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First, if you haven’t watched this video…please do!!

(please mute the music player on your right before hitting play)
you can also watch it here.

So…technically, Portraits by Nicole is not expanding, but I am!! Every night I pray that all will go according to God’s plan and this new life growing inside of me will be healthy and strong. We are not going to find out the sex of the baby until he/she arrives (yes, I know, it’s going to kill me…besides, I’m sure it will be another boy!)

What does this mean for my business?? I have been slowing down to enjoy my family more and having another child is definitely something I need to sit back and enjoy!!….so, I will be slowing down even more later this year. I will not be taking anymore appointments starting in August, aside from those I’ve talked with already. I have five weddings that month and I want to be able to stay caught up and not be so overwhelmed… I hope you all understand. I will be officially taking off the month of October (aside from a wedding) through January possibly February. If you are a part of the baby plan and your appointment would fall during this time, please contact me and we will arrange your session.
I’m so thankful to all of you who support me and what I do, I’m so blessed to have you in my life!

Remember last year when I wrote that long post about slowing down and spending more time with my family??.. (here’s the link). Well as many of my close family and friends know, I actually let myself become even more busy than I already was! So, as my crazy year is winding down, God has revealed some things to me that I need to share.

1) Success is not measured by money or the number of “wow, that’s amazing” comments I get on facebook.
I’ve struggled with this for some time. What does it truly mean to be successful? How far do I want to take my business? What do I want to acheive? To the world, I believe success is measured in monetary value and praises…but God is showing me that success is completely different. What if success isn’t making a $100 k a year, but rather it’s teaching your children how to say “please” and “thankyou”? What if success isn’t getting 5000 likes on facebook, but rather making dinner when you’ve had the roughest day? What if success is reading a story to your kids at night, or dropping off dinner to a family going through hardship? I’ve been so busy trying to be “successful” from the world’s standpoint, that I have failed to realize…..I already have achieved many successes! And everyday is a new opportunity to succeed even more.
2) No is not a bad word.
For the longest time, those two little letters never came out of my mouth (except when talking to my children!). I felt I had an obligation to complete strangers to make them happy, to let people walk over me and take advantage of me. Not with just my business, but in all aspects of life. If someone needed something and I really didn’t want to do it, I still said yes, because I was afraid they would be upset with me, or that I would somehow get struck by lightning for saying no. But, God is showing me that I can say no, and I will say no…and it’s completely FREEING!!
3) God is the only thing that will truly fulfill me.
I think I struggle with the meaning of success and saying no to people, because I try to fulfill myself with all of the wrong things. I get obsessed with trying to acheive perfection in many things…with my work (not to be confused with house work…definitely not striving for perfection there!!), and I seriously struggle with my body image….buying products that say they will “lift this” and “tone that” when all they do is deflate my pocketbook. When will I see that it’s not about me being perfect, but it’s about knowing the ONE who is perfect, Jesus Christ.
So with these truths being revealed to me, I will be slowing down my business next year (really, I mean it!!) I have made some changes in the way I do things and how sessions will be booked (you can find most of the changes on my website under the FAQ tab at the top). But, most of all with this post, I just want to encourage you! You are wonderful, you are beautiful (or handsome), you are successful, and most importantly, you are a child of God.

Listen to this wonderful reminder! (don’t forget to mute the blog music player to your right before clicking play)

I am so excited to tell you that I had the opportunity to shoot the fall cover for Wedding Day Magazine!! Some of the places you can pick up an issue are Macy’s, David’s Bridal, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, A Party A-Part, and The Bride to Be. (they may not be out in some of the stores until late next week..)
It was one of the hottest days in August when we did the shoot…the model was such a sweet heart to put up with the heat. We shot at the Allen County Fairgrounds during the fair…and trust me, we got some strange looks from people wondering why there was a girl walking around in a wedding dress!! Now that the magazine is out, I can share it with you!!
Not only did I get to shoot the cover, but they featured one of my February weddings!! Congrats Anna and Michael Royal for making your debut in print!

The other day I arrived to a shoot a bit early, so I decided to rest my eyes awhile. I leaned against the steering wheel of my husband’s truck and closed my eyes and sighed. I was tired, I could barely stay awake on the drive into Fort Wayne. I was overwhelmed, I have an edit list a mile long with no end in sight. I was praying, praying that God would help me get through all that life brings my way. Then, I was startled by a tap on my window. Caught off guard, I couldn’t figure out how to open my window, so I just opened the door….to find a woman standing outside my truck. I thought maybe she needed directions, or heck, maybe she was going to ask me for money (not that I would have been helpful with either!). But what came out of her mouth really took me by surprise. She said, “Girl, you look so depressed. It’s not that bad. Someone always has it worse than you. God loves you girl”. And with that, she smiled and walked away. I didn’t really know what to say, I was seriously sort of in shock. ( And to think, I thought I just looked tired, but now I looked depressed…jeesh!). I thought it was strange for someone to come out of their way to tell me that…but was it really? I’m pretty sure it was God using someone’s voice to speak to me, to tell me that He is with me no matter what. And for the following week that I had, it was a message that I kept close to me. My youngest son Reece was in the hospital two nights with a terrible case of croupe (a virus that makes your throat close up), and during that time, I had a peace with me. I knew he was going to be ok. I knew it could always be worse. One of the nights around midnight, I went to the snack room (thank you God for blueberry poptarts!), and there was a young couple standing outside crying because their little boy was sick. I so desperately wanted to say to them that it was going to be ok, that God loved them, but I just simply couldn’t do it, I was too scared. I wasn’t brave like the woman who tapped on my truck window. I pray that you are open to see the little “taps on your window” this week….to be able to hear God’s message through others…and maybe you’ll be the person tapping on someone else’s window.

I’ve had this post in my head for several months now, but I could never quite get my thoughts together (so forgive me if I go all over the place..). Something has been consuming my mind for quite some time….it’s the thought of never being “good enough”. As a mom, as a wife, as a friend…I’m just not good enough. I think we as women put so much pressure on ourselves to be what the world sees as perfect that it makes us start to go crazy. We want everyone to think we have it all together, that our house is always clean, and that our children behave like angels in public…..We rush around and pick up the house for an hour, only to say to our friend as they walk through the door, “oh, excuse the mess, the house is such a wreck.” …..why do we do this?! I think it’s time to give ourselves a break…..I’ve had so many expectations for my life that I’ve simply failed…and with each failed expectation came new realizations about myself.
My Failed Expectations……1). I’ll be the best mom ever….
Before I had children, I pictured myself holding them, loving them, reading them stories every night, and having picnics. No one told me I would become the poop wiper, throw up cleaner, booger picker, referee, tired mom that I am. I thought I would have scheduled “school time” throughout the day, craft time, and make healthy snacks. (insert laughter here). I’m lucky if all three of my boys get their teeth brushed and change their underwear everyday. I sometimes resort to using tasty treats as a bribe for good behavior, I yell way more than I should, and my youngest will probably never talk because I don’t read to him as much as I should….
2). I’ll be the best wife ever…..
I’ve never been Betty Crocker, so why did I envision myself making lunch for my husband to take to work?? Has it happened in the last nine years? nope. I have great intentions of having fabulous dinners ready for him when he gets home, but by the time 5pm rolls around, I’m usually calling in for a pizza. I thought we would stare into each other’s eyes like some romance movie and take long walks after dinner (the dinner that I purchased….). And although we stare at each other sometimes now, it’s usually because one of us farted or said something stupid….not because we are dreaming of our eternity together. I thought I would wear makeup and pretty nightgowns….unfortunately, I am usually adorned with my husband’s fleece pants and a t-shirt. The sound of my cracked heels scraping across the sheets is the only thing that wakes him up….
3) I’ll be the best friend ever…..
We all have a friend that we can go a year without seeing and when we do finally see them, it’s like we just saw them yesterday. I wish all friends were like that. Friends take work. And just like my laundry gets away from me, so does taking the time to call a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile. It’s easy to just stay in my own little world…besides, I’m sure everyone else is just as busy as me, right?? It’s not the same to text or facebook someone as it is to send a card or bring a meal.
So why do we think we have to be more than what we are? Who is putting all this pressure on us? the world, our friends, or is it just us putting pressure on ourselves? Why do we play the comparison game? So, I challenge all of you out there to look yourself in a mirror and say, “I am perfect just the way I am”.
Is my life what I “expected”? No, it’s not…..it’s much more!!! More than I could have ever dreamed. I am blessed beyond a doubt and I wouldn’t trade any of it! Superwoman you say? Why yes, maybe I am….just not quite the one I thought I would be.