Category: Business

Tina & Sam

Self Care: Rising Tide Society & A Welcome Change

I did a thing yesterday: 

I realized something big. few things actually.

I came to a big realization about myself and I discovered a few new ways to help overcome it. I didn't imagine I would have this kind of a day when I woke up. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not usually an anxious person, but there are some times when big bad thoughts catch up with me and I start to second guess my career choices and the validity of them. Just as much I worry about staying present with my kids, the house chores, and helping my husband do whatever he needs to do to be happy.  I think I start to get that thing called "imposter syndrome" where I feel like I have no right doing what I'm doing and being who I'm being and that I'm faking everyone out around me and even myself. I love being a photographer so much that sometimes I question if I have my shit together enough to actually own my own business and do what I need to do to make it survive. Following all of these amazing photographers on Instagram and seeing their unbelievable photographs and the captions beneath them does not help. I lay awake in bed at 4:30am thinking Should I be working 9-5 somewhere to afford this passion and just do it on the side? Am I even good enough at it to make this my career? Do I deserve to have the luxury of daycare? And then my kids wake up. I really need exercise, I think... but that thought is quickly replaced with all the other things and all I can actually wish for is God, please let my kids be peaceful and compliant this morning... just until I drop them off, anyway. So instead of dressing in my gym clothes I throw on jeans, hustle to make them healthy lunches and snacks for school, try to remember to pack all the things and do my best to get everyone out the door without meltdowns. Then there's the home stuff. Making sure we have our staples, keeping the house clean, tending to the animals, and right now Christmas shopping. Christmas shopping, especially for the kids, is stressful for me because really I just want to throw away everything in sight. There's just so much crap in this house and all I want is a pristine, white, empty, minimal house like all of the beautiful, peaceful spaces I see on social media. But come on, for real.... I have about 18 more years until that can possibly happen. But no, wait, I'm impulsive and messy so I know so it's never really going to actually happen because I'm going to buy them more things (mostly thrifted toys because its the only way I can get them to behave at Savers) and then these things are going to fill all of the rooms of the house and it's just going to lead to more messes and more cleaning. And then there's work. I have three days per week when from 9-4:30 I can actually get to work on my business. I can't tell if it makes me happier or more stressed, but photography in itself brings me so much joy. I do have my own business and it's just me which is my favorite part, but it also means I wear a LOT of hats. I'm the owner, the photographer, I have a studio, I'm the salesperson, the retoucher, I answer all the calls and write all the emails, I do my own marketing and social media, bookkeeping, and the list goes on. Just reading that last sentence makes my head spin! Because I really wish that I could just shoot and forget about all of the other stuff. And the idea is to grow my business every year however that in itself seems like such a daunting pursuit. How in the heck can I take on more than I already do?? Sometimes it dawns on me that even if I didn't have my business I would never put down my camera. I'd still take just as many pictures as I do now, just of different things. Does that make it a better hobby than a career choice? Is my heart in it just a bit too much? I always wonder. On top of all of this, I'm also one of the biggest self sabotagers I know. I procrastinate, buy unnecessary things, and convince myself that unnecessary things need to be done. And you can probably see now why every once in a while I feel like I'm drowning. But doesn't everyone?

So yesterday after drop-off I headed to my favorite monthly networking group called "TuesdaysTogether" put on by Rising Tide Society. The website describes it as "A meetup on the second Tuesday of every month where creatives + entrepreneurs gather together for coffee and conversation. An open space for idea sharing and goal building. Separated by distance, but beautifully united by a shared desire to empower the creative economy." And it's just that. I'd been invited by Alexandra Beauregard of The Productivity Zone via Facebook for so long but always overlooked it... until one day a couple months ago. I decided to go and take my good friend/studio mate Jamie Bannon along with me. We were floored by how much we learned that first meeting and we couldn't wait until the next one. We have attended three now and are still very much in love with this network. I have learned so much and actually won a sweet deck of Affirmation cards from Abundant Affirmations from the last meeting! Yesterday's meeting was  Self Care. I didn't expect to take as much away from this particular topic because I really thought I did pretty well at taking care of myself; I try to make time to hang with friends when I can, I have daycare three days per week so I can get things done without kids in tow, and I like to think I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. Of course today's meeting floored me once again. We went around the group and took turns talking about what we do for ourselves while we're not taking care of everything else. One said read books, another said take my dog for a walk, another said journaling..We talked about what gets in the way of this time we need for ourselves and how we can make better choices to help keep those activities a priority. Because honestly, if you can't take care of yourself then how can you take care of anything/anyone else? Alexandra asked us what our Word or Phrase of the Year would be if we could have one. There were so many different answers; Arrow, Simplify, Thrive...  I told her this quote that I keep coming back to but I feel like I haven't lived up to: "Once you know better, do better," by Maya Angelou. I told the group of my impulsiveness in so many areas of my life and business and how I'm going to strive to do better with that. I feel like this is what therapy is like. 

I left this meeting with so many thoughts going through my head. I am terrible at managing my time. I have total squirrel brain. I open my laptop and before I know it I have 10 tabs open and 10 activities started; 5 hours later I haven't finished one. I don't make time for exercise as much as I need to. I have so many books I want to read but can never find the time. I always tell my husband that I just need 4 more hours in the day. Alexandra told me about this book called 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam and told me I NEED to read it because I have more time than I think I do. I also started to think about what really makes me happy. I remember a time before kids when I worked in the corporate world and we rented an apartment, when Stella was a puppy and would drag me out at the ass crack of dawn on the coldest of days to go to the bathroom. I hated it before I got out there, but as soon as I touched the cold air and saw her excitement I felt alive and well and ready to start my day. It was a blessing in disguise and I realized I miss that time outside with her. I thought about how much I love to learn whether through classes, reading, or podcasts. I know it's an investment in my time and business, but it can be so hard to get to with everything else I have on my plate. I thought about how much better I work when my house is clean, and how much happier Dave is when he walks through the door and there's no mess, and how much better we are as a couple when we fill each other's  happy tanks. Corny, I know, but so true. And I realized how much I HATE to be stressed out and scrambling in the morning and how much of an impact is has on my kids. I don't want that for us anymore. 

So I returned home from the meeting and without even thinking, I grabbed my dog's leash and harness, grabbed my head phones, turned on a business marketing podcast, and took that girl on a walk. I usually listen to podcasts while retouching but I end up getting distracted by 10 other things and not listening. Dog walks fell by the wayside a while ago because my business started, I had babies, and I said I don't have time. So I combined the two activities, got in an extra long walk, breathed in that fresh cold air, and Stella & I both got what we needed. I learned so much on that walk and was so pumped up by the time I got home that I continued listening to marketing podcasts and tidied my entire house within 45 minutes. I worked on my business, exercised, took care of my dog, and cleaned basically all at the same time. By the time my kids got home with Dave I was not frazzled and frustrated because I felt like nothing got done. I was ready to be present & play, and I was in a great mood. I decided that I'd prepare school lunches directly after dinner instead of running around like a mad woman the next morning trying to prepare healthful meals before taking them to school and stressing myself out before sitting down for work. I had a great night's sleep and awoke this morning feeling completely refreshed, cuddled with Sam on the couch before getting ready, got them to school extra early without any meltdowns (which I'm now convinced are a product of my own stress), and was ready to tackle my day. 

My blog posts are few and far between these days, but they are sparked when I feel like something has made a big impact on my wellness and has me excited enough to tell you all about it. These TuesdaysTogether meetings have me like Whoa. I am so, so thankful that I took a leap and tried something new, even when everything in my mind told me I was too busy to stray from the norm. The norm wasn't good enough, and I wasn't even close to where I wanted (needed) to be. I still have a long way to go, personally and within my business, but I feel like I'm so much closer than I was before I started attending. My time is worth so much more than how I've been spending it, and now that I know better I'm going to do better. 

What do you do to take care of yourself? 

Are you making yourself a priority? 

How can you change things around to make it happen and lessen your stresses? 

And here's one from my new favorite podcast by Angie Lee:

What needs to happen right now for this (work, marriage, motherhood, LIFE) to be fun

♥️ Happy holidays to you all ♥️

Thanks for reading! 

Photo cred (top image) Ashley Enns for my favorite picture of me and my baby boy. Love you, girl!!

My girl Stella, below, on our walk today 🐾

christina-wesley-photography-self-care-dog

Where have I been? Babies, MORE kittens, Etsy Shop, and Celebrations

Wow, so my last post was over 3 months ago. I told myself that with this blog, this time around, I'd do better at actually putting something up consistently and I'm totally slacking... However I do have a few solid reasons. So much has gone down over the summer. Since June 1... 


I think Dave and I both finally came to terms with expecting twin girls. At first we were super shocked and, well, pretty terrified thinking about having two newborns at the same time with a toddler at home. This also meant we needed bigger cars to fit three carseats, we should probably find that house in a quiet neighborhood before their arrival, and also that we were likely going to be on one income for a while so I could tend to not one, not two, but three under three.  Then... the excitement set in! We were having twin girls and wow, our lives were about to get a whole lot more interesting and my heart just began to grow on its own. Then, we found out some iffy/scary news. We found out our (then) 18 week twinnies were being affected by TTTS in utero and that we were going to need treatment. Because without treatment, the likelihood of neither making it was close to 100%, and with it they both had a 65% chance of making it and an 85% chance at least one would survive. We had to take multiple trips down to Philadelphia Children’s Hospital for treatment. The morning after laser ablation surgery left us with only one of their hearts beating. Our "donor" baby passed away due to insufficient nutrition from the placenta; whatever she was getting prior to the surgery was likely coming as support from her connection to the other baby but with the surgery that connection was cut off. We found out that if she passed away before the surgery, our surviving baby would likely have brain damage because of the toxins passed through the vessels so it was a good thing the connection was severed. We also found out that our surviving baby's heart was under stress and that she had a couple leaky valves and extra fluid around her heart, which has since resolved itself and is no longer an issue. This was all was followed by 3.5 weeks of strict bedrest and “light activity” until birth. Our survivor twin is now doing great, kickin’ away, and we hope she is able to keep cookin’ til 38-40 weeks! Lessons I learned from this experience: Loss is never easy, but it’s doable.... Don’t EVER tell someone who is grieving that “everything happens for a reason” because that is just about the last thing she wants to hear. You may have also just become the last person she wants to talk to.... Also, I learned that you have to be grateful every damn day for what you do have and don’t let anything get in the way of that.


Since then, we’ve also had a second litter of kittens bless our household… SURPRISE! Our stray Snickers went right back at it, and call us distracted, but we were pretty much blindsided by it. We were all like, "Oh Snickers, you're getting pretty round..." "Oh, Snickers why are you so lazy these days??" "Snix, you better not be preggo again"... Sure enough, she rolled over one day to let me feel her belly and that's when I realized there absolutely were more kittens coming and soon. That was the day before she had them. 5 more beautiful kittens, 8 more weeks of having 7 cats (...and a dog, and a toddler, and a huge pregnant belly), and within this time about 3 solid weeks of Dave being the only one able to scoop 7 cats’ worth of litter. Silver lining? They are cute as can be, they all have homes lined up, and (!!) two pairs will be going home together!! That makes me super happy <3


More [super exciting] news… I FINALLY opened my Etsy shop! I honestly never thought that would be one of my things. Since the news of twins started to sink in, though, I’ve had to really think about how my photography business needed to evolve to allow for income through the first hectic months/years of their lives. Opening an Etsy Shop to sell my photographs was one of my ideas, and to be honest it was very daunting to me. I love to shoot; I really don’t love the act of selling my work. I know the value of my sessions = the value I put on spending time with my family, so that comes easily to me (adding in materials, my equipment value, insurance, post-processing, and all that other photography jazz.) But the idea of working on and selling my work to be hung in the homes of others is a bit scary for me! It’s like I’m entering into a different realm of art. Over the last couple years though I pledged to myself that I would print and hang more of my work throughout my home, and boy have I gotten good at that (sorry to Dave, who has been put to work hanging everything.) Since then I’ve had family & friends ask me if I ever sell my work and said they’d totally purchase it if I did! Also, as a donation, I printed, matted and framed some pieces for a benefit held by CTPPA to raise money for domestic violence victims, and my piece from the Outer Banks sold within the first hour! At these points I really had no intention of selling my photographs, but those bits of encouragement definitely help the Etsy idea come to fruition. And I have to say, I’m diggin the feeling of having them out there.

A few of my favorites are below! Only 8 of each image will be released for sale, so not everybody and their neighbor can have the same print on their wall. Once that image has been selected by 8 buyers, it will be retired and replaced with a new piece of work. Each will be printed on Fine Art paper as 12x18 prints, ready for mounting and framing. Some of them have been worked over in Photoshop in a "waterdrop/watercolor-esque" manner. I chose these images based on it's what I personally would hang in my own home, so the collection is pretty personal to me. Some of them I've added my favorite quotes to as options for customization. If you're interested in any of these and have questions regarding customization, please just ask! 


So among all of these things, an always active Sam, and doing some big-time nesting (yes, it’s definitely a thing, and it's on) I’m really just trying to juggle my actively creative mind with “taking it easy” until she's here. My official due date is Nov 13, though a very likely side effect of the surgery is preterm delivery. While sticking with these doctors’ orders of light activity has been one of the most difficult challenges mentally, I've physically been carrying a 38wk size belly since 16wks (moms, I know you're feeling for me) so I just keep reminding myself that I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got. And after one pregnancy loss last year and then losing one of the twins 10 weeks ago, I’ve finally started allowing myself to get excited for this baby girl’s arrival. I think I’ve finally stopped guarding my heart from the possibility of completely losing this pregnancy, and celebration mode has begun! I’ve got an amazing husband, little crazy lovable Sam, and the most supportive family and friends a girl can ask for. I absolutely LOVE what I do, I'll never stop shooting, and even though I won't be able to take sessions for a bit, the camera will never be far from my hand for long.


Wish me luck! -T