Today through Monday I am hosting a holiday sale on photography, which is also supporting the Giving Tree. If you are looking to update your headshot or capture your growing family, head over to my business site and help support two great charities.
As I start each day, I try to start it in a positive and kind note. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may know this about me already. I don’t always wake up in the happy go lucky mood I am in by the time I Tweet it out, but I get there. Usually I have already had my morning shower and at least one coffee if not the smell of coffee starting my day. Before I interact with the other humans in my life, I need those few minutes to start the day silently. I wake up J with a kiss and head down to breakfast with Hubby and Apple, sometimes they get kisses too, but it all depends on where they are in their breakfast routine. Then I think of my morning tweet and send it out into the world.
Sometimes I get back some grumps that can’t believe I wake up all set and ready to go, or why am I so positive every morning and othertimes I get back little notes of thanks or a cheerful good morning. Well the truth is that I am not always like that, but I sometimes force my way into my positive thinking. Being self-employed can be a very lonely job when working at home on your computer with no one to talk to. And I like to think of my start to the day as my Kindness going out there. By the time we are all ready for school and heading out we are full of smiles and cheerful hellos for the most part and this is a great way to start your day.
Back in the days before kids and Twitter and Facebook, I did this in a different kind of way. As I would head out to work in the car, I would sing loud and clear with each happy tune and by the time I got to work, I was ready to go in full force. Always ready to greet my coworkers with a smile and some cheer.
There are so many ways to instill Kindness into the world and sometimes it starts with a simple “good morning”. Lately I have been watching more and more people try to reach out and put their kindness out there, just a little more.
In October, I photographed the annual Blissdom Canada Conference. This year our new Canadian Bliss Chicks wanted to have a conference that was full of kindness in social media. Doing a little bit of social good, encouraging all of us to use our outlets to do good in the world. And here we are almost two months later and many of the speakers are still with me in my heart. I share stories I heard from the conference and I share what we can all do if we just do it one step at a time. There is a little truth in the old saying, “Kill them with Kindness”.
I love all the Kindness I am seeing out there, maybe I pick up on it more because I want our world to be a better place for our children. I want our children to be kind every day and I want their children to be kind.
So I thought I would share two great Kindness stories in hopes that maybe you too will be encouraged to go forth and be kind. And these aren’t my stories.
First off is a new website called Kindness Canada. A website dedicated to sharing stories of kindness throughout Canada. You can submit your own story for that you want to share or you can read others stories in the hopes that it will inspire you to be kind elsewhere. I check in everyday to see what awesome kindness is going on around me.
Second is a blogger I follow on Instagram, Lvdmorethncrrts. For her 30th Birthday she wanted to do 30 Random Acts of Kindness and this past week she set out with her Sister in Law and children and performed 30 Random Acts of Kindness in one day. I followed her throughout the day on Instagram and I just loved it! I loved it so much we discussed it at dinnertime on how we could do some random acts ourselves. My children thought it was great and wonder what the recipients thought on the other end. Read about all of her Random Acts here.
It doesn’t matter if your kindness comes out in a few words or a great act, it is the act of being kind towards one another that matters. Now go forth and be kind!
Recently I have found myself in conversation with other parents discussing the parties that seem to happen at the park near our house. We have to walk through this park to take our children to school which is adjacent to the park. In the warmer months the parties at the park are constant, if it is a good weather night you can hear the teenagers laughing or shouting all around being noisy teenagers. The biggest thing about these parties in the park is that they don’t just involve happy go lucky teenagers. They also involve lots of drinking, some screaming and occasionally a fight or two breaks out. The aftermath of these parties is broken bottles and trash in the park and on the school yard.
Sadly some of these teenagers once attended our children’s school, and they seemed to have forgotten how sad they were when they couldn’t play on the basketball court because of broken glass. We don’t let our children play in the park in bare feet because we never know what we will find buried in the sand.
When talking to other parents we always seem to get stuck on what can we do about it? Other than call the police when the parties go on and on, really there isn’t much we can do, or can we?
I am sure I get this line from my own parents, but honestly do the parents of these teenagers know where their children are? I for one hated that I had to check in with my parents back in the day of no cell phones. I had to call when I got to my friends house, or check in if I was running late. I must have known where every payphone in Ottawa was and had a pocket full of quarters just in case. So what can we do, really?
We can make sure that our own children do not become the teenagers having a party in the park. We can start by teaching them now that this is unacceptable and offering them instead somewhere that they can bring their friends and hang out. No, there won’t be any alcohol for minors but we do hope that by giving them a cool and safe place to be they will make the right choices when they are older to not hang out and party at the park. We can teach them now that it is not acceptable to be out until 3am as a teenager. We can teach them responsibility and proper behavior so that in the next few years when they do become teenagers, they may just remember what we have said.
In addition to that we need to take responsibility for our children as teenagers, we need to know where they are. It is so much easier today with cell phones than it was 25 years ago, you can know where your child is, you can make sure that your child is at home at 3am or at his/her friends house, we do have the means to do it.
Let’s take back the park. Take back our children as teenagers. Teach them now while they are young.
This is such a delayed post, but I just had to write about our first experience in a Hybrid car. The Ford Fusion Hybrid to be exact. If you remember we tried the Fusion Ecoboost in August, well a couple of weeks after that we tried out the Fusion Hybrid. For the most part the Fusion Hybrid drives like any other car. There are a few things though that you really need to pay attention to to get the best economy out of your car. The Efficiency Leaves, oh my, the better and more efficient you drive the more beautiful green leaves you have. Well, let me tell you that I wasn’t exactly driving efficiently for the first few days. Add to that that my battery wasn’t being charged properly I had to figure out what all the symbols meant and how I could get it all back.
I started off with figuring out how the charging for the battery worked and once I found out that the battery charges from the braking of the vehicle, I then figured out that I needed to brake more efficiently. No hard stops, I had to treat the car a little more gingerly than I am used to. Also I should add, in my defense, that I drive a much larger vehicle that requires a bit of a heavier braking foot to stop, especially when we are packed for a trip. So, braking. Got it. My battery remained nicely charged after I figured that out.
Now to grow my leaves. I again had to treat the car a little more gingerly, no fast starts, no passing trucks, but cruising nicely made for a much more efficient ride.
I did take the Fusion Hybrid on a small road trip to Merrickville , ON with the children. They LOVE the car, the seats were comfortable and the ride is smooth and quiet and J was able to sync his iPod to the stereo and be our back seat DJ. I enjoyed the ride, nice and smooth for sure, with enough power to pass if needed. Hubby drove it a few times as well and also enjoyed it. We tried to compare it in our minds with the Fusion Ecoboost and we both agreed that we are not Hybrid drivers and that we loved the Ecoboost more.
Why would we love the Ecoboost more? We found that overall we had better fuel economy in the Ecoboost, something that is important when you are traveling on the highways a lot. And we found that there was just too much going on in the dashboard of the Hybrid. I am pretty sure you can change what you see, but I didn’t have time to play with all of the settings in the dash to figure that out. I found I was more concerned about my braking power and growing leaves than I should have been, thus taking me away from my actual driving. If we were looking for a hybrid for city driving then the Fusion would be it, but for now I think we need to stick with out full on fuel cars and pay attention.
Special thanks to Maxine at Thornley Fallis for giving me the fabulous opportunity to drive these amazing Ford vehicles. One thing I can say for absolute certainty is that these are not the Ford cars I drove as a teenager, Ford has come a long way in 25+ years and we are so impressed that we are still having that ongoing discussion on whether or not we will be switching up one of our cars for a Ford. Stay tuned….
Who am I kidding? As much as I would love to believe that getting a year older in your 40′s is similar to your 20′s it is not. I would love to be able to say that I am in just as great shape now as I was at 23, but I am not. I would love to say that I am as footloose and fancy free, but I am not. But, there are many things that I am now that I would never have been able to do at 23.
From the opening of Target, Billings Bridge
I am a mother to three wonderful children. A who is now 21 and living on his own working full time still fills my heart when he comes over. He isn’t with us in our daily lives any more, but our family is complete when we are all together. J who is now 10 is one of the kindest, loving kids you will ever meet. His soft heart and big snuggles is a great reminder of why 43 is way better than 23. And sweet Apple who is now 6 is strong and determined, she has yet to meet a challenge she can’t overcome and also fills my day with cuddles, crafts and love. All of this was not in my cards at 23. The only thing that was really important way back then was driving my convertible, going to University and getting ready to go out at 10pm at night.
We must not forget Hubby. Although we knew each other twenty years ago, we were not together, just passing friends hanging out by our best friends pool. So yes, 43 is better than 23.
This past year, at 42, I did more than I could have ever imagined possible. I traveled throughout the US, mostly for work but a little for fun, getting to experience things that I would have been way to chicken to do at 23. I went to Las Vegas, twice! Once for my Photography business and once for my Arbonne business both amazing and both very different. I experienced Las Vegas while learning and enjoying a little of the Vegas life. I spoke at the Blissdom conference in Dallas, I photographed a party in Chicago for Yappem, and I got to attend the wedding of one of our best friends in Santa Ynez, California. None of these places I had been to before (well I have been to Chicago, but driving through on the Interstate is a little different than actually walking around downtown). I photographed two conferences in Toronto and I made numerous trips to Delaware. If someone had asked me at 23 if I would be doing all of this cool and wonderful stuff I would have laughed. At 23 I was a homebody, taking my annual pilgrimage to Delaware and waiting for the next year to come around so I could do it again.
Add to all that cool and fun stuff I have been privileged to do this year, I have also had many amazing work opportunities right here in Ottawa. When I am not on the road I am most definitely working. I have photographed events, weddings and amazing families. I have met Farmers from all over the US while photographing their conference, I have met people from the travel industry while photographing for Niagara Falls and Toronto Tourism. And honestly each and every job I have done touches my heart in some way. They are all not just jobs to me, but experiences that make me who I am today at 43. While attending the wedding in Santa Ynez, one I could actually watch without a camera in my hand, I shed tears of joy. My husbands best friend and someone I call brother was finally getting married. One of our friends commented that they were surprised that I could still cry at a wedding after so many years of photographing weddings and the truth is, I cry at each and every one of them. Each wedding is special and I get to know my clients and what I feel for them as they take their vows is true happiness.
So if this is what is in store for me at 43, I will take it. I look forward to 43 knowing that I have a few great projects ahead of me, a little more travel (let’s see if I can top 28 airplanes from this year) and so many things that are yet to come my way but will in a surprising and amazing way. 43 is good.
A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to test out the Ford Fusion EcoBoost for a week. Please excuse my iPhone pictures as they truly don’t do this amazing vehicle justice, however, I was working all week shooting an event and the few days that I got to drive the car (yes it was a fight in our house on who got to drive it each day) my proper camera was already packed away. Don’t despair though as we will be testing out the Ford Fusion Hybrid next week and we will have lots more opportunities to capture the beauty of these vehicles.
I realized after Hubby had the opportunity to drive it that we enjoy very different aspects of the vehicle. For me, comfort and efficiency on the highway were much more important and forefront in my mind. I love, love, love the comfort of the seats. As I mentioned above, I was shooting for a full week which means I was on my feet carrying many pounds of gear for long hours during the day and sometimes into the evening. Sliding into the comfort of the seats was not missed. I love how the drivers seat contours to my neck and back and that I could adjust the lumbar to relieve pressure on my back. We drive a lot with our trips to Delaware and quite often we take different vehicles and none of them have compared to the seats in the Fusion. Add to that the fact that I could turn on the seat warmers with a slight touch of my finger on the console meant I was in heaven. I know you are asking why I would need that in the summer? Well it just happened that the week we had the Fusion we also had some cool evenings and I would rather ride with the windows down and the sunroof open using the seat warmers to keep me toasty rather than not feel the summer breezes. That and I had to test them out for efficiency in the winter.
I loved how the car rode on the highway. I call it efficiency but truly it is the ability to pass a semi and know that I could do it without losing any power. I felt like I had total control over the vehicle and it handles very smoothly on the highway as well as on country roads. Some of the other fancy features I truly enjoy and now miss (not going to lie here, I do miss it… a lot) is the SYNC system by Microsoft. I could set my destination before I left or in the case where you are lost in Richmond looking for a farm, you can use the voice controls while driving and find your destination with very little interruption to your actual drive. Using Bluetooth I was able to listen to my favorite music or call up a phone number with just a touch of a button. I know that if I had this car longer, I would have learned just a wee bit more about all that SYNC has to offer but it was very easy to just get in and drive and use the maps, phone, or radio.
I have to make note of the EcoBoost engine. From the Ford website, “Better fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. All without sacrificing power and performance. That’s what you get with the state-of-the-art technology behind EcoBoost™. I couldn’t agree more. Between the two of us we made multiple trips back and forth across Ottawa and I went out to Richmond and Russell all on one tank of gas, with plenty to spare. A full tank started by telling us we had 745km before empty and although we didn’t actually finish driving all of that before I had to fill up the car and return it, I came pretty close. There is a graph on the side of the dash that tells you your fuel efficiency for each 30 minute interval (this can be changed to different intervals if you like, but most of our trips were of that length). Hubby was quick to point out that I am not as efficient with my gas usage as he was, and it is true, I am heavier on the foot than he is. I have tried to change over the years, but it just doesn’t seem to happen. I am not saying that I am a speed demon, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t putt around going 5km under the speed limit. I enjoy a car with kick and the Fusion gave me exactly what I love in a car.
Hubby’s experience was a bit different. From the start he was concerned that the console was too big in between the drivers seat and the passengers. It took him only one day to turn that around and say that he understood why it was a bit higher, for better comfort in his drive. While I loved the seats, he loved the side mirrors. Yes, you read that right, the side mirrors! They have the regular mirror and then an extra one up in the corner that provides a better view of what is around you. He felt that he could see more and had less of a blind spot so he could see motorcycles in the lane next to him that were riding in what would be a normal blind spot.
The other thing he truly loved about the Fusion was the quiet ride. He couldn’t believe how quiet the car is. He felt like that made his ride smoother and much more enjoyable as he didn’t have any interference to his concentration or discussion with our son in the back seat. We often have trouble hearing the kids and we just thought it was them, but perhaps it is our car?! And the truth behind it is Ford spent a lot of research using thermal imaging technology to get that ride quieter. This quote from William Dedecker, noise, vibration and harshness engineering supervisor, Ford Motor Company “We are using thermal imaging to further improve quietness so customers can enjoy the other features our vehicles offer, such as audio systems…and even the sounds of silence.” says it all. Hubby loves to drive in silence and he was able to in the Fusion.
My review wouldn’t be complete without some input from the smaller people in the family. Our son, J, who is almost 5’3″ loved the leg room in the back seat. I think out of all of us he was the most disappointed that the car had to be returned. He was able to stretch out behind Hubby or I which is not entirely common as we are long legged people and take up more room than most when we adjust our seat to drive. Sweet Apple loved that she was able to roll down the window and feel the air blowing on her face, most rear windows only roll down halfway which when you are five doesn’t seem all that fair.
We are looking forward to our week with the Fusion Hybrid and I must be honest here, there has been lots of discussion the past two weeks on how much we loved the Ford Fusion and if we need to change things up here. This week will be a great adventure.
Sometimes being a photographer is really amazing, other times it can be a little bit boring. It truly depends on the time of year. After making it through last Fall alive and well, I was never happier to have a bit of a break in January and February to just relax, get caught up around the house and enjoy life. I knew what lay ahead, two months of lots of travel. Last year I attended a photography conference in New Orleans and met Jen Osojnicki, an amazing Wedding photographer in Massachusetts. We decided together that we would attend the annual conference in March in 2013 that happened in Las Vegas. I had never been before and was a but nervous but knowing Jen was going to be there with me I forged ahead.
I flew out of Philadelphia as it was Spring Break here and Hubby was taking the kids to the Beach House for Spring Break. We had a great ride to Phili but once I arrived I found out my flight had been delayed by a few hours. I grabbed my book and some dinner and enjoyed a beer at the pub. By the time we took off, I was ready for bed and slept almost the whole way, which was great since I arrived at 4am EST in Vegas. The sunrises in Vegas are one of the most amazing things I have seen, every colour of the rainblow peeking out over the mountains, we had a great view out our window first thing in the morning.
The classes we attended were amazing and uplifting, and I am pretty sure there wasn’t one room with less than 600 people in it!! Jen and I did take the opportunity to sight see a little, even if it was only for 15 minutes. I needed fresh outside air that wasn’t below freezing and snow covered. In a strange twist my cousin from Alberta was also in Las Vegas so we met for a quick soda and caught up as best we could.
I didn’t bother cashing in my 10 cent winning, but at least I could say that I won in Vegas!!
It was so beautiful that we even took an extended lunch by the pool, where I happened to order a $20, yes, $20 drink. Jen and I measured out each sip, and I savored it as long as I could! All in all an amazing adventure. I came home with fabulous new ideas, inspiration and a little tan. I was home in Ottawa for all of 24 hours and I was back on the road again.
Last February, while it was cold and very snowy here, I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Blissdom ’12. I went with my girlfriend Krista and made the escape very early in the morning, landing in some very turbulent skies over Nashville. It was my first time in Nashville and I only hope it is not my last. Nashville is a gorgeous city and although we spent most of it at the Gaylord Opryland we did get to sneak out for some fried chicken and cowboy boots. I wrote a post about Finding my bliss at Blissdom. It was truly an amazing experience and a lot different than attending conferences locally, especially because we hardly knew anybody, which makes you push your boundaries and talk to strangers!!
I acted as a Community Leader in the Photography sessions last year, which basically meant I was there to help out and assist the speakers if needed and answer questions that couldn’t all be answered during the sessions. This year, I am pleased as punch (if I can quote my Grandma here) that I have been asked to speak. I did put up a post on my Photography blog, but I thought perhaps you would all like to hear about it too. I will be hosting a “Rock Your Camera” session where I will be essentially teaching you how to use your camera. It will be more of a workshop than a session, so if you are planning to attend bring your DSLR with a charged battery room on your memory card and be willing to play with the buttons on your camera. You will be leaving with the knowledge on how to take your camera off of auto and use the functions to get great photos.
I will also be hosting a photowalk on the Thursday before the conference officially starts. We will be walking through the Gaylord Texan and photographing all the amazing things that make the Gaylord resorts so special. Look for more information on how to sign up for that closer to the date. And for the photowalk, you don’t have to have a DSLR. You can use your phone, point and shoot or DSLR if you like. If it takes pictures you are welcome to join us!
Here is a shot of the group of us last year before we headed out. To see more of the photos from Nashville, go to my flickr set Blissdom to see.
Look forward to seeing you in Dallas!!
I don’t tell a lot of tales of A here on the blog because I respect the fact that he is in his 20′s and may not enjoy me sharing his life story anymore. For those of you who don’t know, A is my Stepson. I have known him for almost 18 years as a StepMom, but truly have known him since he was born since I have known his Dad since we were kids ourselves back in High School (yeah that would be… umm.. 29 years!!!) and to be completely honest I have known his Mom just as long. Hubby and I did not start dating until almost 18 years ago, but since our best friends were brothers we saw each other a lot throughout the years one could say it was inevitable. And before any of you cast stones, no I did not break up Hubby and A’s Mom, they were long over/never really together so yeah, put down the rocks.
For anyone who isn’t a StepMom or StepDad you may not understand what it is like to love someone and feel like they are part of your family, but then have to say goodbye for a week or two and really, never know when you will get to see them again. For many years our time together was every other weekend, one night a week for dinner and a few holiday long weekends. We packed as much as we could into those little bits of time and then had our hearts broken when we sent him home. Sure Hubby could have fought more and demanded more time, but in his heart he did not want his child to go through what would have been an ugly time in court, but rather sacrificed his time together so that the time we did have together was nice instead of strained. In the end I think it has all paid off.
A has grown into such an amazing man (and that almost kills me to say man, but truly that is what he is). He lived with us for about 9 months last year, which we savored every moment we had with him. We kept J and Apple quiet so he could sleep. I may have seen him the most as he slept late and got up to head off to work during the day while I was home. He would spend time with the kids on his days off and often helped me out by picking them up at school if I had a shoot. He even surprised me with dinner a few times, which was amazing given that he is a fabulous cook in a great Italian restaurant. Then last Spring he moved out on his own, got himself an apartment has a couple of roommates and loves being Mr. Independent.
Last week he texted out of the blue and says he wants to bring his girlfriend over for dinner. Of course the answer is YES!! But, he has never brought a girlfriend over because we tend to embarrass people we love, unintentionally of course, but it happens. And I go into full out Party Planning mode, something I haven’t done in a while and only realize I am doing it halfway through. I clean and tidy and scrub. I prepare an elaborate dinner, after checking for any dislikes or allergies. I pick up Apple and J from school, and this is when I realize that I am not the only one nervous. For some reason I feel like I have to extra hard for A, not because he doesn’t show me any love because he does, but because I want to make sure he is always happy to come over. When I pick up the kids, J says to me, “I wish school wasn’t over yet, I am not ready to go home”. I look at him, feel his forehead and wonder what has gotten into my child. I ask him why to which he replies, “I am so worried I will embarrass my brother tonight that I don’t want it to be time yet”. WOW. I guess my little, “Can you guys behave tonight?” at breakfast sat with him all day and he took it to heart. He cleaned up a little more of his games and room, just in case she wanted to see, and washed up and talked nice to his sister and waited, with baited breath for their arrival. Apple on the other hand was bouncing from pillar to post asking every five minutes when they would be arriving. I sent them off to the basement so I could finish dinner and wait for our guests to arrive.
And they did, she is lovely, and he was excited to introduce her. Apple and J behaved, talked the least through a dinner since they were babies. We chatted, asked questions, and then they were off to the basement to check out some of the stuff A left here when he moved out. They didn’t stay too long, just long enough. Hubby drove them home and I later sent a text thanking them for coming.
And so my life as a StepMom continues as we go into a new era of girlfriends and visits that are further apart. I hope we did alright, but only time will tell if he brings her (or other future girlfriends) over again. And then we I look at the grand scheme of everything I have to be reminded that I am not his Mom so I still get very little say in anything. I just have to give my love and hope he returns it. And I have to look at the fact that he is a good man, he is caring and kind and a hard worker and I just have to hope that I had a little hand in that being around him for the last almost 18 years.
To leave you with one photo, here is an older one of Opa with J and A playing Monopoly.
Cleaning up my office for a great start to 2013, I looked up to my inspiration board and saw this posted there. We spent so many summers going to the beach and each year we would do a pyramid. So many cousins are missing here and now with us all married and have kids of our own I am sure we could have several pyramids lining the beach.
This particular one is from 1984, I was not even 14 yet, oh my!! I remember that summer well and although the beach has changed a lot since then, the memories are still with us. Each of us has changed a wee bit but we are still so much the same and I am sure you would recognize us all if I had an updated pyramid to post as well. My youngest sister was just a baby and I remember Dad holding on to her as we built the pyramid. Lots of laughs and always a few tears, but all of it made for some amazing memories.
Thanks for taking a stroll down Memory Lane with me, here’s to many more memories to be made.