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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.

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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 😉

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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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I consider the Fall season open !

This past weekend I had a family session in a gorgeous location in Redwood City and we all agreed, THE FALL IS HERE.

With this beautiful throw I consider the Fall season open, and I don’t care what you say 😉

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Then this week, I had the duty to walk our daughter to school and those few trips only reassured me about it. I know, I know, you might say that those few leaves on the ground doesn’t make it Fall,

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but if you stop for a minute or two you’ll notice that there is more then a few of them laying around. You can actually make a pretty big pile, just like we did today on our way back from walking her big sister to school.

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and like yesterday or today we did not have any problems with finding enough leaves to throw them in the air or at me (which was the most fun part of all).

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I can smell it, I can feel it, and I can finally wear my poncho without getting all sweaty in it… That’s the sign the Fall is here. Seriously 😉

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The only thing I’m missing is the rain.

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These are just sprinklers. One can dream, right.

Sprinklers again...

Sprinklers again…

So my advice to you is to whenever you’re out today, stop looking at your phone for few minutes and instead look around you. Let me know if you were able to spot the Fall, like I did (with a big help of my Little One).
Ewa,

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Keeping organized as a professional photographer {Family Portrait Photographer, San Jose, CA}

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Since I started my business I have used different mix of softwares and systems for scheduling, invoicing, keeping track of “to-dos”, etc. About a year ago I came across 17hats and the idea behind it hit me as nothing but awesome! Since then I found other similar systems for small businesses, some less expensive then others. Some looked way too complicated for me.

So far I really like what I’ve seen while setting the account with 17 hats. It is a one person system, so if you have more people to communicate with within your business then this is not for you. Having accounts almost everywhere to keep up with everything that’s going on within my business makes the whole process of running it not a pleasant experience. This tool seems to be really awesome and I am very excited I finally decided to go with it.

It’s going to take some time to move all my contacts, projects and events and what not but after I’m done with it I feel like I’m going to be way more productive and the whole system of will be way more pleasant. Within the last two days of trying it I feel like I have done more organizing then I have done through the entire year 😉

For example with a few clicks I have synchronized my google calendar with the software.

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I was able to do the same with several other accounts. I love how user friendly and intuitive this software is.

I’m still during the 15 day free trial and I think this software should have this trying period a little longer.

Also 17 Hats did not pay me for this blog post, I just had to write about one SYSTEM or one TOOL I’m going to introduce into my life for  15 Day Blog Challenge (and this is Day 9). But if you sign up with this link, I’ll get a referral bonus, so definitely do that if you found this post useful 🙂

Ewa

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I’m packing to Vegas but meantime {Day 8 of 15 Day Blog Challenge}

Yesterday I wrote about the ONE thing I want to focus on in the nearest future. And the one thing is to run my business while not allowing the business to run me. What that also means I want to make more time for personal life, projects, maybe trips.

Today is Day 8 of 15 Day Blog Challenge, and today’s topic is to list 3 major goals that will help me to achieve that ONE thing. It will be short, as tomorrow we are leaving for mommy and daddy weekend away in Vegas and I have packing to do. For that time I will take time off from this project.

So here we go:

Goal no. 1

I will get back to my regular yoga schedule as well as “me time”, like reading for example. 

It used to be 5 day a week. These days if I do something in the morning for 3o minutes twice a week I call it a success (but it’s not). I also miss a good book. Good science fiction one. Know any?

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Perfecting bridge pose from my vision board

Goal no. 2

I will do at least one PERSONAL photography related project every 3 months. 

Once in a while I will plan photography projects completely for my own pleasure.

Goal no. 3

I will get organized.

Organized my daily and weekly schedule for everything starting from “me time”, yoga, work, personal projects, networking. No more feeling like this:

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Don’t we all feel like that sometimes? Well, I am determined to feel less and less like it and more and more in peace.

Wish me luck!

Ewa,

 

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The ONE thing to focus on this year {Day 7 of 15 Day Blog Challenge}

Well, it took me 3 days to write this post. Not because I was lazy, but because I was thinking about the topic, and it happened to be pretty tough one.

For day 7 of 15 Day Blog Challenge we should write about this ONE think we are deciding to focus on this year. We need to pick one thing among many ideas, plans and visions for our future and focus on that.

As I thought about it I had several things listed which I would want to focus on this year. In personal life as well as in the business. I would definitely want to get organized. Like really organized. I would want to focus on creating a nice work space.

I would want to get back to my regular gym schedule. I want to go there every morning until it gets close to leave the house and all off the sudden I’m too busy and have many things way more important to do (which is not true, lets face it!).

I would want to cook more and make more healthy meals for my kids. Because sometimes they get a bowl of pretzels or chocolate chip pancakes for dinner.

As I thought about it more and more I kept looking at my vision board I made at the beginning of this year.

My Vision Board

It feels like I have achieved probably 1/3 or a little more from the entire board. It helped me overcome fear of doing and doubtedness (is that even a word?) of dreaming big. Thanks to this board I found things I DON’T WANT to do (in business and in personal life).

But at some point I think, I took it too seriously. I’ve run myself to a point when I though I am dying. Yes, I really felt that. I visited several doctor offices and had several tests done on me. I was told I’m experiencing panic attacks. At another office I was sent to do tests for asthma.

Whatever that was, it’s gone now but I had experience two of the most scary weeks in my life.

And I realized that chasing for whatever I was chasing was not worth getting sick for. What was I chasing anyway?

Yes, my business is important to me. It is my third child, or wait, after the husband and two dogs it is my 6th child, actually. But as I don’t let my children run me, the same approach I want to take when it comes to the business.

And this is the ONE thing I will focus on this year.

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I want to enjoy my family and be present in our life. I want to turn off the computer and stop worrying about stuff I have not yet done but should have. Because is it really that important? Should I really stress about not posting on Facebook for 2 days or not blogging my sessions on time.

I want to enjoy the life as it is not the way I want it to be. The same with my business. I’ll always want more, be better, act wiser. But  I’ll never get my yesterday back, so why waste it on unhealthy acting and thinking.

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Like the whole situation of looking for a new place to live. It’s been frustrating and depressing on occasions but you know what… It is what it is and we will try to make the best out of it.

One more thing…
The husband’s asking why I’m writing those post for the challenge here. He’s curious who would want to read such stuff on a photographer’s blog. So if you read, let me know by commenting or liking. I’d like to show him that there are people interested in seeing a human face behind a business. Am I right? Well, I hope so.

Ewa,

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Q: What do you call a business that isn’t run like a business? A: A hobby.

This is Day 6 of 15 Day Blog Challege and we are to talk in it about our Ideal Business Model. Natalie Sisson fro “The Suitcase Entrepreneur” says that we should run our business to support our style of living not the other way around. In my life it’s the other way around, so far. There is a whole lot of living and doing just to support my business. And I am not talking about myself but also about my husband who’s supported me financially when I needed it. And I needed it, believe me!!!

Lets be honest here. Running a business is tricky, especially when you start it not knowing that the part you want to do the most (like taking pictures in my case), is only a very small part of running a successful business.

For every successful establishment there is another that didn’t make it past the first five years, shows data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I have run a hobby for a long time while all I wanted was a profitable business which would support my lifestyle. I have fought my husband who would always say, “you’re running a hobby, not a business, be real about it”. Until I realized what he was saying is right. The realization didn’t come easily as it meant big changes. In photography business people are afraid of speaking about what’s behind their business in public, in front of the clients. They hide within photography forums and groups and over there they let the worst  frustrations out. Sometimes they direct the frustrations toward another professional, someone who’s cheaper, someone who is not as good in posing people as they do, someone who hasn’t been in business for as long as they are therefore he/she can be run into the ground for asking for an advice.

I have witnessed photographer after photographer being crushed by another peer, by somebody who should be looked up to for their knowledge and experience but they choose to be angry at the newcomers and therefore loose the credibility. Nobody wins in a such situations. People get hurt in both ends. I experienced it first handed. It hurt. Tremendously. It didn’t last long as I decided to cut off all the groups and forums where I saw it happening. I wrote about it in my last post.

It’s unprofessional to complain about our clients. Yes, I agree!

It’s unprofessional to talk about how hard it is and how many hours and sleepless nights we work and how much time we have to spend away from our families in order to earn some money. Yes, I agree. All small business owners do that. We are not any different. We do not work more (or less) then any other entrepreneur out there. Hell, all you full time working people do that.

The thing I don’t think it’s unprofessional is to share some (because not all) insights into photography business, and educate people about it.

There is this conviction that photographers are hobbyists and charging people an arm and a leg for their services is unacceptable.

I also think that artists don’t have to be starving in 21st century. Few days ago I saw this on Facebook, and I shook my head in understanding.

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I’ve started writing this post yesterday during our road trip to see a potential home to buy. Yes, your read it right – it was a road trip because it’s way up North from San Jose. We can’t afford buying a home in Silicon Valley, and we are outgrowing our present place, so we are looking into different options.

I though and though about the way I want to write this post and if I really should write it the honest way, or simply list what would be the ideal model without going into anything else. As you can see I went for the most honest way.

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A bridge you would have to cross to get to our place

A bridge you would have to cross to get to our “potential” place 🙂

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Moving to a different city away from Silicon Valley might bring to us new possibilities. We will be able to achieve more for less. One of the houses we looked at had this wonderful first floor, which we both agreed, would be perfect for my small studio and an office.

Yes, I am dreaming about working space, and a small studio. Not because I particularly want to switch to studio photography, but because I want to have options, and because there is this more creative troll hiding inside me and wanting to have a studio for more personal and soul freeing use.

One part of my ideal business model is to have a studio. Another part of my ideal business is to be able to travel to photograph people. I know that the market is oversaturated with photographers so the possibility for someone from Texas (just because I’ve never been to TX and would love to visit there) wanting to hire me to do their family portraits is equal almost 0.09% (just because there is always hope, right?), and we all can dream.

But I can’t just sit and hope.

[ctt title=”If I want something to happen then I must do something towards it so the probability of the happening rises” tweet=”If I want something to happen then I must do something towards it so the probability of the happening rises” coverup=”2UqQ4″]. Got all philosophical here.

If I want to do stuff then I need to be able to afford it. To be able to afford it I have to earn more. To earn more I have to change my business model and charge more, or find a different job.

IMG_9632

This is a view from our "potential" backyard

This is a view from our “potential” backyard

With my ideal business model I wish to be able to work with many non-profit organization donating my time and my work to a bigger cause. My dream is to be able to travel to other countries to be involved with helping people in need or supporting a cause I feel strong about. Just this year I got involve in working with CleanBirth.org, La Leche League South Bay and Alzheimer’s Association and would love to do more of it in the future.

My ideal business model is not a discount base business (although it started that way). If I run any specials they stay between me and my subscribers. Sign up while you can!

My ideal business model is based on families who come to me year after year after year.

My ideal business is based on trust and respect,  not on a “good deal” philosophy.

My ideal business is based on my professionalism and support.

My ideal business model is to run a business not a hobby.

Thank you for reading

Ewa,

 

P.S while we are at talking about trust and respect here is short “testimonial” like video of a returning clients of mine who are explaining why it is important to work with a photographer who knows the family and have work with the family in the past.

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I’ve replace an old habit with a new one {Day 5 of 15 Day Blog Challenge}

Today I will be talking about a habit I’m replacing and about the new one that will serve me better. Natalie Sisson in her explanatory video about today’s topic of the 15 Day Blog Challenge goes even further saying that we can specify which people we are deciding to cut off from our life, people who don’t serve us as inspiration, help or support. Those who are always critical about us, our plans and our believes. In opposite we should surround ourselves with few valuable people who if criticizing us they do it because they love us and care about us not because they are jealous for example.

This is not a very unfamiliar approach to life (personal and business wise), as I have stumble upon this idea at the end of last year reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. 

love story_EwaKuc-1

This book gave me some power how to change my mind set when it comes to running a business and believing in myself. Even if you’re not a business owner but you struggle with believing in yourself this is a great book to look into.

[ctt title=”One of the habits I had decided to replace was to stop caring about people who don’t care about me. In online world and the real life world. It felt wonderful and empowering.” tweet=”Habit I had decided to replace was to stop caring about people who don’t care about about me. It felt wonderful. http://ewasamplesphotography.com/?p=4377″ coverup=”aD_ig”]

At the beginning of this year I have started actively participating in monthly meetings of an awesome group of creative people and it was the best thing that could happen to me. Lots of inspiration. Lots of valuable information. If criticism then very constructive. Here is a video I made from the first ever meeting I attended.

There is another habit that I have replaced since then (or I’ve been trying to replace). Not being afraid of doing. You know that thing that stops us from trying new things, learning new things because we are afraid of a failure. I haven’t master that one yet but I am working on it.

Now, your turn… What habit have you replaced recently or would like to replace?

Ewa

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