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? 

How I Share My Everyday Images | Privacy and Connection - Life Cake | Richmond, Va Photographer

today everything exists

to end in a photograph

- susan sontag -

Your privacy and the privacy of your children come first, and in this day of instant gratification and digital technology what we share online is seen by quite a lot of people. Yes, you can block people or change your settings, but in reality everything on Facebook is public! I was guilty of this my daughter's first year of life. I wanted to connect with family! Keep them updated with the milestones and to share her seriously cute face. 

I started scaling back after she turned one. I wasn't sure how public I wanted to make my daughter's life. You have to think children born within the past few years don't know a world without the internet or smart phones! That is crazy to think about!!! I see parents posting all sorts of things that involve their children. Some of this is great. I love being updated about everyone's family, show my support of their updates and story. Acquaintances, colleagues, clients even! Do not get me wrong! I am a selfish individual like the rest of you! I want likes and comments. I want to see other peoples pictures to compare and contrast where we are at as a family. Is Nora on par with other kids her age? Grateful that we are passed some seasons in life and a bit terrified of others. (Yes, I said that, I am human and I over think everything, I can't be the only one!!) With that said, Facebook, or even Instagram, isn't the only way to archive and share those precious moments.

Images in the end are meant to be shared, I am not telling you to stop documenting your story as a family! I am asking you to consider the privacy of your family and the privacy of your child. 

Preface: I am in no way linked via payroll or in contact with the following company. I am however an avid fan!!

Enter: 

This company's product is the bee's knees! The simple "mission is to help parents be storytellers - recording and sharing beautiful life stories." Want to know more?

This is an online and smartphone compatible app (yes, apple and android). A few things that I LOVE about it:

  1. You have a profile for each child, but can tag one image for multiple children
  2. You enter in their birthday, so when you upload images it will tell you exactly how old they were when the image was taken.
  3. You can caption the images, and others can comment.
  4. You can invite people to watching your child(ren) grow. (Family, Friends, Care Providers, etc.)
  5. Even better, if you have invited someone, say Grandma, and she watches your tiny human and takes some images; she can also upload and caption them. So you have the full story of their life happenings! EEK!!
  6. At the end of the year, or on birthdays, you can have a book printed through Lifecake. So seamless.

I feel like I can continue to list things but I'll stop! Here are a couple of short videos for more information:

Last but not least, I'm sure you are wondering about cost. The good news, it is free for the first 10GB of information. 10GB worth of images and videos!! Whether you take professional images or snap pictures with your phone, you can upload content to Lifecake. Check it out! Let me know what you think!!

With grit and grace,

Happy Birthday Miss Bits

I'm sure every parent feels this way, but seriously - WHERE HAS MY BABY GONE? As I write this, three years ago at this same time I was having contractions in my home wondering what sex our baby was going to be and if we should just go ahead and go to the hospital. I was an anxious mess!

Now that we are into this parenthood thing, for just a hair shy of three years, we live in a constant state of sass in our house. This girl is fiercely independent, crazy empathetic, and seriously in love with all things rocks, sticks, and pink. Oh and ice cream! I have only cut my foot on legos once so far, and REALLY hope that doesn't happen again! Enough about me!

August 20th is all about this crazy smart ball of sunshine that demands her boo-boos to be kissed (and will kiss yours if she knows your hurt), refuses to brush her hair, and insists on sleeping with the light on. She thoroughly enjoys dancing, mac and cheese, and ALL of the popsicles!

This year was another major year for growing and learning. From her colors and numbers to potty training and sleeping in a twin size bed! She rode her first roller coaster last month and is hooked! Today she told us her favorite candy is Swedish Fish and asked for her toe nails to be painted pink. A silly girl to fit in with the rest of the goofballs in our house for sure!

I can't get over how much this little human has changed my life and rocked my world for the better! Scroll down and look how much she has grown this year!! I'm equal parts excited for new adventures and sad because she has grown so much!!

Be sure to scroll all the way down to she a video of our adventures this past month!

With grit and grace,

Big Announcement | Richmond, Va Birth Photographer | Richmond Virginia Fresh 48 Photographer

A Big Announcement, but not a big surprise. I have decided to hone my business offerings and to publicly share that I will only be offering birth and fresh 48 sessions. This allows me to be present and available to my birth clients as well as my family. I am excited about this new journey, in a new city. If you haven't heard, we have relocated to Richmond, Va as my incredibly smart husband got into VCU (read more about this here). 

Nicoleinbold Richmond, Va Birth Photographer

Two years ago, after the first birthday of my daughter, I realized I wanted to be a birth photographer. I wasn't sure where to start, or what it entailed but I felt, in my core, that supporting parents with visual evidence of their love, support, and connection during the earliest season of parenthood was going to be my jam.
Now I was not a girl who grew up playing with babies, or really playing house, wanting to babysit, or anything super nurturing. Naturally, this realization came as a bit of a shock as it all unraveled and I started sharing my dream with the world. I had been behind the camera for about 8 years at this point, but was never sure quite what to do with this passion and expensive equipment.

My daughter gave me this clarity. My journey to motherhood was intense, with a steep learning curve in the beginning (I'm sure it is like this for everyone). While I did all the research, watched all the videos, and spoke with everyone about labor and delivery. It was my cousin who told me the biggest piece of advice that I now share with everyone I can. She told me, I'm paraphrasing: it was good to have a plan, but things change. Don't worry so much about the labor and delivery because it is the first couple of weeks with your new baby that are truly the hardest part. SHE WAS SO RIGHT. The first few weeks were the hardest for us a family of three, but I am so thankful I had my birth documented to remind me of our birth journey.

I had a generally fast and easy labor (my birth story here). With that said, I was left a bit traumatized. I had my birth photographed and am beyond grateful for this! It has helped me process my birth in a very tangible way. I can see how everything progressed, how supportive my husband was (which can be easy to forget, with a mind of her own toddler running around these days)! I want every parent to have this; this tool, tangible evidence, to celebrate or heal the connection of the birth day of parenthood and their child.

Two years later, I have decided to only offer Birth and Fresh 48 sessions. Nothing excites my spirit more than to watch the literal concept of parenthood unfold in front me. These sessions are close to my heart, this time is beyond precious! Time moves at a break neck speed with your mini human's age counted by hours, days, and weeks. With so many firsts: that cry, the welcoming gaze of recognition, all the tears, emotions, happiness, sadness, and love, I want to be there for your silently cheering you on.

Starting today, I am declaring this my new journey to unfold as it may, in a new city, Richmond, Va. A new day is always a great day, a perfect day, to state the intentions of my heart and to share with others.

With grit and grace,