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love for bruce | priscilla Baierlein photography {lexington, ky family photographer}

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love for Bruce | love and laughter through the darkness


It was a cold December morning. I had just gotten Steffen to school and sat down to open my email. I love email days that include a session request. It may seem silly, but I always do a little happy dance in my chair and another when I get a booking. :) Each one brings me so much joy. I opened the new session request from a lady named Robin and read such kind words about my work and about how she was drawn to it. Sometimes you know instantly this will be someone who you'll connect to. As I read further, my heart sank...

"We are searching for a very special photographer to capture the special moments we will cherish with our dear 5 year old son, Bruce. Last week, Bruce was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain stem tumor called DIPG that is resistant to chemotherapy, and tragically has a 100% mortality rate. Bruce’s life expectancy is less than 1 year. We are shocked and heartbroken at this sudden diagnosis. One way we have decided to cope is to invest in quality photography to document Bruce’s life. We have never used professional photography services, and I have realized that being behind the (iPhone) camera has resulted in my absence from most of our family’s photos. I would like to speak with you over the phone to discuss this further. I want as many pictures of Bruce as possible. Bruce has two brothers, jack (11), and Fred (1)."

Childhood cancer. My worst nightmare. Isn't it everyone's? You see, as I was reading her words, I imagined my little six year old boy. I imagined if it were him. I imagined if I were Robin. As a momma, I imagined her pain. I breathed in the brutal gift of life. I thought of my own niece, whom I had never met, that was taken by cancer. I imagined what these sessions may look like. I wondered if I would be able to do their journey justice. I, selfishly, worried I wouldn't be able to handle it emotionally. What I never imagined was exactly how moved I could be by one family the first time I stepped foot into their presence, even in their darkest days. What I never knew was how much love one family can give out into the world, even at their lowest. What I couldn't have known before meeting him was how much joy and laughter one little five year old could bring to everyone touched with his presence. That I would have the honor of photographing a Jedi, knight in shining armor, and superhero all rolled into one...who just so happens to give the best hugs in generous amounts. 

The first time I met Robin, Patch, and Bruce, was shortly after our email and phone call. After a routine follow up they discovered fluid had been building and making his symptoms worse, he would soon have his beautiful red curls cut and a shunt placed. I was met at the door with the warmest hug from Robin. With everything that was happening, they were able to bring joy to that little room. They snuggled and laughed with Bruce. With a camera in their faces, in a room they never imagined they'd be in, during so much grief and fear, they were able to love and be joyful right there in that moment.

Robin and Patch have a true gift of connection. They each have such wit and humor and this true gift of making you feel welcome, loved, safe, and seen. During something so unexpected, so tragic, they brought joy into that hospital room. Somehow, even in the middle of devastation, I am filled with joy when I am near them. They are fighting for Bruce...not just his life...but also his joy...his dreams...and a bit of normalcy. The same for Jack and Fred. They are making every day count and filling what they can with love and joy, while dealing with their own pain. I am certain, while in their home, I am surrounded by true warriors.

Since our first meeting Bruce has gone through surgery, radiation, and a clinical trial, he has gone to Disney, met big screen superheroes, met the Nutcracker, been knighted, had a sleepover at a castle, been a part of a team from Star Wars, became a police officer and a fire fighter, blasted his brother in a nerf war, caught his first fish, danced, played in his playhouse, jumped on his trampoline, and been loved by people all over the world . Shortly after our last session they found out that the clinical trial they had been flying to New York for hadn't yet changed the tumor, but, thankfully, it hadn't grown. On their facebook page (Love for Bruce), where they keep everyone updated and raise awareness of DIPG, Robin posted this after the scans...

"We would love for this scan to have shown that the tumor is gone completely - however that would have been unrealistic and atypical for the expected course of the disease. 
We do feel relieved that the cystic component of the tumor has not worsened, and we are grateful to have confirmation that Bruce’s VP shunt continues to function properly. 
There is unfortunately no correlation between imaging and the onset of progression. This MRI does not rule out that progression could occur at any moment. Progression is random and merciless, and we fear it every day".

That was posted on May 14th.

On June 2nd they posted this...

"On Monday morning Bruce woke up with noticeable worsening symptoms. Bruce’s oncologist conducted a neurological assessment and confirmed the decline. The symptoms came just as suddenly as when he was first diagnosed. Bruce has become less coordinated, and his speech has slowed dramatically. 
Yesterday, Bruce had an MRI. Although Bruce’s tumor was stable just a few weeks ago, it has begun to grow again. We are so thankful for the time we had with Bruce since his symptoms improved after radiation - but we wanted more time. Despite the fact that we anticipated that disease progression would likely occur if the clinical trial was not effective, the news is nonetheless shocking and we feel caught off guard. 
It is no longer safe for Bruce to take the clinical trial drug ONC201, and Bruce has been removed from the trial. Different tumors can respond differently to the same intervention, and we are hopeful that it will be effective for other children. 
With the help of Bruce’s oncologist, we will be considering other clinical trials and treatments. Because Bruce has already received the maximum safe dose of radiation within this timeframe; further radiation treatments could potentially be very harmful. 
Once DIPG tumors begin to progress, no treatments have been proven effective to stop or slow the growth. The tumor will likely continue to grow, and Bruce’s symptoms will progressively decline. 
There is no way to know precisely what the progressive stage of this cancer will hold for Bruce. The prognosis at this point is weeks to four months. The rapid onset of Bruce’s initial and progressive symptoms is worrisome that we may have even less time. Our highest priority is preserving Bruce’s comfort and quality of life."

There are simply no words. How could words be put to any of this? I know they will continue to do as they have done...make each day as full of love, laughter, and joy as they possibly can for their boys. Continue being the super heroes they are, even if they feel like the furthest thing from it. They will show up when they can and rest when they can. They will fight for each other. They will be surrounded with love through every step because when you open your heart as they have there are a lot of people who love you and see all your beauty. There is beauty in their love and in their fight. There is beauty in the laughter and joy that explodes from Bruce. There is beauty in Jack's lego building and Fred's admiration of his brothers, in cartoon snuggles and family breakfast making, jumps on the trampoline, and slips down the slide, in swinging, and in the tears. There is some kind of twisted beauty in the pain that surely consumes them. Perhaps that beauty...that love...is what will move them forward and take them through each day. On the days that all the beauty seems faded and all the laughs are quiet, they will somehow show up the best they can  (sometimes that my be in the form of rest and tears and others it may be in the form of cuddles and others in laughter) for their boys and each other...because...that's just what superhero warriors do.

Hug your babies tight, my friends. Hug them so tight. Robin, Patch, Jack, Bruce, and Fred...I love you and am so thankful to have you in my life. Also, if you want to know how funny they are and how welcome they make you feel, this is a legit question I texted Robin, "Should I call Patrick in the blog post Patch, Pat, Patrick, sugar daddy, or....?" Well, I'll save the last one.

So much love,

Cilla

because you are so loved.

Hi, friends! It has been so long since my last post and I miss you immensely. Over the last...oh...seven years, I have tried with all my might to blog on a regular basis and I've promised the moon and stars. Today, I will promise this, I want to write. I think of all of you often. I am going to take it one post, one day, at a time. Here is my love for today...

Some of you may recognize the beginning of this from the newsletter on my last birthday. Consider this my mission statement. 

I always thought "by the time I'm 40 I will have it all figured out". Now that 40 is ever so near I am letting go of that. I don't want to have it all figured out. I want to learn and grow and heal. I want to live with grace. I want to let go of perfection. I want to laugh and love loudly. I want to breath and hug slowly. I want my eyes to always be open to the beauty and heart ache of life. I want to soak every bit of it in. I want to dance in my kitchen. I want to say yes to what's important and no to what isn't...and I want the courage to know the difference. I want to use every single fall along my journey as a chance to grow and heal and learn the deep lessons that only the falls can teach. I want to know that my unique sensitivity to life is never a weakness, even when it feels like it's a heavy burden to bare. I want to dip my toes into the ocean as much as I can. I want to collect all the seashells I can carry in my hands. I want the sand to find it's way into every nook and cranny of my car, my towels, my hair, and anywhere else it tends to find because it means I was there. I didn't worry about the mess...I worried about the joy. I want to sit alone with God every morning before the sun even rises. I want to sing even though I never seem to know the right words or have the right melody. I want to walk and run and hike because I have legs that will carry me. I want to cry...I want to cry every tear that needs to escape my eyes because tears mean I feel and feeling means I am alive and I am human. I want to hold hands. I want to witness the majesty of God's creation ALL around me, in all the ordinary moments because God created every bit of it...and created ME. I was worthy of creation. I want to run through the sprinklers. I want to embrace my curly hair and my thighs. I want to wear the swimsuit. I want my life to be dictated by joy...not anxiety...not fear...not depression...not trauma...not worry of what others may think or the need to please...not unhealthy food choices. I, also, want to eat the damn cake because every now and then we need cake in our lives people. I want to blow out all the candles and make all the wishes on shooting stars. I want to kiss. Oh how I love kisses. I want to dig in my garden and eat fresh tomatoes and strawberries before they ever make it to the kitchen. I want to love the world the best I can and I want to love my people with fierceness. 

My best friend likes to remind me that on our last day of elementary school (for us that was 4th grade) I cried and said "but things will never be the same". What I didn't realize then was the same is true for every single day of our lives. This day will never be the same as the day before. This too shall pass. Life will continue to move quickly and things will continue to change. Time, like all the best things in life, is bitter sweet. It gives us life and love and moments that we will always cherish, but it also takes them away. My sweet little boy who I can still hold in my arms will, hopefully, one day be too big to pick up, will no longer ask for "night night tickles" or for "one more minute". The spins and kisses and hand holding I get from the one I said "I do" to are not guaranteed for tomorrow. The only choice I have is to love. The only regret I don't want is the one that says I didn't love enough. 

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Why? Because I am already loved. YOU are already loved. We are loved for our imperfections, not despite them. Each thing that makes up your life...my life...each tear, each heart ache, each fear, each worry, each mistake, each joy, each laugh, each struggle, each trauma, each beauty filled, breath taking, brutal..soul stomping..awful...thing in your life and my life...is just another color of who we are. Sometimes it may look messy up close, right in the middle of it where all the noise is.  Some days it will feel dark and lonely and like there is no color left in the world and you'll feel like you can't breath. Some days you'll be filled with so much color and light and beauty that your heart will nearly burst with joy. Some days we'll feel lost. Some days we'll feel content. When the clutter clears, and the dust settles, we will look back and see the artistry in the colors...the artistry in the dark and in the light...the artistry in our becoming. Not becoming who society or our fears tell us we should be. Becoming the one love and life has made us to be. Sometimes full of happiness...sometimes full of darkness...full of joy...perfectly imperfect humans. Loved. Love. 

The words "everything happens for a reason" use to roll smoothly off my tongue. Now, I hesitate. I hesitate because I've seen childhood cancer and I know I cannot look at those parents and say those very words. What I do believe is this...there is always love. In that love...there is beauty. Beauty isn't always light...love isn't always easy or even visible. Beautiful, awful, heart wrenching, things full of life and purpose can come from the darkest of days. We live in a broken world full of pain, and at the same time, we live in a joyful world full of beauty. Each make up our unique painting that can be used to bring more love into the world.

My purpose is this...to use my dark...to use my light...to use my sadness and fear...to use my happiness and joy...to use my trauma...to use my life...to use my love...my arms...my voice...my unique painting...my camera...to love the people in front of me...and to remind them they are loved.

So much love,

Cilla

To Provence...and Tuscany | traveling lifestyle photographer

The smells of fresh baguettes and all the delicious foods at market (paella...rotisserie chickens dripping with goodness right down onto some fresh potatoes...mmmm). The tastes of jambon...and fresh cherries...and the most delicate chocolates...and freshest sweetest strawberries and oranges...the richness of the cheese...and the pastel meringues as big as your head (only slight exaggeration) that absolutely melt in your mouth...and oh the nutella (lol...yes...we smeared it on everything...even the meringue). The sound of horses walking down a country road and water flowing through the town and people bustling about at market and vendors offering a sample of their offerings and beautiful music filling the air. The view of the colors that pop out from every inch at market (yes...the market may have been my most favorite) and villages that peak out of a mountain or hillside and a nun riding down the road on her bicycle with her fresh baguette (and everyone with their bikes and fresh baguettes) and little bakeries and butchers and shops that filled the littlest of villages and clothes drying on the line and the older gentlemen sitting at the corner cafe for hours and the flowers and the history and a favorite little corner filled with herbs and tomato plants and flowers and the little surprises of beauty everywhere and fig trees poking out from the most random places and poppy fields (my favorite being one that included someone riding a white horse through it...yes that really happened) and tiny cobblestone streets and homes with blue shutters and pink roses. Mostly the slowness of the day to day and the laughter surrounding the table and feeling the love as each of our gifts were used to serve one another...a hand prepared meal most evenings...photos of new and old friends...a tiramisu and late night talks...videography and paintings and problem solving (which was greatly needed when the oil refineries shut down as part of strikes that were sweeping the country) and more laughter and cherries placed on our table each day and fresh olives and homemade wine and one of the most incredible meals ever prepared by ladies who run a winery....the people...the people. This is Provence France to me.  It was a year ago that I was gifted with the incredible job (Heavens...I get to call this my job) of traveling there as part of the "Dream Team" for two weeks. Now, a week from today, I get to do it all over again in Tuscany. Tuscany! Oh...I'm already in love. 

This trip and the last are about art and beauty and soul and the love of life and others and even more about service to others with the gifts each of us were given. I believe you would love to follow along on Dreama's blog and learn from her beautiful work and soak in her beautiful words. You can see all about Once Upon a Time in Provence (which opens back up in September) at dreamatolleperry.com/dream-love-paint-the-adventure-continues/

So much love to you,

Cilla

My "Life List" Update | Priscilla Baierlein Photography {a bit of a dreamer}

I am a bit of a wonderer...a dreamer. Always have been and suspect I always will be. I have big plans and dreams. However, I feel myself always saying no. I have great intentions when it comes to these big dreams, but often let them sit there and gather dust. At least that's the way it feeeeels. It feels like I am going through my day to day. Hectic life of two babies (a 3 year old and a business...yes the business totally counts as another baby), a beautiful husband, a home owner, a friend, and a planner. I want to live a life of adventure. Not always the big adventures. Sometimes small adventures like hiking through the woods (or to the other side of an island), other times big adventures like hang gliding (don't worry...I've been told the dangers of such) or traveling to the other side of the world. Truth be told, I don't think I always saw the small ones as adventures. Now a days an adventure can be going to Michlers with my son or going on a "treasure" hunt. I want to instill a thirst for adventure in him. I want him to see adventure all around. At 3 he certainly does see adventure. I burst with pride as he said "momma you wanna go on a benture (adventure) with me?" I quickly learned that the adventure was playing on his play set and moving between swing to swing and the slide and under the playset. I want that sense of adventure to always stay with him and be all around. I want him to see magic in every thing...in our day to day hectic lives. I want him to be able to slow down, breath it all in, and whisper a thank you to God. Maybe that's what God wants for us. To always see the world as an adventure. To love life deeply and passionately and adventurously. This past year I took time to learn about, well, myself. To learn why I feel the way I do some days and why I react this way or that way at times. To put words and names to these things. I spent the year basically healing...and that is a life long process. But I knew I wanted this year to be about the word YES...to say YES to what God lays in front of me...to say YES to that little voice in me...to dare greatly...to be brave. The beginning of this year, I've been kept busy with...well...busy work. Busy important work that makes my dream of being a photographer a reality. The thing is...when I'm busy I have a hard time listening. Oh goodness though...when I do listen...really listen...do those things that the tiny voice calls me to do ("Go see your neighbor...she has a story to tell." "Do a shoot to benefit a friend." "Call her...she needs to hear from you.")...living for the next moment...doing the next right thing...that's truly when I feel most alive. That's when I feel like I am listening and "hearing" God. Not like audible God with the Morgan Freeman voice. It would be a lot easier to decipher what was him and what was just me if that were the case. Okay...I think I may be sounding crazy now. All I know is that when I'm listening like that, life feels like an adventure. The more I listen, the more I hear. The louder I love...the louder I am loved.

The last day in my twenties I shared with all of you my Life List. This year I thought I would refresh it and bring life back into it. I've actually marked off quite a few things. I'm sure I will continue adding and taking away and marking things off. Do you have a life list? What's your favorite thing on your list?

Here's the blog post from almost five years ago. I have changed the list a bit and added pictures, but everything else is the same....

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Well, I have thought about this entry a million times and now when it comes down to actually writing it I'm having trouble finding the words. Today is a special day, but yesterday was even more special. Today, June 16th, is my birthday, but yesterday was the day I wanted to hold on to. My last day in my 20's. I told Bret that was the last day he would have the chance to kiss a girl in her 20's. For some reason the last day of everything always hits me harder than the actual day...the last day as a teenager, the last day of high school, even the last day in Elementary school (can you believe it started that early!?!) As my best friend, Andrea, likes to remind me, I cried and said "it will never be the same again". Some how I just KNEW that going to Middle School was going to change everything. Little did Andrea and I know that the many years in school would change us to the point that we would be where we are today...best friends. She was always the cool kid with the awesome ribbon belt that I wanted. Now she's the beautiful Mom and woman that I look up to. It would only make sense when Andrea blogged about her list I would soon be creating my own. Some call it a "Bucket List", or the "Burn List", I call it my "Life List". My list started way back in college, but wasn't very long and was far from complete. I've been putting off blogging this because it just never felt complete and truly still doesn't. I keep thinking of things I want to do. Some are small and silly...others are big and I realize may never happen. A fellow photographer posted a quote on her blog today which said "Shoot for the moon. If you don’t make it, at least you will land among the stars." After all, isn't it the journey that matters the most? I've listed things I've always wanted to do, things I think that everyone should learn...know...or do, things that will strengthen who I am as a person, will strengthen my relationship with God, things that will help others, and things that just flat out give me the warm fuzzies. Trying to make things measurable in order to be able to one day mark them off was a challenge, so there are some that just aren't. I'm getting butterflies just thinking about posting this.

Now...for the LIFE LIST.

1. Play putt-putt golf (completed with Bret, Andrea, Brad, Bailey, & Jake, while I was pregnant June 2011)

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2. Become a Mom (August 7,2011 I didn't dare write this on my list until after, but it was certainly always there)

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3. Grow our own fruit trees/bushes

4. Take salsa lessons

5. Scuba Diving

6. Go back to Europe (preferably a European tour)

7. Visit Savannah, GA

8. Visit New Orleans and try all the delicious food that Bret talks so much about

9. Raise children who feel love and belonging with shame resistance

10. Write a book and try to have it published

11. Learn how to can food (2011)

12. Make my own jam/jelly

13. Make pickles (summer 2013)

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14. Have a healthy birth with as little interventions as my body will allow (August 7, 2011) Photo credit Amy Parsons Photography

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15. Sing karaoke by myself

16. Bake my own bread (summer 2013)

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17. Make butter

18. Have a fire pit in our back yard to roast all the marshmellows and hot dogs we want! (thanks to Bret & Steff, summer 2013)

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19. Live a bold, intentional, authentic, and meaningful life full of little and big adventures

20. Take a girls trip with Andrea only Feb 2014

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21. Run a 5k (I like the idea of the color run)

22. Begin a tradition to do something for a charity every Christmas

23. Do yoga on a regular basis

24. Take family walks and/or bike rides on a regular basis (step 1...get a bike)

25. Start praying more and strengthening my relationship w/ God (on going, but yes :) 2014?)

26. Read and understand the Bible to the best of my ability (working on this now)

27. Go parasailing again (Completed with Bret June 2010)

28. Write letters to those who have made an impact in my life. Mail some of them.

29. Learn family history...even the things no one wants to talk about

30. Have a back yard family dinner with a beautiful long table, eclectic chairs, white lights, and the food all spread out on the table (September 2013 & hopefully many more)

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31. Use my photography to make a difference (on going)

32. Give our Wilmington honeymoon another shot (our last was cut short)

33. Hawaii w/ my little family

34. No credit card debt

35. Go a week with out the internet (on purpose)

36. Really use our back yard (hang out, grill, plant, etc.) often (ongoing, of course Summer 2013)

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37. Have my sewing machine out in a place where I can use it when I want to

38. Be happy with my body

39. See a Broadway musical

40. Visit Chicago

41. Truly make a difference and let my life be a testimony for Gods love (on going)

42. Run the Marine Corps 10K in Washington DC

43. Make drinking water often part of my every day life (January 2014 :))

44. Grow several large hydrangea bushes

45. Swim with dolphins

46. Help Andrea mark things off her list (at least 5 things)

47. Finish Andreas scrapbook

48. Zip line

49. Sky dive (not positive about this one)

50. Drive in movies Summer 2014

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51. Private :)

52. Take a big camping trip with my closest friends

53. Visit Great Wall of China

54. See the Eiffel Tower at night with Bret

55. Pay Mikie and Erica back in some way

56. Go to the beach often...I always feel closer to God there

57. Learn Mommy's story and tell it the way she would want it told

58. Have something a little stronger than a Coke in Monte Carlo

59. Own my story

60. Take Chasity to the KY Derby

61. Tip someone unexpecting a very large tip (i.e. a dive restaurant waitress, a street musician, etc.) (2011 at Asuka, left before we could see his reaction)

62. Go to a major music festival

63. Tour the White House

64. Write a hand written card or letter per week for 6 months.

65. Go on a ski trip complete with a cabin, fire place, hot tub, and hot chocolate

66. Go see an old black and white movie in a theater

67. Private :)

68. Ride (or drive?) a paddle boat

69. Ride a jet ski in the ocean

70. Visit Africa

71. Create an album for each year since the year I became pregnant

72. Have a sushi lunch (many times since...with Bret, with my friend Laura)

73. Learn to make sushi rolls

74. Play in a warm summer rain (complete with puddle jumping) (yes! with Bret & Steff August 2013)

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75. Learn to bake my own baguettes

76. Fly a kite

77. Learn to change a tire

78. Donate blood (UGH!)

79. Host an out door movie night

80. Fully learn to drive a stick shift

81. Visit New York City in the fall or New Years Eve

82. Go to a beach in the winter when it's cold. Bundle up in sweaters and my boots. Preferably with a fire and roasted marshmellows.

83. Blog something personal once a week for three months

84. Watch a meteor shower (unfortunately I can't remember when!)

85. Organize my old photos

86. Travel to CA and have a photo shoot w/ Tara Whitney

87. Visit Greece

88. Make home made ice cream

89. Visit the new Busch Stadium

90. Get on a horse again

91. Get over my fear of public speaking (this one use to be so terrifying that I didn't put it on the list...I'm one step closer)

92. Cookout on the beach at sunset in Dunedin (with Bret, Andrea, Brad, Bailey & Jake, while I was pregnant, June 16, 2011)

93. Have boudoir photos taken of me (of course very tasteful ones!)

94. Eat a snow cone at the beach Completed with Bret in Dunedin June 2010

95. Visit Mt. Rushmore

96. Give a TED talk

97. Take a drawing/painting/pastels art class (one or all)

98. Take a ceramics class

99. Learn to crochet

100. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity

101. Go hang gliding (apparently this is more dangerous than skydiving but I am leaving it on here for now...it still sounds so beautiful)

102. Volunteer abroad for at least one month

103. Give ice skating another shot

104. Visit Niagra Falls

105. Relax in a natural hot spring

106. Learn to build a fire

107. Learn the Heimlich maneuver and CPR (completed class before son was born, but not sure I remember it)

108. Learn to jump start a car (sometime in 2012)

109. Go to the Ellen show

110. Go to a zoo August 2014

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111. Stand under a waterfall (preferably in Hawaii)

112. Have a successful herb garden (oh yeah...summer 2013) I think it's become a little more than an herb garden

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113. Fly fishing

114. Visit the Grand Ole Opry December 2014 to see Rockettes

115. Have a family reunion at the place where I grew up

116. Learn to play poker

117. Learn self defense techniques

118. Volunteer with Toys for Tots

119. Meet Loretta Lynn

120. Shoot with an old film camera

121. See the July 4th firework show in Washington, D.C.

122. Take the road trip I had planned for our honeymoon that includes stops along the Blues Highway (adjust the trip to our liking)

123. Visit Graceland

124. Read at least 50 of Newsweeks Top 100 Books

125. Visit 10 different kinds of churches and learn something about that religion

126. Grow the business enough that allowed for enough time to give and enough money to help

127. Spend a night on a boat under the stars

128. Go to the KY State Fair

129. Have a swing at our house (either porch or tire) and/or a hammock (summer 2011) Picture isn't of a porch swing, but it's somewhere up there in the other pictures :)

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130. Meet my friend Stacy in person

131. Photograph a water birth

132. Be featured on Creative Mama blog (a couple times :))

133. Live a wholehearted life

134. Tell my story...let it be heard...let it help others "Don't hog your journey"

135. Pick fresh strawberries at local "u-pick" place (the way strawberries are taking over our garden, this may turn into my house)

136. Inspire five others to create a "Life List" of their own

137. Make someone's dream come true

138. Stop drinking Pepsi (or any sort of pop/soda....except for the occasional sip) January 2, 2014 failed and trying it again

139. Find a church home and be an active member

140. Begin a random acts of kindness advent tradition for Christmas

141. Attend the Pursuit 31 Conference

142. Meet Bob Goff and Glennon Doyle Melton...such inspirational people

143. Renew our vows in our favorite spot in Dunedin

144. Go to Disney World with my little family

145. Give a birthday party to a child in need

146. Teach my child/children about what's really important in life

147. Raise kind and loving child/children

148. Wake up my son to walk in a fresh snow like Bret and I use to do

149. Travel and volunteer together as a family

150. Go sailing

151. Go canoeing or kayaking...I really don't know the difference

152. Go hiking or backpacking as a family

153. Spend a month as a vegetarian

154. Take my son to watch the sunset at my favorite spot in Dunedin June 2014

copyright Priscilla Baierlein Photography_0219

155. Prepare my will

156. Support someone through their birth

157. Empower new mommas

158. Hike to the very tip end of Honeymoon Island (February 2015)

159. Ride in a hot air balloon

160. Visit Bali

161. Visit Peru

Now...I encourage all of YOU to create your own life list. Bret has to remind me that the point of the list is not to simply mark things off. It shouldn't become a job. The point is to live life and this truly empowers you to do so. It feels like you've really accomplished something, even if it's the smallest thing. Life passes by so quickly. Before you know it, you're 80 years old, sitting in a rocking chair, thinking about all you wanted to do. Or 30 :) We met a lady while parasailing in Clearwater. She said her life used to be filled with fear. What if this happened? What if that happened? Then she decided to put all the fears behind her. My favorite story of hers was that she showed up at the airport, got a ticket to Peru. While there they were watching all these people hang gliding and thinking how crazy that was. Next thing she knew, she was up hang gliding with them...up above the skyscrapers. Can you imagine just going to Peru on a whim? Hang gliding on a whim? Your list doesn't have to be filled with adventurous things. Just filled with things you want to do. Anything you've thought "oh I would love to do that" and thought it was too far out of reach, put it on the list and it may just motivate you to do it. Of course, if you're like me, you may have to win the lottery to accomplish them. Maybe I should put that on the list too?"