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Feb

Great In Every Way

Years from now he probably won't remember these little moments when he was a baby. He may not remember but I will remind him. Because I don't want him to forget how his great grandparents would come over a few times a week to read him books and sing songs. I want him to know that even before he was born, they loved him something fierce. That even as a little baby, in their eyes he could do no wrong and his crying and stinky diapers were just "adorable" according to them. I want Greyson to know that his great grandparents thought the world of him even then. And I especially don't want him to forget how they would just happen to wear coordinating outfits, like complimenting snowflake sweaters, but would pretend like they didn't even notice. :) 
 
Not a day goes by that I am not so incredibly grateful to have my Nana & Pop live so close to see Greyson as much as they do. It is an indescribably blessing to have had them be a part of his first 11.5 months of life! How is he already going to be a 1 year old soon?!?! #wheredidthetimego 




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Feb

One Of A Kind

Hidden between the Hot Dog song on Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse and the adorable Doc McStuffins helping fix broken toys, the Disney channel never ceases to come up with a song that forever gets stuck in my head allllll day long. I know I'm not the only one that randomly finds themselves humming, "hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog..." Greyson thinks these songs are the bees knees as he claps his hands and gives a mighty effort at singing along with them. But the truth of the matter is, there are some of life's most fundamental lessons baked in between the bright colors, shapes, and sounds. Truths that we learned long ago when we were kids, but somehow lost sight of now that we drink lattes, pay taxes, shovel our driveways and are the gown up adults we are!  
 
These silly but oh-so-entertaining cartoon characters teach kids that each one of them is unique and special... That in the entire world with all of the billions of people, there is no one exactly like them. NO ONE. We know that right? It seems like such a fundamental thing that we clearly already know as an adult. (*sip latte*) However, as basic of a truth as it is, we sometimes forget. Or, we sometimes don't believe it. It's almost like we can wrap our heads around that there is no one completely identical to us physically, but when it comes to what makes us "us" we completely shrug that truth off and forget we have something special to offer. We so often live our lives and run our businesses forgetting that we have this unique combination, competitive edge, that special thing or whatever you want to call it that no one else has. We have our unique selves. And no one can duplicate, replicate, or recreate it. I may or may not have just felt like Missy Elliot just then with some seriously rapping skills. But seriously. Can I get an amen?! Our funk, our flare, our quirks, our personality, our combination of experiences, the way we see the world, our character, our life. There is only our one unique combination. There is only one of each of us. 
 
People often ask us in our workshops and mentoring sessions how we can be confident when we know there are so many other photographers out there with such amazing work, more resources, better equipment, more this and better that. And the truth of the matter is, I haven't always been confident. When I was a new photographer I walked down the road of comparisons and only got further away from the "why" I was a photographer in the first place and left more of my confidence along the way. I looked at what others were doing and what they had to offer, comparing myself and feeling less then. But I decided then and there I was going to focus on and celebrate what I have that no one else does - ME. Because the only thing I can bring to the table that is different from everyone else is me. My experience, the way I see the world, my personality. My voice and the value I have. And let me point out this is very very different from being full of yourself, thinking you are better then other people and have a sense of entitlement. THAT is just a very narrow, sad and dark road to be on. It is being proud and confident in your beautiful uniqueness.  
 
Once you realize and truly embrace that there is only one you, everything changes. You can celebrate the accomplishments of your colleagues. You can take more risks, dream bigger dreams, and be authentic. You can be confident that the unique things you have will never go away. You have the freedom to embrace what makes you special because you are truly one of a kind.  
 
There is and only will be one you. You are special. You are enough. Believe it and don't forget it. Embrace and celebrate that. 
 
Now go brew yourself another cup of coffee, sit down on the couch, and thank Mickey Mouse for keepin' it real.

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Feb

Tall Tales from Tree Toad Court

I am convinced that my Nana is 100% responsible for my love of getting mail. Completely and totally. When I was a kid my Nana and Pop moved from right down the road to us in Connecticut to North Carolina and I was so heartbroken. Going from seeing them a few times a week to only a few times a year was hard and I missed them dearly. And that's when it all started.  
 
As a kid I never really paid much attention to or cared if the mail had come yet each day. But everything changed when her letters started. Nana became my pen pal of sorts, however it was kind of one sided! It was definitely not an even exchange of letters and cards but I wrote her back when I could. But every few weeks an envelope would arrive in the mail with my name on it. My name! For me! Inside would be a hand written letter from Nana sometimes along with newspaper clippings, comics, or anything else she thought this granddaughter of hers would find interesting or funny. Most of the clippings had to do with animals as she knew I was an animal lover through and through! 
 
But my favorite part? My favorite part were the stories. My Nana was and is one of the BEST storytellers I know. Her letters would include an entertaining story that she would describe in such detail that I felt like I had been there. The smell of the lilies, the sound of the ocean waves hitting the pier, the screeching of the seagulls... But I would never know if these stories were fact or fiction. That would be revealed at the very end of the letter. So the whole time reading it, I would be guessing and trying to figure out if the story really happened or was straight from her amazing imagination. If it wasn't true, she would end the letter with "This is another tall tale from Tree Toad Court!" This one sentence would bring the biggest smile to my face and make me laugh every.single.time. Tree Toad Court was the street that they lived on in North Carolina and tall tales from there gave me a peek into the creative imagination of my sweet Nana. 
 
There were dozens upon dozens of letters from over the years, some of which I still have to this very day. I so wish as a child I had kept more of them as these hand written words and stories are such treasures to me now. The other day when Nana was over our house I told her I kept many of these letters, carefully taking them out of the envelopes to show her. She smiled and said "Ashley Peach!" in her surprise at seeing them. "Peach" was the nickname my Pop gave me when I was a child because he said I was so sweet! :) 
 
So every time the mailman comes, for as long as I can remember, I get excited! Let's be honest, most days it's just bills, magazines and coupons, but the prospect of getting something unexpected like a card from a friend or a letter from Tree Toad Court makes me excited! I am so very grateful that my Nana and Pop moved back years and years ago and now live again just a few minutes up the street from us. As much as I loved her letters, I love her and Pop's in person visits and the memories they are making with Greyson even more.

Remember when stamps cost 32 cents!?!?

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Feb

Happy Birthday Remington

Remington, 
 
Before Greyson arrived, people would ask me how I thought you would do with a baby in the house... And every time I was asked, I would get a huge smile on my face because I knew... I knew that it was going to be an adjustment for you, but that you were going to love on that baby as much as us. And boy was I right! Your unconditional love for Greyson who constantly chases after you, takes your toys from you, and cries when you are trying to nap is such an amazing thing to see. You have such a sweet and gentle heart and more on demand snuggles then any dog I know! Seeing you bring toys to Greyson, gently playing with him, and alerting me when he is crying or has a stinky diaper (as if I didn't already know!) just melts my heart! :) 
 
Thank you for being a big piece of my heart and for your constant companionship and love. You are my sweet fur baby, co-worker, listener, explorer, head of my welcoming committee, snuggler, entertainment, and side kick. 
 
I love you sweet boy! Happy Birthday Remington!!

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Jan

Giving It Your All

This amazing girl Kayla. Her coach. This story.  
 
I heard Kayla's story last year and it has stuck with me... Her fighting spirit, determination and desire to press on has inspired me more then I can put into words. Her coach's unwaivering belief in her, his encouragement and him being there time after time is beyond moving.  
 
Just like Kayla, my incredible stepdad Anthony has been battling Multiple Sclerosis for over the past decade and loss use of his legs long ago. But I see in him the same fighting spirit Kayla has as he goes through his everyday. He refuses to give up and stop living life to the fullest. Anthony has been and always will be my hero. The cure for this awful disease can't come soon enough!  
 
Kayla's remarkable story has left a mark on my heart forever, and so I share it with you.  
 
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