10 Reasons to Vacation Right Now!


IMG_0300Now more than ever I love traveling! My boys are older so I am more inclined to get up and go, with or without them to get away from home and get some downtime. We all need it. We need to be able to remove ourselves from the “every day” and refill our tanks. Even if we take a day off, I don’t know about you, but that day off from work is just a day off from work. I can find a trillion things to do at home that will make me think I should have just gone to work.

vacation1I have been taking yearly vacations now for about 6 years and I need it! It is like breathing for me now. And at least one vacation is a cruise. Actually, I will be going on one soon and I cannot wait!! I love seeing new places, trying new dishes that I never would have tried at home, and getting to know a foreign culture. Now that I started this, I do not know how I did life before. I have a wanderlust spirit now and it gets stronger with every new adventure I take.

Here are some reasons why you should take at least one big vacation a year…

  1. You will get to know yourself better. You get a chance to think in your quiet times and the opportunity to see how you react when you are in different situations. I journal during my vacation to check in on my feelings and think about my life. I also record things that happen that I may forget when I return home to the craziness.
  2. You become smarter. Going to all of these different places helps you to gain moreIMG_6276 knowledge about the world, maps, geography, cultures, and languages. I definitely have a better sense of direction after all of my travels so far.
  3. You get to experience something new. Nothing can really surprise you about where you live. It is different when you get out there and travel. There will be plenty of culture shocks…and it is a  beautiful thing. Staying in one spot for me is boring…might as well travel and get out of that.
  4. You make wonderful memories. Nothing compares to that! Collecting special moments will always be better than collecting things. I mean, after a while, where will you put all of that stuff? If you spend your life in one place, every day seems the same.
  5. You may just find out what the meaning of life is. I believe the meaning of life is a little different for all of us because we are called to different things and we have different gifts. While I travel, I spend time with me and think…write…pray. I always think about my purpose and the things I want to work on or change about me and my life while I am away. Almost looking for a fresh start in some areas.
  6. vacation2You sometimes get to see places that you have only seen in pictures. When you step into a foreign land that you have looked at on Google or Pinterest, it seems so magical. It is such a gorgeous feeling to actually BE in the places that you have dreamed of being in, knocking things off of your bucket list.
  7. You will inspire others to travel. Even though traveling is not a hard thing, it can be hard for someone to begin doing it. When you decide to get out there and make your dreams come true, you will inspire others to go and do the same.
  8. You will have exciting stories to tell. Our passports tell some exciting stories! When you have gone out there and experienced other places, you will have hundreds of stories to tell. Each day of travel brings something spectacular to your life.
  9. You meet some amazing people.
  10. vacation3 Every person on vacation has a beautiful and unforgettable story. You learn and you are reminded of the fragility and the intensity of life. I will never forget the awesome people that I have met on vacation, some of them are now great friends of mine and we plan to travel together in the future.
  11. You will become a better person. When I travel, I see a different perspective on life. Since I have been learning these new cultures, I feel like it is easier to be more tolerant. I am more compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and definitely more at peace.

IMG_6233These are just some of the benefits of travel. Every time I pack my bags, I am deciding to create another adventure and leave my mark in those special places. I am no longer afraid to step out of my own little world and see what is out there. Memories and excitement are out there waiting for us…I am actually getting ready for my next vacation as I write and I can’t wait. See you out there.



Let’s Get It Started

LetsgetitstartedI cannot tell you how many bright ideas that I have had that have yet to pass the starting position. I am honestly quite busy but I know that I have the time to put more than a thought and a journal entry into a few of those ideas. I admit that I try to put as many things on my plate as I can so that I stay busy and it can make a girl crazy! The things that I do attempt get finished, it is just that I am completely worn out after them and I have little time for anything else. Time management and learning to say no are going to be at the top of my list for the New Year, that is for sure.

I have a new planner on the way and goals that I have set for this year are going to see me as a more organized and accomplished being (giggles from excitement). I have been using my meditation and quiet time to map out a vision board and this girl is going to see plenty of good in the coming year. How am I getting there? What is the plan? I am evaluating my past attempts and experiences and making the changes from there. I have learned a lot from previous choices and I am ready to make my goals a reality. Let me share with you what I have learned…letsgetitstarted1

  1. Enjoy what you are doing or trying to do. It sounds simple enough but many of us end up spending most of our day doing things that we do not enjoy. Why do we do that? When you have an idea….for anything at all, you are more than likely going to find yourself hitting a few dead ends. That doesn’t mean that you need to quit altogether and go back to doing what you are comfortable with. We just have to step back and find another way to get there. Everything that we do will not always go well all of the time; we just have to love the process of getting to where we want to go as much as finally getting there.
  2. Be in love or fall in love with your ideas/goals/dreams. You know what they are! The things that I am working on are definitely things I am passionate about. You know, those things that make you so excited you can burst from the inside when you are thinking about them or make you so full you want to cry when you visualize the moment you realize you did it. They are part of your purpose and they are the things that make the rest of your life a little easier to deal with. The thought of what that idea/goal/dream can be should give you the motivation to push forward and forget about quitting until you get there.
  3. Mind your budget. Depending on your idea, this budget has the potential to get out of control. Budgets are crucial and I work on doing one for everything…sometimes. There are times when I hit the mark and others, not so much. Seeing a budget helps us to measure our goals, making them more tangible. Numbers help us to see if and when those ideas can become a reality with what we have on hand. If you don’t see enough resources, you can be creative with what you have before looking for outside sources. If you are like me, you want to do things yourself, which is another thing that I learned about.
  4. “No man is an island”. We know that saying and for some of us, we are working on letsgetitstarted2believing that (my hand raised). It is very rare that we have all that we need within ourselves to accomplish our goals. We need help! And so what if others know we cannot do it alone. We have to network. There are few things that we can do without meeting others who have been there so that we see those dreams of ours as a reality. Talk to people that are where you want to be or read about their journeys. For the most part, there is a person or a group that is already doing something similar to what you are trying to do and not getting paid for it.  Join them and bring value to the people that you are meeting with. If you don’t find that group, create it.
  5. Prepare yourself for change. I am not one of those people who have to see things done the same way every time. I am very spontaneous and flexible. I think that is part of why I do not get worked up when things do not work out. It can be frustrating, don’t get me wrong, but it will not completely knock me out. Embracing change is not a strong point for many but it can save anyone a lot of stress if they learned how. It is best to not get fixed on things happening one way. A new way of thinking or doing things can be refreshing and can set things on a greater path than you originally planned.
  6. Tell the world! This one is huge for me because I am not good at this one. I am a quiet person when it comes to sharing who I am and what I am doing. I have no idea why I am such a private person (yet I started a blog, right). Maybe it is because I have problems trusting that the people I know will actually support a project I have or maybe I have a problem with rejection. I am not sure and I do have issues with both of those at times. I am learning that I have to go outside of my circle for authentic support and be bold and confident in what I am doing. If I don’t believe in it, I cannot convince anyone else to. I know that I have to be ready for all types of feedback and advice and I am. I also know how to weed out the good from the bad and keep it moving. Feedback is important for a lot things that happen in our lives but we cannot get caught up in the opinions of others. We also have to know that we should not worry about things being perfect, nothing really is. We just have to be careful not to just share any ol’ thing with the world. We have to give our best at the time and work on improving things from there.

letsgetitstarted3Whatever it is that you are planning on trying or doing in the upcoming year, do it! Do it afraid. Do it with boldness…just do it! If you are like me, you may be tired of creeping your way to the place you want to be. Tired of letting someone’s opinion make you back away from the idea. Get in your quiet place and make a plan, set a goal, journal your dream. Get ready to have the time of your life on a journey to everything that you want to do/be. Celebrate yourself with every small accomplishment along the way. Love on yourself with every little failure as well. Write it down…make it plain…get it done!

Tea Time

tea timeI used to feel like I got cheated because I did not have a daughter when I felt like I was done having children. I wanted 3 children because for some reason my life always included that number so it feels pretty lucky for me. I wanted a GIRL!!! I mean why not? Growing up I was a little on the tomboy side but after becoming a mom, I began to embrace my diva and I felt like I should have a mini-me. I did not receive one and I am definitely not bitter about having the young royalty that I was given, but it would have been nice.

tea time2I was given the pleasure of being a godmother to a sweet little girl a few years ago. Not my mini-me but my sweet little sugar cookie nonetheless. Spending time with her is fun. Little girls are so different from boys!! Boys are easy. I just throw my boys around a little and play some sports, watch a few cartoons and play video games. With girls, you tend to not be as rough and I had to learn how to play with dolls and little kitchen sets. Of course with my sons, I look for teachable moments in it all. I don’t want them to think there is ever a time when I am not being mom…even when we are hanging like friends. I do the same with her when we spend time together.

Anywho…I finally decided to give my little goddaughter a birthday party! I wanted it to 6EA34977-59AC-4E9B-B429-9DBB4E87C888be all about her but still have a god-mommy (or Cookie, as she calls me) stamp on it so Tea Party theme is what it was! I am a planner as far as things like parties, vacations, and such goes in my life so I started the planning 5 months before her birthday. I wanted to pull out all of the stops. I did all kinds of research because I did not have a tea party as a young girl, nor had I ever been to one.  I wanted to do it for her….my sugar, so she could have an experience that I did not have as a child. (I also wanted to do it for me!!)

The planning was fun!! Looking for everything tea party! I was online looking at IMG_8682Pinterest, on Amazon and in the thrift and antique stores searching for my pots, cups, and other things to decorate the party just so.  The menu, the drinks (appropriate for young girls), tea pots, tea cups….cucumber sandwiches! I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun party planning is. This one, in particular, took me back to being a little girl and the innocence of being a princess, and remembering to be soft, feminine, and pink! Everything from the invitations to the party favors were all about being elegant and girly. Their party favors were decorated boxes that had candy, white gloves and pearls. I had parasols and hand-made flowers everywhere!

Being feminine is a gift that we should give our girls, our own and the ones we are IMG_8653attached to. We have to remember to be soft and feminine too, even though we have to stand strong at the same time. We have to remember that we have curves and emotions,  we are delicate and beautiful. We have to have and be all of these things and be confident and bold enough to demand our respect and honor all at the same time. We cannot allow ourselves to be walked on and stepped over.We have to own our flaws and dare someone to say that we are not what we say or think we are. Prove it!! Walk and talk like it, speak like a lady and smile

IMG_8683at that beautiful face when you look in the mirror as you admire the beauty you see before you. Every curve…every crazy emotion, how soft and feminine you are. Someone was made to love every inch, every emotion, all of your femininity! Your job is to love you first!! Show the world that you love you by treating you like a princess, a queen in fact! Show them how to do it! Teach them what is acceptable and what is not. Know that you deserve the best, the very best. You make your world better simply by being you and being present. I love being feminine. It was easy when I was dressing like a tomboy, but there is nothing like putting on a dress and seeing how it brushes passed all of my femininity. IMG_8679I love being a woman! It is not easy but it has been a pleasure to bring life into the world and be responsible for rearing human beings.  We have so much power, even in our softness. We can make or break us and/or them, remember that! Embrace your femininity every once in a while. I know you are running around after children all day or working in a career field that does not call for it, but you will have a day off. Don’t stay in your pajamas all day. Take a shower and get dressed, something sexy, even if you are staying home. You will feel sexy and your spouse will enjoy seeing those legs before we get to no-shave November. I am just saying…I practice that one!

IMG_8772If you have little ladies in your life, teach them to love their hair, their softness and crazy emotions.  Embrace their femininity and not to be ashamed of their curves. Self love is paramount in raising confident women that do not attached themselves to someone that may possibly abuse them, physically or otherwise. Be the example. Embrace yours…watch them follow.



Leaving on that Midnight Train

downloadSo I recently chose to ride on a train to go to New York. I was not just attending a family member’s wedding, but this lady is my best friend and cousin. She is super special to me so I was not going to miss it. Along with the fact that she asked me to be the matron of honor.

Anyway, I chose the train because it is so quiet and it gives me time to think, to enjoy the sights along the way, and get some writing done without interruption. If I get on a plane, I miss what is between where I am and where I am going. If I drive, I also miss the journey along the way because I have to watch the road and there is no peace and quiet with either of those. Now if you have never rode on a train, there are some things that you need to know in order for the ride to be all that you want it to be.

  1. Tickets ready! Make sure you print out an e-ticket or have you ticket in hand or on your cellphone. There is nothing worse that having to shuffle around with a line of people around you. When most people are traveling using public transportation, they are rarely patient.
  2. Ask for a window seat, if possible. I love getting the window seat so that I can take pictures along the way and have a little more privacy. We do not always get what we want if the train is full, so be ready to get friendly with your neighbor because the outlets are near the windows.
  3. Keep Warm. If your destination is over 5 hours, I would bring a pillow and blanket, or a jacket. It is freezing in there! I mean like hospital COLD! I am not sure why they keep it so cold, but it is. I bring my travel pillow and a throw blanket and that keeps me comfy as I nod off.
  4. download (1)Bring snacks!! They do have a cafe on the train but you do not know what car you will be in and how far you will have to go to get that $2.00 bag of chips so bring some snacks, a sandwich or something to get you through the trip. Of course, have a couple of bottles of water. Keep in mind you are sharing 1-2 bathrooms with a car load of people and the bathrooms aren’t always in good working order.
  5. Laptop or Tablet. I know most people will have a phone with them but having your laptop or tablet gives you a bigger screen to look at movies and read or write.
  6. Privacy Screens. For your laptops, tablets, or phones. You may have a nosy neighbor looking over your shoulder trying to find some entertainment. I like to write on the train and it probably is not anything that can’t be seen by others, but at the same time….my business truly is my own.
  7. Books and Magazines. When you get bored with screen time, you can always pull out a book or magazine to pass the time.
  8. Image result for riding a trainEnjoy the peace and quiet. This is a great time to just enjoy not have to be anywhere or doing anything at that time. Take the time to make this “me” time. Listen to your favorite music in your headphones, meditate, sleep, do some research or shopping. Whatever it is, you are doing it on your own time.

Girl’s night is a MUST DO!

images (1)For some of us, it is not a problem to be alone. We like ourselves and the company we keep. This is not to say that we do not like being around others. It is just that we have taken the time to get to know who we are as an individual so we do not always need others to make us feel wanted, needed, or loved. Its a good place to be, honestly. There is a special feeling you have when you are alone and content with it. But we need our girls!! I have to admit that. I have to share my day, my “girlie” conversations, my woes and all! I mean, can you imagine a life without true friendship? I cannot and would not want that for anyone. Whether you are single, in a relationship, engaged, or married, you need a regular standing girl’s night with the women in your life. Friends add color to our lives. They lift our spirits, and are there when we have special moments and dark times. We should celebrate each other often and get together for a good time.

Why do we need a standing girl’s night? IMG_4458

  • To Escape. Did you have a long week? Is the boss giving you trouble? Fight with your lover or the children driving you mad? A night out with the girls will relieve some stress as you get caught up in laughter, banter and chatter.
  • Bonding. With all of the social media and texting that we can do to stay connected, nothing is better than face to face contact. Being able to see a person’s face as they share or receive information makes communication so much better and you bond over the good and the struggles of life. Human contact is necessary and it helps us to be able to “feel what you/others are saying”.
  • Dressing up. A lot of us do not have to get dressed up to go to work. Stay-at-home, work-at-home, independent contractors all get to “work” in their pajamas. Then there are others who are free to wear what they want in their career outside of the home, so when we talk about having  girl’s night out, we HAVE to dress “to the nines” as they say. Spending time getting all cutesy makes us feel good…sexy…feminine and it gives a tease to your love when they see you in action, and they are looking forward to your return.
  • Checking In. Now that we have grown up and have families of our own, we rarely actually talk on the phone, let alone get a chance to get together to look at another adult. It is definitely therapy to get a chance to “check in” with our friends. We want to find out how they are really doing, not what they are telling Facebook, or laughing and just giving them hug can make a world of difference for us all.
  • To Have Space. Yes, we love our partners, children, and our home, but we do need some “ME” time. There is nothing wrong with having a healthy balance of together time, alone time and social time.

Being a mother and/or wife can take a toll on us at times. Taking the time to get in touch with your girlfriends and share “war” stories and femininity can really heal your emotional wounds. This is a time where you can be free to finally say how you really think and feel about life and love. It also encourages those feelings of wild abandon and camaraderie with the ladies that you know feel just like you do. You do not have to hide, you can relax, be you, and know that you are accepted for being the weird and quirky person that you are.

Being with women that you know truly love and support you is like a breath of fresh air. When you come back from a few hours of their company, it feels like you just came back from a short getaway; it refreshes your mind, it fuels for the soul, and when mom is happy everyone is happy right?! Being with my girls reminds me of how much fun it is to be woman and an adult.

Some ideas for your next girl’s night…

  • Wine tasting party
  • “Bachelorette party” at a bar or club (even if no one is getting married)
  •  Window shop and have lunch
  • Old school sleepover (Sex in the City, facials, gossip, drinks, and do not be the first one to fall asleep!)
  • WII Dance competitionIMG_3605
  • Craft/Terrarium party (DIY night)
  • You tube makeup/hair tutorial night
  • Favorite dinner and a movie
  • Groupon something you have never done before (I found a great pole dancing class!)
  • Have a girl’s night IN theme party (these are my favorites)
  • Plan a cruise if you need a little more time



Celebrating Entrepreneurs: John EnglishIV, founder of JE4 Photography

IMG_7834There are many people out in the world that have passions leaking from their pores. In fact, we all do, for the most part. For the driven, those dreams have to become a reality. We have to open that business, write that book, see those dreams come true. I mean, what is the point of living if we are always making others happier, satisfied…richer!! What about you??!! I want to take a blog every month to give a shout out to the people I see that are reaching for the stars. Individuals that decide to stop helping someone else’s dream become a reality and work to see their own happen. It is hard work and it can get lonely at times, but knowing that in the end, you pushed through…you worked for the success you have… you are not a quitter!!! You are successful because you have the desire, the drive…the guts to keep it moving. And the rewards are on the way!

I am introducing a man that I have known my whole life (minus 3 years because I am older that he). He is a man that is full of adventure and imagination. This is part of the reason why I believe that he is certainly at the beginning of a super successful photography career. He has only been focusing on the business for a few years but has made awesome connections with the community, and is a sought-after photographer for family, wedding, and business bookings alike. I asked him some questions that go a little deeper than his work alone so that we are introduced to his reasoning for doing what he does, what drives him to continue to build his business when things are quiet and his love for life in general. So, let’s peek into the life of a very special man to me and awesome photographer…my little, big brother…John English IV

Tell me about yourself in 50 words or less including your business venture

I am the forth generation John English, and growing up I never really thought about the importance of that position, until late in my life. Being a family oriented person, I rely on my family for support and love, this is what drives my motivation to be a better man. My goal is to be the best version of myself I can be, including being the best John English of them all. It’s a legacy thing, one that was chosen by name, so, I plan to exceed the expectations set when I was born. This is my exact mission for my photography business, JE4 Photography.

1.)What would say are your biggest accomplishments?

John: I would say my biggest accomplishments are, all of the awesome clients that have booked me for their special moments. Being a photographer gives me the great pleasure, and honor of having the ability to freeze a moment, that moment can be relived over and over again as we get older. So, years later, that moment will literally transport you back to that exact moment with such precision, you almost feel like you’re back there again.

2.)I am most proud of….

John: My growth as an entrepreneur. Photography wasn’t a planned passion, mainly because I never had the resources (money for equipment)  to realize this was something that would be a great part of my life. The business side was very unexpected, and at first very overwhelming ; however my determination has led to a love for both the business side and the skill set.

3.)Define success

John: Unlike many other business professionals, my definition of success is a bit unique. While others think success is defined by how much money they made, or the accolades they rack up…success, to me, is the feeling I have when a clients books me. I’m successful because, my mother and father are proud of my business, my product is shared with others with pride, and I gain knowledge with each booked job. The mere fact that I took a step toward my dream, is every bit of success. The mind and society, has painted this picture of what success is “supposed” to look like, when the reality is…success is whatever it looks like to, you.

4.) I believe…

John: I believe in following your dreams and being passionate about your goals. Doing anything less isn’t living, it’s just existing. God, or whoever you believe is the highest entity, gave each and every one of us a gift. This gift could be anything. You could have the gift of annoyance, gift to sleep, gift to heal, or, the gift of giving. These are all useful in some way to someone, but finding how you can use this gift to bring you joy is where most people fail to launch their dream. Without the proper people around to support you can be stunting and discouraging to even begin. My advice, find those that do believe in you, and keep them around, because once you start; remember…that’s when you can claim success.

5.)What is your why?

This is a great question, and I will tell you why (no pun intended). I have always had this affinity for art, mainly because I was pretty much introduced to it early in my life.  My father had a film camera that captured moments beautifully, my sister’s love for music filled the room with sounds of bold beats and rhythms, and my surroundings where painted brightly with spray painted colors on structures like canvases. Before I knew it, I was drawing still life, and putting my imagination on paper, with images and words. Yes that’s right, I am also a poet. So, capturing my environment with a camera only makes sense to express my artistic nature. Now that I’ve found my passion, my next step is to teach others how to express themselves in the art medium that is photography. It’s a great outlet to express yourself, and one that many people appreciate, and those people aren’t always your friends. That’s the beauty of photography, it’s universal and your style will be appreciate by aficionados world wide, no matter your skill level. I’m at peace when I have my camera in my hand.

6.) How do you feel about your failures toward your goals?

Well, to be honest, I don’t feel I have failed yet. Goals to me aren’t win or lose, I believe we just haven’t finished the race yet. When you watch a marathon, and the person comes in last, most of the time they probably knew they wouldn’t win, but their goal was to finish no matter what time they ended with. I tackle my goals the same way. If I don’t complete something in time, majority of the time it was lack of effort, so I go back to it and do something different to overcome my lack of attention to the project or assignment. I’ve failed when I give up, and that really isn’t an option for me.

For more information on how to book JE4 Photography and to view his work….

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http://www.je4photography.com                             (321) 209-5534