After taking some time off of shooting to focus on life, I’m finally up and about, ready to take on limited editorial shoots.
Recently, my friends at Rowland Publishing gave me a call for a shoot for Emerald Coast Magazine. The assignment was to photograph a freelance chef and highlight his favorite salmon creation. Which, to me, combines a few of my favorite things – good food, photography, and kind people that are excited to share their passions. Bill McGinn proved to live up to all my expectations and his food? It was spectacular. Which, coming from this foodie, means a lot.
Head on over to Emerald Coast Magazine online to view his full recipe and keep scrolling for a preview of what you’ll find published in the magazine!
I’ve never been much of a new year’s resolution type of person. Sadly, they just never seem to hold. I’ve tried giving myself 21 days to start/break a habit and that never seemed to work either, nor did mentally setting goals. For me, the only effective ways I’ve found to change things are: a) setting daily/weekly goals. That time span seems more manageable. b) Setting family goals with my husband and breaking our bigger goals up into weekly goals. Again, doing things on a daily or weekly basis for a consistent period of time is what seems to make a difference. Take, for instance, our finances. We are far from wealthy, but not quite broke, and we managed to not keep up with our financial goals during the time that I was in business for myself. With two kids, a dog, a mortgage, a car payment, and stack of medical bills, you can see how that would happen. I felt like I worked all the time, my health was failing, and life just wasn’t so fun. Once we started following Dave Ramsey’s teachings together, we started chipping away at things and re-assessing our life decisions. It’s been hard, but now that we’ve been going at it over a year things have gotten easier. Much like this article states, “habits are a process and not an event.”
Turns out, science backs this. Resolutions don’t work. Habits won’t change overnight. Nor will they change in a magical 21 days. In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, scientists determined it takes far longer than 21 days for a new behavior to become automatic – 66 days on average. This number varies widely though, from 18 to 254 days. So, you can imagine how cynical I was when I read about “Powersheets.” People in various circles online would describe them as “inspirational” and “life changing!” And, honestly, I just didn’t buy it. But sometime later in 2017 I finally started to pay attention. Because the truth is, last year was AWFUL. I mean, it just plain stunk. I spent an entire month of the year in the hospital, several more sleeping, and the rest of the time wanting to sleep. How could some silly sheets bring any more power to my life? Why should I expect anything would be different?
Let me tell you about Lara Casey though. I met her in 2010 at Making Things Happen in Atlanta. It was a small group of ten or so women that I’ve continued to not only keep in touch with, but watch bloom and grow. Some of them have become incredibly well-known for what they do, and it also connected me with such lovely ladies as Angie Webb and Gina Zeidler. At the time, I was relatively new to having a photography business and wanted help but didn’t know how. I was searching. That workshop was honestly transformational – it helped me align my vision with goals and ultimately helped me start a successful business as well as help me find accountability partners. A year or so later I attended a follow-on workshop at Lara’s parent’s house with some of the same people, as well as a few additions (like the sweet Emily Ley of Emily Ley Paper, Inc. Again, it helped me clarify my goals and ultimately is what helped me kick off the commercial/editorial photography part of my business. But I digress…
This fall I finally bit the bullet and purchased Powersheets. While I still had my doubts, I trusted Lara and her processes. What appealed to me was how my larger goals could be decomposed into monthly, weekly and daily goals. I started working on my goal planning sometime after Thanksgiving and was shocked by how much planning was required – in a good way! I have had to take a pretty intense personal inventory in order to even get to January. I immediately chose “BALANCE” as my word for 2018 because that’s what I yearn for more than anything – to balance all of my life, as well as to be able to regain my physical balance.
I don’t have the prettiest handwriting, but a friend of mine from work was kind enough to write my word of the year for me, and my color pens and colorful binder cover have made it more fun.
After great thought and planning, I finally came up with the following eight goals, all of which I’ve figured out my “why” for, as well as starting steps. Here are the goals and starting steps for each one:
- Be proactive about my health – ALWAYS put health first!
- Take a rehabilitation swimming class in the spring
- Get 9-10 hours of sleep nightly (My body requires a ton of sleep while the nerves are still healing)
- Consistent nutrition – no chips!
- Continue to work towards financial freedom
- Track debt regularly (I’ve started using Undebt.it and it’s working well)
- Do money envelopes a la Dave Ramsey every pay day
- Update our budget/surplus sheet monthly
- Cultivate a loving marriage
- Start and end each day with a hug and a kiss
- Read a good marriage book (taking recommendations!)
- Ask about Chris’ day/week regularly
- Savor the moments with my kids while they’re young
- Shift my work schedule so I can spend more time with each kid
- Less iPhone time around the kids
- Restart weekly “no distraction one-on-one time” with each kid.
- Foster consistent spiritual habits
- Wake up early to pray and do a devotional. (I’ve started the January session of Damn Early Days and am going to keep this up as long as my body/mind allows).
- Attend church more regularly (this has been hard since I became ill)
- Read a couple’s devotional together
- Make space for joy
- Meal prep regularly so dinner isn’t so stressful. I use Once a Month Meals and it’s been life-changing! (Click here to check it out.)
- Reduce household clutter
- Catch up on making family photo albums
- Lean In to my career
- Participate in a career strategy course. (I’m starting the Strategy in Action course with Susan Mazza).
- Continue to support the Women in Leadership group by helping set up Lean In circles
- Make the FINAL decision on whether I should start a PhD or focus more on writing and photography
- Nurture new friendships and tend to old ones
- Invite friends over more!
- Go out to lunch with work friends
- Reach out to old friends and send them bits of encouragement
Looking over all these goals, it looks more than a bit overwhelming. Breaking it up into smaller steps and working them into my calendar seems like a manageable process though.
If there’s one thing that Guillain-Barre Syndrome has taught me it’s that there are no quick, easy solutions to hard things in life. You have to choose to improve yourself and put one foot in front of the other, no matter how hard it may be. Just like this quote, you have to “Embrace the long, slow walk to greatness and focus on putting in your reps.”
I’d love to hear more about how you’re planning your goals for the year as well as what goals you’re setting for yourself!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I was not reimbursed for anything mentioned in this post in any way.
Hi, friends – Happy December! I don’t know about you, but I have never been more ready for a new year. This year has been… in a word… INTENSE!
This past week I had the opportunity to attend a women’s leadership training event in the Washington D.C. area, which allowed me to take a breather, reflect on the past year, and emerge with a new sense of clarity. Yes, this year has been “intense.” Yes, it’s been far harder than I ever would have imagined. But somehow, through it all, I managed to not only surpass the doctor’s estimates on how long I would take to walk again, but I TRAVELED. I used my cane. And I asked for help. But I did it.
The key to making my trip a success was preparation. I called the airlines in advance to ask for wheelchair assistance and I also asked for a special parking place near the building. I had to forego visiting with dear old friends to sleep instead, because I was rotten sick and I knew my health depended on getting lots of sleep. (Fortunately, I got to visit a few of my favorite places the evening before I left.)
All the preparation and small victories got me thinking… I have learned that there is nothing that I can do to fully prepare myself for life’s challenges, but by remaining adaptable, always knowing where my metaphorical life vest is, and knowing who I can count on to reach out and pick me out when my ship is sinking, I can survive.
On my way home, I ran across an article in the Harvard Business Review about “Emotional Agility.” The title really drew me in and the content resonated deeply. One of my favorite quotes was: “When you unhook yourself from your difficult thoughts and emotions, you expand your choices. You can decide to act in a way that aligns with your values.”
This got me thinking – what are MY values and how do they line up with my actions? I considered the question and selected a list of values that I want to guide me in the new year. A list that I plan on printing out, hanging up, and referring to whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision or event.
Then I got to work on starting to prepare for the upcoming year – prioritizing what’s important, dropping those things that aren’t, and staying focused on what matters most. I pray that I will never become paralyzed again and I have no idea what the new year will bring, but I now know that no matter what, I have a list of values to guide my decisions. I’ve also made it a point to share my list with my family and publicly declare it so I can have some accountability.
Once I shared my list of values, I rolled up my sleeves and started writing important dates in my 2018 planner. I’ve used the Emily Ley Daily Simplified Planners in Happy Stripe the past two years and this year I am changing to a Weekly Simplified Planner in Gold Pineapple to spice things up. I figure that it will be even easier to carry around – and, of course, I plan on printing a list of my values to keep in the front and guide my schedule.
I still have a lot more work to do to prepare for the new year, but I’m finally in a place where I’m excited about the future and honestly… I’m not only wildly proud and thankful for my family and support system, but I’m a little proud of myself. I hope that no matter what happens, I’ll remain emotionally agile and keep my values in mind so that I’m prepared to face whatever life brings next.
After months of thinking/talking/praying about it, I felt that it was time to simplify life by streamlining my online presence. For those of you that don’t know, I’ve run a photography business for the past nine years and three years ago started a side-gig, Safe & Happy Family. But since then “life has happened” and I’ve decided to focus more on what really matters to me – family, food, faith, fitness and photography. Those are the things that are most important to me, but yet they’re also the things that I’ve struggled with the most.
About two years ago now I sat down and took an inventory of the way things were – I didn’t do it alone though, I talked to my husband, kids, and family. Turns out, they all felt it too. By trying to do it all, I was failing at what I cared about most by being distracted and just… busy. So I started to make changes. Slowly. I had no idea what exactly it was that I needed to do, I just knew I had to do something. So I started shooting fewer weddings. Spending more weekends with friends. Sleeping more. Getting a tight hold on my finances and living less on a month-to-month basis. As I did these things I realized that the dream life I’d been chasing wasn’t really so dreamy, and the behaviors of those I’d looked up to (working all night, never seeing family) weren’t so healthy. Looking back, I can see how perfectly clear God’s plan for this chapter of my life was. He knew what was to come… The struggles. The joy. The pain and relief. The sickness and health.
(Photo by Emily Huff)
I still don’t have it together – not even close. I’m wildly, shamelessly, perfectly imperfect. I mess up a lot and have weeks where I allow myself to fall into my old habits of working too much and allowing myself to be distracted. But then I see the look on my kids’ faces and it jolts me back to reality, so I ask for forgiveness and start all over again. What I’ve learned is to stop beating myself up so much when I do mess up. (Which I’m grateful for because I really mess up a lot!) The thing is, we are inherently flawed. Every one of us. But it’s our responsibility to try our hardest to see past our imperfections, not let our struggles define us, and do what we can to use our talents and our voices to make the world a better place. We are allowed to have bad days. God guarantees that we will. But it’s not those struggles but how we deal with them that define us. And thank heavens for that! I’ve been widowed. I’ve been paralyzed. I’ve lost friends and even lost my faith – but fortunately I found it again.
This site update is an outward reflection of the inner journey I’ve been on. It’s my way of trying to focus on what I care most about and sharing my journey along the way. It’s taken me over a month to bring together all of the websites/blogs I’ve had and turn them into a single, cohesive entity. Doing so has given me a chance to reflect upon the topics that I really want to focus on – what is nearest and dearest to my heart.
(Photo by Emily Huff)
Photography – The art form that has gotten me through it all. Photography has helped me document my children’s lives and allowed me to witness the most intimate moments of other’s lives. After years of saying “maybe one day” I’m finally making it a priority to help others learn how to document their own lives. I plan on continuing to take limited editorial and commercial commissions, but my heart is being led to spend more time documenting my own family and teaching others to see the light.
Food – One of the few things that we literally cannot live without. I had never given food much thought until both my son and I were diagnosed with life-threatening dietary issues. Now our family spends an inordinate amount of time preparing meals and talking about food. I love all things food – photographing it, writing about it, and sharing some of my favorite dairy, peanut, tree-nut and gluten-free recipes (I promise they’re tastier than it sounds!)
Health – Something we all take for granted until we don’t have it – until you’re laying in bed unable to move or your friend from work is fighting cancer… I’m still on the road to recovery from Guillain-Barre Syndrome and I have found writing about health and fitness (although I’m not a doctor!) incredibly cathartic. I’m not naïve enough to think that I can cure GBS, but I hope that together we can continue to raise money for medical research and awareness of food allergies. We’ve raised almost $2000 so far – how crazy is that???
I hope that you continue to follow along. I can’t wait to see what’s in store next!
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