LETTING GO || PART 2 || FACING YOUR FEARS|| PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE



“Letting go”, it sounds easy right? I cling tightly to shields, put on armor; masks even, to protect myself, fearful to let too many people get close. Why would I do that? Well, it’s too scary to let people in.

For some odd 25 years I’ve been doing this, granted I’m only 29. I’ve lived a lot of lives, and seen a lot of things. This past weekend I had a session with my therapists and they said this, you have the survival gene, most people wouldn’t have survived what you went through as a child and young adult. The tools you used, the methods you fought with, worked and got you here. But now its time to choose to put the armor down, and stop taking everyone one out. The battle is over. Take a step back and look around where you are, you aren’t there anymore in the chaos, you are here present day in 2017. So I let that sink right in. Deep. That’s it? That’s how you let go? I think it is.                                                                                                                                                      

Over the past few weeks I’d been asking myself, how do I let go? I want to so desperately to really do it. Let go, be my best self, always. I mean that is what I am striving for. I was having a hard time connecting my brain to the actions. I was doing the actions, but my brain couldn’t make sense of it all. See, I want to have the weight lifted off my shoulders, and breathe easy. I want to stop waiting for the floor to sink out from under me. Hearing my therapist say what they did in the session, I had a light bulb moment. It’s this time where I aloud myself permission to finally surrender the flag, and start living life. In that moment, right there.

Now what? Is it as easy as saying yes I get it and erasing everything that happened in the 25 years of my life? Maybe…. See, once you know the core of your crap, where it came from, what it is, what tools you use (good or bad). You can finally start saying (to yourself) stop it. I don’t need to use that tool, it isn’t necessary, and I’m safe. What I’m talking about is, those moments where you find yourself in an anxiety-ridden tizzy, instead of running in circles around it, you face it, check it out, and you explore it. When you face it, you will know what to do with it. Sounds “kooky”, but it works.

The way I look at it is this, I have two choices, I can use the armor to fend off the Calvary, take the sward and finish them all off. – Or I can retrain myself, learn new tools, stop, and be the person who I already know how to be, kind, loving, caring. Option one works, but will be the harder road. With option two, although it seems scary as hell to put down the armor, it feels freeing to let the walls down and walk a new unknown path.

Thanks for listening friends, below are some IPHONE Self Portraits I took, and editing on my phone using the vscocam app. 

Cheers,  - Nicole 




LEARNING TO LET GO || PERSONAL | ANXIETY | FACING FEARS, PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE




Hello Friends, 

Its been awhile. 

Over the past few months I hit a low. My Anxiety hit an all time high. I justified my anxiety because of the unpredictable events, house having mold, (or falling apart as Ryan would say) having to be flexible about the whole thing, being defeated by my children’s school, and the social behaviors they were dealing with, (Actually, still are dealing with) and then Work…

How did I juggle it? I dropped all the balls. There was no certainty in my little world, everything was swirling around me and I stood and watched while all the clouds came rolling in. I didn’t know which way was out, which way let the floods came in, or even how to be safe. Or keep everyone else safe.


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So I froze. And then froze some more. Instead of coming up with sensible solutions, I internalized everything, and outwardly put on a persona that was FINE by society standards. My goal was just to get through the day to day. To practice being easy going about the whole thing until I really believed it. But there were a few times I was like, when is the next crap thing going to happen? 

 When the clouds finally subsided, I thought I got this. I have been dealing with anxiety since age 6 and honestly I’ve been through much harder crap. Certainty is what I really longed for. In an uncertain situation I made matters worse, then I remembered my therapists saying, you will never have certainty. The world can’t give you that. REALLY?? At first I thought NO. HELL NO. My heart said, there has to be another way. The only way to get certainty is to make your own. Why not channel my inner survival mode instincts? Use them for good, not to fuel my anxiety. Maybe this is the best idea I’ve had in a long time…. Its time to get back on the horse stop looking left or right and plow straight ahead. 

Letting go “game plan”. The plan includes the things I am in control of; ME+ MY actions…

1.  Let go. - Life is unpredictable. Letting go isn’t easy, but when you do it feels so freeing.

2.  Truly be easy going. (No matter what) - As “cheesy” as it sounds, it’s an opportunity to learn when unexpected life events happen. Showing your kids you can stay calm when shit hits the fan is a true gift. Best part, they become easy going people too.                                                        

3.  Health (mental and physical) - Talking to therapist is always a good idea.  Exercising has done wonders for my mental health, subsides anxiety, and makes you feel SEXY!                                

4. Parenting - Committing to teaching my children to socially interact, defeat bullies, to make the world a better place, and WIN AT LIFE.                                                                                          

5. Home- Being Patient. Doing what we can in our time with our house AND BEING OKAY WITH THAT.                                                                                                                                          

6. Anxiety - FACE IT. DON’T RUN FROM IT. GET BACK ON THE HORSE. AND STAY ON, EVEN WHEN YOU HIT THE BUMPS.  ( AND, Damn those hurt!)

Thanks for listening folks; I’m excited to be back in the swing of things. And for this new uncertain chapter called LIFE. Leave a comment below, would love to hear from you!! 

Cheers,

Nicole



 

 

 

SCOTTSDALE PORTRAIT SESSION // SMOCA CURATOR CLAIRE CARTER// ARIZONA LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE


portrait claire - curator

SMOCA is by far one of my favorite places in Arizona. What is SMOCA you say? Well it is a little haven in the melting pot of Arizona, also known as the Scottsdale museum of contemporary art. You see, it’s more than just a museum, but a community, learning hub, and from time to time they have some pretty fun events they put on throughout the year. 

In addition to having Amazing Art instillations, SMOCA has some very down to earth Curators running the show. I was honored when Claire asked me to spend the afternoon with her and photographing her for a portrait session.

This woman is strong, intelligent, and did I mention has excellent taste?! To top it off she was the first woman curator at SMOCA and plans to keep on doing her thing for years to come. Most recently, Claire curated : southwestNET Sama ALshaibi: Silsia. A short description : (Sama Alshaibi's (b.1973, Basra, Iraq) epic series of photographs and videos is named for the Arabic word silsia, or "link"-a simple noun describing a point of connection. As a verb, "link" also describes the act of joining two discrete units. Silsia represents the joining of individuals to one another, humans with the natural world, and the self to the dive.) To read more head over to the SMOCA page

Lets just say Claire rocks my socks off! She is a powerhouse. 

Here are my favorite images from the portrait session we collaborated on together. 

Cheers, 

Nicole 












 

 


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Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches




How to make an ice cream sandwich Part 2

Recipe:

Gluten / Dairy Free Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies

Ingredients:

2 Vegan Baking butter sticks

2 Cups brown sugar

2 Room temp. Eggs

1 ¾ cups Gluten Free Flour

2/3-cup Raw Cocoa Powder

2 teaspoons Baking Soda

5 Ounces Finely Chopped Good quality Dark Chocolate bars

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:

In a large bowl, or kitchen aid mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs. You will know when it is done because the mixture will be fluffy and airy.

Next add in baking soda, gluten free flour, and cocoa powder until combine. Add in your peanut butter and chopped chocolate.

Cover the dough with airtight seal, such as plastic wrap or a container. Let sit in fridge for 1 hour or up to the next day.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with Parchment paper. Place about one tablespoon of dough onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 min, turning your cookie sheet halfway through bake time.

 

To make the Ice Cream Sandwich:

½ pint or pint of vanilla bean ice cream(make your own, or choose your favorite store bought)

6-12 gluten free chocolate peanut butter cookies

Spoons

Ice cream scoop

Take your cooled cookies facing down, spread ice cream layer on each side. Then smash together. Cover with plastic wrap and store in freezer. Repeat until all the cookies are gone!

 




Stella Bakes, Nicole Rambles, - Personal Post


girl portrait

As I stumble over myself trying to come up with the perfect words for this blog post I cant help but become more frozen. The pressure of curating images, and meaningful words seems to have gotten the best of me.

Heavy thoughts cloud my mind, all of life’s goodness and troubles compounding my heart. Seemingly all at once, I tend to fight the waking moments, finding myself in a battle once again over staying underneath the covers hidden when it gets hard. This time the battle hasn’t one; I have the many tools to not covert back to old habits that once destroyed me. Even if it’s the constant reminders of the three brave souls that came from me, the children are always all right; it’s the parents you have to watch out for.

You probably have no idea what I’m talking about; I guess that’s okay. Maybe you get it. Maybe not. Anxiety and depression is a bitch. They are just symptoms of habits you teach yourself to try to stay afloat in the scary world. The thing is since they are just symptoms I can tell them to go away now, and they aren’t needed anymore. Clearly it’s a battle, but more importantly, a battle I can come out on top of. The problem with a lifetime of experiencing trauma is sometimes it does come up. So I chose to meet it, share it instead of tucking it away in a tiny package and pretend it didn’t happen this week. Its not like I fell off the wagon, I guess what I’m trying to say is its just where I was at, that my friends is the truth. I won’t get into the details because it’s not about the details. It isn’t the time or place and I’m not paying you to listen to those boring stories of my traumatic childhood. My goal was to give you a lovely story, a handful of images and a recipe. That is the purpose of this blog right? See, what I mean is things aren’t always, as they seem. Sometimes we even choose to see what we want, that could make our real lives much easier to handle. Or the social media easier to handle. What do you think?

Now where I am today, not yesterday. Today, I feel clear, I am remembering all the new things I taught myself and realized that my shield can go back into the closet until I need to use it again. The world isn’t a scary place and the 4-year-old girl instead me, well she will be okay to. Ramble over.

No recipes to share, but below are some images of my 3-year-old Stella Baking her little heart out.

X

–Nicole 


ingredients






Mom Fail // Nicole Lee - Photographer


How did your weekend go?

Lots of Drama around here, three bloody noses, numbers of meltdowns, with the exception of some beach time. This is how everyone else’s weekend went right?  

This weekend was Dramatic. I mean Really Dramatic. First our oldest Jacob (5yr) was playing teenage ninja turtles in the backyard then proceeded to hit our middle child Asher (4yr) in the face with a large stick, which made him bleed heavily in the face. Then we had another blood in the face incident, which I will get to later.

So Asher comes screaming and crying into the house, blood all over his face. I have two options; succeed by the good mother. Or massively fail and drop the ball. The way I see it is: A. I am supposed to stay cool calm and collected. B. Lets face it I am horribly terrified when it comes to seeing blood, ANY type of blood. When my sister used to get vaccines I would cry in pain for her while she took it like a man. Why I always had the weird obligation to feel other people’s pain is beyond me. Maybe it’s anxiety? Maybe I am crazy? Both are equally relevant. Mom Fail #1.

So our middle child comes into the house screaming bloody murder. Here I am. This is my moment to be soft mom, not cold-hearted mom. So I take him and tell him it’s going to be okay although I want to throw up but try to hold back the vomit because I am being STRONG MOM.

He survives, the blood stops. I clean the wand with tea tree oil. I get it in his eye. The screaming continues. Mom Fail #2.

Finally the ordeal is over. We proceed with having a fantastic day at the beach, followed by long naps when we get home. (Fist pumps and high fives here)

It is Sunday. Ryan and I are talking together in the living room. The kids are playing in the kitchen. I hear a large thud followed by crying, followed by me rushing into the other room. There is Stella with blood down her face. Here is another moment where it would be good to be soft, I grab her, which then proceed to think, “its time to ruin your shirt and hold her tight”. (Are these normal thoughts?)

So I ruin the shirt and again stop the bleeding. She fell off the chair and hit her face.

That’s a lot of blood for someone who doesn’t like to see it.

Finally the kids are settled in bed its about 10:30pm Ryan and I are watching cooking shows on Netflix. (Chef’s Table, check it out)  All of the sudden we hear a huge thump followed by screaming. We jump up, Ryan first then me. Stella walks out of her room with the biggest bloody nose I have ever seen. I grab her, try my best to comfort her and then proceed to check her out, make sure its not broken, or cut or whatever. As I am investigating I find a huge piece of what looks like “Bone” coming out of her noise. I grab it. I am feeling squeamish again, maybe even a little queasy, why? Stella is the one in Pain, not me. Why am I feeling as though I may vomit? (Maybe I should get this checked out.) I tell Ryan lets look up what to do I think we should take her to the ER. Which we never do! We are the parents who wait it out. But the blood, I mean this looks serious!

We get her cleaned up, the bleeding stopped. Put the “bone “ into a class jar. Get her into the Car and Ryan takes her to Urgent Care. I am shaking, I run into the bathroom, and vomit. TMI? (I know I went there.) I clean myself up.  Mom fail #3.

I call Ryan and ask him how it’s going. He said its going well they just finished. Wow that was fast! The doctor said it was a piece of Rice, What? Yes, actually 2 pieces of rice dried and stuck together.

You are kidding me? We both start laughing. This is hilarious and ridiculous all in itself. Our 3 year old chose to stick to large pieces of rice up her nose which the impact of the fall caused her to bleed horribly and it wasn’t a piece of bone in fact it was RICE.

The doctor also informed my husband that there is actually no way she could have broke her nose because children aren’t developed fully yet. Well doc good to know. That’s why we pay you the big bucks. I ‘m too dumb to tell if its bone or rice up my child’s nose, and you need to inform me otherwise. Mom fail #4

Dramatic? Yes, necessary? No. 

I guess we all have moments where life gets messy. Mine seem to happen on a weekend basis. Maybe the kids would be better off at school full time it seems like they are doing better in the care of their Teachers!

Cheers Friends

Nicole 






Asher - Portraits - Nicole Mendicino /


Motherhood is the most “interesting” thing. I got pregnant with my first child when I was just 21. I mean it was my birthday and 3 weeks later I found out that I was pregnant. Now to be honest, reacted instead of feeling warm and fuzzy all over. I cried a lot. Then I took 3 pregnancy tests and went to the doctor and didn’t believe it was actually real until she confirmed it.

Yes I am that person. The person who didn’t know what to do with the information in front of me, so freaking out seemed like the best option at the time.

The problem was that it really interfered with my plans. I was taking film photography classes at college along with some other art classes and thought well shoot, what am I going to do now. In fact I may have said “ oh sh*t what am I going to do?” So I dropped the classes because I didn’t want my child to have 3 heads from the chemical exposure.

At that time I was newly married, trying to figure out what I was doing with my life, still caring for my father and thought to myself how am I going to bring a baby into all of this?  Now to be fair I always wanted children, I always wanted marriage. But that was when I turned 30 not at 21. The plan changed. I hate when plans change.

So back to motherhood, I will have to say I’m no natural mother.  Do you know what I am talking about? The women who just know everything, what nappies are, what diapers are, how to breastfeed, when to breastfeed, how to parent, how to be a soft mother and nurture your child. I have some AMAZING friends who are like these women. That the things in motherhood come natural to them, or maybe it just seems that way to me.

I studied motherhood like it was a photography class. Except half the books were contradictory to each other. So at times it just made learning how to be a mom more difficult. The worst part was I thought I had to give everything up. Photography, fashion, being myself, boy was I wrong. I swore and still may never buy a minivan, but at least now I understand why people purchase them. (They’re so roomy)

The day I stopped calling motherhood a Job I was free. It’s a choice.

It’s a choice to show up everyday even if you don’t have all the answers,

It’s a choice to be kind and nurturing

Loving

Listening

To breastfeed or not to breastfeed

To be consistent, I mean with everything. If you say no, mean it.

It’s a choice to HAVE FUN, Be playful

It’s a choice to take a moment before reacting to ALL THE Paint on the WHITE Walls.

It’s a choice to take time for you and not feel guilty.

It’s a choice to work, or stay home (no judgments here I did both)

It’s a choice to admire and think your KIDS Rock

The best part I learned these things. These simple things that honestly have made parenting much better than I have ever imagined. They didn’t come natural, because although Motherhood may be “natural” to some, everyone is learning. Everyone has to start somewhere.





Cheers Friends 

-Nicole 





Source: www.heydear.co/blog

Saturday Morning Breakfast - Rituals and Family time



Mornings are becoming my favorite part of the day, especially Saturday Mornings. This wasn’t always the case because we had little one’s waking up multiple times in the night to nurse, or they needed something because you know they were babies. By the time the morning would roll around I defiantly resembled something looking close to a Zombie.

Now fast forward. The kids are older and sleep amazingly which means as parents we are sleeping and the only time I resemble a Zombie is when I have an allergic reaction to food.

Each morning we have our family rituals, get up, get any chores out of the way, make breakfast and lunches sit together as a family and ask each other about our dreams from the night before, talk about how exciting the day ahead will be and seeing friends or teachers. These small moments are my favorite and it’s interesting that it naturally happens around the table. These are the moments to hold onto and treasure. During the week we make it a point to gather each morning together take time and, do these rituals, then we head off to school and start work.

Saturdays are my favorite because when we do this we get to linger a bit; we maybe make something like gluten free waffles, (still in the midst of testing new recipes from scratch) Or Make Van’s frozen waffles. These are defiantly our favorite store bought brand. The point isn’t just about some elaborate menu, but cherishing the time we have together. It goes quick and going even quicker. I thought I would share a glimpse into our morning breakfast time as a family, the time we cherish and love and all look forward to partake in.

What are the rituals that you love and do each day? Whether that is alone, with your family or anything else that tickles your fancy?

Cheers Friends, 

Nicole 







Stella Mae - Portraits Nicole Lee photographer - Charleston SC


Today I thought I would share some personal images of my Stella Mae. Without a doubt I am glad a started this project over a year ago, I know one day I will look back and be thankful I took portraits of my children. 

Would love to hear thoughts and share some love if you'd like. 

Happy Friday Everyone! 

-Nicole