marriage

What Kind of Mother Will I Be? // WV Boudoir Photographer

DISCLAIMER I am not pregnant, but we hope to have children in the next few years, which has me thinking about motherhood more. I’m realizing that who I am today is who I’ll be as a mother. These are just thoughts on that.


What kind of mother does a woman like me become?

I have to assume that my inner workings and most notable traits won’t change all that much after I become a mother.

I will still be unpredictable, a little too quick to anger, also a little too quick to giggle, day dreamy and sensitive.

I will probably also still be stubborn and mean sometimes, and strong and passionate most of the times.

I will still want to wear interesting clothes and earrings.

I will also still be falling in love with every person I meet. (Will my children like or dislike this about me?)

I am probably going to slow down my driving a little and pay more attention to the food I eat and the risks I take.

But I’m probably not going to change the way I procrastinate and make excuses.

I will still be a good cook and a lazy reader.

I will still be a control freak to some, amenable to others.

I will still love the spotlight.

I will still sing, and think I’m better at it than I am.

I will still be fascinated with sex and intimacy, and my kids will probably hate that.

I hope that I will take my children’s criticism with a grain of salt, but also not dismiss their queries.

I hope that they like some of these things some day, even if it’s after I’m gone.

I hope that they inherit one or two of the good things.

I hope that they can laugh with their father about some of the bad things.

I might be a little too strict sometimes, a little too lenient others.

I might love a little too hard, pushing them away without meaning to.

I might worry too much.

I might want to hug them too much.

I might try to protect them when I should be letting them experience life.

I might be selfish.

I might teach them their first curse word.

I might inspire them.

I might also annoy them.

I might not give them what they need when they need it every time.

I don’t know what kind of mother a woman like me makes, and I won’t until the day comes.

I can only hope that this missing pieced puzzle of traits adds up to a whole and able mother for the human beings we raise.




Even My Gorgeous, Wonderful Husband Doesn't Get It // WV Boudoir Photographer

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Last night, Ricky and I started watching a show called “Workin’ Moms.” It’s a delightfully honest sitcom about, you guessed it, mothers who work. It’s a goddamn work of art, actually. I’ve seen only two episodes, and during both of them I have laughed out loud many times and cried at least once per episode. It goes deep in a way that most pieces of film are afraid to. Deep in a way that, apparently, only women will understand.


One of the mothers in the show is struggling to produce enough milk via breastfeeding. At the end of an episode, after a long, difficult day of “having it all” (read: working in an office full of men and getting mocked and dismissed for being a MOTHER), her baby fights feeding, but does eventually give in and latches. Her entire body relaxes as she lets out whimpering versions of “thank god.”


The credits rolled, along with the tears down my face. I looked over at my progressive, amazing, understanding husband and said, “do you see? Do you see how much more we have to deal with? Do you see how much harder women have to work just to live a life?” And I was met with a blank stare. Nothing. No words. No emotion. He just stared at me.


To his credit, we were watching a sitcom on Netflix when his wife turned around with a face full of tears, asking him to explain himself and the patriarchy. Maybe he was just stunned. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t even all that surprised. Women have been alone in this fight forever.

I guess deep down, I’ve known that he doesn’t get it, or I wouldn’t have asked those hypothetical questions of him. We are approaching the years in which we’ll grow our family, and it brings a lot of questions to the surface. Problems that are easy to delay solving now, but won’t be for much longer.


These questions are easy to ignore because my husband IS one of the good ones. He does basically all of our dishes. He does laundry, including my Thinx. He takes care of the cats, the bills, yard, the cars. He understands what emotional labor is, and often verbally acknowledges how much of it he sees me doing. He doesn’t talk over me. He doesn’t talk down to me. As men go, he’s pretty great.

So I forget sometimes, that although he IS incredible, he’s still not a woman.


He still doesn’t understand why I prefer to take the elevator in a parking garage.


He doesn’t know that in the winter, I ran home from my job that was 30 yards away, door to door, in the evenings.


He doesn’t understand how terrifying it is to have an irregular period as a 32 year old woman who wants children.

He doesn’t understand why I’m in such a damn hurry to buy a house.


He doesn’t see other men not making eye contact with me in a group conversation.


He doesn’t know why I hate it when he says he hasn’t noticed the several pounds I’ve put on.


He doesn’t understand why it’s such a goddamn relief that I’ve decided not to breastfeed.


He doesn’t mind, but doesn’t know the power I’ve found in keeping my last name for now.


He doesn’t feel the weight of the government using women’s bodies as pawns in a power game.

He doesn’t, and won’t truly understand any of this. Because he can’t. We can have all of the conversations in the world. He can see me screaming, crying, heartbroken, livid, but he’ll never really know any of it.

I can tell him and teach him how to support women, but the fact is, this will always be a space between my husband and me. This will be something we never have in common.

Computer science

Transformers

Musicals

Understanding life as a woman.



A Tour of Our Living Room // WV Boudoir Photographer

The silver airplane bottle opener is from a delightful, expertly curated antique barware store on Tybee Island. We only got to enjoy that shop for one year before it closed. We knew they wouldn’t be open the next year, though, because we’d made friends with the owners and got a little back story. They moved back to D.C.

The white porcelain horse is from Target, the clearance end cap. I waited for him to be cheap enough to justify the purchase of a white porcelain horse. I’ve had him longer than Ricky and I have had each other. He’s got two chips on his elaborate bridle. I call him Conquistador Horse.

The macrame on the bedroom door is from a craft I attempted at a business owner’s meeting. I’m not very good at macrame.

The fiddle fig tree is from a friend. She thoughtfully brought it as a thank you gift for having her as an overnight guest.

The letterpress prints behind the bar are my brother’s gift for being in our wedding. They will be expensive and inconvenient to ship, so I have put that off. Ricky would like to do it before Christmas. I would like to wait until they drive up here again.

“Girls Named Penelope” is a piece of art by a lady called Leslie. I fell in love with it at Arts Walk, an annual event here in Morgantown. It is often crisp, cool and wet this night. It’s my favorite evening of the year.

The candle beside Alexa is made by a company that is based in Ohio. The candles are too expensive, and I have to go to this one store in the Strip in Pittsburgh to get them, but I always have a really pleasant interaction there. I’m kind of proud to be able to treat myself to these candles, and I enjoy visiting the store where I get them.

The blue velvet pillow is from Salvation Army. I got it at least 7 years ago. It used to have tassels on it, but I cut those off. I like the color a lot. It is luxurious and whimsical.

The other blue pillow in the room was accidentally stolen from the hotel where everyone stayed for our wedding. Our nephew thought it belonged to us and packed it with our things the morning after our wedding. We thought that was a funny story so we kept it.

The brass bar tools set is from a cool vintage shop in Pittsburgh. I was with my friend, and she really liked it too, but it was a lot of money for me to spend on something like that at the time. So I tried to send Ricky a picture, but I didn’t get very good service in the store, so I had to make the choice on my own. I’m really glad I got it.

The statue of a samurai was a gift from Ricky’s host family in Japan. They didn’t speak English, and he didn’t speak Japanese. He had a hell of a time getting in through customs. I think it’s hideous but is cool enough to keep around. I hope someday we have a perfect spot for it in our house. I know it means a lot to Ricky.

I See You // WV Boudoir Photographer

I can't remember the last time I woke up without pain.

It's rarely physically incapacitating pain, but when it's the first sensation you feel in a day, it incapacitates you mentally and emotionally. 

I'm not very good at sleep anyway, so when I open my eyes and become cognizant of the twinge in my neck or the ache in my hip, the last thing I want to do is get out of bed. I'm an optimist, so I stay in bed, hoping for a few more minutes of rest or respite. 

It's a terrible little fight I have with myself every morning. I know that if I get up, the pain will eventually subside slightly, or at the very least I'll distract myself from it. At that first pinch, though, I close my eyes tight and try to sink into a space where I can't feel it.


I have a really good life. Not only do I have the obvious American Dreamy type stuff like a husband I adore, a cool place to live and a family that still loves me. But my life is FUN and FULL. I get to experience awesome shit all the time. I've met hundreds of amazing humans. I can see, hear, taste and feel. 

So I don't talk about being in pain much. It seems ungrateful or unfair. 

What is more unfair, though, is that people with invisible pain aren't allowed to talk about it. If there isn't an obvious gaping wound, you are met with skepticism or simply a glazed lack of understanding.

People with invisible pain often live with that pain every day. And when I say live with, I mean LIVE their lives with. Everything is harder. Going to the post office, brushing your teeth, making a phone call, driving in the car, waiting in line, grocery shopping, sitting at your work computer, having breakfast, doing laundry, picking up your baby, receiving a hug, watching a movie...It's all harder.

That difficulty becomes exhausting. But we can't sleep because lying down hurts, too. 


As I write this, I'm still not sure I will post it, because I fear being seen as complaining or ungrateful for what I do have. But if I don't talk about it here, I'm perpetuating the invisibility of invisible pain. If I DO talk about it, though, maybe someone else will feel okay to talk about it, too. I don't know about you, but it's really cathartic when I'm "allowed" to cry about my pain. 


A few weeks ago, Ricky and I walked downtown to have drinks with a friend. We were out pretty late, and it had already been a pretty rough pain day. We walked in the door of our apartment, and I just laid down on our hardwood living room floor. Bourbon fueled tears sprung from my eyes as I told Ricky how much I was hurting. My eyes were closed, but I could hear Ricky getting me an ice water (that usually helps me calm down). When I opened my eyes, Ricky's face was right in front of mine. He'd laid down next to me and was just lightly brushing my hair out of my eyes, looking straight at me. 

I'd never felt so seen, so understood as someone with chronic pain. In that moment, Ricky just existed with me. He knew he couldn't fix anything, so he did what he could. He just listened and existed with me. He knows that I am not defined by my pain, but that it is absolutely part of my every day experience. 


So here I am, lying on the floor with you, looking you in your eyes, existing with you. You're allowed to feel your pain, and you're allowed to talk about it. You are more than your pain, but your pain is part of you, and that's okay. I see you.

 

Jodi FINALLY Answers: What to Wear For Your Boudoir Session! // WV Boudoir Photography

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NOTHING! Just kidding. You should bring something to wear to your session for sure. 

OKAY COOL JODI BUT WHAT THE HECK DO I BRING?!?!?!

Relax! I'm here to help. I get that wardrobe is one of the most stressful parts of a session. That and hoping I'm not a creeper (I'm not.)

I have been shooting boudoir for five years now, and I have collected a list of stores and pieces that rock any body. 

Before you start shopping, ask yourself, "what makes me feel sexy? when do I feel sexiest? what clothes do I already have that make me feel like a goddess?" Use your answers as a jumping off point, and HAVE FUN!

As you look over this list, keep in mind that your boudoir session is WAY MORE about

YOU

YOUR BODY

YOUR SENSUALITY 

YOUR CONFIDENCE

YOUR JOURNEY

YOUR EXPERIENCES

YOUR RELATIONSHIP W. YOUR PARTNER

than it is about what you wear. If you only brought worn out Hanes and a tank top, we'd still make gorgeous photos together. 

But, if you're interested in stepping outside of your comfort zone and purchasing some fun new pieces for your session, here's my list of Go To places and pieces!


 

PLACES & PIECES

1. ASOS.COM         

I love ASOS for their wide range of sizes and prices. Free shipping and free returns are icing on the retail cake. Here you can find beautiful bodysuits like these:

You can also find  matching sets, silky cami/short sets, adorable pajamas we can layer over your matching bra & panty set, and cute t shirts we can put with no bra and pretty undies.

2. rue21       

Rue21 is your go-to spot for SUPER affordable bras and bralettes. They usually have matching undies, too. We're talking $5 lacy, strappy bralettes! They may not be of the highest quality, but this is a great place to come for new lingerie for your shoot without breaking the bank.

3. Gabes & TJ Maxx

Because you never know!

4. Amazon.com    

There are 3 pieces I highly recommend shopping for at Amazon for selection and price.

First, kimono style robes. SO MUCH SELECTION. If you can dream up a print, it's probably on amazon. Check it:

Amazon is also a fantastic spot for garter belt sets. Many of them come with underwear and tights, but you'll probably want to get those elsewhere, as fit is tricky on Amazon. Basic black undies and thigh high hose can be found at Target. 

The third thing Amazon is great for is retro styles for a vintage pin up look! 

5. Charlotte Russe  

One word: HEELS! CR is great for hella high, hella sexy CHEAP heels. Because let's be honest, you're probably not wearing those things again, so they might as well be inexpensive. 

6. Your Closet!

I know, you're like, "Jodi, wuuuuuuut are you talking about?" But bear with me! You already have tons of pieces that are SO FUN to use for your boudoir session. Cardigans & sweaters, t-shirts & jerseys, button ups, jeans, your favorite sneakers and more! Get creative, bring it all! Here's some inspiration for you:


A boudoir session is a gift to your self. Treat it that way by scheduling time right after you book your session to do a little perusing and inspiration-gathering. Check out Pinterest, my Facebook page, and my Instagram feed for tons of images that will help you figure out your boudoir style.

And HAVE FUN! I promise you that what ever you bring will be perfect. I'm looking forward to making gorgeous photos with you! 


Did this post get you feeling ready & excited to book your session?!

HECK YEAH! Email me!

Brick & Mortar Breakthrough: A Tribute to My Husband to Be & the Dreams He Lets Me Dream


This morning at 12:48am, I fell even more in love with Ricky Hussmann. 

Ricky was seconds from sleep, I was miles from it, as per usual, when I got a new business idea.

This is not a unique occurrence by any means. Entrepreneurial ideas come to me as quickly and as often as sneezes do to a supremely unfortunate cartoon bee. And I act on them as often as a--well, as often as a bride to be with two full time jobs and a penchant for long showers. But Ricky always takes each idea as seriously as the first one he heard. He believes in them and wants them to become reality as much as I do. He takes note of the underlying passions and desires, provides feedback and always suggests “thought exercises” to really work through the nooks and crannies of the idea.


When I get these ideas, my mind moves so fast I can hardly make sense as I try communicating them to Ricky. Words tumble out of my mouth as my hands flit around the air in front of me. I feel glittery, vibrant. Oftentimes, the ideas come while we’re in the car, or on a walk or watching TV, and I talk and talk and talk while Ricky intently listens.

 

This one hit at 12:48am, when my poor fiance’s eyelids were drooping like next-day party streamers. But I can’t help the outpouring of words when these ideas hit. The fire I feel when I get them is so addictive, and if I don’t tell someone the idea, that fire fades. So I talk, and talk.

 

Not only did this saint of a man listen to my new idea despite the hour, but he sat up in bed so that he would not fall asleep while I share the puzzle pieces of the idea with him. He perked up a little as I talked and went through his usual series of questions to lightly test the bones of the idea.

"Is this something you see yourself doing for 5, 10, or 20 years?"

"How many employees would you ideally have?"

"Where would you like this idea to manifest?"

He even suggested his trademark “thought exercise” to ponder while I stretch the muscles of the idea.


Thanks to Ricky's reliable validation of all the ideas I've spewed at him over the last five years, I arrived at a realization in the first couple hours of this day. 

When I flip through the pages of my journals, scroll through my Google Keep notes, think back to conversations with Ricky, nearly every idea had one thing in common. 

 

It was a brick & mortar business. 

It was a charming shop on a busy little street with an inviting sign and even more inviting staff. It was bright walls and wooden floors, exposed shelves holding products & ideas that mean something to people. It was a place to go each morning, to start the music and turn on the lights, coffee in hand. It was a place where I'd greet my customers with exuberance and gratefulness that I get to be a part of their day. It was special events that locals would be excited to attend. It was a place I could bring my babies to work. It was a place my babies would someday work. 

I've had this dream for a long time now, and I have kept shutting it down.

This town's too small.

The start up cost is too high.

It would take so long to grow.

But now that I have started a business, I see that truly anything is possible. More than that, 

I CAN DO ANYTHING.

So stay tuned, friends. It might not be for years, but one day I will have that shop on that street with those walls and those floors, and I can't wait to see you there.


What dreams have you put off pursuing? What excuses have you made? Are they valid or fear-based? What will you do this week to take a step toward your dream?


 

Mini Sessions Are a Bitch: Why I Do Them Anyway // WV Boudoir Photographer

Ask any portrait photographer, and they'll tell you that they don't exactly look forward to mini sessions. 

If you've been a customer who has purchased a mini session, THANK YOU. But, step behind the curtain with me for a moment.

Mini Sessions, or miniature portrait photography sessions, usually take place over the course of one, or two if the photographer is batshit crazy, days. These days are generally 8-10 hours long. If the photographer has decided on 30 minute sessions, that's TWENTY families, people, couples, per day. Many of these people are relying on you to create THE MOST AMAZING CHRISTMAS CARD PHOTO ANYONE IN ANY FAMILY ANYWHERE HAS EVER SEEN. I don't care how much you love your job, that's A LOT of people to make/keep happy in a day or two. And don't even get me started on the money. 

That said, we continue to do them. You might ask why we continue to punish ourselves holiday after holiday with these chaotic carnivals of joy. 

I can't speak for any other photographers, but I have one irresistible, unavoidable reason to keep doing mini boudoir sessions. 

I want as many women as possible to experience all that boudoir has to offer.

When I started this business three years ago, I believed in boudoir. But now that I've had over 150 women trust me with these intimate images, I KNOW how powerful a boudoir session can be. 

 

I've seen women in the middle of a 150lb weight loss journey take everything off and dance between the sheets.

I've seen Cancer survivors reveal their scars to me.

I've heard women tell me that they've never believed they were beautiful until they saw their photos.

I've held women as they cried when the weight of the divorce hits them mid-session.

I've celebrated with women when they candidly tell me the best sex she and her husband ever had came after she showed him her photos.

I've high fived modest, shy women when they say YES to the implied nude "sheet shot."

I've listened as brides to be share all the details of the day they'll marry their best friend.

I've received texts just minutes after sessions thanking me for a confidence boost they didn't even know they needed.

I've smiled with mothers as they reclaim their baby body, watching as they become proud of the miracle they are.

 

Every woman has a damn good reason to do a shoot, but not every woman can afford it. 

While I still have to pay my bills, I price my mini sessions as low as I possibly can in the hopes that women who understandably can't swing our normal prices will give themselves this gift.

Making a Good Thing Great: Thoughts on Couples Therapy // WV Boudoir Photographer

Ricky and I are going to pre-marital counseling. Our officiant isn't making us, and we're not getting married in a church, so it isn't a requirement. We are voluntarily participating. I think Ricky and I are a pretty solid couple; obviously we aren't perfect. But you don't have to be broken to attend therapy. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," doesn't really apply here.

I say, why not make a good thing great.

And that's exactly what is happening. Ricky and I are learning so much about each other and feeling closer after every session. We're collecting tools for our marriage toolbox, so to speak, so that when something does need repaired, we have what we need to fix it. 

I'm a pretty therapy-positive person anyway, but I know not everyone is. I'm not the boss of you, and I probably shouldn't tell you what to do, but I'm going to.

Go to therapy. 

You don't have to go forever, and you don't have to go alone. You decide what you need. You don't even need to have a blaring problem to go. 

Something I've found super valuable about counseling is the chance to just. talk. In therapy, it's okay to go off on tangents, it's okay to meander with your thoughts. Sometimes, that's where the epiphanies are. Hidden in the weeds of subconsciousness. 

Likewise, it's been wonderful to watch Ricky open up about things he finds difficult to talk about. With a third party present, asking questions I might not think to ask, going down paths we might not go down on our own, he feels freer to explore his ideas. And I love it. 

Have you attended therapy either independently or as a couple? What has your experience been? How do you think it improved you and/or your relationship? I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

 

Photo by the super talented and wonderful Lauren Webster Photography


DISCLAIMER: I know therapy isn't cheap. I know we are so fortunate. But there are lots and lots of resources, financial aid, payment plans, online options, etc. to make therapy more accessible.