Just be all in. Barfy butterflies and all.

Just be all in. Barfy butterflies and all.

I sat down to my computer this morning feeling very overwhelmed.  Just with the usual things.  Work, motherhood, homeschooling, responsibilities, life, not feeling like there are enough hours in the day to get it all done the way I want to get it done.  My oldest daughter is still at her first slumber party, and I’m still grieving (since I dropped her off last night) over the little girl that she isn’t anymore, and the young lady that she is becoming.  I even took a picture of her before we were in front of her friends so I could commemorate the event.  She was still embarrassed.  Where does time go??  There’s times I can barely remember what they were like as a baby, and then there are these stark moments of remembrance, and feeling like it was just yesterday that I held them in my arms for the first time, tears streaming down my face with joy and wonder at the life we would experience together.  And now here we are, still in the young years, but feeling like we are on a freight train that is barreling through life, not slowing down for one moment.  Thanks, John Mayer, for the metaphor.



It’s fitting that when I sat down, feeling all of these feelings, that I should look up the topic I scheduled for myself to write about for today.  And low and behold, it says “Balancing work and motherhood, 365”.  Well, I don’t feel like I’m balancing work and motherhood very well at all right now.  And I have been royally failing at my 365.  Like, King size royally failing.  So, the first thing I did was get off of my computer,  play a few games of Uno with my middle, get in a few minutes of snuggle time with my still sleeping hubby, enjoy a second cup of coffee whilst pondering the fun my oldest is having, and watch my youngest hang off my leg.  I needed to just calm down, be all in with my family, and feel grateful for it all so that I could erase that yucky “I suck at balancing” feeling.  Sometimes when I think I’m checking the block to overflow their cup with love, I realize that it’s really my cup being filled, too. Refreshing.  Gave me such a new perspective for this blog post.

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The morning reminded me of my very first (and still only) Connecting Things event I went to last November.  It was a chilly morning, I was feeling so nervous I wanted to barf all over my carefully picked outfit and one of my only pairs of “business” shoes, as I call them.  ( I own more “mom” shoes than “business” shoes these days).  My friend tells me that my barfing feeling is really just living.  So now I call them my barfy butterflies.  Because that sounds more palatable to me.  I’m barfing because I’m living!  Anyway, I’m on my way to Connecting Things, feeling barfy/alive because I’m hugely stepping out of my comfort zone, and into the arena, to go put my introverted self into a situation in which I must be social, and represent myself as a business person.  ACK! I feel afraid of that sometimes.  People looking at me like I’m a business person, and then laughing hysterically at me, pointing and saying “Who do you think you are?!?” But I digress.  I took the risk, and walked into the mob of people that come to these events.  I only talked to the people sitting in front of me, but that’s okay.  Baby steps, right?

So, the speaker at Connecting Things, Dane Sanders, wrote his speech to speak directly to me…and the hundreds of other creative entrepreneurs in the crowd.  You can watch it here.  It’s truly inspiring.  He talked about what it means to decide to be a BUSINESS OWNER, and how it’s attitudinal, you have to choose it.  I left owning my Business Owner title more proudly than I ever had.  And have been working on owning that ever since.  Dane said “Deciding to BE an owner is the most difficult part of becoming a creative entrepreneur.”  And I would totally agree.  The business end of this shindig has been at times excruciatingly painful, but it has also brought great joy and satisfaction.  And I have to learn to take each in stride with grace and humility, and continue to walk the path I know is right, even when it’s difficult or painful.  Because the joy and satisfaction always trumps the excruciating pain, if not makes it even more beautiful.

But my take away was this…  BE ALL IN.  In whatever you’re doing, in that moment.  Be all in.  Taking care of business?  Be all in.  Spending time with your kids?  Be all in.  Doing you?  Be all in.  Hanging with your man? Be all in.  Barfy butterflies?  Definitely be all in.  And when you feel like you can’t be all in?  Be all in.  It’s worth it.

My even bigger takeaway was the note I wrote myself when Dane talked about being “all in”…

all in

When I thought about why I’m really scared of being all in, I realized that when I’m not, I’m looking at everything from a birds eye view, making my lists of things I need to do to make myself feel like I accomplished something that makes me feel productive that day, or makes my life feel more organized and less chaotic.  The people in my life are not productivity tasks, so we have a problem there.  Furthermore, I shouldn’t be doing a bunch of things on a To Do list, just to feel productive, because truly at the end of the day, productivity doesn’t mean anything to me.  I end up thinking about all of the missed opportunities with my kids because of what I felt I needed to do instead.  Instead of just being ALL IN, wherever I’m at at the time, I spend time making lists so that I don’t have to be all in.  So I can check boxes, and maybe not feel that fear that I am not being productive in life.

Dane talked about lists, and said “Don’t create a To Do list, create a To Be list.”

Here’s mine:

  • Be a kind and loving person, to others and to myself
  • Be authentic, courageous and honest
  • Be the mom and wife I want to be
  • Be a person who makes a difference in the world
  • Be an artist
  • Be a creator
  • Be a mover and a shaker

So, onward and upward.  I stopped using the word “balance” in my life, and started practicing being all in, wherever I’m at.  Being all in to me means just normal, authentic me, doing my best at whatever I’m doing at the time, and trying to put my heart and soul into it.  Even when I don’t particularly enjoy what I’m doing.  And giving myself grace when I fail.  There’s growth in failure.

What’s YOUR To Be list??  I want to hear it!


I have to be honest, I had barfy butterflies about posting this blog post.  Because it’s vulnerable and honest.  But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about being all in, it’s that you have to take risks, even when it feels uncomfortable (or barfy).  Full photographer’s disclosure:  No matter what you see displayed on websites or social media, it is not always possible to capture every meaningful moment in perfect lighting and composition.  Those shots are almost always set up, or stumbled on by coincidence.  Even photographers take photos that aren’t great in technique, but are still so meaningful!  When I’m using my iPhone, my photos are often if not almost always imperfect.  So to accompany a post of discomfort that is lacking in photos, here’s a real life look at some of my 365 photos I mentioned I’ve been failing at, sans any editing or filters, straight from the iPhone:


Sisters <3  I just love them


A little photo shoot set-up for Kaylan’s birthday.  You will NOT want to miss that blog post  😛


She started her own business, Caring for Cleaning.  Some days she shows me up and teaches me what it means to choose: BUSINESS OWNER!


Getting instructions from on of her customers…


Out on the job, making herself proud!


A little theater rehearsal…


Baby Hulk resides here…No really.  She does.

If you’re wondering why some of my iPhone photos are smaller than others, I’ll be sharing some photo tips on the blog next week to help you with taking good quality photos from your phone!  It is possible!

Thanks for reading along and joining on my vulnerable journey of trying to live all in.  I’d love to hear about how you choose to live all in!

**If you’d like to get email updates about my blog posts, current deals that are going on, or reminders to get your sessions scheduled, please sign up for my newsletter!**


Bring Your Daughter(s) to Work Day!  Our style.

Bring Your Daughter(s) to Work Day! Our style.

We had this brilliant idea last summer to bring our kids along on a work day.  Like a ‘Bring Your Daughter To Work” day of sorts.  Do you remember those??  I used to go every year when I was a kid.  I thought it was the best thing ever, even though my mom preferred I didn’t follow her footsteps to the Post Office. (To her delight, I did not.)  But who doesn’t want to find out what their mom does when they leave for an entire day of work??  I thought I had been let in on some big secret. And I got to miss a whole day of school and go home with all sorts of office supply goodies.  Seriously??  BEST DAY EVER!  Thanks, Mom!  You know how those go as a kid.  So we wanted to give some of those same awesome memories to our kids.

What better day to bring kids along than the day you’re interviewing businesses that sell ice cream??  The best right?  We thought, so, too.  And while I can probably say it was one of my most exhausting work days EVER (I didn’t know a hard work day until I was doing it AND being mom to 3 kids at the same time… chaos is a good descriptor), it was also one of my most enjoyable work days ever.  And one I know my kids won’t forget.  One of them continues to ask when she can return to work with us.  She’s the entrepreneur of my littles.  I love that about her.  It’s been such a wonderful example for her to watch me go out and chase my dreams with photography after investing so much into a different career in a previous time of my life.

The morning started at Vitaly Caffe, with lots of energy and gusto for our fun day.  What made it even more fun was that Maurizio, the owner of Vitaly Caffe, loves to feed kids his gelato!  They were in for some treats with Maurizio.

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Check out all their hearts!  Are they ready to love on Costa Mesa (I mean ice cream), or what??

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Sweet treats!  The kids got to try some fresh gellato straight out of the machine.

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Look at that deliciousness…

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Try a flavor!  Any flavor!

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They Heart Vitaly Gellato!

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Check out Vitaly Caffe at The Camp for lots of yummy Italian foods and treats!

After lots and lots of gellato tasting, the 5 taste testers (aka. kids) were hopped up on sugar and needed some run time.  We went to one of their Costa Mesa faves, Tewinkle Park.  These kids know no bounds with their energy level.  Honestly, where do they get it all?!?  The moms were zapped before we even got to the second shoot!

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We didn’t have long before it was time to head over to America’s Cup for our second shoot of the day.  You can imagine, at this point, how the kids feel about eating more ice cream.  Completely stoked!!  Plus, this time they got to get their own cup of ice cream, and douse it with whatever toppings their little hearts desired.  It was fun to watch.  By this point, I was so exhausted from chasing the 3 year old around, I could barely see straight through my viewfinder!

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Toppings and toppings and toppings, oh my!

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The very sweet owner of America’s Cup, Steve!

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The kids enjoyed their treats…

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and treats…

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and treats.

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And then they were interviewed for I Heart Costa Mesa about their experience!  Made their day.  You can read their sweet interviews here.

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It was a yummy, energetic, hilariously sweet and hysterical day with our kiddos, on our very own version of “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day”.  I wonder what we will do next year?!?


New Year… New You??

New Year… New You??

Happy New Year, world!!  Take a deep breath.  Can you smell it??  Can you smell that new year smell?  That smell of new beginnings, new opportunities, new projects, new adventures?!?  It’s here!!

I’m a lover a new beginnings.  I’m one of those people who will wait until a Monday to start something new, like a habit or a diet or a new schedule, because it’s the beginning of a new week.  So you can imagine what the beginning of a new year feels like.  Complete BLISS!  I’ve spent the last 2 weeks hibernating in my house, preparing for and organizing for the tornado of life that will be coming at me again starting this week.  Lists and schedules and menus, oh my!  Even now, the new year has started.  It’s January 4th, 2016.  BUT, since today is Monday, this is the official “start” to my new year.  I’m so excited I can barely stand it.  Happy first Monday of the year!  I encourage you all to be kind and loving to yourselves!

As a lover of new beginnings, and a despiser of endings,  I’m not always fond of that “looking back” part of the end of the year.  I’m usually day dreaming and planning the next year.  But this last year, 2015, it’s had a particular glow to it for me.  And I found myself fondly reminiscing on the ups and the downs of the year, and all of the things I learned about myself and my life and my relationships.  It was truly an incredibly year for me as a woman.  And that’s something I have to stop and appreciate, and then daydream about how I can make next year even more incredible.

It’s hard to put my finger on what made 2015 so incredible for me.  I’m already blessed with a loving husband, 3 charming girls that keep me on my toes, and a small but supportive family and group of friends.  What can you really ask for outside of that?  I am so grateful.  But I had some extreme internal growth this year that has been undeniable.  I know the catalyst of this change for me was the incredible books written by Brene Brown.  If you haven’t checked her out before, and you’re not afraid to talk about vulnerability and shame, I would highly suggest putting hers on your book list this year!  You will not regret it.

I was also incredibly blessed to happen upon a friend in the past year and a half that has been a catalyst for change in my life.  Sometimes I say she’s the friend I needed when I was a kid in school, we probably would have been besties! But there’s a reason I wasn’t allowed to meet her until now.  I think we feel equally as lucky to have found each other in this journey of life.  At this phase of life.  And now we are working on a project together that has led us on a fantastic journey I’ll never forget.  We began I Heart Costa Mesa at the beginning of the year, tooling around Costa Mesa, interviewing all sorts of people and businesses.  What you learn about life from embarking on a project like that with someone else is innumerable.  We’ve met so many people who have some piece in the growth I have experienced this year.  People who have opened their hearts and shared with us vulnerably and honestly.  And let me shoot them in the same way.  I am forever grateful.

We started a new part of the project just in the  past few months. Hearts of Costa Mesa.  Our first interviewee gave us a quote that I won’t ever let myself forget.  Here he is, as a reminder for 2016, as well as some of our other shoots from this phenomenal year.  Here’s to another life learning year on this journey called life!  Thanks for following along with me.  Happy New Year, all!



“I love that you guys are doing this project. The very act of stopping and paying attention to someone – choosing to photograph them in their best, most human light and to just let them tell their story – well, I would say that’s a holy act. It’s a life-affirming and loving act.

“It’s not that the hatred and the judgement don’t still exist in the world, but you are purposely choosing to focus on the love and mercy.

“It’s like when you watch The Sopranos and people say,’That glorifies the mafia, that glorifies violence.’ Well, no. It just humanizes a person who happens to be doing really awful things; so you end up loving him on some level even if you also really hate him. You’ve been privileged into seeing the humanity of the person, and all of a sudden you find it really, really hard to hate someone when you see their humanity. It’s just difficult.

“How do I hate someone who is human just like me? Through my eyes, it’s impossible.”

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Model trains chugging away at Fairview Park

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RC flying at Fairview Park

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Finding kombucha at Fermentation Farm

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Beautiful events at Grey Matter Museum of Art

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Watching instructors get gritty at Grit Cycle

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All in a day of WTF design at Davis Ink

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Cool dudes of Location 1980

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High notes at OC Music Factory


Fun times at Open House Creative!


Making friends at Pitfire Pizza


Last interview for Grants for Guns before going out with a BANG!


Beautiful, wool art memories with Castle of Costa Mesa

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Always painting her Art and Soul

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Taco goodness at Taco Asylum

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Listen to vinyl at Port of Sound Records

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Meeting some neighbors with Village Green Real Estate

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Beautiful barre skills with babe at Meraki Barre


31 Bits of incredible love


Sidecar Doughnut LOVE (maple bacon bar please)

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Yogurty goodness with endless toppings at America’s Cup

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Father son board shaping at Uhuru Sportscraft

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Gelato fun at Vitaly!

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Learning how to really decorate at Where’s the Party?

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Locking up volunteers at the Costa Mesa Historical Society

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Found some new faves at Love Bags

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Making friends at Mother’s Market

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Grace, love and acceptance at New Directions for Women

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Hanging out with my friend, having all sorts of fun!

Wow, what a year we have had!  We are even missing a few since those articles haven’t published yet.  2016 is slated to be pretty rockin’, so stay tuned, read up, and follow along!  And thank you to everyone who helped me learn my lessons of 2015.  I am forever grateful.

Hello 2016!