Ask for What You Want. What Could Really Happen?

Ask for What You Want. What Could Really Happen?

prospect, Nova Scotia

I have a client on the way to the studio right now and she texted me to say “what would you like from Second Cup?”

It really left me feeling like I would almost be being rude saying “nothing thank you” (like I am too good for you and your second cup!)

But how often do we ask questions the wrong way, or worse… we do not ask at all.

My Finn is gifted at asking questions. He asks me about a million a day (and isn’t always as gifted at listening to the answer!!!) But he will look at a situation and say… “those guys over there (at Disney) have cookies, I am going to ask if I can have one. If it’s yes it’s yes and if it’s no, its no. And that’s ok, I’m just going to ask.”


The answer might be no…

The answer MIGHT be no, but the answer MIGHT be yes!

If you don’t ask at all, you have already told yourself no. That for whatever reason, conscious or subconscious, you don’t deserve the answer to be yes, or the world isn’t fair and things don’t usually go your way…

Kids don’t see that.

They just see what they want and they ask for it.

Alex and I sometimes cringe, but I rarely stop them, because it’s my own stories telling me that it’s not ok to ask for what we want. I want them to keep on asking through their lives. Asking for what they need and want, believing that they are worth it! And you know what? The mamma at Disney happily shared her cookies, the lady shared crackers so Addy could feed the birds and more often than not, the answer of a reasonably asked question is yes…

IF you KNOW that you want something. you can ask the right questions, the right way.

Make it so someone would be silly to say no. Be confident in your question. Believe that the answer should be yes, and it will come across that way. Or at least believe you are strong enough to handle a no, but you are brave enough to hope for a yes!

What will you ask for today?






Take a Look at What’s in Store – Awesome Life Retreat

Take a Look at What’s in Store – Awesome Life Retreat

Last year was the first Awesome Life Retreat. A group of 28 of us got together and shared experiences, laughs and learning.

I cannot get over how amazing the group was that came together, and the amazing people and companies that supported us.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the reasons behind why I started The Awesome Life Retreat you can check it out here.

I am going to give a full list of credits below but I amazingly thankful and in awe of all of the amazing contributors. It was amazing to step out and do something that I really felt we needed in our area, and that my heart was just wanting to pour into, and have it so well attended and supported locally! It’s a scary thing to move forward and do something new, but so worth it in the end!

2016’s retreat was held at Windhorse Farm on a beautiful April weekend. In fact we could not have imagined better weather to explore the beautiful trails and property and explore our hearts through learning!

This year we simplified and upgraded! This year’s retreat will be at Oceanstone and their kitchen staff will be handling almost all of the food as well as handling the coffee (Which for the coffee drinkers is a very very good thing!)  I wanted to be able to ENJOY the retreat with my amazing attendees and be present and not running around organizing food and setting things up and tearing them down and doing dishes. This place is simply amazing and I am in love with the venue and the people!

If you don’t know what to expect from the retreat and are on the fence, check out the photos below (taken by the Amazing Brittany of Hind Hart Studios! THANK YOU!!) and though this year will be different, it will give you a good idea of our vibe!

You can check out our tentative itinerary here (with just a few more details to firm up next week!) :

Awesome Life Retreat – Oceanstone Seaside Resort, Spring 2017


I wanted to  make sure to thank LAST YEARS contributors (Check out the link above for who will be a part of this year’s line up!) But below is a list of those who contributed to our first retreat!

Meals + Desserts Provided by :

EnVie – a Vegan Kitchen, Layers Cupcakes, Weagles Bakery, Kitchen Door Catering, Mike Crosby, Freshii Burnside, and MOI 🙂 (that’s a fancy way of saying me)

Amazing Speakers/Workshop Contributors :

Dr. Adrianna Wilson – Inspired Living Medical, Angela Van de Reit –  Life Coach- Engaged LivingMeghan Osborne – Awesome Woman & Arbonne Representative, Rebecca Dimock – Paper Chain, Lisa MacPherson – Scribbles and Script. Stephanie Kincade – Abundant Path Wellness.

We also had giveaways from :

Duly Noted, Paper Chain, Scribbles and Script, Harper & Honey, Halifax Cookie Cravings, Shauna Carter – Mary Kay consultant, This is Boudoir, This is Photography, Lure Chocolates, Abundant Path Wellness and all of our amazing speakers. Decor help from the Wedding Vogue and special shout out to Jenn and Emily for help the weekend of!


Things I learned Today.

Things I learned Today.

I have been trying my best as of late to learn and grow and take the things that I notice in my everyday life and figure out how to use them to better myself, my family and my business. It turns out if you take the negative experiences and the frustrating situations you deal with into learning experiences, you can learn a lot. So far it hasn’t taken away the frustration of the situation for me, but at least there was some benefit to it!

So here is what I took away from normal to not so great experiences today.

  1. Communication is VITAL. So SO important. Yup, in family, marriage, with your kids, and your business interactions. SO MUCH frustration can be avoided if you tell people your expectations and what they need to know, BEFORE they need to know it.
  2. It is so great to feel special. What little touches can you add to your every day to make the people that are special to you FEEL special.
  3. I am not sure what to learn from this other than not to do it…. but I was at the gas station today and I went in to pay which is rare for me but I had to pee. The line up was about 10 people long and there was only one cashier. She was trying to handle one guy who had about 100 lottery tickets to check while checking other people out. The owner or manager was talking to someone at the back of the station an when she left…he went to the back room…he didn’t help her. She was overwhelmed and stressed and the other agent was on her break, and when she came back asked where the manager was and they both rolled their eyes. I understand that it is good to delegate and whatnot, but its not good business to both leave your customers frustrated and your employees overwhelmed. Lesson learned. I think I already knew, but a good reminder!


Black, White & Letting Go.

Black, White & Letting Go.

Black, White & Letting Go.


December, 2016

Well crapper doodles, I have got to say that I cannot believe it’s the end of 2016. I wanted to write a post on how optimistic I am about 2017…and a few days ago I was. Not much has changed except a meeting with my lawyer. A meeting that made me go over the poop storm that was the last two years. To be completely honest, it has made me more sad than I could ever have imagined. I usually try to keep things light and fun, that’s how truly want to be but right now I am sad. I am sad thinking of what was lost in the last two years. The momentum that was lost in my business, the people I let down and hurt when I couldn’t control my emotions. I am sad that Addy remembers that I couldn’t remember things. That my beautiful 3 year old daughter (who is almost 5 now) would rub my back as I cried some days because I physically could not stand up.  The pain, the frustration of not being able to complete the simplest tasks, or communicate my thoughts, wanting to give the very best I could to my clients, but not having all of me to offer.

I don’t blame myself for not sharing openly what I was going through, I didn’t want people to doubt my ability to do my job, I didn’t want people’s pity, or lack of understanding.  It was easier to just keep it to myself, but as with many things, I have learned that hiding them doesn’t make them go away.

Now I am feeling a lot better. Not 100% yet, but I have days where I don’t have headaches at all, days where my vision isn’t blurry, where I don’t have pain. And it’s a relief. I am so thankful for that.

However, I think that I need to grieve the loss of what was the last two years. Someone mentioned it at one point, and I kind of brushed it off…but I feel like I need to let it out.

That I didn’t get to see my children learn to ski. I couldn’t enjoy Finley’s silly toddler years as much as I wanted to. I spent more than 400 hours traveling to, and in treatment. I napped most days, and lost out on the opportunity to grow, create and do things that I loved. I didn’t go out to social events, missed special occasions. I constantly had to turn down my children’s invitations to play and on many occasions would scream in pain when they would try to play or jump on me, and then have to watch them cry, and I would cry, and they didn’t understand it at all.

I couldn’t really see. Not close up. Sometimes barely at all. I couldn’t read words. Not for more than a second at a time. I couldn’t trust my mind to know where I was standing, walking, going. I was covered in bruises from walking into things, I would fall over when bending down, and was constantly apologizing for my words, or lack thereof. I would fall in front of clients, and friends. I didn’t feel like myself and I couldn’t DO anything. I learned to type with my eyes closed, and trusted Siri to dictate more messages than I should have (and after all of that she still gets me wrong most of the time) and more than a dozen times, in a low moment, I considered closing the doors of my business. I felt so very inadequate. But I am so thankful that I persevered (and for my amazing clients who were so amazing and understanding!)

From anxiety, pain, bouts of depression, piles of medication and lack of ability to exercise I gained almost forty pounds. I did everything I had done previously to lose weight and nothing worked. Another way I was failing.  

Every doctor, physio, specialist pretty much agreed. It would be time. The best thing I could do was to NOT do. And from someone whose entire road map for success was navigated by completing things on a to-do list, this was no easy task.

I was tested. I failed some of those tests, barely passed others, but in everything I learned.

The Bible says (MSG James 1:2-4)

Consider it a sheer gift, friend, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure ,your faith-life is forced into the open and shows it’s true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

AND (MSG 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.

Photograph by Me – This is Photography

So here I am. Starting my 33rd year, about to start 2017. Thanking God for all of this, because through the pain, through the many frustrations, I found myself. I found that I had my living all wrong. And we’ve been working through it, taking what I have learned and applying it to live the life that we want as a family . It’s why I started Encourage Inspire. I want people to have access to the learning that I had without going through a traumatic experience to get there.  

I have learned that I matter. I matter enough to put myself first sometimes. I matter enough to ask for my needs to be met. I matter enough to not feel the need to reply to emails at 3am and to realize my value is not determined by a to do list.

I have learned from so many amazing individuals that I believe were put on my path for a purpose that was specifically intended for me.

When I collected all of the things that my heart was drawn to this year, or that people gave to me, or I got as prizes or gifts at an event or retreat,,,the theme was consistent. Black, White and Gold. I have been drawn to gold things these last six months ago. But as I look around, I notice I have gold jewelry, gold pens, gold foil quotes, gold terrariums, a gentle reminder to my soul that through the fire, Gold is refined. I am going to be better, stronger and more precious for having endured. I know these times were dark, but in some ways I am starting fresh.

Job 23:10

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.nI believe I am going to come out better for what trials I have faced.

1 Peter 1:6-7 Living Bible (TLB)

6 So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here.7 These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.

When you see my new years celebration & decorations, my goal planning, the jewlery I have been wearingm my new planner etc… you’ll see the gold is sprinkled throughout the black and white. 

Photograph by Me – This is Photography

“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens..

This is what I needed. I needed to work through this, and now I can be optimistic again. I am not a sum of my trials. I am not the mistakes I have made. I am not the pain I have felt. I am precious, gold, whose value is still going up. And this year is going to be a great one. I do not need to measure myself by the numbers being put forth to a lawyer,  I don’t need to be discouraged by what was, but believe that what lies ahead is great. I have some plans for 2017, some goals to work towards. But most importantly, I am here, with my family, getting well, and doing my very best. I went sledding with my kids yesterday. I laughed, I got freezing cold and it was wonderful. I am not sure I would have appreciated it as much without what I have gone through the last two years.

Oh and how I hesitate to share this, as I don’t want anyone to ever think I don’t love photographing weddings, or think I wasn’t careful to be sure to take the best care of my clients. I honored my commitments and had the best couples, and took on limited work so I could properly take care of those clients. I may have missed a few emails, or been a bit slower at social media, but all of my wonderful couples got their beautifully cultivated galleries on time. I would never have risked someone’s wedding.

And also, a little reminder to give people a little grace whenever you can, you have no idea what they may be going through!

Credits – New Years Decor & Big Sphere Balloons – Glow the Event Store

I’m Not Ready, but that Changes Nothing

I’m Not Ready, but that Changes Nothing

I actually have another blog post in the cue, another wordy one with all the things I was feeling last week about the coming new year and then I have about a thousand other ideas in the brain. But here’s the deal. I needed to write tonight because my chest is tight, and anxiety feels high. I have learned that one of the best things that I can do is write, and that if my past experience continues, my words usually resonate with someone so here it goes.

In the post I have already written but haven’t yet shared (because the pictures aren’t quite right, and the quotes aren’t perfect yet) I talk about why my 2016 wasn’t my favorite, but that it was better than my 2015, and that I am believing that 2017 is going to be awesome.

And it IS. It IS going to be awesome. I believe that. But here’s the kicker that just kind of karate-chopped me in the gut after the excitement of Christmas came to a grinding halt when the kiddos went to bed. In the quiet it hit me. 2017 is going to be as awesome as I make it. And I don’t feel READY yet. But you know what? That doesn’t change anything at all. Me being not ready doesn’t make Jan 1st any further away…I can’t change that, but I can change ME.

The last month has been filled with lots of great things, doing healthy things for my body and mind, spending time to make my family healthy, getting ready for Christmas and doing not so fun business and legal paperwork. All great (or necessary) things. All on the way to what I want. BUT I don’t have my 2017 goal sheets (Power Sheets) done….or started…. I already have great things planned for the year, but they need to be launched and moved forward and I wanted to start the year all organized and set up for success and well, here I am 5 days out and sitting on the couch feeling panicked.

I know that 2017 will only be different if I choose to let it be but what I think I am feeling panicked about at this very moment is that I am not ready to start 2017 having it all together. I haven’t found some magical solution to give me more hours in the day, or the ability to be patient with my children in all circumstances, or to do all the things I want to just perfectly. I haven’t kicked sugar (to be honest its not actually in my goals yet, I am totally not in the commit stage there yet…) or even sent out my Christmas cards. When I look at it that way I am NOT READY FOR 2017!!! I am simply not there!!! However, when I remember that my worth is not determined by how many things I do, how much money I make or how organized my house is it simmers me down a little bit. Making 2017 amazing doesn’t mean that Jan 1st all of my ducks will be in a row. (If I go in expecting that, I will be HUGELY disappointed.)

Have you ever heard the saying: “Start the way you want to finish.” ? That’s my plan. If I start chipping away at things, a little at a time, I will get there. But just like it didn’t take me a week to gain 30lbs, I won’t lose it that quickly. And my house didn’t become disorganized in one day (though….I can’t actually remember it ever being really organized either…) I plan to start each day with optimism and hope, living towards the life that I want while being thankful for the beautiful moments and experiences that I have every day.

My mom used to have a sign up in her office that said “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference”. It has stuck with me, and I am determined to keep a good attitude about 2017.

The pressure is off. I don’t need to strive for perfection. It’s been a rocky couple of years, and 2016 isn’t going to be perfect either. But I am going to continue on the path of faith, family and health, and expect great things from myself this year. Here is what my heart tells me that I want to do.

  • Make the people in my life feel as special and loved as they are. My parents, husband, children, siblings, friends, wedding clients, families I photograph. I want this year, no matter how many shoots I do, for my clients to feel SPECIAL. They so very much are, but this past couple of years I know that I have been more in survive than thrive mode. I want the people in my life to know how special they are. I want, no matter how busy I am (which is something I have learned that I in fact control!) for my family to feel like my first priority.
  • Do the same thing for myself. I need to treat myself like I matter (because I DO matter). I have found the most valuable way for me to process whether I am taking care of myself well, is whether I would want Addy and Finn to do/say something (or not do/say something). Would it make me happy if someone was being mean to Addy and she didn’t stand up for herself? Would I be ok with Finn not having a winter coat because “he could probably just layer up for this year and find something next year”? Would I be ok with them beating themselves up for making a mistake? Or would I let them eat ice cream every night? Um, heck no and a half. When I think about it, this measuring stick proves to be very useful, and also reminds me that I am a really great mom.
  • Nurture my creative self. I don’t want to get so stuck in doing something right that I don’t try anything new. II want to play again, and get out and do creative things that I haven’t done before and give myself room and time to colour, paint, journal, design, take photographs (for fun!) and dance. I really want to dance. And learn, and grow! See now I am getting excited for 2017 again!

Just as an FYI my heart rate, sitting here at my computer is at 100BPM So obviously the words haven’t quite done it yet. Going to take a Pause.

Just did some deep breathing and a few minutes in prayer and now, now I am down to 70BPM.

I am so thankful for the tools that I have learned this year, and can’t wait to learn more and share more in 2017.

I am planning to take a few hours on Thursday to set goals and make plans for 2017. Anyone else with me?

Oh what a roller coaster my brain can be. Such fun! lol!

Let’s Finish Strong, the Year’s not Over Yet!

Let’s Finish Strong, the Year’s not Over Yet!

“It’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish it”

The pastor at my old church was known for using this saying a lot. And I am thankful for it! It’s one of those things that has stuck with me for years. I hear it when I am tired or feel like giving up or at times of the year where it seems like it would make sense to just coast.

It seems like the easy thing to do is just relax until 2016 wraps up and start fresh for 2017. But you know what? Three weeks (four when I started writing this!) is still a very long time, about a twelfth of the year. If we counted out the four weeks at the end of summer, and the four weeks at the end of school, well then we just gave up about a quarter of the year. I feel like I’d be pretty upset with myself if I just let this time go by without any focus. Maybe you’re focused ALL the time and need the holidays to be more relaxed. thats c

I am REALLY not into the “what’s your excuse” hub-bub. Actually it ticks me off. One of my pet peeves. “What’s your excuse” for not losing weight? Or working out every day? Oh my good gracious!!! Every time I see these posts I want to lose my mind! Here is the thing. Just because YOUR priority is to do these things right now, it doesn’t have to be everyone’s!

Excuse : a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.

Asking “what’s your excuse” means that you think that people are GUILTY of something. There is no fault in weight loss not being my primary focus! Yes, being healthy is good. Yes, taking care of your body is good. Yes, being at a healthy weight is good. A lot of other things are good as well.

Feeding the hungry.

Playing with your kids.

Giving money to the poor.


Being there for friends.



So many good things. And we get to choose. People don’t often ask “what’s your excuse for not giving all of your money to those in need” but somehow it became acceptable to pressure people into feeling guilt of not putting their appearance first (yes, yes, health too, but often not the true focus).

And the funny thing is that I AM working at losing weight. I don’t think there is anything wrong with trying to be fit and healthy. I just remember feeling so angry when I saw those posts. It is so easy to judge someone when we don’t see what they are really going through. Be careful of that. So that was a rabbit trail of a rant….

What I was MEANING to talk about is that a lot can happen in three weeks. We all know that new year’s resolutions are pretty much crap, so why hold off on doing what we want until January 1st. We can start now. Not by setting lofty, nice sounding accolades, but my figuring out what you want out of life, and the steps that you can take to get there. Goal setting is where it’s at! I have great aspirations for 2017 but that doesn’t mean I am ready to close the book on 2016. There are lots of good and positive things that can still happen this year.

There are lots of parties and festivities (Both my husband and I’s birthdays are next week and my daughters is the week after Christmas….so I get that for sure!) but it doesn’t mean that I should write off the entire month/rest of the year. My personality loves goals and points and charts, so I created this healthy habits star chart for myself. Cheesy, yes. Helpful, also yes!


This may not work for you, but just because you didn’t meet ALL of your goals for 2016 doesn’t mean you have to give up now! There are probably some that you can still action. And if not, make some weekly SMART goals for the rest of the year. (but hey if you want to just relax and enjoy the rest of the year in indulgence, you will get no judgement from me!)

I just know that I love feeling like I have accomplished things, and when things are all over the place, busy, hectic and out of routine, I love being able to see that I still did healthy things for me, my family and my business. But maybe it’s simpler for you, eat one vegetable a day. Go for a 20 minute walk this week. Do something kind for a stranger. I don’t know what lines up with what your goals and values, but there’s likely something there!

I am excited to finish the year strong! Stronger than I started. Excited for what is to come and thankful for the rest of this year that is not yet done! (and to keep me accountable until the end, I will be sharing my star chart by Jan 3)

I will encourage you though, to start planning for your 2017. If you want next year to be different than this year was, you need to make it that way. Plan the things that you want! More on this in coming weeks!

I’d love to hear what you plan on doing to finish the year strong!