Live

“I want to live life, not conquer it” ~ Cheryl Richardson

 

Last weekend we were in the mountains of Colorado, learning as a family to ski. I have skiied many times before, but I pretended to be a beginner. I did this to spend the day in beginner lessons with the rest of my family, but also because I had a serious injury as a kid skiing. The memories of being taken down the hill on the Ski Patrol toboggan, the endless weeks in a full leg cast, the surgery years later to correct for a meniscal tear, and the tweaks in my left knee to this day reminded me of how quickly skiing can take a wrong turn if you are not careful.

So as my kids and husband grew in confidence over the course of the full day lesson, their speeds increased. The downward slope of the mountain swished by them a little quicker, giving them a sense of thrill and accomplishment. By the end of the day, the long, meandering easier runs we were taking ended with the three of them at the bottom, waiting for me to finally reach the finish line. And they waited. And waited.

When my kids began to tease me about how long it was taking me to get down the mountain, I was tempted to tell them about my fear. I was tempted to lecture them about the possibility of injury, a cautionary tale for reckless speeds and skiing out of control. But I knew that saying it once was enough, and that those lessons were theirs to learn. No amount of over-lecturing on my part is going to slow them down, and as a parent I am seeing the futility in this in all ways. But the reality for me is that my slow, controlled descent down the face of the mountain was not in fact about fear. In reality, I was experienced enough in my life to know that the conditions were good, and my muscle memory did not fail me. I felt controlled. I felt safe. I just didn’t feel the need to compete. I didn’t feel the need to conquer. For me, skiing that day was not about nailing the technique, getting better or going faster. It was about enjoying the fresh mountain air. Taking in the views….Because those views? They were freaking epic. And in looking down and going fast I knew I was going to miss it.

So was I the last one down the hill? Sure. But did I stop along the way (admittedly stopping to take pictures), take it all in, breathe, and imprint the majesty of that mountain on my soul? Absolutely.

 

Winter Park Colorado, Mountain View

 

Gina Graham is a Mother, Photographer, Writer and travel junkie. 2018 shooting schedule is now open for bookings. For more information on working with Gina to capture and archive your family memories, contact Gina or visit lifelensandlove.com

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Build

Sometimes you have to tear down to rebuild.

Sometimes in the walls coming down, new ones need to be constructed. New boundaries. New foundations.

Sometimes the ways it all used to fit doesn’t seem to anymore, and you have to decide what gets put back and what gets left aside.

Last week we started a remodeling project at our house, and the rebuilding process is likely to have headaches, hiccups, and difficulties. And while we willingly and knowingly chose to do this project, we may not have chosen the lessons that it will teach us. Patience. Decision-making. Communication. Cost. All lessons that come to us in many ways over the course of our lives.

Sometimes when you rebuild, there is pain involved. But always when you rebuild, something new takes shape. Takes form. Through the dust, the debris, something new arises.

And always it is beautiful. Always it is as it should be. Right where you were meant to be, whether that was in your original blueprint or not.

 

 

Gina Graham is a photographer, writer, and currently channeling her inner Joanna Gaines. For more about lifelensandlove photography, or to read more of the blog, visit www.lifelensandlove.com

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Selfie

Hi girls.

Can we talk for a minute? I get it that it is highly likely that in this moment you have food, boogers or spit up on you somewhere.  Your hair is probably in a messy bun and you might not have worked out in recent weeks. And because of this, because there just simply isn’t the luxury to stop and think about it, you don’t feel very beautiful. When was the last time you realized how attractive you are just as you are? When was the last time you felt cherished or sexy? It’s probably been awhile huh?
Kids, work, chores, age, social media. It’s all cooked up in this big ‘ol stew of failing to realize who we are and how others in our lives who love us see us. I get it. I’m there too. Never feeling “good enough”. Pushing myself to try to work out more. Focusing on the wrinkles and the new gray hairs. But all of this “selfie” business has turned things upside down a little. It’s become a thing to document who we are, and what we are doing. No longer limited by the impossibility of turning the camera on ourselves in a brief moment, we have allowed ourselves to get in the frame. The only problem is that now we feel vulnerable, visible, and vain sometimes when we do. We’ve somewhere along the line been conditioned to believe that it’s in poor taste if we like the way we look. If we are proud of something we are doing. Of who we are. We are conceited. Too full of ourselves. So it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
 …
But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe you can give yourself permission to see, really see your Inner (And Outer) Goddess. Maybe you could allow yourself  to seek out what makes you feel beautiful. Because that teenage girl who had crushes, that young woman who was on the brink of her future, that girl who fell in love and started a life with someone? She’s still in there. And she wants you to see her. To find her.
 This Valentines Day give yourself a gift. I know it sounds indulgent, cheesy or not important. But maybe it is important. Maybe it doesn’t have to be cheesy. And you deserve to be indulged every once in awhile. Do something that makes you feel beautiful. Tap into something that channels your inner glow. Allow someone to capture it for you.
 …
And if you are up for it, consider some portraits, maybe even just of you.  A gift for yourself. A gift for someone you love who loves you back. You are in charge. They don’t have to be anything other than a reflection of your beauty. Because it’s there. Boogers, spit up, messy bun and all.
For more about Goddess-Supermom-Bad-Ass-Girl-Power Portraits, contact me. I’m happy to help you see yourself in a whole new way.

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Ticking.

I am a firm believer in alternative health practices, and have been going to acupuncture on the regular for awhile now. Anyone who has been there knows that while you are there, there is not much you can get up to. Lots of little needles protrude from different places and preclude you from moving around, checking email or social media, and in general doing anything other than laying there. Typically the effects of acupuncture are so relaxing to me that I settle into a light nap, a trance state, or a place where my mind and body gets quiet for a brief interlude in what is generally a pretty busy Saturday. Often there is some kind of soft, Chinese music playing in the office, harkening to another time and place, soothing and exotic at the same time.

One Saturday in particular they must have forgotten to turn on the music. After a brief chat, the doctor punctured me in all the right places, and left the room. It was then that I realized the only sound I could hear was the slow ticking of the clock. This sound, so familiar in so many ways, and yet so often unnoticed. Unheard. It got me thinking….How often are we quiet enough, still enough to hear the ticking of the clock?

The sound of a ticking clock can be unnerving. Unsettling. On that day for me, it took a lot of focus for me to not feel anxious about that sound. For when it’s just you and the clock, no other distractions, it can be an stark reminder of how fast it is all going. How each tick and tock is a slipping away of sorts. But this sound, if allowed to, can also be a firm reminder that we are in charge. Of our life. Our destinies. Our dreams. They are all undoubtedly nestled in the palm of our own hands. Sure we are bound by responsibilities. Jobs, kids, life. But in spite of these things, we are not bound to a life without adventure. Without excitement. Without meaning.

It’s easy to think that we need to make a massive life change, do something on a grand scale, or have endless amounts of time and money to live out a dream or make a difference. But the reality is that we don’t. It just takes a bit of sacrifice, a bit of creative problem-solving. Because the clock is ticking. Whether we hear it or not. We are all only here for such a short time. And on my best days, when I am squarely in touch with the gravity that holds me here and holds me accountable to the choices that I make each day, I can see that each day is full of opportunities to make it count.

 

woman walking on beach, beach scene

 

Gina Graham is a photographer at lifelensandlove photography and writer of The Daily Bread Blog, which is ironically enough a weekly thing. For more information, check it all out at www.lifelensandlove.com

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Line in the Sand

Last fall I was a hot mess. I had said “yes” too to many things. As a result, I felt frazzled, distracted, and as if my insides were on fire. There were consequences of this behavior too. I missed a game winning goal at my kid’s soccer game. I never saw my friends. I was rushing and stressing during a photoshoot and left a lens in one of three possible locations. A very expensive lens. I knew that these were all little taps from the Universe; “You are moving too fast. You are not breathing. You cannot sustain this”.

 

We all have to draw a line in the sand. And at the end of the year, I told myself that I had. That I was going to do things differently. As with all intentions, it started out so well. It’s the sustaining of new behaviors, thoughts and patterns that takes persistence. Reality checks. Accountability…This week that little flame on my insides started to flicker. I realized one day that I hadn’t had a full breath in awhile. My goal to spend ten minutes in quiet and to clear my mind and my body went out the window.

 

But all is not lost. Last weekend I took a serious nap for the first time in years. I let things slide that I didn’t get done rather than force myself to plow through the exhaustion at the end of the day. And most importantly, I recognized that internal racing, that red flag that I was starting down an old familiar road, but one that I wanted to course correct and change direction.

 

Intention is great. Resolutions and goals get us where we want to go. But it’s the subtle shifting away from those goals that can happen so quickly, and reminds us how easy it is to slip up and get off track. The good news is that it’s equally as easy to try again the next day to move again towards that horizon where you ultimately want to be.

 

joy written in sand, beach

Gina Graham is a photographer and writer at lifelensandlove photography. Interested in a photo session for 2018? Spots for summer and fall are already filling in. Contact me today and let’s get you booked!

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Rules

My kids complain a lot about how strict their screen time rules are. I admit I’m pretty tough about it. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker in me sees the potential for developing brains to grapple with real addiction. The inability to develop appropriate empathy and social skills. The truth is that this is just a giant social experiment for kids these days to see how being raised in a virtual world will really affect them. Not to mention the fact that there is solid research to back up each and every one of my concerns.

But beyond that, the real reason why I limit my kids’ gaming is because time and time again they amaze me with the interesting things their little brains cook up when they are bored. Boredom in my house has resulted in endless forts, projects, galleries of drawings, collections, and fantastical set ups rife with imaginative play. Sure they have to whine a bit and bug me before they get to that point, but my persistence for them to “find something else to do” never fails to pay off.

I write this not to in any way self-congratulate on some pinnacle of parenting. My kids remind me far too often of the ways I fail them daily. And my kids are not creative geniuses, destined to reinvent the world. All of our kids have this spirit in them. In fact we all do. Not just kids.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Instagram. I can get lost in Facebook. My phone is always right by my side, and I often catch myself impulsively “checking in” for no particular reason. But I do want to model better for my kids. And I too want to reap the benefits of  being less”plugged in”. So here’s to a little boredom. A little space to figure out what else to do rather than scroll and game and be absent from the real world unfolding right in front of our eyes. Here’s to connection and creative thinking and presence. Just sometimes. Most of the time.

 

kids play toys

For more about Gina Graham and lifelensandlove photography, visit lifelensandlove.com

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Prayer

Some call it prayer. Others call them intentions. To me it matters less what they are called, but more of what their power and potential can be.

As a little girl, I was taught specific prayers. Over the years, my prayers have changed and evolved, at times glaring in their absence from my life, and at other times an absolute anchor. A desperate scream. The amazing thing about prayers, no matter how you believe it all “works”, is the undeniable opportunity to witness the world right itself. As I have noticed over the years, an answer always comes, often for the good. A birth. A job. Recovery. An absolute fucking miracle.

 

I’ll never understand why some prayers are answered, and some are not. But understanding how it all works isn’t the point. The point is to acknowledge the mysterious force that surrounds us at all time, offering up daily opportunities to see that good that is unfolding in the world.

 


bird nest, eggs in a nest

Gina Graham is a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and photographer at lifelensandlove photography. Please sign up for the blog here for weekly messages to come straight to your email inbox. For more on Gina’s photography, visit lifelensandlove.com.

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Meet Wyatt

Meet Wyatt. He is 8 and he loves baseball, especially when he plays catcher. He has a pet lizard named Stormy, and this past summer he learned to juggle tomatoes. And this bow and arrow? He made that all by himself. This is Wyatt’s story. What’s your child’s story? Let me be the one to tell it.

boy with bow and arrow, portrait of an 8 year old boy

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean we can’t capture your child’s memories and stage. Announcing now my Winter Indoor Portrait Special. Timeless, soulful black and white indoor portraits of your little loves in January and February only. Price is $195 for a set of 12 individual portraits.  Contact me to set up a session to document this time in your child’s life now. More information available at lifelensandlove.com!

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New

It’s a New Year!

I love a fresh start. The white and gray of January works for me. The clean palette offers a place to rest. Serenity. Surrendering to the process of lying fallow and dormant waiting for the eventual new growth.

This is a day that many people set intentions, goals, and resolutions. I am no different. In fact, I was thinking about this year with intention and purpose late last year.

I don’t know what 2018 holds. But I do know that this year I will continue to try and simplify in all ways. To stand up for myself, my beliefs, and what is good for my family. To set boundaries. And keep them there. To be open to all the possibilities that I haven’t even thought of. To consider a return to a previous chapter in my life. To be at peace. To age gracefully.

Rather than taking this time of year to think about how to be more, do more, achieve more, I want to think about how much I can let go of.

woman in a field, photography, portrait, photographer, blogger

It’s a new year for lifelensandlove photography too! With that I am cooking up all kinds of new ideas and projects. Last fall I was cooked and booked. This year, I will offer a set number of sessions each month, and on set days. My shooting calendar for spring, summer and fall sessions will officially open on March 1st. More information to follow. Be sure to book ahead for September and October sessions; they will fill up. If you are looking for a session this winter, don’t worry. I’m still shooting! Especially milestone and family snow sessions….

Lastly, my webpage is updated with more information, testimonials, and lots of fun pics from 2017. Be sure to check it out at lifelensandlove.com

 

Wishing you all a beautiful 2018 full of health, happiness and joy! ~ Gina

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Wish

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Love, Gina at lifelensandlove photography

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