Kayla | Senior 2019 | Washburn Rural High School| Lake Shawnee | Topeka, KS Senior Photographer

I have known Kayla and her family for a long time. Like, a really long time.

When her mom contacted me about senior photos months ago, I knew it was going to be a good time and that she would be beautiful. Turns out I was right on both accounts. I mean, just look at her.

She had her hair and makeup done as a part of her package, and you would never know this girly girl is also a tomboy. She is a enthusiastic softball player and has sass for days.

We are scheduling a night to get her in her softball uniform and on the field so be on the lookout for that. She’s a star player for Washburn Rural, and they’re gonna be great.

Tips for Quadriplegics to Stay Cool this Summer

IMG_6538

We’re heading out to a family party tonight, and despite the lower-than-normal June weather today, getting overheated is always something that scares me. I have come close a few times to being pretty sick from the heat, and it may not be something that everyone realizes can happen so quickly for someone with an injury like mine.

Spinal cord injuries affect people in very different ways, depending on what level and how severe the injury is. Mine usually leaves me feeling cold, even on the hottest of days.

One commonality among most SCI ,though, is the body’s inability to sweat. The internal thermometer can be damaged (and normally is), which explains why most spinal cord injury survivors are seen wearing jackets in summertime. This is why I sit in front of a space heater in my already-warm office. It can be so hard to feel and stay warm.

The opposite is also true. Summertime heat and humidity can be very uncomfortable and dangerous to persons with SCI. Our inability to control temperature coupled with the inability to sweat can quickly cause heat-related stresses.

1. Drink lots of cool water prior to going out in the heat.

Sometimes drinking lots of water all the time is hard for me. I know it’s good for me in the long run, especially with bladder infections happening what seems to be every other week. Water is especially important though if you are going to be outside.  You’ll stay hydrated and get ahead of the temperature regulation before you’re even out in the heat.

2. Keep a mister with you.

I am sure you have seen them before. It’s basically a water bottle with a fan on it, and let me tell you, it works. It keeps your skin moist when it needs it most, and it is a super inexpensive way of keeping cool.

3. Shade. Shade. Shade. Meds can cause severe sunburn also.

Stay out of the direct sun if you can avoid it. I have made the mistake of spending all afternoon out in the open sun while on antibiotics, and I paid for it for almost a week later. Saying that antibiotics (and some other medications) can increase your risk of sunburn is an understatement. Learn from my mistake.

4.  Wet your clothes.

I don’t mean that you have to be running around dumping bottles of water over your head, but if you are somewhere that you can wear a wet rag around your neck and keep the collar of your shirt damp, go for it. A little bit can make a big difference.

5.  Wear light-colored loose-fitting clothing.

Cotton is best because it’s light and usually loose and can get wet and dry quickly. All the things you want for a hot summer’s day.

We all know that summers can be brutal, especially depending on where you are. Here in Kansas, it gets hot and humid and sticky, and then it rains, which makes it even more hot and humid and sticky.

If at all possible, make sure you have an inside place to hide from the heat, but if that’s not a possibility, take precautions. Take care of yourself and make sure others do the same.

5 Ways to be Productive in a Chaotic Life

pexels-photo-373076.jpegAs a full-time working mom who also runs a growing photography business, I have to find pockets of time throughout my day to complete the tasks that, whether they are big or small, need to be done. It can be so difficult to find the energy and motivation to not spend that time scrolling through social media or playing another level of Candy Crush or watching the latest episode of your show on Netflix or playing Play Doh with Reagan.

I have found a few things that help keep me focused and on task for those times when my mind would wander (and get lost) if I allowed it when I should really be working. They help me focus and knock out goals, even if it is a little at a time.

  1.  Airplane Mode

It’s hard to adjust to being “unplugged” and out of reach sometimes, but it is so good for your productivity, I promise. With no distractions and no notifications dinging at you every time a new comment pops up on Facebook, you can knock out projects faster and of better quality.

    2.  Clean and organize your workspace.

A clear workspace is essential for me. I know there are people who say that they thrive in a messier atmosphere, but it’s been proven that tidier workspaces are good for focus. Plus you don’t have to waste time looking for things that you need if you know that they are where they are supposed to be. Give your stuff a “home” and make sure that the item makes its way back there every time you use it.

   3. Set timers.

Give yourself small increments of time to work. Small deadlines can produce big results because it forces you to work, work, work to get the task done, instead of dawdling around until the motivation hits you.

4. Use unexpected chunks of time.

Take your work with you.  You know that 15 minutes that you spend in the carpool line or the doctor’s office waiting room? Use those moments to work. I know it’s a small amount of time to really get in “the zone,” but those few minutes can add up quickly. I always have a notebook ready whenever I am out and about. Even if you are just brainstorming throughout the day as you run errands, you are doing work

  5. Give yourself a reward when you complete a task.

Good work and behavior is rewarded in a traditional workplace setting, so give yourself little treats as you accomplish some of the things on your to-do list. I tend to use candy as my reward. Skittles or Skor candy bars because they are my favorite. Gimme all the candy!

There are plenty of other ways to increase efficiency and productivity, but it really helps to find what works for your lifestyle. Leave your own tips in the comments!

Dear Reagan,

baby-lips.jpgI am at the library, watching a mom hold a three-month-old baby boy as he sleeps the afternoon away, and I can hardly remember a time when you were so small. Tiny and totally dependent. Just this morning, you put on your cutest 4T outfit with the glittery kitty on the shirt, and the pants were about an inch too short. It seems like you grew into a giant overnight, the minutes ticking away while life stretched your legs.

You are so aware of the world and soak up everything new. Things I didn’t know you heard grown-ups discussing now become questions. “But why?” is something I hear a lot from you these days, questioning many of the instructions I give you and things around us.

You notice the difference now between the things I am able to do, and the things I am not. “But how will you get up those stairs, Momma?”

When you were a baby, I wasn’t sure how we were going to navigate explaining to you my injury, my wheelchair, what I need help with and what I don’t. Really, I was afraid that I would explain it the wrong way and you would be confused. I have never carved out a time to tell you these things like I thought I would have to, so we take them as they come. Now I know, when you have a question, you will ask, and I will answer as simply and best as I can.

Once in a casual conversation, I mentioned walking, and you looked at me in surprise and exclaimed “MOM, you could WALK?” You will never have the privilege of seeing me walk like I did, but most kids don’t have the unique experience of having a mother with a disability either. It has taught you empathy and compassion, and I hope that you can carry that to other kids your age. You teach them, like I try to teach you.

Maybe I am being emotional because you will be having a birthday soon, and I just don’t know how the time has gone by so quickly that we are planning a party for the fourth time. It will be unicorns this year because you are very opinionated about the things you like and dislike these days.

I love you,

forever and ever,

Mommy

Why I Said No to a 100 Day Project.

IMG_7864

It’s April 1st, and the #100DayProject is floating around the internet everywhere, especially on my favorite platform, Instagram. So many of the lovely ladies I follow are posting about what they will be painting or drawing or sewing or creating during their 100 day Project, which officially kicks off on Tuesday, April 3rd.

And of course, my mind kicked into overdrive when I first saw that first post. Oh, my gosh. What am I going to do for my project? What can I sustain for 100 days? What project won’t bore me out of my skull? I better get an idea right now because this starts this week, and I want to have a plan!

Then I stopped myself.

Even thinking about this project was stressing me out! I fast forwarded in my mind a few weeks to when my life would be so busy with portrait sessions and warm-weather activities that I wouldn’t even have a place in my days for anything extra, and I said “no.” I said “no” to making myself to put content out every day that wouldn’t be something that would feel enjoyable, but more like homework that I had been forced into for the sake of contributing to a hashtag project. I said “no” to taking time away from my daughter and the other things that matter. I said “no” to not relaxing, which is something that I have really been working on for myself.

As a result of my little epiphany that saying yes to this project would actually be detrimental to me, I have unfollowed the hashtag and don’t plan on purposely searching for it. I have scaled that part of my social media down to give me some type of quiet.

So to the others like me, who constantly feel like they might miss out (total FOMO sometimes happens here), it is really okay to skip out on the trends and popular hashtags that exist online. It is okay to say no to things that you know in your heart will NOT fill you up in any way other than check a box of “I did that.” It is okay to not be involved in every activity or idea out there.

So many times, we don’t think through the entirely of a project or a committment that we take on. I have been so guilty of this so many times (and continue to struggle with it), and then it becomes something that we feel obligated to do. We continue out of that obligation, and then it is just draining.

So here’s a note to self: Don’t let yourself say “yes” to something that in the end, you know you should have said “no” to.

My, how life has changed.

I can’t even remember the last time that I actually wrote a blog for me that wasn’t on my photography site. I am glad that I decided to take a break from personal blogging when I did because frankly, I was at a breaking point. I stopped one day and realized that blogging was not fulfilling at me for me anymore, and it had become more of a chore; a thing to check off the list each week.

IMG_8693a

Now that life has leveled out, especially since Reagan is three years old and relatively self-sufficient in the ways that count for three-year-old little girls, I have a little bit more freedom to sit and quietly write when I feel the need or the spark.

It’s nice to be back.

This space will be more of a personal blog than my photography blog, but also highlight some of the writing I want to include in my freelance portfolio. Enjoy!