Sarah Lehberger | Portrait Photographer | Fairfield County, CT » Celebrating the Dreamers and the Doers of the World

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Resolutions or Goals? I Choose Goals.

Here are the definitions…

resolution – a decision or determination; a resolve
or
goal – the result or achievement toward which effort is directed

I choose to make goals. They show effort and a journey. I believe in the beauty of our journey. So Universe, Here you go. I am ready. I am putting these out there for another New Year. I will dream, believe and sweat my ass off to accomplish each one. These are my goals for 2014…

1. Go on my first mission trip in a new country. – I’ve dreamed about this since I was a teen in my hometown church. The problem is, I haven’t found one trip or organization that really speaks to me. They ALL sound wonderful and life changing and so full of purpose. I need to find one that works directly with women, helping them to achieve, overcome, learn and grow. Women who are unstoppable. Do you know of any? Please comment below and share their names or your experiences as I really want to find the right one!

2. Get strong! – This means no more excuses. My baby is no longer a baby, he’s five. My high risk pregnancies and resulting weak core muscles do not control me, should not limit me, and the extra weight needs to come off. My hernia surgery, yeah it sucked, but now it’s time to own it and fight back! I am challenging myself with a personal race this year, and it will push me to stick with an exercise routine. I want to be in the best shape of my life, not so I can look good… so I can FEEL strong and healthy again.

3. Find a new charity or philanthropy to partner with that fulfills my WHY. – My mission is to work with women who have found strength through adversity, and to help tell their story while also celebrating their many accomplishments along the way. Women who are unstoppable and who’s self-worth is tied to more than just the titles that she is given, the many hats (or roles) she wears, or her outer appearance. I welcome your feedback or ideas if you have any to share in the comments as well.

4. Be more fearless! – Not just in my words but in my actions and in how I choose to live every single day. I need to stop caring what other people think and just follow my gut, which is telling me to cut my hair short again… to move… to live with more intention… and to go sky diving or bungee jumping in the future (gulp)!!!

5. Audit my business systems and processes. – I need to look at my most complicated workflow and simplify it. I need to improve my overall after-the-session experience so it is seamless and goes smoothly, and consider which outside partners may help make me faster or more efficient in that process.

6. Grow my business by reaching my ideal clients. – I need to push forward and continue my marketing efforts in unique ways and get my WHY and my message out there in front of as many women as possible.

7. Find a new workshop or take a new class that pushes me beyond my comfort zone. – I need to research something intimate and hands on so I can build relationships and also challenge myself with doing beautifully lit indoor portraits in my nostalgic style.

8. Make more time for my husband (Ben Lehberger). – With all of my challenges and personal struggles to find fulfillment and happiness I often take his support for granted. He has given me the freedom to choose and to take my much needed leaps of faith. Now that I have found my clarity and know what fulfills me, I need to take more time to celebrate our successes as a couple and find us again after all these years.

9. Clear the clutter. – In my office, in my home, in my personal life. Keep saying no to the tasks that create chaos, aren’t fulfilling or important. Remove any unwanted or unnecessary items from the space that is supposed to inspire me. Clear myself of the obstacles that are in my way and make room for the joy, clarity and creativity that I know is ahead of me.

10. Finally make the time to preserve my family’s memories and to get photos printed. – I don’t have a single photo album of my children because I’ve always been too busy and everything lives on a hard drive. I need to stop making excuses, find the time or carve it out, and just do it! I have always wanted these to be perfect, so I need to remind myself that the kids don’t want perfect memories. They just want something to look back on… something to show them how important they are, how loved they are, and how much they matter. Something that shows them without a doubt that they belong and that they are a part of our story.

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Cheers to another year of life, to experiencing new things, and to finding the gratitude with each new day.

SarahXOXO

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Facing My Greatest Fear

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I said “it” out loud for the first time this summer. I am afraid of DYING.

I don’t fear what comes after death, because I believe that my heaven will be filled with all of my old pets and loved ones greeting me with hugs, meows, wagging tails and kisses. I AM AFRAID of leaving my children behind, and leaving them with words unspoken or faint memories of their Mother.

I never used to fear death in my younger years. Maybe it was because I felt invincible? I had always been the ambitious go-getter, the explorer, the one to accept every truth or dare (unless it involved bungee-jumping or skydiving). So why all of a sudden did I have this crippling fear of dying? And why was it holding me back from living?

MOTHERHOOD. It forever changed me… and I wasn’t ready for it, nor was I expecting this feeling to be so intense! It’s safe to say that it scared the crap out of me. That’s hard for this fearless woman to admit, yet I need to clear the air and be real. The thought of me leaving them before I am ready, before they have their first crushes, before they find their talents, before they find their passions, before they find true love and become parents, it is one of the most unbearable thoughts. This haunts me.

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When I face this fear head on, I am reminded that I need to tell them how much they are loved… right now! I need to leave some proof behind. I need to share what’s in my heart and make sure they hear it. I need to LIVE and LOVE wholeheartedly, and especially when it’s hard to (usually when they are driving me crazy or my patience has worn thin). I need to embrace who I am and show them that our dreams are worth fighting for. I need to show them that it takes courage to be imperfect. Most importantly, I need them to know that they matter, that they are enough just the way they are, that they belong (so very much), and that they have brought me so much JOY!

So what is the reason for these photos? I realized that I need to be in them. That’s it. This Mom needs to be in the photos. I need to be present in their memories and not always behind the lens. I need to leave a legacy behind.

I have to forget about the exterior of Sarah, and remember that there is so much more inside of me that matters. I have to remind myself that they won’t see my imperfections. They won’t stare at the lines forming around my eyes, the odd vein that keeps popping out from the center of my forehead, the adult acne that drives me crazy, and the chin that likes to double itself in photos sometimes. Nope. That’s just what I see.

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I hope they will see…

  • a woman who’s sentimental perspective allowed her to find joy in her present
  • a woman who’s fiery personality gave her strength through her struggles
  • a woman who chose to be unstoppable and to live her bold and brave life

There is still so much that I need to say, do and share with them. And I suppose that I take comfort in knowing that right now… at this very moment… I choose to live my greatest life with them without the fear of dying. I choose to be my nostalgic, spirited and fearless self, and when that haunting feeling tries creeping in… I will shake it off with an impromptu family dance party or a quick get together with friends to celebrate that we are truly ALIVE!!

Lots of love and gratitude to my friends Kasey Matson and Dave Noonan for for these priceless family photographs that I will always treasure. (Note: I would include more photos of my son, but he refuses to sit still for any of us and getting more photos with him is my goal for 2014.)

PS – Please don’t let the holidays and this time together pass by without you in the photo all because you aren’t “camera ready”.  Jump in that photo! Be present! Be seen! I promise you they won’t care if you look like a hot-mess with cookie dough all over your face… they will only see how happy she was on that day. :-)

SarahXOXO

 

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Her passion for teaching. Meet Renee

When I first photographed Renee a few years back she was in the middle of changing careers and reinventing herself. She decided that she wanted to be a teacher and that her years in fashion marketing and product development were coming to a close. She was also in the middle of having babies, so I photographed her little ones and at the time she was not in the photos.

Fairfield CT Working Mom

Now, a few years later she has three school-aged boys. To say her life is non-stop would be an understatement. So on this day, Renee wanted to slow down with her loves and spend time together and finally be in the photo. She knows she matters, and she wants them to know how much they matter to her too.  She has so much to be grateful for, including their action-packed life and their support when she decided to go back to school to follow her dreams.

Fairfield CT Family Photographer

Life with three young, active boys and having a successful career can be a constant juggle.  One thing is for sure, Renee isn’t afraid of a little challenge.  In fact, I get the feeling that she thrives in intense or demanding situations… after all, she is a 3rd grade teacher now. ;-)

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Helping kids and making a difference in their lives is what Renee loves most about her work, and let’s face it… she probably doesn’t get nearly enough thanks for all of her dedication and the blood, sweat and tears that go into empowering children, changing their lives and being their fearless leader.

Fairfield CT Family Photographer

So today, as you look back upon these photos and how much you’ve accomplished with your career and your family in such little time, I hope you will take some time to celebrate yourself and all that you do. You mean the world to all the kids you influence in school and those who also live under your own roof.

 

Fairfield CT Family Photography

Renee (and teachers everywhere), You fuel more than just a kid’s learning or interest, you inspire them to dream, to achieve, to pursue their passions and be the best individuals that they can be. You care, you support, you nurture and protect. You do all that just by being YOU! From all of us who don’t get to say it often enough… thank you!

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This is what I do. What about you?

I have recently started mentoring a few photographers across the country and helping them build a successful business based on the things that make them unique. We discuss the state of their businesses, who they are as individuals, what they need in order to be happy and work happy, and then develop a new brand identity based on our discoveries.

I have found it to be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling work empowering them and watching them grow, and building something that brings them so much fulfillment! As we define and declare who they are, it brings us closer to stating what they do and most importantly WHY they do it. Do you know what (exactly) you do and why you do it?

Making a Living Doing What You Love

Many of us have been on this quest to find out if we can make a living doing what we love? I believe we can, and this belief is shaping the way top entrepreneurs, creatives and powerful women are building their businesses. A motivational writer and blogger, Alexandra Franzen, put together a simple fill-in-the-blank questionnaire on her website and I thought it would be a great exercise to share for entrepreneurs or anyone else trying to declare what they do in their business.  Her original blog post, READ THIS when you can’t remember who you are, what you do, why you do it — or how to talk about it, will certainly inspire you to think about your work, if it serves anyone, and it will allow you to share your declaration with the world too. I’d love for you to read her post and come back here to share your work and passions with me and other locals who want to know and connect with you! I dare you to be brave and bold! ;-) This is my declaration…

My name is Sarah Lehberger.

I’m a fearless, spirited and nostalgic woman who uses my camera and my words to empower other women like me.

Ultimately, all of my work is about helping accomplished women celebrate their journey.

(Because I believe their legacy matters and their story deserves to be told.)  

That is what I do.

And I am not confused.

Let’s build a supportive community of working women who are fearless and passionate about what they do! I welcome you to join us in the group discussion on Facebook where sharing, collaboration, support, knowledge, helpful tips, creative input, positive feedback and powerful guidance with like-minded women is encouraged!

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She is a Survivor! Meet Robin Dini

Two years ago today, “I was discharged from the hospital, fifteen pounds lighter, and cancer free as we drove home in the snow. I stood outside our back door letting the snow hit my face and being so scared to go inside. Life was going to be so different once I passed through those doors. This was the first time I was going to see my kids. I wasn’t going to be able to speak to them and I was anxious that that might scare them.”

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Robin was diagnosed with T2 squamous cell carcinoma, oral cancer of the right side of the tongue, just over two years ago. Her life changed in that instant. A week later she entered the hospital operating room feeling peace and serenity. “I simply had faith in what was about to happen. There was no fear. There was only strength.” She kept reminding herself of the lyrics in a favorite song by The Beatles, “life flows on within and without you”… which would later become a tattoo on her arm.

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Those who know Robin can describe her in a few words, they are: fearless, resilient, thoughtful, vibrant, spirited.

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So now imagine if this personality of yours that was vibrant and full of energy had all of a sudden been hushed by your surgery or weakened by thoughts of the unknown. Robin wondered if she would ever talk again and if the pain or agony would stop? She wondered if she would ever be able to read to her babies again?

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Robin spent five days in the hospital and in that time she missed snuggling her two babies more than she ever could have imagined. She also experienced one of her greatest heartbreaks as a mother, when she had to cease breastfeeding her newborn son at five months due to her cancer diagnosis and recovery. So when we spent time with her babies (now big boys), it warmed my heart that all they wanted to do was snuggle right into her with their favorite lovies (their bears) and be present with her.

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As Robin shares her story for the first time and releases it from her “cancer compartment” I can share the good news with you that she can talk again, she can read to her little boys, and as of October 25, 2013 she is cancer free and the chances of re-occurrence have dropped considerably.  For T2 squamous cell carcinoma, the likelihood of re-occurrence is at it’s highest during the first two years after removal. She made it to year two. Milestone achieved! Now, as Robin lives each day cancer free she continues to feel blessed with her health and life. She celebrates her strength, her triumphs and she feels empowered. She chooses JOY over fear!

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I asked Robin what her greatest accomplishment is. She quickly gave me the obvious answer, motherhood. Then I asked her to consider that maybe it isn’t motherhood. What if the answer is even more personal? What if the answer is… yourself? She grinned, then reflected on the past two years…  with a pause, and said… yes. I am my greatest accomplishment. Yes, you are.

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Robin’s mantra for life is that sometimes we need “to accept that everything happens for a reason and everything that we live through is part of our story”. She believes that “it’s what makes us the incredible people that we are”. Next time you are in the dentist’s office and they check your tongue or other areas of the inside of your mouth, thank them for being thorough because they are screening for oral cancer. Click here to read more on Robin’s journey

SarahXOXO

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