Finding Inspiration- Life Christian Academy Senior Mary Chapman

In February this past year, I had the amazing opportunity to spend 2 glorious weeks in Florida and attend 2 amazing photography conferences. How many moms and business woman can say that they get 12 incredible days to surround themselves in their passion, meet a ton of people, go to inspiring places, and spend time with loved ones- hardly anyone, am I right? AND all this in the warm, Florida sun- simply divine.

Having time with yourself can bring some amazing clarity and when I was down in Florida, I started to realize that I had lost some of myself and the things I love doing in my business these past couple of years. The truth is, as you get more mature in your business you build a reputation in your quality, experience and consistency- those are the things that your clients look for when making their choice for a photographer. Those are all amazing things, but somewhere in that consistency I feel like I lost some of my inspiration- both in my own work and with my clients. It’s a balance I am learning- that with success comes more demands and more structure, but I left my corporate life behind to be able to grow as a creative- not just become a project manager photographer. This year I want to learn more of that balance and make sure that I put myself out there, take bigger risks and really inspire people through my work, my client experience and sharing my own personal experiences.

I had the pleasure of meeting 2018 Life Christian Academy Senior, Mary at my son’s auction this past March. Mary had been asked to speak at the auction on her experience at LCA. Mary is a very special young lady and the more she stood on that stage and shared her story, the more she drew me in and I knew I had to meet her. After she was done, I looked over at my husband who was already grinning at me. He said three words-“go get her” and off my chair I went to go introduce myself.

At 3 months old, Mary was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary disorder that effects the exocrine glands and results in the body producing abnormally thick mucus which leads to blockages in the pancreatic ducts, bronchi, and intestines. Mary also has Type 1 Diabetes as a result of her Cystic Fibrosis. So what does all that mean? It means that this young lady spends 3-4 hours per day managing her health on top of all the craziness and stressors that come with being a Senior in high school. I asked Mary what a typical day is like for her. With her giggly smile and matter of fact way of speaking she talked about how she spends 2 hours a day (hour in the morning and an hour in the evening) in a “life vest” that shakes her to break up all the mucus. Then after a huge breakfast that her grandmother makes her (thank you, Karen) she begins to take her medication that results in about 30 pills a day. At school she monitors her blood sugar and partners with the school nurse if she is not feeling right. Otherwise, she attends her classes as normal and hangs out with her friends and boyfriend (Hi Brandon!) and then home to do her homework and spend another hour in her life vest before shower and bed.

As I sat with Mary and her grandparents to learn more about the impacts that cystic fibrosis has had on their lives, they shared with me lots of technical information as well. The crazy cost of all the medication (some costing $800 a pill) can be daunting and since only about 30,000 people have this condition, it makes it hard to get enough money for research and advancements. Coming up on May 5th is the annual Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis Walk in Gig Harbor where Mary and her family have put together their team “Little Steps for Little Mary” to walk and raise money for a cure. If you are interested in donating for Mary’s team, click on the link above for more information.

Mary and I went out to Downtown Tacoma a couple of weeks ago to take her Senior Portraits. The thing that is so amazing about Mary is that she doesn’t let her condition define her and lives her life to the fullest and embraces each day as a regular teenager getting to graduate. Mary brought two of her besties, Hailey and Jordyn with her along with her boyfriend, Brandon. She has such a positive attitude and her smile and giggles are infectious- I loved how her personality came out in her photos. Mary is going to take the next year off to get her health in line, then plans to go to school to study veterinary sciences to become a vet.

Thank you, Mary, for the opportunity to work with you, get to know you, and share your inspirational story. You have a such a beautiful soul and positive heart- I loved every minute. This session and the images taken were my donation to Mary and her grandparents. The truth is, everyone of my seniors, teens and tweens have their stories, their challenges, and their obstacles in life. It is my job to share it, to document it- wherever they are at this moment in their lives today. I am so blessed and thankful that I get to spend time with each of my kids and provide them with an uplifting and positive experience. This was my opportunity to give back to a well deserving Senior and I loved every second. Enjoy a sneak peek of her session and her video. Thank you again, Mary, Karen and Jack for letting me be a small part in Mary’s Senior Year. YAY!

Mary Chapman Full Video from Tammy Dahlquist on Vimeo.

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