Author Archives: michelle

Allergic Reaction (Thoughts On Photos During Hard Moments)

Allergic Reaction

After a systemic allergic reaction that left me with rashes and welts on different parts of my body recently (EDIT/update: docs weren’t sure what it was originally, but they ultimately decided it was a two-week delayed allergic reaction to antibiotics I was on recently), we took family photos that weekend…

I planned the shoot to commemorate the last 11 months of making memories…not despite it all, but because life is always / still meant to be lived.

Death and tragedy have reminded me of that in spades.

Though I started the morning with one swollen eyelid and one eyelid with a welt on it (the only visible reactions, everything else hidden by clothing), I knew deep down I wasn’t going to cancel these sweet moments with Josh & Nolan (feeling sad? have body aches? systemic allergic reaction? Get outside and get outside yourself and love up or be loved up).

But I wasn’t going to keep the shoot because I was going to push through and cause myself more pain. I’m not inside that stage of life or in that kind of relationship with my body, but, I would have kept it because of what is best expressed or explained inside these questions:

  • Why do we only want to remember or commemorate the moments when we felt (or looked) “good”?
  • And why would swollen eyes in a photo not be an amazing way to commemorate this moment in time inside a longer healing journey (which I’m currently on)?

[As seen in this photo, my eyes did cool and get back to normal]. Aren’t the challenging moments a big part of the reason we know our own goodness, the goodness of life, joy and our own light and lightness more deeply?

I decided early on as things didn’t look ‘so good’ that if the powers of Western medicine didn’t work to ease up my symptoms (there was no choice but to get the steroid for what the doc called a medium to severe reaction, so I received it at 9am and the shoot was at 2:30pm), I would take the photos to capture that moment in time anywayyyy.

Recently, I told a client that I thought taking photos during seasons that included some of our most tender or “weaker” moments, where we look more sad, perhaps, or are more internal, would be a lovely way for photographers to capture a human in his or her fullness.

I wish I would have thought of this years ago as I would have definitely taken photos to mark those first weeks or months after tragically losing Dino & Mom.

I would have.

How beautiful to remember the tenderness and the depth of my emotion and connection to my soul through those moments or seasons in life we typically want to hide from or bury.

The truth is that our fullness and joy comes from the tough moments; from that contrast — it has and always will…

I think if more of us allowed this truth to sink in, we wouldn’t hide ourselves so much in other ways. Instead, we would actually go for it and move forward on our biggest dreams, making moves, too, to have better relationships and generally allowing ourselves to be loved during all the dips in energy, faith or will.

Life is good, no matter where I’ll be today or tomorrow, this holds — rock or wave steady.

Let’s make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…

To the best of the rest of your life. 

Life is good.

Vulnerability Exercise

Vulnerability Exercise

I did something last week which required much strength and vulnerability. It reminded me that we needn’t solider through life. A Vulnerability Exercise.

Most of us do, however — much of the time not knowing that’s what we’re doing. As kids, we’re not taught this and don’t know of other alternatives.

The days I spent in solitude and without food two summers ago were a regal reminder that although experiences in life, especially those we can’t control, might be painful, we needn’t cause ourselves more suffer-ing [pain, many times, is and can be transient, suffering stays with us, inside all our nooks and crannies].

Said another way, if we allow ourselves to feel sadness and/or pain versus downplaying it, “swallowing” it or spiritual bypassing it, we save ourselves from moving to the more tough phase to get out of called suffering.

I’m convinced more everyday, in my own life, and with clients, too, that everyone needs a grief, divorce or ‘I just went through something hard’ timeout or vacation. Unfortunately, our society, families, and work culture are not set up that way (not in muscle memory, nor in habit/rule)…

I didn’t soldier through my chosen challenge high up in the sequoias. instead, I genuinely and fully enjoyed it. Every day of the nine days with others and the handful without people. I’ve even called it one of the biggest honors of my life. But were there moments that were painful? Absolutely.

And/but have I soldiered or suffered through times off that mountain ~ before and after? Absolutely.

We don’t learn the difference between pain and suffering when young. Nor do we learn how to support our nervous systems or nurture our monkey mind ways of thinking (suffering). But I wish we did and at younger and younger ages. School doesn’t teach us and if our parents don’t know it, we won’t know it.

Last week also reminded me how important parents, better said, *nurturers* are to children and how MUCH they need us to be their advocates, guides and protectors ~ their teachers of how not to suffer in life, but to clear emotion, connect with others, communicate and create a new life or a new you when something tough hits.

One thing I’ve definitely learned over and over again being Nolan‘s mom is: be his *nurturer* not simply his parent.

I got home from my experience last week. I had this post from beloved photographer Sonia Tapia waiting for me. It felt like perfect timing (because it was). 

I‘ve seen this photo before and love it (she took my vision and shot ideas of the work I’m stepping into after 20 years in business and brought it to l i f e). What I loved seeing were the words attached to it and how representative they were of what I experienced earlier that morning — grace…more than anything, grace.  

To the world of women nurturers who are gracefully (which does not mean “not messy”…grace by another name is surrender and surrender is messy) stepping into your next season. Focus more on yourselves after tough life moments that have caused you pain and/or suffering, may you soldier no more (or very, very little)…

Let’s make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…

To the best of the rest of your life. 

Life is good.

Sage Advice From My Late Mother

Ladies, don’t forget about yourselves.

Do for yourself ~ live a life that is (also) very much yours. 

If anything, it makes you more of a [wise] woman, more of a wife, more of a mother…all of it, more. 

Giving from a full cup means you continue to feel full. 

Thank you, Mom!

Let’s make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…

To the best of the rest of your life. 

Life is good.

The End Of Life (“I’m Not Done”)

The End Of Life (“I’m Not Done”)

Energetically, I’m a baby chick.

Standing in the kitchen at 7:30 in the morning recently, we had such a lovely *and* very real conversation about something that Josh is handling at work that goes back to what happened on the steps of the Capitol on 1/6.

We love bringing Nolan into our lives and telling him just as much as we might tell each other about whatever is going on for us personally or professionally.

As Josh was explaining the legal action that needs to be taken that he’s leading, I had an overwhelming feeling of appreciation for, not only the moment we were bringing Nolan into, but for the son, the young man, that I get to commune with.

I love my time with him. And his spontaneous hugs throughout the day, especially throughout the last 10 months, have been especially sweet.

I know you’ve felt that feeling when you’re looking at your son or daughter, regardless of their age, and feel the love coming through your entire being?

That was this moment.

And it’s tied to this feeling of simply wanting more time with Nolan and not wanting this life I have *with* him to end.

This last year served as reflection (as many years do) and had me and certain friends think more / feel more of our own mortality.

As they know, because I’ve shared it with them, I’m not afraid to die, but when I have these moments with Josh and Nolan (and especially Nolan these days) when I feel immense love for him/them, I think to myself I’M NOT DONE.

It’s true that I don’t feel afraid to die (my relationship to death has always been that it’s part of the cycle of life ~ so do do do and be be be (LIVE!) so when it comes, you’re “ready”), but I am afraid to feel not done. Or — said another way…to lose out on time with him, regardless of my age.

In many ways, I want to die feeling alive, and at the same time I want to die feeling like every last drop of who I was and could bring was used (and then some). Maybe it’s the same thing?

Perhaps if there’s a thought going through our minds at the end it is exactly that: I’m not done, I’m not done, I’m not done (and yet our vehicles are…done).

So, with these beautiful thoughts rolling on through that help me live better –

…I’m rolling back sweater sleeves and staying in very warm slippers this morning (must turn on heat — how oh how is Nolan in bare feet?!) and ready to continue doing the work this family and that our country and world needs, too. Energetically, I’m (channeling) a baby chick.

I know so many of us have much to give ~ and 2021, as with every year, is the year to  g i v e  i t.

Let’s make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…

To the best of the rest of your life. 

Life is good,