Here you'll find a bit of everything! Explore my work, learn about my crazy obsession with goal planning, my fondness of national parks, plus much more! I'm so excited to share this time with you. 


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Hello Sweet Friends! Yesterday I shared some of my intentions for 2018. I’ve been spending my time goal setting in a different way than I have in the past, so I’m excited to make this change in 2018! I’ve been more intentional about setting a strong foundation for my goals going into 2018. I have no doubt great things are coming/happening!

Hop over to yesterday’s post to learn more about the heart behind my January goals.

To start the year off on the right foot, I picked a few of the goals I want to work on in 2018 and made some tangible goals I could reach this month. I’m starting small and integrating new habits slowly to set myself up for success!

January 2018 Goals:


  • Drink 80 oz of water every day
  • Start strength training 1 day a week
  • Go on a 30 minute morning walk with Mr. Peabody 3 times a week
  • Meal prep for lunch (Monday – Friday)
  • Celebrate my Best Friend’s Birthday! Done!
  • Celebrate Mr. Peabody’s Birthday…He’s turning 3!



What are your goals for this month? Please share! I’d love to hear!


Goals, Personal

January 1, 2018

2018 Goals

Happy New Year Friends! I’m so excited for what this new year has in store for us. But before I start sharing all the things I want to accomplish this year, I’d like to share more behind my heart when I’m goal setting, and the process I went through this year to arrive where I am.

I always spend several days to a week in December really thinking about my goals, getting everything down on paper, and brainstorming all the ways I’m going to make these goals happen. I usually end up with this tremendous amount of things to accomplish and am excited about them all. This December I did what I usually do. I took time to sit still with my thoughts and figure out where my time would be best spent in 2018.

This year it was hard. Something was different. I felt a little unsure and unclear about a lot of my ideas. I still feel foggy on many of my big ideas and want to take more time to sit with them. That’s a first! Usually I’m fast to start implementing new things and head full speed at them. This year is going to be different, and that’s good.

As I was goal setting, this quote really stuck with me:

“What you put into you, is what will pour out of you.” – Christine Caine

YES! YES! YES! In the past, I have been so interested in setting good external goals, and there is nothing wrong with that; but I haven’t spent as much time building up myself, my character, and my person. This is the year for that. I want to GROW DEEP instead of growing wide this year.

Knowing this is how I am going to spend 2018 is freeing. It’s freeing to feel that I don’t have to have the whole year mapped out right now. It’s freeing to know that I have big dreams personally and for my business, and it’s OKAY to not fully understand them or share them right now. It’s freeing to see goals written down that have a lot of heart behind them.

My hope for you this year is that you will lean into yourself more and grow deep. Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean all your goals have to be perfect and ready on January 1st. It doesn’t mean you have to understand them yet. I want to be able to CHANGE my goals and PIVOT my focus point if needed and when I’m ready. So today, I’m only going with the goals that I feel clear about in THIS moment. The rest I will sit on, meditate on, and gain clarity on with time.

So, if you feel like you’re in a similar place – don’t think too much about it and don’t pressure yourself! The act of setting goals is just writing down things you WANT to do. It’s setting a platform of intention. It’s about trying new things and breaking out of your comfort zone. It’s OKAY to change them. It’s OKAY to reevaluate and redirect yourself at any point in time.

Each year when I’m goal setting, I look for a theme or a feeling I have about the year and use that to filter my ideas through. So before I share my goals for 2018, I’d like to share my word! 🙂 My word for 2018 is: GROW. I’ll write more about this in a separate post, but lots of my goals and intentions for 2018 are centered around growing.

So, here we go….

Here is my INTENTION and DIRECTION for 2018, and the tangible goals within them:

2018 Goals:


GROW my photography business. Implement ways to establish a legacy driven business full of purpose and passion. I want to support, empower, and uplift women.

  • I’m not entirely sure what all of this will look like this year, but this is my heart behind this business…so we’re going to figure it out. There are still a lot of things I’m sitting on for now. It’s going to be an uncomfortable year. But GROWTH doesn’t have to be comfortable, right!?!!? As of now this looks like:
    1. Hiring a business mentor and coach (Done!)
    2. Grow my email marketing list and figure out how I can serve those on my list
    3. Think outside of the box for advertising. Be okay with getting a little uncomfortable.
    4. Hire 2 interns
    5. Grow and strengthen my relationships within my industry
    6. Read 2 books each month! Readers are Leaders! #aopreads


Improve my health. I want to feel energized, refreshed, alive, and healthy. I want to prioritize and respect myself and my time more.

  • For those of you who don’t know I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2017 and had several surgeries. This threw a bit of kink in my active lifestyle, my mindset, my priorities, and really…everything. I’m always doing too many things (not something I’m proud of),  so I’m need to tackle this issue directly. I’m ready to put myself and my health first. This looks like:
    1. Spending more time outside. Going for walks each day, hiking on the weekends, and visiting more of the National Parks! Spending time outside always leaves me feeling more alive.
    2. Work with a naturopathic doctor.
    3. Meal prep for lunch and dinner during the week.
    4. Make and buy more natural home/cleaning and personal products.
    5. Implement strength training and yoga into my workout routine. I currently dance and run, but I think this will help immensely.
    6. Run another half marathon in a National Park!

Then this last thing fits both into my business and personal life…

Say “NO”. “No” is a complete sentence. I’m going to use it more and stop explaining to everyone WHY I’m saying no.  If something in my life doesn’t directly align with my purpose, my values, and my goals…I’m saying NO!

2018 is going to be a great year! I have a lot of amazing things to accomplish, and I know I can’t implement them all right away. It takes time. And since I have officially written WAY too much…I’ll share my specific January goals tomorrow! I’ll share how I’m starting the year off and where I am focusing my energy first!

Happy New Year Friends!


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?


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.


Y’all it snowed in Georgia today…well, not AT my house…but in the state! This is a rarity for us! It’s finally starting to feel like Winter around here. It’s hard to get in the Christmas sprit when it’s 70 degrees outside, anyone else feel me? And (a little FYI) I have ZERO snow or winter photos because I live in Georgia…so here instead I give you this interesting plant. 😉

Now that it’s WINTER…I’ve been working on making my own Christmas/Winter traditions since I spend most my holidays away from home (my closest family is in Kansas City). For the longest time, I didn’t invest in trying to start any Christmas traditions with myself because I’m not married and I don’t have kids. But I’ve been living on my own and out of college for ~ 7 years…so I think it’s time to start some traditions! Who says you have to be married or have a family to really get into some Christmas traditions?!?!?!

So, I’m excited to share with you my Christmas traditions:

  • Get a REAL tree!
  • Make a Christmas Orange Garland. It’s so easy to do, and it smells amazing!
  • Read each day from my advent book! I love this one! Helps me stay focused on the importance of Christmas.
  • Hide the elf back and forth with my roommate! Yes, we’re adults…
  • Go look for Christmas lights and drink hot chocolate!
  • Take #peabodythewheaten to visit Santa! Yup…I’m that person! Each year Petsmart has a Santa, so I pretty much have no option but to take advantage of this!

Please share what you and your family do! Or just share what you do…you don’t have to be married or have kids to have Christmas traditions! I’d love to know!!! I’m always looking for fun new ways to get in the Christmas spirit!

Photo: Amanda Olivia Photography | Venue & Styling: Cedarwood Weddings | Host: Julie Paisley Photography


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.


Happy Friday Friends!

It’s starting to become a little more like fall here in Georgia, and that means Fall wedding season! Ahhh I can’t wait!

I realized the other day that I have never shared my journey behind starting my photography business. While the whole nitty gritty would take ages to write out (trust me, you don’t want to read that), I thought a Spark Notes version would be fun!

So, how did Amanda Olivia Photography come to be?

I have an aunt who means the world to me. My Aunt Rhonda spent a great deal of time with me growing up, and is quite honestly like a second mother in my life. She made sure I had memorable experiences at every stage of my childhood, and took the time to capture all those memories. My aunt had a camera in her hand my whole life (no exaggeration needed), and I’m so grateful she did! Because of this, I have images to look through with fondness of my youth. Beautiful memories I would never remember otherwise if it weren’t for these prints. So I grew up having a love for photos.

Then in 2005 (back in my high school days!) when I had I had a free period, taking photography seemed like a no brainer. Plus, my best friend Sarah was really into photography and encouraged me to take this course. So, I did!

It. was. awesome.

I learned about all things film! Everything was in film! I learned how to shoot on a little 35mm camera that my aunt let me borrow. I also learned how to develop my own film and make prints. Looking back at this class, I was pretty lucky to have such an awesome film experience. My mom still has images from my high school film class hanging in our home. 🙂

I loved the intentionality behind each shot I took, recognizing that my film was limited and valuable. I loved spending time in the dark room developing my images and seeing them come to life. This was the perfect space for my much needed alone time (my fellow introverts…you feel me?)!

My love for photography didn’t stop there. I continued to take pictures throughout college and beyond. I even asked for a ‘nice’ camera for my college graduation gift. I went to town with that camera! Throughout this time I took pictures for fun, but never thought anything more of it. I instead spent my time focusing on my science (my other love) and figuring out where I wanted to go to graduate school. Taking photos was more of a hobby and something I maintained on the side. I didn’t have a single business intention at the time.

Fast forward to 2014…I got engaged! Spoiler, I’m not married and that’s for the best, but I learned loads about wedding planning (another story for another day!)! Just like every bride-to-be, I was on the hunt for an amazing wedding photographer! Pictures were my ONE non-negotiable….I wanted a talented photographer to capture my day because pictures are that valuable to me. During this wedding planning time, I met the most amazing team of film wedding photographers and was reminded how much I loved taking pictures of others and capturing their memories. I started to wonder why I wasn’t doing this! So, I got back in it!

I picked my film camera back up, and started delving back into my photography world. No joke you guys, when I started taking pictures of people again, I felt an incredible amount of joy. Helping people preserve their legacy is important to me…this was like a palm to the forehead kind of moment! Why did I ever stop taking pictures? This has always been something I love.

I started interning with wedding photographers, taking courses, taking pictures of all kinds of events, getting tons of education, and that led me to where I am today! I couldn’t be happier to be in the position I’m in. Taking photos of beautiful women, sweet couples, mamas, and families makes my heart feel full. I leave every session reminded that I’m doing the right thing and am in this season for a reason. I’m excited to see where this photography journey takes me. All I can say is that I hope it lasts for many many years to come, and that I can help preserve legacies and memories.

Photo taken by my talented friend Marquette! If you’re in Arizona or the Southwest, check her out! She’s amazing y’all!

Keepin’ It Clean Dirty Dance Benefit

Ladies, have you ever been surrounded by a group of women that are continuously positive and loving? Have you ever been totally embraced and welcomed into a group of women without judgement? Have you ever had friends that would drop anything to help you in a time of need? Have you ever sat in a room of women looked around and thought, “THESE are my people!”?

I really hope you have, because women like this are one of the greatest blessings in my life.

I had never met a group of women (and quite frankly didn’t even know it was possible) like this until I moved to Athens, GA. In 2015 I was in search of a dance studio that had adult classes and stumbled upon DanceFx. I didn’t have high expectations because most adult programs I attended in the past have been lackluster at best. But nonetheless, I simply wanted a studio that would allow me to exercise and stretch a few times a week….it seemed like DanceFx would do. Luckily, DanceFx and the community there is nothing like past adult programs I’ve been to.

I stumbled upon a burlesque aerobics class (no it’s not what you think…all clothes are kept on at all times!). I thought it sounded like fun. I nervously entered my first class and a room full of new women, but to my surprise, this group of women instantly welcomed me. We danced and had fun and I started to drive home with a huge smile on my face feeling totally refreshed after each class. So I kept coming back week after week…

2016-2017 Modern Pin-Ups. Image Credit: Eliza Morrill Photography

Before I knew it these lovely ladies let me join The Modern Pin-Ups and I started attending rehearsals and perfecting pieces to perform. I love support, excitement, and joy that brings everyone together before each show. Each performance was so uplifting and empowering. It was unlike any other group I had danced with before. It felt (and continues to feel) amazing to perform with the most positive, beautiful, and life giving women I know!

My dance time quickly turned from just a work out to me finding a community of women that are like family. Today is an exciting exciting Monday for sure! Today we start a new season together. Today I get to meet some new friends and faces and I can’t wait to welcome them into our little family. I know we have an amazing year ahead of us.

I continuously think about how incredibly grateful I am to have stumbled upon the best group of women in Athens (I may be a little biased). They have transformed the way I value my relationships with other women. I’m pretty sure I would go crazy without them!

These women know how to celebrate beauty and friendship in such a genuine way. This group truly breathes ‘community over competition’ and I think everyone needs a group like this.

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday!

P.S. – If you haven’t found your ‘Modern Pin-Ups’ you need to!

P.P.S. – My beautiful friend Logan also wrote a lovely piece on this great group of women that you should check out! Y’all it’s hard to not write about how great these ladies are!

Keepin’ It Clean Dirty Dance Benefit

Y’all I spend countless hours either sitting at a computer, at a microscope, sitting in a lab alone, or driving. I don’t mind one bit because I utilize all that ‘alone’ time to listen to podcasts! I’m always looking for ways to keep learning and podcasts have been wonderful for that. Plus, music tends to make me tired after a while and sometimes audio books are just too long….but podcasts…they’re just right!

I have found some inspiring and some just plain funny podcasts that always brighten my day, so I wanted to share them with you. I hope you can check them out.

My 10 favorite podcasts

Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher – A lifestyle podcast for all you creative ladies out there! You’ll get so many good ideas from this lady.

This American Life – An oldie but a goodie! I’ve been listening to this show for years and continue to love the amazing stories they put out! Ira Glass talks about a variety of stories…you’ll just have to check it out!

Start Up by Gimlet Media –  They interview businesses as they are starting up. Super interesting even if you’re not a business owner!

Gilmore Guys – All my Gilmore Girls fans you’ll love this one! These guys talk about each and every episode of Gilmore Girls. It’s hilarious and will make you feel better any day of the week.

Ted Radio Hour – If you want to feel inspired about anything, this is your show! I often feel more excited about any task after listening to an episode.

The Art of Photography – You know I couldn’t get through this list without having one photography podcast! There is some great information in this one, but it is in video form. Often I just listen, but it does help to sometimes watch it.

Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert – There haven’t been any new episodes in a while, but there is a lot of golden nuggets tucked away in this podcast.

Radio Lab – This is the scientist in me! They talk about a variety of mysteries in science. It’s super fun and it’s not technical at all…so everyone can enjoy this one!

More Perfect – This is made by the same people who make Radio Lab. It’s about the Supreme Court system. I know it doesn’t sound fascinating, but it truly is. Give it a try!

Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! – It’s kind of a gameshow podcast. They quiz people on current events and pop culture. It always helps me stay awake if I’m really dragging…

If you’re a podcast listener please comment below! I’d love to know what your favorites are! I am always on the hunt for great new shows! Also, if you check out one of these podcasts let me know what you think. 🙂

I’ll be honest, I’m really bad at resting. I’m not just saying that. For example, it’s currently Friday night at 8:30 pm and you know what I’m doing….that’s right…writing this blog post and working! But I love it…so it’s hard to stop. My workaholic friends…I know you know what I’m talking about!

My idea of ‘resting’ is having the t.v. on in the background while I work on my computer, or dancing with my girls in the studio for a few hours. That IS (or was) rest to me.

I’ve had numerous people tell me to take more time for myself and relax. I always thought this sounded like a good idea, but I wasn’t sure how to do what they were proposing. I tried yoga (no thank you!)…meditating is not for me. I  tried to sit in silence, but my mind would race.

I was pretty convinced that I just couldn’t rest, that I didn’t really need it….

It wasn’t till I went on this recent vacation to the Bahamas (which is another story for another day) that I learned what it really meant to feel rested. Yup, that’s right…it took me a wapping 29 years to figure out what true rest feels like.

I realized, for me….true rest is being totally disconnected from the world. No internet. No social media. No email. No wifi. It is awesome! There’s nothing I can say to describe what this kind of rest feels like.

I couldn’t (even if I wanted to) be connected to the internet for 5 days, and it was the most refreshing experience. And guess what…when I got back and checked my email….no one really needed anything and everything was okay. Who would have thought!?! 😉

I also got so much time to read, run, and truly relax with no distractions. I don’t think we realize how distracted we are today. For the first few days of vacation I would reach for my phone out of habit. There was nothing I needed to see or do, it was truly just a habit.

I think we could all use a little break from the internet and spend more quality time with those around us. I don’t think it’s possible to be truly rested and be ready for the week when we spend all our waking moments so connected.

Now that I am figuring out what rest looks like to me (I by no means have this all figured out)….I aim to have two totally disconnected weekends each month for the rest of the year. I think that is doable! Who’s with me?

If you want to read more about social media free weekends check out this wonderful post!

Also…for my fellow workaholics out there, how do you rest? What really helps you feel recharged?

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