Durham, NC is simply one of my favorite places in this world. It has things to do, places to go eat, and better yet people to meet. I have many loved ones who live in Durham and this is truly why I love visiting this city. We left for our trip bright and early (early, early, early) on a Tuesday morning and thankfully the flights went smoothly even with a toddler and a baby in tow. We stayed at our friends Brendan and Alissa’s house, and they are among the best people in this world. It was particularly fun to stay with them because they also have two daughters. Both of which are about 3 months older than our own.
It was fun to see the girls whirl instantly into a friendship. The giddiness and girliness that exuded from our oldest girls would be hard to match. As our trip went on our girls would turn into what seemed more like sisters, loving each other perfectly one minute and absolute meltdowns the next. #toddlergirls #momlife. Our days were filled with donuts, PB&Js, museums, parks, gardens, and friends. At night we had quality time with old friends. We ate delicious food, drank perfectly concocted gin drinks, and laughed till our stomaches were sore. While not a restful vacation it was most definitely the perfect trip, and I am so grateful for all of the memories we had this July.
Before I end this recap of Durham I want to write about someone who has been beyond special to me the past 4 years. She will probably try to refute everything I’m about to write, but let me tell you now that it’s all true. My friend Alissa is a vision of what motherhood should be. She is fun, calm, present, wise, and almost unreasonably patience with her girls. She embodies love. And while her girls are adorable, lovely, kind, and smart, neither one of them have been easy. Actually, they have been pretty hard. I know because luckily she has been vulnerable enough to be real and raw with me, and when I was at my lowest of lows I hung onto words she gave me.
The older I get the more I view friendships as a gift from God. That sounds cheesy, and I hate that but I don’t know how else to phrase it. I did not deserve this friendship. I did not expect this friendship to what it has become. But lucky for me I received it, and it has done more good for my soul than I could have ever imagined. And for that I am extraordinarily grateful.
An obnoxious amount of pictures from the month of June. Isla started dance class which we often use as our bargaining tool for good behavior (just being honest). Poppy enjoyed her first month of crawling and eating of all of the food. Looking back of the pictures I realize how much we did. Nothing ground breaking or unique but memories nonetheless. Enjoy.
Buh-BYE 31! Helloooo 32.
In past years, it felt somewhat vain and self-absorbed to get overly excited for my birthday. Like it was inappropriate to think of my life as something worth celebrating. Isn’t that sad? WHY WOULDN’T I BE SOMEONE WORTH CELEBRATING?! Geez, younger Jill… you could be a bit of a jerk. But today is a new day. Today I choose to celebrate my life, because now I realize that I am so glad for this day and to get to live it with those I love.
I am so incredibly grateful to all of you who reached out and sent all the good vibes my way after my most recent personal blog post. As a follower of Jesus, I felt like this was a moving of the Holy Spirit to share my struggle. God was asking me to be vulnerable to possibly reach those who may have needed to hear my story. I am thankful that I listened to that whisper. And I thankful for all of your kind words. More than you’ll ever know.
This birthday feels different to me. It feels like hope. Like a big breath of fresh air. Sunshine, donuts, friends, and free moving dance parties all day… and it’s only 3:00 (as I write this). Today I choose to be excited for my existence in this world, because, you know what, I have things to offer. I am a good friend. I am a good wife, daughter, and sister. I try my absolute hardest to be a good mom. I am a good artist and photographer. I am a good singer. I am not the best dancer, but I love to dance anyway. I stop to watch the world around me. I smell the flowers. All of those flowers. I make a mean gluten free cake. And so on and so forth.
I am excited to love who I am so that I can turn that around and love on you. Amen and amen.
There’s a part of life that people don’t often talk about. Maybe out of shame. Maybe to stay positive. Whatever the reason may be, Depression is often a hush hush topic. My lovely girls, Mommy slipped into a deep depression this last year. It was sneaky and mysterious. The lines between typical daily struggle and something darker blurred together to the point where there were no distinguishing differences.
I was 100% my worst self. I did not recognize the person talking to her children, and I did not like her. The scariest part was that I did not recognize that person as someone who was struggling. I thought that was me. The new me. And that’s when things took a turn for the worst. I knew that I wanted more for you then what I had become, and I was certain life would be better without me in it. I hate saying that. I hate admitting that it took me getting to the lowest of lows to realize that maybe this wasn’t me. That I needed help. And fortunately that’s exactly what I received. From your dad, family, friends, my doctor, and one really great counselor. All of these amazing people would help me realize that maybe I wasn’t helpless and such a failure, and that it is 100% OK to take an antidepressant.
As I write this, it has only been 3 months since my “Dark Day” so all of this still feels very fresh. I want you to know that this was not you, nor was it me. It just was. And if someday you find yourself not recognizing your own behavior, I want you to reach out to tell me or someone who knows you well that you trust. Tell them. Tell them the behavior that doesn’t feel like you. Tell them to watch out for you and to make sure you don’t slip deeper. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed. People love you and believe in you.
I hope that whenever you (or anyone else) read this that you find strength. Strength to admit and face your struggles. Strength to be vulnerable. Strength to hope for your future.
My darling girls, I am so sorry for who I was to you during that period of life. With time, I hope to fade those memories by replacing them with ones full of joy.
For a long time, I have wanted to “do something” with my photography. The obvious avenue of choice for most photographers is to start a photography business where one would be hired as a photographer. However, this avenue has never felt like a perfect fit for me. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it or want to continue to do so, but I have felt like something is missing.
I woke up last night with an idea. An idea I love. An idea I hope others will love. What if I use my talent to help others?
You see there is a friend of a friend whose story has touched me. Unfortunately, it’s a heartbreaking story of pediatric cancer. I haven’t been able to get this little boy and his family out of my mind for weeks, and I’m sad to say that today that beautiful little boy’s body could no longer handle that terrible cancer. My heart is breaking for this family I’ve never even met, and I cannot even try to guess the grief they are going through. But something his mom said struck me: we need more funding to help with research for these children and babies. Maybe, just maybe I can help with that.
Everyday for the remaining month of April, I will be selling an 8×10 giclee print of my artwork. All of the profits from these prints will be split between the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, NANT, and Ronald McDonald House Charities. They are $75, but of course you can always give more. I will be posting the print for sale on my Facebook page every morning. A different print everyday.
Having someone purchase and love my artwork would be wonderful, but having it potential help others would mean so much more.
Other than Poppy’s monthly pictures, I don’t often set up shoots for my girls since my Project 365 keeps me plenty busy. But last year I took some of my most favorite pictures of Isla when Spring had just sprung…
Every Spring, in front of my parent’s house blooms a gorgeous patch of daffodils. As I was talking to my dad on the phone, he informed me that the daffodils were out in all their glory and that I needed to take pictures that day. Isn’t that sweet? I love that he knows me so well to let me know such things. He was also dead on because the flowers only lasted a few more days.
The shoot lasted all of 15 minutes truth be told. As you can tell in the pictures, Isla had ideas of her own, but I absolutely love how they turned out. My sweet, sunny girls.
I love that this is a start of a tradition, and I hope to have our Spring Shoot every year. Enjoy.