Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Why Commitment is worth Twice as Much as Skill

In today's world it can be really disheartening to turn on our computers, open our newspapers and read our emails.

We're constantly bombarded by the idea that we should be really great at something, or not do it at all. 

We should have an inherent skill for design, writing, making money, living well and the list goes on and on. It is really hard not to feel inferior when you see the best parts of everybody online.

On Facebook we see school friends totally owning being a stay-at-home mom of four with what seems like no worries, on Instagram we see designers doing work that we could only DREAM of doing, and on Twitter we see people getting endless retweets on mediocre content.  

The thing that we forget is that the reason it seems like those people are more successful than you is that we're seeing where they are at right now, not where they have been. Behind that Facebook post is many nights of tears for the winning stay-at-home mom. The instagram photo took painfully long to set up and the client dictated countless revisions. That person that is so Twitter famous spends way too many hours on the site.

We see snippets. We don't see all the behind the scenes stuff. Ask anyone that 'seems' successful and they'll tell you that hard work is what got them there... [ unless of course they're trying to sell you something - then they might brag about how easy their life is because of it ]

It can feel like a struggle, especially in the freelance world, but in life in general - but the most important thing is commitment.

Committing to what you really love to do is so much more valuable than being automatically great at something, whether that be blogging, your dream job, your hobby, side hustle or whatever else. 

However much you commit, you'll see the results come back to you.

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor" - Vince Lombardi *click to tweet*
It's commitment and not skill that will get you through those rough patches where the money's hardly enough to live on, or the hours you are working are atrocious. You can develop skill if you're committed and you'll have some damn good experience along the way.

Tell me in the comments what you're committed to, or if you've gotten lost along the way what will YOU recommit to after this post?

Monday, 29 September 2014

21 Journal Prompts [ Guest Post ]

Hi, I'm Elizabeth. You can usually find me writing at my lifestyle blog Life of Lovely. Thanks to Jenny for letting me share with your readers today.

Jenny has written before about how journaling can make you a better writer. I definitely agree that journaling is a great habit to develop.

Like lots of people, I had a hard time deciding what to write about when I first started to keep a journal. In fact, I have several journals that I started over the years and then completely abandoned. Although I had lots of things in my head, the words refused to come while I stared at the journal pages. This finally changed when I found a set of journal prompts to use. Now that I have developed a habit of writing, the ideas flow easier, but I still use prompts on some nights.

Having a suggestion about what to write helps you to explore ideas that you might not have thought about otherwise. It's a great way to learn more about yourself and your thoughts. You might be surprised to discover what you truly think about different topics.

Here are 21 journal prompts (3 weeks' worth) for those of you who want to begin keeping a journal or for those of you who already keep one and are looking for more ideas.

  1. Your greatest strength
  2. The person who is your biggest cheerleader
  3. The dream that fuels your passion
  4. Your ideal day
  5. One person you need to thank
  6. Where you feel most at peace
  7. One small thing that would change the world if everyone did it
  8. The book you want to recommend to all your friends
  9. A habit that you should change
  10. Something about you that would surprise people
  11. Your favorite way to relax
  12. The goals that you are working towards
  13. A question that you don't know the answer to
  14. The best thing that has happened this week
  15. Five ways that you can show others you care
  16. What is it that you truly want?
  17. The best way to handle stress
  18. A song that makes you feel like dancing
  19. Something you should eliminate from your life
  20. The people you can always turn to
  21. The last time you laughed so hard that you cried

I hope that these prompts help you to develop your writing habit and that you learn something new about yourself in the process!

Thanks again to Jenny for letting me spend time with your lovely readers! I'd love to get to know all of you better, so drop by to see me at Life of Lovely some time. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Interview ; Cydney Irby

Hey Everybody! Today it's the eigth installment in the 'Hot Cup of Inspiration' Interviews. Each Thursday I'll be interviewing a different creative entrepreneur. We'll chat with all sorts of people - from writers, to designers, jewelry makers and photographers to see just what makes them tick.

You can check out the other posts in the series here:
Today I'm chatting with Cydney, from Dream on Youth.

How and why did you start blogging? 
I originally started blogging to share my adventures, innermost thoughts, and ultimately myself with the world. I was tired of everything being so fabricated and one-dimensional. I was annoyed by the constant one-way relationships I saw with people and a computer screen. I wanted change and I got it from blogging as a photographer first. I, then started interviewing people who inspired and interested me. I've been on nearly every one of the old platforms from WordPress to Blogger and finally settling on Weebly.

Did your blog become an extension of your 'business', or was the blog there first?
The blog has always come after the brand. I am vision girl first, words second. It's odd to say that as a poet but I'm such a visual learner. The website, blog included, was not created for Dream On Youth until after a year and half after I launched on Twitter!

Have you always been a writer? 
I guess I spoiled this question when I mentioned I was a poet. I discovered my love for writing in middle school. I was 11. My first monologue for an audition with the drama club was my very first poem, "Love and Hate." And to think, I was never a huge fan of English classes until college!

Are you self taught or did you major in a writing based field at college? 

I am not completely self taught. Nobody is that's been to elementary, middle, and high school. I didn't major in writing during college but it was part of the core classes I had to take. English Comp I and English Comp II. Look I'm a procrastinator and loathe writing papers but I loved those classes. Both of my teachers were incredible men and helped me confirm that I'm not as bad as I think. In fact, I'm a great writer. Just a little scattered!

Do you think getting a degree is really necessary to be successful?
 I don't think the degree is necessary but I definitely say take classes in college. Take ones that are specified to the types of writing you are truly interested in. Learn the inner workings. You'll be surprised how much more you'll love your work afterwards!

Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from experiences, photos, or music. All three combined is utter magic at night. Yeah, I may lose some sleep but it's so worth it!

What motivates you to keep doing what you do?
The lives that my work touches. As a poet, boss lady, or simply as me. Seeing what I do touch people's hearts, lift their spirits, bring them joy, it's such a beautiful moment. It's been over two years since I started Dream On Youth and I never get tired of knowing that. Inspiring and empowering people is what I was born to do.

How do you keep on top of everything! Managing a blog community like Dream on Youth, social media and having your own personal blog and jobs can't be easy!
I have a planner and six or seven journals. I have apps for nearly every bit of work I do. It's not easy and sometimes I get burnt out! Today I decided to dissolve my personal blog so I could spend even more time on Dream On Youth and our new branch, Youth Atlas News! I'm starting a new job soon as well so it was the best decision!

What's your advice for those with similar dreams to yours?
Never give up. You don't have to stick to one dream. The scariest thing I ever did was announce that I was going to do every passion my heart was set on. You're allowed to be fearless and introverted. Be a big, beautiful oxymoron and embrace everything you want to be or do! You don't have to bend to a set rule list. You are an entrepreneur in the making, go for it! Build an empire! Work hard, rest easy. You're going to leave a phenomenal legacy behind.

You can show Cydney some Link Love at :
|Pinterest|                  |Twitter|               |Facebook|               |Instagram|

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Body Confidence During and After Pregnancy [ Guest Post ]

Today I wanted to take the time to write on an issue that plagued me from my pre-teen years, until now almost 7 years later.

That issue is body confidence, or rather the lack thereof.  It's not an isolated issue. I know I'm not the only one who's bombarded by a barrage of edited, unrealistic images from every media outlet.

I was a confident child who was extremely active. I excelled at practically every sport, and had no issues with my body. Then I started going through some problems at home - right around the time I hit puberty. I gained a lot of weight  rapidly ( 50lbs in about a year ). Which is a lot for anyone, let alone a young person. Comfort eating got me to an unhealthy weight in no time.

first day of school
By the time I was ready to start high school my confidence was at rock bottom.  I had my widening hips and new breasts to contend with, and now my thighs were so large that they were rubbing. I also no longer had the flat stomach or  muscle tone that I used to.
at my heaviest weight

P.E was an embarrassing ordeal that involved communal changing rooms. Each P.E class left me hating my curvy body more and craving that of one of the many skinny girls that were changing alongside me. I wondered if those skinny girls were staring at me and judging me while I changed. I didn't know the loudest voices judging me were the ones in my head.
Fast forward to the year 2011, when I finally decided to make a change and committed to working tirelessly in the gym for 2 hours every day. I lost 40lbs of the 50 that I had gained and my body looked the best that it had in years.
after going in the gym for a few months.. I started to get my body back!!

I committed to making a lifestyle change. I stopped comfort eating and maintained the weight loss steadily only fluctuating by 5lbs either side of the scale.

I still had problems with the naturally 'thick' or big thighs that the Lord blessed me with. No matter how hard I'd try, they were still large.

Up until this year I didn't appreciate how beautiful the female body could be. In January I found out I was pregnant and since then there's been an amazing range of changes that my body has gone through. I never thought I would love my body more, the bigger that it gotten.

For those of you out there that are pregnant right now, or have had children I just want to say that you're doing an amazing job. Pregnancy stretches your skin and body in unbelievable ways, and you gain weight without even trying. A lot of times it leaves your body 'worse for wear' and doesn't live up to your expectations, even after you lose the weight.

It can be hard to not get upset when you see another stretch mark appearing on your skin - especially when you're hormonal, but in the grand scheme of things - stretch marks are irrelevant.

They don't make you any less sexy. Neither does stretched skin. I know girls that are completely insecure in their bodies and they have AMAZING bodies. It's less sexy than someone who has 'sexy stripes' (aka stretch marks) and still loves their body.

Bringing a child into this world changes you in ways that you wouldn't believe, but it's worth every bit of it.

I love my body now, because it's stronger. It's done something that half of the population can't do, and that's bring a child into the world. I've been it's sole provider and it's grown within me. It's taken from my body and given me weight, stretch marks, wider hips and confidence.

It's not about having a perfect body, it's about loving the one you have for what it can do.

Body confidence is an ongoing process. It doesn't matter what size your body is. What matters is your attitude.

The way I became body confident was I finally stopped criticizing myself. I appreciated my body for what it can do, and the fact that it's healthy and alive and strong. It's curvy and feminine. It doesn't matter that my legs might jiggle a bit.. I love them anyways because they are mine.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Guide to Using Fiverr

For those of you who don't know,.. Fiverr is a site where you can buy and sell all kinds of services starting at just $5 US. I don't generally buy from Fiverr, but I do some writing work over there. Here are my top tips for how to make the most of Fiverr.
  • Share your gigs everywhere, linked in , Twitter, Google +, Facebook. You never know where you might get a sale from. Also there's even a LinkedIn specifically for Fiverr sellers
  • Check out the buyer's request page a lot;  Although there are so many things I'd change about this page, it can provide some good gigs sometimes. This is where buyers specify what they want and sellers can send their gig for them to review. While not every person you send an order to will say yes ( most requests have 50+ bids) this is where I found a few of my regular clients.
  • Add a variety of gigs, make sure you're clear on what you're offering; to avoid confusion between you and potential buyers, put down all the info, not just a basic description. Also listing past experience etc can be helpful.
  • Make sure what you're doing is worth what you're getting paid. 
    • You can get an idea of what people are willing to pay for by looking at the popular gigs in the area which you want to work in. 
    • However, some people will take you for a ride in terms of what they can get for 5 bucks.
    •  At first when you're building experience and gaining clients it's not that bad to do a little extra for the $5 but over time, realize what your value is and increase your prices accordingly.
    • For example, when I first started I'd write up to 1000 words for $5. If you work it out, that's about 200 words a buck, and 0.005c per word. It also sucks if you have to do research etc for your $5. I'd say about 300 words is reasonable, because it's not time consuming and it's worth around 5 bucks. You decide what you want to work for though.
  • The amount of income you make is relative to gig extras: At first you can't get gig extras. After you do a bit of work and become a level one, or a level two seller you can offer extras up to $500 bucks, plus the five dollar sale ( minus the Fiverr tax obviously ).You can make good money if you put the time and effort in, and it's a great place for beginners and those who freelance as a 'side hustle'.
  • Take the time to correspond a lot: The number one thing you don't want to do is waste time. Make sure once a buyer has ordered to clarify anything you're unsure about. You don't want to go and write a whole article, eBook or whatever else and then you were totally off-course from what the buyer wanted, and have to do it again all before the order is due. [ there is a ticking clock which starts once the client's ordered your service]. Delivering late content or content that the client wasn't satisfied can get you bad recommendations. Recommendations affect your overall percentage of customer satisfaction, which in turn affects your seller status and your ability to make money.
  • Make sure your profile is complete: Adding a picture, and taking the time to input your qualifications is a no brainer. It gets you more sales. I must say that the site doesn't have a 'portfolio' spot though, and it's not as complicated as others. It's both a blessing and a curse in terms of being able to showcase your skills or lack thereof.
  • Don't rush the brush and expect a billion sales in 2 days. It takes 30 days and 10 good sales for you to become a level one seller. Before that, you're a sheep. You're officially the newbies and it can take a bit of time to get a reputation.
What are your opinions on using sites like Fiverr to make extra income?

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Grass Is Greener Where You Water It

Hi i'm aubrey from dreaming about someday. I'm happy to be taking over the blog today.

Life is kind of funny sometimes. Most of us have some kind of idea about how we want life to go. We have plans and hopes and dreams for the future, BUT life rarely goes the way we plan. Life throws curve balls and kinks into our plans. It's so easy to look at other people and think their lives are going exactly the way we want our lives to go. 

It's easy to look over and think the grass is so much greener over there. It's so easy to think of the what ifs and if onlys. The big problem is: that's so dangerous. Comparison is awful! Even if were possible to switch lives with someone, we wouldn't find the grass to be completely green. 

We're all familiar with the expression "the grass is always greener on the other side". so often that seems true. i actually prefer a different but similar expression...

the grass is greener where you water it. *click to tweet*

Like most other people, my life isn't turning out at all how I thought it would, but at the same time it is turning out so much better than I ever planned. I've come to realize, when I nurture and water the life I've been given - rather than lust after the life that I want that it is so much greener than i could have ever imagined.

Thanks so much for having me Jenny. 

You can come find me on social media or on the blog: and follow along as I attempt to water my own grass.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Hot Cup of Inspiration VII: Kory Woodward

Hey Everybody! Today it's the seventh installment in the 'Hot Cup of Inspiration' Interviews. Each Thursday I'll be interviewing a different creative entrepreneur. We'll chat with all sorts of people - from writers, to designers, jewelry makers and photographers to see just what makes them tick.
Today I'm chatting with Kory, from Kory Woodard Graphic & Web Design.

She's a blogger and self employed graphic designer .
 You can see other installments here:

Tell us a bit about your blog / business? 
I run a design business where I work with passionate women in helping them follow their dreams of blogging or running a small business. I also run a blog, and there I talk about all things business, freelance, and life!

When & why did you start your blog? Did your business come first or did your blog?
So, my blog came before my business, a whole year before! I started blogging because I had been interning for an online magazine and as I was getting more into the internet, I really was inspired by so many bloggers, and I wanted to start my own. Around this time I was a sophomore in college, and I felt like the blog would be a great place to explore my own design style and what I liked.

Are you self taught or did you go to school for your passion?
I did some design work prior to starting college, but I did attend school for it.

Have you always been interested in what you do?
Not always. In high school I was really interested in being a photographer, and I actually had several years of life planned out in my head. However, I ended up gravitating towards design as I felt more comfortable with it.

How do you stay motivated? 
That’s a tough one! I definitely have days where I just don’t feel like doing any work, but I’ll think about how I’m doing what I love or take a break from work to ease off if I’m just not feeling it. Most days, though, just the idea of having my own business that’s successful drives me!

What’s the best part of your job? 
My ultimate favorite part is getting to help women go after what they want to do. Whether it’s start a blog, rebrand their blog as they change their goals, or creating designs for small businesses, it’s so amazing to me that I get to help these ladies do what their hearts’ are calling them to.

Was there a ‘turning point’ for your blog/business? What was it? 
I would say I’ve had two turning points. The first for my blog would be when I started actively using social media instead of just playing around like most of us do when we first get on there. The other would be for business, when I graduated just a few months ago. I started looking at things totally different, and began thinking about ways to make the business THE way that I make money to take care of myself ( and eventually, my family ).

What’s the worst? 
The worst part of my job… mostly it’s probably keeping up with money! I’m not super great at it, so I haven’t nailed down the best way to do it; however, I do use a bookkeeping software and track ( almost ) everything via spreadsheets, so I try!

How do you stay organized? 
I’m not always as organized as I’d like to be, but I try to stay organized with a planner ( to keep up with my daily to dos, I also use the Todoist app for this ), a notebook for paperwork ( I print invoices, contracts, and project sheets for each project ), and I try to keep my digital files organized by saving something in it’s folder rather than just dropping everything on my desktop.

What’s your typical schedule like now that you own a business? 
My schedule is super open, and that’s one of the things that I love the most. A typical day, though, tends to go like this: wake up around 7:30-8:30, have coffee or tea, meditate + yoga ( which may happen at night instead ), catch up on some blogs, get to work. I tend to work until about 12:30 or so, which is when I have lunch. After that I get back to work until around 4:30-5, which is when I try to slow down work and either hang out with my family or get some stuff done for my blog.

What’s your advice to someone looking to start a business similar to yours? 
Just do it, and then keep doing it. Also, trust the journey. Freelancing can be a scary thing, but it doesn’t have to be. Just start, and trust that what’s meant to be will happen.

You can visit Kory over Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Second Trimester

While the first trimester was the hardest physically, I feel like the second took more of an emotional toll on me.

You can read about the first trimester *here* , and *here* are some tips on how to deal with morning sickness.

I felt like I couldn't process anything, but yet at the same time I couldn't stop thinking either. There were so many different thoughts and emotions swimming around in my head, and some of them seemed almost like they were arguing with each other. I generally tend to keep a lot of my feelings  inside, or at least I try to. It had really been building up though,

There was so much that I wanted to say, but either didn't or literally couldn't find the words. It's really a time when you have so many hormones in your body that what you say might not be what you mean. Or when you're irrationally upset by the fact that there's no cookies left.

I wasn't  about to go whining the situation that I very clearly allowed my SELF to get in to, because I believe you should stand up to your obligations and responsibilities and deal with the consequences of your actions.

I just kept my mouth shut, for most of  it. Instead I wrote what I felt inside, which goes something like this;

'In less than 5 months this little baby inside of me will be in my arms, and I'll be responsible for SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE. It's kind of a lot for me to comprehend the fact that I'll be the caregiver to a tiny person who can do nothing for themselves and who will grow up depending on how I mold them in their early years of life. I sure as heck don't want it to grow up to be me! I'm selfish and as I've come to realize I have a lot about myself that I still need to develop, let alone another person,'

'I can cry at the drop of a hat right now, what with the hormones and all - I mean I have so many feelings coursing through me right now it's insane, and I kind of feel like nobody told me this is how it would be when I signed up for this.'

'I have this resentment and guilt towards R that I hate myself for. It's not fair that he doesn't have to change anything and meanwhile my diet, body, mood and entire life has to change.'

It was a really transitional point in my life where I didn't nearly  feel ready for the task ahead, but I wished that my baby would hurry up and come already, so I could deal with it instead of worrying about it. I mean I'm one of those Type A planners and it niggled at me that there were so many unknowns.

I still feel like that - I think that we can adapt to anything though, so I'm not exactly scared - but apprehensive to be able to get adjusted to life with a new baby.

I also feel like I've gotten over the overly emotional part too, and the resentment I had towards Richard, because I realized how ridiculous I was being, and how miserable I was making myself telling myself things like:

  • he doesn't have to get fat
  • he doesn't have to get all this hormonal acne
  •  he can eat whatever he damn wants and drink whatever he damn wants meanwhile I have to eat  healthier and even when I don't feel like it.
  • he can drink beer and energy drinks
  • he can lay on his freaking stomach if he wants to.

I know I know it was childish, but we all have our moments.

I kind of really wasn't prepared for how under-appreciated I'd feel, and how tired I'd be. Or for how much stuff you have to buy and how expensive it can be. I wasn't expecting I'd outgrow about 70% of my wardrobe in the space of like 2 weeks either.

I also didn't think that it could hurt like hell when the baby kicks and take my breath away when it moves instead of it being all cute like in movies, or that the baby would super active until anyone else tries to feel it.

Little did I know that I'd have to take my clothes off at doctor visits - at this point way more medical staff have seen me naked than I'm comfortable with, but whatever. It also is realllllyy mortifiying when you have a young HOT male doctor doing a vaginal exam on you.. just FYI.

I also wasn't expecting to love my baby SO much when I've never even met him/her yet. I mean it's all completely worth it to bring another life into this world. I mean it's pretty darned amazing what the female body ... MY body can do, and I guess that makes me feel pretty special (if a little huge). I  never thought I’d worry so much when I felt less movement after being admitted to the hospital with a kidney infection. How hard I’d pray when they told me that it’s heartbeat was slow. How I’d beg my baby to kick me even if it hurt me just to let me know that it was alright. That was the scariest week of my life so far.

I'm was, and still am anxious to see my baby, find out it's gender and settle on a name, hold it in my arms and get back to actually being able to do a hardcore workout.

I'm putting a lot of faith in God at this time.. more than I thought I would need to before this all happened but I believe that he's given me a blessing and that having this baby will allow me to find contentment, grow and to be a better person. I believe now that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle and whilst my little peanut was somewhat unexpected/unplanned that it's come at exactly the right time and for a purpose.

For those of you that have been pregnant before, what was the second trimester like for you?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Following Your Dreams When It Gets Hard

One of the things about dreams is that they’re usually not easy. They seem all warm and lovely and shiny when we think of them, but pursuing them is a whole other side of the story. When you’re pursuing your dreams and you’re stressed, worn out and not seeing any real results it can be REALLY hard to push yourself to keep going. We've ALL been there.

‘your dreams are ball-busters; they’re not the yellow brick road’ - Kelly Cutrone.

Dreams aren't meant to be easy
Your dreams are meant to intimidate you, scare you and at the same time make you want to pursue them all the more. If your dreams don’t do that, then sweetheart; you’re not dreaming big enough. Your dreams aren't supposed to fit in a neat little package that you can tie with a pretty ribbon.

 If your dreams don’t challenge you, you’re never going to grow as a person.

Pick your ass up off the floor and try again
Okay, so you've hit a road-bump while you’re driving towards your goal. Are you gonna allow yourself to get stuck in a stupid little pot-hole when you could  keep going?
Maybe that business you were so passionate about isn’t bringing in the sales you thought it would. Should you give up? Sure as hell not! 

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts
 - Winston Churchill.

Failing doesn't mean that you’re finished with your goal, it means you learned something the hard way. EVERY experience is valuable.

Visualize your end result
The thought of one day being a successful writer, or a surgeon or for some people even a mom is what makes a fire of passion burn in their belly. Don’t forget and let that flame in your belly go out when you’re past the dreaming and into the doing stage. 

One of the most important things when you’re trying to achieve a goal is how it will make you feel when you finally get what you wanted. Keep visualizing that end point and don’t let go of it.

Know When It’s Time to Let Go:
While I don’t advocate giving up on your dreams, I do advocate that you re-assess them. At least once a year you need to be sitting down with yourself and getting your ‘ish straightened out. Are the goals you had as a teenager still relevant when you’re a 30 year old mom of 2? Most likely not. 

Make sure that all of your goals still apply to your life and will be BENEFICIAL to you. We’re not here just to do things so we can say we did them!

In the comments I want you to share one of those goals that really make you giddy when you think about it. I also want you to tell me what the hell you’re doing to achieve it too! 

You can do this.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Hot Cup of Inspiration VI: Ashley Torchia

Hey Everybody! Today it's the sixth installment in the 'Hot Cup of Inspiration' Interviews. Each Thursday I'll be interviewing a different creative entrepreneur. We'll chat with all sorts of people - from writers, to designers, jewelry makers and photographers to see just what makes them tick.
Today I'm chatting with the Ashley, from Ashley Torchia Photography.
She's a blogger and self employed photographer of 4 years.

You can see other installments here:

Welcome Ashley! Tell me a little about what you do :
 I am a portrait photographer based out of South West Florida and I specialize in families and high school seniors.  My business is based around building self confidence, self worth, and self awareness through my sessions.  From teens up to adults my goal is to have my clients walk a little taller, smile a little bigger and see themselves in a better light after they leave my studio.  You can see my work at or catch up on the latest on my blog

How long have you been doing photography?
About 4 years since I have opened my doors.  I have been part-time for the beginning 3.5 years but since this past summer I have decided to go full time.

Did you major in a creative field at a college/university or are you self taught?
Throughout my high school  years I was in as many photography classes as possible and on the yearbook staff.  But sadly I did not realize until later on that I could actually make a career out of photography.  I went to college to study Physical Education because I had a deep love for teaching self confidence in children.

Wow! Such different fields! I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger.  
Yes, it is but the same passion is there-working with teens and teaching them self worth is all part of the heart of my business.  I just knew I didn't want to work for anyone other then myself.  Going into the photography world has allowed me to fulfill both of those desires.

What is the best thing about being a full-time photographer?
Being able to make my own destiny.  There is no corporate bull to deal with.  If I put in the effort I see the rewards.  It is very fulfilling.
What is your typical work schedule like?
I am a stay at home mama along with running a successful petite in-home studio.  I have an 8 year old that heads off to school and a 3 year old that stays home with me during the day.  My schedule usually goes something like this but as most of you parents know-kids usually have different ideas when it comes to how our day is going to be spent. Haha.  But here is a rough outline of my day.  I get up at 6am and until 7am I am getting my 8 year old ready for school, eating breakfast, and inhaling coffee.  Once I send him off to the bus me and my 3 year old hang watch cartoons, play, eat some more breakfast, I drink another cup of coffee and just enjoy waking up.  We hang out until around 8am.  We then head upstairs where I can then look over my plan for the day.  This can take around 15 minutes.  I see what I have on my plate, schedule calls, and map out how I would like the day to shape up to be.  After that I rock out my to do list until 10am.  I break for a snack and play time with my little.  This is key when dealing with kids at home.  You cannot ignore them or go, go, go all day.  My brain needs and welcomes the break and so does my little.  We hang out for about 45 minutes.  I then bust out the rest of my list or any new projects from 10:45-noon.  At noon we eat lunch.  If I have used my time wisely I shouldn't require anymore time to spend away from my daughter.  

If I am slammed (holiday season) or have a lot of projects I am working on I will return and work from 1-2pm.  Once 2pm hits I am no longer photographer and I am stay at home mama.  That is when I tidy up the house and do personal tasks for me and my family.  At 3:30 my son arrives home and until his head hits the pillow at 8 it is homework, dinner and family time. From 8 until 11pm is time to spend watching tv and snuggling up with my hubby on the couch.  This is my favorite time of the day.  Usually with a glass of wine in hand I unravel from the day and get ready to hit the next day with the same intensity.  Because my family comes first I shoot on the weekends and take one night during the week for order sessions.  

So the rest of the time is spent editing etc for clients?
I schedule everything out.  I give myself a week to get editing done per shoot.  I usually tell my clients two weeks to expect a session back but I know in my head I’m shooting for a week.  My studio is not high volume (except for holiday season) so I generally take one session a week.  I do not like to take more then that.  That way I know I can give my all to that clients experience and my family is happy as well.  The rest of the week I will batch blog posts, social media posts and marketing plans to fill in my day to day that I just talked about. 

What’s your advice for someone who’s interested in starting a photography business?
I would say if it is your passion do it!!  But passion is all well and good but you cannot go in blind thinking as long as you have a semi good camera you can just open up shop one day and boom clients will be knocking down your door.  I would say to run a successful photography studio (in-home or brick n mortar) you have to be good in business.  I would say that is where most of us fail, on the business side.  My advice is to get your ducks in a row.  Before you invest heavily I would practice, practice, practice.  Work on your technical side, composition, POSING, business and then open up shop.  If you don’t know about the business side it is OK.  There are plenty of mentors out there that can offer advice.  But just make sure they are reputable.  If they say sell 100 images for $25 RUN!! Choose someone who can help you value your worth even though you are just starting will be the best thing that can happen to a new photographer.  Get help, ask questions, and never lose that passion!

You can show Ashley some Link Love here:

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Foods & Tips to Get You Through Morning Sickness

I can honestly say that morning sickness was the worst 12 week period of my life ever. I wasn't hospitalized due to my morning sickness, but I still ended up pretty much bed-ridden for 3 months of my life. I lost weight due to hardly being able to eat, and when I could eat, I still wasn't able to eat sufficiently to gain much weight. Thankfully it only lasted from around 4 weeks, to about 15 weeks for me, but some others have sickness that lasts their entire pregnancy.

I had to stop going to college because I literally couldn't even stand up for more than a couple of minutes without feeling like I was going to faint and vomiting.

Here's what I ate, and the tips that got me through those 3 months.

Pretty much the only proper food I could eat was :
Chicken Breast - lightly done with only salt & pepper.After this I could move on to Chicken Breast w/ toast & BBQ sauce. It sounds disgusting but it's really not bad.
I also tried to eat bread with whatever I was eating since that would settle my stomach a bit.

For some reason I wasn't really able to keep down water, so apple juice and sprite seemed to settle my stomach. It's important to take small sips of whatever you can handle to cut down the likelihood that you'll bring it back up

Dry Crackers: hardly the most appetizing, but dry crackers like Ryvita were one of the only things that would curb my nausea somewhat.

Corn pops or any dry cereal such as rice crispies. Cereal was okay for me as well. I don't take milk anyways so it wasn't a struggle to eat dry cereal.

Hard Candy: hard candy is a life saver. Morning sickness can leave this horrible taste in your mouth that makes you feel even more nauseous. It also helped me to be around other smells and not be as affected by them, since I had something that tasted nice in my mouth.

Pretzels: Like all the other starchy things, pretzels went down well too. I like the hard-dough salted kind and they sure beat just plain crackers !


  • Eating Little: Don't try to pack your stomach full of food. Chances are you'll see it again pronto, so try to pace yourself eating smaller portions.
  • Eating Often: Since you'll be eating smaller portions, you need to eat more often. It's better to eat 5-6 times than try to have 3 large meals. I found if I ate something small every 2-3 hrs that minimized the nausea.
  • Drinking enough fluids: You need to make sure that you are getting enough liquid into your body. You might not want to drink more since it seems like you live in the bathroom right now, but you're literally growing a small person and you NEED the water in your body to stay hydrated. Trust me, if you get dehydrated you'll only feel worse. Being more tired than you are right now IS possible and WILL happen if you allow yourself to become dehydrated.
  • Taking a ginger supplement or Gravol: depending on your views on taking medication during pregnancy , you could try either ginger ( for natural advocates) or Gravol.
 My doctor recommended Gravol to me, but I personally don't like to take any medication if I can help it, since doctors don't know exactly how it could adversely affect YOUR baby. Even if they have been 'studied' everyone is different and I like to keep the risks minimal. Even those medications that have been tested mostly aren't tested in depth... and I don't blame them. I wouldn't want to test drugs during pregnancy either.

Ginger nut biscuits saved my life but you could try ginger tea if you don't like those biscuits.
  • Don't try to eat too fast:  Trying to eat too much or too fast will only result in you tasting your food a second time. Trust me - it never tastes good the second time around.
  • Distract yourself when eating: rather than concentrating on how much you don't want to eat. I found if I read a book, or tried to concentrate on something on TV while eating I could eat a little more than if I was just sitting down with my food and no distractions. 
  • Sit up straight while you're eating: You probably just want to lay down, but trust me - acid reflux is THE last thing that you want.

Foods to Avoid:
Heavily Fried/ Seasoned Stuff

Morning sickness is one of the most testing symptoms of pregnancy and it's important to deal with it the right way. If you're going through it right now, don't let it get you down.

Everything is for a season, and this too shall pass. It doesn't matter if you can't eat the healthiest diet, or do the 5 work outs a week that you had planned. As long as you're taking pre-natal vitamins your baby is getting EVERYTHING it needs to grow healthily and that's all that matters.

I spent too much of my time feeling sorry for myself and I regret it, so don't let that be you.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a doctor or medical health professional. Eat these foods and try these medications at your own discretion and consult your doctor before taking any new medications, especially while pregnant.