How to be happy in 2014

Image credit: All images courtesy of Ali Caudill Photography

It’s December 28th. I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop pounding away at the keys working through my latest course materials.

I make small talk with the barista about how quick 2013 has gone by, take a sip of my perfectly crafted vanilla latte, and snap a photo of this place I like to call my home away from home.

unnamedI take a moment to breathe deeply, pause, and reflect on the year that’s gone by, the bravery that was required to take some huge steps forward, and the feeling of contentment that’s present in my body. I’m just where I’m supposed to be.

I keep waiting for someone to pinch me to wake up from this dream. Only it isn’t a dream. This is my life.

First the first time in years I am without a shadow of a doubt, HAPPY.

The type of happy where you aren’t just putting a smile on your face and pretending everything is ok. The real deal, I’m in a groove, being true to myself, and making the most of my life type of happy.

The three year old, not a care in the world, giggle fest type of happy.

YOUNG (16)

I spent the last quarter of 2013 going on date nights, traveling cross country to visit friends, teaching a passionate group of students, recommitting to a weekly yoga practice, building lego towers and playing with dolls, reconnecting with family, and mending broken friendships.

With a full heart and clear head, I know now that for a long long long time I was hiding from myself.

This blog and this photography journey have been my greatest source of self-discovery, but also my greatest source of self-deprecation.

All the balls I juggled for so many years…trying to be a good mom, a good wife, a good employee, a good business owner, a good writer, a good teacher, a good friend. Each of these things made me busy. Always busy. Busy was my crutch to hide from the grief after losing Bella. And although I had made incredible strides in overcoming that pain, the mask of busy remained long after.

I busied myself in my business. I spent every night after the kiddo was asleep with my email launched and open in one tab, Facebook open in another, with my husband next to me TV blaring in the background.

These past 6 months of transition away from my day job, away from the old me, and into this new life and new outlook have been in a word: surreal.

As I look forward to 2014 and truly lean into this feeling of happiness, I don’t want it to end.

As you may know if you’ve been following me for awhile, I like to set a one word intention at the start of each new year. I play with words the entire month of December until the right one comes forward. For my perfectionist mind this can be quite a challenge, but one that I’m always up for.  Here’s how the past 5 years have unfolded in one word:

2009: Hope
2010: Soar
2011: Shine
2012: Believe
2013: Trust

This year I played with many words before settling on just one that I think embodies them all. I thought about the words calm, fun, play, laugh, joy, present, connected. Those were some of the feelings I’d embraced most recently. But the one that I think embodies the true spirit of all these feelings boiled down into one simple word:



I find my happy place by staying calm, present, and connected.

I find my happy place through fun, play, and laughter.

I find my happy place through the lens of a camera.

How does happiness come forward for you? I encourage you to set your one word intention, and make it one that will help you move towards finding happiness this year. When you’ve got your word, I encourage you to share it in the comments below. I’d love to hear it.

momtog250Want to know one more thing that makes me happy? The return of my signature class Momtographie Online! It’s coming again very soon and I’m kicking things off right with a free sneak peek lesson, guided by me, that starts on Monday May 5th. Have you registered for it yet? Click HERE to get registered and make sure you don’t miss out on the fun!