2019 was a great year for us and the team. This holiday we’re taking a breather from work today to celebrate a quiet Christmas with our newly adopted dog-baby Nikka.
But before I show you a bunch of cute pictures I took of her, let me tell you about the journey it took to get her here and what it meant for Kevin and I to finally start a real little family together.
A long time ago, we unconsciously just did stuff. We just got started shooting, and that led to this company. We got a dog, just because Kevin thought it was cute and entertaining. I just took care of it and never even thought about training or anything. We just kept getting exotic pets and cool things and cool gadgets and this new shiny thing and that cool new toy.
It was all bullsh**
So many things and pets and just unconsciously doing stuff! Not really thinking of the weight of these choices, the effect on the animals, and on each other it was having. Did you know we’ve had 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 rabbit, 2 fish, started x amount of hobbies, and the only thing that kinda survived is the boulder climbing, which we kinda still do.
The amount of creatures that have passed through us is pretty egregious and stings me a little bit as it’s such a glaring reflection of failure that I’m not too proud of. As an entrepreneur I love to fail, it just means that I’m getting to my goals faster. But having pets was something we really needed to break old habits and psychological barriers.
I think it can be a very tangled ball of who’s who to blame in our failure, but in the end, we both did not know how to love unconditionally. The way a dog loves for example, is truly unconditional as long as you’re being a decent human being and trying to be present with them.
If you’ve been with us for a while, you might have gotten to know our oldest dog Kayden. We got him when we were in our early twenties and had all the wrong ideas about how to deal with the responsibility of a dog. So many times impatience and anger took over and he became like a child of divorce. Favoring one parent over the other sometimes and nothing ever feeling balanced. Because of our lack of commitment to raise Kayden together correctly, we drew lines in the sand and were almost at war with each other all the time. Kayden reflected how who we really were at the time and it wasn’t good.
Kayden barking at one and crying for another turned me into a monster. I hated it most of the time. But I felt stuck like I had to be here because it was given to me. Thinking back now, it’s actually really hard to remember what it was like before since I’m so far removed from that person now. But I remember the feeling of waking up and going to sleep with irritation daily.
I’m so grateful to the friends that were there to be able to give Kayden a home he could thrive in as well as give us the space we needed to heal our relationship. Even now, it is our tendency to do too much at once, it’s something we’re working on and are trying to be conscious of. From the moment we let him go, it meant we could clear the air and reflect on our unconscious habits to dive in the shallow waters of temporary happiness and consumerism. Kevin and I each have our own battles with this, but without great commitment and understanding of what and how you’ll commit, you might need to rethink getting a pet.
They are not toys, not entertainment and not just something to get because it’s cute or exotic to have. It’s a living thing that deserves to live in its purpose and we’re simply partnering together to help each other grow into our purpose.
When Kayden left, there was a hole to fill, but we needed to attend to the very many holes that were scattered about in our marriage. Slowly without him there, I could focus on myself and who I was in this relationship. I challenged Kevin to meet me again and again. Our podcast was proof of some of the hardest of times. Sometimes I did push too much and sometimes I felt defeated and wanted to give up.
And then, when I was feeling stuck, I started to love the way a dog loves. Present and unconditional. Before we even started talking about it, I started to research…
“Dogs reflect your energy”
“Humans project upon their dogs”
“Look how a human treats a dog to see their true character”
I didn’t like how I remembered treating Kayden sometimes because I didn’t know how to love unconditionally. I really punished myself for that before. I felt really ashamed of how I once was. But I always feel better when I know he’s with Kathy and Eli. Kayden taught me so many lessons after I allowed them to be received.
Two years later, we had finally found ourselves in a lighter place. We were creating healthy boundaries and living with discipline and decency for each other. Human kids always seemed off the table, but having a dog again really started to become the missing piece that we both needed. Kevin and I are similar in a lots ways, which helped with running this business for so long, but we’re also very different in how we recharge and like to have fun. Finding Nikka was like getting exactly what we asked for.
She loves to run and can be super high energy for Kevin and can be super cuddly and low energy for me. Finally, it wasn’t about the breed, or how cute it was, it was what was going to be a good fit for us. Together. Who could be friends with together? Who would love us as we were? And there, sitting underneath another dog’s kennel, was Nikka. Sitting patiently as the rest of the dogs barked endlessly, she was there, wagging her tail just waiting to go home with us.
Really weird, but after all the talks of “let’s just look” we just knew she was the dog-baby for us. I thank Kevin so much for stepping up and following my lead on changing his mindset with pet ownership. The trust we have now, to lead and follow has transferred from our marriage into raising Nikka and back again into our marriage and business. Every day we have the opportunity to trust each other to lead and follow with unconditional love. Which is something very powerful that after 10 years of being together is kind of like we’re brand new again.
I’ve gotten so many wonderful gifts without Christmas from Kevin this year, a big-ass coffee roaster, my dream-home, my dream job, a place at the table, a boss coat you’ll see next year, and Nikka of course! But the best Christmas gift is his ability to show me in his words and actions his progression to being a better man for himself and his family. That is the gift that makes this marriage, this business and life so wonderful to be a part of. I trust my partner to have my back as I strive to be my best self failures and successes all. Merry Christmas to us, we’ve had a wonderful year.
P.s. Kevin will be starting a new branch of studio dog portraits in 2020! Please message us if you’re interested in giving your dog baby some portraits next year!
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