WOW! A Month Already?

Oodles in a month.  That's all I'm saying.

Mini-Me's thoroughly fallen in love with running Cross Country. Has pretty much improved in one way or another with each race. And at the her last race of the season, she PR'd! She has PR'd several times throughout the season, but to end the schedule with a PR is leap & bounds more than what I reckon she had been expecting to do.  From here she's headed on to Districts next Thursday.  No matter what the outcome may be, we are proud of her for going out and trying something new.  Change can be scary, yet the most rewarding. We certainly love when she finds success in her passions.
(***UPDATE: Mini-Me PR'd at Districts!!!!***)

My annual Volleyball camp with Parks & Rec started a couple weeks ago and it is SO great to be back on the court with all my adorable kids! They make me feel incredibly valuable as a person.  If I didn't love being a photographer & if I didn't dislike the idea of staying in school for the rest of my life, I might consider going back to finish my degree in education so I could be the most rad PE teacher & coach ever!  :)

Mini-Me finally went on her FIRST DATE EVER to Homecoming a week ago.  I know I'm biased, but she was the most beautiful belle at the ball!  It's safe to say she was more than her date had expected.  Modest & gorgeous all at the same time.  They doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc their all-day date with other kids from Seminary.  It started with a faux-hike at dawn (their intention was to hike Badger Mountain but got the directions all fouled up). So they drove until some pavement ended just behind the temple a mile or so, parked the car, & walked around in the dirt and tumble weeds for about 20 minutes.  Haha, they crack me up!  Following the faux-hike they drove back to one of the boys' house where his mom had whipped up this MAJOR breakfast smorgasbord for them all.  (Lucky kids, cause she is *the* best cook!)  From breakfast they all jumped on bicycles & headed down to a local pond/puddle, just off the Snake River, to try their hands at fly fishing.  By mid-afternoon it was time for them all to part ways to get dudded up.  Pictures went down all over the place, and then dinner started promptly back at the church by 7pm.  One of the sisters I serve with in YW had spent all day sectioning off the gym and decorating one part to look like a very luxurious dining room in a mansion (chandeliers & the whole 9 yards).  The rest of the gym she had decorated to look like a large ballroom with exquisite mirrors & strings of lanterns & drapery along the walls.  When the kids arrived they checked in with the maitre d', received their character's bio and they enjoyed an entertaining murder mystery.  The same sister and a couple other women from church had prepared a lovely Chicken Parmesan feast.  No lie, its been a week and they're still giggling about dinner!

Young Women in Excellence (YWIE) took place last Wednesday, and I have to say I was skeptical of the idea at first, but in truth it was probably one of my favorites we've had.  Course maybe that's because all I was asked to do was bring my lighting gear & camera to take pictures in the "diner" that was at the back of our "Drive In of Excellence."  The same talented sister who had been behind the murder mystery dinner pulled out all the stops and literally TRANSFORMED our gym into a drive-in movie lot/theater, from floor to ceiling.  The girls all made their own cars out of cardboard moving boxes, and were encouraged to come dressed in their best poodle skirts & bobby socks that night.  The diner was outfitted with some state of the art vintage food appliances (popcorn machine & hot dog spinner/cooker), and all the classic candy jars & soda pop flavors.  For the "movie" each YW was asked to film a short video about what she's been doing in Personal Progress; even those who have already received their YW medallion necklace were asked to put together videos about what they've done since completing the program.   We YW leaders were each asked to make a commercial for one of the YW values (faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice & accountability, good works, integrity, virtue) that are paramount to the Young Women's program.  Mine was more serious (think something you remember seeing on a snippet of Mr Roger's Neighborhood or Sesame Street), and Daisy's was magnificent... it was truly profound... made me cry.  (I'll have to feature them in another post, as they're taking FOREVER to upload, Oy!)  But all the videos were then put together into one on-going feature film.  My dear friend Sara, whom has spent the last year battling & surviving cancer, closed the meeting with some heartfelt remarks.  We are so blessed to still have her with us.  I think having her speak briefly was the perfect cherry on top of a wonderful evening.  Once the closing prayer was said, the impeccable sounds of The Drifters filled the room & giddyness ensued as our girls hopped in & out of the diner backdrop for pictures.  Fun & spiritual, just like each of them.  :)

Senior portrait season is coming to one of the biggest pushes as yearbook deadlines are starting to arrive.  It's been hectic but wonderful at the same time.  Just last night I had the pleasure of holding a reveal session for one of my senior girls, who happened to have been one of Mini-Me's fellow YCL's at Girls Camp this summer.  Now, you need to be aware, since camp she had, weeks later, gone to an intense dance & choreography camp (aside from church, dance -especially ballet- is her life... matter of fact she & Mini-Me used to study at the same academy & performed in one of their Nutcracker productions together). In the last couple days of the camp she suffered a near career-ending injury.  She has not danced since July 30th, and has had to endure some of the most painful physical therapy.  Understandably, patience has been tested. To be a dancer that is used to such a high level of intense physical demands, but yet be told to not do ANY of it is excruciating. Along with the lack of activity comes loss of some muscle tone, and additional weight is gained.  All of this is natural.  However it is quite the blow to a ballerina's psyche.  So, in our session we did some typical senior shots, but by the end I had had her mom & sister go get one of her leo's and a tutu.  We yanked her hair up, got her outfitted, had her tie up her toe shoes and we tossed together some shots that didn't strain anything.  Fast-forward back to last night's reveal: she met me at the front door & confided she was so nervous to see our portraits.  When she was briefly out of earshot her mom mentioned that the girl had been in fact dreading the reveal as she was extremely self-conscious about the additional weight gain, as well as the muscle atrophy that had occurred in her leg since the injury.  When we were all gathered for the slideshow, I nudged and told her she had nothing to worry about.  And then the magic began...

There were gasps, followed by several exclamations of "Oh my!" and "I like *that* one!"  But THEN the ballet pictures came up, and the tears started flowing.  By the end, her mom was still in tears & the family's consensus was "How are we going to choose?!"  She was absolutely stunned at how truly beautiful she STILL is.  Last night was one of the greatest experiences in my photography career.  As a parent I believe something as significant for my own daughter's sense of self is worth every minute & every penny. I realized that THIS is exactly why I do what I do, and why I strive to overcome challenging circumstances just to make this happen for others.

We're all insecure at one point or another.  Some of us struggle with insecurities more frequently than others, and sometimes it's a constant battle.  This is especially true for me, as well as all of us women.  We tend to get distorted visions of who we once were and who we have been reduced to being.  I love peeling back those ugly thoughts to show my clients the beautiful truth about themselves.  Disproving their misconceptions is a gift!  (Now if only I can make this a matter of my own self-mastery.)

In the past month I've learned that my job is simply to: Unlock life.
It's a pretty cool realization.  ;)

So that's what we've been up to.  Hope your lives have been as equally, or more abundantly, blessed! ::hugs::

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