Tuesday, May 27, 2014

{Lindsey & Dallin} San Francisco, CA Engagement Photographer

These beautiful people are my brother Dallin and his fiance Lindsey. That same little brother who played barbies with me - hours on end. The little brother who cried for days when I accidentally killed his 2 imaginary friends (sorry dude, I couldn't see them). And that same little brother who called me "Sa" because he couldn't say my full name. How did that little guy get old enough to get married?! Luckily Lindsey is the best of them all, so we're quite okay with it! They are getting married in less than a month! He's the first to get married in our family, so it's an exciting time!

Other than 1 month, their entire relationship has been spent apart. They dated for 1 month (ish), before he moved to San Francisco for Dental School. They got engaged a couple months later, and shortly after that, Lindsey moved to Boston to finish her last year of school at Harvard. Since September, they have each been flying across the county to spend weekends together. My brother is the biggest hopeless romantic that I have ever met. He definitely got his fairytale story with this gal!

One of the weekends that Lindsey was in San Francisco, I flew out there to take their engagement photos. It was dreamy. I love traveling to do photos. It was so fun and different doing engagements outside of Utah. We constantly had people stopping to tell them congratulations or find out when the big day was (see the Fisherman's Wharf photo - that dude was loving it). It wasn't just another couple getting their pictures done like it is here in Utah. It was a sight to see for the locals!

I narrowed them down the best I could. There were too many good ones to choose from.

Locations: Potrero Hill, Fisherman's Wharf, Baker Beach and The Painted Ladies.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Writing. It's therapeutic, really.

For background on this post, you may want to visit this one first. It's one I didn't ever expect to write, or expect the response I got from it. I got so many emails/calls/texts from not only you, my friends but from strangers. People thanking me for sharing my story. Strangers, some who I now call friends, thanking me for being brave to share something, quite frankly, really personal.

I was honestly blown away by the response. So, thank you!

A few days after I shared my post, I found myself on Sunset Beach, Hawaii. As I was soaking up some much need sun, I received an email from a girl from Shanghai whom read my story. In her email, part of what she wrote:

" ...I can't be the person I used to be. My friends think im just moody. I want to be alone. I look fine but nobody understands. Words cant explain how pathetic I feel inside, believe me I feel so bad the pain becomes all i think about at times. i feel so ill.  I tend to cry. I don't do sports anymore, I can't do well in school. I'm staring to think its all in my head. I get terrible lower body pain. Im exhausted I just want relieve. What if it's not endo I couldn't live with this all my life. It happens over and over again. I don't know if I missed anything sorry I wasted your time. i appreciate for you to have read this. thank you for sharing and making me not feel alone anymore. thank you."

I laid there on the beach, re-reading this email over and over again. I related all too well to what she was feeling. Not only had my words comforted her, but her words comforted me. It reminded me, once again, that we are all here on earth to help each other through all our trials. It's okay to talk about them. We weren't meant to come to earth and suffer in silence. Alone. That's just silly.

If it's so much easier to handle things with an understanding support system, why do we bottle up and be silent about things? I get it, we all want to be Wonder Woman (Superman for you men), and it's not always necessary and/or appropriate to go around spilling our guts about our imperfections. But, sometimes it IS necessary and appropriate to do so.

Just think - if you had someone who actually understood what you were going through at that deep dark sad lonely time of yours, think how much easier that time could have been for you? You could be that for someone else.

Basically, it's sometimes really incredible to be vulnerable.

It's liberating, really.


In my last post, I mentioned how I was going to see a new doctor. Well, I did (but a different one than originally planned). I did more research and found a doctor with the same expertise in UTAH! Amaze-freakin-fest. There is a small amount of doctors in the world who can perform a more advanced and specialized surgery (excision) for Endometriosis. So, the fact that one was here in Utah was just... incredible. #blessing

March 4, 2014 was my big day. Dr. Jeff Arrington performed my surgery in Ogden, UT. So many miracles happened this day that I will never forget. Before I went to the hospital, my dad gave me a powerful Priesthood Blessing. One of which I know has been life changing.

Prior to surgery, you have a few appointments with your doc. When you have been sick and in constant pain for over 7 years, these appointments are actually really hopeful and strangely exciting. There is that hope that you might actually feel better when all is said and done. 

At my first appointment with Dr. Arrington, he found a mass the size of a quarter. Something he seemed to be quite concerned about. Which prompted an additional scan that was something I would never wish upon my worst enemy. So, we're not even going to talk about that right now.

He also expected my colon to have a significant amount of damage, which would result in things... that we're just not going to talk about.

He also expected my Endometriosis to be fairly significant. Meaning, a lot of damage (Endometriosis can "glue" your organs together and do other funky things). And, a lot of work to be done. He seemed to be prepared for a not so easy situation. But, promised me that he would leave in all important organs.

So, surgery went down. What was expected to be 2.5 - 3 hours long lasted only 1.5 hours! My parents told me that the mass he had found prior had...wait for it... DISAPPEARED.

Boom. If I could have moved, I would have done a celebratory dance!

The Priesthood and Faith are so so real. So real that it's sometimes a little scary. In a good way, of course. Faith really does "move mountains".

At my post-op appointment a couple weeks ago, Dr. Arrington told me that I have a 70% chance of being cured. That's pretty insane since it's not a curable disease. I am no longer in pain. I lay in bed every night in silence, feeling that no pain feeling. Do you know how incredible it is to not feel pain? I kind of feels like you're floating. But, you're not floating. It's clearly an indescribable thing. It's surreal. I also haven't been nauseous since. Another amazing thing. AND, my energy level is slowly starting to creep back. I no longer get home from work and go strait to my bed. All of this is still so new to me that I'm not even sure how to be "normal" again. And, it's kind of scary to try and be normal again with that fear that I wont be able to.

So, tonight, while you're in bed waiting to fall asleep - take a moment to feel that "no pain" feeling, and be grateful for that. Not every one has it. And, now that I do, I want to do everything in my power to help those who do have that pain get there. Because, it's changed my life.

Over the past several years of dealing with all of this, I've learned that it's okay to have imperfections. We're supposed to. I've learned to not be ashamed of things you go through in your life. Being open about certain things you go through could be life changing for someone else. It can make going through things seem somewhat worth it.

So, basically... if you ever catch me doing a jig like this, you know why!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


"Certain stories we carry with us, events in our life, they define who we are. It's not a matter of getting over anything; we have to make the best of it." -- Nick Flynn

I've recently discovered something very powerful. Something that has, in a way, changed my life.

The power of sharing your story. The power of a support system. And, the power of a hashtag.

The other day, I was having a rough week. I wasn't feeling well (keep reading to find out why...), and was tired of not feeling well. I was reading an article when I saw #endometriosis. Yes. A hashtag has changed my life. Right away, I typed #endometriosis into instagram and in a split second, there were hundreds of pictures and so many women who were posting stories, pictures and experiences of the exact thing I was going through. Finally, after 5 years, I found people who understood.

As you may have gathered, I have endometriosis. Something that has defined my life the past 5+ years. I'm not writing to get sympathy, or for you to feel bad for me. I'm writing because a hashtag has taught me how important it is for people to share their stories. Sometimes you go through things so you can help another person go through something similar. And lately so many people (yes, the strangers on instagram) have helped me feel not alone and broken.

**Disclaimer - MEN, if you're reading this, beware. I'm writing about girls things. And, not the shoes and shopping kind of girl things. BUT, I encourage you to read still. It's just as important for men to have an understanding in the subject.**

About 5 years ago, my health started to somewhat kick my trash. Pain and nausea became a constant, overbearing element in my life. I spent most nights not sleeping, curled up in a ball. (To this day, I can't watch The Notebook. I "watched" that on one of my worst nights. Issue.) The doctors office became part of my weekly, sometimes daily routine. I didn't love it.

Another awesome thing was that I was in school. And working. Luckily I had the most amazing, understanding boss, and somewhat understanding professors. However, It came to the point where I had to drop out of school. Turns out constant pain and nausea wrapped around no sleep makes it hard to go to school and succeed.

I don't need to go into detail of all the fun guesses of what the doctors thought I possibly had. That would take too long. After a long 2+ years of more doctors, needles, pain meds and 3 mini procedures, a gazillion misdiagnoses, I had had it. It's exhausting being sick, no one understanding and constantly stumping doctors. Feeling like friends and family thinking that you're a hypochondriac... now that's quite the feeling of support.

I learned really quickly that because I wasn't in a wheel chair, bald from chemo, or walking around with an oxygen tank stuck up my nose that people didn't take my illness seriously. It wasn't because they didn't believe me, it was because they didn't understand. But that doesn't make it any easier.

(I respect and sympathize 100% with people who are in wheel chairs, going through chemo or have oxygen tanks :) Just illustrating the point that people who suffer from invisible illnesses don't have outward scars on the inward war their bodies are fighting.)

I started doing more and more research and came across a disease that I hadn't heard of before. Endometriosis. It effects millions of women (176 million to be exact). "Endometriosis is a disease process where the inside lining of the uterus, the endometrium, flows back up inside of the body around the ovaries and bowel where it implants and begins to grow. Quite frankly a lot of this medical stuff can be quite dry and boring and does not convey what it is like for a woman to have this disease and how it truly impacts her life and her ability to live her life in very basic ways.
In reality, this disease can be like having tens or hundreds of excruciatingly painful blisters covering the inside of the pelvis. Infertility and pelvic pain are the two most common symptoms of endometriosis." Dr. Andrew Cook

I researched doctors and found one in Provo not too far from me. I made an appointment and finally felt like this could be the end to all this pain and nonsense.

The day of my appointment finally came and I was beyond ready to kick some butt. My doctor walked in, sat down, and before she could even ask me why I was there I said "I am pretty certain I have Endometriosis. I'm tired of feeling sick and being in pain all the time, so I'd like to schedule my surgery today." (Endometriosis can only be diagnosed through surgery. Fantastic.) Turns out doctors like to be the one who gives the diagnosis. Interesting. Even more interesting though is that after she asked me probably 1,359 questions, she agreed with me that I "had symptoms that would suggest Endometriosis". Obvi.


She wanted me to try a different type of treatment before we went to surgery. For 3 months. At this point, I kind of wanted to punch her. In the uterus. (Confused why I wanted the uterus? Read on...).

So, whatever. I did the 3 months of treatment and sure enough, I still was not feeling better. Shocker. Not even an ounce. This time, however, I brought my mom with me to the doctors appointment. Good to have back-up when a brawl is about to happen. My doctor agreed (without the brawl and getting punched in the uterus) that I needed surgery.

Before we scheduled the surgery, she wanted one more ultrasound just to make sure there wasn't a tumor, or cyst. (Been there, done that. But, ok!). I went back in for my ultrasound --->> sidenote --->> ever been to an OBGYN's office in Provo, Utah waiting for an ultrasound in a room full of pregnant woman? Except, you don't have a wedding ring on... Just think of all those looks I got. Kind of funny actually. --->> moving on --->> ultrasound... I lay down, she puts the cold goo on my stomach and starts looking around. The first thing out of her mouth was "Wow, I don't know if you'll ever be able to get pregnant." (Hey, future husband! Don't stop reading and run away quite yet! It's more likely now I'll be able to birth your children.) So, for obvious reasons, at his point, I'm not loving this ultrasound tech (and she looked like the blonde chick on Lost who falls in love with Sawyer. Loving my man, AND telling me my uterus sucks. She definitely dipped far down into the negative scale for me).

After that appointment, I got in my car and sat there. Then cried. For 45 minutes. The physical pain that comes with an invisible illness is far from great. But for me the emotional pain was so much harder to bear. To everyone else, I looked fine. So I was forced to pretend to be fine, when really, my insides were covered in lesions, blisters and scar tissue.

Not my best hair day.
November 10, 2010. What a blessed, yet painful day. My surgery was scheduled for mid-morning, but my surgeon was 3 hours late (she got tied up in another surgery with complications. Comforting...). I don't even remember being scared. I was SO confident that Endometriosis was what had been attacking my body for all these years, that I was EXCITED to finally have that diagnosis and to hopefully feel a little bit better.

Waking up from surgery was a moment I will never forget. I remember opening my eyes, looking over at my mom and she said "Sarah, you have Endometriosis." I didn't understand why she wasn't jumping up and down like I wanted to at that moment. After years of not knowing why my body hated me, I FINALLY knew! I wasn't crazy.

I laid in that bed, that awful awful bed, feeling vindicated. Relieved. Like I had won a war. Recovery was rough. The way endometriosis is treated is by burning the scar tissue, blisters and lesions off your organs (endometriosis can't be cured. It is just temporarily treated. Surgery every 2-6 years. Fun.). Unfortunately for me, they couldn't get it all out. So, I deal with complications from that every day.

So, maybe you're now thinking, "so what, you just have endometriosis". Yes, I just have endometriosis. Except it's not just endometriosis. Most women who have endometriosis also have more illnesses to accompany it (Interstitial Cystitis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the list goes on. Luckily I don't have all of them). My diseases aren't going to kill me. They're not going to completely ruin my life. But, they're going to always make it harder for me to do the average thing. Yes, at times, still after surgery, I can't stand up strait because of the pain. (If you ever see me walking around, a little bent over, looking slightly, or more than slightly pregnant, no need to be confused. No, I'm not pretending to be 98 years old. And I'm also not pregnant. My insides are just swollen more than my abdomen can handle. It subsides eventually.)

I'm not sharing part of my story to get sympathy or any of that. I don't need people feeling sorry for me. Because, I'm quite okay. I've learned that just because I'll have debilitating illnesses for the rest of my life, doesn't mean I can't live a normal, happy life. I'm sharing my story because the hardest part of having an invisible illness isn't the physical pain. It's the emotional pain and the lack of understanding from others. But, I've learned that if people don't know about a struggle in your life, they can't make that first step and try to understand. 

Awareness is power. I hope that by sharing my story, people can be more aware of others around them. Chances are that more than one person you know suffers from an invisible illness. Don't be quick to judge. Just because you can't see that someone is in pain and is sick, doesn't mean it's real. It is more than real to them. It's a way of life.


*If anyone would like more information on Endometriosis, let me know. I would be more than happy to share more about it.

**A book that has helped me understand more about my illness is "Stop Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain" by Dr. Andrew S. Cook. I HIGHLY recommend this book. So much that I plan on making the trip out to Northern California in the next few years for my next round of treatment from the doctor who wrote the book and specializes in Endometriosis.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

{Remington Owen} Orem, UT Newborn Photographer

I've always been hesitant to do newborn photography. I'm not a fan of baskets, balls and giant flowers. So, I didn't think I would make a good fit for a newborn photographer.

A month ago, I was convinced to give it a shot. I was quite hesitant, because there is only a certain amount of time to photograph someones newborn. And if it doesn't go well, then, well... you've missed out on an opportunity that only comes around one time.

Talk about pressure.

I tried to prep myself as much as possible before the shoot so I could get some  pictures of this beautiful new baby that would be cherished forever. I wont claim to be a newborn photographer yet, nor will I ever. I found for me a way to photograph a newborn with my own style that is more simple and natural. Not perfect, but little Remington was. So, they make perfect pictures.

Here is my first attempt at newborn photography.

Remington Owen Blackhurst.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nothin But The Water

It seems like good live performers are hard to come by these days. But, Grace Potter.... her recordings do not do her justice.

Listen to this and be blown away. 

She's incredible.

One day, when I grow up, I want to sing like her.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lately, I've Been Going Crazy

I can't get enough of this song. Still.

Listen. And, love.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Little Reminders

I stumbled upon (literally stumbled upon... have you tried stumbleupon? Try it.) this list the other day. 45 Lessons Written By A 90 Year Old. I didn't love all 45, so I'm sharing the 41 that I did like. I'd say the 90 year old author of these knows what he's talkin' about.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.
5. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. Save for things that matter.
9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
14. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
15. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful.  Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
16. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
17. It’s never too late to be happy.  But it’s all up to you and no one else.
18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
22. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
23. Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?’
24. Always choose Life.
25. Forgive but don’t forget.
26. What other people think of you is none of your business.
27. Time heals almost everything. Give Time time.
28. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
29. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
30. Believe in miracles.
31. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
32. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
33. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
34. Your children get only one childhood.
35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.
38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you think you need.
39. The best is yet to come…
40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
41. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

While I was reading these, it reminded me of my Grandpa. He hasn't had the best of health the last 10 years, mainly suffering with Alzheimer's. Most recently (2 weeks ago) was diagnosed with cancer. Yesterday we found out he has about 5-7 days left. This will be the first grandparent I have lost. I honestly thought it wouldn't be so hard to loose a grandparent. I don't know why I ever thought that, but I did. Losing a loved one is a hard thing.

Because my grandpa hasn't had much to say the past few years, I am thinking of these 41 lessons as lessons being from my own grandpa. Pretty sure he'd add one more in there that says "when in doubt, farm" (umm, I'll never farm).

I think it's always good to have little reminders like these. Even if it's hard.