101 in 1001

101 in 1001 version 2.0 wrap-up

I'm not sure how this is possible, but today is the 1001st day since starting my 2nd list of 101 goals to complete in 1001 days. I even used the date calculator a 2nd time to make sure it was right. I was sure I must have another year left. But no, November 26, 2012 is it. Where does the time go? (If you're not familiar with my 101 in 1001 list, click here to see it. Goals in red are completed & you can click on them to read a blog post from when they were checked off. Goals in black are yet to be completed.)

This is my 2nd attempt at completing 101 goals in 1001 days and I gotta say, I'm not sure it's possible. Maybe if you make goals like "brush teeth every day for one week" or "eat cereal with milk," or "don't commit murder," it would be possible to check one goal off every 10 days on average, but not with real goals that change your life. Maybe if I was able to make my goal list my full-time job, it would have been possible. But alas, it doesn't pay my bills, and I failed to complete all 101 goals in 1001 days.

As I'm sitting here feeling like a slight failure -- after all, I wasn't even able to come up with 101 goals -- there are still six that are completely blank! -- I'm reminded that the purpose of this challenge wasn't necessarily to complete them all. While that might feel more neat and tidy in the end, I have always said that I'm not going to live and die by my list. While I think writing down your goals is HUGELY beneficial -- and I know I wouldn't have been this productive if I hadn't written them down in the first place -- I seek to follow God and live my life by his direction and time table.

So I'm choosing to celebrate today. I completed 55 goals in the past 1001 days. And it's SO gratifying to look back on my list and click through those that I did complete and relive the memories I've made. That's the best thing about sharing my goals with you. I get to document and celebrate the process.

Today I'm going to officially check off 4 more goals:

#69 - Update the bio page of my website with new photos of me yearly

While photographers are notorious for not enjoying being in front of the camera, I've forced myself to get over it. As I tell the photographers who attend my workshops, it's SO important for us to have updated photos of ourselves on our websites so that clients can see who is talking to them through our sites. Photos of ourselves personalize our businesses and make us accessible and relatable.

In 2010, I had updated photos taken by the fabulous Promise Tangeman. And last year my friends Gina and Marcus of Gina Meola photography did a shoot for me. This year, I've been updating the bio section of my site with photos that my office manager Sara has been taking of me weekly for my Frivolous Friday posts. All of these shoots had a different feel to them, so it's fun to see the combo of photos on my bio page now. Thanks to all my dear friends who helped me check this one off the list!

#71 - Find a church home and get involved

After moving into my new home two years ago, I visited numerous churches in the area in an attempt to find a new church home. But it was tough. I've always been super-plugged in to the churches I've been a part of throughout my life, so it was hard to show up by myself and be the new kid each Sunday morning. One Sunday last fall, I drove back to Gilbert to see my friend Scott Swanson preach at The Grove. Scott and Julie are dear friends of mine and I've been in ministry with them for over a decade. When I visited that day to support my friend, I ended up finding my church home. Even though it was a half hour drive, I loved the worship, preaching and missional focus of the church. I've been attending ever since. I am hesitant to check this goal off my list though, because I still feel like I want to get more involved. Right now I'm only attending on Sundays and participating in occasional special events. So there's room for improvement, but I do love my church and am so happy to have found a place to call "home."

#92 - Incorporate more detail shots that highlight the location into my wedding photography - work on sense of place

About a year and a half ago, I wrote this post about how frustrated I was with my own work and how I added this goal to my list in my determination to improve. Since then, I have continued to try to push myself in this area. I show up early to the venue and do some scouting with my camera in hand. I shoot some scene-setting detail shots that I often use in my blog posts and that work well in album designs too. While I would like to continue to focus on this goal, I feel like I'm at a place where I can check it off and say I'm excited that I have improved.

#93 - Figure out a way to breathe new life into my blog -- get inspired

I've been blogging for 6 1/2 years now and while I love it, it can be hard to come up with new content and keep it fresh. I have a feeling this goal will be an ongoing focus of mine, but I'm excited I've made some progress in the right direction. One of the best ways I've found to keep readers engaged Is through the use of ongoing series. Plus these REALLY help with blog content planning. Some of my favorite new series that I've developed this year include Frivolous Fridays (which helps me to make sure I'm including personal content on my blog on a regular basis -- another one of my goals), MJ2Day Alumni - Where are they now?, and my client anniversary/favorite photo posts. I recently created a form for monthly blog planning and I try to strategically plan out my blog content a month in advance. Of course, this is just a rough shell -- things are always flexible and the schedule often changes, but it helps me to make sure I'm staying consistent with the type of content I want to deliver.

Yay for checking 4 final goals off my list!

Even though my time is technically up with this format, I of course will continue to work toward many of these unfinished goals. Of the 40 that haven't been checked off yet, I'm in process with 7 of them. So hopefully there will be more to celebrate soon. As for starting a third round of 101 goals in 1001 days, I'm not sure I'm ambitious enough for that. We'll see. I'm a huge believer in the power of writing down goals, so I for sure will continue to do so in some format, but I might look for a format that will better suit this season of my life where my goals tend to be growing in size and decreasing in number. If any of you have suggestions, let me know! I love the accountability that sharing my goals publicly on my blog provides, so I'm definitely looking forward to continuing to do that some way or another.

I hope you also feel encouraged to write down your goals! Like I said in my original post, I've heard that people who write down their goals make 9 times more money over the course of their lifetimes than those who don't. I'm guessing that's because people who write down their goals actually accomplish 9 times as much over the course of their lives than those who don't. And the money is just a side effect of productivity. So dream big dreams. Then write them down.

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101 in 1001


Today is my sweet sister's 34th birthday. Besides being super-sweet (she was dubbed "the sweet one" while I was "the ornery one" growing up), she's an amazing wife and mother, super-smart, good at everything she sets her mind to, and has the best luck when playing games. I rarely beat her and it's maddening.

Natalie is the mother of my two nephews -- Noah (12) and Elijah (10) -- who both have autism. When she was pregnant with Elijah -- before they knew Noah had autism -- there was a point in time where they though Elijah might have Down Syndrome. I remember thinking at that time that out of all the couples in the world, my sister and brother-in-law would be the most loving and sacrificial parents to special needs children. And they are. Those boys are so loved.

I started my business nearly 10 years ago, and shortly before that, I pulled out my camera, dusted it off, and started practicing on them. And I haven't stopped. I've documented holidays, major events, school days, trips and portrait shoots for the past 10 years; sometimes showing up at their house with camera in hand to photograph whatever they're doing at that moment in time.

I've had a goal on my list for some time now to create a photo book of my nephews for my sis. And today I'm finally checking it off!

A few weeks ago I carved some time out of my schedule and culled through the gazillions of photos from 10 years in the life of this family. I designed a 13x11 book that I had printed through Blurb. I spent about a day and a half designing it using my Simple and Classic Horizontal Templates for Photojunction and ended up including 398 photos in 102 spreads. Yikes! Biggest album ever, I know. But it covered 10 YEARS OF CUTENESS so it had to be large.

It was quite the exercise to go through my photos from years ago. It made me fall in love with my family even more and also reminded me of how much my photography has improved. It was slightly painful to include some of my early photos, but I pushed through because it's more about the memories than the quality of the photos, right!? :)

We celebrated my sister's birthday a little early as a family and I stopped by her house before dinner to surprise her, Josh and Noah with the book (Elijah was playing blissfully outside in the mud).

Noah saw many photos of himself that he hadn't previously seen. It was cute -- he got all quiet and embarrassed.

They sat there for about 30 minutes looking through the pages of their new family album and commenting on different memories the photos elicited.

What a gratifying project to accomplish. I feel so blessed.

Happy birthday sis! Love you SO much! Can't wait to capture the next 10 years!!


Equipment used for above photos: Canon 5D Mark III // Canon 50mm 1.2 lens

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Album Design Templates

101 in 1001

75 books

I don't know that I'm an avid reader. There are certainly people who read much more than I do. But I do enjoy a good book.

I mostly read for pleasure. And mostly read at night to distract my mind from solving the world's problems -- or at least the problems in my little corner of it. Escaping into a story is the only tried and true way I've found for getting a good night sleep.

Back in March of 2010, I started my 101 in 1001 goals list. And on it, I wrote goal #44 -- Read at least 75 books. In truth, I didn't challenge myself much with this goal. I knew if I read at my normal rate of an average of one book per 12 days, I would be able to check this one off before the 1001 days were up. And today is that day!

The 75 books I've read fall into the following categories:

On the topic of autism: 5
Biography: 13
Business: 6
Classics: 4
Historical Fiction: 9
Non-fiction: 16
Popular Fiction: 14
Spiritual: 8

Each book has impacted my life in some way -- making me marvel, think, dream, pray, advocate, spend my money differently, share my faith, and make certain decisions for the direction of my business.

These are the 75 books I read. I gave nearly 30% of them 5 star ratings and they are denoted with a red star:

I rated each book and wrote reviews on all but 6 of them on I would love to share my thoughts on them, but that's just too much to fit in one blog post. So if you're interested in finding out more, look me up on Goodreads and you can see my ratings and reviews. You can even start your own list of books "to read" and add any of mine that catch your attention to your list.

Yay for reading! Now on to the next book...

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101 in 1001

Giving Blood

Ten years ago my dad nearly died at the age of 48 from a brain aneurysm. He was in the Neuro ICU for 6 weeks and in the hospital for a total of 3 months. He had five major surgeries and was given a total of 13 units of blood.

I'm so thankful for modern medicine. And I'm eternally grateful to the 13 people who took time to donate the blood that meant life for my dad.

Since then, I've made it my mission to replace that blood. I figure it's the least I can do. And really, it's a fairly easy way to give. When I started my most recent list of 101 goals to complete in 1001 days back in March of 2010, I included goal #28 -- Donate blood at least twice a year. I'm excited to report that today, I can check that goal off my list!

I've given blood twice a year for each of the past three years, and I can prove it:

Even though I've checked this goal off my list, I plan to keep at it. If you live in the Phoenix area, I'm on the hunt for a blood-giving buddy. My friends Matt & Shar (pictured above) used to go with me before they were disqualified for life for being druggies. Haha -- they aren't really, it was a dumb technicality. SO...I've been a loner for awhile. Hit me up in the comments if you want to sign up for "blood & lunch" as we like to call it :).

And if you are thinking you might want to start giving blood, check out the United Blood Services website for a donation center near you. It's super-easy to make an appointment in minutes online!

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101 in 1001

neighbor dinner

I just realized it's been a long time since I've checked anything off my 101 in 1001 list. I started working on this list of goals back in March of 2010 and I'm supposed to be finished with it by this November. Doh! This weekend I paid my list a visit and realized that I've completed a number of goals in recent months that I'd neglected to check off. That's the beauty of writing down your goals -- they enter your subconscious and you end up doing them even if you don't regularly review your list. Here's the goals I officially checked off this weekend:

2. Launch & promote new business idea - completed 3.21.12
3. Bring my personality out even more on my website/blog -- blog something personal once/weekish - completed 1.20.12
79. Release more Photojunction Templates - completed 5.2.12
80. Start an affiliate program for my PJ templates - completed 6.21.12
85. Update MJ2DAY workshop video - completed 3.13.12

And just last night I completed goal #30 -- Have a neighbor over for dinner!

I put this goal on my list back when I lived at my old house because I wanted to make an effort to get to know my neighbors. I did make one good neighbor friend in my old neighborhood, but unfortunately, never got around to having her for dinner. I've lived in my new house for almost 2 years now, and I'm excited to say that I know at least 10 families on my street already! I'm in love with my neighborhood -- it's SO friendly. When I take Dixie on a walk, I end up stopping to talk to no less than 4 people most days. These guys -- Tim and Amber -- are a cute newlywed couple who just moved in down the street a little over a year ago. They have a dog and Dixie and I have recently taken to stopping by their place on our way out to see if they want to join us. They often do and it's super fun to have walking buddies!

When I asked Tim & Amber for dinner, I made sure to keep their expectations low. I make the same smoothie for breakfast each morning, the same sandwich for lunch, and if I don't have leftovers from a restaurant, I make one of two things for dinner -- eggs or pasta. So cooking and me are not super-well acquainted. I decided to keep it simple -- tacos, guacamole and a fruit salad. Plus brownies for dessert :).

SO fun and yummy! I'm so thankful for all my sweet neighbor friends. Hopefully this is the first of many more dinners to come!

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