thanksgiving | no phone, no laptop, just mountains + family

I spent most of last week with my family in a cabin tucked away in the mountains. I decided a while back (with much encouragement) to take complete holiday. laptop free. phone free. WORK FREE. It sounds simple, it really does. Even I thought it was kind of a small order, but as the weeks went by… the to-do lists grew and the editing pile built.

So, that week I learned two things.

1. It’s okay to sprint, as long as you aren’t trying a marathon at that pace.

2. Some times the second mile isn’t in reach, and THAT’S OKAY. You just have to let certain things go. You can’t manage it all. No one hates you for being a small person, with 24 hours a day.

After a long-haul 4 a.m workday/night, I woke up Wednesday morning and quickly packed. We hit the ground around 8:00a.m. At about 8:15, I deleted instagarm, facebook, and snapchat, and turned off notifications for emails, messages, whatsapp, and phone calls. I was officially off the grid.

The get-away was wonderful. I took about 100 photos the whole week… which is shockingly low in my books. I went on my first few hikes without a camera in years. Feeling a new sense of bravery climbing rocks and looking over edges with the lack of camera-anxiety. I wasn’t quite aware just how much I don’t try or do with my camera strapped to me.

Even when I wanted to, I couldn’t reach for my computer to check an email, or edit even when I was in the “mood.” Instead, I did lots of yoga, reflection, reading, and card-playing. I am slowly trekking my way through Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley. Gosh, what spark to light before coming home! Seriously, this book has me dreaming big, ready for action! Highly recommend it even though I haven’t even finished it yet.

For actual Thanksgiving, we all slept in till our hearts (and bodies) desired. We aren’t a major traditional-food kind of a family, so we opted out of turkey and stuffing for our family favorite: Raclette, the description for which is:

“Raclette was mentioned in medieval writings in texts from Swiss-German convents dating from as far as 1291,[4] , it’s a particularly nutritious meal, originally consumed by peasants in the mountainous Alpine regions of Valais (Switzerland), Savoie and Haute-Savoie (France). It was then known in the German-speaking part of Switzerland as Bratchäs, or “roasted cheese”. Traditionally, cow herders used to take the cheese with them when they were moving cows to or from the pastures up in the mountains. In the evenings around the campfire, they would place the cheese next to the fire and, when it had reached the perfect softness, scrape it on top of bread.”

“A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, in which to melt slices of raclette cheese. Generally the grill is surmounted by a hot plate or griddle. The cheese is brought to the table sliced, accompanied by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, other vegetables and charcuterie. These are then mixed with potatoes and topped with cheese in the small, wedge-shaped coupelles that are placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be melted and simply poured over food on the plate. The emphasis in raclette dining is on relaxed and sociable eating and drinking, the meal often running to several hours.”

AND lastly, in so many words, these are a few things, this year, I am thankful for:

  • My family, including time with my brother in law, Josh.
  • Freakin Memphis and its amazing creators
  • Opportunity and the risk friends and clients have taken to support me
  • Planes and tickets that have taken me around the world this year
  • Best friends who don’t let Facetime feel less than an in-person coffee date
  • Memphis water
  • Friends’ babies that make me want to hold a baby. (that’s you, Clark Daniel and Liam Knightly!)
  • Evergreen trees + wildflowers that sneak up in places they shouldn’t
  • The Michalaks, The Mustards, Sprinkle of Glitter, Our Tiny Tribe, and Safiya Nygaard (to name a few of the youtubers who inspire me weekly.)
  • Butternut Squash
  • Twinkly lights and brick walls
  • My faithful car that has carried me far

Here are a few of my captures from Thanksgiving in the Smokies:

Bridals in Lyon, France | Kelly Ford

Kelly, just a babe in Lyon, dressed in her wedding dress, gallivanting through the city with a photographer. So thankful for Kelly’s giggles, and her excitement for this shoot. Props to Kelly for getting back in her beautiful dress from her wedding I also shot back in 2015. She was as radiant this day as she was that day.

I wanted to share from Kelly’s perspective and she was so gracious to write up just that:

“So your friend and wedding photographer is coming for a visit and she asks you if while she’s there you’d be up for getting back into your wedding dress to take some pictures. Obvious answer: “um…HECK YES!”

I knew that it was tucked away in the guest room, having made the trek across the ocean still carefully wrapped up in the box from the dry cleaners that I hadn’t touched since getting it back after the wedding. Thankfully I could still wriggle into it, despite now living in the land of delicious baguettes!

“Honestly, I’d anticipated feeling a little funny being all alone in front of the camera – not being a part of a pair, having someone to interact with – but rather just me, alone and exposed. But that was not the case at all! I’ve loved watching through social media as Emily has been learning, growing, honing, stretching her craft, and I’d already been able to experience it on her visit as I played being her “assistant” while she did shoots with some friends of ours. And her skills were equally evident as she guided me and put me at ease for this solo night —

Our wandering shoot itinerary was taking the funiculaire up the hill to the Roman amphitheatre, playing there for a while, walking up to the Notre Dame de Fourvière basilica, playing there for a while, walking down the hill through the gardens and stairways, playing along the way, and strolling home through Vieux Lyon’s cobblestone streets. And “playing” is the best word I have to describe the night – just climbing onto and off of and into and around all sorts of old stone pieces at the amphitheatre; twirling and running around the courtyard of the basilica; smacking myself in the face after trying to look artsy with some branches…it was all just such fun, playing and laughing with my friend – who, by the way, was giving me great guidelines/instructions/suggestions so that I could know what to do instead of getting lost in that “alone and exposed” funny feeling that I’d anticipated but that never materialized.”

“I didn’t have bridal portraits done before our wedding – just wasn’t really my thing or something I cared to do – but I will say that, whether or not you did portraits beforehand, I highly recommend something like this after the fact! Now we have all of these beautiful photos of me that involved doing all sorts of things that would certainly not have been as fun and playful if I’d been thinking about keeping my dress clean or unmussed, etc. Heck, my dress still has a tear in the floofy-under-dress part from the grand ol’ time I had at our reception 😉 What a joy it was to get to wriggle back into this dress full of great memories and then play in it to make some more, worry-free.

And, certainly, it’s something that is to-each-their-own, but I kind of love looking through these images and seeing the differences from the wedding day itself… We didn’t do everything exactly the same – my hair is cut so it is different, we decided not to worry about my turquoise heels and some of the jewelry, it was chilly so we added my leather jacket…

You can see the passage of time and, for me, even more so the passage of life: that night was in a different piece of the world than our wedding, I spoke a different language to the people we bumped into, I had different things on my mind…

“So I am grateful to have had this fun silly night with Emily, and now grateful to have these images. Time is passing, life is changing, I now own a leather jacket(!)…but I am still Dave’s bride, covenanted to him in joy, dancing and twirling that night before an audience of only the One who witnesses each of the moments of our marriage when Emily isn’t around to document them…

Just precious to have these images to remind me that, while I don’t wear my wedding dress every day (alas!), I am daily a bride – to my Dave and to the Lord.”

NASHVILLE, TN | ROOMIE ROADTRIP

It is something I could have never prayed enough for, nor known to pray for, but having two of my favorite people in the world be my roommates is beyond a blessing. It is life giving. I thank the Lord these two are in my life every day. Figuring out adulthood with them, taking care of a home, and growing up together has been crazy!

I am so proud of Hope and Kat. We took this Nashville day trip to celebrate the seasons of life we are all in separately. I’ve never known two girls to work so hard and hustle so intense then them. I love how they see the world, how they work for what want, their goals, and their love for the Lord. I’m so exciting for what God has in store for the three of us for the rest of the year. Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Hope that weekend!

For this trip, we drove to Nashville for about 10 hours. Fast-track Nash, if you will. By no means did we see it all, but I loved the strange selection of things we did and ate. We weren’t allowed to talk about work for the whole day. It was actually pretty hard for all of us. I also got to wear Amelia, the travel skirt, that is circulating through the nation to different girls. I had Amelia for a week, and got her the night before our day trip! Perfect time to take her on an adventure!

First stop was Pinewood Social for brunch. SO GOOD. Oh my word. We got pancakes, waffles, eggs. It was incredible. HIGHLY recommend

Second Stop: Parked at Nissan Stadium for a good view of downtown. 

Went to the little walkway one of my couples showed me during their engagement session here this spring. <3  Third Man Records.

Barista Parlor.

12. South

Little Octopus for dinner.

Good day in Nashville. <3 Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Solo Travel | Experiencing a City

Experiencing a city is a challenge. Especially when time is short. So why put the pressure on yourself? Why feel the need to be the tourist who sees all historical sites, the instagram-worthy modern coffee shops, the infamous restaurants, and the classic tours.

Forgetting to sit still on a trip can make it all a blur. Kind of like your wedding day. Unless you stop and breathe it in, you will likely say “I can barely remember anything! Still the best day of my life!” Which in the long run isn’t a bad answer, but personally, I LOVE remembering the details, the random excursions off trail. I hope on my wedding day, I can have moment memories that build the day, not flashes of events.

So when you take a weekend, a week trip, or longer, I challenge you to pick and choose what is most important to you. Do you ACTUALLY want to see _____ or do you just want a photo in front of it. Often, I find myself saying “i don’t know, i feel like i’m SUPPOSE to go there cause like I’m HERE?” When in England, I stayed in a northern city with close friends. London is a 5 hour drive from their home. I spent a bit of time asking myself if I should ask to go. I mean, I was in England (right!?) , and 5 hours isn’t even that far! I opted not, because I knew I would MUCH rather spend hours in their home, drinking tea, exploring their stomping grounds. I would much rather make memories laughing while attempting golf, getting brunch down the street, and going to a high tea room in an old hall. Don’t get me wrong, London would be amazing, but this trip, it was just me. I began to lose the sense of urgency to SEE IT ALL.  I plan to go back. I’ve been twice in the same calendar year, so why try to see it all and not take a breather? I hope I can continue to travel often in my lifetime, and I expect I will go back to England with a friend or friends one day who will want to take London on!

There is something so special about not using a map after a few days in a city. I spent around 6 days in Lyon, France this April. I had a European phone plan with quite a bit of data left, so I face timed some friends while around the city. After the first two days, I had gotten to know the area, the short cuts to the rivers, my favorite bridge or two to cross, my favorite spot to sit and read. It was so exciting to virtually tour my best friend around a city that now felt like a new comfortable home.

So my top “planning” tips to visiting a new city:

  1. Instead of booking a trip with the intention to see as many cities in 3 weeks that you can, consider taking on 2 cities and a town maybe. Spend a longer time in one place to truly experience the culture, the set up of the city, the food, and of course, the people!

2. Prioritize your MUST see tourist attractions, and eliminate the ones that you are going to simply out of obligation. Its YOUR trip, right?

3. Consider wandering around the city without a map (also have a note of your address… and maybe a off-line map app to get home. haha)

4. Read and write where you want to – on a step, on the ground, by water where ever you just want to be. Don’t feel guilty for that time. Allowing yourself to stop and take in your experiences will let them sink and hold. Take note of the little things. Weather, smells, sounds, people you see.

I have loved the trips I remember LIVING in the city, not simply touring it. Take the challenge, give yourself elbow room on your next trip.

Get lost in the city, try some crappy coffee you spent a little too much on, dangle your legs over a river, breath in the fresh air, and let the city settle in your memory.

Sunday afternoon after church exploring the local market for a smoothie.

One of my favorite nights in Lyon. I had eyed a spot on this one bridge a few days in a row. The weather was perfect. I just scooped myself up there and read my travel journal. The bustling city around me while I wrote in more memories I made that day.

Taking an evening off exploring and doing some well needed Friends night. Everything is so new and sometimes just a lot, its nice to have something familiar like netflix.

Take selfies. Haha you won’t regret it. Its the solo-travel way.

Snack away.

Kelly + Dave | Lyon Friends

Introducing Kelly + Dave. The pair that hosted me while I went through Lyon this April. My time there included drinking the best home-made ginger beer I’ve ever had (okay, maybe the only). Dave was in his pursuit of making ginger beer during my visit and it is definitely pictured below.

Upon arrival from Germany, Kelly greeted me at the train station, all hugs. We jumped on a few metros, and walked a cobble street up to their apartment’s front door. I felt so welcomed, and can’t remember a city I’ve visited since leaving my childhood home of Izmir that brought me such life and joy. Lyon is an incredible city, however this post is about Kelly and Dave. Back in 2015 I photographed their wedding in Memphis. They were my second couple to ever book, and I owe my career to these first people. Growing a relationship with clients always looks different, but I definitely didn’t expect to be sitting in their kitchen two years later talking about French politics. Don’t worry, we also discussed other things. I’m so honored to know Dave and Kelly, to have gotten a tiny taste of their lives in Lyon. The grocery store, the walk to church, their favorite sculpture by the river, the local metro system (terrifying…).

It was so fun to see them interact with their friends and goof around with each other. I got to attend their church and worship in French as Dave played base and Kelly sang with the team. How far the Lord has brought them from a little Rhodes graduate meeting a newly imported Minnesota graduated engineer. During their engagement session on Rhodes campus, Dave brought his guitar and played music on a bench with Kelly humming and listening. It was a heart melting scene. When Dave first mentioned leaving memphis for a job, Kelly was open, but she wasn’t aware that could mean around the world. Once the word from Lyon came, they warmed up to the idea and started backing mere months after their wedding. The biggest adventure yet. I love them so much. I love their strength and trust in each other. I’m so proud of them in their French lifestyles that they had to accustom to.

 

Everyone needs to know Kelly and Dave. I spent so much time trying to soak up every ounce of wisdom Kelly has and is learning through her life. She is so compassionate, aware, and I was convicted by her lifestyle she circles around Christ and serving others. She is a prayer warrior.

Here are my favorites from an evening we ran around the block from their apartment to the river. Love you, Kelly + Dave! I want to come back! You guys are rich in life and love.