We’ve got our upcoming CONFIDENCE Photography Workshop in Washington DC! The weekend is September 19th and 20th. Aside from the Running on Empty spot, we have TWO spots left and then we will be full. We are so excited! In fact, the women have already started emailing the group their stories, why they are coming, what they hope to get out of the weekend, their fears, insecurities and enthusiasm. Brian and I would read their emails while in NY last week when we were between meetings, and I cried and laughed at a handful of them. This group is going to be AMAZING?

Do you know a mom who needs this kind of group and weekend getaway? Do you know a mom Running on Empty? If so, nominate her today. Let’s turn her day around and let her know we are routing for her!

If you know a MOM who is;

A. Running on Empty

B. Lives Near Washington DC, or has mileage to spend, or lives by the seat of her pants and would book a plane ticket last minute :)

C. Can arrange for a sitter and get the weekend free, starting Friday (Sept 18th for a possible shindig) night all the way through Sunday night (Sept 20th)

D. Most importantly, has a PASSION for photography

Nominate her TODAY! We’ll close nominations Sunday night (this Sunday night at 6pm PST).

We will announce the winner by end of next week. If you are not familiar with this contest, read below and see what it’s all about! Moms are one of the most beautiful parts of creation. This contest is all about acknowledging their beauty, even when they are Running on Empty.

Here’s how it works!

In honor of how wonderful moms are and all that they do and give, Brian and I keep one spot reserved in every workshop for a special mom like YOU! That’s right, you (or she) will get a free pass to the upcoming CONFIDENCE Workshop in Washington DC! (Please note, we don’t provide room/board and travel.)

To nominate a mom, you must post a comment telling us about the mom who you think deserves a big break in life! If you are a mom, you’re probably laughing because we ALL deserve a serious break. But the moms we’re looking for are the ones who have had a ridiculous amount of stress in their life whether from trauma or things just not going her way this year. She is a mom in your life that needs a serious blessing to come her way. She needs a serious surprise that gives her empty tank some fuel. If she is a woman that has miscarried, she is still a mom in my mind b/c I know her heart became a mother’s heart the moment she found out she was pregnant. Don’t hesitate to nominate her too.

I’m proud to say that our previous winners stepped out on a limb and nominated themselves. Take courage in them and feel free to nominate yourself if you know you need a serious break. Who knows, you may have your house remodeled by Oprah ! :)

We’ll collect all the nominees, have a committee of wonderful moms vote, and then announce the winner next week!

Nominate her today and turn her day around! Oh, wait! Don’t forget to let her know you’ve nominated her too! If I was a mom nominated I’d love to know my friends were thinking of me whether I won or not! Deadline for ALL nominations is Sunday, August 2nd at 6pm PST. Nominations must be posted as a comment on this blog post. Either your email or the nominees email MUST be included to qualify. Nominations emailed or posted on other blog posts may be overlooked. Please post all nominees here. Thanks!

For more details about the CONFIDENCE WORKSHOP, CLICK HERE!

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Our Refuse to Say Cheese DVD series are now AWARD WINNING! Read the press release HERE ! If you haven’t ordered your own copy yet, check out our popular Instructional DVDs Refuse to Say Cheese and , and our 101 Kits for starting or expanding a business in photography, click on the titles of your choice!

DEADLINE for the Vacation: Depth of Field Photo Contest is THIS FRIDAY, July 31st! To enter your Vacation: Depth of Field image, read all the details by CLICKING HERE ! We’re excited to see what you enter! We’ve got some fun images coming in! If you’ve already read about this contest and know what type of picture to submit, go ahead and CLICK HERE so you ENTER TODAY!!!

41 Comments: “Do You Know a Mom Running on Empty? Nominate Her Today!”

  1. Jeff Hartman says:

    I would like to nominate the love of my life and the mother of my three kids. Her name is Carol Anne Hartman. CA deserves so much more than I can say or give her. She has supported me and my daunting, paycheck-to-paycheck career for as long as I can remember. We have a seven-year-old boy named Timothy and a set of four-year old twins named Kellen and Coble. She has provided strength, solace and faith to our family through sever depression and financial difficulties. She’s a non-stop mom and graphic designer who’s trying to compliment her design business with photography. Some samples of her work can be found at legacy-mark.com and on facebook at tinyurl.com/legacy-mark. She approaches her work with great humility, too much in fact, and it would be a dream come true for her to be able to attend your workshop. She would do anything for us. Please consider her as the least her boys and I can do for her.

  2. Anthony Torlone says:

    I would love to nominate my wonderful wife (Colleen) for your open spot in the upcoming Confidence Workshop in Washington DC. I believe every mother has a time in their life, year, month, week, or even day that could be described as running on empty and my wife is no different. While a dramatic turn of events has not lead to my wife nearing the end of her tank, I would say that the transition our family is about to face is one that is weighing heavily on her heart, soul, and mind. For the past year, my wife has enjoyed the opportunity to keep our then 1st grader and Pre-K daughters home from school and use her teaching degree from college to mold their minds and character through home schooling. The year was a fantastic experience for both my wife and daughters to bond in a manner that could not have been easily duplicated. However, we entered the year with the agreement that it was a year at a time decision and have recently decided that as they enter the 2nd Grade and Kindergarten year this fall, it is the best decision for our family to re-enter them into the local school system. Even though we believe it is the best decision, it will mean a significant transition for my wife when school begins in four weeks. One on the ways in which her tank gets filled each and every day is through the experiences and bonding with our children and that will change as we send them out of the home for a good portion of the day. We have spent the summer thinking through ways for her to add a new phase into her life and even though we will still have a two (2) year old at home, my wife is looking at this transition with an anxious heart. One of her passions is photography and she has beautiful captured the story of our family and children throughout these past years. It seems like such a perfect match to expand on that talent and pursue ways to incorporate that into her next phase in life. She is soaking up every opportunity to grow her natural gift through various learning opportunities, but I could think of no better way and timing than your workshop in September. The knowledge and experience she would gain with you and other women at the conference along with the timing of it taking place just a few weeks into the school year would absolutely fill her tank as she is seeking out this new phase in her life.

  3. abbey says:

    Hi MeRa,

    I am stepping out on a limb and nominating my sister. She is not a mom to her own children (yet! hee hee!)… but she is mom to multiple Washington DC school kids. For the past 2 years she has worked in the DC public schools with underprivileged children giving them a second chance and a second hope in a good direction in life. I am a mom, and moms for sure are running on empty! My sister HAS to be running on empty too, but she never shows it! She is so FULL: full of life, full of love, full of passion, full of creativity, full of energy, full of smiles… I could go on and on. She hasvolunteered at Anacostia Gracious Arts Program teaching painting to urban youth and then became a part of the board, she has been a part off a few teams at church (communion team, prayer team, and children’s church) at Grace DC Presbyterian Church, she JUST finished got her master’s in secondary social studies from american university, she has been on volunteer trips to the Dominican Republic and Vietnam to build schools and churches, she was a part of the DC Teaching Fellows program, she helps with student government, and so much more! Me Ra, I could go on and on….. She is an inspiration to those who know her. She would appreciate, love, and soak up this Photography Confidence Workshop more than you can imagine. She has loved photography for years, but situations have not allowed her to get as involved or as confident as she should/could be! Please give her a chance to be inspired by you!!
    :) EEEEK!! I am excited at the possibilities for her that this workshop could bring!
    thanks! She is there in DC and ready to learn! :)
    abbey lindsey

  4. Kim Freeman says:

    I want to nominate my dear friend Amber. She is a wonderful mother to 3 young ones and has been diving deep into photography this past year. As a mother of 3 very active kids, she has often told me that photography has been her oasis and gift to herself even though her photos are for others. Over the last year a small side business has developed as a means of affording all the gear that goes into this hobby. I think the opportunity to learn hands on from you, Me Ra, would be life changing. She is extremely talented and deserving of a weekend away to practice, learn and fall deeper in love with the wonderful gift of photography. Please choose her as your “open spot girl”! I think this gift would re-energize her to keep being a great mom and even greater photographer. Of course, I too would love to attend but this would be a fantastic gift that I would LOVE to see her receive! Blessings to you for your generosity and all you do to encourage and teach women around the world! <3 Kim

  5. Sharon says:

    I would like to nominate my sister in law, Carol Anne Hartman. She is an immensely talented photographer, and this workshop would be a fantastic oppurtunity for her to sharpen her skills even more. She is definitely a jack of all trades, she participates in may artisitc venues and never seems to stop; I think even the engergizer bunny could take lessons from her!! She is a wife and mother, and entrepreneur of her own business, who rarely takes any ‘me’ time. She’s friendly and outgoing, and is an inspiration to those who are lucky enough to know her. :)

  6. jeramy says:

    i love that you do this.

  7. Whitney says:

    I’d like to nominate myself, if that’s ok. I feel like we’ve had a rough year and I would like to put some time back into myself.

    I have one son who just turned a year old. Within the year and a half or so since I was pregnant, I have dealt with a lot. During his gender sonogram, we found out that he would be born with severe cleft lip and palate. My husband and I chatted and make jokes the whole time, never noticing that the technician was taking more than usual. Soon she left and sent in the doctor, who abruptly informed us that it was boy and that he would be born with a cleft lip and palate. She scooted out of the room and we knew nothing more.

    In between that day and the day Nate was born, we quickly became informed about surgery, doctors, hospitals, specialists, and therapy. Nate worn born last summer and we were so happy. He was about three months old when his therapy started. We had to tape an appliance in his mouth to close the facial gap. It was torture – it took about 20 minutes and he would scream the whole time. It worked amazingly well, and we began the process of scheduling his first surgery. But before we could do that, my husband, a very hardworking man, Daniel was laid off because of the credit crunch last year. The timing was bad because of insurance, but the severance pay was enough.

    Daniel found a job three months later. We began preparing for Nate’s second surgery. Then my husband lost his job yet again for the same reason, but without severance. We were able to afford the surgery thanks to the stimulus package, but my husband still couldn’t find a job. We finally had to move in with Daniel’s family because we couldn’t keep paying the bills. We’ve lived with them for a month and the job market is still bad. We’re considering our options: whether to move to another state or to find another career field.

    We’ve been blessed: with a great family who has been more than gracious as we live with them, a church who has helped us through the whole thing, and each other. Our son is happy, healthy, and a complete joy.But I do want our home in DC again.

    I’m learning about photography and would LOVE any help about how to use this, especially with my son. I would love to tell his story through photograph to others.

    I love that you offer this (even if I’m not selected) – it’s very thoughtful and generous!

  8. Wendy says:

    I’ve seen this contest come and go many times within the last year and a half. And every time it goes by, my heart aches just a little bit. I look and read other women’s stories and feel like I don’t necessarily quite fit. There hasn’t been any deep tragedies in my life, but more the realization and disappointments that this is not how it was supposed to be.

    My husband and I are on staff full-time with Campus Crusade for Christ ministering to college students in Austin, TX. It’s been an absolute joy to be a part of people’s stories and bringing them into a redemptive relationship with Christ. However, our family moved to Austin from Portland, Oregon where I grew up with our 4 month baby boy about a year ago. He is now 15 months and as much as I love him, being a mother has been the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Especially in trying to be a full-time mother in full time-ministry, this past year I have felt pulled in 5 different directions and felt like I was constantly falling short and letting everyone down. This last year, I have learned to walk through disappointments, loneliness, isolation, and the lies that I, now as a mother, no longer have a role within the Kingdom of God in the Great Commission. The Lord has been good though, in the midst of reminding me where my identity lies, but it’s still a big struggle.

    In the midst of personal grieving, ministry wise, because we are a non-profit organization that depends on individuals financial support, due to the economy, our donations have been $2,000 less than what we need. We as a family of 3 have been receiving short paychecks for the last year and just this week found out our renters in our old home are leaving in less than a week and the a/c broke in our current place resulting in mold in the carpets. My heart starts beating faster as I think of the end of month and trying to pay our bills and my heart struggles to find peace in the midst.

    Throughout all of this, I have always had a passion for photography. I love photography in the same way I love working with students, it’s about stories and storytelling and I want to give voice to people without a voice. My wonderful, amazing husband have said that I could take a photography class for years, but financially, it has never been the right time. And so I wait, but sometimes it feels like I’m constantly waiting because it’s never the right time.

  9. Julie should definitely win this trip. She is a young, hardworking mother of three small children. She is very gifted. Despite her hectic schedule—she always makes time for her amazing photography!!! So, I truly hope Julie will be considered for this prize.
    Thank you,

    Tammy Gendron
    (Mother-In-Law)

  10. Heather says:

    This is not a comment to nominate a mother, but wondering if there are any future Confidence Photo Workshops schedules for Denver? Would love to know if that ever happens! Thx

  11. Lora Wilpon says:

    I saw your post and my heart dropped, I have never felt so compelled to write on behalf of someone in my life. I would like to nominate my best friend Kory who follows you blog daily and wanted nothing more than to come to your DC workshop. She was so excited about the possibility of being able to afford it after she had received a bonus check this year because of her outstanding work as a counselor for learning disabled children. ( I should be ashamed of myself as a teacher writing that long run-on sentence… but I am just too excited about the possibility of her being able to attend!) Sadly her husband lost his job only a week later, his second job he has been laid off of in 2 years because of his field (banking and mortgages), and she had to pick up a second job this summer rather than spending time with her beautiful son born this past winter. I love her and her energy towards photography and will happily watch her son all weekend (What is one more in the brood I already have! ha!) just so that she is able to attend. There is no one in the world who deserves to have this opportunity, partly for the learning experience but more for her spirit which has been feeling a little crushed lately. Please consider her for this very generous gift!

  12. Megan says:

    I would also like to nominate Julie Gendron. Though I have never met her in person, I have been truly inspired by her as a wife and mother, as an artist, and as a person. She has a kind and generous heart. She is humble. She appreciates the small and beautiful things in life and is able to capture them through the lens of her camera in the most magnificent ways. She is an adoring mother who always puts her children first. No one deserves this more than Julie. Thank you!

  13. Lora Wilpon says:

    As I was taking a bath (can you believe I was able to find time to take a bath… my first one since my second daughter joined our family!) I realized that Kory will inevitably find this tomorrow when she checks your blog. (Most likely when she comes on to nominate someone herself… I better have made the cut, Kory!) So, for Kory: Surprise! I actually do have a gushy bone or two in my body! Love you!

  14. Molly Moore says:

    Hi Me Ra,
    This is Molly (the “non-mom”) who is also Abbey Lindsey’s sister who came to your workshop in Atlanta. I was more than flattered that my sister said what she said in her comment above. I was in the middle of tutoring a student when he ran to the restroom, I read the comment, and began to cry. As exhausting as my job is and as bound as my heart can be to my students, my non-motherhood does not even compare to the many mothers of this world, some of whom are described above. However, I remain touched that my sister, who has seen my eagerness to attend this workshop (a few blocks down from where I live!) would think of me like that. In addition, I want you to know that your workshop has totally set my sister’s photography work ablaze! What a turning point it was for her career. And my drive to attend your workshop stems from seeing the great impact it has had on her. We dream about one day living in the same place and being able to be partners in photography crime! In fact, there is a chance we’ll even do a wedding together in October. Our hand-me-downs have converted from childhood jumpers to digital SLR cameras and its been fun to share such a bond in our adulthood. Thanks, Me Ra, for what you’ve done for her. I write all of this because as a non-mom who is flattered to even be considered, I hope you still know that I am in great awe of what you do and would love to attend your workshop to refine and improve my long-time love and passion for photography… As an art form to teach my students, as a way to capture the energy of Washington, DC, and as a form of expression for the way that I see the world around me. Thanks to you and to my sister for even considering me!

  15. Lori Calhoun says:

    I’m taking my first flight! I have read your blog for a while now, and fill like we are life long friends (I hope that doesn’t eliminate me,lol). You blog post and photography always move me. Especially the pod cast. Today I was moved like never before. Literally to tears. You see…it’s where I am. I want to take that flight, but I am so scared. I’m not even going to lie. Mostly because I can’t. It’s true I am a horrible liar. It would be a lie to say I deserved this more than someone else. But I’m going to take my first flight. I’m going to nominate myself. I am mother to three small boys. They are as good as it gets. Happy, healthy, and full of life. A little honary at times (they get that from their father). The four of them are my whole life, and photography is the only thing I do for me. Kind of silly when it’s for others too. I think that’s the win, win of it all. My husband and I have been discussing me taking the next steps of my photography career. Although he would never say it aloud,I think he doubted me a little in the begining. Now he sees how much it means to me, and that I really am a bit good at it. He talks me up, and is my biggest fan. Even scoring me some jobs. We both agree that I need more training. We have talked about different workshops, and I told him I wanted you guys. I have been waiting for the stars to align so I can come. After reading your post this morning. I’m not going to wait for the stars anymore. I’m going to take my first flight! Thanks for all you do, and all those you lift up and prepare for flight. Who ever you pick will be lucky, and definetly deserving.

    Lori Calhoun

  16. I would like to nominate my dear friend Kelly Sauer. The reason I’m nominating her is because she is most definitely “running on empty.” She has chronic Lyme disease – has probably had it since she was a teenager, though it took til her mid-20’s to diagnose, after years of being told it was “all in her head.” She had to drop out of college due to her health, and with a diagnosis she is now able to pursu treatment, but with a spirited two-year-old it has been slow going. She recently found out she was pregnant again, a complete and unplanned surprise, and so her attention to her own health is being put on hold while she does everything she can to assure her baby’s health.

    Kelly has been a self-taught photographer for the past several years, shooting friends’ weddings and making almost no money at it. She has an incredible eye, but has struggled with the technical aspects of her camera – she tells me she is a kinesthetic learner, and she just turns dials and pushes buttons until something good happens…but she doesn’t know how she got there!

    Now with being pregnant again, alongside her very precocious 2 year old and Lyme disease, she feels like she has to put her photography on hold for the next few years. Commercially, I think that’s probably true, but I would love to see her able to attend a workshop like this just for the sake of nourishing her photographer soul during these trying times.

    Kelly is originally from DC, but her husband recently got a job in South Carolina, so she has been terribly homesick on top of the Lyme and the morning sickness and finishing up editing her last couple of weddings and keeping up with her two year old. Like I said, she’s definitely running on empty. I know she would love a chance to come home for a weekend, and I know the workshop would nourish her and I think give her more “confidence” in what she’s doing technically with her camera to buttress up her phenomenal artistic skill.

    I don’t know of anyone more deserving of something special to nourish her artistic soul. Thank you for considering her!

  17. Oops! I just realized I didn’t leave any email address for my nomination. I don’t think Kelly would want her email addy in a public place, so if you select her, you can email me:

    wilddreamergrl@gmail.com

    Thanks!
    Heidi

  18. Apryl says:

    I would like to nominate my mom Jan. She became my mom when I was 8 years old and has never looked back. From the very beginning she treated me like a real daughter, the term “stepmom” or ” stepdaughter” were horrible four letter words in our house. She was 26 years old when she became a wife and a mother all in one day. From the moment she came into my life, my life has become better. She is the reason I went to college. She is the reason I dared to follow any dream I had. She pushed when I needed to be pushed, she held when I needed to be held. She was the one who told me I could be anything I wanted and she meant it from the bottom of her heart. She changes peoples lives, and not just mine. She is hands down the most giving person I know. I can remember times when friends or family didn’t have a place to live she would open our doors and they would live with us rent free for as long as they needed. She always put other people before herself, and she did( does) it with a smile on!
    She is the reason I am interested in photography. As a child she watched eveything I did through the lens of a camera. Her pictures remind me of yours because she never ever made me stop to say cheese ;). At the time of course I thought it was annoying, but now I love reliving those years through her story pictures. I can remember her talking about going to photography workshops, but of course we couldn’t afford it because she was too busy spending money for my dance class, horse back riding camp or other crazy class I was taking at the time!
    I wish I could adequately express with words how amazing she is. She has done so much for others and now she is going through some tough times. There are family issues, money issues and other personal things that are trying to weigh her down right now. But does she complain? Does she curl up and give up? No way! Not my mom!! She continues to wake up everyday with a positive attitude and a smile. She still puts others first and she still finds things to laugh at! She was the one person I wanted at my side when my baby was born last year because she has always been my symbol of love, comfort and security. As I grow as a mom, she is who Model my parenting after. I wish I could go on about the memories and life she has given me, but I am sure you and your readers would get bored. I’ll just leave you with a qoute from my favorite present my mom has ever given me, a crossstitched poem she made herself that says “Not flesh of my flesh or bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Don’t forget for one single minute, you didn’t grow undr my heart but it in.” She is more than my mom, she is my gift from God.

  19. Apryl Koch says:

    Sorry, didn’t leave my last name. :)

  20. Kristine Chamness says:

    I would like to nominate my sister, Carrie, for this wonderful opportunity. She is the mother of two amazing children, Jacob who is 4, and Alayna who is almost 2. She is a wonderful mother, I have seen her put so much of herself on hold so many times to make sure that her children are given the best of the best. They are her absolute top prioriety, and you can tell they know it just by how they look at her.

    That being said, I would like to tell you what an inspiration she is to me. She is my big sister, so for my whole life I have looked to her for advice, and guidance, as well as an example of who and what I should be. A few months ago, she found herself at a breaking point, or maybe more of a crossroads in her life. She was in a place with herself where something needed to change. Staying home with her children, and struggling to make ends meet with just her husbands income was taking a big toll on her being. She was in love with the life she’d built, the husband, the house, the kids, but that’s about as far as life went for her. Her husband works long hours, and on most days it is her and the kids from the time they wake, until the time they go to bed. With a 4 and 2 year old, it really IS an impossibility to use the bathroom without an audience!

    Daily life was a task for her as she conducted each day feeling like she wasn’t really making any headway, simply going through the same old routines. She needed to decide where she was going, and what she was doing with her time on this Earth. She needed something that defined her as something more than just a mom and a wife. Her road had ended in a T, and she was faced with the decision to go left or right, with no clear direction on which way was the correct way to turn.

    I’ll tell you what she did, she went the way that most of the world is to afraid to turn. She went out on a limb, and she risked it all. When she told me that she had decided to follow her dream and build a business out of it I was so scared that the world would rear its ugly head and shut her aspirations down right out of the starting gate. But I was also so incredibly inspired that she was willing to put herself and her dreams out there. She did it, she took all of her wants, hopes and dreams, and she ran with them, she started her own photography business. And now I sit back and watch the ups and downs that are coming with it. She didn’t escape the isolation of being a stay at home Mom. She didn’t remedy the financial stress of a one income household, if anything she made it worse with the money she is investing into the business. But there was a spark in her that I haven’t seen since we were children. There was an excitment for life that has been buried for a long time.

    As time goes on, the world IS rearing it’s ugly head, as I had feared, business is starting off very slowly for her. Sadly, I can see the spark fizzling out, the excitment is fading. But, she keeps her head held high, and looks forward to better days, although I know inside, she sees her last ditch effort at “something more” going up in smoke.

    She takes amazing photographs, but she is completely self taught, and has never had any sort of professional instruction. Because of that, I think she has a very hard time viewing herself as a professional photographer. She has so much potential, but maybe not enough of the confidence and skill that it will take for her to make it out there. She has stretched herself so thin trying to build this business, while maintaining the house, and caring for her children. Photography is the one piece of her that she DIDN’T surrender to “the good of the family.” This opportunity could be the ONE thing she needs to succeed. It is her one chance to see that from where she stands right now, the sky is the limit. It could change her life, her husbands life, her childrens lives. This goes beyond the success of her business, this could make or break her as a person. She deserves this, she deserves it so much. And with her courage, and motivation I know she is so incredibly worth it!!

    Thank you so much for considering her for this chance of a lifetime!!

    Sincerely,
    Kristi Chamness
    kristi.chamness@yahoo.com

    My sisters contact info:
    Carrie Miller
    carrieleemiller@gmail.com

  21. Angela says:

    Hello! I would like to nominate my best friend! Her name is Tina. She follows your blog regularly & it would be an absolute DREAM come true for her to attend your workshop!!
    She is a busy mother of a 4 & 2 year old. Her husband, family & home are her priorities. She takes her job as a homemaker seriously! =) She is often researching nutrtion & organic living for the betterment of her family. Her days are spent carefully training/teaching her children therefore she doesn’t have much extra time for her own personal interests. However, she does LOVE photography! And she is good at it. She has a natural eye & a very simplistic style when it comes to the composition of her subjects. Her creativity abounds. She has been asked to photograph a few weddings & lots of portraits/family pictures for friends. I am attending your workshop!!! (can’t wait) but Tina isn’t able to because of finances. I would LOVE to have her join me. She is very selfless….rarely if ever doing things for “her”. Always putting others first & serving in any way she can think of. So I think that it would be wonderful is she could spend a few days just focussing on something that she LOVES. I know that it would impact her photos for years to come & rejuvenate her. Thank you so much for making these nominations a part of your workshops! Please consider Tina.

    Sincerely Angela Stoltzfus

  22. […] I’m going to make you wait ALL weekend. This way you can all stay focused on nominating your Running on Empty mom and getting your contest photos submitted before the deadline tonight! You don’t have to […]

  23. Christina B says:

    I was recently introduced to your website from a friend of mine, Elana. (thank you elana!!!) She had mentioned how inspiring you are and loves your blogs. I do have to agree with her!!! i really enjoyed reading your blogs. Elana had suggested i nominate myself for your workshop although i feel funny doing so since i just became a fan..LOL After reading some of the other entrees im thinking.. how can i even compare to these women who have been nominated. they seem more deserving then me. well i figure ill share my story and see what happens.

    When my first daughter, Giovinia (we call her Gia) was born i did experience a bit of post partum depression. I snapped out of it when my husband was trying to hand gia to me and i was stepping away from him. He says to me “why are you walking backwards” i thought.. OMG why am I?? this is my child i should be happy to hold her!! I seemed fine after that! I went back to work after 8 weeks and i couldnt wait for her to go into day care. 1. i would only have to care for her when i got home from work 2. since i had no idea what to teach her.. i knew her being in day care they would do that. All was good! I missed my munchkin though when i was at work and couldnt wait to get home!! so i never thought anything was wrong.

    I worked at a mtg company for 4yrs. 2yrs ago i was laid off. i was shocked since they had laid me off before, hired me back, didnt think they would do it again. i had such a hard time dealing with that.

    since we only had one income & i was having trouble finding a new job we decided we would only have Gia in daycare 3 half days a week. as time went on and still no job the less she was in school the more she was with me. OMG what do i do with this little girl!! how am i going to care for her ALL day! then the surprise happend..i was pregnant. boy did i go down hill. ThIS was not planned, this meant i would be a SAHM, how could i care for a 2nd child if i didnt feel good enough to care for my first. there were days that i would curl on the floor for hours and my daughter would play around me. one time she used me as a slide. there were other days i would take Gia out to parks or just in the back yard. who knew i was depressed. Gosh, Gia was only 1 1/2.. i feel horrible just thinking about it now.

    One thing i did do. take ALOT of pictures. (just a reg digital camera) from the day Gia was born i couldnt stop taking pictures. All of her and the things she did. I always did get alot of compliments on them but never thought anything of it. just thought people were being nice.
    my depression got worse and thought i just wasnt worth being in this world. my daughter and husband would be better off with out me. then i wouldnt have to worry about how i would take care of Gia and baby #2. My husband wouldnt have to deal with what ever it was i was going through. We werent doing so well at the time anyway. he just didnt understand (still doesnt) what i was going through. I guess he thought by leaving me alone was helping.. but i needed him! I felt soo alone!

    I had talked to a best frined of mine and finally realized that this was not good thinking! I love my family and dont want to leave them. so i did seek help. thank goodness!! by the time my 2nd daughter, Nadia, was born.. i was almost back to myself. joined a moms group that im so thankful for finding! i became more active with my girls and started to enjoy being a SAHM!

    Today, Im doing ok. Im working on my depression and is regulated by meds. Im enjoying my girls and being home with them. Gia is 3 & nadia is 14mths now. Husband and i are working on our relationship. its just been hard (thats a whole other story dont want to get into) I have my ups and downs but ive noticed that doing something artistic helps me get out of downs, from drawing to doing crafts with my daughter or just taking pictures. great outlet. and LOVE to take pictures. im basically the one with the camera stuck to her face.. LOL i especially love taking pics of my girls! for some reason taking pictures of kids is so different then adults.

    any way…my family & husband pitched in and got me a canon rebel for my birthday. I am in love with it!!! ive actually had some people say i should offer photography to the the moms group im part of. Sounds like a good idea …be a great business but i just got my camera and figuring it out. then i think im not good enough… but i know.. i just have to believe in myself. still have alot of work to do =)

    so please consider me for your workshop.

    Thanks Christina

  24. Aileen Reilly says:

    Testing. Sorry about this — Having trouble posting. Test.

  25. Aileen Reilly says:

    My favorite part of photography is the honesty – the raw emotion, the unguarded glances, the moments. I’m an observer. I see life in pictures – a snapshot here, a snapshot there. I have been carrying a camera for as long as I can remember, at least since I was 10, and that gives me 30 years of capturing life. Photography is my passion. It is something I have always done, and like life once you have children, I can’t truly recall a time when I didn’t have a camera. It is just what I do. I am an artist and a photographer. People invite me into their homes and to their special occasions, to see their lives, to peer into their eyes and to see a part of their souls. The least I can do is share a part of myself as well.

    I grew up without knowing my father. When I was six, he signed off on having any legal rights to me as a father. With the stroke of a judge’s pen, I was fatherless. To a little girl, this was the ultimate rejection. But I’m a survivor, and life goes on. I grew up and went on to graduate from law school. I took a job as a criminal prosecutor, my dream job. I love criminal law. Much like photography and capturing raw moments, in criminal law I was able to see humanity from one extreme to another. Eventually I settled into the Sexual Assault Unit – rape cases, incest, domestic violence rape, etc. The work was emotionally challenging, but there is no greater satisfaction than providing a moment of justice for a rape survivor. I treasure every “Thank You,” and every survivor remains in my heart to this day.

    Two years ago (ten years after my job as a criminal prosecutor ended), my mom told me that my father never knew his father either (father-issues are a continuing theme in my life). His mother (my grandmother) was raped by a stranger in the park at the age of 16. She chose to keep the baby (my father). The rapist was never captured. I never knew any of this. That rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists. Imagine that. Fate, Divine Providence, Karma – call it what you will. It is that same fate that I believe has brought your wonderful conference to DC at a time when I need it the most.

    I left my job as a criminal prosecutor and went on to have children. I now have four – three girls (9, 8, and 6) and one boy (2 1/2). I gave up my law career, and I stay home full time with them, struggling to ground them spiritually, to educate them, and at the same time, trying not to lose myself in the process.

    At New Years this year, I made myself a list. Not a resolution list – I don’t really do those. Rather, it was a list of four specific areas of my life I wanted to focus on and my goals for each of those areas. Of course, photography was one of those areas. My goals are to continue developing my skills, take the camera off “auto,” study and teach myself exposure, lighting, proper composition, reading histograms, with an eye towards 2010 when I plan to go pro with my skills. In my notes, I listed “MeRa Workshop – 2010?” I’m in Washington, DC (though formerly I lived in Seattle) and I knew that to attend one of your West Coast workshops would be a great expense to us, but also a great creative opportunity for me. I wanted to plan for it.

    Unfortunately, shortly after writing my list of goals, unemployment hit our family. My husband lost his job, along with too many in the rest of our country. Our situation is not unique, and I know this. I can look back and see what happened, but I didn’t realize while I was in the throes. As my husband worked wholeheartedly to find a new job, he needed constant access to our laptop. However, the laptop was also the valve for my creativity. That’s where my writing was done, and that’s where I viewed all the photos I’d taken and where I edited them, that’s where I wrote my blog, that’s where I posted photos for others to see and to receive feedback. As a SAHM, too often, that’s where I interacted with other adults.

    Slowly, I stopped picking up my camera. It was not a conscious decision, it just happened. I stopped writing. I would look at my camera and think about picking her up, but I didn’t see the point. She became unknown to me, a relationship that had lost its communication and I didn’t know how to bridge that gap. My creative energy suffered, and I suffered. Looking back, I can see I was slowly losing part of myself.

    And then an angel appeared. Circumstances put me in touch with an acquaintance with a similar love of photography. This acquaintance would not have been made otherwise; I have no doubt that it was destined to occur. An angel saw me suffering and wanted to put me back on the right track. It worked. I saw my acquaintance (now friend) taking great photos and wanted to share my work too. It reminded me that I take great photos too. Slowly, I picked up my camera again. I started shooting in full manual and I was back on track. I started staying up very late so I could view my photos and so I could go back to interacting with my on-line photog community. I was rejuvenated. I was breathing again, and I realized how essential photography is to my life – to me being me.

    And then, the unbelievable happened. On June 17th, you announced your next workshop would be in Washington, DC. Imagine! My stars were aligning. On that very same day, my husband received a job offer. No kidding. It was destiny. Can it get any better? I’ll go! Yay! But, reality set in – We are a family of six who has been living without income for 7 months. We have exhausted our savings. We have used credit cards in circumstances we normally would not have. We have borrowed from family. And then borrowed more. Is that possible? I am so grateful we have such a generous and giving extended family. Without them, we would have been out on the streets, but it may take years to repay.

    Reality set in: No, I would not be attending MeRa’s Workshop. That day, I cried. A lot. I don’t know what got into me, because I’m not really a crier. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I think I’ve just learned to stop it all up. But that day, I cried. I hid my tears from my family. I took two showers that day so I could be alone with the tears streaming down my face.

    MeRa, I am Running on Empty. I feel beaten down and exhausted. This year has pushed and stretched me in ways I could not have foreseen. Sometimes I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin. It’s hard for me to admit this. There is a part of me that thinks, It’s life; you get through. I’ve always gotten through. But, this time, I’m asking for help. I’ve been taking care of others for 10 years now. I need a break before I find myself broken again, losing myself. I need that weekend – the skills, the encouragement, the confidence-building, the time to myself. And just as that rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists, I believe that fate has sent you to my door for a reason.

    Thank you for considering me for the Running On Empty gift and for this opportunity. I know every mom nominated is worthy. Thank you for considering me.

    Aileen
    6reillys (at) gmail (dot) com

  26. Ryan says:

    Dear Me Ra,

    I would like to nominate myself for the contest. Out of respect for my husband, I won’t go into all of the details of what our family has dealt with over the past few years in a public space (I e-mailed you with more details of our story). But, suffice it to say, we dealt with years of infertility before our daughter was born, which has been the greatest gift of our lives! Due to a health condition we may not be able to conceive again and see our family grow. The idea of not being able to conceive again definitely has me struggling.

    Since our daughter was born my passion for photography has exploded! I have both of our DVDs and thank you for teaching me what I needed to learn to operate my Sony Alpha 300 in manual! Photography has been such a solace during the down times I have experienced.

    Whether we will be able to become pregnant or not, only God knows. But to be able to capture another child’s first days (and to feel like I somewhat know what I am doing with a camera this time!) – that would just be the icing on the cake. To be able to better document all of the precious and fleeting moments of my daughter’s life… that would be such an amazing gift! If we are not able to have another baby, I have often often allowed myself to dream about how perhaps, just maybe, I could one day start up a child and family photography business. I could help other moms and dads capture the beauty that they see in their little ones. Having a photography business would be a little like having another “baby”. Making pictures sustains me. It keeps me up at night. It is like the tingly, magical feelings that came with the first crush I ever had and the steady, heavy, all encompassing love I have for my family all rolled up into one. And coming to your workshop and building my confidence as a photographer would be like a dream.

    Thank you so much for listening to my story… Please consider helping me refill my tank this fall, Me Ra. Thank you for all that you do and all of the inspiration you continue to provide!

  27. Aileen Reilly says:

    My favorite part of photography is the honesty – the raw emotions, the unguarded glances, the moments. I’m an observer. I see life in pictures – a snapshot here, a snapshot there. I have been carrying a camera for as long as I can remember, at least since I was 10, and that gives me 30 years of capturing life. Photography is my passion. It is something I have always done, and like life once you have children, I can’t truly recall a time when I didn’t have a camera. It is just what I do. I am an artist and a photographer. People invite me into their homes and to their special occasions, to see their lives, to peer into their eyes and to see a part of their souls. The least I can do is share a part of myself as well.

    I grew up without knowing my father. When I was six, he signed off on having any legal rights to me as a father. With the stroke of a judge’s pen, I was fatherless. To a little girl, this was the ultimate rejection. But I’m a survivor, and life goes on. I grew up and went on to graduate from law school. I took a job as a criminal prosecutor, my dream job. I love criminal law. Much like photography and capturing raw moments, in criminal law I was able to see humanity from one extreme to another. Eventually I settled into the Sexual Assault Unit – rape cases, incest, domestic violence rape, etc. The work was emotionally challenging, but there is no greater satisfaction than providing a moment of justice for a rape survivor. I treasure every “Thank You,” and every survivor remains in my heart to this day.

    Two years ago (ten years after my job as a criminal prosecutor ended), my mom told me that my father never knew his father either (father-issues are a continuing theme in my life). His mother (my grandmother) was raped by a stranger in the park at the age of 16. She chose to keep the baby (my father). The rapist was never captured. I never knew any of this. That rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists. Imagine that. Fate, Divine Providence, Karma – call it what you will. It is that same fate that I believe has brought your wonderful conference to DC at a time when I need it the most.

    I left my job as a criminal prosecutor and went on to have children. I now have four – three girls (9, 8, and 6) and one boy (2 ½). I gave up my law career, and I stay home full time with them, struggling to ground them spiritually, to educate them, and at the same time, trying not to lose myself in the process

    At New Years this year, I made myself a list. Not a resolution list – I don’t really do those. Rather, it was a list of four specific areas of my life I wanted to focus on and my goals for each of those areas. Of course, photography was one of those areas. My goals are to continue developing my skills, take the camera off “auto,” study and teach myself exposure, lighting, proper composition, reading histograms, with an eye towards 2010 when I plan to go pro with my skills. In my notes, I listed “MeRa Workshop – 2010?” I’m in Washington, DC (though formerly I lived in Seattle) and I knew that to attend one of your West Coast workshops would be a great expense to us, but also a great creative opportunity for me. I wanted to plan for it.

    Unfortunately, shortly after writing my list of goals, unemployment hit our family. My husband lost his job, along with too many in the rest of our country. Our situation is not unique, and I know this. I can look back and see what happened, but I didn’t realize while I was in the throes. As my husband worked wholeheartedly to find a new job, he needed constant access to our laptop. However, the laptop was also the valve for my creativity. That’s where my writing was done, that’s where I viewed all the photos I’d taken and where I edited them, that’s where I wrote my blog, that’s where I posted photos for others to see and to receive feedback. As a SAHM, too often, that’s where I interacted with other adults.

    Slowly, I stopped picking up my camera. It was not a conscious decision, it just happened. I stopped writing. For someone whose camera is virtually a third arm, this was debilitating. I would look at my camera and think about picking her up, but I didn’t see the point. She became unknown to me, a relationship that had lost its communication and I didn’t know how to bridge that gap. My creative energy suffered, and I suffered. Looking back, I can see I was slowly losing part of myself.

    And then an angel appeared. Circumstances put me in touch with an acquaintance with a similar love of photography. This acquaintance would not have been made otherwise; I have no doubt that it was destined to occur. An angel saw me suffering and wanted to put me back on the right track. It worked. I saw my acquaintance (now friend) taking great photos and wanted to share my work too. It reminded me that I take great photos too. Slowly, I picked up my camera again. I started shooting in full manual and I was back on track. I started staying up very late so I could view my photos and so I could go back to interacting with my on-line photog community. I was rejuvenated. I was breathing again, and I realized how essential photography is to my life – to me being me.

    And then, the unbelievable happened. On June 17th, you announced your next workshop would be in Washington, DC. Imagine! My stars were aligning. On that very same day, my husband received a job offer. No kidding. It was destiny. Can it get any better? I’m going! Yay! But, reality set in – We are a family of six who has been living without income for 7 months. We have exhausted our savings. We have used credit cards in circumstances we normally would not have. We have borrowed from family. And then borrowed more. Is that possible? I am so grateful we have such a generous and giving extended family. Without them, we would have been out on the streets, but it may take years to repay.

    Reality set in: No, I would not be attending MeRa’s Workshop. That day, I cried. A lot. I don’t know what got into me, because I’m not really a crier. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I think I’ve just learned to stop it all up. But that day, I cried. I hid my tears from my family. I took two showers that day so I could be alone with the tears streaming down my face.

    MeRa, I am Running on Empty. I feel beaten down and exhausted. This year has pushed and stretched me in ways I could not have foreseen. Sometimes I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin. It’s hard for me to admit this. There is a part of me that thinks, It’s life; you get through. I’ve always gotten through. But, this time, I’m asking for help. I’ve been taking care of others for 10 years now. I need a break before I find myself broken again, losing myself. I need that weekend – the skills, the encouragement, the confidence-building, the time to myself. And just as that rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists, I believe that fate has sent you to my door for a reason.

    Thank you for considering me for the Running On Empty gift. I know every mom nominated is worthy. Thank you for considering me.

    Aileen
    6reillys (at) gmail (dot) com

    PS. I apologize if this posts about 5 times. I was having a very hard time getting it up.

  28. Aileen Reilly says:

    My favorite part of photography is the honesty – the raw emotions, the unguarded glances, the moments. I’m an observer. I see life in pictures – a snapshot here, a snapshot there. I have been carrying a camera for as long as I can remember, at least since I was 10, and that gives me 30 years of capturing life. Photography is my passion. It is something I have always done, and like life once you have children, I can’t truly recall a time when I didn’t have a camera. It is just what I do. I am an artist and a photographer. People invite me into their homes and to their special occasions, to see their lives, to peer into their eyes and to see a part of their souls. The least I can do is share a part of myself as well.

    I grew up without knowing my father. When I was six, he signed off on having any legal rights to me as a father. With the stroke of a judge’s pen, I was fatherless. To a little girl, this was the ultimate rejection. But I’m a survivor, and life goes on. I grew up and went on to graduate from law school. I took a job as a criminal prosecutor, my dream job. I love criminal law. Much like photography and capturing raw moments, in criminal law I was able to see humanity from one extreme to another. Eventually I settled into the Sexual Assault Unit – rape cases, incest, domestic violence rape, etc. The work was emotionally challenging, but there is no greater satisfaction than providing a moment of justice for a rape survivor. I treasure every “Thank You,” and every survivor remains in my heart to this day.

    Two years ago (ten years after my job as a criminal prosecutor ended), my mom told me that my father never knew his father either (father-issues are a continuing theme in my life). His mother (my grandmother) was raped by a stranger in the park at the age of 16. She chose to keep the baby (my father). The rapist was never captured. I never knew any of this. That rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists. Imagine that. Fate, Divine Providence, Karma – call it what you will. It is that same fate that I believe has brought your wonderful conference to DC at a time when I need it the most.

    I left my job as a criminal prosecutor and went on to have children. I now have four – three girls (9, 8, and 6) and one boy (2 ½). I gave up my law career, and I stay home full time with them, struggling to ground them spiritually, to educate them, and at the same time, trying not to lose myself in the process

    At New Years this year, I made myself a list. Not a resolution list – I don’t really do those. Rather, it was a list of four specific areas of my life I wanted to focus on and my goals for each of those areas. Of course, photography was one of those areas. My goals are to continue developing my skills, take the camera off “auto,” study and teach myself exposure, lighting, proper composition, reading histograms, with an eye towards 2010 when I plan to go pro with my skills. In my notes, I listed “MeRa Workshop – 2010?” I’m in Washington, DC (though formerly I lived in Seattle) and I knew that to attend one of your West Coast workshops would be a great expense to us, but also a great creative opportunity for me. I wanted to plan for it.

    Unfortunately, shortly after writing my list of goals, unemployment hit our family. My husband lost his job, along with too many in the rest of our country. Our situation is not unique, and I know this. I can look back and see what happened, but I didn’t realize while I was in the throes. As my husband worked wholeheartedly to find a new job, he needed constant access to our laptop. However, the laptop was also the valve for my creativity. That’s where my writing was done, that’s where I viewed all the photos I’d taken and where I edited them, that’s where I wrote my blog, that’s where I posted photos for others to see and to receive feedback. As a SAHM, too often, that’s where I interacted with other adults.

    Slowly, I stopped picking up my camera. It was not a conscious decision, it just happened. I stopped writing. For someone whose camera is virtually a third arm, this was debilitating. I would look at my camera and think about picking her up, but I didn’t see the point. She became unknown to me, a relationship that had lost its communication and I didn’t know how to bridge that gap. My creative energy suffered, and I suffered. Looking back, I can see I was slowly losing part of myself.

    And then an angel appeared. Circumstances put me in touch with an acquaintance with a similar love of photography. This acquaintance would not have been made otherwise; I have no doubt that it was destined to occur. An angel saw me suffering and wanted to put me back on the right track. It worked. I saw my acquaintance (now friend) taking great photos and wanted to share my work too. It reminded me that I take great photos too. Slowly, I picked up my camera again. I started shooting in full manual and I was back on track. I started staying up very late so I could view my photos and so I could go back to interacting with my on-line photog community. I was rejuvenated. I was breathing again, and I realized how essential photography is to my life – to me being me.

    And then, the unbelievable happened. On June 17th, you announced your next workshop would be in Washington, DC. Imagine! My stars were aligning. On that very same day, my husband received a job offer. No kidding. It was destiny. Can it get any better? I’m going! Yay! But, reality set in – We are a family of six who has been living without income for 7 months. We have exhausted our savings. We have used credit cards in circumstances we normally would not have. We have borrowed from family. And then borrowed more. Is that possible? I am so grateful we have such a generous and giving extended family. Without them, we would have been out on the streets, but it may take years to repay.

    Reality set in: No, I would not be attending MeRa’s Workshop. That day, I cried. A lot. I don’t know what got into me, because I’m not really a crier. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I think I’ve just learned to stop it all up. But that day, I cried. I hid my tears from my family. I took two showers that day so I could be alone with the tears streaming down my face.

    MeRa, I am Running on Empty. I feel beaten down and exhausted. This year has pushed and stretched me in ways I could not have foreseen. Sometimes I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin. It’s hard for me to admit this. There is a part of me that thinks, It’s life; you get through. I’ve always gotten through. But, this time, I’m asking for help. I’ve been taking care of others for 10 years now. I need a break before I find myself broken again, losing myself. I need that weekend – the skills, the encouragement, the confidence-building, the time to myself. And just as that rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists, I believe that fate has sent you to my door for a reason.

    Thank you for considering me for the Running On Empty gift. I know every mom nominated is worthy. Thank you for considering me.

    Aileen
    6reillys (at) gmail (dot) com

  29. Aileen Reilly says:

    Part 1 (I had to split it up b/c of length – sorry!):

    My favorite part of photography is the honesty – the raw emotions, the unguarded glances, the moments. I’m an observer. I see life in pictures – a snapshot here, a snapshot there. I have been carrying a camera for as long as I can remember, at least since I was 10, and that gives me 30 years of capturing life. Photography is my passion. It is something I have always done, and like life once you have children, I can’t truly recall a time when I didn’t have a camera. It is just what I do. I am an artist and a photographer. People invite me into their homes and to their special occasions, to see their lives, to peer into their eyes and to see a part of their souls. The least I can do is share a part of myself as well.

    I grew up without knowing my father. When I was six, he signed off on having any legal rights to me as a father. With the stroke of a judge’s pen, I was fatherless. To a little girl, this was the ultimate rejection. But I’m a survivor, and life goes on. I grew up and went on to graduate from law school. I took a job as a criminal prosecutor, my dream job. I love criminal law. Much like photography and capturing raw moments, in criminal law I was able to see humanity from one extreme to another. Eventually I settled into the Sexual Assault Unit – rape cases, incest, domestic violence rape, etc. The work was emotionally challenging, but there is no greater satisfaction than providing a moment of justice for a rape survivor. I treasure every “Thank You,” and every survivor remains in my heart to this day.

    Two years ago (ten years after my job as a criminal prosecutor ended), my mom told me that my father never knew his father either (father-issues are a continuing theme in my life). His mother (my grandmother) was raped by a stranger in the park at the age of 16. She chose to keep the baby (my father). The rapist was never captured. I never knew any of this. That rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists. Imagine that. Fate, Divine Providence, Karma – call it what you will. It is that same fate that I believe has brought your wonderful conference to DC at a time when I need it the most.

    I left my job as a criminal prosecutor and went on to have children. I now have four – three girls (9, 8, and 6) and one boy (2 ½). I gave up my law career, and I stay home full time with them, struggling to ground them spiritually, to educate them, and at the same time, trying not to lose myself in the process

    At New Years this year, I made myself a list. Not a resolution list – I don’t really do those. Rather, it was a list of four specific areas of my life I wanted to focus on and my goals for each of those areas. Of course, photography was one of those areas. My goals are to continue developing my skills, take the camera off “auto,” study and teach myself exposure, lighting, proper composition, reading histograms, with an eye towards 2010 when I plan to go pro with my skills. In my notes, I listed “MeRa Workshop – 2010?” I’m in Washington, DC (though formerly I lived in Seattle) and I knew that to attend one of your West Coast workshops would be a great expense to us, but also a great creative opportunity for me. I wanted to plan for it.

    Unfortunately, shortly after writing my list of goals, unemployment hit our family. My husband lost his job, along with too many in the rest of our country. Our situation is not unique, and I know this. I can look back and see what happened, but I didn’t realize while I was in the throes. As my husband worked wholeheartedly to find a new job, he needed constant access to our laptop. However, the laptop was also the valve for my creativity. That’s where my writing was done, that’s where I viewed all the photos I’d taken and where I edited them, that’s where I wrote my blog, that’s where I posted photos for others to see and to receive feedback. As a SAHM, too often, that’s where I interacted with other adults.

    Slowly, I stopped picking up my camera. It was not a conscious decision, it just happened. I stopped writing. For someone whose camera is virtually a third arm, this was debilitating. I would look at my camera and think about picking her up, but I didn’t see the point. She became unknown to me, a relationship that had lost its communication and I didn’t know how to bridge that gap. My creative energy suffered, and I suffered. Looking back, I can see I was slowly losing part of myself.

    Please see next comment for Part 2 (so sorry about the length!).

  30. Aileen Reilly says:

    My favorite part of photography is the honesty – the raw emotions, the unguarded glances, the moments. I’m an observer. I see life in pictures – a snapshot here, a snapshot there. I have been carrying a camera for as long as I can remember, at least since I was 10, and that gives me 30 years of capturing life. Photography is my passion. It is something I have always done, and like life once you have children, I can’t truly recall a time when I didn’t have a camera. It is just what I do. I am an artist and a photographer. People invite me into their homes and to their special occasions, to see their lives, to peer into their eyes and to see a part of their souls. The least I can do is share a part of myself as well.

    I grew up without knowing my father. When I was six, he signed off on having any legal rights to me as a father. With the stroke of a judge’s pen, I was fatherless. To a little girl, this was the ultimate rejection. But I’m a survivor, and life goes on. I grew up and went on to graduate from law school. I took a job as a criminal prosecutor, my dream job. I love criminal law. Much like photography and capturing raw moments, in criminal law I was able to see humanity from one extreme to another. Eventually I settled into the S * x u a l Assault Unit – r a p e cases, i n c 3 s t, domestic violence r a p e, etc. The work was emotionally challenging, but there is no greater satisfaction than providing a moment of justice for a rape survivor. I treasure every “Thank You,” and every survivor remains in my heart to this day.

    Two years ago (ten years after my job as a criminal prosecutor ended), my mom told me that my father never knew his father either (father-issues are a continuing theme in my life). His mother (my grandmother) was raped by a stranger in the park at the age of 16. She chose to keep the baby (my father). The rapist was never captured. I never knew any of this. That rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists. Imagine that. Fate, Divine Providence, Karma – call it what you will. It is that same fate that I believe has brought your wonderful conference to DC at a time when I need it the most.

    I left my job as a criminal prosecutor and went on to have children. I now have four – three girls (9, 8, and 6) and one boy (2 ½). I gave up my law career, and I stay home full time with them, struggling to ground them spiritually, to educate them, and at the same time, trying not to lose myself in the process

    At New Years this year, I made myself a list. Not a resolution list – I don’t really do those. Rather, it was a list of four specific areas of my life I wanted to focus on and my goals for each of those areas. Of course, photography was one of those areas. My goals are to continue developing my skills, take the camera off “auto,” study and teach myself exposure, lighting, proper composition, reading histograms, with an eye towards 2010 when I plan to go pro with my skills. In my notes, I listed “MeRa Workshop – 2010?” I’m in Washington, DC (though formerly I lived in Seattle) and I knew that to attend one of your West Coast workshops would be a great expense to us, but also a great creative opportunity for me. I wanted to plan for it.

    Unfortunately, shortly after writing my list of goals, unemployment hit our family. My husband lost his job, along with too many in the rest of our country. Our situation is not unique, and I know this. I can look back and see what happened, but I didn’t realize while I was in the throes. As my husband worked wholeheartedly to find a new job, he needed constant access to our laptop. However, the laptop was also the valve for my creativity. That’s where my writing was done, that’s where I viewed all the photos I’d taken and where I edited them, that’s where I wrote my blog, that’s where I posted photos for others to see and to receive feedback. As a SAHM, too often, that’s where I interacted with other adults.

    Slowly, I stopped picking up my camera. It was not a conscious decision, it just happened. I stopped writing. For someone whose camera is virtually a third arm, this was debilitating. I would look at my camera and think about picking her up, but I didn’t see the point. She became unknown to me, a relationship that had lost its communication and I didn’t know how to bridge that gap. My creative energy suffered, and I suffered. Looking back, I can see I was slowly losing part of myself.

    And then an angel appeared. Circumstances put me in touch with an acquaintance with a similar love of photography. This acquaintance would not have been made otherwise; I have no doubt that it was destined to occur. An angel saw me suffering and wanted to put me back on the right track. It worked. I saw my acquaintance (now friend) taking great photos and wanted to share my work too. It reminded me that I take great photos too. Slowly, I picked up my camera again. I started shooting in full manual and I was back on track. I started staying up very late so I could view my photos and so I could go back to interacting with my on-line photog community. I was rejuvenated. I was breathing again, and I realized how essential photography is to my life – to me being me.

    And then, the unbelievable happened. On June 17th, you announced your next workshop would be in Washington, DC. Imagine! My stars were aligning. On that very same day, my husband received a job offer. No kidding. It was destiny. Can it get any better? I’m going! Yay! But, reality set in – We are a family of six who has been living without income for 7 months. We have exhausted our savings. We have used credit cards in circumstances we normally would not have. We have borrowed from family. And then borrowed more. Is that possible? I am so grateful we have such a generous and giving extended family. Without them, we would have been out on the streets, but it may take years to repay.

    Reality set in: No, I would not be attending MeRa’s Workshop. That day, I cried. A lot. I don’t know what got into me, because I’m not really a crier. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and I think I’ve just learned to stop it all up. But that day, I cried. I hid my tears from my family. I took two showers that day so I could be alone with the tears streaming down my face.

    MeRa, I am Running on Empty. I feel beaten down and exhausted. This year has pushed and stretched me in ways I could not have foreseen. Sometimes I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin. It’s hard for me to admit this. There is a part of me that thinks, It’s life; you get through. I’ve always gotten through. But, this time, I’m asking for help. I’ve been taking care of others for 10 years now. I need a break before I find myself broken again, losing myself. I need that weekend – the skills, the encouragement, the confidence-building, the time to myself. And just as that rapist’s granddaughter grew up to prosecute rapists, I believe that fate has sent you to my door for a reason.

    Thank you for considering me for the Running On Empty gift. I know every mom nominated is worthy. Thank you for considering me.

    Aileen
    6reillys (at) gmail (dot) com
    PS. I have to apologize for the multiple submissions if they ever post — I believe it was the words describing my prosecution background that got caught up in the spam filter.

  31. Julie Staub says:

    MeRa and Brian,

    Thank you for always extending this opportunity in your workshops! Although it feels uncomfortable, this time I’d like to reach out and submit my own name for your “running on empty” place at the workshop.

    I think professionally I have been “running on empty” for a long time. I have loved staying home with my children for the past 16 years, and it has been a blessing for which I will always be grateful. I love pouring into their lives, and equipping them to grow. Just this year, I have begun to realize there is also room for me to let my passion and desire to do something of my own – to stretch my own wings, if you will. It was only after seeing the DVD’s you produced that I began to believe that the love I have for capturing moments for others could be a professional dream that could come true. And that there is never such a thing as “too late” to get started on chasing your destiny.

    I have begun to pursue this wildfire love I have for photography, and have thrown myself into learning all I can. Somehow in all of that information, I have gained knowledge, but lost confidence in my ability to create my own unique vision, my interpretation – regardless of technique, equipment, etc. I am at the place where I have lots of hope for a business but struggle to get past, “am I good enough” to make the leap. When I saw that your conference was about CONFIDENCE, I tearfully realized that is exactly the component I cannot learn in books or online. Your words (on your DVD’s, the blog, and online chats) have inspired me so much, and you have a message that resonates with me. I do want to come to DC to learn about finding my own way with my camera and my business. I do want to take the seed of a gift that I know is there, and find a way to bring it out into the light. Thank you both for all you do to encourage women to grow!

  32. elana says:

    i would like to nominate a friend of mine, Christina, to the RUNNING ON EMPTY gift. i have met Christina just a few months ago. while getting to know her better i saw how much photography means to her. i also learned that she is having a pretty hard time with life in the recent years. i told myself that if ever there is a workshop close by, i would nominate her to this gift. i think she is the pure definition of running on empty… being a full time mom while struggling with depression, money issues and relationship issues must be the hardest thing in the world to do. i believe she is in a place no one else would choose to be and i believe that thing that can help her the most is to start the road of believing in herself once again. i think through photography, and attending your amazing workshop she has a possibility of achieving this. i truly hope for her to be chosen for this gift because i would love for her to have a chance at a better life and i have a feeling that coming home from attending your workshop will be the first day of the rest of her life. thank you for considering Christina for RUNNING ON EMPTY.
    Elana Goral
    goralelana@gmail.com

  33. I am recommending Aileen Reilly for your photography scholarship (see previous post). Aileen is a dedicated, loving, committed stay at home mom. She gave up her career as an attorney to raise her 4 children. She knew the work hours of an attorney would not be healthy for her growing family. She has moved several times for her husband’s career – uprooting her support systems. Living away from any family or friends to help her. Her husband had jobs where he travels 80-90% of the time while she is at home with 4 kids. And now he has been out of work since the beginning of 2009. She deserves something for herself – she has given so much for so long. She is truly running on empty. I can see how she is so passionate about her photography – she has always had an artistic, creative side that must be released. Photography allows her to release that side of her and to feel like she has a little piece of life that is “all hers.” This workshop would be a life-changing, life-developing event for Aileen. It’s not a simple course on photography – it’s a chance for Aileen to rejuvinate and recharge her batteries through this creative outlet that she loves. I envy her artistic ability and creative eye. She needs this to feel whole again – it would be an amazing turning point that she would always remember. And, you would be supporting a true talent – someone that would take this education seriously and go into the world to capture the truly precious moments of life. Although I am 5 hours away – I would drive to D.C. to watch her children for her to attend this event.

  34. Jennifer Carlson says:

    I would like to second the nomination submitted by Christina B. I wish I could truly express how proud I am of my best friend for opening her heart like she did for this contest. Chris and I have been friends for over 20 years and I know her like a sister. When she started to backslide into depression a couple of years ago I felt completely helpless and was terrified for her. When she stopped taking my calls I was at the end of my rope thinking “How can I help Christina???” She was so deep into this black hole of despair that she had to cut everyone else out in order to maintain the energy she needed to take care of her daughter, Gia, and the baby growing inside of her. It is absolutely incredible how deceptive depression can be – it can make you BELIEVE with your whole soul that your friends and family will be better off without you. Too often mothers succumb to those thoughts, and I’m in awe of the strength she had to overcome and say “I need help.”
    What happened next was truly amazing. While Chris came back out of her shell slowly, it was with a new respect for how fragile life is. I think that’s why she takes pictures, and why they are always so enchanting. She captures the precious moments that so many of us overlook in our everyday lives. Her girls holding hands absentmindedly, Gia twirling in her ballerina costume, Nadia watching her big sister with awe in her eyes. It’s like she knows what’s most important now, and wants to savor it and share it. Photography is not only her outlet, I believe it’s the way she expresses her gratitude for a second chance. I beg you to seriously consider choosing Christina to attend your workshop. She is the epitome of a mother who runs on empty, and I know she would genuinely benefit from your kindness.

  35. j.sentz says:

    My nomination for the woman running on empty is my friend Tina Lapp. I have known her over the course of five years. Since I know her she has loved and valued photography. It was about several years ago she got a canon rebel and began capturing the everyday moments of her two children ages four and two. Tina was one of the friends who introduced me to the Me Ra Koh Photography website and blog. She owns the DVD Beyond The Green Box and has applied what you have taught her and is now shooting in manual! When I had my first child, Tina offered to come take pictures of us within several days of our daughter Myla being born. What kindness! The pictures that she took that day are cherished by me as I have beautiful images of my newborn. These pictures help me remember my first moments with her. I know that Tina has not only served me in this way but has extended herself to take pictures other women with children. Tina has inspired and encouraged me to learn photography and not to become discouraged. Tina is humble about her photography and the images that she captures. Tina wants to increase her understanding of photography and I know that the Confidence workshop would help her achieve this desire. Thanks for considering Tina.
    jamie sentz

  36. David says:

    I would like to nominate my wife Mariana, as I think this workshop is exactly what she needs in this particular phase in her life.

    Mariana has always been a very driven and successful businesswoman. She built an incredible successful career as a marketing executive for two of the best CPG (consumer goods products) companies in the world. However the road wasn’t easy, as she needed to make personal sacrifices, like leaving her family and friends in Peru to come to the US to pursue her career goals.

    With her career as the center of her life, it was hard for her to find time and energy to pursue any other personal dream. However, she seemed very content with her life. But things have changed for her. After going through fertility treatments, a very painful miscarriage of our baby girl and the joyful birth of our beautiful son, her world and priorities were rocked. She realized she hadn’t focused on developing her true passions and making sure her personal growth was keeping up with her career growth. It took a while for her to get the courage, but finally, she decided to quit her job and focus on finding her true self.

    She is now focused on spending more time with our son and pursuing opportunities in the not-for profit world. She wants to transfer her corporate skills to help an organization, committed to improving our world, succeed.

    With more time on her side, she has finally taken my camera and started taking pictures of our son. She always wanted to do it, but was intimidated by the fact that I am an eager travel photographer and my pretty “complicated” camera. She is following your blog and has watched your DVDs many times. Me Rah’s story has been very inspiring for her. Mariana seems very happy when holding her camera and her shots are excellent! I truly believe that she has the sensitivity needed to be a great photographer, and who knows, maybe photography will become more than just a pastime.

    Her photography is helping her during the self-rediscovery phase she is going through. I believe that photography will help her gain confidence to pursue her dreams and become the person she wants to be.

    I really hope you pick her. She has always been very supportive and encouraging of my dreams. I hope this nomination (which coincides with our 7-year wedding anniversary) can show her how much I love her and how much I support and admire her for having the courage of pulling a 180-degree change in her life.

  37. Shane says:

    Me Ra and Brian,
    I would like to nominate my sister Aileen Reilly. While she has nominated herself, I would like to add on to her words with some comments you might find useful as you evaluate her submission.

    I am 8 years younger than my sister, but her impact on me has always been profound despite the age gap. I do not even think I would like photography if she had not introduced me to it and spent time teaching me about it. I can recall my first camera – it was a 110 film camera that my sister handed down to me when I was about 7. My bet is that she does not even recall that she did that for me. Like so many things, I took to what she enjoyed because she made it fun. Even though I was the painfully annoying younger brother at times, she always took time to watch over me, care for me, and even teach me new things such as photography. It amazes me when I think about what she went through in life that she would even take the time to worry about me, but she always has. She regularly put her needs second to my own, and did so even as a teenager. Today I see her take this same self-sacrificing position in life for her kids and husband, and I often wish she could just be a little more selfish so that she could follow all of her dreams too – but she does not have that gene it seems.

    Frankly, her desire to attend your conference is about as close to something selfish that I have seen from her in decades. It is probably obvious, but she has always had this passion for photography. As a teenager with her camera I can recall her taking photos that were so unique and different that it was clear she had a talent for the art of photography. However, like so many people, she made photography a hobby instead of a profession. While she was an excellent attorney and is an even better mother, throughout life she has always come back to photography but never been able to pay it the attention I am sure she wanted to, until now. With her kids a little older, and your conference coming to her hometown, the stars seemingly aligned – that is, until she decided to again put her family in front of her needs by foregoing the conference as she is afraid to spend money they might need.

    She has given me so much, so I try (and normally fail) to bring her some happiness any way I can as my form of payment for all she has done for me. Thus, when she told me about this contest and the positive emotions she derived from it, I decided to do something I normally would not and that is to post to a blog.

    You see, nothing besides her husband and kids brings her happiness like photography. She wears her passion for it on her sleeve and loves getting into the details of the art. She has an eye that seems to spot emotion and that comes through in her photos. However, like most things in her life when she wants to pursue it, she wants to be the best at it she can be. As such, she became passionate about getting into your conference because she regards you as one of, if not, the best. As such, I irrationally fear it would break her heart not to take advantage of the opportunity. Thus, I hope you see it in your hearts to grant her this amazing opportunity to attend.

    Her passion will amaze you, her intellect will impress you, and her skill will enthrall you. You will give her the reprieve from her daily stresses that she so clearly could use, but importantly too you will give her a chance to learn and expand a talent she so desperately wants to improve under the tutelage of someone as passionate and talented as you.

    Thank you, in advance, for your consideration. Her email is 6reillys (at) gmail (dot) com

  38. Kim says:

    I recently read somewhere that we never really choose who enters into our life. People are drawn into our inner circle as part of a divine plan. This “plan”, so to speak, is to help us be a better person; to realize, through the actions of others, where our own personalities and values falter. Through the examples of these “people” who enter into our lives (be it as a friend, spouse, brother, or sister) we ultimately challenge ourselves to become better, to strive for excellence and perfection through the natural course of our life. It is my belief that Aileen Reilly entered into my life for this very reason.

    Her personal story is a very private one but is one that she has shown you a glimpse of in her own post. To say that she is a survivor is truly an understatement. And yet, despite all that she has endured, both personally and professionally, she chooses to pick up her camera and capture all the beautiful moments in life: the secret glimpse of a husband to his wife, the adoring face of a young mother to her newborn child. Many people in her current situation would choose to be negative, to lament to anyone who would listen. She chooses to smile, to photograph, to move on and help others realize what is truly important in life.

    I have no sisters but I do consider Aileen, my sister-in-law, to be the sister I never had. She is an inspiration as a wife, a mother, a woman, and a friend. She has always given so much to so many people and not asked for anything in return. So tonight, I am asking for her. Please consider Aileen Reilly for the Confidence workshop. You will never meet a more gifted woman….both for her natural eye for photography and for her overall ability to only see the very best in people and in life.

  39. Aileen says:

    OMGosh. I really did try to get that thing posted this weekend, didn’t I?!

    I am so sorry about the multiple posts. I would try, and it wouldn’t post; and I would try, and it wouldn’t post…. and on and on and on. After finally figuring out the problem, I corrected it, but then realized there was no way to call back my prior submissions.

    Just look at it as an example of how badly I want to attend the workshop. :)

    Aileen

  40. Sarah says:

    As a recent Running on Empty winner myself, I just want to wish you all the best of luck and prepare yourself…it’s an amazing ride! Brian and MeRa are truly the best!

  41. Heather Mckay says:

    #4!! Love it! Great Pic, love the emotion:) Even tho my bff got an honorable mention!!! GO SUE!!