Blog

Beauty Is ... / Inspiration / News

Beauty Is… Staying Put | Cari Jenkins

03.23.17

Photos c/o Sarah Shreves

Cari Jenkins has been mentoring women for over 20 years. She loves to gather people in her home and sets the yearly goal of hosting 500 people around her table. Cari leads workshops on Identity and Living as a Person of Blessing and models her life after Jesus. She lives in Denver, Colorado, where nesting is one of her favorite pastimes.

I love adventure. There is something about waking up to a new city or country that invigorates me and is, frankly, really sexy on my Instagram feed. I built a life around this love.  I would plan my next trip – for work or for fun — after I found myself at home longer than 3 weeks.

I loved it all, and that is why I chose to stop.

Last summer I worked in Spain, and made friends with the owners of a restaurant across the street from my house. Several times a week I’d get a drink and mix it up with the locals. One night as I was leaving, I thought, “I love this life! I love that I get to make friends with strangers and be known by the businesses in my neighborhood.” I was content and happy, living the small town Mediterranean life.

While engaged in my nightly routine of checking social media, a comment on a photo caught my attention. The owner of my favorite coffee shop in the US — in the neighborhood in which I pay rent and call home most frequently — wrote, “We miss you Cari! Come home to us soon.”

At that moment I was struck. Here I was, in Spain, romanticizing about my ability to simply pop over to the local hot spot and know the owner and the people there, when all along I had the very same thing in my neighborhood. What was I doing?

Why must I leave home for a sense of adventure? Why is going so much sexier than staying? Why must connection and beauty be found outside of my home, rather than in it?

And so, then and there, I made a decision: I would limit my travel and engage in one place, do the hard work of being rooted, and find beauty in staying put.

I had no idea how difficult that would be.

Knowing my jet-setting tendencies, I decided I needed a group of friends to listen with me when opportunities to travel arose. This group would help me make decisions that aligned with my desires. Though I love to travel, I also longed to belong, experience community, and have roots. It is difficult to choose differently, so I set some parameters and also brought those to that same group, seeking their input.

I have learned a great deal by choosing to stay.  For example, I’m not very good at day-to-day conversation. When I traveled regularly, every conversation was a catch up. There is a certain relational high that comes when the details of one’s life and heart are poured out after a month of not seeing one another. It felt flat and, dare I say, boring to engage in conversation with the same people daily.

I also had to face myself. Traveling kept me from facing uncomfortable things such as some of my unmet desires and sadness. When I traveled there was always someone or something to distract me. Staying has caused me to face the parts of my story that are painful.

The results of staying have brought about the most beautiful changes in me. I now have friends with whom I do life regularly and to whom I belong. I have had to face a lot of the pain of my own story and I’ve found healing in it. I have experienced the romantic parts of
the city in which I live and revel in belonging to a place. People count on my presence now, where as before, there was an assumed absence. I have re-learned the art of day-to-day conversation and I am still learning what to do in conversations with those with whom I know almost all there is to know (there is always more to know).

I chose against myself to stay, to root, to belong and I am still choosing to do so. I continue to dream of jets and new people and places weekly. However, now I have people who are with me in my dreaming and invite me to be with them. In a time when it’s so easy to travel, not doing can feel almost foolish, but after a year of staying put, I’m glad I did.

xo,

Cari
Boss Ladies / Inspiration / News

Boss Ladies | Aida Rivero

03.16.17

Photos c/o Tanausú Negrón Jiménez

Aida is an architect and photographer living in the Canary Islands. She uses her creative and strategic abilities to span the digital landscape. Her photos capture more than a moment, but a mood, a feeling, a sense of timelessness.

Growing up I really wanted to be
An astronaut or pilot. I was obsessed about getting off the ground.

My most-used emojiis are
laughing face, kissing face and any kind of heart

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
A chai latte. I first had one at a café in Copenhagen, and now I don’t drink anything else.

I don’t know how I ever lived without
Instagram. I never thought this app would have such a huge impact in my life.

One thing people don’t know about me is
I have Cuban blood running through my veins (that’s probably why I love dancing to latin rhythms so much).  I have also lived in Poland and Denmark  — one of the best experiences in my life.

My real life hero is
My mother is probably the strongest woman in the world.  She’s always dealing with something and yet still has the strength to care for us.

What I love about my work is
I’m able to visit a lot of different places, meet interesting people and be surrounded by design that inspires me.

The hardest thing about my work is
Too much work can be stressful, and it’s hard when your work is also your hobby.

How I got started with my current career
I became interested in architecture when I was in high school. I had the skills and I liked everything related to design so I just went for it. But after I finished my studies I discovered my love for photography. I started with my phone, then I upgraded to a good camera and it has led me to where I am now.

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
Not believing in myself…and not putting the effort enough to make everything come true.

My typical day looks like
I wake up around 7:30 am, get dressed and go out. On my way to the studio I buy some croissants for breakfast. I love to walk in the city during the morning and see all the movement, enjoy all the smells in the air. When I arrive I have to check emails, deal with clients, phone calls and spend a lot of time designing on the computer. My favorite part of work comes when I get to go out and do something outdoors, then I’m super happy.

I used to think success meant
To have a good job and earn a lot of money, or to make a living out of what you really enjoy doing.

My current definition of success is
Feeling good about whatever you are doing.  Life isn’t easy but it is incredible to be here!

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
If I don’t have time for my friends and family or for myself.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I’m proud of everything I create because I do it with love and it takes me a lot of time and effort.

The legacy I hope to leave is
My way of seeing everything in life, my “world” and the way I feel about everything.

xo,
Aida

The Refined Collective

Loving the Skin You’re in | The Refined Collective Part II

03.14.17

Self portrait c/o Kat Harris

[The Refined Collective is a collaborative series featuring the stories of multiple women.  Click through and read their perspective on “Loving the Skin You’re In…”:  Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Tutti del Monte, Chelsey Korus, Nikia Phoenix, + Joanne Encarnacion].

I’ll never forget the first time I threw up my food.

It was my freshman year of college.  I was leaving the cafeteria after dinner with a few of my teammates on the tennis team, and once again, we’d all had way too much at the dorm buffet.  One of the girls said, “I could totally throw up right now.”  Another girl said, “It’s not that hard—I do it sometimes.”

A few minutes later we were behind the dumpsters, each of us putting a finger down our throat.  It wasn’t pretty.  We walked back to our dorm with bloodshot eyes, our throats scratched and burning, and feeling bonded in a weird way.  It was our little secret, and I was hooked.

I had never struggled with body image before college.  I was confident and ate whatever I wanted.  But then I became a collegiate athlete, and everything changed.  As a Division 1 athlete on a full-ride scholarship I felt pressure to be fit for the sport I was in, mixed with societal pressure to be a perfect ‘model size.’  It was overwhelming.

As an athlete I worked out more than 20 hours a week, had weekly weigh-ins, and had to keep a weekly food journal that was submitted to my coach.  Almost overnight I went from thinking nothing about the food I put in my body to it be my every waking thought.  There was good food and bad food, but most of it seemed to be bad. Food was no longer my friend, but my nemesis—an enemy I was convinced was there to take me down.

In addition to gaining a significant amount of muscle as a college athlete, my body was changing.  Instead of the freshman 15, I gained the freshman 30.  Binging and purging contributed to my weight gain.

Within a year I had lost all confidence and I hated my body.  I felt like I had ants crawling all over me and I wanted out of my skin.  Instead, I hid it with baggy sweat pants and oversized button-ups.

Throwing up never became easy for me.  I always left the bathroom looking like I had cried for hours. The binging and purging continued for much of my freshman year, but then morphed to just binging, then counting every calorie, then eating something and working out for a precise amount of time to burn it off.  For the rest of my college career and into my 20s I was a slave to food and obsessed with my body.

A life in which I was free from the bondage of food and could look at my naked body with love and acceptance seemed like a reality I would never again have.  Instead of seeing my body as the gift it was, all I could see were the imperfections.  I hated it.  I’d see other girls in two piece bathing suits or a fitted top and feel achingly jealous.

For years I kept my struggle a secret. Sometimes I would let someone into the process, but shame kept it tucked away in the dark.  I would get fed up and vow to myself and to God never again—only to find myself in the same old patterns the very next morning.

Underneath it all I felt like I wasn’t enough.  I felt unworthy of love.  And the only way I could get love was to look a certain way.

The burden of keeping it secret finally became too much to bear.  One of my best friends became an ally, and she prayed for me to find freedom.  The more I shared my struggle, the less shame I felt.  The path of freedom involved many baby steps. There was no secret formula or quick fix out of this.

At one point I stopped working out altogether because I couldn’t do it in a healthy way.  When I moved to California a huge breakthrough happened when I decided to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, and work out only if I felt like it.

On top of that I moved into a house full of women and we had some house rules: no body shaming, no talking about food as if it is the enemy.  It was foreign territory.  If we weren’t talking about how bad we were that day at lunch, or how we really shouldn’t eat that ice cream—what would we talk about?

It turns out we had a lot to talk about.  Instead of cursing food or our bodies, we blessed it—all of it.  Instead saying does my butt look big—we praised one another’s differences and curves.

I started going to counseling, I texted friends on days I was struggling, and I confessed when I gave into the temptations.  It was not easy or natural work—it was hard, took discipline, and lot of support from others.  But fighting for healing, freedom, and truth is so worth it.

When you go through a break up, you sometimes wonder if your heartache will ever end.  And then one day, out of nowhere you realize you haven’t cried in two weeks.  Healing can sneak up on us in that way.  That’s how it was for me with my eating disorder.

Now at 31, my struggle with an eating disorder seems like a lifetime ago.  Last year when I was in Guatemala there was an afternoon where all the guys went rock climbing and the girls stayed at our private beach to lay out.  We basked in the sun, laughed, and talked about our hearts.  And since there were no boys in sight, we took off our tops and laughed like giddy school girls.

I looked around and wanted to cry.  Ten years earlier I wouldn’t have been caught dead on a beach in a swimsuit — much less a bikini.  I realized I loved myself.  I adored my body, and I was FREE from the bondage of fear, free from the eating disorder and no longer had a distorted view of my body.  I never thought I would feel this way.

Many people think if they aren’t throwing up their food or physically wasting away, they don’t have an eating disorder.  But food is a gift and our bodies are to be treasured, and when there is a distortion in how we view food and our bodies  — no matter how big or small—there is dysfunction.

I have wrinkles on my forehead and stretch marks on my thighs, and I still have moments of insecurities.  But I can honestly say I love the skin I’m in.

If you are in the throes of an eating disorder, you are not alone.  There is freedom for you!  I believe it.  I have hope for you. If I can be free, so can you.

Bring your struggle from the darkness to the light. Share it with others, ask for support, go to counseling, get enrolled into a rehab facility.  You are beautiful.  You are worth fighting for.  You are enough.

XO,

Kat

Motherhood / News / Refined by Fire

Refined by Fire | Johanna Mutz

03.09.17

Photo c/o Darby Mush Photography , Styling c/o Sweet Juniper Home

Johanna Mutz is the co-owner of laurelbox, a small shop offering hand-curated gifts to nourish hearts after loss.  Before laurelbox, Johanna worked as a museum fundraiser and educator for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.  She currently lives in Florida with her husband and two boys where she can soak up sun year round.

I was 25 years old and 8 weeks pregnant when the doctor took my hand.  She looked me gently in the eyes, and told me I would not stay pregnant. Her advice on my next steps… come back in two weeks for a follow up appointment, don’t tell anyone you are pregnant, and throw away your ultrasound photo. 

So I went home, and I waited for two weeks.  I kept up normal life, and I hoped beyond my own good judgement for a better outcome, even as the sense of loss grew stronger in my soul.  Two weeks later, on a Thursday, the doctor confirmed what I already knew.  The baby was gone.

The next day I spent 12 hours in a hospital bed, sobbing into my sheets.  On Saturday, I put on a pencil skirt and a brave face and went to work.  On Sunday, I walked into church only to walk back out again at the sight of a baby dedication.  On Monday, I sat in my office, staring numbly at a computer screen.  Three days later on Thanksgiving, I cried at the dinner table.  For months I kept up that dance, frantically trying to hide my grief as I threw myself into normal life and tried to silence my horror by staying busy.

My body didn’t heal for months.  Probably because I gave it very little care.

My heart didn’t heal for longer.  Probably because I gave it even less care.

By the time I miscarried, I had an assortment of random baby things, all small and inconsequential: samples from the doctors office, my ultrasound photo, a pregnancy magazine, a few things from a gift bag given to women at their first OBGYN appointment.

While I was pregnant, the bag of baby things hung on my bedroom door, but after I miscarried the sight of it made me so enraged that I threw it into a shoebox at the back of my closet. It’s a perfect metaphor for how I handled the whole loss.

I normally don’t feel angry or sad when I think about my miscarriage anymore, but I do grieve for how I treated myself:

I treated my broken body like an inconvenience.

I struggled to distract myself with work and plans.

I avoided rest and solitude, fearful of the pain that might visit in the quiet.

My heart stayed so skittish that almost two years later, pregnant with my next child, I avoided setting up the crib until I was almost full term.

When I look back at those months after my miscarriage, I wonder, why didn’t I tuck myself into bed?  Why didn’t I feed myself soup and wine and some tenderness?  Why had I treated myself so cruelly?

I know part of my attitude of self-shaming stemmed from the cultural message that miscarriages are meant to be hidden, but I think the most important work I can do is within myself.  So I decided to learn how to extend kindness to myself.

Don’t get me wrong.  Grieving is not convenient.  It hurts like hell.  There are people who will try and rush grief or rationalize it away.  Grief disrupts normal life.  But shoving my miscarriage further into the recesses of my heart didn’t make it go away.  It didn’t heal my brokenness.  Only when I held up my hurt to be seen by caring souls around me, could someone step in and help me carry the load.

I wish I could say that in the last six years, I never experienced another loss.  But two years ago my life broke in a totally different way.  Because that’s what life does, right?  It breaks and mends and then breaks again.

This time, I tucked myself into bed.  I fed myself soup and poured myself wine and gave myself tenderness.  It took a long time, and it looked messy from the outside, and it was inconvenient.

But when I gave myself grace and time to process my loss and integrate it into my life, I found a sense of peace and worth.  I let others carry me when I couldn’t hold myself up.  Embracing my own human-ness in my brokenness was the most terrible, beautiful and authentic thing I’ve ever done.

So beautiful woman, whatever you’re going through, don’t rush yourself.  Your loss is not a source of shame.  Your heart is worth tender care.  Honoring your grief by pausing to integrate it into your story will be a step on your path of healing.  You are worth the care.

xo,
Johanna

News

I love it all… and so can you

03.07.17

Photos c/o Israel Veintidos for BHLDN

[This post is in collaboration with some of my fave boss ladies.  Be sure + check their stories out as well:  Krystal Bick, Brynn Watkins, Janelle Lloyd, and Esther Houston.]

I love the dimple on the right side of my face.  My dad has one in the same spot.  So does my Grandmother; it makes me feel connected to them.

I love the freckles painted all over my body.  They remind me of the stars.  I used to draw lines and make constellations out of them when I was little — sometimes I still do.

I love my long fingers and wrists.  As a 5’ 10 athlete they have always felt like the most feminine part of me.

I love my strong legs.  Each step they rub together I am thankful.  Grateful to have a healthy body that can practice yoga, hike, run down subway stairs, and cliff jump into the cold ocean water.  It’s a gift I know not everyone has.

I love my tenacity — if I have an idea, or if there’s something I want… I go for it.

For example… in 5th grade I decided I wanted to play tennis in college on a full scholarship.  Eight years later my mom packed dropped me off at school to play D1 tennis.

These things may seem to spill out of my mouth with ease.  But it hasn’t always been this way.  I struggle with being present.  I often focus on what I haven’t done, my unaccomplished dreams.

I’ve spent a lot of my life being jealous of other women in every single way.  From wanting their bodies and wrinkle-free foreheads, to wishing I had their financial success, and envying their dating lives and marriages.

Living this way is exhausting and lonely.  It stole from me, sucked energy out of my relationships, and kept me at the center of my own pity-party of a universe.  Shifting from this perspective has taken time, patience, discipline, and allowing myself to be real with my community when insecurity strikes.

When I began to slowly acknowledge who I am today — not some future or past version of myself — I noticed something shocking.  Women became less threatening to me.  In fact, the more I choose to love myself I began to see others more purely. Their successes inspire me.  Their blunders breed empathy.  The women around me are no longer my competition, but a source of support and strength.

And here’s the thing — I think we’re all dying for permission to be who we were created to be.  What I have discovered:  no one can give you that permission but yourself. Ghandi was onto something sacred when he said be the change you wish to see.

I’m grateful to be surrounded by a community of women who lead by example, empower, and challenge me each day to love myself so I can in turn love others without condition or agenda.

It may sound simple and cliche, but some of the most true things are.

I finally love myself.  Every square inch.  And today I invite you to unapologetically celebrate the infinite beauty, worth, and value of YOU!

XO,

Kat

P.S.  This post is in collaboration with some of my fave boss ladies + BHLDN.  Check their stories out + give them some love:  Krystal BickBrynn WatkinsJanelle Lloyd, and Esther Houston.

 

Boss Ladies / Inspiration / News

Boss Ladies | Emari Traffie

03.02.17

Photos c/o Keyel Walker & Emma Krieger.

Emari Traffie is a Los Angeles-based fashion, music and commercial photographer. During her four years in the Marine Corps she became a journalist but fell in love with creating imagery. In 2011, she headed back to the east coast and earned her Bachelors degree in Journalism. Upon graduation, she packed up and moved to Hollywood and became a full-time freelance photographer and director. 

Growing up I really wanted to be
A figure skater

My go-to order at a coffee shop is
A medium cup of whatever their lightest roast is, black and hot, to go.

I don’t know how I ever lived without
Eyebrow pencils.

One thing people don’t know about me is
I was in the Marines for four years.

My real life hero is
Do Mary-Kate and Ashley count? I am so serious though. I aspire to reach that level of empress. In real life? My friends and peers for sure. My mom. Dad. Each in their own way.

What I love about my work is
That I LOVE it. I feel like I’m cheating because I get to wake up everyday and do what I love for a living—nothing has ever made more sense.

The hardest thing about my work is
There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do.

The dumbest thing I did when I was starting out
I got nervous and rushed.

My typical day looks like
I get a little bored with routines so mine changes all the time, but currently: I wake up around 7:30 and stretch, in bed—giant stretches with loud noises. I like to sleep more than anything so I prolong getting out of bed for way too long. After stretching and meditating, I brush my teeth and then make myself a spirulina/b-complex shot.

At least twice a week, I go for a 2.5 mile run around my Hollywood neighborhood hills, and if I don’t make that happen I do some indoor exercises and then shower. After that, I put on some relaxing music (Nils Frahm lately), and make coffee—the long way—and eggs. At 9 am I settle in for work. I work on emails, edits, social media or web stuff until noon (or until I take a nap) and then typically have a shoot in the afternoon.

I try to sneak in a trip to the Sweetgreen near my house for lunch/dinner. More coffee and back to editing. At this point I move into the living room and put on a movie, podcast or documentary while I do mundane tasks like exports and archiving. Eventually I have to leave for an event of some sort which I usually end up rushing to and doing my makeup in the car. Once home, I do a bedtime routine, tea, face care, teeth care, and read a book until I fall asleep looking forward to another day.

I used to think success meant
People knew who you were.

Now I think success means
Knowing who you are and embracing it.

An example of when I had to push through my insecurities was
When I got out of the military. I had a good, well-paying, secure job and promises of raises, bonuses, promotions and a shot at the dream job within my field. I had to trust that God had plans bigger than mine when I decided to leave the Marines and go to school.

I know my work/life balance is out of sync when
I am feeling depressed or anxious. It means I need to slow down a little, be more present, spend more time on my spiritual, physical and mental health. I typically try to get in a “me day” at least once every other week.

The last time I created something I was proud of was
I am pretty proud of any work I put time and effort into. My last shoot was a small lookbook for a clothing brand and I’m actually really stoked about how it came out.

I wish I could tell my younger self
Everything is going to work out.  Take things slowly.  Pain is only temporary and is always a lesson in strength, patience, wisdom or some other form of virtue that  you will need in the future.

The legacy I hope to leave is
One of love. To say that I loved. For those around me to know love, the power of love and the joy of love.

xo,
Emari

Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe | Ready for Spring

02.28.17

I’m in my last trimester of pregnancy, and when it comes to maternity clothes, February and March are tough months. It’s too cold to wear dresses, my maternity jeans no longer fit, and my leggings aren’t cutting it.

Right now I’m living in harem pants from the Podolls and a great pair of overalls Aaron got me for Christmas. I spend my evenings browsing the Spring collections online and dreaming of warmer weather — when I no longer have to dress around a baby bump.

I’m trying my best to not buy things and save them for later, which was a huge mistake I made at the end of my last pregnancy. It’s hard to know when you’re going to start fitting back into your normal sized clothes and you don’t need to put that kind of pressure on yourself after going through the miracle of childbirth.

I made an exception with this Ace + Jig dress I found on deep discount on Shopbop. The silhouette is supposed to be loose and baggy (this works for my usual style anyways) and it should be fairly accessible to nurse a baby in this summer. Also it was on super sale! I think we can all agree I made the right decision right?

Just tell me yes. I’m 8 months pregnant and starting to get cranky.

xo,

Em

Motherhood / Real Talk

Real Talk Real Moms | Friendships

02.24.17
One of the hardest adjustments in becoming a mom is the way my friendships have changed. I used to spend a lot of time making plans with my girlfriends; I love spending time with friends, and owning my own business gives me a lot of space and freedom to do that. Until I had a baby, that is. And suddenly I had a lot less time and space in my life.
There was a chain of command, in terms of who I gave my time to:
First, my baby girl.
Second, my husband (the most capable man in the world, who helps with EVERYTHING).
Third, my clients and my business.
The scraps went to my friends. My own heart and well being didn’t even factor into the equation.
It’s no wonder that, combined with the fluctuating hormones, I fell into a pretty serious valley of postpartum anxiety.  I am thankful I had friends who saw me through that season, who called and did things for me to help. But I know I let a lot of my friends down during this time too.
As I have moved through the intense first few years of motherhood — through days of unwashed hair and reheated coffee and tears —  Charlie has started going to school a few days a week, and I am finding more time for my friends.
But that doesn’t always mean they have time for me, as a lot of them are new moms. Having gone through the valleys myself I have a better understanding of where they are at, but I am learning to accept that every one of my friends has a different set of obstacles. Some of their spouses have to work longer hours than mine does, so we can’t always go to dinner together. Some of them work during the daytime when I have more free hours.
As a result, I still struggle with how much less I see my friends than I used to. I feel lonely at times. I haven’t kept up with friends who don’t have kids as much and I get down on myself about that. It was never a conscious choice, but in those first two years my friends who were going through the same things I was obsessing about (breastfeeding, baby sleep) were my lifeline. I emerged with a toddler who is pretty wonderful and as I have been getting back into my normal life, I see that I could have used more time with friends without kids who could have given me a break from all my obsessing about baby stuff.
What has helped, when I get lonely or miss the free time I used to have to spend with my girlfriends, is to remember that this is just a season of life. Every season has different challenges, and this is a big one for me, but it’s not permanent. There will be a season when my children leave the house and go on with their lives and I’ll have all the time in the world to hang out with my friends. And I’m sure in those days I’ll miss my children more than words can explain, and I’ll long to travel back to this time, right now, when I can snuggle their faces whenever I want to!
photo c/o Jessica Burke
I am thankful for my friends… If you’re reading this. I love you too.
xo,
Em
This post is in collaboration with some other awesome Real Moms!
Inspiration / Style

Women We Love | F.E. Castleberry Feature

02.23.17

F.E. Castleberry has been a longtime friend.  We met years ago in a cramped photographer’s pit of the first fashion show I ever photographed on my very first trip to New York City–almost a decade ago.  Back then we were both visitors of the great city of New York, enchanted by the energy and hustle, and left with big dreams of making things happen one day in The Big Apple. Fred is now creative director and designer of his own menswear collection, and is one of my all-time favorite photographers.  Everything he does is with the utmost attention to detail.  So when he asked me to be apart of his Women We Love series I was honored.

You can see the interview on his site, and see some highlights of the feature below.

When and where were you happiest? It was a slow day in Rome years ago with my girlfriends. Flat broke and tired from traveling, we wandered slowly, ate gelato, and ducked into a cafe on a side street and sat outside. We sipped espresso, wrote in our journals, and talked when we wanted to talk but didn’t feel pressure to fill the air with noise. Later we found ourselves at the Spanish Steps and drank cheap red wine out of the bottle as the sun sank.

What do you most value in your friends? An openness to love others.

What is your favorite virtue? Generosity.

What is your greatest fear? To, at the end of my life, realize I’ve lived selfishly and didn’t do anything that really mattered.

Which living person do you most despise? Spongebob. Does that count? He’s the worst.

coat AYR denim shirt Vintage Levi's sunglasses Street Vendor Find
Photo c/o F.E.Castleberry

Which quality do you most desire in a man? Humility.

Which quality do you most desire in a woman? Authentic confidence.

Which quality do you most desire in a pair of jeans? Fit.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Wanting to know how and when everything is going to work out to a T, beforehand.

What is your greatest extravagance? Nice lingerie.

What is your most marked characteristic? My go-getter-ness (not my spelling capabilities).

In which season do you feel most beautiful? Summer.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? The wrinkles on my forehead. I am trying to love them more.

Which talent would you most like to have? Hip-hop dance talent.

On what occasion do you lie? 
Man: So are you hungry? 
Me: Hmmm…what’s that? Food?…haven’t really thought about it.

What is your current state of mind? Open.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? The geographic distance between us.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Building a life in New York City.

Where would you like to live? Paris.

What is your favorite journey? Life, truly, is the greatest journey. Each step I take, each moment that unfolds is different than I could have anticipated or dreamt up for myself. New and unexpected door opens—and sometimes doors that were wide open slam shut. But all of it is guiding me into adventures that I would’ve never stumbled upon if unfolded the way I planned.

Who was the last person that gave you flowers? My dad.

What is your most treasured possession? My photo albums and a box of letters from family and friends I’ve received over the years.

Who are your favorite writers? Madeleine L’Engle, John Steinbeck, and C.S. Lewis.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Clearly” and “literally.”

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being alone in your heartbreak.

Who is your favorite fictional hero? Aslan.

Who is your favorite hero in real life? My Gaw-Gaw. She just turned 86 years old, and has always been fiercely independent and full of life. Her mother—my great grandmother—named Kitty Kendall was one of the first female journalists in Texas. She blew through glass ceilings. Gaw-Gaw is no different. She’s started and succeeded at running many different businesses in her life. Growing up there would always be a random person at family holidays because she’d meet someone who didn’t have anywhere to go and without hesitation invite them over. She is adventurous, wears her heart on her sleeve, and is one of the most generous people I know. She is a humble and feisty leader, and I hope I can be like her one day.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Elizabeth Bennett.

How would you like to die? In my sleep after a long life well lived.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? A mermaid.

What is your motto? You are enough.

Motherhood / Real Talk

Motherhood | Our Maternity Session with Elizabeth Messina

02.21.17

 

photos by elizabeth messina

It’s difficult to talk about my struggles with pregnancy, because I know that it’s a gift — I’m growing a new life in my body.

I’m acutely aware of this as I know so many women who struggle to conceive, or miscarry. But I have to face my own truth, which is that being pregnant is very difficult for me – physically and emotionally and mentally. I struggle.

The first question everyone asks when you’re pregnant is, how are you feeling? For the past 8 months it’s been vaguely the same answer: I feel okay. What else am I going to say? I feel miserable? Maybe the real answer is I feel blessed. Blessed because you can be blessed but not happy. Blessed but not comfortable. Blessed but in pain. I am blessed by this new life growing in me, I am amazed and still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we are going to have two children.

It’s a struggle to document the process of growing a baby myself. Most days I don’t make it much farther than the couch. The only reason I found the energy to schedule, shop for and execute a maternity photo session is because I myself am a photographer, and I know I will want to look back at these photos. The photos themselves are a celebration. And friends who didn’t do maternity photos have told me they regretted it.

I’m grateful we made the effort to take these images, because I need to find ways to connect with the beauty of this time in our lives. It’s truly beautiful, and I want to celebrate how my body is growing this life. Each day I find myself dwelling unintentionally on the hard parts – the fatigue and aches and pains. It’s easy to lose sight of what a gift this is.

As we make space for a new baby to enter our world and throw everything into even more chaos, I am trusting that God will make space in my heart for our son. When I saw our daughter Charlie for the first time my heart grew ten sizes. It was just like in How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

I am excited to be a mom to a boy, and at the same time I feel the weight of responsibility to raise him into a man of integrity. I am grateful Aaron got to be in the photos this time because he is going to be instrumental in modeling this for our son. More than ever I am grateful that I married a man of integrity who does what he says he will do and is kind and honest.When I look at these photos I’m able to look past all of the hard parts of pregnancy and remember the ways that being a part of a growing family is teaching me about myself, what I want for our world, and how I can be a better person.

xo,

Em

Thank you to Elizabeth Messina for photos we will always cherish.

Also thanks to ShopTilden for providing the beautiful sage green Rachel Pally gown.