20 Minutes & Lasting A Lifetime

If there was ever a blog I would beg you to read of mine, it would be this one.

14 years ago (this May) my dad underwent experimental treatment for his cancer in Germany.

The treatment did not save his life but gave him a chance to center himself.

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At 4:45 am, the day after returning home from Germany, my father died in his home in Michigan. I can remember what I was wearing, where I was standing and the look on my mother’s face when she gave me the news.

Later that month, as things were being sorted out, this piece of paper with my dad’s handwriting on it was found amongst some German stamps and a bracelet he had brought back for me. On this piece of paper, under another quote he had written down, there lied “Adversity introduces us to ourselves.”. I do not know where he derived the sentence from since it can be found in many places and has an unknown original author.

Since I can remember, I have lived my life with this writing forever engraved on my heart. On occasion, after my good friend Matt began tattooing I spoke with him about having this profound statement tattooed but I needed all the dots to line up. I wanted to have the tattoo completed in the Spring, more specifically, in May since that is when he passed away. It just never worked to be in Michigan at the same time as Matt and during May. I started to think I should just ignore the urge to do this seemingly out-of-character act, especially since my fear of needles is so high.

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A year and a half ago, when I was working through the Bible I came across Proverbs 24:10. This verse which stated, “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” immediately struck me and I began and cry. I felt my own dad’s words and love surround me as if he was giving me this fatherly advice for the first time. I KNEW I must have the tattoo I had always dreamt of.

Now, just to make the arrangements for it to happen.

Then came a hiccup. Matt moved 3500+ miles from Michigan to Germany. At the time I did not see the parallel between his move and where dad WROTE those words. It wasn’t until this past January, when I was planning the Euro trip and realizing I could visit this good friend at his new home, that I connected those dots. I was headed to Germany and there was no question what the biggest bucket list item was, the tattoo of a lifetime from a friend who I’d known and trusted for over a decade in a country where it all started.

As I began to contemplate where I wanted it, again I felt it must be symbolic.

These words of wisdom seemed to ground me in difficult moments, they seemed to be a firm foundation for my soul, there was no question it was a place I could set my faith in and rest my aching mind. In addition to all of these reasons, the fact that I was standing when I was told the news of dad’s passing lead me to choose my foot.

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The morning of the tattoo, I ran my 100th day of running (where I ran at least a mile or more each day for 100 days). It was completed just outside Cologne (K√∂ln), Germany and tattoo-less. After getting cleaned up and putting on my dad’s high school class ring, we headed to the tattoo shop where we spent only 20 minutes doing something which will last a lifetime.

I know this is much more thought than any one person ever puts into a tattoo, but here I am writing this, choking back tears of happiness and pride.

I am so thankful to Matt for his friendship and to Zach for dealing with my sappiness. This was an experience which I will never forget. If you made it through this lengthy post, I commend you as well. ūüėČ

Love to all. May you each allow adversity to shape you.

Hernandez Family: A Peek Into A Family’s First Session

I am always so thankful when a family chooses Lifesong to capture their moments in time. However, when a family makes that leap to have their family portraits and lifestyle moments frozen through MY lens for the FIRST time ever, it is something very humbling.

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I look around and am aware that I am surrounded by some of the most incredibly gifted photographers. Having that knowledge can be intimidating but the support I have consistently given is really a breath of fresh air.

Thank you to the Hernandez family for your willingness to “take a chance” with me.

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THANK YOU FRIENDS!!

HELLO 2018! Happy New Year to all!

Thank you all for allowing me to be your storyteller. Whether you allowed me into your most exciting, most emotional, most vulnerable or even most private of moments I thank you! 2017 was really a wonderful year from start to finish.

In 2018 I have a plethora of new things added to my bucket lists…personal AND professional. All of them will be much more fun with some smiling faces!

I plan to travel to surrounding areas and states to fulfill some of these exciting challenges! Keep in touch on Facebook, Instagram or email me about some of the dates where I might be in YOUR area!

Do you have a session you’d like to book, but fear I am too far away? I NOW DO BLOCK BOOKING! One of the best parts about living in this area, the light stays perfect longer! Contact me at Chelsea@LifesongDesigns.com to ask about the perks of booking your session, your friend’s session, your neighbors session or your co workers session within the same day! Rates are discounted and travel fees are (often) waived!

Enjoy this short video in thanks to all who asked me to be a part of their Lifesong in 2017. (I apologize for it being a tad small and will work on that in the coming videos! View on a computer, in HD with sound for best enjoyment!)

Nicole & Finn: Southern Charm Comes To Hawaii

One thing I never expected to gain through Lifesong was all of the incredible friendship. Not just surface friendship where we are just comfortable enough to chat during the session, but a real, deep and ongoing friendship. A friendship where when I get to see them again, all business falls aside. A friendship where we can chat about “momming”, keeping a balanced life and most of all push one another to be the best self possible.

Nicole is one example of the those I have been privileged to have that connection with.

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The session I had with them was a unique one in the sense that Finn was less than interested in allowing me to snap even one image. As they say, when you can’t beat them…join them! That meant it was in the bushes for me! Through all the challenges came great joy in knowing that I was able to present images I was proud of and images I knew they’d cherish for years to come.

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As I look back on this session, it brings a smile to my face. It is where I gained an incredible friend, overcame challenges and created stunning art for someone to always hold close. A win all around.

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Growing Gambones: Friendship & Photography

Joining a running group in Hawaii, I never knew I’d meet such an inspirational and wonderful person like Jess. Certainly, that was not the intention when I began attending. We became fast friends which turned into best friends.

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It was a couple of months after we knew each other that she asked me to capture her daughter’s 3rd birthday. A couple of years later, that one session has turned into many more sessions.

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This is where my job constantly reminds me how blessed I am. Yes,  it is true, friends are given the opportunity to witness children grow up and even celebrate with them. However, as a photographer who is also a friend, that honor of being the one asked to capture the milestones is something I do not take for granted.

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From shooting a certain once in a lifetime occasion to the annual picture for a family is something I feel great pleasure in doing. It is what I consider my “calling” to be. Being behind the camera I feel at home, I truly feel like I am able to help others step INTO the picture and become a part of that memory.

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We were finally able to have all four of them together for a family session. Before parting ways, due to military orders, we spent a relaxing evening strolling the Windward shores of Oahu.

It is nights like that I thank God for the gift I have been given. It is nights like that I am in awe of the supportive people in my life. It is nights like that I will never forget.

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Mahalo Gambone family!

The art of “Goodbye”…

Just a month ago I was a mental mess. I was tired. I was unsure. I was completely overwhelmed by the loved ones I was leaving and the unknown I was headed into.

This is the military life.

Arizona was our first base as a married couple and it was the most emotional departure I have ever had. The people, the place. It was where I became a wife and graduated college. It is where I became the adult I am today. Mississippi was only our “home” for about 10 months. Just enough to graze the surface of the deep South and left us wanting more. South Carolina we made “home” quickly. We made fast friends and traveled a lot. Each move has had it’s hurdles but Hawaii was its own beast. The obvious beauty, the culture but most of all, Hawaii is where I proved to myself I could do it — be the best mom to my child.

I have spent my entire adult life thus far attempting to perfect this imaginary art of “goodbye”. Everything from the preparation of the move to the hug and then dealing with some emptiness after leaving that area. I have come to the conclusion there is no perfection in such a situation. It is a messy, exhausting and anxious time. However, there is a solution to help you through it all. Choose to focus on the “hello”.

As we packed up and flew to the mainland from Hawaii, the worst part for me was the thought of saying “goodbye” to Lifesong. Lifesong has been more than a job. It has been something I have built with all of my interests and best attributes in mind. It is something which challenges me, forces me to manage my time and gives me a sense of pride. It has been something which¬†proved that my degree in business was not just a degree, but something I could run with. Little did I know I was in that unfortunate mindset — focused on the “goodbye” and not what was on the horizon. I was acting as if it was the end of an era and there was nothing I could do about it. Wrong. That needed to change. There was so much I was able to experience in North Carolina!

Arriving in North Carolina a new feeling of excitement arose, it was time to say “hello”! One week into our time in North Carolina and bookings began, friendships from previous bases flourished and time was spent in a new (and very cold) climate getting to know the area.

Thanks to a good photographer friend, Raymie, I was asked out to a downtown Fayetteville sunrise shoot. Twice a year the sun rises perfectly between the arches in the old Market House. Talk about a time to be excited about the new opportunities and a new area.

I am now able to look back at this short time here and smile with tears. I smile knowing I have so much to explore and learn about this new area. I tear up because (as my daughter has taught me) sometimes you just need to cry and miss something because you have to. No logic, just emotion to cope. Those combined seem to do the trick.

Most people have heard the expression, “When one door closes, another one opens.” This could not be more true IF you are willing to help yourself to the next handle and turn it.¬†With each of the moves I have given myself something to look forward to, but never forgetting the amazing experiences I have had in the past. Often this is in the form of a bucket list. I challenge you to find the “hello” you can hang onto when your next “goodbye” situation presents itself.

Thank you to the hundreds of you who have been my “goodbye” and my “hello”. Each of you have impacted me and changed me for the better. Cheers to new adventures and new opportunities.

Chels

 

 

 

 

 

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(A little behind the scenes from Raymie of Raymie Day Photography, thanks girl!)