Thursday, November 29

the map in your heart*

frida, canon digital rebel xti

I love the way your eyes and smile linger after a conversation has reached its end. You continue to search deeper in the eyes of your friend for that connection that is safe in silence, away from words. This is a rare gift. When so often people turn away out of fear of being too seen...you allow a haven in your eyes that says stay. And we do. We stay in your presence and breathe softer there.

I know it is breaking your heart to leave Afghanistan, my friend but truly...your soul work doesn't stop there. It ministers to people everywhere you go. You hold the map of the world in your heart and those that live in it are forever changed because of this.

This week I promised my heart to meditate on joy in my life. The idea that months and months ago, you reached out to me from a land far, far away and our blogs brought us together, confirms to me the power of intention in my life and the lives of others. This brings me knee deep in joy.

I gaze at how I captured you, capturing the world around you in this portrait. Your journey is not ending, my friend...but only getting even more outrageously rockin' by the day.

I'm so blessed to have been a stop along your way on that map that is snuggled into your heart.

Wednesday, November 28

soul song*

kate, swirly, andrea, jen, canon digital rebel xti

The last few days I've been thinking a lot about the idea of gently helping to empower my friends, family, loved ones when they share their hearts with me. Our instinct is to wrap them up and to save them, take care of them because we are nurturers. I think another way to nurture is to empower, to help them rediscover their own true voice when they have lost the ability to hear it clearly.

A dear friend had asked me some advice on how to stay connected to her body as she was feeling quite disconnected on many levels. I asked her what it looked like to her to feel connected. If she closed her eyes and imagined a fully connected being, what does she see? What is this person doing? What is she feeling? How is she loving?

I walked away from the exchange hoping that what she really needed wasn't a list of all these things she could be doing but instead permission to define her own individual experience of what that could be, not what my experience may be or has been.

I realize there is a balance with this. It is just something that is dancing around in my brain as I write this. I know sometimes we just need answers and ideas that we can find in a guide book, therapist or a trusted person in our life and there is definitely a time and place for that inspirational support.

My experience lately with a few book-gems and gracefully wise people in my life, is that this has been a reoccurring nugget that continues to surface; empowering myself, empowering others...and being empowered to find the answers within.

"To follow your heart is as simple as closing your eyes and listening to the rhythm of your soul song. Once you find the beat you will always walk in tune...". ~ Monique Duvall

Every one's soul song is unique in its melody. We can hear it. It's within us...but we have to allow ourselves those precious moments to listen.

What are the lyrics to your soul song?

Revel in this with me.

Sunday, November 25

spc - what i wear {week 4}

me & my joy necklace, canon digital rebel xti

I truly believe in the intention that an artist pours into creating something beautiful with a message meant to dance into our world. My lovely friend Andrea does just that with her gorgeous Superhero jewels. Anyone who wears them indeed feels like a Superhero but also, each particular gem has its own message that permeates hearts and souls. The one I've worn most lately is Joy. Not only because its cheery colors are stunning and match most all my outfits but more importantly because I've needed to feel Joy.

Joy is something that most of my life came quite easy to me. I was that girl that always had a smile on her face, a cheery disposition, found the positive in any situation or laughed in the midst of tears. I think all these years of being such a happy, upbeat person created an expectation in others of me to always be this way and in turn, I put this expectation on myself. I think this may be why I was uncomfortable with feelings of anger or long periods of sadness. Not only was I afraid that others wouldn't accept me if I felt this way but I was afraid to accept it myself. I pushed it down deep and didn't know how to process those feelings. I talked about this a few blog posts ago.

I remember sitting in therapy a few months back and opening up about one of my fertility specialists. My husband and I tried so hard to do all he asked of us and we were so proud of our test results but our doctor just had this negative..."it's still not enough" attitude towards us. My therapist asked me if I was angry at him. I responded..."Yes, I guess I am angry at him." With a gentle grin she said..."Denise, you said that with a huge smile on your face. Do you know how to be angry?" I laughed and laughed... and we laughed together and then I cried. Her suggestion was to write my doctor a letter about how angry I feel and what that means to me. So reluctantly, I did. It is now written in the pages of my journal. I am still processing it all but in all honesty, it was very empowering for me.

You see...my fertility journey has left me with these very foreign feelings of depression. I didn't think I was capable of being depressed. With these feelings are a lot of sadness and disappointment but also some anger. If people were to meet me for the first time or to spend any amount of time with me they would not suspect I am depressed. I still am that girl that sees life with a glass half full and those of you that have been reading my blog the past few years know that I have been extremely positive and hopeful on this journey. What I've noticed though, is that joy doesn't come as easy to me as it used to. Some days I have to wake up and find it, where as before it was floating around me at will. What I've been aware of though, is that when joy comes, I FEEL it so much deeper than I used to. I think this is because when you are coming from a place of sorrow, joy feels so much sweeter. I cry about five times a day from joyful thoughts (well...and sad ones too).

A sweet friend of mine has said for a long time now that "Joy is an option". I never quite understood what that truly meant until recently when I found myself in a place where I had to actually choose joy. What that means to me is putting my Joy necklace on, or visualizing all the blessings in my life, or losing myself in my husbands chest or finding humor with a friend on a really sad day. It means taking a walk on the beach and feeling grateful for the ocean or making time for that yoga class, or spilling out paints or taking my camera on a field trip, dancing in my studio, praying, meditating... and so, so many things.

It's a choice we can make in those moments when we feel strong enough to choose. Sometimes we don't feel strong enough. Sometimes we need time to feel our sadness and anger and lose ourselves in wine or television or cry for a week or vent to those that resonate with our story but eventually, yes eventually...we pick ourselves up and search for that joy. Even if in small ways. I am learning to embrace all these parts of myself and to be honest about them with me and my loved ones.

Last week I needed to sit with my sadness and anger. This week...I would like to choose joy.

What does choosing joy mean to you?

find other spc peeps here.

Saturday, November 24

laterne laufen*

me & my mother in-law Birgit, taken by boho boy

After our bellies were full from one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I've ever had...we decided to go Lantern Walking (laterne laufen). This is a German tradition that is done once a year during St. Martin's day. Families gather and walk at night with lanterns lighting their way. Boho Boy and his mom were talking about it towards the end of our feast and I said..."let's do it" and we did just that. We brought their German celebration to my little neighborhood and with our lanterns walked to the Mission church and back.

Bundled up in my scarf, walking hand in hand with the love of my life and his dear mother, holding onto a lantern in the crisp Fall air....it just couldn't get any more dreamy for me that night.

It's always fun to try something completely out of the ordinary. We decided to welcome that tradition into our lil' family when we have children in the near future.

Walking not only felt physically healthy but the silent night around us and the lanterns light guiding our steps quieted my mind and brought peace to my heart. It was a beautiful way to close the chapter on an evening in honor of gratefulness and thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21


santa monica farmers market, canon digital rebel xti

"When I loved myself enough...my heart became so tender that it could welcome joy and sorry equally."

~ Kim McMillen, When I loved Myself Enough

I am grateful for the circle of warrior women and men in my life that truly see me, believe in me and allow me to truly see and believe in them.

I am grateful for a big, wide and deep family whose colors and personalities fill my heart with such joy and giddiness that it is overflowing.

I am grateful for an earth and sky that nourish me.

I am grateful for a creative outlet that is wildly fun and full of connection.

I am grateful for a husband that has taught me how to love fiercely.

I am grateful for our baby that is yet to nestle into my womb and into our arms.

I am grateful for a journey that has stretched me up and beyond into a place that is rich with wisdom, patience, discipline, intense emotions and fertile sisters that will walk beside me for a lifetime.

I am grateful that my heart knows how to feel joy and sorrow and realizes that it can't ever fully feel one without the other.

Today, I am so crazy beautiful grateful and with each breath, I feel it more.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19

spc - what i wear {week 3}

self mirror portrait, canon digital rebel xti

Earlier this morning I wrote a post about how today I am sitting with some feelings of anger over this three year journey to conceive of mine. I explained how a very healthy phone conversation with a wise friend gave me permission to open up that feeling of anger that I have been shoving and not dealing with. I expressed that I am not comfortable with anger but am learning how to feel it and let it move through me and that this is okay. I even listed a few reasons why I feel a bit angry.

Then I got a comment that told me that it might be a good idea to not over think all of this. That I might want to not worry so much and perhaps focus on the good and happy feelings. That I sound emotionally exhausted and perhaps a long period of distraction is what I need.


This made me realize that I am not willing to open up a dialog on how I need to be fixed. I am not open to receiving advice from someone who doesn't know my whole story. I can imagine their intentions came from a helpful place and I appreciate and recognize that. I felt the need to write back and say..."hey...wait...my whole point was that ALL i focus on is the good and happy feelings and i need to be okay with the ugly ones!"...but that felt like I had something to prove, which I don't.

So I took that post down and that felt really empowering because I am just not in the mood to try and justify my feelings or self right now. The thought of that feels disempowering.

I don't need to be fixed. I just need to be heard. I don't need to be told that I should try and feel something different than I am feeling. I just need to feel. I feel and have felt so many of you love me and lifting me up, believing in me, understanding me and speaking affirmations of fertility and strength on my behalf. I will remember that today. Those are the things I need.

I spoke to my husband on the phone a bit ago and he was his usual, zen, wise beautiful self and said "We will allow ourselves to be excited every month and we will also allow ourselves to be sad or angry. We'll get through this, honey...we will."

Yes, we will.

This reminds me of my dear friend Andrea's post "advice about advice". Such wisdom and beauty and it really resonates with me today. It is something I need to refer to when a loved one is going through a rough time and I feel the urge to fix them. When really all they need me to do is listen and validate and love.

Friday, November 16

i just played...

father & son photo session, canon digital rebel xti

I finished processing the photos from this session last night with tears in my eyes. It's difficult to express in words what transpired as I loaded them up in a gallery, listening to the Cinematic Orchestra swirl around me. It was a deep knowing that I am where I am supposed to be. I am not used to feeling this deeply with a career. It's a dream for me. It is something I witnessed in others throughout my life but wasn't quite sure if I was capable of getting there. That place where you just know "this is me". That place where you are feeling truly authentic in your work.

With photography, it is easy to be overwhelmed or to feel intimidated. There is a huge technical part of it that if I allow it to, can paralyze me with self doubt. I've never been the type of artist that goes from A to Z or read manuals front to back. Trust me...I've tried and I've always felt the creativity pulled from underneath me. For me its always been freedom and playfulness and sometimes I'll get to a place and not remember how I got there when people ask me what I did. That's how I work. There are a lot of brilliant photographers out there that are very keen on the technical bits, which I think is amazing and a gift. Most of the time, they'll just assume I know what they're talking about. In the past this has created a "smaller~ness" within me about my art.

Last night I didn't feel small. I felt wide open and free and came to a place where I accepted that this is how I work and thrive with my creativity. This is me being authentic and embracing that I need balance with learning the techie bits but then letting go of the "this is how it is supposed to look, feel or be." I've never understood how anyone could determine what is right or wrong about someone's personal art, anyways.

I received a call last night from a client in tears because they were so touched by the emotion that was captured in their photographs. This is partly them and their juicy relationship and partly me letting go and exploring it with them during the session and processing. With my last few sessions I have had to stop while working on a photo because I am filled with wild and free emotions and I just need to dance or cry or twirl or laugh.

To me, those emotions, as well as the tears from my client are a beautiful confirmation and blessing that I'm on a fulfilling path. I am so grateful for this right now in my life because a few other paths that I am on, namely my fertility one, are really tough to work through.

So, I hung up that phone and felt like the next time I find myself talking to a brilliant photographer that knows their shit, I will be okay saying..."I have no idea how I did this. I just played."

(i've updated my website with a few new photos. if you've viewed my site before, be sure to clear your cookies before looking at it again so you don't get the old stuff!)

Thursday, November 15


swirly, canon digital rebel xti

I laid in bed tonight starring at a dark ceiling with my thoughts running in a thousand different directions. So, I got up and grabbed Keri's book, which was the first one my eyes focused on up in my studio. I closed my eyes and asked to be led to something I needed to hear and this quote was on the chosen page...

"Everybody is original, if they tell the truth, if they speak from their true self.
But it must be from their true self and not from the self they think they should be.
So remember these two things: you are talented and you are original."

~ Brenda Ueland

Interesting because I've been talking about this very thing with a few close friends this week in regards to my previous post.

Thank you for your outpouring of support and love of me speaking my absolute bare bones truth about where I am at on this journey.

It was freeing...and movement is happening in my heart.

Monday, November 12

SPT ~ what i wear {week two}

self portrait, december 2006

When browsing through my huge collection of pictures to try and find one of me styled up with "what I wear", I found this one taken in December last year.

It brought back a flood of emotions because I remember when I took this photo I was so centered on my journey to conceive. It had been just a few months since Boho Boy and I started going to a new holistic doctor. We were on a new diet, taking new herbs and feeling so, so much hope. In fact, when looking at the date of this photo taken, in comparison to my fertility chart I used to keep...there was a good chance I could have been pregnant. Meaning, it was a week past ovulation and the possibility in my mind and heart was huge.

It would have never crossed my mind that a year from when this photo was taken, I would still not have our baby in my arms.

I just read a very raw, rich, beautiful blog post from a dear sweet friend of mine that was full of truth speaking about her depression. She had gently asked for no advice but just stories of others suffering from these feelings. Her truthfulness inspired me to search down deep for a place where I can come meet her, hold her hand, nod my head in understanding and sit in silence with the knowledge that she is not alone.

I told her in a comment that another dear friend of mine whom had gone through her own (in)fertility journey but is now a mother, once told me that her depression never quite lifted until she held her baby in her arms.

The thought that I am depressed is not all that new to me. Depression comes in all forms and it wasn't but a few months ago when I was brave enough to go to a therapist so that I could move through it. I am no longer curled up in a ball in the corner of my room and have indeed moved through so much of it but down in the very depths of my heart is this ache that never goes away. It is an ache that can spill out of me even when I least expect it to. Even when I am laughing and feeling completely blissful. It can be triggered with the site of a pregnant woman or a beautiful baby or a quote or a film and so on. It can stop me in my happy tracks and drain me with sadness for a few days at a time. It can make this open heart of mine withdraw from family and friends. With this ache is the fear that I will never experience what it is like to hold a baby in my belly and give it life for nine months. With this ache is the fear that if I have a hard time believing I am able to get pregnant, that those thoughts will create that outcome. With this ache is a longing so primal that it is completely out of my control. With this ache is the knowledge that everything I am feeling, my sweet beautiful husband feels along with me and there is nothing I can say or do to soothe his own sacred ache. With this ache is a worry that on this blog I continue to repeat these feelings every few months and that my friends, family and blog readers will roll their eyes and wish I could get over this. With this ache there is a shame in all this that I am not proud of.

I am a week past ovulation on the second month since my surgery where I am supposed to be the most fertile I have been in three years since this journey began. I cannot even begin to explain how many emotions have surfaced in the last few days and how it has taken almost every ounce of my energy to try and move through each day and focus on all my blessings. One would think that this diagnosis of being fertile would create even more hope but what I have found is that with that extra morsel of hope, comes more fear of disappointment. Hand in hand.

I go through so many of these emotions quietly because I am afraid to annoy my loved ones. Afraid that they'll throw their hands up in frustration because I have been such a pillar, an example, a wise, strong woman in their eyes and now this? Afraid that they will see this unfolding as weakness rather than strength.

I know I have walked this journey with my head held high. I know I've been (and still am) a fighter, a survivor, a glass half full human being. I am proud of myself for all of this. I feel brave. I feel strong. I feel wiser and more deep and more me. I feel grateful for all that has come into my life as a result of this journey: my friends, my photo opportunities, my potential book deals, my inspirations.

But no matter how much I pour myself into all these things and try to convince myself that I don't need to be a mother when I am so blessed with this amazing life I have created...the pain is still there and it will be there until I have my baby. The baby I hear whispering to me every day that I want to hold, to teach, to nurture, to play with and to watch grow into one of the most amazing individuals I have ever known.

One of the many books I have read along the way asked a very important question. "What is it in your life that you think this baby will help replace, help fill up that you are perhaps neglecting within yourself?" I thought about this for a few months. I wrote stuff down. I tried to discover if it was something missing in my marriage or my own individual life. I couldn't come up with anything other than that I love my husband so much and think we have such a cool, amazing relationship and life together that I want to bring a love child into the mix with us. Simply just to share and to provide the world with another radically cool human being.

...and I miss that radically cool human being every day, so much.

So its not so much what my baby would replace that is missing in my life. For me, it is about what my baby would add to my already beautiful life.

So, what does this have to do with what I wear? Apparently I wear my heart on my sleeve even if I try to tuck it under once in awhile. Today, I let it out.

To echo my sweet friend's gentle request, please no advice giving or psychoanalysis but just the love and support you are so damn brilliant at. Thank you, sweet blog tribe.

Saturday, November 10

cute overload-ness*

pammie & me, circa 1972

My sister Pammie just emailed these pictures to me and I just HAD to post them!!!! Isn't this first one the cutest ever? Look at her gorgeous locks and can my eyes be any bigger?!?!?

More sister love 70's style::

me & pammie (on turtle) at the zoo

Darlene, me & Pammie, circa 1972

Friday, November 9

drinking green*

one of these things is not like the other, canon digital rebel xti

My new morning drink from my juicer::

broccoli stalk

Ummmm...yah, it pretty much tastes like liquid grass but more bitter. I do feel amazing after drinking this, though...and have noticed a slight glow to my skin. Not everything healthy needs to taste good. Most healthy food does taste fantastic to me but I am willing to sacrifice here and there if it makes me feel this fabulous. I've noticed that since I've been doing this, I've lost a few pounds as well. Curious why that is.

Was wondering if any of you have any other juicing combinations to try?

My other combo is:
* the beets give such a gorgeous, rich red color

Curious what you granolas out there do too. Trying something new makes it all so exciting and fun. Taking care of my body gives me some semblance of control with this new diagnosis as I do my part in helping to keep the endo dormant and maintain a fertile environment in and around me. I can't just sit back. I've got to do something. Whatever it takes. Even if that means bitter green drinks every day.

Tuesday, November 6


me, taken by schmoops

When can I call myself a fighter?


Monday, November 5

self portrait challenge :: what i wear

me & a few of my clients after a photo session, taken by susannah

Even though I am breaking the rules a bit by using a photo that wasn't taken by me...it's still a portrait of self, right? Right.

I make sure to remain true to who I am when on a photo shoot. Part of this is wearing whatever expresses my mood that particular day and asking my clients to wear whatever makes them feel beautiful. Not only does it put me at ease but my clients as well. As you can see, at the end of our photo shoot, shirts came untucked and some goofing around was had. Very telling that all went well in Boho Photo land.

I've been really into dresses over jeans lately. I can't get enough. Another thing I've been wearing a lot lately is tinted lip gloss. Does anyone know of some cool neutral colored ones? I am new to this lip gloss thang.

I know this is far from a deep post. Sometimes girls just wanna have fun.

Speaking of fun. I've been making a point to put on a song that gets my groove going and dancing in my studio every day. Got this tip from the crazy sexy book. I love it when I get into the zone and close my eyes and let go. I notice I move so much more freely that way. Boho dancing has helped to bring back my sexy. Something I've been tapping into a lot more lately.

I am loving the song "Let it Out" by Starrfadu. The lyrics, the beat...yes.

I'd love for you to list some songs to groove with as well. Okay, so that's tinted lip gloss and booty music. Go...

see other self portraits here.

Sunday, November 4


frida, boho boy & me, photo by susannah

frida, boho boy & susannah (photo by me, processing by sus)

the bohos, photo by susannah

lucky boy
making sandwiches
with the ladies.

I will never forget this evening. The sun was drifting closer to the ocean. The sky full of purple and reds. Surfers were floating and gazing at the sky. Cool sand laced between our toes. Palm trees lined above us. Snuggled on a blanket, taking deep breaths, listening to the waves. Boho Boy's delish BBQ. Frida devouring her blue corn chips and hummus. Us trying not to think about the few hours ahead when we'll be saying good bye.

Despite the fires burning around us...we were gifted with a perfect California evening. An evening people see on the tellie or dream about when coming here.

My most favorite part was our mini photo session where each of us grabbed the camera to capture the love sandwiches. When looking at these photos, the intimacy we all felt that evening was captured perfectly.

It's been taking me time this past week to adjust from the love fest as I sit here alone in my studio, processing the photos from my two sessions out in LA. I think each of us have been silent in our own ways because words just don't seem enough but pictures always tell the stories.

me & susannah, taken by frida

frida & me, taken by susannah

Friday, November 2

photo friday :: strength

swirly girl, canon digital rebel xti

this morning i realized that my weepiness has not all been about sadness.
i've been releasing, cleansing, purging.

i went to yoga yesterday for the first time in a long while.
my teachers name is Banoo. isn't that lovely?
i felt grounded and rooted and centered.
i breathed deeply.
my body felt strong.
my heart felt strong.
the remainder of the day i felt lighter. i laughed.
must. go. more.

when i gaze at this portrait of Swirly, i think of the paths we are all on.
at times it is a struggle to move forward but it is always towards something richer.
along the way we pick up gems and tuck them in our boots.

today i am taking a moment to sit in the grass and pour out all my gems.
i will hold them up to the light, kiss them and feel gratefulness wash over.

these gems have strengthened me and will continue to do so as i take them on my journey.

edited to add: omg...talk about strength and cajones. you MUST see this video of one of my dearest friends that she posted on her blog today. i am laughing & crying at the same time. she totally rocks my world in so many ways. i have the coolest gals in my life.

Thursday, November 1

she reminded me...

me, photo by susannah

i've been really weepy the last few days
feeling conflicted and tight in my heart and belly
i've promised myself a new journey
setting aside those books to help me make a baby,
and nurturing other parts of me that have been lost

but what feels so natural is hard to let go of
and it leads to guilt
so i have felt paralyzed between the two worlds
confused at how to balance them, bring them together
and its coming out in tears
filling up a huge well of conflicting emotions.

she reminded me that the wisdom i've gained these last three years is within,
that i've worked really hard and have been brave, disciplined, committed
and i already know what to do and no longer need those books
that i don't realize i am living out what i've learned each day
and with all this work i am open and fertile already.

she reminded me that this is why i am ready to move forward
that it doesn't mean i am giving up, turning away or not welcoming a baby
but it means i am nurturing the whole of me,
and that is the best example we can live out for our children.

i'm not choosing one or the other.
i'm choosing both.

this journey has been the most heart wrenching,
most beautiful
most confusing
most enlightening path i've ever walked.

she reminded me and gave me permission.
sometimes that is all we need.