Finger Lakes Portrait Photographer

Penn Yan, New York Portrait Photographer

Raising Each Other Up: Jo-Hannah Reynolds, Singer/Songwriter

Mompreneur Interview

Four point three babies are born each second (source). Every second, four people are becoming mothers or adding to their already established motherly duties. Astounding, isn't it? And, let's face it, we moms do it all: take care of our husbands and children, keep the house in order, cart everyone everywhere they need to go (not to mention doing the piles and piles of laundry it takes to make them presentable while they're there!), and yet, somehow we still find time to work toward crushing our own goals. Each month on my blog, in an effort to raise each other up, I will feature a mompreneur, highlight how they are working to achieve their dreams, and chat a little bit how they handle it all.

Finger Lakes | Portrait Photographer

My daughter, Harper, made me a mom in September 2013. When she was born, my life was forever changed. I resigned from my teaching position and began to dream of being a full-time photographer--something that, in my wildest dreams, I would have never forseen for myself. Two years later, my photography business was born and with a lot of hard work and the support of my amazingly patient husband, I've made that dream a reality for myself.

I think it was fate when Jo-Hannah Reynolds texted me to ask if I had any time to provide some updated portraits for her website and some events she has coming up. I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out what my first blog post was going to be, and that day it all came together. She has been (and is) such a cheerleader for me on my own creative journey, raising me up in times when I need encouragement the most. Because let's face it: being a mompreneur can be lonely and we could all use some raising up.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.

I'm a singer/songwriter, composer, educator, wife (to Preston), mom (to Porter, 7 and Jenna, 9), and dreamer.

How did you get into music?

I started playing violin at age seven, and started learning piano on my own around age eight. I started piano lessons at age ten. My mom and her sisters always sang together, so music was a huge part of our lives at home. I took a semester off of music in college, was horribly depressed, and have been pursuing it ever since. I was a voice major and a piano minor in college, and have a degree in songwriting, music recording technologies, and a Master's Degree in Music Composition.

What has been your biggest victory?

Apart from birthing my son with no pain medicine? Ha! I would say finishing my Master's Degree in Music Composition. It was an extremely demanding program, and I was scared to death that I really had nothing to offer that had any lasting value. I literally wrote every composition for that program in my laundry room. It's an incredibly humbling process to sit in a place that is so mundane and ordinary and try to create something musical. I've always felt that there's a bit of magic and mystery in the creation of music. The fact that I was trying to find magic in my laundry room is like my own little inside joke. But alas, the music, magic, and mystery are all within.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Penn Yan, New York | Family Photographer

Man. This is tough. You know this is a tough one. Honestly? I think balancing all the facets of life. I started graduate school when Porter was two years old. He was barely sleeping through the night (yes, I'm a bad mom that lets my kids still sleep in my bed, but I'm certain there will be a day when they no longer want to...). I was still working at a college teaching, trying to cook dinner, make sure snack was delivered for snack day (and man, I'm so sorry to all the kids who went home a bit hungrier on the times that I totally forgot snack day!), trying to be a wife, a human, the maid, grocery-getter, and chauffeur--not to mention a creative soul. Busyness is literally the enemy of my creativity. Even now. I literally have to fight for a few minutes of alone time to take a ride in silence so that I can think of what I might want to even write about next.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Hands down, my kids. They both make my heart burst daily. Being a mom is the most important thing I've ever done, and I try to make one part of each day really special. Both of my kids had their own health issues when they were born, and I've tried to NEVER take a single day for granted. I think overall I've done pretty darn well at that.

What's your best memory?

I have a few. Apart from the days my babies were born here are the rest...

The phone call where Jenna said Porter's full name for the first time to her daddy. Her voice was little, and thick, and very much reminiscent of a chipmunk.

The first time Porter laughed. He had a belly laugh that was larger than it should have been at 16 weeks old, and it was contagious. Still is.

Anytime I'm walking with my kids and they hold my hand.

Sunday mornings when the five of us (my husband, Jenna, Porter, Maxwell Sanders--our sweet puppy, and myself) all lay in bed together and it seems time stands still.

Singing with musical inspiration, Sandra McCracken, at this little place in New York City in November 2013. Seriously, that was a day for the record books. 

My graduation day from VCFA. The weather was perfect. My hair did as I asked it to (which, in August, with somewhat curly hair is no small feat). I finished what I started. That was my day.

Penn Yan, New York | Head Shots | Photographer

The two days I released my albums (September 14, 2014 and August 22, 2016). I sent my other 'babies' out into the world, and it was incredibly terrifying and rewarding at the same time. (Both records are available at iTunes and Amazon...shameless plug?) Anytime a new song comes, I feel like I've just created an artifact. Something intangible becomes tangible. Its an incredible process that I'm beyond grateful to be a part of.

We all know that, as Moms, it can be difficult to maintain balance in your life? How do you do it?

I don't think I really do. Or maybe some days I'm better at it than others. One of my new songs has lines such as, "On the days when I forgot how to breathe...on the days when I can move the whole world...on the days when I can't find my keys..." I mean, honestly, aren't we all on a rollercoaster anyway? I remember a conversation with my Grandmother where she said, "Isn't it so funny how some days you can conquer the world, and there are some days when you just can't get out of bed?" and I totally agree with that. 

I think I just try to do the work on the days that I can. The laundry will wait. The groceries will not. The music...well it comes and goes. Voice memos are incredibly valuable to me. I just finished a song last week that I had started in June. It was stored in my voice memos and I had finally created space in my head to let it out. Priorities, I guess. And the kids almost always win out. And Netflix when you can't. And set down the rest.

How would the readers connect with you?

You can go to my website or to my Facebook Page Jo-Hannah Reynolds, and on Instagram @johannahbrey and Twitter @johannahbrey too--although I don't check Twitter as regularly as I used to. I also have a pretty comprehensive set of pins on Pinterest. Erin can attest to that since we share our lake house you can follow me there too because I know that my next house is going to be SO cool.

{Author's note: Jo-Hannah's albums, Change of Plans and Morning Light, are available on Amazon and iTunes. My personal favorite is "End of the Day."}

Seneca Lake | Portrait Photographer

Anything else you would like to say to the readers?

I just want you all to know that I am incredibly grateful. I live in a small town that I love dearly. I have a family that I love dearly. I am beyond grateful for the little things like sticky kisses, really good food, sunshine, the lake, summer, flowers, beautiful colors and trees--you get the idea. I try to tell the people in my life that I am grateful for them regularly. I try to find beauty in the ordinary, and truly believe beauty beckons. I dearly love to laugh (Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice anyone?), but I don't laugh nearly enough. I'm often too far trapped in some deep thought and have to be reminded to lighten up. My new songs are an attempt at that! I wear my heart on my sleeve. But mostly, I am grateful that there are a few people who really get what my music is, and keep asking me to make more.

Did you love our first Raising Each Other Up segment? Leave some love for Jo-Hannah in the comments. Don't want to miss the next segment? Click here to sign up for my email list and receive my free client guide as a bonus! Thank you so much for visiting! xoxo Erin