Are you living Couragesouly?
Answer with YES or NO responses.
With the YES responses - Honor and celebrate yourself for where you are in this moment and how far you’ve come. Let these YES’s be an indication of you living courageously. Keep inviting in and deepening what you’re doing to make this a YES! And if you’re feeling really courageous, invite someone else into this reality.
With the NO responses - Just as the YES, honor and celebrate yourself for where you are in this moment and how far you’ve come. Let these NO’s be an indication of where you can invite in more of this in your life. Do you want to turn this into a YES? Why? Then, what could you shift and start doing to turn this into a YES.
Wanting to connect deeper around Living Couragesouly?
Lisbon, Sintra & Porto, Portugal
We were relaxing on the coach one evening and my phone rang. I joyfully picked it up and she said, “I just booked my dream trip to Portugal. I have my flights and most of the accommodation booked. You would just need to get your flight. I know you have so much going on, but is there any way you could join me?”
My husband, hearing the whole conversion, looked at me with wide eyes nodding and saying, “You need to go. You need to go.”
I said, Jamie - one of my bestest friends in all of this world, who I lived with for over four years in college, who for the last decade we’ve lived in completely different places, yet every time we get together, we pick up right where we left off, “I don’t know how I’m going to make this work, but girl, you better believe I will make it work.”
We giggidy hung up. I looked at Dan and said, “Are you sure?” He said, “Yes, please go. You need to go.”
For the coming weeks, I started to dream.
Starting making small moves to turn this new dream, into a reality.
I looked at my calendar. I figured out the dates that I could go, 4 days short of her two week trip. I blocked them out on my calendar. I had a few small meetings, that I immediately rescheduled.
I began talking to my husband, Dan and my parents to see if they were on board. And how things could look. What would be most supportive for everyone. As after-all, Dan has been in Paramedic school since January of this year (2023) and I hold down the fort Monday - Friday as he is quite literally gone. We came up with a plan, pretty quickly.
Most importantly, I started looking at how I would even fund this. Let’s be real, money has been tight as Dan’s in school, I’m transitioning my business and we only have help with the babes three days a week.
I researched flights.
Started a Pinterest board.
Even started a dream outfit cart from my favorite online shop, Lulus.
Then, my world slowed, and actually came to a halt about a month later. Just as I was about to buy my ticket, we experienced the biggest blizzard of a century. For weeks, my whole life was quite literally turned upside down. What started as a beautiful storm, turned into a very scary and catastrophic one, very quickly as we were declared a State of Emergency and began having the national guard come in, FEMA, it all - oh, was it jolting.
I had just, the day before, called Jamie to tell her I was going to buy my ticket. Two weeks later, when I could breathe again and resurfaced from the storm, I messaged her, “Girl, I've been rocked and haven’t had a chance to book my ticket, but don't worry, its happening.” She replied with, “You take care of you.”
As my world started to resume post blizzard, so too did the magical moments begin flickering in.
The nudges from the universe began getting louder.
One Saturday morning, just a month before we were supposed to leave, I found my flights. I looked at them, over and over again. I showed Dan, over and over again. I called my parents, over and over again.
Oh my gosh, is this happening?
I can’t be gone for 8 days.
8 days is too long.
What if something happens while I’m on the plane ride and no one can get ahold of me?
I can’t go.
It’s too far.
Who am I kidding, I can’t do this.
Orion will be so upset with me when I get home.
Is Dan really on board?
These were a few of the thoughts and questions I had while staring at my flight, credit card in hand, Dan saying, “Just book it already.” I said, “I can’t. This anxiety is too bad.”
I quickly got up, went into my office and immediately grabbed one of my favorite decks of cards. I knew in this moment, spirit would guide me. Holding the cards in my hand, I said, “Universe, my guides, protectors, creators, please tell me when I need to know about Portugal. Am I meant to go to Portugal with Jamie from April 15th - 23rd?” I knocked my deck and began shuffling. A card flew out. The yard, “YESSSSSSSSSS. A million yesses.”
I began laughing. Dan smirking because he knew what I was doing.
I came out of my office and said, “I’m going.” I immediately booked my flight, called my girl, we squealed like little girls. I screamed, “Mama’s going to Portugal.”
Over the coming weeks, I turned my fear into courage through action.
The week of, I packed the car to the brim.
Every being, coming with their manual.
Arrived at my parents house.
We got our nails done.
Nearly bought out Trader Joes with every fun treat Orion wanted.
I printed my itinerary.
And on that Saturday morning, hugged my girl good-bye, drove away crying big mama tears, spending the morning shooting the most magical families at the most inspiring locations in LA and a few hours later, boarded my first flight.
A 10 hour trip to Paris. It was surprisingly quick and smooth. Had some dinner, a couple glasses of wine. Put on a movie and quickly fell asleep (so grateful to have an aisle seat with no one to the left of me). I woke up and we landed in Paris. A few hours at the airport. And then onto a two hour flight, landing me in Lisbon Portugal.
While on that flight, I intentionally spent time connecting with a new deck I bought just for this trip and really setting my intentions for this sacred, 8 day trip. What did I want to embody? How did I want to show up? What did I need to support myself while there?
I landed. Jamie had arranged for a driver to pick me up. On facetime with my girl, I walk out and quickly saw Carlos, my driver. We walk to his van and I jump right in the front seat. He looked at me a little startled, I said, “Is this okay?” He said, “Of course.” I kissed my girl good-bye and Carlos and I chatted about everything from the country, to politics, to working wages, who even knows. It was a quick 20 minute drive that was the most beautiful welcome. I arrived, Jamie waiting outside our apartment in the most vibrant long blue beautiful dress. I wave profusely from the van, she jumps up with a smile that literally could puncture someone's soul (in the best possible way).
We went upstairs, I quickly showered and got dressed, deeply aware of what time sunset was, ensuring we didn’t miss it. We walked out and I cried. I was there. This quick dream turned into an even quicker reality.
We spent that first night, walking around, eating the most glorious pizzas, and sharing a bottle of wine. Walking around some more. Listening to Fado music. And doing what we do best, picking up right where we left off.
Below are our days and the best recount I have of the magic present :
The magic, I can best describe was presence, full presence.
The scenery, was absolutely breathtaking.
The food, truly divine.
The county and its people, some of the kindest, most welcoming.
The friendship at hand, truly a synergy I had dreamed of - a seeing, a knowing, a supporting, a joyous laughter filled love, connection and union. So much so, I peed my pants from laughing so hard (more than one occasion).
Day 1 : Sunday [Lisbon]
Day 2 : Monday [Lisbon]
We woke early, went to the most glorious breakfast and quite literally spent the entire day walking around the city. Stopping in small shops, having a drink in the park, stumbling across a local artisan market, eating, drinking, laughing, breathing, exploring.
Day 3 : Tuesday [Sintra]
We woke even earlier and took the train to Sintra. The most magical little city. We spent all morning exploring the sacred grounds of Quinta de Regaleira. And then all afternoon, getting lost on public transportation to eventually take a tuktuk to a lovely little beach town known as Cascais where we shared Rose while nesting on the warm sand.
Day 4 : Wednesday [Porto]
We packed and boarded our 3.5 train ride to head from Lisbon to Porto. This was our "boujee" day where we stayed in a really nice hotel, went to a fancy dinner and bar hopped around the city! Absolutely divine.
Day 5 : Thursday [Porto]
We explored the city, checked-into our Air BnB, had sunset drinks and a walk, an early dinner and movie in bed!
Day 6 : Friday [Porto]
It rained all day and created the most perfect experience for a day of wine tasting at the local Wine School where we were guided in a private wine tasting and educating of all the insanely yummy wines of Portugal. We ended the day with a sunset walk around the city - the sky showing off after a day full of rain!
Day 7 : Saturday [Lisbon]
I took the train and headed back to Lisbon for one last night in the city before boarding my flight early the next morning!
Day 8 : Sunday [Travel Day - back to the U.S.]
8 Questions to create a heart-centered foundation for a courageous, INTENTIONAL & dream filled life
So, you’re super interested in wanting to live through this lens of living of a courage, intentional and dream filled life?
But, you’re like… “Where do I even begin?”
These are 8️⃣ questions to get very clear on and build a foundation for a heart-centered, courageous, intentional and dream filled life.
To prepare for this, I recommend :
📝Getting a pen and notebook.
🖊️Write each question at the top of each page.
🏡Put yourself in an environment that in supportive, sacred and your feel safe in.
💕Begin by placing your left hand on your heart and right on top of that and CONNECT to your heartbeat!
Then, start to answer these questions.
1️⃣What are your values?
2️⃣What do you value about life?
3️⃣What do you love?
4️⃣What are you curious about?
5️⃣What inspires you?
6️⃣What fills up your cup?
7️⃣What depletes you?
8️⃣What does success look like to you?
For examples and deeper insight into what this looks like in my own life, tune into episode 2️⃣3️⃣ of The Living Courageously Podcast! 🎧
15 Tools To Begin Again
These past few weeks have been some of the biggest challenge and test of my courage.
Today, I choose to start a new.
Today, I begin again.
Today, I honor my challenges and use them as my affirmations to re-emerge stronger, braver, more honest and courageous.
Today, I grow my wings.
Today, I am Courage in Action.
Quarter Year Check-In
Can you believe we're already in April, finishing the first quarter of the year and moving into the second! This, is what inspired this bonus episode, inviting you into really checking in with where you are in this moment in relation to your goals and intentions!
As you tune into Episode 29 of The Living Courageously Podcast : Quarter Year Check-In, you'll witness that it's broken down into three parts. Within each part are some questions to consider. Behind each of these questions, be sure to create the space to give yourself honest answers!
Gratitude and joy.
Purpose and determination.
Patience and perseverance.
Commitment and connectedness.
Truth and vulnerable.
A few of the present realities.
I find myself, simultaneously connecting so deeply to the heartbeat of my soul and being impatient for all that is yearning to come into fruition.
This journey, this life, this honor of being able to connect, to be in exchange, to build community through Courage Coaching, Photography and being the Host of The Living Courageously Podcast keeps me in a space of feeling so immensely aligned. My purpose, so deeply know. All that I want to do with this, slowly, coming into reality.
My mantra for this week has been, small action is more supportive than no action.
Everyday I am creating space, making movement through small, intentional actions.
Bringing me to moments such as these, exchanges such as these, connections such as this.
These moments here, that of one of my radiant wedding couples, soon-to-be parents to their first little soul together, relishing in the joy that is life, in this moment.
To be witness to, to document, to give honor to this amount of joy, is contagious. So intentionally, sensationally, vulnerably contagious.
Congrats you incredibly beautiful souls!! I can’t wait to see this being in the world! Thank you for such a gift - of connection, of witnessing, of friendship, of truly seeing and honoring one another.
9 Secrets to Lifelong Clients : A step-by-step guide with insight, examples and questions to consider for creating lifelong clients AND increasing your bottom line.
After jumping in 2013 enabling me to live, love and teach around the world, being a photographer for 12 years, an entrepreneur for seven years, a mama for the past three - it's been my greatest honor yet to share these very moments of turning my dream life into a reality with YOU as you build your intentional business and live YOUR dream life.
In 2015, I launched my photography business (previously known as Ashley Strong Photography, now Ashley Strong Smith) with very little knowledge of actually knowing how to run a business. Within two years, I went from making cold calls and giving away photo sessions to having a waiting list for months.
What was the secret behind this rapid expansion?
Creating a foundation for cultivating an intimate connection with my clients, turning them into lifelong clients. I’ve documented souls from their engagement to their wedding, their maternity portraits to their birth, the child’s six month and year portraits, to their siblings along the way, to their sibling joining the world, to their grandparents' anniversary, birthdays and yearly holiday portraits in between. It all. One client. I’ve then used these same 9 steps, more recently as I launched my coaching program for female entrepreneurs.
These 9 steps below, are the foundation in which I’ve been able to cultivate intimate connections with my clients, ultimately turning them into lifelong clients. Are you ready?
1. Be human and honest
First and foremost, we are all maneuvering this thing called life, doing the best we can in this moment, with the resources we have. Yes, you are running a business, but you are a HUMAN BEING running a business, remember that with each interaction and exchange.
Honesty builds trust and as trust begins to build, so too does the connection, the authenticity of that very connection and therefore the foundation of your exchange is formed. The beautiful cyclical nature of life - build a solid foundation - trust and connection - exceptional customer experience - repeat clients.
Examples of being human and honest :
Questions to consider :
2. Be clear on the service(s) you provide.
The more clear and connected you are to your service, the more you will attract your dream and ideal clients.
Remember you are you. Although there may be many in your industry, no one has had the life experiences that have brought you to this very moment, exactly where you are today. Use those very life enhancing moments to connect with your clients. In doing so, you’ll be able to live in your truth and provide a clean, supportive, expansive service.
Examples of being clear on the service(s) you provide :
Questions to consider :
3. Be connected to your craft, skill and mission.
The more connected you are to your craft, skill and mission, the better you can serve your clients. Passion leads to purpose. As your passion expands, so too does your knowledge and eventually you’re able to share that knowledge with others. The more you tap into your connection with the service you’re providing, the deeper the service becomes.
Examples of being connected to your craft, skill and mission :
Questions to consider :
4. Get to know your client.
Your clients are the pulse of your business. After all, without them, would you even have a business? Not only is it important to really define your ideal client, create your client avatar and speak to that, but really understand what it means to truly connect with them, ultimately creating an intimate, intentional, in-depth experience.
One of the most effective and supportive ways of doing this is turn your email conversion into a phone (or zoome, skype, facetime) to really get to connect the name, to a face, to a voice, to the person on the other end. Prior to this call, create a series of questions that you want to ask them, to really get to know them as a person and not just as a client. Through getting to know them, you’ll understand if you're the right fit to serve them.
We receive answers, through asking questions. Those answers then become our guidepost for what is to come next. You know, layer upon layer.
Examples of getting to know your client :
Questions to consider :
5. Create a streamlined process.
Oh, do I get so excited with creating streamlined processes for my business. It’s important to create both internal and external processes.
Let’s break them down.
Internal processes are how you do business.
External processes are how you are in relationship, in exchange with your client.
You need the internal process to have the external. They are like day and night, you cannot have one without the other.
Examples of creating a streamlined process :
Questions to consider:
6. Have impeccable communication & prepare them for success.
Being impeccable with your communication is holding your clients hand throughout their journey.
Examples of having impeccable communication and preparing them for success:
Questions to consider :
7. Be fully present, engaged, intentional in the moment and remember to breathe.
An exchange, well - is an exchange. Your energy with whomever you’re in contact with. Energy is felt, fully. As you prepare for your exchange (session, coaching, interaction, etc.), be very mindful of what you need to do to fill up your up and be fully present, engaged and intentional. The more centered you are heading into the session, the more present you will be, therefore the more intentional the exchange will be. When this happens, trust is built, people open up and a more fluid, real conversation and exchange can be had.
Please remember that people can sense when you’re distracted, when you’re off, when you’re not present. When this happens, they pull away, become disconnected from the situation at hand and that’s when trust starts to get lost. This can all be eliminated by preparing yourself before the session.
Also remember, to breathe throughout the exchange. At any time you need to reset, are feeling overwhelmed, feel like you need to go in a different direction, are getting too excited, stop for a moment, put your left hand on your heart and take a few deep breaths. You can even invite your client into this very experience.
Examples of being fully present, engaged and intentional in the moment:
Questions to consider :
8. Live authentically, show up as you.
Truth is, your client hired you because they have a connection to the service you offer. This connection is formulated through a series of small interactions that has built a like, an understanding, a trust. By being you, doing you, they are connecting to the true person behind your brand. Live into this, honor this, show up as you.
The greatest gift we can give ourselves and one another is to be true to who each and everyone of us are. As you honor the unique light within you, so too do you give others the permission to do the same.
A great practice for truly listening to and honoring the authentic you, is sharing from the heart, not the mind. What do you feel, not what do you think? As you tap deeper into what you feel, you’ll become more and more connected to the authentic you. Then, use this inquiry to share it with the world.
Examples of living authentically and showing up as you:
Questions to consider :
9. Stay in touch.
When I first started my photography company, someone told me (I wish I remembered who) to never leave an exchange asking for more money. That struck such a cord as I knew all too well how it felt having an interaction with someone and I owed them more than they quoted.
I since then have expended on this, with my philosophy being, never leave the exchange without expressing your gratitude for them, their support and the very exchange. We all want to be wanted. We all want to be needed. We all want to know that were important (and please remember, we all are, in our own unique ways). To be seen, to be heard, is the greatest gifts of the lifetime. Ensure your clients are seen and heard.
End your interaction with next steps, send an email communicating those next steps. Once the next steps are performed, add them into your system to stay in touch.
Examples of staying in touch :
Questions to consider :
Oh, I see you girl!
Are you wanting to know the tricks, tools, resources in living this intentional, courageous, present life?
I break it down, day by day, week by week.
These are the 7 tools - my guidepost, my pillars, my foundation that I use every single week to really enable me to stay connected to where I am and where I am doing AND exactly what I need to do.
Are you ready?
1. Identify what the most supportive routine is for your life.
2. Ground Yourself.
3. Create your to-do list .
4. Create your to-be list .
5. Personal Goals .
6. Business Goals .
7. Reconnect to and celebrate yourself each day.
Lake Arrowhead Forest and docks Sunset Family Portraits - Lake Arrowhead, California
I find myself in such a state of peace.
In being connected to myself.
In truly being empowered by the work that I am committed to.
In the presence of my daughter, and a reconnection that feels to be occurring.
In where I live, for all that it is.
In the moments that have brought about challenges to then become affirmations.
In the community, I am beyond honored to call mine.
In this very loud, present, expansive sensation of beginning again.
These time capsules, I took last summer.
In the mountains, I call home.
With a family, I call my family.
In an environment, that feels so alive.
With a family that embodies community, love, collaboration, unification.
There are so many moments, over the past year that I’ve documented with one of my favorite creative tools, that of my camera, of which have never surfaced outside of that of experience, exchange and delivering of the photos.
Because there’s this itch, this voice, this grip on things needing to be shared in perfect timing.
Truth is, this is an old belief.
Truth is, this is limiting.
What does perfect timing even mean?
For me, in this moment of life, all I can feel is intuition and divine guidance.
Intuition and dive timing.
Intuition and divine intervention.
With this, the time is now.
Yes, we’re still sitting with who knows how many feet of snow all around after nearly a month of snow storms.
Yes, the mountains haven’t begin to blossom into spring.
Yes, summer is still a ways away.
Yes, the time is now.
These encapsulations are joy.
And that, that is what radiates in this moment.
That, that is what makes me know its time to share.
As all are present, then and now.
Redwoods Winter Engagement Session - Carbon Canyon REGIONAL Park, Orange County
There is space for it all.
Every year a phrase.
Right now, my phrase is, “There is space for it all.”
These here are reflections from an engagement shoot I did just before the holidays and keep feeling like they need to be shared with the world!
These days, there is SO much I want to share.
👉🏼So much about living courageously, courage in action and all that comes with being a Courage Coach.
👉🏼So much about my photography, the connections, it’s teachings.
👉🏼So much about The Living Courageously Podcast - my guests and solo episodes.
Just typing this feels like I need three spaces for all of this.
And truth is, there is only one. Intentionally only one, for it all. Why?
Because to me, photography is my foundation - my birthright into being an entrepreneur, an intentional and badass business owner, creating these insanely intimate, candid and raw connections with my subjects (insanely rad clients) and the way in which I witness, process and transcribe these fleeting moments into tangible ones.
Photography was my vessel to understanding courage, living in this world in a vulnerable way and calling to connect EVEN deeper with my clients, my community!
It paved that way for Courage Coaching.
Courage Coaching is my mountain. It’s my home of maneuvering through the peaks and valleys and all that comes with living in and from this very raw lens, sharing it all. Creating community and remembrance that we are not alone. It’s the place where I can connect with other women, on a soul level. A sacred space for women to move from being uninspired, disconnected and in search of "that very something" to connect with themselves, find that missing piece of their life,create a roadmap to get there, AND reignite their confidence, courage and passion!
This paved the way for The Living Courageously Podcast.
This is a community, where women can really connect with themselves through the lens of courage. What does courage mean to you? What does it look like to live a courageous life?
You see, they are the building blocks, for my mountain ridge. My expression and communication with the world.
Because do you know what is so fascinating?
There is space for it all.