Marriage, Wine and a Good Book

Brandon and I have both been reading a lot more lately. I’ve personally devoured three books in the last two weeks and am working on book number four as I learn more about SEO, networking online, productivity and blogging. I guess it’s only natural that reading has rolled into our time spent together. We started our own evening tradition of sitting together on the couch, sipping wine and reading a chapter from a book. Currently, we’re on chapter six of ‘Boundaries in Marriage’ by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I highly recommend it!

Elleword: Some of the most wonderful moments are the simplest. Looking over and seeing my husband reading by the glow of string lights in our cozy apartment.

He’s not sleeping, lol.

If you’re interested in self help books, I also recommend reading or listening to ‘The Productivity Project‘ by Chris Bailey. I’ve been listening to it on my own and have already picked up some great pointers on what I’ve been doing wrong when it comes to getting work done. For one, I’m spending too much time working! When I work in short spans of time, two hours usually, I get so much more done! I’m also working on fighting the urge to put on a video, look at social media or check my phone while I’m working. Today I not to actively use my phone until 9am. At first it was a little hard.

Waking up around 6:15am, I opened the windows, turned off the lights and let the apartment slowly fill with sunlight naturally. I imagined that I was in staying in a cabin deep in the mountains. I told myself that it wasn’t morning traffic that I was hearing but the gentle sounds of a nearby stream. Not wanting to disrupt my fantasy, I decided against playing music or any other types of media. Instead, I went about my morning routine in quiet serenity. Whenever I heard an alarm chime from my cell, I’d switch from one morning task to another one. Outside of that, I did my best to put all of my focus on the tasks ahead without searching for the nearest clock to see how much time had passed. I failed a few times but as time slowly went by, I began to realize just how much time I really had at my disposal to do each activity.

Brandon reads to me as we relax on the couch after a long day of working. Don't mind my oversized sweat pants! Elleword Blog

Marriage, wine and a good book are all we needed for a great evening.

The more I focused on reading, straightening up the apartment and my yoga positions, the sooner I finished ahead of time. So I guess my key to success lies in cutting out as many electronic distractions as possible (unless the work involves a computer). I’m going to give this a go again tomorrow and see how well it works out. In the meantime, since I’m still feeling lively, I’m going to put in a few more retouches in on a recent project. Have a great night guys! Thanks for reading. If you have solutions or struggles with time management, leave your thoughts in the comments.

Have courage,

I Almost Gave Up

Sitting on the floor in my cluttered living room, challenges swirling around my mind like fallen leaves, I almost threw in the towel. What was I thinking trying to manage two photography brands? I was barely making a living from the first one! What made me think I could manage two Facebook pages, two Instagram profiles, two Twitter profiles, and two business blogs (plus this one!!)? I almost gave up. I was overwhelmed. I sucked at juggling all this stuff. Maybe I was in over my head.

Or maybe I had the wrong mindset.

After taking a long walk, stoping all attempts to do anything work related for a day and a prayer said aloud (my husband Brandon was cracking up at my candor), I got an epiphany. The fog didn’t clear in my mind, but that didn’t negate the fact that my dreams and goals were still there waiting to be activated. I heard God telling me that I had been much busier than this in the past. During those times, I was thriving on all sides. The problem wasn’t that I had too much to do. The problem was that I wasn’t holding up my side of the deal.

Whenever you want to do something you’ve never done, you gotta do what you’ve never done to get there. My mind was blown!

I chatted with my brother on FaceTime as he commuted from the airport to his hotel in New Zealand and thought ‘how can I do what he’s doing?’. He’s traveling the world, creating art (music) and making a living from it. I started thinking about his journey and how he was always, always, always posting about his work or shows. Then I was reminded that he’d been doing these things for years. It wasn’t an overnight miracle.

I started scrolling on Youtube and watching those ‘back then life sucked but look at me now’ type videos and discovered similar results. These people worked their butts off, took chances and believed in themselves enough to bet their time, money and reputation to make their dreams known to others. That’s when I started to get pumped.

Is the photography industry heavily saturated? Yup, but so is just about every single industry out there. There are literally millions of people picking up cameras and taking photos of stuff or people or places and trying to make a living from it. But you know what? None of those people are me.

Now, instead of freaking out and focusing on what I don’t have, I’m looking at what’s at my fingertips. I’ve got two cameras, Adobe CC, free modes of promotion on social media, a phone and a voice. I’m a member of a bunch of communities online full of people who love giving help to those who are humble enough to ask for it. I’ve got a library card which grants me access to thousands of resources that will help me learn the skills needed to be successful for FREE!! And best of all, I serve the Lord of all creation.

Seems like Jesus eased up beside me and said ‘My word says that we’ve been given the power to get wealth. Time to plug into that power and watch as I light up your life.’

After storming the library catalogs for inspiration, (there a 10 or more books on my desk!) I’ve began reading daily. While I read, I write down the parts that I can apply to my life and start implementing whatever I can the same day. I don’t get down on myself when I miss a day or make a mistake. I just keep going, keep reading, keep learning and keep applying what I learned.

Today, my domain mapping for this blog was set to expire and I contemplated letting it go. I thought I was too busy to continue some passion project that I started in college (I originally blogged about life after undergrad!). Instead of giving up, I renewed the mapping so would still take people to my blog, despite the fact that it hadn’t been updated in months. Then I finished reading one of my library books about blogging and made a list of the kinds I want to blog (and vlog about) in 2018. Then I waited until I couldn’t stand not expressing myself in writing, opened my laptop and let the words flow from my mind through my fingertips to this post.

I’m not going to give up. I hope you don’t either.

Have courage!

The Last Six Days

The last six days have been a roller coaster of events and emotions.

On Saturday, my husband and I moved from our fourth story studio to a cozy bungalow up the street. While we were really happy about the new space, we ran into a few issues up front. The place hadn’t been cleaned, there were dead bugs in the closet and an unidentified splatter of some brown liquid in the kitchen. I was able to help get everything inside of our place before running off to shoot a wedding. I was exhausted leaving the reception at 11:30 and had to call Brandon up so he could keep me company on the way home; and keep me awake.

The next day we went to church and celebrated our 6th anniversary with my twin sister and her husband at Red Lobster. This was really special for us because Red Lobster is where we had our rehearsal dinner two days before our wedding day. We came home to discover that our box of books had been chewed open and our books were spread across the floor. I vowed to get a kennel ASAP! That evening, surrounded by boxes and slightly peeved at the dirtiness of our place, Brandon and I cuddled up on the couch as he munched on Tortilla chips before going to bed.

On Monday morning, I heard Brandon exclaim “Ants!” in the other room. Apparently at some point in the early morning hours, the ants came marching two by two through a small opening at the base of our living room wall to feast on the bag of Tortilla chips Brandon had munched on the night before. Brandon called in PTO day for work as we scrambled to move our things out of the critter’s path and resolved to move out if the front office didn’t agree to do something about our place. It was bad enough that it was dirty but this was too much to take. Thankfully, the manager was very compassionate and helpful.

She sent in the property managers to clean and reseal the windowsills and clean up the sloppy job that had been done to the flooring in the bathroom. A few hours later, pest control came in and sprayed down our carpet and couch. I pulled back the edge of the carpet while he sprayed the base of the wall down. We could see the opening where the ants were coming in and I made a mental note to seal it up with hot glue later. We then spent the night at our sisters’ house chatting while I uploaded two weddings to my contractors.

The next day, Brandon and I returned home and found an ant free bungalow waiting for us. Brandon went to work and I headed off to shoot a mid week wedding an hour away. The bride and groom were so kind and you could see how much they loved each other. The food was amazing and the bride invited me to dance with her and her family so I danced and sang along to ‘Living on a Prayer’ and taught them how to do ‘the wobble’ dance. At the end of the night, her mother blessed me with a $100 tip and thanked me for my help. It really was my pleasure. The next morning, my friend Isidora drove me to the oral surgeon to get a tooth extracted and prepped for a dental implant. The procedure was fast and I was asleep the whole time.

When I woke up, my friend Isi took me to pick up the three medications and medicated mouth rinse from CVS before dropping me off at home. I ate soup and a smoothie before resting a few more hours. We still hadn’t really unpacked but I felt so comfortable and at home. This place feels so much more homey than our other place! Speaking of, Brandon and I went back there to clean things up but he forgot to grab the broom so we’ll have to finish up tonight once I come back from covering an elopement in Fort Worth.

That’s my update, in case you were wondering where I’ve been! Thanks for checking in with me. If you like my blog, please subscribe. I’ll be rebooting the OOTD posts once we are settled in.

Have courage,

P.S. We borrowed a kennel from my sis and Justice (woof) is slowly adjusting to life behind bars when we are gone, lol. Our belongings are once again safe from his reign of terror!

this is my mini vision board! It covers my career and personal goals in a minimal, chic layout with a great color scheme.

My Vision Board is Complete!

To keep things simple, I made small vision board centered around my professional and personal goals. I wanted to keep things pleasant to look at so I used minimal images, colors and spacing to make sure everything was nice and neat. I’m really happy with how it turned out! Here’s an explanation of what each part of my board means.

elleword-my-vision-board.jpgThe cityscape panel is all about my career goals. I want to work remotely as a photographer. When wedding season is slow, I plan on picking up web development jobs that I can fulfill on my laptop. That way, I can travel and make a paycheck at the same time, no matter what’s going on with my work load. This pic made me feel energized and excited. I could see myself finishing up a task and then chilling in this pool with my husband. If I focus on learning new skills daily, it won’t be long before this is my life.

The bikini and shades represents my sense of style. Aside from working, I want to use every opportunity to look my best. This includes staying fit so I can wear a bikini proudly. I’ve got some work to do in this area but I’m confident that I can get back to bikini shape in no time.

The teepee image stands for my travel aspirations. I want to see so many parts of the world, talk to locals and share my adventures via vlogs on my Youtube channel. My goal is to take three or four adventure trips a year at least! Huge goal, so I’ve got to hold up my end of the bargain in the business arena if I want this to become a reality.

The bowl of food is centered around feeding myself the right things. Not only literal food, but studying the bible, listening to positive messages and saying them daily. Good things in = good things out.

Babe is pretty obvious – to me at least, lol. I want to get my life together and keeping my life on steady rotation in these areas will make me a babe! I’m in my 30s now so there’s nothing to it but to do it. I’ve stumbled though my 20s, now it’s time to thrive and arrive!

Have courage,

I’m going to make a Vision Board

I’m going to be busy this fall.

One of the studios that I do contract work for has given me 13 weddings to shoot between now and December 30th. That takes my fall wedding count up to 15!! That’s no only the most I’ve ever shot in one season, but in one year! Crazy right! I’m praying that I can stay on top of everything and make each one as fun and memorable as possible! But will all of this success, I gotta say that it’s not where I want to be at this point. Yes, I’ll be working more than I ever have but I won’t be making as much money as I could be if all of these clients hired me directly, rather than through a 3rd party. These contract weddings will get me about $7500. If these gigs were my own clients, I’d be making $33k. See the difference?

With that in mind, I’ve started brainstorming ways to get the word out about my photography and replace the income that I make via third parties. First, I’m going to meet with as many event planners and wedding coordinators as possible. I’m going to visit event venues and show my portfolio to anyone who will listen. A lot of times, photographers get hired after hiring these professionals first. Getting on their radar will help me get noticed by more brides sooner in their wedding planning process.

Second, I’ll carry printed samples and business cards wherever I go. Everyone I meet should be able to see and touch my work, everyone I know should know exactly what I’m capable of. Everyone should have one of my cards! And finally, I’ll get more active online via my company Instagram, Website and Youtube channel. Plus, I might start a podcast! While some people think this should be my first strategy, I’m a firm believer in word of mouth still reigning supreme when it comes to getting new clients. While I’m not working or out networking, I’ll be creating as much content as humanly possible for online viewers. This way, they’ll see me in action, get to know me better and start seeing me as an expert in my field. I want to start building trust before I ever meet them in person.

I’m going to make a vision board for myself centered around these things. I want to be reminded of all of the things that I need to do now so I can do the things I want to do later. What do I want to do? Work less, earn more and have adventures. Do you have a vision board? I’d love to see it!

Have courage!