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30 Ways to Get You Through the Rest of this Winter | Part 2

  My best friend always laughs at the similarities between her husband and yours truly. Most people get a "blah" sort of feeling when the sun isn't around... but she says she watches some people (raises hand) just seem to droop on dreary days. She calls us "solar-powered people" and I just love that description. SO for those of us who are more solar-powered than others, here are the next ten tips in this quick series on battling the Winter Blues.     11. Plan a trip. Maybe you don't have the time or budget for a big sunny cruise down south, but taking some time on a dreary day to plan a vacation (big or small) gives you a huge mood boost. Some people say that PLANNING a vacay can actually bring just as much if not MORE satisfaction and good vibes than the trip itself. I don't know about that, but hey, I'll buy into just about anything at this point ;-) It's a super good idea to break up your routine... especially at the end of Winter when you're

30 Ways to Get You Through the Rest of this Winter | Part 1

Today I'm going to give you the first ten (of 30) tips and tricks I've learned to battle seasonal depression. You certainly don't have to have actual Seasonal Affective Disorder to experience the Winter Blues. February is that odd month for me... and I know many agree. It's short, it's full of exciting/busy activities, but it also just DRAGS on and on and on because we can see the light of Spring at the end of the tunnel but we just aren't. quite. there. yet. So if you're feeling the winter blues a bit, here are some ideas I've found to help me power through.      1. Spend 15 minutes looking at photos from an event that made you really happy. In her book The Happiness Project {affiliate link here, I highly recommend} Gretchen Rubin writes "Studies show that recalling happy times helps boost happiness in the present. When people reminisce, they focus on positive memories, with the result that recalling the past amplifies the positive and minimizes the

My Earliest Memory

Look guys! I drew you a picture! I wanted to literally illustrate today's story ;-) Let's rewind to Kindergarten with Jess. (circa what? 1992?) I'm approximately 5 and 1/2 years old and I'm about to form my earliest childhood memory... and it's equal parts humiliating and empowering. Ready? So even at a young age, I fancied myself QUITE the artist. We are assigned to the art easel station in groups of four. I can remember how each easel was set up, kind of in a square, so we were all painting together but we couldn't really see each other's work. Teacher says "Paint a Christmas tree!" and I'm all like "oh girl I am going to CRUSH this."  Problem is, I can't remember the shape I need to start with. I know there's a shape. I'm positive it's not a circle. But that's where my confidence ends. Is it a square or a triangle? Definitely a square. Or is it? Hmmmmm... Enter the inner dialog of a little girl who already knows there is a school rule about "no cheating"

Birthday (and Holiday) Presence

This past week has been a whirlwind of fun fall festivities and Elsa's 7th birthday. I always have a tough time at family outings and events being torn between my photographer-self and my mom-self. Specifically, to take a picture or to enjoy a moment?  As a photographer, I place very high value on a photograph to preserve a memory... not just for my clients but for myself. I want so desperately to remember every little moment and I have this fear that if I don't take a picture I WILL FORGET... but then I have known for a long time that if I always have the camera in front of my face, I miss something else that I can't ever get back: being present in the moment with my family. I still take a lot of pictures, trust me.  But sometimes when I am out with my girls or we're home celebrating an event, I remember this moment I had with them once when we were traveling in Germany... If you travel with small children, then you know what it means to be tired of bathroom

How a “Watch” Strengthened My Resolve to be Present… Plus a Giveaway for You

Look what I found! It looks like a watch, it feels like a watch, but it's NOT a watch. It's a reminder to slow down.     And a very important reminder it is... This "watch" is great! You don't have to worry about batteries, daylight savings, time zones, or alarms. It really helps me remember to worry less. period. It may not minimize or eliminate all time-related worry, but it does remind you that sometimes, the best answer to the question "what time is it?" is "now."       I found the company on instagram (@stealtimeback) and I fell in love with their product and their message. You can browse their website here to find out more about the "now" movement, check out their shop full of cool bracelets, and read their awesome blog... full of inspiration and gentle reminders to enjoy this beautiful life that we have a tendency to FLY through at frantic pace. Consider these products as a great little gift for

Flipping the Coin

Baby Abigail, my most recent client, was practically born with eyes wide open. It reminded me of a story I've heard a lot throughout my life... and the lessons I've pondered as I think of it... My parents love to tell the story of my first moments of life. After a grueling labor and delivery, my Mom was finally able to recover and my Dad was handed his first child, a healthy baby girl. And he says I just stared at him. Literally. Moments after birth, my eyes were wide open, almost expectant. Kind of like little Abigail here ;-)   He likes to say it was my first "what's next?" look.  My whole life, apparently from moment one, I have had a pretty crazy big appetite for the next thing. I have an obnoxious amount of energy and I love to get a lot of fun, exciting things on my plate. I want to do it all! I hate saying no! But I have had to learn to stop constantly asking "what's next" because I was in danger of missing out on what's NOW. (And also

How Losing My Watch Made Me a Better Mom (& Daughter, Sister, Friend)

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I am a recovering watch-addict. I didn't realize I had such a problem until I accidentally left my watch on the beach during a vacation. And then decided not to buy a replacement right away. I mean, you don't need a watch on vacation.       Well come to find out, I don't need a watch for real life either. In fact, I am better off without it! Until the watch was gone, I didn't realize how often I looked at the time... how often I stressed about "what time it was" and the fact that "we needed to hurry up and do this and that" before "that time". I also didn't realize how much of my day to day stress was based on the fact that I was running behind this imaginary demonic schedule that I hadn't really created intentionally. But it was there. And it bugged me. And I wanted to be "on time". Always. Even for silly things like dinner time and bedtime. (5:30 and 7pm SHARP thankyouverymuch)     So losing

Why You Need a Fancy Salad Bowl

Last year I spent some time living with a dear friend who is a few decades my senior. I really loved taking long walks with her and chatting about life... also chatting about life as we lingered over dinner or sipped our morning coffee or watched the sun set on her back balcony in Germany. We did a lot of chatting ;-)  She had a lot of wisdom and a lot of love for life.     And I will always think of her when I whip up a quick salad. Because a favorite little tidbit of life wisdom she shared was to get a collection of pretty salad bowls. She said, "Even the most boring side salad looks more appetizing in a pretty bowl!"      So, got a boring salad? No problem! Dress it up with a lovely bowl! Please pin this on your lifehack board to share my friend's neat trick with the rest of the

5 Reasons You Should Shop at Imagine That this Christmas

Some of the very organized among us are already thinking of their holiday shopping. I happen to be thinking of holiday shopping mainly because I have two little girls who have birthdays right before Christmas... so that helps get me thinking of the holidays a little early ;-) I'm pretty pumped about some of the awesome stuff Imagine That has in stock right now. So I wanted to encourage everyone to check out the local toy store scene this fall! And here are five reasons why...     1. The many benefits of speaking to a real person.  I love going into Imagine That to talk toys. Ginny and her staff are so amazingly friendly! Plus they know what cool stuff you need to check out for whatever age kid or occasion you're buying for. I am always amazed at the level of customer service and I certainly can report high customer satisfaction. Sometimes you just get into a present-buying-rut and Imagine That is the best way I know to find out what's hot in toys,

Lessons Learned from Little Fashionistas

I've never called myself fashionable. I have my own sense of "style" I suppose, but you'd certainly be stretching it to call it fashion. Sometimes I pay attention to what the cool kids are wearing, and sometimes I wear too many colors. Or too many patterns. Or just something weird. But that's pretty much always been me. It's especially helpful that I'm an artist so I can pass off any questionable fashion choices on my "artistic flair." ;-)  I bet everyone, no matter how confident they seem, has doubts about their sense of fashion. I know I do.     I think we could all learn a lot from watching a kid who dresses themselves.  It's always been a conscious parenting choice for me to allow my girls to dress themselves for most days.     But generally speaking, my kids have pretty free access to whatever is in their drawers and closets. Sometimes the results are hilarious and I have to stifle my