Hidden Park Proves to be Great Choice for Kids’ Photo Shoot!

     This past weekend we had a photo shoot at a hidden park in Glenwood called Warfields Pond Park.  It’s tucked away in a neighborhood and people who have lived here for years have told me that they didn’t know it existed.  When the Howard County Conservancy booked a wedding unexpectedly on the same night as our shoot, we had to come up with an alternative plan so I asked my client if she had ever heard of Warfields Pond Pack in Glenwood.  She responded with, “Heard of it?  I grew up on that street!”  She explained how special it would be for her to have her children photographed at the very same park where she spent much time as a child herself, driving past her childhood home on her way.

     When the family arrived at the park, the little girl proudly climbed out of her mom’s car in her beautiful blue dress and jewelry that she explained that she had picked out herself.  She couldn’t wait to twirl and show off her beautiful outfit to me as I snapped away.  It didn’t hurt that we had already established a rapport since she had become quite close to my daughter as a friend in her preschool class.  Next came out the handsome little brother with his tight blond ringlets and dressed to the nines in his khakis, polo shirt and hat.  He was more interested in eating his snack than posing for photos so I began photographing his sister first.  She posed naturally and seemed to love every bit of it.  Then, we added in her brother and he surprised us all with his spontaneous hugs that he shared with his sister and goofy faces that showed his fun personality.

     Next we headed to the pond where the kids found turtles which naturally spiked their curiosity and made for a great photo op as well.  Finally we went back to get the brother’s toy tractor that he and his sister sat in and I captured some of my favorite shots as the little boy looked more like a proud man at work than the little boy that he is.  Overall, we had an amazing time and the kids and their mom said how much fun they had and how special it was that I was the one that captured the photos for them.  I was honored that they chose me and felt like I could photograph them for hours since we were all having so much fun.  I can’t wait for their mom and dad to see the final photos of their precious little ones and to feel the same joy every time they look at their new wall art as they did on the day that we had our photo shoot!

How do you KNOW You’re on the Right Path?

Sheets created by Leah Remillet of Go4ProPhotos

     Clarity.  The clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistictness or ambiguity.  That word, freedom is best part of clarity.  Knowing that you are in the right place at the right time and that everything is working out just the way it should.  Is there any better feeling than that? 

     The hardest part is accepting that things will not always go the way we’d like.  We won’t always click with our partner, make the big sale or have our work be appreciated by others, but that is an integral part of the process as well.  Knowing what we don’t want makes it so much clearer as to what we really do want.

     The last time I felt this type of clarity was when I was on my photography retreat.  I felt like for the first time in quite some time I was with a group of women that completely understood me and had many of the same goals and dreams.  It was clear that I belonged with them and that we had something real to teach each other in the four days that we spent together.  I learned things about myself and became so clear on my goals for my life and photography business that I came home with a whole new fire and energy.  Then, as time went on things became mucky again.  People canceled on me, doubted me, made me feel like I wasn’t good enough or not worthy of their time.  This is the way life goes.  We have ups and downs.  Thrills and disappointments.  We are never done, always redefining what we want out of life.

     Something that became ever clear to me on my retreat was that I had to, “Do it for me.”  I know the feeling of exhilaration that I feel when I am on a shoot and look at the images that I’ve captured for the first time.  That is my favorite part of photography.  Capturing the art and then reviewing what I have created.  It is a personal joy for me that I haven’t found in doing anything else.  The joy is not in making a making the final sale (although that can be quite fun as well!)  It’s really in the whole process.  The fun that I have along the way is everything.  I was watching a rerun of Dawson’s Creek the other day and Dawson was feeling discouraged about a project that he was working on that didn’t go the way he had hoped.  Joey responded by saying, “It’s not about winning.  The joy is in the process.”   I loved hearing this affirmation and feel the same way in my own life. 

     How about you?  Are you having fun along the way or are you just trying to reach one big goal or milestone?  Are you ok accepting that your goals may change over time?  Are there ways that you could have more fun in the process? It’s worth really thinking about…

How Can You Add an Hour onto Your Day?

     We are all guilty of it.  Overscheduling our families and ourselves and it leaves us feeling like we can’t do any of it well and we feel overwhelmed.  That’s how I was feeling myself last weekend and after some tears, I knew what I had to do and that was to let go of some things that weren’t my priority.  We all wish we had more time in the day.  What if I told you that there was a way to add an hour onto your day???

     I just finished reading the book, “The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything= Have Everything,” by Neil Pasricha.  You can pick up your own copy here if you are ready to reevaluate your own life and live a fuller and happier life.  One of my favorite chapters was about how you can add time to your life.  Here are the suggestions he gives: 

1.  To make more time, remove time.

What this means is that if you pretend that every day is the day before a vacation, you would be amazed at how much you could actually get done.  Giving yourself less time to do things will make you more efficient.  I have seen that in my own life when comparing my work life before and after children.  Before I had kids I felt like I had all the time in the world to get things done so I got less done.  Now that I have kids, my window of opportunity to work has diminished so that the little time that I do get, I use it to the max and get lots accomplished. 

2.  How can you make decisions faster?  Remove choice.

Some ways you can do this are by planning out your meals for the week on Sundays, scheduling out social media posts in advance,  selecting your outfit for work or the gym the night before, sticking to a routine workout.  By making decisions in advance and removing choice, you save time by not going back and forth about things that aren’t that important allowing more room for time for things that are more of a priority and take consideration such as where to go next in your career path or choosing your next home for example.

3.  How can you add an hour onto your day?  Remove access.

This is my favorite tip…  When writing out all of the things that I do in a day and how much time I spend doing each, I was able to see that I was spending much more time than I wanted to on social media.  You can learn more about how I evaluated this by watching my video here.  Being on social media wasn’t my priority, so I decided to remove access to myself by setting a timer for 20 minutes 3 times a day.  This is the time I gave myself to check emails, text messages, social media comments, etc. and once that timer goes off, I go back to being fully focused on my children or on a work project that I want to give my undivided attention to.  I can tell you that after only doing this for one week, I have already felt less overwhelmed and relaxed.  Right now as I type this blog I can hear the birds singing in the background which is far better than hearing my phone chime or Facebook notifications going off!

     If you too would like to feel less overwhelmed and like you are not always chasing the clock, then try one or all three of these tips and let me know in the comments how it goes! 

Being Busy is Not a Badge of Honor

View from our retreat house!  Doesn’t get much better than that!

      Having just returned from my photography retreat in Vegas, my head is filled with new ideas and the lessons I learned there were endless.  The lesson that resonated with me the most was the one about maintaining a healthy work life balance.

     The leader of our retreat, Leah Remillet of Go4ProPhotos stated with certainty, “Being busy is NOT a badge of honor.”  This really struck me as I have noticed a drive to be constantly productive especially as a stay-at-home mom and business owner.  I thought that if I constantly filled my head with webinars and tips from people who had done it before me, then surely I was on the fast track to success.

My photographer friends and I on our retreat! (I am the blond in the front center 😉

     What I wasn’t doing though was allowing my brain time to be quiet.  I’ve always known that the real answers come from within, but with social media and new online trainings being offered every day, I forgot about my own inner guidance.  For this reason I have made it my goal to only check email/social media/texts three times a day.  The rest of the day I want to be more present for my kids and my husband and allow more time to do nothing. 

     On our last day of the retreat Leah gave us one last assignment called, the 21 day challenge.  You can watch my video here where I explain how it works and what I experienced after implementing this strategy.  For the challenge, she asked us to record in a journal each day one thing we were grateful for, what form of exercise we did, how much water we drank, how we spent the time we “unplugged” and what act of kindness we shared that day.  We then shared our results in our Facebook group to hold each other accountable. 

The pool behind our retreat house! (Photo courtesy of Diane Blank Photography)

     This goes to show that we must fill ourselves up first before we can do anything else.  My challenge to you is to ask you what your reason is for getting up each morning.  What or who is your number 1 priority?  Are you spending the most time on who or what you say is your priority?  I can say honestly that I wasn’t, but am giving myself grace to begin again today.  In my next blog post, I will share how you can add more time onto your day!

How Can We Do Less and Be More?

     Spring is one of my favorite seasons because it’s all about new beginnings.  The sky brightens, the flowers bloom and the birds start singing.  Each morning that I wake up I do my best to set my intention for that day and try not to look too far ahead.

     I find that the less I do, the more content I am and notice the best moments like my daughter wearing her Doc McStuffins outifit tending to her stuffed animals that are lined up in what she says is their waiting room.  😉  I remember watching a video once where they were interviewing elderly women and the question was, “If you could change one thing about your past what would it be?”  One woman responded with, “I would do less and just be more.”  I loved that quote and understood exactly what she meant. 

     One of the easiest ways for me to be completely in the moment is to be outside with my camera.  I see beauty in the details all around me and think about nothing else.  It’s a form of mediation to me and I lose all track of time when I do it.  When I’m photographing people it takes a little more focus to stay centered since I’m adding in the energy of others.  I prefer photographing outdoors because I find that not only do my subjects look the most beautiful in natural light, but they can’t help but relax into the moment as well.  Parents and siblings say silly things to make each other laugh naturally which makes the most beautiful shots.

     The motto I chose for my business is, “Embrace the Moment” because more than anything I want my subjects to see the beauty in who and where they are today.  I believe that wherever you are at that moment is perfect and just as you intended it to be.  If you are going through a difficult situation, you will desire improvement in a stronger way than ever before.  If it’s a joyful moment, you feel completely alive and know in your heart that this feeling is what you were put on Earth to feel. 

     What can you do today to help yourself to be more in the moment?  Here are 10 things to try and you can start today!

  1. Ease into your day- wake up earlier than the rest of your family to meditate or just to spend quiet time thinking about how you want your day to go.
  2. Be intentional with what you decide to do today. Only put three things on your to do list that must be done today.  The rest can wait.
  3. Do less, and observe more.  Try writing in a journal what you see and how you feel.
  4. Spend more time outside and just listen.
  5. Schedule time into your day to do what you love and don’t put it off because your chores are not finished yet.
  6. Watch the birds as they fly through the sky and think about how free they must feel.
  7. Watch your kids from a distance and see the beauty of who they are at this very moment.
  8. Listen to uplifting music.
  9. Write down what your wishes are and how it will feel when you have them.
  10. Be grateful and write down in a journal everything that is already going well for you.

     Embrace the moments as they come and start today on your new journey.  It doesn’t matter what you did yesterday.  You are anew today, so get out there and embrace your joyous day!