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. I noticed the colorful shoes right away, too. And how much they love each other. And the way Drew is leaning on Anna, so protectively, in that second shot. (I swear, that girl Anna is going to be a supermodel. She’s deliciously beautiful and photogenic.) I love the intentionality you take with your family. Your slowing down reminds me to also remain true to what is most important to me and the kind of life I want to live.

  2. Awesome! Your openness about your life so helps me feel ok…THANK YOU. Your photography is fantastic…that’s some beautiful light you got there. :)

  3. Before I read your words & I was looking at those beautiful “real” photos of your kiddos, my thoughts were, I need to take my kids out after school & get a shot of them like this. As I read on, this is exactly what you did! My 2nd thought was that I hope this picture goes on your wall HUGE as a remembrance of your kids at this time. This is probably one of the most telling, beautiful pics I’ve seen you take. I love it & I don’t even really know you or your kids (although I feel like I do…is that weird?)

  4. I totally have this picture your talking about Tara! The one that makes me see what I didn’t know I was missing. It hangs above my computer screen so I can get re-inspired by it every single day. After reading your words, I understand completely what you’re saying. Busy certainly isn’t fulfilling. Thank you for the reminder.

  5. LOVE this post. Totally was wiping the tears. It’s a struggle to balance the personal goals and the just wanting to be “in the moment” with the littles. Thanks for putting into words what so many artists feel!

  6. Oh, oh oh . . . you have nailed it! Being busy does not bring meaning to your life. I am home . . . a lot. I have to remind myself of this too. I think it is very important that you realize you are not missing anything. You are gaining everything by being able to enjoy the everyday with your family. By not running here and there every moment of the day, doing everything that we are “supposed” to do, you have found stillness . . . and in learning to be still you can have great peace. Thanks for the reminder. Love the images. Love that you still call the 2 youngest the babies. You are sweet.

  7. Thank you once more for sharing your heart so eloquently. You have an amazing way with words, along with your magnificent eye for loveliness! I’m living the life I want – and it was a lot of hard work to get here. Work at being here, in the moment, work raising a couple of amazing daughters that are now 26 and 22, work involved with a loving relationship with the same man, for almost 30 years (ok over 30 years considering we met 30 years ago), and still hanging onto my profession – which lucky for me was something I could do at home while my girls were young. Lots of compromises, in everything – but it’s created a happiness we still share. You’re truly on the right course!

  8. I love, love, love your thoughts at the bottom! It does always seem that everyone else is on the up and up in success. And then there’s me, wanting to do more but still somehow refusing because this little slice of the world within my home holds more promise than any I could achieve on my own. I’m still reaching but with knuckles firmly intertwined with theirs.

  9. that quote has been one of the best things for me the past two years. TWO YEARS. thank you for again sharing this part of your life. your friend said it so well. i love that you live that life, that one of my “heros” leads a life that allows for (demands, even) moments like that. i’m proud to say my own life is beginning to look a little more like that! it is such a comforting feeling to come here and know that i’ve not run out of time to change my life and how i operate. i’m so young still. i have time. i can change. it does so much good for my soul to slow down and reading your stories and seeing your photos reminds me of that. i feel like i’m rambling so i’ll move on to the other thing i wanted to say. well, two things. ONE: to the anonymous poster who posted here, it will get better. and thank you tara, for being open and posting that and giving that person hope. that’s beautiful. TWO: i was amazed at all the comments here. not surprised, just overwhelmed. i read almost all of them and wished each of your commenters love and light, peace and serenity. the way your humility and willingness to share your beautiful life brings out a side of people we might never have seen is just beautiful. hugs from texas.

  10. funny, it gives me anxiety when I blog stalk and read about people doing this project and that project and in the meantime they’re raising a bunch of kids to boot. how can they even balance it all? and most importantly, what kind of life do those kids have? no thanks, that’s not the kind of life I want to lead. as of right now, my only desire is to give my kids the gift of my presence, they’re only little for so long! and I have a lot of little ones right now! nine!

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  12. beautiful, inspiring post, so true to how I am living my life right now. after losing a child everything came in perspective. i stayed at home with them before and loved them so much but now i want the details to be geniune, present, not to miss life with them in any way and yes it does take giving up other things, making priorities, being purposeful. thank you for this beautiful post

  13. Tara your words are always heartfelt.especially for me the one that sent you on your journey of life leaving me with so many regrets.But for all I would love to take back and do over I am so proud of the mother you’ve become.Tara trust me when I say you can relish in the face of no regrets because your a Mom that relishes in the moments right now.When the empty nest occurs it will show up as
    I wanted something I never had before
    I did something different
    I am content, no regrets
    Not because I relished perhaps every moment
    But because I was aware in time to make the difference
    I Love you

  14. Aaaah! I soooo needed to hear that. I am in a non-busy time of life and I feel like I’m being reprogrammed to NOT be on the go, go, go. This post spoke to me so deeply. I’m learning and struggling and re-learning to love my little ones, my husband and even myself right where we are all at. Not rush them, not wish for more or different. Thank you once again for sharing your heart. It helps all of us be more honest with ourselves.

    xo Shari

  15. i came across your blog a short time ago and felt compelled to read and read.
    your photography is beautiful and your philosophy so fresh. thanks for speaking your truth.

  16. Tara,

    Thank you! Thank you for understanding these are the moments to cherish. I am so grateful to have come across your blog. I recently made a tough decision to step away from activities that, though were good, only more busy to my life. My goal this year and the rest of my life is to be present in the moment. I want to be able enjoy my family, cherish sweet moments in life. Busy doesn’t look good on me as well. I can not begin to express how encouraging it was to read your blog. In a world full of busyness and busy people pushing me to be more busy you are a breath of fresh air. I truly wish more people would take this approach. I spent a stressful year going to and fro to different things and almost burned myself out. It takes courage to change but I am so glad I did. I’m opening myself up to a new way of living. Blessings!

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  18. This post is so open and honest.
    I came here expecting to feel that “less than” feeling as I browsed through your amazing images and read stories about an amazing life.
    Instead, I am surprised to feel a deep sense of connection. A deep sense of knowing that we are all the same. We’re all strong amazing women raising our families, living, or lives and trying to live as genuinely as possible.

  19. I am so grateful to read your post – right now, at this moment. I believe it was no accident that I thought to look up your blog tonight, after not having been on in a long time. Your words touched me deeply, and helped me see my seemingly “desperate” situation as a potential blessing. I am a newly separated mom of three little ones, with no family around, and have been mourning the fact that I don’t have the energy or the money to do all the fun “busy” activities with my boys that their friends do. Some of our main entertainment has been just “hanging out”…on the beach, etc. Thank you for making me feel that YES, this is enough. Right now, at this moment is what matters. Sending much love and light! :)

  20. i’ve been thinking about this so much too… while i love the internet, it also sometimes makes me feel like i’m missing out because i don’t spend all day making stuff to post… i used to have a handmade greeting card company & when i closed it to have my son i remember saying to myself ‘people will want to buy cards in 20 years. i can do all of this later, i can’t have this baby later’ (i was already preggo :)…& i have to remind myself of that… all of the ideas in the world are not going to be used up by the time i have the chance to make mine happen… what i’m doing right now: raising these kids, keeping this house, supporting this man, it’s not going to happen like this ever again… & i want to look back with joy, not wishes that it had been different… wowie! that was lovely counseling session, thank you! how much do i owe you? :)

  21. Tara, I love that you have figured out what is important – live YOUR life, YOUR way. You don’t have to answer to anyone else (except maybe the hubby and the kids). I’m very impressed that you’ve realized this at such a young age. And I’m going to say something that I’m certain you have heard over and over again: “they do grow up too fast”. My 3 are 21, 19 and 17 and the oldest two are basically gone! So take advantage of every moment you can capture, enjoy, fight over with your four kids – it’ll be over before you know it!

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