This past summer, Sam and I held our third Ember and Solis retreat in the deserts of Utah. We chose Yonder Escalante as our home base – a camp ground nestled between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks. Along with twelve other women we collaborated, talked, laughed, and got to know each other on a distinctly deeper level. I feel we all came away feeling rejuvenated and more focused on each of our individual creative endeavors.
Portugal was never on the top of my list to visit, and boy what a mistake that was. From the second I arrived here it felt like a second home. Like a place I wanted to keep returning to forever.
The influence from nearby Morocco and Spain meant that Portugal was full of color, beautiful tiles, and textiles. The beaches were all nice sandy coves beneath grassy cliffs, sheltering you from any breeze. Clothing was always optional, and I always felt safe.
We traveled from Lisbon down south a few hours and explored several cities along the way, staying at a farm a couple hours south of Lisbon and making daily trips to local beaches.
Rooftop seafood, shopping, and exploring the tile building exteriors were a few of my favorite things here.
Croatia had history scattered throughout cities. You could sit on your home balcony and be looking through an ancient coliseum. My favorite part were the natural rocky shores with ladders going into the water. Unlike the USA where people lay on the beach.. the water here was made for swimming!
The food was also amazing, and luxury hotels, boat rentals, and cars were affordable.
We took the ferry over from Venice, rented a car and drove down the West Coast of Croatia to Split, stopping in several cities along the way. Eventually, we took a ferry to the island of Hvar which was my favorite part.
My only regret is that we didn't have more time here!
I feel so lucky to have visited Venice at a time in recent History when it was a little less crowded with tourists than the usual. The city was cleaner and emptier than I had heard stories of.
By far the best part was the canals, standing on my balcony people watching, the food, and an endless amount of Aperol Spritz's.
The Dolomites are a vast mountain range that span several countries in Europe. I visited the Italian Dolomites. We flew into Venice and picked up a car, then drove around and stayed in many different towns in the Dolomites (its a pretty big area so there was always different places to see).
The most surprising thing was how German the towns were. Most of the food was German, and everyone I met who lived locally spoke German rather than Italian.
I loved the blue lakes, the rough ridges of the mountains, the wine, the bread, the cheese. And we had perfect weather (even though the forecast said it would be storming the whole time). I guess I didnt need any of the rain jackets I packed!
When I was a kid my bedroom was lime green, yellow, pink, with 70s decor EVERWHERE. I was a little obsessed. I always dreamed of getting a vw bus but never thought it would actually happen. The dream never died but only became an actual consideration recently.
So excited to honor that piece of myself and our history and restore @thatvwbus back to her original glory. Lava lamps, 70s curtains, disco balls, and all the goodness she deserves. ✌🏽💚☯️🌸🍄
Back in October my good friend, Sam Rueter, and I held an Ember and Solis retreat with a small group of women creatives. We ran away to the seclusion of the Cascade Mountains and for three days we confronted and rewrote the narratives that we as women are told our whole lives. Throughout our time, we collaborated, talked, laughed, and got to know each other on a distinctly deeper level. I feel we all came away feeling rejuvenated and more focused on each of our individual creative endeavors.
We all arrived to That PNW Cabin on Friday afternoon. After making our introductions and sharing a bit about ourselves, we wrote down our intentions for the weekend. The rest of the day was spent collaborating on the group project we would be working on later in the weekend. Each of us shared our thoughts on various ideas we wanted to explore. We ended the night with some delicious s'mores and an in depth discussion about the themes of the retreat.
The next day, over coffee and breakfast, we talked about plans for the day ahead. We got started with a meditation circle outside in the fresh morning air. During the afternoon, we all took the time to sit with guest speakers, Alixia and Tiffany, to learn new ways to deal with anxiety and body confidence issues. We ended the day by going to a secluded spot in the rainforest to make some photos of our attendees. It was amazing to see them embrace themselves in front of the camera. Have a look below for a peak at some of those.
Our last day was dedicated to the group project that we had been collaborating on throughout the weekend. The subjects we explored were shame, vulnerability, connection, and transition. Everyone utilized their unique talents to make these photos to come to life. It truly was a collaborative project by a group of creative women who started the weekend as complete strangers.
Finally catching up on posting some old trips. This one was hard for me to get to, as one day (a long hike to Trolltunga) it rained on my hiking pack all day and I learned the hard way about not having a rain cover. I broke my Canon 5d mark iii, washed away all the stamps in my passport, and lost a ton of photos from this trip.
But, here is what was salvaged, including the whole hike to Trolltunga, and some of the smaller towns on the way there!
Take a drive with myself, Samantha Rueter, and Bri Wenke, through the gorgeous lands of Colorado and Utah as we step away from the noise of the world and reconnect with mother nature.
Do not repost photos without explicit written permission.
(c) Lindsey O, LLC 2021
Living in the PNW never gets old. I'm finally getting around to posting these photos I took at Mt. Rainier in the middle of summer. I was photographing some engagement and wedding photos here and couldn't help snap a few landscape images while I was scouting locations!
Today I'm going to share with you the watercolor supplies I purchased to start watercolors as a hobby!
If you want to check out some of my work, or purchase affordable prints, check out my shop here!
Watercolor paper has a specific texture and porosity that you will want to have versus a regular printing or sketching paper. This is so that the paint will blend, dry, and move along the paper in a desirable way. Here are some beginner papers I started with. I do most of my paintings in my sketchbook as this is my favorite way to paint, but I love the postcards if I want to give it as a gift, and the large sheets for bigger paintings.
Paints, Brushes, and Palettes
I knew that I wanted a higher quality paint and brush than what I had used growing up, but I wasn't ready to make the investment into the extremely expensive paints and brushes I saw at art shops. I did a lot of research and chose these affordable options that I thought would give me the look I was after. I am VERY satisfied and so far have no reason to upgrade!
I actually ordered the watercolor palette much later, when I realized I could mix my own colors and save them to use in future paintings. I now have this case with a ton of slots I can mix colors in, then I just let them dry up and next time I want to use them, they are ready to go with the stroke of a wet brush!
Here are a few extra fun tools I've picked up as well! The gold, white, or silver pens to add details on top of my watercolor paintings. The brush pens for watercolors on the go, or a fast "sketching" style. And masking fluid which you can paint onto the paper, and then peel off after your watercolor painting is done, leaving the untouched paper where it was left, paint free!
Written for, and posted on, Ember & Solis.
As creatives and as entrepreneurs we have special circumstances we need to prepare for. The harsh reality (that many of us have begun to face head on during the COVID-19 crisis) is that in our field, we have the potential to be without income for months or longer at any point in our careers.
The stress and hardship this can bring on hits to the core. It hurts. I hear you.
If you had 6 months to a year of income saved up for this moment, things would be less stressful, a bit easier to cope right? That would be ideal, but the question we hear so often is “How is that possible!?” We have student loans, bills to pay, investments we need to make in our business. Today I’m going to walk you through a budget plan to get your finances in order so that the next time something like this happens, you will be ready to face it head on.
Part A : Build your Reserve
The first phase I recommend, is to put any extra money into a savings account reserved for emergency situations.
“Wait.. shouldn’t I focus on paying off my debt faster or investing in my business first?”
Here’s the harsh reality. This is not the first economic recession, and it won’t be the last. We experienced one in 2008, and here we are again. As an entrepreneur or creative by choice, we have the risk that during an economic downturn we may not have income for months, for a year even. The risks are very real and they are outweighed by many rewards of owning your own business, but the risks need to be managed. That’s why I’m recommending you build up a savings account before focusing on other areas of saving and spending.
What does this look like?
First, calculate your expenses each month. These are mandatory things like rent, electricity, food, minimum payments on any debt, and gas. If you had no income - how much money would you need to make it a month? Now multiply this by 6-12 months, and this is your goal.
If you don’t have this emergency fund saved yet, I recommend not paying extra on loans (make the minimum payment only), and not spending on things you don’t need (clothes, that new car, that new lens for your photography business that you might not need, etc). This emergency fund is going to be what may get you by one day, so this is your priority.
Set aside as much money as you can each month until you reach your savings goal. Put this money in its own special savings account so it wont be spent on other things later. Try to find a high yield savings account so that you can collect the highest interest rate on it.
Part B - Pay off debt
Once you have your emergency fund of 6-12 months in a savings account, do not touch it! Congratulations, you are now prepared for a loss of income from 6 months to a year, an amazing security to have for yourself - this is huge! You can lighten up a little on spending now, and allow yourself to buy a few non-essential items while you focus on paying down your debt to zero.
The approach that I think makes the most sense to pay off debt (and actually stick to it) was actually promoted by Dave Ramsey, and it’s called the “Snowball Method”. Here’s how it works!
1. Make a list of all your debt (credit cards, student loans, car loan, mortgage, etc).
2. Continue making the minimum payments on all of your debt.
3. Now, which debt has the smallest balance (For example, maybe this is a credit card with a $3500 balance?). You are going to pay whatever extra you can on this each month. So for example if your minimum payment is $100 and you have $500 extra you can spare each month, you are going to pay $600 each month on this debt until it is completely gone.
4. One down? Congrats! You’re knocking them off the list! Now, what is the next smallest debt on the list? Go ahead and take the amount you spent each month to pay off the debt in step 3 ($600 in the example in step 3) and pay this as an extra payment each month until it is completely paid off. So for example, if your next biggest debt was a car loan for $10,000 and your monthly payment is $200, now you are going to pay $800 each month ($200 minimum + $600 extra). You are still paying the exact same amount on debts as last month, but since once debt is gone - you are putting all of that towards another debt.
5. Two down? What an amazing feeling that will be! Continue this process on the next biggest debt until you are officially debt free.
Why does the Snowball Method work? By working from the smallest debts to the larger debts, you have milestones to celebrate which psychologically will help you keep to your goal.
Once you have paid off your debts you can lighten up even more on spending and allow yourself to start purchasing more fun items each month.
Part C - Save for Retirement
If you’re not employed by a company who helps put money into your retirement account, odds are you have to be the one who puts together a plan for the money you will need to retire. Relying on social security, a partner, or others to support you in the future is not as wise of a decision as taking this into your own hands.
As a creative, or entrepreneur, you will want to start setting aside money every month so that when you are ready to stop working, you will have a bucket of money to live off of. You will also want to invest this money so that it grows year over year, meaning the earlier you start this, the more your money will work for you!
Mutual funds are a great way to invest your money because they are less risky than buying stock from a single company. A good mutual fund should give you an 8% increase or more (average) on your money each year, over the long term.
Another great thing to look into when starting your own retirement account is a Roth IRA. By paying tax on the money you put into the account today, you won’t have to pay tax on the (much larger) amount you pull out when you are ready to retire. I highly recommend researching a Roth IRA and seeing if it is the right choice for you. There are many websites such as Fidelity, that can help you get started with a Roth or regular IRA account, which you can contribute money to each month, and invest based on the level of risk you are comfortable with.
Since a young age, I have been focused on saving money, having multiple streams of income, keeping debt to a minimum, and building assets. This structured approach has worked for me but may not work for everyone.
This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.
This post was written for and posted on Ember & Solis.
How changing tiny daily habits will dramatically change your future
When we picture a better future for ourselves, we often see the "big steps” needed to get there. But what if reaching your future goals wasn’t done in a matter of big accomplishments, but rather in tiny changes to your daily life? Luckily for us, this is exactly the case. Overtime, small habits compound into incredible results. It could be over months, or even years, which is why we tend not to focus on these tiny changes.
Imagine if you improved just 1% each day, where would you be in a year?? 10 years? 20 years? You would probably see some BIG results. Now imagine if you made a 1% decline in your habits everyday (food, exercise, reading, learning, work ethic). Again, you would probably see big results, but they would not be aligned with the future you wanted for yourself. This is why making sure your daily habits are aligned with your future goals is so important.
Our brains crave completing easy tasks with instant gratification, and we have the ability to design our environment in order to encourage tiny changes to our behavior, which overtime will lead to massive results. So lets get started talking about how you can change your environment, to encourage better habits, and change your life.
How to change your environment to encourage better habits
Attaching Rewards to Positive Routines
Many small tasks we need to do to reach our “rewards” do not give us instant gratification. For example, eating healthy for a day will not give us our dream body right away, and being more productive during the day will not automatically make us more money. By attaching instant rewards to these positive activities we can encourage ourselves to have better habits & routines.
Here are some examples. If your goal is to exercise for 30 minutes a day, you could reward yourself with a smoothie after you complete your exercise. Similarly, you could allow yourself to watch Netflix only while on the treadmill. In another example, if you want to save money to go on vacation, each time you pass on going out for dinner or drinks, and instead do DIY, you could put the money you would save into a savings account or jar immediately, so you can see the results ASAP and watch them build over time.
Another way we can manipulate our environment is to change our visual cues. This could be as simple as putting your gym bag by the door, keeping the book you are studying by your bed, or stocking your fridge with healthy food and drinks instead of soda and junk food.
Replace poor routines with better routines
If we keep the habit loop in mind (cue > routine > reward), we know that if we can replace a routine with a healthier one that yields the same result, we can dramatically change our life over time. For example, if you go out for beers after work every day with a coworker to “let off steam” (cue = the stressful work day is over, reward = endorphins and social activity), you could ask the coworker to engage in a healthier routine with you each day. This could be a walk along the water, a bike ride, or heading to the rock climbing gym. The reward would stay the same, but by changing the routine, overtime you will see great changes to your health.
Remember how we are far more likely to stick to a habit when it requires less energy? By starting small, we are more likely to stick to a new habit. Here are a few examples. If your goal is to do the splits, you are much more likely to stick to your habit and reach your goal if you commit to stretching for 3 minutes everyday versus 15. Similarly, if your goal is to read a book to learn a new skill, you are far more likely to stick to this if you commit to reading 20 minutes a day versus an hour. Remember that small daily changes lead to big results, and implementing these tiny tweaks to your day just may mean the difference between reaching your goals or not.
Thanks for being here, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
My first trip to Bali was both overwhelmingly amazing and much too short, so I jumped on the chance to go back!
This time, I joined my friend Karmen and planned a full 11 days in several different areas. We stayed in the middle of rice fields, had our own private pools, slept in a hut with a snake hanging from the ceiling, hit up the beaches, explored smaller islands nearby, and pretty much did everything except party or stay up late (LOL).
My friend Mona joined us for part of the trip as well, I met her when she was studying in the US, and then met up with her in her hometown of Beijing later that year. Mona loves taking photos and often used my camera to take the photos of Karmen and I together! Such a cool thing to have her join us from such a different are of the world.
Bali has actually changed quite a bit since the last time I went, mostly due to instagram as it appears. Nevertheless - they have it down - they know exactly what tourists drawn to this area love and want to experience. Our journey had a mix of hitting up the beautiful hangouts designed for vacationers as well as going on the country road with locals and seeing more of the country.
Photos taken on a Canon 5d mark iv, Canon 50mm lens, and edited with my presets.
Shop my print store here!
I first learned about the Enneagram about 2 years ago when it went viral on instagram. Everyone was sharing out "I'm a 4, the artist!" or "I'm a 7, enthusiastic!" I had to know what I was, so I looked into it and found The Enneagram Institute. I started reading their information in the "learn" section and my interest grew much deeper. I learned that this wasn't some new silly personality quiz that went viral online, this was something I could use to grow as a person.
The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system that helps people understand who they are, and what makes them tick (source - The Road Back to You). It comes from the Greek words ennea (nine) and gram (figure).
I decided to take the RHETI test for $12 on their website rather than a free one online, because I wanted a test result that was as accurate as possible so I could start my self awareness Enneagram journey from there. When you take the test, they send you a full report on your top personality types - things that you do well, things you struggle with, how you will fare in relationships with other types, and what you are like on an unhealthy, average, and healthy level.
I learned that as a 2, I act out as an 8 when I'm under stress (yes this makes a lot of sense as to why I thought I was an 8 at certain times in my life). And act as a 4 in times of security (by being creative). This also made a lot of sense to me given all of my hobbies being are in the creative space. With 1 and 3 for wings, it means I had a lot of pieces of these in me as well (1 being the perfectionist and 3 the over-achiever with many "projects") - yes yes I can relate to all of these. The purpose of learning your Enneagram is learning how to grow into a healthier version of yourself - and I learned that 2s have a couple major areas of growth. First of all, they don't tell others what they need, but then get upset when others do not meet their needs. Second, they can become controlling if they fear losing relationships (this is the 8 coming out in stress). So these are two areas in my life I'm committing to working on - putting my needs as a higher priority in my life (and communicating them) as well as lowering my expectations and dependence on the connection to those in my life (at a healthy rate).
As mentioned, I recently decided to purchase a book on the Enneagram. For my first book, I went with "The Road Back to You" by Cron & Stabile. The very first chapter of the book had me hooked on sticking to this journey. The author says "Why had I said and done so many things that seemed right at the time but, looking back, were clearly senseless and at times hurtful to myself and others?" He says we are going to go on a hard journey, and learn some painful things about ourselves, but only then can we wake up from the life we think we are living.
Did you know that worldwide, there are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning than there are lung cancer cases due to smoking?
JAMA Dermatology released a study, “International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning -- A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis" which finds that worldwide, the number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
For a while now I have been contemplating a way to combine my interests and different shops into one cohesive brand. I still have a bit of work to do, but today I’ve launched my new shop! Check it out! And take a look below to see a peek of what’s in store!
I recently switched back to a Dell XPS, in search of a computer with the most RAM and best SSD I could find. However, as a content creator and photographer I quickly realized that photos on my new computer screen looked NOTHING like they did in print, on my phone, or on other computers. The screen was VERY vibrant, over-saturated, and orange.
The problem with this was when I was editing photos, they would look great on my computer, but when I exported them they looked really dull on other devices (skin tone looked grey instead of warm). This was obviously a huge issue for me to resolve, as I would never want to send photos to a client that didn't look great on their own device, or in print.
I have tried monitor calibration tools in the past and did not like the result. Instead, I take the approach of checking my photos on other devices and in print periodically to make sure that they look consistently good in those forms. So basically I was just looking for a way to turn down some of that saturation on my new Dell XPS.
Dell has a solution for this, as I soon found! It is called Dell PremierColor, and you can download it here from their website.
When I first opened up the tool, the Color Gamut was set to "Vibrant (Full)". I switched it over to "Internet (sRGB)" and instantly all the issues I had were gone! There are also settings on here to limit blue light which is great for nighttime browsing.
Hope this is helpful if you were having the same issues I was!
The coronavirus / quarantine situation has put stress onto everyone and has taken away a lot of ways we can remove stress. For me, when anxiety started to overwhelm I would always head to a Ghosh yoga class. Now that we’re forced inside and I’m as busy as ever I found a new outlet to let my brain have a break from thinking for 30 min a day.
Below are some of the daily results of my watercolor adventures. I’m not watching tutorials or doing things “the right way” because I’m using this time to simply not think, create, and learn through experimentation.
Hope you enjoy!
Weird times call for new forms of getting by, new forms of creating. Desperate to do a creative portrait session, my friend and business partner (Ember + Solis) Sam and I got on FaceTime video chat and started making something similar to what we’re used to making, despite 2500 miles being in between us. Despite the global pandemic happening.
It feels so normal, which is scary to think that technology has become so much a part of our lives that despite everything happening - it really is our new normal.
To see more of my photography work, please check out my website.
It’s the little things that make us happy during times like this. Here’s a few moments during quarantine that made me feel normal.
Growing up I never fully felt part of “the group.” Even in college surrounded by friends that were handed out like a jar of candy, I never fully felt like I belonged and ended up pushing people away. This is something that is hard to admit, write, and share as I spent the entire first part of my life pretending the opposite was true.
After college, my life turned around for the better. I made some financially risky decisions that paid off with some hard work, I had several groups of great friends, a home, a career, a yard, somebody who would do anything for me. But it wasn’t enough. I pushed it all away and left for the other side of the country in search of something more. A newer bigger home, a perfect partner, a sunnier climate, an even bigger group of friends.
I found that group of friends. I found them at 3am on Friday nights cuddled up on the couch with 6 others laughing. I found them at weekly dinners, movie nights, birthday parties, and countless nights out. It defined me. They were who I was. This is who I wanted to be.
For about 5 years my life revolved around being a part of “the group.” When something or someone threatened it, or even took it away from me I became outraged. The anger would consume me for months on end. I felt wronged. But I would find another group. It became this cycle of needing to be surrounded by this collective of people who embodied “fun,” and needing to be a key player in that group.
But the thing with these large groups of ‘friends’ is that collectively, they will always take the path of least resistance, the path that takes the least amount of “fun” away. So at the times in my life when I really actually needed a friend, the group was not there. The group was doing what the group always did. I slowly started to realize that if I wanted real relationships in my life, if I wanted the kinds of people that could peer into my soul and really see me, that would support me no matter what they saw, I had to completely change my surroundings. These weren’t bad people, in fact they were amazing people. But they were clouded by the same cloudiness I had. They needed the group to feel whole. They lacked an individualism, a drive to truly live their purpose instead of hiding behind the group, doing the same things day after day as the years passed by.
Before I moved back to the PNW I had many days not knowing if I’d ever find what I was looking for, thinking that real relationships were impossible or that I wasn’t deserving of them, or that it was too late for me to find them. I made a drastic move, a return to home, and a return to my purpose and desires. I know what I want, and what will actually make me happy. If staying in to read, paint, blog, or work on my business is what I need, I no longer feel a fear of missing out like I used to. I no longer feel the need to say yes just because a group of attractive, fun, like able people ask me to hang out. I no longer feel like somebody will “steal” my friendships if I’m not there to protect them. I’m showing up as me, and sometimes that means not physically showing up at all.
I've been staying in downtown Seattle for the corona-virus quarantine and have made a few trips to grab food. I took my camera a couple times to capture what life is like right now. I'm pretty timid when it comes to taking photos of people who aren't willing participants, so most of these images are of the Seattle streets - not the masks, gas masks, gloves, fear, and isolation walking around. These streets and markets are usually full of residents, tourists, and vendors. From closed forever signs, to encouraging messages, empty streets, and boarded up restaurants - join me in a sobering look at our city during this time.
Traveling Wedding, Elopement, and Brand Photographer based in the PNW. Learn More!
Edit your photos in just a few clicks with the Creative Wanderer presets, focused on skintone and adventures!
Check out my eBook to learn how to choose camera gear that’s right for you, what all those numbers mean, how to shoot in manual mode or select the appropriate settings, and how to edit your photos
For those of you who want darker skin while keeping your sheets white, check out SunThetis lemongrass sunless tanning water! It goes on clear and has antiaging peptides! Be sure to check out their sunscreen pencil, the worlds first and only way to protect freckles and design on your skin.
The owner of this website, Lindsey O'Sullivan, is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking www.TheWanderlustSoul.com to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.