Badass Women

"I am not lucky.   You know What I am?  I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard.  Don't call me lucky.  Call me a badass."

Shonda Rhimes

THIS PROJECT IS MY ATTEMPT TO CAPTURE A GLIMPSE INTO THE LIVES OF THE BEAUTIFUL, TALENTED, AND ENDLESSLY UNIQUE WOMEN IN MY COMMUNITY. 

 

I was lucky enough to be in the same ECFE class with Megan when we moved to St. Paul.  Megan has the athletic chic look down,  although for her it isn't just a look it is her lifestyle.  You can find Megan at Timberwolf CrossFit at the 5:30 AM work out most days of the week.  She referred to it as a bit obsessed I would just call it dedicated or driven.  Megan stands out for me because of her warm smile, calm parenting style, and her serious muscles of course.  

MEGAN ANN NAMOWICZ

NEIGHBORHOOD: West Side, Cherokee Heights Neighborhood, a hidden treasure in St. Paul!

ROLES IN LIFE: stay at home mom, wife, yoga instructor, former secondary school teacher

FAVORITE NEIGHBORHOOD GO TO: Morelos Mexican Restaurant

FAVORITE QUOTE OR PHRASE? "Keep it Simple", "I'm strong, I'm brave.  I'm beautiful!"  A mantra I made up for my daughter and now my son. 

What does balance mean to you?  Look like for you?

I know what balance feels like for me...it feels peaceful, easy, and satisfying. Balance for me is being "on the beam" and feeling a sense of gracefulness as I move through my life. It's really fun when I find myself there. It takes A LOT of work!

Time to brag… What do you kick butt at?

I'm really good at the moving basketball hoop game found at Chuck E. Cheese. I can do walking lunges and air squats pretty fast. I'm good with keeping commitments and showing up. 

In motherhood and the many roles you have in life how do you make space for yourself and your passions/interests?

There are a few ways I make space...

1) I wake up early before my husband and kids are up and go to my home away from home, Timberwolf Crossfit, to workout with my amazing friends. It's the perfect way to start my day! 

2) My husband, Noah, gives me the freedom to take time for me with no questions asked. When I leave my home and family to recharge, I can be found at Happy Nails getting a mani/pedi, grabbing a coffee at Quixotic, or doing some kind of shopping sans children. Queue "Treat. Yo. Self." scene from the television show "Parks and Recreation" with Aziz Ansari.

3) I am 11 years sober and I continue to take time to do the "work" that keeps me sober. This includes a Tuesday evening commitment with other friends in recovery where I show up, reflect, check-in, and ground myself. 

4) I take time to connect with the bad ass women in my life, they inspire me. I am so lucky to have amazing friends from my journey in recovery, ECFE classes, and my gym.

What challenges you?

Parenting and being a Mom. It's so tough! Everyday I find new challenges as my kids develop and grow. They keep me on my toes and keep me trying to better myself (become more patient, not take myself too seriously, find gratitude, and stay in the present moment are things I'm always working on). 

 

What would you like your children to learn from you?

How to be kind. How to be reflective and think about highs and lows each day, then try to keep what's good and change what's not so good. How to swing a golf club and the rules of the game. How to write "thank you" notes.

What does a great day look like for you?

In no particular order:  a tough workout, great coffee, my husband, my kids, time outdoors in the sunshine, a nap, and family dinner at my sister's house. 

 

I don’t have the wording down for this exactly…

What do you make space for on a regular basis?  As in what do you do on a day to day or weekly basis that helps everything else run smoothly or fills your cup etci.e. If I meditate 5 minutes in the am my whole day runs more smoothly

Working out is my fuel, specifically Crossfit, Yoga, and Running. I have the pleasure of leading a weekly Yoga class at my gym where I find great joy, fun, and connection. I try to pray (sometimes meditate) everyday and take time to strengthen my spiritual connection. Finally, COFFEE!

Anything else you wish I had asked?

What's your jam right now?

La Croix, Brene Brown, & making playlists on Spotify

A Picture A Week- Week 3

 

To see a world in a grain of sand

And a Heaven in a wild flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour. 

- William Blake

 

There is such stillness in sleep.  Okay not literally.  If you listen to most kids sleep they cry, chat, rollover, wiggle, and fuss.  If you are my son you just run on into Mom and Dad's room and crawl right into bed.  Who knew a 3 year old could take up a king size bed?!  

Yet that is what it feels like each time I peak in on my kids after I tuck them into bed.   For a brief moment the world stands still and all is well.

 

 

 

Badass Women

"I am not lucky.  You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard.  Don't call me lucky.  Call me a badass."  

-Shonda RhImes

This project is my attempt to capture a glimpse into the lives of the beautiful, talented, and endlessly unique women in my community. 

Kate is one of these amazing women who always looks athletic and chic.  She is equally ready to hit up a kickboxing class or go out for a glass of wine.  She is quick to include others and has a long list of volunteerism.  

Kate paints beautiful landscapes, sews aprons, and on top of it all is a fantastic mother.  She recently received a St. Paul neighborhood honor roll award for her work on the Summit Hill Community Garden as well as Summit Hill MOMS club.  

Sometimes life is about Plan B.  Kate has embraced this next chapter of her life with such grace, honesty, and fierceness.  I can't wait to see what she chooses to do next.  

Kate Pearce & Trygve

Where do you live?

Summit Hill.  Lived on or near Grand Ave since 2003

What are your roles in life?

daughter, sister, artist, mother, marketer, organizer, volunteer and now, event consultant!

What is your favorite neighborhood go to?

Love Summit Hill and Grand/Victoria, but I also love getting out to Linden Hills, lower town St. Paul, Stillwater, Northfield.  Any place with sidewalk patios for people watching!

Do you have any favorite quotes or phrases?

"The grass is greener where you water it."

"Rejoice in life every single day.  Do not wait until it is past in discovering it was good!  Do not place your happiness in the days to come."

What does balance mean to you? 

This was a hard one!  Balanced for me is not saying "yes" to everything that comes my way.  Learning to take on projects, jobs, or relationships because I want to, not because I should.  It's taken years to shed a few commitments that my heart wasn't in, and slowly I find the pace is a little more sane.  You just can't do it all.  Balanced for me also means not feeling guilt when I spend time & attention on myself.  Realizing how important self-care is and how that looks for me personally. Since getting divorced, self-care has become a big deal, but balance in my life has changed tremendously.   All of the sudden I have half the week to myself, and between you and me, it's kind of awesome.  I do miss giving myself to someone else as a partner in life, but it's also been fun to see what/how I choose to spend my time completely independently. 

Time to brag...What do you kick butt at?

OH fart.  I'm good at organizing a project or event, especially one that involves people.  Pulling people in, getting 'em motivated, delegating roles, keeping it moving.   I love thinking about social gatherings, how to bring people together. 

I'm also good at giving gifts, or thoughtful gestures.  I love when I know someone well enough to think of the perfect ways to appreciate them or give a unique gift they will love.  Personalizing it as much as possible.  And I love helping other people do this for the people in their lives. 

You have many roles in life.  How do you make space for yourself, your passions and interests?

Well, like I said above - I have half my week to myself these days!   It looked very different before  staying up most nights until 12/1am.   I think my personal interests are actually really satisfied in many of the roles I have - so that's a win-win. 

What challenges you?

This is a hard one too… you can think about this in a couple different ways.  I could say, reading a long recipe challenges me… or running more than 3 miles.  But I think you also mean, what motivates me?  Deadlines motivate me.  A good reputation motivates me - I care a lot about what others think.  A sale motivates me.  Being a good example for my son. 

I think this is one that constantly changes and has shifted in big ways for me in the last year… I'm still figuring it out.  :) 

What would you like your son to learn from you?

I would love for my son to learn how to appreciate little joys, make family/friend relationships absolutely #1, eat well, love outdoors, treat others with kindness. 

What does a great day look like for you?

If I could sleep past 7:30am, some time for coffee & stretching, breakfast with kiddo, work a few hours (whatever the work du jour is - but it's MY stuff, not playing race cars), afternoon jog or walk in the sunshine, dinner with kiddo + friends.  A glass of wine in there or G&T just puts icing on the cake.  Oh and some cake would be great too. :)-

What do you make space for on a regular basis?  What do you do that helps life go a bit more smoothly?

I make space for my kiddo.  To sit down for breakfast and/or dinner with him. To sing to him in the morning, read to him at night, to look him in the eyes to let him know I'm listening.  Sit & color or pretend I'm a race car.  It's not all day everyday, it's not perfect, but I try to make that space for him everyday.  

"When I think of Kate, the song "She don't know she's beautiful,"  by country singer Sammy Kershaw comes to mind. Not beautiful in the superficial sense (although she is)...but beautiful in her comforting presence and genuine interactions with others. She has a unique ability to seamlessly bring people together. One of the things she says best about motherhood is "We're all in this together!"  However, she actually means it, and is there for her friends. "  -Amy Toonen

"I would say she is tough, smart, fun, gets things done, is always the first to offer help and is a terrific mom." -Amanda Karls 

You can check out some of Kate's work on her website.  Take a look at her full gallery.  

 

 

 

 

A Picture A Week

A picture a week for 52 weeks.  This is in no way a new idea or an idea unique to me.  However, I have been mulling it over for quite some time.  It always seemed like a great idea, but never quite made it on my to do list.  Maybe someday.  Maybe next week.  Maybe when I am a bit less busy.  Maybe when I have a bit more time.  (Note:  On my about me page I mentioned that I would no longer be using this phrase...oops!)  So here is the thing.  I am TERRIBLE at taking pictures of my own children.  Yes, I totally take the quick pics when we are out and about on my phone.  I am fantastic at sending these out to family for a quick in the moment update.  But, these are not usually exactly what I want up on my wall or in the family photo book.  I know this might be surprising, but I love photography and I love having beautiful images on the walls of my home.  I appreciate them daily and they bring me great joy.   I am not less busy and I still have the same amount of time as every other week.  So here I go anyway.  A picture a week for the year of 2016.

Adoption Stories - Palkowitsch Family

Adoption holds such a special place in my heart.  I always planned on adopting babies from all around the world from a very young age.  Later in life I would have two brothers join my family through adoption.  I would argue that they were my first two babies, even though they were 11 at the time.  With 10 years my junior I took a very active role in their lives.  I would trace their eyebrows while we watched movies and count fingers and toes just like any new mother. Their arrival filled a space in our family that I never knew always needed to be filled.  Their story is their own to share and I can't begin to give it justice.  I can only share my version of reality.  

My brothers were adopted from Bryansk Russia at the age of 11.  They came for a month over the summer with a group of about thirty children.  There were multiple events where we got to meet and learn more about the other families intending to adopt these children.  In the end some children  were adopted  and others were not.  Adoption is complicated.  Sometimes the right answer is yes and sometimes the even harder right answer is no.  

At the end of the month all of the children went back to the Russian orphanage.  Those who were intended to be adopted would hopefully come back after the grueling process was completed.  Those who would not be adopted would stay in Russia.  I felt sick watching the children board the plan knowing who had families to return to and who did not.  It was information I was not prepared to hold.  I was unprepared for how their faces would haunt my memories.

My own sweet boys would return the following winter.  We had a happy ending... Sort of.  Life is complicated and people get to make their own choices.  

This project is an attempt to share the stories that other families hold.  Adoption is endlessly diverse and complicated.  I am eternally grateful for the Palkowitsch Family for being my first official adoption story.  Their home is filled with love, warmth, and life.  It was such an honor to get to spend a bit of time getting to know them and hear a bit about their adoption journey.

With Gratitude-Anastasia

WHO ARE THE MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY?

Chris, Holly, Jackson (2.5), and Charlize (2)

WHAT LED YOU TO ADOPTION?

Having a sister who is adopted as well as 5 cousins who are adopted, Holly has always felt very passionately about adoption.  We had many conversations about adoption and we decided that we would like to make adoption a part of our lives. 

TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR ADOPTION JOURNEY?

We were married in 2011 and shortly thereafter, we tried to conceive.  Over the course of about a year, we had several miscarriages.  We looked to providers for any answers as to why these miscarriages were occurring, but there was no answer.  It was at this time, that we both felt we needed to look into adoption.

We began researching different adoption agencies in the area.  There was so much information; we did not even know where to begin.  After feeling very overwhelmed with all of the decisions, I began to reach out to a few people for guidance.  A friend referred us to her cousin who was passionate about adoption.  She was hosting a small gathering at her home for couples who were interested in learning more about adoption, the process, as well as the ups and downs.  That is where we met their Adoption Counselor.  We immediately felt a connection with her and her agency.

We took the information home and processed.  After a few days of soul searching, all signs pointed us in the direction to work with this agency.  The application was lengthy and took some deep thought.   After finally completing the application, we were ready to mail it when we found out that I was pregnant (again).  Although we were hopeful with the pregnancy, we did not know if this pregnancy was going to last.  We decided it was best to wait on mailing the adoption application. 

When I was 9 weeks pregnant (with the longest pregnancy thus far), I received a call from a family member who knew we were looking into adoption.  This person informed me that she knew of a Birth Mother whom had just given birth and was hopeful to find a loving family to place her child up for adoption.  The Birth Mother wanted to meet us that very night!  After processing this decision, we agreed that this was a calling from God placing us in this situation to meet this woman.  We called our Adoption Counselor and she met us out at the hospital that night. 

The Birth Mother was as thrilled to meet us as we were to meet her.  We saw her holding this sweet, little, baby boy whom she had just given birth to the day before.  He was absolutely beautiful!  She told us that she loved her baby boy so much, but that she just could not give him the life she knew he deserved.  She wanted him to have a loving family who could give him the life that she couldn’t.  We felt so honored and blessed that she chose us. 

We had confided in our Birth Mother that I was pregnant by only a few weeks and we wanted her blessing to still adopt her son.  Clearly, you were concerned that this might pose a problem. But as it turned out, she was thrilled! She told us she was hopeful our pregnancy would last because than our sweet boy would have a brother or sister!  After hearing this, we just knew that this was truly all God’s plan for our family.  Sure enough, the pregnancy DID last and our sweet son has a little sister! 

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING?

The most surprising thing that I have realized with adoption is that these little human beings, no matter what their age, choose us.  There is a reason as to why our son is in our lives and we truly believe it’s because he chose us!

WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT ADOPTION?

We received so many different responses from people when we told them that we were taking the steps into adoption.  Everything from “That’s awesome!!” to “Wow!  I had no idea you wanted to do that!  Congrats!!” to “Why?  Are you not able to conceive?” and “Are you sure you’ve exhausted all your other efforts?”. 

I want people to know that there is a very simple explanation as to WHY people adopt.  It’s not because something is or isn’t wrong with us.  It’s because there is a little person out there who needed us and we needed them.  That is all. 

TELL ME SOMETHING FANTASTIC ABOUT EACH MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY.

Chris is honestly the best dad to his kids.  He comes home from working hard as an architect and immediately turns off the “work mode” to focus on the kids.  As soon as he walks in the door, the kids run to him giving him the biggest hugs.  The “wrastling” then ensues!  He will always find time to make sure that his kids feel loved.

Holly is a loving and caring mother that fills the kid’s days with learning, sharing, singing, and compassion.  She is also the glue that keeps the family centered.  She organizes the calendar of activities, she does all the grocery shopping, prepares healthy meals from scratch, cleans and organizes the house (well, as much as she can) and creates a household dynamic of love and safety. 

Jackson truly is one of the sweetest kids I have ever known.  He is very even tempered and is so thoughtful.  His favorite things are trains and playing outside.  No matter what, he watches out for his younger sister and wants to make sure that she’s happy. 

Charlize is like cayenne pepper. This spice is known to give tacos the biggest flavor.  Well, that's what she's like.  No matter what she’s doing – singing, talking, dancing, organizing, cleaning, screaming, fighting – she’s doing it to the best of her ability, or shall I say, with the most “flavor”! 

WHAT IS SOMETHING SPECIAL THAT YOUR FAMILY DOES THAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU? 

Our primary family ritual is to share dinner together as often as possible.  This is a time filled with love, sharing and learning as well as home cooked meals.  Some other things we like to do together are go on family hikes, have picnic style meals outside, and just share time together. 

HOW HAS ADOPTION CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

At the basic level, Jackson was our first child so it changed our world as it transformed us into parents and transformed the focus of our lives.  It also gave us a deeper appreciation of love. Jackson is a special boy and we are so happy to be his parents!

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?

Using a great adoption agency really helped us understand the process, alleviated some fears and prepared us for the potential challenges it may bring.  Additionally, it gave us the peace of mind that the process was handled thoroughly and correctly.  Special thanks to Kristin Goodreau and Anita Ruthenbeck, formerly of God’s Children, now with Legacy of Adoption, for not only their time and dedication, but also, for the love and compassion they expressed throughout the whole process!

You can see the full gallery from their photo shoot here.  You can also read more about Holly's birth story on the Blooma blog

 

 

 

 

WINTER

“Stillness is the flower of winter, all hope waits beneath a blanket of white.”              - Unknown

Every time I do a photo session outside I find myself in awe of the beauty around me.  Without fail at some point I think "This is my favorite season to take pictures."  Each season has its' own unique beauty. Winter has such a quiet stillness.  These photos were a happy accident.  We were on our way to another location when we saw a blanket of white snow covering a field.  Cold fingers and toes were worth these beautiful images that remind me that winter is in fact my favorite season to shoot outside.  That is until spring comes!