Saturday, December 3, 2011

in a flash...

baby boy is 18!!
today is my baby boy's 18th birthday...seems nearly impossible.  18 years in a flash!!

2 hours before jaylen made his "grand entrance"!

hello baby boy!
at disney world

proof jay really loved his momma

when my boys turned 13, i asked friends and family for their help in creating a book full of wisdom and love - they were asked to think about what they wish someone would have told them when they were 13, life lessons worth sharing, meaningful quotes, songs, poems...the end results were amazing.  what is even more amazing that these words are just as powerful (if not more so) now that jaylen is 18...
  • "be honest - good or bad.  your tongue is a powerful muscle.  if one can always trust in what you say, one will always trust you." dad
  • "do not listen only with the intent to respond, listen with the intent to understand." mom
  • "remember that what seems like incredibly hard work may in reality be an opportunity." grandma trish
  • "along with privileges of growing older comes more responsibility - but not the negative...doesn't mean your fun years are finished, they are only beginning." grandpa doug
  • "losers make excuses - winners make it happen." mac
  • "what's a hinky pinky for my older brother? ...older and bolder!" deztanie
  • "life is tough and you are just getting started, but you have to know that for any obstacle you may face, there are multiple possibilities for success.  i think that you have nothing but open roads ahead of you and i hope you realize this." aunt sara
  • "as far as advice, i have a little; treat others as you would like to be treated; smile a lot; be kind; enjoy life! if the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice." grandma ruth
words of wisdom for us you jaylen!  i know you believe that today the magic happens being 18 i am going to chose to believe it too.  this is it- make the most of it son!
peace & bliss, 
amy (mom)

Monday, November 28, 2011

music therapy

i've said it before and i'll say it again - music is therapeutic.  music has the power to change your mood, spark your motivation, or trigger a fond memory from your past.

there are days when i can't remember to pick up my child or pay a bill that is due, but darn it, i can remember every single word from a song i haven't heard since 1985 and sing along.  i may even have a story that accompanies the a matter of fact, i drive my sister and kids crazy with my incessant urge to sing the songs we hear in the same ugly monotoned singing voice no matter the seems i know them all - rock n' roll, alternative, pop, rap, r & b, new, old, everything in between...and i guess a lil' bit of country too!

as a result, my two loves became one & created a love child. a project that involved taking some of my favorite photos and pairing them with some of my favorite song lyrics...wonder if you can guess the song & the artist...enjoy!

peace & bliss,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

we are family...

"a family in harmony will prosper in everything" ~ chinese proverb
finally found a time for family pics that worked for my cousin ryan, his lovely wife, carla, and their two nature lovin' cuties!  these are two awesome people who take care of business in the adult world but are also connected and in touch with their inner kiddos - resulting in cool and creative parents.  such a fun leaf fight, izzy picking flowers & doing yoga while baby kevin pulled away bark and hunted bugs.  
this family is in harmony with nature and each other 
& i just LOVE them!
peace & bliss, 

Monday, November 21, 2011

"love the skin i'm in"!

 had a blast saturday at bliss studio! we hosted a "love the skin i'm in" picture party with a fun group of sassy sister friends - here are a few pics the ladies allowed me permission to share...

what is the "love the skin i'm in" pic party about you ask?

bliss studio believes all women should feel beautiful in their own skin, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so through the camera lens. Most women have not had the chance to see themselves in this way, but this  empowering experience allows a woman to see a glimpse of how God sees her — magnificent and exceptionally unique – just as she is.  This artwork makes a perfect gift for lovers, but it is also a gift to yourself. Be prepared to feel the power in the collective strength of a group of strong women - no matter what age, size,or life experience. i promise each sister friend will move to some level of liberation in her own way...
Things you will need for a successful party:
v An open heart
v Self Love
v A willingness to be bold, be beautiful, be you!
Tips & Warnings:
v Go overboard with fun and self-love
v If you hear voices in your head that serve to sabotage your right to feel beautiful in your own skin, MUTE them!!

if this sparks your curiosity, contact bliss studio for more information!
peace & bliss,


Friday, November 18, 2011

competition??...part 2

you might be a custom photography client if...

  • you enjoy taking a more active role in the creation of your families' memories & want truly personalized portrait art
  • you seek a photographer who reflects your style
  • you are known to budget & allot time for a custom photography session - you save to splurge from time to time to memorialize your children as they are (not posed and primped in the cookie cutter setting)
  • you realize you have a choice and value the experience as much as you appreciate the investment of photos you will cherish for years to come
(adapted from marianne drenthe)

i have loved looking at photographs for as long as i can remember.  they have the power to make me laugh, make me cry, reflect where i've been, and put in perspective where i hope to go...disagree if you may, but the family photos of my kiddos are PRICELESS!

mac & jay circa 1998 - white t's & matching plaid boxers - barefoot & tooth hanging by a thread...priceless

clothes go out of style, shoes get old & outgrown, and good food and wine are delicious in the moment...til they're gone.

photographs last forever.
peace & bliss,


Thursday, November 17, 2011

i need this...

from pinterest

maybe i would get caught up on my to do list and be able to attend to one thing at a time if i had one of these...maybe?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


so, the other day a dear friend of mine called and said you have some competition...nah? as he went on to explain, he said he was grocery shopping in meijer's and they were trying to get him to come in and take pics for $7.99 - a whole package for $7.99!  then he went on to tell them he wasn't there for pics - he was there to get milk & eggs...and if he wants pics, he's going to bliss studio!!

simply put, they are not my competition.  i "practice" custom photography...what is custom photography? photographer marianne drenthe of marmalade photography writes...

custom photography is about finding someone who will photograph your family, give you devoted 1:1 attention without worry of who is next 'in line' or the feeling of a crowded portrait studio. custom photographers will show you a gallery to highlight 'the good images that meet the photographers' creative sensibilities, often fully edited images, & are known as boutique studios...think lexus vs. hyundai, think nordstrom vs. walmart.'

custom photography is not for everyone - it requires a 'level of commitment, investment in time & money, forethought and planning on the part of the client and requires a larger time commitment for the photographer as well.'

clients who take a more active role in the creation of their families' memories have the desire to have portrait art that is truly personalized.  some even 'budget and allot time for a custom photography session.' the custom photographer takes pride in 'creating high end custom photography sessions' and realizes a great deal of time is involved...the time invested at the session is only a small portion of the time involved in this process.

there are on location, studio, mixed studio/on location, specialty location and destination type photographers. the beauty of custom photography is in the choices and in the luxury of those options. the knowledge that your final images are the result of someone caring about those moments so much that they take extra time ensuring that the artwork you receive is good enough to stand by with their name on it.  that level of quality an commitment is all but lost in the age of "mass produced" & "mass marketed." how great to sit back and allow a photographer to do this highly custom work for images you will most likely cherish for a lifetime? there is no doubt your investment will increase in value and become more priceless as the years pass...

why does custom photography cost more?
the truth of the matter is the answer to this question is multifaceted...a lot has to do with the time, equipment costs, artistic vision and reputation of the photographer not to mention expertise and the usual costs of running a legitimate business.  the cost of time, pre-session prep time, travel time to session, prep time on location, 90 minutes to two hours photographing clients, travel time from session, uploading time from cards to computer, backing up files time, editing time, prep time for online gallery, ordering time, processing order time, sorting and checking order time, shipping time, and additional phone/email time for ordering, shipment issues, quality issues.

the time spent per client can range from just under 13 hours to 19 hours...this is time dedicated to one session!  when the photographer charges $150-$300 for the photo shoot (aka session fee) you are not just paying for the two hours of session time, you are paying the photographer for 13-19 hours complete time for your session.

in addition, there are costs to maintaining a custom photography business - equipment costs (camera, lenses, digital storage mediums, and computers), lab costs, and the other costs of running a photography business...taxes, studio rent, vehicular costs, costs of advertising/marketing, costs of sample pieces, props...

the photographer who desires to be known as better/best/unparalleled reputation-wise knows that the most important thing they can do for their business is reliability and dependability. this is how reputations get built. good work is often a wonderful side product of building a good reputation.

and so i conclude...i am a custom photographer, love what i do, & take pride in my work.

meijer portrait studio is not my competition.

peace & bliss,

Monday, November 14, 2011

i'm back...again!

so busy...but so blessed!  my website is back up here with a new look that matches the bliss studio logo.  the portfolio has a few pics but will be updated soon - big ups to logoluxe - you are the best!

reblogged from tumblr :)
spent time in the studio tonight getting ready for the shoppes at main and markland holiday walk tomorrow from 5-8pm.  our little block really is quite charming...cakes, design, antiques, massages and more! maybe i'll see you there...
peace & bliss,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

wedded bliss - melissa & robbie 10.1.11

"congratulations! today is your day! you're off to great places! you're off & away!" ~dr. suess

this wedding made my heart happy...
two creative souls - two busy creative souls - who in spite of life's crazy demands, pulled off one of the most unique and cool weddings inspired by their appreciation of vintage goodies and love for art & music.  melissa stays busy as head designer for chicago sustainable women's wear label mountains of the moon, llc and as an artist & blogger for bubby and bean.  robbie is a stage manager for the band umphrey's mcghee & spends a lot of time on the road...nonetheless, their love & appreciation for each other obviously inspired their loved ones to come together and see their vision through!

my photography mentor, family friend, second momma, lynne, agreed to travel to saint charles, illinois, right outside of chicago, and shoot the wedding with me.  because the wedding venue was an eco-friendly nature center with a community garden outside, it was a little easier to talk her into it!  lynne loves to photograph nature...but weddings? umm, not so thank you lynne!! i appreciate you!

and because my future brother in law officiated this lovely event, i had the opportunity to help out with some of the last minute diy projects the day of the wedding with my sister and spend time with the bride and groom's friends and family.  listening to stories of friendship and family memories just made each photograph even more meaningful.  i know that it is not at all about me, but what a joy to be a part of such a thing!

melissa has shared several lessons learned through this diy wedding process on her blog here & here.  she even shared some words of wisdom - to relax and have fun with your wedding photos here! i am pleased to be able to share their love story through the camera lens...

casual rehearsal dinner with fun kids!  the baby gave lynne & i a run for our money...melissa went over details with sara (btw, sara is reppin' sonoma county)  while robbie worked on music selections...
rev. ralph was cool as a cucumber

ahh! the vintage goodies were definitely eye candy! flowers by my sister, sage bundles from one of mel's besties all the way from colorado & paintings created the day of the wedding from the couple's talented friend...a conspiracy of love!

the details...a drawing of the couple's beloved four legged friend, leary...donuts instead of cake on robbie's diy record "cake stands", mel's graphic designs throughout the venue, mason jars with cool straws & hand made drink stirrers... mel's sister's wedding favors - honey jars with personalized labels..."meant to bee"
i wish i could remember more details of the ceremony itself...i remember  melissa walking out to the instrumental version of guns n' roses, "sweet child of mine (and robbie is cuing the music - he was ready to marry that woman!), melissa's sister morgan reading "oh the places you'll go," & something about robbie wanting bacon every year for his birthday (melissa is vegetarian)...such personal & unique vows!

could they be any more picture perfect?  melissa looked gorgeous in her  vintage dress...and to top it off, it was her mother's wedding dress!!  and the wedding party?  so much fun!

the reception was hopping between the photo booth, drinks in the mason jars,  & the dance off between the kids to be ryan's dance much fun! and yes, that is leary - we stopped for a couple family pics before the wedding!

my wish for melissa & robbie is simply more of what they already have...friendship, love, and joy.  
peace & bliss, 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

catching up...(again)

"i'm a great believer in luck & i find the harder i work, the more i have of it." ~ abe lincoln

i was so certain that once i went from 3 jobs to 2, life would award me with time - instead, life has awarded me with opportunities & blessings.  i do feel lucky.  i love being able to travel, try new business ventures, and i especially love the people i have spent time with along the way...nonetheless, i am slacking on this blog thing.  so, here are a few collages of photographs along the way - i will spend a little more time catching up & sharing more very soon.  
peace & bliss,
1st bdays, senior pics, cute kids, white party, & promo pics

puppy love, family pics, & art show with mom's famous dammit dolls 
love, love, love - family, engagement, & wedding pics

love again - family, engagement, & more cute kids

Sunday, September 18, 2011 last

forgiveness is hard...but not impossible.  it is really hard to forgive someone when you haven't blamed them or felt angry towards them - there is always something under all that anger.  maybe it's hurt, maybe it's disappointment, frustration, or even sadness or guilt - but it's not simply anger.  if we allow ourselves to feel our way through it, the conditions for healing and moving forward begin.  if we stop prematurely and interrupt the process of feeling that anger, we run the risk of getting stuck & carrying a grudge.

if you find yourself carrying around a grudge, or perhaps some grudges, you may want to take some time to figure out the purpose of that grudge to become unstuck...

there is always a reason for a grudge & as humans we tend to justify being "stuck" - but most of the time, if you are honest with yourself, you will find that holding onto that grudge is useless and more hurtful to you than whoever or whatever you are begrudging.  want to break through and make room for joy?  feel your way through, forgive, and let your grudges go...
feels good to be last.
peace & bliss,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

note to self...

trust yourself, trust yourself, trust mantra for today.
peace & bliss,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

what's your song?

i loved me some ally mcbeal & i especially love this clip with her unconventional therapist.

inspired by this concept, i've actually encouraged many students and clients to find their song - you know, a song for those do or die moments in life when you are running low on confidence, energy, or that knock 'em dead spirit.  we all have at least one song that lifts our spirit & motivates us to face life's challenges.  it is not your "favorite song" or the most "popular song" on your current playlist - it is a song that helps you recapture a moment in time when you felt unstoppable, like a million bucks. it may make you feel like dancing, it may make you feel like crying, it may make you feel like SOMEONE out there understands you...
it is a song that sings to you.

my theme song for today...thank you james brown

peace & bliss, 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


this is a photograph i took last spring while visiting a family friend at her lake home in michigan.  it is a close up of part of an old metal chair they found in the middle of the lake, brought to the surface, and took home.  it now sits in front of her home along side the water, showcasing all it's weathered, elementally exposed glory. 

the real beauty? the hole that was created by all of the chairs experiences developed into a heart. 

anyone who knows me, knows i love a metaphor.  

this heart represents all the different the means to an end...
sometimes our hearts grow from loving, joyful experiences.  other times, it grows from painful, hurtful experiences.
nonetheless, it grows.
thank you love for giving my heart exactly what it needs - for love changes everything.
peace & bliss, 

Monday, September 5, 2011

happy :)

as you are...right now

1. feeling or showing pleasure or contentment
2. having a sense of confidence or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation)

how many times do we negate our happiness because we do not embrace our own unique beauty?  here are a few helpful hints from kitty cavalier, a burlesque dancer and instructor who helps women of all shapes, sizes,  and ages embrace the beauty within...

1. Don't try to look pretty
Owning your beauty and looking pretty are two very different things.  Looking pretty is what we do when we want other people's approval.  When we need external validation to convince us of our beauty. Owning your beauty is a much different game.  As women, our beauty is eternal, and never leaves us.  The last thing you want to do is ask yourself, "do I look beautiful right now?".  You are always beautiful. It is not something that needs to be questioned, it is a simple truth. 

2. Own your walk

A woman's walk enters the room long before she enters it herself.  Each woman's walk is different and unique, but there is one universal rule: go....slow. No matter what. Even if something catches you off guard, resist the urge to speed up as you walk away.  A Femme Vitale is in no hurry, she is always right on time. 

3. Play with your beauty

Owning your beauty is a spiritual practice. Allow your body to be the canvas of your soul.  Play with your purpose in what you wear, your clothes, your hair, your makeup, your body language.  This is not so you can "look good to others".  It is to allow the Divine to speak through you. There is not another person on Earth who has beauty like you, nor will there ever be. Don't ever waste the beauty that is uniquely yours. 

peace & bliss,

Saturday, September 3, 2011


oh and inspiration - check out melissa's other creations here...
ohhh...good glass here!
you can get one too here...

some things i think i need in my life...

but i don't want or need much.  interestingly enough, the less "stuff" i have the lighter i feel and the more i appreciate what i do have.  the bestest "things" in my life aren't things at all...thankful for all my intangible blessings!
happy saturday!
peace & bliss,

Friday, September 2, 2011

if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies...

so yesterday was my last day at a job i enjoyed for almost 11 years...the hardest part by far was saying goodbye to the kids.

i explained to the older students that out of the deep sadness i felt came an awareness of how incredibly blessed i am...blessed to be in a place and know such a group that make it SO hard to say goodbye. they are some amazing kids and because of working with them, i became brave enough to say goodbye to certain things in order to welcome new hello's.

i thought about how i could explain it to the younger kids...and then i remembered the story of the butterfly.

you know, a boy found a caterpillar and took care of him, noticed him changing, and watched him create a cocoon. the boy patiently waited for the butterfly to emerge...and one day it happened.  he saw a small hole in the cocoon and the butterfly struggling to make it out - because of the struggle, he decided to help - he cut the hole of the cocoon so the butterfly could finally emerge and it did...with a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. sadly, the butterfly was never able to fly.  he later learned that the butterfly was supposed to struggle, the struggle out of the tiny hole of the cocoon pushes the fluid from the butterfly's body into it's wings so the butterfly can fly...

we processed this a bit and i likened myself to the caterpillar, my job with the school had been my cocoon, and now i am a butterfly free to fly and explore the new possibilities and opportunities life has to offer.

i am thankful for my life experiences, appreciative of my struggles, and excited about the changes that lie ahead...because if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.

peace & bliss,
beautiful butterfly

Thursday, September 1, 2011

it's simple...

say it again sister! let the paving begin...
peace & bliss,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

change is gonna come...

one thing for certain and two things for sure - change is inevitable, but boy do we resist it! change involves 3 things:

  • a dissatisfaction with self
  • a decision to change
  • and a conscious decision & dedication to the process of growth and change...doing something

some express loneliness, despair, frustration, and loss of hope...finding reasons outside themselves for unhappiness whether it's politics, education, work, or other people.

you ever feel helpless in a hopeless situation? more intent upon looking for gloom and more willing to accept negative rather than positive? more prepared to doubt than to trust? continually living with dread for the future and disillusionment about the past? never seeing yourself as a source of this unhappiness?

you are human - the only living creature with sufficient will and intelligence to CHOOSE happiness & sadly, often choosing despair.  never questioning the doom and gloom in the world - just accepting it and never as ready to accept that life also offers unlimited potential for bliss and opportunities for joy.

the most sad are those dissatisfied with themselves, who blame others, and find comfort in their self created hopelessness - relieved of all personal responsibility.

we have to trust that we are all capable of change - "a free man is free even in the darkest prison." once you believe in the ability to change, a decision to change must follow.  one can know that something or someone is bad, hurtful, and counterintuitive to happiness, yet still pursue it relentlessly.  decision implies action to change.

lastly, change involves relearning.  all learning involves the process of relearning - "searching, finding, analyzing, evaluating, experiencing, accepting, rejecting, practice, and reinforcement" - one must be constantly "alert, watchful, patient, observant, trusting, open-minded, and not easily discouraged."

our potential for change is infinite - take advantage of it and remember through your dissatisfaction, will, and effort, a change is gonna come...
peace & bliss,

(adapted from leo buscaglia's love)

what will you will to change today?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

letting go...

such an easy concept...forgiveness + letting go = freedom

i think the only way to really learn forgiveness is to be betrayed - intellectually it makes sense, this concept of forgiveness, but it is sometimes difficult to actually feel let it go.  it is the age old disconnect between the heart and the mind. growth demands hurtful experiences in life because you are provided opportunities to practice love, feel grateful for the lesson, and move forward.

i have had my fair share of life lessons.  i've let people take advantage of me, and i have accepted way less than what i deserve. i struggle...a lot.  some of my struggles involve making choices, some are a result of the the choices i have made, and some result from the choices others make that affect my life.  i can't always control everything in my life, but i can control how i respond - i can control what i choose to hold on to and what i choose to let go.

forgiveness is liberating.  i have learned to forgive myself by learning to forgive others.  i can own all my junk and i am thankful for every problem, pressure, pain, temptation, trial, and tribulation because they were necessary in the development of me. i realize everyone else has their fair share of junk too.

i live, i learn, i love, and i let go...
peace & bliss,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"wild out" wednesday

crass but true...

um, yea...what he said. i think wednesdays may become my day to step outside my positive politically correct body & get in touch with my inner cynic.  happy hump day :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

note to self...

note to self...daily

if this doesn't put time into perspective for you, i don't know what will.  kind of sad to me that it takes a metaphor about money to realize how precious each and every new day's fooey i tell you!anyhow,  i'm ready to make the most of today.
peace & bliss, 

Monday, August 15, 2011

oh happy monday...

life is hard...keep going anyway 
yes - monday.  new day, new beginnings.  the perpetual belief that magic can happen if i start whatever  my heart and mind are set on. intentions become realities...oh happy monday! what magic will you make happen today?
peace & bliss,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

can you see me?

if you look closely, you can see me...

life has been so seems like the last year has literally flown by at record speed.  thank goodness i have pics to document the visual "footprints" down life's path.  

an old adage says that children learn much more by what you model - what you do and how you do it - rather than what you say.  my hope is that my "busyness" translates into a work ethic that teaches my kids to persevere, to make some sacrifices for the greater good, to hold on because one day all the studying and hard work will pay off...not just financially, but inside.  it feels so good to work hard for what you love and what you care about as opposed to having the "good life" fall into your lap (or at least that is what i tell myself to cope with those really crappy days - especially since i know no other way ;) ).  when you are invested with your heart & soul - your blood, sweat, & tears - it shows, and gosh darnit, people respect that.  

i see you in me and i hope that you see me in you.  all my love <3...
peace & bliss,

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

catching up...

is it even possible to get all the way caught up?

i don't think it is for me...even if i finish all the tasks i have to do, there are 10 ideas floating around my head of things that i want to do?!  it just doesn't stop...

anyway - here are a few photos from the promotional DVD i made for The Cottage Counseling Center to use at our booth at the county fair.

i really wanted the photos to communicate the uniqueness of the The Cottage Counseling Center and the creative therapeutic approaches it has to offer to clients.  i am proud to be one of the therapists on this inspired team of professionals...
seeking help is hard.  we all would like to handle life's challenges on our own, but the reality is, we don't have to.
peace & bliss,