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Category Archives: My Thoughts/Advice

My Journey with Endometriosis – A Personal Post

This post has been a long time coming. Although this is important to me, and what I’m about to describe has been affecting my life for around ten years, I’m not sure there’s ever an easy time to share our personal stories. Especially on a professional blog that I have tried to keep mostly professional instead of so personal. However, sharing this is something I know I need to do, as I want to be the type of person who does not shy away from making a difference when I know I can.

I have endometriosis.

The reason I’m opening up about it now is because Endometriosis Awareness Month is coming up soon, and I feel that by being silent, I’m giving up a huge opportunity to educate all the people I can reach over social media. I’m also sharing it a bit earlier than March because many people have heard me mention my upcoming surgery, and I feel like it’s easier if I do some explaining ahead of time. I struggled with how to make this more educational instead of personal. I’m not writing this post for sympathy, I’m not sharing my story because I feel that it could change my circumstances. I’m sharing something personal because that’s how we inspire other people. How we can educate them.

I will start with an overview of what this disease is:

Endometriosis is the growth of tissue, similar to the kind that lines a woman’s uterus, elsewhere in her body. That ‘elsewhere’ is usually in the abdomen. This tissue and it’s complications such as inflammation and scarring can create issues like pelvic pain, severe cramping, gastrointestinal problems, and can also lead to infertility and pain elsewhere in the body.

So here’s my story. Ladies, some of you might relate. It’s estimated that 1 in 10 women have endometriosis. And it’s unreal, insane really that we are so uneducated about something that affects around 10% of the female population during their reproductive age.

I had known for years that something wasn’t right. I struggled with many health issues growing up, but nothing seemed to explain the “woman” issues I was facing. The older I got, the worse my symptoms became. I told doctor after doctor, even a gynecologist about my suspicions about having endometriosis, but no one believed that was what was causing my constant pain and complications.

Things changed when I was spent a night in the hospital after having a ruptured cyst in 2011. (I don’t wish this on my worst enemy, it was the most painful experience of my life.) This was the final straw for me, and also could be related to endometriosis, so I insisted that my gynecologist preform a surgery on me called a laparoscopy to diagnose possible endometriosis. I remember the day before my surgery I read a note on my file that said something like “endometriosis not likely”. I was angry, and scared that maybe the doctors were right and this was all in my head. But I trusted my gut, and in 2012 I had my first laparoscopy.

I remember waking up after surgery to find a note by my bed that included …”We excised advanced endometriosis”. I felt relief and sadness at the same time. I finally had an explanation for why I felt the way I did, but here I was, diagnosed with a disease that I knew would continue to be a battle. The next month was hard.

I did get relief after I finally healed from my surgery. I had a few generally easier years. However in 2014 the intense pain had come back, as well as the other issues many women with endometriosis face. It has not just been “cramps” – it’s days, months, years of almost constant pain in my lower back, my hips, my pelvis. This made sense once I realized the original surgery hadn’t been completed and there was still Unremoved tissue. After trying many treatments including physiotherapy and medications, my new (and much more experienced with treating endometriosis) GYN told me what I already knew… It was time for another surgery. And hopefully this one will be my last. I’m so tired of endometriosis taking such a toll on my life, through my energy level, the pain, the anxiety and other mental and emotional struggles.

Fast forward to now, I’m two weeks away from surgery. Although surgery in general comes with a lot of anxiety, I’m mainly positive and thankful that I was able to see Dr. Belland (my endometriosis specialist GYN) and that she’s the one who will be doing my laparoscopy. We get great care in Canada compared to the USA. I am so blessed that I do not have to save up $20k for this surgery, and that simply by being Canadian and paying taxes I am able to receive this type of care. My last recovery was relatively smooth. It was painful and felt long, especially for someone like me who has a very hard time laying on the couch all day. But there were no complications and I was able to go back to my normal routine within 3 weeks. I’m extremely thankful to have a great support system, and also understanding clients who have moved their session dates for me so I’ll have enough time to recover. I will be taking the majority of March off work so I can heal properly and not overdo things. And I’m so grateful that I have that opportunity. That I can afford the chance to take time off and still continue with work afterwards.

So in summary, my journey with endometriosis has been up and down, and it isn’t over. Although I hope surgery makes a huge difference for me, I know there’s always a chance it’ll come back, or surgery wont remove it all in the first place. However I have made significant steps so far. I researched, I insisted on surgery, I have made changes in my life such as my diet and exercise. I believe the most important thing is to never stop looking for answers, and trying to feel the best you possibly can. So many women suffer in silence. I understand this isn’t the easiest type of thing to talk about. It’s uncomfortable for me, but as I said before, I know it’s important. I hope one day that when I say the word “endometriosis”, the majority of people will know what it means. It’s a little unbelievable to think that something that affects so many people is so unheard of. That’s why I’m speaking up and telling my story. And I hope that it will have a positive influence, whether it makes one woman think “this would explain a lot…” Or maybe when you have a friend, family member or co-worker tell you that she has endometriosis, you’ll be able to tell her that for once she doesn’t have to explain what it is she’s going through. Because you might not understand perfectly, but you know. And that makes a world of difference, believe me.

Also, there was a great segment on endometriosis on The View this week, if you’re wanting to get more information, click HERE! (Just to warn you – this information is much more graphic and extensive than what I have shared!)

Chelsey - February 21, 2015 - 9:44 am

Kristyn you are so strong and brave for sharing such a personal story! I think it’s great to bring awareness to something that affects so many women! Your strength and positive attitude are absolutely contagious and I know it will bring you through this just like the last time and you will have so much to look forward to during your recovery time ( including an amazing trip to Europe!!!). We are here for you and will always do the best to help in any way that we can!

Love you always!

Chelsey

Donna - February 25, 2015 - 5:34 am

I can relate to your story very well. For years I couldn’t have children do to endometriosis. I had 2 operations before I had my son which took me seven years to achieve, then another seven to have my daughter. So now I call them my miracle babies even though they are much older now. Thank you for your story I don’t feel so alone knowing I’m not the only one who had this problem. Donna

kristynharderphoto - February 25, 2015 - 12:21 pm

You are absolutely not alone, Donna! So many other women are suffering in silence. Since making this post I have discovered that multiple friends have endometriosis as well. I am so glad that you were blessed with 2 children!! Hoping I will have that outcome too.

kristynharderphoto - February 25, 2015 - 12:21 pm

Thank you so much, friend!! I’m so glad you think so! Xo

Gold & Glitter Inspired Bridal Shoot – Sneak Peek

I don’t even know where to begin with this post. It is really just a “sneak peek” so I should probably keep it short and sweet for now. Then later I can get all sappy and tell you all that I was nearly in tears when I saw my vision come together right in front of my eyes. I think maybe the best part about it is that this shoot was mine. Over the last couple months I spent hours styling it, planning it, and then of course, capturing it. I got in touch with some amazing vendors who I knew would be the right fit – and everything seemed to work together perfectly.

I cannot say enough “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!”s to all the vendors who gifted me with their time and talent:

Hair and Make-up: The Studio by Jai Basi
Bouquet: Amborella Floral Studio
Dresses: Beautiful Bride
Invitations: The Social Page
Chair & vintage telephone: Vintage Loved Event Rentals
Studio: Owned by Photographik

So, so happy… here we go.

If these images stir up something inside of you the way they have in me, I can only hope that I get the chance to work with you in the future.

Keep dreaming,

My Space – Kristyn’s Interior Decorating Project

Today I want to share my latest project with all of you! It’s a personal one, and professional at the same time! As I have said before, I am a creative person, and I love making things aesthetically pleasing. For the time being, my living situation meant combining my bedroom and my office, and I knew that was going to be a challenge. There were five things on the check list:

A) To make everything fit and flow, without feeling crowded and claustrophobic
B) To design my space to be somewhere I wanted to be (for long periods of time)
C) To choose pieces that represented me, to ultimately create a space I would be proud to call my own
D) To design pieces myself and do some DIY work
E) To not break the bank…

Ultimately I feel like I accomplished all of those points! I know quite a few of you are creative people yourself, and lets face it, Winter can be a little “blah”. Maybe you need a new project yourself – so I am going to share some pointers with all of you, as well as where I got each statement piece in my space! I am thinking about taking an interior design course, so I would love your feedback and any insight!

Now for some info!

Picture 2: 3 picture frames
Frames: Target
Scrapbook Paper and “Don’t Worry” card: Michaels
This project was completely DIY – I combined scrapbook paper and pieces I found at Michaels to create three very unique pieces that you just can’t find at the store! I cannot take responsibility for the polka dot idea however, that I found a few places on Pinterest! How fun is it, right?!
Total cost of DIY Project: $70

Picture 3: Pillow & Bed
Enjoy the Little Things pillow: Chapters/Indigo
Bedding: Target
Throw: Chapters/Indigo

Picture 5: Night Table and Accessories
K Letter: Chapters
Frame: Home Sense
Table: Home Sense

Picture 6: Dresser and Accessories
Dresser: Feathering My Nest
Picture Frame: Home Sense
Magnetic Board: Ikea, covered with stone paper from Home Sense (another DIY project that is SO easy!)
Jewelry Box: Antique Store in Edmonton

Picture 8: Bench, Feather Mirror, etc
Gold Mirror: Target
Baskets: Michaels
Bench: Antique Store (refurbished with fabric from Fabricland and re-painted)
Clock: A gift
Total cost of DIY bench: $50

Picture 10: Curtains
Curtains: IKEA

Picture 15: Desk
Desk top and legs: IKEA
This was one of my favorite DIY projects – I spray painted the legs with a gold ombre look!
Cost of DIY desk project: $90

Picture 16 and 17: Bag and planner
Bag: Kelly Moore (Two Sues in Walnut)
Planner: Chapters
Phone Case: Winners

Happy Decorating!!

Jessica - January 14, 2014 - 4:30 pm

Your space looks incredible, Kristyn! You did a great job. It looks so light and airy and welcoming, and I love the pops of metallic throughout. You should take that course. :)

kristynharderphoto - January 14, 2014 - 6:13 pm

Thank you so much, Jessica! =)

Alexis Tjart - January 15, 2014 - 12:25 pm

Wowzers! Looks like you need to start a part-time interior decorating company too please!! :)

Most Memorable of 2013 – Calgary Wedding Photographer

I know we are already a week and a half into 2014, but I wanted to take a moment to pause and reflect on 2013 and the fantastic year it was. First, let me say – I am SO grateful for each and every one of my couples and clients. You are all unique and have a different story to tell, which may just be the best part of my job. The reason I titled this post “most memorable of 2013” is because I could not possibly have picked “favourites.” Instead, I decided to reflect on some of the images that I believe represent who I am as a photographer, how I’ve grown throughout the last 12 months, and what Kristyn Harder Photography stands for and values as a business. You could ultimately call them milestones for me – as a person and as a young woman pursuing her dreams and turning passion into a career. So without further ado, and in no particular order, my most memorable photographs and lessons of 2013.

Laura & Doodle – September – Tell a Story
Since I started in this crazy, amazing business they call photography – I’ve been told I have an “eye for it”. However, one of my biggest challenges has been finding a balance between posing, and simply capturing a moment. The movement, the light, it’s not perfect, and it’s barely posed, but it tells a story. Laura, you are stunning!

Ashley & Jay – December – Let Beauty Shine
One thing I am able to say I am confident at is showing a woman’s beauty through my photographs. Capturing a beautiful woman in love is possibly my favorite part of what I do. I remember squeeling when I took this photo – I felt it was everything I want my work to be – light, natural, graceful and soft.
One of those “awe” images.

Rhamona & Lee – September – Create Special Moments
Rhamona and Lee had a stunning wedding day from start to end, and I am SO happy to have been a part of it. Not only is this one of my favorite images I’ve ever taken, but I believe it represents creating my own moments. Now yes, these two would have looked fabulous if I had placed them in front of a dumpster, but I think it’s important to search for those certain photo-ops, and use your imagination to create something extra special.

Talia & Josh – December – Don’t Settle
From the moment Talia and Josh booked with me, I had butterflies, because I knew I could really do anything I wanted with these two. Aside from that FANTASTIC red coat, my favorite part about this session was how Talia & Josh’s happiness, love and positivity just shone through in every picture. This image was one of the last ones we took – after Josh had snow down his socks and shoes, and we had spent an hour and a half out in the cold winter air. We could have easily called it quits, but I knew this spot would be amazing, and I wanted to give them all the creativity and ideas I had in me.

Styled London Wedding Shoot – June – Dream BIG
If someone would have told me one year ago that I would have shot a styled wedding shoot in London, and have gotten it published in Style Me Pretty, I would have laughed at them. And if you told me the result would have turned out this amazing – I probably wouldn’t have believed it. I am so thankful for all the people along the way who made this dream possible. I think so many of us are afraid to dream big, because we could be let down, and it’s better to over-accomplish than under-accomplish. But if 2013 taught me anything, it’s to believe in myself, and to not be afraid to dream big.

Sandeep & Phil – August – Take Chances
Shooting my first Indian wedding was an awesome experience – and Phil and Sandeep make one of the sweetest couples I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Since our first conversation, Sandeep made me feel confident in my abilities, even though I had no experience shooting Indian weddings whatsoever (and they are quite a different experience!) I have no regrets, only amazing memories of rich colours,
beautiful jewelry, new traditions, and a real love story.

Kaitlin & Taylor – September – The Month of Amazing
September was full of beautiful opportunities for sessions and weddings – in fact, three of the images in this post were from the month of yellows, oranges, falling leaves and warm weather. September was a difficult month in my personal life, but I learned that I was strong enough and driven enough to still create some of my most favorite images I’ve ever taken. Oh yeah, and as for Kaitlin and Taylor – they may have been one of the most naturally adorable couples I’ve ever photographed. I cannnot wait for their wedding.

Alexis & Jordan – May – Becoming a Composer
My favorite definition of compose is: 6. To arrange aesthetically or artistically. I’ve always said I love aesthetically pleasing things, I feel a thrill when I am able to create something beautiful to the eye, especially when the art invokes feeling at the same time.  When I create a piece like this, I immediately get excited to share it with others, to invoke reactions. I remember reading Alexis’ comment: “I can’t stop looking at this, I love it so much!!!!”
There’s really nothing better.

Taylor – August – Surprises
I believe consistency is important – your clients need to trust you and know what to expect. My style is defined by some as “light, natural, and romantic.” However, the image above is dark and dramatic. That may be why it evoked a larger than usual reaction from those who like my page and follow my work. I think as artists, it’s important to push ourselves. Sometimes you end up surprising yourself, and surprising others.

Kezia & Brett – October
I’m not sure I have a lesson to accompany this image, but I just love it and wanted to include it in my post. I suppose if I had to pick a lesson from Kezia and Brett’s special day, it would probably be how to remain calm and not go completely red when the MC is telling the entire room about how the groomsmen have been hitting on you all day. But aside from that, I really am proud of this image, and months later it still excites me. Maybe it’s those beautiful Fall colors I go ga-ga for. Do I really have to wait another 9 months for this setting? Okay, maybe this lesson is patience. Yeah, I could use some of that.

Alisa & Yassen – October – It’s Just Business
I experienced a first this year in my career – mid session with Alisa and Yassen, I became so sick that I had to leave. I felt horrible, and so unprofessional. What would they think? Would they be willing to continue the session another day? Of course, they were so sweet and felt bad for me instead of themselves. And crazy enough, the day we rescheduled turned out to be gorgeous, even better than the first. And I have become quite obsessed with sweet laying down photos too. I realized that I can’t be afraid to be a person, instead of just a business, when it comes to what I need. If my clients are the type of clients I want to attract, they’ll always be understanding. I learned this a few times last Fall and throughout Winter, when my health really took a crummy turn. I am so beyond thankful, for my clients, and this important lesson that will continue to be important for the rest of my life.

As I conclude this post, I am reminded of what underlines the opening images on my website:

Inspire, Create, Tell a Story, Ignite, Love, Be Creative, Laugh, Embrace, Design, Share, Enjoy

-K

 

What I’ve Been Up To… Fall/Winter 2013

The last 5 months have been a total whirlwind for me – life seems to enjoy throwing us many challenges all at once, doesn’t it? I wanted to slow down for a moment and write a personal post to sum up the second half of 2013, as that’s when my blogging started to fall apart! (I miss my weekly posts!) This year I was SO fortunate to have met 13 amazing couples who trusted me with their special days. Every wedding was different – they ranged from an ultra-glamorous wedding with gorgeous sparkly details and a huuuuge bridal party… to a small, intimate and beautifully rustic country affair. And in between there were many laughs, happy tears, and some very awkward yet funny moments (usually involving groomsmen…). I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel – as I only have 3 weddings left to edit this year, and my hope is to finish them asap into the new year. Which takes me into what I have to look forward to for 2014 – I can only take a few more weddings for next year, which is such an amazing feeling. I still can’t believe all these wonderful couples are finding me (methinks I owe Facebook a huge thank you), but I’m sure grateful.

If I’m being completely honest, 2013 has been a somewhat testing year for me. It began with me finishing up my last semester at NAIT (what a ride that was!) while also trying to prepare for the 2013 wedding season. Then I moved back home to Calgary, my home, and I am so happy to be here for good. I was busier than I have ever been, and wedding season is a blur now, but a happy blur! I am still learning how to balance business and a personal life. Most photographers will say this is the most challenging part of running your own business – and it’s true for me. I am now completely immersed in Kristyn Harder Photography – it is a massive part of who I am. I’m now at the stage of my business where I am confident with my style and my goals – and that took quite a while for me. But even when business is going well, “life” still goes on with it’s challenges and changes. I am so grateful to my clients who have been patient with me and to everyone who has supported me in the last while. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am where I am because of the support I have received along this journey. I received a message a few weeks back from one of my past clients, who I photographed somewhere in the first few years of my business. She said: “I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. I love seeing your (work) and I’m so happy I was a supporter way back when.” How special is that? I don’t think I was anything special back in those days – in fact I often cringe thinking about where I used to be. But other people have been there all along – those people who I have SO much appreciation for.

I hope everyone can see how much I appreciate everything you do to support me and my business – from those people who have modelled for me, who’ve been my clients, and even those who take the time to read my posts, and comment on my images. Again, thank you. To finish off the post, I wanted to re-live how I used to do these “What I’ve Been Up To” posts by adding some recent work! As many of you know, I took November off from sessions because I needed time to catch up with my business life and my personal life. I needed a breather. I am so glad I chose to do that, because I feel refreshed and inspired to be the best photographer I can be!