Top photo: My father in-law's house with flood waters up to it's roof
Bottom photo: Mu mum and dad's house, all you can see is the roof
In February my baby girl Dizzy (Beagle) had her last lot of puppies, she was in labour during Cyclone Yasi (which devastated parts of the States north) - it was a long, long night she had 6 puppies, 5 boys and 1 girl, they were so cute, it was very hard to part with them after caring for them for their first 8 weeks. Dizzy has since been fixed.
The turn of events turned out to be a "make or break" time for us. We HAD to get back to work - we now had two families to keep under the one roof (Dans family was staying with us). We wanted sooo much to be able to help out the community in some way, but family portraits are the last thing on peoples minds when half the community has lost not only homes, but tragically friends and family members also. As the only source of income for us - we did what we do best - we helped out a charity. We brought our annual Animal Antics Pet Portrait event forward to March to support the RSPCA, who had lost their shelter at Fairfield during the floods. Animal Antics in 2011 exceeded all expectations (we didn't really know what to expect), but has seen us donate more than $2000 to the RSPCA during 2011. Thank-you to everyone who supported not only the RSPCA , but also us, when we really needed it! Animal Antics is set to return in July 2012!!!
We also headed up to Buderim on the Sunshine Coast in March for my Maternity Portrait session with Kelly Munce. This was a Christmas Gift from my husband, family and friends from last year, I was so anxious and nervous, thinking back I don't know what I was worried about. They were so beautiful and are now very treasured memories.
I also happy that Kelly Munce decided to take one of our puppies (now called Daisy) - home as a gift for her daughter:)
Kelly and I at dinner
(the top photo above is me being photographed for my maternity portraits-in the freezing cold water)
I was due to have my first baby in May, making the rest of the year look so much brighter. On the 10th of May, I gave birth (4 days early) to a beautiful healthy baby girl Alexis Elizabeth Wick. She has brought so much more Joy to our lives than I could have ever imagined. I love being a mum, I think it suits me :)
My beautiful daughter Alexis, born 10/5/11
Just when we thought the future looked so bright - my mum was diagnosed with a brain tumor, a secondary cancer from her breast cancer 3 years earlier. Mum was suffering severe head aches for a couple of months, and so she went for tests that confirmed our worst fears. She went in to have it removed when Alexis was only a few weeks old. Following the operation, she would have radiation to minimise the chance of it returning. So not only had Mum and Dad lost their home, they had this to endure this battle as well. They were still not living back home at this stage, they were living beneath my sisters house. More than ever we needed to get them back into the comfort of their own home. With he help and generosity of friends, family and strangers, we rallied them together to have the house finished - they moved back home in June. Mum seemed to have recovered well. She looked and felt pretty good!
Around September, mum and dad and my sister went for her appointment at the hospital where mum thought she was going to discuss Chemo for the cancer that they had found that week in her spine. She was ready to tackle it head on, but as they walked in and sat down and the doctor proceeded to tell them that her cancer had returned - this time in the lining of the brain as well as her spine. He said that no treatment will be effective on the lining of the brain and that mum has a minimum of 2 months to live! The news, as mum broke it to us, shattered us on a level that's even hard to explain. We cried, we hugged, and cried some more.
My first thought was that we hadn't had family portraits in such a long time, and me, being me, had been wanting to have them done for so long. So my dear husband organises to have Kelly Munce fly up from Newcastle about 2 weeks after the news had shocked us. This in itself was a truly amazing gesture on Kelly's part. I know how busy she is with her own business in Newcastle, she not only flew up here between her busy schedule, but also provided my family with their precious family portraits at no cost. I am truly grateful to be part of an industry where people do so much for each other.
My sister had decided to bring her wedding forward a whole year in October just so mum would be there, she managed to plan her wedding in 3 weeks and once again with the help of some truly amazing people in this industry, she was blessed to have Ben & Lisa Clark (whom I had never met personally before) volunteer their services to photograph Kelly's wedding. She will be forever grateful for their generosity shown during this difficult time.
As I sit and write this, Mum is still with us, she is hanging on, some days are worse than others. We are looking forward to Christmas with her, and just taking day by day. Every day we have with mum is special, she is now on borrowed time, she is the most wonderful beautiful and caring woman that I know, she may have come to terms with the fact that she is dying, but it is too early, she is not ready, she is too young, mum is only 52.
She thought she had beaten breast cancer, she thought she was in remission. She was told that it was an aggressive type of cancer, but thought the worst was over. How wrong she was. She now wishes she didn't sit around for those 3 years, just existing in life, she wishes she was really living life, adventuring, and travelling. Well, I am doing everything I can to prevent having this happen to me, with a mother with a history of breast cancer, I have to start having mammograms 10 years before the age she was diagnosed at 48. That's only 7 years away for me. I am going to live an active and healthy life - I'm not giving cancer any chance of appearing in my body.
We had taken these portraits while on holidays up the sunshine coast where Alexis and I spent a few days with mum, about 2 1/2 months ago
In September we travelled to Montville for a bit of a working holiday and Alexis had her first road trip, I had a couple of shoots organised while were there, it was such a lovely little 4 day getaway.
Cute little Cottage we stayed in, while in Montville
In October I took a leap of faith and Studio Instinct Photography - was no more. We launched our new business - Sam I am | Portrait Photographer. Having a little push and guidance from a very good and supportive friend, the transition was smooth and so far successful.
Show You Care with a Teddy Bear - our first children's portrait charity event, to add some joy to the faces of the Mater Little Miracles, just in time for Christmas - was launched to co-inside with the launch of Sam I am.
During October & November we collected nearly $2000 worth of toys to donate to the Mater Little Miracles to make their Christmas just that little bit brighter. I have met so many wonderful and courageous children since beginning to work with the Mater Foundation - I wouldn't swap it for the world. Working with these amazing children and their families keeps me grounded, and I always make sure I appreciate the small things - there are always a lot of others out there always doing it tougher, who need all the help they can get. 2012 will see Show You Care again in October & November and I will be setting my goals even higher.
2012 will also see Sam I am make their biggest contribution to the Mater Little Miracles yet! I made a personal commitment in October - to donate $12000 ($1000/Month) in photographic services to families who either would never think about it (they're too busy taking care of their children for that), or simply could never afford it - medical and travel expenses don't come cheap!!!
Our Beautiful stay in Palm Cove, I can't wait to go back!!
Late in October we headed to Palm Cove for an Anniversary getaway, Alexis' first time on a plane, our first REAL holiday as a family. It was magnificent, she loved it so much. I Can't wait for many more family holidays, however, suddenly 1 week doesn't seem long enough!!!
In November we took an 11 hour road trip to see our friend Kelly Munce, who was going to photograph our family portrait while we were there. Kelly has photographed my maternity and family portraits before, she is amazing at what she does, her work is simply stunning. While we were staying with them in Newcastle, I was lucky enough to assist on a couple of her shoots, wow what a privilege it was for me, and Alexis even got to model for her during a magazine shoot for My Child. Unfortunately the 11 hour drive there, meant an 11 hours home, why is it always better going on holidays than coming home??
the LOOOONNGGG drive to Newcastle, beautiful countryside.
So while there has been so much happen in 2011 to be down about, I also have so much to be thankful for, like a wonderful supportive husband, happy healthy baby girl, wonderful caring family and friends who surround me, the birth of 3 new bubbas (2 nieces and 1 nephew), and my mum here for Christmas, what more could I ask for??
There is so much happening in 2012, yes we will bring you the Grinch for Christmas, that, among many things. Stay tuned, for all of the exciting things to happen. We look forward to seeing many of you again to preserve your precious family portraits - memories can never be replaced.
I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year ~ I'm personally not making any resolutions. Today I live life a little differently. If you want something - go and get it! You never know if you will get that chance again! The choices I make will determine my success both personally and in business during the year to come and more importantly, I want those closest to me to know they are loved.
I have learnt so many life lessons this year:
Don't be complacent
Don't take life for granted
Treasure the little things
Live life and be happy
Take it all in, soak it all up
for one day, it's all gone.
xox Sam I am
My Mum now lay in a hospital bed, I treasure every moment I get with her and quietly pray for a miracle...