a look back on an evening of wellness, fitness and beauty…benefiting lisa barr and in honor and memory of sandy herzing

it was with much serious planning, and the biggest hearts one could find anywhere, that mrs. pam wilson, marcela estrada d'costa, and dr. algie labrasca successfully pulled off an amazing evening to benefit lisa barr, and to honor sandy herzing.  it was an evening of wellness, fitness and beauty with education, chinese auctions, music, food, and a teal carpet photo booth - oh, and FUN!

my precious friend lisa barr, is in her 4th year of battling ovarian cancer.  and friends that i have known most of my life, lost their mother, sandy herzing, after a valiant battle with ovarian cancer.

alongside friends and colleagues, i was asked to be a presenter at this special event.  

what do you say?  how do i present something to encourage people, to teach them, and to lift them even in states of illness and loss?

i had to go to my heart, and i would love to share with you what i shared this special evening. 

"i would like to ask you one question.  

what word defines you? 

how many of us go right to the place that we are in our own lives right now to find that word.

are you overweight, unhappy with how you look and feel?  

maybe your word is fat.

or maybe you are struggling in your marriage..a relationship that you could not make work...

your word could be divorce.

or maybe you are in a battle for your health…a battle that we are here to support.

your word could be cancer. 

it is human nature to go to our weakest and most hurtful areas to find the definition of ourselves.  but, don't be discouraged by this, this is ok!!!  for i believe with all my heart that we develop a passion for something in life, when we are broken by something in life. 

my own story is one of a struggle with self confidence and choosing not to eat.  

what is my passion?  my passion is to show every girl and woman, their true beauty that starts from within.  to teach them confidence, and ways to recognize in themselves what is so hard for them to see on their own.   this is why i have created, be your own beautiful.

i had the opportunity to photograph lisa barr right before she appeared on the dr. oz show.  we had a few hours of primping, and talking and sharing before our shoot.  as i began the shoot itself, i snapped the first image and turned my camera around for lisa to see.  

lisa's hands flew to her mouth and she started crying...

she told me…"joelle, i have just been so grateful for my life…to be living through this and winning this battle.  i've been so grateful for my loved ones, and all that i DO have, that didn't think it was important how i viewed myself!  i didn't think i was beautiful, i didn't think it was important to feel beautiful!  but it is!  and i am!"

i spoke with lisa last sunday.  she called, from where she is receiving treatments in florida, "just to thank me."  

"lisa," i asked...

"what can i say friday evening?  may i be your voice for a moment?  what do you want people to know?"

she sd this:

"i want them to know that today marks 4 years that i am beating this disease.  i want them to know that every single one of them is part of this miracle of life i am receiving.  that i feel every prayer, every ounce of support, every bit of love and strength…that they need to continue on with this, supporting each other, educating one another…giving…."

at the beginning, i had asked you:

"what word defines you?"

in lisa's words, let me offer you a few:

"incredible…amazing…strong…caring…faithful...giving…family…friends…beautiful."

this is a video i have put together as a tribute to lisa.  

i ask you for continued prayers for this mighty warrior.  



it's more than a stomach bug - it's my heart

i have this thing that when i "dump" all of my heart's contents on a friend, i say that it's a "vomit text" or that i "vomited" all over them.  i brush their chest off , pretending to try to clean up my mess and apologize :). i know it's disgusting, but it's how i feel.  i throw up every bit of hurt and despair, and ailment, and poison that is inside of me, all over someone i love.  (makes you want to be related to me or be my friend huh?)

be prepared- this is a vomit post:

it's been a whirlwind of a week. 

i attended and shot at 3 different events. 

in addition, i had corporate shoots, family shoots, senior shoots, and meetings with clients.

i've been dealing with an online service that i have used since 2006, being down, and bringing a halt to my design work. 

my best friend's father is in the hospital suffering from a stroke. 

we found out this week, that my son has a torn meniscus.

my girls are in the play, "the christmas story" at our local theater.   practices….lines...

my children need to eat, and need help with homework. 

my mom has been dealing with issue after issue after issue with health and a building project.  

we lost a dear member of our community last week - an individual who was very important to people that i am hurting for and love. 

another dear friend has been ill, and searching for answers...

my body is beyond tired.

my soul is weary.

if you follow me on fb, then you know i have been not thinking straight, and have been downright dippy this past week. 

i currently have roughly 20 emails to answer, 8 voicemails, and 32 text messages.  

there is just not enough time in my day.  

there is just not enough of me. 

how i love to love on people, and to make them feel special. 

i can't love on people, i can't do anything being so empty. 

last year, charlie opened a division to our studio called, studio j.  the intent was to offer portrait services, similar to sears or target - simple pictures at a great price. 

he has stopped studio j, and i'm taking down the Facebook page of that, today. 

i have a joelle watt photography page, that i will also be removing. 

my personal page, is about my life.  my life is deeply connected to my business. 

therefore, i will keep my personal page, and have all my business shared on that pag

my kids help me, the people i shoot, the places i go, the stories i tell...

i need to streamline things for myself in order to try to get a handle, yes, a grip, on things. 

and what i am asking from you, is grace.  

i promise you i will return every phone call, message and text…but it is going to take me 2 days to do that without doing anything else.  i'm asking for prayers from you, and understanding as i hold on and try to regain some control of things. 

i apologize if i see you at walmart and walk right by you….i don't wear my glasses, and i'm in a zone lately that makes everything even more blurry than normal.  

and please, don't' lose faith in me as i fight out of this struggle.  please know my heart - how i love - how i want to help - what i strive to have others see. 

please continue to walk with me, as i strive to guard a few things in my life today:  

(the message) Proverbs 3: 21-26 

Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life;
 don’t for a minute lose sight of them.
They’ll keep your soul alive and well,
    they’ll keep you fit and attractive.
You’ll travel safely,
    you’ll neither tire nor trip.
You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry,
    you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep.
No need to panic over alarms or surprises,
    or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner,
Because God will be right there with you;
    he’ll keep you safe and sound.

 

an "ah ha" moment - enough is enough

i had an out of town appointment early this morning.

after my appointment, i grabbed a cup of coffee and decided to take "the back way home," so that i could visit my dad's grave.

dad died in 2006.

i can count on one hand the amount of times i have been to visit his gravesite. 

i hate going there.  it makes me sad. 

it makes me feel like he is dead.

i mean, i know he is no longer alive on this earth, but he IS alive in heaven!  and when i look at that grave, it fills me with a sense of loss and defeat, not hope and promise. 

so i hardly ever go. 

for memorial day, shannon and her girls, and charlie, and our kids went to the site to plant flowers.  being there together, and working to make it look nice, made it not SO bad. 

today, i pulled into the little country cemetery, and i approached my dad's plot.  

"oh dad," i started in…..

i looked at his name, and the dates on the stone, and then all of a sudden, i NOTICED what was staring me in the face: A HUGE MESS.  

my brother had planted some type of bush behind the stone that was now huge and unkempt and dead.  and the flowers we had so lovingly planted months ago, were dead, and filled with weeds-some of which had grown taller than the stone itself.  on top of that, the dead plants had become a natural landing place for all the leaves that were not anywhere else in the cemetery. 

my mouth literally dropped open at really seeing this, and i immediately felt such shame.  

my dad was a meticulous man - with everything!  how he dressed, his vehicles, his home, his shoes, his finances, and me as his child, to protect my own feelings, had left his resting place become the worst scene in the cemetery.

it was cold.  i had a light sweater on.

i was wearing, you know, my NICE boots, my NICE scarf…i had no gardening gloves, no tools…..

i contemplated leaving and promising myself that i would come back to clean up the mess.  i got back in the car to do just that, and i stopped. 

enough is enough.

i could not wait one second longer.  i could not put this off with good intentions to revisit.  i needed to take care of this problem now. 

and i did. 

with my bare, ringed hands, i started attacking the mess.  pulling with all my might to remove those lodged weeds.  i brushed away worms, and mud.  i pulled twigs and old flowers, and the more i pulled and removed, the more energy i got to keep doing the same.  

i left the plot, not with the entire job completed (ryan, do i cut that bush?), but with mud under my finger nails, my nose running, my hair flat, but feeling accomplished and that i had down SOMETHING about it.  

i drove away, with the heat on full blast, and a smile, as i passed all the places that were so precious to me and my family all those years ago, and i began to think:

it is ok to give into ourselves, the healing, the protection that we need.  but at some point, we need to see a situation for what it is!  ignoring facts, may seem easier, but can leave us with regret, and possibly even shaming those that we love. 

and practically to me, what does this mean?  

after 12 years in the photography business, a marriage, and 3 kids, it means focus.  

it means digging in, and cutting back, even if it leaves me vulnerable and with dirt under my nails.  

it means that there is no better time than the present to see things for as they are, and to make changes.  changes that i have felt i have had to make many times in the past, but never felt strong enough to follow through.  changes that will make me and those around me better.

and to be quite frank, i have no idea what those changes are right now.  

but the stage is set, and i'm ready to explore and see.

what do you have in your life that needs attention?  what have you let go because it's too difficult on your soul to dive in and change?

i have no answers, only direction.

"get out of your mind to get into your right life." -martha beck ph.d.

 

 

 

i have a list of wants...

if you are like me, you might just have a list of "i wants."

i want to have more free time.

i want to be a perfect wife.

i want to be a better mom.

i want to be a better communicator.

i want to be a better business owner.

i want to be excellent.

i want to be real.

i want to be wise.

i want to give more.

i want to listen more.

i want to love more.

blah…..i'll save you any more of my extensive list. 

shooting and editing session after session these past few weeks, answering email after email, phone call after phone call….oh, and i'm a mom!  my wants slowly gave way to my needs. 

the more i tried to satisfy my wants, the emptier i became. 

i woke up 2 weeks ago, with back and arm pain, and unable to move my right arm.   (i'm getting some strength back)

i couldn't hold a toothbrush, a brush, my computer mouse, my camera.

i couldn't open the creamer for my coffee, let alone pour my coffee.

all fo a sudden, the striving to be and do all i had wanted, left me in a broken pile of need.

i pride myself on being spiritually and emotionally strong.  

not because that is how i naturally am, but because of the situations that have entered my life over the years, and how i have searched for the plan and grace and mercy of God as i have walked through each one.  

as different hardships hit my life, i learned more and more that i had no control and that my strength could nowhere near hold me up.

you think i would have learned. 

see, as i have let my life became filled with everything i want to be, do, or have, the big "I" got in the way again.  

we weren't made to be able to do it all. 

we weren't made to "be" it all. 

and as dave bish, of tri-county church pointed out yesterday, "it is better to do the right things, than to do things right."

does that make sense?  

in other words, all my wants, were getting in the way of my actions.  

"I" was getting in the way of the simplicity of life that i am offered.

and it is, if only i choose to do the right things…

as the opportunities open in front of me, then satisfaction, and peace, contentment, and well, Christ like living can enter in.  

Matthew 6:30 (the translation from The Message) says it best:

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

and as this whole lesson to me comes into focus, the "right things" wind up as moments and those moments, become life. 

a good life…a right life.






the beauty of bokeh….newborn baby lila

if you have an interest in photography, you may very well be familiar with the term, "bokeh."  according to wikipedia, "bokeh is defined as aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens."

bokeh, generally, is one of the effects in photography that i get asked most about, among photography enthusiasts.

"how do you get that blur?'

"my lens won't blur things, and leave what i want in focus!"

to put it simply, bokeh is achieved best when i shoot at a very low aperture (1.2 or 1.4), while placing my focus points on exactly what i want to remain in focus. 

do you see, i have focused on baby and daddy's fingers, and everything else is a slight blur?  this is bokeh.

i love this look in photography.  i shoot this way very often…it is what pro's would call, "shooting wide open."  to me, shooting with a wide open lens, gives more feeling to an image…it has a way of drawing one into the an image, and creating an intimate or "secret" feeling.  almost as though, you were allowed in to view a special moment that was only captured for you to feel.  

looking through even just one of my recent sessions (with beautiful baby lila and her family), i can see how much i favor this style... 

do you see what i mean?

ok…here is where my thinking starts (and goes on and on…), and really i'm realizing, it why i blog…because shooting and thinking and living and loving…they all go hand in hand for me.

i'm finding in life that as i focus on what i need to…what i'm called to see and focus on for a particular time, that the beauty of the moment, the depth of the trial, the overflow of joy-whatever it is, is all pulled together to create the beautiful picture of life that i live. 

without the moments that are out of focus…without me deliberately bringing one part of my "snapshot in life" in and out of the blur, then i would't get to see the beauty, wouldn't have the moments to recognize the blessings…and really, would in the end miss the big picture that i was called to live - to see.  

because the big picture is:

simple beauty...

it is:

family...

it is balance of the blur and the sharpness, 

and it certainly is:

love.

Deuteronomy 7:9The Message (MSG)

7-10 God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. God stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations. But he also pays back those who hate him, pays them the wages of death; he isn’t slow to pay them off—those who hate him, he pays right on time.