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Fortitude

I have wanted to create these photos ever since I first had the experience I wrote about in my meditation class here. As I have spent the last year taking leap after leap of faith, I have felt myself grow not just in body, but in mind and spirit as well. You begin to experience a flow where you can feel what is in line with your spirit and what is not, almost instantly, and I think because of that willingness to trust inspiration and those feelings unseen, it brings a peace that can carry you through anything. And it has also brought me clarity as a mother, a wife, a daughter of God. When I close my eyes in prayer, I can see more clearly than ever my role to all the different loved ones in my life, how I can help them fulfill their potential and how I can fulfill mine. Do you know who you are? Close your eyes and ask...

While I have learned a lot, I have been far from perfect. The journey this year has not been perfectly serene, and doubt and fear has felt asphyxiating more than once. It has twisted its hands around my heart at times and squeezed, to the point where I have lost my resolve, forgotten my purpose, disregarded who I am. It has become a constant practice to stop what I am doing, taking the necessary time and steps, to again feel the peace that carries me through darkness. When I finally take those moments to confront the uncomfortable, that is when I feel the purity I wanted to capture with this photoshoot. It was an extremely significant project for me to see through for this reason. Just like I have written everything down in a journal in the last year, every bit of personal revelation, every moment of insight, so that I can read it when I need to remember, I wanted to see these photos too, and remember this flow, this light that comes with taking action grounded in faith. I wanted to remember every special thing I have felt about Gio and Maya, and their spirits and purpose in the course of this pregnancy.

A good friend gifted me the book "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron earlier this year, and it has made a big impact on my ability to trust the validity of my creative ideas. "God is an artist. So are we. And we can cooperate with each other. Our creative dreams and longings do come from a divine source, not from the human ego." The night before this photoshoot, I was out with Nephi on a date to the temple in San Diego. Earlier in the day I had the feeling that if I could just go to the temple one more time, and get these photos done, then I would be ready to have Gio... However, throughout our temple trip and as we drove home, I was having contractions nonstop, about 4-6 minutes apart! I started stressing about this photoshoot that was scheduled for early the next morning. I not only thought I was in labor, but was also seriously doubting my abilities, ideas, and just really giving myself a lot of negative self-talk. I know it was driving Nephi crazy the way I was apologizing all night and debating if this photoshoot idea was even worth "wasting everyone's time over." It's so easy for me to go along with his creative ideas while questioning the worthiness of my own. I ended up telling Nephi that I didn't want to push it, and that I could probably still do this photo concept after I had Gio... It gave me a little moment of relief to think I didn't have to put myself out there after all.

I fell asleep still having contractions, but then woke up in the morning fifteen minutes before the originally scheduled shoot time with the biggest pit of regret and anxiety in my stomach. You know how you can just feel when you're making the wrong decision sometimes, and it's so immensely clear to you? I was well-rested, (miraculously) having absolutely no contractions, and the early morning weather and light outside my window was literally perfect... such a beautiful morning! I was kicking myself for cancelling when Nephi woke up to me sitting on the bed looking perplexed I'm sure, because he asked me what was wrong. I told him how I was feeling and he said, "Well, go do your makeup right now and text Carolina (our friend and photographer). We can still figure this out." Mind you, he was also supposed to make an entire dress the night before, but just went to bed instead since I had cancelled...

Doing everything last minute with no plan was seriously stressing me out, because I was so insecure about my idea already, but I just listened and took one step ("the next right thing"? haha, Frozen 2 reference)... hurriedly put on some makeup, brushed my hair, put in my extensions... (I really feel the most myself with my hair long and wavy like that, and I miss my long hair so much! Pro tip: Don't cut your hair off when you're having anxiety people!) Anyways, due to time constraints I kept everything very natural. We wanted to hurry and get to our photoshoot spot before the perfect morning light was gone, or in case it started to rain, which we could see was coming. Then with Nephi pushing me again, I finally got up the courage to text Carolina to see if she was still up for shooting. I hadn't asked yet, because I was being a scared little baby that didn't want to annoy anyone, but of course, she is the absolute best and was still totally down.

Nephi came through with a makeshift dress using the fabric we had bought the night before, tucking it here and there with an idea of how I wanted it to look. I had drawn a really crappy concept picture for him a couple weeks before, haha, but he totally nailed it! We headed out to the photoshoot spot, and long story short, it all worked out perfectly! I had plenty of energy throughout the whole shoot, and since we had to hurry it was not overdone at all, which is exactly the kind of natural look I was going for. The light was beautiful.. I mean, I guess you can see for yourself that we got the shots! The imagery all just evoked the exact feeling that I had been dreaming of for months. I still feel amazed and so grateful that we went through with it and that everything turned out so beautifully, so grateful for immensely talented people willing to work with and be patient with me. The funniest part is that as soon as we started driving away, I immediately started having uncomfortable contractions again, and then it rained for 2 or 3 days straight! There is a lot I learned from this seemingly trivial experience, but then again, I find symbolism in almost everything... I could go into all of it, but I feel like I should hold back and just let you get what you want out of this story.

Happy Sunday everyone! I will keep you posted on this little guy's appearance in the world!


Love, Beth


Photography: Carolina Ashworth

Dress Styling: Nephi Garcia