Thursday, September 12, 2019

Lifestyle | Maddox Birthday Session

I love portrait sessions, especially when there is an adorable little love in front of me smiling and smushing cake on his cheeks the entire time (cue heart eyes!). I had so much fun photographing Maddox for his first birthday and his sweet mom and older brother. It's totally okay if as adults we do this cake smash trend too right?! Here are my favorites from their session!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

My 30th Birthday Surprise

One of my favorite, most enchanting places I've visited thus far is the Amalfi Coast and all the little towns encircling the dwindling roads. For my 30th birthday, my family decided to celebrate by having dinner in Sorrento and then sightseeing a bit.

Sorrento is about 2 hours away from my family's hometown Torrioni. When we arrived we walked by Via Comunale and just admired the view for a bit. It's actually pretty funny that my sister was trying to take a photo of me, and so ended up taking my camera. I wasn't being too cooperative because I was trying to take another photo of the water and was waiting for people to clear the area a bit. But thankfully she kept the camera because as I was turned around someone came up behind me and lightly touched my waist and said, "Ciao bella..."

I turned around and saw Danilo... right there in Sorrento on my birthday! Truthfully I don't remember seeing or hearing anyone else at that moment, because I was so in shock that he flew across the world to surprise me. I looked to the right and my whole family was there with cameras and laughing. I turned back around and Danilo got on one knee and asked me to marry him. 

My whole family knew and had been planning it since we left for Italy. I feel like I'm not one that is easily surprised, but this time they truly did an incredible job making sure I had no idea what was going on. The best part is Danilo prerecorded videos of himself back at home and would send them to me while I was in Italy. He even sent me a happy birthday video that morning before we left to Sorrento. Meanwhile, he was exploring the colosseum and eating pizza and gelato in Roma on his own adventure before coming to Sorrento!

Most girls think about how their proposal will take place. With all of the movies and books we're surrounded with, it's hard not to dream up of different scenarios for your own day. Plus I'm a wedding photographer... it's part of my job to look at all those pretty things. ;)

But I could've never dreamt up that Danilo would actually fly halfway across the world on my birthday to surprise me with my entire family in the most beautiful place. I can't thank everyone enough (especially my little sister too... I love you!!)

And with that, I came back home a little bit older, engaged, a camera filled with memories, and a full heart. Often times we want the greatest things in life to happen according to our own timeline, but God's plans always far exceed all of our expectations when we choose to trust in His timing. 

Here are my favorite photographs from our beautiful day. Guys, I'm engaged!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

30 Things to do Before 30

I turn the big 3-0 in about one month (I know, I know! I never thought this day would come), and being in the last year of my twenties, it got me all nostalgic and thinking of just how much a decade can change you, mold you, and totally direct the course of how the rest of your life will go. 

Not too long ago, I began to think about all of the things that I did, the things I wanted to have been done by now, and perhaps the most surprising of all... the things that I never thought of which became the most treasured.

I, of course, scoured the internet for lists of what should be done by 30, and while some were adventurous... none of them resonated with me. But most of all, none of them were truly fulfilling in the end and of the heart.
So without further adieu, I compiled my own list of things to do before you become 30. These things are not by any means a must (unless otherwise stated), but rather what grew me along the way and helped me realize that life isn't meant to achieve perfection, or "find oneself".

Because truthfully, you'll never find that. Instead, it'll make you run into the same wall like someone with a bag over their head... clueless as to who they are and where they are going.
But rather, growing in character, kindness, truth, and honesty... through all of the opportunities in life, good and bad.
And so here we go!

1. Don't like your job? Quit, like now.

The first one on this list is the one I struggled with all through my twenties. And I'm here to tell you, having a job that is "prestigious" to the world, but your soul is dying inside and you come home crying every other day is not worth it. No matter how much money you make. You are worth much more than what other people think of you. Society has almost brainwashed us to think we ought to have certain jobs. No. If you are a hard worker, make an honest living and are happy... it's enough. And by all means, if you need to sacrifice some time at the job before you actually leave, that's okay too. But please don't stay. It's better to be small in something you love, than making so much money and hating it. Now is a good time to figure it out and try different things before life gets difficult with the years.

2. Take care of your body.
With all the gym craze happening now and diets, workouts, etc... you can get lost and altogether give up. But you don't have to go crazy. Our bodies weren't meant for extreme workouts and diet plans. Simply find what works best for you. If you like the gym, great! If you don't, that's okay too. I grew up eating a Mediterranean diet, in which I eat everything in moderation. I don't overeat, but I also don't deprive myself. Find the balance that's right for you... in your twenties or sooner is the best time to get into a groove, which will help tremendously as you get older.

3. Lose the bad habit!
Aligning right next to health... if you have a bad habit like smoking, drinking, soda, etc... it's not good for you. Better to let go of it now, than you have to forcefully because of health issues in the future.

4. Spend time with your grandparents. 
If you are lucky to have your grandparents still around, please spend time with them. Sit with them, talk to them, eat lunch with them, ask them about their life when they were young, tell them about yours. Just because they are older doesn't mean they don't understand what you may be going through. Their wisdom is often what we need to hear.

5. Travel!
Who doesn't like to travel right?! If you can, visit places you've always wanted to see. The world is truly beautiful, and what better time than when you are young and not as many responsibilities as when you are older? But don't let it become an obsession. Travel to see the world ... not to escape your own.

6. Start that idea. 
Now is the best time to try something you always wanted... you have nothing to lose!

7. Try new hobbies.

8. Learn to cook!
This has been so fun for me I even created another blog for it: La Coltivata It's so important to know how to nourish your body and feed others too with delicious foods you can make!


9. Get financially stable.
Before bigger life decisions happen (marriage, home, baby, etc...) what will help is paying any debts that have accumulated over the years. 

10. Find a good group of friends.

Friends will come and go with the seasons, finding a group that truly love you and encourage you, hope, cry, celebrate, pray for you, and tell you when you're doing something wrong... those friends are a true treasure. 


11. Do not get into a relationship that isn't for you. 
Cute guy! Uhmmm but is he marriage material? Save your heart some trouble and look deeper than looks in a person. Character, honesty, and integrity are what will remain once you see past the sweet words and good looks.

12. Forgive and let go.
Ahh yes. People go through their whole lives harping on what "Jenny" or "Richie" did to them in high school. Forgive them. Even if they didn't ask to be forgiven. We all make mistakes, so forgive and let go. It will set YOU free. 


13. Have a teachable spirit.
Don't be the person who thinks they know it all. Truthfully there is always something new to learn and someone who knows more. Have a good and willing attitude to learn from other people. 

14. Read!

15. Don't be gossip central.

16. Humble yourself.  

The sooner you realize you're not "all that and a bag of chips"... the better off you'll be. We're all people and no one is better than anyone else. No job, money, relationship, social status can change that. Humble people are the nicest. 

17. Tap into your culture/ heritage.
Learn about your roots and where you come from.

18. Learn to speak another language. 

I truly love speaking more than one language. It's like you get to be part of more than one world. 

19. Put yourself out there.
Created something new? Show it off! Don’t be scared… you never know where it could lead.

20. Don't be a follower. 


21. Less phone time, more"real life" time.


22. Start a skin regimen! 

Your 20’s is when your skin starts showing more signs of aging… so be sure to moisturize and start a routine of serums and creams to rejuvenate and maintain that glow. 

23. Explore the area you live in. 


24. Take a class in something you're interested in, just because.


25. Know what's going on the world...

… and then do the opposite. Just because everyone in the world is going one direction or doing one thing, doesn’t mean they’re right. Do what is right, regardless of what is popular.

26. Document. 

Photograph, journal… jot down your favorite memories.

27. Sing!

It makes you joyful. :)

28. Work multiple different jobs.  

Working in different fields will give you experience with different situations and people. It will also humble you to know that no one is too good for any job and everyone starts somewhere. 

29.  Read the Word. 

Get to know who God is. I read the King James Version.


* 30.  Get Saved. *
I've left the most important one for last. If you don't read or care to do anything else on this list... please listen to me on this one and be sure to do.

While I thought I knew who God was, it wasn't until my 20's that I was saved. I thought if you went to church, and "was a good person", and "didn't do bad things"... I was okay with the Lord. That's not true.

In Romans 3:10-12 it clearly states,
// As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. //


None of us are good. Not me, not you, not your grandmother who bakes cookies and is the sweetest. Because we can't compare with each other... the Lord compares us to Himself. And in His perfection, even if we do something as 'little" as having a mean thought towards someone.... we are then just as guilty as a murderer.

Harsh you say huh?

Well yes because God is perfect and He cannot stand sin. BUT, He is also loving, and gracious, extending forgiveness... which is why He sent Himself (Jesus) to cover all of those sins we do.

So what exactly do you need to do? Contrary to what people think, going to church won't save you. Believing in lies like Buddha, Karma, etc... won't save you.

No rosaries, odd ceremonies, long prayers or anything else men invented. It's not about being your cultural religion you grew up with. It's about a relationship.

You need to repent from your sins (stop doing those things that aren't good for you whatever it is and change your life from this point forward), call out to God and ask Him to save you (kind of like you are drowning and a boat comes by and you call out to it), and then accept that Jesus died for you.

"But Barbara, why before 30? I mean I have my whole life and when I'm old for that..."

That's the thing... you don't know if you have your whole life. You don't know how long you have.

2 Corinthians 6:2
// For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. //

The day you make this decision won't magically change your life into perfect. Jesus didn't promise us that while we're here. But He did promise He'll never leave us and one day we'll live forever in eternity with Him. 

I promise you this is the most important decision you will ever make in your life, and in the end, nothing else will matter. 

Will it be hard? Yep. Will it be worth it? More than anything this world can ever offer you. 

Phew!... Well, that's it! I hope you enjoyed reading this extensive list of mine and find that some things can be helpful to your life even if you are over 30!

Thank you so much for always reading the words that I truly pour out of from my heart! ♡