Her Lovely Heart

April 17, 2015

PROfile / 15 / Caroline Ingraham Lee of Woodnote Photography

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.
PROfile is a series of interviews with artists and creative souls who have built businesses around their craft and passion. We’ll dig deeper to try and find out everything you could want to know from seasoned pros who have experienced the full gamut of highs and lows that come with running a creative business.

This week we are interviewing LA-based photographer Caroline Ingraham Lee, who is the other half of husband and wife team Woodnote Photography, and whose Instagram feed has gained tens of thousands of fans with its glimpses into her life bursting with vibrant colours. Her work always delivers a punch of inspiration straight in the gut, and we are so excited to hear more about what makes her tick!

What was your first ‘proper’ job and how did you land it? Was it what you intended to do as a career?

I’ve always been a bit unconventional with jobs, I think. My first job was as a piano teacher, as music is my first love, believe it or not. I started teaching private lessons when I was 15, having up to 30 students at a time, and taught until photography became my full focus in 2012.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

Has photography always been in your blood?

Absolutely, yes. I was that girl carrying a film camera into public restrooms to take photos with friends when I was 11, 12, etc… I’m so grateful that I’ve always been obsessed with photography, because it means I have photos from moments that were very spontaneous and special. [Like the first time I hung out with Jayden in 2003.]

You work as a team of two, what are the best and worst things about working with a partner?

The best thing: we have completely different strengths and totally respect that the other person is capable of rocking that thing we can’t do ourselves. It is so rad. We couldn’t do what we do without each other. The worst thing: learning how to compartmentalise work. Turning the work off and the intimate, loving marriage on. It isn’t easy, I won’t lie. We’ve started working in separate spaces during the non-shoot days, and planning at least 2 non-working ‘dates’ a week, actually, which has renewed the fun.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

How did you know you were ready to have your own business?

Being the ‘entrepreneurial type’ since I was a teenager with my own music studio meant that the idea of having my own business didn’t scare me, but the idea that my/our photography was ‘worthy/good enough’ for us to call ourselves photographers was what intimidated me. You’ll never totally feel ready, so don’t wait.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

How did you go about starting your own business? How did you secure your first clients?

The very condensed story goes like this: I married an Australian (Jayden) in 2005 and we moved to Melbourne. This was pre-Facebook era, so I started a personal blog to keep my friends + family in the US up to date on our life in Oz. Jayden + I both took photos for fun back then, but through sharing our work on the blog, people started asking if they could hire us for shoots. The idea of taking money for taking photos freaked us out at first, but we did some small shoots here and there, and even second shot some weddings. Then, one day my friend told me that we were going to shoot her wedding. As in, she said we didn’t have a choice – she loved our work, and we were going to shoot her day. We were a bit nervous about it, but once we posted her photos online, it was all over. The inquiries kept coming, and our love for weddings, stories + love kept growing. We’ve never advertised or forced a fit with clients that aren’t right for us. I think you have to protect yourself and your art, and that means sharing a bond of trust with your clients is a non-negotiable.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

What is your typical daily routine like?

Sometimes I wish I had a routine, but I don’t at all. Some days are shoot days, some days are travel days, some days are editing/inbox days. There is nothing ‘typical’ about a week for me, but on a really good day, I eat at least 3 times, drink at least a galloon of water, and bash out a quick 25 minutes of exercise. (T25 is saving my life this year! I’m not being paid to say that, either.)

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

What traits do artists have that help with running a business?

Artists think unconventionally. Artists are usually pretty good with making it up as they go along, seeing a need and inventing something to fit the need, and renewing on the run. You need that in business, for sure.

You do weddings and editorial work, and also have a gorgeous Instagram account with lifestyle photography. Is it difficult to serve all the different types of clients at the same time?

First off, thank you! Such lovely words – I’m so grateful! I’ve found that as my creative ‘voice’ develops, I’m freer to be myself and will still click with the clients that are right for me. My Insta feed is some personal, some wedding and some lifestyle, and yet if you’re just looking at the small squares, I think it all looks pretty coherent together. My focus across the board is colour, beauty and story, and all 3 of those things are relevant in my life, my wedding couples and my lifestyle clients, too.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

What’s been the most beneficial business decision you’ve made?

To go full time! I was so terrified to trust that the clients would keep coming, and so I kept my job at another company far longer than I needed to. It is amazing how much more creative + productive you are when you aren’t giving the best of yourself to another job, and, it is really incredible how the work will continue to come in when you trust + also work your arse off. I looked back at my 3 years of working multiple jobs/almost killing myself with the 80 hour work weeks and thought, ‘Damn, I coulda done this a long time ago’.

Artists and writers often describe the compulsion to work – do you experience an overwhelming desire to create something new?

YES, which is why I love being in LA. I’m surrounded by creative people who are always willing to collaborate, which means all I have to do is send a text or two, and there’ll be someone willing to model or do hair/makeup if I get inspired to create at the last minute.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

Do you ever feel alone in your work?

No, but that is a fairly deliberate decision on my part. I love how I learn and am stretched when I work with/get to know other creatives, and so I reach out constantly. I’ve learned that feeling alone is usually more about me than it is anyone else’s deliberate effort to reject me. People are busy and people get self-absorbed sometimes, but they’re almost always keen to connect if you reach out first.

How do you relax?

I listen to Lana Del Rey in the sunshine. Or get a massage.

Where do you find inspiration?

I follow random people who inspire me on Instagram, and I listen to music and watch films. Films really, really inspire me.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?

Don’t doubt yourself so much. Don’t be a selective leader. Don’t wait for someone to earn your trust before you show them love.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like people to remember me for the way I made them feel their worth and beauty when they talked to me (or were photographed by me). I’m not there yet, but I hope to have s’more time to get there before I go.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

What’s been the best moment of your career so far?

Visiting all 7 continents in 2014 was a wild dream come true. The people, the places… they changed my life. If I had to choose a single moment, it would be doing a nude photoshoot in Antarctica. I mean, c’mon?! Even typing that sentence out makes me giggle and realise what a ridiculous dream this is.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I get to connect with incredible, inspiring, beautiful, authentic and worthy humans who trust me to tell their story. That is frickin’ magic!

What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome them?

Trusting my creative voice enough to build a portfolio that was truly ‘us’, and, trusting that our ideal clients would find us and be drawn to our authentic work. Some things take time, I’d say 3 years is the magic number to grow a new business, IF you’re hustling that whole time. Patience and hard work are definitely big ‘HOW’s in the overcoming game.

Caroline Ingraham Lee of Team Woodnote PROfile interview with Her Lovely Heart. Click through to read.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t quit.

If you could have dinner with any inspiring person (past or present), who would you choose?

Flea! The bass player from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He just really, really gets it at life.

You can see more of Caroline’s wedding work on Woodnote Photography, commercial work on Echo & Earl and follow her gorgeously colourful life via Instagram and Twitter.

Her Lovely Heart


April 14, 2015

Off to SNAP Photography Festival!

SNAP Photography Festival 2015.

I will be out of the office for a few days, as I’m off to Wales to speak at the SNAP Photography Festival. Looking forward to seeing old friends, and making some new ones, perhaps I might even see you there? If not, see you on the other side!


Her Lovely Heart


April 13, 2015

The Heart List / 4 / Ways to connect with loved ones

The Heart List: Chapter Four. Click through to get your own printable template, and to share your lists with us!

It’s time for another chapter of The Heart List. This week we want you to think of ways to reconnect with people that matter.

Here’s how it works. Below, you can download a printable pdf of the current Chapter. You can then fill yours in, blog it, and link to your blog post in the comments below, so we can all visit each others lists and get inspired!

Click here to download The Heart List: Chapter Four: Download

Chapter Four: List ways to connect with loved ones

You know how easy it is to get too busy with work, and life in general, and lose touch with friends and family. If you write up a bit of a plan of how you could connect with important people in your life, you’ll be a lot more likely to actually do it, rather than just thinking about it once in a while when you see someone’s birthday pop up on Facebook. Here’s my list, I’d love to see yours!

  1. Go home more often.
  2. Organise a get-together with old friends.
  3. Schedule a regular date night.
  4. Plan a birthday party.
  5. Reconnect with my mentors.
  6. Get to know my brothers better.
  7. Be the first to apologise.
  8. Plan a trip with a friend.
  9. Meet online friends in person.
  10. Attend more industry events.
  11. Make a list of people I’ve lost contact with, and try to reconnect with one each week.
  12. Skype more with people who are far away.
  13. Put friends and family before work.
 
Do post a link to your own list in the comments below! You can find all the lists here.
 

Her Lovely Heart


April 10, 2015

Latest from Instagram / 20

Don't worry, it'll change. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

Lately, on Instagram, we’ve tried to embrace change…

Freedom begins between the ears. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

…take responsibility for our own freedom…

Criticism is inevitable. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

…and not let the fear of criticism hold us back from sharing what makes our heart sing!

Go check out our previous Instaposts or follow our #hlhinstaquotes on Instagram. If you don’t want to miss any inspiration or latest news, make sure you’re subscribed to our weekly newsletter!

Her Lovely Heart


April 9, 2015

Quote of the Week / 30

‘Turn your wounds into wisdom.’
~ Oprah Winfrey

Oprah quote wallpaper by hand lettered for Her Lovely Heart by Jorica Glen. Click through to download!

We all get somewhat bruised and battered along the way, some more than others, but I’d like to think we always learn a little from every bump in the road.

Jorica Glen hand lettered this Quote of the Week by Oprah for us, and you can now download it as these utterly gorgeous desktop wallpapers, below.

Oprah quote wallpaper by hand lettered for Her Lovely Heart by Jorica Glen. Click through to download!
Oprah quote wallpaper by hand lettered for Her Lovely Heart by Jorica Glen. Click through to download!

Hand lettered for Her Lovely Heart by Jorica Glen.

Click here to download Quote Wallpapers by Jorica Glen: Download

Click here to see all Quote of the Week posts.
 
Do you have a design you’d like to submit for our Goodie Bag? Create one design, or example of a digital product, and email it to submissions@herlovelyheart.com with the subject line ‘Goodie Bag’. We’ll review your submission and get back to you if it’s a good fit for the site!
 

Her Lovely Heart


April 8, 2015

Style Files / 5 / Summer colour with flower patterned trousers

Summer colour with flower patterned trousers.
Trousers: ASOS | Tops: H&M | Denim jacket: Tu at Sainsbury’s

This was kind of a hard picture to take. It’s been a stressful couple of months with a lot of uncertainty, and I feel like I’ve put on loads of weight. I haven’t weighed myself, as I stopped doing that over a year ago in order to free myself from a dieting cycle, and instead started living healthier in general. I lost a fair bit of weight (judging by how big all my clothes got) as a by product of this, but now all my clothes are starting to feel tight and I’m seemingly unable to put the Ben & Jerry’s down! I really hope we’ll finally move soon so I can get back to some sort of normalcy, but in the meanwhile I will try my hardest to not judge myself when I look at a picture like this. Besides that, I’m loving these flower patterned summer trousers! And the fact that today was the first day of sandals. Woop!

If you want to see more pictures from my journey of attempting to dress more colourfully, click here.


Her Lovely Heart


April 7, 2015

Ask Marianne / 24 / How to set email boundaries

How to set boundaries and switch off from emails. Click through to read.

In this series, Her Lovely Heart founder Marianne Taylor answers some of the burning questions submitted by blog readers, spanning everything from photography and business questions to personal mantras. Read on to find out what people are longing to know about…

Q: Thanks to my iPad and iPhone I feel like I’m constantly working. I feel like I need to be checking email all the time, and replying instantly, or else I’ll appear unreliable. How can I switch off without hurting my business?

A: Oh, I hear ya! It seems like the more technology there is to help us to be more efficient, the less time we’re actually allowed to spend switching off. The point of technology is to assist us, but what’s actually happened is that you start feeling there’s an expectation for us to get more and more efficient with the aid of technology, and be constantly available. I think some of this is a change in society for sure, but some of it is also self-imposed. Because our brain likes ticking things off a never-ending list, it gets a jolt of satisfaction when we answer yet another email instantly, which keeps us trapped in that cycle. But if you really think about it, don’t you think most people would be happy to wait a little longer, say 48 hours, to get an reply? I would argue that most of us generally appreciate reliability over speed.

Change of environment

Unfortunately it seems almost impossible to try to switch off with will power alone. I think that the best way to create time away from your emails, is to change your environment. If your iPad is more for fun, like watching movies and reading books, remove your email client from it completely, and then put your phone and laptop in the cupboard for the evening so you can resist looking at them. It also pays to set some structure for your time. You are a lot less likely to reach for your phone or laptop if you have decided that 8pm until 11pm is work free time. Or if that feels too radical, start with agreeing that family dinners or activities are phone/work free times.

Communicate your boundaries

If you get stressed about not getting back to your clients instantly, communicate your boundaries clearly. All it takes is an autoresponder which says you’ll get back to enquiries within 48 hours, or even just an email signature that states your office hours. Often the fact that you have communicated your boundaries is enough for you to allow yourself be off the clock. You know you’ll get back to everyone in good time, so there’s no need to stress out about not doing it instantly.

Time buffer

There’s another advantage to not replying to emails instantly. Have you ever hit ‘send’ while still reeling from an emotional response to the email you just replied to, only to regret it once you’ve calmed down? I’m sure we all have… In general it’s good practice to always leave a bit of a buffer of time in between receiving emails and replying to them. It will help you never to reply to emails too emotionally, as you will have had time to properly digest the message and form a balanced reply.

Lastly, remember not to be too hard on yourself in your search for that elusive balance. I don’t believe balance is anything constant that can be achieved, but that there’s an ebb and flow to it. Sometimes you’ll have more time for yourself, friends and family, and at other times work takes centre stage. And that’s perfectly fine.

Click here to read all the questions & answers in this series.
Do you have a question  for Marianne? You can email your questions to submissions@herlovelyheart.com with the subject line ‘Ask Marianne’. Our favourite questions will be answered on the blog throughout this series.
 

Her Lovely Heart


April 3, 2015

Latest from Instagram / 19

Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

Lately, on Instagram, we’ve tried to stop worrying. Worrying only robs us of the joy we could be experiencing today, without really advancing us in any way…

Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

…and we’ve tried to remember that we’re all responsible for our own lives. The only action we can affect is our own…

Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

… just remember, it’s ok to strive for excellence, but don’t let the search for perfection paralyse you.

Go check out our previous Instaposts or follow us on Instagram. If you don’t want to miss any inspiration or latest news, make sure you’re subscribed to our weekly newsletter!

Her Lovely Heart


April 2, 2015

Guest Blog: Everything happens for a reason

Everything happens for a reason. Guest post by Joie Takaki.
Photographer Joie Takaki is pursuing her dream of building her own business. In this guest blog series, she shares her journey from beginner to expert with us.

As I stare up, losing myself into the deep dark abyss, the expansive night sky soon becomes a metaphoric theatrical screen. I begin introspectively pulling my favourite memories of the past year. The most pivotal moments. The proudest moments. The wildest moments. Somehow, the painful moments and major disappointments also slip through. Soon, like flickers of light, the whole year flashes through my mind. As I revisit these critical moments, I mentally pin each of these, side by side, like a virtual collage, scattered across the night sky; a yearbook only visible by my own memory and imagination. Scanning my thoughts, my mind and focus race from one event to the next. All this mental rushing about somehow leads to a surprising enlightenment. I begin to see something, something that was once invisible, starting to take shape. These mental images start to look like a sequence of events;  like a series of points with dotted connections between them. All of which, earlier this year, I could not see. At the time, when they happened, I didn’t see it because I couldn’t understand it. At the time, it didn’t make any sense. It just left me puzzled. Perhaps I was too naive, or too proud, too in denial, or I just wasn’t ready for the truth.

Now everything is translucent, crazy clear and focused. My temporary ‘tunnel vision’ giving way to the realisation that everything that had happened this past year, had actually been ‘falling into place’. Like watching a video clip replay of your life playing backwards in slow motion. Only in hindsight can I see exactly how everything had been falling into it’s perfect position, exactly as it should. I didn’t understand any of it at the time. Now I understand. Now I get it. Now everything makes sense. Every happy, bizarre, chaotic, confusing, disappointing, thrilling, dreamy, breathtaking thing that happened this year, happened in just the way it should have. They were meant to happen. Like a chain reaction; cause and effect; if ‘A’ did not occur first, ‘B’ would not exist.

In retrospect, I can now see that I had to get through all those challenges, all those emotions, all those experiences to discover what I needed to discover, and meet who I needed to meet, to get to where I needed to go.

What surprised me the most was that I burst into a smile! What’s this? Was I beaming with glee at the maddening end results of the ugly bits of this year? Yes! Indeed, I was! Then, serenity happened. I was overcome by this warm wave of gratitude. I couldn’t have been more pleased nor could I have asked for a better ending. Then I smiled, again, this time even harder.

Everything happens for a reason. Guest blog by Joie Takaki.

After this awareness, I started to see that very same pattern in everyone I was meeting. I have been meeting so many interesting and incredible people, living such dreamy lives. But once they begin to take off their layers and reveal their past; their most tormenting moments, their most agonising challenges, hearing their stories, I noticed the connections, of past and present, of cause and effect. It was exactly directly the result of those excruciating moments that lead them to their current ideal life. If Iris did not marry three times, the last one leaving her with a child, and a single mother in her twenties, she would not have met the love of her life and have her favourite person in the world in her life (her daughter). If Victoria had not moved to Italy with her mentor, who manipulated her, took advantage of her, drained her, and kicked her out, she would not have met her soulmate husband in Italy, have the most beautiful children, and start her own company making handmade goods with business partners around Europe. If Ariel wasn’t betrayed and abandoned, she would not have realised that she was actually happier without him; nor would she discover how much strength and courage she had, to rise again, to stand on her own two feet, and with no one holding her back, she was actually living the exciting life that she had always dreamed of.

It was only through their heart-wrenching struggles, disappointments, and grief, that gave birth to all the miracles. Only after fighting the most soul-smashing battles, the triumphs arise.

Relating to everything else in life; work, relationships, health, whatever it is you are going through. As soon as you start to feel like the fight is just too much, too unbearable, too fill-in-the-blank. When you want to throw your hands in the air and give up, don’t do it.  Stop and remind yourself that this very thing is happening as it should. That you have to wait it out. That the prize and the meaning behind it all is waiting for you just around the bend, just on the other side this current threshold.

In your times of darkness, you need to remember to look up at the lights.

And just hold on a little stronger, and a little longer.

Just wait… what you want, it’s coming… you just don’t know what it is yet…


Her Lovely Heart


April 1, 2015

Quote of the Week / 29

‘A promise is a cloud,
fulfilment is rain.’
~ Arabian Proverb

Hand lettered quote wallpaper by Ashley Jayne. Click through to download.

I love this quote because it gives you pause and makes you think. I interpret it as meaning that promises are easy, but what really counts is following through and being true to your word, bringing the rain that replenishes.

Ashley Jayne created beautiful hand lettered and painted desktop wallpapers of this quote of the week, which you can download below.

Hand lettered quote wallpaper by Ashley Jayne. Click through to download.
Hand lettered quote wallpaper by Ashley Jayne. Click through to download.

Hand lettered for Her Lovely Heart by Ashley Jayne.

Click here to download Quote Wallpapers by Ashley Jaybe: Download

Click here to see all Quote of the Week posts.Do you have a design you’d like to submit for our Goodie Bag? Create one design, or example of a digital product, and email it to submissions@herlovelyheart.com with the subject line ‘Goodie Bag’. We’ll review your submission and get back to you if it’s a good fit for the site!

 

Her Lovely Heart


March 31, 2015

Art to feed your eyes / 1

When I don’t have a painting on the go myself (which, in the past 20 years has been pretty much never!), I tend to go hunting for art that feeds my eyes and soul online and on Pinterest. For some reason, the older I get, the more I gravitate towards abstract art. Somehow it allows me to lose myself in the colour, texture and form, and just enjoy my own interpretation and feelings the work evokes. Here’s some artwork I’m loving at the moment, I hope it speaks to you, too!

Colourful art we're loving right now. Click through for details!
Lisa Madigan – Impossible Beauty

Colourful art we're loving right now. Click through for details!
Ammiki – Abstract Organic Shapes

Colourful art we're loving right now. Click through for details!
Lola Donoghue – Bell on a Shelf

Colourful art we're loving right now. Click through for details!
Misato Suzuki – Early Summer Rain

Colourful art we're loving right now. Click through for details!
Tchmo – Untitled Abstract

Colourful art we're loving right now. Click through for details!
Yangyang Pan – Floating Clouds

Follow us on Pinterest for more art inspiration!


Her Lovely Heart


March 30, 2015

The Heart List / 3 / Dreams big and small

The Heart List: Chapter Three. Click through to get your own printable template, and to share your lists with us!

Can you believe it’s Monday again! It’s time for yet another chapter of The Heart List.

This week I thought it would be good to take stock on our dreams. Listing your dreams, whether small or big, gives you a roadmap of where you want to be heading in life. Not only is it inspiring and motivational to remind yourself of your dreams, but it can also correct your course if you have started coasting towards a shore, which you never actually dreamed about.

Here’s how it works. Below, you can download a printable pdf of the current Chapter. You can then fill yours in, blog it, and link to your blog post in the comments below, so we can all visit each others lists and get inspired!

Click here to download The Heart List: Chapter Three: Download

Chapter Three: List your dreams, big and small

Remember not to judge your dreams, there’s no such thing as a dream too big, or one too small for that matter. Don’t worry about plausibility or probability, just let your heart guide you. An unexpected benefit of working on this list is realising how many of your former dreams you might have already achieved. Here’s my list, I’d love to see yours!

  1. Living by the sea. (Yay, coming true soon!)
  2. Having my own studio space, which would be open to other creatives.
  3. Sitting on a tropical beach, holding hands, taking stock on life.
  4. Building something big enough to inspire more people than I could imagine.
  5. Creating a series of paintings that communicate the joy creating them gives.
  6. Driving on a coastal road with wind in my hair, feeling free.
  7. Feeling confident and beautiful, comfortable in my own skin, .
  8. Being free of jealousy and feeling happy with what I’ve got.
  9. Running businesses that thrive and feed my soul.
  10. Not being afraid.
  11. Feeling truly connected with friends and family.
 
Do post a link to your own list in the comments below! You can find all the lists here.
 

Her Lovely Heart


March 27, 2015

Latest from Instagram / 18

What makes you happy. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

Lately, on Instagram, we’ve talked about recognising what makes you happy, and heading towards that…

Colouring outside the lines. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

…about not being afraid to colour outside the lines, that’s usually where magic happens…

Gratitude. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

…and always taking time to appreciate what we have and what we’ve achieved, that’s where contentment lies.

Go check out our previous Instaposts or follow us on Instagram. If you don’t want to miss any inspiration or latest news, make sure you’re subscribed to our weekly newsletter!

Her Lovely Heart


March 26, 2015

How to use relaxation techniques to tap into new ideas

Click through to read about relaxation techniques that can make you generate new ideas.

Sometimes (well, often!) you have so much on your plate that thinking clearly becomes a struggle, it’s like the noise in your head drowns out all productive thoughts. Have you ever noticed how when you decide to just take a break, go for a walk, or watch a mindless TV show, solutions start suddenly popping into your head? That’s how you know you have given your brain some space to process things, and it then comes up with this stuff almost as if the problem just solved itself. Of course that’s not the case, you put in the time to cram all the details in there yourself, but had you not allowed yourself to relax a little, you might not have ever produced that particular solution.

The good news is that this doesn’t need to happen only by accident, you can use a variety of relaxation techniques to utilise your brain in this way intentionally. I talk a lot about different techniques for generating new ideas and solutions, which really are priceless in my book, but the difference with this method is that, rather than forcing new ideas, it allows you to access solutions that are already somewhere in your mind. Cool, huh? For the best chance of this working, these are the four things to consider:

A calm environment.

Make sure that the room you are in is quiet and pleasant, and doesn’t have mountains of stuff that needs to get done in it. Or alternatively find a pretty, quiet spot outside.

Empty your mind.

If you practice meditation in any form, you’ll be familiar with the concept of trying to empty your mind. The trick is to not resist thoughts if they come, but rather let them pass through your mind without holding on to them.

Sit comfortably.

Sit in a position you know you’ll feel comfortable in for about 15 minutes, but not comfortable enough to fall asleep!

Favourite relaxation method.

If you already have a favourite technique or meditation you use regularly by all means use that, or you can try some of the ones below.

Click through to read about relaxation techniques that can make you generate new ideas.

Technique 1: mind travel

Imagine either a favourite past holiday, or a dream holiday you’d love to take. Conjure up an image of you doing something that would relax you most, maybe laying in a hammock on a beautiful verandah, looking out to the ocean, while the sun warms your skin. You can hear the sea and the seagulls and distant noise from the harbour. There may be a warm breeze, the scent of coconut sun lotion and the feel of the material of your favourite summer dress. The more specific you can be in your daydream, or more detailed in your memory, the deeper your relaxation will be. Stay on your imaginary trip for as long as it feels enjoyable, but try to do it as often as you can, preferably daily, so that your mind will make stronger links between your imagery and relaxation.

Technique 2: your sanctuary

This technique has been called many things from ‘House of Mind’ to ‘Truman’s Foxhole’, but the basic principle is the same. You can create an inner sanctuary in your mind, a place that is for you to retreat to when you crave peace and relaxation. Building something quite specific is the key, what would you ideal bolthole look like, what kind of environment would it be in, what materials is it made of? It can be just a room or a whole house, or a nest in a tree for that matter, just follow where your mind takes you. Once you have your sanctuary established make it a habit to visit it when ever you need a break from all the pressures, or when you want your mind to work on specific challenges. You can adapt your sanctuary as and when you see fit, you can add rooms, sensory elements, environments, sky’s literally the limit! I’ve heard of many examples where sporting heroes use an inner sanctuary to concentrate for a game, perhaps visualising sitting in their imaginary house on a luxurious sofa, watching themselves playing the perfect game on a huge plasma TV.

Technique 3: deep-muscle relaxation

This technique starts with the body, and the idea is to relax each of your muscle in turn. Begin by sitting comfortably and then go about systematically relaxing each muscle in sequence. Try to imagine all tension flowing out of your body as each part relaxes. You can start from the top and relax your face first, let your frown go, then move on to your jaw, then shoulders, arms, hands and each finger. Systematically relaxing all the areas of your body will help you to reach a deep state of relaxation that will make it easier for your subconscious to come through with its ideas. Remember to breath deeply and slowly from your stomach. If you are having trouble relaxing your muscles in sequence you can try imagining that you are a constructed of balloons, and one by one you’ll let the air out of the different areas, letting your balloon arms, legs, feet deflate and flatten.

I hope these techniques can get you going! You can find many more variations, and other techniques, both online and in books. Hopefully you’ll find one you feel comfortable adopting into your every day life. Not only is it good for you and your overall health to have tools for relaxing your mind and body, but it may also help you uncover what ever brilliant things your subconscious has cooked up for you!


Her Lovely Heart


March 25, 2015

Quote of the Week / 28

‘One half of knowing what you want is
knowing what you must give up before you get it.’
~ Sidney Howard

Sidney Howard quote wallpaper by Jorica Glen. Click through to download.

This quote is a beautiful reminder of the constant cycle of life. Often we need to make space for new things, whether physically or mentally. Usually it’s only when we are able to let go of things that don’t serve us any more that the things that we want right now start happening.

Jorica Glen created beautiful hand lettered and painted desktop wallpapers of this quote of the week, which you can download below.

Sidney Howard quote wallpaper by Jorica Glen. Click through to download.

Sidney Howard quote wallpaper by Jorica Glen. Click through to download.

Hand lettered for Her Lovely Heart by Jorica Glen.

Click here to download Quote Wallpapers by Jorica Glen: Download

Do you have a design you’d like to submit for our Goodie Bag? Create one design, or example of a digital product, and email it to submissions@herlovelyheart.com with the subject line ‘Goodie Bag’. We’ll review your submission and get back to you if it’s a good fit for the site!
 

Her Lovely Heart


March 24, 2015

Ask Marianne / 23 / Fighting fatigue with prioritising tasks

Fighting fatigue with prioritising tasks. Click through to read.

In this series, Her Lovely Heart founder Marianne Taylor answers some of the burning questions submitted by blog readers, spanning everything from photography and business questions to personal mantras. Read on to find out what people are longing to know about…

Q: I’m feeling utterly worn out and plagued by a fatigue I can’t seem to shake off. My to-do-list seems like an enemy I’m constantly battling without ever feeling like I’ve made any headway. How can I stop feeling so overwhelmed?

A: I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling overwhelmed! I can definitely relate at the moment, as I myself am going through some big changes, and finding it challenging to stay motivated keeping up with all the details of life and business. At times like these, I find that being very pragmatic with priorities helps a great deal. With every task, I’d urge you to go through the following list of questions and see what fits:

Does this need to be done today?

If it’s not urgent, and if it doesn’t advance other urgent tasks, it probably doesn’t need to get done today.

Does this need to be done at all?

Is it something you feel like you ought to do to help someone else? It’s ok to say no, especially when you have too much on your plate. Or is it something you’ve gotten into a habit of doing, but doesn’t actually contribute to either progress of urgent tasks, or your own well-being? If so, it’s probably something you shouldn’t be doing with your time right now.

Can someone else do this?

There’s a way to delegate many routine things, especially small monotonous tasks that don’t necessarily need your personal attention. When we talk about outsourcing most people think of business tasks such as photo editing or admin work, but it can be surprisingly cost-effective to get someone to clean your house every couple of weeks, or to do your ironing or gardening. Delegating routine households tasks can free up a lot of time and help with the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Can this be broken into smaller tasks?

If the task feels completely overwhelming, perhaps there’s a way to break it into smaller more manageable pieces. Plan a piece for every day of the week, and it might feel less intimidating to get going and finish even the scariest task by the end of week.

Can someone help with parts of the task?

If you do manage to break the task into pieces, perhaps you could delegate some of the parts to someone else, while you handle the parts that need your personal input.

Is it faster to do this now?

Sometimes fatigue builds the more we push a task forward. If it’s something that will take less than 5 minutes to do, try to do it instantly, as pushing it forward will make your time commitment, and overwhelm while thinking about it, much greater.

Can this be done somewhere else?

Could you go write that article in the garden, or answer your emails in a coffee shop? A change of environment can do wonders when you are feeling worn out.

Can this be done differently?

Try to see if you can think of a different, preferably more fun, way to tackle your task. Use colourful pens and stickers, or time your tasks to a soundtrack, anything that breaks you away from the feeling of drudgery.

Plan for fun activities

Another tricky thing about feeling fatigued is that at a time when you find it hard enough to get through your work tasks, everything else, the things you do for fun, goes out the window. It’s super important to plan time for those things you like to do outside of work, as those are the things that will fight your fatigue hardest. Even if it feels difficult, try to socialise with friends and get back to your hobbies. Set yourself small goals, such as phoning or texting one friend every day, and build up to the things you really want to do, such as attending a salsa class with your mates. Small, specific goals will be a lot more manageable than vague ambitious ones.

I hope these tips might in some small way help you to feel less overwhelmed. Remember, fatigue is temporary, this too shall pass, so remember to be kind to yourself!

Click here to read all the questions & answers in this series.
Do you have a question  for Marianne? You can email your questions to submissions@herlovelyheart.com with the subject line ‘Ask Marianne’. Our favourite questions will be answered on the blog throughout this series.
 

Her Lovely Heart


March 20, 2015

Latest from Instagram / 17

Life is responding to you. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

Lately, on Instagram, we’ve tried to highlight the importance of taking responsibility of our own path.

Easy when I want to. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

Because things get easier only when we start going into a direction we truly want to be heading to (and even then, it’s not always easy).

J.K. Rowling. Latest from the Her Lovely Heart Instagram. #hlhinstaquotes

We love this reminder from J. K. Rowling. Not only is she a living example of how it’s never too late to ‘make it’, but she also knows it’s crazy to live your life fearing failure.

Go check out our previous Instaposts or follow us on Instagram. If you don’t want to miss any inspiration or latest news, make sure you’re subscribed to our weekly newsletter!

Her Lovely Heart


March 19, 2015

How to bridge the gap between today and a ‘future me’

Beware of the future me trap. Click through to read.

Last night I got to thinking how most of my worst procrastinating moments or issues involve a picture of a future me. Whether it’s something I’m putting off doing today, like clearing my email backlog, or some bigger goal or aspiration I’m yet to tackle, there’s always this thought at the back of my mind how a future version of myself will sort all these things out, no problem. Do you know what I mean? It’s like the me I’ll be tomorrow will be super motivated and organised, and the one I’ll be next year will have it All. Figured. Out. The problem of course is that when tomorrow comes I’m still going to feel just like me, and when next year arrives, I won’t have morphed into a superwoman.

One of my big ‘future me’ projects has been painting. I have this image of me living by the sea, never in a hurry, never bogged down by emails, only sunshine and seascapes and me painting to my heart’s content. Another one has been being healthier and eating clean. The pictures of both these scenarios are very clear in my head, and I think about a future with me doing these things daily. However, today I’m feeling frantic and too busy and tired to cook, so will probably be ordering a takeaway, and I’m definitely not even entertaining the idea of having enough time to take my paints out. But, you know, maybe tomorrow’s me will get closer to actually accomplishing it all… Right?

So, the problem is, how can we bridge that gap from the me of today, to that fabulous and blissfully happy ‘future me’? I’m starting to realise that there are two parts to the process. The first part is having that clear idea of what you want your ‘future me’ to be like. Be very specific and paint as vivid a picture in your mind as you can; how will you look like, how will you feel like and what will you be doing with your time. You might have some versions already figured out, like I do, but you can get even more specific and imagine how a ‘future me’ would feel dealing with any type of task or goal you’re putting off.

The second, and most important part, is starting to act like that future me today. Even if she feels like a million miles away right this moment. The thing is, it’s the only way to ever reach that person you want to be. It’s such an important shift in your thinking, to stop assigning tasks to an imaginary ‘future me’, who might never materialise, and instead own that version of yourself right now.

From now on, every time you catch yourself thinking about how your future me will take care of something you should (or want to) be doing today, step up. Decide to be your future me now. And watch the future explode wide open in front of you.


Her Lovely Heart


March 18, 2015

Quote of the Week / 27

‘Fall seven times, stand up eight.’
~ Japanese Proverb

Free photography quote desktop wallpaper by Marianne Taylor  for Her Lovely Heart. Click through to download.

This week calls for an emergency straw. Just saying. You can download yours as a free desktop wallpaper below, or get it as a print (or even a phone case) in our shop over at Society6.

Free photography quote desktop wallpaper by Marianne Taylor  for Her Lovely Heart. Click through to download.

Designed for Her Lovely Heart by Marianne Taylor. 

Click here to download wallpaper by Marianne Taylor: Download

 
Do you have a design you’d like to submit for our Goodie Bag? Create one design, or example of a digital product, and email it to submissions@herlovelyheart.com with the subject line ‘Goodie Bag’. We’ll review your submission and get back to you if it’s a good fit for the site!
 

Her Lovely Heart


March 16, 2015

The Heart List / 2 / Your most effective stress-busters

The Heart List: Chapter Two. Click through to get your own printable template, and to share your lists with us!

Hello Monday! It’s time for the second chapter of The Heart List.

This week we’re doing some stress-busting. Personally, I’ve been really struggling in the past few weeks with keeping my stress levels in check. There’s so many unknowns and uncertainties in the air at the moment, which is always a bit of a risky time for me when it comes to staying focused, and taking care of myself. Don’t you find that at times when you need to deal with a lot of extra hassle or uncertainty, it’s the healthy habits you’ve worked hard to develop that go straight out the window first? After what feels like an endless supply of takeaway meals and pushing things I do to relax to the bottom of my list, this weekend I just felt like enough is enough.

Here’s how it works. Below, you can download a printable pdf of the current Chapter. You can then fill yours in, blog it, and link to your blog post in the comments below, so we can all visit each others lists and get inspired!

Click here to download The Heart List: Chapter Two: Download

Chapter Two: List your most effective stress-busters

So this week’s Heart List is all about reminding ourselves about the things that help us deal with stress and rejuvenate us. Having these things actually written down on paper, makes them feel as important as the never-ending to-do-list next to them. The challenge is to try to incorporate at least one of these things into every day in order to manage your general stress levels. Here’s my list, I’d love to see yours!

  1. Watching the ocean
  2. Sitting in silence and reading a book.
  3. Snuggling with cats (or the husband).
  4. Going for a swim.
  5. Laughing with a friend.
  6. Taking pictures just for fun.
  7. Getting lost in a good movie.
  8. Going for a walk in the forest or by the sea.
  9. Listening to music that moves me.
  10. Re-arranging furniture or tidying my desk.
  11. Writing a list!
  12. Painting something colourful.
  13. Sleeping in.
 
Do post a link to your own list in the comments below! You can find all the lists here.
 

Her Lovely Heart