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sophia is {14} and her birthday gift to ‘me’

i learned something(s) from my 14 year old over the last two days.
i don’t remember a time (pre- fb) when i shared so much of my ‘every single minute’ with the world~or with anyone who also happened to be on fb at the same time, or even cared. but two nights ago, i wished my littlest girl, sophia, a happy birthday eve ~ on her fb wall. she promptly came into my office and asked me why i posted it. well, i responded, i was just wishing her a happy birthday early. she explained that she didn’t want anything about her birthday posted on her wall that night and in fact, she thought that i should have just told her in person, myself, instead of posting it on fb. after all, she was right there. i couldn’t utter a word because i was shocked at the bold truth of her statement. how true? when i could finally speak, i told her she was so right. she was right there, in her bedroom, right next to my office, real time…flesh and blood. i apologized and wished her an early happy birthday ~ in person. she sat down next to me and we talked. as the conversation lightened, i turned back to my computer and continued working while we were talking. she continued as i half listened while i tried to get one last thing finished for the night~she was on the floor with her legs on my lap trying to get me to stop tweaking the image in photoshop that i couldn’t tear my eyes away from instead of looking at her while she was speaking to me. then, like a splash of cold water, she said another thing that cut even deeper because i knew she was right and i had been secretly aware of it for quite some time. she pointed out, in a very conversational manner, that she’d noticed that i put everything else first. i didn’t need for her to explain what she meant by that because i knew exactly what she meant. i was horrified. i was outed. a jagged knife cut through my my mommy heart. i did the ultimate selfish. it hurt to hear the words come out of her mouth, it hurt a million times worse to know that she saw it, expressed it, but mostly, felt it. i looked her right in her big brown eyes, again, and told her she was right, again. i had taken on too much in the last 6 months or so that there weren’t enough hours in the day and so the days fed into the evenings and almost all the minutes in-between. everyday.
dare i say a switch flipped on and then off. a horrible scenario flashed in my mind…my children talking about their memories of growing up and their mom being so busy~ all the time, everywhere, everyday, wherever they went.  the feeling that they were never as important as everyone or everything else that had to be done, to only be half way listened to and spoken to. it was wrenching. it didn’t matter that it was a rather recent scenario and that all the years up to then i felt confident that they would have happy recalls, but that this would overshadow the past and they would only remember how they felt now. we talked for a long time and i listened~fully. when i kissed her goodnight, i went to sleep too, exhausted and with a feeling of heaviness in my heart.  that night i dreamed of flying~ so high and feeling so light, so free. i felt no fear. it was amazing, empowering. the next morning, the dream was still fresh in my mind and the feeling was so strong. i’ve never looked up the meaning of a dream, but on this morning, i did. i was happy and relieved at it’s meaning.  i realize i still have so many things i’m working on, want and need to do, to create, to build…as a person, as an artist, but i was reminded of a quote i read from jackie kennedy about 10 years ago ~“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”  i believe this too.

yesterday was sophia’s 14th birthday. from the time i woke up to the time i kissed her goodnight, i walked through my day with my eyes and heart wide open.  i took the time to offer small, simple gestures towards all, but especially towards her.  that made my heart happy and that made her feel loved, valued and special.  simple gestures are possible to do every single day to make anyone around you feel that way. how wonderful for them and how wonderful for us. it may have been her birthday, but it was she who gave to me the best gift of all…a reminder to breathe, fully live in the moment and be grateful for the people who surround and love me. most especially, to see a happy, joy filled little girl know she is loved, valued and respected. thank you sophia. i believe it’s no accident your name means wisdom.

i didn’t photograph her formally or even anything with my real camera this year for her birthday day as i’ve done in the past, here and here. instead, it was an instagram kind of birthday day which i think fit perfectly with just enjoying all the little moments of her day as it unfolded, simply. aside from eating the double dark chocolate cake with both cream cheese and ganache icing…and with chocolate covered strawberries…my most cherished part of the day was when we were alone and i gave her my card which had a letter in it that i wrote to her earlier that day.  things i wanted her to know about herself and the joy she had brought to us.  my handwriting has gotten so bad, i ended up having to read it to her, which, of course, made me cry. the part i loved the most was that she paid full attention to me while i read the whole letter and then thanked me for it.

happy birthday my little boho girl.

xo mom(my)




March 16, 2012 - 10:54 am

Lindsay - She’s is seriously the cutest little thing. And this post Gina, is beautiful. you are beyond inspiring as a momma.(and artist and friend and….) xoxo

March 16, 2012 - 2:00 pm

anne - this post is so touching, gina! thank you for sharing it 🙂 i almost cried reading through it!

March 16, 2012 - 3:10 pm

Carolyn - Touching post, beautiful girl, lovely sentiment, fun day, wonderful photos, amazing, hard-working mother who’s trying to do it all for everyone. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, Gina, and its nice to be brought “home” every so often just to remind you what is truly important. She learned it from you, but sometimes life seems to get in the way. So glad you connected in this special way. Happy Birthday, Sophia!

March 16, 2012 - 4:21 pm

gina - thank you lindsay, anne and carolyn;) i felt pretty vulnerable sharing this, but it was true and i love that our children have much to teach us.xo

March 16, 2012 - 6:07 pm

Natalie - Right from the mouths of babes, not necessarily a babe anymore, but we all know that the words that come out of our children’s mouths are true and come straight from their hearts. bottom line…no matter how old they get, they all just want our, love, affection and attention. Kiss that little angel for me..I miss her!
<3 Aunt Nat

March 16, 2012 - 8:34 pm

George Kalomeres - Gina,

You named her well…….WISDOM

March 17, 2012 - 12:56 pm

Ilene - Just love.

March 21, 2012 - 3:55 pm

Christi - Oooooh Gina, you already know that I’ve been struggling with the same kind of thing (aren’t we all?). You are such a gem. And I think I love you. 😉 Thank you for your honesty, your transparency, your vulnerability. It’s good to know that I’m not alone (as I sit here with my breastpump. yay. TMI.). Reading this was such a good reminder for me to be present, fully living in the moment, appreciating the good times and the difficult times. Thank you, lovely friend. xo P.S. LOVE your boho girl. Oh my. She is something special.

March 21, 2012 - 10:26 pm

gina - oh my dear christi…you are in the thick of things now, i know. but, you also know, how fast it goes. even the run on minutes, hours, days, nights where you swear it will never end. you will never have two moments to yourself to finish something let alone create something for yourself too…but, it will be gone in a wink. newborn, little, a little bigger and even big…we need to remember we are there solid base, always. we are human, and forget sometimes, but thank goodness, they remind us.
yes, my little boho girl…she is filled with so much spirit and full of life! i only wish i had just a tiny bit of her zest! xoxo

March 31, 2012 - 5:57 pm

Deborah Carr - I just can’t help thinking how wonderful it is that Sophia felt she could be honest with you. And that you heard her. Really heard her. And honored her with your own honesty.

Your photos of this sweet girl make me suddenly wish I was young again. And believe me, I’ve never wished that before. Love to you sweet Gina. You’re a special mom.

April 14, 2012 - 6:53 pm

Susann Saarel - Thank you, Gina! Have known this for a long time myself, but needed to read this. My twins are 12, but for the last several years my biz and life’s challenges have made ever-increasing demands on my time. Your daughter is lovely in so many ways and it is a testament to her love for you (and the love you have shown her) that she could feel safe in being honest with you. What an amazing experience for you both. Many continued blessings. xo

an {almost} newsletter and the color of winter

last year, plus a month, i put together a newsletter that i intended on sharing and releasing quarterly. i spent 2ish weeks gathering ideas, articles of interest, studio news, upcoming events, etc.
it was finished and ready to go by january 1, 2011 as planned. but, i couldn’t release it. i couldn’t because as long as i can remember, i’ve been self employed in an industry where schedules are ever changing.
do the words ‘i’ll pencil you in’ sound familiar? i’m still straddling two careers…one of a freelance production stylist and one of a freelance photographer. translation-i never know what my schedule will be too far in advance, so planning a long term event is next to insane.
in the end, i never released it because i just knew the dates/events that i would announce, might very well not happen as promised. and, in true fashion as the months passed, this proved true.
there was a page ~ in that never released newsletter ~  that i can safely share and is still relevant one year later.

February 7, 2012 - 7:56 pm

Deborah Carr - Oh, how I know the feeling. I went through the same angst and in the end decided I didn’t want the stress of more deadlines and commitments than my topsy-turvy job entailed. S’all right girl. Too many newsletters in the world already. 🙂

February 16, 2012 - 11:53 am

Thea - Oh girl I so understand! I started a newsletter last month and here we are a month later and I am thinking…shit I have to do it again. LOL. It is hard for me to think ahead-and then I feel guilty for not planning better…love this collage. xox

{just lovely things} and just lovely mia PLUS a giveaway!

how lucky am i to be able to not only try out some of heather smith’s lovely creations from her shop {just.lovely.things} but to also be able to use my official muse, mia (it is official if not obvious) with nothing more than an “april, is mia busy this afternoon?” thank you mia for having such a wonderful, understanding and simply delightful mama.
to say that i get so much joy and creative fill when i am photographing this little girl is such an understatement. pure, sweetness mixed with a roxy spark makes for a wide range of emotions, moods and energy. on this day, mia slipped into a sweet, quiet role that fit both the headbands, the wardrobe and the settings. a natural actress this one is.
if you’re wondering about the wallpaper that you will see in the second set, let me first tell you that it is utterly and unbelievably beautiful. the first time i stood in this wonderful home and looked at that wall, i knew i would be back to shoot someone, something, anything against it. the wallpaper is handmade and available from karen combs’ company nama rococo. karen also just happens to be mia’s brilliantly creative aunt. i can tell you first hand, that these papers are incredibly gorgeous and immediately add joy to any room that they adorn. can you tell i am a fan? i am lucky enough to have been gifted a few fabulous pieces that now hang framed in my own home. love.

 my ‘mission’ for this session was to use and review heather’s headbands for our february issue of lemonade and lenses. you can read my review and the other photographer’s reviews as well in the issue, but…i will tell you now it was quite favorable;)
thank you heather for sending some pretty, pretty pieces for us to use.

lovely mia and {just lovely headbands}

in honor of a few things involving our lemonade and lenses new website, our second issue and of course heather graciously sending her headbands for us to use,
we are giving two of her lovely headbands away! you can get all the details here
and to view our february issue just click on the magazine…

gigi and lexi

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February 7, 2012 - 8:07 pm

Deborah Carr - I feel so stupid…I’ve been away too long. I missed your great big new adventure! Congratulations Gina….this is what has been brewing for you. I’m delighted for you. How exciting!

BTW, the photos above? Purely you. Gifted.