Life

London + Paris

Last month Chris and I had the opportunity to spend the week in London. It was a trip designed for both work and play. Throughout the week Chris met with several other pastors from all over England and the US and learned all about how God is moving and transforming lives from one corner of the world to another. I was able to meet up with some old college friends and do a styled shoot, as well as see some family, and explore. It was an amazing week and we learned so much!

I’ll be honest, London was never on my list of places to visit. In fact, when I knew that we would be that close to Paris, I immediately booked us train tickets and a hotel room just so we could see the Eiffel Tower and experience Paris, even if it was for only 24 hours. Going into the week I was looking more forward to Paris, but as soon as I started walking around London I immediately fell in love and never wanted to leave! I couldn’t get over how beautiful all the architecture was, how the shops were a perfect blend of modern and tradition, and how friendly everyone was. Like, really REALLY friendly! I had multiple people notice the confused look on my face at the underground stations and would offer to help. One day someone walked three blocks out of their way just to point Chris in the right direction. Everyone smiled and said cheers and there was even “Quotes of the day” at some of the underground stations on the white boards! I mean c’mon! How friendly is that?! I pretty much fell in love with the city and am currently trying to talk to Chris into moving there (just kidding… kinda!). But until I can make that happen I’ll just walk down memory lane with some of our pictures from the week. Below is a collection of IPhone and camera photos. Hope you enjoy looking through them, and if you haven’t been yet, I hope they inspire you to book your tickets!

Anytime I visit a new city I love checking out local coffee shops and book stores. Brown and Rosie was the perfect spot for me to warm up in one afternoon and had the yummiest hot chocolate! Naturally I freaked out and hade to take a selfie with the red photo booth! And what I would give to have the smell of this book store come through your screen right now! You could literally smell the paper pages! I thumbed through a couple of the books but ended up buying a few Paddington chapter books for the girls!2018-02-19_00192018-02-19_00202018-02-19_00212018-02-19_0018Chris and I started one of our mornings at the Kensington Creperie and it was ahhhhmaaazing!!! Seriously, the British know how to cook! Nothing like having a milk chocolate and strawberry crepe for breakfast! 2018-02-19_0017We jumped on the underground and headed to Paddington Station per the girls request. We were pleased to find a Paddington statue at the station and it won us major brownie points with the kids! 🙂 2018-02-19_00042018-02-19_00142018-02-19_0015When planning our trip this was a must see for Chris! We had a great time taking turns walking across Abbey Road and making sure we didn’t get hit by a car! And for those of you who aren’t music people, this is a reference to the Beatles .2018-02-19_00012018-02-19_00032018-02-19_00022018-02-19_0016Buckingham Palace was on my must see list and I loved every minute of it. Oh how I wish it would have been May 19th!2018-02-19_00222018-02-19_0023The infamous balcony that Prince Harry and Megan will be standing on in a few short months, and the road that will be filled with thousands of people trying to catch a glance at the newlyweds! 2018-02-19_00262018-02-19_00242018-02-19_00252018-02-19_0027At the end of the day we headed over to 5:00 mass at Westminster Abbey. It was just as beautiful as it looked on tv when I watched Prince William and Kate’s wedding a few years ago. No cameras or phones were allowed to be out, but we walked out to see the outside illuminated with these beautiful colors!2018-02-19_0036The next morning we boarded a train to Paris. 2018-02-19_00402018-02-19_00322018-02-19_0034As many pictures as I take, Chris and I have very few professional ones of just the two of us. When we went to New York a few years ago I wanted to book a photographer to do a session with us there, and never got around to it and regretted it. I searched all over and found the perfect photographer for us to do a session at the Eiffel Tower. Does it get any cooler than that? Tim Moore was amazing and if/when we go back we can’t wait to connect with him again! 2018-02-19_00092018-02-19_00052018-02-19_00132018-02-19_00072018-02-19_00062018-02-19_00082018-02-19_00122018-02-19_00102018-02-19_0011The Eiffel Tower at night was magical! 2018-02-19_00312018-02-19_0030The next morning we woke up early to see sunrise and take a few more pics at the Eiffel Tower. We had breakfast at the best french cafe and bought a few macaroons for souvenirs at a little bakery. We met a sweet lady who happened to be from Florida that snapped a few pics of Chris and I.2018-02-19_00352018-02-19_00332018-02-19_00372018-02-19_0038

bon voyage!

xoxo

Life

5 Steps to Reset & Live the Life You’re Called to Live!

Have you ever wanted a re-do? A fresh start? A new chapter in your life story? I’m sure you have! I think we all have! We’re always waiting for a Monday, a new month, or a new year. But guess what! I’m about to let you in on a huge secret:

There’s nothing special about those days!
The only thing “special” about those days is that
it’s the day you chose to do things differently.

You don’t have to wait another year, another month, another day, or another hour! You can reset your life and begin living the life you’re called to live right this minute. I know it sounds like a huge task, and in some ways it is, but in so many ways it isn’t.

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I had the opportunity to spend last weekend at the beach. I wanted to do this at the end of 2017 in order to prepare for 2018, but life didn’t allow it. So in November I booked the first available weekend my husband had free to watch the kids and that just happened to be on the 4th day of the new year. At first I was kind of bummed about it. I really really wanted to be able to hit the ground running on January 1st. I wanted to have all my dreams, plans, and goals well thought out and executed by the first day of the new year. I was afraid I would fall behind or appear unorganized. I was fearful that someone else might have some of the same ideas I did, but have the time to showcase them first. But I had to let it go. January 4th-6th was the time I had and that would need to be good enough.

I began the weekend off slowly. I read, prayed, did a self-inventory, worked through my powersheets and had great conversations with girlfriends that came along. As I was eating lunch I received a message from another friend in the wedding industry letting me know that she saw my IG story and that her and 6 others were also away for the weekend working on their goals and dreams for the new year. Imagine that! Seven other women in the same industry as I am also not starting on exactly the first day of the year! Maybe I would be ok after all 😉

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As I was decompressing at the end of the weekend and scrolling through some of my favorite photographers Instagram accounts for inspiration, I stopped on one of their statuses and after reading it just laughed to myself. She was talking about how overwhelming social media can be at times. She went on to explain that she had worked so hard the past few days to dream and make goals and plan the new year and finally got everything all on paper. She jumped on IG to share her excitement and was quickly deflated by what she saw as a ton of “boss babes” already turning their 2018 dreams into a reality. I assured her she wasn’t the only one, and honestly, it was comforting for me to know I wasn’t either. It was more confirmation that we’re all on different journeys, with different timelines and capacities. More confirmation that it doesn’t necessarily always matter when you start, just that you do!

So I want to share with you 5 ways I was able to reset my mind, plans, and dreams last weekend in hopes of being intentional and focused on living the life I believe I’m called to live.

{Huge disclaimer: I am no life coach! We’re all so very different and in no way do I think these are five magical steps. What worked for me may not work for you. But I do believe that if you’re just sitting there waiting for that “new day”, these steps are better than that ;)}

 

Step 1: Find your happy place

This place for me is the beach. The sound of the waves crashing back and forth stills my mind. The emptiness of the coast during the winter gives me the solitude I need. The gentle winds rushing through the dunes fills my heart with peace. The vastness of the ocean reminds me of how small I am and how big He is. It’s a place where time seems to slow down for a moment and I can reset. The beach may not be that place for you. It certainly isn’t for my husband! There is nothing peaceful or relaxing about water that burns his eyes and trillions of sand particles that stick to you and you find in weird places for days later. The beach is not his happy place and it might not be for you either. You have to find that place. It may be a weekend away at a B&B, or an afternoon in your favorite coffee shop. It might look like an hour a day by your windowsill, or a morning walk in your neighborhood. Whatever place it is, find it and go!

Step 2: Get quiet

Once you’re in your happy place, get quiet. This might be one of the hardest exercises for me! In fact, just writing this has been hard. I’ve probably been distracted by a text, notification, kid, or anything else half a dozen times already, ha! But I will say, being in my happy place makes this easier than doing it anywhere else! It will take a few minutes and that’s ok. Take a few deep breathes, bring your wandering mind back from your to-do list, and just rest. Rest in the nothing. Rest in the silence. Just rest.

Step 3: Reflect on the past, evaluate the present, and dream of the future.

When you’ve rested in silence for a few minutes and cleared your mind, begin a self-inventory. I always break things up into three areas: Spiritual, Emotional, and Physical. My spiritual health has to do with my faith, spiritual disciplines that I want in my life, and the community I have around me. My emotional health has to do with my mind, my relationships with my family members, and how I’m staying balanced in general. My physical health has to do with how I’m taking care of me. Am I being self disciplined in what I’m eating? Am I relieving stress in positive ways? Am I taking care of me (and sometimes that means getting a good hair wash and pedicure!)?

As I think about these three areas I reflect on where they’ve been in the past and where they are now. Have I grown in the right direction or have I been neglecting one of those areas? I dream of what I want it to look like in the future. And I really mean dream. I don’t journal (though you might find that helpful). I don’t use words. I just picture in my head what I want those areas of life to look like. I dream of what it would look like if I had balance in all three areas of my life. Where would my faith be? How would my relationships change? How would I feel about myself?

Step 4: Focus on one thing at a time

I get it! This can seem overwhelming! If you’re anything like me, when it seems like there’s so much to do, I just don’t do any of it! But that’s where I had to tell myself, “one thing at a time”. I read in Cultivate What Matters, “You can’t simultaneously do it all and do it well. But you can choose to cultivate what matters right where you are.” Don’t try to do all the things (this is me eating my own words – my mom is laughing at me right now). I suggest choosing one thing in each area to focus on. Something a little like this:

Spiritually: Join a She Reads Truth study guide.

Emotionally: Serve my husband by making the bed every day this week (#babysteps #amiright?!)

Physically: Work out twice this week …. and maybe even schedule that pedicure!

Step 5: Plan to move forward

You’re at your happy place, you’ve cleared your mind, you’ve evaluated critical areas of life, and you’re focusing on one thing at a time that can help you live a cultivated, meaningful life that you’re called to live. Now what? Now that you know where you want to move to, come up with simple, minimal steps to get there. For example, I knew that in 2018 I wanted to blog more. I wanted to share my clients and my heart with you all. So one night I devoted about two hours to figuring out how to make this easier for me and not something else that took time away from my family or took hours of sleep away from my nights. I spent the first hour brainstorming content. The second hour was spent making a blog schedule. It was exciting, productive, and has helped a ton with my time management. I’m no longer crunched for time staying up the night before writing blogs. I’m actually wrapping this up at 2:30 in the afternoon while all the kids nap/rest. This has helped keep blogging off of a dreaded to-do list and moved into something that I’m prepared to do and that has actually become a lot of fun for me! But in complete transparency, let’s jump back to 2017 when blogging was a small part of a goal I had. I had a simple goal, but no plan in place to accomplish it, therefore, nothing happened. I shot so many wonderful brides and grooms last year at gorgeous venues, and never got to share them with you. I had an incredible journey of growth last year, but never got to open my heart to you and encourage you. I had great intentions with no plan and therefore no blog! No plan means no moving forward. You made time for your happy place, you’ve done the hard work of quieting yourself and doing an honest self- inventory, now it’s your turn to reap all the benefits. You have dreams. You have goals. Now make them happen!

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I hope this has been encouraging for you. You may not be able to relate, but I have lived so many years letting life happen to me and spending too many days in pure survival mode. I had three kids in four years, a husband in full time ministry, friendships and relationship to maintain, and a small business to run. The thought of cultivating anything seemed so far away as I was trying to keep up with everything. The last several years my happy place looked more and more like a quiet bedroom the first 15 minutes my husband got home and many of my goals were to just get through the day without yelling or growing impatient. If that’s where you find yourself, that’s ok too. You can still make things happen. Those goals that may appear small now are cultivating the bigger things for later. It’s ok to grow slow, as long as you’re growing.

And here’s a little bonus step for you: Embrace the imperfections and shower yourself with grace.

Love you friends!

xoxo