36 Lessons Learned

In celebration of turning another year older, here are 36 lessons I’ve learned:

  1. Take the warnings your parents give you growing up, 80% of them will happen if your not careful
  2. Once you start your family, always put it 1st
  3. What you put into life is what you get out of it
  4. No one is going to give you hand outs, you’ve gotta work hard towards what you really want or stop complaining when things don’t go your way
  5. Your happiness depends upon yourself not others
  6. If you look for validation from others, you’ll never be satisfied
  7. Be who you want your kids to become
  8. Don’t take everything seriously, learn to laugh more
  9. Be adaptable & flexible with life changes
  10. Know who you are & love yourself for it
  11. Find hobbies that your passionate about
  12. Alone time is as important as family time
  13. Stop depending on others, learn to do things alone
  14. True beauty comes from within……..let it shine
  15. Eliminate negativity & things that drain you
  16. Walking your way to a better mood does work, but sometimes you need to walk a little further
  17. eliminating the unnecessary is therapeutic
  18. Let your kids figure problems out for themselves
  19. It’s OK to push yourself but don’t become your worst critic
  20. You can reinvent yourself as many times as you need to
  21. Stay as active as you can, your future self will thank you
  22. Judging others will leave you empty & alone
  23. Be open to new possibilities
  24. Embrace adventures that come your way
  25. Traveling is the best medicine
  26. Everyone makes mistakes, learn from yours & move forward
  27. If something is important to you, never give up.  Keep trying & you will accomplish your goals
  28. Being a mom & a wife has been the most rewarding job I could ever have 
  29. True friends are hard to come by, keep them close, & cherish them
  30. The past is the past, stop worrying about things that already happened
  31. Being positive will change you life 
  32. Believe in yourself….if you don’t who will?
  33. No dream is ever too big 
  34. Material possession won’t fulfill you like experiences would
  35. Living with less is experiencing more
  36. Life is full of ups & downs…….enjoy the ride

What lessons have you learned over the years?

13 Ways To Embrace Winter By Keeping It Simple

I’ve never really been a winter person even if I’ve lived in New England a good portion of my life.  Each year, I never look forwards to winter, the cold weather, & all that it brings.  But this year, I was determined to make the most out of winter, embracing everything it has to offer instead of being depressed, stuck indoors, waiting for the spring to arrive.  I know I’m not alone, there are others who don’t enjoy winter.  So here’s some of the things that have made this winter actually quite enjoyable.  It may not be my most favorite season, but it definitely not a time to dread anymore.  Here’s a few ways I’ve embraced winter.

1. Get the right gear
“There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” ~Swedish Saying
Having the right gear is EVERYTHING.  How can you enjoy the colder months is your freezing?  You don’t need to spend a fortune, just make sure you have good gloves, hat, neck wrap, & warm boots.  Oh and wearing two pairs of pants on really cold days helps a lot.

2. Change your mindset  

Attitude is everything.  Start finding little ways you enjoy about winter and go from there.

3. Admire the beauty of the season
Have you been out looking around, it’s quite beautiful out.  The snow & ice offers such fantastic props for images.  Next time your out, start really looking around, seeing all the beauty that’s around you.

4. Make your home cozy & enjoy the comforts
Fires, candles, essential oil diffusers etc. helps make you house cozy.  Who wouldn’t want to be home if it’s nice & cozy.  Enjoy the comforts of food, warm drinks, reading, snuggling etc.

5. Have a winter bonfire
Who doesn’t love a good bonfire?  Bonfires aren’t just for spring & summer, winter ones can be just as fun.

7. Snuggle up with a good book
Got some reading to catch up on, now is the perfect time.  Make yourself a nice warm drink, snuggle with your favorite blanket and get your reading on.

8. Have a game night
We love game nights at our house.  Wintertime is a great time to have these more often, as we are always looking of ways to have fun with all 5 kiddos, but it’s hard since the ages they are 16-6.  Games is a perfect way for us all to have family time.

9. Exercise @ least 1x per day
No, you don’t need to go crazy or anything, just get out and walk.  I love walking now, so that’s what I will do till spring, then I’m hoping to fix my bike and start biking again.  My stomach can’t handle running, so I don’t ever think I would do that.  Just do whatever you can at least 1x per day.

10. Get outdoors as often as you can……..staying indoors is depressing
Getting out in the fresh air will do you wonders.  Stop barricading yourself in, get out, & embrace the cold.

11. Activities & hobbies ie. snowshoeing, sledding, crafts etc.
Finding something to get up moving, is always great.  Why not make it something fun.  Take up new activities or do something you already love.  It’ll make winter so much more enjoyable.

12. Eat as healthy as possible
The way we eat will affect the way we feel.  Fill your body with foods that it will thank you later for.

13. Host an outdoor party or pot luck
Parties of any kind are fun.  Why not host one at your house?  It can be as simple as you want, just gather a few people together to enjoy each other’s company.

Are you a fan of winter?

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Never Give Up On Yourself

Ten years ago, I got my 1st camera and started taking pictures of my children. I loved being able to capture a moment, that I will always remember. I also loved being able to tell a story through my images. At this time, I wasn’t very creative, mostly point & shoot but it was the beginning of my journey.
As my kids grew, so did my photography. I began to be more creative, thinking outside the box, which enabled me to capture some great images. Each image had either different perspective or the personality of the person in the image. I began to fall in love with photography.
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About 3 or 4 years into my journey, I began doing portraits for people who couldn’t afford a professional photographer.  I believed that everyone no matter what their financial situation is, should have portraits of their loved ones.  This experience changed how I looked at everything. It was hard at first, completely out of my comfort zone, but so rewarding. One bride I took pics for I didn’t do that great of a job.  Or at least I didn’t think so.  But she loved them. Sadly a year later, her husband died and these are the last images they have together as a family. Something I’m sure she will always cherish. Or my 1st newborn pics I took for a sick mother who didn’t think she would live long enough to see her baby hit middle school.  So a local non-profit hired me to go to her house and capture images of her family. These moments are something I will always remember and keep with me.
This is about the time I started comparing myself to professional photographers.  I was amazed at the talent out there and didn’t think I could compete with them.  All I could think was, “how would I ever be a photographer when the competition is so much better? Who would want to go to me when they could go to them?” This negative self talk hindered my photography journey for a few years. I let self doubt completely take over and stopped offering photography.  Sure I had a few jobs here & there but I didn’t make an effort or work towards accepting new clients & starting my photography business.  Deep down inside I really wanted to start my own photography business.  But I gave up…….I gave up on myself.

“Don’t let the negativity from within squash your desires. ” 

Fast forwards a few years to last October.  Something inside of me changed.  I began really looking into different types of photography and seeing how 90% of the amazing images out there are enhanced, altered, & combined to make the image we all see.  While that is great, it made me rethink everything about myself & my photography.  I may not have the best equipment, but I have heart & truly love what I do.  I have an eye for seeing things others don’t see, being creative, which is evident through my images.  There will always be someone better than me but I’m not looking to be the best.  I’m just looking to offer my photographer where it is needed.  And this is where I began thinking I could really start my own business.  This is where I began to fall back in love with photography.
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A month later, I put in a bid for some modeling head shots which I’ve never done.  And I got the job.  I was so excited but nervous.  It went great and I LOVED it.  I walked away so excited with a continuous smile.  That was the moment I knew that this is what I want to do.  And I’ve branched off from there.  I’ve gotten more clients, with all ranges of needs from maternity to birthdays & a possible up & coming rock band.  I’ve been working hard to capture new images as well as expand my portfolio.  Now, I’m willing to travel all over New England and even into NY, which gives me a lot more potential clients.  I’ve been working slowly but things are now starting to come together.  Just recently a local business is going to be referring her clients to me.  She does everything from proms, to weddings to any special events that need their makeup done.  How awesome is that?
As I sit here today, I realized if I had completely given up, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am right now, in this moment.  I never knew what I wanted to do, other than raising my 5 kids, which left me a little empty inside.  But that emptiness is filling up.  I know I want to travel, to capture special moments for others, & to share my gift with as many people as I can.  But the best part, is that my family can come with me, so we all can share this journey together.
“Just remember……..No matter how long it takes you, NEVER give up on yourself. “

Do you have a time you almost gave up on yourself?  What changed your mind?

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What Do You Really Need To Be Happy?

” Real happiness requires less than you think.’ ~Be More With 

What do we really need to be happy?  This has changed over the years, as I grew & matured.
10 years ago it was:
*having designer clothing for us all
*having an overly cluttered house with things that added no value to our lives
*having tons of snacks unhealthy or not
*having two cars
*making money was our #1 goal, which we put above everything else
*having things to impress others
*having as big of a place as we can
*diet coke

And here’s what’s important to me today:  
*family time
*making alone time for each of my kids (having 5 is hard sometimes)
*developing better relationships with food….eating healthy
*exercising in any way I can
*volunteer at all 3 schools whenever possible
*exploring different hobbies
*developing my photography skills & accepting jobs that will fit into my schedule
*being home for the children each day
*taking care of myself

You can definitely see the shift when compared to one another.
What do you really need to make you happy?   Think back 10 yrs or so, how has this list changed?  

7 Spice Pork Roast

Yesterday,  I was preparing for a huge snowstorm.  Some people said a Nor’ Easter was coming.  But sadly, it looks like we’ll only get a few inches of snow.
Because of the storm, I had to go grocery shopping a day earlier, which I’m glad I did.  At our local Shaw’s (which I try to only shop their sales cause it super expensive) I found pork roasts for $.88/lb & split chicken breast for $.99/lb.  At those prices, I had to stock up on my meats, since we were running low.
I don’t about you but I haven’t cooked many pork roasts since they are usually expensive.  So I treated it just like a chicken roast this time around, using lemon juice, pepperoncini,  and spices.  And it came out super delicious.
The aroma filled my kitchen all afternoon.  IT cooked so well, it was falling apart, making it easy to shred it.  This was a comfort meal, perfect for a day like today.  If you make this, I promise you, you won’t be sorry.  It’s definitely worth a try.  Simple & delicious.

7 Spice Pork Roast
3 TBSP lemon juice
handful of sliced pepperoncini (optional)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 salt

1. Place roast in crock pot.
2. Dump the lemon juice on & then add the garlic.
3.  Add the rest of the spices to the top of the roast.
4. Turn roast over so that way some seasoning comes off and will season the bottom of the roast.
5. Cook on high for 6 hrs or so, depending on size of roast.
6. Slice or shred the pork & serve over mashed potatoes or rice.

How do you cook a pork roast?

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Motivation of the Day….Walking the Weight Off

“In your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, & become more.” ~ John Quincy Adams

Right now, in the beginning stages of changing my bad habits into healthier ones, so I need all the motivation I can get.  A little while ago, I wrote a post about how I found that combining a hobby of mine with exercising & dieting has motivated me. You can read it here. Then a favorite blogger of mine left a comment that made me think about how neat it would be to motivate one another.
Today, while I was waiting for my girls at crossing, I told my sister what I’ve been doing and how it has really helped me. She thought it was a great idea to combine something you love with dieting & exercising. She loves photography as much as me so she’ll be doing the same thing. This got me thinking, if there’s two people out there loves this idea, there must be more.

I decided after talking with the two ladies above, that I wanted to share my walking adventures….how I’m walking my weight away.
Why does photography motivate me to walk? It gets me up and out the door because I never know what I’m going to come across or what I’ll find.  And if there isn’t any to photograph, I love coming up with creative ways to save that moment.
So, lets do this together, seeing where our steps take us.  I hope anyone who comes across this post will join me in this journey.  Find a hobby you love doing and figure out a way you can incorporate it into your dieting & exercising. Then take an image & share it with me. Leave a comment below to your link and I will gladly come over. Let’s motivate each other into creating healthier habits which will help aide us in our weight loss. The journey is only as fun as you make it.

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