We met Meghan at the same firm that introduced us to David Kingham and she is someone, whom after meeting, you want to continue to know. She is a Colorado native with a Masters in design from Montana State University. Among other things like photography and kin-keeping, Meghan currently manages a household of horses. With such eclectic interests and skills, Meghan inhabits many different roles. She is difficult not to admire and her journey toward measuring her capacity has been, and continues to be, inspiring. Meghan is beautiful. Her work is beautiful. We are so happy she took time for this interview.
s | b: You keep the most insane schedules of pretty much anyone I know. Up at (or is it before) dawn with the horses. You are married, have a growing puppy, a cat, a photography business. You are an architectural intern, you are a vocalist, someone who cooks from scratch, and you’re working on a novel. You still manage to read (audible) and have friends you keep up with. How do you prioritize your passions?
msm: Oh Lord, prioritizing has been an issue in my life. I think that happens when I feel like I’m four different people all in one body! I’ve *had* to do it in recent years though, because trying to do everything full force was just not working, and taking some pretty serious toll stress-wise on my health, my marriage, and my sanity.
There were a few years that I got up at 3:45am, cleaned stalls and rode horses until 7am, went to work at the Architecture firm until 6, came home, made dinner, and then worked on photography until 10pm. It just wasn’t sustainable. I’ve done a lot of reading - and some visiting with an excellent therapist, honestly - to try and figure out my work/life balance that keeps me happy, satisfied, but still able to function. Gifts of Imperfection; Start; Daring Greatly, and the Getting Things Done have all helped me quite a bit.
I think the first thing I realized is that if I don’t fuel myself properly, nothing gets done. So food and healthy cooking became the first priority for Kent and I. Added bonus that we love to cook together, so it’s kind of a date! Next, I had to analyze what made me tick.
Second to eating, creative energy is my other big “problem” in the day - the photography stuff really helped take the edge off when my Architectural job was less than creative for a few years.
The animals are sort of a tour de force in my life - they require a lot of work and money, but they’re also a way for me to stay fit, and to get outside of my own head for a while. They only fall a little ways down the list because the riding part can wait a day if I really and truly need the time for something else - I don’t compete much anymore, which has taken much of the pressure off of that.
The vocal stuff had to go down a notch simply because there was no time - I love to sing at church on the worship team, but it worked for me that it was only a few days a month.
Reading - I just shove that in where I can. Audible really has revolutionized my reading - I can now get through 100 in a year, just listening while I drive, and clean stalls!
s | b: Looking to some future date out there, are there interests you would like to be able to pursue that you aren’t currently? Or maybe there are current passions you’d like to be able to invest more time/energy in?
msm: I’d love to be able to sing more often, and go back to performing in some local opera productions. Maybe in the next year or so. I’d also love to do more home food production - canning, pickling and such. My scrapbook of Kent and I is woefully out of date - it’s not really a hobby or a passion, but I’d like to be more organized and settled with some of my home projects so that my personal space and calendar isn’t so full all the time =)
s | b:You have and are continuing to hone your skills at photography. You’ve gone into business for yourself. What has that meant to you, making the transition and working at making it a bigger part of your world?
msm: Honestly? It’s felt like a huge breath of fresh air, and a big step into freedom. It was terrifying, and we’ve had to make some pretty serious life adjustments to accommodate me working for myself and changing the goals and vision for our life as a family. I reduced my architectural work to consulting on equine projects and contract work (which is what I enjoyed about my work anyhow), and have been blessed to be able to fill my ‘bucket’ about as full as I’d like it right now with photography. I spend time each week learning how to continue to produce better images, and better client service for my clients - focusing on the business end takes a lot of time, but I think it will be worth it in the end. I’m a huge people person, and I get to spend more time with people this way. I also feel like the photography gets through my pile of creative energy more regularly than I ever experienced working in a traditional office, even in a ‘creative’ field like Architecture. This has meant far less creative frustration, far less stress, and a much happier ‘me’.
s | b: When selling your eye for photography, you write of your ‘Colorado chic’ vision: “We live in an elegant setting, it is my goal to show that elegance reflected in you!” I like that your word choice of ‘elegant.’ It is a word that I would use to describe you, that and ‘vivacious:’ two words I rarely attribute a single individual, but the person is always someone seeking to not only create beauty, but have the energy to be a kind of timeless beauty in the world. How much of who you are do you attribute to your surroundings?
msm: My surroundings inspire me, so … quite a bit! I grew up on a horse farm, and I don’t think I realized how precious the quiet mornings with the horses, watching the sunrise, and hearing the birds were… until I didn’t have them in college. My photography comes out of my feelings, my heart. Sometimes I say that it’s my heart spilling out my eyes through my camera, though I know that’s kind of a gross analogy. I just get really full of a feeling sometimes when taking a picture, and if the final image can evoke that emotion in others, I’ve done my job. I’ve shared that moment in time with someone else, so that they can have it in their little box of treasures too. It can be anything from little birds at sunrise, a bride and groom laughing after a wedding, my horse galloping in the field -- there are just moments that I *have* to share through the lens, or I’m not being true to myself, if that makes sense.
I also try very hard to just experience things sometimes, and not put a camera between myself and the world. Gatherings at our house are one of those things. There is a time for the camera, and a time just to be a human soaking in the moment. Finding the balance has been important. The environment can’t inspire or recharge me if I’m not paying attention and living in it. I’ve been pretty spectacularly lucky to live in such inspiring places - and growing up on a ranch doesn’t mean I don’t love the finer things in life (I think that’s the ‘elegant’ part of me) - like opera, ballet, good wine, good food. I do, however, have a farm girl can-do attitude (I think that’s the vivacious part)... I don’t like to be told I can’t do ANYTHING. I will prove you wrong.
s | b: Do you find yourself drawn back to the places you grew up? And what has being away meant for you (positively or negatively)?
msm: It’s been tough, but we’re trying to see Utah as one big adventure. We’re growing as a couple, and as individual people through this experience - sometimes it’s tough, but I can tell it will be sooooo worth it. Colorado has our heart, and always will. My second home, Montana, has a close second place, but I think Utah has proven to be a fun and special place to live. We’ve met amazing people, done some pretty amazing things, and we will never be sad that we did this. Overall, I think we intend to live near our families in the place we consider home, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t take home with us for now.
s | b: Who inspires you, and how?
msm: I am inspired by my mom - who is the nicest woman I have ever known - to be kind, and to be vulnerable - to always be myself. I don’t know if there is anything more important to teach your children, and she did it not through words but through example. I am also inspired by my friends who work hard to achieve their dreams, and who have taught me to view failure as a momentary setback, not a reason to quit pushing for what I want. There are many artists that inspire me - photographers, painters, sculptors, and I have a real and deep love of the performing arts. I am in awe of how many ways we all have to express our emotions.
s | b: Kent seems like an amazing life partner; the adventures the two of you embark upon, the supportive decision-making at home when the market has had a hard time funding one architect, let alone two. What do conversations look like?
msm: Ha. Well. We do have a lot of conversations about our experiences in the Architecture field… both good and bad. And what we dream of doing someday with our degrees. We both agree that our values were out of whack when we were both working full time in the field. I don’t know that it’s the same for everyone, but that was our experience. I think the most important thing we did was to openly talk about our struggles, and as a couple decide to take a step back in our lifestyle to allow both of us to figure out what we wanted to do without the obligation of paying a high rent for a house in a nice part of town, etc. We both drive older, paid off cars, and we’ve made a lot of decisions based on the fact that we want to have the freedom to find a career that fits us first, and then build a life on that, instead of obligating ourselves too much and HAVING to keep or take a job just to afford the car etc.
We both have a huge passion for sustainability, for beauty, for travel, for experience, and good food, and good design, and enjoying life. I’m so lucky to have found someone that can attend a Vivaldi concert with me and then follow it up with a home-made slip n’ slide. We agreed when we got married that we were in this thing together - on the same team. If we didn’t look out for each other, no one else would. I can’t imagine being on this life adventure with anyone more supportive, or amazing. I don’t know how I tricked the universe into giving me Kent.
s | b: Any specific concerns/worries you are working to overcome?
msm: I’m a huge people pleaser, and I’m working very very hard to overcome that, at least in part. Not an easy thing, but as a photographer or a designer, something I need to get over. I need to do my best, know it’s my best, and rest in that knowledge. I always think it’s okay to be open to constructive criticism from people you admire, or who have the credentials to help you grow. BUT I also think you need to be able to separate criticism that is warranted, and criticism that isn’t. I’m still wandering through that, with middling success.
s | b: Anything exciting for you in the offing that you’d like to share? How is the novel coming along?
msm: The novel is coming along… I’m working on my 6th manuscript, and currently shopping for an agent with my finished 5th manuscript. Even if I never get published, I love writing. Until the last few years, I didn’t even let my best friend read my writing (re: people pleasing and wanting to avoid someone saying they didn’t like it). But, I’ve gotten braver in the last few years. Kent and I are also looking forward to the possibility of being a young family in the next year or so. We think that sharing our lives with kids will be a huge and wonderful adventure.