Finding Peace & Strength

Finding Peace & Strength

Yoga Photography // Emily Wenzel Photography
Monday at noon, this is my view. At least twice a week, I walk away from my computer, grab my mat and go to yoga. I fold myself into poses and marvel at the progress I’ve made. Sometimes it’s a noon power class, where I swear I’m going to collapse if I have to do one more vinyasa. Sometimes it’s an evening flow class where I leave feeling both relaxed and energized. Either way, this is my view. This is my time. When I can’t make it to the gym, I roll my mat out in my living room. It’s like a drug in my system. I crave the zen.

How did this start? In April, I had a moment of clarity. Sitting on a park bench in the rain, I realized that I was stressed, I was tired, and I was empty. I had nothing left in me to give – even to myself – because I hadn’t taken anything in. I was sore, I was stiff, and I was in pain. I was on the road to burn out because I wasn’t taking care of myself.

Thinking it over, I figured, the least I could do was go to yoga and get some stretching in. So I did. Once, then twice that week. I was sore, but it felt good. And while I’ve been an on-and-off yogi for the better part of 10 years, it has been years since I’ve regularly practiced. And at the end of practice, just a few days after that rainy moment of clarity, I sat down to meditate. I knew I needed to do this more often. So I did. Since that week in April, I have practiced yoga at least twice a week at a studio, and often at home in between, on those days when I can’t make classes.

At first, I bribed myself. Doing yoga twice a week became a reason for me to get a new yoga mat. And after four weeks, I did that. It’s the most amazing yoga mat ever, and I love it. H finds it hilarious that, without meaning to, I picked a mat made in Germany.

But it’s been almost four months, and I haven’t really bribed myself since. I’ve gone to slow yoga, power yoga, restoration yoga, vinyasa flow, and more. I’ve done most every kind of yoga offered at my gym. Have a lost weight? No. But I’ve got some killer muscles and much better posture. I can touch my toes, and I am more toned. I’ve got muscles in my arms, and nailed crow pose for the first time recently.
Yoga Photography // Emily Wenzel Photography
I’ve gone to yoga because I can’t go without it. In fact, as I write this, it’s been a couple days since I’ve done yoga and I’m missing the clarity a good practice brings me. I’ve gone to yoga because I find peace, and to recognize my own strength. And more than that, I’ve found a community, friends in my teachers and classmates, and myself. I’ve got muscles, thanks to power yoga. I’ve got peace, thanks to meditation. And rarely have I felt like I was adrift in the past few months. I’ve felt strong and centered.

Oh, I’ve been stressed, and worried, and even angry. But going to yoga has taught me to let go. It has taught me that there is strength in letting go, just like there is strength in hanging on. And that letting go is not failing, not when letting go keeps you centered. There is a moment in almost every practice when I’ve pushed myself to the limit and all of a sudden, it’s just clarity. There is just me and the mat and the pose. Nothing else matters.

In the past few months, I’ve let go of a lot of things — the stress, the worry, the friends who don’t call back — and in return, I’ve gained immeasurable peace. I’ve gained strength. I’ve gained focus. Something I wish I’d had during wedding planning. [Hey brides, try yoga!]

Next week, I’ll be out of the office all week. I’ll be on vacation with my family, and then shooting a wedding out of state. I’m really looking forward to the time away, but I’m also sad. It’ll be the first week in almost 4 months that I won’t have my yoga studio. So I’ll take my mat on the road and do yoga on the deck, by the river. And surrounded by the natural beauty, I don’t think I’ll miss my studio too much.

I hope.



Photos taken with my HTC ONE and edited with VSCOcam for Android, using the new HypeBeast presets.

WINW and Bloomsday

WINW and Bloomsday

I woke up before my alarm this morning, which never happens, ready to tackle the morning. I haven’t been a morning person in years, and yet, today I feel like I could be. I wasn’t planning on blogging today, but I have a few things to share.

Wedding Related:
Last weekend, I was lucky to attend Weddings Inspired Northwest (WINW), at the Couer d’Alene Resort. First of all, I’m always amazed by how beautiful a place I live in. Second, I was so very grateful for this experience to grow as a wedding professional. The chance to hear from a variety of wonderful speakers and meet so many new people in our industry? It was energizing. I may write more about it later, but I had three big “take-away” points from three of the speakers.

Overall, the most important point of the conference was driven home by Misty of Cameo Events, who I think is one of the most “together” people I’ve met. She said that we teach others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. If we don’t respect the boundaries between work and personal, neither will our clients or the other vendors we work with. The note I wrote to myself? Creating boundaries creates sanity. Which I can’t sum it up succiently, I really loved the talk from Linnyette Richardson, where she talked about charging what you’re worth. I am a huge proponent of quality over quantity. And Linnyette was too. Lastly, I could write a whole post about the things I loved in Alexis Jones’ talk, but the words I wrote down and underlined in my notes: why not you? why not now? So often, she pointed out, we are the reason we fail. It’s not the external circumstances, it’s the internal dialogue. And that hit something in me.

My mom and a group of her friends came to town to run Bloomsday. Can I just say how impressed I am by my mother? She’s in better shape than I am, and she’s out running races at least once a month, training all the time. She’ll deny that last bit, by the way, but almost every time I call, she’s off on a run or a bike ride. H also ran Bloomsday, posting a fantastic time for his first run of the season, and especially awesome considering two weeks ago he was out with a knee injury. I’ve already committed to doing Bloomsday next year, so I should probably start training now, right? After all, I can’t let my mom beat me 🙂

This was the first time I’ve made it down to Bloomsday, and I really enjoyed spending the time watching my friends and family cross the finish line. Such joy.

Here are a few snaps from the weekend. If you don’t get enough of me on the blog, I really suggest following me in Instagram. I’m more active there than anywhere else.

Weddings Inspired NorthwestThe Coeur d'Alene ResortThe Wedding Diva
So glad that Alexis and I took this photo after she switched to flats. I am short!
Meeting Alexis Jones of I Am That GirlThe Coeur d'Alene ResortBloomsday 2014
This random guy is not one of my mom’s friends, he just happened to be wearing a green shirt too and was right next to her group! We didn’t even notice at first. Ah, Bloomsday.
Bloomsday 2014Bloomsday 2014


Driving to Portland

Driving to Portland

Lately, it’s been hard for me to take personal photos. I find myself not wanting to take my camera along with me because then I go into “work” mode. So I snap dozens of photos on my phone and call it good. But as great as my phone is, it’s not the same. So I’m trying to shoot more film. That doesn’t mean I’m not using my digital, in fact, these photos from the drive are from my digital camera. But I shot only film in Portland, and so you’ll have to wait for those to be developed. [Side note: any good places to get film developed??]

We had a big truck (especially compared to our little cars) because H was going to a work conference. It was hilarious, you guys. I had to jump to get in and out of the truck. On the other hand, I had plenty of room for my new Ona bags Chelsea (seen with a beautiful screenprinted bag from Jen Hewett below), and the mirrors worked great for a car selfie. I’ll be blogging about both of the bags soon, once I’ve taken them for a good spin.

Visiting Portland OR // Emily Wenzel PhotographyVisiting Portland OR // Emily Wenzel PhotographyVisiting Portland OR // Emily Wenzel PhotographyVisiting Portland OR // Emily Wenzel PhotographyVisiting Portland OR // Emily Wenzel PhotographyVisiting Portland OR // Emily Wenzel Photography

I’ve talked about this a couple times before, but I use VSCO to edit all my images. I have LOVED using VSCO Film (I have pack #1), and over the past year, I’ve worked on a few presets that I really truly love. When they came out with their classic films pack (#5), I couldn’t resist. These are the first images I’ve used pack #5 on, and I’m really loving it.

Authenticity — Behind the Business

Authenticity — Behind the Business

Ugh. I’ve debating even blogging this, but you know what? That’s why I have to.

The last few weeks have been a bit crazy. In the way that nothing seems to be finished. In the way where you spend hours working, only to feel like you’ve accomplished nothing at all. So instead of finishing the half dozen posts I’ve got in the works, I’m writing this.

I’ve been working on updating my about me page lately. Because, while it’s all nicely written and it took me WEEKS to write it, it’s not right. And while I’ve stared at it for hours, I still haven’t changed it. But I’m struggling.

Because it doesn’t feel like me.

Because I find myself editing the words I say on the blog. Not just for clarity, but to sound better. More like those other wedding photographers. Those people I’m comparing myself to.

But I’m not them. And that’s the thing. Their business is not my business. Their story is not my story. Their clients – the ones they want – they aren’t the clients I want.

We’re all different.

Having the house has been fantastic, especially the garden. At the moment, we’ve managed to remove a lot of dead old plants. We even paid to have our big tree trimmed (now I feel like an adult). And I’ve met with dozens of people about a variety of things, trying to figure out what project(s) to tackle first.

But next week I’m escaping for a few days to Portland. I’m going to spend hours and hours at Powell’s. I’m going to eat from food trucks and catch up with friends. And maybe, for a few days, I’ll forget that endless list of things that need to be done. I’ll go to the market and drink some wine. And I plan to have a dang good time.

Blogging is going to be a bit thin around here for the next few months. There’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes – the not-photography part of a photography business – but I’ll try and post occasional updates.

One of the things I’ve been working on is cleaning out my harddrives, which resulting in finding this beauty from our old apartment in Seattle. Sometimes I dress my cat up and torture her by taking her photo. She deals with it. Most days.

tuxedo cat with a bow // Emily Wenzel Photography

A New Year, A New Home

A New Year, A New Home

All photos taken with my HTC One, and edited with VSCOcam for Android. Because I don’t always use my big fancy camera 🙂


While I knew late in 2013 that 2014 was going to be an amazing year, I had no idea what changes it would bring. I am so super excited to share this next big change with you all — finally! Sorry for the secret keeping.

A while back, I posted this beauty below to Instagram. An image of my feet, standing in the snow. A snow day. Not so uncommon in Spokane. What I didn’t tell you was that they were standing in the back yard of a house we now own.

Buying our first home // Emily Wenzel Photography

Yup. As of last week, H and I own our first home. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me well. After all, I’ve been dreaming of tearing down walls and making my own space since I moved out of my parents house. They never let me tear down walls, although my younger brother got to do that when he was three. I’m still a little bitter, Dad. Although, you did let me paint my room crazy colors…so there’s that.

Moving on. I’ve been watching the Spokane housing market for over 18 months. Yes, more than a year before we moved here. Please don’t judge me. Homes came and went. This house was on the market that entire time. We looked at it, we dreamed about it. We talked it over and sketched out ideas. And then? Gone. Foreclosed. And our brand-new-to-us Realtor didn’t have high hopes for when or how it would come back. Foreclosures can be a funny thing, and a lot of them end up being auctioned off in Spokane County. So we moved on. We looked at other houses. We put this one, this perfect for us with old wood floors and great light, out of our minds.

And then, poof. Back on the market. And, in a very uncharacteristic move, I was the one who hesitated. H was ready to buy it the moment we walked through it a second time. I waited. But she called to me. With her location in one of my favorite Spokane neighborhoods, only a few short blocks from my favorite coffeeshop and bar, we really couldn’t have picked a better home for us. She had a history — one I’ve started looking up in the Census reports and hope to research more this spring.

On Christmas Eve, we put in an offer on our 1902 little beauty. And thus began six weeks of back & forth with Fannie Mae.

Buying our first home // Emily Wenzel PhotographyBuying our first home // Emily Wenzel Photography

The first image above I posted a couple weeks ago. That was from the day we put in our first offer. The second image is one I snapped the day we signed all our paperwork and closed on the house.

Buying our first home // Emily Wenzel Photography

I took this photo almost two weeks ago. My key. To our house. Sitting on our kitchen counter. Whoa. That was a crazy moment. There were times when I questioned our sanity in purchasing this house. Times I wanted to cry over the headache buying a foreclosed home brought us. But then, I would walk in the house, with it’s 112 year old (original) hardwood floors. With it’s big, beautiful windows that let in so much light. The backyard that begs to host family BBQs, and the park (perfect for a dog, right H? …I’m working on him) just steps away from the front door. I’m not saying it’s perfect. Oh no. This beauty needs a lot of love and TLC. But I do love a good project.

Buying our first home // Emily Wenzel PhotographyBuying our first home // Emily Wenzel PhotographyBuying our first home // Emily Wenzel Photography

First — our house, the day after we got the keys

Second — those floors, my shoes. the light

Third — me, excited to live in a place with stairs, and the sidewalk I shoved ALL ON MY OWN when H was in San Francisco for work. I’ve rarely been more proud. Seriously. Look at those crisp sides.


I want to promise you this blog won’t be all about the house now, even though I’m SUPER DUPER OH MY GOSH EXCITED. But I might sometimes write about it, because it’s a big part of our lives. Also, please excuse any craziness and slow responses in the next week-ish as we move. It’s been a bit insane to clean a home almost twice the size of the largest place we’ve ever lived.