Showing Up for Strawberries

A common theme in my life lately has been about building a business to build a life, and not the other way around. I'm consistently amazed at the opportunities that present themselves in my career, and the people I meet. Amazing, inspiring, genuine people. From my clients, to the creatives in our community, to those Insta-friends I would love to actually sit down with one day, each one has a story worth knowing. I've learned that we must make ourselves open and available if we really want to hear their hearts.

What I've learned is in order to serve my people best, I must first serve myself. Who are we as humans without diving into those things that fill us up, sing to our souls and invite others in? During last nights Rising Tide Society Summit, Hannah Brencher shared some amazing truth for countless creatives tuning in. One thing that really resonated with me is the idea of really "showing up" for people - "less words, and more work," she called for. "Showing up" means different things for different people, but no matter what it breaks down the walls. It lets others in to see the joy and the mess, the beauty and the pain, the authentic moments of life. Showing up on social media is an amazing start, but it quickly challenges us to show up in real life too.

If you've seen on Instagram, I aim to schedule at least one time per week to invite a friend over for brunch (typically on Thursdays!) as my "day off." I need that time to refuel, and I've found that others need it too. I'm no good as a wife, a photographer, a family member or a friend without filling up my cup! Often we feel guilt taking time away from work, and we just need someone to give us that permission: to invite us into their messy kitchen for a scone while a furry pup begs at their feet, all with no computer in sight.

We sit across the table from one another, we let the things on our hearts out into the open, we laugh, we eat and we remind ourselves that we're really not alone after all. Hannah shared, "We fear there is no room for us at the table," when talking about feeling like we are just one more choice of (insert your career here) is a sea of a billion. We fear that our story isn't unique. We fear that we're not welcome, not able, and not "enough." And what I've found is that by showing up for people; by inviting them into our home; we find that each person's story truly has value. They have meaning. That we are more than just a website and an Instagram handle. That these brunches turn into dinners and into relationships and into community where we are called to "show up" every day.

I'm so grateful to share a few photos from yesterday's twist on a Thursday date, where Amy (who I invited in over homemade pumpkin bread (that Sophie ate nearly all of) months ago) proposed we move from the kitchen to the fields to pick strawberries at Gurosik's Berry Plantation. Amy raised her kids on Gurosik's, but hadn't been in years. When she asked if I'd be willing to make the trip to join her, I didn't realize that it was more than just to pick berries. This was about memories, about Amy's cherished experiences of dirt on her hands picking veggies from her parent's land, about time away from "it all," just enjoying the beauty of nature. And by me "showing up" for her - she really showed up for me. In fact, yesterday I needed it more than I knew. I was tired, stressed and feeling the weight of wedding season.

Instead, she let me into her story and her life, and gave me permission to step away from the hustle and bustle to take a walk down memory lane: to the days of when Chip and I would pick berries at Washington Farms in Athens, GA - pre-photography, pre-medical residency, even pre-marriage. Now, not only do I have the most gorgeous and delicious fresh berries in my fridge, but I'm reminded that every bit of my story matters, and so does yours. You just need the permission to "show up" for less words and more work, and embrace the life you're living and those around you.

So, friend, hear me in this: you have permission. Carve out time to for the things you love, and I guarantee you that a "full" you will inevitably fill others up as well.

PS: I'm obviously really excited about berries. :)