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Posts tagged Mindfulness
Mentally Preparing for Your Engagement Session

I start every couples’ photo session with a one-minute meditation. Here's why: 

When people show up for a photo shoot, they've usually just had an argument.

Yep, almost everyone. And that’s totally ok.

Clients arrive, looking gorgeous and smiling nervously...
But it’s a tense, tight, “We just sat in traffic and couldn’t find parking, and one of us made us late and the other took a wrong turn and neither of us agreed on outfits, and also we MUST BE IN LOVE and look good and this is going to be super awkward, AND we want this photographer to like us….” type of smile.

So I tell them – DON'T WORRY! I'm going to start with my Little Pep Talk. And then I trick them into meditation. Er, I mean lead them in a meditation.

Afterwards – after a bunch of deep breaths, some hand holding (them, not me), a medium amount of giggling, and more deep breaths – we all open our eyes and I explain why we just did this.

When I note that everyone gets in a fight on their way to the shoot, the couple bursts into laughter, saying “OMG we did too!”  They look at each other like, Yesss!
They're on the same team again.
All is well. 
Genuinely in-love eye-gazing and snuggling ensues. 

Life is life. There are new experiences to deal with and old issues that pop up, and THAT’S OK. 
Breathing. Helps. 

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The reason we do these photo-worthy things in the first place is because they are FUN, and joyful and lovely! Romance, nostalgia, celebration, togetherness – remember, the actual purpose behind photos and events?!

So, as you approach the holiday season, dinner with in-laws, family and engagement photos, BREATHE.

A little bit about me.

You may be wondering how I came to know all this random, wonderful info. To be honest, I’ve experienced my fair share of anxiety and awkwardness. I'm a feeler – emotion guides my definition of beauty, and defines what a worthy image is. This is a highly beneficial quality when holding space for others, making them comfortable, and witnessing intimate moments. But it also makes me a sensitive soul, and us sensitive souls gotta be proactive about our emotional health. You can read more about my journey on my ABOUT page. 

This, my young friends, is a DVD case (said like “dee-vee-dee”). In the olden days, people used them to hold disks that you’d insert into computers, to watch movies on… I KNOW, right?! It’s wild.

This, my young friends, is a DVD case (said like “dee-vee-dee”). In the olden days, people used them to hold disks that you’d insert into computers, to watch movies on… I KNOW, right?! It’s wild.

Anyhoo, in 2009 my sister bought me a set of yoga DVDs with an instructor named Rainbeau Mars (YES SHE SPELLS IT THAT WAY AND I APPROVE). Whenever I was in a tough pose – muscles shaking, sweat dripping – she would sigh, “Remember, this is a breathing exercise.”

At first I was like, “Whatever Rainbeau, easy for you to say, miss headstand-on-a-beach-in-Hawaii,” but I decided to take her advice and focus. I realized my breath was tense, not just my puny biceps.

As I relaxed the breath, the body followed. And I could hold the pose for longer. And my body got stronger. 

All that energy, wasted on resisting – trying to avoid the discomfort – was re-directed to the breath, nourishing me with oxygen instead. It was the beginning of my body-mind journey.

Now, I’m not a scientist (unless you consider magic a science, which I DO, by the way, so YES I AM A SCIENTIST), but I know 100% that breathing works. If you try it out for a short period of time, you’ll know it too. There are many ways to breathe, and lots of great books on the topic.

Do you have a yoga or meditation practice? Do you love breathing, science, or fun? If so, we've got lots in common, and we should become friends.

Gratitude. An excerpt from The Empire Citizen
  • I am so grateful to live in the same city as my family.
  • I am grateful that, even though my parents are divorced, we all still get together on holidays.
  • I am grateful for our universal appreciation of dorky puns.
  • I am grateful for my niece’s big, round eyes when I try to surprise her with silly questions, before she realizes I'm joking and starts to giggle.
  • I’m so grateful she loves holding hands for no reason.
  • I am grateful that (when you’re four years old) one of the most exciting things in life, is simply to run as fast as you can.
  • I am grateful to share these moments with my sister. We exchange a look and know we’re both smiling about the same observation.
  • I am grateful to see my parents being nana & papa – to see how much joy that brings them.

Take 20 Seconds & Try This Out:

  • Take a deep, loud breath, like a big sigh
  • Finish this sentence: “I am grateful for…"
  • Close your eyes & picture what you’re grateful for
  • FEEL the gratitude in your body – breathe deeply into that feeling
  • Now open your eyes.

Go ahead.  How was that?  Were you able to think of something? 

Was it coffee? Your comfy bed? Your parents’ health? The sound of your kids laughing? Pizza? Your good taste and sense of humour?  As you prepare for the rest of your day, take these 20 seconds for yourself.

If you're feeling grateful for this oasis in your day, sign-up for my newsletter! You'll receive my take on mindfulness for moms (and dads), self-care for brides (and grooms), and happy, healthy lifestyle tips for starseeds, lovers, seekers, and kitchen-dance-party aficionados alike. Plus, you'll receive first-dibs on popular photo dates, holiday promos, and anything else I can think of to serve you joy. Sign Up Here!

Check out more on gratitude lists in this post, where I reflect on not getting killed on my trip to Kenya. 

Learn more about what's included in my exciting and awesome newsletter right here!

Sign up for the Sweetheart Empire Newsletter - the Empire Citizen!
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Hello friends,

I wanted to give you a heads up that I've started a newsletter! Yes, indeed, I have lots to say. :) If you're curious about the content, here's a link to past issues, here's a link to subscribe, and below are my reasons for this endeavour: 

There are two phrases I constantly hear in my work:

“The whole wedding day went by in a flash – I can’t even remember it!”

“Kids grow up so fast – I can’t believe they started school this year!”

Both of these express the same concern: being present and experiencing life as it’s happening.

I created the newsletter with tips to help you Be in the moment during life's big (and small) moments, and not miss out.

Whether you’re worried about being too stressed to enjoy your wedding, or shocked that your child isn’t a baby anymore, I got you. Using simple techniques of reflection, gratitude, breathing, and photography, you can be there to appreciate all the stages of life. 

Subscribers to the newsletter also get exclusive access to printed gifts and promotions, as well as first rights to popular session dates throughout the year. Pretty awesome, right? If you're thinking, "Yes – I'm into this!" then here's what to expect...

Two short letters per month with:

  • Right of first refusal to popular weekend sessions
  • Concise tips on mindfulness & emotional presence
  • Exclusive package offerings, printed gifts & promotions
  • A link to new work or a few photos to brighten your day...

The laws of the land: 

  • Only 2 emails each month
  • I will never share your contact info
  • Opt-out any time by clicking unsubscribe

Judgment-Free Territory

If you no longer want to be a "citizen" of Sweetheart Empire, just unsubscribe. I'll still think of you as a citizen of though, because that's just how I roll. Also, I don't judge because inboxes are cray-cray so only say yes to what brings you Joy (at least for newsletters).

Life is Happening! On Being Present at Your Wedding
Being Present at your Wedding
Being Present at your Wedding

You may wonder why I care so much about all this “being in the now” stuff for your wedding.

The busier we get in life the faster it goes. No one ever laid on their deathbed and said “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.” ...But what if “the office" was truly delightful? I spend a lot of my life on my clients' wedding photography experience, so I want the process to be meaningful both for them and for me. I want us to look back on the years working together and remember our time laughing and being inspired.

What this is getting at is How to be present in your life, how to connect with the people around you, and how to experience joy – in its fleeting moments.

I practice this myself and, just like finding a good book or a fabulous restaurant, I want others to experience it too. Especially for those big moments in life like a wedding!

I wont lie to you – this is a work in progress.

Last year I sat in a coffee shop with a client-turned-friend after her wedding and she told me “I was so obsessed on my wedding day – I must have driven you crazy! All I could think about was the photos. I just wanted everything to look perfect.”

We discussed this and realized that the ceremony was the only part of the day when she was completely present in what was happening… and you can see it in the pictures. We looked through her wedding photographs and commented on the images from the church – “they look so holy” she smiled a secret smile at the memory.

And she looks so serene. She looks like she’s come home; this is the place where she is supposed to be, and this is the man she is supposed to be with. All is well. All questions are answered in this moment. It shows.

After that conversation I vowed to make it a goal in my business, for my clients: presence. It’s an ongoing effort for all of us. If we can be awake and be together then we are living.

How do you stay in the moment? If you have tips or comments, please share them below!