It’s Time to Hop Skip Jump

November 11, 2014

hop_skip_jump

The truth of the matter is, I don’t play enough in my life. Plain and simple. I’m a fun-loving kinda gal but even still, I easily slip into routines where work is put first and play is only “allowed” when the work is over. The trickiest part of that is that it’s rare the work ever gets done. I learned that a long time ago and still, I find myself stuck in that trap again and again.

When I was introduced to Hop, Skip, Jump 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life by Marney K. Makridakis I was intrigued and excited to hear that it wasn’t about work or play or even work vs. play, it was about the power of integrating them together. I love the idea of having more fun and getting more done. Who knew? Thankfully Marney does and she shares tips, tricks, tools and techniques to help us tap into play in a whole new way. Imagine being more playful and more productive? I know, it sounds awesome, right? It is. Hop, Skip, Jump takes a refreshing and fun approach to discovering our individual “play personality” which can be our ally in manifesting our best life.

Hop_Skip_JumpInterested in finding out your own personal “play personality” style? Take the simple (and fun) quiz to discover yours and get a free productivity pack geared to your own style. FYI, mine is SKIP.

And because it’s book launch day, Marney is offering the coolest incentive to ordering a copy (or copies) of the book today through her website; with each book ordered today through her site you receive a $15 Artella eGift certificate. Fun!


A Year From Now

August 4, 2014
Julia

One of my favorite recent portraits of my daughter. She edited the shot, captured by her dear friend.

The title of this post has been swimming around in my head for the past few months. It hit me sometime during the week my daughter came home from high school with news of where her senior friends were deciding to go to school. “A year from now.” I thought, “my daughter will be deciding where she will go.” Gulp. Since then, I have been thinking of all the different things I want to write on the subject and have been planning to compile the perfect post. When will I learn that the perfect post never comes? There’s never really the perfect words at the perfect time. Instead, it’s almost always quite the contrary. The words come (perfect or imperfect, depending on how you look at it) when the emotions bring them rushing to the surface. And, as I’m sure most of us have experienced, that never seems to be the right time, let alone perfect.

A few days ago I caught the title of a post from Cathy Zielske in one of my social media feeds; “How am I Going to do This?” and my heart got caught in my throat. I knew exactly what she was writing about. I know that she’s got a daughter, just a year ahead of my own, getting ready to head to college. I didn’t read the post that day. I waited. Until about a half hour ago and I can hardly pull myself together. And now, of course, I must write because the words have come with the emotion, just like they always do. The irony is that we’re having my in-laws over in a few hours to watch the college tour slideshow and I should be making the coleslaw. Timing is everything.

As for the perfect things I wanted to say about all of this right now, that’s not happening. Not now anyway. I’m still a year out after all from seeing my daughter off, but I KNOW how fast this next year is going to go and with this summer being all about the great college hunt, it’s been on my mind almost all the time. It’s been on all of our minds around here. I guess, more than anything, just want to document it. I just want get it down in writing that I’m scared and excited and nervous and eager all at the same time. For her. For me. For all of us.

Despite the inevitable tears, reading Cathy’s post (and so many thoughtful comments from other moms) comforted me.  It’s soul soothing when you’re reminded you’re not alone; especially in transitions, uncertainty and bittersweet mama moments. It’s so helpful to read words of those that go before you so that you can gather inspiration and courage and arm yourself with wisdom and truth as you walk as graciously as you can through the parts of motherhood that can both fill you with joy and break your heart (often at the same time). I will carry Cathy’s mantra with me this next year and will certainly cherish our family time together, but will also keep in mind that what comes next for my daughter will be hers to claim;  her story, her adventure and her life. And I of course will have the honor and privilege of cheering her on from here, pom-pom in one hand, tissue in the other.

 


Blogust 2014 : Happy and Healthy Firsts

August 1, 2014

Dr Visit

It’s that time of year again! The time where your comments (and shares and likes) are currency, quite literally. I believe it was the bright and beautiful Liz Gumbinner who coined that phrase 3 years ago (brilliant, yes?) and that idea was the impetus for Blogust; the inspiring and life-changing project created by Devi Thomas supported by the entire Shot at Life team and brought to life by bloggers like you and me. I can’t begin to tell you how much of an honor it is to be an “alumni” of Blogust, having the pleasure of sharing my story on Aug 10 2012. A story, not unlike all the others shared by the Blogust team, where each comment someone shared actually translated into a vaccine for a child who desperately needed one. A simple comment gave a child the shot at the healthy and happy life they so deserve.  And so the torch is passed.

Today, August 1st, I’m thrilled to announce that myself and all the other alumni are kicking off Blogust, round 3 with posts and Instagram pix and a Twitter kickoff party (Aug 1st 1pm ET- Join us)!  Blogust is a blog celebration where each day of August, a new inspiring blogger shares a story about the happy and healthy firsts that they have experienced in their own lives. Follow along each day and leave your comment on each post to be sure you’re contributing to the cause. It’s an important one. And all it takes is a comment to donate a vaccine (thanks to the help of Walgreens). It’s that easy.

In honor of the theme, I wanted to share a window into my world of happy and healthy firsts. Of course, when I think of that phrase, my mind immediately goes to moments like “first steps” or “first tooth” or even “first day of school”. I’ve long passed those milestones with my girls and am grateful for every one. Ironically, the firsts don’t end there. They just keep coming. And regardless how grown up my babies are getting, these more grown up firsts still feel as huge, as exciting, as monumental as those precious early firsts (if not moreso). And with that, I want to share just a few of the images that I was getting in real time via my oldest daughter’s instagram feed just a few weeks ago. Her First College Tour Road Trip. Happy and healthy, as she maps out the course of her bold and brilliant future.

College Pix on Instagram

How amazing is that? Be still my mama heart.

OK, I shared mine (sniff sniff) now you share yours. How about it? Leave a comment here today sharing your favorite “first” to date (or just to say hello) and in exchange, a child will be vaccinated.

Thank you

 

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000).  Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world. 

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visitshotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, let’s get this happy and healthy party started!


On Growing Up

June 16, 2014

Sisters

I have started a million posts lately and have yet to finish even one and yet, because I so desperately want to get something down, I will at least start with this image. It’s one that takes my breath away. And it prompted me to at least try to share my thoughts.

June is always a challenging month; busier than the holiday and more emotionally charged. June means transitions, milestones, and endings. June brings a change in weather, attitude, and outlook. June is the start of summer and at the same time is the end of all that the other seasons brought. It’s the end of quantities known and the beginning of so much unknown. June is excitement and reluctance, anticipation and hesitation, exhaling and holding our breath. I suppose it’s no wonder that it’s been difficult to write about it. And because this June brings an end of an era (my baby is promoting out of Elementary School and into Middle School) it makes it feel even bigger than usual.

With each passing year I feel the intensity of what I call the push and pull get stronger. I see my girls both wanting to grow up and become more independent while at the same time both looking over their shoulders, making sure they don’t get too far ahead. Making sure I’m still in sight. They push me away, I want to pull them back. I push them along, they pull me back.  Sometimes I am filled with happiness about it all. Other times I feel so heartbroken. And so it has gone since they were babies.

I came across this quote thought of no better way to express the emotion of it all. Leave it to The Wonder Years to say it better than I ever could.

“Growing up is never easy. You hold on to things that were. You wonder what’s to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn’t have to hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves… for growing up.”

*sob*


Photo Fun at Disneyland and #DisneySMMoms

June 3, 2014

It’s no secret that I’m a Disney fan. In fact, it runs in the family. But, you probably knew that already. What’s been so much fun is that it seems now more than ever so many of our many Disney paths are coming together. I can’t help but envision the Hub at Disneyland. In case you don’t know that story, all roads within Disneyland lead to the hub. Yep. It feels kinda like that. Disney people, places, events, opportunities have been popping up like hidden Mickeys. It feels, in a word, magical.

For one thing, I’m really looking forward to getting to share my passion for photography at the soon-coming Disney Social Media Moms On the Road Celebration in Phoenix.  I honestly can’t think of two things that go together any better than photography and Disney. Which got me thinking. What is it about Disney (more specifically the Disney Parks) that makes it so much fun to get ridiculously snap happy? Let’s see…the key word here has got to be happy. The Disney Parks are quite simply, my family’s happy place.

Being So Cal natives (yes, 99% of my family and extended family lives here) certainly works to our advantage when it comes to visiting the Disney Parks. Which means, we’re there a lot. And we’re taking more pictures than we know what to do with. And why not? Nothing could be more fun to capture than magic and make-believe! Am I right?

To celebrate the kick-off of the Disney Social Media Moms On the Road Events this summer, I thought I’d share a few of my Favorite Phone Photographs from Disneyland, plus a few words on the shots that might inspire you to shoot more on your next visit! Bonus: Over at Disney Sisters, we’re sharing phone photos captured at Disney California Adventure. Just because, we love both parks so much!

The Iconic Shot

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland

True, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle has been photographed a gazillion times but you gotta get the shot! I have noticed that shooting it almost every visit, there are always external variables that change the way it looks. In this case, I was lucky to have some interesting clouds to add some drama. Capturing it from inside of Fantasy Land (instead of from Main Street) brings a little something unique.

On a Ride

Autopia Ride at Disneyland

It’s not always easy to capture a moving target. In other words, ride shots aren’t always that easy. In this case, we pulled up at the end of riding Autopia, waiting in the traffic (it is So Cal afterall) and as the car began a slight curve, I was able to call to my daughter so she’d peek her head out. The cars were still so I could capture a prefect moment of her very first solo-ride on Autopia. Focusing on her happy face turned what could have been a regular snapshot into something a little more special.

Sweet Treats

Dole Whip at Disneyland Park

After all these years of visiting Disneyland, I can’t recall ever getting a Dole Whip. That was, until recently. Now, I’m hooked.  When it comes to capturing a shot like this, I wanted the main focus to be the treat itself (which it is because of the cropping) but my favorite part of the shot is my daughter’s smirk. So began our Dole Whip love affair.

Timeless

Main Street Disneyland

Rarely would you consider processing pictures from a trip to Disneyland into Black & White but in this case, the monochromatic pallet made for some good old fashioned Disney magic. My daughter’s high tops against the texture of the Main Street grate helped up the classic factor.

 

Night Shots

King Arthur Carrousel at Disneyland Park

Disneyland at night is fill of wonder.  The way the park is lit up at night will make anyone a believer. I have such good luck shooting night shots with my iPhone, I never hesitate trying my hand at capturing a magical glow. From the glow of dusk to the darkness of late night, photos of Disneyland at night are some of my all time favorites. In this case, I choose to blur the lights with the selective focus tool in Instagram. It gave it just the effect I was after.

Giveaway time:

Phone Photography Project givaway

Now for some more fun! All you need to do is leave a comment here on this post, sharing your favorite Disney photo subject  (could be anything) and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win a spot in the online summer photo class The Phone Photography Project and a copy of Elevate the Everyday: A Photographic Guide to Motherhood. If you love taking pictures as much as I do, you will LOVE the class and the book.

You have until Sunday 6/8 midnight PT to enter. I’ll announce winner on Monday. YAY!

I did mention that Disney Sisters are sharing photos too, right? Go check them out. They’re rad. My sisters and their pictures!

 

Updated 6/10: Congratulations Stephanie! You won the spot in class and a copy of Elevate the Everyday!


Another Bird Story

May 26, 2014

Western Bluebird Babies

Last year, about this time, I was enjoying keeping tabs on a hummingbird nest in our backyard. It became a highlight of my season for so many reasons. Although once the babies flew (or more like burst) the coop, the nest deteriorated and has not been rebuilt or re-inhabited, we have had a new species appear. For the first time since we’ve lived in this house, a family of Western Bluebirds have moved in. A birdhouse that has hung vacant for over 10 years is now being put to good use.

Meet mama:

Mama Bluebird

Meet papa:
Papa Bluebird
Both parents are working tireless around the clock to keep the family nurtured and nourished and are very protective (hence the daily dive-bombings from Papa aimed at our dogs and even us, depending on how close we get).  From what I can tell, there’s at least 3 small mouths to feed, maybe more.

I think I’ll be treating myself to another lens rental again for the joyous occasion. That said, I’m pretty sure there will be more photos to follow.