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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Lay Down

A whisper in the morning
a breath against my neck.
The hottest, bottomless yearning
to have you in this bed.
A walk in our woods
the dance of the light
you spin me around
there is no day, no night.
You say those sweet words,
this will never get old –
they all want to know you
so they talk, envy and scold.
Don’t worry baby,
just lock that door.
We’ll leave the day’s worries
with my jeans on the floor.
Lay me down lover,
leave your boots and your belt,
share with me our light, the one
that can only be felt.

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