30A Photography Education & Healthy Living » 30A editorial photographer inspiring women to savor life through learning about photography and healthy living. Serving 30A & Panama City Beach, Florida.

A dear friend once told me “Eggs are the perfect food. They have everything you need to grow a baby chicken.” The first time she said it, I couldn’t help but laugh. But now, some twenty odd years later I’ve come to realize just how right she is.

It’s no secret that I’m on a serious weight-loss kick. I’ve had to lose a few pounds here and there before, but I’ve never struggled with weight like I have the past six months. I think my struggles are due to a combination of not being able to walk or do much of anything for months on end and being pumped full of medicines with who-knows-what-side-effects. All that aside, the end result is that I’ve gained a whopping 25.71429% of my body weight (give or take a few thousandths) quite rapidly. Fortunately, I know enough about health and fitness to know how to take things into my own hands. Enter the eggs…

instant pot hard boiled eggs

While eggs may not typically be thought of as a health food, hard-boiled eggs have become a staple of my new favorite thing – the bento lunch. After months of carrying around a bunch of glass containers, I finally splurged and bought a bento lunchbox that I’d been eyeing for months. The cute little thing is not only adorable, it helps me with portion control. I’ve never been one for huge portions, but as someone who likes to snack throughout the day, the bento box is definitely helping me keep my eating habits in check. After a few days of limiting my portions to a set amount of produce, fats and protein a day, I quickly realized that things weren’t working so well though. Carrots, snap peas and strawberries are delicious, but I was absolutely starving. And cranky. My stomach groans were audible and quite hard to ignore while I was in meetings. That’s when I decided to start adding in avocados, eggs, cheese and nuts. I really struggled the decision to add cheese and nuts because of my son’s anaphylactic allergies, so I only eat them when I’m at work and won’t be home for a few hours – hence my tendency to eat more eggs.

The thing about hard-boiled eggs is that, while they may be tasty and full of protein, they can be a real pain in the rear to peel. Particularly when you’re short on time and eating over a keyboard, which is pretty much my daily routine. I’ve ended up with egg shells not only on the floor, but in between my keyboard keys and all over my desk. (You can only imagine how it smells if you don’t discover it quickly.) Fortunately, a friend of mine recently told me how to make the perfect hard-boiled egg in our Instant Pot – one that peels easily and is the perfect density. And it’s as easy can be! Curious? Here’s your How-to!

1. Place a wire rack or steamer tray at the bottom of your Instant Pot.
2. Add 1.5 cups of water.
3. Set Instant Pot to cook for 6 minutes
4. Allow the steam to quick release
5. Place the eggs into an ice bath
6. Drain the water and place in the fridge

The best thing about making a bunch of hard-boiled eggs (aside from how they peel perfectly) is that they can keep in the fridge for up to a week so you can make them ahead of time for your lunches. (Don’t believe me on how long they’ll keep? Read this handy fact sheet from the FDA!)

I hope you enjoy your perfect eggs. Leave me a comment and let me know how yours turn out!

– Holly

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?

Happy Planner yellow cover

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.

2018 Powersheets Word of the Year

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.

Powersheets Goal Planner Cover

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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.

Powersheets Goal Planner Tending List

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!

– Holly

 

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.

– Holly

I can almost smell it. The rich scent of the leather…  The softness of the cover… The thickness of the pages…  Sorting through the images I can’t help but imagine what the final product will look like…  Imagine the excitement of the couple as they open their heirloom album for the first time…  Think about how much they’ll enjoy it as they flip through the pages as time goes by.

Designing albums has always been fun, but lately I can’t help but get a little… emotional about it. I may not be shooting weddings (for now) but the art and business of photography is still alive and well in my soul. The other day I had a couple from a few years ago contact me and tell me how their wedding album was “their most treasured possession” and how it’s sat on their coffee table for others to enjoy.  Their photos are special. Treasured.

As I’ve been working on Andrea & Daniel’s wedding album I can’t help but think of what the other couple said or how much their album meant. THAT is one of the things I love most about photography. How the little moments, documented the right way, become more than just a memory. They become a reminder of the sacredness and joy of a day that went by all too quickly.  Another thing I love to do is share some of my favorite images of those sacred moments.  It’s something that I neglected to do for a while because I was so busy shooting and then became ill, but now that things are slowing down (hopefully) I wanted to share a few with you.

Andrea and Daniel are a wonderful couple with lots of love and spunk – my favorite type of people. I can’t wait to hear from them years from now, with stories of how much their wedding photos have continued to remind them of the love and laughter they shared on their wedding day. Here is a selection of special moments from their day.

– Holly

(Scroll down for a list of wedding vendors)

 

Thank you to the amazing vendors that helped make this special day a success!

Ceremony & Reception location: Rosemary Beach Town Hall

Wedding Coordinator: Savoir Faire Weddings, Stefanie Tate

Florist: Celestine’s Special Occasions

Cake Artist: Sweet for Sirten

Officiant: Pastor Samuel Delaney

Makeup & Hair: Lanna Bloodworth

Music: Lucky Town

Dress: Augusta Jones

Ring Designer: Southeastern Jewelers; Birmingham, AL

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!

– Holly