How I Got From There to Here {November Blogathon}

For a couple of hours last night, instead of editing, blogging, packing, and the million other things I needed to do...I worked on a holiday gift guide...and let me tell ya', it's pretty amazing!  That's just how excited I am for next week - the last week - of the November Blogathon.  I can see the finish line and I'm getting my second wind!

To wrap up this week's self-reflection theme, I'm talking today about what I wanted to be when I grew up.  From a very young age, I had a clear picture of what career path I would take.  I was going to be an astronaut.  I was obsessed with space exploration and absorbed everything I could learn about it.  This carried throughout junior high and some of high school when I actually started looking into college majors, etc.  Discouraged that I'd probably have to join the Air Force (which now I see that wasn't necessarily the case), mid-high school I changed directions and decided I wanted to be an anesthesiologist.  Enrolling at Texas Tech University, I majored in Chemistry/Pre-Med.  This was exciting to me...I loved science and wasn't horrible at math...and I wanted to play a major role in the medical field.  The perfect path for me...or so I thought.

Cut to spring/summer after my freshman year when I was offered an internship at Motorola.  This was a great opportunity and I was so pumped for the experience....however, they kind of preferred I was more business-directed in school.  Meaning, it would "be really great if I were to change my major to Management Information Systems"...or something of the like.  Around this time also, I was being realistic with myself.  Yes I would love to have a career in medicine, but more importantly, I wanted a family.  I wanted to have kids young in my life and several of them at that!  Being in school for 8+ years did not facilitate those family goals.  Things weren't lining up for me.

So, I did in fact change my major.  I know, what a sell-out.  But this internship provided me with not only great money, but experience of real corporate life.  I ended up returning again to Motorola the next summer too.  I look back on those decisions I made to change the course of my career path, and while my heart wasn't necessarily in it, turns out that it was the right choice to make, as it then put me on yet another path.

MIS was NOT my jam.  I did not care about that stuff one single bit...and more so, it annoyed me.  But I was already in the business college and looked to change things up again.  At the start of my junior year in college, I decided to change my major to a double major of Finance and Marketing, which I now have degrees in.  Isn't it funny how life works?  I never would have guessed I'd now be a photographer, a blogger, and a momma of four...having realized my goals of having kids and now being able to actually use my skills I learned in college with managing my own business.

<Speaking of my own business, check out this amazing camera scarf one of my clients gave me!  In LOVE!!!!>

Not far deep under the surface, however, is still that little girl who dreams of being an astronaut.  Those dreams have never died...other dreams just trumped them...their names are Blake, Tyler Bree, Riley, Blakely, and Bennett....and for them, I'd change my life course as many times as needed.

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What I Prayed For Today {November Blogathon}

My earliest memory of an answered prayer was when I lost my first tooth.  I had a Precious Moments tooth pillow that I had been so looking forward to using....but when I finally lost my first tooth, night came and I had no idea where the pillow was.  I looked high and low, everywhere I could possibly think of.  I ended up going to bed devastated that I'd lost my tooth pillow.  I remember praying so hard that somehow I'd find it.  After a few minutes, a thought came to my mind of where the pillow might be...I got out of bed and looked in that exact spot (a place I had already looked several times), and there it was.  That memory has stuck with me all these years that no matter how little or insignificant the desires of my heart, our loving father in heaven cares and answers my prayers.

Prayer is a huge part of my life.  We pray as a family every morning, we pray for meals, we pray with our children at night...and of course our own individual prayers.  What a comfort it is to know my family is protected and blessed through praying.  Here's a few things I've prayed for today...some might sound insignificant like my little tooth pillow, but others are of the utmost importance to me:

Today I prayed:

  • That I'd make it to a place to air up my flat tire when another place I had barely made it to had an out-of-order sign on their air pump.  (I did make it.)
  • That we'd have the holy spirit present in our home...and for harmony. (Bickering has become prevalent as of late)
  • In thanks for my family and friends who make my life so wonderful.
  • To keep my children safe when they're not with me.
  • For Blake to have peace and productivity in his work.
  • In thanks for answering my prayers.
  • Asking for help in preparation with a wedding I'm shooting this weekend.
  • That I'm enough.

I've often thought to keep a prayer journal and I think I just might start one.  I like the idea of having a tangible record to keep of what to both be thankful for and blessing for which need asking of God.  I know a few people who do this and they say how much more meaningful (and less rote) their prayers are.

I'd also like to add to my prayers for all of you....that you might have a wonderfully special holiday season with family and friends, making memories and enjoying traditions!  XO!

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Forgiveness {November Blogathon}

I'm really interested to see how many of you blog about today's November Blogathon prompt.  It's something most people don't like to talk or think about...forgiving others, possibly even themselves.  Whether you say you have forgiven someone/something or not, I believe it takes much more than that.

I'd like to think I'm pretty good about not holding grudges, however it's one of those things that you don't necessarily realize you do.  Just the other day an old memory came up that gave me yucky feelings about a person, and it hit me like a brick that I had been holding a grudge against this person even though they hadn't crossed my mind in years.  That not only is unbeneficial to myself, but unfair to them.  People change (or don't), but that's irrelavent to the essence of forgiving others.  Forgiveness is for yourself, as we are only forgiven of our wrongs as we forgive others.  Thinking of it that way truly puts it in perspective, doesn't it?

I can think of one person I'm having a hard time forgiving...mainly because the repercussions of this person's actions are still occurring many years down the road.  I need to get over it.  Actually, I thought I had and think I'm almost there...but not quite yet.  So I've found that sometimes it helps saying it we go, will you do it with me?

<Insert name here>, I forgive you for ______________.

You know what?  I actually feel better.  Like I said, I don't know if I'm 100% there yet, but I will be.  Holding grudges is just a weight on our heart that we don't need.  It can consume our thoughts and actions, which only hurts ourselves...not anyone else.  Holding grudges doesn't change the past, but causes your present and future to be burdensome.  So take a cue from Elsa and just Let It Go.  :)


P.S. Have you ever read that quote about happy marriages are the result of the union of two forgivers...or something like that?  I found this little info-graphic that I thought was really neat, and since we're talking about forgiveness today...

A Few Of My Photography Faves

Since today's November Blogathon prompt references a post I've already written (here), I thought I'd just share what I've been up to the past month...what has consumed nearly all of my time.  In a good way, of course.

This time of year for photography is super busy, as everyone wants pictures for their holiday cards and basically, it's just a really great season for layered clothing, fall-colored trees, and the overall feeling of nostalgia.  So today I'm sharing with you a few of my favorites of late.

In related news, my photography website will be up and running soon!!!!  I'll be sure to post the big reveal here first!  Happy Tuesday Friends!

p.s. Are you ready for tomorrow's blog prompt.  It starts getting deep this week!

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Hometown Favorites...What To Do In Austin {November Blogathon}

Wow y'all...blogging today is a bit of a struggle.  Those of you doing the blogathon with me, are you feeling it?  Either way, I've committed to do this and pushing myself was part of it.

This November Blogathon theme is self-reflection week....I mean really, who doesn't love talking about themselves.  But there's a few prompts that get a bit deep, so this should be interesting.  :)  

Today's is all about my hometown, Austin.  I grew up around Austin, but it's really the entire area I call home.  So whether you're a local reader or have aspirations to someday visit here (PLEASE don't move here), I'm recommending some of the best places to do, eat, play in Austin.  Here we go!

Best Date Nights Spots We Love:

  • Alamo Draft House:  Movie and dinner at the same place, with a unique Austin vibe...for the win!
  • Hop Doddy:  Easy date night with yummy food.  I always order the Ahi Tuni burger with the Salted Caramel die for!
  • Olivia's:  Eclectic, chic, and delish!
  • Eddie V's:  For a nice night out...we've frequented this place for years and it's still a favorite.

For A Family Fun Day:

  • McKinney Falls State Park:  We like to hike, take a picnic, and take a lot of family pictures.  It's just right outside of town!
  • Lake Travis:  Being on the water is one of our favorite activities.  Our kids love riding on a boat and soaking up the sun!
  • Austin Hike & Bike Trail:  Now that the trail extends over to the east side, we love taking the family (and dog) along the new area that jets out over the water.  Great views of downtown!

Favorite Family Eats (Kid-Friendly):

  • Gourdough's Trailer:  Heaven help our arteries.  Three words --- The Flying Pig.  The End.
  • Galaxy Cafe:  Healthy food that our kids love....we always frequent the Brodie and Slaughter location.  Their sister restaurant Zocalo is bueno as well.
  • Jack Allen's:  We neither of us can make a decision and we know the upscale comfort food will hit the it's loud enough that taking all 4 of our kids is perfectly okay.

I absolutely love Austin...there's really no place like it.  If you're ever in the area or planning a trip here, feel free to email me with questions, suggestions, etc.  Blake and I were both born and raised around here, so we've gotcha covered!

But really....


Please don't even think about moving here.

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Blogs Of Which You Should Be In The Know {November Blogathon}

What a perfect prompt for the November Blogathon...basically a #FF post that's kind of a no-brainer to write.  Because after all, it's the weekend and this momma is congratulating herself on completely week 2 of the challenge.  I've really loved this blogging themed week!  If you're not necessarily participating on the designated days, please feel free to use the prompts when and however you please!

Okay to let you know of some blogs that I frequent and adore, I thought I'd share some you may not have heard of.  Yes of course, I love me some Pioneer Woman, but let's discover some more under the mainstream radar, shall we?

1.  Good Life (For Less) Style Blog - Jill's posts are my go-to when I want to see specific pieces that fit a certain look.  For example, this Packing List post tells her readers exactly which items to pack minimally.  Sometimes I like being told what to do.... usually not, but you know.
2.  So Shay Blog - Shalyn is the most heart-warming person you'll meet.  She's an Austin-based photographer with such beautiful and inspiring work.  I just adore seeing her images...not to mention getting to see her in person!

3.  71 Toes - This sweet family blog shares such lovely stories and motherhood favorite being their traditions.  She talks about "Deliberate" or "Concrete" mothering, which has so many good ideas such as traditions, teaching hard work, creating a family identity, etc. 

Outfit Details:
sweater and denim:  c/o Diane Gilman Jeans, DG2
vest (EXACT) and hat:  Target 
necklace:  ModCloth
booties (EXACT):  Nine West
sunnies (EXACT):  RayBan >>> Currently on huge sale at Nordstrom!

5 Tips For Beginner Bloggers {November Blogathon}

Today's November Blogathon prompt is "what would you tell your beginning blogger self".  Well, I've now been blogging for over 4 years and do you know what???  I'm still learning everyday!  But I definitely feel there is a steep learning curve, and then it levels off quite a bit to just keeping up with the evolution of blogging.

There are several things that, had I known back then, would have made things quite easier for me...and possibly would have helped grow my blog faster.  For those just starting out their blogging journey, I gift you some of my knowledge...what I wish I would have known back then.

5 Tips For Beginner Bloggers

1.  Streamline your social media.  This is one I still don't follow completely, but it is SO important.  Make sure all your handles (Twitter, Instagram, etc) are the same.  This will benefit you in terms of cross-promotion and people finding you.  Same goes for your thumbnail or welcome image.
2.  Buy your domain name early and get a dot com asap.  It costs all of $10, yet makes your blog so much more professional.  And besides, who wants to write out  FYI, I use GoDaddy.

3.  Don't stress over replying to everything and commenting on other blogs.  I know I'll probably get some push back for saying that, but outside the internet is more important.  Yes, making connections through blogging is one of my favorite parts of it, BUT, if you find yourself stressing over making those connections/comments, it's not really for the right reasons, is it?  You'll find your people or they'll find you...let it happen organically.
4.  Upload your images to a third party site.  Blogger and Wordpress can only hold so much when it comes to uploading your pictures.  Save them to a 3rd party such as Photobucket and then just paste the url into your post.  Saves both time and worry.  FYI, Many blog designers require you to have a Photobucket account where they will store all your design images.

5.  Writing is key, but visual appeal is everything.  Make sure you have large, quality images.  If you do not, it's better to just not post an my opinion.  I look back on my early posts and think, oh my gosh...who even looked at this stuff!?!  In a day where people are scanning online info at rapid speeds, most often, they might not take the time to read your words, but they'll definitely take notice of your images.

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