Finding Your Voice: #OHIP4ivf #onpoli Advocates for Greater Infertility Awareness

Since sharing our miscarriage story over the past couple of months, we have been touched, and a bit overwhelmed, to hear from so many families who are struggling with infertility. 1 in 6 people struggle with infertility. Almost everyone knows someone who has been struggling publicly or privately. Recently, I participated in a fundraiser with Hanlon Lain Photography to raise funds and awareness for families who struggle to conceive.

It was a chilly day in October, but the sun was bright and our hearts were full of joy as we set out to photograph women, families and children who were struggling, had triumphed and some who have given up.  My eyes were opened to the incredible financial hardships that these families undertake when fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization become their only hope at having children. The strength and determination of these women was incredible, and we shared hugs, tears, laughter and stories about where our journeys have taken us. 

The fundraiser was a full day of photographing families, couples, children, and individuals who were ether struggling with their own infertility challenges, or simply wanted to support others who were going through a difficult journey to become parents. Not for a calendar, a special promotion for the clinic or anything of the sort. We wanted to honour these families and respect where they are in their journey. Some released balloons to their angel babies, while others breathed in a moment of peace and comfort. 
With the holidays approaching, it is important to note just how difficult they are when you are struggling to conceive. A loss is a loss, whether it be an unborn baby, a parent, or the dream of becoming a parent. It weighs heavy on your heart, and during the holidays there are constant reminders of what should be there celebrating with you. 1 in 6 people struggle with infertility and infertility has been recognized as a complex health care issue by the World Health Organization. In fact, 75% of Ontarians support public funding for IVF treatments, costs of which begin (on average) at $1000 for the very first visit and range as high as $10,000 for in vitro fertilization. These families take on the financial hardship alone, often mortgaging homes, taking out loans, second jobs, and adding to their stress while trying to pay for their IVF treatments.

Quebec, Belgium and Australia have all demonstrated successful funding models for infertility treatment. In doing so, each of these countries and provinces managed to trim their health care costs by millions of dollars. They have also shown commitment to maternal and infant health care. In provinces where couples spend $10,000 and take on three jobs just to pay for the fertility treatments they need, infertile patients are more inclined to ask for multiple embryos to be transferred. That leads to higher numbers of high risk twins and triplets. Twins and triplets are a blessing, but they also carry higher lifetime health and medical needs placing a burden on already overtaxed health care systems. In Quebec the province has saved money by funding IVF and mandating single embryo transfer. The result is healthier babies born to healthier families.

At the recent local fundraiser, we were able to donate just over $2000 to Southern Ontario Fertility Technologies to be put into the compassionate care program to help couples pay for medications, treatments and health care. Not nearly enough, but something at the very least. Infertility impacts everyone; family members, couples, workplaces and support systems. The journey is difficult, emotional and financially draining. What this journey has taught me is to never give up hope, and to raise your voice. There are people struggling. There are people stressed, going into debt and in some cases families being torn apart because of their struggles with infertility. We can change that. We can stand together and raise a voice for government assisted funding for IVF treatments

Find your voice. Share your story. Conceivable Dreams is an Ontario group of infertility patients advocating greater infertility awareness and seeking public funding for IVF. To find out more about Conceivable Dreams, please visit their website.

Follow them on twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. The conversation on social media never stops. Follow the hashtags #OHIP4ivf #onpoli to join in.

Disclaimer: I am a valued member of the Conceivable Dreams blog team. I have been paid for this post. My opinion, advocacy and story are 100 % my own.


Fall Family Photoshoot Fashion 2013

We have been planning a fall family photoshoot with Hanlon Lain Photography for some time now, and admittedly I have been agonizing over the outfits. It seems like it should be easy, but it's really really not!

I had Owen's outfit picked out the moment I saw it. Charcoal grey pants, his every day blue canvas slip ons, and the sweetest red/mint/yellow plaid short sleeved shirt at Target.

But then the big question was...what do there parents wear??

When in doubt, ask your photographer! She suggested jeans and boots, and because I don't tend to wear normal denim's what I've chosen

Dad husband is big on layering so I thought that I would pick up the yellow tone from Owen's shirt and layer that under a charcoal grey sweater that he already has. Then, he can pair it with brown, slightly distressed dress shoes, and the new watch that I got him for our anniversary.

Mom red skinnies paired with a sheer black short sleeved chiffon blouse that I recently found by Joe Fresh (not the exact one in the photo but you get the idea), a yellow scarf (optional...we'll see!), my black wedge mid calf boots and the new necklace that Amber Bryce is creating me.

I can't wait to share the photos with you! We haven't had any family portraits done since Owen turned 1, so it definitely is about time and I'm excited to see how they turn out!


Be Memorable with your Marketing Materials

In this months branding exercise, I wanted to talk about being memorable with your marketing material.

TPH Canada has amazing options to ensure that you leave the right impression when you hand over your precious printed marketing materials.

Last summer when I was going to BlogHer in New York City, I wanted to have postcard sized promo cards with a bio on the back, photos of my work and a photo of myself so that when I reached out to bloggers and companies that I had met, they remembered who I was.

Think about what the recipient of your card will see first. For mine, it was the beautiful and intense colors and I received so many amazing compliments about how the colors seemed to jump off the postcard, and make my marketing materials memorable.

It also helps to have a professional photographer working with you on your headshots so that you are presenting your best self. Sure, we can get some great photos with our iPhones and a good timer on our cameras, but only a professional photographer knows the most flattering angles and lighting to ensure that you are presenting your best visual self.

Dress the part! Are you a mom blogger? Crafter? Travel blogger? Get your hair done, spruce up your makeup and have an eyecatching photo of yourself on your card. So many people at BlogHer thought the photo of me standing in a field, covered in paint, was such a true representation of who I am - a messy artist.
Once all of these elements came together and were printed, I was amazed how it all looked. TPH Canada did a phenomenal job at making all of the elements that make me a blogger and artist some together under one brand, on a very beautiful and memorable card.

Think outside the box. What makes you different? How can TPH Canada show off who you are as a person and writer?

Maybe it is a folded business card with a photo and bio on the inside. Perhaps a trifold brochure with social media stats would fit the bill when it comes to networking with companies. Or maybe even a video card that showcases one of your awesome DIY tutorials or vlogs, reserved for only the companies and bloggers that you really, truly want to work with in the near future.

*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. I was not compensated by Hanlon Lain Photography for this post, but do receive my promotional materials as a form of sponsorship from The Printing House.


BlogHer Sponor Love

A hugely massive shout out to those who helped me create the most beautiful media cards! I had so many compliments on them and I could not be happier with how they turned out!

 The team at TPH Canada was incredible to work with. While tweeting with Brittany about their amazing brand, eco-friendly solutions and really just engaging with one another, to emailing with Cynthia and being incredibly thankful for her super-powers in reprinting after a silly mistake on my part - they are simply the most amazing printing company I have ever had the pleasure in working with. The results were beautiful, and I am so thankful for the compliments that we got on my cards both from brands and bloggers!

Without Lainie's expert eye in photography, the vision that I had for these cards would just not have come to life. In creating a woodland fairy nymph with our model Kassidy, we were able to style her with a fantastic Atutudes tutu, sculpted accessories, pointe shoes, paintings and journals to create a picture of true inspiration. The end result was beautiful and I am eternally grateful for having worked with Lainie on this project.

Lainie also photographed me doing what I do best: painting. I am so thankful for this experience as I've never been able to paint and have someone capture it on film before. It was amazing, to say the least, and the feedback that I got from brands when they saw me doing my thing was awesome!

See you in Chicago!

BlogHer Sponsors: Thank You!

From the bottom of my heart, I want to send out a huge thank you to all of the amazing sponsors who helped me board a plane today, put gorgeous media cards together for me, provided inspiration and photography, designed incredible outfits, jewelry and tutu's....

Without you all, BlogHer'12 would be but a dream for me. You helped make this possible!

BlogHer Sponsor Love: Hanlon Lain Photography

 I have something incredibly special to share with you, from my photography sponsor Hanlon Lain Photography.

Last week, my mom got married. It was her second wedding, a late-in-life-love after my Dad passed away almost 7 years ago. Lainie captured the most lovely and tender moments!

I just love the vintage vibe to the photographs. The light is so yummy and soft, the details are perfect, and everything turned out so be very dreamy.

I am so proud of my friend, Lainie, who has taken her passion for photography and turned it into her art. What she sees through her lens is truly amazing!

BlogHer Sponsor Love: Hanlon Lain Photography

I had this vision way back in December when Lainie and I first shot with Kassidy of a woodland fairy nymph coming to life out in the woods with my sculpted hair pieces tangled in her crazy hair, really frosty looking makeup, a big fluffy tutu and reading one of my painted journals.


6 months ago...

On Thursday evening, my vision came to life and I cannot wait to get the photos from the session. Here is a sneak peek!!
White ruffle peony headband and painted skeleton key journal

Isn't she stunning?? I adore all of the photos that I've seen so far and am so thankful to everyone who helped to pull off this shoot!

BlogHer Sponsor Love: Hanlon Lain Photography...getting messy!

Last month, I had the great pleasure of working with my BlogHer sponsor Hanlon Lain Photography  on a fantastic photo shoot. 

I had a vision of me in one of her fields with my canvases, paint and easel…just being me and being inspired by the space around me. 

The messier part of the vision was that I would end up covered in paint….head to toe {not hair to toe…} in paint. My feet were an absolute mess by the end of the shoot since I was literally standing in the drippings off the paintings and my easel, and my hands were blue by the time everything dried and I got home {and I still had to go to the grocery store!}

I would never in a million years have thought to capture what Laina did. Her use of angles, the way she captures the light that no one else can see, and the way she caught my expression was incredible. I was able to just paint, do my thing and have her capture who I am as a true artist.

The entire experience was amazing. It made this whole artist thing seem...real. Like this is what I was meant to do and who I was meant to be. What an amazing feeling!

I am absolutely thrilled to feature one of her photos on the bio-side of my media cards that will be passed out at BlogHer this year!