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I love to blog about my most recent and favorite portrait and wedding sessions, stories about my holistic healing journey, my travel experiences, infertility, PCOS, the keto lifestyle, married and family life outside of the box, meaningful information about psychological wellness, and wonderful healing posts that will inspire your beautiful mind!
Check out my Instagram account and stories for daily updates and gorgeous images of weddings, couples, seniors, families, women, and kiddos. This Wild Way – Instagram
This darling family was photographed on an exceptionally frosty freezing cold morning at Smith Rock. The frozen fog crystal formations reached out an inch from foliage surfaces. I arrived to this session days early because I had entered the date wrong in my calendar (oops). (Hey, there’s a first time for everything!) Two identical mornings. The first, I hiked around Smithy with just my camera and me. Not a single car was parked yet and I was alone. Stillness covered the earth like a big cozy blanket. I looked around and felt an indescribable sense of peace — inexplicable probably because I have a busy, restless Gemini mind, and I don’t leave much space for just being between working, reading, thinking, communicating, or dipping my hands into some kind of project. This peace that came over me that morning kept me warm from the inside, somehow, even though my fingers should have felt brittle and breakable.
I’ve been thinking lately a lot about the stillness and quietness at home lately (#thirdtrimester). I know well the baby cries and other novel sounds that will soon fill the spaces between these walls. I keep telling James, “Enjoy the silence while we have it.” I know it won’t be entirely a negative change, but it’s something that is damn easy to take for granted and yet what we will yearn for during the longer, stressful, sleepless days of being parents of a newborn. So I’m grateful for the emptiness, and for the days that begin with humble rays of sunshine entering this space and the big wide open white space greeting me while I make my morning coffee.
And I’ve been thinking about the stillness of photographic imagery and how it makes even the most exuberant of moments quiet and even everlasting, like this one. I feel blessed to pause experiences for those who trust me.
How do you find stillness and quiet amidst the busy-ness and chaos of every day to-dos?
How do you parents take time outs for yourself to regain your energy and personal sense of balance?
Where do you go to find your sense of Self?
I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.
I’m 35 weeks pregnant as of this weekend. The last eight months has flown by. I feel like I’m grasping onto each week to slow things down, but it’s not working. Each new week is faster than the last. New mamas, beware. I remember looking at what fruit size my baby was in the second trimester, but now I can hardly remember to look because I still want to hold onto that time a few weeks ago that this baby could be compared to a Naked-Tailed Armadillo. But each week is like a single blink. I received a surprise #advancedmaternalage 3D ultrasound last week to measure baby’s growth. Physicians recommend this in order to check baby’s size, weight, movements, complications, and because stillbirth is a risk. I can’t stop looking at this baby boy’s face. The ultrasonographer printed off some twenty photos for us. He even smiled, those kissable lips. Heart flutters. Speaking of heart, the most fascinating experience I’ve had so far is watching the chambers of this little boy’s heart pump and watching his heart valves open and close. Even during the first ultrasound we received, I was in awe of the seemingly magic inner workings of the human body, especially when we are at such early developmental stages. It’s what made me cry during my first US. Be still my heart. My entire pregnancy I wondered about what features this boy has. I dreamed of his little fingers and chubby cheeks. And now I can see him and sweet chubby cheeks (have I mentioned that this entire pregnancy all I’ve kept saying is “I hope he’s chunky”?)! Oh, brilliant brilliant technology. What a gift. I never in a million years thought I’d experience my body going through this transformation. I can’t wait to share my holistic healing journey with you fully. So, how many ultrasounds did you receive? What were your favorite experiences while pregnant or waiting for your baby to arrive?
#ama #3Dultrasound #pregnancyat36 #infertility #fertilitytreatments #holistichealing #ketodiet #ketobaby #holisticketo #duemarch10 #march2018baby #holisticnutrition #ketohealedme #ultrasound #PCOS #endometriosis #hormonalhealing #avocados #PCOStreatment #fetalcardiology
This little face make me giddy to have a boy. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be an instant-mom of 2 kiddos within a year’s time. I never thought I’d be a boy mom for that matter. Did I emphasize “never” enough? #infertility #nohusband #keto #boymom. I’m going to have to get used to the idea of being a boy mom, and my sister is also having her first baby — a boy — this year, too. So that makes my mom a first time grandmother … of two boys, back-to-back. We also don’t have any brothers. So we ladies are new to this raising boys thing.
So here’s some interesting evidence-based differences in speech among boys and girls that I found. Let me know in the comments what you think if you have boys or girls in your family or both! Girls use language as a means to cooperate with others, they use inclusive terms like “lets” and “we could,” they interject supportive comments in speech, and use “hedges,” which occur at the end of female speech turn taking to let the listener know they are encouraged to respond. Girls also use intensifiers like ‘That dress is “SO” cute,’ and politeness speech formulas. Girls are cooperative in nature. Boys, on the other hand, use language to establish and maintain hierarchy and assert themselves when they have the floor, they are also more aggressive (ouch), see speech as requests for information (as a utility) in contrast to a means to connect with others, and phrases like “I agree with you.” Boys often don’t interject, while girls, as we know from personal experience, interject with comments or supportive utterances. Men wait until the speakers are finished and then take their turn to reply. Boys are competitive in nature. Comment below with your personal experiences!
Up until about 2010, we didn’t have a tried and true scientific or measurable definition of empowerment. So here’s what I came up with. “The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights” (thanks, Google). Psychological empowerment has been described as a state of being: perceived control, competence, goal setting, feeling enabled, and beliefs about the availability of one’s resources and ability to perform (Spreitzer, 1995). Notice that this description doesn’t require achievement explicitly. It just requires that we show up and do the work. Take the birthing process, for example, since I’m in the thick of learning about each stage and coping mechanisms. Labor pain is the result of both physical changes and psychic responses. One study found that participants who were trained in a brief hypnobirthing course had no less anxiety or no difference in perceptions of labor than those who studied conventional childbirth techniques. Similarly, when variance in healthcare outcomes in birthing was measured against hypnobirthing and the Bradley Method, researchers found no difference nor provider recommendability one over another (Verner, 2015). Warning: “no difference” does not equal “no effect” — this just means that they were similarly effective. These studies say nothing about hypnobirthing’s or other birthing techniques’ effectiveness in reducing anxiety and relaxing a laboring mother, but it IS a testament to empowerment processes in general. They encourage us: do something, do anything. Step forward, educate yourself, ask questions. When researchers examined the difference between hypnobirthing techniques in labor against no preparation whatsoever, hypnobirthing increased tolerance of pain and decreased anxiety during the active (most painful) phase of labor (Nursalam et al., 2017). Anita (2017) concluded that in comparison with having no prepared techniques at all, many childbirth pain methods reduced labor pain, such as counter pressure, hypnobirthing, music, relaxation, TENS machine, aromatherapy, and even a “ginger drink.” And you can be sure I’m using my oily goodness during labor, and a few other techniques as well. So what are steps you can take to achieve an “empowered state?” Here’s what I found so far. Remember that study from 2010 that I mentioned earlier? Cattaneo and colleagues define empowerment as one in which:
“a person who lacks power sets personally meaningful goals oriented toward increasing power, takes action toward that goal, and observes and reflects on the impact of this action, drawing on his or her evolving self-efficacy, knowledge, and competences related to the goal.”
Holy moly. What does this mean exactly? It means that personal empowerment involves identifying an adversity that we find ourselves up against. What are you struggling with lately? In what ways do you feel powerless? Identify it. Name it — perhaps the scariest step. Aim to understand what you’re up against. Perhaps it’s nothing you’re up against per se, but an personal area of your life in which you feel less than powerful. Next, it involves developing your skills in addressing that powerlessness. Understand and take advantage of your resources, ask for help from those you trust or professionals, ask yourself exactly how much you feel in control of, and make empowerment a practice perhaps in every aspect of your life (take a yoga class, join a community group, etc). Create a list of personally meaningful goals with the intent of strengthening yourself in the areas you feel weakened. Throughout this process, you might redefine your goals, and that’s O.K. Then, examine your beliefs about your abilities: what are your strengths? What are your opportunities? These acknowledgements can help you assess your self-efficacy (your perceived ability to get stuff accomplished and overcome obstacles). Next, get all learned up. What is the social context of your perceived weakness? What are possible routes toward achieving your goals? What resources can you utilize? Now, take action. I lied, maybe THIS is the scariest step. By now you should feel somewhat motivated to MOVE FORWARD. Lastly, examine the impact of your actions on achieving your goals. There is no success or failure in the empowerment process, but it is important that you think about what that dichotomy means to you now that you changed a behavioral pattern, attempted to change an outcome, or set out to achieve something you weren’t sure you were strong enough to. What factors influenced the outcome? One last step is the refinement of your goals, as well as the refinement of all the other steps you took to strengthen those weaknesses we assessed above. Change your goals and alter your plan. Do not give up. Keep trying.
Anita, W. (2017). TECHNIQUES OF PAIN REDUCTION IN THE NORMAL LABOR PROCESS: SYSTEMATIC REVIEW. Journal Endurance, 2(3), 362-375.
Cattaneo, L. B., & Chapman, A. R. (2010). The process of empowerment: a model for use in research and practice. American Psychologist, 65(7), 646.
Nursalam, N., Pradanie, R., & Trisnadewi, I. A. (2017). Hypnobirthing Increase Pain Tolerance And Anxiety In Active Phase Labor. Journal Ners, 3(1), 54-60.
Spreitzer, G. M. (1995). Psychological empowerment in the workplace: Dimensions, measurement, and validation. Academy of management Journal, 38(5), 1442-1465.
Varner, C. A. (2015). Comparison of the Bradley Method and HypnoBirthing Childbirth Education Classes. The Journal of perinatal education, 24(2), 128.
This past week, I’ve been experiencing what I’d like to call the “Golden Hour” of my pregnancy. Some time between week 33 and 34, I’ve felt the best I’ve ever felt in the last 8 months. I was told that the second trimester would bring me relief from pain and the restoration of my energy, but the third trimester has actually felt the most amazing. Go figure. I feel energetic, I’m not in any debilitating amount of abdominal or sciatica pain, I’m happy and energized emotionally, I’m inspired and motivated, I’m not overtly nauseous, I’m not having any “bad belly days” that I’ve been experiencing for 7+ months (I’ll talk about this more soon), and I do not feel “huge,” despite what many weekly pregnancy updates suggest is normal for most women. I feel balanced and my belly feels so much a part of my body, I can almost (*emphasize almost) imagine staying pregnant like this for the rest of my life. Alas, I’m enjoying every minute of feeling this way while it lasts. Although it may seem like it because of the image I posted, I’m not going to push a product on you. There’s a short story here.
I received a package on our front door step a few days ago, and opened it to find a beautiful Twig + Petal Essentials prenatal kit for expectant mamas. The kit included some essential oil blends and bath salts. We are so incredibly busy with business and preparing for baby, that I don’t put a lot of time, money, or effort into intentional self-care. At the most, I’ve purchased some Young Living oils that would help with pregnancy stages – both mentally and physically. I certainly don’t spend much time with my feet kicked up on the couch watching Netflix. We don’t know how to sit still for very long and have a pretty energized way of life, so when I received this package, it reminded me to take time for self-care, slow down, and be more mindful. Growing a baby to full term requires a lot of energy, but I believe that it also requires a lot of stillness. Now I’ve been taking more time to intentionally mix some coconut oil with my Twig + Petal prenatal oils and rub them on my belly and hips at night or after a shower. I’ve been putting the headache roller on my neck every night, … just because it feels amazing. Those tiny little self-care additions to my day seriously relax me so much and make me feel so much more connected to my body, my baby, and this baby-growing process. Engaging in those self-care behaviors inspire and remind me to do things that also help take care of this mama – like finally signing up for prenatal yoga, or listening to my #hypnobirthing class. That being said, the package arrived without a shipper’s address or name, so I have no idea who sent it my way. If you did, please let me know so I can embrace you, or at least send you a big thank you.
Here’s the link to the specific kit I received: https://www.twig-petal.com/products/expecting-kit.
I adored this three-ish month check-in with newborn Finley session — I mean, look at this radiant mama and what her body created. Especially because it is my hope that I’m smiling in wonder at my babe like she is here, and my babe is smiling back at me in a few months. And that a photographer can capture my fleeting, growing, aging too-quickly family in a graceful way that helps me remember my baby with tenderness and be grateful for a time that I’m told by many slips quickly away from mothers’ hands. But my very present fear is that I’m not or don’t have enough ______ (insert all the things) to be a fully present, always-loving, ever-kind, educational, and patient parent. This pregnancy has me feeling insecure. That’s partly because I am also running a twelve-year old business that’s expanding, finalizing four years of intense pre-medicine studies, acquainting myself with parenthood, learning to navigate a new and healthy marital relationship, seeking a psychology research position, starting and managing a new business, and preparing to nurture a newborn baby. All the while I’ve been attempting to maintain self-care routines throughout a challenging pregnancy at advanced maternal age (hellooo, research suggests that 7-8+ hours of sleep significantly reduces labor time (11 hours less) and makes women 4.5 times less likely to have a C-section) and achieve — often without overwhelming, obvious, or instant success — some resemblance of personal growth. So parenting with mindfulness has become my New Work. James came as a packaged deal with our 4 year old, Liam. And I love this kid to pieces and can’t imagine loving him more. I love my husband’s ex-wife as my own family — after all, we are in this together for life. I cherish my family greatly, and that’s no exaggeration intended to coerce you into thinking we have a perfect life. Our love is, however, perfect. We are broken people, but we all show up for each other and for Liam. But being completely honest — the idea of allowing another tiny helpless human take every ounce of my body as he is now and every joule of energy as I know he will … feels scary. Having Liam as a surprise gift was 1000% enough for me before I ever knew a baby was a possibility, even though James and I had talked about #adoption numerous times, and still plan on adopting. But now my heart must expand further. Maybe if I was twenty years old, this pregnancy would feel different. If I hadn’t waited so long, it would feel normal (whatever the eff that is). I’ve had roughly seventeen years of an adventurous solo life and I believe I took my retirement thirty years early. Having another person keep me so grounded, full-time, for the rest of my life seems limiting. I’ve never been one to walk the straight and narrow path. I don’t mean that in a self-focused way, but in the way that I have so much I want to share and worlds I want to open up to these children. I just don’t know how I can do it as one person in one lifetime (thank God for a partner who encourages big dreams). So I must expand. I must accept and trust. And even if turn out to be a somewhat decent parent to this baby, perhaps being a mom will not be my ultimate life’s work and joy. So I must now let go of societal expectations, self-doubt, and shame so I can be free to walk in love and self-compassion every day of this journey. I still cannot comprehend how I can remain whole, yet give so much of myself to another, yet I hear most moms say that fear goes away naturally once your newborn baby is in your arms. I wanted to express this before baby Fountain is born because I don’t hear many new mothers talk about these kind of things. I feel isolated, but I know I cannot be alone. Let me explain.
Infertility was emotionally excruciating to face for over a decade, watching woman after woman become pregnant and lovers start their families. All the while, I silently squirmed and my heart quietly ached. It’s one of those things that I truly feel you have no idea what it’s like unless you go through it yourself. It made me question my identity and adequacy as a woman and a partner. That’s why I am mentally hugging all you amazing women and men out there who have struggled with this. You may know the double-edged sword of convincing yourself to feel happy for someone, but simultaneously suffering at the same time. Nannying other’s babies (what a fulfilling job, let me tell you!), I held them as close to my heart as I possibly could and yet felt the ever-present and stinging truth that this would be as close as it gets, honey. I coped with the emotional pain of fertility by mentally practicing, every day, acceptance that I would never have this specific version of life that I longed for; it simply wasn’t my destiny. Other things were. Stab. You don’t deserve it (obviously). Stab. You’ll never find a man you can trust. Stab. You’ll be too old. Stab. Your body hates you. Stab. It’s. too. late. But despite these destructive melancholy thoughts, the fulfillment of a promise I never knew was made … was fulfilled. While I was busy training my heart to let go of the idea of finding a partner or having my own baby, stopping fertility meds, saving up and preparing for adoption as a single person, applying for medical school in my late thirties, this wondrous thing happened. I met James. I “adopted” Liam into my heart. I got pregnant naturally (see also future post: #keto). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful. I’m in shock. I still feel and watch this very active baby move and flip inside my core and wonder if this is reality. Am I making this up? I’m not used to things sticking. I am not used to staying. In moments of complete surrender and true acceptance, I rub my belly and inwardly wrap my love around my treasure, “I adore you, tesoro mio. Thank you for existing. You amaze me.” In most other moments, I’m in denial. This really is happening.
(Upcoming posts: keto diet and fertility healing, research regarding first-time mothers and “it takes a village,” self-perceptions of identity, and sailing into the unknown without fear.)
More from this session here: http://thiswildway.com/gallery/families/
Want to book a family or Mama & Me Session? Send me a note!
Referenced scientific articles about sleep in pregnant women:
- Inadequate Sleep in Late Pregnancy May Influence Labor and Delivery
- Sleep in late pregnancy predicts length of labor and type of delivery
I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments!
Mamahood. A wilderness of its own kind. This little baby girl has the sweetest personality that lights up the whole room. I didn’t plan on shooting so much this winter since I graduated college, but as it turns out, a lot of my sessions have been new families and babes. Which is fitting at this place in time and helping me learn the intimate dynamics between child and mother. I feel so grateful to be a Bend Oregon family photographer and that I’m invited to witness the beauty that is this special relationship between a mama and her babies. For more information about my Mama & Me Sessions, please inquire using the contact form.
I struggle big time with perfectionism and staying present in the moment. And my guess is that a large number of you guys do as well. Wei (do) Wu-Wei (without doing) is the spontaneous, natural Way that Lao Tzu addressed in the Tao Te Ching. Wei Wu-Wei is action without intentional, forced action or interference — “work without effort.” This concept provides a counterbalance to our society’s drive to engage in swift or forceful action, maintain control, worry about ourselves and others, or fear negative outcomes. In psychotherapy, for example, Yueh-Ting Lee argues that therapists should utilize the concept of Wei Wu-Wei (do without doing) as a checks and balances for the concern they feel for their clients, the advice they offer them, and their clients’ freedom to make their own decisions: “too much intervention … may produce negative outcomes.” Wu-Wei is letting go or letting be. Que Sera, Sera. Jung took this concept so far as to suggest that ANY interference or offering of advice was already too much. But what happens if the scales are tipped to the other side? Human beings who hold on too tightly are prone to transforming their assertiveness into aggression, becoming “hooked” (google Pema Chondron) and resorting to violence, inflexibility, war, and general competitiveness in all areas of life. And the benefits of Lao’s Wei Wu-Wei way of life are humility, modesty, quietness, wisdom, and a general helpfulness, compassion, and loving-kindness toward others. Perhaps the assumption we must make in order to understand Jung’s extreme letting go is the understanding that we never had control to begin with. Instead, Laotzi prescribes water personality:
Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice.
I hope this helps you breathe a little easier.
More on Wei Wu Wei & Water Personality here.
“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the ability to create, nurture, and transform.” – Diane Mariechild
I’ve been preoccupied with feelings of inadequacy as my due date approaches at breakneck speed. I wake up every morning trying to plan for unforeseen changes to come. As a first-time mom, I’m excited and looking forward to having my own baby to spend time with and to raise a family with a man I already respect so much as a dad. But I’m also TERRIFIED of being a mom. I was a nanny (mostly a live-in one at that) for many years, so it’s not that I fear not knowing how to change diapers, maintain a sleep schedule, or feed a kid. And I was even a know-it-all / hardass nanny who had all of these things down pat in the interest of someone else’s beloved child and family. But now that I’m going to have my own child, I fear that I won’t know what I’m doing, I’m scared I won’t bond with my baby in the same kind of ways, and I worry that I won’t maintain a lot of those healthy behaviors and patterns that once fit so easily into childcare routines. Mostly I am preoccupied with *how* this new identity is going to fit me. WHO will I be? Certainly not the me I know so well now. My body is already changing. Pregnancy alone has been uncomfortable, awkward, and painful. This baby is already changing my world.
My only comfort is knowing how many millions of women before me made this identity shift into motherhood from a previous autonomous lifestyle. And knowing how many amazing women are in my life who have managed to hold onto the key pieces of their identities without compromise, all the while being incredible parents to beautiful babies. This is the collective courage and grace I call upon these winter days.
Kristy is a Bend Oregon Based Wedding & Engagement Photographer who enjoys talking about her recent dive into motherhood and holistic living.
There is so much freedom when a wedding or portrait client hires you and 100% trusts you as an artist. The potential to create something magical, moving, and original is not limited by fear or hesitation on either side. It’s almost as though the usually needed (and introvert-required) inspiration is not a factor at all in the final product because every person is just being and the flow is carrying us all. Mmm. I’m usually needing to feel inspired, otherwise I feel insecure about my position as an artist. But if I lean into who I am, observing who my clients are, and allowing myself to be instead of worry about the presence of a Muse, then I create my most compelling images. This was a gorgeous wedding day at Tetherow, and I pray I get more opportunities to create in an environment facilitated by trust.
See you again, @tetherowweddings, you’re amazing!
Kristy is a Bend, Oregon Wedding Photographer who enjoys the benefits of ecotherapy and advocates holistic living.