and in my pursuits. I have made mistakes I am not proud of, mistakes that have hurt people, mistakes that have above all, hurt me – and I have learned from them. I have also punished myself, and been punished, everyday, for years, for the actions of my past. I have looked in the mirror and told myself I was awesome, all the while my inner voice of self hate was screaming ‘you’re a fucking piece of shit’, because once, a long time ago, someone said that to me. That said, my level of appreciation for people that compliment me on my seemingly never ending supply of confidence is higher than I can convey. I have always been confident in my abilities; but I finally came to understand that it didn’t matter if I thought I was the best business person, the best artist, the best horsewoman, or what have you – if I didn’t sort my attitude out, I would receive nothing different in this world than exactly what I was getting. I needed to sort out my attitude about myself, and what I was worth. To me. Not to anyone around me, not to anyone from my past or anyone that might be in my future. While I love every person that brings their light into my life, they do not determine my value. I do, and anyone that does not agree with my value is free to leave, without any hard feelings from my end of the table. We all have our struggles, and the only one you are responsible for is yours. Fixing someone else’s struggles will not fix yours, make you more worthy, make you more beautiful, smarter, younger, slimmer, or richer. It will make someone else more successful, and leave you exactly where you stand right this second. So why would we not choose ourselves?

I did.

I am saying out loud, fully acknowledging that this will not sit well with everyone, that it is, in my opinion, the definition of a sad life, to never have known what you might be if only you’d had the courage and self value to try. You can be all of the things you have wistfully thought of as you sit up in bed perusing Pinterest and Facebook at night, in your safe bed at your respectable bedtime in your functional pajamas. Throw it away. Cut away the things that do not feed your fire. Why do you need to keep them, because someonel else says so? Who says so? And why is this imaginary someone calling the shots of your life? Get naked, in your body and in your soul, and get emotionally honest about what, and who, you want to be. The labels and roles we give ourselves are not mutually exclusive, and they are 100% by design. Get into the drivers seat of your life.

As always, if you’d like to connect more about this topic or any other than I cover, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

With Heart,
HG

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Soul Sessions // Kim

Kim is beautiful. She is a fierce defender of the word woman, a soft hearted mama and a free flowing gypsy girl who gets it done, everyday.

I was thrilled to collaborate with Kim, 100 Main, and The Hair Lounge on this shoot. Huge thank you to 100 Main and Sandy Hull for the gorgeous Free People wardrobe, and to Veronica Ruiz at the Hair Lounge for the incredible hair and makeup. And to Kim. The girl who didn’t want to be photographed. Glad you showed up mamcita xxxx.

With Heart,
H

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The Richards Family

Photographing families is not something that originally came easily to me.

I have this awkward…everything about me that comes purely from a place of insecurity – but in the beginning (and still now and then) it would jump up and yell at me at every opportunity. I didn’t know how to talk to the Moms…because I was barely one myself, and who was I to pretend I knew anything about raising children? I didn’t know how to talk to the Dads, because I had, in the spirit of transparency, not many male relationships in my life, which were limited to my Dad, my husband, and a small handful of friends, half of which were cousins or might as well have been. I didn’t have married friends whose husbands I joked with, and the male colleagues I had over the years worked with me during a time when our work was techical, methodical, and factual. Never emotional. Ever.
And the kids. Oh sweet jesus the kids. Well now I’m 32…and it’s finally…slowly, beginning to settle in that I’m no longer a socially inept 19 year old with zero fashion sense and a voice too deep for the girl it’s supposed to go with. When I started though – I didn’t know how to talk to the kids. I wasn’t a babysitter growing up…so what does one do with the 3-10 year olds? And what in God’s name do you do with a baby???? Then the teenagers…ohhhhhh the teenagers. They’re cooler than I am. They know more than I do. They dress better than me. Well f*** my life.

In the beginning, I was terrified of photographing families. I was so focused on my side of the relationship, it was handicapping me from putting my personal blinders on…and seeing the only thing I was there to see. Them.

I didn’t get to photograph many families this year, as the wedding season kept me busier than usual; however I hope to create some change there this year. I’ll be blocking off weekdays and certain weekend days each month to dedicate them only to portraiture; something I’m extremely excited about. Weddings are incredible; and the immense gratitude I feel for being able to photograph them for my clients is indescribable. Photographing families is no different however. It’s just the next step. My clients that were married 1,2, 3, years ago are now calling me to photograph them as they expect their first child, and their second. It is invites to first birthdays and Christmas cards and the same beautiful flow that follows a wedding client’s Save the Date. They are all related. They are all intertwined.

The Richards family came to me through horses. Grace, the beautiful middle daughter, is an accomplished young horsewoman who caught my eye about 2 seasons ago at a local show. Finally, her mom Emily and I synced our schedules and brought everyone together for a pre-holiday session. This family is beautiful not only in the obvious outside way (have you seen such gorgeous hair?); but they are each gorgeous on the inside. Emily and Michael have been together forever, and they still laugh and play like they’re 18. Madi is this statuesque, quiet stunner whose brilliance you can see swirling around in her undecided mind. She keeps her laughter to herself at first, but when it finally comes out, it brings you with it. She and I share a love of the foggy cities of the Northwest and I can see myself running into her at Pikes Market someday in the not so distant future. Zach, the youngest…the 6 foot tall 12 year old that I mistook for the oldest at first because he towered over me.:)Zach is the indestructible boy glue in the family…that perfect, goofy laughter that comes around exactly when you need it, and the young man that will grow into the fiercest of protectors of his sisters. Grace; the beautiful silent champion with eyes only for her horse. I felt such a pull working with Grace, feeling the quiet struggles that I experienced as a young woman in horses, and the difficulties that can accompany it. I remembered how disconnected I sometimes felt from other girls my age; how I wondered what made me so different – and as Grace and I talked about nothing and everything in particular; I watched her light break through and shine. I drove home after their session and cried. I cried because I have come so far from when I first began photographing families from a place of fear…because now I can feel their palpable joy. I can see inner struggles and I feel, I FEEL them with every fiber of my being. I want to hug my young clients and tell them that I understand, I GET it, and while I have no desire to fix it for them, I want them to know that they will be ok. They will be more than ok. One day, you will wake up at 32, and realize that you have a 12, 14, or 18 year old version of yourself standing in front of you, and that it will finally come home in your heart that you made it.

The documentation of our families, however large or small, is so important, I could spend a day writing pages and pages on it. And in this time of everyone gets a fancy camera for Christmas, I encourage you to take those fancy rigs and document your family. Every day. Every now and then however….call me and let me take care of it for you. I want you to be in those moments, not behind them. I want you to be a part of the joy I feel, and then I want to turn that canvas around and let you feel that day’s experience all over again. Here’s to the good life friends. You make my life beautiful.

With Heart,
H

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