I can’t believe it’s the end of 2021! This month, like every other month this year, has flown by in the blink of an eye. I’ve also been keeping my schedule crazy busy so I’m sure that’s making the days tick away too!
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I officially decided to take on only 15 weddings each year. I love that I get to serve a limited number of special brides and grooms each year and 15 is the perfect amount to be able to serve my best self.
This month I had the opportunity to photograph art for an upcoming anthology for Women Writing for (a) Change Jacksonville! It is an anthology of women’s voices. Amazing, right?
It was an incredible experience to spend time with each piece of art. While I’m photographing art, I look at very specific details of the piece that’s in front of me to make sure it’s coming out how I want it to in camera. Looking at these details and the story of each piece of art makes me feel like I’ve connected with them.
We have some very talented women in Jacksonville!
I didn’t share these in a blog post because the anthology will be coming out soon and you’ll have the opportunity to see them there. Remember a few weeks ago when I photographed my friend Velour’s art? Velour is one of the artists who will be published!
I’ve also been planning some fun projects for 2022. We’ll have Spring and Fall mini sessions coming up with limited dates and times. I’m excited to see you for these! Availability opens up first via email to my CP Insiders, so if you want to make sure you get a spot before they book up, make sure you’re getting my emails! Sign up here if you aren’t and I’ll welcome you aboard!
If you’re following me on Instagram, you likely already know my sweet dog Sammie passed away in early December. As a dog mom, I knew for years this day would come but my heart was not prepared to let go. I’m still missing that Sammie sized piece of my heart, but I know she’s never left my side and I’m so grateful for that. I shared more about it on Instagram.
I’ll never forget what that day was like, trying to memorize the feeling of her walking by my side, holding her face in my hands, kissing the bridge of her nose between her eyes, watching her eyes light up when I called her name and her tail wagging when I tell her I love her and how pretty she is, heck even to walk her and watch her squat to pee and clean up her poop.
You don’t realize the things you’ll miss until you realize you’ll never have them again. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. And in exchange, I got twelve years of joy with my girl. As a rescue, Sammie got a chance at happiness, a gift I was able to give her for twelve years. There’s peace in that, bittersweet as it may be. Wouldn’t life be so much sweeter if dogs could live as long as we do?
The lesson in this for me is a reminder to slow down, be more present, and appreciate the little moments with people and pets we have while we have them. It’s a reminder of what’s important in life.
In the days since she’s passed, we (Remi and I) are learning what life is like without her. I’ve always had at least two dogs because I want them to have a companion. But now Remi doesn’t have a companion. A friend of mine mentioned the Snuggle Puppy, a toy puppy that has a heartbeat and helps relieve anxiety so I thought, why not, let’s give this thing a shot! And now both Remi and I each have our own Snuggle Pups in Sammie’s honor. 😂
They now officially have names. Remi has a girl named Skye and I have a boy named Buddy.
At first, Remi was not a fan and would lay as far away from Skye as possible, but now he’s warmed up and they’re basically best buds. As long as he has a puppy companion and doesn’t rip it up, I’m happy. 😊
As for me, I confess that laying with a puppy that has a heartbeat is quite relaxing. It very easily became a part of my bedtime routine. 😌
In December, I made one major adjustment to my Spanish learning journey: I started learning through Lingoda.
I still use Duolingo and many other tools to help me learn, but discovering Lingoda has definitely helped me learn much faster. With Lingoda, learning is an immersive experience which was exactly what I was looking for. That means that classes are taught in Spanish by native speakers, and it’s designed to get you speaking Spanish right from the start. You are encouraged to respond entirely in Spanish and the instructors will help you with words that you don’t know how to say. That’s how you learn quickly!
Finding classes taught in Spanish by native speakers was pretty critical for me because I realized that listening comprehension is something I struggle with and want to improve on. At the same time, because it’s a live class with a real person, I get to ask questions in real time – that has been a tremendous help.
It’s challenging starting to speak a language you’re not confident speaking and knowing you’re going to make mistakes but once you start you get over that pretty quickly, which is good because half the battle of speaking a new language is feeling confident to do so (at least in my opinion).
The good thing is that other students are feeling the same way so you are not alone. I thought I might’ve preferred taking private classes so I wouldn’t feel embarrassed, but I really like taking the group classes because other students ask questions I haven’t thought of, or use words I haven’t heard yet and I feel like that additional exposure is increasing my vocabulary quicker.
I met another student in my first class who, to my surprise, was speaking conversationally pretty well with the instructor (which was very intimidating to me for my first class). At the end of class, she said that she’d been taking classes with Lingoda for about 5-6 months and before that, she didn’t know a single word of Spanish. I was impressed that she learned so quickly in such a short time! It showed me that with 3-4 classes a week over 5-6 months, that’s what’s possible. That makes me pretty excited to see where I’ll be in 5 more months!
Also, you earn language certificates which is awesome to add to your resume as proof that you are now bilingual. That wasn’t a deciding factor for me but it is a nice bonus. 🙂
If you’re interested in taking a few classes (they’re super cheap! Less than $15/class!), you can get started for free or get a discount with this link!
In addition to Lingoda, I also found a new podcast to listen to to help with my listening comprehension called News in Slow Spanish. They speak slower for beginners (still very necessary for me). Up to now, I’d only learned verbs in present tense and with just a few episodes of this podcast, I already started learning past tense and imperfect tense. The episodes are short so you don’t get information overwhelm. I usually listen while I’m driving and practice speaking out loud, but I also plan to listen again and take notes when I’m sitting down at home (I don’t know about you but I retain new things better when I write them down).
There’s also an intermediate level News in Slow Spanish podcast here.
On this habit, I did not do so well in December. I put too much on my plate and am currently trying to find more balance. I’m hoping soon that will happen after two major projects come to a close. It’s not a good excuse but it is the truth, and if I’m going to figure out how to improve, I have to be honest. 🙂 This will definitely be something I continue to work on!
I’m still loving this technique! I got the book so I could more fully learn it, but I haven’t had a chance to really dive into it. I think making this more of a habit is going to make the difference. I think it will also help to migrate tasks at the end of the day so I know what I’m working on the next day when I sit down to start.
Also, I started scheduling tasks as appointments in my calendar instead of just blocking off several hours to do work. For instance, if I know I’m writing a specific blog post, then I’m estimating how much time that will take me and scheduling that time in my calendar (let’s say from 8 am-9 am) instead of blocking off 8 am-5 p.m. for work and then having a long list that I’m trying to cross off. Something about having a very specific scheduled time for a task helps me stay focused better.
I hope your holidays and New Year were fabulous!
Every year I order my Christmas cards through Minted. I love their designs and the quality of the cards is so good – they’re not flimsy, they’re thick, high quality. My favorite part is the envelopes and addressing, it makes my life so much easier! The envelopes come with pretty designs on them (no extra cost), and I think is so cool to receive a card in the mail that’s THAT pretty. Then, if you have your people uploaded into the address book, Minted will print the addresses on the envelopes for you at no extra cost. This is such a time saver for me! I stress out about making my writing pretty and evenly spaced out and all that jazz (I want it to look good! 😂) so this totally eliminates that stress for me. All I have to do is stamp, write a personalized message, and send. Done!
Also, this year, I really debated on whether or not I should include Sammie in our photo. It was a strange thing to consider and it had only been a few days since her passing. Since she’s not here anymore, do I leave her off the card? Would it be weird to have her on there? Would it make other people feel uncomfortable? Just because she’s not physically here doesn’t mean she never existed, and removing her from my card felt like that’s what I was communicating. I decided to put her there because she is and forever will be a part of this family.
Plus, she’s precious, isn’t she?? 🥰
Wishing you many blessings, abundance, and prosperity for 2022!
That’s it for the December recap! Come back next month for more!
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