kind of life

Somehow, the nickname “the babies” has stuck for the younger two of our children. It started as a tease/joke and has stuck around as a term of endearment. Mostly, only Jeff and I use the term. We refer to them that way because they are still in the same elementary school. So we say things like, “Have you picked up the babies?” “I am on my way to drop off the babies.” “The babies need their lunches dropped off today,” etc. I imagine next year with them in different schools the nickname might die. I wonder if someday when they are the last two left at home, in high school, we might start referring to them this way again…that is a funny thought.

So, one afternoon sometime in November, I picked the babies up from school and was struck with how the sun was streaming across their playground. It was literally glorious! Crisp clean golden light. The trees were back-lit and sparkling. I could hardly take my eyes off them as I drove away. You guys must know what a light nerd I am by this point, right? I had Mckenna in the car already, and swung by to pick Drew up from school, completing the gathering of the chicks. As we pulled into the driveway, I told them about the light, and asked if they would be willing to go back to the school so that I could photograph them in it. They were all like, shrug, sure, right now? And I said yes, please, go to the bathroom, drop off your backpacks and meet me back in the car.

The sun (and the children) gave me just about fifteen minutes. I could have wrangled for more time but what I got was just enough. Just enough to get a bunch of pictures that I love, and two pictures that I need. That I didn’t know I needed.

I wonder, does it feel that way for you too? You see a photograph of someone you love (whether you took the photo or not) and it feels like you just found something that was missing? It has captured them in such a way, that until it was frozen into a picture, you didn’t even know it was something you thought was important enough to remember?

This is one of those.

I needed to photograph them on just this day. With the clothes that they picked to wear to school and their rainbow of shoes. Those colorful shoes just really, really make me smile. This was any day. A nothing day. I can’t remember one thing about it other than this moment. No one was prepped, it was come as you are, stand in the light, and then chase each other around the jungle gym until after dark. Just …. us, them, life.

I came home and opened the images while Anna did homework beside me. I emailed them to a few of my closest friends, sharing the story. My friend Margie emailed me right back and what she wrote touched me to the core. She said, “The fact that you went back to take the shots…it says so much about your life. Like it isn’t rushed. You have time with your kids where you can say..hang on let’s do this! And then they are willing??? They weren’t all like..’oh my gosh mom, I have tv to watch!’ I feel like I can breathe when I look at these. They’re beautiful. Love their expressions. Their clothes that they picked out themselves. Their willingness to understand that good light takes priority in life! LOVE THIS.”

That feedback from her was a gift, as all of her feedback tends to be. It helped me see something about me right now that I couldn’t really see. And that is, I am breathing again.

Two years ago I was stuck, depressed, afraid, unsure. If you’d like to know more, I wrote about it here. Back then I started a process towards true mental health and a fulfilling, meaningful marriage and life. Because that is what I need. Slowing down. Being truly present in the moments of my day, not divided. Not as much multi-tasking. Stretching, learning things about myself that hurt, but helped me change. And I am changing. It is hard, but I am doing it. Margie helped me see, I’ve stopped hurrying to the next thing, over and over all day long. The way I used to live.

Everyone is so busy. I see updates and read blogs all about a lot of busy, thriving people. Sometimes I feel that by making the changes that I have, I am not thriving, I am missing something. Especially in the photography industry, it always seems like someone is getting a book deal, someone is traveling to Barbados, someone else is photographing a celebrity. Then there’s me. I’m usually at home. There is a good and a bad side to every choice. I am missing something. But this is what I know: Right now my life is all about these people. It won’t always be. I will have an empty nest eventually. I know that I wasted a lot of their life running and running to the next stage, the next level of development, the next next next. I know that I wish I could do it over again. I know that time has passed, and I can’t. I know that I want to be different now. I know that I don’t do well when I am busy. I get anxious and sick and absentminded. Being busy does not look good on me, no matter how much I want it to.

Even still, I have to constantly remind myself that being busy does not bring meaning to my life.

Giving my children the kind of life where we stop everything for fifteen minutes in the light, giving myself that kind of life…that definitely does.

I saw this quote online sometime this week, can’t remember where, but it has stuck with me. I made this (feel free to download it/screencap it/whatever it) and I thought it was the perfect ending for this post.

What kind of life do you want? What are you doing to get it?



Join the Conversation


  1. thanks so much for this. I also struggle between wanting to be present and trying not to miss out on the opportunities of life (.. who doesn’t I guess), I guess balance is key, and balance requires having time to breath.

    I think this is officially my favourite blog now. I always love the photos, but the stories usually also touch me…

  2. Love this post! I just discovered this blog, as well as looking through your portfolio. Love your pictures! I’m sure everyone who sees them says the same!
    Your post really spoke to me though. Love the picture you took of your children, and that you took the time, before their school day, to take a picture. And they let you! Love the light through the trees…love the quote you shared as well :)
    You converted me. I’m going to become a follower of your posts!

  3. I never have time to check out blogs, but you are always the one I go to if I do. I swear each time I visit, no matter how many weeks or months go by, you have something so touching and amazing to share. You really are such a gift and so inspiring, in so many more ways than photography. Thank you again. Blessings to you and your sweet family! xoxo

  4. The last 6 months have been a real struggle for me. For about 3 tears I’ve been focusing on helping my business to grow. Around the time my daughter turned two she started demanding more of my attention, I realized that I needed to do things a bit differently, I didn’t want to be missing out.; So I took a step back and analyzed my life and where it was heading and where I wanted it to go. Things are better. I’m so glad i came across this post. Your words really hit home for me.

  5. I am the opposite. When I sit idle I get anxious and antsy like I need to be doing “something.” We are a busy family and I love every second of it!
    What I want from life most of all is for my kids to know that me and their father truly loved them, without a shadow of a doubt no.matter.what!

  6. I came over via Ali Edward’s blog and your end quote was just exactly what I needed to read tonight. Thank you!! I did exactly that nearly 4 years ago when I took a one- year leave from my job as a teacher and then a year later, completely resigned and took a job as a substitute teacher. My desire was to have time with our 2 beautiful granddaughters and I had to change my life to get that. It was so, so worth it!! Even when I worry about the bills, I know that the time I have with them (and now the 3 grandsons) is simply priceless. I am happier, calmer, less-stressed, live in the moments and consider myself so blessed. I play in the snowbanks, I read books at the drop of a hat, I play pretend by the hour, I cuddle little ones when they wake up from naps, I cheer at hockey games, I love my life!!

    I just want to tell you that you are a wise woman to have made these life-style choices for you and your family. Enjoy every moment, Tara!

  7. Hi Tara! I read this post this morning. Now the day is done and I had to come back to share with you. I’ve been following your work now and again for a couple of years. I stopped by today for a little dose of inspiration (something your site and blog are never short on for me as a newby in this business). As soon as I finished reading this I stopped working. I threw a silly outfit on my almost 2 year old and headed out to play and finally take pictures of my baby boy at a location here in Durango that I’ve been eyeing for months. I just wanted to thank you. Because you are brave enough to blog about the most personal things in your life I got some adorable shots of my son. I spent time playing with him instead of glued to the computer. Today was better in my world because of you. So thank you. Your children, by the way, could not be cuter if you had spent hours trying to choose outfits for them. You are so cool for putting it all out there. xoxo kami

  8. I’m so happy you’ve found balance, Tara. A few years ago I found myself at a crossroads, where I could charge forward in a career filled with travel and excitement, or scale back and enjoy my young family and volunteer more in my community. I dropped out of the workforce, ignored my college degree, and devoted myself to others. My life is simpler than most of my friends who “moved up” in everything from housing to careers, but I am fulfilled and at peace. Someday I may live a more sophisticated life, driving a flashy new car, and utilizing the latest tech gizmo, but maybe not.

  9. Yeah, I think those four are the only celebrities you will ever need to know, and Barbados shamdos… looks like you’re already in paradise. Love you.

  10. Crimey! My mum just brought me a snack and she said love you as she left and then I typed love you as I said it back to her. Please don’t block me. I have stupid fingers.

  11. Moments with our children are so fleeting!! You are right to want to capture the “every day” because that will change too! I read your post literally the day before I go back to work full time after staying home with my son. And your words are going to haunt me tomorrow…”waht kind of life do you want?”

    And the photo with your son resting his head on your daughters head?!?! OMG made me want to cry! That is such a special shot! You can feel all of their love for each other in those photos. What treasures!

  12. The photos took my breath away! I know we are inmevery photo we take. Your love for your children and their love for each other and you is made visible here.

    It’s crazy that we can forget the life we want, forget and lose our way, get distracted. It’s good to know and to see evidence of the rightness of it. It’s magic.

  13. I can attest that you are on the right road; I went to see my four grandbabes this morning for a brunch set up for us by my daughter and her husband. Took a picture of one of my twin grandsons playing a clarinet duet with my husband,a second grandson showing off his new violin and just “candid” shots of us all sitting around together chatting about this and that…it felt just like home when my two were growing up…time spent taking “time” is never lost and always comes back one hundredfold…enjoy Julierose

  14. This is so beautifully captured in words and in photos. Funny that I just read it today since it was posted so long ago. I shared a photo on my blog today that makes me feel this way. It is of me & my daughter in the hospital. I tried to look happy in the photo, but when I see it…I see my sadness. I didn’t think I wanted my sadness captured, but now that it is…I’m grateful.

    Thank you.

  15. I too came from Ali’s blog.
    Lovely grounding thoughts on the quality of life in the little moments which make up the whole of one precious life.
    Thanks for the thoughts.

  16. I am sitting here, reading your post in front of 20 sixth graders who are driving me crazy as they are working on an Egyptian project (not that i should be…) and am going through so many emotions. i, too, am going through a pivotial change in my life. With my 40th birthday in a month, a husband just concluding a year of sobriety and an unexpected addition to the family in 7 months… ugh…. major changes are going to happen and quickly. i am going to contiue to read you blog and identify with all your emotions and feelings and realize that i am not alone. thank you for your honesty, it is making a difference in my life!

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