Start Here

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As I write this, I’m staring age 50 in the face. I’ve reached the point in my life where I realize my kids will never be interested in my advice, or if they ever are, I will probably have forgotten what it was.

Sometimes it seems like I don’t have anything all that special to share, but many of my friends assure me that I do. They ask me questions, probe for my advice or guidance. It doesn’t always seem like I’ve done anything special, especially when I’m struggling, as all of us struggle, as all of us have our highs and lows.

But I did do something: I turned it around. At age 46 I took a big, big step and completely remade myself.

See: I’ve always been fat, since I was seven years old. Some people will be offended hearing that. Some people will be really angry, hearing that from someone who currently wears a size two or four. But listen to what I mean: I’ve always identified as fat. I claimed fat, cleaved to fat, wore fat as a mantle.

When I was a child, my rude uncle Edgar saw me running through the living room: “That child sure is getting fat.”

A child’s beauty pageant judge: “She has a great smile and stage presence, but she is a little too fat.”

My first boyfriend’s dad: “You used to be fat didn’t you? You will be again someday.”

 I was fat, the awkward non-athlete: slow to first base in softball, completely incapable in basketball, tripping over my own feet, chosen last for teams and only after the teacher INSISTED.

I began playing rugby as an adult and discovered a degree of athleticism, but clung to “slow and fat.” That’s what I would always be, I figured.

Meanwhile I was living the life I felt I deserved. I married a guy who barely tolerated my presence on most days, never wore nice clothes, slumped and hunched and made myself small.

I really have no idea what happened, except that one day I knew something had to change. The perfect sequence of events brought me to a desire to change, and a way to change.

 I never went on a diet. I never joined up with any of the eating fads that seem to plague us in an endless series of silliness. I just … changed.

I want to tell my story, in pieces, in lessons, in digestible bits, and the first part of my story is in the title of this essay: Start Here.

Because the lessons I learned are being learned over and over, even by me. There are days when I feel I’ve lost my motivation, my direction. Days when I feel like I don’t have a way to go forward.

But on those days I still know: START HERE. It’s the only place to start from.

There was a day I got on the scale and I weighed more than I had ever weighed in my life. I looked at that number and thought about how I felt. I was tired — exhausted, in fact. I was sick. I was depressed. I felt unloved, unworthy.


There was a day I saw an image of myself that only showed my posture, and I thought, “I look like I’m apologizing for being here, on this earth.”


There was a day I tried to just go for a walk up the hill that I live on, and every joint hurt. Less than a tenth of a mile in, I felt like I was going to throw up. When I got back to the house there was a letter waiting for me. My doctor wanted me to go in for further testing. They suspected an autoimmune disease.


There was a family vacation that was every possible kind of misery, and for some crazy reason I thought it would also be good to have family photos taken during that vacation. My relationship was imploding and there was seemingly nothing I could do about it. My body felt miserable. I was in every kind of pain: mental, emotional, physical. When we viewed the photos, I thought, “This is how I look?” I was even bigger than I thought. Way, way bigger.


There was a trip to visit my brother where we took my kids to a museum, and I barely made it through the short walk around the museum grounds. Finally we sat down to lunch and my brother pulled out his phone to track his calorie intake. My brother, who looked completely different than he ever had before, because he had just taken charge of his health and lost 80 pounds. “What is that?” I asked. And he showed me.


And I did.

Start. Here. Wherever you are. You woke up today, start here. You managed to get out of bed and stretch, start here. You managed to plan your day in your calendar, start here. You ate a good breakfast, start here. Whatever your goals, whatever direction they take you, start here.



Learning to Run in the Dark

I have been cleaning up the basement and ripping out that nasty carpet that my ex would never get rid of, and I finally found my journal from last fall.

And, I found something I wrote that I love. I’m going to quote it, word for word.

November 28, 2016

I ran this weekend.

Seventy miles. Seventy. Miles. Covered 69 laps of Sunset Lake (trail), on foot, all me, my own power. Through the night, through the dark. And I learned a lot.

I learned that running in the dark is scary and awesome. After only a few laps I ditched my headlamp. At first it was to see how far into the darkness, into the unknown, that I could go, before feeling I needed my light. Here’s what happened: I went all the way through the darkest part of the trail. And then again. And as I went around I began to realize the dark part of the trail was becoming my favorite part of the trail. Running in darkness is different. You know you have to pick up your feet, and you have to trust where they will fall. You run in faith. I began to realize I run faster, better, there in the darkness.

It was cold. I got sleepy. I felt awful. Things got worse. And then … they didn’t. I said a few words to a friend, a few words to a stranger. I woke up more. I felt better. And realized that I had assumed the awful way I was feeling was a permanent state, more or less — that I would feel that way for the rest of the run. But things changed.

They always do.

Lesson: never assume that any way you are feeling is permanent, or even necessary. Choose better things, better feelings.

I got tired. I felt the tiredness, consuming me. But I thought: I will do this much, and then a little more. And I did. You can always do more than you think you can do. You can always find resources you never suspected within yourself.

I got rid of reasons. I created a new story around myself. I saw results.

This translates into what I’m trying to do with my life: push a little further. Do a little more. Be a little better than I already knew I could be.

Let’s Stop Body Shaming Ourselves

When I was a teenager, there was a store in the mall called 5-7-9.

I guess it was the Abercrombie and Fitch of the 1980s. Certainly the name said it all. The store only sold sizes 5, 7, and 9. They were very clear in their assertion that no one outside of their idea of the “best” size should bother shopping with them.

Unlike A&F, they didn’t catch a lot of flack for this. In fact, in the 1980s, it was almost virtuous to shame people who were of a larger body type.

Having blown through size 9 (a “junior” size, whatever that is) by the time I was 12 and before I even HAD an allowance, I never even went in this store. And I think not being able to shop there formed a big part of the idea of who I was and what I could expect from others in terms of acceptance.

Yesterday I went shopping. I found this really cute outfit. I found my size but it was still a little loose so I asked if I could try the next size down. “I don’t think they make them that small.”

I’m not saying that to brag at all. In fact, what I want to say is the opposite.

Because, when I look in the mirror, I still don’t see that body type that I dreamed of as a teenager. I don’t have the boobs of Barbie or the rear end of Kim Kardashian. In fact, it’s still hard for me to believe that this body I see in the mirror fits in the size that I wear now. Somewhere in my head, the scale, the clothes, and everyone else’s eyes are lying, and I’m still the same large size I was when I started this journey a year ago.

I also know I’m not alone. I know women who are just as cute as can possibly be, who just don’t like themselves. I have had perfectly amazing women in the studio who almost have to force themselves to look at the photos.

I don’t think it’s a huge coincidence that so many of these women seem to be from the “5-7-9” generation.

Ladies, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is, that picture you have in your head about what you “should” look like? That’s probably never going to happen, even with extensive surgery, diet, exercise, and some very good skin care. Younger women, brought up on a steady diet of body acceptance and the exposures of egregious Photoshop retouching — they seem to understand this more. But our generation still has this picture in our heads. And, quite honestly, most of that picture is based on lies.

That’s not to say that really great composition, lighting, and posing can’t make you look amazing. It’s to say that no one has huge boobs that just stick straight out by themselves, that skin is not pore-less and plastic looking, that everyone has a few small differences between the two sides of their face, that lips are usually normal lip-size and not plumped-up-pouty. That, in effect, there is a lot of crazy Photoshop stuff that goes on and has always gone on (in the case of our generation, pre-Photoshop, it was airbrushing) and so when we look at those images we should know they aren’t true.

The good news is really good.

It doesn’t matter.

We are still loved. We still have great friends and amazing relationships. Our kids think we are amazing. We can do incredible things, whether it’s packing the perfect lunch, making a cute birthday cake, decorating our house, or participating in the physical activity of our choice.

We have incredible lives. We are intelligent, capable. We run businesses and we run families.

I am learning to focus on what I have, what is right in my life. It was focusing on the love and joy that I already had, that inspired me to make a few changes, and then a few more.

In one year, so many things have changed, and it’s fabulous. But it started with celebrating myself, right where I was, with all the good and the bad, the fat rolls and the crazy hair, the beautiful hugs from my youngest and the goofiness of my oldest, the laughter with my husband and the delight in life that we all share.

It really doesn’t matter how you look, and it never will. Most of us aren’t walking the runway or baring skin on the cover of Sports Illustrated. What matters is love, and laughter, and health, and living, and being able to DO the things you love.

So know what? Do them. Do them now. To whatever extent you can, do what you love. Then a little more. Do something great. Then a little more. Make a difference. Then a little more.

It will all add up to something truly amazing and enviable: the true, honest, incomparable YOU!!

The Decision that Changed Everything

Little Rock Marathon MedalToday was an anniversary.

One year ago, I saw my brother use an app to track his exercise and his food intake. He showed it to me and I thought, “I could do that.”

So I did.

That’s the short version of the story, but the long version is not that simple.

Because the longer story goes back many years, with many unsuccessful attempts to lose weight. There’s frustration, depression, feeling inadequate, anger.

It’s a time of year that I reflect. Some highlights:

Six years ago I attempted Pike’s Peak Marathon for the first time since I had kids. I had tried to train, and I had told myself I would lose weight. But, I didn’t. I even gained a few pounds. My intentions were good but my actions were not. I had to quit on the way up the mountain, and no matter the excuses I made about training with young children, the fact was it was too much for my body to try to haul itself up that mountain.

Two years ago I was being asked to go to a diagnostic clinic so they could test me for lupus. I had caught a virus and my body was responding with some pretty scary symptoms. My joints would not stop swelling and hurting, and I could barely walk up the hill by my house. My knees were shot.

One year ago I had photos taken, and when we saw the slideshow, I thought, “Where did all those fat rolls come from?” We went on vacation and physically I was drained at the end of every day. It felt like a chore to enjoy time with my family.

Eleven months ago I shot a wedding and I thought I would cry with the pain in my knees. I kept squatting down to try and stretch them. I thought, “If this keeps up, I will have to not book any more weddings, because I can’t do this to my couples; If I can’t be confident I can serve them without pain and with a smile, it would be better for them to hire someone else.”

Ten months ago a friend asked me to run with her, and I had to admit — with shame — that I couldn’t keep up with her 11-minute miles. She promised to slow down and walk for me and for that I am so grateful!

Eight months ago I ran the Three Bridges Marathon, and exceeded the qualifying time for Pike’s Peak Marathon by an entire hour. I felt certain I would never qualify. But, I felt a bit better.

Seven months ago people started to compliment me on losing weight.

Five and a half months ago I was at a photography business workshop in Dallas and on my day off I went shopping. I tried on a shirt – medium – and it fit. This was inconceivable! I was used to trying on XL shirts and finding even those to be too small.

Five month ago I ran the Little Rock Marathon. And somewhere there was a shift. Halfway through the marathon I realized that even if I only pulled 15 minute miles – walking pace – from that point on I still stood a chance of qualifying for Pike’s Peak.

The next week I got into the Pike’s Peak Marathon!

Four months ago I realized I needed an entirely new wardrobe.

Two months ago I ran Catsmacker, a fun run in the Ouachita Mountains, that involved climbing a couple of peaks. I was slow, but I finished with ease and didn’t feel too bad afterwards.

Two weeks ago I ran my first ultra marathon, a 50K also in the Ouachita National Forest. At the end, I felt fantastic! I stayed and watched the other runners come in. Chatted with my friends. Had fun.

In 16 days I will run Pike’s Peak again – achieving a dream I’ve had for six years. And the path to that dream started a year ago when I decided to watch what I eat, and be consistent, and change the way I thought and felt and acted, one day at a time.

I MUST say this: I never thought I could do it, until I did it. I had every excuse under the sun why I couldn’t lose weight.

All that changed in one day. Though the results weren’t seen for months, everything changed that day I made a decision. Not a wish, not a plan, not a hope.

A decision. A decision that I was going to BE someone different. Not do different things, or try something, or plan something. Just be something.

What decision do you need to make? Stop procrastinating. It’s time.



Family portrait session

This blast from the past is in honor of the fact that this beautiful family will be back in front of my lens tomorrow. This time it will be all four of them, plus their two dogs.

Yorkies Bo and Cobe are getting on in years, and we want to be sure and capture a family photo with these two very special family members while the whole family is still together.

Each boy has his special dog that he has bonded with, and the brothers also enjoy playing with each other — to the extent that they rarely play alone. I love hearing about sibling relationships like this, because it reminds me of playing with my sisters all the time as I grew up.

The sibling relationship is one of my favorites to capture, because I know that as we grow older siblings may move away from each other, not spend as much time in each other’s company, but that bond is still one of the closest we will ever enjoy.

Just DO LOVE | Arkansas Same Sex Wedding Photographer

I was at a wedding Saturday night. Two women, who have a long friendship that has turned into love, and it’s a very strong love. They see the good in each other, and they enhance the good in each other. They accept each other for who they are, and they see better — they each see the other person for the best in them. It’s the kind of love that makes the world a better place.

A big, very public same sex wedding in one of the top wedding venues in Arkansas is a big deal. Something like 250 people were there celebrating. At one point I looked around the dance floor at all the smiling faces, at all the laughter. They were from different towns, dressed in different ways — from the very conservative to the very counter-culture. Some of them probably grew up fearing gay people or thinking they were abnormal, until the love they had for a family member helped them understand that we are all created differently and that this is a beautiful thing.

And one thing they all had in common: love. They were there to celebrate love, they were there because the loved either Lindsey or C.B. (or both, which isn’t hard to do once you meet them!)

I came home late and fell into bed … only to wake to the news of tragedy, of hate, of a massacre in a gay bar in Orlando. Orlando, a city where I have spent a lot of time in my life. A city where I have have family, and where that family has friends. Since we don’t even know who all was affected by the tragedy yet, like many people I find it impossible this morning to know exactly how close to home this hits.

But the very image, the very picture in my head, of someone readying his weapons of destruction just as we wrapped up a beautiful celebration of love: it’s just beyond my comprehension.

I’ll tell you this: on the way to this wedding I prayed, as I do almost always when I’m on the way to a wedding or client meeting. What do you want me to do, God? What do you want me to say? I’m always trying to collaborate with God to figure out how much good I can put into my clients’ lives. And the answer coming back was very clear: Just find as many people to love as you can, and love them. Nothing special. Just love.

There is a lot being said today about the tragedy in Orlando, a lot we need to express. There is senseless loss, and the question of “Why?” For me, having lost friends to murder when I was a young adult, there is the pain of knowing how many families will have to endure what I and their families endured: all the questions, needing answers, not understanding and realizing that there are no good answers for some things. Having to accept that.

And there are two pictures in my head: love, and terror.

But here’s what I want to say: I’m going to look at this picture: LOVE. Not to deny or turn away from what happened in Orlando — I’m not saying that at all. But to choose to believe we can ALL be that picture of love. We can all choose to welcome, to embrace, to value each other. We CAN.

And I choose to believe we will. To believe it without turning away from the suffering and pain; while supporting and acknowledging all the sorrow that is in this now moment; giving these families our support in their grief. It’s important at this moment — more important than ever, actually — that we see a hope for a time when the reality is LOVE. When the worth of all persons is a firmly established value held by each of us.

This is my prayer: that we pray, that we hold the hand of the hurting, that we give them space to breathe and grieve and whatever they need to do. And then, not timidly, not half-heartedly, but boldly, confidently, aggressively, we LOVE! We love and love and love and love until love is beating down the doors of prejudice and injustice and judgment that have been shut against it. We love until the sky is raining down love that blesses all that will be loved (and probably feels like burning coals to those who will not acknowledge love — but we don’t want that, we just want them to experience LOVE). We love. And we DO. We DO LOVE. All the time, everywhere, for everybody we come in contact with. DO, and LOVE.

It’s all we were ever called to do in the first place. It’s all that we will ever be called to do. So, let’s do it already.



The State of Photography | Arkansas Portrait Photographer

Some of you may have read an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this past Sunday in which I was quoted.

I can’t really link to the article since there’s a paywall, but the gist of it was that professional photographers are in trouble.

The quotes from me were short:

Michelle Posey, a Little Rock-based portrait photographer, said in order for portrait and wedding photography businesses to survive, they have to offer printing services.

Posey said she’s seen photographers give in to the demand, cutting their printing services, selling their studio spaces and offering digital files. She said she’s watched most of these photographers go out of business.

When consumers want only digital files, Posey said, they’re willing to pay less for a photographer than if they were to purchase prints.

“I totally understand that you wouldn’t want to pay that much for it, because if you’re just putting it on your computer, I would argue that you’re getting almost no value out of it,” Posey said.

The overall tone of the article was hopelessness, that professional photography was in trouble. So while I’m proud to be included in the elite group of photographers included in this article, I certainly have more to say.

I have more to say, because day after day I encounter people who do NOT want digital files. Sometimes it’s clients, other times it’s simply the lady in the coffee shop who says in a mournful tone, “But I guess it’s all just digital now.”

I used to wonder what that mournful tone was about, until it hit me. People are mourning the passing (from most “professional” photographers’ offerings) of the ONE THING that actually gives clients value: the printed photograph.

They mourn what they believe is the passing of the “real” photograph, the enjoyable, beautiful, meaningful artwork their families purchased in years past.

They long for a more professional experience, one where their wants and needs and desires are taken into account. They long for a professional person to give them that experience, so they don’t feel responsible for coming up with all the ideas for their photo session.

These are the people who usually love to work with professionals in all areas of their lives. They want the best. They want to be taken care of, shepherded through an experience that they know is superior to what their friends and neighbors are getting.

And, this is what I offer. This is what I’m going to revisit in the next few days.

Professional photographers have been getting it all wrong. It’s not that professional photography isn’t in demand. It’s just that too damn few of us remember how to be professional, how to really take care of clients and treat them as well as they deserve! Photographers who don’t know their craft photograph people in unflattering ways, with unflattering light, then leave them high and dry when it comes to printed products, and don’t even bother to figure out how to create something that’s meaningful to the client.

But that is going to change! At least in this state, I am providing a better option: the best possible quality of photography, married to the best possible quality of product, that tells the story that is near and dear to YOUR heart!!

I am turning Arkansas into the best possible state for the best possible photographic experience!

Want to know what that’s all about? Planning your session is free, and it’s the best 15-minute phone conversation you’ll have all week.

Call 501-517-0962 right now and we will get started!

Oh, sure, you COULD go here and just fill out the form but that just takes longer. Why wait? Talk to you in a few!

Newborn Photo: Razorback Baby!

I featured Baby L once before on the blog wearing a darling owl hat, but what about this adorable handmade Razorback outfit?

We often photograph newborns in outfits that are family heirlooms, or that were made especially for the new little one. We love doing this, since it gives this new little life a connection to the rest of the family. It’s such a welcoming feeling to bring in as we create the artwork that will be the beginning of this new story!

I love to think of the anticipation that goes into handcrafting something for a newborn. I’ve done this for my boys; they both have baby blankets that I made for them. Every stitch is a bit of love going into that creation, done with anticipation and gladness for the gift that is coming into the world!

With this outfit, we had a little “styling” to do since it was a bit too big for tiny L — but the end result was lovely and delighted her mom and grandma!

Transform YOU!

We are transforming, and we want to help you transform as well!

We are offering a transformational boudoir photography experience to a few lucky women in the Little Rock area. We’re including a makeover, an amazing planning session where we help you discover the best in yourself, a studio session, and a luxury “Champagne and Chocolate” design consultation.

We are looking for “Real Women” and women of all body types! The only requirements:

• Must be 21 years of age or older (see “champagne” above!).

• Must be available for a session during the specified dates (we have very limited weekend spots available).

• Must be willing to be interviewed by phone (this is how we select our winners).

• Must believe they would LOVE an incredible luxury boudoir photography experience!

Go here to enter!

Family Photography | A Mom’s Dream for Her Son

mother and son portraitWhen I asked Brooke about Noah, her response was, “He’s a little warrior. And I want him to grow up to be a warrior for God.”

Brooke is a warrior herself. She has battled hard times but she always has a beautiful smile for those she meets.

Noah is a sweetheart, as you can see in the photos. He loves to battle with sticks, light sabers, toy swords and other things, but he’s also still at the age where he can be cuddly and loving.

We created a collection with Brooke and her son to show his warrior side and his loving side. It also shows his mom’s willingness to be playful.

I’m in a networking group with Brooke, but I got to know her partly because we both make time to spend with our kids, at the pool, or during the summer at Crystal Falls water park in Hot Springs.

It was a joy to see the mother-son relationship between these two, to capture it, and to create artwork telling their story that they will treasure for many years.