Fertility Vacation // Worrying About Worrying

Today could have been our implantation day, but instead it will be tomorrow or Saturday. It feels scary that it wasn’t the first possible day. I’m guessing that it’s not actually better or worse which day it happens.

I wonder why I’m struggling so much. Is it the hormones? Is it because they took the eggs out? Does that make you spiral a little? Is it a withdrawal from the hormone shots? I guess I should be grateful for all the easy days I’ve had.

I’m worried about being worried. I want my body and mind to be relaxed and peaceful. The doctor said the only thing I can do to raise our chances is to think positive. Instead I feel panicky.  I swivel from feeling so much power and gratitude, to feeling fear and panic. I’m sure it’s the hormones.

I have to keep remembering that everything is going so well. Seven of our 10 eggs are growing. All of our friends say that’s great.

I’m scared anyway. I meditated. Scared. I took a bath. Scared. I’m trying to write it so it gets out of me. Scared.

Finally we’ve gotten to the part in the IVF process that people complain about. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed during certain moments of the day.

Mike was supposed to fly home tonight, but I asked him to call and change his flight. I’m not ready for him to go. The next three days are crucial and with everything happening at the lab, I don’t want to be without him. Cristina arrives in an hour so I know I won’t be alone, but I need Mike here too. Everything feels more hopeful with him here.

I’m not a very needy or demanding wife. Usually I’m independent to a fault. But for a couple more days I want to explore the city via “Mike’s Walking Tour” and sleep holding his hand.

An hour goes by and I’m feeling even and calm. Mike is the best at talking the fear out of me.

Fertility Vacation // The First Injection

There we sat, the carefree girls from 8 hours earlier, now on the apartment couch, overcome with fear. In a brave moment of, "let’s just get it over with", I grabbed everything out of the fridge. Jenny and I set it up as fast as we could, just as the nurse had explained.

I pinched the skin on my stomach and pointed the needle at my skin. I didn’t want the medicine. I didn’t want to willingly hurt my own body. Logically, it made sense, but a part of me felt like I was betraying the universe and the gratitude I work to cultivate. I recognized this as the fear talking and remembered the greater purpose.

I pictured the nurse looking at me and I heard Jenny's helpful voice that felt steady and determined. "Is this the right number? Then push."

I pushed the needle in. The pain was small and only at the beginning. I awkwardly pushed until everything was in my body; exhale.

The three of us congratulated ourselves and drew on some shrinky dinks to distract our minds. 10 minutes later I was coloring the mane of my shrinky dink horse and my eyelids were suddenly heavy. I laid down.

The translator mentioned I might get hungry, tired, and feel a deep swell in my lower abdomen. I closed my eyes wondering if I would be out for the night.

I noticed an odd feeling in my belly and drifted in and out of consciousness. After about 20 minutes, I slowly sat up on the couch and felt myself waking up; as if I had been asleep all night and had to transition to being awake.

The rest of the night I surprisingly felt a general ease. I enjoyed chatting, eating tacos, and sipping the smallest amounts of tequila.

I can’t really tell how I feel in the end. Do I feel balanced and relaxed because nothing other than an unrequested nap happened? Or do I feel good because my body somehow needed those hormones?

Either way I’ll take the win. I feel good, normal, and balanced. Really good actually. I have exactly 7.5 hours until my next injection so I will see how it goes.

I’m actively choosing activities and thoughts that feel beautiful and in alignment with positivity.

Fertility Vacation // 8 Hours

We walked around Prague laughing and taking pictures. Three seemingly carefree tourists with tiny bottles of alcohol in our winter jackets. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

8 hours of freedom. 8 hours before my first injection.

My happy place is walking around and falling in love with a new place. It makes me feel positive and at peace. I feel a deep sense of contentment knowing that I’m not taking my life for granted. One of the easiest ways I can show gratitude for my life is to travel to the world’s meccas and pay tribute to how beautiful the world is.

Hi Universe, I see you. I'm profoundly grateful for your accomplishments and these pockets of peace that you have created all over the globe. I see your light and I'm doing my best to reflect it in my images, my open heart, and the soft, happy smile I pass to others enjoying your beauty.

We wandered into Shakespeare's old book store and took photos of the picturesque buildings. We asked tourists to take our picture in front of the river with the Charles Bridge behind us. We saw the Lennon Wall which felt peaceful and open. Alongside us were families, school groups, travelers, Instagrammers, Facebookers and lovers from all over the world, all walking by and talking pictures.

We stayed a while, sipping whiskey and indulging in Vanessa’s deep love for St. Patty’s Day (she’s from Chicago). We had a pub lunch. We passed the river again and saw a boat pulling a life-size inflatable pastel tank with a giant sign that read #MakeLoveNotWalls. I'm glad that someone felt like making floating art with that message. I didn’t let it cast any shadows of reality.

I still had two more hours until I would willingly give myself a shot. Two more hours before I would find out how the hormones would affect me. Two more hours to not be afraid of the possible disruption in my mental stability.

Medicine and I don’t typically get along. When I was in Africa, the malaria medicine made me hallucinate spiders. I took antibiotics 10 years ago and my GI tract has still not recovered. In fact, one of the effects of the antibiotics was temporary infertility, which is why I'm waltzing around Prague in the first place.  Why would I willingly shoot hormones two inches to the right and one inch down from my belly button?

Eventually we made our way back to our Airbnb apartment. About a block away, time ran out.  As always, I’m able to completely ignore something until a few minutes before it happens, and then panic sets in. All of a sudden my mind was shouting, “No, no, no, don’t do it!”. My head was shaking back and forth as I told Vanessa and Jenny that I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t want to do it.

As we approached the door, my heart was running a full blown hundred-meter dash.  I knew it was unreasonable, but I had no idea how my body or mind would respond. Neither were interested in finding out.

Vanessa was sweet and tried to think of calming techniques. She told me to focus on my belly because one day, it might grow a baby.

My mind desperately tried to find something to hold onto. “The sooner you do it, the sooner it’s over”.

That I could get behind.

Creativity Tell All // Amanda Thorne

Amanda Thorne owns the amazing Thorne Artistry, a mobile, creative styling company based here in San Diego. I love Amanda. She's kind and such a boss. I share office space with her in Mission Hills and it's always inspiring to see her work. 

How do you continually stay inspired and creative?
It sounds hokey, but I find inspiration every day. Just taking a walk or driving home from work, I'll notice a cool tree or how the rain has made everything in San Diego look like Ireland. I'll think to myself, "Wow! I really need to find a bright yellow dress to shoot on that hillside. Some berry tones would be cool to tie in, maybe by doing a bold lip or some fun flowers!" That's how my mind usually works; a mile a minute with ideas that I'd like to explore and visions that I want to create. It can be overwhelming sometimes. I get anxious if I can't get them all out!

Is there anything special or unique about your morning routine?
I romanticize everything including my coffee in the morning. It's definitely a ritual in a sense that I use the same mug and have everything set up the night before so it's ready for me in the morning. It's a must that I wake up to make my coffee before I get to my emails. I honestly can't work and feel complete without having some good music and really strong coffee from my favorite mug that I bought (for someone else - whoops!) in Sayulita, Mexico.

If someone wanted to break into your industry, what advice would you give them?
Prepare to do a lot of grunt work in the beginning and some thankless jobs to gain the experience that is so crucial. I'm a believer that whatever you want to do in life you do by jumping in head-first and learning on the job and gaining as much knowledge as you can. Shadow someone that you respect, ask a ton of questions, do a lot of research, think about what makes you stand out, and network as much as possible! Show up everywhere and meet as many people as you can. This one can be daunting, but it is so valuable. I always gain some insight or make an important connection by showing up and just saying hello. I let people know that I'm here and interested in not only what I'm working on, but what they're working on!

Did you always know this career path was ‘the one’?
Subconsciously, yes, but practically no. I've been doing styling since I was five years old; making clothes for my dolls, doing my friends hair and makeup at ballet, and even cutting hair in college when my friends had no money. While I was in college, I even tapped into styling work to pay for school, but I was pretty focused on my degree (radio, tv and film). I ended up becoming a radio DJ for over 10 years before the light bulb went off that I needed to go back to my true passion that was there from the start! Sometimes I'm so laser-focused that I miss the obvious signs that are there all along. I'm so thankful that my husband finally pointed out the obvious and pushed me to start my business.

What season inspires you most?
Summer, always. I'm happier when the sun is out and that generates my creative juices.

Do you have any funny short stories or embarrassing moments from when you first got started?
Everything about when I was starting out was embarrassing. No one knew that I had this other life and styling background so I was basically starting with nothing and had to prove myself on every level imaginable. People that knew me from radio thought I was crazy for getting out of the business, and creatives in my new industry wondered how in the world I ended up in their world, and if I had any right to be there. There were a lot of doubters and even some haters. Luckily, those people actually drove me to be better and gave me the motivation to step up my game. I'm always pushing myself and trying to improve and that's a big bonus when you're jumping into the unknown. There are sharks in any profession. It's how you handle them that matters. Don't get me wrong, I definitely had my share of days that I curled up into a ball crying and thought I made a huge mistake. Thank God, the important people who do love and support me always talked me off the ledge and got my head straight again. 

What is the best advice you have been given?
Turn others negatives into your positive. I might have made that up just now, but I like it and I think it resonates.

What is your dream project?
Working on a photo shoot in another country - Paris or Africa pop into my head. I'm already dreaming up the crazy dress that I would create and the avant-garde hair and makeup that I would do. Oh man, how fun would that be!?

If there was a song that played every time you worked on your craft, what would it be?
I love New Politics 'Harlem' and anything from Grouplove and Vampire Weekend. For my mellow days, anything from Royksopp, Sigur Ros and Bon Iver.

Is there anything in particular you are obsessed with these days?
I'm always obsessed with vintage shopping, road trips, and bad late night TV.

What would you do if you had $40,900 for a vacation?
I would go back to Europe and take my entire family to visit all of the friends that I met when I lived in Australia. I'd retrace some of the adventures that I've already had and add as many new ones as possible. I'd also plan on seeing a lot of live music in the nordic countries (I love electronica!) and taking part in the Summer Solstice in Sweden.

Lots of love,
Suzanne, Mike and the Wanderers

4 Things // Dancing Lights

Hi friends =)

I just arrived in Berlin after a few days in magical Iceland. WOW airlines offers free stopovers - check it out!

Exploring : Game of Thrones Tour by Grayline Iceland was so witty. It was exciting to see the actual locations from the show and hear some fun back stories. 

Dreaming of : Being right here. right now. I'll be in Berlin for a few days then head to Prague. My dreams are to stay present and be where I am. 

Meditating : With the Headspace App. I tried for the first time in public at Roamers Cafe in Berlin. I meditated on the creative spark - it felt wicked and fun for some reason. I had my eyes closed and a smile on my face sitting outside waiting for my table and it felt like I had a secret. Sparks flew in my journal, maybe there's something to this after all. 

Watching : The Northern Lights danced for Vanessa and I in Iceland. It was a dream come true. 

xoxo
Suzanne

Cuba // 18 Years Later

I traveled to the magical country of Cuba in 1999 and then again in January of this year. Here is my letter to this country, that my heart now calls a friend. 

Dear Cuba,

Hello my old friend. How thrilling and sweet it is to sit with you. Seeing your face again makes my heart swell with all of our past memories. You are just as intriguing, exotic, captivating and confusing as ever before.

As I walk around your colorful buildings and crumbling heroic walls, I can’t help but reminisce to our first meeting.

Back in '99, visiting you was daring, almost provocative. When I saw “Havana” on my syllabus at art school in San Francisco, I grew nervous and excited that we would meet. Our professor, Tony Labat, who grew up in your neighborhoods, took 20 of us to see you for a week.

We flew out of Tijuana, Mexico. We stopped in Monterrey and had to de-board the plane to get our passports stamped, since it was illegal for Americans to visit your country and spend money there. We landed in Havana and I remember feeling nervous. The agent looked over my treasured passport, chockfull of stamps, and waived me through.  Havana was mine and I was in awe.

Hotel Inglaterra was our home for the week. From there we went to museums by day and then stayed up late drinking Cuba Libres, listening to music, and smoking cigars on the rooftop. We were an eclectic group of artists; some painted, filmed or created performance pieces. We felt saturated in the Cuban art experience, if only for a week.

Upon seeing you, the movie Buena Vista Social Club had come out. I sat in the theater, fascinated by what was to come. Everything was as surreal as the movie suggested; the cars, the architecture.  I watched men play checkers. I photographed little kids in their school uniforms.

I felt honored and changed to have this rare experience. You are resourceful, yet without resources. The resilience of your people was inspiring. I was left questioning our place in the world, and with new real estate in my heart, just for cheering you on.

And now flash forward to January 2017.

My heart had missed a beat when I learned a few years ago that President Obama would open up relations with you. Could we make peace and end the embargo? Could this country that stole my heart, finally know equality and the same advantages and disadvantages of their neighbors?

My photographer friend, Maryanne, and I jumped on a plane and made sure we had the chance to see you before the new presidency.

This time, we flew from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale to Havana. In Fort Lauderdale, I heard over the loudspeaker, “Jet Blue Flight XX to Havana”. That’s when it hit me. A profound moment that actualized in my gut. I was flying from America to see you; a dream of mine and so many others realized. I felt a surge of joy and solidarity with this small victory.

I thought of 18 years ago and the boy I gave a pencil to on the street. Of the artist Los Carpinteros. And of the college girl I once was, walking your streets with a different lens and perspective than today.

We arrived early in the morning and immediately began exploring. I soon realized so much was the same, but we both had grown up too. I have grown from a student into a professional photographer.  But, we both still have our quirks.

This time, we stayed at Casa Particular. Casas weren’t legal on my last trip and very hard to find. This change marked an acceptance of a new socialism and I’m curious to see how it evolves.

We listened to music and had coffee around the city in Plaza Viejo, at the Inglaterra and at the Nacional. The menus were larger and more varied. I remember feeling frustrated with ordering a meal on my last trip. I would ask for a cappuccino and a salad. The waiter would leave and come back 5-10 minutes later and inform me that they were out of those items. This would repeat itself several times. Eventually, I learned to ask what was available and simply order that.

This type of exchange rarely happened this time. Although napkins and toilet paper were still in short supply.

We hired a tour guide for the Art and Color Tour. Our guide Dayana was knowledgeable and indulged all of our many questions. She took us to multiple galleries and the Museum of Bellas Artes. I saw a piece of art that mentioned Los Carpinteros and felt joy at their success. I was thrilled to be in my element, hearing about the history and present culture of art in Havana. I love the familiar joy in museums, people from around the world sharing their own passion for art in many languages.

Ironically, the actual band, the Buena Vista Social Club, was playing while we were in town. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see them in person. There were a couple of musicians from the original documentary there. Snippets of the movie were projected in the background. So we have changed a little, I thought. We were all a little older, wiser, and with a few more lines on our faces.

Yet here we both were, practicing our craft with energy and joy all these years later. Them on stage in a room full of approving fans, and me still walking around with my camera and artist friends, sharing all of the color and contradicting ideas in still images.

What will the next 18 years hold for us? I’m hoping my country and yours will build a beautiful friendship full of respect and admiration.

Just as we have.  

Besitos my friend, until next time.
Suzanne

4 Things // Gratitude in the Struggle

Watching : Picasso at the Lapin Agile at The Old Globe. Find out what Picasso, Einstein and Elvis have in common. - Suzanne

Loving : 9 to 5 The Musical. #yearofthewoman - Suzanne

Inspired by : John Wick : Chapter 2. I'm inspired by the character; his determination and will. I love the idea of doing anything you can to help a loved one. Also, it inspires me to be in shape, to dress well, and be prepared for whatever life brings. - Mike

Excited for : An adventure with Suzanne in Prague.  I'm excited for taking on new projects, and not being afraid, but rather embracing the struggles that come with any new chapter of life. Trying to have a family, a child, a future - this I am very excited about it. Life has kicked us around a little, and I have let it take some of my happiness through anxiety, but now I'm turning the tables. I am finding gratitude in the struggle. - Mike

xoxo
Suzanne, Mike and the Wanderers

52 Weeks, 52 Dates - Come Play!

A year from now, you’ll wish you started today." - Karen Lamb

A new year doesn’t have to start January 1st. Every week is a chance to start something new. We love keeping track of our weekly adventures. It inspires us to try new things, promotes gratitude in our relationships, and it's just plain old fun to remember all of the good times! Join us in celebrating our adventures together, every week of the year!

Here is a free and fun downloadable print to keep track of all your weekly adventures. =)

Download here: 52 Weeks, 52 Dates

4 Things // The Land of Fire & Ice

Iceland yay! Our trip is finally here.  We made it! The midnight sun is beautiful.  It never really sets.  It's hard to ever go to sleep when everything is so beautiful.

Adventuring : Frolicking around with Mike in a Kukucamper and having total freedom to go where we want.  Our cute camper has a bed and a stove. 

Eating : Mike cooks us eggs and bacon with Cafe Moto coffee on the edges of cliffs with the most extraordinary views.

Photographing : The living watercolor that gives Iceland a new landscape around every bend.

Dreaming of : Right here, right now.

4 Things // Land of Enchantment

This week I am adventuring around New Mexico with Vanessa Luna of Rolling Stone Photography and Mike is back in Indiana helping my mom pack up her old house. What a much needed break of friendship and letting loose. 

Exploring :: New Mexico is the land of enchantment - the homes, the people, the landscape. 

Movement :: Road tripping and dancing on the side of the road near Sky City to Vampire Weekend.

Photographing :: Our escapades on the wide open road with endless sky and sunshine.

Fangirling :: Lila Rose at a few local spots in Albuquerque.

xoxo
Suzanne

5 SOMETHINGS // WARMTH

There is nothing quite like home sweet home after a wonderful vacation to Denmark and Sweden. 

Something Lovely :: Gaidin spent the weekend with us. It's so rare for us to have the weekend off. We spent a lot of time at parks and walking in the sun.  After an epic two weeks in the dark Scandinavian winter, it was lovely to feel the sun on my face and the warmth of my family.

Something Dreamy :: I was a little nervous about going to Denmark and Sweden in the middle of winter, but Maryanne and I brought tons of warm clothes and lucked out on the weather.  This trip made me fall a little bit in love with winter.  I'm really looking forward to my upcoming trip to Iceland in June.  Even though it will be summer, it will definitely still feel like winter for this San Diego girl.

Something Captured :: Oh Copenhagen you are lovely.  Maryanne and I went on an boat tour of the city.  It was wild.  The sun came out for what seemed like the first time ever and kept us warm on the chilliest day.  I can't wait to share some images. Copenhagen is a dream.

Something New :: It was night time for the majority of our trip.  The sun "rose" around 8:30 am and "set" about 3:30.  Mostly, it just made subtle appearances near the horizon but never really gave the feeling of day time.  There was a dark beauty to our adventures and many of our photo walks were at night.  It was really intriguing to photograph the soft low contrast light of winter.

Something Challenging :: My dad was in the hospital this weekend for a blood clot in his leg. It was a tense weekend and my brother and Andrea spent a lot of time in the hospital while we played with Gaidin. My dad didn't want Gaidin to see him in the hospital. I am so glad he is getting better.

Big hugs,
Suzanne and the Wanderers

Inside Out :: Shewanders Wedding Season

Dear Wanderers,

Stamped in your memory may be an image of us climbing on top of furniture, ducking around 150 of your closest friends and family and doing pretty much anything we can to capture ‘the’ moment.

Yikes, that made us sound more like FBI agents than photographers.

Anyways, we wanted to give you a sneak peak into what it’s like behind the Shewanders lens during our wild, emotional, exhausting, unforgettable time of the year…wedding season.

This year we shot 29 weddings,
snapped over 80,000 images,
and clocked over 300 hours of editing.

We captured everything from a three-day destination wedding in Newport Rhode Island, a gorgeous engagement session at a lighthouse in Maine, underwater diving adventures in Bali, the ever ubiquitous tops of mountains that Mike finds himself upon and epic weddings all throughout beautiful San Diego and Malibu.

Phew. I’m tired.

When you see us working at a wedding, we are undoubtedly in the passion zone. Many people who know me outside of work think of me as this sweet, laid back gal (which I am most of the time), but when it comes to wedding day, all bets are off. We stick to the schedule, kindly boss people around and are serious about capturing every possible moment for our bride and groom.

The night before a wedding is my time to get prepared. You can find me resting quietly and calmly in my thoughts. I eat a big dinner, read or watch something really easy going, take a walk with my husband Mike, and triple check that everything is ready to go.

On my way to weddings, I love listening to The Beatles, Mom Jeans Jams playlist and “Here Comes the Sun”. I am crazy about being on time, so I have plenty of extra minutes to pump up with some feel good lyrics.

I love everything about the wedding day, but my favorite moment, hands down, is the ceremony. It is so magical because everyone’s emotions are bursting at the seams. It’s humbling and beautiful.

In order to create our natural and organic Shewanders vibe, I am most interested in capturing people’s faces and the natural movement and interaction between them. I love light and the way it can pour into a lens. I use open shade, back lighting, side lighting and rembrandt lighting to add joy to the day.

From start to finish, we shoot about 2,500 images and end up delivering about 800 perfect shots after removing all duplicates and imperfections. We also use 3-6 different lenses depending on the day.

Some post-wedding nights feel like Christmas eve and I will stay up all night pouring through them because I am too excited to wait! Other times, I have given it everything possible during the day and will wait until the morning to see the beauty come to life all over again.

With the high demands of being ‘on’, it’s important for me to refresh and take some down time. I am able to recharge with my morning page journaling, lunch by the sea, staring at the movement of the ocean, body surfing, playing with my nephew, painting and goofing around in Photoshop and a cold IPA with Mike in North Park.

Some other wedding season remedies include vitamins, comedies, yoga, swimming, laughing with Gaiden who keeps me on my toes and Sunday football with my family.

Lastly, my trick to staying creative throughout the year: gratitude. I feel so blessed that incredible people hire us every season to witness and document their wedding days. It’s such a joy. I also do a lot of personal work and photograph my own family as well. It keeps me experimenting and sharp at my craft.

Wedding season 2015, that’s a wrap.

XOXO and some Z's,
Suzanne

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