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Don’t be a copycat! BE YOU!

I’m so excited for February. Starting tomorrow, my website as well as Facebook page will be filled up with YELLOW. Well, I’ll try to  mix it up with new recipes for Cinnamon Rolls, just to add some variety 😉

Yesterday, my older daughter had Day off school so we went around the corner to our local orchards to play, dance, catch ladybugs and what’s most important for this mama, test and practice shooting with my new lens.

This vintage, Russian beauty was made in 70ties, and it’s quite the weight. I’m still deciding if I like it better then the 58mm. There are pros and cons to both.

Both lenses are the same brand, and are not in production anymore. Also, they are strictly manual. To make them work on my DSLR I have to work with adapters. The 58mm looses its ability to focus on infinity when the adapter is used, so I have to use a different adapter to be able to take pictures of a subject that’s more then 6 or 7 feet away from me. While I do so, the lens stops producing the amazing bokeh I love it for, essentially. So, the only option for me is to work it with the first adapter and take close up portraits only (here is a session I did using that lens). Which is fine with me, because right now I have the 85mm and this beauty can work from far away. The downsize of it, well, it’s pretty heavy, and while trying to manually focus on dancing kids, and at the same time having to hold the weight of my camera + this lens, ugh… As they say, YOU CAN’T HAVE IT ALL.

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For me those lenses are one of the most amazing lenses ever produced. I’m on a hunt for 2 more, different brands, but they can wait. These days I’m patiently waiting for a package containing something “oh and ah”, also from Ukraine.

Most of the photographs presented in this post are barely edited. I’m not kidding. A few are straight from the camera, with the watermark added on them, only.

They were shot at 1.5 or 2 aperture, so pretty wide open, in full blast sun. I think, this lens is a piece of art, and I can honestly admit, that Russians knew what they are doing while creating those lenses.

Mustard Fields in San Jose

Mustard Fields in San Jose

Mustard Fields in San Jose

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While I’m pretty comfortable with shooting the 58mm, I still need to figure out the 85mm. I’m also not thrilled with the lens flare this lens produces. The 58mm is magical: when you turn it into the sun, it make the most beautiful and magical flare. The picture below is an example. The flare here is small, but still, beautiful.

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The 85mm takes more adjusting to make the flare nice, and require more gymnastics from the person behind the camera. And still, most of the time, the picture is not usable without a major PS editing skills. Which in my dictionary means “you are going to the trash, bye bye”.

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Most of the time it makes a big orange/red spot on the picture, pretty hard not to notice. Especially if it’s in the middle of the subject’s head.

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Anyway, my message to everybody is to do what their little hearts desire instead doing what everybody else is doing. While other people run for their dear life to produce the most sharp and clear pictures using the most newer cameras and lenses, I simply go the other way. I went back to year 2000, and connected with a lens that I loved dearly when I was in high school and college. Discovering that I can use it on my DSLR was like a rebirth of Pheonix. Just watch my rise! 😉 LOL

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Don't be a copycat! BE YOU!

Don't be a copycat! BE YOU!

There is no right or wrong way to do things. Especially in photography. So many people simply forget that photography could (SHOULD) be an art. While there is so much anger and competition, and frustration among photographers, we can make a conscious decision to not be a part of it.

Photography used to be about HOW THE PHOTOGRAPHER SEE the world. Today, it has change into, HOW ONE PHOTOGRAPHER SEE THE WORLD, and the rest follow, with the same style of editing, the same equipment, the same ideas for clients wardrobe and posing…

Don’t be a Copycat. Be YOU!

Ewa

P.S Do you have any unique things you like to do or use in life?

Leave a comment or like my page on Facebook. 

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Quest for the Best Cinnamon Rolls (my kind of photography challenge)

Whatever circles you’re in, I bet you see all kinds of new year resolutions, or new year challenges that people are taking on. In photographers circles 365 Projects or 52 Projects are very popular. It means that some people are challenging themselves to take ONE PICTURE A DAY for a year (365 Project), or ONE PICTURE A WEEK for a year (52 Project). I’ve done it, and since the year started I’ve thought about doing some of those projects again. However, I’m not good at following things (rules) other people set as goals. For example, many of the challenges out there have weekly or daily “themes” that you should follow. Like for example My_365 account on Instagram. Every week they release a list of themes for each day for the upcoming week. While it’s good for some people who might struggle with creativity and with coming up with the ideas of what to shoot for 365 days straight, this isn’t really working for me.

So, when I saw this post about cinnamon rolls on Kids Activities Blog, I immediately knew this is my kind of challenge, and I want to take it. This household is big on cinnamon rolls. But hey, which isn’t. Right? If you don’t like cinnamon rolls, I want to know your name, I want to study you to understand what kind of human being is not in love with cinnamon rolls 😉

The Best Cinnamon Rolls

Over the last few years I’ve mastered to create my own recipe for the BEST CINNAMON ROLLS, and wasn’t really planning on experimenting with the it ever again. But after seeing “25 amazing cinnamon roll recipes” I’ve decided that if I want to challenge myself in anything this year (and by “challenge” I mean something for my personal life, not business), trying as many cinnamon rolls recipes as I can is a great way to do it.

If you have your own favorite recipe, let me know, I would love to test it, and write about it!!!

Just so you know, I am not a blind follower of any recipes, also. So, I’m going to try to make as many of them as I can, but at the same time, I’m giving myself the freedom to change the recipe to my own taste.

My first recipe for this challenge was from “Little Spice Jar” – “CARAMEL APPLE CINNAMON ROLLS

I’d made her Apple Cider Caramel Sauce the day before, and I’m telling you to get up and make it right now!!! It’s sooo freaking delicious, and easy to make.
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I made the dough from my own recipe:

2 cups milk (it should be pretty warm, not hot though)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 cup turbinaro sugar

1 packet (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast

1/3 cup flax seed meal

(you can add 1/4 cup chia seeds)

Filling:

softened butter,

turbinado sugar,

cinnamon,

1 grany smith apple, cut into small pieces (I didn’t peel the apple, and my kids “kind of” complained about it)

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I add all the dough ingredients to the bread machine in the order they are listed above. Set it to the “dough” and wait until the process is done. About 1.5 h.

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After the dough is ready, I split it in half and work each half separately into a big rectangle. Spread softened butter on it, sprinkle turbinado sugar, cinnamon and the caramel. I don’t use any measurements for the filling ingredients. I just do what feels right 😉 So, I did the same this time.

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I don’t like the cinnamon rolls to be overly sweet, so I never really add a lot of sugar. In this case knowing that I’ll be adding the caramel sauce I added even less sugar then normally.

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After all the filling ingredients were on the dough, I rolled it and cut into two inches slices:

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I alway bake mine in round baking pans.

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8 rolls per one pan, with some space between then to rise. Before baking, let them rise for about 30 minutes under the cover.

Bake in 375F for 18 – 20 minutes.

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Done and Done! If they are not sweet enough you can add more caramel on top.

Overall, since I haven’t changed much from my regular recipe, I can say, these were pretty good. I LOVE the caramel, and the kids couldn’t stop talking about it, they were so excited. Next time I would probably peel the apples, though. 

We have already picked our next test: Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls.

Can’t wait!!!

What’s baking in your kitchen today? If it’s a pan of cinnamon rolls don’t forget to share the recipe with me!!! 😉
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David Bailey Inspired San Jose Kids and Pets Photography

I’ve been Natural Light Family Photographer for over 3 years now. For two years I’ve own a tiny set up for portable studio, and used it mostly for Smash Cake sessions in my clients’ homes. However, I’ve always felt like there are other ways to use the equipment I have, and I’m limiting myself by not learning about it. Whenever I tried something new, I did not know where to start from. I lacked inspiration and had great amount of excuses not do dig deeper.

And here I am, digging David Bailey and Gregory Heisler.

How did that happen?

Well, thanks to a friend I recently learned about a portrait workshop, and I instantly knew it’s something I’d love to do, but again, I was looking for excuses not to take it.

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For a long time I’ve tried to convince myself that blasting a great amount of light on my subject to make it look flawless, is to know it all for my business, and I should be happy with knowing at least that much. However deep inside I knew it’s not how I want to do it, and that I want to do something more creative.

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One of the excuses was that my equipment is not enough, and I should wait until I get something bigger and better. But the truth is, I didn’t even know what I need, because I’ve never practiced anything beyond my comfort zone which is required to know the limit of my equipment.

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And here I am today. Taking the workshop and working on my second assignment. My equipment works just fine. Of course, I could have better and bigger stuff, but seriously, I don’t really need it for now.

In the workshop we have 2 weeks to study one great photographer and then be inspired by that person, and create work based on what we’ve learned about this photographer. It is awesome. Two weeks and I feel like I’ve learned a tone already.

Pictures for this post are inspired by David Bailey work, my first assignment for this workshop.

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Each week we are inspired to create something. We’re pushed to get out there and work whatever we have and just learn. I’m loving it.

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I’m not sure if my pups is loving it as much as I am, though 😉

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Today, I’m working on the assignment for Gregory Heisler and I don’t remember the last time I was so frustrated with photography. I don’t remember when I was thinking so much about a concept for ONE portrait. Where to put what, and where bounce what to get the vision I have in my head. It’s a good frustration, though. It pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Can’t wait to see what’s ahead.

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Celebrate Yourself with Bay Area Portrait Photographer (or by yourself) ;)

I call this project “Celebrate Yourself”, and it’s a part of my creative portrait photography journey, which I plan to evolve into something fun, and a little different then ordinary portrait photography.

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In this case, I think, it was more about celebrating myself and getting my idea out of my head, more then the subject celebrating herself. You can’t tell but she was freezing in there and all she wanted was a hot tea and a warm sweater.

Deep inside, my dear friend Iryna thinks, what I did to her on that day was a revenge for all the times I had to pose for her. Well, I didn’t have to but this is what friends are for, right?

For me, this project turned out to be a fun experiment. Not only artistically, but personally.

For me, this project was never meant to be in black and white, you know, like converting the whole picture into a black and white photograph.

I know that for most people it would make more sense. But it’s not about making sense, it’s about being true to oneself. Life doesn’t make sense most of the time. And things are never perfect, no matter how hard we try. And this was not about creating something perfect. It was about creating something that speaks me to myself (it that makes any sense).

Showcasing one of those pictures here and there I’ve already received some comments on how I could improve the image by converting it into black and white, or making the background less significant. Well, that’s not going to happen. Just saying.

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In today’s society, people are very easy on giving you advices on how to improve anything in your life, even if they were not asked to do so. And that’s ok. Take it with a smile and move on. Say, “thank you, but, no, thank you” and do things your way. I think, the “super talent” of ignoring others opinion about oneself comes with age, though.

Whenever we get stuff out to the public we are judged, and people are very eager to give us their opinion (doesn’t matter if we asked them for it or not). We have few choices:

  • we can do what we think people expect us to do, and not be criticized for doing something unexpected and different.
  • we can stop doing anything from the fear of being intimidated by people and their opinions about our work.
  • we can be ourselves and have this attitude: “world’s opinion of me is none of my business”

My own decision is to start carrying less about what people think of me, and more about what I think of myself and how I want to feel doing things I love.

It feels good, and I wish I had this ability earlier in my life.

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How about you?

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San Jose Family Photographer. Fine Art Children’s Photography.

This is definitely NOT about me complaining. Although, I have to admit, it feels really good to have delivered last photographs to clients. There are still some albums in progress, as well as wall arts, but most of it is behind me.

This is about me being happy to be able guiltlessly focus on some of the ideas I’ve had wandering in my head for quite some time. Something more personal and experimental. It’s more of a Fine Art Children Photography then my usual documentary and lifestyle.

Sometime ago, I came across a painting, and after seeing one I wanted to see more. And I have discovered A. Andrew Gonzalez:

And when I was going through his paintings I had an idea…

And I couldn’t wait any longer. And that’s good because I’m still waiting with blogging about my recent sessions for everybody to send and receive their Christmas cards. While waiting, I’ll fill the quietness in here with pictures of my daughters. Those two have surprisingly been very happy/willing to get in front of my camera. Probably, because we have been doing stuff that’s a little different from our usual.

Of course there’s a little bribing involved into the whole process. You see, to get this photograph:

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and this:

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I had to agree to take this picture first:

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Her cow is her life companion, and leaving her out of the frame is always a challenge. Not to mention additional 20 stuffed toys she owns, and sleeps with, but we settled for a portraits with only two of them this time.

 And while creating we also had fun doing some face relaxation exercises 😉

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before getting into the pose:

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And finally the piece I was hoping to get. And I got it.

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I have to admit if feels wonderful to get the ideas out, and work through them.

One down, three more to work on (as of right now).

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Stanford Lifestyle Family Photographer, California. Fall in its amazing beauty!

For Saturday’s family session my client requested FALL in the background, and when I heard it I knew exactly where to go to look for it. Stanford!!! No brainer. And I was not mistaken.

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This morning I sent one of my girls to school just to see her back after 1o minutes. Thanksgiving break. HA! That meant I had two of them to model for me during my location scouting.

This post is overblown with pictures. For the first time in my entire career I wasn’t able to pick just a few favorite shots. Normally I’m pretty good at that. I easily pick up to 15 best shots and go with them. Especially when it comes to photographing my kids, as they normally are not very fond of “posing” for me anymore. I wrote about it in one of my latest post. It’s a love-hate relationship we are dealing with. And today it was definitely on the LOVE side.

The umbrella was simply an accident, as at least one is always in our car. Kids couldn’t miss the opportunity to grab it. One umbrella also meant we are one short and a fight could emerge at any given time. Luckily the kids cared more about throwing the leaves at each other and at me then about fighting… AWESOME!

 

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Holiday Bazaar in Milpitas, California. Your opportunity to shop locally.

Great day today. I participated in Holiday Bazaar at John Sinnott Elementary in Milpitas, showcasing local vendors and artists.

Thank you for having me and looking forward to expand the new connections I made.


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How to survive Halloween? Simply enjoy it…

In my 10 years of living in America I carved pumpkin only once. Until today.

Each year, I had struggle to really enjoy this time of the year. As they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and I came to USA as a grown woman, fully formed and rooted in my culture and traditions. It was hard to simply switch from one to another, and “just have fun”.

Each year my husband dragged me to go trick-or-treating, and I did… in rain and cold, too.

The things we do for kids…, and husbands, right?

This year Halloween came from nowhere. I think being busy helped me not to stress about it. I haven’t have much time for that. Instead of stressing and complaining I have been enjoying my kids and their excitement. They’ve had the best time ever picking costumes, going to pumpkin patches, and bragging about carving the pumpkin. Not to lie to you, I think I was asked about the carving more then 30 times today…

So today I had some one on one time with that darn pumpkin, and here is a short documentation from it. Plus some extra photos of our Super Hero Girl.

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I don’t know how I’m going to feel about Halloween next year, but so far I’m having a good time…

What about you?

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Dear Dandelion: I wish to have all the things I want to have {Lifestyle Kids Photographer, San Jose, CA}

Last Saturday I took my girls to the park for lunch. I didn’t plan anything, just packed my book and some food. We were gone for 4 hours.

During that time I’ve learned that my kids know about the old “belief” that if you blew off the white fluffy part of a dandelion your wish will be granted. I think they picked almost all the dandelions on that field.

At some point my 5 year old gathered as many dandelions as she could hold and before she blew them off, she said,

I wish to have all the things I want to have,

and after the blowing didn’t work, she simply crush the flowers. Whatever works, right?

They also wished for shooting stars, just so they can have more wishes…

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A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep

Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true

~ Ewa

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Why and how I decluttered my photography style

In today’s post for 15 Day Blog Challenge I’m connecting two days into one: Day 12 and day 13. After I listened to both videos from Natalie Sisson (the creator of this challenge) for day 12 and 13 topics I immediately knew how I want to write it and that I want to connect those two days into one post. I knew I want to write about decluttering my photography style, because it’s been a journey for me, a very important one. I can’t say the journey is finished because it feels like I have just begun….

Here are the topics:

Day 12 – “What work and life clutter are you going to remove to be more of a minimalist and free up space for you?”

Day 13 – “Which ONE thing are you going to introduce into your life that is going to help your mind, body or soul?” 

When I started my business I knew I want it to be real. I wanted to be more about how people ARE instead of about how we can IMPROVE them with our photoshop tricks and the perfect lightening. I was sick and tired of looking at photographs of photoshopped faces and liquified figures. It wasn’t me. I didn’t feel connected to that kind of photography.

With my photography I wanted to celebrate the parenthood the way it is. I wanted to encourage parents to look at the final photos from each session and feel joy, love and happiness. After trying “this and that” I have realized the only things I want to be happening during my sessions are the real emotions. I decided to go prop less if I only can. I want my clients to be themselves. I don’t want them to play a role, fake something for the purpose of the session. I want them to bring their RAW selves. I’ll make it work for them. No matter what.

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I decluttered my Pinterest boards from portraits including “fake” props. These days I almost never use Pinterest for session ideas. I think every family is unique and while it is good to have a back up plan for poses I think it is more important to let the family be REAL.

This approach has given me a limitless possibilities. With each family we can do something else. Something especial. Getting rid of all the other distractions and worries about props and what not I felt like I have finally got where I wanted to be in a first place with my business.

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While many people think their photographs will get better if they get better (and more) equipment, I think my photography gets better if I take the time to look deeper with whatever I have, or just simply BE in the moment. Real life is not always crystal clear and tack sharp, and I like to emphasize that.

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The ONE THING I decided to introduce into my life that has been helping me to do just that is my old friend. This tiny fellow is as made of gold for me (it actually a sturdy piece of metal, anyway). It has been laying in my drawer for the last 10 years until I figured out how to attach it to my DSRL. Why I hadn’t think of it earlier, don’t ask me. I’m pretty embarrassed about it myself.

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I rarely use this little guy during my sessions with clients but when I decide to do it, I think magic happens. I know how important “crispy sharpness” is to people these days and how stress about it they can get. That’s why I  use this lens only for a short periods during some of my sessions. It’s more for my own pleasure then for anything else, although I have heard many wonderful words about photographs taken with this lens from my clients. And that makes my little heart sing!

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This lens is permanently attached to my camera when I go out with my kids these days. If I was a poet I would definitely write a poem about this lens.

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But instead I’ll use someone else’s words describing my thoughts:

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

Yes, this little fellow is worth gold to me. It helps me to feel good about photography when I feel like I’m burning out. This ONE small thing has helped me to shape my passion way better then any $1500 lens would had done it.

How about you? What does make your heart sing and keeps it inspired? 

Ewa

 

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The importance of ME TIME {Day 11 of 15 Day Blog Challenge}

Today’s topic in my 15 Day Blog Challenge in What ONE thing will you do each day to get more you time this year?”

I have already started working on that thing about a month ago. I re-designed my calendar to schedule “me time” in there and simply stick to it no matter what. At first it felt kind of weird to have to do that. After one week of sticking up to it I saw the importance of having it. Seriously.

scheduling me time

If you’re a stay-at-home or working mom, it doesn’t matter, if you don’t have “you time” in your day, please sit down right now, and schedule it. 30 minutes of yoga, writing, drinking tea in peace, or simply meditating. Schedule the time to do something you enjoy tremendously but haven’t had the chance to do it because of, well, busy life. Even scheduling a short “mommy and me” session would be a great gift to yourself.

Put this sign on your office or bedroom door and thank me later 😉

importance of me time, ewa samples photography-2

It felt pretty weird to having to schedule time for things I like to do for myself in the calendar. But I see the point of doing it now, and I see the great results of sticking to the plan. 

In my calendar “me time” includes reading to kids and getting them ready to bed, which takes about an hour all together. The rest of the time is away from the computer or phone. The part with no phone is harder but I’ve been working on it. Sometimes it does include computer or phone for listening to my favorite podcasts while I write my diary. So it’s a mix of things but what this time is not for is WORK. When the husband is gone this time simple means bingeing on “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Salem” or “Orange is the New Black”.

I have scheduled time to read books and to go to the gym during the day which I also consider “me time”. There is time to do blogging, editing, as well as 30 minutes for my green smoothie. Yes, I had to put the smoothie there as well, otherwise I would end up eating pretzels washed down with cold tea.

In the last 3 weeks I have already finished 3 books. I’ve gone to the gym at least 3 times a week as well as haven’t touched the pretzels once.

This “me time” has also brought me to an idea of doing something special for myself. Something I have been wishing to do for a long time. I actually have two things on my bucket list and one has been taken care of. The other needs to wait.

Jen Sincero says

“When you constantly deny yourself the people, food, things, and experiences that makes you feel the most alive, that sends a pretty lousy message home. Look at your life and see where you’re letting yourself down. If you hear yourself saying things like ” I love going out to see live music! I can’t remember the last time I did it,” make time

 I have already done it.

Have you? What’s “me time” for you? Mind to share?

~ Ewa

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Why I have such hard time outsourcing work

Ha! Its’s been almost 3 weeks since I wrote the Day 9 of 15 Day Blog Challenge, but life got quite busy as well as I had to think about Day 10 topic which is “Identify one task that you can outsource in the next 2 days“.

I know photographers (and other entrepreneurs), outsource all kinds of tasks within their business.  It’s very common for wedding photographers to outsource editing, for example. Bookkeeping is another thing to simply give to someone else to take care of. Taxes. Housekeeping. Even blog posts writing or social media updating in general. Well, I don’t do any of that. Maybe taxes. Although I have to do my part anyway  :/

What my biggest problem is, I have this issue with delegating things to people. That comes from how I was raised. It was one of the most common saying around the house:

If you ask someone to do something for you, you’ll end up having to do it yourself“.

My mom used to say that ALL. THE. TIME. She would say you can rarely relay on people to do your work for you. No matter what. No matter if you paid them or ask them to do you a favor. Friends. Strangers. Doesn’t matter.

DO IT YOURSELF in first place, and you save yourself the disappointment, time, the energy and what not

she would said!

Looking back I know that this is why I have such hard time to outsource tasks and also, ask for help if I need it. I rather do a poor job, in designing a business card or eBook for example, then simply outsource it to someone who can do way better job. Because of that most of the time I don’t enjoy going to restaurants, thinking I could cook the same thing, for cheaper and it would be healthier. Such a trivial thing as driving through a car wash is a big deal for me. Mostly because I don’t think those places clean good enough, secondly I’m simply convinced I can do a better job, no matter what. Therefore I often drive a dirty car because I won’t take it to the car wash but I also don’t have the time to wash it myself. Ridiculous right?

It took me a while to ask a friend to come along to a session with me to help me with “behind the scenes” part during this session. Silly enough I initially believed I could do it myself.

It always takes a great amount of convincing from my husband for me to agree to leave my own kids with their grandparents, not to mention a real babysitter (which I can’t recall they ever stayed with). Friend here or there, yes. But that was a struggle too.

Outsourcing is a word I fear, that’s why I had such a hard time to (even) write this post. Although with each year of running this business I realize more, and more of the necessity of asking for help and simply having some things within the business done by other people. I can’t be ONE-MAN band and don’t burn out.

So, yes… This is why I normally don’t outsource, but I’m working on it.

Ewa

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