Mamas and Babies

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I wish I’d thought of this earlier than the last two days we were at singing school. It was such an enjoyable project for me. Each relationship was different and beautiful, but a common theme that was irresistibly present was the amazing bond between hearts in Mamas and Babies. And your baby doesn’t have to be little to still be your baby. Seeing these Mamas and the love infused into the lives of their children reminded me of the sacrifice my Mama made for me and for all her children. It’s a beautiful sacrifice and adds to the loveliness of all these ladies. Those two mornings were two of the most rewarding ones I’ve spent in a long time, capturing the love and laughter, the spark in the eyes and joy of these Mamas and babies being together. Thank you to everyone who joined in!

Remember that the full album can be found on my Firefly Website under Mamas and Babies.

xoxo -g6-16 -00366-16 -97656-16 -00426-16 -0053The lush brown hair and the striking red…and this baby’s smile is almost good enough to eat! 6-16 -00716-16 -00956-16 -01296-16 -01816-16 -0180^Cecily has her Mama’s smile…and it’s just too adorable. ^
6-16 -06026-16 -06416-16 -0644-26-16 -0676Teague HAS to be one of the most precious baby boys I know. Helpful, respectful, loves his mama and has the cutest accent. And I love the fact that he’s just so Boy, that he has a bandaid on in these photos 😉 Hey. It’s real life we want to remember.

6-16 -09326-16 -0939-26-16 -09476-16 -0962^How gorgeous can a boy get? This little fellow’s hair had me in awe.^6-16 -10526-16 -1068Usually I edit in a consistent palette. Mary was breaking the mold though. Every time I came to her photos they were speaking a more filmy grain and retro color. Maybe it’s because she has so much old-fashioned goodness and great tastes…like dressing her girls in retro clothes and coming up with the most effortlessly classy looking outfits. Anyhow, I tried to edit with my usual palette. But I just couldn’t. This subtle, underexposed brown/grey undertone simply fit. 6-16 -1076-2Those baby legs…oh m’lands.6-16 -95206-16 -1092Molly, you rock a gorgeous Mama. 6-16 -1107I always think of a 20’s lady when I see Stephanie. She carries such elegance and grace with her wherever she goes, and she has the most lovably chubby babies. Peter is such a doll. 6-16 -11616-16 -11656-16 -1201

Talk about a Mini Me, Leah’s little baby girl has her hair, her smile, her nose and adorable personality. 6-16 -12566-16 -12786-16 -1279^You are both beautiful, Leah. I so enjoyed seeing you!^6-16 -1310This is the face of the pure mischievous delight of boyhood. And a pair of dimples that he got from his Mama. This boy is too,too much preciousness. 6-16 -1340-26-16 -13586-16 -13726-16 -1386Rachel, I hope you write your book with the stories of all your boys 🙂

What a little lady Miss Canon is! She has such dainty features and stunning eyes.6-16 -14316-16 -14586-16 -14606-16 -14676-16 -15796-16 -1580Elizabeth and her golden blonde haired beauty of a girl. You two are simply gorgeous, Elizabeth.6-16 -16066-16 -1640-26-16 -16496-16 -16626-16 -1681This baby girl could keep some EYE CONTACT! I’ve never met with such a studious baby. Her eyes almost never left me. Her mama knows how to make that smile happen like magic. She’s so sweet, Emily!6-16 -17366-16 -17376-16 -1820Rachel brought her tiny tiny baby of not quite 3 weeks out…so of course we had to take some photos…. 🙂 6-16 -18646-16 -1926Those raised eyebrows… 🙂 Precious baby boy.6-16 -19736-16 -20206-16 -20626-16 -21196-16 -21366-16 -2138Beka, I don’t have words for y’all. I’m so glad I’ve been able to watch your family grow, and all of your girls become prettier and funnier and more full of personality. You’re an exceptional Mama.6-16 -21536-16 -21566-16 -21626-16 -2172-2^ Lola Kathleen. Sheer spunk and beauty. ^6-16 -25386-16 -25556-16 -26026-16 -2632^He was ALL boy. Imagination, adventure, sticks and explosions. And his mama loves every bit of him.

6-16 -27156-16 -27226-16 -27506-16 -27966-16 -2804-2Courtney, the love you have and that your little girl has for you shines through like sunshine. I loved witnessing all the sweet hugs, smiles and kisses throughout the week.

!!!All these babies!!!
6-16 -97506-16 -98036-16 -98806-16 -98936-16 -98956-16 -99016-16 -9907Kathryn and baby Claudia, you warm my heart. She’s beautiful, Kathryn.6-16 -99206-16 -9942Eleanor, you are a beautiful Mama and I’m so proud of you. I knew you would be, but I love SEEING it. Free, you adorable boy, you have the lipiest lips – curvy and kissable – that ever were. 6-16 -00296-16 -9966^One of my very Favorites^ Look at that elbow…and his hair, and his chubby hand holding you, Molly. aaggghhhh…too much! 6-16 -9995All of you ladies have such a gift in mothering, and I’ve been blessed by knowing you. Enjoy your photos!

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Andrew + Jordan

This wedding was at one of my favorite places on earth…a little white church in the woods, on a hill. Andrew and Jordan worked incredibly hard on their wedding, helping cultivate the beauty of that day. Most shimmery of all though, were their hearts for God, each other, and the thoughtfulness and love for the people surrounding them.

Congrats, Andrew + Jordan!

 

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xoxo you two!

-g

Rebekah / Senior / Tyler, TX

This girl has crazy talent. She is thoughtful, reserved and spunky. Her imagination and incredible grip on perspective shines through her art, which she paints beautifully. She also happens to be family! It was a highlight of the spring to road trip to Tyler and stay at the old farmhouse filled with friends, family, laughter and good food (of course!). Though it rained cats and dogs the night before the graduation, it dawned a golden morning, breezy and cool. So we took advantage of the loveliness to take some senior photos.

Congrats, Bekah, you are such a sweet soul and bright spirit.

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Graham + Kayla / Georgia Wedding

It was sunny and warm and the July air felt thick outside the little white church. Inside, fans whirred, babies cried and feet tapped time to the old hymns the congregation soulfully sung out. About halfway back on the left side, a two year old little boy found immense delight in kicking the pair of boots under the pew in front of him. Through the whole service, Jed wouldn’t give up his determination to kick those boots. Kayla McCullough tried coaxing her little brother away and her mother insisted Jed stop, but after each decoy he was back at it. After the services, Kayla and her mother apologized to the wearer of the boots. He was a tall fellow, with a gentle presence, broad shoulders and a firm stance which spoke of the army. He’d  hadn’t been anything but perhaps amused at the little rebel who had kicked his boots. Kayla had never met him, but they met now, and found themselves chatting over lunch. They parted ways that evening, but more was at work than they suspected, and the threads of their futures had only begun to entwine.

Casual Facebook messages followed their meeting in July, but August found them at another church gathering. She noted that he had a strength and depth that she was drawn to. In September, He visited her family. When he walked through the door of the McCullough house, Jed gave him the suspicious eye, but soon afterwards, Kayla would walk in to find them wrestling and fighting the bad guys together. She felt like this was a pretty good sign. Each month after this, Graham sent Kayla a t-shirt with an encouraging verse or theme, and a letter. She sent him letters and boxes of cookies. It had become clear to both of them by November that they’d found the love they’d been looking for and on a cool morning in November, they hiked the Dragon’s Tooth Trail in Virginia. Overlooking valleys cloaked in grey fog, and breathing sweet mountain air, Graham wrapped an arm around Kayla and asked her to be his wife.

January first, 2016 found us celebrating the wedding of Graham and Kayla at the little white church in GA. Jed was the ring bearer, and it was clear that Graham was His Buddy.  Graham and Kayla, your love for others and Christ shines through you. You have both overcome so much in your lives, and I love seeing you both as a team.

xoxo

-g

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Kayla was adorable, waiting for the groom to drive up.
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Jedediah, the unsuspecting matchmaker. He LOVES his big sister.

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One of my favorite memories of this wedding day has been these three friends that celebrated it!

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Graham’s Grandparents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary the day of the wedding. Seeing their love after 50 years of marriage was a beautiful story in and of itself.

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The evening wound into dusk and the beauty of these two and their love was stunning.

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The Father of the bride treated us to a sparkler show. Thankfully, he’s a fireman, so we had no worries.

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Friends, family and sparklers bid them audieu, wrapping up a day filled with laughter, tears and love. Congrats, Graham and Kayla!

Jasmine Star Resources

If you’re like me, a fresh perspective on your small business is always refreshing. Yesterday I downloaded 3 of Jasmine Star’s PDF’s.

  1. Three Hard Conversations – in which she gives e-mail templates in how to address difficult issues. Not fun…but even less fun when you’re trying to think of these things to say off the cuff. A little prep goes a long way.
  2. E-mail templates to help streamline prospective clients. The e-mails have helped give me an idea of what needs to be addressed on the front end, and are easily personalized to fit your own needs, but helps minimize time in front of your screen and more time (as J* points out) to do what you love (Photography, blogging, etc.)
  3. Workflow – oh! How I needed this! I’ve just scratched the surface of how many times I will read it, and it’s hugely helpful. If you’re battling with knowing what to do in workflow, I hugely recommend this.

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Three hard conversations:http://jasminestar.com/product/email-templates-three-hard-conversations/

Email templates:http://jasminestar.com/product/email-templates/

And you can find the wedding workflow here:http://jasminestar.com/product/wedding-photographer-workflow-checklist/

Hope this may be of use to you! Happy Friday y’all,

-g

Micah+Merry

Micah loved Merry long before he said anything to her. For several years he worked and waited and graduated high school (yes, he had his eye on the prize that early). When he and she had both graduated high school, he began the process of winning her heart, and that of her family as well. He’d drive 7 hours, stay the weekend at our house and drive back. The Friday glow never escaped our notice. Merry would sing a little extra than usual, be a dash more conniving, mischievous and giddy and was as happy to be around her fellow as a gal could be.

When Friday afternoon came it never failed that she’d tie an apron round her little waist and bake him a batch of chocolate chip cookies; and When Micah would leave, we’d find our sister smiling over notes scattered around her room.  Micah’s open personality, winning smile and generous nature won nearly all of us over by his first few visits.  I say “nearly” because he’d bagged the family, but not quite Merry. Still, he came and washed our dishes, sat through a grueling 6 hrs of the Hard-Core Pride and Prejudice series, genuinely befriended each person in our house, and kept winning the trust and heart of Merry.  One day, when she and I were talking over folding clothes, I asked her about an update on what she was thinking about Micah. A little half grin lit up a corner of her mouth before she met my eyes, but when she did, they were sparkling. She said simply in a confident little voice. “Yep. I love him.”

A year ago in February they went for a walk and when they came back, Merry had an elegant little ring on her finger. This past September these two were married on a little plot of woodland in Georgia, grown on a small hill and laden with late summer scents and flowers. Micah and Merry, you both have beautiful hearts for others and are so full of love for those people and each other. It’s a joy being around you two. Thank you for letting me photograph your wedding; it was wonderful. Truly. I love you both! xoxo -g

jones_0003 jones_0005 jones_0007 jones_0054 jones_0033 jones_0012 jones_0013 jones_0014 jones_0015 jones_0016 jones_0017 jones_0009 jones_0010 Micah and Merry opted for the groom not to see the bride before the wedding, but at the last minute,  Micah found this car in the small town near the church. (And when I say last minute, I mean, as in during the getting ready photos, Micah came up the driveway in this thing.) The owner was gracious enough to bring it to the church where we squeezed in a tiny session with this fabulous car and took photos with Micah and Merry before the ceremony.  Since they preferred that Micah not see Merry before hand, arranging these photos took some engineering and some *serious* self control on Micah’s part! So glad we took the time to do these! jones_0031jones_0030 jones_0026 jones_0027 jones_0029 jones_0020 jones_0023 jones_0034jones_0035jones_0038 jones_0037 jones_0036 jones_0039 jones_0040 jones_0041 jones_0046 jones_0047 jones_0043 jones_0049 jones_0052 jones_0048 jones_0053 jones_0024jones_0021 jones_0022 jones_0065 jones_0055jones_0060 jones_0056

JD+Katie+Little Pritchett

One of the best things about photography is gaining friends, and seeing them and their families grow. 
JD and Katie have been a wonderful addition to my circle of friends, and I’m so happy to be welcoming baby number four to the Pritchett family! These two drove down from their home in Franklin, TN to combine an ATL Ikea trip and Firefly session in while I was back in Georgia for my last visit. We had the time window of one morning to be able to shoot and when we woke up the morning spoke of rain. Thankfully – and somewhat to my surprise – they were on board 100% and were ready to head into the rain – which I completely loved.  It turned out to be one of my favorite rain sessions ever.
JD and Katie, the way you love your kids and each other is beautiful.  Love you two and thanks for our crazy rendezvous in these rainy woods while you were in ATL!
 
-g

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Scary Light…and how to be not so scared of it

You want to talk about nightmares with light? Try on the 60th wedding anniversary of a couple who gets all of their family together for this special session of taking photos. It’s the only week their grandson will be home from the military for many more months and one of the rare times the whole family is together. Being green as I could be in my photography business, I stammered out a time to the voice waiting for my answer at the other end of the line,

“Uh. Well, how about 1.00 pm? Would that work for y’all?”

The person replied that of course it would be fine with them and that they were only too happy to work around my schedule in .  They were sure I knew best about lighting and such – they’d leave the decision to me. I believe sick describes my feelings as I drove up to the farm in Ga. Set on a sprawling hill in the middle of pasture stood the homestead, barely a tree in sight, and the sun was directly overhead.

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Let’s just say that after sweating, gasping for breath and groping for any direction I could, that I left that place crying.  I ended up handing them the disc later, giving their money back and apologizing.  It was my nightmare come true.

If you’ve been shooting very long, you’ll know the feeling of disappointment, failure, feeling lost and not knowing what the answer is to those experiences.  But as badly as those experiences taste in our mouth, though, they teach us valuable things. Believe it or not, I draw from that experience nearly every time I pick up my camera and decide how to deal with the elements given me.

january 2015-7565(above, using tip #4.)

So let’s talk about light. Scary light. Bright, overhead light. What do you do?  Usually, it’s a combination of things. The first combination I use is to:

1. Do the obvious: Look for SHADE. Whether it’s a tree, or part of a building giving it, look for relief from the sun. You can even hold something over the person’s head, like a piece of cardboard or  When you find this shade place the subject in it, with their backs to the shade, and bring them to the edge of the shade. The shadows of the tree will be behind the subject and they should be only a couple or few steps into the shadow. You’ll be able to tell if their backs are to the shade by looking for catchlights in the eyes.  If you see catchlights, that means that you’ve hit on my next point and love of my life…Natural Reflectors.

2. Find Natural Reflectors. This can be a sidewalk, side of building, a road or even the sun glinting off a car. When you combine shade with a natural reflector, the light will give a soft glow on the face. If you aren’t comfortable with natural reflections, simply bring a friend and a piece of thick white card board, and play with this as you find how to throw the light onto someone’s face.

3. Close down your f-stop. Try the bigger numbers like f4.0 and f7.0. In doing this, you’re controlling the amount of light that’s hitting your sensor to a smaller amount that f 1.4 or 2.8.

4. Take the ISO way down.  Try the lowest ISO first, then feel your way up gradually.  This is not the only factor, but sometimes it will be enough.

5. Use a flash. Dial down the flash considerably, and with their backs to the light, shoot using a flash. This should give a twinkle in the eye, and offset some of the brightness behind them. Remember that you want your subject to be as bright or brighter than the background.

6. Use an object to block the sun (or excess light) and shoot past. In the photo below, I used the trunk of a tree to block the excess. You can see by the shadow that the placement of the sun is on the right. The tree trunk is not blocking the whole sun, but is simply cutting down on the amount of light right in front of the lens. The sidewalk was acting as a reflector, which you can see in her glasses.

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^ Above using tip #6.

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This photo ^ was used with a small amount of flash and her back to the shade. (tip #5.)

Hope this helps overcome the scaredy-cat in you concerning Scary Light, because after all, it’s not that scary once you start finding ways around it.

Keep glowing!

-g

PS. Thanks to my beautiful sis for being my subject and helping me out with this project!

 

 

The Confidence Issue…can any photographer grow confidence?

Because a friend I was talking to recently seemed so enormously surprised at my saying this, I figured I simply hadn’t said it enough. So here it is.

Confidence is one of those things you’re either born with, or you learn. I learned it, slowly and painfully.  Am I there yet? No. I’m still learning its craft.  And when I say Confidence, I don’t mean arrogance.  Rather, it’s the ability to work with a sure step, and a plain vision of what you want. Then, it’s being able to execute it with efficiency and ease – you know – telling people what to do, knowing how you want them to pose, being able to rearrange the wedding photo schedule last minute when you need to – that kind of thing
. When I first began shooting weddings an my friends would tell me repeatedly, “You gotta speak up! Take command! Take control! These people depend on you to tell them what to do…” And that terrified me. Instead of well phrased commands pouring through my head of how to instruct people, all that was crammed up in my noggin was “These people want me to Tell them what to do?!?!? I barely know what *I’m* supposed to be doing, let alone THEM!”

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This is where practice comes into play as the friend you always wanted. Growing you in leaps and bounds or even tiny steps, every single time you exercise it, Practice makes the difference.

Immersion is the second thing that I cannot recommend highly enough. Read. Read blogs and any magazines or books you can get your hands on.

Watch videos of photographers shooting – see how they do it, what they say. Shadow a photographer and see the way he interacts with the clients.  You’ll find the styles and people you connect with and want to imitate. And when you find that is when you need to remember with all your might that to be a good photographer, you gotta Steal Like A Photographer. Truly. If I tried hard, I could trace all my practices, habits, principles and style back to people who’ve inspired me. When you feel inspired, take it and run with it. Use it and grow from it.

Believe it or not, you’ll eventually stammer less. You’ll not only feel the butterflies, but you’ll feel the joy of guiding your clients to move, interact and produce the shot you want, and then you’ll nail it. You’ll learn how to draw out THEM for who they are. You’ll come up with ideas {usually ones you’ve seen from another photographer} and you’ll want to try it out for yourself.

Take heart, friend. Because confidence isn’t a royal gift only possessed by the Elite. It’s learned, crafted, grown. It’s an art of its own, and YOU will own it in time. Promise.

 

Keep glowing,

 

-g

Hello, 2015

It was cold and windy and October and I’d been traveling with JB to his work. Now I sat alone on a chair beside the pool, wondering what in the world I’m to do now that I’m married and moved off to a foreign place {Texas is foreign to GA, in my mind}. I wrote down my thoughts which were something along the lines of “What am I doing? Why am I doing photography? Should I think about it now that I’m married? Where does it fit? I’m a nobody in the photography world, I don’t have time for this…Or do I? How can I be a photographer when I’m not always enamored and deep down enthused about it – like ALL the other photographers are? What do I have to offer? Am I completely faking this? Why do I get so discouraged about it, if it’s what I’m supposed to do?”….. On and on. It’s the same roll of questions my heart reads off to my mind every few months…And every few months I fight off those questions and try to smother them. Try to smother them because I’m afraid of looking them in the eye. I did look them in the eye though, this time. I’m not going to answer all these questions. I just want you to know point blank, that I have them, and then I want to do a cross between slapping them in the face and hugging them.

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You see, these questions both hurt and are incredibly valuable for the same reason: they force me to examine. Now, I hate that because examining means opening dark closets and looking into the glowing eyes of fears who are lurking there. It means giving a long hard look to my weaknesses and pushing through the hesitancy to make myself recognize some failures.

But after all that, I still come out feeling like photography isn’t just a hobby. It’s a friend, it’s a tool, a passion and my right hand man. Does that mean you or I will always be infatuated? No. Does it mean that to be a good photographer I must be organized RIGHT NOW? No. {though that would be GREAT}. Does it mean that a person has to have the best equipment? Absolutely not.

See, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with what we don’t have, when what we need is a focus adjustment to look at what we do have. That may mean taking off a few months {as I have done} to focus on other aspects of life, or it may mean not looking at amazon for the next Love Lens, and challenging yourself to get beautiful photos with what you have.

The truth is, you have more than you think you have. Don’t be overrun with discouragement, frustration or anxiety. It’s a beautiful journey and as 2015 begins today, I hope your experience is one of a lifetime.

Keep glowing,

– g

How to Work Yourself Out of The Bum Slum

No matter how good a day or week or month will be, the day comes when we hit rock bottom and just don’t wanna. Don’t wanna take another picture. Don’t wanna clean the house another time. Don’t wanna write another journal entry or blog post or talk to another person. When this happens, I become a bum. Bummy in my mind and thinking and doing, because I don’t think productively or do much better. Once upon a time I thought no one else was like me except people in asylums.  But then I began realizing that simply wasn’t true and we all have that day or day (s) roll around sometime.  We’re human. That’s why.

Whether it’s a creative blank, or just life blank, the effect is the same. It’s hard to be happy and thankful and all the things we’re supposed to be and do a good job of doing when we’re “Our Normal Selves”. As usual, I’ve raked through the leaves of my mind to discover what to do when this hits. And as usual, I’ve uncovered some age-long wisdom my Mama has told me.

It was a summer day and I’d finished working out. Sullen and frustrated and silent I walked onto the back porch and would go into the house, but Mama was there, like an imperial Guard Before The Door. She observed me. I’d been in a bum slum and wretched frame of mind for some weeks now. Life had thrown one of its little lemons at me and I just couldn’t seem to find any sugar for it. She slipped an arm around me, not mentioning how nasty I smelled from sweat and sun.

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“You know honey, I think when you can get to the other side of this you’re going to be stronger, a better person all round. I can already see you growing. But in the mean time my advice to you is something that is simple and hard at the same time. It’s to do something for someone else. A wise lady told me that once, and it really does work wonders. When you’re busy doing for others you really don’t have time to spend regretting or worrying. You just get busy doing things for others.”

The down-swings will come. And then they’ll go. But to help shoo them on their way, adopting this is a good method of doing so. Write a card, or three. Send an encouraging text, bake cookies for someone. And don’t give up. Your life and mine has purpose and whether we can feel it or not, is being used each day.

So keep up the good work,

And keep glowing,

-g

Why Embarrassing Moments Are Some of Our Best Ones

We all have them, you know. Those moments we wish never happened. The ones that we wish weren’t attached to our name. The ones we’re sure NO ONE but us would ever have or understand. The ones that pain us as fresh as if we’d just experienced it, instead of it being 10 years ago. It’s embarrassing. If we let them they can make us second guess ourselves and shrink from being the people we want to be. I have plenty of those moments. In fact, my pockets are stuffed full of them. Like this one, for instance.

It was loud. My bare toes wiggled on the wet cement as a lady gripped and marked my arm with my number and heat and how many laps to do. I was trembling and expanding inside with the thrill of competition. My parents were there, my sisters were there, and one of my brothers with his friend that I’d adored since I was tiny was there too. ( Paul let me sit beside him in church and color when I was five – what wasn’t to like about him???).  More than anything I wanted to do well. “Swimmers to your mark!” Climbing the perch, I pulled my goggles to the place and smashed them in to my face. Before even diving off I could hear my family cheering for me.  It was a 50 meter sprint in breast stroke. I knew I could do it well. “On your mark, Get set, Go!” A horn blew and we took off.  But to my dismay, as I hit the water my goggles flipped up, and drifted to the bottom of the pool. Hesitating, I flailed and my mind went blank as it struggled between what I should do – go on and finish without the goggles, or get them now. At any other  time I would have said “finish without them  – for Pete’s sake!”  As I stalled in the middle of the lane, I could hear my brother yelling, “Go Belle! Go! Go! Don’t stop – GO!!!”….But I didn’t. I dove to the bottom and got them, then finished my laps, frustrated and humiliated beyond words. What had happened? I couldn’t think beyond the louder thoughts of wanting to crawl away and hide.

Chris found me later. Taking a seat he said, “Well, Belle, I know you’re disappointed. Don’t let this stop you though. Learn from it, and know that next time, you don’t let anything stop you. Don’t stop. It doesn’t matter what happens to your goggles – or to anything else – you push through to the very very end, because as long as your pushing, there’s still hope. You’re still giving it your best.”

For many years I let it grate at me – that one instance still pained me to distraction. It’s surprising, isn’t it – the little things that stay with you for years. You can think of a few of those can’t you?

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But you know the truth? As much as I wished I could tear out that passage from my book, I’ve realized I wouldn’t change it for anything. Why? Because it’s pushed me to push myself through situations that have been harder and more important than that one. When I’ve wanted to stop mid-stream and pick up my goggles, I’ve remembered that I mustn’t quit for anything. You keep going. Whatever it is you’ve set your goals on – whatever it is you can feel that makes your blood rush – your creativity soar, satisfies a sense of purpose and fulfillment deep down – keep at it. Don’t let your goggles flying up keep you from attaining your goals.

And know that you can do it. You can attain it. You can.

 

Keep glowing,

-g

When they shut you out….and what Mama says to do about it.

:: Though I wrote this for my personal blog, {click here to visit A Silent Historian}, I see this applying to many things. In your creative work – photography, art, music – in being a wife, mother, womanly woman – there will be those who shut you out. May you be encouraged to do good, to take this advice and use it to make you the best version of you there is! ::

xoxo -g

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Mama had told me about The Teenager Phase long before I reached it. We read hints of it in books, heard other Moms talking about the symptoms of this phase and how to reach their kids who seemed to draw up and in, further and further from plain sight. Sure, they could be standing there, but they seemed so far off. They were cold and distant from the warm children those mothers knew them as. It was a dark, mysterious cloud I determined against from the time I heard about it. I would never be like that.

Around twelve or thirteen, I began to feel a strange pull of sensations.  Curious and almost intrigued as to where they’d lead me or what they meant, I gave them their head.  They were feelings of suppression from the higher ups – Mama, Daddy, Preachers. They were the desire to Be apart from what defined me. Apart from my upbringing, apart from the people associated with me. During this time, I felt much embarrassment – discovered the powers of that force for the worst, and found myself being ashamed at my family, my clothes, my hair, body and church. I wanted freedom. I wanted to be someone important. None of this, I was convinced, could be found in what I’d grown up in. My parents, but my mother, especially, was holding me back. She’d keep me from experiencing my life to its fullest pleasures, and for this, I felt resentment building. I gave these thoughts their lead, letting them pull me on in whatever direction they willed. What I didn’t realize – or want to realize – was that they were not leading me anywhere; they were a wedge in the form of “Freedom”, which was being driven between my relationships, and especially with Mama.

 

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My life grew, changed, molded. God got a hold of me and broke a very hard heart. Still, remnants of a deep seed kept their hold, as they always will when a person is not committed to rooting them out. I kept a coldness toward Mama for years. Only in the past few years have I worked through it, growing more and more in awe of the person my selfishness kept me blind from seeing. That curtain is drawn back more each time as my eyes are continually accustoming to the amazing person she is. She teaches me many things on a daily basis. I’ve written her words in my book, I’ve asked her advice, I keep studying what makes her great.  Feverishly I write and rehearse and think of what she’s taught, because there is much more to learn from her than I can in a lifetime.

She was never one who things just came to – except for amazing balance on bicycles at 1 year old and winning the beauty pageant at 8 years old, when she would have rather have been racing around the yard and playing in mud. In high school she worked hard for good grades, to make friends and to do well. She wasn’t the beauty queen, she wasn’t popular to the popular kids and those good grades didn’t come easily. But she was determined. Mama has always been determined. She recently told me something that has made such sense to me.  It made Mama and her ways, make sense.

“My homeroom teacher wasn’t popular on his own merit, but he had a saying he kept up on his board that said,

‘They formed a circle and shut me out;

But I formed a larger circle

And shut them in.’

I’ve seen her do this over and over. Every cold look, every stiff hug I’ve given, every clipped answer to her compassionate, inquiring one.  Every time I’ve treated her without respect, been moody and unkind, I was baffled by this circle, which she quietly drew around me, then filled up with her love, her compassion and forgiveness. The thing I never figured out, was how she never treated me the way I did her. What would my life have been like if she did? How different it would be – and I would be.

Not until that day when she recently related her homeroom teacher’s advice, did I realize what she’s been doing all these years.  She’s been shutting people in with love – no matter how many times she’s shut out, she only draws the circle bigger.

If you have a Mama who’s done this for you, Thank her.

If you’re on the outside of the circle, be brave like she is, and draw the circle bigger.

Thank you, Mama.

Thank you for your example.

Thank you for changing my life, one kind word, one prayer, one circle at a time.

I love you,

-g

Derrick+Sami :: Jasper, AL

She was small, delicate, beautiful. He’d  seen her before, but was not friends with her. Now in the blur and happiness of a mutual friend’s wedding, Derrick and Sami met and talked for the first time as friends. He visited with her family, laughing and joking in his easy manner. His vibrant personality, ready laugh, classic smile and southern charm perfectly complimented  Sami’s own personality, which is quieter, full of gracefulness and just as charming. Impressed with his open personality, Sami was oblivious to the fact that she would grow to love and admire him more than any man. Derrick, however, had already purposed that this Girl was definitely his challenge for wooing.  Before they parted at the wedding, Derrick made sure to ask Sami if she ever visited Birmingham and said to please let him know if she was ever in his neck of the woods; She said she would.

A few weeks later Sami had visited some friends in Montevallo and, as promised, let Derrick know she would be passing through that evening. She realized there might be something more to this than “just friends” after an unofficial date that night, at which Derrick grilled, showed his southern hospitality and had a very small football watching party. The football watching party  of three eventually shrank into a party of two; Derrick’s good friend casually had to leave half-way through and giving them to watch the game and talk. Only when she was driving home that evening, did Sami realize  and think to herself “Oh my gosh! That was a date!”  Through the Christmas season that year there were work parties, theater for Christmas shows and visiting with family.  For three years Derrick wooed and won Sami’s heart, and on a rainy day in July they took a trip to Atlanta from Birmingham. Standing in the rain, nestled in a corner of the city, under a small park tree and umbrella, Derrick gave Sami the surprise she was not suspecting in the least. Reaching into his pocket and kneeling in a puddle, he asked her to be his wife. A group of passersby saw this and cheered, with woo-hooing and clapping as Derrick heard Sami say “yes”.

Ten months later on a perfect spring day, Derrick and Sami were surrounded by family and friends to celebrate their commitment to love, honor, cherish and serve each other for a life time.

Derrick and Sami, you two are fantastic. Your generous natures, thoughtfulness and way of making me and others feel loved is an amazing gift… Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your day. It was beautiful in so many ways.

~Keep glowing

-g

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In the middle of all the dancing, laughing and talking, this little girl had opened both shutters to the window and was absorbed in her own view.

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Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Come out to the porch”. When I stepped outside I saw these two having a blast in the seed for the send – off. They kept doing it over and over and laughing every time. Adorable little twins!

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I leave you wi

I leave you with this one to sum it all up.

Congratulations again, Derrick and Sami!

 

She pulled her hair back in a smooth bun, applied her stage makeup and as she quickly donned her ballet shoes, Tobi felt that familiar rush of excitement. It was showcase night for Hillsong Academy of Arts in Sydney, Australia. She kept wondering if she’d outgrow it – the butterflies, the light feeling in her head, the need to breath very deeply and calmly. She’d been dancing since she was seven, yet the wonder and thrill of it still filled her as she anticipated that night. It was before hand that got her. As soon as her feet touched the floor in movement with the orchestra, however, her years of training took over. The nervousness washed away and she was left with the beautiful aspects and was completely absorbed in the movement and interpretation. Dance flowed through her without conscious effort now and her solo act was beautifully carried out with what the judges of the showcase said to be a powerful performance. “You connected to the piece and conveyed the emotion of it; you captivated the audience,” they told Tobi in her shining review.
The auditorium was full of newly-made friends, art peers and judges. Concentrated on her act and afterwards relieved to have passed, Tobi wasn’t thinking about who was watching her that night, but there was one pair of eyes who’d already noticed the natural grace and loveliness with which she carried herself. He’d seen her at a friend’s gathering recently and had quickly come to the conclusion that Tobi was a lady worth getting to know.

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Nearly a month and a half after her showcase in Australia, Tobi was home for the holidays and someone had come to visit and meet her family. Yep, you guessed it. It was Mr. Observant, Seth Coulter. Since the showcase the two of them had become fast friends. This night he’d come to see Tobi and her family. They talked easily and took an old blanket to spread on the ground as they star gazed. Tobi remembers thinking at that time while they talked, “I could hang out with this guy forever.” And so began their love story. Seth made every effort to win her heart, doing every thoughtful thing he could. Once he asked her on a date then sent a giant bouquet of a dozen red roses sent to her door while she was getting ready. The girls in her dorm were curious and highly impressed with this fellow, and Tobi’s family with whom she was skyping at the time, got to see the thoughtful surprise too. Both her Daddy and her brother who adore and protect Tobi with the fierceness of a body guard were able to see things like this in Seth which gained their complete confidence in him.
This June I was blessed to meet both Seth and Tobi after a year of corresponding via e-mail and Skype // gotta love technology //. They were such a kind hearted, laid back, wonderful pair who weren’t stressed with wedding details or caught up in the trivial material details. They love people. They love God. They love each other. That is the atmosphere that came through in their wedding day celebration and which anchors their marriage now. Seth and Tobi – I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of your incredible day. And Oh M’lands. The botanical gardens in Knoxville are splendid. I still drool over them occasionally. That whole place.
Congrats again, you two!!!

– G

 

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They beam. Just. Beam.

 

 “You have gone beyond our expectations and we are so happy with all we have seen! Again, you rock!!!
Thank you thank you thank you!”  – Tobi

Seth + Tobi :: Knoxville, TN