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

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Accomplished Woman : Meet Maggie Lord

Sometimes when you are so busy conquering the world (well, the book publishing and wedding blog world) it’s important to stop and reflect on all that you have right at this moment.

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When I first met Maggie I was a little intimidated because she was a successful wedding editor for rusticweddingchic.com in addition to being the book author of Rustic Wedding Chic and Barn Weddings.  I couldn’t believe how much she has done in so little time and I couldn’t help but wonder if she ever slept, especially with a little one at home? Maggie was a breath of fresh air for me, as she was just as fearless and nostalgic as I am and we talked about our summer vacations spent on lakes as children. Soon I realized that our paths were meant to cross.

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Maggie’s son is in preschool now and you could just see how her eyes lit up around him. Those little hands of his, they still reach to hold her hands to feel safe and secure. The look of wonder on his face as he plays with the fallen leaves. It was as if he and his Mama had their own private jokes too, and his sweet nature and playful personality would just melt your heart!

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I asked Maggie what her greatest accomplishment was and she said, “first and foremost, being a mother is my greatest accomplishment. Everyday with my son is a gift that is greater than I could have ever imagined.” Maggie, I can’t help but look at your growing boy and how he planted a big ol’ wet kiss on your cheek with that childish enthusiasm and think… you have found your success. The joy of motherhood and the career fulfillment you dreamed about — you have it!

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Sometimes we think about our future and wonder where we’ll be or what it will look like. My hope is that you will see the confident and fearless woman that you are, RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW, and know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. This life that you have made for yourself, it is incredible and you are inspiring. The world needs more Mompreneurs like you, paving the way for others and showing us all that our dreams are within our reach.

SarahXOXO

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No More Apologies. This is Me.

I sat across from Jane and she asked me, “are your nails always done”? I hesitated because a part of me felt guilty for saying yes, and it was the truth. I almost always have my nails done, and I do not do them on my own. I can’t sit there and paint them myself without getting interrupted or having feelings of ADD kick in. I need to physically leave my house and sit in a chair across from some sweet lady who asks me about my day and allows me to escape for a short while.

It was in that moment talking with Jane, that I realized it’s not really about the polish. It’s about sitting there for one hour and giving myself permission to be Sarah and to feel like a woman again.  I only get to do this once or twice a month, and for that one hour I am not wife or mommy. I am me… and it feels incredible!

You see, I have been feeling guilty about this for a while now. Not the nails, just that I seem to connect with my role as a woman far more than I connect with my role as a wife or a mother. I found that in my desire to have a family, I lost myself. The spirited girl I once knew. The fearless woman who has been too busy taking care of everyone except herself. I think other Moms (or work from home parents) can relate. We wear many hats and often we are forced to wear them at the same time. Right?

I found myself constantly apologizing, while multitasking, and feeling like a failure for not being able to do it all (well). It sounded a little something like this…

  • “I’m sorry. I can’t volunteer to do that after school activity. There’s just not enough time and somebody needs to cook dinner.”
  • “I’m sorry that the house is a mess and there are toys everywhere. It’s my busy season at work.”
  • “I’m sorry that I don’t sugar coat parenting. It’s hard! The reflux, postpartum thyroiditis, postpartum depression, an emergency hernia surgery after my c-section, and a son with asthma really kicked my ass while also running a business. Nobody prepared me for this.”
  • “I’m sorry we’re late for school. I had to get a work email out and the kids took ten minutes to get their shoes on.”

After a while it gets really old apologizing for everything, especially when it is your life and when you feel passionately about what you do. And let’s face it, there are just some things I don’t like doing and I simply can’t apologize for any longer. I don’t like being a home maker or having to cook and clean on a daily basis. I don’t want to have to stand behind a table outside of Trader Joe’s and sell Girl Scout cookies (so far, I have avoided this). I don’t want to have to help with math homework, especially when it gets to algebra. I don’t want to drive around town like a taxi for hours between activities. Nope, not me. I’d rather photograph women and their families. I want to be telling their stories and celebrating their accomplishments. I want to empower women and mentor them. I want to inspire my own children to follow their dreams. I want to work. It’s a choice. My work makes me happy and fulfills me. I won’t feel guilty for that anymore!

So as Jane and I discussed my nails, and as the conversation continued amongst a larger group of people, I found comfort in saying it out loud for the first time… “I need to be a woman, first”.

I love my kids and my husband and our crazy home life and I have decided that it’s time to stop apologizing for needing to be a woman, first. I have recently discovered that if I embrace this part of me then I will be an even better wife and mama to them! I no longer need permission to consider me first. I’m not Wonder Woman and I’m not perfect. I won’t pretend to be Martha Stewart or one of the Stepford Wives, and I’m certainly no Dance Mom either. I am Sarah (channeling my inner Katy Perry here, “and you’re gonna hear me Roar”).

Here are a few things that I am done feeling guilty about and that I love un-apologetically…

  • getting a box of hot, fresh, out-of-the-oven, Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donuts to share, and eating the entire box before I’ve even gotten home
  • dropping the kids off at school, because then we can all be our best selves
  • the goosebumps I feel while listening to the whirl of the vacuum cleaner while our cleaning lady pushes it
  • scheduling my kids playdates around happy hour
  • having the babysitter come over during dinner time so I don’t have to cook or help with homework
  • washing 4 loads of laundry and leaving the folding for him
  • driving alone in my car and singing at the top of my lungs to JT, P!NK and Rihanna without having to skip the explicit lyrics
  • enjoying my husband’s business trips, because it means I get to have a movie date with Ryan Gosling, my wine, and my dog (Hank) cuddling next to me on the couch
  • getting my monthly manicure, so I can be reminded of how important it is to just be me… a woman.
    SarahXOXO

 

 

Sarah Lehberger photographed by Michelle Gardella Photography

Sarah Lehberger photographed by Michelle Gardella Photography

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A Nostalgic View of Cousins and Bath Time

I learned something about myself recently. I’m a bit nostalgic. And when I say “a bit”, I mean a lot. It turns out that other people are this way too. We longingly remember the past. We get a bit homesick sometimes and we remember things as if they were just yesterday, but in this wistful type of way. We are sappy, daydreamers who long for this happiness we felt in the past.

One of my most nostalgic memories from when I was a kid, was bath time with my sisters and cousins. Now, we didn’t all fit in one tub, but we lived in a small duplex and our bathtubs were situated on either sides of the wall that separated our duplex. My family on one side, my cousins on the other. So naturally we would talk, sing and laugh through the walls during bath time and this will always be one of my fondest memories of childhood.  So when I had the opportunity to watch my nephew (who is also my sweet and handsome Godson) for the weekend, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph him with my son during bath time and to create some new memories for us all.

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That smile of his is too much.  This is pure delight right here in this moment! :-)

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And those lashes of his, with the look of awe and wonder at the simple pleasures of water and cups. Oh and soldiers too!

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They will always be the greatest of friends, at least that’s my hope for them. It’s how I feel about my cousins whom I miss dearly and wish I got to see more often.

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 SarahXOXO

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You are awesome! I am too.

A friend sent me this video, because she could sense how strongly I believe in empowering other women. It had me in tears. I believe that sometimes we all need a little reminder of just how incredible we are. “You are powerful. You are strong. You are capable.”

I don’t care what God you believe in, I just want you all to soak in these words and to feel the love and the truth. To hear the words that too often are lost in our cultures or society. Share this with your daughters, mothers, sisters, friends. “Your responsibility is to find that woman and to set that woman free!”

And now, I exhale…

SarahXOXO

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She is Fearless! Meet Debra + Her Spirited Family

She’s more than just a beautiful wife and mother. There’s more than meets the eye with her. Debra has worked in pediatrics for most of her adult life. The thing is, she has always done what most people don’t have the strength, courage or the patience to do.

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As a Child Life Specialist she has held the hands of babies who had to undergo surgery or transplants, massaged the tiny feet of toddlers who were unable to walk as they were going through chemo treatments, and counseled or educated the families who were also going through these challenging times or suffering the loss of a child. The home care she provided for these children and their whole families was her most fulfilling and rewarding work. So when she became a mother and had to step back from her career to help her own children, who she had found to have some special needs of their own, it was the ultimate test of her skills and patience. With her background, she thought she knew what she was doing and could BE everything and DO everything as she was devoted to their health and wellness. It turns out, this would be her hardest job to date and often times she would feel defeated. The thing is, this was just a small part of her journey and she was too tenacious to give up!

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Over the last six years she has been an advocate for her kids and worked with countless therapists, health care providers and teachers to help her own babies develop and grow to be the best individuals they can be. She realized that she couldn’t do it alone, and that sometimes it takes a village. Her babies have now grown into these empowered and totally capable kids, who remind her that she needs to celebrate the journey on a daily basis and also that it’s OK to let go.

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What I admired about Debra was this willingness to let go. To let go of the idea of perfection because it doesn’t exist. To let go of the idea that she was super-woman. To let go of what others would say and to trust her instincts. She has learned to embrace the imperfections, to ask for help when she needs it most, and to acknowledge that her sacrifices mattered and that she has a true gift. Not many people are given a sense of purpose at a young age, and hers has always been to speak up and be an advocate for children while also helping them be their strongest and best selves. Seriously, how lucky are her own kids?!

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Debra and her family’s spirited side is evident when you look at what became of these photos. The tackling and running and tickling of family members, the laughter and the hugs. That is their life. It is crazy and messy and imperfectly perfect. It’s the life that she has built with her whole heart. She knows fully well, that these are the times that she will look back on one day (with long exhales, many chuckles and a few tears).

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At this stage of her life and now that her family is thriving, she can dream about what lies ahead and continue to follow her passion to help other children and families. Debra’s infectious laughter and her fearless nature are what brought us together. I am a better person for having known her, and I’m pretty sure that if all of the children (including her own) or families that she has ever helped could thank her right now they would say something like this…

You are an incredible woman. What you said and what you did made all of the difference. Thank you for holding my hand, for laughing and crying with me, for cuddling me when I was hurting or feeling sick, for being patient with me when I couldn’t do something, for making us feel like we weren’t alone, for being there when we were scared, for loving me when I needed it most. Your strength, your knowledge and your compassionate heart were valued and will never be forgotten.

SarahXOXO

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