embracing your thoughts on motherhood

me, my mom and my sister Dede: I was one year old

Our thoughts and feelings about motherhood change like the ocean tide. Is it filled with joy or sorrow, or like many of us—both? Are you lucky enough to have a mom living? Even luckier still, are you able to visit her this weekend (careful to social distance…or able to embrace her)? Does she live far away or does the current health crisis keep you physically distant, that forces your contact to be over the phone? Has your mom passed away, and your recognition of the day required to be on your own? Is your relationship such that you keep a physical and even audible distance for your own well being? There are endless ways to document your feelings about her and your relationship with her, regardless of your situation. Whether your story of motherhood is beautiful or tragic, there is always beauty in the story of how you have learned, benefited and gained from your mother- BECAUSE OF HER, or even in spite of her.

my mom and I the day I graduated from college

PHOTO:

If you are lucky enough to be able to be with your mom on Mother’s Day…document it with a photo. Hand over a camera, even if it’s your phone. GET IN THE PHOTO! Let go of any idea of perfection and photograph life just as it is.

If you aren’t able to be with her in person…screen shot or video record a Facetime conversation. Ask her questions. Tell her something you are grateful for.

LETTER:

My girls asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I responded, “a letter.” I am fortunate to have all that I need and most of what I want. I can’t think of anything more meaningful than reading their thoughts of us and our relationship. It would mean the world to me. So whether your mom is living or has passed- write her a letter or meaningful words in a card. Write your thoughts and if you can, fill it with gratitude. It will fill you with love and will be the greatest gift she may not have asked for.

JOURNAL:

Whether you choose a social media platform with a photo or the journal and pen at your nightstand, write your thoughts and feelings about motherhood. It can be about your feelings of your mom or your thoughts about being a mom yourself. The benefit of sharing it on social media is the connection and inspiration you can share with those that see it. The benefit of documenting it for yourself is the beautiful way you can process all of your thoughts and feelings without the lens of what is appropriate to share with the world.

visiting my mom at work at age 11

The most important part of any way you choose to celebrate-is letting go of perfection. Just like motherhood, EMBRACE WHAT IS. Embrace the struggle, trial, messiness of your relationships, thoughts and feelings. It is in that process, that love, that grace that creates an opportunity for the beauty of humanness to flourish.

my mom with my daughters approximately 8 years ago

“do it anyway”

I was walking through City Creek and shopping with my daughters. I ran into my friend Natalie. She had a huge smile on her face and I was excited to catch up. She had fun news to share with me. Natalie was going to be starting V School in the coming week. She had decided to study web design. I was really happy for her, and had a longing to join her. At least join her in knowing what she wanted to do and going after it. I looked up V School as soon as I got home.

Natalie worked hard that year. She has since been hired by Intermountain Health. She asked me to take some head shots and I talked her into sharing her thoughts about this path she has taken.

my question: What have you learned about yourself in the process of completing your training and beginning your new career?

I don’t know that I have learned anything super new  about myself, but I’ve definitely been reminded of many things:
-I love people. I am a social person for sure, but it’s deeper than that. I have always been good at reading people. I think that’s why I love Consumer Experience (CX) so much. 
-I have a hard time sitting still. Really. I first figured out I am ADHD when I was in my late 20’s and I didn’t seek treatment until my late 30’s. Medication isn’t for me (although I’m not against it), but I definitely have to make a deliberate effort to focus.  
-Being a working mom means I have to be organized  and multi-task. When I have a lot on my plate I don’t get bored or distracted. 
-I am a morning person.  I do my best work between the hours of 4:30 and 11:30 am. Last year I read the book, When” by Daniel H. Pink. It is life changing to discover your “when”, but more importantly, the “when” of those in both your personal and professional life. 
-If I had to choose one thing I’ve learned about myself, it is that I can be a working mom and still be a great mom too. It requires sacrifice and prioritization, but it is possible.

my question: What would you say to women who have dreams but are afraid to step towards them?

“DO IT ANYWAY. My greatest asset in conquering  fear is my belief in God.  It might seem silly, but I pray for help and confidence for some of the smallest things.  Going to school and stepping into new experiences has been challenging and definitely out of my comfort zone. I could not have done it without prayer and a higher power. “

my question: What do you love most about your profession?

“People. I love CX because it brings brand messaging to the core of the why and what for the consumer. In my industry the consumer is the patient. 
My portfolio covers Oncology and Behavioral Health.   We have weekly meetings where we discuss patient safety stories in which we face anything from self harm, to death. The patient experience is our focus because the experience IS the product; and healthcare is a product we all need.” 

My favorite wisdom that Natalie shared is DO IT ANYWAY! Take the leap, take the class, apply for that job, open that business, start that new hobby, feed that passion. It is there, wide open, waiting for us!

group senior session

Of all of the many amazing things we learn in school- learning to love friends might be the most valuable. It feels like an important aspect to document beautifully. I am offering group senior portrait sessions.

The details:

SENIOR GROUP PORTRAIT SESSIONS

SATURDAY APRIL 4TH

WHITESPACE STUDIOS in Bountiful, UT

up to 3 individuals: 30 minutes of shooting, minimum of 5 individual portraits of each person and 5 group images $350 total. ($100 non refundable deposit to hold your spot)

up to 6 individuals: 50 min. of shooting, 5 individual portraits of each person and 5 group images $450 total. ($100 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot)

up to 9 individuals: 65 min. of shooting, 5 individual portraits of each person and 5 group images $550 total ($100 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot)

Each individual participating will receive access to an online gallery to download images from the session.

Text me @ (801) 232-4920 to check availability. Once you receive a time from me send the deposit via Venmo to @Carin-Davis to save your spot.

the world feels quieter when the snow falls

Today it snowed. I woke early for a Pilates class and was surprised to see the world draped in white. As I slipped along the path to the door, I was excited for what was to come. The class is always a challenge, yet for some reason, against my nature, I enjoy the challenge. After the hour of strain and movement, I stepped back out into the world of white again. There was a brightness from the snow and a clarity from the work that I had just done, that gave me a fresh perspective.
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I felt ready. The lenses of self doubt, needing approval & insecurity fell away. I am ready to shift from looking to outsiders for help, answers & learning. I am ready to quiet the world & move forward in confidence with what I know today.
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The world feels quieter when snow falls, which is just what I needed.

what FUN has to do with it

I was in a conversation recently where having FUN was considered frivolous…and business and productivity were almost only valued. I have reflected on it a lot, not because I agree intellectually, but because my nature tends to lean that way. If I could go back in time and change anything about my life as a mom…or really just a human, it would be to have more FUN. Work, learning, service, and relationship building are ALL IMPROVED WITH FUN.

One great example of this is Kate’s third grade teacher. Kate did well in kindergarten and first grade. She began reading so early (at three) and has always been so smart. She has a summer birthday, but I never considered holding her back because she was already ahead of kindergarten curriculum well before she entered school. What I didn’t realize was that she wasn’t ready for a traditional school schedule or work day. Her creative and fast moving mind was really struggling with the tasks and sitting required at school. It caught up with her in 2nd grade. Her teacher was really contentious and wanted to help. She even got the principal involved at one point. Kate remembers really liking that teacher-but the teacher, knowing how smart she was, remained frustrated.

The following year was completely different. Kate had a younger, energetic and extremely positive teacher. Mrs. Curtis kept the kids working and expected a lot, but implemented CREATIVITY, THEIR INTERESTS and FUN amazingly well. I still get teary thinking about it. This teacher knew a few of the girls loved THE SISTERS GRIMM series, Ellie and Kate being two of those girls. (Ellie wasn’t even in her class!) Mrs. Curtis spent many lunch periods hosting a SISTERS GRIMM bookclub, when I am sure she could have used some peace and quiet during recess. They would come home from school, their faces lit up, telling me all about it. It increased both of their love of school and reading. It was amazing. SHE is amazing.

The FUN and POSITIVE ENERGY Mrs. Curtis brought to her day and teaching is what I am striving to improve on. How can I make a task more FUN? How can we have more FUN as a family? In what ways am I taking myself too seriously? How can I make my career FUN?

A few strategies that have helped me-

I write in my dream journal everyday“I cherish Danny and our marriage that is filled with love, enthusiasm, growth and FUN” It reminds me that having FUN together is a value that I cherish…and my heart lightens a bit just writing that.

Schedule FUN. When ever Danny and I have reflected on our favorite memories as a family- they have almost ALL been attached to a vacation…having fun. We relax and allow ourselves more FUN when we are on vacation, but scheduling it at home more regularly will bind our family memories more tightly together, which is important to us.

Follow the kids. I have played UNO almost every night this week before bed, because Sophie asked me to. Then I call everyone in to join us. UNO is not my favorite game- but I have been so grateful for the smiles and togetherness to end the day. I am trying to remember to always take up a child’s invitation to play with them. Play is so good for our emotional state and strengthens learning and relationships.

That is a fairly short list that I would love to grow. How do you add more FUN to your life? I know my sister in law would say, drive a convertible! I might add that to my dream journal today!

There was a last-minute opening in a sold-out workshop. I had only recently become aware of @lizzyography and her work. When she announced that someone couldn’t make her workshop, I decided to jump at the chance. I am so glad that I did. There was an assignment given via email pre-workshop to bring my favorite photo that I have taken that represents me and my brand. I have required something similar in all of the workshops I have taught. It was great to be on the other side of the assignment. The process required me to examine my work and the reasons I do this work. I chose this image. This is my eldest daughter Ellie. She decided to put her hair up mid-session. I love that she is not looking at me and is uniquely her. She is not guarded or trying-just her. That is my goal when I pick up my camera. I LOVE my portrait clients, I am SO grateful for them and love the relationship I have as their photographer. Having said that, THERE IS SOMETHING SO MAGICAL ABOUT BEING ABLE TO DOCUMENT YOUR OWN LIFE! (am I yelling? no, just really excited about this) I am so passionate about teaching others to document their own life, knowing that the process of documenting your LIFE, your SELF and whatever moves you… adds so much richness to it. That is also a reason I am so grateful to artists like @lizzyography that choose to teach and to help others grow.

THANK YOU if you have ever attended a class or mentoring session with me. It’s been an honor to be on your journey with you.

angels helping angels

Ellie was asked by our bishop to share her experiences with HEFY this summer. I was so glad he did, and that she was willing, because it gave her the opportunity to reflect on all of it’s goodness…

Her words…

This summer I went on a humanitarian trip with HEFY to Tonga, that stands for Humanitarian Experience for Youth. They go to 19 different countries and build homes, schools, orphanages and other much-needed facilities in impoverished countries. The expeditions are 2.5 weeks long. There are typically 24 people per trip. On my trip we had 19 builders (I was one of them) 7 boys and 12 girls. We also had 2 parent leaders, a mom and dad and two trip leaders from HEFY.

In Tonga, our project was to build a house from start to finish for a family in our Tongan ward that needed one.  We had 8 days on the worksite.  The first day we showed up to work, all we had was a piece of land, shovels, a bathtub, a pile of rocks, bags of cement, cinder blocks and 4 Tongan men to help and teach us.  

The first day was really hard. When we showed up it was pouring rain. We were all so excited to get to work but under the conditions, it was hard to believe that we were going to make it work. Usually when it rains, the groups aren’t able to work, but our trip coordinator in Tonga found tarps for us to dig and work under. Even with the miracle of tarps, we still got drenched and completely covered in mud from head to toe. At the end of the day, we were all so exhausted, we had trench foot, and I was the most sore I have ever been. Even though it was such a hard day, it felt so amazing to be working and serving.

Everyday we showed up to the worksite so excited and happy to make more progress on our house. We were building it for a woman named Kafy and her five kids in our ward. It was so cool to see how excited they were to finally have a home. Whenever it would get hard on the worksite, thinking about these kids finally having somewhere to go home to, made it so easy. Kafy and her family have never had a house. They just hop around in other families home to stay, with her 5 children. Kafy’s husband works in New Zealand to support them. He stays there for a few months at a time to work.

One aspect of HEFY I didn’t anticipate was how much love we felt from the people. They immediately took us in, and we became a part of their family. We spent almost every night in ward members homes or at ward activities. These families didn’t have much at all. The homes were about the size of my living room and they have cement floors with mats and little furniture. Every time we went into a family’s home, it was a highlight of my day. We would play games and sing and we would be laughing and joking the whole time. We had so much fun with everyone in our ward. After two weeks I felt like I had known them my whole life. They were so selfless and caring towards us. I thought I was coming to Tonga to build a house, but we left with so much more than we gave. It sounds stupid to say that the gospel is so strong in Tonga, because it’s the same wherever to go, but it really was so much stronger when we were serving and applying the gospel principals to our life. It was so amazing to see Christ’s gospel in action.

One day on the worksite, I was mixing cement with shovels in a broken bathtub (which wasn’t easy) with a few other kids and a Tongan worker named Sam.  One of the girls said, we are definitely going to have muscles when we go home.  Sam said, “no you won’t have muscles, you will go home with a testimony.”  

Our Bishop told me a story about his son. His son was going to school and he saw a Palangi on the street. Palangi is the Tongan word for caucasian people. Our Bishops son said, Dad, I love when the palangi’s come, it makes me feel so safe. I feel like its so cool that the Tongan people have so much respect for us and seriously just love everyone like their family. I realized that even though these people thought we were the angels, they were showing us an example of what angels are really like.

President Russell M Nelson said, “Do we believe in angels? Yes! We believe in angels! Heavenly messengers- seen and unseen; and earthly angels who know whom to Servehelp and how to help.”

The theme for HEFY this year was What were you born to do. One morning we woke up before going to work to watch the sunrise. We went out to the ocean and sat on the rocks and our whole group bore our testimony about why we came on this trip. Everyone had found an answer for the question “what were you born to do”. It was cool because none of us knew each other before coming to Tonga. We were all from different places and had different lives, but we all came together on the same trip. We realized that we were all sent to Tonga to change each others lives and even with different backgrounds, we all needed the same thing. It wasn’t just a coincidence that we came together.

Pres Nelson “The Lord has more in mind for you than you have in mind for yourself! As you love him and keep his commandments, great rewards even unimaginable achievements may be yours.”

I know that heavenly father has a plan for us. I am so grateful that I could serve his people in Tonga and learn so much from them. I know that the gospel is true and that serving the lord brings so much happiness.

all I want for Christmas

All I wanted for Christmas for seven straight years was them. I wanted to be a mom. We tried with help from my regular OB and then two different fertility specialists. Danny and I each had surgery (laparoscopy for me and a varicocele repair for him). We attempted a few artificial inseminations. The last specialist we hoped would perform in-vitro for us. They deemed us “not good candidates” They suggested we try specialists in CO or CA.

In the meantime, I was studying Communication Disoders (Speech and Hearing Science) at the University of Utah. I was approaching graduation and had not considered getting my Master’s degree. I was 30 years old and really wanting to spend my time rocking babies, changing diapers and walking the neighborhood pushing a stroller. I had felt drawn to this major. It felt like what I should be doing. Unfortunately, it was useless without a Master’s degree.

After graduation I did find a job at Salt Lake Regional Hospital as an infant hearing screener. It was under the umbrella of my major. If there were to be no children in our future, I should decide if I wanted to be an audiologist or speech pathologist. The bachelor’s degree I held was preparation for both of those options.

But could I be an infant hearing screener? Could I show up on the maternity ward 5 days a week? Could I enter the rooms of brand new moms and greet them everyday with a smile, compassion and the attitude I needed to do a good job. Could my heart take that reminder over and over again of my unfulfilled wish? I decided to try.

My first week on the job, I remember being in training and feeling really sick. I was worried about being around babies while feeling nauseous. I didn’t have a choice. The screener that I was replacing was moving to TX and I needed to be trained. I showed up. The good news is that that nausea was not an illness-I was pregnant. After over 7 years of trying, it finally happened. Without any medical intervention or attention, we were expecting.

I believe now that the daily work of entering into that maternity ward was exactly what I needed. I saw everyday reminders that women have babies EVERYDAY. Because I was in a professional setting, I saw this over and over in a way that allowed me to serve those families without begrudging my situation. I saw abundance instead of lack. It prepared my heart for what was to come.

Often our minds focus on the lack- money, love, relationships and fertility. In actuality, focusing on the abundance in all of those things brings them into the forefront and in clearer focus. I realized this weekend (almost 20 years later) that I now know exactly why I chose a degree in Communication Disorders. It wasn’t to be a speech pathologist or audiologist. It was to be an infant hearing screener, making $8 an hour with a bachelor’s degree and preparing my heart to know that life and love are abundant…and in 9 months, my 7 years of Christmas wishes would come true. I would soon have my own baby to love and spoil on Christmas. Incredibly enough, it wasn’t just one baby-I got to have three. They are our miracles.

their first Christmas as a trio: December 2006