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I’m going to be completely honest and tell you that I have a jam packed schedule. When friends ask if I want to “hang out”, I often have to pull out my planner and see when I’m free. Spontaneous friend time rarely occurs in my life because I am an overplanner…yes, I know it’s a problem. I’m totally aware and I’m working on it!

But what I love about THIS lady here, is that she is totally aware of my crazy overplanning habits and will set aside time to ask me when we can have a friend date. She busts out her planner and instantly writes down whatever available date I have open in her schedule, and reserves it for friend time! #bestfriendgoalsmet

So, why am I sharing all this with you?

Because…

One of my personal goals this December is to tell 25 people (one each day) why I am grateful for them! I’m not going to post too many of these here because lots of them are very personal (plus I don’t want people to know they’re coming), but I wanted to share today’s gratefulgram with you! I hope this encourages you to take some time out of your day to be grateful for someone in your life, AND to TELL them why you’re grateful for them.

Today I’m grateful for my sweet friend Michelle! This woman right here is pretty amazing. I hope you all have a Michelle in your life. When I first met Michelle I wasn’t so sure about her. She’s pretty loud, sassy, and intense; but behind all that is an incredibly soft, sweet, and caring friend. Michelle and I met in 2015 at the start of graduate school at The University of Georgia, and goodness it’s been a ride.

I would have never expected it, but I have made a lifetime friend here in Georgia. I had prayed my whole life that I would have deep meaningful friendships and that I would create lifelong friendships. I didn’t think it was possible, but I’ve found something special with Michelle and I’m forever thankful for what we have.

So, today I want to list out 10 reasons why I’m grateful for this woman and our friendship:

  1. We’re super honest with each other. Maybe too honest, but I think that’s good!
  2. She understands all my weird silly habits and usually will do them too! Well, most of them…
  3. She is smart, beautiful, and funny. She embraces who she is so well! I admire how talented she is and how generous she is with her gifts.
  4. We take time each month to spend some time alone. Our friendship is so important to us, we always ensure that we leave time for it. Usually we go on a ‘hike’ once a month and eat breakfast so we get some time outside.
  5. She leaves me surprises all the time. Sometimes it’s irritating sticky notes all over my work desk, and sometimes it’s flowers. Regardless of what it is, I love it!
  6. She always makes sure I am emotionally okay and sticks up for me in tough situations.
  7. She loves Mr. Peabody and treats him like her own dog. She is always taking him for walks and playing with him.
  8. She would do anything for me…including modeling! We drove out of our way to take the photo you see here. She tolerates my crazy ideas, like  driving to old church ruins for a photo shoot, and I’m so thankful for that.
  9. She treats me like family and loves me so well. I’m pretty sure we can’t get rid of each other at this point no matter how mad we are at each other.
  10. She smiles at me always in every kind of circumstance we go through. It’s weird sometimes, but who says weird is bad?!?! 😉

When I list out all the reasons I am grateful for someone, it helps me realize what a valuable relationship we have. I’m a strong believer in verbalizing what you are grateful for. Strong relationships don’t just happen. By taking the time to invest in your relationships and be grateful for the people in your life, you will start to realize what great people you have in your life.

Take some time this month and tell people in your life WHY you are grateful for them. You may assume that they know that you appreciate and love them, and that might be true. But everyone loves to hear kind words and remember that you’re thinking about them.

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Here we are again friends…it’s Monday! BUT this Monday starts week 6 of the #contentmentchallenge, and that means we’re about half way through our challenge!

YOU’VE ALMOST MADE IT!

Remember, this month is all about Gratitude. Last week we made an active effort to focus on what we DO have, and not on the lack.

How did last week go? Did you set aside time in your schedule to do this? I know it sounds silly, but setting aside the time really does help!

I tend to focus on my gratitude list at the end of each day when I’m laying in bed. If you’re having a hard time actively focusing on what you do have, set aside a specific time to practice this exercise. I like doing this right before bed because it helps me go to bed with lots of positive thoughts.

WEEK 6 CHALLENGES

  • Give a compliment to at least one person every day this week. Instead of keeping all the positive thoughts in your head, share them! Instead of thinking that Sarah looks beautiful in that skirt, tell her!
  • Vow to not complain, gossip, or criticize for a week. This will be hard at first, but gets easier with time. If you slip up, recognize it, and move forward! Take note of how much energy you are spending on negative thoughts. I’ll be the first to admit…this is a hard challenge for me, and I’m not proud of that.

Don’t forget to share your journey online using the #contentmentchallenge. I’d love to hear about your journey.

P.S. – Take some time to celebrate this week! You’ve made so much progress these past 6 weeks! How are you going to celebrate!?!?!!

Details about this beautiful photo:

Photography @amandaoliviaphoto | Host @BelleLumiereMagazine | Stylist @eventshelddear | Location @richwoodontheriver 

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It’s almost November friends! While I’m not a fan of cold weather, I do love the holidays that surround it. The start of November means thanksgiving is right around the corner, which happens to align perfectly with our contentment theme this month: Gratitude

Take some time before this new month starts to assess how October went for you. Be honest with yourself. What was challenging? What was rewarding? How did it feel to give away some clothes? How did it feel to spend more intentional time with the people you love?

I’ll be honest with you on how my October went:

  • It was hard. It was a busy month for me, so it was difficult to set aside intentional time for myself. I’ll be honest I didn’t set aside quiet time every single morning like I wanted to. I didn’t follow my rule of no phones in bed this month. I need to reassess how I prioritize my intentional time.
  • I didn’t write down what I was grateful for EVERY day. I need to set aside a specific time to do this.
  • I did clean out my closet! Success!
  • I did send notes and gifts to some family and friends letting them know I appreciate them.
  • I did unenroll myself in lots of emails! This was great for me to look at a decluttered inbox each day.
  • I have thought of practical ways to simplify my life and I plan to implement them this month.
  • I didn’t spend money on things I didn’t NEED! I count this as a huge win!

Now that we’ve assessed how October went, lets move on! Count your wins and recognize your losses. We are starting a fresh month! Remember this process is not about being perfect, but about working towards a life dedicated to contentment.

WEEK 5 CHALLENGES:

  • Stop focusing on the lack in your life. Don’t focus on what you “don’t have”, instead focus on what you “do have”. If we are constantly focusing on what we don’t have, it is difficult for us to be content. How can we feel fulfilled if we’re always focusing on lack?
  • Make room in your thoughts and in your heart this week for contentment. When you catch yourself thinking of what you don’t have focus instead on what you have that gives you satisfaction. When do you often focus on lack the most? Is it in certain situations, certain places, or at certain times of the day? Recognize your patterns. See what you can do to break these patterns so you don’t focus on the “lack”.

Don’t forget to share your journey online using the #contentmentchallenge. I’d love to see how your journey is going and know where you’re at at the start of our second month!

Happy (almost) November Friends!

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Happy Monday Friends!

Today starts week 3 of the contentment challenge! If you’re just joining us, be sure to read about weeks 1 and 2!

Before we go on to week 3 be sure to take a minute to think about your successes and challenges this past week. Have you found more time to implement life giving activities/moments into your days? Have you had a chance to go through your closet and clean out the clutter? I’m still working on this one myself!

If you haven’t taken the time to go through your closet, schedule it into your week! Literally WRITE IT IN YOUR SCHEDULE! Tell someone about it so you can be held accountable to do this! This is such an important step to getting rid of all the excess in life. Bonus: If you have the time, go through your jewelry box and get rid of jewelry you don’t wear or all those earrings who’ve lost pairs. This has been so great for me!

Remember, the goal is to live in a state of satisfaction wherever you may be in this season of life. What contentment looks like to you may be different than your neighbor or your spouse. Remind yourself what a content life looks like for YOU!

Are you currently in a state of satisfaction in your life? If not, take some time to evaluate what contentment looks like for you. What can you change to be more content? 

WEEK 3 CHALLENGES

  • Keep up with your journaling and fill your time with activities that bring you joy. This helps me look back and see how I’m progressing day by day!
  • Start writing down 5 things you are grateful for every day. Recognizing all that you have to be grateful for helps set your mood for the day. I recommend doing this before you go to bed. I love doing this and it helps me go back through my day and realize all the good I have in my life.
  • It’s time to now donate all those clothes you’ve gone through! Find a charity or organization that you support and take your items there.
  • Think about PRACTICAL ways you can simplify your every day. How can you live a simpler life?

How is the #contentmentchallenge going for you? I’d love to hear about your experiences! I am so excited to have you along this journey with me!

Happy (late) Monday!

We’ve officially completed week one of the contentment challenge. I’m already proud of you. This first week was hard!

As you wrap up your first week and start your second take a minute to think about your challenges and successes. What has been hard for you? What has been easy? Have you implemented something good and life giving into your schedule? Have you taken a moment to start going through your closet and declutter? What do you need to change? 

As you begin this week, I encourage you to take a moment to be honest with yourself and figure out what is and isn’t working for you. Then regroup!

Remind yourself why you’re doing this. What is your ‘why’ behind this challenge?

My why –  I want to spend my days intentionally with those I love and get rid of the fluff. I want to save financially for the most important things in life. I want to be content with where I am in this season of life.

Write down your ‘why’ on a sticky note and leave it somewhere you can see each day to remind yourself what is truly important. This sounds silly, but it works!

Week 2 Challenges:

  • Keep up with your journaling and fill your time with activities that bring you joy.
  • Unsubscribe from all those emails you get that tempt you to shop or are cluttering up your life! That’s right…scroll down to the bottom and get those emails out of your inbox! Unroll.Me is a wonderful service that can help you with this!
  • Take intentional time out of your day to spend it with those you love. Put ALL your screens away and have some face time with your people. Life is meant to be spent with people, not screens.
  • If you haven’t gone through your closet yet, just devote 30 minutes this week to going through a section to get you started. Take small steps!

How has your first week gone? I’d love to hear how it’s going! Also, don’t forget to leave some encouragement on social media using #contentmentchallenge . I’ll be back next Monday with more challenges and updates.

Happy October Friends! Today marks the start of the #contentmentchallenge .

If you’ve never heard of the contentment challenge, read my background posts about it here and here. If you feel connected to this idea I encourage you to join me. I’d love to have you by my side on this journey!

If you’re like me, you’re excited to be starting this challenge, but know that these next 3 months will be filled with struggles. But all good things grow through the dirt. So let’s dig in!

Month One – Generosity

Challenge

Clean out your closet and give away your excess clothes. 

I know you have a closet full of clothes, many that don’t even get touched. I know I have clothes I don’t feel confident in, don’t fit right, or I’ve been saving for a ‘just in case’ situation. I can’t tell you the last time I wore any of those clothes. Instead what I do is wear my favorite outfits over and over again. So why not be generous and give away what I’m not using?

It’s fulfilling to replace your need for materialism and consumerism with generosity.

This month go through your clothes. What can you afford to give away? Donate your items to an organization you care about and support.

Remember that contentment is internal. You can be content with or without stuff. Consuming more will not make you more content. However, generosity is a fulfilling gesture.

Try a new activity

I encourage you to fill your time spent shopping or participating in consuming activities with a new fulfilling activity. Think about the following when picking activities to fill your time with:

What will enrich your life? 

What will help you build healthy habits?

What will bring you true joy and fulfillment? 

  • I’m going to replace consuming activities with walking Mr. Peabody around the neighborhood or journaling. These two activities bring me so much joy, and I don’t do them nearly enough. I often find that when I slow down and go for walks with #peabodythewheaten , all the ‘problems’ in my life start to feel small. Journaling helps me think through my current season of life and understand my true priorities.

Journal

Be sure to document your challenges and victories! You don’t need to write a novel, but it’s important to understand where you are in your journey and track growth throughout these months.

As you go through your challenge please use the hashtag #contentmentchallenge to share your story with others and see past resources others have shared.

I’ll be back next Monday with an update and a few new prompts.

Are you joining me and completing your own contentment challenge? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Let me know the new actives your trying and how your closet clean out goes.

P.S. – The Minimalists have useful and short posts on consumerism and another on contentment! Check them out!

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Writing a post talking about my contentment issues was hard. It’s never easy to admit when your heart is not in the right place. But after going through so many seasons of frustration with myself I’m glad to be sharing this journey with you all. I think there is great value in being open with where you are.

If you missed my last two posts be sure to check them out before reading todays! You can find them here and here!

I think some of you may struggle more with contentment of ‘things’. If so I think many of Nancy Ray‘s guidelines below will be helpful for you! If you’re like me and have discontentment with what I like to call your ‘Work = Worth’ problem, I have things added in for you too!

I do think there is value in getting rid of physical clutter and addictions to  material things when trying to clear your mind and be in a more content state, so I’m sticking with Nancy’s guidelines as well. However, I’ve added in a few more  guidelines to personalize this for the things I struggle with most.

Here are the Guidelines:

  • Prepare – For the next 5 days (starting on October 1st) do your homework! Prepare your heart and think about what you’d like to get out of this challenge. What would a content state look like to you? For my friends who struggle with shopping, organize your closet and make any necessary purchases that you might need during these next 3 months. It’s time to give up unnecessary shopping!

 

 

  • Journal – Writing out where you are during this process can be helpful! There are several questions I want to think about during this period: 1) How can you balance patience and ambition with yourself (especially in regards to work)? 2) What practices do you do to strengthen your worth outside of work? 3) How do you set boundaries with yourself and others so you be sure to put the right things first?

 

  • Minimalism – Start reading and understanding how to implement a state of minimalism. This goes for both the clutter of ‘things’ in your life, but also mental clutter. Make space to spend and enjoy time with those around you. I think this will be an incredibly helpful resource. This will be a journey. 🙂

 

  • Be Gracious – Gifts are okay! It’s okay to buy others gifts! It would be so hard to not to buy gifts during this period since we’ll be doing this challenge during holiday season. If someone gives you a gift also receive it graciously. You don’t want to be rude during this challenge, you instead are just taking the time to understand more about yourself.

 

  • Use Your Common Sense Folks – Necessities are okay! If you drop and break your glasses, of course go get a new pair! Just don’t start justifying new purchases for items you already have that are perfectly fine to use.

 

  • Try New Things – Actively pursue something that replaces your tendency to buy stuff/or to not be content. Begin thinking about something you love or a hobby you’ve always wanted to do, and put the steps in place to actually do it.

 

  • Consider Your Habits – What are some bad habits that you need to break? One example: Eating out! If eating out is something you do because you’re rushing around and not taking the time to prepare meals, consider giving up eating out for this season. Instead take some time to slow down and prepare meals at home.

 

Each month will have a theme with different thought prompts and an activity you will be challenged to participate in. I’ll be sure to post these on the 1st of October, November, and December. Posts of my struggles and encouragement will be sprinkled in along the way!

Share your journey using the hashtag #contentmentchallenge ! Feel free to share both your victories and struggles along the way.

I hope you’ll join me! More soon on preparing before the #contentmentchallenge !

P.S. – The original Contentment Challenge was designed by Nancy Ray and you can check her’s out here! Most of these guidelines have come from her.

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He who is not contented with what he has will not be contented with what he does not have.

– Socrates

“Showing up correct”, (as my friend Michelle likes to say) is hard HARD. Showing up honest and vulnerable is difficult. It’s possible some people won’t relate to this (hey…those aren’t my people anyways 😉 ), but I think it’s more likely that many people will identify with where I am.

I’m. exhausted.

Not physically, but mentally.

Living in a world full of ‘more’ is tiring. I feel like in all my worlds the ‘more’ you have the better. The more money. The bigger the house. The nicer the car. The better the camera. The cuter the clothes. I think you get the picture…

While spending money hasn’t been the biggest challenge for me (I’m not worried about keeping up with the Joneses most of the time), I still get feelings of inadequacy on the regular. Being happy and content with where I am is HARD for me to do. Really. Hard.

Am I working hard enough?

Maybe if I just work harder that will get me to where I need to be?

Am I doing enough to have a successful career?

Maybe if I am more organized I’ll be more efficient with my time? 

Am I even good at this? Should I be doing something else? 

Why didn’t that client book me?

Is my boss happy with my progress?

How can I possibly fit everything I NEED to do into today AND do it well? 

Do you ever say any of these things to yourself? Because I do on the regular…

You see, I’m super type A and I love goals. I wrote yesterday all about my crazy internal dialogue. Don’t pretend like you don’t have them…

I am constantly pushing myself to the limits. I always want to learn more, take on new challenges, and improve who I am. This is a good thing. This is one of my biggest strengths, and I’m thankful for that. But this is also one of my biggest weaknesses. This can be debilitating at times.

Any of my Type A friends feel me on this one?!?!

This pushing myself to the limits sort of person that I am can be incredibly frustrating for me at times. About once a month I have a moment where I feel utterly in a daze and get irritated that I get myself into this place. WHAT AM I DOING?!?!

When I take a step back, I also realize this is hard for those I’m closest to. Trust me, sitting at a table alone writing ‘just one more blog post’ while your partner watches a movie alone is not fun. Hanging out with your friends, but being consumed by your own thoughts is tiring. Being so caught up in your own head thinking of your To Do lists to the point where you can’t sleep is not fun. Getting sick and having your stress amplify your autoimmune disease is not good. I’m not proud of this list.

This is not a good place to be in, and I know it.

What does this all come down to???? I am not content.

The idea of contentment is hard. Being content where you are. Being content with what you have. Being content with your heart. Being content with your progress. This is a struggle.

The idea of being content is difficult for me (as you’ve surely picked up by now). I’m not sure that I’ve ever really felt content with where I am in life. Ever. Yes…I just said that. So…

I think now more than ever it’s time to start living a path of contentment.

One of the most inspiring women I know created a little thing called The Contentment Challenge (P.S. – I recommend checking out her guidelines and journey through this process. It’s truly inspiring.).

The Contentment Challenge

(as written by Nancy Ray):

I will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and “stuff” for 3 months to focus on my heart and min on the root of true contentment. I will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace my addiction to material things.

While Nancy‘s focus is mostly on giving up shopping for material things, which I also intend to do, I would like to focus more on growing a content mind (since this is my biggest problem).

As I start this challenge, I’m preparing my heart and really thinking about what a content heart looks like to me.

If this is something you struggle with (material things or mentally), I encourage you to check out The Contentment Challenge and think about if this is something you could benefit from.

Who’s with me?!?! I’d love for you to join me in doing my version of The Contentment Challenge, or Nancy’s, or your own!

Each day this week, instead of focusing on all the pretty of the photography world,  I’d like to focus on being content and setting up The Contentment Challenge to start on October 1st! Each day I’ll leave a series of questions or notes that I’m thinking about before I start this challenge next month!

Sunday:

What does contentment mean to you?

Are you content where you are, right now? 

Does your happiness lie in a goal you are hoping to achieve?

What does a content life look like? 

Where do you find yourself today, at the start of this challenge?

I feel like good (and hard) things are ahead of us y’all!

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To Dos:

  • Prepare for STEM and Biology lessons.
  • Gather all supplies needed for the lessons.
  • Make monthly syllabi for both classes
  • Send out anniversary gallery
  • Take Mr. Peabody on a walk
  • Feed and expand experimental flies (I work in a lab 🙂 )
  • Write my methods section for a paper
  • Do laundry
  • Shoot Engagement session
  • Visit studio and take some sample photos for advertising
  • Answer emails
  • Analyze cell data
  • Call doctor -> transfer paperwork to new doctor
  • Write and publish a blog post
  • Get blog posts organized
  • Go grocery shopping
  • And the list goes on…and on…and on…

 

Does anyone else have To Do lists like this? Does anyone else have days that feel scattered and full like this? I hope the answer is ‘Yes’, because this is how every day of my life looks. Usually this is fine (actually more than fine, great!), but every once in a while I get stuck.

I get caught up in the busyness of life. I get caught up in the To Do lists, and I start to care more about getting those check marks done ( because I said I would do them) instead of slowing down and making sure that my personal health and relationships are taken care of first.

Every once in a while it’s like I look up from my To Do list and realize that I haven’t checked in with everyone in my life. Where did the time go? I haven’t called my mom or dad or anyone in weeks!

It’s at this point in time that I usually get frustrated with myself. Frustrated that I haven’t been prioritizing the important things (health and relationships).

It’s in these moments that I realize that I can’t do it all well. It’s in these moments that I need to take a second look at that list and decide what HAS to get done, and what HAS to get done NOW. Usually almost everything can wait.

Because it’s more important that I do my relationships well. Always.

It’s time I start to add intentional time for my relationships on my To Do list. I need to block out sections of time for friends and family (oh, and me!)!

So this Saturday I’m going to give myself a little grace. I’m leaving my To Do list behind, and I’m going to spend quality time with my best friend exploring little towns in Georgia. It’s time we actually go somewhere instead of catching up behind the screens of our computers. It’s time we actually look at each other and find out how the other is really doing. Relationships matter more than my cluttered planner full of To Dos, and they always will. I think this is the best way to start my Saturday.

Who are you spending time with today? If your plate is full, at least take a few moments to look up and spend time with some of your favorite people.

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August is wrapping up and I’m already starting to think of all the great things September has in store! I often get so excited about the month ahead that I forget to slow down and reflect on what went well and what I’m grateful for in my current month. So before I get too ahead of myself….

August Gratefuls

  • Starting dance again with my wonderful Modern Pin-ups! These ladies make me feel so loved and so encouraged. I have felt a little empty without them all summer, so I’m glad to be back with them! My friend Logan wrote a beautiful post recently about Athens and this great community of women. You should check it out! Made me tear up for sure. These are my women!
  • I took a truly relaxing vacation with my best friend where I learned more about the value of rest. I’m so grateful for those 5 sweet days of being unconnected.
  • Starting the Fall semester! While the school year does become busy and hectic, I am thankful to be in such an awesome program where I get to study what I love.
  • Having an encouraging family support system through challenging health trials. They’re always there when I need them.
  • A comfortable, loving, and encouraging home life. What more could a girl ask for! 😉
  • Some truly cool photo opportunities with some lovely women in Atlanta…can’t wait to share more soon!
  • Taking the time to slow down and spend quality time with some new and old friends!
  • Having the opportunity to teach middle school kids about biology. They’re so excited to learn and I’m pumped to share some cool science with them.

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