Welcome to This Is Me Thursdays! To read other posts in this series, click here. If you want to be involved, please email me for more details. Today, learn more about Chelsea Simdorn, the wonderful lady who took my wedding photos and business photos!
I first met Chelsea when I used to work at Swanson Health Products, and I’m so glad we connected there! We were both part of the same group layoff there, and afterwards, she decided to start a photography business, which she now does full-time along with her food blog. She ended up taking photos for both this blog and my business, as well as my wedding! She’s so crazy talented, kind, funny and lovely, and I’m so glad we’ve stayed in touch since meeting at work a few years ago. Check out what she’s been up to on her photography website, food blog and Instagram!
This Is Me: Chelsea Simdorn
Share a little about yourself and what you’re up to these days.
Hey there! I’m Chelsea Simdorn, 30, passionate about living a slow and contented life with my spouse, cats, friends, and endless cups of Chemex-brewed coffee. I’m a photographer and blogger, photoraphing mostly weddings and blogging mostly about food. When I want to be social, I head to Strong Roots ND (owned by my friend Kayla Goebel – hey girl!) for crazy crossfit-style workouts and my favorite Olympic lift: snatching. (Look that up — it’s not a typo! Totally understand the giggling, though.)
Three months ago, my husband and I bought our first home, so we’ve been navigating homeownership and roadmapping all we want to cultivate in this home. I’m eager to entertain guests at our home, while continuing to nurture a slower-paced life together. That said, I own two businesses, Chelsea Joy Photography and Do You Even Paleo, so I’m often busier than people expect!
Currently with my businesses, I’m in a big transition period. I’m undergoing a rebrand and will gradually be intersecting my two businesses so they better reflect all of me, while still being separate. It’s a process!
What does life purpose mean to you? Does it really exist for you/all of us, or is it just some pipe dream?
Unlike most people, I don’t think people are born with a life purpose attached to them. Your purpose, your “why”, can shift as you grow and develop as a person; there’s no one true profound answer to what you’re meant to do in life. I struggle with that belief sometimes, though, because it means I’m always questioning whether I’m on the right path. Maybe I just haven’t found my life purpose yet, and that’s why I’m so skeptical? That’s a question for another time!
At the end of the day, every human is creative in their own way. That’s something that’s uniquely human. I want to create something meaningful to me and hopefully to other people too. Whether that’s a new favorite recipe that you adopt into your weekly rotation, your favorite photo from your wedding day that gets framed and displayed in your home, or a fleeting appreciation for the simple things in life.
What motivates and inspires you in your life?
I touched on this in my answer to the last question, but I have an innate desire to create. Something. Anything. When I was young, I’d write stories, building fantastical worlds and characters with my sister and cousin. Soon I was playing instruments, creating music. Eventually I started writing for myself, launching and abandoning a few different blogs before discovering that I was most enthusiastic in the kitchen, creating recipes. From there, I springboarded into photography. Nothing in my life has been a straight line, but through it all I’ve been creating — even when I didn’t earn a cent from it. Lately, I find inspiration in stillness and slowness. Morning light wrapping around the houseplants in the window. The silent, slow breathing of one of the cats curled up on the bed. Stirring custard on the stove, watching it slowly thicken. Sharing a meal with friends — phones off. That’s the stuff I live for.
On a less philosophical and slightly more selfish note, I’m motivated by my desire to work for myself and set my own schedule. Currently, I don’t make as much money as I’d like to be fully financially comfortable, but I work hard at what I do so I don’t have to go back to working for someone else full time. One goal of mine is to make enough money that my spouse can quit his job (he doesn’t like it anyway) and give him the freedom to explore his creativity. I often feel silly stating that goal, but I get really choked up about it (even writing this down right now), because I truly want him to have freedom and creativity in his life.
Is what you do now what you always imagined doing? Why or why not, and what have you learned because of that?
AbsoLUTELY not. When I was in third grade (yes, really) I decided I wanted to be a book editor. In my young mind, I thought it would be the perfect job because I could read all day and get paid for it. Not until college did I realize the publishing world was entirely too fast-paced and stressful for the slow life I wanted.
Younger me thought photography was cool but I was dead certain I didn’t have the “eye” for it. At the time, I thought a person had to be born with a certain talent in order to do certain things creatively. Photography hasn’t come easily to me and I’m learning new things all the time, but I’m really glad I shook that fixed mindset.
I have two college degrees: English and Management Communications. Missing from my repertoire? Photography classes or cooking classes. I’m entirely self-taught in those realms — and fortunately, I realized that I have something valuable to put out in the world even though I don’t have degrees or certifications in those things.In some ways, it all makes sense that I’d end up where I’m at, though. I always knew I’d be creative, somehow. Growing up, my mom was a nurse and my dad was a financial analyst, but neither of them ever suggested my sister or I follow in their footsteps. From an early age, they saw the creativity in us and pushed us tap into that quality.
What’s something you desperately want other people to know or realize that may help them in their lives?
You are worthy. You have value. You don’t need to achieve any certain thing, make a certain amount of money, look a certain way, need a significant other, or weigh a certain number for this to be true. Inherently, as a human, YOU ARE WORTHY.
There’s so much more I could say, but I don’t want to cheapen this bit of advice by spouting a whole bunch of other things.
How do you define belonging and connection, and how have your definitions changed over time?
Truthfully, I still struggle today with feeling like I belong and feeling connected with others. For a large chunk of my adolecense, I was bullied by my classmates and the other kids who told me they were my friends. That brewed a lot of mistrust for others’ intentions, and to some extent I carry that with me today. In some ways I’m stuck in the 90s — I am NOT at all good at staying connected via social media or texting. A somewhat surprising statement for a blogger! So I struggle with staying truly connected and “keeping up” with others who text/Snap/message each other multiple times a day.
I’ve gone through some intense bouts of loneliness. But over the past year or so, I’ve come to realize that if I want to feel more fully connected with people, I have to find my own way to do it. If I can’t get myself to text or wrap my head around Snapchat (Instagram is WAY more my thing!), then what can I do instead? I appreciate face-to-face interaction so much more now, and I try to connect with others that way. Part of the reason my spouse and I chose the house we bought is because of its potential as an entertaining space!
Belonging is a much harder thing for me to define. We all belong, somewhere. The struggle is that so many of us try to force ourselves to fit a certain shape instead of structuring our environment to fit us.
What’s something you make sure to do every day/week/month that helps you practice self-care and self-love?
I don’t have any single activity that I use for self-care, but rather a variety that I pick from based on what I need. I try to move (usually by going to the gym) at least 3 times a week. I spend time outdoors; fresh air and nature have a HUGE impact on our mental health and we don’t give it enough credit. A book, a bath, or a deep conversation with a friend over coffee are common go-tos for me. Oh, and I’m a stress baker — I often create my best baked good recipes when I’ve been overwhelmed and need a breather.
Self-love, on the other hand, is an ongoing journey. For the most part, I view my body from a neutral place. It’s just a body! It took me a loooong time to get to the point of seeing bodies that way, but I’m better for it. Once I started crossfit training and started building strength, I’ve discovered an intense empowerment in all that my body can do. I can back squat my bodyweight 27 times without dropping the bar! That’s pretty freaking awesome.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It’s okay to not have everything figured out. Everything in life can change drastically in a short amount of time, so enjoy what you have now and and celebrate the good surprises and tackle the challenge of bad surprises as they come. No two people live an identical life, so enjoy the adventure of yours!
If you want to grab coffee together and talk, in person or over video chat, reach out! I really enjoy getting to know people.
And to wrap things up, please enjoy this picture of my cats, Marley and Waffles.
Photos courtesy of Chelsea Simdorn