6/365 Making New Habits


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I took today’s pic with my phone and a remote but I’ll be using my DSLR again soon. All my life I’ve had trouble waking up early due to not sleeping through the night. Now I’m trying to create some consistency via a new morning and evening routine. The idea is to give me plenty of physical activity, devotional time, time dedicated to working and winding down. I’ve been following this new routine for a few days now and I’ve already noticed improvements. Right now, I’m waking up at 5:50am to get the day rolling but my goal is to get up an hour earlier eventually. But first, I’ll master this routine so I can get used to doing things in a certain order. Then I’ll bump the time a little earlier by 15 minute increments until I’m rising and grinding by 5am!

I think these new routines have been helping me mentally as well. I used to find myself getting pretty anxious and overwhelmed during the day. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, didn’t know what to do next despite the many to do lists I’d written. I also felt depressed some days, spending most of my time alone without a plan or solid routine. Now that I have a regimen to follow in the morning and evening, both including exercise and prayer, things are a lot more balanced. I can focus again, I can see logical paths to follow as I work each day and I’ve stopped trying to do everything all at once. I realize it’s ok to take things step by step, a few things a day. It’s ok to have fun, to take breaks, in fact, it’s necessary.

The next time you feel anxiety, ask yourself if you have a solid morning and evening routine. The way you start and end the day can really help you get through difficult times. Are you getting physical? Are you meditating? Praying? Are you taking breaks and doing things for fun? Getting enough sleep and eating right? Take care of yourself friends. Everything else can wait, and the people who love you will understand. If they don’t, find new people.

Have courage,
Elle

5/365 Rise and Grind


After turning off all my electronic devices at 9:30, a new habit I’m starting, I began reading Rise and Grind by Daymond John last night. It’s been great so far, easy to stay interested in the content and pretty motivating. Have a read and let me know if it inspires you too!

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4/365 Thrift Shopping Saturday


Today I tried on almost 15 items and only managed to find one thing at the thrift store. However, it was a sweet find! When Brandon and I walked into the store, I saw this love lounge chair right away. So we took advantage and got a shot of me in the chair for today’s pic. What do you think of my casual OOTD? I distressed the jeans myself, though you can’t really see them up close, lol. 4:365-2018-Elleword-thrift-shopping-saturday.jpg

3/365 Lounging at Legacy Hall


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Today, after a couple of meetings and networking at the Plano Chamber of Commerce, I spent some time with my good friend Damarys. We ate lunch, walked around the shops and ate fudge brownie bars in the sun. It was the perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon. She took this pic of me at Legacy Hall for my 365 project. It was so great lounging around and chatting about whatever came to our minds. No social media, no obligations, just two women enjoying the city. Here’s a few more pics from our time together, including Berrynaked the ice-cream bar shop.

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Me and Damarys chilling on patio chairs.
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Go check this place out if you like popsicles!
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They all looked so good! We both decided to get chocolate fudge brownie bars (with real brownie inside!)
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We had lunch at Zoes Kitchen
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One of the guys saw me taking pics of myself and wanted to join me hahah.

1/365 – Rainy Day Off (Life With a View)


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1/365 – A Rainy Day Off (Life With a View) Today marks the first day of my 365 project!

I’m finally starting up a 365 photo project. The first time I bought a DSLR camera I attempted a few projects like this one. I didn’t take a photo every day but I learned a lot about my camera, had fun being creative and archived a lot of my year. This time, I’m going to try and do this every day. My theme is ‘Life with a View’ because I want all of the photos to show my surroundings. I don’t want to focus on my face but instead, the world around me. Expect to see me in different settings, though they may not change every day, such is real life right?

What do you think of my first shot? Are you working on any personal projects? Let me know in the comments!

She’s not a ‘Tomboy’, She’s Strong!


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We need to retire the word Tomboy. She’s strong!

As a women & girls photographer, (I took this pic^^^) this topic is close to my heart. Little girls come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some love dolls, others love dirt. Some prefer dresses, others prefer soccer cleats. Every girl is beautifully wonderfully made but too often, the girls who are athletic and inquisitive are called masculine.

People use phrases like ‘tomboy’ or ‘rough around the edges’ to describe girls who would rather play video games and wrestle than to paint their nails or wear pink. Even worse, boys taunt each other in sports by saying ‘you hit like a girl’ as if all girls are weak and horrible at physical tasks.

This is wrong and needs to stop! Let’s start encouraging our girls by retiring the word ‘tomboy’ from now on. She’s not a ‘tomboy’, she’s strong!

Growing up, I wasn’t considered a ‘girly girl’. I was outgoing, loved climbing trees, exploring nature, using my imagination and playing in the dirt. I distinctly remember people telling me I was a tomboy which translated in my mind as ‘you act like a boy’. This really bothered me. I just wanted to have fun but hearing the phrases over and over again made me feel like I wasn’t feminine enough. This carried on into puberty since I was a late bloomer and deeply effected my self esteem.

I don’t want any of our girls to feel that way about themselves. I want to encourage all  girls and women to be physical, adventurous and imaginative. Instead of calling girls ‘tomboy’ let’s call them ‘strong’ because that’s the truth. Here are some more positive words we can use instead:

  • lively
  • agile
  • limber
  • brave
  • vigorous
  • sharp
  • vivacious
  • spirited
  • athletic
  • sporty
  • tough
  • energetic

These are all awesome words that truly reflect our talents and strengths. Strength is not a trait reserved for men and boys. The fact that we are girls means everything we do is girly. We are awesome! We are brave! We are strong! Remove ‘tomboy’ from your vocabulary and strive to uplift girls and women, whether they love barbies, high heels or football.

Making Connections


If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. — African Proverb

I’ve been challenging myself to take myself more seriously when it comes to telling others about my lifestyle photography brands and finding new clients. So far, I’ve gone to a few networking events, reached out to lots of people online and conducted a styled shoot at my studio in preparation for a new marketing initiative. I’m on fire! It feels invigorating to be taking action towards the kind of life I want for myself. If you haven’t seen them yet, check out my photography brands: Sweet Girl Photos and Gernelle Nelson.

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It’s also been a little draining. I managed to catch a bug from one of my social escapades and have been fighting it off for about four days now. Sunday I was stuck in bed, the worst of the virus had caught up to me but now I’m at that ‘coughing but not contagious’ stage. You know, the part where you sip large amounts of hot fluids and feel antsy because your energy has started to come back.

Anyways, back to these connections. One of my friends is working on building her makeup artistry business. She moved here from Puerto Rico after the hurricane with her husband and only two suit cases of her belongings. Leaving everything behind, she’s hoping to start fresh by finding opportunities to work with new clients. I recently collaborated with her on my styled shoot. She did an amazing job on our model and has agreed to be my preferred MUA whenever I have a studio session. Check out her work below and follow Damarys on Instagram.

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Another friend has opened her own venue space and has agreed to partner with me on a monthly event to get lots of ladies and little girls in front of my camera. I’m hoping it brings lots of eyes to our brands and adds on retainer clients in the process. When you get a chance, check out all the Lemonade Lounge has to offer, especially if you want to host a part or workshop soon.

I’m going to join my local chamber of commerce soon and find ways to create more partnerships with local business owners in my neighborhood. The other day I attended a chamber meeting and was pleasantly surprised to find a room packed with excited people ready to talk about their businesses and support others. People were giving their 30 second commercials, thanking those who had sent them referrals and sharing events they had coming up. As I listened, I started coming up with ways I could parter with these brands to reach more of my target audience and it was pretty much a done deal from there. I’ll be getting social with the chamber very soon.

Have courage, Elle
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Came Back from Cuba Feeling Anxious


How is it that I feel energetic enough to make it through a Taebo workout, yet unable to get off the couch at the same time? (Gets up, walks down 5 flights of stairs, checks mail, jogs back up 5 flights of stairs and resumes typing) Sigh, it all started two months ago….(Proceeds to waste 20 minutes scrolling on FB while eating grapes… I have a problem!!)

This past June, Brandon and I took our first trip abroad. Since I was hired to capture a group vacation as the official trip photographer for Vron’s World, Brandon decided to book the trip too. When I tell you we had a blast, that doesn’t even come close to describing it. We experienced Havana, Cuba to the fullest. We danced the night away salsa dancers, saw a shipwreck while snorkeling (also a first!), took an AfroCuban tour ate dinner beside the sea and much more! All my years of Spanish class came in handy. Being able to speak with locals revitalized my desire to learn new languages. It was incredible and we can’t wait to take another trip across the globe with Vron someday.

 

Once we came back, Cuba felt like a distant memory. This is when the trouble began.

At this time, I was heavily considering what to do with my life after struggling to build my photography businesses. It’s fun, challenging and hard as heck to build your business from scratch when you only have a few hundred in the bank. There have been plenty of times when I felt like a failure but my heart kept telling me that this is what I was supposed to be doing. Looking over my life, my attention was heavily divided. During the week, I was spending 6 – 8 hours a day babysitting my niece and the rest of my time recovering, LOL. Weekends were split between errands, church, dance ministry and spending time with Brandon. Needless to say, I hardly had any mental or physical energy left for working on my brands. Something had to give!

I quickly realized that part of my anxiety of attempting to work in a cluttered apartment. We had stuff overflowing from our bookshelves, dishes taking over the countertops, books, bags and other random items invading my desk. It was no wonder I couldn’t get anything done. So I started discarding the junk from the life. Anything that didn’t get discarded got assigned a new ‘home’. Then I started clearing my schedule so that I’d have time to give my best efforts to work during the week and on weekends. Now I’m no longer babysitting and in a few weeks, I’ll be on hiatus from dance ministry. You’d think that would open up my mind to progress right?

Well I guess my mind has become weak from a lack of stimulation for two months and now I have to build it back up if I want to do anything productive. I’ve been eating primarily fruits, grains and veggies but my sleep quality has really sucked the last couple of days. When I’m up, I have to convince myself to try to work, or at least move my body until I feel an inertia to keep going forward. I guess this is the ‘withdrawal’ stage of my former routine. Dang it karma! Despite that, I have managed to book a few shoots, network and spend time reading for pleasure. You know how long it’s been since I read or listened to an audiobook just for fun? Months! Maybe a year or so!

And now, here I type at my almost cleared desk, staring at my to do list that hasn’t yet been finished. And yet, I feel hopeful. Hopeful, because I now have put time back into my hands. Relived because I was able to let go of some things and obligations that were stressing me out more than anything else. Thankful because I’m blessed enough to have these issues without a day job. Yes, I’m feeling antsy and tired (WTH) but I’m free to figure things out again. I can’t wait to see what happens when I create a new daily routine for my life.

Have courage,
Elle ^___–

Making Moves…Literally

Elleword - just lounging around the house in gifted jeans, thrifted top and my husband's sweater. Like the afro?

Lately I’ve been making moves.

I’ve been focusing more on relationship building and collaborating with other vendors on projects while I build my company resources and systems. Business hasn’t skyrocketed but I’m starting to notice more inquiries and opportunities start coming down the pipe. I’ve got a bunch of things to type up, design and prepare (plus it’s really boring work!) but once they are done, it’s just about repeating the process with each client. Till then I need some personal projects or hobbies to keep me inspired.

Elleword - A prom photo I took of a beautiful high school girl at the Westin Hotel Downtown Dallas location
These are images I took during a prom event that I was asked to co-sponsor. I’m in love with her whole look, I was NOT this stylish in high school!

So I’m getting back to vlogging, blogging and focusing on my photo skills via a 365 project. I haven’t chosen a start day or a subject, though I’m considering photographing myself each day. I just want to do something fun and creative for the sake of creating ya know? Speaking of that, I’m currently converting a long skirt into a swim suit. I have one but it’s magenta and kinda boring lol. I’ve been wanting to pull out my sewing machine for so long and make or tailor something from the thrift store. I’m so excited!! Once I get my sewing skills back into shape, I want to try my hand at tailoring some pants and a skirt from three name brand thrift store suits. When I start those, I’ll make a separate post and video.

Elleword - just lounging around the house in gifted jeans, thrifted top and my husband's sweater. Like the afro?
I’ve been seriously slacking on my style goals, wearing yoga pants and tees most days but that ends now!!! I’m going to put on real clothes every day from here on out.

Aside from that, we moved into another apartment this past Friday. It’s a long story but I’ll try to sum it up for ya!

When we first moved to DFW (5 years ago), we lived in a quaint apartment complex within walking distance of a bunch of places. We loved it so we stayed there almost 4 years before moving up the street. We loved the new place but it didn’t quite feel like home so after our lease was up we went back to the old place.

BIG MISTAKE!

Our experience this time around sucked! We had bug problem after bug problem. Issues with the heat not turning off. The AC blowing out air that smelled like a sewer and water leaking into our living room. We couldn’t take it any longer so last week, after only 6 months of being back, we packed up our stuff and came back to the new place. After that experience, the new place definitely feels like home! Our internet was installed last night so hopefully I’ll keep up with writing on here. Even if no one reads it, I like looking back at my days and seeing all the things I’ve done over the years. Otherwise I’ll forget!

That’s all I have for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Have courage, Elle

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,
Elle