Set Goals Mindfully: 8 steps for success

Set Goals Mindfully: 8 steps for success

It is officially 2016, and It’s time to set goals and take action for the year. Resolutions has become such a dirty word. It’s become this mandatory time to make commitments to ourselves blindly, knowing that we have the ability to break them because… that’s what we do right?

Far too often we think about our goals in terms of what we think we should change. What we were doing that wasn’t working in the past, and how we are going to be better in the future. It wasn’t working before, and this is the year you are going to make it work.

Instead of focusing on the past, and what wasn’t working, what if we looked inward and really checked in with ourselves to see what is at the core of our desires for the year?

Here are eight steps that I take to set goals that actually mean something to me. Not only is this a fun process, but I actually get things done. I hope it works for you as well.

1. WRITE IT DOWN

Sit down and write free-flow for at least 10 minutes about things that you want to accomplish in the year. Yes, they can be tangible things, but mostly use this exercise to get to the emotional root of what you want.

2. SET YOUR INTENTION

Read over what you wrote. Notice the overall theme that starts to surface? Really focus in on the one word that sums up what that theme is. There might be a few words, but usually they are connected somehow. Find the connection, and narrow it down to one word. This is now your overall word for the year. All of the goals that you set will keep this word and intention in mind. This year, my word is CONNECT.

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3. GROUP THINGS

Now that you have your word, it’s time to put it into action. I use post-it notes, because I like the action of standing up and sticking them to a surface and seeing everything in front of me.

Create 5 categories CAREER, SELF, FAMILY/RELATIONSHIPS, FINANCIAL, HEALTH. Some people might want to put health and self together. Others might want to break family and relationships apart (not literally, of course.) I like keeping health and self separate because it’s far too easy to put health items under self and neglect other important forms of self care.

4. SET GOALS

Now that you have your categories start writing out some concrete goals. Keep in mind your overall word from step 2. Limit your goals to around 2 per category, depending on the size of the goal. Be intentional and thoughtful with your goals. Take the time to really check in with yourself. Sometimes the goal is abstract ie. I want to spend more quality time with my husband. Turn that into an action item I am going to have a date with my husband once per month. Phones off. No kids. No TV. every Friday from ____ to ____.

5. REVIEW & ELIMINATE

Check your list… hey check it twice. Do your goals match your overall intention? Do you feel inspired by them? If not… revise. Get specific if it feels to vague. Are your goals realistic? Do you have too many? Take this time to eliminate what’s not working. Not only from your current list of goals, but also what you have been doing up until now. Is it serving you well? Is it helping you meet your goals for the year? If not… eliminate what isn’t serving you.

6. TIME FOR ACTION

Now is the time to make the magic come to life. Choose your preferred method of tracking. If you love the tangible and appreciate the feel of pen on paper, then whip out your favorite day-timer. If you are a digital person, get your online calendar ready. There are also many great apps for inputting and tracking. I’m currently giving Asana a try, as there is also a team component, so you can have multiple users, and incorporate accountability.

Now start putting things on your calendar. If you have a really, really big goal, then you might want to map out your whole year in one sitting, breaking it down into manageable tasks. If the goals can be accomplished in a shorter time, Pick 1-2 items (depending on the size) and give them deadlines within that month. If the item needs to be broken down throughout the month into mini deadlines, then set dates for those. Don’t forget your abstract goals. If you wanted to have that date with your husband once per month, make sure you schedule that in, so you stick to your goal.

Next month… pick one or two more notes, and input them into your calendar. If you didn’t follow through with your last months goal, consider tabling it for a while to make room for something that you feel more inspired to work on.

7. BETTER TOGETHER

You have your goals, and your overall intention. How are you going to stay on task and make sure you are getting them done? Are you good about following through with deadlines? Great, then you are on your way. Need a little help? Find an accountability partner or group. My husband and I check in at the beginning of each month to review our previous months progress and set our two goals for the next month. It’s a great way for us to connect and have good conversation. A group is also great. I lead the Tuesday’s Together Vancouver group, and we are using Asana to stay on top of each others goals.

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8. BE KIND TO YOURSELF

This is hard work people. We have to give ourselves grace. You might not complete one of your goals on occasion. Forgive yourself, and move on. Maybe it wasn’t something you really wanted to do. Maybe you weren’t ready. Maybe it wasn’t broken down enough. Regardless of the reason… let it go. Don’t beat yourself up. Be gentle, and move on to the next thing.

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What goals have you set for 2016? What tools are you using to stay on track? Comment below with your tips or places you get stuck.

Family Autumn Goodness with the Rufenacht’s

Family Autumn Goodness with the Rufenacht’s

Family time with the Rufenacht’s

Autumn to me is about slowing down, breathing a little deeper, getting cozy with loved ones, and preparing for the season ahead. It’s pumpkins, vibrant colours, and fresh air that flushes cheeks. It’s family and cuddles and drinks that warm fingers and tummies. It’s softness, and stopping, and letting go.

I am finally feeling comfortable and settled in this beautiful place we live. We are getting ready to move (yet again) but we made the decision to stay in our tiny hidden oasis rather than moving back to the city to make commuting easier. We are dropping into our amazing surroundings and committing to building a life here.

Community is something that can be hard to find and connect with. I see the beginnings of community surfacing. I am feeling more at home than I have felt in a very long time. Yay. A big part of feeling part of a community is friends. Beatrice was one of the first people I met when we moved here. She lives across the street with her lovely family. They are the kindest people and I am so happy to know them.  I recently spent an afternoon with the Rufenacht’s as we did a fall family session in our glorious neighborhood. How can I call this work when I get to step outside my door with my camera and spend time with some cool people in the best backyard ever? Life is sweet.

Community is about the people in it, and this community is lucky to have the Rufenacht’s.

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Vancouver Photos: Owen Family Session

Vancouver Photos: Owen Family Session

I am so excited to share these autumn Vancouver photos that celebrate the transition of night to day, summer to winter and baby to girl.

Who doesn’t love fall? The vibrant colours, the scarves and toques (that’s a knit hat for all of you non-Canadians out there,) The crisp air that makes you just want to hug someone  a little closer.

The transition of seasons, and the murmurs of change ahead make my skin tingle with excitement. Something is around the corner. I can almost taste it.

Fall also means that it’s family photo time, and I love family photo time. How poetic that the changing of the seasons coincides with children as they grow and change right before our eyes. It’s remarkable. I have been photographing my twin girls since they were born, and I can’t believe how quickly things change. I make a book of photos for them each year, which helps me to remember.

I had the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the fresh air and the beauty of the season, as well as witnessing the night turn to day, with this lovely family who is watching their sweet Isabella growing from baby to toddler. So much joy in every step. So much wonder at every glimpse of something magical and new.

It was also special to witness the sunrise, which I haven’t done in a very long while. I forgot how epic it is.

 

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Chilliwack Wedding: A Family Affair

Chilliwack Wedding: A Family Affair

High school doesn’t seem that long ago, but this weekend as I watched one of my dear high school friends get married through my camera lens, I realized how long ago it actually was.

We were a tight-knit group of friends. We cried too much. Laughed like crazy… and we got into our fair share of trouble.

Well… my dear friend now has teenagers of her own. Wham… what? We are grown-ups? When did that happen? Lucky for her, her teenagers are getting into less trouble than we did. One of her boys even played a harp for their ceremony. A harp… it doesn’t get sweeter than that people!

Tanya & Ray bring five amazing children to their beautiful union, which made this marriage that much more special. They are a wonderful and funky bunch, with so much respect and love for one another.

Oh, and did I mention they had not one, but two wedding days? They had an intimate gathering on Wednesday for immediate family, and a celebration of their love on Saturday with friends and family.

I cannot tell you how honored I was to have been witness to their wedding days, and how special I felt to be a part of this amazing celebration.

 

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Hair & Makeup: Felicia Bromba

Dress: Sue Wong

Brides Shoes: Sergio Tomani

Grooms Shoes: John Fluevog

Grooms Suit: Moores

Flowers: Little Mountain Garden Centre

Cake: Tekla Piercey

Rings: The Goldsmith Shoppe co designed by Katie Christopherson

Marriage Commissioner: Anne Pradine

 

If you enjoyed this wedding, you might also enjoy this Galiano Elopement

 

 

Community Over Competition: Let’s Shine Together

Community Over Competition: Let’s Shine Together

I really believe there is room for all of us to shine.

I had the pleasure of doing a photo shoot with Spirit Soul Yoga a few weeks ago. I have to say, it was one of my favorite shoots ever. It was fun, calm & inspiring.

One thing that I observed about this group of talented women, was they were so uplifting and positive toward one another. I kid you not, every time somebody did something the others marveled at how well they did it, how beautiful they looked, or how overall amazing they were. It didn’t feel contrived. It didn’t feel that underneath they were seething with envy. They genuinely supported and nurtured one another in an authentic way.

This… and they were super bendy.

So, I thought to myself… wow! I want community like this. I want to walk side by side with my industry peers. I want to offer uplifting support and accept it graciously.

I get it. There is going to be competition in any industry, but I choose to surround myself with people who value all that we do and all that we are. You really never know who somebody is or what they are all about unless you ask. So, let’s ask. Let’s listen. Let’s share. Let’s applaud one another’s successes and have empathy for each others struggles.  I don’t mean to sound overly squishy about this. I’m actually a complete realist. But this is something I truly believe in.

It is with this core belief that I stumbled upon the Rising Tide Society and saw my thoughts brought to life in a beautiful way. The notion of community over competition is the main mandate of the Rising Tide Society and this resonated with me immensely. They have established leaders in cities around the world to create  and build TuesdaysTogether groups that meet on the second Tuesday of each month to discuss various topics related to the creative industry. The object is to share ideas and to help one another grow. I am so excited to be part of this community and get to know so many talented and creative entrepreneurs, in Vancouver and worldwide. If you are interested in joining the Vancouver group, connect with us on Facebook.

Let’s lift one another up. I believe that just the act of doing this will make us all more successful.

Now, I have to go work on becoming a little more bendy.

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Here is a little iPhone video, just so you can see a little behind the scenes to show how fun it really was…

 

Did you enjoy this essay? You might also like this post about hiring a professional, instead of doing it all ourselves.

Vancouver Event Photographer: Birthday Bash

Vancouver Event Photographer: Birthday Bash

When I was younger, forty seemed so very old, and so very far away. Somehow time took over, and I have reached that particular milestone. My mother also reached her own milestone of sixty this year, and I know she felt the same way.

Time waits for no one. So we move forward to the next year… the next decade… the next… (more about the passage of time here.)

The last few years have been the hardest of my life. I have learned how precious life is, each moment valuable. I am moving forward this next decade with that knowledge in my heart. To be present. To enjoy each moment, or at least accept it for what it is. To love more. To live more. To wait for nothing. To live with as much as I have in me. This is what we get, and I’m determined to make it count. I don’t need to be important to many. Important to few has immense value. It is enough. I want to learn every day. I want to sink into my skin, and be friends with this person I have become.

So, let’s celebrate this. Why not?

My mom was determined that we have a joint party 40 + 60 = 100 (as pointed out by her friend, Roma.) My mom is a poet and writer of romantic/steamy fiction under the pen-name Madison Lake. Go mom! She’s 60 and I see her finally living the life she wants. She looks brighter and more energized than I have ever seen her. If 60 looks that good, I’m okay with getting older.

I am a wedding photographer, but I don’t have very many portraits from the actual party… because I was busy enjoying myself, and co-hosting.  The one of my mom and I is actually from her book launch last week, not our party.

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I am not an event planner. I repeat… I am not an event planner. This was certainly a good exercise in getting a taste for all that event planners do. They do a LOT. It was fun, but definitely a lot to think about. In my last decade, I did a lot of production work. That came in handy.

Originally, the plan was to have a family-style dinner outside on the long wooden picnic tables. Vancouver disagreed. Not letting the rain spoil things, we made a decision to relocate inside, and promptly ordered tables, chairs & linens from Pedersen’s Rentals. Our centerpiece was the enormous gold 100 balloon from Confetti & Co. I ordered flowers from Thrifty Foods, and arranged them that day using mason jars, which we also used as drinking glasses. My ever so talented aunt, Christie Mellor hand lettered each label. We all sat around the table coming up with funny things to write on the candy bar bags. My uncle, Richard Goldman is a copywriter, so we had some good ones. The amazing food was prepared and organized by our dear friend Amanda Autio.

I regret not having taken more photos of all of the guests, but it really wasn’t possible. I was far too busy enjoying myself. I managed to capture a few at the beginning. One of my dearest friends who I have known since grade eight, my aunt and uncle who traveled all the way from Los Angeles, and lifelong friends that traveled from far away as well. Also pictured is my handsome brother, Ryan.

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Event Design: Monashee

Rentals: Pedersen’s

Balloon & garland: Confetti & Co.

Catering: Amanda Autio

Label Lettering: Christie Mellor

 

 

Wedding Inspiration: Elopement/Honeymoon

Wedding Inspiration: Elopement/Honeymoon

When my husband and I got married, our twin girls were six months old, and we had just purchased a house and relocated from Los Angeles, CA to Sonoma, CA. Needless to say we didn’t have a lot of money to spare and we were beyond exhausted. We opted for a simple backyard ceremony with a local marriage commissioner. It was just Isa, the girls, and my mother as our sole guest and witness. The day of our wedding, I pulled myself together as much as I could to make it somewhat pretty and special. We bought a cake and some flowers from Whole Foods. I put on the only wedding-ish dress that fit me. We had champagne, ate cake, then collapsed with the girls in an exhausted heap on the floor. It was lovely.

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It WAS lovely because it was us, and we are in love. What did I miss? Honestly? And I’m not saying this as a wedding photographer. I’m saying this as woman who got married. I miss having beautiful pictures from our day. My mom did her best on her iPhone but nothing we would frame and certainly nothing we could make an album out of. What else did I miss? Pretty things: Flowers, dressing up, having a beautiful occasion. Finally, I missed a honeymoon. So, my plan… In a few years, when the girls are a little older and we are more settled, I would like to do a combination vow renewal elopement/honeymoon, with all kinds of pretty. Simple but chalk full of details, and a photographer to make beautiful photographs for us to make into an album. The photo’s above are from our wedding from 2012. They were some of the rare shots where the girls weren’t chewing on the marriage commissioners folder.

The wedding inspiration shoot below, that I collaborated on with some amazing Vancouver vendors, (see complete vendor list at the end of the post) is absolutely brimming with some ideas that I would love to incorporate. Can you imagine? An airstream trailer, a beautiful location, a table set for two, catered meals, a luxurious bed, flowers, crowns, a stunning dress, and of course my handsome husband. The only thing I would add is beautiful sleepwear like the ones in my post on bridal boudoir.

This bohemian elopement/honeymoon inspiration shoot was originally published on the amazing wedding blog Burnett’s Boards. You can see the original post here.

 

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Photography: Monashee Photography

Trailer: Tin Can Studio (a multi-use mobile studio)

Flowers: Olla Flowers

Dress: Jenny Packham from Bisou Bridal

Tiara: Paris from Bisou Bridal

Hair: Kelley Schedewitz

Makeup: Karin Shoji Makeup

Ties & neckerchiefs: Gold Coast Goods

Groom’s medal & Bride’s necklace: Love Medals

Groom’s attire: JCrew

Bride model: Christie Saunders

Groom: Haydn Thomas

Rustic Crates: The Wood Shop

 

 

 

 

Bridal Boudoir

Bridal Boudoir

Bridal Boudoir: What is it?

Boudoir photography can be stunning, and is a very empowering experience for a woman to go through… and I say experience, because boudoir photography is more than just pretty pictures… it is every part of the process that can make any woman feel strong and sexy and powerful in their own skin. Bridal boudoir is slightly different than everyday boudoir in that it is specifically tied to the whole wedding experience. Here are a few questions you might have about bridal boudoir with some pretty images from a recent bridal boudoir inspiration shoot I did. It was featured on the amazing blog Fab You Bliss. You can see the entire post here.

What is boudoir photography?

Boudoir photography has gained popularity over the past few years. The images tend to be risque, and show the sexier side. Primarily women do these sessions, but men are starting to as well. Boudoir photos are sometimes taken wearing very little, or nothing, but generally nothing is exposed. They are more along the lines of traditional pinup photos, where much is left to the imagination. Here is a great Q&A with a lovely woman, about her boudoir experience.

What makes bridal boudoir different from other boudoir?

Bridal boudoir often incorporates details from the wedding (a veil, color palette, flowers etc.) so that the images from the engagement session, wedding, bridal boudoir session and any other photos form a cohesive collection that can all be combined to tell a beautiful story.

What is the purpose of a bridal boudoir session?

It is for brides who want to add something a little special to their photo collection. Some brides do it before the wedding, and have prints or a little book done to give as a gift to their fiance. Some do it for themselves, so that they have some special images to remember how they looked, or how they felt. Some brides do it on the day of the wedding, tied in with the getting ready shots, to add a romantic sensuality to the day.

What do bridal boudoir photos look like?

They look like you hopefully. There is no right or wrong here. Some women choose to glam it up, some choose a more romantic look, some choose to turn up the heat, and some choose to keep it casual.  As far as the feeling to the images… that’s up to you, and often the aesthetic of your photographer. Some brides opt for a more traditional boudoir session with garters, stockings and lingerie, but might choose white instead of black. Brides who are working with a fine art photographer might do something more romantic, and may not include lingerie at all. Some brides might choose to do something totally casual, such as something in their home sitting in an armchair with a loose top and a cup of coffee. There are so many versions of sexy and romantic, that really it should reflect what makes you feel the most confident. I have another informative post about confidence that might also be helpful.

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Photography: Monashee Photography

Lingerie: NK iMode

Hair & Makeup: Karin Shoji Makeup

Flowers: Kaye Fleur

Model: Rebecca Stein

 

 

Hillary & Casey’s Intimate Wedding

Hillary & Casey’s Intimate Wedding

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of photographing Hillary & Casey’s intimate wedding on Parker Island (a small island off of Galiano Island that is accessed by boat only.) Let me tell you, it was an amazing adventure getting there and back. What a privilege to see this area, that I live so close to, but couldn’t access before. Casey’s dad picked me up from the Sturdies Bay ferry terminal, and I got the ride of my life, and we were welcomed at Parker island by a group of seals that I would have totally missed, as they blended right in with the rocks they were lounging on. Both Casey & Hillary’s families were there taking care of all of the details for the day. They were so relaxed, which is one of the many benefits of having an intimate wedding with only the closest family. Hillary & Casey are two of the warmest, sweetest people, so it was no surprise that their families were equally special.

The ceremony took place at the point where little Parker meets Big Parker. The family lounged in colourful Adirondack chairs, and witnessed the beautiful union with the breathtaking backdrop of Active Pass.

What an amazing, unforgettable day.

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Venue: Private Residence on Parker Island

Wedding Commissioner: Angie Allen

Custom rings: Martinus Gold

Custom ring box: Rainforest Treasures

Wrap dress: Dallicious Designs

Flowers: Reayane from Ambleside Farms

Vancouver Elopement

Vancouver Elopement

Vancouver Elopement

Elopements have been becoming a popular alternative for couples who want to get married, but don’t want the fuss (or expense) of a big wedding. What I love about elopements, is that it gets down to what really matters… the two who are getting married, and the love that they share. It allows them to really connect, appreciate one another, and soak in the significance of what they are entering into. Of course, I think photography is always important at a wedding… but at an elopement, it plays an even more valuable role. It is what you can take away from your very private, very intimate occasion, to keep as a memory always, and share with the friends and family who weren’t there, but who are dying to see. What an absolute privilege to be one of the only witnesses to such a private moment.

Melina contacted me a few months ago about their upcoming elopement. They were coming all the way from Seattle, and they chose beautiful Galiano Island for their location. Melina actually picked Galiano randomly. She just followed her instincts about everything, and ended up in one of the most idyllic spots ever. She is somebody you want in your corner for sure. They stayed at the lovely Galiano Inn & Spa, which is walking distance from the ferry. Melina’s crown and bridal bouquet were made by Trincomali Farms. The flowers are grown and hand-crafted right on Galiano Island. The ceremony itself was sweet, honest and from the heart. They are so obviously so deeply in love. The warm Angie Allen who is also an island local, performed the ceremony, and even provided a second witness. I was the other one.

What an honor to have been present.

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Location . Galiano Island

Flowers . Trincomali Farm

Dress & Sash . BHLDN

Shoes . Jessica Simpson

Marriage Commissioner . Angie Allen