Closing "With Grit and Grace"

I received a question recently inside of a client questionnaire. A mom had asked me why I close my emails, “with grit and grace.” It wasn’t until this email that I realized my words may not make sense to people. It's one of those "you don’t know what people don’t know" scenarios. Sure, we know what the words are and their respective definitions, but strung together, the intent and deeper meaning can be lost.

Grit and grace is how I view life. A mantra of my human-ness. I tumble, fall, and cry, but I overcome, get back up. I find the good to keep going. It is a reminder of the delicate balance of sanity as a parent, professional, and woman. I'll be honest, I never put much thought into the resilience of life and the patterns we live day in and day out until I had my daughter. Until I became a mom, my grit for life was like fine sand. My gears could pretty easily turn, and when I got stuck it was relatively easy to ask for help.

Now though, between the calm and chaos of everyday life with a little human, my grit is a bit larger and definitely more messy. It takes quite a bit more energy and focus to get through tasks. At the end of the day, I don't have all the answers! Heck, on some days you will find us crying together on the kitchen floor - seriously!

This new and different grit, while challenging, also helps me slow down. I have gained a desire for mindfulness - the art of being present. I no longer feel like I need to have all the right answers right away, if ever. The fortitude to see and feel this, to set a good example is all great, but it's a mental gymnasium I'm not fully equipped to traverse. And you know what, showing my weakness and frustration to my daughter and partner helps us all stay connected. This is my grace. Especially, when all I want is a nap and all the ice cream in the world.  

This motif is also what I strive to  document within the families I work with. We as parents are leaders, teachers, and friends. Our children are teachers and leaders in their own way as well! We each balance boundaries with love - words with action. Life is a trapeze between emotions and reason  within ourselves. Not to mention coexisting with our partners and children. I don’t think it is ground breaking to say no one gets along 100% of the time. I don’t even get along with myself 100% of the time. Between the self talk, talking with others, trying to accomplish life (grocery shopping anyone?), and all the connection that happens in between. This is art, it's grit and grace. Beautiful, maybe a little painful, but gorgeous in it’s dance to keep us together.

I sign my emails “with grit and grace” to honor the notion that I am not perfect (far from it), but I try. I try gracefully to answer your questions and communicate information accurately. In the end, it is a salutation and a promise of respect, imperfections and all, for both you and me.

Richmond family photographer capture joy and environmental portraits of kids being kids.

Mental Health and My Current State

Life scares the crap out of me most days. The shear potential of each day overwhelms me. As most of you know I self identify as a deep thinker. I have also told you that I struggle with anxiety and depression. This may come as a shock to some of you but I have also recently learned that I am an empath, a super feeler of my own emotions and others. (I honestly had no idea) Mental health and our each individual nature can look incredibly different for each person. Real talk time, for me, all of this presents as avoidance, rumination, and a lot of the time complete isolation where I feel shame, guilt, and envy. This comes from comparison, but it also come from within. Not knowing myself, not listening to myself, and running toward what I THINK I SHOULD be doing with my life. Can you relate? Recently I have promised myself to work on all of the above.

With photography, especially birth photography, I have seen many people burn out. This looks insanely different, just like anxiety and depression, for each individual. I have written a version of this post a few times now and noticed I kept pushing myself down to provide a lesson to you, the reader. This. Thinking I have to provide a scripted lesson over just sharing my own story is where I am burnt out and honestly a bit lost. I’ve started my business and fueled my passion out of a desire to do more, offer more, and provide what I did not have at any given point in my life. While noble, this "why" is incredibly unhealthy. I did not see what I was doing to myself or who I had become. A giver without regard for myself or even my family. This year I plan to simplify and figure out who Nicole is so I can better serve myself and others.

A powerful part of everything above is the lack of validation and the source of the validation. This is a hot topic word for me right now. The concept and definition I want to make clear, because for all intent and purposes I had it wrong. Validation is the "recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile." (dictionary.com) I’m just starting this journey and I do not have all the answers, but growing up the way I did, I did not get validation from my parents, was constantly questioned my friends, and therefore learned to question myself in everything. This lead to chasing likes, making excuses, pursuing leadership, typing lessons, and honestly doing and giving others what I desperately needed to do and give myself.

Recently, I met with a local friend and told her some of my troubles and she simply told me that I had given everyone else everything but have lost myself. The shirt off my back is gone, so to speak. I say a lot, too much probably, at every turn. I give, take on, and learn so that I can teach others, help, and support others. I got stuck. I’m still stuck. Worrying about everyone else’s business and families, everyone else’s reaction - this is something I thought didn’t affect me. I'm a doer, a change maker - I might be those things but I lost all grace and empathy for myself. I have recently learned this exact thing has held me back. Somewhere along my journey I have stopped creating for myself, for my local community, for my own family. Geez, this is all crazy hard to admit to you and to myself. I don’t have answers as to my next move - what is coming next - other than I need to be doing something different and more simple.

Knowing that ‘you can do more’ can become an excuse, a burden of sorts. Doing more is a big reason I stopped celebrating the tiny victories and chased the next thing I could show, share, and tell each of you who follow me. As much I as I believe in "shedding the should," I have should myself into a hole. The funny thing is I don't do this to others. I have spoken to many people over the course of the past couple of years. Helped many get started, been there for others, all while not really accepting myself. This has to change. I’m scared. I don’t know what this looks like. Asking for help doesn’t come easy. Admitting that I’m struggling is even harder. I’m not even sure what or where I need help most days. I’ve always considered myself the strong one, an island if you will, but as much as I have talked about not feeling lonely, I realize I may have been the most lonely.  

You heard that right. I am guilty. I don't reach out or ask for help often because I'm too afraid to do so and my anxiety about life leads me to avoiding everything and everyone. I also don't really know what I need help with other than to say I'm lost. I’m unsure of the questions to ask and conversations to have. Most days I want to sit still wrapped tightly in a heavy blanket. I have no clue if this is a common occurrence for others, so of course this creates doubt, which means I probably again won't reach out for help. Do you see a theme in this entire post. As I have read, reread, tried to rewrite this piece many different times I see how flippantly unsure I am of my own calling. This mental health thing is no joke. I want to talk about it though. 

Are you scared of sharing yourself? Do you have anxiety or depression? How does it present itself to you? Do you validate yourself or wait and hope for others to take up the slack? How are you feeling - really feeling? 

What the heck is Documentary Photography?

First lets talk about the literal definition of documentary. Whether you use this word as a noun or an adjective, it simply means official pieces of written, printed, or other matter or a factual record or report. This is Google's definition. In my own words documentary, is a real life account of events. No choreography or staging. It is not a fly on the wall approach for me. While I do observe and anticipate what might happen next, my goal is integrate into your family, get close and step back, as any self respecting toddler with the a camera in their hand would do. 

 
richmond family photographer offers documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids.
 

While I have studied proper posing and have followed all the rules to learn my craft; rules are meant to be broken right? In a documentary session there are no rules, no posing, no guided interaction, or intervening (unless someone is doing something that may kill or seriously harm them self or another). I am hands off and integrate as another kid in your family.

You read right, I become a kid. I'm on their side, even though you paid for the the session, because it is their trust and unique character and how they interact with you, mom and dad, that we want to capture.

 
Nicoleinbold, arichmond family photographer offers documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids as seen here in a father and daughter mirror pose during lunch while at Children's Museum of Richmond.
 

Documentary photography is the observation of real life emotions and connection throughout mundane tasks and adventures alike. After all, it is those everyday moments, the goofy, sticky, tantrum filled moments, that you are going to want to remember so many years in the future. Unscripted moments documented are proof you lived, proof you tried and failed, proof that you existed with your children. Documentary photography is powerful.

 
Nicoleinbold, a Richmond family photographer travels to West End and Glen Allen to offer documentary photography to create images of parents and their kids as seen here in as this toddler give me the stink eye in her backyard.
 

Think of it this way, a yearly school photo can't capture you or your children's unapologetically being nor can it depict your authentic family. I don't mean to bash school pictures, they have their purpose; a record of a hair cut and missing teeth, or the phases of puberty. Documentary photography captures their fluid place in this world, as a member of your particular human unit.

That was a lot about kids, but documentary photography is also an account of your parenthood. It is a series of still frames that show your strength, perseverance, and love. We don't often have the opportunity as parents or even adults to see how much we are loved, how beautiful we appear in our surrounds, yes, even if that is a messy kitchen or toy infested living room. Sure we are tired most days, exhausted on others, but our journey with our children and partners is astoundingly profound.

Whether it be your child's unparalleled passion to share their emotions or your unmatched desire to remember the good and the bad I hope you consider a documentary photography session with me or an artist in your area, because your story matters in this crazy adventure called life.

No "Wagon" to Fall Off Of | Parenthood Series

This is a new series that I am really excited to share with you. Parenthood is hard, and in my attempt to bring you both the grit and grace of life with littles, I have decided to reach out to parents who share their heart about their own journey. This is real life!

This first installment is brought to you by the brave and tenacious Jocelyn Bataille. You have met her previously on the blog when I shared her birth story last year. This mama is an authentic warrior, as all mama's are, she is a support system, life giver, and life sustainer. In addition to this snippit, Jocelyn is shedding a much needed light on childhood cancer as her son was diagnosed this past fall. To follow her journey please check out her blog, Confessions of a Cancer Mom, and stay up to date with her sons journey through treatment on their Facebook page, Camden's Crusade.

Her parenthood truth is quite fitting for the Spring, enjoy:

"Every Spring I see it. The MLM company reps start in with the "get your body ready for Summer" spiels. Ok fine. But one place these spiels do not belong, is in the mind of a new and/or breastfeeding mother. This body does not need 21 days of fixing anything, thank you. It is not broken. It sustained life for 9 months. It continues to sustain that life every time my daughter needs to eat. MY BODY IS SUSTAINING HERS. I don't need my body "back" to anything. I need to fully be present in the work it takes to maintain my milk supply. If that means listening to my cravings, I will not feel guilty. Not even one bit. There is no "wagon" to fall off of here. This is motherhood. I certainly don't need a wrap to tighten or tone my tummy. Instead I'll depend on the belly laughs that work my abs, when my kids do something funny. Or the hundreds of times a day I lift one of my children. Or the 20 times a night I sit up in bed to nurse my daughter back to sleep. I don't need to look like I did in my teens. These hips widened to carry life, and I LOVE that. So when my belly spills over my pants a little bit, I smile, because without my children I would not have this body. And I'll take being a mother, over a perfect body ANY day."

 Motherhood Self Portrait : Jocelyn Bataille

Motherhood Self Portrait : Jocelyn Bataille

If you are interested in sharing a contemplation or deep thought about your motherhood or fatherhood experience, send me an email: nbcreative@nicoleinbold.com

be inspired. live boldly. love authentically.

We are ALL Valuable | This Bold Life

Each body, human, and spirit contains a story. Some bad, some good, some bad but with a good message, and still some good with not so great endings. This is humanity. This is the journey of our lives leaving many people going through life wondering: "what is this all for, am I really making a difference, am I good enough?" This can further transform anxiety, depression, or exacerbate PTSD, bipolar disorder, and more. *deep breath* My mental state, is who I am. It is who you are at any given moment. Your perspective, is your reality. My mental state is not something I need to fix, I am not broken. Yes, I am highly sensitive, empathetic, sympathetic, and very giving. I am still learning how to cope in a world full of people with a jaded viewpoint of how I should fit in. As I wrote in this post, I believe "should" is self shaming, and I don't want to place shame on other people. I want you to feel amazing, because you are.  You were born, you have lived life, you have your experiences and that is who you are. We must stop asking more of people! 110% is just plain unhealthy!

Hearts On My Body Washington DC Photographer

Enter the wonderfully brave Pamela with her version of Hearts On My Body in Washington, DC:

"Today, I stood in front of the Washington Memorial to promote self acceptance and to put a stop to negative body image. I want people to know they are loved, they are needed, and they are accepted for who they are. This is a call that is very near and dear to my heart. 10 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was a happy, skinny, youthful teenager, who shortly after became quite the opposite. I spiraled downwards, became extremely depressed, and gained a lot of weight. For years I stayed home, stayed away from anyone who can see me and potentially judge me. Staying in caused more weight gain, more self abuse, or insecurity that I could have ever imagined. I suffered like this for years. A few years ago I was put on an antidepressant that caused me to gain 70 more pounds. I was devastated. Leaving the house a few times, I was made fun of, looked at strangely, and told that my looks have really changed. I know they didn't mean that kindly. Within the last few months my husband and I have been working so hard to get me back to happy. We did a lot of research and eventually I went to a treatment center for bipolar disorder 2 months ago. It completely changed my life. Today I am proud of this body. This body got me to where I am today. This body got me past all of the pain. This body is still here. This body is beautiful. I am NOT my diagnosis, I am NOT my weight, I am me! And me is pretty darn amazing. #allbodiesarevaluable

I am beautiful NOVA photographer

"I blindfolded myself because I wanted to feel the writing, feel the hugs, to hear the whispers in my ear. If I could see all of that, I wouldn't have noticed all of the beautiful things I felt."

"Afterwards, I felt completely set free. I felt like I could walk around DC for the rest of the day in a bikini. I cried, I laughed. I felt very naked, but for the first time in my life, I felt accepted, and absolutely beautiful."

Show this courageous and beautiful woman some love in the comments.

be inspired. love authentically. live boldly.

Nicole