Accept Radically + Change Your Perspective

To live your life
You must accept yourself

My daughter giving herself a pep talk and radically accepting she is her own super hero in her own way. So important for creative entrepreneurs to realize that acceptance comes from within.

Radical Acceptance

Every human has a script running their mind. Thoughts and memories, burdens and maybe trauma from our life that keep us in line, so to speak. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what you dream of, if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, or your level of education; it is our human-ness that propels us forward or keeps us stuck. This human-ness, our ability as women, creatives, business owners, and mothers to be so full of self imposed rules, also means we can flip our script, change our perspective and take control to live our best life.

I don’t know about you, but I suffer a lot from internal judgement, real life, negative self talk, and even impostor syndrome. All these things can weigh us down and trick us into thinking many things about ourselves and the lives we have made. Comparison and envy anyone? What most of us don’t put thought to is that script running in our mind is full of false statements and half truths. Even further, those thoughts are ripe and ready to be challenged by you!

I read a quote the other day that a dear friend shared,

“You need to believe in yourself. You need to have crazy, unshakable, nearly irrational faith that you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

When I read this my first thought was, “HELL YEAH!” In the past, my next natural reaction to reading quotes like this used to be envy and even some guilt. If I’m being super honest, I would get angry. It was easy to shake my head declaring this notion not for me. AND I could come up with every reason NOT to believe in myself. Do you do this too?

I catch myself now when I have the urge to dig my heels in and hope you will begin to catch yourself after reading this blog post. See, I have been studying and practicing the mindfulness art of radical acceptance. Some call this flipping the script, but it is more than that! A succinct definition from Psychology Today says, “radical acceptance means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. You stop fighting reality. When you stop fighting you suffer less.” Reading the words, it sounds great, maybe even easy, but as we all know words are much easier than action!

Before going further I want to make something clear:

Radical acceptance does not mean passivity or even approval of what you are facing!

Another way of looking at radical acceptance is saying, “I don’t like it, it may not be fair, AND there is a way forward.” It is the art of making choices for yourself, independent of others.

This mindfulness skill is wildly challenging for me! If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’re thinking something along the lines of, “that’s great, but one doesn’t just shift their thinking.” Or maybe your shaking your head thinking of all the reasons, excuses, and judgements of how this can’t be true. I have so been there!! I have had to radically accept big and small things in the past 9 months (living in Richmond for the foreseeable future, owning the label stay at home mom, adjusting my business to better suit me and my family, etc.) It has been hard, change is hard, and it is worth it to be seen and heard within ourselves.

I want to give you an example. Last year I struggled harder than I ever have with my mental health. I was fighting internally with what I thought my life would look like versus what was happening around me. I struggled with my new role inside my family, and struggled with my work. I wasn’t doing and making to my standards. The negative self talk was incredibly loud and always present! In the end, I had to radically accept that I was in fact a stay at home mom who worked. I had to radically accept that I am not a traditional workforce woman. I had to radically accept that I was being incredibly unkind to myself. Sure there are reasons, copious excuses that I employed to keep myself small and stuck. The facts though were clear. I wanted to be a creative entrepreneur. I love photography, design, and mentoring. I also wanted to be present in my daughter’s life. I wanted to go on adventures, learn to cook, and be open to learning, art, and service to others with her by my side.

These facts were definitely not in line with myself judgement. I lacked compassion for myself, even though it flowed freely for others.

After becoming aware of my shame, I had to really sit through the emotions of how my life had gotten to this point. Sit through the emotions of challenging my awful self talk. Now this isn’t a one and done exercise. It is a process, heck some days it feels like a full on marathon! There are days I catch myself back in the negative script. When I notice I always stop and observe, check the facts and practice accepting again. Once I accepted my role as a stay at home working mom, I was able to plan and see ahead all the fun and exciting things that awaited for our family!

I also want to point out that radical acceptance is not confined to “less than desirable” things in our life. We too have to accept that we are worthy, that our life, story, and perspective matter. So if you are struggling with charging your worth, marketing your service or product, or owning a new path you want to take in life, this is an amazing tool!

8 Steps to Radical Acceptance:

  1. Observe what you are questioning or fighting internally and externally. “I should be,” or “this shouldn’t be” are great indicators of an internal battle.

  2. Check the facts of your situation. Really look at the reasons or excuses you telling yourself that have you feeling stuck. Be honest while sticking to the facts rather than coloring the information with emotive language!

  3. Check the causes of your reality. This is similar to the above. Here we are looking at the events that led to our thoughts and beliefs. Are there facts and a specific timeline that contributed to your current state?

  4. Practice accepting with your whole self (mind, body, and spirit). This may take time and that is 100% allowed. You can practice by using positive self talk, prayer, going to a place that helps you accept yourself, and even  talking with trusted friends. If you need additional help, I am a huge advocate of therapy. An outside perspective can be incredibly invaluable when we are feeling stuck. You may also gain a lot from a mentor, depending on your situation and truths.

  5. This one is huge! Practice opposite action. Write out how you would live your life if everything was different, if you accepted your reality. I”m serious, don’t just say it in your head. Actually write what would change, what you would do, how you might be different. Then act as if those things were already happening, engage in behaviors as if you have already accepted life as you would like it! This ultimately calls to the “fake it until you make it” mantra, which always felt icky to me in the past. Now I understand much better and hope you do too!

  6. This one is also super important! Cope ahead so you don’t get stuck. Maybe you have begun doing all of this work but have to go see a friend or family member who maybe less receptive or you know you struggle with negative self talk at certain times of the day or year, rehearse in your mind what you can do now or then if you accepted what seems or feels unaccepted.

  7. Attend to body sensations, because this is a whole body acceptance. As you think about what you want/need to accept allow emotions to come and go and be aware of where you hold tension.

  8. Acknowledge life is worth living even through the struggle, through the process. If you are still resisting, try doing pros and cons of making changes versus staying the same.

This may take time. You may realize you have to radically accept a bunch of small bits of reality before you can tackle something larger. You may also, like me, realize you have to accept uncertainty before moving forward with other tasks and life circumstances. Again, I want to say that radical acceptance does not mean you are in love with life, it doesn’t mean you approve of everything either. It is, however, the first step in choosing to own your life, making choices to do/be different, or find a better way through your current season of life.

I want to leave you with this: acceptance is the recognition of where the power lies. It is a matter of choice, how we expend our energy. I hope you can take back your energy to find and define your version of success. You matter in your life!



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 live. I find the good to keep going. While I'm not overly positive, I strive to be real with myself and others. "Grit and grace" 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! (I hope I'm not the only one!)

This new and different grit, while challenging, also helps me slow down. This slow down is a dream I have for all parents. I hope we can all find a stillness in this 18 year season, even if in brief chunks of seconds and minutes. This new grit has pushed me to desire and learn 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 eat all the ice cream in the world. (Again, I hope I'm not alone!)

This motif, "with grit and grace," 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, this is life - this is 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. I try to be aware of your perspective, my child's perspective, and my perspective in any given situation. 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, because let's be honest, flies are always right in the middle of everything. 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 posing, lighting, 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 session, because it is their trust and unique character and how they interact with you, mom and dad, that we want to capture. There perspective will give you insight into their world. It also give you the unintended consequence of gaining confidence in who you are as a leader, as their mom or dad! It's honestly pretty cool if you ask me!

 
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. Why will you want to remember these in between moments? Because I promise you having photographic evidence as you regale stories of your everyday or grandiose adventures will bring them alive like you would believe. Seriously, your future self and your future children will thank you.

Unscripted moments documented are proof you lived, proof you tried and failed, proof that you existed with your children. Documentary photography is powerful in the moment, in a couple of years, on that rainy day, and when you are recounting life in the much more distant future.

 
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 may capture grow, but it can't capture you or your children's unapologetically being as member of your family and as a human in this world. I don't mean to bash school pictures, they have their purpose as stated above; growth, a record of a hair cuts and missing teeth. Documentary photography goes beyond growth to capture 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 surroundings, 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

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