Balance

Motherhood. Some days are better than others, am I right?

First, let me clear the air. My husband and I struggled with infertility for many years (more on that later) so I am very grateful to be one of the lucky ones. I am not complaining – I take the good and the bad – The beauty and the chaos. Some days I feel like I’ve got it all figured out – yay me! (pat on the shoulder) Others, I am treading water, barely able to stay a float.

Sometimes I reflect on what pre-baby visions and expectations I had for motherhood. I pictured love, smiles, laughter, cuddles. Crafts – glitter and glue – birdhouses – you name it. I imagined a clean, organized, minimalist home with very few toys because I didn’t want to spoil or overstimulate him. I thought my child will be obedient and listen.  Surely he would be respectful because I will be such an engaged parent, not a chopper mom, but a positive influence. I thought I would demonstrate attached, gentle parenting 100% of the time. We will eat healthy well balanced meals every day. I recently read through my journal from when I was pregnant – it provided a few chuckles.

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The love I pictured was grossly underestimated – like every good mom out there I can say that I never knew I could love someone as much as I love my son. One look was all it took. Boom! Heart exploded. My son is a huge cuddler, a bonafide snuggle-bug. He would lay in bed and nurse for most of the day if I would let him. And he is hilarious, just like me (wink!).  We laugh. A lot.

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My son is now a little over two years old and my bullshit meter has busted, pardon the language. My household is far from the hallmark movie scene I pictured – in reality it is more like a comedy sitcom. I do practice gentle parenting – 75% of the time. I practice positive reinforcement – and sometimes I raise my voice. Not in a scary mommy way….in fact he laughs when I do, so I may need to rethink that tactic. I am an engaged mom, I try my best to fuel his imagination and provide intellectual stimulation –  but I have let the iPad be a babysitter while I get a workout in. Nutrition is still a priority for us, my husband and I struggled with weight fluctuations and don’t want our son to ever feel the discomfort of being overweight. So, we eat pretty healthy with plenty of organic fruits and veggies – no dairy – limit sugar. That’s pretty awesome right? Except, some nights my husband calls to tell me to bring home burgers and fries for dinner, and my son doesn’t like burgers (current meat aversion) So, on these nights he eats French fries for dinner, chugging La Croix, throwing his fruit on the floor.

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My favorite pre-baby expectation is the obedient child. Oh man. This was ridiculous. Toddlers are truly the most magical, hilarious, and  frustrating individuals on the planet. This time in life is so great for so many reasons – to see my son develop his personality, facial expressions, and quirks is the best time of my life. One morning I was thinking how blessed and awesome my life is (mornings are my favorite part of the day) – and then I put his eggs on a yellow plate. That was a huge mistake. He made it known he wanted the Paw Patrol plate but I had already gotten the yellow one dirty. He went nuclear – I have never seen someone throw a fit like this over dishes. You would have thought I put hot sauce on my nipples (he still breastfeeds). Needless to say, this behavior never made the cut for my hallmark visions of motherhood.

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Motherhood has taught me many things.  One that I am reminded of daily is that life is all about balance. Some days I kill it as a mom – I mean I Mom hard! Full breakfast with all the fixin’s, crafts, we get outside for some exercise and to recharge, I manage to vacuum and get some laundry done, and then we snuggle and have an easy bedtime routine. Other days, not so much. I am spending my day chasing a toddler that is refusing to wear pants. This kid will sneak up and bite my butt while I’m doing dishes and then slip away like a ninja. I get yelled at by a little heathen that resembles a smaller version of myself, that I created. I’m tripping over laundry baskets (at least they’re clean clothes!) and dodging launched sippy cups and hidden hot wheels.

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Hats off to all you moms living the dream! Life is full of both beauty and chaos. It’s all about balance. And I wouldn’t change any part of it for the world.

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Thoughts on happiness

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Life is a roller coaster and there are two types of people in this world – those that hang on tight convinced they are gonna die at any second and those that wave their hands in the air and just enjoy and trust the ride!

Which are you?

Not gonna lie, I used to be the wimp grabbing the handlebar. My husband is always telling me, “Trust the process” – I’ve gotten way better – but I still need reminders. My mom will tell you, I was always living ten years in the future. I was a planner – the nerd that planned to plan. You know those day-planners they handed out in school to keep you organized (and take away any excuse for missing deadlines)? I’d groan out loud with the other kids when they passed them around but secretly, I loved those things – I planned out every day.

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Another really cool *cough, cough* ok fine- ridiculous – obsession I had was to overwork myself. Again, clutching on the handlebar of the roller coaster. Don’t let go and have fun! (eye roll)

I was on the tennis team in high school. I knew they never cut anyone – so it was a safe bet after being cut from basketball and volleyball in junior high. The first year I was terrible. I mean really bad. So I borrowed a hopper and hit close to ten thousand balls until they finally started making it inside the lines. I started to not suck…and then I got kinda good. My serve still was a weakness. It’s a lot harder than it looks! So, naturally I would keep a hopper and after a full day at school and practice, I would stay until they shut the lights off to practice my serve. That year I was awarded the most improved, which really didn’t say much because I started off so bad. But, that sums up who I was.

Looking back, I think the cure for these obsessions was my husband, Rob. This guy NEVER plans – always flying by the seat of his pant. In truth, this still can be super annoying but I’ve learned to appreciate this trait of his. Or I’ve become numb to it – either way, I’ve realized it is what it is. Polar opposites must really attract one another because we could not be more different! Yet here we are, 17 years later (I’ve officially been with him half my life) still married – still driving each other crazy – still unable to live without each other.

Being around Rob showed me that everything will work out… just breathe and trust the process. Don’t get me wrong…I still take hold of my future. I plan my investments, business, and retirement. I plan for my son’s future. But, I learned there is a big difference between Plan and Obsess. Planning is vital for success. Who just wakes up and becomes successful without any planning? If you know of someone, go ahead and kick ’em in the shin for me the next time you see them! I love this quote….

 So yes planning is important. Obsessions on the other hand (in my experience), actually hold you back from success and just steal your joy. Now looking back I see myself obsessing over every detail in my life (past, present, and future) – it’s so obvious why I wasn’t living the life I wanted – I was treading water, barely staying afloat.

So the first step towards happiness was to stop obsessing and just trust the process. The other major change I made was to repeat one word over and over. Any guesses what that word is? No. No. The word is No.

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Why is it so hard to say “NO”? Someone from work asks you to go out for drinks…you feel obliged to say yes even though you don’t drink and really don’t want to be away from your kiddos anymore than you have to be. “Sure!” Someone asks if you can switch shifts and cover them at work even though you had appointments that you will now need to cancel and that makes your schedule more difficult. “Of course!” Someone asks you to volunteer for this committee or that club. “You got it!” The list goes on and on. The old me would say “Ya sure, you betcha”, and if I’m being totally honest – play the martyr card at home to the hubby.

I once read that for every “yes” you say you are also saying “no” ten times. This changed my life! Think about it, you just said, “yes I’ll volunteer for that committee”… Now, what is less obvious is that you just said, “no I won’t have dinner with my family that weekend”, “no I have to work on this volunteer stuff, I can’t FILL IN THE BLANK“, “no I can’t make church that weekend, I am busy with this committee” – it goes on and on. I am so glad I ran across that article – game changer!
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No – That word has power! And it is ok to say “No”. In the beginning I had guilt – I think that’s normal. I want to be a people pleaser, I want to make friends happy, and I definitely don’t want to upset anyone. But at the end of the day – I care about my tribe the most. I refuse to say “no” to my family and friends I am closest with just to say “yes” to others that probably won’t even be in my life in five years!. The good news is, the more I said “no” the less I cared if someone was offended – and in all reality most don’t care – I had it in my head that people would be so mad at me!

So, I urge you to stop saying yes when your heart is telling you to say no!
Also, if you’re the wimp clutching the handle bar try to let go. Maybe just one hand. Wave it in the air! Everything will be fine!! You won’t die.

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April Challenge

Spring is here – the season of eternal hope! Here in Alaska the winters are soooo long and dark. I am really enjoying the longer days and bluebird skies!

As an artist, I am always working to get better. I have already come a long way! In the beginning filters and presets were life! Surely, I am not the only one that went through that phase!  I understand the basics of photography…the triangle of exposure (ISO, shutter speed, aperture – blah, blah, blah) but I am still defining my style. This is the fun part of being a creative! Your style is ever-evolving.

I made a promise to myself to take at least one good picture a day – this can be a challenge after working 12 hours in the OR passing gas 😉 (I’m a nurse anesthetist). But, no matter what I pick up my camera and capture one moment a day! So I thought it would be fun to have a “Spring Challenge” – really I just want to share my art and more importantly see what other photogs are creating!

Here are a few from Easter Sunday. Egg Hunts are very different in Alaska compared to home in the Midwest….poor kid has to dig eggs out of the snow. It’s not cold – but the snow is still lingering. Also, what is it about a little boy dressed like an old man? Suspenders are the most darling thing ever!

I hope some fellow creatives will join the challenge and share some Spring-Themed moments!

And so it begins

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It just makes sense to start this blog by explaining why the heck I am even here doing this. My name is Sarah. I am a mommy to one little man, Harrison – and a wife to one stud (when he’s not cranky), Rob. I am a nurse anesthetist (CRNA) – I have a great job, make a decent living, and have security. But, I was starting to feel numb….nothing at work was inspiring me. I can’t shake the feeling that there has to be more than this. At first I thought I was feeling like this because there aren’t windows in the operating room, or the Alaskan darkness was getting to me. But it is now Spring (hallelujah!) and I feel the same “bleh” on my drive to work.  I started researching creative entrepreneurs and read a pretty accurate quote.

Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week. —Lori Greiner

How true is that?? Entrepreneurs are crazy (in a wonderful way)! I mean you would have to be a little mad to willingly give up a safe job with a 40 hour work week to be your own boss – hustling to meet the demands that exceed 80+ hours a week!! But I’ve learned something – all the best people are a little mad!

My son, Harrison, is my muse. Watching him grow from this little squish to a crazy haired hilarious toddler has completely changed every part of me. I now have a thirst for life that I lacked before motherhood. I have more patience, and appreciate the little things in life like never before. Everyday with children is an adventure….some better than others of course!

IMG_9408So, one night with my son laying next to me snoring and laughing in his sleep 😴 I asked myself, “what inspires me?” “What do I crave?” The second question is easy…..I crave time. Time is more precious to me now. I lost my mother-in-law a couple of years ago – this loss was devastating for many reasons. It was an unexpected loss and she was too young to leave us. After losing her, and then becoming a momma I am acutely aware how precious our time really is. Time is the one thing we have, and don’t. I absolutely hate my hectic work schedule and just want more time with my little, while he’s little. Surely, every momma feels this way?!

So, the other question…..What inspires me? This took a little more soul searching but really it should have been very easy to answer.

Well, I am a bonafide bookworm. I was that nerdy kid that used to read for fun – I am still a nerd, but lucky for me nerds are cool. At least that’s what I tell myself. There have been too many nights where I choose one more chapter over sleep. When I was a kid my grandpa and I used to write together. Grandpa Joe – he was the coolest – but could be kinda cranky too. You just knew not to push his buttons. Luckily, he was legally blind so if you did tick him off you could easily hide. Grandma Willie and him shared a hobby room – one side she would sew, and the other side he would write or mess with his old school HAM radio. I wanted nothing to do with sewing so Grandpa Joe and I would hang out. Both of us on our typewriters – in the same room, yet in different worlds. At some point I stopped writing. I grew up with dreams of being a travel/adventure journalist or novelist. I always kind of felt like I chickened out and ditched a career in writing for a safer choice in the medical field. I feel the need to say this again, I really do love administering anesthesia and helping patients – I just need a creative outlet!!

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So…I like to write…but I am also obsessed with documentary/lifestyle photography. I can appreciate the posed pictures we have, you know the ones for the Christmas cards! Say, “Cheese”!!  But what I really love are those portraits that just kick ya in the feels. Birth photography capturing a mothers pain and sacrifice and unconditional love, the first time a mother strokes her baby’s cheek, the first time a little one grabs onto their dad’s pinky finger. Newborn photography – the first days when everyone is getting to know one another, tiny hands, tiny feet, sleepy smiles (both parents and baby!), milk comas, a mother in awe of the miracle that will soon call her mommy. Wedding Photography – the first time a groom sees his blushing bride, the father-daughter dance, families laughing, smiling, dancing, celebrating the journey of marriage. Most of my work (so far) is lifestyle family photography – capturing all the moments you don’t ever want to forget. The simple moments – breakfast with messy hair, a toddler running around with his cape flying behind him, littles exploring their surroundings – moments where there is a fine line between imagination and reality. Big toothy grins, dirty fingernails from spending the afternoon outside playing – the moments that capture the freedom of childhood. I am obsessed with photographic art that is Emotive. Wild. The pictures that really tell a story.

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My sister, Samantha has always been “artsy” and a wanderer (not in the sense of being a hobo – just a gal that dabbles in a little bit of everything). She has a free spirit that makes her easy to get along with. She has always wanted to be a photographer (she took this pic, above) – my folks and I pitched in to buy her a fancy canon camera for her graduation gift. Like me, life got in the way and she ignored her creative spark. After my soul searching I was talking to her about wanting to pursue work that left me inspired. And there you have it…..this is how Storyteller Photographic  was created. We decided to team up – two are better than one, right? This business is a perfect creative outlet that inspires me. Photographers have the coolest job! We tell stories through our lens that we, and others, will cherish and hopefully pass on to several generations to come. I would much rather work 80+ hours a week from home with the sound of my toddler in the background, then 40 hours for someone else.

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How does this tie into writing? Well….I’m not exactly sure yet. I am just figuring things out. Learning to be a creative entrepreneur has a huge learning curve – I have already made several mistakes. Truth is, at the end of the day I couldn’t decide on photography or writing – so I am doing both! Who knows what the future holds! I would love to one day write a novel. I dream of travel while photographing families and loved ones….but for now I just want to tell stories that hopefully make someone crack a few smiles, get a couple chuckles, and connect with others….

 

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The Journey Begins

Hi! I’m so glad you are here! This is a place for everyone! Those wild at heart that love adventure but also habitually rock a lazy afternoon nap – You are my people!! I am a storyteller – relax, I’m hilarious! – but I also want to connect with you! I am addicted to big belly laughs, travel, a good cup of coffee, and love! Positive vibes only.

Don’t take life too seriously, you’ll never get out alive.                   ~Bugs Bunny

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