coach pitch baseball

I bring a lot of things to the parenting table, but sports knowledge certainly isn't one of them.  I'm learning how to play these sports right along with my kids.  I can truthfully say that the Buddy's athletic ability at age 7 now far surpasses mine.  I'm not one to just stand off to the side doing nothing, however.  So if I can offer up photographing the sporting activity, you better believe I'm going to! I tried to photograph most games this past spring season, which seemed a great win-win for me.  The fellow parents get photos of their kids playing baseball, and I have something to contribute to the team!

These were all the images I took of my [not so Little] Buddy.


Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace Baseball Coach Pitch Spring 2014 Season by Carey Pace
I shot these with my Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f1.8
Nikon 50mm 1.4D
Sigma 30mm f1.4

100 days of Summer 2014

A day or two before Memorial Day, my friend Tiffany from Peanut Blossom suggested I join her in the Instagram 100 Days of Summer project.  Someone somewhere noticed that there were exactly 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day this calendar year, and thus, the project was born.  I've never done a DAILY photo project before.  I've always been intimidated at the drudgery of the task - could I really fit that in to my DAILY life, with how much time it takes?  And let's just be honest.  Perfectionism has stopped me in my tracks in the past.  I knew that I couldn't take a rock star amazing image DAILY, which meant, I'd fail.  In my eyes.  I'd come onto the other side of the project and not be proud of my work.  So I've never done it.

Which is kind of [read: exactly] the opposite of what I've been coaching my two perfectionistic children...

You destine yourself to fail if you never even pick up and TRY. 

You never change your patterns of behavior if you always do the same old expected thing. 

So I decided I'd TRY and I'd do something different than my norm.  I'd do this project.  With a few 'freeing' restrictions.

1 - It would all be on my iPhone. To make participating stream lined and easy.  Shoot, quick edit, post, DONE!

2 - It would be our real life.  Whatever was really happening that day, significant or not.  So if real life was in yucky lighting conditions, that was OKAY.  I wasn't setting out to create an amazing piece of art.  I was setting out to document our real.  No pressure.  No expectations.

Once Labor Day came and went, I was able to put all of the images together into our official 100 Days set.  Let me tell you - this was SO MUCH FUN.  The whole family got into it.  Seeing this visual glimpse of the summer when the kids were 7 and newly 6 is priceless to me.  I am so thankful Tiffany suggested it to me, and I'm thankful I got over myself and went for it!  There were days I was uninspired, or it felt a little bit of a burden toward the end (I think 100 days is a really good length, particularly for someone starting on a daily project).  But I believe it was good for me as an artist to experience that, and to have the responsibility of pushing through it.


Lifestyle iPhoneography by Carey Pace Lifestyle iPhoneography by Carey Pace Lifestyle iPhoneography by Carey Pace Lifestyle iPhoneography by Carey Pace

Be on the lookout!  I'll be sharing on the Peanut Blossom blog soon about some of the lessons I learned in doing a successful one of these daily projects.

She walks in beauty, like the night

evening light in a princess dress by carey pace
I have learned about myself that I become weary of doing the same things over and over and over again.  Some people don't mind this, but my personality loathes it.  I can do it for a while and then I suddenly snap.  It is the same in 'regular' life and in my creative life.  The same yard with the same lighting and the same children doing the same things... it becomes boring.  I've done that.  I have that image.  There's no need to continue photographing, because it's already there.  It doesn't give me the artistic endorphin rush I crave.

I always read that the key to photography was light.  I always felt a little 'well duh' inside at that.  It took some years for me to really understand that.  I didn't always see the light.  I saw my subject.  Now I see that I'm photographing what the light does to my subject.  Light is everything.  Absolutely everything.

And light opens up the creative doors.  Every day there are a million different lighting scenarios everywhere I go.  I cannot get bored with this - there are always new situations, new backgrounds, new plays with light.  I think that is why I love photography so much. I see endless opportunity.  I will never 'arrive'.  There will always, always be something new to learn and new to try.

Several years ago I put my camera away, safely in its bag, once the sun went below the tree line. I thought my moments of opportunity for that day were done.  A year and a half ago, I would have done the same, because my D90 just couldn't hack the ISO I'd need to shoot after sundown.  Now, I savor this time! Now I look forward to this unique moment of light that is so unlike any other all day long when the sun remains overhead.

evening light in a princess dress by carey pace

She is the perfect girl to me.  She has never been interested in princesses or fairy tales.  She likes to play in the dirt with her brother.  She loves pink and dresses and hair adornments.  It's simply the perfection combination for me.  In the last few months she has embraced dresses.  Every time we go out to eat, she simply MUST wear a dress.  Sometimes, quite frankly, that is incredibly inconvenient. But I, myself, am embracing it, too.  While she is young and carefree and her sweet self, let's let her don a dress and feel like a princess.  Her kind of princess.  Not a disney princess.  Not one who needs a prince.  Just a beautiful maiden in beautiful garments.

evening light in a princess dress by carey pace

It was Daddy's birthday this night. I believe she felt that deserved a little more dressy a dress than usual, and she chose the fairy tale dress she wore in the wedding last October.  She wore it for the wedding, and she wore it at the beach shortly thereafter.  She's not worn it since. I had it cleaned and it's hung in the closet.  I even took it to the beach two weeks ago, but I didn't put her back in it.  I regret that now.

She came downstairs wearing it, needing help to zip up the back.  I gasped inside.  She is magnificent in this dress.  Simply magnificent.  It was made for her, and I hope we can eek out a little longer in it.

evening light in a princess dress by carey pace

After our meal out, the sun had dipped below our little valley and treeline but wasn't quite near the real sunset in Tennessee.  We had some time.  The light felt magical to me.  I had tried to photograph her earlier in the day for an assignment and she was significantly less than cooperative.  I begged her to please let me do a few special images in her beautiful dress.  I tried really hard to let her do her thing and capture it, not directing too terribly much.

evening light in a princess dress by carey pace

I would never have attempted these with my D90, and that makes me so beyond thankful that I have the D800 to use these days.  It is such a treasure to me.  A tool that allows me to express my creativity while documenting this fleeting time I'll never have again.  I am loving who they are right now.  We are enjoying them so much.  And yet, I see childhood slipping through my fingers as the sands of an hourglass and feel saddened that I'll never have their toddler and preschooler hood again.

evening light in a princess dress by carey pace

evening light in a princess dress by carey pace

I shot these with my Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f1.8
Nikon 50mm 1.4D
Sigma 30mm f1.4

combating perfectionism in him

"I’m so proud of you, Buddy." 

He gives his goofy grin that he does when he’s simultaneously embarrassed and happy and pleased with what we’ve said.

"Are you proud of yourself? Does it feel good?"

"I don’t know."

"What do you mean you don’t know? You played really well. Are you proud of that?"

"I don’t know.”

I realize he’s using ‘I don’t know’ to combat the contradictory feelings inside, hearing praise while feeling a failure. But I don’t know what he feels a failure about. I'm confused.

"Do you think you didn’t do well?"

"I don’t know."

"Buddy, what do you think you could have done better? What wasn’t good enough?"

"I didn’t catch those balls.”

It took me a minute.  Then, oh.  That.

lifestyle photography by carey pace

Sigh. I know this pain: the pain of the perfectionist. Because even excellent isn’t good enough.

He played shortstop last night. He made some awesome plays. The crowd cheered for him by name. He struck out once, but hit his other times at bat. He played great! There were a few hard hit balls right at him that he tried to stop, even came in contact with, but got past him. It happened to other kids on the field, too. It’s the end of the season, and just as my friend Dana predicted, the kids have figured it out and can really clobber the balls now when they bat.

I’m no athlete. We never played sports at all growing up. I don’t know the rules and I don’t know the skills. I also don't know the mentality. I’m learning alongside him. But what I do know is that this is part of sports. You try your best but sometimes the ball gets by. Sometimes you miss. Sometimes you strike out. Most times you don’t. But sometimes you do. And that’s okay.

But it’s not okay. To him. And I understand.

It doesn’t matter that he made some awesome hits at bat. It doesn’t matter that he got several people out by his moves on defense as short stop. It doesn’t matter that he made snap decisions and threw the ball to the right spot at the right time and it got there. It doesn’t even matter that he’s getting to play short stop, when this is his first time to play baseball ever. All that matters is that he let some balls get by. He messed up. And those few mess ups completely negate all the things he DID do right.

My mother heart aches at this. How can he not see what he did well? How can he be displeased at himself? Especially when we are so happy with him? How can I rejoice as he rejoices when he does play well, but not feed into the philosophy that he only counts when he achieves? How can I make our words that it doesn’t matter how well he does ring true, when we go bananas when things go right, and we emphasize that it takes a lot of practice to do things well? How can I make it make sense to a seven year old perfectionist that we really, truly ARE just as proud of him if he plays well as if he strikes out every time, doesn’t catch a ball, and make true errors of judgement? Because what counts to us is that he goes out and gives it his all every time, no matter what. But how do I make our words and actions align to prove that to him?

While my mother heart aches, my perfectionist heart resonates. I know just how he feels, for I feel the same thing every single day. It’s hard to enjoy a meal I prepared, knowing the mistakes I made or things I COULD have done better. It’s hard to walk through a house that isn’t perfect, knowing that if I tried a little harder, maybe just maybe, I could make it neater. It’s hard to photograph, feeling that even if I like an image there are twenty things I could do better. I often don’t see the joy or the beauty - I see the mistakes. I see the places where the composition is weak, or I chopped body parts, or I didn’t nail focus, or most often, just isn’t the vision I saw in my head when I set out to capture the image.

I’ve heard it said that expectations are premeditated disappointments. How TRUE.

Disappointment is a few fine grains of sand away from a loss of hope. And the loss of hope is a very, very dangerous place. Hope is essential. Vital. But the continuous build up of disappointments always sends me down this path of losing hope. I cling to the walls, hoping not to submerge and succumb to it.

I learned that it was easier, less potential for a feeling of hopelessness, to simply hedge off the disappointment by not allowing myself to have expectations. If I didn’t set an expectation, allow for the hope of success, then I wouldn’t feel the disappointment at the lack of success, and couldn’t lose hope. You can’t lose what you don’t have. So I felt that expectations were bad things. Evil things. To be avoided. Eliminated from my life. In all aspects and facets.

What I didn’t realize was that in taking away the potential for disappointment, I thus by default also took away the potential for pleasure. Brene Brown wisely says "“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” Removing the expectation of success meant I also never get to feel the joy of succeeding. I thought that if I just removed the expectations, I could feel surprised joy when I did well. But what I found was, the joy wasn’t the same joy that existed when I allowed myself to feel the full gamut of human emotion.

So, how do I apply this realization to my parenting, to guiding and raising my mini-mi perfectionist 7 year old son? Telling him not to focus on the faults is ridiculous. It’s as effective as telling a two year old who’s been stung not to be afraid of a bee. You can’t just TELL a child something and expect that to change the behavior or mentality. You can’t just tell them to get over it. This is temperament, personality, birth order. It is who they are. We cannot be slaves to it. We cannot use it as an excuse. But we need to face it head on with honesty.

We can accept the places we erred, we can use that to fuel our practice, motivate us to do better in the future. But we cannot let it paralyze it, and usurp the place of joy in our lives.

“Buddy, do you feel like you can tell me anything?”

He nods.

“Buddy, Momma is a safe place. You can always, always tell me anything. Any of your thoughts, your feelings, your frustrations. You always share those with me, okay, Buddy?”

That’s all I know to do for now. To tell him that I’m sorry he missed those balls. I know he’s disappointed in himself. That I know I would be disappointed, too. Affirm his feelings, so he’s not double dipping in that pool of self condemnation for being a failure and then for FEELING that way in the first place, that something is wrong with him for feeling what he does. Tell him that I know he was trying as hard as he could, and that’s all we ever ask of him. And that I’m so pleased with the things he did do well. So much so, I didn’t even remember those balls that got by.


I shot these with my Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f1.8
Nikon 50mm 1.4D
Sigma 35mm f1.4