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*Favorite Posts*Living Out Loud

I Used To Do That.

UsedToDoThat

The post on why I’m no longer in the business of photography.

On April 10, 2004 my younger sister Kellie died unexpectedly.  It changed my life, and even though we were a family who grew up with plenty of photographs – it suddenly seemed like there would never be enough of those moments frozen in time.  So on the day I picked up my camera again, I knew I’d never put it down.  I’d put money on the simple fact that I may have never been without a camera since.

My family does not have a family portrait of the five of us. We were supposed to get one taken the November before, but there I sat – holding the hand of my dying sister – knowing we’d never have that photograph because six months prior life was just too busy for us all to freeze time for even thirty seconds.  I knew I could help prevent that from happening in other families, whether it was professionally or simply stepping in and asking a father if he’d like to join his family for a picture while at the theme parks.

Photography is an art which deserves to be prioritized in your life, and quite frankly – if it isn’t?  Then I wan’t little to no part in being the person you choose behind a camera to preserve these moments for your family.

But as these past few years have flown right by, something else started to change in me too.  I won’t say that I woke up one morning with the sudden realization that I no longer wanted any part of being in the business of photography — that the very thought of it left me feeling, genuinely, ill — but that was more or less exactly what happened.

Of course, a lot of other little happenings lead up to that ‘catastrophic’ moment in time.  And while a few tried to convince me otherwise — I knew in my heart that it was over.  It was not a dream I wanted any longer.

It was okay with me, I was at ease with it – many others, I felt, put me in a place of being undefined.  If I wasn’t a photographer –  then who was I?

Why they had to know is beyond me.

I didn’t dare to utter the words to most people in my life for well over a year; afraid that most would try to talk me out of a decision I had already made.  For many, it took them coming directly to me — “Are you still doing photography?”

I think I needed a full year just to figure out a way to answer, but the answer wound up being, “I’m no longer in the business of photography, no.”

The second I left the business, was the second I got myself back.  It was the same second I felt as if I could breathe properly for the first time in years.  It was the same second I knew I could LOVE photography again.

Since that second there have been requests to capture weddings and families.  Something I only ever entertain the idea of for close friends, but – even then – more often than not, I refer them to other friends who are every bit of the photographer I dreamed of being.

It isn’t to say that I’m not a photographer anymore – it took me a while to realize that, in fact, I’ll NEVER stop being a photographer. Ever.

I just found a new way of being the photographer I never knew I always wanted to be.

In December of 2014, I sold all of my Canon equipment.  Every last piece.  The second I shipped the last item off, a literal weight was lifted off of me.  For close to a year I had HATED watching the gear just sit, stored, under my desk.  It wasn’t a camera I ever brought out for traveling, I’d never dare to bring it to the theme parks with us, and I rarely had it out around the house.  It was a ton hanging from my shoulders and neck.  It wore on me in more ways than one.

It made me hate photography even more.

So I sold it. All of it. And I turned around and got myself a couple of new mirrorless lens cameras – a Fuji X100T and XT1.  And, again, I fell in love.

They’re cameras that could (and do!) keep up in the professional world — but, y’know…mostly I just use those guys for fun – theme parks, vacations, around the house & more! 🙂

Life is weird and quirky and interesting.  But I know this is where I was intended to be, and where I was meant to go.

So it took me a while, but there it is.  And now…here we go.

Hopefully you enjoy the adventure from here on out…

Need proof that I’m still capturing moments? Follow me on Instagram! 

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#SeanAndCasie

Thirty Something.

HouseHunting

We’re house hunting. Which is NOT at ALL what they show on HGTV, by the way. #HeadsUp #SpoilerAlert

And we just keep hitting walls on more fronts than I care for.  We’ve waited for this moment for over three years, and…crappy as it may sound, after all our waiting I’m kinda “over” life fighting me on it.

I’ve been patient. Now I kinda want what I want.

Also important to note: I’m tired of people telling me that the “waiting will be worth it” as if this is some new concept I have not entertained the idea of.

The age thing is hitting me harder & harder these days too…now that I’m 32 and supremely “behind” in a lot of life’s moments. I never hit that wall of turning 30 and going “Well, life is over now. Goodbye 20s!”  I hate – truly HATE – when people whine and complain about getting older or having another birthday to celebrate or “OH NO! Thirty! Run!”

Shut.Up. You’re ALIVE. Celebrate THAT.

I was EXCITED for 30, because I knew these would be the years I had been waiting for.

But those creepy, haunting voices in the back of my head are certainly becoming louder the “older” I get.  It doesn’t help when actual real-life-people seem to take enjoyment out of poking you and reminding you that you’re “not getting any younger” either. Again, tell me something I’m unaware of.

It’s not about wanting kids anymore, it’s more about…when we get there will I even be able to HAVE kids?!  I have shaken that fear off more times than I can remember.

And while I’ve accepted my fair share of lectures on the “next steps” in OUR relationship – I’m over those too.  I don’t particularly need your advice.  I don’t think people realize that we’ve all but been living together since we started dating — we’ve just been bouncing between parent’s homes as we paid off debts and saved for THIS moment.  What daft fools we are for attempting to be financially responsible. 😉

I don’t think most people realize that if it weren’t for money and MY request for a home before a ring before we even hit our first year anniversary…we would’ve been all those things long before now too.  Fairly early on, we knew.

Our plan isn’t like the regular ones, and for that – I’m pretty freakin’ grateful.

This growing up thing is not for the faint of heart.

I am beyond lucky that at the end of a seemingly endless emotional breakdown that left my defeated by failures and lost opportunities and getting older and “running out of time” type scenarios…he set me straight.

He reminded me of all I HAVE accomplished, all I’ve been able to experience.  The places I traveled.  The career I was so determined to achieve – an opportunity that most would kill for – one that many said couldn’t be found, I found.  That I work, daily, on something I love and am passionate about with a team I consider family — is beyond what most kids dream of.  And that, yes, maybe I am 32 and still living at home, unmarried, with no kids — but those are things that haven’t happened yet…and things that we’re working on together.

So, we’re house hunting.

Which isn’t what they show you on HGTV.

But, likely. I’ll show you here. 🙂

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#SeanAndCasie

He’d Never Have to Ask.

SeanAndCasie

A Facebook Comment, Circa Early 2016.

Each region is different – each couple is different. The timing in your life, I think, also plays a role. Honestly, we already feel married – so I don’t flinch when people call him my husband or address me as Mrs. Moody. Almost immediately, we knew that’s where we were headed – but of course we prioritized.

I was the one who said house before ring – something that, for some reason, surprises people. But my stance on that is – while jewelry is nice, we can’t live in that setting.

Our home is, to me, a greater commitment to our relationship and what we personally want vs. jewelry…and even a dress and flowers and cake. THIS is our foundation…where we hang pictures on the walls and laugh with each other while making dinner.

In terms of a wedding – for us, again, we already feel pretty married. So it’s all just “paperwork & a party” at this point, as I like to say.

For us, the details are just that – details. When the day comes, I could be in blue jeans and a tank top standing in the backyard …so long as we’re there together, that’s all that really matters.

He would never have to ask me to marry him, and I’d be just as happy with that and what we have and where we’re going.

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Living Out LoudMy Sister Kellie

Living Out Loud.

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What does Living Out Loud meant to me?

A letter to DJ Waldow.

– Living in the Now. Reveling in life’s moments – both big & small. 
– Choosing Happiness. Choosing Positivity. Knowing each day has a “win.”
– Living through Giving in Charity, Determination, Compassion, Love, Understanding & Acceptance. WHATEVER you can give – counts.
– Living through trust and transparency … Knowing that life isn’t all rainbows and Care Bears – but the sun still comes out tomorrow, and even when life is ugly – life can still be beautiful.
– Living with appreciation and gratitude. Telling people how you feel, when you feel it. Never losing your voice. 
– Living your Fears. Trusting yourself. Go diving with your shark.

 A lot of these qualities and thoughts were in the shadow of who I was, and who I was becoming, before we lost Kellie – most of it is hardcore in direct result from her death. 
After a week or two of delirious fog I woke up one more and knew I had a decision – life or death, happiness or mastering the art of being miserable, positivity and leading by example or using my situation as an excuse to be sad all the time.  
 
They were the thoughts and qualities that wouldn’t leave me alone late into the night when I missed her, or when I’d hit a wall and look for her — these were the things that made sense.
 
Needless to say, my sister was a firecracker and I KNEW if I had chosen any of those less than stellar options and lived a life SHE wouldn’t have been proud of?  I’d pay for it – someday.  So, since that morning – for me and many around me – it has been exclusively about Living Out Loud.  It may have started for Kellie, but it definitely turned in to a “for me” thing in time.  Now I let no one or no thing stand in my way — I’ve seen hell.  I’ve been there.  Held hands with it.  
 
If I live to see 100 life will still be too short to waste any time on mediocrity, sadness, negativity, or crappy people.
 

This went on to become a podcast for DJ Waldow’s Living Your Passion Podcast – Check it out HERE!

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Living Out LoudMy Sister Kellie

We Went to a Funeral.

30

Written August 6, 2015.

We went to a funeral tonight. For a beautiful woman in our community who gave so much – who taught so much.

I never had her class, but I can see exactly where it sits when I close my eyes.

And when I open them – I’m back there again.  My friends flowing through the doors to her English class and I’d head down the hallway, another direction.

The hallways fill me with anxiety. Not because it’s high school, because I know the year…and I know my sister still lives here within these hallways.  Her laughter fills the space between classrooms as lockers clang closed, and even in the crowd…I can always pick her out.

High school isn’t a place I remember easily, not since 2004. I feel most of my memories prior to that week died the day she did. Twenty years and I’m left with shattered fragments, whispers, and shadows.

It’s not uncommon for me to message friends who knew me back then to ask, “Do you remember…” because I sure as hell don’t. I can’t even begin to, it’s just a different life. Something I feel was barely mine; a movie I half-watched but once before the power went out.

And yet, here I am. At the crossroads of hallways. Boys are teasing, girls are giggling. Doors fly open only to slam shut. Groups of teens stampede to their next class. And as the next door flies open, she walks through like she never left. A light smile crosses her face as our blue eyes lock and she waves only enough for us both to know. She fades as she walks into the sea of faceless people I know I probably know, around the corner – I stretch up on to my tippy toes to see what I can see – and she’s gone. Again.

I shake it off and blink the years away to see another family, in another time, take the all too familiar spot at the front of a church. Floral arrangements and a pastor ahead of them, tears streaming. They’re hands are latched together, solidarity never seemed so necessary. I hate that they’re here, but I know they’ll be okay as they’ve found the key to life – and death – is in the celebrating.

The biggest rebellion against death is to live a life so beautiful that it supersedes the darkness that lurks.

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