Moving when you were in your 20's meant calling on the good graces of your friends with the promise of pizza and a case of beer. I have made many moves in my day. From across the country and back to across the hall in Lake Louise staff residence. None were super fun and typically a reminder of how much useless crap I had accumulated since the previous move. I am not one to hold on to stuff I do not need or use yet somehow I seem to accumulate and purge with every move. I have learned in my lifetime that I prefer a clean, clutter free environment. My brain is cluttered enough and if everything around me is messy and cluttered it becomes less manageable. Also with 5 dogs and 6 birds making as much mess as they possibly can daily I need to be able to clean as easily as possible. Where was I going with this? Right. The move. When we put our house up for sale this summer to pursue our dream of acreage life I knew the actual move would not be pretty. I expressed to Aaron that we are too old for beer and pizza movers and that if we made such a big move we had to budget for the full meal deal. Professional packers to pack our latest collection of useless crap, take furniture apart, move everything and put it where it needs to go in the new home. He agreed and thus our journey began. Tomorrow I will write a bit about what it is I love about small towns and why they suit and charm me. This is a tale of moving, why we should be more minimalistic and my first day of acreage life. We began our journey at a historical Church in tiny Water Valley. Rather we attempted to buy it. Yup there was and still IS a Church for sale there. I was instantly in love with the charming little home situated behind a beautiful little Church which had once been abandoned and neglected. A really cool and infinitely talented couple rescued it and spent 4 years pouring everything into restoring, rejuvenating and loving the property. The light and sound in that Church are amazing and living there, using it as a studio and running it as an event space would have suited me just perfectly. The lot was not the big acreage Aaron envisioned and the house was pretty small for the 13 of us but we went for it. Sadly there was more to it as a commercial property with zoning, not enough history as a profitable event space and lack of lenders willing to as one put it "risk foreclosing on God". Wow, ok. There were so many hoops to jump through that Aaron settled on a number that was the walk away point and it just didn't work for both parties so we walked away. I still adore that little Church and recommend anyone in this part of Alberta drive into Water Valley for a visit. I think the coolest little place to get married or have an event. In hind sight us living there would have been a disaster with no more space to run the dogs than we had in the city. Also we both like space for autonomy which is why we work. Living on top of each other with 5 dogs and 6 birds would have been tough. We wanted to be close to that area still as it was more affordable than our dream area of Bragg Creek, so the search continued. Our saint of a realtor Craig Smith (well deserved plug for him.. seriously if you need a realtor) showed us acreage after acreage and we even had an offer on one but our home in the city did not sell in time. Call it fate if you believe in that because ultimately it led us to this place exactly where we wanted to be. Nestled in the foothills and the gateway to Kananaskis mountains, Bragg Creek is my idea of heaven on earth. We got an amazing deal on 6 acres with the most perfect house with windows everywhere (perfect natural light studio) a beautiful forest, stunning views and 10 minute drive into my beloved mountains. Then came the wait for moving day. I booked packers on the 9th who would load it all up on the 10th and onto the newest chapter in life. I learned about wells and septic systems and satellite internet. We went shopping for a telephone. Like a real home phone as there is no cell phone coverage. We purged like a third of our stuff and took load after load to the dump. I miss the days in Lake Louise where I could move in an hour with a back pack and a few trips. Those were among the happiest days of my life. Everything I needed was outside. Aaron is amazing, truly wonderful in so many ways. However I would say a tad messier and more inclined to hold onto stuff 'in case'. Or I often suspect he loses stuff in mess and disorganization and buys the same type things over and over. My mom does that as well. I was determined not to bring useless stuff here with us. I am still mystified as to how all this stuff ends up existing and where it hides in my typically minimalistic and tidy home. I find that until you move you just don't realize how much stuff you actually have. As was the case of the lovely family we purchased this property from. Here is the day before we were to move in the following morning during our final walk-through. Uh oh I thought. There is no way that they were going to be out in time. Super Craig was on it though and has us contact the lawyer and got on the phone with their realtor. Rather than get too upset I felt kinda bad for them and figured that like many of us they just did not realize how much stuff they accumulated. I really try not to give negative thought any real estate in ......um there is someone walking around outside in the dark with a flashlight Ok a little scare there. Wow. I do not scare easily but that was terrifying. Turns out Aaron let Dudley and Radish out for potty and thought they would follow him to the temporary dog run (sigh) and instead they went on an acreage adventure. Now where was I. Negative thought....no real estate in my brain. Sooo watching all the packers pack up our stuff 3 days ago was a real eye opener. I felt shocked at how much crap we still had and when I saw this house in shambles I knew the family were just overwhelmed in the vast sea of their own piles of accumulated crap. They however went old school, and thought they could move 4 people and the better part of a decade worth of stuff with some friends and perhaps the promise of pizza and endless beer. Between their struggle to get out in time and our movers deciding to do 2 loads we decided that we would move the dogs and birds the next day. Aaron stayed in the city with all of them while I directed movers and tried to clear out some boxes. The movers finally left sometime in the evening as did cleaners who blessedly came out on short notice once I realized not only would we be moving in as they moved out but that they would not have time to clean. I finished cleaning and started the momentous task of unpacking. I hoped to have everything a little less chaotic for Aaron and the furramily the next day. At about midnight I decided to take a bath and relax for the first time in weeks. I noticed a slightly unpleasant odour and realized it was me. I was clever enough to set aside some extra underwear but had been wearing the same clothes for 3 days and working like a maniac. Ew. I had the most relaxing bath ever and went about trying to find which boxes may contain some clothing and bedding. I couldnt find either. There was one wardrobe box that made it into my closet. It was filled with fancy dresses and one polka dot blouse. I remembered seeing my fav old pair of navy sweat pants with the big white UBC across my bum. Perfect. For bedding I reluctantly opened the gorgeous basket my cousin/realtor had brought for us. It was so beautiful I did not want to take it apart. Made by Craig's delightful wife they are most stunning and thoughtful gift baskets ever. I saw it had a throw blanket in it so it had to be done. I spent the first night blissfully alone using the sweatpants rolled up as a pillow and covering myself with the throw blanket from our gift basket. I awoke to the silence of the country and a spectacular sunrise. I did not have any food and had to get in and help move the pets and plants. I threw on my pillow/pants, my pretty blouse and the open foot shoes I had and headed out to clear the snow from my truck. The end. I have to go finish unpacking and a million other things. Stay tuned tomorrow for some inside info and hope you had a fantabulous weekend.
Things I could have called this post. 'How the heck do moms get anything done' 'Add is my super power' 'Vomit, laundry and why I love what I do'
- 4am up Because I don't know why. May as well get some work done !
- 645am sleep fall upon me again
- 8am alarm..Google you always take care of me and wake me gently then tell me the news I don't take the time to learn otherwise
- 810am feed impatient dogs
- 830am out the door w Elvis/ Elsa to run around the botanical gardens while I wait for a client. The last team member to do headshot for from two awesome physio/ wellnessclinics in Calgary
- 9am waiting for client
- 915am client arrives. Yay she is beautiful. I think everyone is beautiful
Here are 4 of the awesome team of about 20 or so
- 10am Home. Time to feed birds clean cages
- 1020am boot up computerS (all 3 available devices so I can do as many things as I can at once to get these tasks finished )
- 1020am to 220 pm This 4 hour time slot was an Adhd whirlwind of trying to get stuff I don't always like to do FINISHED. It went something like this.
Upload and edit head shots for the final gallery. Send gallery. Make a requested change
Try to learn WordPress. I do minimum one hour a day of learning something new or figuring out something my brain does not have the bandwidth to process. I try hard to stick to this!
Then.....seo, site design, coding, Google analytics, take 4 phone calls, follow up w said phone call tasks, finish editing one of 3 family galleries on the go, schedule viewing/ reveal for said galleries. Print 6 prints (I do all my own printing as I am hyper fussy about quality and colour) while listening to tutorials
Oh fun! Go to quickly pee and clean up a dog crime spree which must have occurred while I was hyper focussed on my tasks. Comfort Dudley and clean some vomit (did I give him antibiotics without enough food?! 🤔)
Try to reply to a third of my messages, jot down 4 blog ideas, another load of laundry
Random Gif from the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk I led a couple of weeks ago.
220pm omg I haven't eaten.
225pm stagger downstairs in a haze. Damn. Dog Hair everywhere so I sweep, vacuum and move laundry along
235pm pull leftovers out of the fridge and heat up while checking eagerly checking email for bookings. So far its a 10 hour day and I have no actual money generating work
245pm take a piteous Dudley for a leash walk in the rain and high wind. Wind is my least fav weather. It sucks.
315pm Elsa is anxious to eat but first I take Chika out and give her boxes, toys and change to re-destroy the house with.
Move laundry along again and change the sheets we use to cover the off white couch as its too hairy to sit on. Reply to a few emails from the couch as my back is sore from my desk ( by the way, wtf were we thinking with a white couch )
4pm clean diarrhea likely caused by the previous mentioned crime spree. Feed birds and have a quick dance party to amuse the flock who are screaming for attention. Sit down with them to write this. Will take a break to get back to work. True story these birdies will NOT tolerate missing a dance party. I have stood with them all over me while exhausted, drunk, late, even crying so they can rest having had their daily dance party fix.
4:30pm Storm is really brewing and even blew my back door open. Now I have the pleasure of having the outdoors INDOORS. Yay. Good thing I already swept hehe
4:40pm Finish cleaning the leaves and debris. Take a call about complications with our upcoming move to the acreage. Make 5 calls and connect necessary people to one another. Phew. Back on track.
5:00pm-645pm Finish editing a second gallery and send to lovely client. She LOVES it ... Yay. My greatest pleasure is trying to create the most beautiful images someone has ever seen of themselves. This reveal did NOT dissapoint. I cry and gush with the dogs and birds on how happy that made me.
Accidentally posted this prematurely when I added this last part. I think it showed up on Facebook all unedited and spell checked. Awkward.
Posting this now and heading upstairs to tackle the poor carpet and then begin editing the next gallery and start vision boards for the 2 sessions this week. Dogs are sleeping. Birds are happily flying around and I am listening to the rolling thunderstorm as I prepare to head up for hour 15 of non stop action. To be repeated. xoxox
Notice how just as you go to capture a captivating image of your canine companion (I love alliteration )they
- Look away
- Give derp face
- Suddenly have an itch
- Tongue out w squinty eyes
How annoying is THAT! Next time that happens THANK your dog for giving you polite communication signals. When we stick a camera, or a cell phone in front of fido's face they feel fear or discomfort as to them it looks like a giant dilated pupil. Dogs constantly read each others and our eyes to see what is going on. So when we hold it up and then ...GASP... put it in front of our own faces. This is uncomfortable and they are not able to read it's 'intention'.
How cute is Elsa Mae above?! She makes my heart hurt. Anyhow...those last second look aways or irresistable itches are actually very clear communication signals that they are uncomfortable and stressed. So what can you do? How have I photographed literally HUNDREDS of strange dogs and not had image after image filled with stress signals? What if I told you it is easy to condition your canine to crave camera attention? In fact, for those of you that follow the naughty sock bandit misadventures of @elvis_the_pomsky may know he is trained to give an adorable head tilt when I hold up my camera and say "say cheese. By the way don't ever say cheese for photos or ask others to. I will tackle that in a future post. Stay on topic Sandy! What? Squirrel?
In order to respect them and create the canine connection we crave (I know..groan) you must create a reason for them to overcome that instinct.
Those that have taken my workshops or had a session with me know I call it PAYING YOUR MODEL. I begin every single session by holding up my camera and a high reward treat (my go to is always Ziwipeak) and the very second they look towards my camera I mark it by saying "yes" and then I pay them! You have to have the timing perfect so they catch on quickly. Secondly, do NOT over do it. I am maybe 3 frames or shots and I back off the camera, pay my model and let them have a break. VOILA!
I would love to hear about your fur babies and see your snaps! If you have any questions or want to just say hi please comment below. Have a happy day and make a stranger smile today. You never know who really needed it.
Sandy and the pack
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