Sometimes it is so easy to forget what's in our back yard. When I came back to visit New England when I was in Australia, I remember being wowed by the home I'd left behind. Somehow it's hard to see just how special a place is when you are there everyday.
I grew up reading "Blueberries for Sal," and having the romanticized idea of picking berries in the wild. Despite that, I can count on one hand the number of times I've gone picking.
Today I packed up the baby and a troupe of cousins and set out into the woods. The little ones were wowed that we could just walk along the trail, pick a berry and pop it into your mouth. By the end of the afternoon, the only arguments they were having were whether to make muffins, a pie or jam. No video games, no television, no structured play. Just some kids, out at home, picking blueberries.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But for a new mom who has just had the most primal and exhausting experience of her life, the pictures are worth so much more -- this coming from a mama who makes her living putting a value on words.
When I heard about Kim Finn and Stork Photography, I knew I wanted a photographer at the Burchling's birth. Everyone thought I was nuts -- after all, birth is messy, graphic and unpredictable. But it's also beautiful and miraculous, and as a long-time birth junkie who loved hearing about entrances into this world, I knew I would like something to look back on to help me remember when our family grew from two to three.
I am so glad that I did. Having the photographer at the birth was a gift -- to ourselves, to our baby and to our families. Without Stork Photography we never could have captured moments like this:
I could tell the baby how her Mimi went to get coffee, and the baby chose that time to decide to come immediately; how my mom walked in thinking she was just saying hi to me, only to find her granddaughter snuggled in my arms; but when you see the pictures you can feel the emotion that even the most talented writers can't capture.
For our family that lives on the other side of the world, sharing the birth story photos was a way to make them feel like they experienced the birth as well.
And that is priceless.
I grew up in a family that worked in the trades, and I was always taught that although they may not have the most glamorous jobs, tradesmen had two things going for them: someone always needed them and they always had something to barter with. One of my favorite family memories was spending a week's vacation at a beach house in Maine. The prime summer slot had been given in exchange for painting that my parents had done at a customer's home.
More and more, I'm realizing that writing has the same benefits. Nearly anyone can use a writer, so I have become more comfortable asking if people are interested in taking payment in trade or in exchanging services. Recently, I've had two excellent experiences bartering with local professionals.
Last week, I got the itch to find out whether I'm having a boy or a girl. I looked into 3D ultrasounds, but with Christmas coming I couldn't justify the expense to find out the baby's sex just a few weeks early. On a whim I emailed Jessica at Diagnostic Ultrasound Suite, mentioning that if she would ever like to do anything in trade I'd love to talk. I knew it was a good sign when I immediately got a call back. Jessica had been in the process of finding a writer to revamp her website. Sometimes it's amazing how things work out. I got a sneak peak at baby GIRL Burch, and now Jessica and I are working together to made sure her website reflects her warm personality and years of professional experience.
This morning, my husband, my dog and I braved the single-digit temperatures to meet Kimberly Finn, of Stork Photography. Kim is the premier birth photographer on the North Shore (heck, in New England!). Her business is booming and she's so busy out shooting beautiful photos (like the one above) that she doesn't have time to sit home and fuss over a website and promotional material. Plus, she'll be the first to tell you that she's a photographer and not a writer for a reason (I have the opposite problem). I'm going to make sure that Kim has a fantastic website that shows the appreciation that her clients have for her birth story photography. In exchange, she'll be there working her magic when Baby Burch is born.
Meeting both of these women has been extraordinary. Sure, I received services that I was looking for. But much more importantly I met two strong, smart, local women who are running successful businesses. Although we're in different fields, bouncing ideas around and comparing victories and mistakes has been a great learning experience as we all work to bring our businesses to the next level. I can't wait to see what the new year brings for these relationships!
As a writer, most of the time, it is great to have too much to write about. Unfortunately this week, there was too much bad news to cover. However, when I began writing a piece for Merrimack Valley Business Magazine this morning, I realized tons of feel-good material. Writing a profile on someone who has so many inspirational stories was a great way to spend a Saturday morning, after a long Friday of horrible news.
Giovanni Capato is the founder of Reach Fashion, and Reach Design Center, on Wingate Street, in Haverhill. I am a sucker for a good Haverhill story, especially since my dad used to have his office on Wingate Street, and my siblings and I spent many afternoons exploring the local shops that never seemed to survive long enough. After buying a birthday present at Reach Fashion, I knew I wanted to do a story on the store and its owner, but I had no idea just how captivated I would be by Giovanni.
Reach Fashion is much more than just a boutique, although you will certainly find cute clothes. Through the adjoining Reach Design Center, Giovanni invites anyone to become involved in the Fashion industry. He takes interns from Haverhill High, runs fashion camps for students, and will share his knowledge with anyone who is interested. Seeing someone with an impressive professional resume who has such a genuine interest in helping the community is inspiring and encouraging. Giovanni takes away the intimidation of what he admits can sometimes be a cruel industry, and makes fashion and creativity available to anyone who walks through his doors.
Giovanni's personal story is also amazing. He immigrated to the United States from Brazil over fifteen years ago, not speaking any English. Having been through the immigration process with my husband, I cannot imagine conquering that while trying to learn the language. I know how frustrating it can be to feel like your life is in the hands of the government, or to desperately need something many people take for granted. I look forward to the day Mark can become a citizen, something Giovanni understands. "Becoming a citizen opened doors," he told me.
Giovanni has two sons, who he and his husband adopted through the Massachusetts foster care system. After talking to me about his professional life, Giovanni was more than willing to tell me about his experiences with domestic adoption. "We found love. I see that if I can give a child an opportunity for a better life, that's my goal here."
Love, local business, and American pride - things we can all appreciate everyday, but especially this week. Thanks, Giovanni, for being so open with me, and for everything you are doing for Haverhill. Look for more from my interview with Giovanni in the summer edition of Merrimack Valley Business Magazine, and check out Reach Fashion!
For All Your Writing and Editing Needs