Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The View from the Valley

Life is a series of pits and peaks, ups and downs, highs and lows. It's easy to go from the highest high to the lowest low in a matter of minutes, often forgetting the joy and goodness of the previous season- trading it in for the heartache and hurt of the present instead.

It is so hard not to be jealous of the peaks from the view in the pits. We view others at their best and compare them to us at our worst, and it's easy to let this make us jealous and negative. The woman celebrating her degree - you'll never know the hours she sacrificed, the sleep she lost, or the test she had to re-take three times to pass. Your friend who glows in her recent pregnancy announcement? You don't see the pain she felt every month for a whole year when that second little line didn't show up. That couple sharing the lovey dovey anniversary post that makes you feel even more single? You just don't see the years they waited to find one another, the failed relationships, the counseling, the things they've had to work through.

It's easy to forget the peaks behind us, and feel alone in the midst of our pits, because our society doesn't often share both sides with the world. We don't hop on to post an Instagram photo of us losing our cool with our kiddo or sitting in a long period of waiting, just hoping and praying that a new hill will rise up ahead of us, offering us relief. So it feels like we're the only one walking that path, when in reality there are so many trudging along that same road.

But in those moments, let's remember: celebrating someone else's "peak" with them does not make us any less likely to someday celebrate our own. Nor does it negate the hurt we may feel in our season in the "pit", looking up at the happy moments for others. We can feel both emotions, both pain and joy, at the same time and they can both be valid and real. They are.

So let's choose to build each other up. Let's choose to celebrate and also empathize: to feel joy and pain alongside those we live life with. Let's trust that, even when it seems like we'll be stuck in a valley forever, there is a hill up just ahead- good things waiting for us, better than we could have planned, if only we can hold on, trust just a little bit longer. And then, when we finally reach that peak, there will be people there along with us, celebrating, cheering, crying tears of joy knowing the ups and downs that have been there along the way. Then the valleys will fade as part of a beautiful struggle that led to this incredible end.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tuscan Villa Styled Shoot

It began over a poolside chat, lathered in sunscreen and soaking up some rays on a peaceful July afternoon. Some of the sweetest conversations seem to happen on summer pool days, the breeze whipping through chlorinated hair and the scent of Coppertone confirming that it is indeed my favorite time of year. This day was no different. My friend Lacey of Lacey Rene Studios is not only one of my dearest friends, but she's also an incredibly talented photographer. And one thing that makes her so talented is her flair for design, for dreaming up perfect angles and beautiful styles that seem to make sweet photos effortlessly appear.

On this particular day, she was telling me of her vision for her next styled shoot. If you aren't sure just what a styled shoot is, I'll get to that, but let me tell you- she is the queen of them! Styled shoots are basically an amazing chance for incredible vendor teams to come together to create beautiful visions for future brides and grooms: usually themed and handcrafted with each vendor putting in their best work. (See below, I mean WOW!) One role in the styled shoot is that of "model", and when Lacey asked me and Aaron to be the bride and groom for her Tuscan Villa Styled Shoot, you better believe I was immediately in! (Plus, I'm 1/4 Italian, so this particular shoot was kinda in my blood, right?!) The shoot was especially meaningful to me, as it rained the day of our wedding, and we were unable to take any outdoor photos together. Now we would have them! 

The details came together, and after initially planning on September, the rainy weather pushed the shoot to October. I actually got to go to Savvy Bridal and try on several gorgeous dresses with Lacey, which was so fun! I loved the one we landed on! On the morning of the shoot, I showed up to school in a button up shirt and with no makeup on. My high school students probably thought I was sick, but oh well! I took a half day, so I left early to get pampered by the best of the best: Hairs by Henley and Dani Jo Bell Makeup Artistry. Then I came home to grab Aaron, and we literally got into his truck in a suit and wedding dress to drive to the shoot. Our neighbors probably saw us and wondered what the heck we were doing!

It was actually really cold out the afternoon of the shoot, but I didn't mind. My hubby and I were getting the best little date, hanging out, taking sweet photos together, and getting to step out of the crazy that was all around us. Aaron even got put to work hanging up curtains and rolling wine barrels around. No joke though, Lacey can make anyone look good! I feel like I'm awkward and don't photograph well at all, but she always makes me feel beautiful!

Lacey captured amazing photos of all the details, and I was blown away by how gifted the vendor team was! If you're looking for folks for your wedding or any other special event, I can highly recommend each and every one of them!

DRESS: Savvy Bridal
RENTALS: Ultra Pom
INVITAION SUITE: East and West Designs
TABLE STYLING: Judy Morefield
PHOTO + CONCEPT DESIGN: Lacey Rene Studios

The team did such an amazing job that Lacey was able to get the shoot published on Confetti Daydreams! The post went live on May 31st, so we waited to release the gallery until then. See their post here: Olive + Herb Themed, Organic Wedding Inspired by Tuscany.

After I changed out of the dress, Aaron and I headed up to enjoy a little dinner at Tin Kitchen, because I obviously had to put my hair and makeup to good use by making it a date night! I'm definitely printing and hanging up these photos soon, with no shame. I love that we have our original wedding photos, but these "5 and half years married" photos will always be special to me too! We're just aging like fine wine, right!? Marriage truly just keeps getting better, and I'm excited for the years ahead!