Last week I completed my 35th lap around the sun and since we were photographing a wedding all day, I didn’t take the time to acknowledge it.  So as a means of a belated celebration, I decided to reflect back on the beautiful ride this life has been so far.  Here’s 35 things I’ve learned about life in 35 years…

Gratitude turns what we have in to enough.  When we stop dwelling on what we don’t have and start appreciating everything we do have, happiness follows.

Nature feeds the soul.  Time spent in nature is when the chatter in my mind can rest and my senses come alive.  Nature forces us to live in the moment and let the stresses of daily life fade away.

Life as we know it can change in a split second.  We’re promised nothing, there are no guarantees.  We all know this on a fundamental level but rarely truly think about the scale of this truth.  Every day is a gift and not to be taken for granted.

Health is freedom.  I have met and read about too many people that worked and saved their entire lives just to reach retirement and be too sick, tired or overweight to enjoy it.  More than time, money or anything else, having our health is what allows us to do the things we love in life.

Put out in to the world what you want to get back and the universe will conspire.  In other words, karma is real.

Never take the little things for granted.  Last year I suffered an injury that led to me not being able to sit for three weeks.  I couldn’t drive, let alone ride in a car, I couldn’t sit at my desk or on my couch, the list goes on.  The first day I could sit again was the happiest day and a huge reminder of how many simple little luxuries we’re afforded every single day that we take for granted.

Trust your gut.  Our instincts know best.  It’s our job to listen.

Let food be thy medicine.  I have used food to heal issues that doctors couldn’t resolve.  I believe that plants, more than any pharmaceutical drug, can cure disease and lead to happy, healthy lives.

Great things lie outside our comfort zone.  Fear can either cripple us or motivate us.  I’d rather know I at least tried than wish I would have.

The greatest things in life are free.  A great hike, sitting beside a campfire, a walk with my dogs, a great conversation, laughing with my husband, time with family and friends, star-gazing.  All are wonderful and all are free.

Weight and age are just numbers.  Are you happy?  Do you feel good?  That’s all that really matters.  I wish I could go back and tell my 16 year old self this and hope that my 70 year old self remembers.

Stress is worse than worthless.  It’s destructive to both our mental and our physical health.  Either take a deep breath and accept the situation for what it is or doing something to change it.

Sugar is evil.  Last year I gave up refined sugar and it was as if my world turned right side up.  No more anxiety, depression or irritability.  Those Oreos are totally not worth it.

Our bodies are capable of so much more than we give them credit for.  Ten years ago I heard a friend of a friend ran a marathon.  I was so impressed/shocked/awed, I sent her a congratulatory card.  How in the world could someone run 26.2 miles?!  That’s insane!  I couldn’t get the thought out of my head.  Could I run a marathon?  No way.  I started out walking 2 minutes/running 1 minute for 20 minutes.  In 2011, I ran a marathon and it was the best experience of my life.

In marriage, communication is everything.  From the moment I met Mark, he would not let me leave the room if we had unresolved issues.  We always talk it out, no matter how long it takes.  It can be difficult in the moment but we always reach a resolution and never harbor anger.

Money comes and goes but time is something we can never get back.  I don’t want to get to the end of my life and think, “I was working so hard, I never really lived”.  Finding the perfect life/work balance is hard but I strive to find it everyday.

Everyone in the world is dealing with their own set of stresses and worries.  When I’m about to get angry or frustrated with someone, I remember this and it always changes my tune.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  There will always be someone smarter, fitter, cooler and more talented than me so why care about anything else than being the best version of myself.

Good friends are hard to find.  People that truly know you, accept you for who you are and will be there for you no matter what…those people are hard to find and shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Happiness is like looking for your sunglasses when they’re on your head.  We search for it in people, places and things when all along it was inside of us.

Invest in experience.  Memories made last longer than any material item money can buy.

We can change the story we tell ourselves.  “I’m OCD”, “I’m not an athlete”, “I’m high-strung”, “I don’t know how to relax”, “I could never live without xyz”.  These are all stories we tell ourselves and believe to be true but really that’s just us holding ourselves back.  We have the power to be whoever we want to be.

The past and future are figments of our imagination.  To live in the moment is to truly enjoy life. We all need to stop stressing so much about what could have been or what might be.  One of my favorite quotes “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done.  One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” -Dalai Lama

That which we choose to focus on becomes our reality.  Every morning we have the choice to focus on all the positive things about our day ahead or all the negative things.  What we choose becomes what our day is about.

It is what it is.  It’s not worth stressing about a fact that can’t be changed.

Big decisions require time.  If you feel rushed to make a big decision before knowing if it’s the right one, it’s probably not the right one.

If we learn from our mistakes, there’s no such thing as failure.  Every bump in the road is an opportunity to learn, so long as we make the effort.

Expectations breed disappointment.  When we expect certain things or outcomes from our spouses, our jobs, our family, our vacations, etc. we’re often left disappointed because they weren’t exactly what we built up in our heads.  Instead love people and experiences for what they are, not what you think they should be.

Marriage is a beautiful thing.  Finding that person that wants to be your best friend, your biggest fan and your partner-in-crime until the end…it’s the most incredible gift.  Getting to document the first day of that journey is the best damn job in the world.

I was born to create.  From the greeting cards I made and sold on the street corner when I was five (true works of art, you should have seen them ; ) to the photographs we make and deliver every week to our clients, creating is my life’s passion.  I could not be more grateful for a creative career.

Real, tangible photographs are my most prized possessions.  When I’m old and grey and my memory fails me, I’ll always have photos to look back on my life.

A hand-written thank you note will never go out of style.  My mom really hammered this one home for me as a kid and I’ve been writing thank you notes ever since.  Thanks Mom : )

Your friends and family are never too busy to hear that you care.  I often struggle finding the right words to express sympathy and concern and always fall back on the age-old excuse…I don’t want to bother them.  When I had surgery earlier this year, the texts, phone calls, flowers and visits meant the world to me.  I hope to never use that excuse again.

Life is all about perspective.  In the grand scheme of things, many of our problems and stresses are moot in comparison.  Every time I stand on top of a mountain and see the world beneath my feet, I remember I’m just a blip on this planet and am lucky just to be here.

As long as I have food, water, shelter and love in my life, I am blessed.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.

Check out more of our personal posts:

Why I love (and sometimes hate) living in the country

30 Days & 20,000+ photos: A September recap

Turning 33: Reflecting on 11 years in CA, AZ & CO


Hi there! IN Photography is us, Mark & Michele, your husband and wife team. We’re part-time wanderers, full-time photographers and lovers of all things outdoors. Twelve years ago we started this business with nothing but two photography degrees and a dream. Today we pride ourselves on delivering a superior product and exceptional client experience.

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