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Summer Updates from a girl called toast

So as some of you have heard I am trying to get back into the habit of blogging. The start is very rocky trying to figure out where my blog flow will come in, but only time will find my groove. My life is going to be going through some drastic changes very soon and I am looking forward to the opportunity to be inspired by what is to come. Life is basically the most epic choose your own adventure when you think about it. Each page you read is taking it one day at a time. Then, you come to a page where you are given a few options. I hit the page recently where my house is being sold and I am left with the deciding page. Where do I go from here? When you aren’t tied to a location suddenly you notice that there is limitless potential.

That’s why, come the end of July, I am adventuring off to Vancouver City for a few months! As a business person the most important thing to me is networking. And do I ever socialize. With all my hobbies and jobs and contacts I get asked at times how I juggle a busy life. When your plate starts to pile up sometimes you just end up staring at it. Vancouver is going to be a time for focusing on all my passions of writing, photography, hoop dance, yoga, sightseeing, all around adventuring. {And living with my best friend, of course.} But I will be back for visits as I have a lot of exciting shoots booked for the summer! And I will still be taking bookings for specific weeks in Edmonton for those interested while I am away. This is going to be my first time living outside of Edmonton area. I am excited and anxious as I prepare for a very new experience. Stay tuned for blog posts about my adventures while I am gone! I look forward to sharing the experience and getting some feedback! On another note I have a couple creative portraiture assignments during July that will be going up on the blog. They are some unique experiences that I am already excited to share with you before they have even begun! I will leave you with this photo from my last visit to Vancouver in February. Have a splendid day!

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My song of the day Here

The Spring Slump; Ten ways to have a fresh start to summer

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Living in a province with such unpredictable weather that consists mostly of snow definitely makes you appreciate the warm weather when it arrives. Like a caterpillar ready to become a butterfly every spring brings about feelings of a new and fresh start. But I find many people seem to sink into the spring slump. Being a creature of habit it is easy to see we are quite hypocritical. Knowing how we like things to be, but wanting to create major changes in our life at the same time. It is easy to see how we could end up in a funk. Craving a change to leave this feeling like we are stuck in a rut. Well luckily there are so many ways to create positive small changes to your every day life that helps you feel those butterfly wings setting in. Here I have made a handy list of ways to do so including the one that inspired me to write this blog. Hopefully one or two of these options speaks to you and inspires a spark of change. Please feel encouraged to add in the comments the ways you make every day full of change in your own life. enjoy!

1.Rearrange

This has been one of my favorite ways to feel change since I was a teeny bopper. I would move all the furniture around my room every so often. Sometimes the bed was against the wall under the window, or pulled to the other side of the room. Sometimes I move all the art around my house. Moving my furniture around made life seem more dynamic and in motion even when everything else is the same. It’s like walking into a new space. It gives me the satisfaction of getting something done when I’m not sure what to do with myself.

2.Keep a Journal

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When I think of jourmaling my mind immediately goes to teenage girls writing down their secret crushes and clique problems at school. And when I was in junior high I was definitely one of these girls. But I have kept so many different journals since then. From diet journals to dream journals. If you don’t remember dreams enough writing them down helps you recognize them more and progresses you towards awareness in dreams. Two years ago I could not recall dreaming for so long. Now I will recall dreams several times a week and occasionally know that I am dreaming. I have set weeks aside in my journal just to write entries about things I am grateful for. I would focus on one topic each day to help me dig deeper opposed to making a single list. Journaling is one I highly recommend because it can manifest a lot of changes into your life outside of it. One day I found myself writing about being grateful for my body when I ran out of outside influences. Realizing how great it is to be healthy and alive and noticing that I do not actually treat my body with the respect it deserves for what it gives me. That is when I began to change my diet for more than outer appearance, but self respect. I like to write down my feelings in my journal whether they are happy or sad. When I go back and read them I am reminded of places I have been and soak up the nostalgia. Sometimes I come across things I forgot I wrote and end up giving myself advice that resonates deeply at the time I go back to it. Nothing is more comforting that having yourself as a teacher because nobody gets you like you do. If you would like to start journaling but are not sure where to start here are some ideas. For feeling lost or lonely keep a gratitude journal. Only talk each day of something you are grateful for. You will be surprised how many things you can think of when you focus on what you really do have. For feeling uninspired or self loathing find quotes or passages that you enjoy and write them down or talk about them. Make a goal list of things you want to work on for the summer or a list of things you want to do in the next five to ten years. Feeling pent up and anxious write objective analysis of your emotions or draw pictures. Talking about your feelings helps you understand them more but talking to people is not always easy. Objective analysis helps you view both sides of your own situation. Here’s a personal example: Sometimes I will feel lonely because I live on my own. It is understandable why I would feel this way sometimes. It is normal to seek comfort in others we are naturally drawn to community. But to look on the other side of it I should celebrate my solitude. It is when I am alone that I do the most thinking and growing. Learning to love being alone and taking time to myself is what has attracted so many wonderful people into my life. When you are comfortable with yourself people are naturally attracted to you. Although others help us feel better about ourselves when we are down at the end of the day it is our own opinions on ourselves that shape our confidence. When I accept myself I do not need you to accept me. The less you judge yourself the less you will judge others for being the same messy emotional existence you are. And if you don’t feel comfortable writing down your feelings this is where drawing comes in. Art is a great emotional release. The problem is people thinking they can’t draw or paint. This is complete nonsense based on how they have shaped their idea of art. Being able to draw is a gift everyone has. We all draw differently and should be encouraged to doodle what we feel: A flower, an eyeball, a skull, an animal, random swirls, faces, bodies, hearts, stars, moons, shapes, cars, I could go on. If you can’t think of anything you can start by drawing random swirls or the first thing that comes into your head. Drawing is meditative because it gives you something to focus on when you might feel like you have lost your mind.

3. No technology time

This is the one that inspired me to write this post. As I stated on my facebook earlier this week I have considered myself addicted to my phone and officially cutting back. Social media is dangerously addictive. Especially for the awkward mixed extrointroverts like myself. You get to feel connected with everyone while safely sitting in your bubble of silence. Forever entertained by the glowing screen of pictures and text and never ending knowledge. But one day I asked a friend what she thought was a flaw of mine and she said I was on my phone too much. I was immediately offended and on the defensive but I knew it was true. Even if I am listening to a conversation my eyes are glued to facebook, instagram, and snapchat. Living through a camera lens instead of being immersed completely in the moment. Maybe it helps me escape awkward situations, but it has also become just a plain old dirty habit that steals your presence from your loved ones. What good is the body without the soul? Yes, I depend on social media to network with others and garner business but there is a line between use and abuse that I and many others have crossed. Conversations that should be had in person are sent over text because it is easier when you can shut out at any time. The instant gratification of likes and comments creates a deep feeling of connection and likeableness. But we shouldn’t feel discouraged for losing followers or not getting any likes on a photo. We don’t care if other people have a lot of likes or followers. We don’t base the people we socialize with on how popular they are in social media. So why do we hold ourselves to this standard? Why has 500 likes replaced the value of being present in our day to day life? Having a lot of attention on you says little to nothing about who you actually are as a person. Take that energy into your daily life and put the phone in your bag during dinner or shopping at the grocery store. Turn it off for 30 minutes a day, challenge yourself to up that amount some days. If you are walking somewhere take the time to acknowledge your surroundings. See the beauty in everything that is around you and breathe in the sunshine. Look up at the sky not down at your phone. Can you really say you love being alive until you have taken the time to appreciate where you are instead of thinking of where you could be? This does not mean you can’t post selfies, food, statuses, progress photos, or whatever you like. Just learn to cut back and see the importance between that memory of the time you had that giant doughy dessert cookie or the memory of your gut bursting from laughter of the hilarious conversation you just had with your best friend. Social media is great and keeps us all connected, but should not define us.

4. Take up a hobby

Here it is the horrible cliche answer to everyone stuck in a rut. When we don’t know what to do with ourselves, ESPECIALLY after cutting back destructive behaviors, people tell us to take up a hobby. But then you think to yourself “well, what should I do?” There are so many different hobbies out there that the amount of ideas are so overwhelming it could leave your mind blank. The thing about hobbies is what is good for one person is not necessarily anothers cup of tea. Telling someone Yoga changed your life and will change theirs too could be a complete and total lie. We are all so intricately different and feeling the burn of your tight muscles loosening as you stretch isn’t going to feel like release for everyone. Some people might just be straight up uncomfortable and impatient. And even thought that sounds like the type of person who might need yoga, if it doesn’t speak to them then that’s that. But maybe kick boxing might speak to them the way yoga speaks to me. One person might want to learn guitar while another is interested in the piano. You might like jogging but your buddy Roger prefers reading books. Sally likes to take pictures, John likes to paint. You get the idea. But if you think that there isn’t a wide variety of hobbies available to you let me be more clear: Yoga, kick boxing, gymnastics, belly dance, juggling, tap, hiphop, tango, aerial arts, hoop dance, poi, contact staff, contact juggling, massage, knitting, crochet, guitar, bass, drums, piano, flute, reading, jogging, biking, longboarding, rollerskating, upholstering, blogging, journaling, photography, painting, drawing, volunteering, pottery, making jewelry, gardening, fixing up a car, wine tasting, candle making, cooking, acting, crafting, etc. The list could really go on and the costs of all these things range by what you can afford and because of our vast knowledge provided by the internet things that used to cost a lot more to do are so cheap and readily available. Bask in the opportunities you have to do what used to be a lot harder for many. If you want to feel extra spontaneous join a discount site like groupon and see what inspires you on there.

5. Change your diet

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A lot of our mood is affected by what we put in our bodies. If you are feeling unmotivated and lethargic it could be all that extra sodium and sugar you are taking in. I know that did it for me. If you have a hard time sticking to dietery changes you can make them small. You don’t have to cancel out your morning breakfast sandwich or lunchtime fast food and starchy dinner. But try to moderate the amount of these things you take in. Replace that breakfast with fresh fruit and eggs several times a week. Bring some veggies and dip to snack on during lunch at work. Oh dip isn’t healthy? Neither is that bag of potato chips but at least I had veggies. Introduce that dreaded salad to your dinner routine. You can start by making at least one meal a day predominantly vegetables. People often put too much stress on making large consistent changes but some people just aren’t wired with that kind of consistency. If you just say to yourself “I could never eat healthy all the time” You might not even try. But allowing yourself to make mistakes and bring small changes to your diet slowly might be the way to build to consistent healthy eating. The more I have cut back on sugar and salt the more I feel the affect it has on my mood. The instant lack of energy that chocolate toffee cake gave me and the boost of emotional well being that spinach and berry salad gave me. You will notice. Also, Drink lot’s of water! Yes, we mistake thirst for hunger sometimes. We are not perfect. Drinking lot’s of water is one of the best ways I have taught myself to stop my dirty snacking habit.

6. Change your appearance

Sometimes we are a fresh haircut or new outfit away from feeling shiny and new. Adding highlights to your hair or more color to your wardrobe could be a great way to feel transformed. Get a tattoo or a piercing, really, go crazy! I know people that change the color of their hair so often I sometimes forget what color it actually is when I am not with them. Obviously if you are worried you might ruin your hair it might not be for you, but some people see hair as something that will grow back no matter what you do to it. And they have found a great way to keep their daily life spontaneous while still being consistent.

7. Add a little extra UMPH to your home

My house used to be quite plain in appearance when you came in. Pretty standard couch, tv, coffee table business. But I have transformed my home more to suit my personality. I replaced my couches with fun floor cushions. I have a couple tree style decorations in my home because I love the earthy appearance. My bedroom has strings across the door and above my bed hanging with LED flower lights. It makes my bedroom feel less standard and more for me. And having fun decorations that I can move around my home keeps it fresh all the time. I have an alter with crystals (lot’s of amethyst because I love my birth stone) and statues and candles. During changing seasons I sometimes decorate it with pieces for the season. Last fall my Nonna gave me a little pumpkin that I kept on that table until it went rotten. Now I have sea shells from my visit to the ocean in Vancouver. You could set out some flowers on a beautiful spring day, or a crystal figure during a cold winter day. Get a little whiteboard and write inspiring quotes or draw silly pictures with friends. Get a corkboard and cover it in little moments with tickets, pictures, letters, whatever. My cork board has been the conversation starter for lot’s of random discussions.

8. Find a ‘Morning Mantra’

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I have a picture I painted hanging in my home with a “morning mantra”. It has inspirational text I found online to start each day with a positive attitude when you read it out loud to yourself. The one I have reads as follows: ‘I wake up energized and excited. I am feeling healthy and strong. I start a new chapter today. I handle any challenges that arise. I greet everyone with ease today. I trust my decisions today. I am happy with my life. I love myself.’ I don’t read it out loud every day but when I do I always feel inspired and positive. Find a mantra that speaks to you and create a reminder that gets your repeating it to yourself daily. You will basically brainwash yourself into a happy positive attitude. Even when you aren’t quite feeling it.

9. Switch up your morning routine

I used to start each day just relaxing on the couch watching tv. But I find that is the best way to waste half a weekend off. Now I make a note to start each day with simple yoga stretches. I do hip openers, hamstrings, shoulders, ankles, and neck. Sometimes I throw different stretches in to keep it different each day but stretching out my body first thing in the morning helps me feel energized and ready to get things done. There are lots of ways to shake up your morning routine. Drink tea or coffee outside, put on a ‘song of the day’ and do a little dance party on your own, write a daily sentiment for how you are feeling upon waking or something to focus on for the day. Whether it be ‘remember to breathe’ or ‘i am grateful for…’ there are many things to give each day more meaning and purpose.

10. Change the way you interact with strangers

Those people you see who keep their glance down when they walk by you on the street or smirk at a random remark in the lineup at the bank but not engaging further in conversation, I am one of these people. But I have pushed myself to interact differently. Looking up and into the eyes of people walking by and exchanging smiles. Or engaging the person who makes a comment to you while standing in line. Clearly we do not force confrontation on people who do not want it and if we are not in the mood to chat then by all means keep to yourself. But try a little more to engage with your community even if it’s just by making eye contact and smiling. Sometimes now I am the person creating conversation in the lineup at the store and creating even the smallest change in someones day. When you engage someone it does not take long to see if they are interested in engaging back. Their body language and response will make it clear. In the case that they aren’t interested you just made them feel noticed and the moment will pass but for someone who engages back – well – who knows? I have had my day made just from the gesture of a warm smile from a stranger. And I have had strangers tell me some interesting stories or help me out just because I decided to make one stupid little comment. Shake up your life.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default”

Jk Rowling

Edmonton Art Jam – creation and inspiration

It makes sense to turn a hobby into a career. To spend life doing what we love most seems ideal. However, over time how we feel about these hobbies changes. Suddenly that hobby is a job and the aspect of fun can sometimes get lost in the work. If someone ever asked me how I keep my passion for photography strong I would tell them to shoot for yourself. Never limit time with the camera to paid work. After I graduated from my photographic technology course I wish I could say I was as in love with photography as ever. It was probably my lowest point since deciding I wanted to be a photographer years ago. Any opportunity to not pick it up was taken and I didn’t actively create new work for myself. I never thought that I wanted to stop doing photography, I just stopped enjoying it as much. Thankfully, I am surrounded every single day by so many talented and creative people who live to inspire others and themselves. Over time my passion slowly came back to me and in the process I found my own ways to keep the fire burning strong for myself and others. “Art jams” as we like to call them are basically an excuse for people of many sorts of talent to come together and decide how they can all create something. Each contributing how they choose. Painters, dancers, flow artists, photographers, jewelry artists, makeup artists, and writers I have all had art jams with. Slowly I have been progressing now into more costume work as well but the search continues for more creative endeavors. Today I would like to share some of my choice photos from one of my most recent art jams. The group working on this project was one of the biggest yet. I am proud to share our fun time photos from a great evening of sharing creativity! A Thank you extended to Ross, Matt, Jesse, Nina, Duncan, and Daniel for their participation!

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Edmonton Art Showcase: Our Book

The past couple of months have been a ridiculous growing experience for me. As I make the transformation from student to full time photographer each day is full of uncertainty. Having your own business can be intimidating and requires much patience. It can also be a rewarding experience.  Not only seeing my creativity come to life, but realizing much along the way in regards to passion, inspiration, and influence. The power behind a one person show is the influence of many other people. Some of the major foundations for me have been my family. Constantly believing in me even when it seems like I may be tapping out, but the fire doesn’t die it just breathes one day at a time. However, I need to talk about another major influence in my life. I met this amazing guy a couple months ago who is a living example of true passion and real inspiration. There are few words to describe how much one person can give of their time and energy to inspire the globe. I am talking about my friend Duncan and his growing creation, Our book.

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But I don’t want to be the one telling you about our book. As much as I am proud to now be a part of this project, photographing different languages and generations of our book as well as other related projects, Duncan’s rhyme schemes describe the project perfectly.

Our book is a neat little creation,
An open and group sourced, Creative Commons, global art demonstration.

It’s main mission is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
Scripted into Our Book in every translation, who knows what it will insight.

The U.N. recognizes 432 official translations,
We have 2 done, but more to follow as this project grows with sensation.

The project started March 29th, 2012 while living under some staircases in Calgary,
3 months after becoming full time art and leaving a cushy job with a salary.

Our Book also has a few side projects to share,
Books of quotes, Kiplings “If…”, as well as Our Poems to show we care.

At the moment we have a full Gandhi and Neil deGrasse Tyson book of quotes,
With more to follow, we need to capture all the brilliant things once wrote.

Rudyard Kiplings If, I’ve been collecting translations for over a decade now,
We’ve scripted in 22 languages so far, with 5 more to do, if you want to help, I can show you how.

Our Poems are written by folks for Our Book specifically,
With 5 done, more on the way, the first seed planted at the Rite of Spring initially.

Our Book is 54 pages of layer upon layer of art,
We paint over the words every time, so every day their are opportunities to take part.

Development of the binding process took a little over 1000 gifted books,
Primarily developed while I was working as cook.

After 30 months of development,  it is now a part of Edmontons nextfest 2014,
And with winning part of the Enbridge Award we can gift 3000 mini books, now Our Book will be seen.

Sincerely

Anonymouse Publishing and Productions

 

Basically, Our book is an inspiring source for creation. Creation of ideas and manifestation of art. The encouragement to grow as a global community in common practice not just of equal human rights, but to encourage self expression and art practice. If you want to know more about the project you can check out this link to a short local global news segment on the book. If you want to get involved, remember, this is your book too! Near or far, wherever you are!

Edmonton Portrait Photographer Stephanie T Photography

Thank God it’s Friday! Today is my last day at Numa! I am happy to be able to now take the time and edit all of my shoots, but at the same time I am going to miss all the fantastic people I have met and gotten to know over the past two weeks. Originally I wanted to share my one favorite image from each shoot but I haven’t gotten to edit a couple of the shoots still so I picked one shoot to share. I chose my shoot with Lidiya because I was backed by a fantastic MUA (Renee Rampersad) and one of her students who is a fantastic stylist! This shoot we got a ton of different looks out of! I chose my one favorite from each look to edit and share with you today. Please enjoy and have a great weekend!