What an amazing year 2009 has been! It has definitely been a tough year for me in many ways. I have experienced some profound losses. But I have also been filled to overflowing with blessings. This year I shot 15 amazing weddings and have developed some incredible memories and relationships along the way. In this post I am going to share 10 of my favorite "happenings" from 2009 in the order in which they occurred.

1. The year of the websites
I can't hardly believe this but I have developed FOUR websites for my business this year!! CRAZY. I started out in January by launching my MJ 2 Day workshop site, then in February my Photojunction Templates found a home of their own on photojunctiontemplates.com. Both of these sites were designed and built by me using ShowIt Sites software. In March my Fine Art Website was launched (by LiveBooks.com) and then in December I launched my new wedding website/blog combo (by Infinet Design). Phew. No wonder I'm exhausted. I think I'm going to take a break from developing websites this next year and just enjoy where these four are taking me. I just want to give a shout out to God for blessing my business so much this year and continuing to direct my path.

2. First AND second MJ 2 Day workshops
In May I held my very first MJ 2 Day workshop for a group of 12 photographers who were in the first couple years of their businesses. We spent two days together talking about business and photography related topics as well as doing some shooting on location. Then in October I did it again with a second group of amazing photographers. I loved every second of interacting with and getting to know the attendees from around the US and Canada. I really get jazzed about sharing information and seeing the light bulb go on for other people. I feel like teaching workshops and coaching other photographers is definitely a niche for me and I can't wait to do it more in the future! My next MJ 2 Day workshop is coming up in April and there are still spots open so make sure to claim yours today!

3. My second trip to Hawaii
In June I took my second trip to Hawaii and if you can believe it, I think I enjoyed it even more than the first! While there I shot an engagement shoot, a wedding and a day after shoot. I also was able to take a few days to just relax. I've found that working from home has some great advantages, but sometimes it can be difficult to fully relax. My office is downstairs and it's so tempting to get just a few more things done. There were two trips I took this year that were SO relaxing and this was one of them for me. I loved the time I spent with my friends Sarah & Jason and I love that I ran into some past clients and was able to go to dinner with them. I loved drinking a pina colada each day and living without a schedule. I have such great memories from this trip that I will always cherish.

4. Africa
My trip to Africa was unbelievable. It came right on the heals of the suicide of my aunt so emotionally, it was very difficult for me to process. But it was an amazing experience and I'm still in awe of what I saw. I travelled with Mike Colon, Jim Davis-Hicks, and 13 other amazing photographers to Tanzania. We did a two day fashion shoot of designer gowns on location in Tanzania to benefit Thirst Relief International. We also helped to build and deliver life saving Thirst Relief Bio-Sand Water Filters to those who don't have clean water sources. In addition we were able to see some of the most beautiful wildlife on the planet on an African Safari! I'm excited to report that Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine will be featuring the whole trip in her Spring/Summer 2010 issue that will be coming out very soon! Click on some of the links below to read more about my trip and see some fabulous photos!

Headed to Africa!
Hope at a Tanzanian Orphanage
Bagamoyo Tanzania
Getting Our Hands Dirty
Delivering Life-Saving Water Filters
Cute Tanzanian Orphans
Accommodations & Transportation
Trees on Safari
Tanzanian Safari Part 1
Tanzanian Safari Part 2

5. Goodreads.com
This year I read nearly 50 books. And none of them were business-related. I've done a lot of reading for my business and used to feel like I needed to be reading something that would help me better myself at all times. But this year I let that compulsion go and read purely for pleasure. Mostly brainless fiction with some classics mixed in. I joined a book club, signed up on goodreads.com and found myself just reading like crazy. I read for a number of reasons. I read so I could sleep. My brain doesn't like to shut off at night so I need to read something with a story to it that will trick my brain into ceasing from attempting to solve the world's problems. I also read to process life. Coming off the summer I found myself emotionally exhausted and my introvert side reared its head in a major way. I found that reading was a way for me to process through my emotions and it became very healing for me. If you're a reader sign up on Goodreads and look me up!

6. Trip to Nebraska
My trip to visit my grandparents on their farm in Nebraska in September was the other totally relaxing trip I took this year. Being in the country was like traveling to another world. Time slowed down. I went for runs on dirt roads, ate pancakes for breakfast, road a four wheeler through some pastures and had some amazing quality time with two people I really cherish.

7. 3rd Annual Walk for Autism
In November I walked with my team of 21 for the 3rd year in a row to raise money to help find the cause and cure for Autism. My two nephews both have Autism and raising awareness for this epidemic continues to be a growing passion of mine. This year for the first time we had team shirts! Once again I just loved the feeling of empowerment and community that I got from this experience. I want to thank my friend Kindra for coming along this year and writing an amazingly touching story about my family that helped me raise awareness and funds. Can't wait to do it again next year!

8. Pictage Partner Conference
In November I travelled to New Orleans for Pictage's Annual Partner Conference. This was my first visit to New Orleans and I had a blast! I also have to say that Pictage's Conference is the best photography conference that I've ever experienced. The speakers are so generous in sharing their information and helping others out. While there I spoke about my "Top 3 Keys to Long-Term Success." I also got to hang out with old friends and make many new ones. Thanks to Pictage for this great opportunity and for having me! What a great experience!

9. Finishing my 101 in 1001 list
In February of 2007 I started a huge challenge of completing 101 goals in 1001 days. My endeavor wrapped up in November of this year. I really lost some steam this year and only completed 6 of my goals. But they were big ones. Looking back I am SO glad that I took this challenge and feel like I was able to accomplish so much more than I would have without it. If you'd like to see my list and which goals I was able to finish, click here!

10. Developing Friendships
One of my favorite things that happened this year was the development of some amazing friendships. Looking back on my blog I just feel SO BLESSED that I got to meet and spend time with so many incredible people. Investing in people is one of the most powerful things I can do with my time and in this way 2009 has been a tremendous success. I've been in the wedding industry for 6 years now and have been investing consistently in people over the course of this time. This year I can really see the roots of that investment blossoming and bearing fruit. I am SO enjoying the friendships I have within the industry with other photographers, coordinators and vendors. Some of my relationships with clients have developed into cherished friendships. And I continue to hold dear friends who are not in the industry at all and have loved on me since before I became a photographer. I know I sound so "gushy" right now but I am truly touched by the blessing of friendship in my life. What an amazing year it's been.
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