Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Not sure who all has hung in there with me through these last couple of “Renew:” blog updates, but this one should catch me up to the present! 

Last week, on September 15th, I had my 3 month post op check up with the amazing Dr. Derek Shadid. First, for anyone who may be considering any plastic surgery, I would *highly* recommend Dr. Shadid and his professional staff any day. He and his staff are truly fantastic, and this comes from a highly picky person! I’ve had quite a few inquiries on who I chose as my surgeon as well as why, and to be honest, it was several factors including professionalism of office staff, his location here in Oklahoma City, his education (GO HEELS!), and more…but it boiled down to one main factor. Him. He is polite, kind, spent plenty of time discussing my symptoms and concerns with me and didn’t make me feel like my concerns weren’t valid (like my primary care manager did). Also, his experience! Not gonna lie – I had a very long (like to the extreme) list of questions and concerns for him, but even before I could get to nearly all of them, he had covered the bases with me. I didn’t feel like a burden for my thoughts or that he didn’t understand my ailments. For anyone suffering with chronic illness and autoimmune disease, you know this is very, very rare. Also, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, April, was kind, understanding, and honestly helped put me at ease (hello, vulnerability). I also want to mention Leslie, the front office receptionist as well as Patricia, who deals with the financials. Leslie was beyond patient with my initial questions and did all she could to get me in to see Dr. Shadid in a very timely manner. She welcomed my persistent calls to see when a cancelation might pop up, and that’s how I was able to get in to see Dr. Shadid so quickly last year. She’s a welcoming face each time I have gone in, and working with Patricia to work through the financial aspect of surgery was also so easy because of her knowledge and kind personality. 

Okay, now on to the good stuff. My 3-month checkup! It went very well! I have been cleared for all activity, meaning that nothing that I do should hurt any of the surgical healing process. This is great news since really about a month and a half or so ago, I had already started to feel so much more like myself and have been working out more regularly. Nothing crazy – walking, mostly, but still more than normal for me. It’s still a little tender in there while doing certain activities – jumping on my trampoline, for instance – but overall, I’m mostly pain free. Dr. Shadid said that some of the tenderness and few slightly sharper pains that I may experience could be from nerves waking up a bit more, and that this is normal and I can work through the pains with massage. It’s nothing to be concerned with, however. During the appointment, one of my main concerns, which was discussed pretty much from Day 1, was the idea of a fat transfer. This procedure would be where Dr. Shadid takes fat from my back or wherever he is able, and both slim down that area and transfer the fat into the breast pockets. Although we all agree this procedure would lead to the most aesthetic option for me, I have concerns still over quite a few things, including cost and possibly continuing cost. Additional health concerns to include calcification? Long term effects? Fat dissolving into the body, requiring more surgery?? Sigh. I don’t know. Lots to absorb and think about, so for the time being, I’m going to be as happy as I can be with the explant. Women, obviously myself included, put way too much into their looks every day. I had no idea how many women changed their God-given bodies so much through surgery. Women that I know. Women that aren’t “out there on TV” or wealthy. Just…all types of women. I’m not against it, but I do feel it’s problematic about our society when so many of us aren’t happy with ourselves, especially when I look around at the women and friends that have had some work done, and they are and always have been so beautiful to me, regardless of procedure. It’s still baffling to me, since for so many years, I was ashamed that “I was the only one” who had “work done.” I had my reasons to justify, but apparently we all do.

Back to the idea of a fat transfer – this was on the radar from Day One because, as I’ve been very open about, I have pretty much zero breast tissue. Just wasn’t in the cards for me. That hasn’t changed through weight gain or bearing children who nursed. As I standing in front of April, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, extremely vulnerable for her to update my 3 month pictures, she could see my discomfort as I said that I was once again sorry for my appearance. As kindly as ever, she gently reminded me that I could elect to have a fat transfer to change that. She knows I’m hesitant for many reasons. After that super uncomfortable moment, I waited for Dr. Shadid and again, just like the first couple of post op appointments, he mentioned that if I’m unhappy with my result, I would be an ideal candidate for a fat transfer. I had secretly hoped that, like 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, I’d have been too skinny to pull fat from! HA! Not anymore. Maybe THAT’S the reason for my weight gain…totally kidding! I have some definite areas where he could get possibly up to half a cup size for each breast. I’m honestly not sure it’s worth it…though, the idea of having some unwanted fat removed does pique my interest! I’m truly glad to have my options, but also wonder why I feel such a great need to change. Anyways, aside from that discussion and talking about my incisions and their appearance (I chose a particular kind of stitching process that wouldn’t leave anything in my body but that also dissolves differently so the result is a little different), we ended with seeing each other in a year, I think. Actually, I’ll have to check whether it’s a year or six months…at the time of the appointment I was not planning on being here because of an impending move, but the move has been canceled, so now I need to actually process that!

OH! And, an update on my symptoms! Here’s a short list from my first BII post, which you can find here: Journey to Wellness

InflammationImproved 30+%
Joint Pain – Improved 30+%
AnxietyImproved (not sure on %, because this was a particularly stressful month)
Difficulty ConcentratingSlight improvement – 15%
Memory LossThis one I’m not sure on. Still not great, but that’s been the same since I was about 18
Brain FogImproved!! 50% 
Hair Loss – Improved – Hair growth visible, looks healthier
DepressionAgain, it’s been a rough month, but I believe until this past month, I did have an improvement. Not huge, but some. 
Mood SwingsNot sure, but I feel confident it’s improved. 
Shortness of BreathBETTER!! Improved 50% or more! I had no idea that my breaths had become so, so shallow. Just days after surgery, I could FEEL myself breathing deeper. Even if nothing else changed, this would have been worth it!!! 
Weight GainNot sure. Some weight loss since surgery, but I also did a juice cleanse for five days about a month ago. Unfortunately, I followed that up with a month of Starbucks and eating out. Sooo…between that and the stress, I did lose weight, but it fluctuates, and though less weight than before surgery, I’m not sure how much is from just that. 

I’m adding to this list: 

Chronic Fatigue – SO MUCH BETTER!! Probably 50%. Yes, I still get tired doing menial daily tasks, but what I haven’t done is lay in bed all day pretty much since maybe a week after surgery. Are there days I want/need a nap? Yes. But it’s not daily anymore, and even better, I’m able to exercise and walk without becoming short of breath and tired. I already know that my quality of life has been forever changed. 

One last tidbit before I end this update. 

I forgot that I had also asked Dr. Shadid about my ribcage and sternum, and how to me, they felt deformed. I feel like my sternum protrudes a bit while my ribs that were under my implants are a bit…concave. Yes, my actual ribs. I wondered for a while if maybe I was imagining this, but he confirmed that this was not an imagination, but that my body truly does now have a deformity. It likely isn’t going to cause any future damage or organ damage or anything, thankfully. That said, for anyone who has implants and/or for anyone who might one day consider getting them, PLEASE KNOW ALL OF THE RISKS. We ALL thought we knew going in to our surgeries for implants. I did. My friends with implants did. My new “breasties” (friends who have the same types of issues in various groups) all did. But we don’t. MY RIBCAGE IS DEFORMED, Y’ALL. Forever. I truly wonder if THIS is why back in 2011 I had my first bout of costochondritis (inflammation of the ribs). Was the weight of my implants over those 8 years what caused that? It wouldn’t surprise me. Even as I type, I can remember the feeling of pain in my right ribs, right under my breast, where I would have this terrible dull ache for months at a time. No rhyme or reason. No doctor ever told me that it could be the implants — which is CLEARLY marked on ALL of my medical paperwork. I still have some dull pains, and I expect that it won’t ever “go away completely”…but I doubt I’m doing anything now to make it worse (like harboring toxic, heavy bags in my breast pockets). This deformity may also be causing some of the issue with my appearance — if my ribs go in, it’s likely that the minuscule bit of tissue I have (pretty much zero, but still trying to humor the possibility) is also pulling in, and not having the normal protrusion like most women. Remember, I’m a LOT smaller than most, so those bags (they were small and only got me up to a B Cup) were still big and likely heavy for my frame. I worry for those who I know have much, much larger implants, and the pains they may one day have because of them. 

I really wanted to share this with anyone wanting the updates. I know that women in particular have benefitted from my openness and vulnerability.

As hard as it is, I am thankful that my story may one day help someone who reads this. 

xx Shelby 

**Picture from March, pre-explant. One day I’ll take some updated selfies, but it’s been a little crazy over here since the surgery! 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update
Updating with another post – this one is from two months post surgery, and the difference in lifestyle is so recognizable by anyone who knows me! Explanting was definitely the right decision, and though the struggles are still real, I know I am better off without the toxic, fake breasts taking away from my life. 
 
“Good morning!!
Quite a few people have asked for updates on my post-surgery recovery, and the results speak for themselves! It’s only been two months, and I swear I’ve been more physically active in this time since surgery than the previous four years combined. Yesterday I walked two miles, and this morning (before 9 am!) I walked 2.3 miles! This is in addition to some light workouts, as well as being productive through the day. A few months ago, I could barely get a mile in, and I’d be in bed for several hours after. It’s embarrassing, I know, but that was my life, for way longer than I care to admit. The relentless pain and exhaustion was truly that unbearable.
My pain level has decreased substantially, and while I fully believe my AS autoimmune disorder still exists and will continue to cause issues for me (my spinal pain and hip pains have decreased, but still very much there), I think my body is able to help itself more now that it’s not fighting off something that should have never been in there. I am curious about my Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue diagnoses — so many with BII have those diagnoses as well, and a lot of those symptoms have improved. Not 100%, but a big improvement for sure.
I haven’t really lost any weight since last month, despite my efforts, but I’m still feeling healthier in general. I feel I lost some inflammation immediately following surgery, and that was about it. I’ll be seeing a functional medicine doctor soon, and hopefully more things will improve over time and a bit more digging for answers. Physically, my post surgery wounds are healing well, and though I’m trying to adjust my self-perception and self-esteem, I *do* think it is possible there will come a day when I’m not so saddened by my appearance. Though, it depends on which day you catch me on how I’m *really* feeling. All that said, it’s still worth it.

Seeing all three rings closed yesterday was amazing, but being more active with the kids (i.e. I jumped on the trampoline yesterday…something I’d have thought would break my body a few months ago!!!) and being more productive regularly has been even better!! Continuing to pray for healing 💕

xx Shelby 

 
 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – June 3rd Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – June 3rd Update
I’m playing catch up, again, which seems to be my favorite game! I wanted to make sure these updates on my surgery are recorded somewhere other than Facebook, and are searchable for anyone who might be interested. I have had at least half a dozen women ask me about BII, and I am very happy to help in any way that I can. The biggest takeaway is that you are not alone!!
 
This post is from one week post op, so from June 3, 2020. My surgery was May 27th, so I wrote this about a week later.
I didn’t grab my selfie shot for this blog post, but in any case, you can get the gist of how my post-surgery week went! 
 
“It’s been one week since my surgery, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to say. In fact, this time last week, the recovery nurses and anesthesiologists were still trying to wake me up from my “narcoleptic” state (until I finally left around 10:30 – the procedure began around 1:00 and was about four and a half hours total). Literally, they tried waking me up for longer than the procedure itself 🙈 Every time I’d begin coming out of sleep, my oxygen would drop and I’d pass back out. I was on oxygen for a while and breathing treatments, most of which I don’t remember much about. The flashes of things I do remember amuse me though. I’m very grateful for the care I received from the recovery team (Gail, Jorgie, Dr Chris) and of course the patience that Jason and Amanda had while waiting for me, in the parking lot.
 
The week post-op has been really positive overall; minimal pain meds were used, and I feel more alert and have a bit more energy (which is weird to me since I’m on muscle relaxers around the clock and am healing intensely in my body). My first post op appointment was Thursday after surgery and my second follow up was yesterday. My drains were removed (hallelujah 🙌🏼). I’m bruised, obviously have a long way to go to “heal,” physically and psychologically.
I’m sure it doesn’t help that it seems I awoke to a world literally on fire and in <even more> chaos and disarray. My heart hurts for our nation and it seems like there’s no end in sight.
All that to say, I had so much peace about the surgery itself, going in to the surgery, and now will continue to ask for prayers for healing and peace over recovery – mine, and our country’s. It’ll still be a few weeks of relatively restricted activity, and obviously a lot of physical changes will also be taking place. I haven’t cried or even been upset, yet…so I’m hoping to keep it that way. 💞
 
Below is a quick before and after of one week ago to this morning, just in my face; I hate selfies, and no make up selfies even more, but I think it’s good to look back on and to share. A lot of women can do this before/after immediately after surgery…y’all I was a mess until Friday (I still have almost no memory of Thursday, much less have had the ability for a picture where I wasn’t zonked out) and honestly didn’t see the change others see. I had been feeling a lot of inflammation in my body, my hands and fingers, face, etc for a couple years, and from what I’ve seen in BII groups, this is a real thing. I didn’t see it by itself, but I feel there is a difference in my face when the images are side by side. Same bathroom and lighting, even though the before is brighter for some reason. Anyways, I’m thankful for the outpouring of love and prayers and all of the kindness shown to my family by friends! We’ve had so much food sent to us, as well as lot of people checking in and sharing their stories of BII with me.
Love and hugs to all, and if anyone has questions about #BII, I’m an open book.”
 
xx Shelby
 
Phone picture from my dear friend and surgery care giver, Amanda! So thankful for her time and energy spent on helping me get well and be with me through this time. 
Also, my Baby Yoda is a gift which was hand made by my dear friends, the Spiveys! My friend Shelby’s wife, Liz, makes them, and was a total surprise when they conspired with my husband to give him to me before surgery. 

Blogging Again? …. Maybe

Blogging Again?  …. Maybe

Hi! 

I get it. It’s been a while. In fact, unbeknownst to me until this very moment, it’s been a YEAR since I’ve last posted! Where has the time gone? 

Well, here’s a bit of an update. And possibly why it should matter.

Last April, 2018, my husband was deployed and was gone for 374 days! Crazy, right? Well, in that time, I was taking care of our two kiddos, ensuring that we attended all of our end of school events, enjoying our summer vacation…and then the craziness of our school schedule returned! Seriously, I have two kids, but the amount of extracurricular activities they enjoy is insane. Karate (x2, two days a week, and one was on the tournament team last year), piano (x2), gymnastics (competition team, 2 times a week, and then meets), band, archery, golf, academic team…and I’m confident I’m missing something! And, I love it. I love watching my children grow in their chosen activities, whether they are “good” at them or not! That said, I was left with little time for “me” (my undeniably bad health issues) and my photography growth. 

Fast forward through his return in May of 2019, and my husband came home, we went to Europe on a Disney Cruise (AMAZING! I’ll post pictures one day…and maybe even do a blog post!), and….then he moved to Washington DC. He was home 1.5 months total between his return and his departure. Have I mentioned lately how much I <<LOVE>> the Air Force? Note the sarcasm. And, although *some* time away is nice – because, let’s be honest, the running joke with our friends is that the pain in my neck is actually a long-term chronic illness called “being married” – working on a second year without a partner in the home to help me raise our kids, to help with things like home maintenance and bills, and to just be there for each other and to enjoy each other has been difficult. Manageable, thanks to an amazing tribe of friends, but nonetheless, difficult. I actually really love and adore my husband, and he’s my other half. It’s pretty tedious going through life without half of yourself. I miss him. But right now, this is our calling – him to be there for the Air Force and his country, and for me to be here for our children. 

I’m pretty verbose, and condensing anything is rather tedious for me! So, to sum up, it’s been a long year and a half or so, and thank goodness I’ve received a swift kick in the caboose from some AMAZING friends! MY TRIBE! I’ll discuss my tribe more later and the significance of me being able to say that, so be prepared for that upcoming post. So, even though I’ve not done nearly as many sessions as I’d like over the last year (still grateful for each and every client who enjoys working with me for my style and vision), and even though I’ve lost some confidence in myself because of this, they won’t let me continue the negative self-talk. In fact, I have at least four friends literally on a mission to help me in any way they can (life, health, kids…all the things) but for this post’s purpose, they’ve been steering me back on course with my photography goals. And although I’m afraid of failure, they have faith in me. And with that…here I am. Blogging for the first time in a year. 

What’s in store for my clients? New sessions, in studio! Up next…Fall Sessions, Halloween themed sessions, and …Christmas! 

What could be better than all that? Christmas WITH Santa! It’s totally happening! 

Want a sneak peek?  

I thought so! Check it out! 

 

 

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Green

Green

Yay!!! It’s March! I absolutely LOVE the month of March for a couple reasons. First, my handsome little man’s birthday is this month…three days before his Mommy’s birthday! That was an awesome 30th Birthday present seven years ago! But also, we have a few awesome traditions. The first we started when my daughter was itty bitty — we always wear our green and head to the zoo on St. Patrick’s Day! Last year, we made a valiant attempt, but unfortunately it was the first year that it didn’t work out. Daddy got off work later than we anticipated and the zoo closed earlier than we thought (it was only right before 4 pm!). But because it was slow…they weren’t allowing people in. So, we took pictures outside the zoo for our tradition, and I’m sure we treated the kids after that! This year, we’ll be heading home from our AMAZING Spring Break vacation on St. Patrick’s Day (details likely in an upcoming blog 🙂 ). The second tradition we started a few years ago with all the fun that comes with elementary school and learning about Dr. Seuss’s birthday! Now we make our green eggs and ham and yummy treats for the classes…and this is what I’m blogging today! We’ll be headed on our vacation tomorrow, so I’m posting early and sadly, this is the only green I got a picture of. I’m still happy as it still captures this stage in my son’s life.

Enjoy our “Green Eggs & Ham” treat via pictures and maybe think of us as you start up traditions for Dr. Seuss and St. Patrick’s Day next year!

Our version of “Green Eggs & Ham” as treats for his classmates.
Delish, too!!
Square pretzels, white candy wafer, green M&M.
And the littles love to help out!

I think he was proud of his accomplishment.

He is a super generous child, he loves giving.
And, I’m not sure where that light soft halo is coming from, buuuut, it’s pretty cool. I think.
Just very unexpected.

And ready to put them in little baggies!

Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Nikki Smith of Nikki Smith photographer/storyteller (Facebook page).
Click here to see Nikki’s take on this month’s theme – I assure you that you’ll love it…she’s one of my favorites to follow!

The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.

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Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Grey

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Grey

Grey. Not black, not white…just…grey. It’s certainly not the most inspirational of colors, at least for me. I love a timeless black and white image, but I was hoping for an awesome foggy morning (one that lasted until the afternoon hours because, well, I enjoy my sleep) or something specific that provided that moment of epiphany for this theme. Black and white images I knew I could do, but I wanted something…more. After some thought, I knew I didn’t want to do all black and white images, but that including some might be nice. And then, one day, it snowed here in Oklahoma! Over the years (my family and I lived here about 6 years ago, for 6 years – love military life!), our Oklahoma winters have often consisted of “ice” storms (anyone out there remember…”ICE STORM, 2007!”?). Not snow, not blizzards, not rain…something in between. Something miserable, but beautiful (it’s actually stunning to look at, but  just not to drive or get stuck in), but something that will paralyze the whole state. So naturally, I wasn’t prepared for real “snow” but I am so thankful it came. It was in looking back on these a couple days ago that inspiration hit me, and although you might have to stretch your imagination some, I hope that these images will suffice for my “grey” take this month! The darker, sunless, and gloomier grey days that the atmosphere provided brought us so much joy…and that’s my “grey.”

In these first two captures, my littles were able to enjoy just a tiny, teasing glimpse of what we were accustomed to when we were living in Utah for two years. Goodness, they miss SNOW! Alabama really didn’t provide us with that beautiful white season filled with snow as the previous couple of years from Utah. Some of you may recall from Facebook that a few days before these were taken, my little guy had asked Santa for a few things. All of these items were Pokemon related. As Santa was finishing up and making sure he had understood the “all Pokemon” request, he asked if there was anything else. I’m sure he imagined my little guy would say something like, “a bike!” or maybe, “Twister!” or possibly even, “Batman!” But no, not my little guy. He exclaimed, with excitement filling his eyes, “an…IPOD!!…..AND SNOW!” Santa looked over at us with that “oh, I’m so sorry” look, and did the best he could with offering our son words of expectation management.

A few days later, on December 17th however, Santa delivered, and Tyler was beyond thrilled that Santa had come through, Christmas day or not. And, I feel the need to state that he dressed himself in his pajamas and Santa hat and no jacket. I swear! He actually asked to wear that so he could look like an elf…I happily obliged his request…with this picture in mind!

Grey SLP-16 Grey SLP-17

I was only outside for a few moments, but I was thankful to be able to capture these before they blew away! It was so windy that night. I don’t have a macro, so I am VERY pleased with how these turned out. They are truly spectacular.
Grey SLP-14 Grey SLP-15

And then, last weekend happened! Our kids came home so excited after school (Thursday January 5th)…my daughter’s teacher had asked them to pray for snow (and a snow day)…and we were more than happy to do this homework! On Friday morning, we received the call, and within about two hours, they were beyond ready to go outside and play in it! We actually had SNOW!! Not ice…but snow!!

This image captures them, waiting for Mommy to be ready to go outside for some pictures. I loved sitting back and watching their interaction…and, that light. And framing.

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We’ll just call these images, “Grey Day Fun”…because it was such a gloomy day, but I don’t think you’d know it by how happy and lively these two were!

Grey SLP-11 Grey SLP-10 Grey SLP-7Grey SLP-9

Grey SLP-8

The image below is actually THE image that inspired me to write this post on our Snow Days! I love it. I love the memory of big sister pulling her baby brother, and moreover that they were headed to our dear friends house to play for the afternoon! They LOVE being so close to some of our best friends!

Grey SLP-12

I think this capture says it all. She loves it!

 Grey SLP-4

These two were taken on that Saturday — so it was still snowy around us, but it was melting fast, and the sun was back to shining bright for us!

Grey SLP-3  Grey SLP-1

And, well, this image – it represents the “Ice Day” that we are legitimately having tomorrow and the excitement that they have over it! My kids are once again thrilled that they miss another day of school…and so am I! After all, it’s a four-day weekend now! I’m sure it’ll be a blistery cold day and weekend (and, possibly even gloomier because Daddy is supposed to fly in Saturday, but we aren’t sure how that will work out now) and we’ll be wrapped up and sitting by the fire for much of it, but we always know that at the end of our {grey} days, the sun will find its way (along with its warmth) back to us!

Grey SLP-2

Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Nikki Smith of Nikki Smith photographer/storyteller (Facebook page). Click here to see Nikki’s take on this month’s theme – I assure you that you’ll love it…she’s one of my favorites to follow!

The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.

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Lightroom or Photoshop…or, Both

Y’all! I am so, so excited!

For a while now, I’ve been using Lightroom as my primary editing software. I’ll probably still use it more frequently than PS, but I decided to try a couple things to help me use BOTH editing software tools more effectively and more efficiently. I am so eager to try them both out. Actually, I’m a little terrified to try the Photoshop part, but we all start somewhere.

For anyone wondering where I decided to get my photo editing software, look no further than Amazon.com! Through Amazon, I purchased the $9.99 Adobe Creative Cloud monthly plan (that I think comes to $10.79 with tax) and have been very satisfied with it. Thanks to an awesome photographer friend in Utah, I was introduced initially to Lightroom 2…then I got Lightroom 4 and then Lightroom 5. Needless to say, I think just getting the automatically updating Creative Cloud plan was probably a better way to go! And to be honest, my husband was the one who finally gave me that push I needed and started purchasing the LRs for me…each time they came out with a new version! Silly man, but I love him!

Why did I choose Lightroom? Well, I had Photoshop Elements 8 for years. I could not figure it out! It just wasn’t intuitive for me…I still don’t understand masking and layers! But Lightroom…ahhhh…the ease. I played with Lightroom for less than 10 minutes and was sold on how easy it was to use. Of course, I’ve come a LONG way since then, and understand it so much more than before. But everything was just intuitive with it.

Now, for my new Lightroom toy…although I’m fairly handy with using the screen and mouse, I’m not as good with the shortcut commands. Well, I’ve decided it’s time to change that. What better way to learn quickly than with this awesome Adobe Lightroom Shortcuts Keyboard Skin?!  I’ll let you know how it goes as I’m pretty set in my ways! But just looking it over, I think it will help me reorganize my images and help smooth over my workflow. We shall see…but, here’s a quick visual in case you are interested as well!

 

Now. Photoshop! I think it’ll be a lot easier to use the Photoshop version since I’m not already proficient with it, so the shortcuts will hopefully be easier to learn this way.
PS Silicone Keyboard Cover Keyboard Skin Protection

I’m hoping these will give me some incentive to try new editing techniques, especially with Photoshop.

Do you have any specific editing tools that you love? Or something that helps ease your workflow?

Halloween – SLP Style

So, yes, it’s 6 months late…but, this was us on Halloween.

And, the woes of being photographer…I’m FINALLY getting around to doing something with my family’s images!

My friend Becky McCandless of Capturing Life Photography was kind enough to come out (before a hot date!) and capture some of these fun moments for my family! So, so thankful she did…we had a blast! And…if I HAD to let my husband get a motorcycle, I had to make him put it to good use as a prop!

 

October 2015 - Top Gun Family Shoot-21

Jellyfish – McWane Science Center 2016

I have some pretty weird photography obsessions, and jellyfish and all aquarium pictures really rank high up there!

Recently, my sweet son and I were in Birmingham after some pumonolgy testing that we had done for him. Thankfully, his test turned out well, though we’ll keep monitoring his asthma. Anyways, we decided to make a Mommy & Son date out of it, and we went to the McWane Science Center. There are plenty of wonderful pictures of him that I took as well, but I thought these jellyfish deserved a place of their own!

Is it a weird obsession? Or, can you see the beauty and desire in shooting them as I do?

I think an upcoming project of mine will be to share how to achieve great aquarium captures like these…

Jellyfish 2016-1 Jellyfish 2016-2 Jellyfish 2016-3 Jellyfish 2016-4 Jellyfish 2016-5 Jellyfish 2016-6 Jellyfish 2016-7 Jellyfish 2016-8

My By He{art} Family

My By He{art} Family

Have you ever just felt so moved by something, you had to just push all doubts and fears aside (at least in the moment you hit “enter”) and just jump in? Well…that’s sort of what has lead me where I am now. First, I’m thankful for all the jumping I did last year!! I am so humbled by the various features in numerous photography communities and even more so humbled by all of the sessions I’ve been able to capture this past year!

A few weeks ago, however, I jumped a bit differently. Probably a little awkward, and I stumbled a bit. And thankfully, I had a friend with me for the free fall! Recently, there has been a surge of photography communities start up, and though I appreciate being a part of those communities, none have made me feel more sure about about the group’s vision than By He{art}. Founded by the AH-MAZING artists, Jennifer Franzin and Holly Awwad, they have a vision to offer tips, competitions, advice & critique for aspiring photographers. Do you know how amazing that is? In an industry filled with competitors, these two lovely ladies want to help. They want to support and encourage other artists find their own style, learn new techniques, and create a place where artists feel welcome to share. As a member of this community, even before becoming a contributor, I was welcomed with open arms and didn’t feel continually overlooked. That’s not an easy feat with so many talented artists out there!

A bit about my new family…Jennifer Franzin is also the artist behind Pretty Pixels Photography. I’ve been admiring her work from afar (literally…she’s in Canada!)…each time an image of hers pops up, especially her gorgeous landscapes and nature scenes, I am envious of how she captures just the right light and gorgeous composition. And, it’s not often I can say this, but her images make me wish I was living up in Canada with all that beauty and snow! But chatting with her has been so wonderful. She is just as kind as she is talented, and watching her desire to help others grow is so inspiring.

Sweet Holly Awwad. Do you know how many times I’ve seen her images in my newsfeed, and my jaw just dropped?!! I can picture at least a dozen images (any more and she might think I’m insane), clear as day, that I am in love with of Holly’s! Sunlight, shadows, nature, children, composites…she conquers all. And so, so beautifully. She owns her style and you can feel the emotion in her captures. I may or may not have been a secret stalker before finally…finally pushing the send button to actually chat with her. Ummm…as if that wasn’t hard (and intimidating enough) she’s ridiculously kind and generous. She lifted me up when my spirits were really, really low about my work. I am still a bit in awe of how we can just chat now…though her images are gorgeous (really, go check!) her heart is somehow even more beautiful. She didn’t have to be that kind to me…really, she could’ve blown me off or told me “better luck next time”…but, she didn’t. She WANTED to go above and beyond to help me. That probably sold it for me…I had to ask.

Back to free-falling with my friend. So, last year, maybe around April?, I connected with an amazing photographer, and how it happened, I’m not totally sure, but I know a good part of it was her sweetness. She took the time to message me, (she didn’t have to!) and then…a friendship formed. It was actually through another photography community – one that I likely would have been too intimidated to post to without this type of real kindness! And now, she can’t get rid of me!! Ha! If you don’t know who I’m talking about, it’s the generous and seriously over-talented Nikki Smith of Nikki Smith Photography. The creativity in how she knows she can capture an image blows me away!! She can make ANYTHING look amazing. A simple light bulb becomes dazzling with her. A candy coated hand is a work of art. Give her the challenge to take a picture of toys or books…you’ll get so much more! No snow in Jacksonville…no problem for Nikki…she’ll just create it. I could go on and on…oh and I will. Beach scenes. Mesmerizing.

Back to By He{art}…a connection was made, I jumped in heart in hand, hit enter, and somehow, Nikki and I are By He{art} Family Members…and we are so, so blessed! Jenn & Holly are so uplifting, and spared no detail in rolling us out to the community in style! We are so excited! Here are a few images from our official rollout teasers!!

It was a 6 day teaser stretch, and I loved it!

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And this was our Big Reveal…January 13th…I had to screen shoot it so I got the sweet words too!! I LOVE how our images look together!! I’m so, so thankful and blessed to be a part of this amazing photography community, and even more so blessed by these friendships!

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Now, have you been to By He{art} yet?!! If not, here’s a link. Go, like, share…and enjoy this amazing community of encouraging and inspirational artists!
By He{Art}

And if you aren’t on Facebook, no worries, you aren’t missing too much (well…maybe) — but we still have a link for you!
https://byheartphotographyblog.wordpress.com