Welcome to The Contentment Series Podcast, episode number three! Today I'm going solo and talking about the need for a perspective shift. It's highly necessary to live a content life and to see what really matters on a regular basis. "How do I do that?" you ask. By managing perceptions. Let's dig a little deeper today.
"Two men looked through prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars." - Dale Carnegie
Have you heard that quote before? It's a favorite of mine. The man who said it? He was born to live his life in the mud. Poverty. On a ramshackle farm in Missouri. But the mud didn't stick. Instead, he became a well-known author and lecturer on the very subject of self-improvement and communication.
UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS AND HEALING
Jesus did some seemingly weird stuff in the book of Mark. He even spit on his fingers and then proceeded to touch a man's tongue. Gross right? But he didn't need to do that. It's not like Jesus had some ritual or spell he needed to perform in order to help the man to speak. He just wanted to see if this guy could rely on him.
I JUST NEED...
Food. At least that's what the disciples thought. After helping Jesus feed 4000 people with only seven loaves of bread, they started to freak out about the fact that they'd forgotten to bring bread for themselves. Uh. Reality check. You actually need Jesus. So do I. I catch myself saying "I just need..." out loud waaaayyy too often.
HOW TO MANAGE PERCEPTION
Well, first of all, we need to speak what is real. I created an exercise for myself that I think might just benefit you too. Download the "Managing Perceptions" Worksheet here.
The most important thing to remember is that we need Jesus. If our focus is on him, the rest will be taken care of and then some. Remember? There were SEVEN BASKETS of bread left after Jesus fed 4000 people--from just seven little loaves. He can take care of more than our basic needs and the needs of the world. Our problem is, we just can't seem to rely on him first. Let's change that.
Don't forget to leave a review on iTunes! I read them. I really do--and you'll make me want to keep going!
They met in Little Rock, Arkansas--a new city for both of them.
Nick had just begun his C-130 pilot training, and Jules had just moved there for her first nursing job. No friends (minus their new co-workers), no family. No connections. How do you even start meeting people? Both decided to give online dating a shot...but neither expected what would come of it. God knew otherwise!
After chatting for a few weeks, they finally met at what became one of their favorite hang-outs in Little Rock--a little bistro called Dizzy's. After dinner, the enchanting downtown Christmas lights and conversation sparked a romance.
And then Nick's training ended. He was put on orders in Delaware, close to 1,000 miles from Little Rock. To send him off well, Jules made a scrapbook of their relationship and gave it to him just before he moved. In that moment, he knew exactly how he would ask her to be his wife.
God's plan became apparent again when Jules had an opportunity to move to Delaware too. And then on Valentine's Day, after a dinner out with Nick's parents to celebrate his birthday, they went back to Nick's apartment to open his gifts. He turned to Jules, "I have a gift for you."
Odd. They had already exchanged Valentine's day gifts that morning.
He brought out the scrapbook. "I added extra pages in the back to highlight all the things we've done since you made it."
What girl wouldn't have skipped straight to the back?! Jules flipped quickly through the pages, heart pounding. On the last page were the words, "And she said...?"
She turned to him, and he was smiling.
"I have a question to ask you."
Moving down to his knee, he proposed. "Will you marry me?"
Of course the answer was a resounding, "YES!" Now, between episodes of Shark Tank and adventuring to new places, they're planning for a lifetime together.
Nick and Jules, we are thrilled you found each other! What a wonderful story God gave you. We pray his protection and grace over you both during the time Nick is deployed, for a beautiful reunion, and an AMAZING wedding day! December will be here before we know it and we are SO excited!
Meagan and Adam :)
P.S. The Farm at Eagles Ridge makes one stunning backdrop for an engagement session, no?
Craig + Chelsea | White Cliffs of Conoy Engagement Session | Lancaster, State College, PA Wedding Photographers
He walked through the doors of her office. She just happened to be manning the front desk that day. They exchanged smiles as Chelsea escorted Craig and his boss to her employer’s office.
The intention for the visit was a tour and a meeting between the two organizations about how they could work together, but suddenly there was a giant elephant squeezing itself into the meeting too.
Recognizing that Craig was a stand-up guy, and learning that he was single, Chelsea's boss announced that Chelsea was single as well. Elephant acknowledged and dismissed.
Craig didn't leave and forget that day either. A short time later, they went on their first date and the adventures began.
One adventure in particular involved a long hike in late fall on the Mid-State trail in Rothrock State Forest. By the end of the trail, the sun began to set. With the colors of fall beyond them in a gorgeous view of the valley, Craig convinced Chelsea to take a few photos without her neon purple headband despite the intense chill in the air. While she attempted to put the headband back on, she spotted a dark figure lurking in the brush, and Craig simultaneously yanked the headband out of her hand to "wipe his nose." She turned to him, astonished, confused, and a bit concerned about that...bear? creeper?...skulking in the woods. But he was down on one knee. Astonished didn't begin to cover the emotions she was feeling now.
"Will you be my only?"
Their phrase. Craig's photographer friend, "the bear," snapping photos from the woods. This was REAL.
Craig and Chelsea, you are kindred spirits. Thanks for sharing our love of adventure and sharing your story with us. We are SO excited for the wedding. It's going to be epic. ;)
Meagan and Adam :)
He was the sports editor. She was a metro reporter.
Their desks were just a few spaces apart at the office of Penn State's student newspaper, The Daily Collegian. Naturally, that led to conversations, G-chats, and hanging out at office parties. Then, Kevin got up the nerve to ask Mandy to watch "V for Vendetta" at his apartment one night before winter break. A friendship sparked a romance and after dating through the remainder of their college years, they moved to Long Island for work.
An apartment and a little ball of yellow fur later, Mandy had to work on a Saturday. Kevin had plans of his own. He ran a special errand to the jeweler, the florist, and the grocery store. Putting his skills to the test, he made a nice dinner and set up the house for Mandy arrive home to. The doorknob jiggled, and that little ball of yellow puppy fur (named Maggie) met her at the door with a note attached to her collar.
"Come into the kitchen."
Glowing candles, beautiful flowers, and the smell of dinner greeted her in the kitchen, along with the question of a lifetime. "Will you marry me?"
Kevin and Mandy, we are so excited for the two of you. Adam said this morning that he thinks your wedding is going to be so. much. fun. September awaits!
Meagan and Adam :)
Purpose. Something we all seek, and something we all wrestle with at one time or another (or many times) in our lives. Something God-given and worth protecting. Position. Something we all HAVE, whoever you are or whatever your status. You might be a boss, a parent, a child, a customer, an owner, or something completely different. But the fact remains that we each have a current position in this world. That means, whatever our position, we do our best to guard it, protect it, even inflate it. And this comes at a cost because we are protecting something we simply cannot control. That's where anxiety lives...but not where we are meant to live.
Today, I have the privilege of talking with Janet Mylin. Artist, boss lady, and one very wise woman. Her story centers around purpose, and she is sharing it with us today!
CLINGING TO PURPOSE OVER POSITION
Janet recalls for us times where she felt that her position was threatened. No matter who the offender was or whether or not it was intentional (children, spouse, friends, etc), she recalls feeling frantic. And as she says, "Anytime you feel frantic, there's a good chance it's because you're feeling insecure." Uh huh. I feel that. I have a tendency to frantically lash out when I feel insecure and my position is threatened. Especially when it comes to adequacy!
FINDING A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO VALUE TRANSPARENCY
When others can say, "me too," it creates community. And when others value transparency, it creates community too. We talk about the human need to be seen and heard. That's something we all want, right? So when you connect with others who see you and hear you, that is a need fulfilled.
FEELING FOOLISH, BUT CHOOSING TO BE BRAVE
"To do brave things, you're going to look foolish to somebody." And disappointing others might just be a necessary part of fulfilling your purpose. Whoa. Here, we talk about Jesus, the expectations of others, and what he calls us to instead.
There is soooo much more to this episode, so while I'm glad you're on this page, you'd be better off just listening to Janet's wise words yourself! I hope this is inspiring for you--to get off your position and on to your purpose. Because you are enough, I see you, and I hear you.
As we unpack and figure out where we want to put everything, we begin to see the floor and realize that this place is going to be more spacious than we thought! I look around and feel a bit like a domestic Mark Watney, walking around the house and finding solutions to our problems.* Sure, we have to get creative with some storage, and we'll need to get rid of some things, but we're doing ok. We realized quite quickly that the spaces underneath our beds are actually the biggest shelves in our house. And Meg and I put our bed on risers because we want to live in a college dorm room together. Our bedroom is about that size, anyway. But that makes for even more storage space!
The kids' toy box makes for a great coffee table. There's an antique chest we're using as a table beside our couch that can hold things. We have three bookshelves that keep our books off of the floor. There's a great space in the kids' bedroom to make a large cabinet/shelving unit for extra storage (not a huge DIY guy, but I guess I'll start!). Even the oven is a great space for our cookware. We keep our cast iron in there, so if the oven turns on and we forget, the pans won't be ruined...they can take quite a punishment (like my cooking...har har).**
And we have a basement, so we can store things down there too. Clearly we aren't lacking for space like I thought we would after cutting our living space in half, and I'm challenged by how the things I own can control me if I let them. While we're happy we get to keep things and not ship them off to storage, we have a big box quickly filling up with stuff we're going to take to goodwill - nice things we kept but never used, clothes we haven't worn in forever...it'll be good to declutter our living space as well as our minds of all of the stuff we own. I know I should definitely practice that more.
What are some of your decluttering practices and habits? Share in the comments!
*If you get the Mark Watney reference, one nerdy gold star for you! If not, read "The Martian." You'll love it.
**That horrible joke was a very Mark Watney thing to say...just read the book...I promise you'll love it!
She was blindsided.
Just over a week before her wedding day, Amanda was in a terrible accident. Thankfully, she came away with just cuts, bruises, and a mangled car. Okay. The wedding could go on.
Then, just days before the wedding, her dad became very, very sick and ended up in the hospital needing emergency surgery. She told her mom that she just wanted the wedding to happen. After years of dating and engagement, Brandon and Amanda just wanted to say their “I dos” and celebrate with the wedding Amanda had been planning with her best friend, Alyssa, since she was a girl. Now, that all seemed to be falling apart.
But then—it didn’t.
On the day of their wedding, Amanda looked perfect. I didn’t even notice the bruise on her arm until she showed me (you can look…but you won’t find it either). All I could see was the radiant hope on her face, and the love for her soon-to-be husband. She looked pretty darn AMAZING in her Kleinfeld Bridal wedding gown and Betsey Johnson shoes too (wooooo girl!).
The details were starting to come together. We planned to swing by the hospital after the ceremony—on our way to the reception—so her dad could see her in her dress. I was preparing myself for all the tears (including mine) in that hospital room. First though, these two had to get married! To the church we went! The girls hiked up Amanda’s dress and tried to climb the steep hill to the back entrance of the church so no one would see her. With arms full of tulle, they made their way to the top, giggles bouncing off the walls. Her uncle met us outside the door with tears in his eyes.
“Your dad’s here.”
Immediately the bridesmaids’ laughing eyes gleamed misty. What a precious gift from a father to his daughter. We all watched silently as Amanda tearfully embraced her dad in that tiny back room, and even my focus was blurred. He was in obvious pain, but I could see relief in his eyes. After all that had happened, he had made it to his daughter’s wedding ceremony. While he couldn’t walk her down the aisle, Amanda’s uncle walked her to him, and they gave her away together in front of family and friends who had prayed—HARD—for this moment to come. They gave her to Brandon, a man whose heart for this woman is steadfast and gentle. Calm and compassionate.
Two became one amidst a flood of happy tears from every person in that little white church in Bellwood, Pennsylvania. I think the collective word felt amongst the crowd (and the couple) was: FINALLY. What God has joined together, let no man separate. And as they celebrated the day, joy filled the banquet hall at the Altoona Heritage Discovery Center. The night ended with full hearts and a smile on every face.
Congrats Brandon and Amanda! Your steadfast hope is inspiring and beautiful. Love each other with that same steadfast hope. Hard times will come, as you already know. Likely there will be even harder times than this. Keep pressing on together. As you press on, press IN—to one another and more importantly—to God. He is the answer in times of trouble and times of joy. The one and only answer. While I was thinking of our prayer for you, the word that kept coming to mind was “endure.” So that is our prayer for your life together. Endure. After all you’ve been through, even in just the past few weeks, you have each other and the God who made you one. May your marriage be filled with life, vibrance, and endurance.
Meagan and Adam :)
And a special thanks to our fellow creative VIPs!
Photography: The Jepsons (duh)
Dress: Kleinfeld Bridal
Shoes: Betsey Johnson
Florals: Flower Hut (Tyrone, PA)
Videography: Daniel James Photography
Entertainment: Dancing DJs
Cake: Maddie Cakes
Catering: Adler's Market
Welcome to the VERY FIRST episode of The Contentment Series Podcast!
Eeee! I'm so excited, and also pretty nervous. I admittedly had a moment this week while listening to the audio that made me allllmost toss the whole thing out and quit the entire series right then and there. My main thought? 'Why would anyone even listen to this?!' Am I going to be talking to myself and that's it?
Here's what I decided. I'm doing this series because I want to, and because it's something I think God is asking me to step out and do. I'm sharing my life with you and vice versa. If nobody listens, if just three people listen, or if thousands of people listen, the point is the same. We are in this life together and it's a beautiful mess.
SO, here's what you'll hear when you tune in!
I figure you should know who you're listening to. Therefore, I give you a glimpse into what makes me, me. I share a few of my favorite things, and also some of the things I'm working on.
1. I'm totally smitten with my husband and business partner.
2. You can call me Laura Ingalls.
3. I LOVE making memories.
4. My family is the reason I get up every day. Seriously, my toddler makes sure of it.
5. I have a need for control.
6. I struggle with anxiety.
7. I am a slave to productivity.
8. I often live for the expectations of others.
9. I struggle with anger (ouch).
10. I believe in Jesus.
They couldn't kiss without giggling. I'd like to think it was because I was being hilarious, but as we continued their engagement session, I began to realize that is EXACTLY who they are together. They even thumb-wrestled at one point, and I was the one who started giggling. This couple is amazing, but I'm really not that funny. Ah well. Adam and I could tell these two have a long, happy history together.
Troy and Laura met bright and early in their Penn State careers. The first thing new Penn Staters do is the one-day freshman orientation in the spring before they officially make it to campus. It's called FTCAP (or First-Year Testing, Consulting, and Advising Program...phew). It's changed a bit since then (meaning, it got a shorter name--New Student Orientation, and a longer training time--2 days), but I remember FTCAP ("fitcap") as an alumna myself. It's a bit like the preschool playground, and just about everyone is a little bit timid while looking for new friends they might be able to connect with later that fall...
Maybe not Laura though. "I noticed a cute boy sitting alone at lunch, so I went over to say hi." Talk about gumption! They became fast friends and attended Penn State via the esteemed Schreyer Honors College together for all four of their college years. But "friends" is really all they became...until 9 solid years later, and people saw it coming. When the "official" status came, they got a lot of "ABOUT TIME!" comments from mutual friends. Now, after surviving long-distance for a time after graduation, they live in Atlanta--but are coming back to their alma mater (and Laura's hometown) for their I dos. After all, they bleed blue and white!
Laura and Troy, Adam and I had the best time with you two. You are both such great people (I'm sure you will have SO MANY friends at your wedding!), and perfectly genuine when you are together. We are super excited (did I mention that yet?! Lol) for your wedding day and all it will bring. Let's have more laughs.
Meagan and Adam :)
After a long day of loading and unloading two trailer loads of our things into our new home, I stand in the living room in a daze. The past several months have been quite a ride. We searched for a place to live for 9 months - we looked at a few places to rent but decided it wasn’t worth it for the price, and the three other places we made offers on didn’t work out. And buying this place wasn’t easy, either. The first time we offered, the seller felt that our offer wasn’t good enough. A month later it was still on the market so we tried again, and the offer was accepted.
But it still wasn’t easy. With a closing date set for the end of March, I get an email on a cold, blustery morning in mid February from our loan officer saying we don’t qualify to buy the house, even though pre qualified for the loan. It’s not even close - we’re off by about $13,000.
As I sit and stare at the email and think of our options, I feel like this is yet another house to fall through, and I’m not excited about picking ourselves back up and starting the home search all over again. Meagan and I take the weekend to figure out what we might be able to do. We speak with another loan officer, give her the situation and all of the numbers, and within hours she tells us that this should be able to work. Not only that, but the closing costs and interest rate are better!
But it’s still not easy! A snowstorm hits and the appraiser is unable to submit the report on time. The seller wants to back out and put the house back on the market, because, as you can see, this has been a real circus! But we all stick with it, we sign the papers, and we are owners of a multi family home where our tenants’ rent pays for about three quarters of our mortgage. Pretty amazing right?
So, as I’m standing there among all of our stuff - boxes stacked and covering the entire floor, why does it feel like I just lost? And I don’t mean a “you’ll get ‘em next time, buddy” sort of loss, I mean a “something was taken from me loss,” and it cannot be replaced.
First of all, this place is tiny. We live on the first floor of this place, and the tenants live upstairs. We live in about 800 square feet. Meagan and me…and our two kids…and our chocolate lab…in two bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom, and a kitchen. In the grand scheme of things, 800 square feet isn’t really bad at all, but we aren’t used to it. We owned a home before this, and we loved a lot of things about it - twice the size of our current living space, two car garage, a little under a half acre with our chicken coop, bee hives, and gardens, three nice bedrooms and two full baths and lots of storage space in the basement. All of this in a quiet place out in the country…who doesn’t want that?
But even that wasn’t easy. Yes, we have fond memories of that chapter of our lives, but my job was challenging in a lot of ways that weren’t good, and we had tons of student debt whose balance never seemed to diminish. At one point I had three jobs to try to pay the debt off faster, and Meagan did all she could with her photography business while taking care of our daughter at the same time.
Anyway, I find out that my job is going to be bumped down to part time, and I take it as a sign. It’s time to move on. We list our house, and it goes sale pending in six days, we move and pay off all of our debt with the money we made from selling the house, and I join Meagan in the photography business three months later - one year ahead of our scheduled goal.
But it’s not easy…growing a business is hard! And we learned the hard way that, while banks love self employed businesses for the economy, they don’t love lending money to small business owners for homes because of their irregular income. We’re earning more money now than when we applied for our first home, and we qualified for less because we’re self employed!
And so I stand in our new living room, with memories from what seem like a different lifetime (it’s really only about a year and a half ago), and look at our new place and wonder, “we just spent HOW much money?? How are we going to make this work? How much stuff are we going to have to get rid of in order to live in this place without sitting around with our elbows touching?”
A truck barrels down the street just outside the window and I hear the tenants upstairs walking around. Living in the quiet country, I’m not used to this. I think they’re bowling upstairs. I didn’t sleep well that night.
As we unpack and get settled in and the floor begins to reappear, Meagan and I start to become hopeful. Our kids don’t seem to miss a beat, except for night time - they’re now sharing a room. But other than that, it’s the same old story for them. They have their mom and dad, their toys, and each other, and that’s good enough for them.
That’s some good perspective. I’ve been learning a lot about perspective. We’re debt free (except for the house) and our tenants cover most of the mortgage with their rent. That’s huge. Our business is growing…that’s also huge. And as our family settles in to our new place, this downstairs apartment is becoming our home…that’s great.
As I sit and type at our kitchen table (it’s a card table because our actual kitchen table doesn’t fit in here!) and think about all of the things that we’ve been through as a family, I can’t help but wonder what lies before us in the future. For the first time in a while, I’m excited about what’s in store for us. I’m excited to grow our business, thankful for the change of pace that will stretch my comfort zone. We’re excited to share our adventures of tiny living for the next year or so, and we hope you enjoy the ride with us!
I want my daughter to know she is beautiful. Period.
The way she looks should have nothing to do with how she measures her worth.
You know who is responsible for cultivating this mindset in her? Me. The way I, her role model, talk to and about MYSELF. She watches my every move, and wants to be like me. I want more than anything for my girl to grow up content with her beauty because SHE believes that absolute truth, and that means I will speak about myself in positive terms, not degrading terms. I will learn to BELIEVE the truth about my image: That I am made in the image of Christ, and my identity is in him. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and he has made me enough in every aspect of my life. The truth.
I'm not a size 2. I am not a size 6, or a 12 or a 22. Are you guessing my size now? It's normal...but why is that? My size is unimportant, because not only is every body type REAL, every body is a home, and that makes every single body absolutely precious. We were given a work of art to care for, an artwork made by God himself. I want my daughter to feel at home in her skin, right down to her bones. I also want her to treat her body with respect because I believe a human body is a home for the spirit of God.
I want to teach my daughter that food is amazing. God provided it to us and had a plan for it. He wants us to eat (in fact, several times in the New Testament we see Jesus give the instruction to eat, especially for people on whom he performed miracles). And get this: God has given us the ability to ENJOY it. Taste buds, people! I want my daughter (and my son too!) to have a healthy, satisfying relationship with food. It is fuel for our bodies, AND it tastes good. Those things can easily go hand-in-hand. Food gives us strength and delivers nutrients to our organs. It keeps all the other systems healthy. It was meant to be enjoyed. Food is not the enemy, although the real enemy wants us to think so.
So, here are three steps I will repeatedly take to teach my children body positivity and respect:
1. I will teach them that their bodies are a work of art, a home, and that their bodies are precious.
2. I will teach them that food is important for life and for keeping our bodies strong, and that it is also delicious.
3. Most importantly, I will model 1 and 2 in my own life, refraining from commenting on my own self-doubt.
I have no idea whether or not those three things will keep my children from feeling dissatisfied with their bodies. Advertisements and other role models in their lives may very well take care of that for me. But they're worth a shot at it.
I'm writing this down tonight because I've always struggled with body image and my relationship with food, and I want it to end with me. I refuse to pass this on to my daughter. Even before she was born, I committed to teaching myself how to have a healthy relationship with my body and its energy source simply so that she could believe it for herself too. I've come a long, long way, and I think it's time we all shift our mindset in the way we talk to ourselves. It won't just affect US, it will affect our future generations. I commit to empowering my daughter to see herself as enough, because Jesus made it so. Will you?
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She was his friend's sister. He was her brother's friend.
They had a lot of friends in common in their hometown of Hollidaysburg, PA, and a friendship blossomed into romance. They moved to McLean, Virginia for her teaching job and his job in finance. One cold December evening, they went to dinner in downtown Washington, D.C. It was a beautiful night...even a light snow had begun to fall. Breyhel wanted to adventure among the Christmas lights, so they went for a walk amidst the glittery glow of the White House and its surrounding streets. She started getting chilly, but somehow Jake convinced her to take a walk by the monuments on the National Mall. As they reached the reflection pool, he got down on one knee and asked her to be his wife! The Christmas lights weren't all that was glittering that night!
Jake and Breyhel, Adam and I had a blast with the two of you yesterday (making a scene and dodging crowds and all!). Your July wedding is going to be amazing! Here's to the almost Mr. and Mrs!
Adam and Meagan :)
I can't stop grinning.
WANNA KNOW WHY????
Because this series is leveling up. I'm taking it up a notch and starting The Contentment Series Podcast!!! Eeeee!
Truly, this podcast has been in the works for a long time, almost since the start of the series itself. But it is happening and it is coming at you NEXT MONTH! April 2018! It will be a bi-weekly workshop-style show where I give you ideas for how to handle worry and stress, learn to truly be present in the moment, and I'll also drop a lot of truth bombs (because truth really does set you free). But the part I am most excited about is NOT hearing my own voice (who enjoys that really?). The episodes I am most excited for are the ones where I interview some really amazing women about the subject of contentment. Those interviews are being set up RIGHT NOW for the whole year, so if you have someone to nominate let me know over in the Contentment Series Insiders group on Facebook! I will gladly take any suggestions, and you might just hear a familiar voice on the podcast!
It's going to be amazing, and I hope you'll join me. Stay tuned my friend, because now that I've announced it, there's no going back! It's happening.
Maybe you have kids, or maybe you don't. But it doesn't take too much effort for anyone to imagine the unpredictability of children. I've only been a dad for 4 years, but the things my kids do never ceases to surprise me - and oftentimes flat out crack me up.
I could tell you about the time my daughter walked up to a complete stranger to introduce herself and shake his hand (she was 2 and a half), or the time she sang Tangled's "When Will My Life Begin" in its entirety while scribbling in her coloring book, or the time she said her tummy was "fat" when she really meant it was full. Of course, there are many others...
I recently had to take our dog, Hobbes, outside to brush him and since it was nice out, I figured Ava could use some fresh air. She's pretty adventurous, so if eyes aren't on her, she's probably going to disappear. To keep her occupied, I gave her some sidewalk chalk. She quickly became bored with that and wanted something else, so I brought in the big guns: bubbles. Ava loves bubbles! She once spent an entire afternoon last summer blowing bubbles without distraction.
Ava received the bubbles with a huge smile and a twinkle in her eye, spreading those little multi-chromatic, semi floating transparent orbs across the yard. She was happy, so I was able to focus on Hobbes with what I thought would be little interruption. But with kids, nothing is ever quite that simple. After 30 seconds of brushing the dog, I noticed that I did not hear her giggle, or the sound of the wand in the container...
I turned to find Ava right where I left her (about 10 feet away), only instead of using the wand to blow bubbles, she decided to use...wait for it...her mouth. My sweet little Ava had taken a swig of the bubble solution, and by the time I saw her, she had a bubble about as big as her own head expanding out of her mouth! I immediately told her to stop, but I was so shocked to see it that I kinda laughed. My first thought was, "she's not even acting like it tastes bad!" I then thought, "How come I never thought of that???"
Clearly, the ingenuity of children should not be underestimated. For kids, nothing is really off limits. However, the first time Ava mouths off or says something crude, I guess we'll have to think twice about washing her mouth out with soap, because the chances are good that she'll turn it into an entertaining recreational activity...
Around New Year's Day, nearly everyone comes up with resolutions or goals as they begin again with a clean slate. Goal setting is a hopeful thing because it enables us to improve ourselves. But, sometimes we lose focus and our goals fizzle out. We've all been there - we're at the gym 3 days a week until about mid February and then it's too cold to go anywhere. And once March comes around it's getting warmer so I can just go for a jog outside! Or perhaps we're getting behind on our reading because life happens. Maybe you're getting tired of kale smoothies and return to the much more enjoyable bowl of Cherry Garcia (or my favorite, Peachy Paterno from the Penn State Creamery!). I don't blame you!
We decided to hold off on an early year post about goals so we could encourage you to stay the course! Maybe you need to refocus your efforts to accomplish something awesome this year. I know I need to do that!
Here are some of our business goals for the year:
- shoot at least ten weddings (almost there!)
- increase our business income by $12,000...we're definitely not there yet, but we'll have to see where we end up at the end of the year!
- develop our systems so that we have a framework to grow our business
- grow our online following through social media and email communication...this process makes me impatient!
Here are some personal goals of mine:
- read 12 books (6 fiction, 6 business related) this year...I've read way more in years past, but I've had a hard time finding time to read with two kiddos running around all the time. So far, I'm on pace!
- I'm mixing business and personal here, but I want to pray for my clients every week...so far so good, and this is a really fun one! I'm excited to be engaged with all of my clients in this way and I hope it blesses them in some way!
- Exercise for 30 minutes 2x/week - this is an embarrassing goal for me: I used to run every day - 50 miles a week, but I'm far from that and out of shape. I need to build up to that but fear I don't have the time if I'm being honest. But physical fitness is really important so I want to be intentional about it
- Get wake up early before kids wake up so I can try to achieve my goals - read, exercise, emotionally and spiritually recharge - those things. I have absolutely FAILED at this! I get up early MAYBE once per week...that definitely needs to change.
What are your goals? How are you doing with them? If things are good, then great! Keep pressing on! If things are bad, that's ok! Give yourself some grace, refocus, and keep pressing on! If you've accomplished your goals already for 2018, then you are a superhero! In the meantime, set some new goals and keep pressing on! We'd love to hear your stories!
You wake up without an alarm. You take your time with breakfast, and brew a cup of coffee during your morning devotional or while reading your favorite book. Then, instead of bundling up or going out in the rain, you take your coffee into your home office, sit down, and open your laptop. Your work day has just begun.
As a private photo editor, I am able to set my own schedule, work wherever my laptop can travel, and still be part of the wedding photography industry that I love SO much. If you've ever wondered what it might be like, here are 4 stepping stones to becoming a private editor.
#1: Envision your DREAM client.
First, you'll need to set the tone for your business and who you will be serving. Dream up the perfect client. Is this person male or female (keep in mind that the vast majority of wedding photographers are female!)? How many weddings does she shoot in a given year? 10? 20? How many images does she deliver to her couples per wedding? What does she like to do for fun? Where does she shop? I know this might seem silly, but this will all come in handy in tip number 4. One more thing: Give your ideal client a NAME. For real. This is your grown-up imaginary BFF. Let's call her Hannah for this example.
#2: Decide on your income goals.
Now that you've got your perfect client sitting comfortably in your brain, let's talk about numbers. What is the magic number you want to hit in your first year of business? Write that down. Now, it's time to set a price point. We recommend charging per image, as catalogs of images vary in size, and we also recommend that you don't change that number from year to year. Typically, basic private photo editing ranges from $.30-$.39 per image. Now let's revisit Hannah. You've decided she usually shoots 20 weddings/year and delivers an average of 700 images per wedding. You've also decided to charge $.36 per image. That is $252 per wedding, and $5,040 per year, per Hannah. This is the golden question: How many Hannahs do you need to reach your income goal? You're getting closer! Just beware, there are some mistakes you can make here that could easily cause you unnecessary stress and burn out. See our cheat sheet to avoid five very common newbie mistakes!
#3: Create systems.
Friend, I cannot stress enough the importance of systems. Create a workflow, write it down, and stick to it. You will tweak that system until it is perfect, and then you'll likely tweak it some more. Just HAVE workflows. You will need a workflow for everything in your business, including a system for on-boarding (bringing on new clients), communication, and editing catalogs. It seems like a lot, and it does take time to set these up, but SHOOT DANG do we love our systems! They save us soooo much stress, and we are consistently trying to make them better to serve our clients the best we can.
#4: Reach out to potential clients.
You are so close to realizing your dream of flexible, from-home work hours! Now is the part where we ask, "What does Hannah want, need, and fear?" She is likely exhausted from all the late-night editing she does, she feels guilty for missing out on the life of her family, and she knows something needs to change. It's time to find some Hannahs. You likely already follow them on social media sites, and if you don't, now is the time to start. Engage with them (without mentioning private editing...yet), encourage them if they're struggling. Be a PERSON, and be YOU. And you know what? When you send them an email, they might just be ready to hear from you.
If you'd like to learn even more, click below to grab our cheat sheet that will let you in on the 5 biggest mistakes newbie editors make when they first get started. Trust me, we've learned a thing or two and we wouldn't want you to make the same mistakes!
Were you a Full House fan? Growing up, I caught an episode here and there, but I don't remember watching it religiously. Now, thanks to Netflix (how I love you Netflix!), I do get to watch as much Fuller House as I can binge in two hours after the kids go to bed. What a fun show! Totally corny like the old episodes, and it just puts a big smile on my face. Something stuck out to me in one episode, and I laughed and cringed at the same time. Because it is SO. TRUE. Moms, let's all take a chill pill and realize that we aren't perfect, we never will be, and we need grace too--from others, yes, but mostly from OURSELVES. I sat on my couch, to-do list for the next day half written beside me (distracti-tasking) and thought, "Can't we all just be real with each other? Can't we all just relax our grip on control? Worry? Fear? Shame? What would our relationships be like if we weren't so concerned with "getting it right" all the time and were present in the moment?"
Treat yo'self to this little clip and then go watch the Full[er] episode on Netflix too. (See what I did there?!) Oh yea, and grab a glass of water, just to make sure you're drinking enough of it. ;)
Then go to the Contentment Series Insiders page and tell me if you can relate!
You might know what it's like to have a full time job outside the home without children. Or maybe you know what it's like to have a full-time job AT home, WITH children. Yep. I feel you on both counts. And today, I'm comparing the two, because OH MY WORD it's so different! And kind of hilarious. Ready? Here we go.
Alarm goes off at 5 am. (Baby wakes early.)
Hit snooze. (Feed baby, fall back into bed.)
Alarm goes off at 7 am. (Baby wakes for the day, toddler wakes too.)
Get dressed. (Get kids dressed. You'll get dressed after you feed them (eventually) because they're hangry.)
Can't decide what to wear. (TODDLER can't decide what to wear. Commence first tantrum of the day.)
Breakfast. (Feed toddler. And baby.)
Head to the gym. (Chase toddler.)
Sit in the spa/sauna at the gym. (Grab a shower...some days. It feels like a spa.)
Shower and apply favorite perfume. (Put on deodorant...if you remember.)
Head to the first meeting of the day. (Make a to-do list while in the shower. Write it down after showering if you remember. Or make Siri add it to your calendar.)
Brunch with Boss #1 and a few potential clients. (FINALLY eat breakfast. Your toddler sees you and wants "just one bite". Also, the dog is hoping you'll drop a few morsels on the floor and is inches away. Infant comes up and whines with his mouth open.)
Grab an espresso on your way out of the coffee shop. (Chug water...any liquid to remember to stay hydrated. If you get to make some tea, you take a few hot sips before abandoning it to get cold. Or forget it in the pot after turning off the heat.)
Arrive at office. (First nap for infant. Run to the computer. Crank out as much work as possible.)
Presentation for Boss #1. (Feature presentation. As in, anything Disney. And for the toddler, because she is asking every five minutes today and you can't get anything done. OR if you're feeling creative and super-momish, set up water play or other Pinterest-like activity so she doesn't watch TV because you don't want to rot her brain. #momguilt)
Boss #2 calls you into his office for a meeting. (Baby wakes early.)
Lunch break with co-workers. (Children decide they want something every time you sit down to eat your own lunch. Sometimes they can wait. Sometimes they throw tantrums. Sometimes they just keep asking.)
Sneak onto social media at your desk...favorite part of the day. (Playtime with children. Favorite part of the day.)
Back to work. (Nap time for BOTH babes. Hallelujah. Run back to the laptop. Again, crank out as much work as possible.)
Boss #1 calls from her office. (Potty-trained toddler needs to pee after her nap. Sometimes before OR during. Thankfully you are smart and still let her wear a diaper for naps...but how long is that acceptable? ...commence mom-worry.)
Coffee run. (Re-heat your hot drink that has gone cold from that morning. And let it get cold again because it's snack time for the littles. This is why you mostly just drink water...when you remember.)
Head home. (Oh wait.)
Husband time. (Family time.)
Dinner. (Dinner. Watch out for the flying applesauce!)
(Put babies to bed. Kiss them. Miss them. Watch videos of them on your phone. Show husband. Smile and laugh together about how awesome they are.)
Fall asleep on the couch with your husband while watching Netflix.
Realize you're on the couch. Lug yourself to bed.
Yes, I just quoted a line from a poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien. In my opinion, "The Lord of the Rings" is the best the fantasy genre has to offer. I haven't read tons of fantasy books, but I've read enough, as it's my favorite fictional genre to read. Interestingly enough, Tolkien's epic adventure through Middle Earth has inspired my own desire for adventure. I've always loved being outside, and growing up in rural PA provided for some spontaneous exploration of the Appalachian Mountains.
In high school, I ran track and cross country. I'm sorry to say that I haven't really trained much since then, but hiking has replaced running as my form of outdoor/long distance exercise. There's something therapeutic about letting my mind wander while my legs take me where they wish. The sounds of chirping birds, breezes whisping through the trees, a babbling stream, and the smell of fresh air and decomposing leaves seems to make me feel lighter. And then there's the mountain vista - that makes any hiking excursion worth it!
I've slowly built up some really nice gear over the years and hope to have some more extended outings in the future. This year, I made it a personal goal to hike a certain amount of miles and complete a weekend outing with a friend. That may not seem like much, but with a bunch of responsibilities and two young kids, I don't get to hit the trail as much as I'd like. That's ok, though, it forces me to carefully plan out my trips so I can explore a place I've never before seen!
I've recently thought about hiking some of the longer trails in Pennsylvania (I'm not really interested in thru-hiking the AT...although I'd love to hike parts of it!). I'm looking forward to planning those outings and enjoying some peace and quiet with everything I need stuffed in my pack.
What are some things you like to do to unwind and rest? It's so important to carve out time to recharge so you are physically, mentally, and emotionally involved in you day to day life. We're humans, not machines - we get tired, and so we need to rest! Take some time for yourself every now and then...you'll be better for it!