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Random Acts of Kindness Day

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A few weeks ago I shared the story of a local bank professional named Jess with my Facebook friends. As a small business owner, I go into my bank multiple times a week. She is young and vibrant and always has a great attitude.

Jess was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Being the badass she is, she’s still working. She rocks her bald head, helps her customers all day, all while going through chemo at Johns Hopkins. Her amazing attitude and spirit hasn’t changed one bit. She is such an inspiration to me.

I heard about the Frederick Mental Health Association’s Random Acts of Kindness Challenge, and I decided to challenge my friends and family via Facebook to secretly help Jess. And oh boy did they answer the call. For the last couple weeks, my mailboxes (email and snail mail) have been full of wonderful surprises for Jess.

Yesterday we delivered over $1,500 worth of gift cards and items to her. It was so emotional.

Think about all the trips to the grocery store where her bill will now be ZERO.

Imagine for a moment Jess in JoAnn Fabrics (and Michaels and Target and Barnes & Noble and Amazon!) and that moment when she realizes she can buy items for any project she wants to work on at no cost to her because kind people, some who live hundreds of miles away and who don’t even know her, care about her.

Close your eyes and smile when you realize Jess will have a full tank of gas and a full bag of books and art supplies for her next chemo treatment. It’s all because Facebook friends answered the call.

How to thank all those who helped? I’m not even sure how to begin… but I’ll start by saying, you know there’s a lot of people involved when you have to keep a spreadsheet to keep track!
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Facebook is a dicey place sometimes (especially now with political stuff!) but it can also do incredible things.

By my count we added 51 Acts of Kindness to MHA’s Challenge.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. ‪#‎211ActsofKindness‬

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Doors of Frederick :: Frederick, Maryland

I have some exciting news!

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Doors of Frederick is my personal photo project for 2016.

When I moved to Frederick in 2008, I instantly fell in love with the people and homes of Downtown Frederick. I’ve wanted to do a photo project for a long time, but wasn’t quite sure how or what.

This fall my husband Joe and I were walking our dogs downtown and I kept ooh-ing and ahhhh-ing over the colorful front doors. He told me instead of drooling over them I should just photograph them. Well, OK!

When I do a project, it’s a “Go big or go home” deal. So I’m not just taking some photos of doors and posting every once in awhile- I am posting a door a day. That’s 366 doors! (Thanks, leap year!)
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Please follow along on my journey to document and celebrate all the beauty Downtown Frederick has to offer.

Here’s the website (updated monthly)
Here’s the FB page (updated daily)
Here’s the Instagram page (updated daily)

 

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When Photos Are All You Have Left :: A Personal Post

I follow a fun and sassy lady on facebook who goes by Missy MWAC. I’ve always enjoyed her posts about the photography industry. They are tongue and cheek, silly, and good for a laugh.

Missy has posted this personal photo of hers with a text overlay several times since I began following her a few years ago. I’ve always just scrolled by.

But these days,  this quote and photo hits me like a ton of bricks.

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On October 13th of 2015, we lost my father in law after a long and courageous battle with a rare form of cancer.

All of a sudden, every photo I had ever taken of him, every photo from his childhood, every photo shared by friends and relatives seemed so much more important. More meaningful. And I remembered all the times I almost took a photo and I didn’t.

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My father in law in his favorite place on earth, his cabin in North Carolina

 

This July we were able to do something my father in law always wanted- to have all of his kids, all of their spouses and all of his grandchildren come to his cabin (that he had just finished building months before his diagnosis) in North Carolina at the same time. What you have to realize that “all” of us equals 18 people. And we live all across the country.

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a few iPhone photos from our our cabin trip in July 2015

It was loud.
It was chaotic.
It was perfect.

I took a lot of photos on my iPhone of everyone playing games, taking in the amazing views on the back deck, and holding babies. We spent time grilling, playing cornhole, cards, and in beach chairs down by the lake. It was such a great time.

Two days into the trip, we had my friend and fellow photographer Beth come and take photos of the whole family. It’s a little more than miraculous that my friend Beth lives nearby. This cabin is in the middle of nowhere. Some of Beth’s family actually lives in the Frederick area and several years ago she hired me to photograph a family event of hers there. Three years later, here she was taking photos of my family on her home turf. Gotta love how the universe works.

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Beth doing her magic with my mother and father in law and their children.

While Beth was taking the photos, I know that many of us were ready for it to be over. It was hot. It was humid. The kids were restless. But Beth just kept smiling and worked through many different groupings, making sure to get everything we wanted.

Three months after these photos were taken, Pops was gone. And all of a sudden, these photos were not just nice memories- they were priceless.

I know in the days leading up to the funeral, Joe and I looked at them a lot. I’m sure my sister in laws did, too.

At the funeral, two of those photos from the cabin were on easels at the front of the church.

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© Beth Patton Studio

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© Beth Patton Studio

Pops loved his family. His family was the #1 most important thing in his life. To have these photos… well, I just can’t say too much about it without tearing up. It’s the last time we were all together. It was the last time he was really feeling like himself.

Every year I get phone calls and emails from clients in need of photos ASAP. The photos I took are all they have left of someone they love.

And now here I am… and all of a sudden- I get it. I really, truly get it.

I thought I understood how important my career was. But now? Now I really know.

Whether you have someone like myself or Beth come and photograph your family, or you just have your iPhone, take the photos.

Take the photo even though you don’t have makeup on.

Take the photo even if you’re in a rush.

Take the photo even if you wish you had lost 15 pounds before vacation.

Take the damn selfie with them.

Just take it.

Because while it might not seem important now, just wait until it’s all you have left.

Kate McKenna - January 27, 2016 - 3:17 PM

So I teared up on the very first line of this blog post. At the quote on the photo you mentioned. Then I kept scrolling and here I am at the bottom, weeping. I am so sorry for the loss you’ve had this past year. You are such a wonderful human being and I’m glad I know you :)
xo

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Frederick Magazine :: The New Entrepreneurs

I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the lens a few weeks ago for a story that was published in the January issue of Frederick Magazine.

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While the article says, that I love what I do because I can, “work whenever I want,” it’s a little deeper than that.

I love what I do because I get to tell the stories of amazing people, but also because of the flexibility in my schedule. Yes, I can *work* whenever I want (kind of…) but more than that, I can volunteer whenever I want to, be with a friend in need whenever I want to, go home and see my family whenever I want to, take a two hour lunch with fellow entrepreneurs… those are the things that really matter to me.

 

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I refuse to spend my entire life working hard in the hustle and not enjoying myself along the way. Life it too short and unpredictable for that. Find something you love, make it work for your lifestyle, and live your damn life.

No amount of money, no specific car, no amount of square footage in a house, no specific label on your clothes is going to “fill you up.” Your family, your friends, those special connections between people you make along the way… that’s what fills you up. It’s what fires me up every single day. It’s what makes me want to do more, be more, see more, give more.

So yes, this article says I can “work whenever I want” but that’s just the baseline of it all. There’s so much more to why I do what I do.

A big thanks to Turner Photography for a great session, EnMasse for the beautiful bouquet, and Meghan for being my stand-in bride for the shoot.

:: You can read the article here

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Welcome Baby Brooks!

Following this family along on their journey has been incredible.

The Seifert Family added another member, and I was so excited to meet him at their home in Old Town, Alexandria.

Brooks, you are perfect!

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