Seaside Styled Shoot

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At the heart of It’s A Colourful World and Lindy-Ann and I’s collaboration is the desire help and encourage others, especially other entrepreneurs. We were practicing “community over competition” in Kuwait, before we had even heard about the incredible cultural shift that was happening stateside in the creative world, initiated by leaders like the Rising Tide Society and conferences like the Creative @ Heart Conference.

We felt that our gifts and talents were better served by lifting others up rather than tearing them down or being jealous of their success. This is not always easy, especially for creative souls. There are definitely days when one or both of us wonder if we are fulfilling our callings or if we should throw in the towel. On those days we turn to our mentors, families, and friends and they set us straight and remind us of our focus.

{Oh, how we appreciate you all!!}

We love being that for others! We have joyfully assisted in branding, developing concepts, refining visions, and generally being sounding boards for our friends pursing their callings. Let me tell you, brainstorming ideas and concepts over coffee maybe one of my favorite ways to spend a day! A close second, would be seeing those ideas come to life.

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This past week I had the extreme pleasure of making one of those such chats happen and it was amazing! I spent a morning executing a styled product shoot for my jewelry designer friend, Ana….on the Mediterranean Sea with my gorgeous photography student and babysitter, Grace. Pinch me!

When I first met Ana, about a year and a half ago, she shared that she didn’t really know what her calling was. She knew she loved being creative, but she wasn’t sure where to focus. A few months later she was hit with loads of inspiration from her many walks on the beach collecting sea glass and started making jewelry. It is really exciting to see how much she has grown in both skills and demand. Hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed creating them!

For all you still seeking your callings and sometimes second guessing yourselves, we are cheering you on! Keep pursing your passions and, even if it just touches one life, one heart, then you have made a difference and it was worth the journey! Not to mention that there is only one of you and the world needs your unique perspective, don’t buy the lie that it doesn’t.

On that note, follow Treasures by Ana on Facebook and Instagram. It is always fun to see what she will come up with next, because, like you, each of her pieces is unique.

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Cheers,
kdg

Our Must-Have Photography Accessories

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Many of our tutorials or blog posts are inspired by mentoring conversations and workshops sessions we have with our DGRCP community of photographers. One topic that arises almost every time is “what are our ‘must-have’ accessories”. Lindy-Ann and I can only speak to the items we have used ourselves in the field, so this list is not all encompassing. That said, if you don’t see a brand or item on here that you love, share it with us! Our goal is to help others get the most out of their photography journey and build community, so we are always open to hear from you and about your experiences!
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1. UV filter There are several types of filters out there, but this specific recommendations is for protecting your lens. I have firsthand experience of when a UV filter protected my lens during traveling when I opened my bag and the filter was cracked, but my lens was safe. Filters are dependent on the diameter of your lens and there are several good brands out there, with prices range from $15-100 depending on the quality of the glass. The downside to any filter is that it is one more piece of glass for your image to go through, which can possibly degrade it. However, weighed against the potential for scratching your lens, I would use still use it.
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2. Lens pens – this is a great gift for photographers! Throw them in your bag or car and pull them out whenever you see a smudge or dust spec on your lens. They are a awesome!
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3. Flash Sadly, the kit flashes that most cameras come with have ruined many a photograph. We all have to shoot in low light settings at some point and an off-camera flash (also referred to as a “speed light”) is a huge improvement on your kit flash, with the ability to bounce light off the wall or ceilings to add diffused light to your subject. There are good third party alternatives to the main camera manufacturers that are quality products and less expensive for the novice or hobbyist photographer. That said, I highly recommend looking at your brand specifically (ie. Canon or Nikon) as the camera and flash will be able communicate well and the TTL (auto settings) will be better paired.
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4. Camera bag This is one of those subjective accessories. It is highly dependent on your style and specific needs. There is a great market of stylish bags that don’t even look like camera bags! I have had two Kelly Moore bags and I love them, plus their customer service is fantastic. Lindy-Ann has Epiphanie. One of our manly photog friends loves his ONA bag.
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5. Straps Ask any photographer and they will tell you that the strap that comes with your camera is not very forgiving and can cut into your shoulder as you wear it. I recommend getting a softer, padded, and more stylish one. They even make infinity scarf options that are soft and look great! I really like the patterns and styles from Mod Straps, another brand we really dig.
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6. Tripod There is a tripod for every possible need and use! When selecting a tripod, it is important to consider your budget, your goals (capturing yourself in the images, night photography, etc), and read reviews. Here is a link two great articles listing their recommendations: The Wire Cutter and The Shot Kit.  A gorilla pod is great for traveling, light, and malleable, I just used it over the weekend camping for a shot of our whole group! I also have a  Zomei that I use for most tasks. It is sturdy and can change from tri to monopod easily.
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7. SD cards  Using a dSLR, you will definitely need at least one of these. From personal experience it is important to have backups, so let’s say you need at least two! I recommend Sandisk or Lexar brands and you can purchase these almost anywhere. It is important to note that if you are shooting in jpgs (not RAW) the lower storage may work for you. That said, in addition to the quantity of the images the memory on the card is capable of storing, I would consider the speed of capture (looks like: 95MB/S). If your card’s writing speed is slow it will cause you to miss the in-between shots and won’t be able to keep up if you’re especially trigger happy.  I personally use 32MB and 64MB cards with high speeds of capture.
We hope this helps you as you consider your equipment needs. Just remember it is never the equipment, or the stylish accessories, that makes the photographer, it is about you and your unique perspective. Get out there and snap away friends!
Stay tuned as Lindy-Ann kicks off our new “what’s in your bag” video series, where we, and our photog friends, will share what we carry to and fro living the photog life!
Cheers,
la-kdg-signature

Tutorial: Website to App on the iPhone

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Happy #TutorialTuesday everyone! Today I’m sharing one of my favorite tricks on the iPhone. I have to give a shout out to our school’s Director of Technology, Brian, for teaching it to me after I inquired about a school app. I was hoping to simplify the process of getting onto our parent portal and this tip did the trick!

Let me know if you find it as handy as I do!

Cheers,
kdg

Strength and Beauty

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I have this friend, Vienna. She is strong. I mean physical strength combined with an inner fortitude that makes her a true force to be reckoned with. She personifies strength to me.

In the year that I have known her, she has shared her strength with me and come to my rescue more than a few times, whether it’s babysitting my boys, letting me cry it out in her van, or editing blog posts.  I can lean on her and know that my load will not break her.  She is strong enough to take it.

In the past two weekends I have watched, cheered, and photographed her as she displayed her physical prowess at the Israeli Ready For Action (RFA) CrossFit competition and participating in the Memorial Day Murph Challenge. This girl is amazing and definitely inspiring.

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We joke that she is not my first CrossFit friend {Love you, Drennans!}, but this was my first CrossFit competition and I left the stadium in awe of her dedication and her never-quit attitude. Five weeks prior to the RFA Vienna participated in the CrossFit open. Only 2 weeks into the open she contracted an insane eye infection that made light intolerable, and yet she persevered and finished 2nd in the Masters Woman division, over all of Israel, qualifying her for the RAF.

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She killed the first event of the RAF and finished first in her division and 2nd over all the woman. To be clear, she beat out women half her age! Seriously, incredible! Friday’s events proved to be a bit tougher for V, as she struggled to scale the rope with a 20lb vest, which cut into the time she had finish the other elements of the event, particularly the things she is better at; lifting heavy things. The suspense of that rope climb was so intense and she shared afterward that, when she finally hit the top, she felt the stadium shake with our cheers! Even though Friday was not as successful as Thursday had been, she was in great spirits, showing everyone that inner strength to keep moving forward.

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Saturday was full of life lessons and impactful moments as well, especially because her kids were in the crowd with us. As a mom watching a daughter cheer for her mom, I was struck with what V was teaching her children; moms are strong, do your best, and if you fail it’s going to be ok, failures are opportunities to get better, never give up, sportsmanship, and, of course, keep smiling! At four, seven, and nine, they may not see of that right now, but I have a feeling those were ideals imprinted on their little hearts.

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She ended up qualifying for the finals and obliterating the event! It was a fantastic way to end the RFA!

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Those of us that had the pleasure of cheering on our friend from the stands were in awe.

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A week later, she put herself to the test again to join thousands of other athletes around the world in honoring our fallen on Memorial Day with a CrossFit Hero WOD ‘MURPH’. Named for fallen seal, LT. Michael P. Murphy. The challenge consisted of 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups 300 squats, followed by another mile run; all done in a weighted vest. Her personal goal was to stay under 50 minutes and she finished with a 48:54. Another life lesson: set goals and reach for them with all your heart!

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired to work out after all this, I may not be jumping on the CrossFit train, but I’m ready for {a little more} action. We can call it the RFalmA for short.

More than that, I proud of my friend, for pursing her passion for fitness, for facing her fears of failing, and for preserving. Thank you Vienna for your strength in my life, in all its beauty.

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On a photography note: I was thrilled with how the images of the indoor stadium came out even with a high ISO. My only regret is not having had a telephoto lens since I did not have press access at the stadium and for when the runners were far off during the Murph. This was the first time since my yearbook days in college to shoot a sporting event. It was fun to step outside my portraiture comfort zone and challenge myself. I really liked it!

What inspires you to stay strong and work out? Share your secrets in the comments below!

In addition, to being a great friend, Vienna is also a personal trainer, so if you are in the Herzliya/Tel Aviv area and interested in getting fit with this superstar, email her at Rucksack Fitness.

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Thank you Adi Edri for capturing me getting my cheer on!

I’ll be here cheering you on too!

kdg

Dive deeper:

Rucksack Fitness

CrossFit

 The MURPH Challenge

Adi Edri Photographer

Here’s to the Volunteers

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This post is dedicated all those mamas and papas who volunteer on behalf of their children. To those of you coaching little league, helping in classrooms, volunteering with the PTA, and the other countless and thankless tasks, we salute you.

We are huge supporters of our children’s schools and both volunteered at many events thrown by our fearless parent associations. We know first hand how disheartening  negative people can be, especially those who also never seem to step up themselves to help. It can be defeating, frustrating, and just plain sad. It’s in the spirit of cultivating kindness that we had to write this post to say THANK YOU.

Thank you to all of you who have at some point borne the brunt of the naysayers and negative feedback. Who’s hard work and hours spent was ignored by the Monday morning quarterbacks and playground mom-squads.

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We also challenge those of you who have stayed on the sidelines thinking your positive thoughts were known, we encourage you to say something. Tell your people you appreciate them. A little goes a long way, and you never know who may need a little affirmation on the day you cross their path. Their hearts need to be filled up and appreciated and your words of kindness and encouragement will be welcomed!

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Anne Taintor

We also wanted to share our most recent experiences with our respective International Days. Expat communities really know how to host a good International Day! They are colourful, lively, and educational. It is a fantastic day for our kids to share in, and  learn to appreciate, other cultures and countries. It breeds tolerance and acceptance, which we all know this world could use a little more of.

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Funnily enough, we shared similar roles of logistics and graphic designers at our respective schools’ events merely a week apart. There was drama and unintentional hurt feelings, but, for the most part, both events were successful and the children, for which they are ultimately for, had a fantastic time and learned a great deal. That really is all that matters in the end, right? It’s why we volunteer for our little people. For them to have a good time, but also to show them how to serve.

International Day 2017 – Kuwait Style

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International Day 2017 – Tel Aviv Style

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We are all called to serve, in one place or another, and our children need to learn that lesson and look outside themselves, as well as recognize and appreciate the efforts of others. It would be amazing if we could teach our kids that it’s not always what we get out of this world, but it’s what we can give back to it, that matters most.

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So here’s to all of you volunteers.  We are cheering you on and supporting your efforts! A special shout out one of our favorite volunteers and crafty friends, Kate: as always, anything for you friend!

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In the spirit of John F. Kennedy’s famous words, the next time an opportunity to serve comes your way ask not what it can do for you, ask what YOU can do for your others.

Don’t forget to thank a volunteer today, they will really appreciate it!

xoxo,

la-kdg-signature

Book Review: Grace, Not Perfection – embracing simplicity, celebrating joy

A dear friend of mine came back from her December holidays and planted this book proudly on my living room table and said,“It’s beautifully designed and she’s so inspiring I just know you’ll love it.” Thanks, Viv, you were so right!

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Once upon a time, I enjoyed an amazing career in advertising for many years, traveling to countries such as Mozambique, Romania, Spain, and Lebanon to name a few. Then 3 months after getting married, I fell pregnant with my first child. I had never planned on becoming a house wife! I had never even taken Home Ec at school! After a good dose of humble pie and a whole heap of life lessons, this book was such a welcome read for me. It put into words so many of the things I have felt and faced living this new creative mom life path.

“The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home” – Harold B. Lee

Shortly after Viv shared the book with me, Katie was sharing her hurting, over committed, overwhelmed, and stressed out heart with me, and I told her she needed to read this book. It took her a few months (and more than a few nudges), but she finally ordered it. I just knew that Emily’s story, her way with words, and the gorgeous, clean design would speak to her, as it did for me.

The author, Emily Ley, is a designer, wife and mom of 3 little ones. With degrees in English, Marketing, and Public Relations, she launched her own brand in 2008. In 2011 Emily created The Simplified Planner® for busy working moms like herself and has grown from strength to strength with global success.

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Along with practical tools and tips on how to simplify your life, Emily shares her testimony. Through the stories she weaves so eloquently, the reader can see that her strength and wisdom come from her Christian faith and upbringing. It is essential to her overcoming the battle for perfection and turning her focus to gratitude and grace. It is authentic and honest, not pushy, and we believe most readers will appreciate her openness, Christian or not.

There are so many great quotes that resonated with both of us throughout the book. Some that inspired us to declutter and set priorities, and others that reaffirmed us. It is truly a wonderful book that motivates, challenges, and loves on the reader.

Here are some take aways that spoke to us and influenced us for the better:

• Perfect doesn’t always equal worthy.

• Give yourself permission to slow down.

• Fiercely guard the pages of your calendar.

• It’s ok to say NO, not just is it ok, it is very necessary.

• Make sure you are taking time for yourself so that you can pour out sweet water to your people.

• Decluttering and organizing your life will make room for more joy.

• Don’t miss the joys hidden between the grand moments in life.

• Free your hands. Lock the phone in the drawer. Everything else can wait. 

• Home days are as important as playdates.

• Eliminate distractions, especially the digital ones; they are time-suckers. Turn off notifications and check your email when you want to, and try keeping your social media app out of site.

• Grace and gratitude go hand in hand.

• Mommy guilt is a liar and comparison steals joy.

“Mommy guilt. It’s an epidemic. The working mom, the part-time mom, the stay-at-home mom, the super-mom, the room mom, the traditional mom, the modern mom, the helicopter mom, the tiger mom. No one is immune when mommy guilt rears it’s ugly head to whisper the lie that we’re somehow failing our children.” – Emily Ley

We have both recommended this book to the moms we know looking for balance, more joy, and ultimately grace in their mess. Each of them receiving it with the same gratitude that we did. Feeling liberated in knowing that WE ARE ENOUGH! 

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“Ultimately simplifying allows us to slow down enough to savor this life” – Emily Ley

So in the spirit of simplifying and pursing joy, let’s agree to not rush these days away – our kids are growing up so fast as it is. Let’s take the time to appreciate the little things, find the joy between the grand moments, pursue our calling, and a be present in each season of life. Seek Grace, not perfection.

We both highly recommend this book, so when you give it a read, tell us what you think. Did it change your perspective or inspire you?

happy reading,

la-kdg-signature

Mindful Friendship & Inspiration

I have this friend we will call her Ms. Stacy, like the kiddos do. She is a super talented and energetic. She is one of those friends you like to have around because their enthusiasm for life is infectious and encouraging, so much so, that she has the power to encourage you right into volunteering for the Parent Teacher Association (PTA),  (of which she is the president). Yup, she hooked me the first day I met her.

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In addition, to being the PTA president and a personal trainer, Ms, Stacy is a teacher. This year she started her journey into teaching a mindfulness class at the American International School here in Israel. If you haven’t heard of mindfulness yet, you will, it is reaching schools across the world now. It is a method of intentionality and meditation. In kids they are using it help them put words to their feelings, learn how to help themselves settle down, self-soothe, and a number of things I wish I had learned when I was little.

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In January, she asked me to assist her with branding her Mindfulness curriculum; of course, I was honored. Then in February she successfully launched her ‘Zen Den’ in the elementary school. Each class has a Zen Den sign to post on their door as they practice 5 minutes of mindfulness using videos she developed. The students love it! She has had parents telling her that their kids are coming home sharing what Ms. Stacy had taught them and the parents are trying it out too. I’m so proud of her; she is helping shape our kids into better, kinder, and more conscientious, intentional people.

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She is also helping and challenging me to be better. Like most moms, I am woken up in the middle of the night by children, to-do lists, or simply a sound in the house that might be the children.  In the past couple weeks I have been plagued by these wake-ups and and could not peacefully go back to sleep. When I shared this with her, she challenged me to use the mindfulness technique of equanimity. Equanimity is calmness and level-headedness. In practice it means that you allow each thought to have equal value- not right or wrong, good or bad, just all equal. She suggested that I let bombarding thoughts float like a cloud over me, to not attack them as wrong or praise them as right, but to let them be and float away. It worked. I peacefully drifted back to sleep.

The concept of mindfulness is natural for me, possibly due to my faith and prayer life, years of yoga practice, or maybe simply because I love a good visualization. For a visual person, like Lindy-Ann alluded to in her post about raising artbrains, we see everything. Providing us a description of something we can picture in our minds brings it to life in a new way. Growing up I was always told to “think before you speak” and “slow down,” but without these tools I didn’t know how to. Now in my thirties, it’s clicking and I can share these techniques with my kids establish these good foundations in their thought-life.

I asked her to share one of her Mindfulness videos with us. I hope you take a moment to try it and let us know what you think. Did it help? 

Mindful Script Credit: CounselorChelsey, TPT Photo credit: Lucinda Keeler Foster, Music credit: unknown

Namaste,

kdg

The Secret Garden

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Tucked away in the neighborhood of  Salmiya in Kuwait, just off Bagdad street, you will find The Secret Garden.

At first glance, it’s a little dusty plot of land sprinkled with colour. But then something magical draws you in.

I went on Sunday morning, with everyone heading to the office, I found myself being wonderfully distracted by the details within this carefully carved out space. There is plenty of parking and it’s really easy to find. This urban community garden took off in 2014 lead by a lady named Mimi.

The garden is a constant work in progress with the community all coming together to plant and grow and keep it alive. It’s an amazing place to teach children about plants and encourage them to participate in growing and looking after their own. With gardening taking place on most Saturdays in the cooler weather it’s a unique Kuwait experience and one that should be taken advantage of before the heat of summer lands on us with full force.

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Over the weekends this place is buzzing with people, conversations, small farmers stalls and fresh initiatives. But when the hustle and bustle dies down and the clutter of people clears, that’s when you get to take in the finer details of this special place, and that is what adds to its magic. The chairs waiting to be sat on, waiting for conversations. The freshly stitched creations waiting to be admired.

It’s in this silence that I realise that this Secret Garden is actually a lot like my Kuwait experience. My first impression was that Kuwait was this dusty plot of land, but it’s only when I embraced it with an open heart and mind that I truly started to find the hidden gems within. This garden is an environment that fosters kindness and community.

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My absolute favourite feature of this Garden is this Wall of Kindness.  I don’t know why I never knew about this wall before. If you find yourself in the area and have something you are willing to re-home, please keep this spot in mind.

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Essentially it is a unique space that has been created at the hands of the community for the benefit of the community with kindness at its core. Stop by during the quiet hours of midweek mornings to absorb the hidden gems or embrace the hustle and bustle over the weekend, there is something for everyone.

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Cheers,

la

Happy Valentine’s Day!

In honour of love day, we thought we would share some of our favourite shots from this year’s 14 shots of Love Photo Challenge.

We are so proud of our DGRCP Community and just want to thank of them for participating in the challenge.  Enjoy and stay tuned for our next challenge this spring!

lots of love,

la-kdg-signature