Sexless in the City

This is Really About That




Graphic by Jenna Kutcher

For a Saturday in October it was unusually warm and sunny.  He asked me to come over and hang out.  He has a huge terrace, and we could sit outside.  There was nothing else that I wanted to do.  But I was shooting a NYC society wedding in Central Park that was going to take up at least the next 15 hours of my day.  We texted back and forth a throughout the day, but I was pretty distracted with shooting.

It was now Monday night, and I hadn’t heard from him since.

“It’s probably over,” I told my friend.

I was pouting on her bed as she was putting laundry away.

She gave me this look like you have got to be kidding me.

“What,” I said, “I haven’t heard from him since Saturday.  He’s probably just over it.”  Over this  [Over me is what I really meant.]

She asked me if I missed him.


Do you want to see him?


Then why don’t you call him?

Because I can’t.





That’s not an answer.

You’re not an answer.  (Yep you don’t have to tell me that’s a good comeback.  I already know).

I wanted him to want to hang out with me.  I wanted him to think of me, miss me, call me.  Didn’t he know that?  Couldn’t he jedi-mind trick me and read my thoughts?

Every time we’ve talked or gone out he has initiated it.

She pointed out though, “Don’t you think he wants you to call him every once in a while?”

But guys are supposed to call.  Make the move.  That’s how relationships are supposed to look aren’t they?  That’s how pursuit looks right?

And this is when it came about that (thank you Rob Bell for the analogy).  It wasn’t really even about him, or hearing from him; it was about something deeper.

It was about my attachment to how I thought it should look.  It was my attachment to feeling safe.

I felt safe in responding to him.  There was hardly any risk involved in that for me because at least I knew in those moments he wanted me.  He liked me, and my guarded heart only wanted him to know I felt the same way if I knew it would be reciprocated.

Me telling him I wanted to see him left me completely exposed.  It would open me up to rejection.

What if he didn’t want me?

What if I wanted him more than he wanted me?

What would that say about me?

I was terrified of putting myself out there, because I was terrified of getting hurt.

CS Lewis put it like this:

To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements.  Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that basket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable…to love is to be vulnerable.

Still lying on her bed my friend asked what did I really have to lose?

With little hesitation I responded:  Control.

Control had kept me safe from heartbreak for a long time, but in this moment I started to see that it had also ostracized me from love too.

If I chose to let go, and let another person see me and know me, then I opened myself to possibility.

The possibility of love, beauty, intimacy.

The possibility of heartache, disappointment, rejection.

And again I found myself in a space where it was about him, but it was not about him at all.

I saw those questions and instead of judging myself decided to have compassion for myself.  Underneath those questions was a deeper question:  Am I worth it? And if I believe that God is who He says he is and that he created me in His image, then no person can define my worth.  My worth comes from God.  So in essence I am free to expose my heart to another because their acceptance or rejection of me doesn’t change who I am and what I am worth.(A truth much easier to talk about than to actually walk out in life).

I’ve been so scared of  pain that I’ve shut myself off to feeling anything with a man.

Up until now.

This does not get to be my story anymore.  Now I get an opportunity to make a different choice.

Love is an invitation we receive each moment, every day to choose.  To serve another person, to put their needs first, to listen, to be open, to be patient, to respond instead of react, to speak life and hope and honesty and truth.  Love is to take a step towards another person when I don’t know what their response is going to be. In all of it the invitation is there, yet the choice is mine to make.

And it’s scary, and it’s risky, and it’s much safer to talk about doing than actually doing.  It’s easier for me to just say ‘oh for him it’s probably over’ as opposed for fighting for time with him or just simply putting myself out there to say I miss you.  I want to see you.

And yes I want to be pursued and fought for by a man.  Gosh I want that.  What woman doesn’t?

But love isn’t one sided.  It’s a journey you take hand in hand with another person.  Step by step together.  Each step forward is a step into the unknown. You don’t know how it’s going to work out or if it’s going to last.  The lie is that It’s just vulnerable for me.  Only I could get hurt.  No, we both can.

Love is worth it.  It has to be.

As my sweet and oh so patient friend shoved me out the door later that night she pointed her sassy finger in my face and told me to call him.

On my way home I made a decision to let my guard down with him.  To let go of what may or may not happen.  If I am rejected it will hurt, but it won’t ruin me.  We are quite resilient beings.  I decided I was going to join him on the journey.  Make steps towards towards him and towards the unknown too, and I was so scared.

I picked up my phone and we talked.  Timidly I said I missed him, and I wanted to see him, and asked can we see each other tomorrow.  He said of course, and he couldn’t wait to see me.

The next night we met at Union Square to go to drinks.

There were people blurring all around us, rushing to make the next L train, hailing cabs, carrying yoga mats and grocery bags, but I stood there and on the inside felt peaceful and sure.

Not sure of the outcome, or what would come of us, but sure that I was ready to let myself be seen and known.  Something I hadn’t done in years.

As he walked up and kissed me on the cheek it was almost physical.

I could feel my walls come down.

So it was about hearing from him, but it wasn’t even about that.

It was about me telling him I missed him, and yet it wasn’t so much about that.

And it was about grabbing drinks in-between meetings on a Tuesday night, but really it was about so much more.



Inspiration / Style

Fashion Week for the Real World



When Kat and I first sat down to talk about turning The Refined Woman into it’s own thing, I remember wondering how it would work when Aaron and I decided to start a family. I worried I would no longer have time to invest, or that I would no longer be passionate about it.

The opposite happened. The passion to continue to work has only increased. Something about having a child really helps put your work into perspective – now that she’s in our world I only want to spend time doing what makes me come alive, what makes me happy, what pushes me further down the path of finding my true calling and gifting.

Fast forward to Fashion Week February 2015. After flying 6 hours solo with my 11 month old wild child, I can’t sleep. I’m exhausted to the bone but I’m filled with anxiety and excitement. My husband arrives after his red eye the next morning in New York, we high five at our Airbnb and Kat and I head out to the Kate Spade presentation. The next day I was able to attend the Mara Hoffman runway show as well. Getting there was brutal, I wish I had gone to more shows, but I was there. The entire battle was just showing up.

I have to find a way to celebrate that I made it there, that I didn’t let my tiredness or my fear of flying with my baby (which was pretty real) keep me from going and doing it.

I continually struggle with the desire to not just show up but to show up and want to kick butt. Sometimes, after you arrive at your destination, your baby gets a fever. It’s 10 degrees out. You can’t sleep two nights in a row. Your Uber lands at the wrong address then cancels on you completely. But I SHOWED UP. And I even found a way to enjoy some chicken and waffles.

There will be years when I’m able to go to more shows, and I’ll find a new appreciation for the years of struggle. I’m constantly striving to appreciate the reality of my here and now – the little moments in between to savor. I’m constantly weighing the benefits and rewards of everything I do as a mom. I often judge the decisions I make in a new way, and it’s not always healthy. What I want to remember is that even though this was a hard trip for me in a lot of ways, there were moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I want to remember that I showed up. I fought for this dream. I still have fight left in me. I’m still here.

That’s what counts. I’m still showing up. Even when it’s hard.

And hey, I have photos to prove it.

Fist pump.




All photos by Kat Harris.



ps. some of the stuff I’m wearing you can find here. it feels weird to put this at the end of a real talk post but the sweater is on super sale so I feel like it’s pretty much my duty to still add it.

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How to Dress Your Bridesmaids



(View full post on Darling Magazine.)

So he finally popped the question, and it’s only been a few weeks and you’re already in full Wedding Planning mode!  For those of you who aren’t married or are unfamiliar with the wedding world, wedding planning is almost a full-time job.  It can be extremely overwhelming when you consider:  this will probably be the biggest party you’ll ever throw and everyone has their opinion to add as to how it should happen, where it should happen, how much money should or shouldn’t be spent, etc.  Not to mention the endless traditional expectations of hosting a wedding.

Now I should mention that I am single, but I have been a bridesmaid 15 times, and I have been a wedding photographer for 6 years.  So it’s safe to say I have been around the block a few times!

Before you curl up in a corner and cry (please don’t do that), be encouraged by this:  it is 2015 and this is your wedding!  You get to create a wedding that first and foremost reflects the love of you and your partner.  Let yourself off the hook in regards to trying to please everyone, because it is simply not possible.  The quicker you can do that the quicker you can enjoy this process!

There are a lot of things we could talk about, but let’s start with Bridesmaid Dresses!  I cannot tell you how many of my brides have spent endless hours looking for that perfect shade in that perfect silhouette that will look good on 8 different women.

Here’s the secret:  there typically is not one color or one silhouette that will look good on everyone.  Let go of the old tradition, and embrace the new tradition of choosing a color palette and allowing your bridesmaids to choose a dress that best suits their bodies.



Why is this a good idea?

  • This will save so much time.  It can be hard to let go of control with your wedding, because every detail can seem like such a huge deal.  From someone who has photographed hundreds of weddings, I can promise you that no one really remembers what the bridesmaids wear, let alone what color their fingernails are, or whether or not they have matching shoes.  Getting hung up on details like this can really steal the joy from the process of wedding planning.  It is ok to let go,and trust your closest friends to choose dresses that not only flatter their figures, but that you will love as well. There are even multiple gown designers that offer beautiful dresses in the same color palette in different silhouettes.  Some of my favorite are:  Adrianna Papell and Amsale.
  • Gone are the days when you wear a purse to match your shoes (who does that anymore).  You can actually create an effortlessly cohesive look with different styles of gowns.  Take for example the wedding below.  My best friend just got married, and she sent us all paint swatches with a color palette, and said to pick a long gown in the ‘Champagne’ color family, and have it be floor length.  Though all of our dresses our different they came together flawlessly, and at the end of the day most of us truly are able to recycle and wear the dress again for another event.
  • Along with the above comment allowing your bridesmaids to choose a dress that best suits their body is a great way to honor their budget.  Let’s face it as amazing as it is to be asked to be in your best friends wedding; it also can be very expensive.  (A few years ago, I spent over $2,500 on being in weddings!).  As friends it is our joy to throw showers, and give the bride the experience she desires and deserves.  However, It can be hard to spend several hundred dollars on a dress that you don’t look good in, and will never wear again, and that you probably cannot resell.  One of the wonderful things about giving a color palette to your bridesmaids is that they are much more likely to find a dress that they actually really love and will be able to wear again!


You’ve got the color palette, now how to choose the dress:

  • Before shopping set your budget.  Whether it’s $75 or $250, stick with your price range and don’t allow yourself to try on dresses above your price range.  What can happen is you try on the $500 dress that is way out of your price range, and then anything else that you try on in your price range will feel second rate.  Your overall experience will be disappointing.  (This tidbit came from a manager of the world famous wedding gown salon Kleinfelds)  The employees will not allow you to even try on a dress outside of your price range for this very reason!
  • Know your body.  This may take some research. For a general rule of thumb if you are well endowed stay away from strapless dresses (the last thing you want is to be pulling up your dress all night).  A great alternative is a halter or one strap dress.  For athletic figures A-line and empire waists.  For an hourglass shape a wrap dress accentuates your curves.  Nordstrom has a great online resource for body types HERE.  Most importantly make sure that you feel beautiful in the dress.  If it’s a little snug, or no matter how many people say it looks great if you don’t feel great in the dress it doesn’t matter.
  • Try try try again.  Make an appointment at a store, and ask for a personal shopper.  Stores like JCrewNordstrom, and even Anthropologie will set aside dresses in your color palette if you call ahead, and they’ll even help accessorize your look.  Often times the dress we like best on the rack isn’t what we end up going with.  It can be that unexpected dress on the rack that you don’t really like that sometimes ends up being the winner!  Be open minded, and try on lots of dresses!  That way in the process you can find what styles look best on you so you’ll be better prepared next time!



All in all remember it is ok to let go of some traditions.  Figure out what is important to you and your fiancé, and be open and flexible with other aspects of your wedding and trust your bridesmaids that they will look amazing on your special day!



All photos by:  Kayla Adams