Oh Boy, Here He Comes!

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Tomorrow is the day…tomorrow we meet our 3rd little man.

There have been days of wondering how we were going to do this whole birth abroad thing. In a country where we don’t speak the native language and not everyone can or is willing to speak English. I can’t tell you the relief I felt when a nurse came up to me and said, “Are you Katie?” in perfect English after we’d been waiting to meet our doctor at the hospital for our walk through.  Until then, no one had been able to help us. I hugged her!

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For the most part, I pushed these nervous feelings aside, because I knew that it was the best decision for our family, especially logistically, and I’m simply trusting that the Lord has this. That said, this whole process has truly been one big adventure. One Hebrew word I have adopted over the years is balagan. Essentially, it means a state of chaos, a hot mess, or a cluster f*@$. This word describes so many “Oh, Israel” moments so perfectly. Last Sunday, a week from our scheduled c-section, we sat in the hospital for our last check up, hearing balagan being tossed around by the maternity ward staff.  All we could do was look at each other, laugh and wait, because “this is Israel,” as they say. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Virginia anymore.

The other hard thing about delivering abroad is being far from your people back home. When one of my best friends said this was my first pregnancy she hadn’t been a part of, I ugly cried for a bit. That has been pretty tough. However, we have been surrounded by our wonderful Israel village of friends that have supported us more than we could imagine. They have cleaned, cooked, organized, loved on our boys, showered us with gifts, prayed over us, and even let me sleep on their couches when I was too tired to parent. We have felt truly blessed by these amazing people.

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They have also kept me accountable, especially this last month and half, to slow down. I’m a do-er, I tend to go all in…to a fault. Although there hasn’t been a lot of blogging this summer (sorry!!) there has been a lot of doing. So much so, that I may have overdone it…no I did, I did over do it…a few too many times. I even had a pre-term labor scare one night over Labor Day weekend and it was a wake up call that, if I wanted this little man to stay put until October 14th, then I had to stop doing all the things.  So I did, I said “no,” I hibernated, became a little anti-social, and I tried to limit myself to one outing/socializing/demanding thing a day other than parenting my boys. Obviously it worked because here we are, less than 12 or so hours from baby and now my mom is here so I can really relax! Phew!

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I think my biggest take away from this journey is how important it is to be intentional. Being intentional is not a new concept, I have even blogged on it’s importance before, but it really rang true in this season. We are meant to love fiercely, give grace, be still (I know!), choose joy, and above all trust that the Lord has this (whatever your this may be). We cannot do any of that without being intentional. Although I feel nervous about tomorrow, I’m intentionally setting my heart on higher things and trusting. Oh and praying away the BALAGAN!

I want to thank you for being a part of our community here on IACW, it has been whirlwind of year and we are looking forward to whatever may come next and #sharingthiscolourfullife together! I especially look forward to sharing our tiny man with you soon!

Cheers,

kdg

 

Capturing the End of a Chapter

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As a photographer, and an expat myself, it is my heart to capture my client’s stories for them to share with their loved ones far away and memorialize them as they were at this time, in this place. For those back home, they will get a sense of the setting and how much kids have grown.  For the families it will be how they remind their children of where they have been and reminisce about friends and experiences they made while they were there.

This is exactly what my friend, Mel, wanted when she asked me photograph her children before they moved this past summer. She had her older two photographed before they moved to Israel, and now they were closing their chapter here as a family of five.

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About a year ago my husband was flying solo at an event and met this lovely Australian couple. He came home and told me all about them and that I would really dig her. He was super impressed with her braving the summer heat of the Israel in her third trimester. He was so right, Mel is is one brave, kind, and fun-loving gal. Her laugh is infectious and she is always willing to help anyone in need. Needless to say I was honored to do the session.

Location: Herzliya Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel

Date and time: June 8:00am

Weather: Bright & Sunny

The spot I chose has this great garden and rock formation before you walk all way to the sea. It has since become one of my favorite spots. It is perfect for getting some extra texture and colors, in addition to the tans of sand and the blues of the sea. Not to mention, kids cannot help but be the pulled to the waves and play with the sand, so starting on grass is helpful. The shots we captured here are some of my favorites, the sibling love is overwhelmingly adorable!

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Often times when shooting children I use the goofball technique to help them let their guard down, but another way to do this is by using props. I suggest the kids bring any special toys we could photograph with them, putting them at ease as well as capturing the memory of the toy. Mel’s gorgeous littles each brought their most treasured stuffed animals, which are really special because these stuffies are “tragedy teds” received during hospitalizations and they can’t be replaced by look alikes! I was told they are not allowed to travel with them because if they lost them it would be forever. Gah, are they the sweetest!

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Once we made it to the sand and most of the posing was over, the real fun began for all of us. I encouraged them to jump, do cartwheels, play in the sand, and simply let them be kids.

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Overall, I adore this session on so many levels: the colors, their coordinated outfits, getting to bond with each of them separately and truly seeing each personality, and above all the sibling love!

I am so grateful when I walk away from sessions like this when I feel inspired and impassioned – knowing that one day they will look at these images to remember their life here fondly. That one day came a few months ago when I awoke to whatsapp’s from Australia with photos of new canvases mounted, and my heart swelled! This is why I do what I do. These are the clients remind me of that! Thank you Mel!!

Lesson learned: Our session was the first day of summer vacation so I had my oldest home with me as my “assistant.” Little lesson learned here, even if your client is super cool with your kiddo being there (and Mel was), for me, it is distracting. Maybe when he his older he can join me as a second shooter, but I will wait a few years. On the flip side it is fun for him to see what I do and hear him tell people that his mom takes “really good pictures.”

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We have about 18 months before the DeeGees close our Israel chapter and I can hardly believe it! If you are in Tel Aviv area and want to capture your family’s time here I would love to chat!

Cheers mates,

kdg

Once a designer, always a designer

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Seriously, you cannot turn it off! Whatever your passion, occupation, or education, you approach the world through that filter. You simply can’t help yourself! I walk into a space and move the furniture around in mind to make the flow better. In daily life I see potential photographs framed and composed. And don’t even get me started on how I see color and how happy it makes me when a group of people unwittingly coordinate.

You may already know that, although I’m a photographer and graphic artist, I went to school for interior design and worked at a commercial architecture firm, STUDIOS architecture, for 6 years before we became an expat family. Those were 6 amazing years for me. I learned and grew so much. I was blessed with fantastic mentors and work colleagues, as well as design experiences that inspired and changed me forever. There are days I’m nostalgic for the old days (and nights), my design buddies, the thrill of the creative process, and working in the city. That said, there is a season for everything, right?

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Five years later, it seems that this season will include interior design again. Thanks to my Mindfulness  buddy, Ms. Stacy, I have been tapped for my knowledge and experience in interior design..a lot. Being the exhorter that she is, she has shared the work we have done together on her house and her fabulous classroom. Thanks to her recommendations, I have space planned a few residential interiors, as well as the office of our Head of School, and consulted on ways to update the Elementary School office.

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Now I’m honored to teach and guide a group of High Schoolers that manage our campus Genius Bar as they design their newly renovated space. (Think student-run help desk a la Apple Store.) So far, we have had three workshops or, as we say in design, charrettes, with their teacher advisor as well as my buddy Brian, the Director of Technology (my guru who taught me the “faux app” trick). The students have been really receptive to learning about the process and it is so fun for me to share my knowledge and experience with them! I will recap our design adventure in the coming months, so stay tuned!

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I don’t know where all this design work will lead me to next, but I’m enjoying the journey and the memories.

On a side note: If you are in a place where you have a set of skills or knowledge that you don’t know what to do with, I say share them. Let me encourage you to volunteer those skills, talents, and knowledge. You never know what could come of it. We believe “stay-at-home” parents, particularly, are an untapped resource. Not only were we all something else before we had little people, those little people have made us better with perspective and, believe it or not, wisdom. Talk about the old days with your friends, your school, your kids, and just maybe it will put you on a path to your new purpose. Be encouraged, we are cheering for you!

with love,

kdg

Home is where {a piece} of your heart is

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“I have so many feelings!” This is my exclamation when my beloved husband asks what’s up? I am a jumbled up, hot mess of feelings these days. We are heading back to Tel Aviv soon and I’m excited for this next year and the adventures awaiting us there and of course getting to see our pup – every dog makes us miss her. That said, my heart is breaking just a little, all over again.

They say “home is where your heart is.” If that is true, my heart has been left in pieces around the world in the hands of our family and treasured friends, with most of those pieces in Virginia. Oh, the bittersweet life of an expat!

I’m typing as we weave our way around the the streets of our old neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia pointing out favorite spots to the boys and my nose is tingling. It was a good life we lived here. Our boys were born here. As you can imagine, there are so many memories flooding back. We truly loved living off the beautiful George Washington Parkway, all the colonial brick buildings and streets of Old Town, and the small town feel right outside the metropolis of our Nation’s capitol. Oh the feelings!

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Although Alexandria was a literal home for us and holds our little family’s history, there are pieces of our heart scattered across the state.

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Warrenton, VA is where our love story began and where I tearfully moved for my senior year of High School from Kansas. It’s where I started Young Life and grew so much of my faith. It is a quaint little town that is simply booming! From old town and Main St. hosting shops and restaurants to the bustling businesses and amenities we didn’t have 15 years ago. Driving west on Route 66 to Warrenton may be a nightmare some days, but once we arrive it has so many good memories for us. Not to mention, it is on the way to the mountains.

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Visiting the Shenandoah Valley is like a family tradition. It is where I experienced my very first hike and camp adventure. There is a lot to appreciate up there including the glorious views, walking and hiking trails, well kept campsites, flora and fauna, local shops and restaurants, and the knowledgable rangers, staff, and volunteers – a couple of which we call family. I highly recommend Fall up there it is simply awe-inspiring to see all the warm tones!

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Fredericksburg, VA was my home for 4 years while I attended the University of Mary Washington. Those were great years full of laughs, learning, and growing up. Another growing town with new things every time we visit. The old town streets are charming with shops and restaurants, including one of our post college favorites, the Capitol Ale house. The college itself expanded in the decade since I graduated with new buildings and a pedestrian bridge across Route 1, and new amenities. Go Eagles!

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Williamsburg, VA holds a big chunk of our hearts from our college years. The College of William Mary, Colonial Williamsburg, Bush Gardens, and Water Country USA, are all attractions that keep us coming back annually. Williamsburg is a part of the Colonial Triangle, along with Jamestown and Yorktown and we definitely recommend checking them out and diving into all that history. In Colonial Williamsburg (CW) we visit the Cheese Shop for Virginia ham sandwiches with their special house dressing, stroll around the historic streets, and visit the W&M bookstore. Go Tribe!

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South of the Colonial Triangle is Virginia Beach and some of our favorite beach bums. From the Bay to the boardwalk there is a ton to do! We particularly enjoy playing on the shore and going mini golfing with our family and friends. Meeting at Chick’s Oyster Bar for a meal is also one of our family traditions. This is one stop on our usual tour we sadly didn’t get to make this year.

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A couple of years ago my parents moved to Woodbridge, VA near Occoquan and although I didn’t grow up in their new house, it is where one of the biggest chunks of my heart lives, which is why it feels like home just being there with my family. We spend our days relaxing and spending time on the Potomac River. It is glorious!

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Out near the mountains between Fredericksburg and the Charlottesville is Orange County, VA. This picturesque county is full of small towns and history. For us it is where our boys experience farm life – running in fields, feeding a horse, working in the garden, climbing trees, getting dirty, and a cookie jar filled with Grandma’s cookies.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of places to visit in Virginia, there are so many other towns and cities in Virginia that make the state a great place to live, explore, and adventure. There are wine and ale trails, fantastic eateries, arts and crafts, music, museums, and outdoor activities; all covered in warm hospitality with rich history. I highly recommend visiting or touring the state for lovers of all the above! For more information or help planning your trip check out the tourism site. #LoveVA

I am so thankful to call Virginia home and for all the people who loving keep the pieces of my heart here with them – I miss you all dearly!

Do you have pieces of your heart scattered around the world? How do you cope with leaving home? Travel safely everyone and cherish each moment in each place you call home.

from Virginia with love,

kdg

An American Patriot Abroad

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Growing up as a military brat has impacted my worldview in so many ways, probably most significantly when it comes to patriotism. The sight of a the American Flag makes my heart swell with pride, the National Anthem chokes me up, and I stand a little taller with my hand over my heart while reciting the pledge of allegiance. I am so thankful to my parents for instilling in my siblings and me that sense of patriotism in so many ways including the American decor around our home, always celebrating the 4th of July (especially when we lived abroad), and allowing us to be a part of our dad’s military service – I am not kidding you when I say I grew up climbing on tanks.

Isn’t my little bro a cutie with his tough guy face?

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It is a legacy that we are passing down to our children, although their perspective will be different as expatriates. By the way, when I first heard the term “expatriate” or “expat” I was appalled – moving abroad did NOT mean I was breaking up with the United States of America, ha! The term simply means a person living outside their native country for any reason, not that they don’t still love their native country. Living the expat life may even strengthen one’s patriotism as we experience life away from all that we know and love.

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It’s amazing to think that 240 years ago when the American flag was designed and made by Betsy Ross, it branded the country. Just like a company logo, we see the stars and stripes in red, white, and blue, and associate different things with it. Talk about long lasting design, right? For our boys, as with other kids I imagine, it symbolizes the US embassy, making it through customs when we fly home, where we come from, and reminds them of some of the people who love them the most. When I asked my big kid what he thought of when he saw the American flag he said: “I know where my family is, it means home.”

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As they grow up as citizens of the world, it is important for us to keep them tethered to their country, its history (the good and the bad), and a deep appreciation of the civil and military servants in our family tree. Therefore, we are intentional when we are back stateside to visit National Parks and museums, share family time and stories, and experience the conveniences like Target – ok that last one wasn’t patriotic per say, but we miss it a lot! We want them to be proud and humble to be American, to realize they come from the land of the free, and be brave, like all those heroes who have sacrificed for it.

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Today, on our Independence Day abroad, we will wear our red, white, and blue, cook out, and toast to the freedom our fore-fathers planned for us. We will share stories about our favorite past 4th of July’s and help the boys make their own memories. {Not to mention a little patriotic photo fun!}

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How will you spend your 4th? Are you stateside at a BBQ or at a fellow American expat’s celebrating? Whatever you are up to, try to snap a few patriotic images and firework shots to share in the comments! We would love to see them!

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cheers friends,

kdg

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Thanks for this adorable quilt Aunt Courtney! They love learning the US geography with it!

Check out Courtney’s amazing hand-made quilts here!

Colours of Africa – The Alexa Kirsten Story

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When my friend Kerry casually dropped 6 books on a table amongst friends, she said “Oh, I have a few books of my mom’s story, if anyone wants to read it.” I’m pretty sure I elbowed our other friend Robin out the way to be one of the first ones to read it. Sorry Robin.

The book Colours of Africa – The Alexa Kirsten Story was written by Debra Hunter and published by Hunter publishing, New Zealand, in 2013.

“We shall not cease from exploring, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time” – T.S. Eliot

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Background:

The books goes into detail of how this family started their African journey back in 1938. When Alexa’s mother, Lexie, and her best friend Faith arrived in Cape Town, South Africa from England, to start their epic adventure travelling and hitch-hiking through Africa. The British pair had very little money, but a whole lot of heart, and this was my first insight into the strength and character of the women of this family.

During the war in 1943, Lexie was a qualified physiotherapist when she met South African solider, Charles Campbell Elliot. It was love at first sight and the pair were married within 2 weeks in Tripoli, Libya. On 27 July, 1952, Alexa Helen Jessie Elliot was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa to this remarkable couple. She was their 3rd child, and first daughter. Tich, Alexa’s younger sister followed 18 months later.

When Alexa’s family moved to Knysna she met her would-be-husband, Steve Kirsten. In 1973 the couple got married in The Holy Trinity Church in Knysna.  Fun fact: this was the first building to be designed by a female Architect in Africa.

From Knysna the couple then settled in Wellington after the birth of their first child, a daughter, Kerry. Once there they went on to have a second child, Ben, and 10 years later Luke made his appearance.

“God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. And sever any tie in my heart, except the tie that binds my heart to Yours” – David Livingstone (1813-73), explorer

Monday morning, 7 February, 2005

Alexa heard a scream coming from the neighbours house and ran over to investigate. She entered the house calling out, but there was no reply. And then she saw him. A short dark male figure emerging from the shadows. He said nothing. Alexa slowly turned around and walked back towards the back door and then she felt it. She has been hit alongside the head with an old iron door stopper. She staggered and then fell to the floor. He then went on to stab her in the back of the neck 17 times. She was left for dead.

But she was not gone. She very clearly recalls herself leaving her body and rising up above the scene with a complete sense of freedom and peace. She was completely calm and pain free in that moment. But she felt something holding her down, she describes it as the Hand of God, not allowing her to rise any further. But it didn’t last, she found herself back inside her body once again, the fear and pain returning, she could see the figure running away. Her neighbour had been killed in the attack. Alexa was taken to hospital and began her very long road to recovery.

She ultimately testified in court along with many witnesses and her attacker was sentenced to life in prison. Alexa, has chosen to live a life free of hatred, filled with forgiveness and overflowing with courage. She now does public speaking, helping women who have been through crisis to bring comfort and support and she also speaks at prisons, helping to shed light and conform (I can only imagine the courage it must take to go there).

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Her Art

Alexa has always had a love for art, but even more so since her attack. Her colours are even more vivid and her illustrations even more charismatic. She is also a remarkable story teller. The biography features letters she has written to her neighbour since the attack as a form of therapy.  It’s through these letters that you start to see the true artist behind artwork. She is a very talented writer and painter.

You can view her cloth work on her Facebook page Colours of Africa Cloth or via her website.

I can’t wait to commission her to create a memory cloth for my own family; it’s a beautiful way to hold onto our stories and memories.

Thanks

My thanks go out to Alexa Kirsten for sharing your story with such strength and grace. You are truly an inspirational woman and one simply cannot come across your story and remain unchanged.

Debra Hunter, for writing Alexa’s story.

My friend Kerry for boldly sharing her mother’s story with us.

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” I begin to understand a little more of why God allowed me back and gave me another shot at life – this is indeed a violent, fearful and angry land. With so much bitterness and hatred, it is so easy to become part of the negative talk and situation. I was able to put this to these men, the fear and hatred that abounds outside the prison walls – from people who have been violated and traumatised by the things that they had done – their crimes. The ordinary people live in fear – fear for themselves and their loved ones, people who are shocked by the terrible, unbelievable awful things that happen these days.I pray with all my heart that my story, told to these, the most unlovely of men, might touch their hearts and that they may turn from their old lives, that they may make restitution with those whose lives they have destroyed, with themselves, and ultimately with God himself.” – Alexa Kirsten

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The Kirsten family still lives happily in South Africa and cherishes everyday, even Great- Grandmother Lexie is doing well at 103.4 years old!

I hope this story has inspired you as much as it did me.

xoxo,

la

Thirty-four years young

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As I bid farewell to thirty-three I have been reflecting on how I have grown this past year. We alway track our children and their development and as they grow from year to year, but somewhere along the way we forget to track our personal development. Ok, we do have annual reviews that discuss our professional development and many of us take stock of our physical status and capabilities, but I am talking about our mental and spiritual growth.

So often in conversations we discuss how life has changed or how we view situations differently than we did in our 20s or in college, but what has actually changed in us to make that true?

Reflecting on a few of my current feelings, I realize that last year I changed. The usual expat process of transition; saying see you later to family and friends and settling into your new routines is tough. We love this life, but it is not without heartache. Each move holds lessons that, if learned, will make us stronger and better at life.

Last year was especially bittersweet for our family as we had 6 months between posts abroad back home in Virginia. We cherished every moment with our family and friends, because we knew that season was short and may never happen exactly like that again. In the spirit treasuring that time with the people we love, I almost missed out on making a wonderful new friend. My parents live in a great neighborhood and my mom was convinced that one their neighbors would be the perfect friend for me. Thankfully it worked out and Kelly and I became friends and shared some fabulous times together before both of us moved away in the summer and I know we will see each other again. Lesson learned, keep your heart open to new friendships in all seasons.

In addition to the expat life lessons, parenting is one of the great refiners. Parenthood revealed to me that I don’t like to ask for help even if I am drowning. Receiving help is tough for me, because I grew up as a military brat and we pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and move on, as the saying goes, and I am stubborn. So this life lesson has been taken bit longer to learn than others. Thankfully I have been blessed with people who are stronger at saying “I will help you” than I am at saying “I’m ok.” In the past year, I literally had to go through situations where I need to ask and receive help at least once a month. Now I can truly say that I will accept help when it is offered and although I still struggle with it, I will ask for help. I also had an epiphany  about this that really made me get over myself. When we don’t let people to help us, because we think it selfish to ask, we are actually selfishly not allowing them to fulfill their calling and share their heart with us. 

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The other excruciating lesson that I am having to learn over and over is about overcommitting. It is like a compulsive disorder that makes me raise my hand when people ask for creative help! AHHH! I get involved and the perfectionist in me rears her ugly head, and there am at 2:00am working on my laptop, because a full night of sleep will come when my kids are raising my grandchildren and my to-do list is clear. Seriously, when I am in and I am all in, especially when it comes to photography and design. This last weekend of thirty-three however I made a decision to not put myself in this stress-filled space again. I am happy to report I just put my hand down, I’m actually sitting on it. I may actually be graduating from this course and moving on to conquer time management, ha!

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As you can see thirty-three was bittersweet and I grew up a little bit more. I learned to say no, and yes, to enjoy my people, to grow my circle of people, and learn from each experience good and bad. Now at thirty-four, I hope to be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, puppy mom (eek!) creative, and entrepreneur. My birthday wish this year is for all of us to be more joyful and laugh often, even at ourselves.

Cheers,

kdg

Kirrily Morris – Cultural Photographer

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I once followed Kirrily through the old souk here in Kuwait. I watched her as she engaged her targets with a polite confidence, calm and cool. They of course were all too thrilled that a little blonde Westerner wanted to take their photos. Many in return taking selfies with her which she happily played along too. “Well if I take pictures of them, why not let them take pictures of me” she said. I remember how uncomfortable I started to get when the fish market started to fill up and fight for our (her) attention and when I felt like going in the opposite direction, thinking yup this is our time to exit, she walked further into the crowd happily snapping away. It is this type of personality that is so very rare and makes this Cultural Photographer, Kirrily Morris, so very special.

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She is a mum, a wife with a business degree and someone who flirted with interior design.

Finding her passion for cultural photography she is mostly self taught, Kirrily has started studying through the New York Institute of photography where she is getting to know the finer details of her craft.

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This Aussi girl who calls the UK home, but lives in Kuwait at present, is currently working on building an image library of what makes Kuwait beautiful. I’m not talking flowers and street art (although that certainly plays a role). I’m talking real people, the soul of the country. The Culture! This is what one misses the most when they move on from this expat post, and this is what she is so beautifully photographing.

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Her work introduces one culture to another, it breaks down any social boundaries that may exist and leaves the viewer feeling attached to the subject in frame. Wanting to know more. I find myself lingering over her images trying to pick them apart, trying to make sense of it all. And I love that!

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Kirrily’s photographs are available for purchase as stock photography and artwork. She is also in the process of putting together a Kuwait photography book of her favorite images. She is very active on Instagram and you can follow her cultural journey and connect with her there  @kirrilymorrisphotography.

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I can’t wait to follow this talented, fresh photographer as she travels between Kuwait and the rest of the world capturing cultures and sharing them with us.

Cheers,

la

Creativity Meets Business Class

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When my best friend Melissa and I met at Mary Washington College (UMW, now), she was not my biggest fan. Her first impressions of me are hysterical to us now. Fast forward a decade later she is the chair of the Technology Integration Department of one of the top 10 private schools in the state of Virginia, Flint Hill School. In addition to the amazing things she does in her department, which she shares on her blog (and will with us in the future), she is also teaching a high school business course. Guess who she asked to be one of her  student entrepreneur mentors? Obviously, she is now one of my biggest fans, ha!

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I used to be a Young Life leader, and I do have a huge heart for high school kids, but it has been a little while since those days, so I was a little hesitant. I made it clear that I am a photographer and creative first and a business woman second, but she insisted that her students could really benefit from my experiences and I might learn a thing of two from their insight as well. Challenge accepted.

I had my first video conference with three very considerate and clever young men a couple  of weeks ago. Having the kids at home, it felt like a slightly awkward interview at a nursery with my littles jumping in to say “Hi” to the “big boys”….and that, gentlemen, is what it looks like to be a momepreneur.

Going forward, I will be sharing the experience here on the blog and at the same time documenting the process of merging creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit into a successful business.

The following are the questions they asked me and my uninterrupted thoughts.

How did you create your business?

I started with a Facebook page in Nov 2013. In January 2014 my family moved to Kuwait and I had my first paid session in May. Most of my clients came to me by word of mouth, which has worked over the years, however I would like to develop a strategy in the future to engage more people, as well as transition with me from post to post. I would like to figure out a formula that can quickly establish me, the photographer, in each new market.

How did you fund your business?

I started out using my personal DSLR crop frame camera, Canon 60D and as I gained income I was able to purchase more, and in some cases better equipment, including a full frame camera, Canon 6D, and MacBook Pro, as well as props. On a rare occasion I will purchase items on credit and pay it off as as soon as possible. I try pretty hard not to purchase beyond my means. Dave Ramsey would be proud.

How was your first couple years. Did you make enough money to support yourself?

My first few years were indeed better than I had anticipated, however my business was established as a secondary income for the family, not as the primary financial support to it. That said, my goal evolved from purchasing equipment to adding income to our family.  Although I do believe one can never have enough accessories 😛

How big is your business and have you ever thought of expanding?

DG is solely me, except for when I hire assistants for sessions, and of course when my husband helps me with my taxes and decision making, he is the best CFO/COO ever (and that’s not because he just says yes to everything)! I can’t forget to mention that my husband’s best friend is my awesome attroney, when I need some legal advice. (love you Is!)

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Behind the scenes with Jillian Bellamy assisting

DGRCP is a collaboration with another creative entrepreneur and photographer, Lindy-Ann. Together we have written a photography pocket guide and photoshop guide, started this blog, and we have plans and big dreams for other collaborations. We hope to grow our businesses as well as our community of photographers and creatives.

Why Tel Aviv?

With my husband’s job we move to different posts every 2-3 years. Tel Aviv is our second family tour, after two years in Kuwait.

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Did your military family upbringing help you in creating your business?

Yes. I think it has influenced my perspective on moving my business to new markets every 2-3 years. Rather than seeing it as “restarting” I think of it as “starting fresh” – an opportunity for new experiences, fresh settings, and lovely new clients. In addition to that mindset, Lindy-Ann and I have built a wonderful online Facebook community that keeps me connected to the photogs and creatives we have taught and met along the way.

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I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what ideas and inspiration come from working with these fantastic students. If nothing else, it’s causing me to look at my business from a different perspective.

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Cheers,
kdg