Mexican Cokes, swimming at 6, and how I committed to getting to know me better this year.

Photo by Nicole Seligman of Writes Like a Girl!

Photo by Nicole Seligman of Writes Like a Girl!

A few weekends ago I had a long conversation with a good friend about how hard it is to realize that you're an adult living an adult life, but you aren't quite sure who you are. It seems really simple, right? I'm Chelsea. I'm a photographer. I live in Texas. I'm me. But the parts that tricky is really knowing yourself. There's a tricky part about growing up that leaves us sort of not knowing... We have this big beautiful life to fill, and if we're not careful we'll start filling it with stuff that we're only meh about. Figuring out more about yourself gives you a deeper understanding of who you are, why you're here, and what you can do with your one big life. And to be honest it's made my life easier! I feel like I'm sort of building this compass to make decisions by. Which is something I've desperately always wanted. 

One of the most gratifying things I learned this year was that I really loved risotto. I don't just like risotto, I love it. I love making it. I love the smell of it when it is cooking. I love the process. I love how versatile it is. I love how it makes everyone feel. I love that people think it's impressive that I can make it (I just think it's following directions.) I love every part of risotto. I made risotto three times in one week just because it made everyone around me so happy. And when I make it now I still feel so good about it -- like I'm working at something bigger than dinner. I couldn't explain that feeling for a few months and now I know what it is. 

For me I became super aware of the fact that I didn't know myself well one day as my husband left for work at 5:30am. It was in July, which you know already was a super hard month for me. He left and I thought "I wish so badly I had something that was waiting for me this morning." I have set goal after goal to 'find a hobby' and it nothing ever stuck. I was unhappy with myself, my mental state, and my health but couldn't find any sort of physical activities that I enjoyed doing to help improve that feeling. I realized that morning that I didn't know me. I didn't know what I liked or what would make me happy when I was sad. 

On a whim I put on a swimsuit, got in a car and drove to a pool. I made myself jump in at 6am on a Tuesday and I haven't looked back. I have always enjoyed swimming, but I didn't know quite how much. I thought that everyone loved swimming. And most people really like it or even love it. But I could do it every day, twice a day if time allowed. I love it. I love it. I love it so much. 

So I was there, in the pool, sort of having a crisis of self. What did I do because I enjoyed it? I always solve problems with list making so I started writing things out. I made a few different lists of silly things like '10 places I'd take someone who was visiting" or "Top 5 roadtrips" and then I started lists about things that helped me figure myself out. 

This sounds like such a bizarre thing to be talking about on a blog platform, but I think it is so incredibly important.  To be in positive relationships with people you have to know and love yourself. To figure out what you want for your life you have to first know yourself and your ambitions. To serve and help others, to be a productive member of society and to live a life that's going to make 80 year old you happy, you have to put in some work to figuring yourself out. 

If you're looking for a place to start, try filling out these lists/questions? 

  • What makes you happy when nothing else can? 
    For me this is swimming, a Mexican coke, snuggling with my dog Hank, talking to Tucker about random pop culture things and a warm cup of coffee.
  • What's something that you surprised yourself by doing?
    For me: Starting a business and working for myself for sure. 
  • What are the top 5 places you'd like to travel to? 
    Seattle, Greece, Canada, Sydney and Spain. 
  • What forms of entertainment do you enjoy?
    Television, Movies and Podcasts. 
  • What are five crazy things you want to do in your lifetime? 
    I want to live in Europe for a few months. I want to swim a large body of water. I want cook my way through a cookbook. I want to shoot the cover of a magazine I currently read. I want to get a tattoo. 

    Some of these things might sound good to you, or not. That doesn't matter. I gave you my answers because telling you to list out things for self discovery sort of seems silly, and it really isn't. I'm here to make you feel normal, and even cool, about putting effort towards knowing what you like and dislike. 

    Before I made my first crazy things list I had never said out loud to myself or anyone that I wanted to live in another country for a short time. I'd thought about it several times, but no one knew. Not even me, really. I think that's the beauty of getting to know yourself better, you never know what sort of beautiful things you want for your life. 


The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelance 004: Why You Need a Vacation!

Welcome to The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelancing! This is a semi-frequent blog series about the lessons I've learned while suddenly working for myself. You can read the other sections about how I got started, finding my community, and why money and I are friends now

Today we're talking about one of my new favorite topics- vacation. When I was growing up it was rare that we would take vacations as a family, but the few times we did they were the highlights of my childhood. Disney World, California and going to the beach with my grandma. Those are all such special memories to me. Since I was in college I've always tried to travel. Living on the East Coast it was super easy to take a roadtrip and go somewhere you've never been before. I traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Washington D.C., Louisville, The Outer Banks of North Carolina, Nashville, Charleston, Chicago, and Austin -- all in a matter of five years, and all relatively inexpensively. 

It's no wonder that when I moved to Texas, landlocked by only the gulf of Mexico, Mexico and more Texas, that I sort of forgot how to travel. Couple this with the fact that I was now thrust into working for myself and you've got a recipe for a no-vacation-disaster. We're figuring it out, but today I want to talk about vacations. Why you need one, how you should try and do it and what makes a good vacation good. 

To me a good vacation is equal parts rest & exploration. Sometimes just seeing a new place by car is enough. Sometimes you need to hike something tall or eat something that you've never heard of to really feel like you're breaking from your cycle of normalcy.

But why should you do it? Here are a few tips. 

  • You deserve a vacation.
    If you're like most Americans, a vacation isn't even on your radar. You haven't thought of one in a while, and you certainly don't plan on taking them regularly. You're a grown up now. And you work hard. But I'm here to tell you this: You deserve a break and you should take one. 
  • YOLO. 
    That's right. I said it. And I mean it. You only live once. I don't mean this in a rap song kind of way (or do I) I do mean it in the since that you only get once chance to knock things off of your bucket list. Why don't you start planning on doing something you've always wanted to do? 
  • Your brain will be happier. 
    I don't need to tell you that your brain probably needs a break. Your mental health will benefit from you saying yes to rest. 
  • You'll do better work.
    That's right. Plenty of studies show that after a vacation, you're more productive. Sometimes when you're reaching a creative block with your job, the best thing you can do is step away from it to re-center yourself. 

    So now that you're convinced, what now? One of the challenges I find myself facing most often is realizing that I don't know how to relax. I know that sounds silly, but for me down time or days off tend to make me feel more anxious. I have all this time and work that still needs to be done. Why am I not working? To counter that I like to have a routine-- I swim, I cook breakfast at home or eat something tasty out and I go see a movie. After that I'm generally good to go on days off. I've recently discovered that cleaning something or doing laundry on my days off helps me to still feel productive, while helping me rest. Vacation for me is similar. I did a few on my last trip to Marfa that I think translate well to any vacation. 
  • Buffer
    Give yourself a few days. My husband was only able to join me to travel somewhere for 4 days, but I had 8 days that I could take off. So I took them and we planned our vacation in the middle. The first two days were spent getting ready for our trip, the next four were spent traveling in West Texas, and then the last two I spent slowly getting into the groove of work. This made my first official day back seem a lot less stressful
  • Vacation Responders
    Use it. For me the vacation responder is the true tell of whether I'm actually on vacation or not. If the responder is up, I feel like my emails aren't a priority. Even saying that out loud here makes me feel nervous, because I feel like we all live and die by our inbox. Stepping away from email during the week won't kill anyone. For me I found comfort in still being able to check my inbox, but giving my permission to not respond unless it was a job I really wanted to book or a dream client. I responded to two emails (and politely ignored the rest) while we were on vacation, and I ended up booking both shoots. So win/win, right? 
  • Unplug
    Unplug for at least one full day. For me this meant not taking my DSLR on our trip at all, and opting for film instead (to resist the urge of editing on vacation) and taking an entire day to be without electronic distractions. I had it on airplane mode and I snapped photos when I wanted to. I even Instagram-storied them later. But I took about 12 hours off of cell phone service. I found I was more aware of what was around me and I enjoyed the photos I was snapping even more. 
  • Try New Things
    Whenever I travel I always try to do something or eat something I've never tried before, though to be honest it's usually eating. It gives me an excuse to be adventurous and it gives me something to associate with the trip. When I went to Fort Lauderdale in college it was a Pina Colada. When I went to Charleston it was trying apple on my grilled cheese. I learned to dive when I was on a vacation to California in middle school. Two weeks ago when we were in West Texas I tried a martini and Bacon Wrapped dates for the first time. Those things will always remind me of those places. 

    Vacation can be such a wonderful thing especially when you can streamline the stress of planning. What are your favorite vacation traditions? What vacations are next for you? 

September small goals & a little update!

Oh boy, did I ever forget about last month's goals. To be honest I'm going back to look at them right now and I have no clue what I'm in for. 

Oh! Okay! It's not that bad! Here are last month's goals & how I did. 

1) Stick to a monthly budget. 
Sort of? We made a budget and we worked really hard to stick to it but a bunch of unexpected stuff came up. We're trying again this month.

2) Makeover our bedroom.
Not even a little bit. 

3) Bake a cobbler
I did it! Yay!

4) Go to 10 classes at the YMCA.

5) Plan a vacation.
Yes! I did it! And I'll be writing all about it this week :) 

3/5 really isn't that bad!

As for this month I have a lot to tell you & a lot of thoughts so here goes.
For the past 6 months I've been trying to figure out what to do with my little corner of the internet over here. I want to blog work, yes, but I know I have more to contribute to the world than pretty pictures. I started this blog as a way to navigate where I'm at in my life and recently that's included the hard parts of owning a business! I've also been sharing the moments I feel so lucky to get to photograph. In the process, I've fallen in love with helping people streamline their lives so they can spend more time enjoying the things they love, both big and small.

Isn't that what all of this is about? Getting to a place where we can be working less (and better!) while enjoying our lives more? 

That's what this space is going to be from now on. What does that mean?

Less session sharing (but don't worry, I'll still be sharing work from time to time!) 

More words (from me!) 

Less filler, not that I intentionally had any before. 

More talking about what we're going through and how to beat it. 

And a whole lot of honesty and grace. I'm so glad you're here. 

With that in mind, here are my goals for September: 

1) Get back in the habit of swimming regularly. 
2) Blog more & contribute to another blog. 
3) Buy some clothes that make me feel good. 
4) Find a new hydration app and STAY HYDRATED. 
5) Fill up 2 new recipe cards with ✨new✨ recipes I like. 

What about you? What are your goals for the month? Let me know :) 

Curious Ramblers // Travel Inspired Basics

I'm generally always excited about the projects I've been taking lately, but there was something different about this shoot. Kate Pemberton of Curious Ramblers and I worked with art director Rachel Giberson to plan the location & feel for the shoot and something about travel inspired product shots in the Texas Hill country felt extra dreamy. On the day we shot it rained on and off and everyone was in good spirits despite the added humidity. 

I'm so grateful to have been a part of telling Kate + Peyton's story. It is one of being adventurous in the mundane and the spectacular, while still enjoying every single aspect of travel. Whether it's a bridge, a river, a weird West Texas town or swimming hole. Curious Ramblers is live now! Go check it out and snag something for your next adventure. 


The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelance 003: Money is Your Friend.

You already know that July was nuts for me. A big part of the craziness was because I started looking at photography as my longterm career. For a while I sort of avoided looking into the future with this job because I was afraid I might not like what I saw. It's easy to get into a bad place by working for yourself. Falling into financial insecurity or letting your anxiety rule your world are the two reasons people stop working for themselves. 

It's hard, y'all, but it doesn't need to be scary! I'm breaking this part into a two part series: stress + money. 

And just a note: as businesses, we need money to survive. That's sort of the part that makes this our job. To keep moving forward we need capital. Money is hard to talk about but it is so, so necessary. It's normal to go through phases of having to figure out how to make more money, spend your money wisely and keep up with it.

Here are a few of my best tips for looking at money as your friend and not your foe. 

1) Church + State

My biggest & most life-changing tip just happened to me. A year ago a very trusted friend told me to set up a business account and I remember thinking that it seemed impossible-- but it's not. Go get your DBA or if you really have your business life together your LLC and go set up a bank account. Make all of your business money go through there. The goal, obviously, is to keep some money in this account. If you're bringing in $4000 a month from freelance work, take your taxes out and put them in a different account, and then try and live off of a monthly paycheck of $2500. You'll have about $1000 leftover for business expenses which can include saving up to pay yourself the difference during a slow month. For me the steadiness of having a paycheck has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. Now I feel like a normal human being that can do this, rather than a clueless teenager who doesn't understand where her money went. 

2) Supple Supplements 

Now that you have a business account, let's pad that sucker! This is where we talk about working hard and building up that business bank account. Are you an incredibly talented photographer who also has a network of friends with children? Babysit to build up your business account. Do you offer mini-sessions? Contribute to stock photography websites? Take on projects through websites like Flashstock or Snapwire? Do you have gear that's collecting dust that could be making you money? There's no shame in working specifically to put money in an account. Do what you can to build that up and you'll be incredibly grateful in the long run. 

3) Rock Steady

One of the biggest goals for the past year that I sat for myself was to gain a few monthly clients. This would be someone that I would work for every month for a contracted period of time. I aim to bring in at least $1000 of monthly contract work per month, though lately my goal has been more. For example: A lot of you know I shoot photos for Nicole for her blog Writes Like a Girl. We shoot together twice a month. The money she pays me goes towards my monthly contract work goal. I have several clients that are like this.

4) Expense Report

If you're going through all of this trouble to separate your money, then you had better be expensing the fun things that you get to expense. Go on trips for work! Attend workshops! Take that class you've always wanted to take! Be sure to speak to an accountant before your break the bank on that Hawaiian vacation though. Only certain parts of trips (like the parts where you're actually working + travel) are expense-able. 

Do you have any questions or comments for me? Feel free to comment below or email me! The Normal Girl's Guide to Freelancing is going to start going out every Monday and I'm excited that you're coming along for the journey. 

Small Goals: August

Hello there!

It's crazy how quickly time passes when you're having fun or when you're so busy that you forget to shower for days. Either/or. 

I'm not going to lie, you guys. I was absolutely not ready for July. 

When I walked into the month I didn't expect to completely re-evaluate my life. But alas, that's what July had in store for me. 

A little backstory-- on July 4th I finally confessed to myself and everyone around me that my current business model wasn't working for me and that I was interested in changing it. I was overworked, underpaid and I needed a break all around. I began looking for part time jobs, full time jobs, and everything in between. I got a bunch of interviews, all of them for full time jobs, and all of them very promising. Then I realized that that's not at all what I wanted. 

I just needed a break. I needed to breathe. I needed to figure myself out for a second. 

The financial burden of being self employed is a hard weight to carry. Coupling that with feelings in general can sometimes feel like too much. If you feel that, know you're not alone. 

I told all of the full time job prospects that I wanted to withdraw my application. 

And then I got a great part time job doing social media for a cross stitch company out of Utah. I'm feeling a bit more free + I'm excited for August!

Enough about that, you're here for GOALS!

Here's how my goals went for July:
1) Get a haircut & evaluate my wardrobe. 
Y'all I chopped it. My hair is gone! Success!

2) Go to an exercise class that's out of my comfort zone. 
While I didn't attend a class, I did ride a bicycle all over downtown Austin this past weekend and it was definitely not as easy as I thought it would be. Thank God for pedal assist bikes!

3) Evaluate my portfolio.
Did it. Also evaluated my entire career. So it goes...

4) Open a business bank account.
Did it! Couldn't be more excited about it either!

5) Celebrate my 4 year anniversary! 
We went tubing down the river and it was absolutely perfect!

So what's in store for August? Well... I'm so glad you asked!

1) Stick to a monthly budget. 
2) Makeover our bedroom.
3) Bake a cobbler. 
4) Go to 10 classes at the YMCA.
5) Plan a vacation.

What's on your goal list for the month? Let me know or link it up via Write's Like a Girl's #goaldigger link up!

Happy Things

Y'all the past few weeks have been insane. My life sort of got flipped + turned upside down an while I'm a-okay now, I wasn't for too many of the past twenty or so days. I made some lists, I decided that I was unhappy in certain areas of my life, and I decided to push on. It's hard to come to a realization like that. If you're there right now, you can talk to me. I've been in the thick of it. Because I love sharing lists and I love reading lists, I thought I'd publish a happy little one. Happy Sunday!

  1. photoshoots that go well
  2. deciding to do something different + then doing it
  3. postcards
  4. mail
  5. clean water
  6. cold, leftover pizza
  7. the number thirteen
  8. the color emerald
  9. business bank accounts
  10. fast memory cards
  11. movie trailers
  12. going to the movies alone
  13. my pup, Hank
  14. weird cameras
  15. lager beer
  16. earrings
  17. beeswax candles
  18. essential oils
  19. not being intimidated by silence
  20. soundtracks to films
  21. pools
  22. swimming
  23. cold water
  24. 100 degree weather
  25. popsicles
  26. magazines
  27. when a stranger tells you they like your dress
  28. new agendas
  29. swimsuits that fit
  30. shorts that don't fit anymore
  31. sports bras
  32. a happy husband
  33. bahn-mi
  34. the word noodle
  35. naps
  36. good client feedback
  37. summer skin
  38. getting to mentor someone
  39. educational books
  40. early bedtimes
  41. early alarms 
  42. my swim team
  43. going to classes
  44. the Hamilton soundtrack
  45. comic-con
  46. felt banners
  47. the vibrance tool in Lightroom
  48. new pieces of jewelry from new friends
  49. clean blankets
  50. all the laundry put away. 

10 Frames with Maggie Shirley

I absolutely love a name that's comprised of double first names. To me Maggie Shirley seems like the name of a very witty and famous author from the 1930's with titles like It's Not That Depressing by Maggie Shirley or New Deal With It by Maggie Shirley. The name just seems so notable, which is fitting.

Maggie is much cooler than my anecdote about her name. She's sweet, witty , incredibly kind and one of the most interesting people I know. I'm so happy to know her & when she reached out to have some photos taken of her I absolutely almost fainted I was so excited. She emailed me while sitting next to me at a co-working meet up. I yelped out loud. 

When we got together it was just beginning to get super hot in Austin. That didn't' stop us from throwing confetti in the air though! After our session I sent her out on the town because she looked so great. Here are 10 of my favorite photos from our session.

Small Goals: July!

It's hot outside you guys! The pool is constantly calling my name and I am answering. I've always got a cantaloupe or a watermelon handy. The fireworks stands are lining the highway in between all of the peach stands. That means it must be JULY! Summer is in full swing and I could not be happier about it. 

Here are my goals from June:

1) Read 2 books. // Didn't do it! Ran out of time.

2) Do it now. // I did it and I learned to do things I don't want to do! 

3) Swim once a week, Bike once a week. // Did it! I also joined the YMCA!  

4) Spend more time with #hankfromaustin. // Did it! And he's being a pretty good boy now!

5) Open a business bank account. // ... My DBA isn't here still but I got an email that it's on its way!

For July I plan on re-evaluating my business & my body of work. I also plan on investing some time into myself and continuing to further my health and fitness goals and ideologies. 

1) Get a haircut & evaluate my wardrobe. 

I've been feeling pretty blue with my style lately. My body is going through some changes and things that you used to look great on me don't anymore. I think getting a new 'do will help. 

2) Go to an exercise class that's out of my comfort zone.

I am so so comfortable in the water. I can swim like a fish. I do water aerobics like a boss. But other classes? They feel scary. Will I take Aqua Yoga? Will it be a Zumba class? Who knows! We'll fine out.

3) Evaluate my portfolio. 

Essentially I will be sorting through hundreds of thousands of photos to figure out what I enjoy most and what I do best. NBD. :|

4) Open a business bank account.

Will this be the month? Fingers crossed. 

5) Celebrate my 4 year anniversary!!!!!

It's coming up on the 8th! Isn't that crazy?!

What's on your goal list for the month? I want to know! 

Around Here with Grove Collaborative

Occasionally I like to catch you up with life around here is looking like. Life has looked a lot different lately than it ever has before and I'm feeling really good about it.

About 3 weeks ago I woke at 5:30am with my husband, Tucker. He has to be at work on most mornings at 6am. I decided that after years of wanting to be a morning person, I was going to decide to be a morning person. I was going to give it a try. So at 5:30am my body left the bed and I walked our dog and made the decision to go for a 6:30am swim at Barton Springs Pool. If you aren't from Austin then you probably don't know how cold this pool is. I've always wanted to swim early in the morning and I've always been to afraid. I don't know what came over me that day but I decided that it was what I wanted. I've been in the water everyday and I've woken up at 5:30am or 5:45am on most days since. 

Swimming everyday has had a lot of an impact on my life. It's turned me into a person who gets the correct amount of sleep (7 and a half hours instead of 9!) and a person who manages their stress better than before. It's also been a healthy, positive change in my life that was pretty easy for me to make which feels good. 

We've been eating a lot of salads because it's way too hot to cook and because our CSA is chockfull of delicious summer veggies! Our go-to foods have been frittatas when it's not too hot to run the oven & salads full of farro & barley with a squeeze of lemon + tons of olive oil on top. 

I've also been determined to turn myself into someone who enjoys cleaning. I recently read an article somewhere on the internet about turning things that you don't enjoy into things that you do enjoy by adding a new element to the task. Recently I began listening to podcasts when I do something my I'd rather avoid and it's been pretty wonderful. I've turned into the roommate that does the dishes! 

One more thing I've been loving lately is Grove Collaborative! Grove Collaborative is company that will deliver natural and affordable home, beauty and personal products right to your door. If you know me you know these two things: 1) I love efficiency. 2) I always forget something when I go to the store. Grove Collaborative helps me with both of those things. The prices are comparable to the grocery store too-- which I love! If you want to give it a try here's $10 and a free Mrs. Meyer's hand soap to get you started!

Janelle Whitehead // Texas Heat

When I moved to Austin just over a year and a half ago one of the first people to befriend me was this gal. Janelle was kind to me and at a time when I needed it most she told me I was doing a good job & that I hadn't made a mistake moving here.

Since then Janelle has started a photography business that will be launching soon. She landed a job in coffee, something she's always wanted to do! She works for ethical clothing companies & she's basically a jack of all trades. Did I mention she moonlights as a model as well? She does. 

A week or so ago on one of the first over 100 degree days we've had in Austin, Janelle and I decided to shoot. I pass this building everyday and I finally figured out that it seemed to be unoccupied. It was exactly what I was wanted for this shoot. I was thinking light with flower and I got light with flowers & 100 degree+ temps. I wouldn't have changed a thing about this shoot. 

Listmaker, Listmaker, Make Me a List...

Lately the most vital thing I've been doing for my own mental sanity is making lists. I stumbled upon this as a valuable form of stress management accidentally. I picked up the book The 52 Lists Project by Moorea Seal and I caught up on filling out my monthly lists and I was surprised at how calming it was. I started a list journal and I've not turned back yet. I've been making lists of what tacos I love in town, and what's stressing me out, and what's on my mind. 

If you're a person with an anxious mind I recommend this highly. It's help me be very present and it's helped me to list out priorities and anxieties and realize the difference between the two! 

Here are few lists you can make to get you started: 

If you could visit anywhere, where would you visit?
Write out your favorite meals? 
What do you want to accomplish this week? 
What lies are you believing today? 
What Instagram accounts give you life? 

Are you a list maker? What kind of lists do you make? 

Small Goals: June!

Whoa. It's June already. June is my favorite month for so many reasons. It's my husbands birthday month! It's the month before my anniversary. It's when the summer starts getting hot & the grocery stores are overflowing with citrus. I could swim like every day if I had time & it wasn't raining! June is fantastic. It's so hard to believe May is over!

During the month of May I accomplished a lot! We got some obedience training for Hank. I started shooting a dream project for a local publication (more on that in July!) and I got to try out a new brunch place in the name of journalism. I got out of town for a couple of days with Tucker. I planned a fantastic networking brunch and I taught a couple of workshops. 

Here were my small goals for May! 

1) Budget like crazy. 
2) Figure out how to wash my face. 
DID IT. But I'm still wanting to explore more. 
3) Sell some camera gear.
Didn't do it. Whoops!
4) Rest well (and maybe go to the beach.) 
BOOM DID IT. I went to Rancho Pillow and I got into a rhythm of swimming and getting outdoors. 
5) Schedule smarter.
DID IT. I stopped working for the sake of working and I started making nightly to-do lists for the next day!

May went by crazy fast. I'm hoping June goes by a little slower. Here's what I want to do in June!

1) Read 2 books.

I'm thinking "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan & a good novel!

2) Do it now.

Nicole and I talked about this last week in the pool. I'm going to adopt a 'no waiting' attitude on things that I'd normally let go & let stress me out. Dishes? Do it now. Those last three emails that never get answered? Do it now. Hank is chewing on the rug because he's bored and needs to go on a walk? Do it. Do it now. 

3) Swim once a week, Bike once a week. 

So I've been on a little health journey lately which has included help from a few apps & trying to do exercises that I enjoy. I reignited my love for swimming as exercise and I want to get in the habit of making time for it. My husband also recently started biking everywhere & he likes for me to bike with him even though I am slow and I complain a lot while I do it. 

4) Spend more time with #hankfromaustin. 

I don't know how much anyone know's about our dog, Hank, but recently we've had some severe behavioral issues with him. He was a rescue and we know little about his life before us, but it seems that he was fed inconsistently and he has some trust issues. He's been having resource guarding issues as well as a few others. There was a time in the past month that we thought he might need to go live somewhere else because our nerves were so shot. But we couldn't let that happen without trying harder. I'd like to ensure he goes on two walks a day & we're looking into some more training for him. We love our pup and we're fighting very hard to keep him in our pack. If you're the praying type, keep us in your prayers because it's been so hard mentally to weigh our options and to keep on. He's shown some improvements and we're hoping it continues! If you have good vibes or any recommendations for reading: send them our way too! 

5) Open a business bank account. 

... because I should have done this in January. 

What's on your goal's list for June? I want to know!

Tiny Bloom 🌿

The folks behind Tiny Bloom really know the way to my heart: it's definitely through flowers. Tiny Bloom is floral delivery service in the Central Austin area that delivers hand tied bouquets directly to your door for only $30. The bouquets vary daily which makes it perfect for someone who likes to mix it up! You know I like it when my flowers & my produce are kept seasonal! They also have the most beautiful little succulents up for delivery in these fantastic little pots. It's perfect for a gift or for treating yourself! 

Getting to shoot photos of these beauties was such an absolute treat! 


Mindy's Bakeshop in Black & White

Boy oh boy do I love someone who is good at their job. Everyday, and some days every hour I try to be better at my job than I was previously. I always try to move forward and improve. I try not to settle for 'good' or 'fine'. I want to be excellent. Fantastic. 10/10. I blame my parents work ethic growing up-- my mother was a pressman (she printed the newspaper!) and my father was a logger who made timber for building projects. They taught me to work hard.

When I meet someone who has that work ethic I am always struck with awe. That's how I felt when I met Mindy of Mindy's Bakeshop. She told me about a job she once held where she baked at a hotel restaurant and worked 12-15 hour days and she did it until she knew she had to get out. She knew her limits. She knew what she was and was not capable of and she knew she needed a life. From that moment on I knew she had grit. I knew she was the real deal. 

And then I tasted her baked goods. She's so incredible at what she does and I am so glad to know her, let alone have a part in building her brand. Last week she and I set down and took some photos for her new website launch and she brought over some delicious & photogenic treats. 

You'll see all of the full color versions on her site, but until then here are some of my favorites in black & white!

The Summer Brunchtacular!

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of people. I like most people that crosse my path and for some reason one of the first things that pops into my head when I meet someone new is who I should introduce them to. 


You're a designer? My friend Ruthie is a designer! You've lived in Austin your whole life? My friend Nicole has too! You're allergic to gluten? You should meet my friend Maggie! You want to be an Astronaut? You should talk to my friend Alexcia! 

That's just how I am. That's just how my mind works. So it should be no surprise to you that I enjoy throwing networky type things. I shy away from saying I throw networking events, because if we're being honest that's not really what I enjoy doing. Networking events can be great, and I like attending them for the most part but what I like putting on myself is a little different. 

I like throwing big breakfast parties and inviting a bunch of talented women to come meet each other. My deepest hope is that in a year someone will tell me that they met somewhere at a brunch of mine that they've worked with or that they did an aerial silks class with someone they met at my brunch (I was told this was happening on Sunday!) 

The power of working together with someone creative is such a wonderful thing and certainly nothing I ever want to take for granted. I love building community & I love getting to watch people work together. That's why I do what I do-- both to build those relationships with others and to build those relationships with clients & collaborators. 

A huge thank you to Weather Up for hosting us & serving us delicious food. 
To Mindy's Bakeshop making the amazing cake and the incredible cookies.
To Bricolage Curate Florals for those gorgeous arrangements. 
And to Limbo Jewelry for the awesome swag bags.


Limbo Jewelry: Dobla

When I moved to Austin everyone told me I had to check out this little store on South Congress called Limbo. At my first Austin job I began making candle deliveries to the little shop and I quickly understood what everyone was talking about. The people there were incredibly kind & the shop boasted an array of things that you feel like you have to have. 

Quickly I became friends with Limbo Jewelry on social media and I'm not alone when I say that I absolutely love them. Their jewelry completes any outfit and their Colab Tri Earrings are my go to for everything. 

I'm so excited for the launching of their Dobla Collection! It's a collection is inspired by Japanese origami and contemporary architecture and you guys-- it's absolutely stunning. I have a sneak peek for you today below & if you follow me on Instagram you already know about the giveaway I'm doing! If not-- hop on over and enter to win this gorgeous gold earring & necklace set for the Dobla Collection! The collection launches on May 25th and if you're local to Austin, you should come join us for the launch party!

Happy List // May 17th

To keep my head and my heart in check I like to make lists about the good stuff in the everyday. I make a practice of trying to not take anything for granted and this help. Here's my happy list for today. 

1) these flowers. 
2) that inspiration is everywhere, even (especially?) in trader joes
3) friends that tell you repeatedly that you are enough.
4) people who tell you your bad ideas are bad
5) coworking
6) the color blush
7) patterned soft pants
8) cool projects with cool people
9) dance music
10) headshot sessions
11) the Blacklist even though it is stressful
12) Tucker's guitar playing prowess
13) mail
14) getting to work for myself
15) plants even though I can't keep them alive
16) this little blog
17) that I know how to wash my face now
18) burritos
19) vegetables
20) i learned to make risotto
21) dog training
22) the rain
23) going on walks
24) margaritas
25) list making

26) journals
27) clients that understand your vision
28) friends that tell you it looks like you've lost weight
29) comedy
30) my fantastic friends
31) almond milk
32) being able to pay bills
33) coffee
34) birds chirping
35) my pup Hank
36) records
37) pencils
38) anniversaries
39) Guy Clark's life
40)  hydration
41) new suede pointed espadrilles
42) emails
43) wine
44) cooking
45) birthdays
46) meeting new people
47) papermate fine tip markers
48) instagram
49) creative community
50) churros

A Normal Girl's Guide to Freelancing 002 // Find Your Village.

See this photo? From left to right here's how I met each person: April emailed me, I emailed Nicole, Pei and I met at a networking event, Katie and I went to the same conference but didn't meet up until after she emailed me to work with me, and I've known Stephanie for over 12 years. I consider this group of women my village. 

Of every aspect of working for myself this is the most important to me personally. When I moved to Austin and I started trying to work for myself two things became very clear. 

1) I can't do this alone. 

I am such an extrovert. I thrive most when I am part of a team. I work best sitting across from someone with a pot of coffee and a plate of donuts between us, which is exactly how I'm writing this right now. I began searching for friends via all the mediums I possessed, which at the time was basically Instagram & then mutual friends on Facebook. I decided I had nothing to lose and that if someone thought I was crazy because I emailed them and asked them to coffee... well that was their problem and not mine. So I sent the email. I befriended people on Instagram. I talked to people at the coffee shops I was frequenting. If I recognized someone from the internet I would say hello. These are all tricks that are not confined to moving to a new place-- you can use them now. Do you know that cool girl that lives in you city and seems to know all of the coolest spots? Email her! 

2) I realized that marketing yourself online means nothing outside of personal relationships. 

Having an online presence can be incredibly beneficial to a business. About a third of all of my inquiries come from Instagram which is AMAZING. But do you know where the majority of my bookings come from? Friends of friends. Someone who saw some great work I did for someone they adore. Generally this person will then keep me in mind until they have a project for I can work with them on. Yes, a lot of these people do get referred to me through social, but it isn't because I say 'hire me, hire me, view my complete portfolio.'  For the most part I post photos of food or me dancing or who I'm hanging out with on my Instagram feed. I keep the work at a minimum unless it's what I've been staring at all day or it's something I'm really really proud of. 

I've had the honor of meeting some pretty cool people by working for myself. I do not take that for granted because for me, that's everything. I'd much rather meet someone face to face and find out that we get along on a human level before I take on their project. I think that's how most people work best.

And networking can be great for this! You can meet all kinds of people at events meant specifically for networking. They can be your new BFF or they can be someone that might hire you down the road. One time at a networking event I had a 30 minute conversation with the marketing director of a company here in Austin and I learned so much about the restaurant scene here & where to get the best margarita. The information was so valuable. I just walked up to her and complimented her haircut and now we're BFF's on Instagram. Has she hired me? No. Do I friend love her? Yes. 

Don't be afraid of networking. Go to networking meet-ups! Host them, if you can! Be someone who can introduce a CEO of a great company to a graphic designer that you're creative BFF's with. That's who I want to be. Sometimes networking can be just as much about getting someone else's name out there as it is about getting your own name on someone's desk. 

And as a caution please please please don't use people to propel yourself further. Everyone deserves to be treated like a human being and no one want's to be used. The point of networking is to meet people. Is there job potential there? There always is when you meet new people in the creative field, but that's not what it's all about. Help propel other people. Build your village & be a part of helping other creatives succeed. When one of us secures a win, we all do. 

Amazing graphic by Libby Vanderploeg

Dulcis Almond Milks

I'd like to start out this post by saying that I am not normally an alternative milk fan. I don't eat almond milk in my cereal. When I go to a coffee shop a soy cappuccino is never my drink of choice. I've never met an alternative milk I've liked as much as organic cow's milk. I have a lot of opinions about this stuff because my husband is a barista and a coffee trainer and that makes me have opinions about things like milk and milk substitutes.

And then walked in Sarah Velasquez... the patron saint of almond milks.  The milk that she makes is heavenly. She has a turmeric almond milk that tastes like Christmas. If I was given the opportunity 10/10 times I would choose an iced almond milk latte with Sarah's turmeric almond milk over a cappuccino any day. It's seriously fantastic. 

Sarah is officially in the process of launching Dulcis and I'm so proud of her. When she asked me to photograph her products I was elated. She's made a product that is truly delicious and equally good for you. If you are in the Austin area and you have any sort of lactose allergy or you're a fan of almond milk you should order some from her because man, it is good!

To order email!