Where did 2014 go and how I feel about 2015! + My jam list

Editorial Photography by Martine Sansoucy

Editorial Photography by Martine Sansoucy

Yup. As always at the beginning of every year I am determined to keep up with the blog. Write every day I tell myself… okay, maybe once a week, I could probably handle once a month. And here it is folks, my one blog post for the year! haha not quite, I did have three or four…

So this year I am just not going to make any promises. Things are busy, I am NOT going to lie! That’s why.. some sacrifices (like writing in a blog), have to be made. 2014 was in the door and out the window. I don’t really know where the year went! My boys and I had many summer adventures including our once a year camping trip including grumbling and moaning as we went for nature walks, many many games of Apples to Apples, delicious food that I actually had time to cook, naps, sunset photos, tons of trips to the corner store, lots of my hair falling out, etc, etc.

I also took a trip to BC to visit my dad with my one of my boys and stocked up on incense from China Town. I painted my kitchen yellow, then, I painted my living room light peach (which looks more like pink admittedly), and we FINALLY got new flooring put in our living room. I read many, many books. Business books, fictional books, non-fictional books, self help books, health books, and pretty much any type of book that you can think of. Oh yeah, did I mention I like books?

I watched a LOT of great TV.. I blew through some shows pretty quickly that I became obsessed with. They included Orphan Black, Broadchurch, Homeland, Mr. Selfridge, Broad City, Masters of Sex, Tyrant and Outlander. All totally ridiculously good shows. I listened to a LOT of music. Especially Jamaican music and Hip Hop. I did a LOT of laundry. Because three boys generate an atrocious amount of laundry, but at the same time have an invisible vortex where all socks disappear to.

A lot of things really came together for me. I have been reading, staying inspired, feeling motivated. To do this, I really had to cut people and things out of my life. Sometimes it involved housework. Most of the time it involved cutting out negative people, or people who were draining on my energy. Let me tell you…this helps! I learned a lot about industry friendships in 2014 and some of those lessons were… harsh to say the least. I got stabbed in the back, burned, cheated, and hurt. The bottom line? Trust no one but yourself and be careful with friends in your industry. I make a list every six months of people or things that are negative in my life or drain my energy and I try to eliminate as many on the list as I possibly can. It came with some tough choices and losses last year, but in the end I am a much happier and healthier person!

I photographed some weddings. Scratch that, I photographed a LOT of weddings. I saw some really beautiful dresses, I met some really amazing couples and I had a pretty amazing year! I also won Planet S”s Best Professional Photographer of 2014 and was I ever surprised! What an amazing honor and so humbling to receive. That was a huge boost for my self confidence and has been keeping me motivated to push forward in my career. I always want to continue to push my boundaries, try new things, improve, improve, improve… I still have SO much to learn!

I took the boys to Mexico for a Christmas vacation and my mom came too! It was AHHMAZING to finally be in Mexico with my family! I have admired Mexico on destination weddings for so long, wishing I could share my experiences with my family and I finally got to! We did one excursion too many (totally my fault for over planning) and I probably had one too many shots of Tequila with my mom (it doesn’t take much for me), resulting in a rather wobbly ride to the airport. OOPS!  It’s definitely something we plan to do again and we all had such a blast!

To sum it up, my year was one busy place to be, and let me tell you it came with it’s real challenges too. Raising three boys on your own is NOT easy. The one thing that is always tiring and never-ending is trying to explain to people why I’m tired and just want to chill out when I finally have a moment of time. They think I just have my business and my editing, but are forgetting I have a family at home, a rather large one, that I am 100% financially and emotionally responsible for all of them and I am on my own. It’s not personal, I just have priorities. The boys are getting larger and smellier, my Costco bill is getting higher, the smell of their feet is getting ranker, the never ending piles of laundry are growing and my house is shrinking more and more every day. It’s definitely been a constant balancing act between work and kids, but it’s something that improves every year. It takes a lot of practice but it can be done!

So what’s up for 2015? I just have this feeling… that it is absolutely going to be an amazing year! So many exciting things happening, so many opportunities, amazing clients, plans, travels, and road trips with the boys.

GUESS WHAT!? It has been over a MONTH since I had my last Pepsi.. (almost 40 days to be exact!) I completely quit pop (with the exception of a little cup on the plane), and I can honestly say it’s probably been 10 years since I went even close to a month without Pepsi or pop. So I am pretty darned proud of myself!

I am ready to shove 2014 out the door. Slam the door in it’s face and never look back. I have some new plans that do not involve things in 2014 and I’ve never been one to linger in my past. Every day, every week, every month I have goals, lists, plans and actions to make it happen. Guess what? I have already been crossing things off my lists. This is the year people!

I have some serious business goals.. I write them down. I have vision boards, I am determined. I have some serious personal goals. I even use stickers like a child to mark my accomplishments. Seriously. I am excited about the year! I am excited about life! I have connected with some amazing people already this year, people that could change the direction of my career and lead to much bigger things! 2015 is the year to hustle and grind. Wake up and hustle. Hustle till you make it!

I’m calling on everyone to make this the year you hustle and make shit happen!

I am still ever growing obsessed with music and I have to admit it’s my favorite part of driving. I am loving so many artists and so many different genres of songs that it makes me crazy sometimes. Even though some of these are sooo old school I wanted to share my ever so clever list of songs that I have been putting on repeat lately! P.S I have to admit I omitted a few songs with especially explicit lyrics

1. Aluna George – You Know You Like It

2. Kelly Rowland – This is Love

3.The Weeknd (Kygo Remix) – Often

4. Birdy – Shelter

5. Popcaan – Unruly Rave

6. I-Octane – Love Di Vibe

7. Davido – Aye

8. ZZ Ward – Last Love Song

9 .Sevyn Streeter ft. Chris Brown – It won’t Stop

10. Elley Duhe – The Little Things

11. Miguel – Simple Things

11. Tinashe – Feels Like Vegas

12. Wilkinson – Afterglow

13. Make It Burn Dem – Skrillex ft. Damian Marley

14. Glycerine – Bush

15.The Fly’s – Got you where I want you

16. Michal Jackson – The way you make me feel

17.Wax – Music & Liquor

18. Akon – Don’t Matter

19. Nelly – Just a Dream

20. Childish Gambino – Sober

I would love to hear from you! What are YOUR hustle plans in 2015? Are you using vision boards, writing lists, keeping a Pinterest Board, etc? What are YOU doing to make it happen?

Love, peace & chicken grease (only sometimes though because it’s fattening) – Martine

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The most common misconception about Mexico…and Universal rules of safety for travel!

Small town in Huatulco Mexico - Android photo!

Small town in Huatulco Mexico – Android photo!

Hey guys!

At the moment I am feeling very good and very positive because I am on some very strong pain killers for my passing kidney stone… at least let’s hope it passes without issue! So I apologize in advance if anything I say sounds… out of whack or otherwise strange. It’s probably just me talking, but I will blame it on the pain killers anyway.

So IT’S A WRAP! I just returned home from my last destination wedding of the year (so far anyway!), and it was in beautiful and lovely Mexico! Now this wasn’t my first time to Mexico, or even my second time in Mexico. I have now been to Mexico a few times and I have to say the people who think they know what they’re talking about when they talk of Mexico really have no clue what they are saying. Unless you’ve visited Mexico and immersed yourself into local life with the Mexican’s please feel free to shut your mouth at anytime. I am always blown away by the kindness, generosity and overwhelming sense of feeling welcomed every time I visit Mexico, and despite obvious and significant language barriers they are just wonderful people who are proud of their country and want you to enjoy your stay so much so that you will return.

After visiting a small town in Mexico with my clients for some unique and off the grid wedding photos, I decided I wanted to spend a day in that town. The locals were so friendly and curious about our being there, that it made me feel both welcome and in safe hands. So on my last day in Mexico I caught a cab back to this lonely little town enveloped in road side huts with plastic chairs offering none other than cold Coronas and the Universal drink; Coca Cola. When I told the driver to drop me off by the side of the road, he raised his eyebrows a little and asked me in broken English if I knew where I was going. I just looked at him and smiled with one word, explorar. He just smiled and told me he would be there at the same spot to pick me up in a few hours and I went off to do exactly that… explore.

The roads were a mixture of sand and dirt, dispersed with rocks every now and again and I felt my feet grow easily tired with my really cute but obviously cheap sandals. I kicked them off and ended up walking bare footed down the roads. I must have walked for at least an hour. Stopping to admire the lush tropical gardens filled with plantains and cactus, the happy children running around chasing chickens and roosters that were randomly ambling across the roads. I was tempted to pet one of the many stray dogs that wandered around homeless and starving, many with hanging nipples from no doubt having litters of puppies who would also end up wandering the small town streets homeless.  Along the outskirts of the town, there were little farms. Huts made with palm leaves and fronds where inside sitting on a broken down looking stool a round bellied Mexican leaned up against a table snoozed lazily in the hot sun. Almost every Mexican I passed, smiled with such sincerity it reached their eyes and welcomed me with an “Hola” or a “Como estas?”

As my luck would have it, I saw the same yellow broken down bug car in the middle of a lot fenced with barbed wire. This was close to where my clients and I had ventured off for some photos and I instantly recognized the simplistic and minimal playground beside it. As I took a few photos with my phone (yes I really do take photos with my phone), some friendly voices trailed off behind me and I turned around. A woman I recognized stood there with a child on her hip and four other children crowding around her smiling broadly at me. “Hola!” I said, happy to see these familiar faces once again. This family had followed myself and the bride and groom around while we took photos there a couple of days earlier and had even led us to a beautiful spot by their local river for some nice shots. For the next few minutes, we tried and mostly failed at making some awkward small talk with each other and I then continued on my way. They waved me off with enthusiasm and a friendliness I would be hard pressed to find from strangers anywhere here in Saskatoon.

As I made my way into and across the town, I was greeted by several other friendly strangers and realized at one point that I was being followed by a little boy around the age of ten. He kept staring at me and smiling as I walked along, sometimes catching up to me and sometimes falling behind me. We wound up in a small downtown area where I stopped at a small gated store and bought Cokes for both myself and him and sent him on his way with a stick of gum from my purse. Eventually the heat caught up with me and I wound up back at a little restaurant my clients and I had visited a couple of days earlier and sat down letting the cool taste of a Corona travel down my throat and send warm fuzzies right down to my toes.

I had at least another hour before the driver would come back to the town to pick me up and I decided to have one more walk around the outskirts of the town, where I admired the many beautiful tropical gardens. As I was walking along a back road covered in canopies of trees and lined with widely dispersed little tiki huts and half houses with tin sheets for roofs, a woman and her teenaged son approached me with some amount of eager shyness and held out a bowl for me. Inside the bowl was a medley of grilled vegetables including cactus, carrots, potato and what I later researched to be something called chayote. It was lightly spiced and had been grilled in butter. They smiled and nodded as I took the bowl and tried some of the delicious veggies, thanking them. They really were delicious! It didn’t take long before the woman took me by the arm and had me in a large wire fenced yard sitting in a plastic chair eating a full meal with them. The silence at times was awkward but was filled with the laughter and chaos of her other four young children, three boys and a girl. One of the little boys excitedly ran to a tree by their yard and started kicking something around until one of his brothers ran and kicked it back to him. I sat and reflected. This is one of the first stories I told my boys when I got home. The thing he was kicking around was a dirty and beaten up empty YOP bottle and it was hanging from a tied bit of rope to a tree. Yet this simple thing brought these two boys so much joy and laughter. My boys were probably fighting over the wii back at home and complaining that they need more Lego sets (even though they have enough Lego to supplement a small country). The woman spoke little to no English and I struggled to find the right words to say with my small but every day growing Spanish vocabulary. However just like Coca Cola a smile is always Universal and so basically my chicken and hot bean dinner was accompanied by many many smiles and words of gracias. Would this act of generosity by a stranger happen in Saskatoon? No… most likely not. Even though the chicken was slightly dry and beans really aren’t my all time favorite, it was hands down the best meal I had eaten while on my trip to Mexico. Not for the food, but merely the kindness and sweetness of company I shared, as quiet and mis-understood as it was. Before saying good bye, the woman and I hugged and the warmth in her eyes sent me away from this little town feeling like I just won the lottery. By the time my driver came around the corner of our meeting spot I was grinning from ear to ear like a doped up idiot.

As the day turned into night, the driver and I chatted between broken English and Spanish and he ended up taking me out for a beer and to see some beautiful look out points around Huatulco. The sights were spectacular and wonderful and as the sun set over the beautiful city below I reflected on my experiences in Mexico. I have been to some of the crummiest and most poor areas of Mexico and also some of the most beautiful and touristy spots in Mexico and it always remained the same. I saw such beauty in all of my surroundings and the locals proved to me time and time again that they cared for my safety and welcomed me into their country with open arms. I can’t say the same for a lot of other countries out there that are supposed to be “safer” and “better” countries to visit according to a general consensus. In fact the overall attitude from a lot of people makes me angry and bitter when it comes to my protective nature of this country and others like Jamaica. You can go to Mexico and be shown into a complete strangers home for supper, or you can come to Canada and see news of 5 completely innocent people being stabbed to death in a senseless murder, followed by more stabbings the next night in Regina. Right now, Mexico is looking decidedly safer. Now I know that was a loaded statement that a lot of you might not appreciate. However I think it’s important to remember that you can certainly get yourself into trouble ANYWHERE that you go. There are acts of human cruelty and senseless crimes that happen ANYWHERE in the world. The fact is, just as we should always try to leave our judgement of a person to personal experience rather than third party word, I do feel that you should be extending the same courtesy to visiting Mexico.

I have come up with a list of UNIVERSAL rules of safety that you should be using ANYWHERE that you travel to. Heck you should even use these rules in your OWN city. They are all common sense and all completely practical!

1. Always ask permission before taking someone’s photo. I am sure you would not appreciate some random stranger on the street taking YOUR photo without asking. It’s rude and obnoxious and just because someone might not speak the same language as you doesn’t give you the right to snap away. So always ASK.

2. If you see or witness an altercation, do NOT get involved. This is common sense anywhere and it’s how people get killed.

3. Don’t buy drugs. Just don’t.

4. Don’t walk around alone at night in questionable areas. Heck I don’t walk around on 20th street in Saskatoon alone at night, so just use your brain.

5. Don’t flash your money around like some sort of millionaire, because you are most likely not, and people might consider this an invitation for petty theft. Similarly, don’t go to a sketchy neighborhood, set your bags down and walk away.

6. If you are in questionable surroundings, wear a shoulder bag, and always keep a little something extra tucked away on your body somewhere (for girls a bra or the inside pocket of LuLu’s or workout pants works perfectly, for guys you are on your own with this one).

7. A smile is better than a thousand words. If I see anyone who is looking suspicious or giving me an uncomfortable look, I smile and nod. It instantly softens them and they typically smile back. Smile often and stay safe.

8. If you see any sort of political protest, war, debate, speech, etc, stay the eff out of it. Because really.. it’s none of your business.

9. Respect dress codes. If you visit a country where no one is wearing a tank top, then you probably shouldn’t either.

10. Be friendly and open. No one likes a stuck up snob. No one. If you go into a country feeling insecure and scared, then negative energy is what you will attract. If you go into a country and are friendly and open with people, then those are exactly the type of people and experiences you will attract. If in doubt, always smile.

I love travel and I believe you are in control of what your experiences will end up like no matter where you go. I love Mexico and I WILL be returning 🙂 I hate the common misconception that the country is dangerous and should not be visited. I don’t think anyone will be warning Mexican’s against visiting Winnipeg, even though it’s been labeled the murder capital of the country. Just use your common sense.

I would love to hear about YOUR positive experiences in Mexico and would love for you to comment below!

Stay posted for more photos of Mexico and also some wedding posts about the last two Destination Weddings I had. For now, I will be recovering from my kidney stone and working on some edits.

xoxo – M

Drinks with my new amigo!

Drinks with my new amigo!

Adventures in Cabos Mexico & websites I am following and loving!

Destination Wedding Cabos Mexico

Destination Wedding Cabos Mexico

Hey everyone!

I can’t believe this weather is FINALLY starting to warm up… after the deep freeze we have been having here, we no doubt deserve it!
Nonetheless I hope everyone has been staying warm and fuzzy during the cold times and enjoying these last few melting days!

WELL… I just got back from Los Cabos Mexico and it was in one word. Fantastic. I finally got the chance to relax a little bit, read some books, go for a swim or two, and soak up the awesome photo locations around me. Do not be mistaken though, there was some good hard work involved with my trip! I was blessed enough to have two of the kindest, nicest and let’s be honest super good looking clients while away on this destination wedding and their wedding day was a success! We started by driving into the town of San Jose and doing some photos with the wedding party around town, and wound back up at their beach resort in San Lucas for a beautiful ceremony at dusk overlooking the beautiful view of Lovers Beach. Afterward, the couple and their friends & family celebrated and partied at their beach house and danced to a mariachi band who totally livened the party up! It was a great night and at the end of the day when my head hit the pillow I was out like a light.

We also stuck around San Lucas for some fabulous engagement and family shots with their sweet little 3 year old daughter who wasn’t a fan of my camera, but warmed up to me by the wedding day when she realized I had a purse full of candies as bribes haha! After our engagement shoot I was walking down the beach looking for a water taxi, when I noticed a Pelican that had washed up on the shore and was laying in pain, struggling to stay alive. I was instantly very concerned and heartbroken for him as when I looked closer, I realized he had swallowed something that was too large to pass through his throat and it had gotten stuck in his throat. It was now painfully cutting right through his throat and sticking out. It was incredibly sad to watch him struggle for his life, trying to bring this large bone back up without success. When I knew that he was going to allow me to touch him and help him, another tourist and I held him and I tried to slowly work the object back up his neck and un-lodge it from his throat. Then yes, I actually reached in his throat and removed the item, which was a hideously large and very sharp animal bone of some sort. Unfortunately our efforts were too late, and he died seconds later right in our hands. I am sure the cluster of Mexican’s that had been watching thought we were some crazy Canadians for trying to save this Pelican’s life…. but I am a sucker for animals and I just hate to see them suffer. I water taxied it back to my hotel with tears in my eyes. I know I can be such a baby sometimes!

I also had the amazing opportunity to work with a model I had connected with almost a year earlier, and we planned a creative shoot! Crissty Santana is a gorgeous blonde who has done modeling several times for Maxim and other magazines like FHM. I was so excited to have the chance to work with her! Through her, I also got to meet Lupita, who is one of the most talented makeup artists and hairstylists I have worked with! What a blessing to have such a fantastic team of talented woman to spend the day with. I had originally planned for a different kind of shoot, but when I put the outfit I had made for her together, we realized that she looked more like a magnificent bird than anything else. We decided to agree that she was a beautiful black Crow. My brother is a huge fan of Crows, so I was pretty excited about this concept! Absolutely personally loved the outcome from this shoot, but more than anything the chance to meet such kind and amazing people from different countries is what excites me the most and makes me happy! Now I just have to pray that someone else takes me with them to Cabos soon so I can shoot with these lovely ladies again! Here are a couple of shots from our creative shoot in Cabos!

The Crow Photoshoot with Crissty Santana

The Crow Photoshoot with Crissty Santana

The Crow Photoshoot with Crissty Santana

The Crow Photoshoot with Crissty Santana

The Crow Photoshoot with Crissty Santana

The Crow Photoshoot with Crissty Santana

To continue my adventures, I was very excited to do a extended bride and groom session with Katrina and Dustan and we headed to one of the poorest areas of the city first for some photos! I personally LOVE seeing these parts of the country, because most people like to stay trapped in this little Americanized resort bubble and don’t seem to realize what’s REALLY out there. As always the people in Mexico are some of the most genuine and nicest people to be around and we were lucky to have an awesome cab driver that day who even stopped and bought some cerveza’s for us in the middle of our shoot! YUM! It sure hit the spot. From there we went to a beautiful resort location where you could get down to some rocks by the ocean… Let me tell you! Climbing on these rocks was no easy task! There were hundreds of sea urchins in the little pockets of water all over the rocks so you had to be extremely careful where you were stepping. When I saw Katrina and Dustan approach the edge of a rock, there were dozens of extra large and very creepy looking crabs that started skittering out of the rocks and into the water! Ugh. Not to mention the rocks were sharp and jagged and just not that much fun to walk on. All in all… worth the photos in my opinion. We ended our day with the sun going down on Lovers Beach. I still can’t get over the gorgeous rock formations on this little island and I couldn’t have been more blessed with these fantastic photo locations! Here are a couple of photos so far from this Destination Wedding!

Destination Wedding Cabos Mexico

Destination Wedding Cabos Mexico

Destination Wedding Cabos Mexico

Destination Wedding Cabos Mexico

 

By the end of the week though, I was more than ready to come home to my boys! I had been missing them like crazy! Since I have been home, I have been doing never-ending amounts of cleaning, finishing up on edits from some recent shoots and weddings and catching up on tons of emails, messages and Facebook activity that I missed while I was away. In the midst of all of this, one of my favorite things to do is read from some of my favorite websites and blogs of people that I follow. I would love to share some of the websites/blogs that I am following right now that inspire me every time I open them!

1. Mind Body Green

SOO great! Chalked full of healthy articles and info. I always find an article that’s interesting or informative every time I open one of their emails and one of my favorite parts of the day is reading through their website while I drink my tea in the mornings.

2. Skinny Taste

What can I say? I love to cook good food and I also love healthy food. This is just a food porn website that I love to follow as often as I can. Everything looks pretty delicious and it gives me inspiration for my cooking!

3. Women’s Health

I Love this magazine. So it comes as not surprise that I love flipping through there easy to navigate website and short informative articles. It’s a website I have been frequenting for years!

4. Allison Braun – The Business Joyologist.

Seriously. I love this woman. Not only because she is a dear friend and I have known her for years, but because she is one of the smartest most business savvy woman I know and I am always inspired reading her newsletters and blog posts. It’s something I always welcome and look forward to seeing in my inbox!

5. The Pioneer Woman

EEK! Love this woman and have all of her cookbooks… Not only is she a great food photographer (which we know I love too!), but she is packed full of great info, little tidbits of fun and super awesome recipes. This is why I love this woman and have to visit her blog at least once every couple of days.

So there you have it! A little bit of my daily reading and inspiration.

Well after such a great trip, it has me all pooped out and I must go continue tackling the never-ending laundry that comes with living with three boys. I hope you all have a wonderful and fabulous week with many great blessings!

xoxo – M