Snapshot of Our Week - Camp Duncan
Camp Duncan Beach

This week we went to Camp Duncan in Ingleside, IL for an of summer party. The boys had never been to the forest before, so I was pretty excited for them to experience the woods. We’ve been thinking about renting a cabin and going camping one weekend and used this as an opportunity to test it out. We drove an hour and a half from Chicago to the camp grounds, and was greeted by mosquitoes. There were SO MANY mosquitoes. We went through an entire can of bug spray the couple of hours we at the camp. But, mosquitoes aside, the camp had everything set up for fun. First we ate at the buffet were we had a hot dogs, burgers, chips, fruit along with other sides and sodas. Activities were spread out around the camp for us to explore. There were multiple bounces houses, archery, kayaking, a long sliding tube, hayrides, volleyball and wall climbing. We all tried wall climbing. Micah and I both got about half way up before the mosquitoes got to be too much and we came back down. The boys favorite activity was the ice cream truck that had all you can eat ice cream. They both had three each. We ended the day on the little beach near the lake and kayaking activities. They played quietly together digging in the sand and building sandcastles. Minus the mosquitoes, it was a perfect end of summer day.

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Owning Your Story
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Of all the things that you can do to make the world a better place, few things are more valuable than telling your story. 

Where have you been and what have you learned? What do you cherish? What have you endured and what have you loved? How have your experiences enlightened you and inspired you to produce positive change for others?

Even more so than the telling of your story, is the owning of it. 

By owning your story, you have to really stand in it. Like it, every inch of it. The good and the bad, the twists and the turns. The bumps and detours all along the way. It's harder than it looks but easier than it sounds.  For every story we are afraid to tell because it might embarrass us, is a story we are ashamed to tell because it makes us shine. 

Owning your story is more than just admitting your faults, failures and other not so good aspects of your life. It is also about realizing our own value.

When we don't own our story, we lack the belief in who we are and how well we are doing. We often tend to trivialize our achievements and ignore the parts of us that others see as assets. 

My story has emerged over time. When I started to own where I was in my story, it all started to flow.  

So how do you own your story?
 

Learn to see it: All the steps you took to get you to where you are now have a  purpose and value. 
Then write it:  Writing down all those things you’re good at, your experiences, your family, best friends, the places you’ve lived, the adventures you’ve taken, books you've read or simply,  what makes you happy.

One of my goals of this blog is to share my story. All of it. Through words, images and maybe a little video. My story is something I want to leave my children. I want them to remember me as more than just mom. My hope is to inspire you to share yours and leave your own legacy. 

The more you allow yourself to realize that your story matters, the more you own it. When we own our stories everything changes.

How are you owning your  story?

Thoughts On Turning 39...
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Earlier this month, I turned 39 years old.  I don’t know why, but 39 seems like more of a milestone age than 40. I’m sad because it feels like the end of something, but happy because I know its the beginning of something else. I’m not sure and I can’t quite put my finger on it. But, at 39, this is what I’m feeling: 

My 20’s were all about me and my friends. My 30’s were more about my family and my career.  My decisions are made with others in mind first. My co-workers, classmates, boyfriends and other people I hung out with were all that mattered in my 20’s. Yes, I worked in my 20’s, but a career was not something I thought about in the long term. Any money I made went towards restaurants, alcohol, traveling, and books. While I still have the occasional book (and Beyonce ticket) splurge, traveling is done with my family in mind, as most all my financial decisions are.  Responsibility is something that just kind of happened in my 30’s and although I sometimes miss the carefree selfish days of my 20’s, at 39, I know this phase of my life is so much better. 

Speaking of those co-workers and classmates, it blows my mind that the same people I hung out with in high school and drank with in college are now in charge of Fortune 500 companies, Principals of schools, and University Professors and Deans. Heck, some are even in charge of leading our country. It’s weird and inspiring all at once. 

I’m not afraid of getting older, but I am afraid of getting old.

I want the wisdom and knowledge that comes with age, but not the health problems. I want to be healthy as I age. I’m scared of losing my parents and I’m afraid of losing those around me. I hate watching the people I love get sick and way too many people I love have cancer and it makes me angry and so very scared. So in my 30’s I started to eat better and workout not as a way to look good in skinny jeans ( a minor plus) but as a form of longevity. I want to be around as long as I can to be around for my kids, to tell my story and to experience as much from this life as I possibly can.

So, what do I know at 39?

I know that I’m ready to take responsibility for life and my place in the world. I realize that not everyone is going to like me and that is ok. That living a life of service to others is a far better way to live. That I will save absolutely nothing for later or next time because later isn’t guaranteed.  I know I am never going to be perfect, and at 39, I’m not even trying to be. What I do expect out of myself is my very best in any and all situations.  At 39, you start to focus on smaller things that make up the big picture. I feel like I finally know what I want from my life.

Does turning the big 4-0 scare me? Absolutely. But, its the anxious excited type of scary and I'm ready for the adventure. 

Are you celebrating a milestone birthday this year?  What have you realized as you've gotten older? 

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Chicago Family Reunion

This week we celebrated the July 4th holiday with family at our annual family reunion picnic at Garfield Park in Chicago. Although most of us live in the city, we honestly don't get together as much as we should. It was great spending time with my cousins and watching Micah and Marcel play until they fell out. There was tons of good food and plenty of laughs as we retold old stories and caught up with each other over new ones. A new addition to the reunion (that I honestly hope because a new tradition) was a slip and slide drinking game. There were two teams, with about 5 people on each team. They raced against each other, slid, took a drink, slid back and tapped the next racer to go. I didn't participate, but I did catch all the shenanigans in photo and film.  

It's always a great time when my family gets together.

I'm still challenging myself to film more this year, check out the video short of the reunion below.

Williams 2018 Reunion - Garfield Park Chicago

How was your holiday, did you do anything with your extra day off?  

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Letters to my Son - On Your 9th Birthday

My dear sweet little boy,

In between your 8th and 9th year something happened.

Your shyness gave way to independence.  Your baby fat disappeared as your growth, in height and maturity, took over.

Micah Birthday Portraits

What a difference a year makes...

You showed a fearlessness that scared and overjoyed me all at once. There was the lead in the school play, scuba diving,  Judo, zip-lining, karaoke, and for your birthday, indoor skydiving. 

I was going to write all the things I know and love about you. But I since I know that the best person to tell your story is you, we did an interview.

 

 

Drawing is your passion right now.

You draw all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. 

You draw your own comics, your favorite video game characters and have asked me about manga and anime.

I'm really excited about helping you with this. Once you find something you like, you practice and research and ask questions and practice more. 

Persistence is one of your strongest personality traits and it's one of my favorite things about you. 

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 You have firm likes and dislikes, activities, and friends, but you still want hugs and cuddles from me,  and I'll take them, for as long as I can.

As you enter your tenth year (cries internally), this is my wish and promise for you:

Take responsibility for your actions - if you make a mistake, own up to it. Apologize and learn from it. 

Work hard and play harder - I know there are a ton of things you would rather do than homework and chores. Its not all for nothing. The harder you work, the harder (and longer) you'll get to play. I promise. 

Slow Down - You'd be surprised at how much you can learn just by slowing down. You won't master everything you try at first. You're only 9, you have time. 

I promise that I will listen to you more. That I will consider your feelings in big decisions about you. I have faith in you and I always will. I can't wait for you to change the world. 

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Happy 9th birthday to my handsome, persistent, silly, caring son.

 

 

Continue to shine your light.

 

 

Love,

 

Mommy

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Art Day

They want to go outside, specifically, to the playground. But, it's still winter in Chicago with no signs of Spring like weather in the forecast.  The boys have cabin fever and in all honesty, so do I. All of us need a break in our normal weekend routines of just homework, cleaning and running errands. So Friday after work, I headed to Michaels and picked up some art supplies to give the boys an activity that did not involve iPads, Gameboys or Netflix.  Plus, I wanted new art and pictures to hang in the house since we got the living room and sitting room painted. We have done art projects before, but they have never been this organized. I'm always buying crayons, colored pencils and paper whenever I see them on sale. At Michaels, I was able click it up a notch with paint, canvases, stencils,  flower pots (for a later DIY project), and sketchbooks.

It's Time to Create

Shortly after breakfast,  I introduced the boys to their work stations. I made easels from old boxes and duct tape and set out all the needed supplies. They were SO excited when they saw they setup and got to work immediately. Then, something magical happened. They were quite. For about 45 minutes they concentrated on their art pieces stopping only to ask me to change the w water in their dish or add more colors to their palettes. After they were done with the canvases, Marcel retreated to his crayons and I treated Micah to a new sketchbook. He's really interested in drawing anime and manga, so I printed out some pages for him to practice with.  After the paintings dry, I'm going to find a place to hang them were the boys will be sure to see them daily. I think they feel really proud to see their art displayed among the other art we have in the house.

What have you done to beat the winter blues? Any cabin fever tips you can share? Leave a note in the comments.

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10 Inspirational Women to Follow on Instagram
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In honor of International Women's Day on March 8, I've compiled a list of 10 women whose feeds inspire me daily. These women document their lives using stunning visuals, and women I genuinely love to follow, interact with, and believe inspire others with their daily posts.  They have no qualms about posting the good, the bad, and the completely ridiculous moments of their adorable families experiences in the day to day. They make me want to better document my life and share my everyday.

10 Inspirational Women Documenting their Family through Photography

Theodora @theodoraofosuhima 

Daenel @daenelt 

 

A post shared by Daenel (@daenelt) on

Leslie @lesliekershaw 

Dana Ferer @livebeautifulmama

 

A post shared by Dana Ferrer (@livebeautifulmama) on

Jennifer @jenniferborget  

Jacque @jacque.m.jackson   

 

A post shared by Jacque Jackson (@jacque.m.jackson) on

Nesh @love.little.sampsons 

 

A post shared by Nesha (@love.little.sampsons) on

Francesca Russell @francescarnyc 

Tina @cupcakesinstead 

 

 

A post shared by Tina (@cupcakesinstead) on

Josey @storyanthology

 

A post shared by J osey (@storyanthology) on

Bonus.....

 Me @gennatay 
 

A post shared by Gina (@gennatay) on

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

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Memories to Record this March
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Well that was quick. It seems February barely made it's presence known and suddenly a new month was upon us. This year is flying by. I have so many personal and professional projects in the works, it's hard finding time to work on them all. It's an exciting time.  One of my ongoing projects is to document my life by recording memories monthly.

Here's my list of memories I want to try to record this March. Feel free to use the prompts to capture some of your own memories this month.

Memories to Document in March

Spring......The first day of Spring is March 20th. Show how you welcome Spring in your home. Go for a walk and take notice of how your neighbors or city brings in the warmer weather.

March is International Women's Month  take a picture or write about the women you honor or cherish in your life.

The 3rd week in March (20-26) is Act Happy Week. This is a chance to document what makes you happy or your self -care routine.

March Theme Calendar

National Read Across America Day - 3/02/18  #ReadAcrossAmerica - Whats your favorite book? Share it with others and tell why it's your favorite. 

Dr. Seuss Birthday - 3/02/18  #DrSeussDay - Happy Birthday Dr Seuss!

Dr Seuss Quote

National Grammar Day - 3/04/18 #NationalGrammarDay

National Be Heard Day -  3/07/18 #NationalBeHeardDay...If you have a small business promoting it shamelessly today. 

National Cereal Day - 3/07/18 #NationalCerealDay... When all else fails, this is my go to dish.

International Women's Day - 3/08/18 #BeBoldForChange....Celebrate the women in your life. 

National Day of Unplugging - 3/10/18 #NationalDayofUnplugging

Daylight Savings - 3/11/18 #Daylightsavings... Remember SPRING FORWARD.

National Napping Day - 3/12/18 #NationalNappingDay...It's on a Monday, so I don't know how much napping will get done today. 

National Write Your Story Day - 3/14/18 #WriteYourStoryDay...Document how YOU want to be remembered. 

Pi Day - 3/14/18 #PiDay...Eat some pie or do some math, either way Happy 3.14159265359 Day.

National Awkward Moments Day - 3/19/18 #AwkwardMomentsDay

World Storytelling Day - 3/20/18 #WorldStorytellingDay...Document what you want to remember. How do you tell your story? Photographs, in a journal or on Social Media? It doesn't matter how you do it, just that you do it. 

Take a Walk in the Park Day - 3/30/18 #NationalWalkInTheParkDay...Get out and enjoy the weather!

How will you remember March 2018?

Any traditions you plan to document this month? Leave a note in the comments.

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Everyday Life
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Sick, last week we were all sick. 

First Marcel, then Micah, then me. Then, Marcel again. Don was fortunate enough to be immune to whatever was going around.

By Saturday, we were all feeling a bit better and was able to go out and enjoy this years first big snowfall.

In Chicago, we received about 3 feet of snow in 2 days. As a result, the boys got to break in their snow pants and finally get out the house after being sick and trapped in the house. This was Marcels first time really enjoying and playing in snow. His big brother was all to happy to show him the way.

What did you get into this weekend? Did you get to enjoy the snow? Leave a note in the comments to let me know!

Snow Day

 

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Memories to Record this February

 

January was such a month of transition for many of us. Getting back into the habit of going back to work or school after the holidays. Or, gaining new habits to accomplish new resolutions or goals. One of my goals this year, is to focus on personal documentary projects and printing more of my photos. To do this, I'm going to put together lists of memories to capture each month. Some will come from holiday calendars, others from family traditions. Feel free to use the prompts to capture some of your own memories this February.

Memories to Record this February

A portrait or self-portrait that captures personality (check out my year of self portraits here)

Love......  This can be interpreted in any way you want. Capture the people you love, or someone in love. Something you love to do or any representation of love. 

Family Traditions...... Does your family do anything special for Super Bowl Sunday or Valentines Day? If someones birthday is this month, capture how you want to remember them at this age. 

February is Black History Month + International Friendship Month

Super Bowl Sunday - 2/2/18. #SB53

National Pizza Day - 2/9/18...The only food group my kids can agree on. I'm planning a special surprise for them. #NationalPizzaDay

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk Day - 2/11/18....On this day, try to capture what may seem like a tough or merely inconvenient task. When you overcome it, you can look back at the photos from today to remind yourself to not sweat the small stuff. 

Random Acts of Kindness Week - 2/12/18 to 2/18/18....Small gestures of kindness can go a long way. Document any that you see and pass forward any act of kindness someone randomly does for you. (This is an awesome opportunity for any of my photographer readers to practice street photography) #RakWeek2018 or Random Acts of Kindness Day - 2/17/18 #RandomActsOfKindnessDay

Valentines Day - 2/14/18. #ValentinesDay

Love Your Pet Day - 2/20/18 #LoveYourPetDay

 

How will you remember February 2018? Any events or traditions you're capturing this month?

Drop a note in the comments. 

February Quote

 

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