I often find myself wondering, “Why are we so hard on ourselves?” It may even come naturally to some of us to encourage someone else and recognize that they are beautiful, smart, kind and generous. We see this in our friends.
When it comes to our own reflections in the mirror, however, we may see a conflicting report.
We are not thin enough, not tall enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough or talented enough…
And yet, I am here to tell you (and myself) that we ARE enough.
In fact, we are more than enough – and it is time to accept who we are and love ourselves for it.
The below quote speaks to the heart of the matter.
When we recognize our own strengths and capabilities, we can begin to acknowledge who we really are. We can accept ourselves – flaws and all – and learn to love ourselves for it.
We may not be gifted in the ways that our friends and colleagues are, but we certainly have talents, abilities and skills that make us unique and special. When we accept that these unique characteristics make us who we are – we can live a life of freedom and acceptance, knowing that we have a valuable contribution to make to the world.
I am here to encourage you to stop questioning your worth. Stop worrying about the imperfections that you see in the mirror. Focus your mind and energy on the strengths, values and character that set you apart as a valued member of your family and community.
When you look beyond your limitations, you will see that you are worthy.
You are special.
There is only one of you.
And you are certainly more than enough.
The holidays are almost upon us. Remember to take some time out to relax and rejuvenate body and mind. Refocus and try these eight self-care tips to regain clarity in your life.
Holidays are about connecting with your loved ones. Make the decision to disconnect from technology and social media and reinvest your energy in cementing the meaningful relationships in your life. I always PLAN for nights without electronics. As a busy business owner, if I do not plan for it then I can feel like I can't step away.
2. Read a book
Research suggests that reading can help to reduce stress and improve focus. Invest in a good novel to expand the mind and ease away any unwanted tension. Do you have some must-reads? Drop them in the comments, I am always looking for a great new book to check out. Bonus if it comes in audio version.
It’s a therapeutic act to pen your thoughts on paper. Try it this holiday and set aside some time each day to reflect and journal. I have several journals that I use. Some for positive affirmations, some for hopes & dreams, just writing prompts, mindless babbling or what is happening deep in my soul.
Mindful deep breathing is a great way to relieve anxiety and help you relax. Focus on the act of breathing and allow your mind and body to reboot to a slower, more peaceful pace. I am a huge advocate for taking deep breaths. One way I like to do this is through guided meditation. Even if you cannot quiet your mind, these are great for getting your breathing on. Check out my favorite app - Insight Timer.
5. Get outdoors
Nature has many therapeutic benefits that are good for the body and soul. Go for a walk around your neighborhood or simply sit outside and embrace the sounds and sights of nature at work around you. I know it can be cold out there, so bundle up!
6. Eat well
Cut out junk food and choose natural wholefoods instead. Not only will you begin to feel better, but healthy food choices can also work to improve your mood, sleep, skin, hair and so much more! Remember to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water daily to stay hydrated and in peak performance! Don't forget to do your research as well. A lot of food labels are misleading.
7. Get enough sleep
Sleep is nature’s reboot system for the body. Ensure that you get at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night to keep your health in check and your energy levels high this holiday season. This is one I personally struggle with - girl I know you probably do too. But I try to set myself an alarm to go to bed at night. It is easy to get caught up and time flies.
8. Random acts of kindness
Did you know that doing a good deed for someone else has far-reaching effects and can be beneficial for both of you?! You’ll both feel happier and more positive about life. Give it a try and let kindness dictate the direction of your holiday! It does not need to be some big grand gesture. Simply smiling at someone and telling them to have a great day, leaving a little bigger tip or buying the persons coffee behind you in line.
Do you have any other great tips that help you take care of you? Drop them in the comments. I would love to hear about it.
Deidre + BJ at Wegerzyn Gardens, Ohio
Photography: Elisabeth Ashliegh / Elisabeth Ashliegh Photography
Being a modern woman is no easy feat.
As a mother, wife, career woman and so much more, we often wear many hats and mean many different things to a variety of people in our lives.
We run households and businesses.
We willingly sacrifice our time, our money, and often our sleep, to ensure that our loved ones are cared for.
For many of us, we’re the chief cook, cleaner, nurse, coach, cheerleader and more in our own homes. And we take on these roles with grace and poise – and the strength of a grounded woman who knows who she is and where she is going.
When things are hard, we don’t give up.
We push through.
We find new and better ways to do things. We leave a legacy of strength and determination for our families that we can all be proud of.
So, this is an ode to us – the strong women who, despite the obstacles, never quit. We continue to invest time and hearts in raising families and corporations.
To the women who are the problem-solvers, the mood-boosters and the everyday encourages.
To the givers – the modern women who freely share resources, time, attention, love and expertise with those in our spheres of influence.
Do not overlook your contribution to this world. You are valuable, and you are making a difference!
This Thanksgiving let us share in the gratitude we have for loving our families and pursuing our passions.
Let us be thankful for being the nurturers, givers, carers and world changers raising equally empowered children who will make a difference in this world.
To the giving women – you may know one; you may be one…
I salute you!
Tara + Ryder at Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Photography: Elisabeth Ashliegh / Elisabeth Ashliegh Photography
When you’re expecting your first child, every movement and milestone is a celebration of life and possibility. You’re filled with so much expectation, hope and the magical wonder of what life may be like with a sweet little cherub to call your own.
And then, before you know it, your newborn arrives and completely steals your heart. But just as soon as you’ve come to terms with sleepless nights and endless diapers, your tiny infant sprouts into an active and talkative toddler… who in turn develops into a curious pre-teen… who, in the blink of an eye, becomes an all-knowing and introspective adolescent.
And just like that, before your very eyes, that precious bundle you once carried in your arms has evolved into an independent soul – one who will all too soon leave home to forge their own way in this world.
You see, childhood is fleeting, and precious family moments continue to tick away. Each beautiful milestone and memory are the constant reminders of those things we will always hold dear to us.
With each passing day, our children grow taller, wiser, less needy, more self-sufficient. They develop opinions of their own. They decide for themselves what values, ideals and goals to pursue. And we’re left caught up in this whirlwind of life, through the joys and heartaches of raising a family.
So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed as a parent (and yes, you will feel this way at some point on your parenting journey) or if you find yourself wishing away time through the boundary-pushing years of a pre-teen – take heart, dear soul. Hold on to the moment. Breathe it all in. For soon enough, down the road, summer turns to fall and all too quickly, things, and people, change.
Don’t let these moments fade. Capture the memories of your loved ones through the different phases of your lives together. These may become some of your most precious possessions – the memories you have which you can pass down from one generation to the next.
Lauryn at Lost & Found Vintage Rentals Studio, Dayton, Ohio
Photography: Elisabeth Ashliegh / Elisabeth Ashliegh Photography
Some people live their life without ties to places or things. They’re perfectly happy to be wherever they’re at, and they have this amazing ability to channel their energy and find their focus in any situation.
That isn’t me.
I find comfort and peace in my surroundings.
I’ve put time and energy into my home, taking care to create a place that helps me relax, stay grounded, and shake off the worries of the world.
And I’ve done the same to my office, creating a personal space filled with things that inspire and motivate me to do my best work.
And when I’m on the road?
I believe in the importance of creating a space wherever you’re at. The first thing I do when I get to my hotel - regardless of whether I’m there for two nights or a month - is to make it feel more like my own. I crave that sense of comfort, that touch of warmth, the sense of belonging I feel when I’m truly relaxed and at ease.
I always try to travel with a few items that will help me easily personalize my space - things that hold meaning and bring me joy. It might mean I have to bring a slightly larger carry-on, but I know I’ll be much happier throughout my trip if I have my space to return to at the end of each day.
The same applies to my work space. When it’s time to move offices, I can’t just sit down at my new desk, power up my computer and dive in. I need to get comfortable, which usually means finding some small ways to make it feel more like my own. They might seem like small details to some, but the personal touches I bring to my space completely transform it for me.
So, you might be wondering - how do you actually create a space for yourself?
What does that look like?
Well, there’s no easy answer, as it’s different for everyone.
Think about the things that make you smile, bring you joy, and energize your spirit.
For some, this might be a photo that captures a favorite memory shared with family and friends.
For others, it might be a small vase of flowers, a cozy throw blanket, a fun coffee mug, a book of poems, a bar of dark chocolate - or something else entirely.
Whatever steps you take to create your space, you’ll be amazed to see how much of an impact it can truly make on your creativity and your mental well-being.
If this is something you already practice, I’d love to know what you do to create a space that feels like your own.
Share in the comments below, I want to know!
When the date night ideas in your relationship seem to dwindle, all it takes is a little creative thought to ignite a fresh spark. Here are a few fun date night ideas to help you reconnect with your loved one.
1. Plan a Games Night for Two
Dust off your old board games for a fun night indoors with your partner. Think Scrabble, Chess or any other games that you’ll both enjoy. (Ticket to Ride is one of our favorites). A little healthy competition may be good for you both and help rekindle the flame!
2. A Sunset Picnic
Pack a basket filled with your favorite treats and head outdoors for a romantic picnic for two. Find a scenic park or lakeside to enjoy the sunset or create your own intimate picnic right in the back yard! In the winter months you can plan an in car picnic at a scenic spot!
3. Join a Cooking Class
Find an interactive cooking class in your area and put your culinary skills to the test. Alternatively, source a new recipe online and plan a cooking session together at home. You’ll get to work together to create a scrumptious meal, learn a new recipe and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
4. Visit a Comedy Club
We all need some down time – especially in our relationships! Find a local comedy club and enjoy a night of banter with your partner. After all, laughter is good for the soul and can instantly help to relieve stress!
5. Plan a Couple’s Massage
We could all do with a little pamper session to help us forget the worries of everyday life. Visit a local spa or salon and book a couple’s massage to relieve tension and help you both unwind. My personal fav is The Woodhouse Spa at The Greene! Tell Allen I sent you!
6. Get Active
Get the heart racing and plan an active date such as a run or scenic hike. You could also rent bicycles and go for a ride or be brave and book a skydiving date to really get those endorphins flowing!
7. Book a Couple’s Photoshoot
Capture beautiful memories together that you can cherish forever (you had to know that was coming!). Book a couple’s photoshoot to commemorate your love and reconnect as a couple. It’s a great opportunity to dress up and invest in some quality time together.
Featured Engagement Gallery:
Jenna + Brad at Carriage Hills Metro Park, Ohio
Engaged to be married in 2019
Rearing little minds and hearts takes great courage. As a mom, I know this well. From the moment our children are born, we become their most significant support system. Such an immense task and rightfully so! Of course, we want to take extra care as we navigate this incredible parenting journey and leave our mark on what will ultimately be our legacy.
Here are five simple strategies to help you boost your child’s self-esteem & how I try to incorporate it in our home:
1. Tell your children that you love them
Research suggests that a parent’s affection will help to shape a child’s sense of happiness and security for life. Kids who grow up without affirming words of affection at home often go on to look for love in all the wrong places.
Even when my children upset or disappoint me, I reassure them that my love is unwavering.
2. Teach them how to fail
We all want our kids to be winners but there are even greater lessons to be learned through life’s failures. Teach them how to respond in times of disappointment and they will carry these values into adulthood.
My daughter has a very competitive spirit. I try to remind her that it is okay to feel disappointed, but to enjoy the process of whatever she is doing and to celebrate for others.
3. Practice what you preach
Kids are like sponges, easily sucking up what they see modeled to them daily. Be a positive role model and set the bar for expected behavior at home. According to the Illinois State University Child Care Center, credible adults inspire kids’ confidence and admiration while hypocrisy only works to disillusion children.
I own up to my kiddos when I am less than my best self, communicating to them and even apologizing to them when I fall short is an important example I want to be.
4. Listen with purpose
The simple act of listening to your child can help to build their self-esteem. Before you react or provide a solution, listen to your child intentionally and give them a safe space to openly express themselves. A child who feels ‘heard’ is more likely to grow in confidence. One small way we let our kiddos know we are listening is by giving them the floor every evening to tell us about their day.
In my home, have a ritual of going around the dinner table and listing our favorite thing of the day. I just adore watching their faces light up as they relive the best parts of their day and have our full undivided attention.
5. Capture the good times
Time is fleeting and before we know it, our kids will be grown and living their lives as independent individuals. It is so important to capture the good times and the precious memories of life at home with our kids. Frame family photographs and position this around your home. Not only will this be a constant reminder of the love shared in your home, but research also suggests that family photographs on display at home may help to reinforce your child’s position in the family. This can certainly work to boost your child’s self-esteem as they begin to acknowledge their worth as a valued member of the family.
As a photographer, you know my home is filled with beautiful prints of our family. Not only from our professional family sessions but also events throughout the year. My children love to see their photos and proudly show them to visitors.
Have tips and tricks of your own when it comes to raising self-confident littles? What other actions do you take daily to help boost your child’s self-esteem? Share it below and let’s work together to develop independent and confident little people in our homes today!
Outfits Featured: Jagged Little Edges
Photography: Elisabeth Ashliegh / Elisabeth Ashliegh Photography
Babies first year! *insert swooning* Arguably so, one could say that this is not just one session.... it is multiple. But for me it is not necessarily about the different sessions that pull me in to love everything about it... it is that sweet little baby and the opportunity to see them form from a mother's womb through the different developmental stages up to a cake smashing cutie.
Being an emotional-heart-on-your-sleeve & relationships-bring-me-purpose type of lady, I get very attached to the mommies & daddies and their little peanut. I adore watching them wiggle&waggle through a newborn session, their little eyes just taking in all of this new life around them. They sleep softly with lullabies in the background and moms and dads watching with adoration and love written all over their faces. The baby fever... oh that baby fever is strong.
When I see them again their tummy time skills are strong. I love watching their strength grow and those foreheads wrinkle as they try to look up - so interested in the world around them. Their smiles & coo's bring joy to everyone around, representing those milestones in every single photography.
At six months these little angels are working on mastering those sitting up skills and this is when they start to find me funny. This could be one of my favorite times. They laugh, they play, they take it all in and they just sit there, kings & queens of the castle and demanding our undivided adoration. They are excited and all about seeing the world.
Now the crawling has commenced and these busy bodies are all about touching (and tasting) everything they can get those cute puffy fingers on. It is non-stop-gotta-be-quick action with these little ones! Those little personalities are starting to shine through (and so are a couple teeth).
The one year - a special time. It is a memory of the moment parents never forget - the birth of their little one. The first of the first birthdays with many more to come. They are really moving now & sometimes even walking. The joy and twinkle in their eye as they are trying to work out how those arms & legs really work is such a sight to be seen. And I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of it. It is always a little extra fun when a theme is involved - cake smash, doughnut smash, milk bath. Something special to commemorate that sweet darling baby.
A beautiful journey.
The day is filled with emotions.... nervousness, excitement, romance, laughter and tears. No two are the same. The details, big & small come together in one perfectly incredible moment when two people say "I Do". The joining of two people together and a celebration of that love is such a beautiful thing.
As the photographer I am tuned in to the moments. I see her hand shake as she opens a special note to her as she is getting ready, I see the look of his face when he sees her for the first time, I hear the whispers of the guests commenting on how beautiful the flowers are and I smile with their laughter together, I might tear up a little with a heartfelt toast, and I sigh at the beauty of a special father daughter dance. I am in the moments and I love the feeling.
One of my favorite things about photography is not necessarily just throwing a few heads together and making a pretty shot. It is more than that. It is about telling a story. It is about evoking emotion. A reminder for when the details have fade away or a moment is forgotten until they look through them down the road. And a wedding Is filled with memories of family, of friends, of a time when things were different than they will become. It is a powerful reminder of the vows in which they have given to one another. And I do not take it lightly.
Photographing these memories is a true joy and I have a hard time putting in to words exactly why. Maybe it is because I love to say I was there to witness such a beautiful event, maybe it is because I know these photos will be treasured, maybe it is because I want everyone to find their happiness and maybe because I love creating beautiful art of people at their most beautiful moments. Maybe it's all of it combined.
All I know is that this is something special. This is something to be treasured for a lifetime and for the future generation to cherish. This is a celebration of love. For the world can always use a little more love in it.
Featured Wedding Gallery:
Deric + Lauryn at Willow Tree, Tipp City, Ohio
Wed on September 17, 2017
I, much like the rest of those romantics love a good proposal story. The confession & commitment of two lovers is such a beautiful thing. Engagement sessions are a symbol, a period in time where two people have committed to intertwine their lives with the promise of walking down the aisle. A promise for forever.
What is better than loving love? Who wouldn't love it? The world can be a dark and dreary place at times. A little ray of sunshine... an aura of love surrounding them is a candle in the darkness. This session is truly about them, for them, a proclamation to the world that the two of you have found each other and will never let go. And I adore it.
I adore tailoring a session to capture the most beautiful things about them individually and together.
I adore capturing them look lovingly in to each other's eyes.
I adore snapping a moment of laughter, of intimacy, of the symbolism of their love.
I just adore love.
Featured Engagement Session:
Lauren + Conor at George Rodgers Clark Park, Springfield, Ohio
Lauren and Conor are scheduled to wed on December 28, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland
Elisabeth Ashliegh Gelhar