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! 

 

 

The Harry Potter-Themed VP Campaign

SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-6  

I know, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been back to share some of what’s going on with my family and with my photography! Things have been a little busy around here, and truth be told, that’s a good thing.

I’m jumping back in to sharing with a few personal images that I thought would be fun and hopefully a little inspiring for your children. My Sweet Caroline is amazing, intelligent, funny, and talented. That said, she’s also *very* shy. I guess I should say that she has been very shy…over the course of the last two to three years, I’ve seen this child blossom in front of my very eyes. She’s been trying new things (karate, karate tournaments, school dances, joining school clubs, etc), and she’s learning to excel in all of them. Not to say she started out amazing in these things, and I dare say she may never actually “dance” for you or anyone else. Ever. But…she went to a dance, twice. THAT’S HUGE, PEOPLE! Here’s proof! Two of these are social butterflies that I am so thankful are in my daughter’s life!

Well, the new school year started, and with that came every Mother’s fear of the dreaded years in “middle school.” Let’s be honest, I know of no one who thought those years were great. But, as with most things with a blanket statement like that, my kid has proven otherwise. She came home from her first day at Brink Jr. High and she said she “LOVED IT!” She commented that she loves the freedom that comes from her teachers instilling more independent procedures for them, that the teachers talk to them like they aren’t small children, and that they are actually challenging her. It may help that she’s chosen (on her own…because this Mommy is still a little nervous about pushing her too hard at this level) all Pre-AP courses, and one course that even already counts for high school (Pre AP Algebra I). Y’all, it’s crazy hearing the teacher say in orientation that we need to know that this is High School level work and expectations. She’s still my BABY! Right? Okay, so maybe not, but in my heart she is, and the last thing I want to do is put too much pressure on her – in 7th Grade. But my Bug welcomed it. And though it has proven challenging (YAY!! She’s actually *truly* LEARNING new concepts for the first time since being in Oklahoma) she’s enjoying it and hasn’t wanted to back out of any of it.

When my historically *shy* child came to me telling (not asking) me that she was going to run and campaign for Vice President (the highest she can run for in this school at her grade level) I was a bit shocked. And proud. VERY PROUD. I understand the difficulty it is for her to be up in front of people (most of us have that fear…but for her, multiply that by like a zillion), and she knew she’d have to give a campaign speech – in front of her classmates. Remember, she’s a military kid – she moves around and has only been here for two years. I imagined some of the kids being here their whole lives and feeling more comfortable with being in front of their friends (though, it’s a huge school for anyone!). Anyways, she and I brainstormed things that she could do her campaign around, and there are a few things in this world she LOVES. 1) Reading 2) Reading Harry Potter 3) Reading. And if there’s a fourth, maybe watching Harry Potter. Soooooo, as someone who isn’t *as* in to all of the HP fanatical stuff, I asked if there were things that she could build a campaign around. She immediately came up with a few slogans, and then after hanging out with one of her closest friends, they came up with all of the ideas for her posters and all of the slogans, and even part of her speech!!! She was really excited. A few days later, with the help of two friends, she got her posters finished, her posters put up in the school, and her speech was given. And, I did some praying. I did a lot of praying. Is that silly?

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I’d love to say that my little girl won the Vice Presidency, but alas, the democratic process spoke, and the candidate that was essentially pegged to win, won. He had a crazy awesome speech, and is very well known and liked by all (I was also informed that the cheerleaders would all vote for him…because he’s cute). We were pretty sure this would happen, but I didn’t know how my daughter would handle it. She did great – she congratulated him, and she was happy to know she’d still be in Student Council as a “Senator.” And that she saved her *good* ideas for being able to share them herself at meetings. That girl has a very level (and clever) head on her shoulders!!!

Here are some of the pictures that she took for her Harry Potter-Themed Campaign for Vice President. I couldn’t be more proud of her – and I am so excited to see where her life takes her! Oh! I should add that she was thrilled to find out that her ideas were completely original and not already on Pinterest!! Originality and creativity for the win!

SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-2SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-5SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-6SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-7SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-8SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-11

This one might be my favorite, though I really like the Sorting Hat one above, too!
SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-20SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-21

We also had a really good lesson on product placement during her campaign…

SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-24

This may not have been the best poster for this particular location 🙂
Am I the only one who thinks that?!

SLP Caroline Campaign Posters-26

Anyways, thank you ALL so much for reading this, and for those of you who cheered my girl on and who pray for her on a regular basis…thank you. I don’t have enough words, but she’s a huge blessing in my life, and I already know she is one to others too. She’s come so far, and each day I see more of her personality coming through. I know a lot of people struggle with their children having some issues or different-abilities…just as mine do. God has so much more in store for them and for all of us — we just have to trust Him and the path that he sets us on with our babies.

Blessings,

Shelby

 

 

 

Birge Family – Deployment Homecoming

It’s May. To be specific, here in the United States, it’s May 7th. I say that with the knowledge that currently, so many service members are on the other side of the world, in different time zones, in different climates and vastly different environments. And I am grateful.

I am grateful for families like the Birge Family who went without a husband and a father present in the home for months; and thankfully back in March, he returned to his family, with their arms opened wide for him. I don’t take these words lightly — I know he was always there for them as he could be. But I also know firsthand the struggles that come with being military spouse with babies in the home. Having that extra set of hands is a huge blessing, and I know he would have been there in a heartbeat if he could have. But, you see, he is part of our military, and he had a greater calling, to sacrificially serve his country. And he, like so many others, has done this so well, and still let his loved ones at home know how much he misses them.
Now, this family has been amazing. As military members, as clients, as fellow military spouses…sweet Ebilene and I just clicked! I’m so thankful for not only her cheerful, supportive attitude and presence amongst other spouses and service members, but also for her huge heart and patience. Spouses like this keep the military community running on energy, love, and commitment…not just to the country, but to one another. Our service members are amazing for all that they do, but one would be amiss to miss the work of the ones they leave behind. 

As this family has been super gracious about things that have been going on here on my family’s Homefront, I decided I had to thank her in one of the only ways I think I can…which is going a bit above and beyond, just as she has for so many in her company. If you have a couple minutes, check out this beautiful video, created specifically for the Birge Family to document this beautiful time for them! 

Thank you for your service and your sacrifice! 

Blessings Always,

~Shelby 

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Purple

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Purple

Purple 

**I’m going to introduce my blog post today as being very (very) personal. I’ve been made aware that sometimes, my circle posts have touched a nerve as I often write about what is important to me and that I want to share. As I never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, please know in advance that this is personal, and that if you choose not to read it, I am perfectly fine with that. This is relevant to my life, and to many others, and I want to use my time and this space as a way of sharing what’s on my mind. If there’s anything I share that ever makes you uncomfortable or that you disagree with, please know these are my feelings and opinions, and if you’re in the circle or not, this is not something that you need to read…it’s just something I want to share. I would never, ever consciously hurt anyone with my writing or with my opinions or feelings, but as I know I have in the past, I wanted to be clear that this is personal. 

All that said, I am going to share my images first, and everything after the “purple” images is personal.
Just…me sharing…about me.

I actually love the color purple! This month it takes on a special meaning, and I’ll get to that. But when I saw the theme, I knew exactly what I would post as these images stand out to me. I love freelensed-reverse macro, and it’s been a technique I enjoy using and sharing with others. These images are are definitely from the archives – I think from two years ago! I think it’s about time I go take some more…

This one is amazing. Just…wow. I remember the morning that I captured this! 

The flower actually looks like this…it’s really small still, but close up in the above picture…it just looks amazing to me!

I’m a fan of all of the ways freelensing can alter a subject.

The above image, and the next two are from the same subject, just framed slightly different and with the focus shifted some. 

Do you have a favorite of the three?! 

Something I love about purple show different the shades can look. This is a bit more pink/purple (fuchsia, maybe) but I still love it. Or, maybe I’m just color blind. Either way, I love this capture, and am reminded that I need to print it! 

My sweet son gave me this and I had to capture it during one of our family sessions! 
 

And, I’m starting the personal part…

Why it works? Well, just like with my diagnosis, the purple comes in many shades. I feel like my diagnosis makes me feel like I’m a bit inconsistent. Some days I’m this super hard working mama and wife and can tackle so much in an hour! Other days (more often than the other Super Shelby Days) I’m…a patient. Taken care of by my family while in bed, with the understanding that it’s just a bad Fibro Day. There are tons of other shades of purple (or of me) in between, but those are the biggest ones. There’s also the purple feeling. As in, bruised. Most of the time, my body feels like a giant, purple swollen bruise. You just can’t see it. Most people say I hide it pretty well – but my family – they see a different, painful side of me.

All of that to say…when I wrote the following, it was Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, and I posted to my personal Facebook page — this post has a bit more depth to it, but again, being my space to share, I wanted to spread awareness about this disease and my journey with Fibromyalgia. As I’ve gotten older, the need has come up for me to share a bit about my diagnosis with Fibro, as well as several other “unseen” medical issues. Whether with friends or family (when I fall asleep on couches) or with clients (when I have to explain my two-week-long “Fibro flare”as the reason for a later than anticipated gallery), it’s become increasing clear that I need to be open.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia when I was 26, after four full years of trying to find out what was ‘wrong’ with me. I was constantly tired, diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which, trust me, I get sounds like a cop-out) a couple years before then. But despite the pains, from my shoulders/neck through my legs, nothing was diagnosed through [very poor med-clinic] “testing.” I believe my pains and fatigue really started when I was towards the beginning of my Freshman year in college — I was going through a lot, in general as well as medically, and of course, there were some underlying issues. However, at the time, I just felt…lazy. Like, my body just didn’t want to do anything. I slept – a lot. I remember trying to figure out my life and I even remember losing friends through this process. Through college, I did what I could to stay active. After college, things were even more difficult and finally, in 2006 after being told that the facility on base couldn’t “treat people like [me]” I received, for the first real time, off-base care. And finally, real testing (blood work for specific diseases and to rule them out, several X-rays on my back, and a thorough physical exam – probably more, but I can’t remember it all) my doctor suggested a word I had never heard before – Fibromyalgia – and arthritis (in my spine – it WASN’T in my head!). He was fairly confident in my diagnosis, but referred me to a rheumatologist, who confirmed it after more testing and ruling out.

The desire to share on a wider scale was prompted a little over two months ago (despite the diagnosis from over a decade ago), when I went to see my doctor about a few things. To my surprise, she told me that her PA suggested that I was depressed, which was not at all what I went to see her for. As we talked more, she said something that took me very much off guard. I’m fairly confident I’ll never forget the meaning in her words (as best as I can remember the point):

“Shelby, I’m going to be honest. I think you need to talk with a therapist. I don’t believe that you have accepted your disease, and the prognosis of it. You keep working to get ‘better.’ You have a disease – you aren’t just going to get better one day.” 

Well, a few of you know how well I took that conversation. Cliff Notes version – it didn’t go well (a few days’ worth of tears may have been involved). I thought long and hard about what she said and the impact of those words. She’s right — I DO keep trying to get better. I don’t know if she’s right about me not getting “better” — I hope that I do one day! But Fibro, at least for me, is a very cyclical disease…and since my diagnosis (and years before then), there hasn’t been an end to the symptoms. 

Pain —> Fatigue —> Lack of Activity —> Lack of Interest —> Depression or Sadness —> Pain From Inactivity and Depression —> Fatigue…

Anyways, in my head, that all makes sense, so I hope that makes a little sense to everyone else. But, the point is, I’m in pain and am tired pretty much every single day (tons of other things too, but those are the highlights). The simplest things, like getting out of bed and showering, are often the only things I manage to get done in a day (and, sometimes, I don’t manage that). Some days/weeks are better than others. I am beyond thankful to have a supportive husband who does everything he can to help me through it, and who has for as long as I can remember. It hasn’t been easy on him or our family, but I’m beyond blessed with Jason and my children, who truly understand what I go through on a daily basis. Without them, I don’t know how I would be able to handle this – they do so much to help me on a daily basis. I’ve also been blessed with many friends who, thankfully, accept me as I am – sleepy, painful me – and who help as they can, even if it’s just listening to my sadness when discussing how my day didn’t turn out how I imagined because I’m still in bed. 

Please, for anyone who has an invisible illness, know that you aren’t alone. People are out here who understand, and are more than willing to help as we can. For those who know someone with an invisible illness, whether it’s Fibromyalgia or any of the various illnesses out there, please listen. We do not want to feel like this. We want love and support, and the understanding that some days, our best might only be a shower. Other days, we can tackle the world (or at least the laundry) — but our illness is still there. Pray over those with these illnesses – that one day, maybe there’s a cure.


Obviously the above isn’t mine, but it was found on one of the many pages that I am a part of to understand more, and to see if new cures or research is coming out. It is so accurate in what it says, and I hope that anyone who reads it will understand. Many thanks to “Fibro Ramblings” for this great graphic.  

I’m going to end with two images that symbolize to me what Fibro has done to my life. 

This one…well, it hits me hard. I actually did this for another self-portrait project that Photography By HeArt released last year. 
I think the meaning is evident, but, this is me, feeling many days like I fail those who mean the most to me. I do the best I can with what I’ve been given, and I am so thankful that they love me and understand me regardless of my shortcomings. I couldn’t love my family any more – they are my rock.

The image below was done as an “Inspired By” series, also from Photography By HeArt. This was from the Inspired By: Francesca Woodman series, and this is the result I was hoping for when I captured it. Again, I don’t think words are needed. This is how I often feel with Fibro. Trapped. Trapped in a body that is failing me, and me desperately trying to get out.

 ~Shelby 

Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Liz of It’s Still Life by Elizabeth Willson (Facebook page).
Click here to see Liz’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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{D & K} Bridal Session with Studio802

{D & K} Bridal Session with Studio802

What a gorgeous and super sweet Bridal Session that my amazingly talented friend, Emiley of Studio802 allowed me to capture with her! First off, I need to say how incredibly generous and kind Emiley has been to me since the moment (or, maybe even before!) I stepped back in to Oklahoma City! She’s a firm believer and DOER of “community over competition” and it shows in everything she does. I’ve been blessed beyond words by her friendship, mentorship, and love! And, heads up, she has just changed studio locations, and I cannot wait to see all that she’s able to do with it! 

Anyways, back to this beautiful session — Emiley invited me to join her and her sweet hubby to take pictures at a bridal session from a wedding she had recently done. Of course I was super eager to join her and watch how another photographer works. I’ve had my own business for a few years, but there’s something to learn from such an amazingly talented professionals in the industry, and her images and how she works were wonderful to see in person. And this couple!!! Seriously, they are super cute and sweet, and I am so thankful they let me join in capturing these moments. I wish them all the best in their future – with as much fun and laughter, I don’t doubt it’ll be an amazing one. 

Here is a small sampling of images that I was able to capture with Emiley (and a few over her shoulder — loved documenting how she works, and also didn’t want to disrupt her flow)! I hope you love this gorgeous session as much as I do. I don’t offer my services for many weddings (mainly smaller ones), but I’ve been blessed to capture a few, and though it’s not my main niche, I’m glad to have had some more experience like this. 

**Oh! And, yeah. I’m not a consistent blogger! I’ve had this sitting in my drafts for…well, months…and I’m so sorry I haven’t gotten this out sooner! I’m sure after seeing how gorgeous session this was why I still want to share and blog it! 

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Emiley’s sweet husband making sure all of the details are perfect! 
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Emiley, working her magic!! 
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Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Red

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Red

Beautiful…Red. Loving…Red.
You know, as I’ve gone through these past few months of blogging the colors, the one thing I can reflect on about myself is that I’m not very traditional! This month, I guess I’m a little traditional writing about “love” and “red”…but otherwise, you won’t see a lot of red in this post either! To be 100% honest, I’ve been sick with the death plague (also known as strep throat and an ear infection, coupled with some laryngitis for fun, which I graciously shared with my daughter, so she’s home with me today) and the pictures I had hoped to take I didn’t quite get to. So, in Shelby Procrastination Style, I searched for something that I hoped could fit anyways! And to be honest, I’m glad I did. There are some days (okay, nearly every single one of them) that I feel like a failure as a parent. But in truth — the way I see these pictures in this very moment, I feel that my babies’ Daddy and I have to be doing something right. If there’s one thing I think we’ve done right, it’s showing love to our children. We aren’t model parents, we mess up regularly (daily or better for myself), but at the end of the day, despite our flaws, I KNOW that our children know how much we love them. And, I’m taking this crazy high positivity with two things in mind: one, I’m on hydrocodone for the cough/fever/pain issue, so I could be a little off, and two, thankfully she isn’t a teenager yet and hasn’t started hating us (recently, anyways).

So. Red. Here is my interpretation for this lovely month of February! Our family is big (BIG) on traditions, and one of them is our Daddy-Daughter and Mommy-Son Dates!
My husband has been taking Caroline out on dates since she was five, I believe. If I was more together, I’d try to find those pictures to share…they are ADORABLE, and as I recall, there was quite a bit of red in her dress that year. But, my husband always comes to the door, knocks and she’s always surprised as he brings a corsage and asks for her hand. This year, we were all running a little late, so I had no idea he had gone out to knock, so I was fumbling to get my camera together. She was still getting ready (typical girl!) and thankfully he’s always been a patient man through the years and waited for her to finish up. I got just a few pictures of them before the went out to dinner (Saltgrass Steakhouse…seriously…he hasn’t even taken me there yet!) and to the Valentine’s Dance. Regardless of what they do, they always have a blast together, and if you can’t tell by these images, they are pretty smitten together. I adore how much love I can see in these images!

Knock, knock…

Oh my word…I need this one framed. Now. 

I always feel like they have a secret language between them or something…and this image just makes my heart happy. They adore each other!



Red!! I found some red…Mommy did her nails earlier in the day, and coincidentally, she chose red, with silver sparkles!
And then…those RED lips! We put a little gloss on them since she is growing up!

The rest of their evening was wonderful, from what I gather, and they enjoyed lots of talking, and dancing. And most importantly, when Mommy came home with Tyler, they were both already in pajamas and playing the Playstation! I’d say that is total date night success for those two!

So, while Daddy and Care were off doing their thing, this little man and I had a date of our own to get to! A little back story — Tyler LOVE painting my nails. I think he’s always been sad that that’s not something he can really take part in (getting his nails painted) so now he asks to paint them all the time! Well, since I was painting Caroline’s nails, I let him paint my toenails. He loved it (and they turned out REALLY well). So he was already super excited and after doing nails he got changed into this outfit on his own so he could take me out. After he ran Caroline’s sweater out to her, he came to the door, and closed it while he was still outside…and then knocked. Melt my heart that kid is a fast learner!

After he walked in, he gave a frowny face — because he didn’t have a corsage or flowers to give me. So, he ran off to Caroline’s bathroom, and came back with a beautiful purple hair flower, which he placed in my hair and that I wore all night. Precious child! Here’s me, on our date night!

As I finished up my pictures, he picked up my camera bag/purse and put it on, and held his arm out for me to hold. I can’t even make this up! He did this on our last date too…gah! I love this little boy so dang much!

At Panera, before we went to the movies. This is our date night dinner most of the time. He always gets an “everything bagel” with cream cheese.
I could just sit and watch him all night.

And, my little gentleman…always trying to open doors.

This is the last of my pictures, but we had a wonderful night watching A Dog’s Purpose (okay, we both bawled). He also serenaded me on the walk to our car and in the car on the way home to Caroline’s honor choir music. This kid has some game. Girls better watch out!

Thank you to all who have come to check out the blog! I hope you enjoyed my quickly put together interpretation for “Red” and I hope to see you back here next month!

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!

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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.
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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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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!

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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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