VLV Photography, LLC


ND Senior guy session | John

Over the years, there have only been maybe a half-dozen times I’ve had to reschedule a session due to weather.  And the evening of John’s session was an absolutely perfect ND summer evening.  A very soft-spoken, charismatic young man with a sense of humor, his down-to-earth mom who made me feel so comfortable in her presence (like it was okay for me to be myself), and a perfect night…..well, I’d say that’s a recipe for a perfect session.  And a perfect session it was.

We started at my studio, where we got some formal photos.  I think I forget how much older I am at times, because I remember at one point, I had told John to give me his “GQ look.” Well, needless to say, guys nowadays don’t know what “GQ” is, so I’m going to have to adjust my lingo, I think! ha!  I’m open to suggestions.  lol!

Here is John’s favorite from the studio portion of his session.

senior guy studio portrait


After the studio, we headed to the farm, where I got to practice my graffiti skills, got that “GQ” look I was waiting patiently for, and got to provide images with the farm as the backdrop that they were hoping to get.  Check out his posing – a natural!

senior guy what to wear

In the sequence below…his “GQ” look would be the one in the upper-left, in case you’re wondering! ;)

ND senior photographer

Took two-takes on the year.  And before we know it, we’ll all be writing “2014” on our check blanks for the first two weeks of 2015! lol!

senior guy graffiti senior guy farm session

By this time, the sun was starting to go down and we had to head to the football field before we lost the light entirely.  I had my lighting with me, but I was hoping for more sunset and what I didn’t take into account were the trees blocking my sunset, which was a bummer.  Overall, we still managed to get the job done.  After getting those shots and becoming mosquito lunch, the session was coming to a close.

senior guy football pics

One thing I hadn’t realized and that John stated during their consultation, was that when Tony and I were in Iraq, he and his fellow classmates had written us letters and drew pictures.  We had gotten so many pictures and letters during the deployment.  And I was pretty certain we still had many of those.  However, to my disappointment, that wasn’t the case.  So bummed about that! :(

In closing, I want to extend a very HAPPY 18TH BIRTHDAY to you, John!!  I hope your day was a good one and I wish you a memorable year ahead!  You’re a one-of-a-kind with so much humor and compassion to offer the world.  Never let anyone tell you differently.

This post will replace my weekly “My Life Monday” post because birthdays are more special.  Besides, John is probably way more interesting than my sticky floor life! lol!

My Life Monday | Everything is Figureoutable

“Everything is Figureoutable”

That has to be one of my all-time absolute favorite quotes (by Marie Forleo, business mentor and coach to entrepreneurs all over the globe).  It resonates so much for me because “figuring things out” has been my own personal mission many times throughout my life.

On Sundays, I typically don’t do anything business related.  We do things as a family, I tackle home projects, or just relax and recharge.  Yesterday, we worked on some minor household projects and I also started cleaning out my closet.  At one point, my husband had brought out several pillows I’ve been meaning to “do something with” for quite some time.  They were tearing and looked terrible, but I knew I could make them new again – just a matter of making the time.  So yesterday became “refurbish throw pillows” day.

While cleaning out my closet, I found a basket of a bunch of sweaters I had purchased from a second-hand store to be used at some point to make stuff.  I had upcycled a couple already into newborn hats, but still had several in the pile untouched.  I then decided that I would use what I had and recover those pillows.  The only thing was, I wanted something neutral so that all the pillows would coordinate or at least be able to dress them up differently but still go well together.  I decided to cover two of them with extra fabric I had from when I made a curtain for my studio and use a sweater for the third.  These took me a few hours, since it was my first time trying it, but I love how they turned out.  I taught myself a new technique too, while making these – a gather stitch.  You just gotta love Google. :)  The brown trim is a strip of rosette fabric and those are the pillows for which I used my extra fabric.  The one with the gather stitch decorated edge was the sweater I used.  The fabric for the gathered stitch was a rayon, which, I initially thought the fraying would look “shabby-chic,” but I think I may get tired of finding little frayed pieces of fabric everything.  If I did that again, it wouldn’t be with rayon.  I could have melted the edges a bit over a candle though, which would have eliminated the fraying, or if I had a surge machine, I could have used that along the edges of the rayon first as well.  Live and learn. :)

refurbished throw pillows

As I was sewing (with my $15 sewing machine I purchased literally 12 years ago), Alexandra was asking questions.  Both girls sat and were just so interested in what I was doing.  I told them, “if there is one thing you learn from me, learn this – everything is figureoutable.”  I proceeded to tell them that I taught myself how to do many things over the years, from the time I was a child and taught myself to swim after only one lesson (sink or swim, right?), cook, how to ice skate, how to use a camera, how to run a business, to crochet, to sew….so many things over the years and because I truly live by the fact that everything truly is figureoutable.  If there is something you want to learn how to do – if you want to know bad enough, you’ll take the time and practice over and over and over.  That being said, the next thing to figure out on my life to-do is how to play acoustic guitar. :)  Before that though, and in the very near future, I plan to try making some mittens.  If anyone has some old sweaters they are planning to trash, I may be interested in having them.

In other news, I’m looking forward to my Christmas promotion sessions this week.  Last week we ended up getting dumped with snow and cold, which put a damper on things, but that’s where I am thankful for having a studio.  Although, outdoors is still my favorite.

Also new is I started teaching CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine – yup, had to look that one up, not something I easily remember) for Kindergarten and 1st grade.  In short, Catholic teachings.  Last week was my first day and I think I won the kids over with lunchbox s’more bars (if you’re on Pinterest HERE’S THE LINK).  If you’re not on Pinterest, get in touch and I’ll send you the recipe or I can share it in a future post with a few other recipes I’ve been meaning to share as well.  For this week they loved the idea of cocoa pebble rice krispies (add in some peanut butter and it’s like eating a reese’s peanut butter cup – YUM!).

Well, I suppose – I best get back to working on a little project for my upcoming Christmas promo.  I have no idea how it will turn out but you’ll likely see it on here in a future blog post.  Also, I need to finish up a special project that will be a very personalized gift for my mom for Christmas using images from her beauty session with me and my kids (images from that session to come to the blog too).

In closing, is there anything you would love learn to learn how to do?  I was thinking as I was working on my pillows yesterday that it would be kinda fun to get some ladies together that are interested in learning something new (that I know how to do), or to get our scrapbooks up to par (which is something I mentioned last Spring that would have been a great project for winter).  If this interests you, get in touch!  If there’s enough interest, I’ll work on getting something put together. :)

Have a wonderful week!

P.S. If you’re bored this evening, the Central Dakota Concert is at the Zeeland school tonight at 7:00 p.m..  Several schools get together to perform – should be a great program!

P.P.S.  I am offering my Christmas Card Mini-Session Promotion through the end of this month, so if you’re interested, email me at victoria@vlvphotography.com.  You’ll still have time to get your cards sent out! :)



Bradyn | ND HS Senior Photographer

Bradyn, his mom, Kelli, and I met this summer for Bradyn’s senior session in Linton.  We had perfect weather from start to finish.  We started out at the school, where I got to try some new lighting techniques and shoot in the locker room for the first time.  So, I was pretty excited when Bradyn said he wanted to try out the locker room.

Here are a few of my personal favorites, as well as Bradyn’s.

high school senior football pics

From there, we headed to the football field.  With every session, I enjoy trying to come up with a different shot at some point in the session, that I’ve never tried before.  With Bradyn, the sun was in the perfect spot, and it was just the inspiration I needed for this shot.  Someone on Facebook had suggested I put “20-15″ on the scoreboard.  As I was editing the images, I thought the same thing, but was thinking it would have been neat to have had the score 20-15, rather than add it in Photoshop, like I did (after reading the FB suggestion).

senior boy football scoreboard photo

Before we headed a bit out of town, we stopped to get some photos of Bradyn with his truck.  We had a vision of what we wanted to do, since Bradyn had invested so much into these awesome lights, but it would have had to have been much later and there were other pictures they for sure wanted.  So, sometimes you just gotta make hard choices.  Regardless, these turned out pretty sweet and Bradyn ended up with a pretty awesome metal print of the image on the right.

senior guy with his pickup

After the football set of images, we headed to one of my favorite shooting spots of the summer on someone’s private property (with permission, of course).  I imagined myself living there as a child;  dancing among the trees – pretending to be “Max” of “Where the Wild Things Are.”  It just had this perfect child playground vibe to it.  I imagined numorous forts among the trees, a hammock, and an outdoor entertaining area, complete with a stone fire pit.  And since most homes around here are not embedded in a mini “forest” like this place was, it really did feel like I was transplanted to somewhere far away.

Here are some images from this wonderful place, the perfect setting for Bradyn’s derby car.  And thanks to his dad and another little helper, for helping with the smoke bombs.  This was another new thing I wanted to try and I felt fitting for his derby car – adds to the edginess of the derby car, I think.

senior boy derby car racing pics

senior boy portrait

Finally, we decided to end the session by becoming some mosquito lunch.  Well, at least they were loving me!  This was another wonderful, hidden spot we found –  again with permission to shoot there.

senior guy outdoor portrait

And I just want to add to today’s post a very happy 18th birthday to Bradyn!  I actually started this post some time ago and thought itwould be fitting to save it for today.   Enjoy the rest of  senior year, Bradyn and I hope it was a memorable 18th!!

P.S.  My heart goes out to all the veterans today as well;  those who may have been forgotten, the POW’s, those who didn’t receive as much love and support that veteran’s today receive, and to all those serving  today –  far from their loved ones.  I read this interesting article and I really enjoyed the perspective.  Having served in Iraq, I will echo one of the remarks made in the comments section, where the reader stated that even after having served two tours – one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, he personally didn’t feel nearly the veteran as those who served in wars past; [and in my words] where nearly every man experienced one of the three: gave the ultimate sacrifice, lost their best friend, or  left a body part in some foreign land…wars where you went in knowing you likely wouldn’t be coming home.  So, like the article states, thank a veteran not for serving, but for allowing you to do and live each day as stated in that article.  Better yet, join me and donate to The Wounded Warrior Project or another cause that serves veterans.  God Bless America!   






My Life Monday |A Life-Lesson from an 8-year-old

Today, Alexandra turns 8 and before she went to bed last night, she whispered to me “thank you for my birthday party.”  She hadn’t even had her party yet and she was already sharing her gratitude.  I got a life-lesson from a soon-to-be-8-year-old in that moment.

Some may say, after reading that “kids are easy to please, who cares?”  And two months ago, I probably would have agreed.

However, something has been happening, within myself, and to me, it’s more than just my kid being easy to please.  Which, if you’ve been around Alexandra for any length of time, you quickly notice that it doesn’t take much for her to get excited.

It’s the fact she shared her gratitude before even experiencing her birthday party that really warmed my heart and made me feel proud in that moment.  And that, dear readers, is the one take-away I hope you get from today’s blog post.

About 3 weeks ago, I began a daily practice of gratitude.  And not just writing down  what I am grateful for, but emotionally feeling it…so much so, it’s brought me to tears at times.

Every night, we pray as a family and afterwards, we go around and say what we’re thankful for that day – we’ve done this for years.  But, I never really personally went beyond that.  However, since deciding to make a conscious effort to do more than that, it has changed the energy and the feelings I am putting out to those around me.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not all kumbaya and 24/7 joy beaming from my pores, but what it is – is more peace in my own mind and less irritation, even when my 5-year-old accidentally spills my wine all over my electronic device and keyboard (true story).

So, as Thanksgiving nears and people begin the regimine of sharing on Facebook what they’re thankful for (which sure beats depressing news stories any day), maybe try and take it one step further and start a gratitude journal or spend a few minutes in silence thinking about all the good things in your life.  You have the time while in your car as you travel home, or in line at the grocery store – just drive all other thoughts out of your mind and focus on just being in the moment with thoughts of gratitude.

No matter what happens today, there is an 8-year-old in my life who has taught me something very important, without even realizing it.  It’s not just about being grateful for what you already have, but also being grateful for what is to come.

We’ll be partying like rock-stars tonight in the Volk home over party pizza (by request of the birthday girl), angel food cake that only her dad knows how to make just right, mint ice cream, with grandma and grandpa and a bunch of young girls joining us. Sounds like an amazing day ahead to me!

Have a blessed Monday and week ahead!

**This portrait was taken several weeks ago.  I will forever cherish this.  And one day, Alexandra will as well – I have no doubt about that.  If only….I had one just like it.  Heck, even a picture of my grandmother would be wonderful.  Alas, I have many more to share from this memorable session with my mom.  Stay tuned….**

grand-daughter and grandmother portrait

My Life Monday | A Spooktacular Halloween

Hey all!  Everyone joining me in a post-Halloween sugar crash on a regular basis?  Must.  Practice.  Self.  Control.

Although, I have figured out an easy trick to avoid the extra, no-good, will go to your ass, calories – let the kids keep the candy in their rooms.  lol!  And since our kids’ rooms are not on the main level, digging out sweet treats requires a step of actually taking the stairs.  Whereas, if you leave the bowl on the counter, you’re far more likely to sneak here and there.  You know I’m right.  ;)  We’ve actually never done this before.  Typically, we pool all their goodies to make one, big loot and keep it in a cupboard in the kitchen;  however, this year hubby told them to take it to their rooms.  I think he realized that way, he too, won’t be seduced by the sweet temptations.  And he, my friends, has ZERO self-control when it comes to sweets.  ha!

Anyway, it was a great weekend with friends, and even better that my friends and I won the costume contest!  It pays to spend a little money to dress up and you don’t necessarily have to spend money but we did have to invest in the jackets.  We might just have our Grease names embroidered on them and wear them out!  lol!  Just call me “Jan!”  It was fun to dress up as a group and I’m already swirling with an idea for a group next year!

Pink Ladies and T-Bird Costumes

Here are my goblins, along with a friend’s goblins.  This was the first year we went trick-or-treating with friends.  The kids and I both really enjoyed it!  (don’t mind the iPhone pics)Kitty and bush Halloween costumes

This past week, the kids also had their Fall concert.  They were pretty excited;  they got to wear their costumes this year.  I was pretty impressed with the band too!  It was a great concert and I’m just glad Xavier is liking the clarinet.  He didn’t squeak his instrument a once either!

Fall School Concert

Finally, the kids had their 4-H awards ceremony last night, for their participation last year.  They received their first year member plaques and discs for event participation that will be added to their plaque.  I really encourage parents to get their kids involved in 4-H.  DeAnn Larson and Carrie Heidrich are our group leaders and if you’re interested in signing your kiddos up, you can either get in touch with me and I can get you their contact info, or if you know them, contact them directly.

My Take on 4H

4-H encourages kids to get familiar with public speaking (which can be a paralyzing obstacle for many adults), as well as teach teamwork and encourages kids to use their imagination.  It takes a little work on the parents part, but it’s well worth it, I think.  Some kids may just not be interested, and that’s certainly understandable.  There are many different categories though, that surely, every child could find something of interest.  I also understand, as a parent, you have to choose sometimes, otherwise, you’d be running around every day of the week here and there.  Our group (Emmons County Southern Stars) meets the first Friday of every month, so it’s generally not a huge time commitment.  If you’re interested – get in touch with questions or come to a meeting to check it out.  We’re meeting this Friday, at 4:00 at The Amvets in Hague. :)

Emmons County 4H Southern Stars

In business news – my monthly e-news will be coming out tomorrow!  I share content not shared anywhere else, as well as anything else that suits my fancy that month!  Also, a while back on my Facebook page, I had shared a link to a Social Media Content Survey.  If you take two minutes to answer this quick multiple choice survey and share your contact info, you’ll be entered for a drawing to win a $10 gift certificate to a local business of your choosing.  So far, only one person has shared their info, so the odds of winning, at this point, are pretty darn good! ;)  Click here if you have two minutes to spare and are feeling lucky!

In closing….

I hope everyone has a great week!  Go out and vote, ladies & gents!  I voted absentee ballot, so my good deed has been done.  And if you’re like me, you’ll probably disappear from social media tomorrow because people just might get pretty ugly to each other.  Sitting behind a computer screen, making ugly remarks, then shutting the computer down for the day and pretending like nothing was ever said has become the norm in our society.  “Social” has taken on a whole new meaning nowadays.  Lift with your words and realize that some people are just looking for a fight or to stir the pot.  I don’t publicly discuss my personal views on certain topics for a reason – because they’re personal and based on my own belief system and life experience.  Belief systems and life experience are unique to each and every one of us.  We’re passionate about what we believe because, each of us has very intimate knowledge of ourselves that no one could ever know.  In my opinion, there isn’t a human alive that could gather what that knowledge is from a two minute Facebook scroll.  So, share your views if you like but know you will likely be met with resistance and be welcoming an opposing view.  And unless you know, without a doubt, that you can be open-minded and cool-headed, I will suggest you save yourself some self-induced stress and like me, keep your personal beliefs….personal.  But again, that’s just me.  I shall instead try to maintain a positive spin to my day and be thankful that I can vote in the first place.



Christmas Card Mini Session Promotion

So glad you stopped by for more information!

Session dates for the outdoor Hague sessions are as follows:

Tuesday, November 11th (no school – Veteran’s Day)

Wednesday, November 12

with an alternate date of Saturday, November 15th

Note:  The 15th could be a possible 3rd session date if there is enough interest and the weather cooperates.

Christmas Card Mini Session

– Steps to your updated portraits & awesome holiday cards –

1.  Contact me via email at victoria@vlvphotography.com or call 701.336.7720 to book

2.  You will be able to book your time slot online, as well as pay for your session and fill out the session agreement

3.  Choose your wardrobe.  Coordinate by choosing one outfit with several colors and pulling from that for the rest of the family.

4.  Want to include Props?  How about add on anything to your session to receive 10% off?

5.  Enjoy your time in front of my lens during your session!

6.  Within 10 days view your images online in a private, password-protected gallery

7.  Choose your digital images and your card design (you will have several options to choose from)

8.  Approve your card design online

9.Receive your beautifully packaged order

10.  Mail out your beautiful cards to friends and family

Get in touch with any questions or if you would like to book your session!  Time slots are to be determined but space will be limited!

P.S.  If there are at least 3 or more families more than 50 miles from Hague (58542), I would extend this promotion to take place in your town on another date.  Please inquire if interested!

My Life Monday | Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

When was the last time you got really excited?  Jumping out of your skin, grinning from ear to ear excited?  So excited you’re anxious?

Every time I ask our dog, Gizmo, if he wants to go for a walk, he gets very excited, jumping up and down, tail going crazy, barking up a storm, doing circles around me, and running back and forth to the door in anticipation of actually going for a walk.

That’s pure joy and excitement, right there.  Same as a child would react who loves the outdoors and where every day is an adventure.

Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

An experience I had recently, involving work I created for two dear friends, brought out some pure joy and excitement in me, that I hadn’t experienced before in my business quite in the same way.  I had held on to that work for several weeks, allowing other things to take over in my schedule, because if I’m being honest…I had a lot of anxiety surrounding putting this work “out there” for all to see.  What most don’t know is that this was two years in the making.  And two years of me resisting and getting in my own damn way.  So for me, it’s like “giving birth” to a new possibility that is both exciting and very nerve-wracking at the same time.

I’ll share more of that story in the full blog post at a later time, where I’ll share more of their images, but in the meantime, these are the two I posted on my Facebook page.

This is Lori, who, on the day of this beauty session, turned 40.  This was a celebration beauty session! :)

beauty photography

This is Jen.  The resistant-at-first friend who realized, towards the end of the session that, what just happened, was much more than just a make-over.

women beauty photography

That, right there is work that I want to create over and over and over and over.  Because it matters.  Because it’s empowering.  Because it has long-lasting good-feeling mojo long after.  Because, I feel, it’s work that is bigger than me.  And because it just feels right to me.

Now, you may be wondering…huh, guess those children, families, weddings, couples, and seniors she’s photographed weren’t as awesome.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I take away and learn something from every interaction I have with my clients.  A senior in high school takes me back and reminds me of my more youthful days, brings an energy to the session that no other session can.  Whereas, children bring this natural wonder and curiosity that even now, I still have as an adult, so I find it easy to relate to children in that way.  And families….well, it’s a reminder for me, every time, of the blessing I have in my own life that even though my own family is very small, we are very tight.  And how, through my marriage, I have been introduced to so much more love in my life and have that father role model, as an adult, that I never truly had as a child.  And all the weddings I’ve photographed, give me hope, that in this world, there is still goodness and love prevailing and you see it all unfold in one very important, emotionally-charged day…and to be a part of that and to document the start of someone else’s love story?  It’s not something I ever took very lightly.

I’ve put passion and love into all of those sessions, but this….this is different.  It’s as if a sleeping giant has been awakened in me.  And I didn’t fully feel it until Friday, October 24th and it’s a day I will never forget.  Simply put, this has been a big deal to me.  And I have no idea where this will take me, what will happen from now on, but I do know this:  that when you feel true joy and excitement…that’s when you know you’re on the right track.

Seek out the joyful moments in your life and do whatever it takes to feel it on a daily basis.  It may be simply taking the dog for a walk.  It may be turning on the jams and having your own dance party. And I feel like I’ve written about this before.  But truly, you will see a difference taking shape in your life when you do.  And it starts rubbing off on those closest to you as well.

And before I go, I want to share a little update on this previous post, where I shared how I planned to tell the kids what I love about them.  Last week, we had sat down for our evening meal and I went around the table telling each of our children what I loved about them.  Their faces just lit up.   Two days later, Xavier shared that he disagreed with me on my previous assessment of how he makes a situation funny, whereas Jozlyn will make others laugh at her expense. He disagreed and proceeded to give an example of how he made others laugh. That told me one thing, that what I said to him, made him think and also actually stuck with him.  Alexandra too – busily made cards for her dad and I to put on the fridge days after that conversation.

Kids are sponges;  taking in the good (and the negative) things we say, directly or indirectly stated towards them.  Becoming mindful of what I tell myself (in my own mind), has made me more mindful of what I actually say.  It’s a daily practice, and I still find myself allowing negative things into my mind.  But, it’s honestly been helping me change the tone of the conversation in our home.  And with my older two, it’s going to take some work.  As I learn, they too shall learn.  And maybe through reading this blog, you too, shall learn right along with me.

Have a blessed week and until next time, be mindful of what your feelings are telling you and never hesitate to share, with others, what you love about them.

Energy flows where attention goes

My Life Monday | What You Offer the World

Gift of Words quote

Ever think to yourself that you have nothing to offer….to anyone?  Or maybe you know you offer a shoulder for someone to lean on, but never really feel how much that impacts others so then you are still in the camp of people who feel as though they have nothing to offer the world.

I’m a deep thinker, if you haven’t gathered that about me or, if you’ve only recently started to read these weekly blog posts – which, have really gotten deep lately.

And I’m the type of person that needs alone time in order to recharge.  I actually crave alone time.  Weird, huh?  I also find small talk rather difficult, which often leaves me leaving a small talk conversation feeling like I was just misunderstood.  Because, when I meet you for the first time – I really would rather know you – tell me something of substance, of interest;  something that gives me an indication of who you are on a deeper level – what you stand for, believe in, or value.  And to get someone to share that side of them isn’t usually easy and especially on a first-time meeting.  They have to look into your eyes and trust you won’t judge them.  And most people just don’t feel safe doing that.  But, I think we all know someone in our lives who people just seem to spill their guts to;  tell their whole life stories to and we ask ourselves…what is it about them that makes people so comfortable doing that?

Over the years, my husband has been that person for many people.  Most of these people were met in passing, never to be seen again.  But he shared the many stories with me over the years.  I think sometimes people just want to feel heard, if even by a stranger.  And what a gift my husband has given others.  And maybe you’ve been in that situation too – where someone just spills their life story to you, where you don’t get word in edge-wise, but suddenly feel like you’re in a psychologist’s chair and this stranger is lying on your couch.  I know my husband doesn’t see this as any kind of gift, but I sure do.

What you offer the world doesn’t have to be this grand thing that yields tangible or monetary rewards.  And just because, what you offer others, doesn’t give you those things, what it does give you is joy…..if you choose to look at it that way.  My husband can choose to see these instances in his life as an annoyance;  an interruption in his day.  I don’t feel he ever saw it that way, but rather, just a brief time where he lent his ear to a stranger.

I know many people in my life who have a gift they don’t even know they have.  I know someone who knows their job is important, but may not really see the big picture that what she truly gives children is hope, who desperately need it the most.  To give anther human being hope – well, it’s a life-changer.  Makes me get choked up just thinking about it.

I know someone who is so unbelievably postive, you just have no choice but to be positive when you’re around her.  Just being around her makes me a better person.

I have many people in my life, simply by occupation, that have left an impression on me in some way.

I just wish more people knew what they offer the world, just by being here and existing.  Have you ever thought about this of the people in your life?  Deep, right – so likely not. But do this for me today and tell one person what they have given you or that you’ve seen them give others, on a deeper level that goes beyond a job title.

For example, a really great footbal coach gives young men the know-how on how to make plays happen – building on those technical skills year after year.  But what a great football coach really, truly gives young men is self-confidence, the ability for those young men to SEE their own potential, commroditry, and the ability to pick themselves up and dust themselves off.

If only more people saw what they truly offer the world…..

And that’s my deep thought Monday, formerly known as “My Life Monday.” lol!  Seriously, maybe I should change it.  In my life though, this past week (if you’re really curious),  I got to photograph my lovely and talented sister-in-law and the boys in her life.  Not to mention, had the long drive there and home to do what I do best – think.  Sneak peek will be coming tomorrow more likely on my Facebook page.  I even got their old-man cranky dog to look at me! ha!

Until then, think about what YOU give the world.  I know there is something – all of us have a gift to give the world.  You’re doubting yourself right now that you don’t – quiet your mind long enough and you’ll figure out what it is.  Also, bring to light something you see in someone else that they may not see in themselves and TELL THEM.  If you actually do this, I’d love to hear from you on how it made you feel and how that person reacted and made them feel.  More often than not, people have no idea the impact they have on others until someone tells them.  And children are not excluded.  A child who values themselves and what they bring to the world is priceless.  But they need to be told what that is.

For example, Xavier is a deep-thinker like me.  That boy is beyond his years.  He offers, even at the age of 9, a different way of looking at things.  He’s very accepting of others and has deep empathy towards all living things and people sruggling in the world.  Alexandra, our soon-to-be 8-year-old, is very thoughtful and loves creating and giving.  She is also very intuitive to the needs of others – even if it’s just a hug.  Jozlyn, our spit-fire 5-year-old, brings humor to everything she does.  She loves making people laugh and if it’s at her expense, she doesn’t care.  When she’s more serious – she very much cares for the well-being of others, even if it’s as simply as covering you with a blanket to make sure you’re warm or bringing water on a hot day while mowing lawn (both girls have done this for me without being asked).  And these are things I need to share with my own kids, today….not tomorrow, and not in 10 years.  These are things I love about them, that are a part of their character – who they are as individuals.

Who you are is a gift to others in and of itself.  No grand exchanges, no frills or applause;  just affirmation that you matter to someone.  Just sharing those thoughts with someone is a gift.

Gift of Words quote

My Life Monday | we are all a work in progress

Sitting there in the second-to-last pew, shoulder-to-shoulder with women on either side I did not know, I thought to myself, would this many people show up for me? as I blotted my tears.

As a woman you blot — you know that mascara running down your cheeks just makes you appear like you just had yourself an ugly cry and you dont’ want that.  Because, as you are wiping the tears, you say to yourself – why am I even crying, this is just stupid;  as if to be shameful for feeling.

That first question I asked myself has stuck with me ever since David Gabriel’s funeral.  If we are truly on this earth, in this life, to prepare for the after-life, than what am I doing on a daily basis to do that?  Not enough.  Surely I have some self-work to do.

I think I can safely say;  however, cannot assume, but again, think it is safe to say that David didn’t think that way in his daily life.  And really, who does? But yet, there I sat, in a church filled pew-to-pew, with people standing in the back, for a man I knew only a short time, but somehow he made me feel (and you, if you’re reading this and knew him), even after one conversation, as if we had been friends for life.

Someone asked, “did he have a single enemy?”  From where I was sitting, it didn’t appear so.  Was he living his life the way God would have wanted?  Maybe not.  But I think we all could use a little tweak here or there in our lives;  no one is perfect.

We’re human.  It’s human nature to be selfish at times.  It’s human nature to get wrapped up and manifest our own daily dramas.  It’s human nature to walk by someone and maybe say hello, depending on our mood.  It’s human nature to feel as though you are completely alone in your own despair because no one has it as bad as you – so you tell yourself.  Why?  Because no one knows you better than you know you.  No one knows your life as well as you.  You have a front-row seat.  Everyone around you is just a part of your story. No one really knows your hurts, sorrows, or pains that trigger a side of you that you’d rather not face.

At some point in life, you may have to face and come to terms with (and take responsibility for) – the very things about yourself you’d rather hide from the world.  To yourself, you’ll admit to your own shortcomings, failures, what others or you yourself may see as “defects” of your human nature and personality.  You may choose to share what you discover with others or you may not.  You may choose behaviors that help you cope (negative or positive).  Or, by your own will of choosing, learn how to use what you’ve learned about yourself to become more of who you already are, at your deepest core, with all of your best intentions.  No partner, friend, or mentor can do that for you.  They can influence  or guide you, but you will have to do the work.

My hope for you, should that mirror of self-reflection present itself (and what a blessing it can be) — that which blooms from that discovery is a fresh perspective, a revised devotion to daily living, and a new promise to love and be kind to yourself.  Because, what you put out into the world, comes back to you.

In the meantime, have empathy.  After all, we are all a work-in-progress.

Inspirational words from Proverbs

My Life Monday | Living for today, Planning for Tomorrow

So, before I get into today’s post and what the title is all about, I want to chat a little bit about something that is so important, yet often ignored at the family dinner table.

Over the weekend, our community lost a very lively, happy-go-lucky guy.  You may have seen the story on the news.  My fondest recent memory of David Gabriel goes back to Halloween 2012.  Honestly, that was the last time I had seen him.  It’s funny how you can seem someone maybe once a year, if that, when they live so close.  It makes you realize, the phrase, “its a small world,” is one that only seems to apply to circumstance/happen-stance situations.  It seems you are more likely to run into someone local you know in Iraq (true story)  than someone you know that lives a matter of miles away, sometimes.  Crazy, if you think about it.  David came into my life very briefly compared to most around that know him.  The last conversation I had with him was him telling me that I should have dressed (for Halloween) like a naughty school teacher, as he apparently liked my glasses.  He was obviously a guy who loved conversation with anyone and everyone he met and had a zest for life.

Which brings me to what I want to talk about – when death is unexpected (or even when it is, really).  I imagine, the zest for life that David had, also probably kept him from planning for his personal matters, in the event he was no longer here to take care of things himself.  And it is something I know many people, in my personal life, that are guilty of the very same thing.  No one wants to talk in these terms and have those hard conversations.  However, if you have children/spouse, handling the planning stage is probably one of the greatest gifts you will ever give them.

I can’t imagine what his loved ones are feeling right now and my heart goes out to them.  But if you take anything away from this, take this:  we all know we are not promised tomorrow.  Do your loved ones a favor and bring up the hard talk of estate and personal matter planning.  And do your family members even know what you want, in writing, in the event you don’t pass but yet, are incapbable of speaking for yourself?

This is something my husband and I have talked a great deal about.  And honestly, there are a lot of things we have yet to get in writing.  We do have our plots, and do have, in writing, what should happen with our children in case we both pass on, and also have life insurancce.  When it comes to financials – it would be one huge headache though, combing through everything.  So, yeah – we still have work to do too.

Some here are some things to think about, off the top of my head:

  • What will happen to your children should you and your spouse both pass, or if you’re a single parent and the other parent is unfit?
  • What happens to your outstanding debt?
  • If you own a home/estate/land, what are your wishes?
  • Where do you want to be buried?
  • Do you have life insurance and enough to cover funeral expenses (on average $10,000-13,000 last I checked), in addition to a year’s worth to cover living expenses for a year, especially if you are the breadwinner?

There are so many what-if’s and you can drive yourself crazy just thinking about all the scenarios.  However, if you have children, own property, have a business – getting these concerns addressed, while you have a say and can take on that responsibility, is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your loved ones, in my humble opinion.

Again, my thoughts and prayers to David’s loved ones.  His goofy nature and larger-than-life personality will be missed by many.  He seemed to view life as this big stage and he was the performer;  there to make you smile, in his own, David-esque way.

Now onto the update from last week’s post.

Nope, just can’t do it.  It just doesn’t feel right.  So, I will close it here for today. I’m also changing the title of the post from “Update from Last Week” to what it is now.  Next week I’ll share an update on the whole time-tracking thing.

Until then……

Thomas Wolfe Quote about the human spirit

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