Documenting Led to a Grand “Surprise!”

Have you ever surprised someone? Or has someone ever *really* surprised you?

Here’s my story…

On 3 Christmas Eve’s in my life, I made the 4+ hour trip from Michigan to Ohio and showed up (without warning) on my Auntie Deb + Uncle Gary’s doorstep.

“Surprise! Merry Christmas!”⠀⠀

It happened as a newborn with my parents, at 10 with my Papa Bob and then at 20 with my mom. So fun!

From doing my 5-part documenting practice, I *noticed* this story for the first time in a long time. Even better, instead of allowing the remembrance to be a fleeting thing, I DID something with it.

As a result, a *new* story and wonderful memory for myself, my kids and my parents was sparked.

You see, in paying attention to my old story, I remembered how magical that experience was.

As I thought about it…

  • I wanted my kids to feel the thrill of plotting such a grand surprise.
  • I wanted someone to feel important enough to *be worth* the long, unannounced trek and total “Surprise!” moment.⠀
  • *I* wanted to feel the magic again for me.

This is the stuff that life’s memories are made of… and the stuff we put off for various reasons, right?!

For awhile, nothing happened.

Life moved along. I told myself I could come up with a plan later. Well, “later” never came, but opportunity struck in March and because of practicing Intentional Documentary®, my awareness radar told me to GO!

Make a new memory.

Live out my version of a fulfilled life.

Experience the highest level of connection.

Yet even with the idea planted, in my own excitement lived hesitation.

I kept the idea to myself, so that I could change my mind without causing a tsunami of disappointment.

I wanted a “guilt-free out” in case I changed my mind.

That’s the dance we do in life with the things that matter most isn’t it?

And, I almost did change my mind.

It was right after I told the kids about my idea. They were over the damn moon and I was going backwards…

The weather forecast was crappy. Kendall had tests in school those days. I had lots to do and driving with the kids is when they have their biggest bicker-fests.

All the reasons NOT to go kept adding up.

The kids knew I was backpedaling. So, they did what kids do when they *REALLY* want something: they started cleaning the house.

In between the picking up and the vacuuming, I heard whispers of,

“Grammie and Papa are gonna be SO excited!”

COME ON, KIDS!

I almost passed out from the love in that moment….

And so, the kids & I drove the TWELVE HOURS north to Michigan.

Without warning, we showed up on my parent’s doorstep.

“Surprise!”

Yep, 12 hours north for just ONE day there.

A few screenshots of the video I recorded:

No wedding or funeral or holiday.

We went just because.

We left for our 12 hour ride home after only 18 hours.

And you know what?

It was WORTH IT.

You should have heard how giddy the kids were (and me too) in the video!

Not to mention my parent’s faces! 😲

Not to mention how my heart wanted to COMBUST with a million little heart-shaped fireworks.

Memories preserved can spark *new* memories.

You just have to *pay attention* to them.

This has been such a profound shift in my life that that’s why you don’t see me actively trying to help people with marketing or whatever anymore.

I believe so much more in how documenting (which starts wayyy before making a picture btw!) can help us live out what matters most.

You deserve to see more opportunities to create magic like this.

My 5-part Intentional Documentary® practice uses what you already love doing (documenting) and illuminates these opportunities, so that you put real connection in your life first.

Wanna work on this together?

To have a mental break from your business?

To have no worries if your composition is off or if other people ‘like’ your photos or about how well so and so did in the latest photography competition?

And, instead…

To (re)focus on the heart of documenting (the stories!) and the magic those old moments can create for you now?

If so, click here and I’ll let you know when it opens this fall!

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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