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this day started out like the adult version of the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and instead of having to eat lima beans and get a shot at the doctors i started the day off stepping in dog poo, couldn’t find my keys, had to wait for the very late oven repair guy, had a bad rainy hair day and was late for simply everything…

…and just when i was adding some more depth to the carved out “angry eleven” little frowny wrinkles, i found out a friend’s husband was just diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer.

the world…just…stopped.

how could the little annoyances {and they are little} hold any weight when someone i care about’s world has just caved in and nothing, simply nothing, will ever be the same for them. and these pivotal, life changing moments are happening all the time…good and bad moments. it put things so quickly into perspective.

so, tonight i am going to go to bed and i am going to think about how my son, aidan, made the most amazing play dough prototype cars complete with airbags and protective roll bars and how in awe of his creative mind i am.  i’m going to cherish snuggling with my daughter, julia, who was home sick from school today because i know it won’t be too long where she will not want my arms wrapped tightly around her. i’m going to be grateful for my son, connor, who bought me a container of chocolate babies, just because he loved me and is such a gentle soul…and he knew how much i can’t resist chocolate babies. i’m going to chuckle {loudly} about how my daughter became distressed when she learned that women have eggs in their ovaries that they can make babies out of; how she got SO upset, threw her head down on her plate of ravioli and cried that she never, NEVER wanted to have babies…ever, ever!

i’m going to go to bed and be grateful for the blessings in my life; for my beautiful children who cease to amaze me every single day and that I am SO glad I didn’t listen to myself when I said those same words when I was a kid…because I can’t imagine a life that didn’t include my babies.

i’m going to go to bed and be grateful that i have a “job” i love and look forward to each day; that i am constantly meeting new and incredible people who make my life richer; that i can enjoy all the joy my work offers and yet still maintain balance to be there for my children and experience the pivotal moments of their lives. to know i “was there when”…

i’m going to go to bed and be grateful that my health is good and the discomforts i have are just minor as i can laugh, run, play and enjoy without worrying if i will be here on this earth tomorrow and the day after.

i’m going to go to bed and think of my friend and her husband…and send them all the strength and love i have inside me as they face this journey together.  i will continue to embrace hope and believe that anything is possible.

tonight I will go to bed happy and know that whatever tomorrow brings we always have hope, love and each other…

  • Kim Ross

    It speaks to what a wonderful person you are that you are so grateful for the blessings in life….. And your friend is lucky to have you to lend her your strength during a difficult time!!!

  • rachel

    Kim, thank you so much! Your words touched my heart and gave me a wonderful way to start out this work day. 🙂 Hope you are all well and that we get to see you sometime soon!

Hair: Kerry Armstrong, Formal Hair Styling, Milton, Vermont

Makeup: Emily Smithson, Lush Salon, Stowe, Vermont

Dress: Fiori Bridal Boutique, Essex Junction, Vermont  (Watters Palm Spring Dress)

Bouquet & Boutonniere: Stray Cat Farm, Burlington, Vermont

Cupcakes: my little cupcake, Burlington, Vermont

Rings: Designer’s Circle, Burlington, Vermont

Design: Rachel Bell Photography and Stacie Maddox Photography

Location: Stowe, Vermont, property by Beckwith Rentals

  • Christina Metropoulos

    Rachel these photos are absolutely amazing!!! I can’t thank you enough for such a wonderful day!! Hair and makeup was flawless and you ladies were able to capture some fantastic moments!!!! I absolutely love every single photo!!!!!! Thanks again for everything!!! You are AMAZING!!!!! <3

  • Irene Kalogridis

    Love, Love, Love the pictures. A beautiful cousin… Wonderful, flawless pictures. Giasou Christina and Matt.
    Cousin Irene xoxo

  • rachel

    Thanks so much Christina! This makes me smile…REALLY big! It was amazing getting to know you and having so much fun all day. You made it so easy…truly! 🙂

this newly redesigned, botoxed, collagen implanted, nip and tucked blog is going for a little test run now with it’s very first post. let’s see if all the sleep deprived nights, wearing the same clothes for days in a row and coffee chugging was worth it. here is one frame from our styled shoot in stowe, vermont. much, much more to come!

  • Love it!!

  • rachel

    thanks so much Jenn! You are my first official comment on the new blog. So glad you came over for a visit and left me a note. 🙂

  • LOVE this image. So glad we got to work together on this project. I feel more creative episodes ahead of us. You truly are amazing. xo

  • Rhiana Schenck

    Such beautiful portraits from a fabulous shoot. Beautiful work Rachel! So fun working with you 🙂

  • Colleen Pardue

    A new blog! How exciting for you. I am so impressed by your talents Rachel – you truly are an amazing photographer. I can’t wait to poke around the blog and check out the fun things you have been working on! I look forward to reading this and can’t wait to work together again later this year!!!

for the next couple of weeks my blog is going under the knife. the surgery won’t be pretty and this page may change looks, shapes and colors without notice…but i promise that the finished product will be a stunning work of art! 🙂 for now, please visit my facebook page for my latest work. just click here.


see you soon with some awesome new goodies!


i lost my mom to cancer almost six years ago and still, not too many days go by that i don’t think about her…her kindness of spirit, her giving nature towards everyone, her infectious happiness. it used to be that mother’s day brought to light the emptiness of her loss, but now it reminds me of all the gifts and the light she brought to all of us during the very short time we were blessed to have her with us. so, on this mother’s day 2010 i want to share some of the lessons she passed on to me; that have shaped the person i have become and continue to aspire to be…

{this is NOT a dress rehearsal}

one of mom’s favorite sayings and one she lived true to. we’ve been given one body, one soul, one all too short life…why waste a drop of it? make every minute of each day count, learn something new, wake up thankful and go to bed each day feeling blessed and if you feel that life has become a rut, reflect on what you can change and find the happiness. when it’s your last day on this earth, don’t you want to look back and feel you have lived a full, rich life…that you have felt true happiness?

{this too shall pass}

during some difficult rounds of chemo, mom wouldn’t be feeling her best. i remember trying to help her find something she could eat, help her rest and she never complained…not ONE SINGLE TIME…ever. the only thing she would say when she felt her crummiest was {this too shall pass}. in all of life we will have the good and bad times and they will shift between the two as nothing ever stays static for too long. the trick is to fully embrace and enjoy the ride when it’s good and accept, with grace, when the road is difficult. even when you think you can’t take another step or go on another day…the knowledge that the worst of times won’t last forever and there will be good again gets us through.

{life is messy…don’t worry about trying to clean it all up}

have fun, play around, spend time with the kids building mud pies, don’t worry so much about them tracking the mud into the house. they won’t care that the house is perfectly clean…they’ll only care that they had your attention and loving time…and you’ll be glad you had that time as well because the teen years will come along all too soon and you’ll be chasing after them to get them to play with you…let alone notice you even exist in the world.

{family comes first…this is non-negotiable}

work wants attention, school wants attention, friends want attention, the bills want attention, the dog wants attention…sometimes it seems like the minute you wake up until the minute you go to sleep, life wants pieces of you until you think there’s none left to give. but above all these things, tasks, “to-do” lists comes your family. family is the greatest gift, the strongest bond and the people who will always be by your side…no matter what…with unconditional love. give of yourself first to the ones we love and hold dearest. the rest of the world can wait.

{laugh, play, be a fool sometimes}

what’s the purpose of living life if we’re not really living it? if we’re too careful to act a certain way, to refrain from saying what we really feel in our hearts, to hold back moments of pure joy and to stifle the need to feel profound sadness. that’s not living; it’s going through the motions. so no matter how wild the ride is…enjoy it fully and embrace the highs and lows. sometimes you may feel foolish or goofy, but no matter cause in the end you will be all the richer for the experience.

{share your love fully, without reserve}

this was my mother’s gift to those who were lucky enough to have know her. she gave fully of herself because she truly loved people. she taught me to never be afraid of love or shy away from it but rather to move towards it and hold on tight. to give completely of your heart is the deepest form of connection we can have as humans in this lifetime. and it’s not about what you get in return…it’s about unselfishly giving without a thought of getting something back. when you truly love someone the satisfaction comes from knowing you brought them, even a little slice, of happiness.

{never judge, keep an open mind and open heart to everyone}

you never know what amazing people you can meet in this world if you don’t give people a chance. never, never make snap judgments on a person’s character and always let them have the opportunity to be themselves and show the goodness that’s inside of them. you may not agree on things they believe or think but that doesn’t mean you can’t love them anyway. you come to love the essence of which a person is not just what’s on the surface. getting to know someone takes time and patience. take that time because you never know when you may be meeting someone who will have a profound impact on the rest of your life.

these are just a few of the many, many gifts my mom shared with me and the rest of the world. i couldn’t possibly list them all…that would take at least one book.  i now pass these  on to my three children. i will never perfect them and they will develop in me in their own way…as they will for my children. but i carry them in my heart as i carry all the cherished memories of my mom with me always.

i love you with all my heart…

this photograph is for you mom…a silly, beautiful, fun moment with aidan. it’s not glamorous or staged but a genuine moment of us having a blast…living it out loud!


  • Rachel

    Beautiful entry, Rachel. Thanks for sharing these wonderful lessons with us. It is so easy to let life take over and lose sight of these simple ideas that are so important.

  • Lisa

    Rachel, I’m so glad to have you in my life as a dear friend. Through your pictures and your poetic ways, you remind me to focus on what’s important and not take myself or life to seriously. I’m going to print off this blog to keep with me as a reminder to “enjoy the ride”. Love ya!

  • Forrest Bell

    Rachel – Pam had an essence of being that was beyond words. We all have that as part of our souls as we travel through life. Thank you for sharing these intimate thoughts.

  • Stacie Maddox

    Although I am not a mom yet, these rules are how I try to live my life, daily. Your mom sounded like a beautiful woman, and from just reading what she taught you, it’s clear that you have followed her advice. You are one the most loving, non-judgmental, friendly, and down to earth people I have ever met. Thank you for sharing. I am actually going to print this off, and hang it on the fridge to keep my life in perspective when things seem dark. -Stacie

  • Amanda Brightman-Uhl

    Rachel, you write beautifully. Your mother was one smart, strong, beautiful woman, you must take after her! I can only hope to be as great a mother as mine is, thanks for reminding me to think of how blessed I am!

  • Aunt Edna

    Hi Rach – As I was reading your blog, I had tears in my eyes. Everything you said is absolutely true! Your mom was a lovely person who did enjoy life to the fullest even through all her trials and tribulations. I know she is looking down from heaven with so much pride and love for you and your family that everyone who comes in contact with you feels that love. I was truly blessed to have her as my sister-in-law. Your tribute to her is a inspiration to us all. Love You!

  • Rachel what a beautiful post and tribute to your mom, she sounds like she was a true inspiration and a very wise woman.

  • Debra Marion

    Hi Rachel, I just read your blog about your mom who has since passed. I had a hard time reading through it as it brought back so many memories of my mom who died almost 3 years ago. I too was blessed with a mother who was my best friend and biggest cheerleader…I miss her terribly. I remember how we would always talk about our “Courtney’s Wedding”…you see she was like a 2nd mother to my children..I do hope she saw the big day from heaven as it was everything we had hoped it would be. Thank you for all the pictures of the wedding and thank you for reminding me how lucky we are to have had the kind of mothers that we were blessed with.

  • John

    Hey Chi, You brought tears to my eyes with this amazing blog. It made me reflect upon my relationship with my son and i could only hope that i can bring the amount of love and caring to his world as your mom had for you. She sounds like an amazing woman…thank you for sharing!

  • Scott McLachlan

    Wow Rach, you were truly inspired by your Mom. Bless her soul! Reading your blog brought back many great memories of my mother as well, similar if not the same exact sayings and beliefs.

    Life is too precious to waste, and your certainly making the best of it. Take care of those little ones, yourself the loves of your life, inspire them all as your Mom inspired you.

    My mother had an amazing ability to “forgive and forget”… and laughed and smiled everyday. That’s how I remember her, Happy!

    Take care old friend.

    Scott from NJ

  • Mac

    Rach – Sorry for the delay. I read this the other day and was very affected by it. You’ve expressed so many things about your mom so well that we’ve shared over the last six years. Meeting Pam and the love that developed between us was the best thing that ever happened to me. And, as I’ve told you many times, I too learned so much from her about the strength of honest joy and caring – about loving without reservation, unselfishness, and the things that are really important in life – and about being able to put aside old hurts and finding compassion. I’m still thankful to have her in my heart and the gift of her beautiful view of life – I continue to learn from her. Your tribute to her gives me much joy, not just because she deserves it, but because it’s clear how much of her goodness was passed on to you. – Love, Mac

  • Barbara

    I just noticed this beautiful entry about your mother. What a wonderful tribute to her, Rachel. If life you some very special people and right from the beginning you know they will impact your life. Your mother was one of those very special people that can be called an angel, and she was an angel! Love, Barb

  • Gretchen

    Rachel – Your entry was so beautiful and so true to how Pam lived her life. Thank you for showing others how special she really was and how much she enriched all of us.

  • Uncle Ralph

    What beautiful reflections on your mom. The pictures made me cry. I miss her very much and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her

  • Gwen

    Rachel, I just came upon this for the first time. So wonderful to read your mom’s philosophies as put so eloquently by you. Thank you for sharing. Love, Gwen

  • Megan

    Rachel, thats so beautiful what you wrote about your mom, and your words are so inspiring. Being a new mom it makes me really realize how much you can love and care for something so much. I love my husband and my family more than words can describe, but when it comes to your child there is nothing more important and no grater fufillment than when your a mother and your baby needs you more than anything. I can only imagine that feeling growing stonger as time goes on : )