Show Notes

Friends! Meet Shay. Shay is an incredible photographer and a wonderful mama. I admire her very much for sticking to her guns about the kind of mama she wanted to be – available and intentional. She recently stopped shooting weddings and started focusing on commercial work (we are so blessed to work with her on our own product photographs – here is a fun little behind-the-scenes post Shay recently wrote from one of our shoots) so that she could build her schedule around her little girls. I’m thrilled to introduce you to her and her six tips for building joy and simplicity into her life. Ah, and Shay just launched a beautiful new brand and website. I was tickled pink to be able to design Shay’s brand! Check it out! – Emily

Hi there! Among many things, I am the wife and lead cheerleader of my best friend and husband Graham, an often scatter brained mom of two little curly headed girls and a grateful product stylist and photographer on the side!  I have been a professional photographer and small business owner for about 8 years now and it only took about 7 of those years to figure out exactly what it is creatively that sets my heart on fire.  Prior to that fear-ridden, freeing discovery I would have told you that I just loved owning a business and helping people and that almost anything could have been substituted in for photography.  Now, I lie awake at night styling and shooting in my head and am grateful, oh so grateful, to get to do what I do and be home with my family while I do it. (Photo by Brandy J Photography.)

When I think about simplified living I don’t necessarily think about an organized laundry room (it will never happen in my house) or that perfect mom tote with all of those compartments so that I know exactly where the paci is when “curly girl #2” is having a melt down in aisle 5.  Let’s be honest, I’m not one amazing product away from simplicity (or organization for that matter) BUT what does come to mind is the daily CHOICE to simplify and the fruit of intentional simplicity which is a heart full of peace and joy.

So with that…here is my pick 6 in the form of principles that help me to clear the mental clutter and live the simplified life with a heart full of peace and joy!


PERMISSION TO COMPARTMENTALIZE: In the first few years as a new mommy I tried to do everything everyday and it only ever left me feeling like I never really accomplished anything at all.  My breakthrough came when I gave myself permission to compartmentalize. On Monday, I am a fort-maker extraordinaire, phenomenal nursery rhyme singer, and make a mean bowl of oatmeal (with sprinkles), on Tuesday and Thursday I am the best photographer and business owner that I can be. My girls are in school and with a nanny all day on both days and those are my (only) work days. The dishes will pile up and we will order pizza for dinner but those are my two work days. Wednesday is my cleaning day and the only day of the week that I do “major” cleaning. Friday is “Family Fun Friday” in our house, daddy is off work and there are no rules except that it be fun and it be done as a family.

DINNER THE OLD FASHIONED WAY: Every night we eat dinner at the dinner table as a family. This time is focused on catching up as a family, talking about our day, being silly…and hopefully something nutritious gets consumed as well.

TIME READING THE BIBLE: I am a do-er and so sitting and reading is really hard for me, praying is even worse (how unproductive!!!) but I think about Psalm 5:3 “Oh Lord, in the morning you hear my voice, in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” I have made the choice to make this time a regular part of my morning routine (with the help of my husband) and I “sacrifice” time that I want to be “do-ing” and “go-ing” and “accomplishing” and I give the requests of my heart and my messiness to God and I watch what he does with it in multiplying my time and giving me peace.

DATE YOUR SPOUSE: We feel that a healthy home is one in which a healthy marriage is at the center as opposed to the kids being at the center.  The marriage is our first family priority (after God!) so there are things that we have put in place to nourish and protect the relationship like an early bedtime for the kids and a weekly date night even if it is just to Barnes and Noble or out riding bikes.  We have a regular weekly sitter so that life doesn’t get in the way.  In reality, that date night may be spent in tears having difficult conversations while a waitress tries to figure out what is wrong with that poor crazy girl but the truth is that in the craziness of life if we don’t make time for those important conversations regularly then they won’t happen.

NO WORK AFTER 5:00 PM: Both my husband and I work from home and own our own businesses so we have made it a rule that no work happens after 5:00pm. If we don’t give ourselves boundaries to “leave” work like a normal person then it is too easy to just keep “checking in” with the office because we both truly love what we do.

STICKING TO MY DEFINITION OF SUCCESS FOR MY BUSINESS:  It is so easy to measure the success of your business by what other people in your industry are doing. The problem is…that is THEIR definition of success and may not work for you! I had to develop my own measure of success and it is FREEING!!! My business is a success if and only if…1) I am able to generate extra money to spend on the house, the girls and myself outside of the family budget. 2) I only take the amount of work that I can complete with my 2 day a week work schedule.  This means limiting my number of shoots each month and making sure that the amount of work that I take does not exceed what I can get done with that work schedule with few exceptions) 3) My business is not a financial burden on the family 4) My business is a blessing to the family and my marriage and not a burden (emotionally, physically, mentally & financially) 5) I don’t need to be the best in the industry but I want to be my clients favorite to work with. My business is a “success” if these 5 things are happening and needs to close or take a major step back if it isn’t.

Follow along with Shay:


Blog: www.

Instagram: @shaycochrane


THE SIMPLICITY SERIES features busy gals, in different stages of life, making what matters happen and tips and tricks they’ve found to be helpful. Simplicity is about building margin into your life and spending time on and with that which fuels your heart. While we love to share products and services that help us day to day, but simplicity is about HEART and intentionally choosing the thing that matters most (your TREASURE) more than anything money can buy. We wear many hats and we know you do too, so we’d love to hear your thoughts as well! 

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

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