south congress cafe



** Written on the wall behind Justin: “Derange pas ta tendresse.” (Do not break your tenderness.) **

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Yesterday morning Justin and I got out of bed before the sun was up. It was still raining really hard outside. And it was cold — which is unusual for April weather in Austin. I put on my big wool socks, the one scarf I hadn’t put in the “Winter Clothes” box, and my puffy red coat. My husband sat on the couch looking at the weather pattern to determine if the brooding storm happing would pass by 7:30 when we were scheduled to meet our new clients, Danielle and Jay, for a sunrise engagement session.

By 7:00 the storm had passed and there was but a mere drizzle as I stood in line at Jo’s for my coffee. And Justin and I had a really amazing time with Danielle, Jay, and the three kiddos! I can’t wait to give a sneak peek of their session! But for today, I wanted to talk about happiness. And yesterday was a great example of this new idea I found last week. But first, a little background:

I watched this Ted Talk by Shawn Achor. I’m a little bit of a psychology junkie and I (seriously, not joking) read Freud for fun (it’s a little awkward on planes when my neighbor looks at the chapter headings so I no longer read Freud in public). The intriguing thing about Achor’s talk was that instead of focusing his studies and research on illness (as most psychology does), he focuses on happiness.

That’s right. He studies happiness. His academic career focuses on what’s going well in people’s lives (and why) instead of what’s going so drastically wrong.

Happiness Project


So then I googled his book and started reading it this weekend. One thing he emphasizes over and over is that it’s our own perceptions of the world that largely determine the outcome of events. In other words, it’s the narratives that we tell ourselves that is one of the most important prerequisites for personal happiness.

At the end of his TED talk, he gives his audience a bit of a challenge: For 21 days, wake up in the morning and list three things you’re thankful for. Do it first thing in the morning.

I’ve been doing it for a few days and I have to admit that I actually really do feel happier. More excited. I have butterflies in my stomach before I’ve even finished my coffee (which is amazing, because I’m cranky in the mornings).

Since I’m not one to keep a good thing to myself, I wanted to share some of the things I’m thankful for. And yesterday was a great example. Instead of worrying when I woke up to a thunderstorm (the first thing I saw was lightening), I thought of what was going well already:

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Thankfulness Project: Sunday April 6

1. My husband is back from San Francisco and, oh my, isn’t he soooo cute? (He had been gone for 6 days this time, which is much longer than usual.)

2. My husband is googling the weather map for me! And I hate maps! Didn’t I marry the perfect guy for me?

3. I’m so excited to meet Danielle and Jay. I had such a great time with Danielle over the phone when we met for the first time. I’m so excited that she chose me to be her wedding photographer.

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Thankfulness Project: Monday April 7

1. I love my Portland friends so much: Kasey, McKenzie, Meg, Nancy, Scarlettah . . . the list goes on and on. I’m all the way out here in Austin, Texas, but those relationships and that community has remained strong, vibrant, and meaningful despite my 6 years of physical absence. So many people disparage social media these days (FOMO issues), but I honestly am so thankful for it being a way to keep me involved with my community that I love so much.

2. I get to go to French class today! No matter how tired I am when I arrive, I leave so refreshed and excited. Studying French with Maryvonne totally energizes me.

3. I woke up, again, before the sun was up. I love this old habit of mine that I developed as an undergrad at Gutenberg. It’s amazing to feel like you’ve accomplished half the things on your To Do List before noon. Then the rest of the day can be for things like Yoga, working from a coffee shop, and meeting friends for happy hour.



What are you thankful for? I’d love to hear it! It means I’ll be thinking about all the good in the world, so please contribute below in the comment section!


Photography by: Camille Stallings

Book Image found here.