Tuesday, June 29, 2010

'Mental Vitamin Mondays': Companionship

Today I want to talk about Companionship. It is closeness, familiarity, fellowship, friendship, intimacy. And it is something we all desire and need. For those who may not know...my husband and I started out as friends before we really dated. We were friends for 4 years before we said "I do" and for me, our friendship (and our faith) has been the foundation upon which our relationship was built. When I married Jared, I sincerely married my best friend.

All of those words I used in the first paragraph to describe companionship are words that describe my relationship with my husband. I have been beyond blessed since the moment Jared came into my life and this past week really strengthened my feelings about how dynamic our love is. Like many, I can get caught up in everyday life and there are days where I fail to stop and really revel in the fact that I have been blessed with a truly amazing companion to enjoy life with. But this week, I was able to slow down and really appreciate what God has gifted me.

We spent the full week on a cruise together with our family and because my husband and I met on a cruise (or as I like to say "we met in the middle of the ocean") almost 7 years ago, we both couldn't help but re-live those moments and our journey together since then. Little did we know back then that we would one day be on another cruise together but this time as husband and wife. As we thought back to how God had personally orchestrated every last detail of our relationship, we both realized how lucky we are to have each other.

My favourite part of the trip was the incredible conversations I had with my husband through the week. The 40 hour round trip drive for this week's vacation may sound painful and long to some but for me...it was awesome. I wasn't trapped in a car...I was lost in conversation and laughter with my favourite person in the world. Companionship is not about having someone there simply so you won't have to be alone...it is a pure appreciation for the company of the one you know has made your life better just by being in it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

'Feature Friday': My Papa Bear

This Sunday is Father's Day and I wanted to take a moment to thank my wonderful Papa Bear for being such a great dad! I am unashamedly a "Papa's Girl"....and no, not the type that my daddy gives me everything I want...but I am the daughter that loves her daddy so much and is so proud of him! He has been a huge part of my life and been an amazing influence. He is my encourager, my supporter, my friend, my inspiration. I am blessed to call him my Daddy! I love you Papa Bear!

Happy Father's Day to all of the wonderful dads out there! You are loved and appreciated!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

'Things I Love Thursdays': Kitties

I can't remember a time where I have not had a cat in my life. I think I may have been a cat in my former life...it would explain why I love them so much. :) Ever since I was a little girl I have had a deep love for animals but my love for cats surpasses all others. In fact, after looking through old photos with my husband he made the comment "Almost every picture is of you with a cat!" :)

I have had over 20 cats in my lifetime. The most cats I have had at one time was 12. I had 3 female cats give birth to kittens all at the same time. Yea, that was heaven for me as a young girl! :)

But when you love cats as much as I do, losing them is epic. The hardest loss for me was when my 5 year old male Persian cat, Mac passed away this year from polycystic kidney disease. If you had the opportunity to meet him you would understand. He was the coolest cat ever. Friends and family would always ask how Mac was doing and he really gained quite a fan club. It was touching and comforting to see how many people, besides myself, missed him when he passed. I still have days where I cry for him. But I am thankful that he no longer suffers and he gave me such happy memories while he was here. I love you Boo Bear!

Currently we have two babies, Marley aka Mi Reina and Monty aka Tater Tot. Marley is a 3-year-old female, blue lynx point Napoleon. She is a gorgeous girl and has everyone who meets her smitten! :) She has the attitude of a diva but can also be the sweetest little thing once she warms up to you.

 Monty is a 6-month-old male, cream Persian. He is such a loverboy and his face is to die for! It is so incredibly smooshed which causes him to make the silliest snorting sounds and he also snores when he sleeps. He is such a sweetheart!

 Many people have asked if we are taking our cats to Switzerland when me move and the answer is ABSOLUTELY! They are my babies, they are not just cats...I wouldn't dream of leaving them behind. In fact, that was the first thing that was established when the option to move to Switzerland came up. If they couldn't go...then Switzerland was out. They will both be flying in the cabin with us, right by our feet! :)

If you have any cat stories or care to share some of your fur-baby photos with me. I would love to hear and see them! I can never get enough of cats! :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Packing Up Shop

Today was so productive and lots of stress was eliminated! We sold all of our furniture this afternoon! We were really starting to worry that the furniture would not get sold before our move but I should have known better than to doubt. God has directed all of our steps up to this point, did I really think He couldn't take care of something as simple as finding a home for our furniture? I am a silly woman sometimes. But nonetheless, God is always good.

 We have just a few things left to pack up and we are ready for the next step in our lives. Feels good to be this close to finishing what seemed like an endless marathon. Jared's defense is scheduled for July 13th and then he will officially be done with grad school! I know we will both be so thankful to be on the other side of the finish line.

This weekend starts our 1 week cruise! I've been packed for days....yes, I'm that excited! What a way to celebrate not only Jared's academic achievements but to also celebrate family, love and life! Feeling beyond blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. I am not deserving but I am infinitely grateful!

So if you don't hear from me all next week...you know why. I'm soaking up the sun with my loved ones! :)

'Q&A's Tuesdays': Swiss Q's

I've received so many questions relating to our upcoming move to Switzerland so I thought it might be good to answer some of those questions here.

What part of Switzerland are you moving to?
Jared's work is located in Lausanne, Switzerland but we fell in love with the nearby town of Ouchy, which is only about 10 minutes from his work and has a spectacular view of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps so we plan to get a place there or close by so we can really enjoy the Swiss beauty.

When are you moving?
Jared starts work in October so we will move in mid to late September so we can get settled in. 

What language do the Swiss speak?
It depends on what part of the country you are in. We will be living in the French speaking part of Switzerland.

Do either of you speak French?
Very little. But I'm looking forward to learning. It's such a beautiful language. I have Spanish under my belt which helps.

What exactly will Jared be working on over there?
He will be working for EPFL under the world-renowned researcher and professor, Michael Grätzel, who specializes in energy research, particularly that of solar cells. It's an excellent and exciting opportunity for Jared. I couldn't be more proud of him.

Will you be working while you are over there?
I intend on using this time to build my photography portfolio. I have never been able to put all of my focus on my photography - I've always had at least 2 jobs - so I'm hoping our time there will allow me to really live out my dream.

Are you excited/nervous/scared?
All of the above. More excited than anything though. I love to travel and learn about other cultures!

How long will you live in Switzerland?
2 full years.

These are the most commonly asked questions but if you have other questions about our upcoming move or any that are completely unrelated, let me know! I'll try to get them answered.

Monday, June 14, 2010

'Mental Vitamin Mondays': Abundance

"It's not about the abundance I can acquire in this life, but the abundance my life can bring to others. God, help me make this count." -AW

What exactly is abundance? Abundance is certainly not something we can acquire; it is something we tune into. It is a state of being. It is feeling that "I have enough"—time, energy, loving relationships, etc. Yes, even enough money. It is not convincing myself that I have enough, while, in fact, I don't. It is about actually having what I need and want. It is believing that I will always have enough.

Although abundance is not confined to prosperity, the majority of people who hear the word abundance automatically think money or fortune. This is understandable, because material wealth has become an all-consuming concern in today's society. But for many, money is the stumbling block in moving towards the higher things in life. I'm sure you've all heard the phrase "money can't buy you happiness". How many situations can you think of where the person was rich by society standards but was also miserable and unhappy. Putting money first means you have placed all of your happiness in money, in other words, your happiness is now based on how much material wealth you have. That is a pretty lonely and grievous investment of your happiness don't you think?

My father once said to me "The greatest things in life are not things, you never see a U-haul following a hearse." This has stayed with me as immense words of wisdom because it is so true. No matter what your beliefs are, we all understand that death is part of our future. And you cannot take your worldly goods to the grave. It is easy to get caught up in having the latest trends whether it be fashion, technology or whatever your interests may be - and the truth is it is OK to have nice things, it is perfectly acceptable to treat yourself to the "finer things in life" but it's when you make those things your main objective is when it is bad for your soul. When you become so focused on distractions (wealth and luxuries) you ultimately lose focus of what really matters. Positive relationships, spiritual wholeness, love...these are things that truly matter.

Focusing on what is already there in your life and not dwelling on what you don't have may sound like good old positive thinking, but it is an important principle. It relates to the Biblical promise: "Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance" (Matthew 13:12)

After identifying all the things that you do have, be grateful for them. Express gratitude. Live constantly in an attitude of gratitude. You will be amazed by how this positive perspective towards your life will create positive results. I hope you all enjoy an abundawonderful life! :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

'Feature Friday': Family & Photography

This week was filled with two of my favourite things....family and photography.

We had our family photos taken a about two weeks ago by my friends, Katie & Brandon of Bungalow Photography and they posted a few sneak peeks of our photo session on their blog *HERE* I love them and can NOT wait to see the rest! These photos are priceless. They will be my home sick medicine when we move. I can look at them whenever I start to miss my family. I cannot thank Brandon and Katie enough for capturing our family! I'll share more of the photos once we receive the rest! :)

On top of that, last weekend, my father-in-law re-married and I was asked to be their photographer. The wedding was in Ohio and turned out to be a beautiful and fun-filled day. They had a hog roast, men in kilts, outdoor games and lots lots more! It was a great reason to get the whole family together and meet NEW family! :)

Check out more of their wedding photos by visiting my photography blog *HERE*


Thursday, June 10, 2010

'Things I Love Thursdays': Clouds

I love clouds! Puffy clouds to be exact. Give me a blue sky filled with whimsical clouds and I'll not only smile, but I'll take endless pictures of it! :) Looking back over old photos that I have taken, I realize I have quite an infatuation with clouds and taking pictures of the sky. I suppose the sky, for me, symbolizes the endless possibilities, the unedited beauty of nature, and the hope for a divine future. I guess you could say I'm obsessed.

Here are a few of  my own personal photos that I've taken over the years which feature clouds.

And here are a few images from others who share my love for clouds! :)

I hope you all have a blue sky day! :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

'We Wednesdays': Our First Vlog

Jared and I bought a new Samsung HD video camera this week! Our wonderful Aunt DeeDee & Uncle Dan gifted me with some money for photographing our cousin's wedding. The photos were to be my wedding gift to them but my Aunt insisted on giving me some cash under the condition that I had to use the money towards camera gear. Jared and I have been talking about getting a nice video camera before our move to Switzerland so we could capture our adventures with not only my digital camera but with a good video camera. So I think we will get a lot of great use out of this camera! THANK YOU AGAIN AUNT DEEDEE & UNCLE DAN! :)

So here is our very first video blog - or Vlog as the cool kids say - using our new video camera! We're still learning our way around it and the editing software so be patient with us. I'm sure we'll do more Vlogging in the future so I hope you enjoy! (watch the full video for an awesome ending featuring special guests - our two cats - Monty & Marley)  :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

'Q&A's Tuesdays': 25 Random Facts About Me

25 Random Facts About Me

1. If I was a superhero my name would be Turbo Nerd. But that would make me more of a superdork I suppose...
2. I think I was a cat in my former life...it might explain why I love them so much!
3. I dearly love to laugh. The tummy hurting kind.
4. Trust does not come naturally for me and I love those few people who make me behave unnaturally.
5. I want to hug the man who invented the camera. I want to hug him and take his picture.
6. I collect photo frames, shoes and panda bears.
7. Ireland will always have a piece of my heart.
8. I'm a salsa dancing fool.
9. If I went back to school it would be for culinary school. Coincidentally, I want to own a bed and breakfast one day. Preferably in Ireland. :)
10. The 5 year old and the 80 year old in me are in constant battle.
11. If I could sleep in to 11 everyday I would.
12. My name means "delicate" and I believe that accurately describes me.
13. Don't ever sneak up on me or try to scare me...my first reaction is to start swinging. You've been warned.
14. I could carry on a conversation in Spanish but I don't have the courage to. It's such a beautiful language and I don't want to butcher it with my Indiana accent.
15. English is my second language. Sarcasm is my first.
16. I've traveled to 12 countries and counting. I want to see as much of the world as I can before I leave this place.
17. I'd rather be behind a lens than in front of a camera.
18. I love to cook almost as much as I love to eat. True story.
19. If I had to choose my last meal, it would be black beans & rice, garlic picanha, bread, fried bananas and a piña colada. I'm going out Cuban style, baby! ;)
20. I don't like to be cold and I don't like to sweat. Either extreme makes me grumpy.
21. Driving aimlessly with the windows down and some good tunes playing is my idea of a good time.
22. I never leave the house without my camera. Ever.
23. My nephew made me a believer in love at first sight. It was the dimples, I'm sure of it.
24. I believe in love.
25. God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

Monday, June 7, 2010

'Mental Vitamin Mondays': Trust. Believe. Soar.

An eagle's wingspan is so large and so heavy that it can only bear to flap its wings a few times before becoming tired and weak, so they have to rely on soaring through the air on the faith that they won't fall to their death. In other words, they put all their trust in the idea that they are so wonderfully made that when they spread their wings, with faith, they will soar with grace in the perfect way that God intended.

"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

trust. believe. and soar.

When the idea of moving to Switzerland was first introduced to me. I must admit...I was scared to death. I have lived in a foreign country before,(I lived in Brazil for about a year) where there was a language barrier and a different culture and way of life. It was tough. And all of those struggles and trials resurfaced in my mind. My initial response was "Can I really do this?" I prayed about it and God revealed to me not only that this was His will for my life, for our life, but that He would take care of us and be with us every step of the way. As we get closer to really taking that leap of faith and moving, those anxious feelings and inner fears resurface from time to time. But I am always brought back to center and find peace when I read, understand and trust God's word. This verse in Isaiah and the connection with the soaring eagle really helped calm and restore my spirit this week. My hope is that it does the same for you.

I now also have "Fly Like An Eagle" by the Steve Miller Band in my head! :)  Here's a video of the song so you can enjoy it too! :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

'Things I Love Thursdays' - Photography

"If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it's as though I've neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up." -Richard Avedon

For those who know me well, my love for photography is no secret! When I picked up my first camera as a child, it was like love at first flash! :) And now, years later, I can't seem to get enough of it. I've always had a love for the art of photography but my first professional/paid photo shoot was in 2005. I still can't believe I get paid to do what I love...how many people can say that? The idea that I can capture moments in time and freeze frame them to cherish  for a lifetime never ceases to amaze me. Meeting new people and sharing a little sliver of their joy with them is what makes my job as a photographer feel less like a job and more like a fulfilling adventure! I get to see people at their happiest and capture those happy moments so they can share them with generations to come. How fantastic is that? I feel truly blessed to be doing what I love. Check out my website: www.behindalens.com and you can also follow the link from there to my photo blog where I post my latest client and personal photo updates.

Along with my love of photography, I also have a love for vintage cameras and other artwork or handmade items that are photography related. I enjoy collecting things that reflect my passion for the art. Below are just a few images from various artists who share my love for photography. I labeled each image with the link to check out more work by the particular artist. Etsy.com and Flickr.com are great places to find talented people's work. I recommend you check out those sites if you haven't already! A few of these have inspired me to extend my creative side and start crafting! :) I'll be sure to share any creations I make here with you.

        1. carlos_lorenzo

             2. ellemoss.etsy.com

               3. japonicas.etsy.com

      4. style-files.com

            5. plushism.etsy.com

                      6. brookeanndove.etsy.com

             8. FiveSisterz.etsy.com

               9. dillondesigns.etsy.com

I also want to give a shout out to a few of the photographers that I really admire, who inspire me, and who I call friends. Click on their names to check out their talent for yourself! There are so many wonderful, and talented photographers out there but I narrowed it down to these fabulous folks. (in no particular order)

Thank you. You rock!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Laughter Is The Best Medicine

It has been said that "laughter is the best medicine" and I will have to agree. There has been research that shows several important stress relieving benefits of laughter and it is my personal favorite type of stress management because not only is it effective, but it is free! :)

I'm just like every other human being on this planet in that I have my share of stressful moments. With the upcoming move overseas, trying to get things organized for our departure and the dealing with everyday difficult people...I am feeling my share of stress. But it's important to not let stress overcome you. Nobody likes a giant stress monster, particularly those who you may lash out at when you turn into that monster. Instead of reacting ugly or angry towards someone, first identify what is frustrating you or upsetting you and respond in a positive way. Respond, don't react.

How many times have you reacted badly to someone(directly or indirectly) out of stress or been the victim on the receiving end of someone else who was fueled by stress-related anger? It's not pretty, is it? How many times have you or someone you know been down right mean only to discover later that they were really upset about something else entirely and just chose to take their frustrations out on you instead of dealing with the real problem at hand? This is a poisonous approach to stress. Not only did you not resolve the underlying problem but you created more stress in your own life and unnecessary stress in the life of the victim you decided to take it out on. If you genuinely have a concern or someone has upset you, the respectable thing to do is to go to that person directly and peacefully tell them what's bothering you (more often than not they have no idea that they have even offended you), don't be passive-aggressive about it. And if that person does come to you with a concern, whether it be in person or by phone/letter - respond respectfully - it took courage to approach you in the first place and they cared enough to want to resolve the problem.

If we really take a moment to evaluate each situation and ourselves we can discover the cause of our stress and then decide what we can do to reduce or even eliminate it. For many, laughter is a great cure for stress!

My husband is my laughter doctor! :) It doesn't matter what is going on in life, he provides me with my daily dose of humor. I'm eternally grateful for his ability to always make me laugh, particularly when I need it the most. Of course there are also several comedians who's job is to make me laugh and are very successful at it! Here are a few that seem to have a direct line to my funny bone: Jim Carrey, Mitch Hedburg, Ellen Degeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Conan O'Brien, Mike Birbiglia....just to name a few.

So good luck if you're trying to get a negative reaction out of me. You're going to have to really try hard because I have a secret weapon...a sense of humor. :)

What makes YOU laugh? I'd love to hear your stories!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

'Q&A's Tuesdays': Things I Dislike

For those who follow my blog you know that Thursdays are "Things I Love Thursdays" where I share with readers a few things I really love and you also know that Tuesdays are Q&A's where you can ask me anything you want and this week,  someone wanted to know what I DO NOT love. So today I will list a few of my pet peeves or things I really just don't like. And first on my list is that I don't like to be negative so I'll try and keep this short. :)
  • I don't like rude people. It's never necessary to be rude. Ever.
  • I don't like squid. The rubbery texture just doesn't do it for me.
  • I can't handle bad smells. Potent smells are my form of kryptonite. Unfortunately I have a heightened sense of smell. It's a curse.
  • I despise arrogance. I can admire confidence but when it turns into cockiness...that's when you lose my respect.
  • Abortion hurts my heart. Abortion reflects that we as a society have not met the needs of women and I believe women deserve better than abortion. I also believe in the potential and the protection of every human life. In fact, I dislike it so much that I started a non-profit organization called Life Inspired Love as an attempt to help end abortion by educating others about it and by helping people make life-affirming choices.
  • I don't like being away from my husband overnight. I don't like being apart from him at all but I literally have trouble sleeping unless he's right there next to me.
  • I hate shorts! I hate the way they look on me and they are just so uncomfortable to wear! Give me a skirt over shorts any day!!
  • I dislike driving long distances. I start feeling claustrophobic and agitated after about 2 hours in the car.
  • I don't like waiting. But who does, right? Waiting for answers is one of the most difficult parts of life.
  • I can't stand "Drama Feeders". You know...those people who seem to live off of drama. Not a big fan.
So there you have it...a few things that I could personally live without! If you have a question you want answered. Comment below or shoot me an email! I'll do my best to get your questions answered.