A New Opportunity. Moving North.

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I published this in my newsletter earlier this month, but I know some of you missed it and you're thinking, "Wahhh is going on with Emily? Does she live in Leelanau now?"  Yup! I do. See below for more info!

So long, Summer...hello cozy sweater, football Fridays and all the crock pot recipes.


I hope you all had an amazingly beautiful summer and were able to soak in the best that your state has to offer. Up here in Michigan, we bonfired, hiked, swam, and adventured our way through the most beautiful months and now it's Labor Day weekend.  Social media is filled with all the updates about the end ofsummer and folks bidding farewell to the warm months, but I keep saying it--September is seriously a GREAT month. Warm water for swimming, cool evenings for sleeping--can't go wrong.

There have also been some pretty big changes over here--the major one is that I am relocating my life full-time to Leelalanu County. I am over the moon excited to let you all know that I got a job teaching high school up here.  Some of you might recall that in my last update I shared how I was between education jobs and it was just a tad stressful--well, no more. I start back to the classroom today and I can't even tell you how excited I am! 

So, while personally this is a big change for me and Ian, hopefully, not much will change for you on the business side of things. I am so thankful to have Beanie, my amazing renaissance assistant who handles a lot of the behind the scene stuff and she is able to take on some more responsibilities during this transition. Beanie will start to focus more on our West Michigan clients while I will focus more on our Leelanau clients, but otherwise, not much will feel different to you!

If you haven't had a chance to meet and work with Beanie yet, let me be the first to say that she is talent on legs. Her work throughout the past year with me has blown me away and I am so excited to see her ready to take on more clients and more responsibilities for Watassa.

As always, I am so grateful to have clients who are friends--you all bring me such joy and hope.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued support and belief in Watassa and in me.

Cheers to a great school year!

xoxo,
Em

On quitting drinking at age 36.

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Stop drinking for 30 days. That was my original plan. Ian actually suggested we both try it, more in the vein of losing weight, and I was up for it.  I had quit drinking before, the longest stretch being about 6 weeks in 2014, but this time, I went into the challenge figuring we’d do 30 days and then, on our anniversary, which would be the last night of the challenge, we’d split a bottle of champagne and toast 9 years of marriage.

It’s been over 3 months now without a drink of alcohol, and I have to say it--I don’t think I’ll ever go back.  Don’t get me wrong, there are nights when a glass of wine or a cold beer sound amazing, and there are times being out with friends where I feel tempted to order a drink so I “fit in”, but the long term impact of this sober lifestyle have far outweighed the enjoyment I get from a glass of wine.

I don’t think I had a drinking problem before this challenge, and I have no issue with people who do drink. I’ve noticed some of my friends saying, “Do you mind if I drink?” around me, and the answer is of COURSE I don’t mind if you drink--I don’t have a particularly fraught relationship with alcohol, I just don’t want it anymore.

At first, it was strange. Ian and I had to take a few weeks to realize how much of our social life, and the social lives of people in their 30s, really does revolve around drinking.  It was initially odd to meet a friend for coffee, rather than a margarita, and I have found myself noticing how much drinking or “what to drink” or “what do you want to drink?” or “what should we bring to drink?” has become a thing in our culture. I intially felt a little odd explaining to people that I have given up alcohol, always couching it in, “Oh, I’m taking a break.” Now I feel pretty comfortable just saying, “I don’t drink anymore.” Some people ask about it, or make assumptions that I’m pregnant (I’m not) or that I had a problem (I didn’t), but a lot of people just accept it, and move on, which I think is pretty awesome too.  

Before June 9 (the date of my last drink), I would have 2 or 3 glasses of red wine a night, if I’m being honest. Looking back, that seems absurd. How did I intake that many additional calories? Why was I drinking that much? What was I trying to escape?

It will come as no surprise to most of you that the past year of my life has been tumultuous. I started the school year at Northview, and then left mid-year to pursue what I thought would be a dream job, only to find out upon arrival that it was anything but.  I stammered and stumbled to the end of the school year at GRPS, and then spent the first part of the summer unsure of my next move.  

When I was hired at my current job in Leelanau, I had an interview that lasted about 2 hours with the superintendent, the principal, various members of the school staff, students and the board of education for the district.  Needless to say it was intense.  I found myself talking quickly and explaining a lot of complex ideas surrounding my philosophies of education and teaching to a large group of people.  The questions they asked were challenging and thought provoking--it was the best type of educational discussion a person in my position looks to have--and I had the conversation and got the job.  

I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that were I still drinking at the time of this interview, I would not have been able to hold my own the way I did.  The clarity of mind that comes from not drinking is startling.  I remember about a month into our sobriety, Ian called me from a work trip and said something to the effect of, “When you don’t drink, the way you see the world is a lot more clear. Almost frighteningly clear.”  Now Ian tends to be a much more philosophical person than I am, but I knew exactly what he meant.  My head's clear, I can see things more rationally, I take time to consider decisions, I don’t snap at people, I am so much more laid back and relaxed. It’s honestly unreal what this has done for me.

Not to mention the physical health benefits.  I have so much energy, I feel like I’m 17 again. I sleep soundly--I used to suffer pretty consistently from insomnia--waking up for 3-4 hours at a time in the middle of the night. Now I sleep for a solid 8 hours, and, according my my fitbit, that is a lot of deep REM sleep.  I go to bed around 10pm and can easily wake up at 5:30am. Gone are the days of the low-grade headache from wine the night before, or the dry mouth.  I drink tons of water, my skin is clear, I dropped 8 pounds in the first 30 days, I have time to read...I hate to say, it’s life changing.

I know some of you might be thinking, “Well, that’s cool, good for you, but not for me,” and that might be totally true, but I would say if you are at all curious about jump starting your Fall or taking some time to reset, giving up alcohol could be a really simple way to do so.  I would love to hear how it goes for you if you make the decision!

Isabelle's Senior Session. Grand Rapids Photographer.

Isabelle brought her family to her senior session and we had a beautiful evening together. Her dear sister and pup Malibu hopped into a few of the photos and it made this night even more special. Thank you so much, Isabelle. I hope you have an amazing senior year!

Claire and Jonathan's Anniversary Session. Leelanau Photographer.

Shooting an anniversary session with these two was one of the highlights of my summer. Claire and Jonathan were on a vacation in Michigan, visiting family and friends, and we were lucky enough to snag them for a few hours while they made their way South. Macy, their adorable pup, also participated in the shoot and we had some of the best sunset glow of the summer. A wonderful evening with two wonderful people. Thanks so much, Claire and Jonathan!

Annual Leelanau Family Session

Family photos on vacations are such a wonderful idea--they allow the family to spend time together and enjoy the beautiful and (usually) relaxing atmosphere of the vacation. This is a family I have been lucky enough to meet with every August when they make their annual trip to Leelanau.  Thank you so much for such a wonderful morning, Jennifer, JB, Harry and Bruce! You just keep getting better and better!

Laurie and Philip's La Cuesta Ranch Wedding. California Wedding.

A couple things:

1) There was a wall of gold glitter where the bride and her girls dressed.

2) There was a small Chihuahua who attended all festivities and was an honorary groomsman.

3) There was a cheese cake. As in a cake. Made entirely out of CHEESE.

4) There was a mountain top and California sunlight.

5) The bride and groom were about the two best humans I think I might have ever met in my entire life.

This wedding in San Luis Obisbo, California could not have been a more epically amazing way to spend the 4th of July weekend. Philip and Laurie were gracious enough to include us in all their events and I cannot express enough now fantastic it was to be in California surrounded by the best vibes ever and the best people ever.  

Both got dressed and ready at the historically rad Madonna Inn and the wedding took place at the gorgeous La Cuesta Ranch just outside of SLO. Guests all surrounded the couple with love and noisemakers and drinks from a Shasta trailer and possibly the best dance party I've ever seen.  Thank you SO much to everyone involved with #frasermuzzasurus for letting us be a part of this totally fabulous day.

Venue: La Cuesta Ranch

Pre-Ceremony: Madonna Inn

Planning: Grace Lorenzen

Catering: Thomas Hill

Cake:  Fromagerie Sophie

Florist: Carla Wingett

DJ: DJ Lithuanian Prince

Hair/Makeup:  Jessie Skipton Cambell

Bar: Whiskey & June

Photobooth:  Cameron Ingalls