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Posts tagged Personal Growth
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!

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!

Are you Free?
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There are some times in life when I’m honest with myself – maybe I’ve had too little sleep, or it's low blood sugar or PMS – whatever it is… But something clicks over and I let my barriers down enough to be honest. And I hear this voice in my head saying, “I just wanna be free." I ask myself, “Am I free?”

Why do I feel this way? I have all my rights and freedoms. I’m a middle class, white Canadian, university educated, blah blah blah… what do I know about not being free?

But my soul has this craving for liberation, and all I want is to fly high up into the sky and scream at the top of my lungs.

Skydiving, Barrie Ontario
Skydiving, Barrie Ontario

Once in 2005, I went skydiving (okay, I went three times but that’s another story). I stepped out under the wing of that plane, and flung myself into the sky at a measly 4000 feet. All by myself, alone. The static line jump. After the shoot opened and I found myself peacefully floating above the breathtaking view of the greater Barrie area (if you detect a slight hint of irony here, you’re wrong and not wrong all at once – everything looks perfect from far away), I was actually and literally speechless for moments. Moments and moments and moments. Like, whatever – I have no idea how long it takes to do a 4000 foot jump – probably not long. But anyway, I was free. I floated silently for some amount of time and then suddenly remembered that this was worth celebrating.

So I started to scream! I whooped and hollered, and hooted and howled, and felt like I was Jonathan Livingston and that nothing could stop me.

As I mentioned, it’s a whole other story about how I got my feet back on solid ground… But let me ask you right now:

Are you free? Are we??

Because there’s something inside you that needs to be let out; let go; let be; and set free.

Ask yourself at this moment, “What can I do to be free for just one second, right now?” And do it.

'Cause when that craving fades you’ll be back in the Matrix and, not that there’s anything wrong with that but, wouldn’t you rather be alive for just one second (and have everyone around you think you’re a weirdo) than let that feeling pass for another day?

If the answer you said is 'no', just ignore yourself and listen to me instead: yes! Go and strike a victory pose, or howl at the moon, or call your fiancée and tell her you freaking love her, or dance a little jig, or buy that plane ticket. In two seconds you’ll convince yourself back to conformity and you’ll have to wait until tomorrow (/ next week / next month / next year) for freedom to present itself again.

Written from an open place.

Love,

Kate

hello@sweetheartempire.com

2013 Year Review… Prepare Yourself - it's Emo.
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So it’s mid-January and I'm finally writing a 2013 year review... There is much to say. A year ago I was obsessively researching websites for Sweetheart Empire's portfolio. For those of you unfamiliar with the phenomenon of “obsessively researching” I'm talking about Procrastination. I studied all sorts of stuff until finally – for whatever combination of reasons – I snapped out of the fog and took action.

I started even though I felt I wasn’t ready… And everything began to fall into place. A year later I have experienced the following list of awesomeness.

Neither chronologically, nor in order of importance, in 2013 I:

  • Launched my own website and had to stand by my work all on my own
  • Experienced weeks and months [on and off] of debilitating fear of rejection and failure, self-torture, doubt, excitement, and more fear
  • Flew to Las Vegas (first time) alone for eight days, and attended WPPI – the world’s largest wedding photography conference
  • Had a portfolio review by José Villa (I was starstruck, and had to concentrate so hard on controlling my facial expression that I almost forgot to listen to the feedback)
  • Attended a Jesh de Rox workshop, had my mind blown, and felt that I had found “my people”
  • Meditated and worshipped the new moon with belly-dancers, yogis, philosophers, MBA students, and other such wandering souls
  • For the first time, a couple booked their wedding date based on my availability (and sent me a delicious babka to boot!)
Jose Villa, Nico Koenig and Babka
Jose Villa, Nico Koenig and Babka
  • Celebrated my mum’s 70th birthday in the same week that I found out my sister was pregnant
  • Experienced, from afar, the death of my nana and my uncle
  • Had a broken heart
  • Faced things about myself that I had been trying to ignore for many years
  • Experienced moments of self-acceptance so profound that words couldn’t explain the shocking peace of it
  • Relapsed back into judging and then judged myself for being judgmental
  • Began to work with some of my favourite photographers in the city, and was astoundingly lucky to learn and grow both professionally and emotionally from this
  • Co-produced my first video testimonial
  • Photographed my first magazine cover (and spread!)
  • Shot my cousin’s incredible wedding in Manhattan, and got to know family members who have lived in Ireland all my life
  • Assisted in the delivery of my sister’s beautiful daughter - indescribably life-changing.
Manhattan, Persian Tribune & Elle Daftarian, Baby Aisling
Manhattan, Persian Tribune & Elle Daftarian, Baby Aisling
  • Met several new soul-sisters and reconnected with old ones
  • Made many mistakes, stayed up late nights, relapsed into perfectionist-procrastination, doubted my decisions, let down my loved ones, over-booked and over-worked, missed many birthdays, hunched over my computer for too many hours
  • Started doing yoga again, dancing more, singing louder in the shower, going for walks around the park, and making green smoothies
  • Forgave
  • Took another Jesh de Rox workshop and consequently started training in Beloved Technique
  • Had my first interview published online
  • Made the commitment to only work with people I feel a connection with
  • Doubted my commitment and felt scared
  • Read Seth’s opinion on choosing who you work for, and felt good again
  • Then booked several awesome new clients who I totally feel the connection with!
Silverline Studios, Jasper Savage, Jesh de Rox, Sunset
Silverline Studios, Jasper Savage, Jesh de Rox, Sunset

...and finally, the topic to which this website is dedicated… In 2013:

  • I got to know amazing couples who put their faith in me, and allowed me to witness their strengths, vulnerabilities, and unique expressions of love and family.
  • And felt so overwhelmingly grateful that there was no appropriately powerful hashtag… so I kept it for myself, in my heart.

No doubt this is the same year most people experienced. Possibly with fewer bouts of neuroses – though really it’s just the "normal" neuroses, I like to think. Anyway, come on - the emotional roller-coaster is pretty okay!

So. Now is not the time to list my resolutions – you're all listed-out for today. But I do hope to start posting some of the many beautiful moments that took place, here on the blog, and I hope you will join me for more adventures this year.

Follow @SweetheartEMP on Instagram to catch a glimpse of the Empire, or just reach out to me and let's have a chat. Happy 2014!

Sincerely,

Kate

hello@sweetheartempire.com

Sarah & Jason

Sarah and Jason took me on a tour of their old neighbourhood for their engagement photos. Davisville and Oriole Park on a sunny autumn afternoon. Best friends before they became a couple, the two went for sushi every week for three years, just for an excuse to spend time together. Then Jason would walk Sarah to the bus stop and wait with her, or Sarah would walk Jason to his nearby apartment where they would, no doubt, linger a little longer near the 1970s water fountain out front… Just a couple more minutes in each other's company.

This was a super meaningful session for Jason and Sarah - to take some time in the midst of wedding preparations, to remind each other about how it all began, and why they were doing this in the first place. Naturally shy in front of the camera, I used all my tricks to get them engaging together, and soon they were laughing, dancing, and being 150% themselves (including several fantastical discussions about kid-napping cute puppies from the park).

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When I look at these images I feel like it was truly a photojournalistic experience. The personal nature of their locations and stories allowed real moments to happen that I was witness to (and now you are too). The three of us connected to create something authentic, and to me that is what's so inspiring about true love.

Sarah and Jason I feel privileged to have made these photojournalistic engagement photos with you, and I am simply thrilled for your upcoming wedding!