I'm an American expat, writer. photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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In the last few months, Alex and I have noticed a dynamic shift between us. Our past four years together have been centered around travel, adventure, excitement and intentionally choosing not to have any roots – for possibly ever. But after our nonstop travels this past year, particularly mine, we are both realizing how much we dream of quiet home life…someday. A simple, slow life in the country. 

Our Simple Dreams For The Future

We dream of a life of slow living and quiet simplicity. A white picket fence, our own offices, and a flower and vegetable garden in the front yard. I imagine myself barefoot in overalls with chopped sticks in my hair, much to Alex’s chagrin, catering to the soil in my flower beds, with our two cats loudly purring and rubbing their noses against my calf, darting in between my ankles. Our dream future has a deck out back with a massive yard for our dogs to run around in, plenty of space and quiet around our craftsman home, with creaky wood floors and plenty of soft natural light pouring in. A wide front porch, an antique clawfoot bathtub for me and two rocking chairs out front to complete our little character of a home.

Annual Disney trips, time to write, me running a creative business from home, with our animals keeping us company. We’ll still travel to a new country every year, but maybe we won’t spend two months living in Egypt like in our younger days. I’ll finally learn to sculpt and create our kitchen bowls, molding and shifting the clay with my hands. We’ll live by the sea, the salt waters reminding us of the simple pleasures and joys of living, as we watch our dogs, arm in arm, run excitedly around the beach. Our family. Our home.

Noticing the simple joys…a lifestyle I deeply value and resonate with. 

5 Most Underrated Small Cities in Spain You Must Visit! Salamanca, Caceres, Cordoba, Granada, Aranjez - Photographer / blogger Helena Woods

Our Intention: Choosing Adventure in the Present Moment 

Alex and I often find ourselves giddy with joy, when we sit down to plan our future. We love looking at small New England towns and rescue shelters online, imagining what our mismatched, thrifted antique furniture would look like, our daily routines and our favorite dog breeds on Pinterest. We get particularly excited about us being dog parents – throwing birthday parties will be a thing – and I dream of someday running my own animal rescue/foster and adoption organization. Of having empty space and writing a children’s book or two. I imagine myself continuing to partake in all the hobbies. 

AND at the same time, I am not ready for any of that in this present moment. Right now, we still want and choose to be rootless. We still happily choose to live in different countries, moving and shuffling to each new home with our suitcases every few years. We enjoy this present moment AND we are excited for a time in our life when we are ready for our fur children. As I’ve wrestled with this idea of “Is it okay to want both??” I find myself being particularly judgmental to myself and my own future dreams.

This blog post is for you, as much as it is for me: remember that it is okay to be happy with what is and eager for more. 

Helena Woods Children's Family Photographer in Fairfield County Connecticut and NYC

Happy, Thank You, More Please

It is this Abraham Hicks concept of being happy with what is, grateful for what you already have now AND also being excited for the future. It is not either/or, but AND. I find when you are in a feel-good place, visualizing your dreams becoming real now and how you would feel if you already had it, helps to manifest those dreams at a faster speed.

I used to visualize us living in France, manifesting large amounts of money out of nowhere, earning x amount of dollars from photography without knowing how to operate a camera, traveling the world – with very little funds. 

…and it all happened. Everything and more has happened.

Four Steps to Manifesting Dreams

The key to manifesting is in four easy steps, with the fourth one often being the trickiest to master:

Get into Alignment 

Express Appreciation

Ask For More

Allow

In other words, do things that make you feel really good.

Express your appreciation for what is already present in your life.

Write down what you want, or say it out loud! Pray for it. Think about it. Draw it out. Ask it during a New Moon. (You get it…)

And finally, and most importantly, let go and surrender. Move your attention elsewhere and continue on living. When you’re looking the other way, the dream you thought of mentally will create itself physically for you – with little effort. 

expat wife and lady of leisure reads at cafe in Paris

Tips for Manifesting Future Dreams

If you’re new to the concept of manifestation and visualization, or just want to learn more on how to dive deeper into these concepts of “Happy, Thank You, More Please,” here are my tips and thoughts on them:

Have Compassion For Yourself

Remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with dreaming. And there is nothing wrong with planning your dream life if it makes you intrinsically happy. Your dream may be off in the future somewhere, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set your attention on it today. As long as the visualizing and planning brings you pleasure, there is nothing wrong with thinking long-term. 

Remember That You Can Have Both

It’s not an either/or. You can both be happy now and still be eager and joyfully excited for the future. 

Take Notice

Take a gratitude walk, taking note of the things you encounter on your walk that make you appreciative. Jot down a few simple things from your day that you feel appreciation for before falling asleep. While on your commute, make a mental note of 5 things on your daily commute you find simple pleasure in. Maybe it’s a podcast you’re listening to on your drive to work, a song that uplifts your spirits while hopping in the shower, or the way the sun reflects its light down on a nearby building or tree. Take notice of those little things, and bring attention to it.

Express Appreciation

Express appreciation for what you currently have in your present life. It could be the feel of your feet touching the ground, reminding yourself of the immense gratitude to be able to walk every day. Often we fail to notice these things. The fact that we have sight. That we can see color and texture and depth. That we can taste: rich chocolate, fresh clean water, the sweet tanginess of a mandarin. That we can smell: freshly mowed grass, the page of a book, the salt water near the beach. That we can love. There is much to be appreciated. 

Write Out Your Wildest Dreams

While you’re in this feel-good place, write out your wildest dreams. They might be simple and peaceful, like mine are, or they could be adventurous, risk-taking and exciting like a trip around the world! There are no limits. No dream is too big – Walt Disney is evident of that. Share it and express it, until you feel like the world has heard you, that you’ve heard yourself. 

The future is open and ready for you to live it. It is already created and waiting for you. But remember the present, for without the love you have for this moment, this day, what is the point in living for a future? There is only ever N O W. And when the time is right… when the moment is perfectly ready and open for you, it’ll be like walking through a finely-tuned storybook – a fairytale that unfolded exactly as it should have. 

I’d love to hear from you!

Have you had an experience like this? Have you manifested something physically in your life that resulted from your thoughts and beliefs? I’d love to hear your story and what came of it! Send me a message Instagram or write to me personally at helenawoodsblog@gmail.com

And if this blog post has inspired or uplifted you in any way, please share it with a friend. 🙂

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Here’s the Simple Secret to Manifesting Dreams

March 10, 2019

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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