I apologize for not keeping up on my blog.
This has been a year of many changes in my life, one of these being the loss of my father. And frankly, I haven’t really been myself since his passing. I am working very hard to try to get back to feeling like myself again. Of course, maybe we never really feel the same again, but rather try to move on the best we can with our new normal.
I remember the day I took this image. This was a portrait of both my mom and dad together. It was in January of 2011, six years ago now. Dad very much wanted me to take a picture of him and my mom. Both of my parents were healthy and it was a great time to capture them. Little did I know at that time, that this picture would also serve as my Dad’s obituary picture a mere 5 1/2 years later.
None of us knows how much time we have left. Dad wasn’t ready to go when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 73 in September 2015. He had a lot of plans for traveling adventures and enjoy his and Mom’s golden years. Cancer treatment did not fit into his future. He was scared, yet he took on this challenge. He was so happy when an MRI indicated that the cancer was gone following his surgery and chemo treatments. Pancreatic cancer is sneaky, though, and it grew in spite of treatments. He passed peacefully with my mom and siblings by his side this past July.
I am still grieving.
I haven’t disappeared with my photography business, but merely needed to take a step back these last several months.
Thank you, friends, for giving me the opportunity to heal these last months.
I have spent the last couple of weeks reading the book “Choose Joy” by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. Sara was from our town of Algona, IA. Sara suffered from a rare autoimmune disease which caused her severe physical pain. Eventually, she was completely home-bound and passed away at the age of 38. I have been reading this book slowly, one chapter at a time and really digesting what Sara had to share. I have also been taking the time to write down 3 things which have brought me joy at the end of each day, or a gratitude journal. The last few days, I have not felt very well – most likely coming down with some sort of virus. I have found it harder throughout the day and at the end of the day to find something to be joyful about when my body is causing me physical pain. I am struck right now, even more than before, how incredible Sara was to choose joy when her body was causing her severe, searing, take-your-breath-away pain. The overall body aches I am currently experiencing are nothing compared to Sara’s pain. As I read last night, the part that really struck me was how Sara said that the operative word in “choose joy” was not joy, it was choose. My hope by the end of reading this book, is to come to further peace about the future, to put my complete trust in God’s infinite wisdom, to realize that my ability to try to control my own life is an illusion – God controls all. As I literally ache today, I praise God for Sara’s insight and wisdom.
The last few months have been a whirlwind of activity and quite emotional, too. Our son just graduated from high school in May. In addition to planning a graduation party, we had Drake Relays, many track meets, including State Track Meet, Baccalaureate, senior awards presentations, and of course commencement. We had prom in April, choir concerts, graduations celebrations for many of my son’s friends and classmates… It was a year of the last this and the final that, which has left me many times in tears. Life is supposed to be this way. We prepare our children to try to make the right decisions, to think critically, to behave with knowledge of the consequences of their actions, to be kind to others, to have a sense of compassion… This is the way it is meant to be and I believe my husband and I have not been perfect, but have certainly done the best job that we can. Our family changing from what we have grown accustomed to over the past 19 years. It is hard, but it is also time. Our son has chosen the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and will participate in their track and field program. We feel great about his decision! He has amazing coaches and friends that he has made so far during times visiting campus.
Yesterday morning, we packed and left bright and early at 6:00 a.m. to attend freshman orientation. During certain lectures and discussions, I found my eyes welling with tears, actually, they were downright rolling down my face, and my son looked at me, rolled his eyes a little, but also let me know, “It’s going to be okay, mom.” And it is going to be okay – it’s going to be great! I cannot wait to see the wonderful adventures that await him. He, along with his sister, are our very pride and joy.
Here we go! And I know, at least eventually, I will be okay!
Today, I packed up 4 images that I spent painstaking time and energy creating to send to PPA’s northcentral district print competition which takes place in Des Moines next month. Just as I was heading out the door to go to the post office to send my print case, I saw that another one of my print cases had just arrived home from national convention that took place in Nashville earlier this month. My case contained 3 of the 4 images that I sent last year. The 4th missing image is actually touring right now with the PPA loan collection. It’s quite exciting!
So why do I participate in print competition?
Sometimes I wonder why… It is truly one of the most difficult things I have ever participated in. Your images, which you work very hard to create, are given a once over by a panel of judges who scour them down to the tiniest detail. If anything is “off” in any way, shape, or form, I can guarantee you, the judges will catch it.
What are they looking for? It can range from seeing detail in the highlights and the shadows, it can be a spot that’s too bright, it can be sloppy composites, it can be a multitude of issues….
When I started out in print competition, I truly had no idea what I was doing, at least as far as the judging goes. I thought every image I submitted was great, and to the average eye, they were quite good. I watched over and over and each of my images was pulled apart or worse, not even acknowledged with a once over, just a lower score than I preferred or understood.
After each judging, I would pull experts over to look at my images and critique my work. In order to become better, this is necessary, but it isn’t very pleasant. For a few years it went like that. Then, I remember the day I got my first “merit” image – an image that scored at the magic score of 80 or above. This merit went towards earning my master’s degree with PPA. I already had plenty of educational merits to go towards my degree. Now I needed print merits – 13 to be exact.
Well, I’ve kept plugging away – last year I earned 4 merits in one year, 3 prints scored above 80, but the one that was nominated to go in the loan collection earned an extra merit. I now have 8 merits to my credit – 5 more to earn my master’s degree.
I guess part of the reason I have kept going back and back to competition, is my competitive spirit – I want to truly “get” it. I want to be capable of earning a merit with every image I submit. I want to know that I know what it takes every time. I’m getting closer, and that in large part is because I have become addicted to watching the judges critique print competition.
The end result? My day-to-day work gets better and better. I am more critical of my work. I want only my very best work to go into my client’s hands.
Competition has been a good thing for me and my business. I can’t wait to see my results from this year’s work!
… And the ball descended. “10, 9, 8, 7, 6….” My kids and I were watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve (Is it still called that?) on t.v. at the home of friends last night while my husband was on call at Kossuth Regional Health Center. “5, 4, 3, 2…” I found that my heart jumped just a little. “1! Happy New Year!” And the number lit up “2015.”
There really is an impact of seeing a new year written for the first time. It means fresh, new start. Even though every day is a new day with new chances, there is something about a new year… 2015, I have been saying that our son graduates in 2015 forever. Now the year is here. In five months we will watch him in his cap and gown. 2015, this marks my 30 year high school reunion. 2015, I will turn 48 and my husband will turn 49 this year – the big 5-0 is around the corner.
My goals for this year? I have been thinking about that all day. For one thing, I plan on getting some sort of exercise every day and challenging myself on the days I have a few more minutes to spare. Little things done each day can produce big results over time. I have had some issues this year which prevented me from always moving like I would like to. This changes this year. (I actually started to implement this in December, so it shouldn’t be a huge shock.)
Overall, I am quite happy with my business. I cut back on my number of sessions this last year. I may have to cut back even a little more, if I want to completely enjoy my home life and time with my family, as I would like.
I have several little cleaning projects I wish to implement before graduation in May. And I really do mean little. It won’t take a lot to get these things done. Once again, I just need to do a little each day to produce big results by May.
I am going to continue to work on my prints for competition. I am halfway to getting my Master’s degree with PPA – I’m not giving up now!
2015 will be an exciting year! Here we go!
2014 draws to a close….
It has been an eventful year with laughter and some tears. I have mixed emotions when it comes to 2015. Happy because our son will graduate from h.s. and go to college. (We did our job.) Sad because our son will graduate from h.s. and go to college. I know that the year will be filled with joy as we watch both of our children grow, participate in their activities, and enjoy our family time together. I wish all of you peace and blessings as you ring in the new year!
Yesterday, my daughter and I went to the wedding of this exceptional young lady. I first met Erin when she was 2 years old. My husband and I who lived in Madison, WI at the time came to visit the family practice residency in Mason City. Al was coming to the end of his time in medical school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and we were “shopping” for where he would begin the next phase in his training to be a family practitioner. There was a gathering for the spouses of the residents at the home of Robin, who has now been my friend for many years since. Erin was this little girl who always donned a huge smile. I have had the pleasure of watching her grown up. I took her high school senior pictures. And now, I witnessed her get married – what a beautiful bride! Congratulations, Erin & Kyle! It was an honor to witness your special day!
Where does the time go? Honestly, I have the intention of getting my blog out on a semi-regular basis. The last months have left me in a whirlwind of activity. So, just to share a little about what I have been up to lately.
We began the new school year and I realized that this is the beginning of ending a chapter in our lives. Our oldest, our son, is a high school senior. He has been investigating colleges, taking his ACT test, receiving mail from schools on a daily basis.
Our daughter is now a freshman, which means the downward slide is officially in process for her, too.
Our fall has consisted of cross country meets, my photography sessions, and endless activities. Both of our children participated in cross country. Our son is an accomplished runner, but found himself in a health situation that we never could have predicted would or could happen. We found out that he was suffering from ulcers. One was bleeding and left him anemic and unable to perform as he was accustomed to this season. He is on the mend and our team is running in the Cross Country State Championship in Fort Dodge this Saturday, November 1st. We are hoping for the very best!
This Saturday night is also our 12th annual Legacy Ball, a fundraiser for the hospital. I have been on the decorating committee since its inception. We are in the process today and tomorrow of creating a beautiful atmosphere at our K.C. Hall. This year’s theme? Greece! After we watch our boys run this Saturday, we will race home to get ready for the big event!
Last month found Al and I at our 25th college reunion from our school, Luther College. We had a fun time reconnecting with friends. Our flying trip up and back left us exhausted for several days following.
Al is in the process of re-branding the Rejuvenation Clinic at the hospital. Together, we came up with a new name, had a new logo designed, and have been in the process of redecorating the space. We are SO excited for Kossuth Regional Health Center to opening the Ageless Solutions Aesthetic Clinic in January! A lot of my personal time has been invested into this project and we are so thrilled to share more information with everyone soon regarding new services, equipment, new products, new staff… It is going to be a fabulous experience for all!
Add to all of the this time spent trying to be the best mom, wife, and home maker that I can be, it has been challenging at times to feel like I am not going to pull my hair out and go crazy. With the occasional reminder to breathe and appreciate each moment, I am moving forward.
I am going to make a conscious decision to try to not be such a “bad blogger” and share more in the upcoming days and months!
I wanted to share with you a project, or should I say several projects, that keep me busy when I am not working on client pictures, picking up the house, doing laundry, getting groceries…. and all of the other domestic duties that come with being Mom. I love to create memories for my children – keepsakes that I know that they will enjoy for the rest of their lives. I create everything from fine art gallery wraps and framed sports collages I display in their rooms, to a few scrapbooks, and also, I have created a book for each of my children for each sport that they participate in – and they are in a lot of sports. My son is a 3-sport person and my daughter is in 4 sports. I love taking pictures of these activities! Sometimes I find myself taking so many, that I need to create 1, 2, or even 3 books for a single season of one sport. Tonight I just finished my daughter’s softball book for the 2014 season and got it ordered for her. I can’t wait for it to arrive and present it to her!
Okay, so it’s not the end of summer by any means, but once it’s after the 4th it seems to fly even faster. Today was my daughter’s last day of softball for this season. I spent the day in Mason City at the Newman High School softball field. After a whirlwind month, I am getting back into the swing with high school senior pictures.
This year has been eventful. I have had to make some decisions in my personal life and in my business. I am continuing to spend as much time as possible at my kids’ activities, and being the best mom that I can be is my top priority, as I mentioned in February. This has meant cutting down on the number of sessions that I am shooting this year. Unfortunately, this means I have had to turn down some jobs. I wish that each session was as simple as just the photo shoot… For me to do my job as I have been doing it (and the way I wish to continue it), there are several steps to each photographic session before we arrive at the final prints. First, I meet with each client ahead of time to decide what they would like from their session. We discuss clothing selections, tips for good images, and just get to know each other a little before the shoot. Next, is the actual session. After the session, I edit the images to the best ones. Of these, I retouch some, add special effects, make some black and white… This, by the way, takes a while when I am working on h.s. senior images. Then we meet and my client watches a slideshow and we decide what images they like and figure out the best products for them. Next, I retouch the client’s favorite images, crop them to desired sizes and order them. Once the portraits arrive, I carefully go through each item, make sure everything looks perfect, and then I beautifully package the images. Anything that is 16×20 or larger is also hand-signed by me. Once everything is ready to go, I call my client and let them know that their order is here and we arrange a pick-up time. All together, that is 7 steps for one photo shoot. I have a wonderful assistant that comes and helps me during my sessions. She helps with the lights, steams backgrounds, and is fabulous with the little details. Everything else I do on my own. This set-up is the best one for me and my family. I got to the point in my business where I either needed to get bigger and delegate some responsibilities, or become somewhat smaller in order to try to achieve that “balance” that I think all working moms are trying to achieve. I am very grateful for my clients. I am very grateful for my family. I will continue to strive to do my very best for both of these areas in my life.