Advice

Camp Mighty Pictures: Friday Afternoon by Leslie Fandrich

Last week I showed you Friday morning at Camp Mighty. The rest of Friday was filled with more creative inspiration and practical advice. Margaret Stewart was up next, illuminating us on the reasons why we create. 

Margaret Stewart, Director of Product Design at Facebook

Margaret Stewart, Director of Product Design at Facebook

Margaret's talk was titled, "How I Hurt Myself Knitting." On a flight home from London, she stayed up the entire flight knitting and developed a serious injury in her arm. Her doctor told her knitting injuries are common. Who knew knitting was dangerous? She began to wonder why she was compelled to knit tiny sweaters for her friends with new babies when she could have easily bought something. So she asked twitter, "Why do you make things?" She got a lot of great answers but very simply, we create things for ourselves and we create things for others. We create to hold in our hands the things that we dream. We create because it's fun. Creating gives us a sense of purpose. We create to please others and to show that we care. 

She segued into creating successful platforms on the internet to enable other people's creativity and invite participation like YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook. These sites are open ended and have no story or script. The user gets to decide and tell their own story. These are designs that empower people and amplify other's voices. It's about the people who use it and the power is in the aggrigate view. Margaret played the trailer for the YouTube, crowd-sourced movie Life in A Day, have you seen it? I watched on the plane home from last year's Camp Mighty and it was awe inspiring. It re-enforces the concept that the individual matters, YOU matter, you will be heard and all together we can create a compelling picture.

So, Margaret would like to know, what are you going to make? She told us to find and defend our time to make things. Makers Gonna Make and we ARE what we make.

Jordan Ferney's mother has this great quote on her fridge, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want in the moment."

Jordan Ferney's mother has this great quote on her fridge, "The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want in the moment."

Jordan FerneyJihan Zencirli and Philippa Hughes took the stage together to give brief talks about how they made their creative businesses happen. I regret not getting any pictures of Philippa from the Pink Line Project, I was too mesmerized by her story about transforming Washington, DC with art events to pick up my camera. The biggest message I got here is that there is no formula, each person's path to creative entrepreneurship is unique. However, two things these ladies have in common is PASSION and doing BIG things. Figure out what you love and just go for it. Find a need and fill it. Be Bold. Be Focused. Keep your eye on the big picture.

Jihan Zencirli is full of creative energy and enthusiasm, even while walking her dog.

Jihan Zencirli is full of creative energy and enthusiasm, even while walking her dog.

Brittany Gibbons is hilarious. I think she is giving the hand to that voice in your head that says you are not pretty, or worthy of pretty clothes.

Brittany Gibbons is hilarious. I think she is giving the hand to that voice in your head that says you are not pretty, or worthy of pretty clothes.

Brittany Gibbons in partnership with Lands' End talked about positive body imaging and dressing well for your figure no matter what size you are, Natalie Bowman from Bing talked about growing brands with social media and Susan Peterson and Alison Faulkner lead the group in a craft project from their new digital book, A Hip Handmade Holiday.

I love these ladies! They are seriously awesome. Plus, Alison told me I looked famous, so I will love her forever and ever.

I love these ladies! They are seriously awesome. Plus, Alison told me I looked famous, so I will love her forever and ever.

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That's  Nathan ,  Holly ,  Heather ,  Brittany  and  Heather  lounging by the pool.

That's Nathan, Holly, Heather, Brittany and Heather lounging by the pool.

The day ended with a beautiful sunset and relaxing by the pool. Some of the best moments at Camp happen in between all the things we are learning and doing. The spontaneous conversations and friendly talks are what make Camp so special. It's a small, intimate group and so you usually have time to really get to know people.

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Check out Flickr to see the complete set of pictures. Tomorrow I'm going to show you pictures from the Space party! There were some super amazing costumes, dancing all night and of course, Smilebooth!
 

Camp Mighty Pictures: Friday Morning by Leslie Fandrich

I took a lot of pictures and I've edited only a quarter of them! Here's the first set from Friday morning. We had breakfast, heard speakers Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl and Derreck Kayongo of the Global Soap Project and got a personalized gift from Bing and Wantist. It was a kick-ass, inspiring morning.

Jordan Ferney , mystery women and  Jihan Zencirli  walking to breakfast by the  Ace Hotel  Pool.

Jordan Ferney, mystery women and Jihan Zencirli walking to breakfast by the Ace Hotel Pool.

Melanie  and  Sheri  looking fabulous.

Melanie and Sheri looking fabulous.

Amber  and  Lindsay  are super fine.

Amber and Lindsay are super fine.

The beautiful  Daffodil .

The beautiful Daffodil.

An awesome collaged sign at the Ace.

An awesome collaged sign at the Ace.

Nicole Balch from  Making it Lovely .

Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely.

Maggie sharing her tips on achieving Life List goals.

Maggie sharing her tips on achieving Life List goals.

Maggie gave a talk on things she has learned over the years as she has been crossing things off her life list. It was the first time she spoke about it and much of what she said resonated with many of us. Sheri felt like Maggie was talking directly to her, and I'm sure many others did as well, me included. These were her lessons:

  1. Your Words Determine Your Happiness
  2. Action is Transformative
  3. Check Marks Don't Equal Happiness
  4. Our Opinions of Ourselves are NOT Fact
  5. Be Rigid Only if You Want to Snap
  6. My Body is a Compass
  7. It's About Who You Love and Who Loves You
  8. You Can Predict the Future

Next up was Derreck Kayongo. I noticed him at breakfast, before I knew who he was, and almost told him how much I loved his "look" but I got shy and didn't say a word. I wish I had.

Derreck Kayongo wowing us with an intense story from Uganda about his family witnessing the murder of nine men and his later success recycling soap from hotels with his  Global Soap Project .

Derreck Kayongo wowing us with an intense story from Uganda about his family witnessing the murder of nine men and his later success recycling soap from hotels with his Global Soap Project.

Derreck is an inspiration. He made us laugh, he made us cry and at the end of his talk he led us in singing an African song about peace. I hugged him afterward, to say thank you, with tears in my eyes. Here were some of his thoughts about how he achieved what he has:

  1. Pay attention to everything around you and connect the dots. You are here for a reason.
  2. The most beautiful thing in life is failure. Learn from it. Fail towards success.
  3. Never underestimate the power of ingenuity.
  4. Allow critique.
  5. Don't define yourself by your situation.
  6. Let your product be a symbol of hope, but make sure people use it!

The  Go Mighty  girls.

The Go Mighty girls.

Personalize presents for everyone selected from our Life Lists from  Bing  and  Wantist .

Personalize presents for everyone selected from our Life Lists from Bing and Wantist.

My gift.

My gift.

Holly Burns from  Nothing But Bonfires  opening a gift from Bing and Wantist.

Holly Burns from Nothing But Bonfires opening a gift from Bing and Wantist.

So many beautiful things.

So many beautiful things.

The Commune, where almost all of the events were held.

The Commune, where almost all of the events were held.

By noon on Friday I could have gone home and felt like what I had experienced was already enough, but there was more!! I was not even half way through the weekend. If you would like to see a few more pictures, check out my Flickr set. More to come.

For now, I am so thankful that I was able to go again this year, I am so thankful for inspiring, creative and amazing friends and I am so thankful for all the amazing things that people make and do. What an incredible world we live in. Have an excellent Thanksgiving. xo

Ninth Anniversary by Leslie

Nine years ago I married the most caring, charming man I had ever met. Today, he still charms me and takes good care of our family every single day. I am one lucky lady. We've had two children together and many adventures. It's always been fun (except for those nasty fights about the dishes.)

Last year I wrote about our engagement and wedding story and shared a bunch of the pro shots from the small ceremony during the day. In the comments my friend Rachel reminded me of these awesome pictures that she took of us in the evening when we were hanging out in the city. That's her husband Rosecrans in the picture of me hailing a cab.

Do you think we could be any happier? I don't think so.

Are we still jumping on the bed though? Not exactly. Mostly, if there is a bed nearby, we are sleeping in it. With our kids.

Marriage is complex. It is a challenge for two people to grow and change and stay on the same page with each other. It is easy to let minor details add up into a massive lump of discontent. But it CAN last forever. It CAN be blissful and lovely and supportive, if each person listens to each other and tries their best to give each other what they really need.

I'm no marriage expert but I have learned that for MY marriage to work, there are a few things that really help us stay happy with each other.

Generosity: How much you give to your spouse naturally changes over time, especially when the kids are soaking up so much of everything. It's important to be generous with each other, which to me means, giving more than you think that person needs. Whatever it is. Patience during a fight. Pats on the bum when you are walking by. Fixing something that is wrong. A nice long hug.

Clear Expectations: In any relationship, you must clearly communicate what you expect from the other person. Defining what our roles are in marriage and parenting is so important. Unmet expectations can be disasterous and the only way to know is to tell your partner what you want and need. As situations change, so do expectations, so make sure you continue checking in with each other. It's also really important to have realistic expectations and to understand what each person is able to bring to the relationship at any given time.

Quiet Time Together: This one mostly applies to people with kids, but it's also important if you have demanding jobs and always have the tv or computer in front of you. We just started doing this, but each night after the kids go to bed, rather than running to the tv or computer like we used to do, we spend 30 minutes just talking to each other. All devices are off and quiet. We sit on the couch, go outside, cuddle in bed. Wherever, but the ONLY expectation is that we are with each other. We don't even have to talk, although we always do. After the time is up, we go off to do our own things, but sometimes we don't, if you know what I mean. (Wink wink.)

Understanding & Compassion: This one can be really hard, especially if we are angry, hurt or fed up, but it is ESSENTIAL. If I take that thing that bugs me, that thing that hurts and I try to understand why it happens and I try to feel compassion for where my husband might be coming from, I am far more likely to be generous and willing to work it out. Often, if we get to the root of an issue, and we address it or understand the fear that might be driving a behavior, it makes it much easier to find a solution. Understanding and compassion encourages each of to be involved and help each other out.

Today I am grateful for all the wonderful things in my life, but especially for my husband and my marriage. Next year will be our tenth anniversary and I hope we can do something really special, just the two of us.

Advice to Myself: Appreciate What You Have by Leslie

I have been saying this to myself all week. It's been a tough one. I have a restless soul, I like change and I am always seeking the next thing. This drive brought me to the US from Canada, it gives me the ability to take risks and it had me constantly rearranging my room when I was a kid. It's something that I am proud of and that makes me who I am, but sometimes it overwhelms me and I have a difficult time appreciating what is right here in front of me, now, in this moment. I have to remind myself to be content, to be grateful for the way things are now and to appreciate what I have.

I sometimes get so caught up in thinking about the future that I spiral into a place where I am unhappy that things are not where I want them to be yet. It's the ugly side of setting life goals and having an idea of how you want your life to be. I don't feel content; I want a house with more space for my family, I want to have a successful career, I want the pressure of parenting to ease a little. If I focus on those things too much though, I forget that the little house we have is pretty sweet, I can take time to relax and read a book, and my children are at that beautiful, perfect age when life is a wonder and ice cream is the best thing in the whole world.

Do you take time to look around and really appreciate what you do have? How do you balance feeling content with your life and also wanting it to grow?

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This week's type is drawn from a 1921 version of Narcissus by Walter Tiemann. It's an ornamental typeface that was drawn by Tiemann for the Klingspor type foundry based on inline capitals first cut by Simon Pierre Fournier in about 1745. A modern version is available at Linotype.

The photograph was taken in my parent's backyard last year while my whole family had a bubble blowing frenzy. My family can be crazy fun like that. I love the metaphor of the bubbles, that they are fleeting and will soon be gone. Live in the moment my friends. Enjoy every second, even if things are not exactly how you want them, and maybe especially because of that. Camera Equipment: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-70mm L lens. Camera Settings: 1/800 sec at f/3.5, ISO 100.

Advice to Myself: Stay Curious, Keep Learning by Leslie

This bit of advice might be one of the most important that I tell myself. Without curiosity and learning there is no growth or forward motion. Children are exceedingly curious, it is one their defining traits. They are always asking why and how because so much is unknown to them. At some point though, some of us cross a threshold and stop asking those questions. I hope that I never do. I sometimes say that going to school taught me how to learn, how to study things and build on my knowledge. My college education fueled the ten years that I worked in NYC. When I got pregnant I began the learning cycle again with every book and class I could get my hands on about pregnancy and parenting. Now, I am entering into a another new period of learning, taking online courses and attending conferences to learn about social media and developing a creative career in this new era. Today I am starting the 5 week ecourse Get Your Paint On and I'll be attending the Mom 2.0 Summit at the beginning of May. I love this kind of learning, it's at your own pace and flexible enough that I can do it as a parent. My go-to place for learning has always been books, but taking courses online or in person at conferences has accelerated things dramatically and really improved the network of people around me who are doing the same thing. In addition to art, design and social media, I also love to learn about history, science, literature and pop culture.

As I mentioned before, for me this series is an act of learning in itself. As I draw these letter forms I learn about the subtle differences in each letter and font, I look up the history and learn about the people involved. I could easily use the computer to typeset these graphics in a few minutes, but I love the process of drawing them by hand; pencil sketching each letter, outlining with a Micron pen, filling them in with a black marker. It's very satisfying to make something with your own hands and it's an important first step for me to make if I am going to be doing more hand lettering. I also discovered a new hand letterer this week, Sean McCabe, and I love his work. He's also got a section called learn, in which I was happy to discover his hand lettering process is similar to mine and he's also rocking the Micron pens, which I love and first learned about from Danny Gregory.

How do you stay curious and keep learning? What do you like to learn about?

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This week I hand drew the text based on Helvetica. In the interest of learning more, over the weekend I watched a documentary called Helvetica and I wanted to base this week's illustration on this workhorse of modern design. The documentary was filled with renowned graphic designers, critics and type designers (Massimo VignelliRick Poyner, Michael Bierut, Matthew Carter, Wim CrouwelTobias Frere-Jones, Jonathon Hoefler, Hermann Zapf, Erik Spiekermann, Neville Brody, Paula Scher, Stefan Sagmeister, David Carson) giving their opinion about this ubiquitous font. There are two sides to the argument, one is that type should be neutral and not get in the way of the content, the other is that type can and should have a voice and contribute to the message. Words used to describe Helvetica in the movie were all over the map: neutral, modern, idealistic, precise, boring, perfect, urban, everywhere, corporate, socialist, hated, loved, beautiful, easy, thick around the middle. It seems everyone has an opinion about it, depending on their experience, taste and goals for their design. Whatever the opinions of designers though, the truth is that it has been the most used font for the last 50 years on everything from corporate logos to subway signage to garbage trucks. It is an integral part of life in the city and our experience of modern design.

The photograph was taken of the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, New York. The park was the site of both the 1939 New York World's Fair and the 1964 New York World's Fair and the Unisphere was built as the main symbol of the 1964 Fair. It was also built on the original site of the 1939 Perisphere. I was lucky enough to attend the 1986 Expo in Vancouver, Canada when I was 11 years old. It was the greatest vacation my family ever took. Talk about learning. Now I have an itch to go to another one, based on the list, I'll have to wait at least 3 years. Don't think I'll be going to the one in South Korea this year, but maybe to Expo 2015 in Milan? I love the Milan EXPO logo, I am so into CMYK colors right now. I'd like to point out that there hasn't been an Expo in North America since the one I went to in 1986. What's up guys? Edmonton, Alberta in Canada had a pretty strong big going for 2017, but it didn't receive the federal funding that it needed. Can we bring it to North America soon? I'd love to take the kids. Camera Equipment: Canon PowerShot SD600 way back in 2008! 

Advice to Myself: Take a Deep Breath by Leslie

It's amazing what taking a deep breath can do for fear, for anger and for anxiety. It's something I do when I get nervous, when I lose my patience with the kids and when I am trying to relax. I've also been trying to teach my five year old son how to harness it's power. We will sometimes do deep breathing before he goes to sleep, or if he is upset and crying. We also used it very successfully when he was nervous and fearful about getting stitches. Before the doctor came in we practiced our deep breaths. I told him to breath in through his nose, and out through his mouth. We did this until he felt calmer. When the doctor came in I talked him through it and we did the deep breathing together while she was treating his cut. He stayed so calm and relaxed, without yelling, crying or having a panicky moment at all. I was so proud of him.

Deep breaths are a huge part of any meditation practice or martial art for a reason, they center you, calm you and allow you to focus on being in control. I'm think most people naturally take a deep breath when coping with stress, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves to slow down and breathe when we feel our emotions spinning out of control. If we feel angry or anxious, the best thing we can do is count backwards from 10, take some deep breaths and tackle the situation a little calmer. In addition, if you intentionally focus on deep breathing for a few minutes a day when you are already at ease, you are likely to feel calmer and will be better able to cope with the challenges that your day may bring. Being aware your breathing is an integral part of meditation and it's something I'd like to practise doing more.

Is deep breathing something that you are mindful of in your life? Do you remember the last time you used it to cope with stress, ground yourself or stay focused? Please share in the comments!

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Hand drawn lettering for the words "Take a Deep" were inspired by a 1925 version of Garamond from the Stemple Type Foundry. You can see a modern version of Stemple Garamond at Typedia. Lettering for the word "Breath" is based on a typical Roundhand from the later part of the 1800s. Rather than draw it with a calligraphy pen, I outlined it and filled it in.

The photograph was taken at Nauset Beach in Orleans, MA on a family vacation to Cape Cod a number of years ago. Camera Equipment: Nikon D70 (which I have since sold) at an 18mm focal length. Settings: 1/640 secs at f/13, ISO 400.

Advice to Myself: Listen More, Talk Less by Leslie

If I ever want to learn something new, empathize or otherwise understand something that I haven't experienced first hand, the surest way is to listen more and talk less. I ask questions, I do not judge and I open my mind and heart to things that are often different from what I know. I listen to the stories, the history and the context to gain an understanding and to walk in someone else's shoes. Listening more and talking less is also a great approach for new situations, conferences, jobs or any social gatherings. I don't want to be the person constantly talking about themselves. If I am curious and interested in other people and their unique perspectives and experiences, I find myself learning and growing so much. It's my ticket to kindness and understanding.

In my own life, I have heard this a few times when someone that I know is struggling with a problem or situation and rather than just listening, I try to think of ways that they can solve their problems. Usually these people just needed me to listen. Problem solving an emotional situation often ignores how that person is feeling and the result is that they feel judged. I try to hold my tongue, step back and let them lead. This has also been a good strategy for me recently while I've been learning about the business of blogging and putting myself into huge social situations. It doesn't mean that I am a quiet mouse in the corner, but it does mean that my focus has been on learning and observing, rather than leading, directing and judging. Eventually, once I learn the ropes, I can transition into a leadership role confidently.

Do you have examples of when you have needed to listen more and talk less?

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Today's hand lettering is drawn from an 1816 sample of William Caslon IV's "Egyptian", which was the first sans-serif typeface for printing and was only available in all caps. Hand lettering had been done in sans-serif for a while, but this was the first metal typeface that you could print with. It was not very popular and sans-serif did not begin appearing for a number of years. You can now purchase a newly drawn version of the Caslon's Egyptian typeface from Font Bureau. Here's a fascinating discussion about digitizing the font and it's history on Typophile.

The photograph is of a white lily that my husband bought me for Valentine's Day. I chose it because it is "open" and the stamens look like they are flowing into the flower. I thought it was a good metaphor for an ear that is listening. Camera Equipment: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 50mm Compact Macro lens. Camera Settings: 1/125 sec at f/2.5, ISO 1250. 

Advice to Myself: Take Risks, Trust Yourself by Leslie

Today I'm starting a series called Advice to Myself. The images will consist of my photographs overlaid with hand lettered text. I'll be posting one each Monday! Hope you enjoy.

Take Risks, Trust Yourself is fairly self explanatory, right? But I think sometimes this is very hard for me to do. Maybe it's hard for you sometimes too. I know what it means and yes, of course I want to do these things, but why and how? The why is that I must take risks to push myself out of my comfort zone and GROW. Risks often equals growth. I take a chance on something and if it works out then I win, but if it doesn't I have to be ok with the fact that at least I tried. Generally I'll learn something, even if my plan doesn't work out. The how is related to trust. Trusting myself allows me to take the risk in the first place. I must trust myself to recognise good opportunities and follow my intuition about people and projects. It also ensures that if it doesn't work out I can sort through how to do it better the next time. I trust that I will catch myself if I fall and that I will pick myself back up and try again.  

My biggest risks have been moving far away from home. I did it once when I was 16, I moved to Vancouver from my home town. It didn't last very long or work out the way I wanted, but I did take a photography course while I was there that set me on the creative path I am still on. Years later, when I was 22, I moved to the United States from Canada, first to Minneapolis and then to New York. This move worked out much better, as I had amazing jobs, met some life long friends and my husband and have stayed here to raise my family. Both moves required great leaps of faith, risk and huge trust in myself.

Do you have any examples of when you have taken a risk and trusted yourself?

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Today's hand lettering is taken from the font Memphis. It is a slab serif (also called Egyptian) designed by Dr. Rudolf Wolf in 1929 for the Stempel foundry. It's a good headline font, and combines well with traditional romans. It doesn't work well with san-serif fonts and shouldn't be used for body copy.

The photograph is a self portrait taken in the back of a taxi in NYC. Camera Equipment: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 50mm Compact Macro lens. Camera Settings: 1/125 sec at f/2.5, ISO 3200

Portraits: Jill and Luca Breastfeeding by Leslie

I am thrilled to share these photographs with you today! I did a session with my friend Jill and she agreed to let me photograph her while she was breastfeeding her 13 month old son Luca. What a privilege to share in this moment with them. Luca is an awesome kid with a wisdom and a thoughtfulness that I love to watch. I can't wait to see him grow up. He also has an older brother, Declan, who is just as amazing. 

I am in awe of mothers who breastfeed their babies and having done it myself I know what a challenge it can sometimes be. I asked Jill to answer a few questions for me, to get some insights into her breastfeeding relationship with her two sons. Here is what she had to say:

What is your favorite part about breastfeeding?
When the baby is young, the sounds that accompany breastfeeding are precious. Getting audio of them is a must because as much as I try to engrain them into memory, they fade! With Luca, my favorite part is the 10 or 15 minutes where I can rest with my feet up and focus on him. Ahhh, quiet! And most of all, and the main reason for wanting to breastfeed my children, is knowing that I can provide them with nature's best. I believe that the nutrition, antibodies, etc. that nature tailors for each little one is unmatched.

Have you had any challenges with breastfeeding?
Really, my biggest challenge with breastfeeding was just second guessing myself the first time around. The best advice someone gave me about motherhood in general was to just trust my gut and "listen" to my baby. That applies to breastfeeding and then some. With Declan, when he was about 4 - 8 weeks old, he would have a tough time latching late afternoon or early evening. He would "baby bird" as I called it, where he'd go to latch and then pull off with his mouth wide and open going from side to side. Looking back at it and with the wisdom of being a second time Mama, I see now that I was just BONE tired by that time of the day and my milk wasn't letting down as quickly. I would stress about it then. Now, I know sitting down with a cup of tea, breathing and just focusing on the love for that little baby would have been incredibly helpful.

This time around of course there have been hiccups here and there - milk production dipping (mostly during monthly hormonal times for me), some sore nipples from bites when my production did dip - but the big difference is that I just go with it. I am able to approach the challenge in a solution-oriented, but relaxed way, because I know "we" will work it out together.

How does your child ask to breastfeed?
He does the hand sign for "milk", opening and closing his hand, and sort of says a two syllable humming word that's difficult to put letters or a word to.

Do you have a favorite time to breastfeed?
Luca's two nap times because I get Declan set up with a quiet activity and it's 10 or 15 minutes for me to retreat to Luca's room, exhale and focus on the little guy.

Do you have a favorite spot to breastfeed?
Hmmm... not really. I'm sort of an anywhere kind of chick. But, I do enjoy a nice sunny spot. So, a comfy spot on the couch where the sun is streaming in through the windows.

Have you breastfed in public?
Many times. The first time around a handy, dandy cape (aka "hooter hider") was very helpful. It made me a lot more comfortable at a time when I was very focused on getting the correct latch, etc. I've been very comfortable with breastfeeding in public. If I'm in a place where I think there may be individuals who are uncomfortable, I try to be as discreet as possible. In restaurants, I'll choose a seat against a wall, etc.

Any funny breastfeeding stories?
In Mexico over the summer, I had some issues with my production dipping when Luca was about 6 months old. I think it was hormones and it just being so HOT. Luca was breastfeeding like a maniac. We were both quite thirsty. He ended up biting me out of frustration. OUCH. I was very lucky and never had to deal with cracked, sore nipples after birth. But, wow, I now have total empathy for new moms who go through it. Anyhow, trying to heal while in a wet bathing suit was not working. I needed to get some air. The glitch was that my parents were visiting and Dad is still uncomfortable with nursing. So, I was wearing sarongs loosely draped over my breasts, trying to be discreet, but in serious pain. I saw stars every time Luca latched. I finally said to my father, "Dad, these are not breasts. Think of them as bottles that feed your grandson". He learned to avert his eyes, have a sense of humor and I took to reading facing the other direction on the beach. And, sometimes Declan will say when I wake up engorged, "Whoa, your 'bee-bahs' are sooo big, Mom!"

How long do you think you will breastfeed for?
No time line. When Luca is ready and/or I am.

Do you have any advice for new Moms who want to breastfeed?
Find a great lactation consultant. When you feel stuck, reach out for help. Don't struggle with it alone. Two hundred  years ago, we would not have been new Moms at home alone with our newborns. We would have been surrounded by women and mothers to help us in this process.  As natural and amazing as breastfeeding can be, at the beginning, it can also feel far from natural trying to get the latch down, etc.  Our hormones are raging and we can't help but second guess ourselves. The lactation consultants at the hospital were great. I found one who I never met with after I got home, but was able to call her with questions. She was GREAT.

Home made saline solution heals cracked nipples. The natural bacteria in baby's saliva can burn and get into the small lacerations. Apply saline after nursing and let it air dry. RELIEF!

Get baby to take a bottle early on so you can get some alone time. I started pumping only a 1/2 of an ounce at three weeks old. At the "last" before bedtime feeding, Daddy would give baby the bottle with only a 1/2 ounce and then baby would go right onto the breast. They are old enough for it not to cause nipple confusion and with so little milk in the bottle, they are not satiated and will still be eager to breastfeed. We did this nightly for weeks and then every couple of days consistently. Baby gets used to a bottle and we got to go on dates! Pumping after the 1st morning feeding is easiest when fullest.

What have you learned from breastfeeding?
I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a nurturer.

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What fantastic advice and insights. Many thanks to Jill for allowing me to capture and share this beautiful moment with her son! For more breastfeeding advice and resources, please visit KellyMom.com for the best and most current research. If you are struggling with breastfeeding, please review these resources to find a board certified lactation consultant in your area or contact your local La Leche League.

If you are in the New York area and would like me to take your portrait (for ANY reason!) and be featured on this site, please contact me for more information

Disclaimer: Breastfeeding at the breast is not always the best way to feed a child. There are many situations that require pumped breast milk or formula for medical reasons or preference. However, breastfeeding at the breast is the most natural way to feed your child, and I would love to see more mothers breastfeeding for the AAP recommended one year or more. I would also like to normalize breastfeeding by showing more mothers doing it. In an era when breastfeeding pictures are removed from Facebook for indecency, and women are asked to move at Target while breastfeeding, I hope that this goes a small way toward showing that breastfeeding is a normal, natural practise that mothers should not be ashamed of, hide or be discriminated against for doing.

Taking the Leap and Adapting to Change by Leslie

For some reason I have always loved change. As a kid I would rearrange my room every few months, I would set up new play areas, or a desk. I was always looking for adventure and I always wanted more and better. I love new adventures, travel, different places and I am a bit resistant to routines and traditions. I blame it partly on my pioneering ancestors who immigrated to Canada with nothing but a capacity for hard work. They HAD to change if they wanted to survive. I'm not sure where the rest comes from, but my desire for something greater and different has always been a main driving force in my life.

However, it seems to me that very few people like change. It's disorienting, we feel lost and unsure. Just look at all the noise people are making about the Facebook changes. It's a bit surprising to me, although one thing I have learned is that people most often oppose change the most when they don't understand it or when it is forced upon them. When I used to launch redesigned Web sites, it always seemed to go better when we explained why we were making changes and how it would make people's lives better.

So, what can you do when life changes on you? (Because it will. It always does.) To get better at accepting and embracing change it helps to understand the change and to try to find the silver lining. Always focus on what good will come out of the change. Try to accept it and even embrace it. The sooner that you are able to do that, the easier and happier your life will be. Raising children can be the ultimate test in accepting change. Things change with kids by the month when they are babies and each year as they get older. 

When challenged by change in your life, try to see it from a child's point of view. They LOVE change, it's exciting and adventurous, it's new and wonderful. It's an opportunity to learn and grow. Yes, it's weird and uncomfortable at first, but once a child settles into something new, they are off and running and have forgotten about the way it was before. Children live in the moment and to get better at change, we must too.

This also applies when you decide to make a change; when you move, or have children, or change jobs. Just because you have DECIDED to change, doesn't make it any easier when it actually happens. When a new situation becomes overwhelming, we must try to forget about everything else and just appreciate the moment. Practise gratitude, look around and try to appreciate where you are. Remember that it will get easier and if you are truly unhappy with how things are you can always count on the fact that everything will certainly change once again.