What do you do for fun? #ummpinterest

3 minute read, Blog, Gentle Living, Healthy Habits

“What do you do like to do for fun?” she asked me.

“Ummm…drink wine with my friends and…Pinterest?” I replied.

Oh man. It was that simple question that got me thinking…what DO I like to do for fun?? Because, seriously? “Pinterest” is an absolutely horrific answer.

But to be honest, I was just so damn tired and burnt out that all I really wanted to do when I got a moment to get bored, was veg out and scroll through my phone.

Yikes.

Since then I’ve identified that I want to spend more time learning photography, because I LOVE it. I also want to spend as much time as possible outside, exploring new places and hiking/walking/meandering. I want to get back into yoga and read interesting books and find hidden gems in the Northeast US (of which, there are MANY). I love hanging out at farms (I’ll say it’s for the kids, but really I just love horses…and cows and sheep and goats haha) and taking in anything that feels rustic and old. US & International adventure travel are on my “goal” list and I want to get more intentional about making some actual plans happen.

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So, what do YOU like to do for fun?

Where does your curiosity lie? What do you find yourself thinking about when you’re supposed to be focusing on other stuff? If there were no restrictions on looking stupid or shirking responsibility, what would you spend your time doing?

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I found out that you kind of owe it to yourself to ask these questions. It makes work, parenting and weekends way more interesting when you’re making plans to do stuff that’s interesting to you. Go figure.

Make life intentional. Try to not just simply survive and scroll.

Trust me. It’s way more fun this way.

Out of Office #PTO

3 minute read, Blog, Gentle Living, Healthy Habits

When was the last time you took a vacation day JUST BECAUSE?

In 10+ years working full-time, I don’t think I had ever done it.

And then I DID…and it was NICE!

As a full-time, working parent, it’s not often that I get even a minute to do something that isn’t required of me. Even the fun stuff requires some level of preparation and accommodation of other people’s needs.

So I tapped out for a day.

I put up my OOO. I went to a yoga class, got a pedicure and wandered around quaint little Northeast towns with my camera, popping into shops and making small talk with the chatty store owners.

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I met a lady who ran an ethical, fair trade, apparel shop and knew the back story of absolutely every item in the place: who had made it, where it came from and why it was special.

I met another lady who owned an absolutely TINY, cramped antique shop. Packed to the gills with things she had sourced from her yearly travels around the world, as well as some really lovely handmade lamps (her craft). She tells me, “all the young guys are wearing cuff links again, so I make sure to grab a ton of those when I find them.”

At one point, I was sitting in a random little coffee shop, steaming cup of tea in front of me and a fresh pressed panini grilled cheese on its way. The building is historic and the original wood floor was scuffed up with the travels of so many feet in so many years.

The furniture was perfectly mismatched and the old, wavy windows looked out onto the river that rushed under a lovely little bridge.

Across the room from me is a group of about 7 old ladies playing scrabble and whooping it up, like they had been meeting here for years and wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was all just so damn…charming.

 

So basically, this is me encouraging everyone who reads this to tap out every once in a while. Intentionally plan out a day that you can just wander around and follow your curiosity. Talk to the other random, delightful people that inhabit this world and take a moment to gently move around.

Step lightly, and without desperately achieving something for a change.

There’s plenty of time for that another day.

 

Golden Hour #notjustforphotography

Blog, Gentle Living

As a photographer, I’m slightly obsessed with light. There’s a term called the “golden hour,” which is the hour or so in the morning just after sunrise and in the evening just before sunset, when the sunlight falls juuuuuust right for magical pictures.

It also happens to be a wonderful, gentle time to just use your eyeballs and soak in the magic of the present moment. Look around. Describe what you see (either in your head or write it down). It’s a sweet little practice in mindfulness and gratitude.

Notice the sounds, the textures, the smells. The tiny little things that strike you as lovely…

I’ll go first.

An ode to the morning golden hour:

I sit here in the morning.

At my little table.

Facing East.

Where the sun makes her daily entrance.

You can the see the shimmer on the horizon first. A sort of matte glow most days.

The birds feel it too, and start a call and response chant to bring forth the day.

As I sit here and write, the sun herself peeks over the horizon and dumps a bucket of golden light through the window. 

It drenches my face, the floor, the curtains.

The light filters through the fresh flowers & the tiny mint plant in front of me. 

The smell of coffee provides the backdrop, and the beams of golden sun bring the steam from my mug into sharp relief. Tiny little tendrils of delicious swirls.

I hear the light little footsteps that mean my oldest baby is awake and tentatively making his way down the hallway, hoping I’m awake to greet him.

I meet him halfway and pick him up into a hug, then accompany him to the couch where we sit in silence for a minute; in a sort of half-hug.

“I love you, sweet boy,” I tell him. 

This is the hour before responsibility starts. The hour of stillness, golden light and sweet hugs.

But you’re like, really pretty #posebetter

3 minute read, Blog

Ok, guys & gals. Did you know that YOU are photogenic? Yup, seriously! What if I told you it’s totally not your actual face or body that’s making you cringe when you see pictures of yourself? It’s the fact that your face or body looks different than you expect it to, plus we are our own worst critic. Luckily, there are some tried and true methods you can employ for your next photo-op that will make you go, “Yep, I’m one SEXY THANG.”

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind the next time someone waves a camera in your face:

1. Know your good side

Look at some pics of yourself. I’m guessing your feelings towards pictures of yourself falls in 1 of 2 camps: “why TF does my face look like that??” OR “definitely gonna post that sh!t.”

I’m also guessing that in the pictures that DON’T make you want to run away and cry, your head is angled (even slightly) towards the camera in a consistent way. Aka your good side is facing the camera.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure this out about myself. Take a look at the below…

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Cute Pic! Baaaad side!

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Cute Pic! Good side!

These were taken on the same day (by a wonderful photographer friend I might add). And, I mean adorable children make any pic awesome, but the black & white pic is what I would consider my “bad side.” My face and body just don’t look right in my opinion. The second pic is what I would consider my “good side.” I just feel like I look more like myself.

If you can make sure that your “good side” is angled towards the camera (and of you can’t get on that side of the group, turn your face in the right direction), you will be well on your way to being “photogenic,” my friend.

And by the way I keep putting “good side” in quotes because this is VERY personal and subjective. It’s just about what you feel.

2. Don’t press your limbs up against your body

Hanging your arms limply at your sides WILL press even the most toned biceps outwards and make you look bigger than you really are. Popping a hand up on your hip can work wonders, as can simply pulling your elbows back and creating a gap between your arm your body.

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Good side? Check. Arm out? Check. Pic usable? Check.

Similarly, whatever is closest to the camera will look bigger (and conversely, whatever is further away will look smaller). So if you lean forward a little bit with your upper body, the rest of you will look smaller.

3. Posturrrrre

Chin up, buttercup! It’s tempting to pull your face back when you’re genuinely smiling, but try to keep your chin away from your neck, if possible.

And stand up straight! How, you ask? Pull your shoulder blades in towards each other and make space between your ears & shoulders.

4. Smile with your eyes

Yeah. Tyra Banks said this so it must be legit #projectrunway4life. But seriously, if you can figure this one out, you’ll avoid looking like a deer in headlights. When you paste a smile on your mouth, but the smile doesn’t reach your eyes, you end up looking a little fake / angry / crazy. Just a little crinkle around the eyes goes a long way to capturing genuine looking smiles.

5. Figure out 2-3 go-to poses, incorporating the tips above

Related to the above tips, if you figure out a few go-to poses for common pic situations, you’re way less likely to be unpleasantly surprised by how you look. Here are some common ones to figure out:

  • Groups: Stand on the correct side (see tip 1). If you can’t stand on that side, angle your “good side” at the camera. If you’re at the end, pop that hand up on your hip. It also helps to stagger your legs (i.e. put one slightly in front of the other).
  • Selfies: Ditto above.
  • Photo of just you: Angle your body ever so slightly so your good side is facing the camera, then stand up straight, shoulders back. Don’t forget you have arms. Pull them away from your body (even slightly). Chin out a little bit.

Overdoing any of these postures will look weird and unnatural. Subtly is the ticket. Either try them out in the moment and tweak based on the resulting pictures, or be super cool and try it out in a mirror.

See! You ARE photogenic! Now go do your little turn on the catwalk, you beautiful thang!

Meditation (#notmyjam)

Blog

I kinda hate meditation. Well, to be more specific, I guess I hate seated meditation. It makes me super cranky for the rest of the day. And hot. And while that probably means I’m an EXTRA good candidate for it, I just can’t.

Enter, photography. I realized the other day, that photography is actually a sort of meditation. You must focus on what’s in front of you. You must pay attention! Like, real, intense attention to the here and now. Don’t look away! Don’t think about your to-do list. You might miss a moment! That sunset? Gone in 5 minutes. Those sweet, smiling, angelic children? Fighting again in 2 minutes flat.

“Everything looks different with a camera in your hand” – My cool uncle

And how true that is! There are beautiful things to capture all around, you just have to pay attention. Look at the geometry of that flower! The joy in your child’s face and their gorgeous lashes (jealous)!! The boats all lined up in the harbor! Literally stop and smell the roses.

With a camera in hand, you are truly HERE. NOW.

My challenge to you: The next time you are out and about, try and take 3 pictures of things that look interesting. That’s it. Going for a walk? Get that iPhone ready. Kids playing with legos? Snap snap snap. Once you set the intention, it’s really hard to stop noticing the beautiful and captivating scenes unfolding all around you.

Now think about what would happen if we set the intention in life to just notice the beauty. To LOOK for the beauty. You may start noticing things you didn’t notice before. Beautiful things. All around you.

This is technically meditation! Well, technically mindfulness, but a form of meditation. Think of it as calming your screeching, jumping monkey mind with less of a “full Nelson” and more of a “giving the monkey a puzzle and a snack” approach.

I’m going to give seated meditation another try. In the meantime I’m going to grab my camera and go for a walk.

Look at the world through the lens of documenting its intrigue. Breathe. Repeat.