The first man I ever wanted to marry was named Jack. He was in my preschool class at the church near my house. I remember he asked his mom for her wedding ring, so that he could propose to me. He was what every 4 year old wanted- sweet, kind, he adored me, and he had plenty of fun toys at his house.
A few years ago, I found him on Facebook. It took about 20 solid minutes of super-stalking and those detective skills that every good woman is blessed with. I typed out some cutesy little message to him, reminiscing about those glorious toddler years. I was pretty pumped to receive a reply from him. It took a few days, but he replied.
He didn't remember any of it. He had no idea who I was.
But it was okay, because that's just about how every single event in my life goes down. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Weird. Every situation that I think might have some potential ends up nosediving into the ground, catching fire, exploding, and sending up a mushroom cloud that can be seen from every continent.
My pathetic dating life began at around the age of 15. I had my first longterm boyfriend and I really started to notice all of the good and bad qualities of boys/guys/men/males/living things with appendages between their legs. I began making a mental list of all the qualities I liked and disliked.
Fast forward to 8 years later.
Over the past 8 years, I've dated several people. That means my Man Quality List is about 7,000 pages long. You know at the end of the movie The Book of Eli where the old guy has to write out the entire bible and it zooms out to show stacks upon stacks upon stacks of pages? That's my Man Quality List. I just store it all in my brain. My brain is big.
Upon becoming single in the past year, I've kinda spent a lot of my free time going a little... crazy. I had a massive identity crisis and had to become reacquainted with myself. I made some dumb choices with men that eventually lead me to a lot of red wine purchases and deep thinking.
The deep thinking lead to me adding a ton of new guidelines to my list. I thought I was creating this fantastic, flawless list with checkboxes that I could hold up to any potential man. I thought it would surely aid in my search for "the one." So, while cleaning my kitchen this morning and doing my routine Man Quality List meditation, my entire perspective shifted.
I could clearly see a massive error. My whole list was made up of qualities of the perfect man. A man that every woman would want to date. A man that you could put into any situation and he would work perfectly. The flaw in that? It isn't realistic. It has nothing to do with me, specifically. I created an idea of a cookie cutter guy that any woman would instantly fall in love with.
That's when I began thinking about the kind of man I wanted for me. I took the qualities from my never-ending list and tweaked them to reflect a man that would be a good match for me and me alone. Someone who would fulfill my needs specifically. Someone who could provide the love, nurturing, care, excitement, stability, and passion that I need.
I've read a lot of "10 Things I want in My Future Husband" lists. I roll my eyes at all of them because they are ALL the same. Just these generic lists with the most basic guidelines for what women want in a man. "I want a man that will be a wonderful father. I want a man that will hold me and kiss away my tears. I want a man that loves his family, who will hold the door open for me, who will be okay with just sitting on the couch together and reading a book while I paint my toenails." No shit, people. Who doesn't want that?
Your list for what you want in a man shouldn't be the same as anyone else's. It should be specific to you. Dig deep. Think about the things that are really, really important to you and only you.
That's what I did this morning. And this is what I came up with:
- I want a man who understands and values the importance of having a strong relationship with not only his family, but also my own.
Maintaining relationships with family and close friends is one of my biggest priorities. I talk to my mom on the phone every day and my entire family lives within several blocks of me. I love going on family trips, regularly getting together with groups of friends, and just spending time with people I love in general. I want and need a man who loves his family and strives to keep a strong connection with them. I want him to want his family to love and accept me. I want him to want me to spend time with his family and friends because I want to be there.
I also want him to be part of my family. I want him to love my family, be excited about going on trips with them, enjoy family dinners and parties. I want him to understand how important these relationships are and work hard to build and maintain them with me.
- I want a man who loves my daughter unconditionally.
My baby is my reason for living, she's the joy in my life, and she has helped me become the woman I am today. I will do absolutely anything for her and I will always be right there beside her. I want a man who not only supports me in that, but feels the same way. I want him to fall in love with her while he's falling in love with me. And I want him to love both of us unconditionally through the good times and the bad.
Believe me, future man in my life, there will be bad times. You know that possessed girl in The Exorcist? Well, three year olds are worse.
- I want a man who feels anticipation and excitement when he's with me. Up until this point in my life, most of my relationships have been the same. For the first few months, I really enjoy that blissful "honeymoon period." Once that's over, I realize that I really don't have all that much in common with the person, so we sit around and watch Netflix for months until we break up.
I know it isn't realistic to want my entire relationship/marriage to be in a perpetual honeymoon period. One of the best things of finally being out of the honeymoon period is getting to really know and be comfortable with the person you're with. In my experience, being comfortable with someone consequently leads to that "spark" leaving the relationship.
I want to find the man who can always retain just a little bit of the excitement and anticipation he felt for me at the very beginning. I want a man who thinks I'm fun and beautiful, who looks forward to coming home to see me, who misses me when I'm gone. Even when I'm old and I'm only gone at Crotchet Club for a few hours.
I want a relationship that doesn't become stagnant. I always want to be anticipating what wonderful thing is going to happen next, big or small. I want a man who wants to work with me to make that happen, because that's definitely not a task one person can take on alone.
- I want a man who wants to experience as much as he can in his lifetime.
I am passionate about life. I want to do and see so many things. There are lists of places I want to go stored away on my laptop... half of those being restaurants. I want to be constantly learning new skills and bettering myself so that, at the end of my life, I can look back and feel satisfied with the things I worked hard to accomplish.
I want a man to share that desire with me. I want to meet someone who has his own plans, goals, and dreams and I want to combine those with mine. I want us to work together to make those dreams come to fruition. But, most importantly, I want us to have those experiences together. Whether it's planting a vegetable garden, or skydiving, or going to France, or even just binge watching The Walking Dead. As capable as I am of doing things on my own, I want a man who wants to experience all of them and more while being right beside me.
I want to look at that man years from now and say, "We've done some cool shit. What should we do next?" Because, I mean.... YOLO.
- I want a man who is willing to understand my love language.
For the longest time, the only love languages I knew of were "Receiving Gifts" and "Physical Touch." While I enjoy both of those, neither are my love language. A few weeks ago, I took the love language test and found out that I'm an "Acts of Service" kind of girl with "Words of Affirmation" being the runner up. Seeing how I've spent 23 years with myself, I would say those are both very accurate.
Although the love language thing seems kind of goofy, I completely agree with it. I think it's important to understand what someone's love language is in order to help them feel fulfilled. I want a man who will take into account that my love language may not be the same as his. That, while he may need me to give him a hug in order for him to feel loved, I probably need him to feed the dog and tell me he thinks I'm awesome.
I want a man who works to fulfill me emotionally and physically in the ways that I, specifically, need. And I will be ready to do the same for him in return.
- I want a man who is kind and loving toward animals.
This may seem like one of the no-brainers, but I've met several men that either don't like animals or don't treat them with kindness. That's a huge turn off. Probably because it says a lot about the guy. I want a man with a kind and gentle heart toward all living things. (Except cockroaches. Kill those f$%kers.)
I love my dog, Copper. He's my family. He's my daughter's best friend and they are partners in crime. That being said, I always watch a guy when he's around my dog. Depending on how he interacts with pets, I can decide whether or not he's going to be a good fit for me. The guy that talks to my dog, scratches his ears, and lets Copper drag him around the park on a leash is probably a good man.
- I want a man who is passionate about becoming a father.
Apparently, this is a freaky, taboo thing to talk about when you haven't dated someone for more than ten years. But you know what? I want to talk about it because it is one of the most important things to me. I don't want to waste my time with a man who doesn't want children of his own. So, why not ask that question early on? Get it out of the way.
I want a man who is confident and secure enough to be able to say that he is excited about the thought of being a father. A man who is passionate about not only being a father, but being a great father. I want a man who wants to have a fantastic, loving relationship with his future children. That's an attractive quality, guys.
Seeing a man who is comfortable interacting with my daughter makes my ovaries sing. Same goes for a man who can confidently hold a tiny baby in his muscular arms.... Okay this is getting out of hand. Oh my. NEXT. Let's get on to the next bullet point.
- I want a man who strives to communicate with me.
Women are interesting creatures. We are emotional in ways that don't make any sense, at times. (Ever.) I'm still trying to figure out why I cry every time I watch Winnie the Pooh.
I am a very analytical, realistic, confident, emotional woman. I want a man who is appreciative of the fact that I'm no dummy. I want him to always want to know what I'm thinking and wanting and needing and dreaming about. I want him to seek me out and ask me these things, not just wait for me to tell him. And, in return, I want him to be open and honest when he's telling me what he is thinking and wanting and needing and dreaming about.
I want to have a relationship where it's totally comfortable to be open, raw, and intimate. I want to be able to tell a man that I cry because Piglet gives his house to Owl and then has nowhere to live. And I want that man to think, "Heck yeah. I get that."
- I want a man who is proud to love me.
This is a hard one to explain. Mostly because there isn't an explanation. This is the way a man looks at you, the way he holds you and protects you, the way he smiles at you.
I've never experienced it before, but I have seen it a few times. And I crave it.
I've seen a man look at a woman and want her more than anything else. I've seen a man treat the woman in his life as though she is the most important, amazing, and wonderful thing he has ever been allowed to call his own.
That man beams with pride when that woman walks down the aisle in her poofy white dress. He cries and holds that woman when she cradles their tiny, new baby in her arms for the first time.
I know this stuff is real. My entire job is to capture memories, so I've seen these things happen just a few feet in front of me.
I want a man who feels that way about me. I want to look at him and know, without a doubt, that loving me is so incredibly important and meaningful to him. That he wouldn't give it up for anything in the world. And I want to feel that way about him.
I know that the man who will be proud to love me exists somewhere out there. I know that he will love my daughter and my dog. I know that he will want to take care of me and that I'll be ready to let him. I know that he will be passionate about living life with me. I know that he'll want to know me better than he has ever known anyone.
I know this man is out there. And I'm excited to meet him.
- I want a man who understands and values the importance of having a strong relationship with not only his family, but also my own.
I got pregnant when I was nineteen. The exact moment my fifth-life crisis began was when I peed on a cheapy, Walmart brand pregnancy test and there were two little pink lines, instead of one. Finding out you're growing a surprise baby in your barely post high school body is like crashing your car, stumbling around in the street, hearing that freaky high-pitched sound that accompanies the most massive adrenaline rush of your life, being crammed in an ambulance, and having an EMS guy cut your favorite pair of jeans off your body. I've had a surprise pregnancy. I've been in that car crash. And they both have that same feeling.
That holy shit feeling. And not just, "holy shit."
More like hooooooooooly shit.
HOLY HOLY HOLY HOLY SHIT. SHIT SHIT. SHIT. HOLY. SHIT.
That feeling where you can't figure out what you're looking at and your lips are moving, but you have no idea what you're saying. Where the ground is in the sky and right is left.
Those pink lines (and all the pink lines on the five pregnancy tests I took after that) changed me instantly. I knew immediately that I loved the little amoeba baby inside of me. I knew that I was going to be a mother. But, that didn't mean I wasn't still a dumb, irresponsible, angsty teen.
At the time, my only responsibilities were:
- going to work
- paying rent for my sketch ass apartment
- keeping my cat alive
- spending at least 20 hours a week playing Fallout 3
And I thought that was stressful. (Insert cry-laughing hysterical emoji here.)
I knew that a big change was coming. That I would have to uproot my entire life and become what my baby needed me to be. So, I kind of slingshotted myself into the transition of becoming a mother. I bought a house, frequented those "my baby is as big as a _____________ this week!" websites, accumulated a boat load of newborn clothes, spent 45 hours installing one car seat, and decided that I needed to be featured on What Not to Wear: How to Look Like A Mother, Not a Hipster.
One of my biggest struggles over the past few years has been with my identity. I thought that being a mother meant I had to start dressing like Michelle Duggar. Because, when you think of the average mother, what do you think of? Yeah. A 35 year old woman with a solid color, extreme-starched button up (buttoned all the way up those saggy boobs), light washed high waisted jeans with massive pockets, and a classic late-80s mullet with the round-brushed bangs.
I knew what I thought a mother was supposed to look like. And that's not at all what my closet contained. I would open my closet door and step into a smorgasbord of Urban Outfitters and Forever 21. It was hipster heaven. But.... mothers can't be hipsters. That would be wrong.
That's when my trips to Ross and TJ Maxx became more and more frequent. I started shopping in the women's section. You know, the section with all of the stretchy, knee length dresses that cover up your cleavage. I bought so many stretchy outfits. Floral print, stretchy outfits that are an unsettling level of wrinkle resistant. I would put them on and think, "Alright. You officially look like a modest, thirty-something. You'll pass as a mother."
All of my pre-pregnancy clothes got pushed to the back of the closet. And, for the remainder of my pregnancy and throughout the first year of my daughter's life, I wore those awful, stretchy woman-clothes. I never felt "right" or confident. I felt like some weirdo living someone else's life. I never felt comfortable. I was stuck in this state of limbo because I had no idea who I was supposed to be.
About a year ago, something in my brain shifted. I don't know why. Or how. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, "Ummmm... I'm like... hot. Attractive. My body looks awesome." Sure, I have faded stretch marks in all the places moms do. The skin on my stomach is not as tight. I have to wear a cup size smaller in order to push up my boobs, so they look kinda perky. But, becoming a mother gave me a kind of confidence that I've never had before. I love my body and I feel good in it.
Once I honed in on that newfound confidence, I started taking all of my stretchy mom-clothes to Goodwill. I ordered a new wardrobe from H&M and Forever 21. I shopped in the Juniors section at Target again. I bought lingerie and cute pajamas. I started feeling like me again. Like I was 22 years old.
Let me tell you, it is the most freeing feeling.
Two days ago, I pushed myself past my limits a little. I went to our excuse for a Forever 21 (Forever 21 Red... I mean, really?) and I was surrounded by the brightest colors and prints and fabrics. The only problem is that about 73% of what I was looking at was in the form of a crop top. I started having one of those familiar identity crisis panic attacks. I had mused over the idea of buying a crop top for some time. My sister wears them and she always looks cute. So... why not?
Before I knew it, I was out the door, clutching a yellow bag containing a pair of insanely high waisted shorts, two crop tops, and some silver ballet flats. The first thing I did when I got home? Put those suckers on, HELL YES. I turned on some Weezer on Spotify and danced around in my new outfit. And I felt good. Really good.
Then, I got out my expensive camera and my remote. I took photos of myself at 11pm in the worst possible lighting in my bedroom. I did poses that made me feel like an extreme goofball. I had so much fun and I felt so confident.
My whole idea for this blog post came when I realized that I'm not the only woman who feels this way. I'm not the only person who struggles with my confidence level on a daily basis. I finally understand that I don't have to dress "like a mom" in order to be a fantastic mother. I can be 23, shop in the Juniors section, drink margaritas, buy lacy thongs, listen to hipster music.... and still be an awesome mother to my little girl. It took me a stupid amount of time to figure that out.
So, to the mothers of every age, don't be afraid to do the things that make you who you are. Don't put up some facade that adheres to the stereotypical idea of a mother. Make decisions based on what you want. What makes you feel good. What makes you happy.
Go out and get your version of a crop top. You won't regret it.
When this sweet thing booked with me a few weeks ago, I thought it would be your average portrait session.
It was one of the coolest, most fun and unique shoots I've ever done. This girl has some serious style and a firecracker personality. She's also super gorgeous. Obviously.
When she first told me she wanted to shoot at her dad's house, I thought, "Greeeaaaaaat. This'll be interesting." It was definitely interesting in the best way possible. As soon as I walked in the front door, I was pumped. It was the coolest mid-century modern styled house I've ever seen in person. The windows were huge, the furniture was upholstered in purple velvet, there were Eames chairs, tapered legs, and starburst clocks. It was a dream.
It was such a fun setting to shoot in. We even went out to the backyard and Kacie posed by the original tile pool.
All of these photos were taken for Kacie's blog. Check it out for fashion tips, bubble bath recipes, makeup secrets, and how to dye your hair gray. Ha! But really, it's awesome.
Can't wait to shoot with her again next month!
There's something about tutus and flower crowns that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. If I wasn't 23 years old, almost six feet tall, and didn't care about losing all of my friends, I would absolutely wear a tutu and flower crown every day. And use a unicorn as my primary mode of transportation. Unfortunately, that isn't exactly realistic. So, I have to live vicariously through precious, wonderful, dreamy girls like Anayah.
She was the most perfect model. After three minutes of knowing me, she let me pick her up and plop her in the middle of two foot tall grass. She smiled, laughed, and twirled when I asked her to. It was amazing. I always forget how fun it is to photograph kids. They are so full of magic and wonder and joy.
It feels so fantastic to tap into that childlike part of me. Even if it's just for 45 minutes. To be able to sit in the grass, laughing and picking flowers, with this little girl... it was exactly what I needed. I hope to be able to do it again soon.
When clients are a couple of goofballs that laugh the entire time, it makes the whole photo shoot experience wayyyyyyy more awesome. Lauren and Ruston are absolutely a couple of goofballs. So, pretty much, it was the most fun and hilarious shoot ever.
I've known Lauren since kindergarten. That's seventeen years. That's a lot of years. I remember having a sleepover at her house and arguing with her about leaving the lamp on while we were sleeping. She wanted to. I didn't. (Seriously, Lauren? Who sleeps with a lamp on?!) My five year old self never imagined that I would be the one to take her engagement and wedding photos. It's so cool to see how far we have come. We used to be two gangly kids who dressed up like cowgirls for the Wolflin Roudup. Now, I have a job, my friends are meeting cute dudes, buying fancy white dresses, we all own houses and dogs, and we can balance checkbooks.
Even though it majorly freaks me out when my childhood friends get married, it also makes me so excited and happy. Even more so when those friends call me up to shoot their weddings. It is such an honor and I'm so glad to do it. I can't wait to see this beautiful girl in her dress on her wedding day. She is going to be absolutely stunning. But the best part is that she will be marrying a man who is her best friend. And I'm most excited about seeing that.
Congratulations, Lauren and Ruston!!! I can't wait for your wedding! Woo!
I absolutely love eclectic weddings. I love small weddings. I love colorful weddings.
Rin and Scott's wedding was all of that and more. There was reggae music, beer, and tattoos galore. There were two walls made completely of silver glitter, a shiny red Pontiac, blue dress socks, and a turntable groom's cake. Unbelievably enough, there was even one song by Snow Patrol that squeezed its way in between the reggae. This wedding had some major personality.
I'm so glad Rin asked me to shoot photos for their wedding. It was such a great experience to see these two people, who already have the coolest life together, unify themselves in front of friends and family. It was emotional and wonderful and beautiful and everything a ceremony should be. The entire room was sniffling, by the end of the vows.
I want to congratulate the Buchanans on tying the knot and making their unique love story one for the books. I'm sure I'll see you guys soon. Because the mere thought of you gives me a craving for a tofu taco. And animal fries.
Enjoy your sneak peek!
When my beautiful friend, Kinsey, told me she would take me on a date in exchange for some graduation photos, I was all for it.
She wined and dined me at 575 and then drove me to a swanky bar downtown for martinis. We laughed for five hours, reminisced about first meeting eight years ago, chatted about relationships, and (as always) spent a large amount of time dreaming about babies. We love babies.
Last week, we met up downtown for her senior session. We walked through the streets, sought out cool locations, and got hit on by some sketchy dudes. You know, your typical photo shoot. Kinsey was in model-mode and gave me some great poses. She also made some really goofy faces that she asked me not to share on social media. I just filed those away in my "Kinsey Blackmail" folder on my external hard drive.
After the sun went down, we finished up the photos and headed to Crush Wine Bar. We spent another hour just enjoying each other's company again. It was so great being able to spend a chunk of my day with one of my oldest friends. I'm so proud of who she has become and who she is becoming. And I absolutely cannot wait to see the amazing things that happen next in her life.
I love you, Kinsey! Happy graduation!
When these two beautiful people stepped out of the car, I knew it was going to be a fun engagement session. As they walked toward me, I considered grabbing my sunglasses to shield my eyes from the explosion of sparkles from Lauren's cocktail dress. They were absolutely the most attractive people on the square in Canyon, TX that evening. Although, there were only about four people on the square. One of them was me. And I'm pretty sure I was wearing overalls.
Nonetheless, they looked like movie stars.
Lauren and Ryan were so much fun to work with. I learned that they are high school sweethearts, which instantly explained their best-friend demeanor. Throughout the evening, they laughed and joked with each other and they told me the details of their wedding.
I'm so excited to capture their September wedding. I know it's going to be amazing.
Wow. This wedding. I learned a lot at this wedding.
I learned that you really can cram 25 women, a photographer, a videographer, and a cheese and charcuterie tray into a 12' x 12' room.
I learned that you can't have too much red.
I learned, once again, that I cry during the father-daughter dance.
I learned that a mother will do absolutely anything for a daughter on her wedding day.
I learned that December weddings are always freezing.
I learned that Lexi's bridesmaids curse like sailors.
I learned that a dance party isn't *really* a dance party, unless it's a McAnally dance party.
And finally, I learned that Lexi and Casey are one of the most fun, loving, and beautiful couples I've had the pleasure of photographing.
I'd like to give a huge thanks to Lexi's lovely mother, Tammy, for finding me, hiring me, and being such a great lady to work with. To the brand spanking new Panhandle Charm Weddings for being so accommodating and laid back. And finally, to Lexi and Casey for just being awesome. (And for spending two hours in a coffee shop with me talking about Pretty Little Liars.) Thank you, guys!
[Productions 918 - Amarillo Wedding Photographer - Canyon Wedding Photographer]