We are so excited to share Danielle’s photography from @hippieindisguise. Her instagram feed is filled with striking bold colour and deep emotion, is it truly breath taking. She is an advocate for a ‘mimimal lifestyle, which you can clearly see through her simplistically beautiful photos. Read a bit about her mama life and stunning family here…
Where do you live, and what do you love most about it?
We live in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. There are so many things we love about Ottawa. We love that we get 4 distinct seasons living in this part of Canada, very hot summers with temperatures over 30 celsius and very cold winters with temperatures below minus 20 celsius. Spring and fall can be short seasons here, but are always the most beautiful transitions, bursting with colour.
Living in the capital city is great, there are national art galleries and museums, lots of music, art, and dance festivals, and the city is maintained beautifully with gardens, waterways, heritage buildings, and public art at every turn. These make Ottawa a visually rich city, and one that is ideal for pedestrians like us. We walk almost everywhere we travel to within our city. Ottawa is also on the border of a large federal park full of mountains, caves, lakes, falls, and wildlife. We are very fortunate to live here.
What inspired you to start an Instagram account?
If I’m honest, there was no inspiration. When my son was born I decided to join the 21st century and get a cellular phone, being a Mac person, I got an iPhone. After 6 months with the phone, and not yet having any concept of what an app was, my friend Ingrid suggested I get the Instagram app. I couldn’t really understand the utility, but I decided to give it a try, afterall Ingrid is a persuasive woman. To put my level of phone and technology use into context I had never sent a text message, never read a mommy blog, and did not use Facebook or Twitter – I really had no idea what I was getting into.
For the first few months I only followed friends and family that I knew in “real” life. Then one day I saw a reference to what seemed like an interesting Instagram account I followed it and my eyes were opened to a whole new world. Slowly, I began following more people who inspired me creatively or as a parent. I started to care about the quality of my photos and about the sorts of things I shared. It all just grew from there. It is now a cliche, I’m sure, but Instagram really has changed my life in so many positive ways. Just knowing there are other people who share my interests and values is huge.
When did you know you wanted to be a mama?
Hard question. I don’t know for sure. As a teenager I did not like babysitting, other people’s children usually irritated me – but I really didn’t know the first thing about minding children. My husband and I knew we wanted to have children while we were young, at least by today’s standards. Both of us being physically active people, we wanted to ensure as best as we could that we could be physically active on par with our children well into their adulthood. It seems like a utilitarian decision, and I suppose it was, at least in terms of timing. But I guess, when it comes to when I knew I wanted to be a mother, well, it’s probably another cliche, but that would have been when I met my husband.
How many kiddos do you have and what are their personalities like?
I have two children, Ro, my girl who is 9, and Sen, my boy who is 3.
Ro is the creative type, she is always, always, dancing, singing or drawing, and usually more than one of these at once. It is charming, but it can be a problem at times, for example, she has a hard time sitting through a meal without doodling, doing a mid-meal dance routine, or humming to herself. She is also highly intuitive, deeply loving, and naturally funny. She is an animal lover and is wise beyond her years.
Sen, on the other hand, is head strong, that is definitely his standout personality trait. He has very specific ideas about things and try as you might you cannot sway him from his view. Having said this, he is a very sweet and calm child, to the point where some people have said we should have named him Zen.
How would your husband describe you?
Definitely scatter brained. And probably, the definition of “nice to a fault”, with emphasis on “fault,” because I can get taken advantage of because I give people the benefit of the doubt a little too much. I decided to fact check my answer with my husband, Matt, and he added: “selfless, dedicated mother, vegan-by-osmosis-activist, creative, minimalist who loves to share her appreciation for the beauty of the everyday.” Thanks Matt!
What inspires you to dress your children in vintage clothes?
I like any clothing that is classic, clothing that will stand the test of time, this usually means trendy clothes don’t interest me. Trends come and go, but classic is forever. As an environmentalist, having classic clothing that is always wearable and relevant, that won’t be replaced next season is important to me.
Many of the vintage items we see people wearing now and putting on their children are relevant today because they’ve become classics, like knit wool sweaters and hand sewn blouses, and have stood the test of time because they were made in a durable way and transcend trends. When I purchase new clothing for my children it is usually expensive because it is from a small company or made from organic fabrics, to offset this expense and to make the best use of all the clothes that are already out there in the world, I shop for my children at second hand clothing stores and happily take neighbours cast offs. The cherry on top is that vintage clothing has an undeniable charm.
If you could go back to any period in time, where would you go and why?
This is a tough one. Ro, would be delighted by this question because she likes to talk about the (im)possibilities of time travel with Matt. I think my education in women’s history makes me pretty anxious about being in anytime before the 1930s. From a purely selfish perspective, I’d probably want to travel back to the ‘70s and experience the disco era, I would love to have been part of that dance culture.
Kids wiggle, what is your secret to a good shot of your little one in action?
My secret is take lots of pictures and hope that you got one that isn’t blurry. Seriously! I also am not one to care too much about whether my child is looking at the camera, so I take lots of photos where they are just doing their thing. Ro and Sen can get into the ‘sibling zone’ where it’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist. These are the perfect times to get photos of them, just as they are. Candid snapshots are my favourites, records of their days and their relationship with each other.
When the going gets tough with the kiddos all in tow, what is your secret for putting the smiles back on those little faces?
I am pretty lucky to have two naturally happy children, they aren’t the moody types at all. Sen is still young, so with him I find that distraction is the best policy. I will usually remind him of something fun we just did or are going to do and he’ll be back to himself, if that doesn’t work I’ll give him a task like “make sure to watch for the purple flowers because that’s where we have to turn to get to the pool.”
With Ro, she’s older, and I don’t want her to develop a habit of distracting herself from her feelings so we usually talk about it right away. Talking really helps her. Also, putting things into perspective usually works. I remind her of the beautiful, fortunate life she has, and that she has everything she needs in her family and friendships, everyone has hard days, but that is life. As much as we like to pretend we live in a fairytale sometimes, I want my children to know that life isn’t easy, and globally for most people, most days are very tough.
What could you imagine your children doing in 20 years time? Traveling, being a doctor, actress… etc.
I can’t imagine Ro not being an artist of some sort, she would love to be a textile and clothing designer or an illustrator. She has dreams of being on Broadway at the moment. She also talks about having a home in the countryside where she could have an animal sanctuary, as a second calling in life.
Sen is still young, but I see the joy and great interest he takes in anything mechanical. He loves building and taking things apart, working on the family bikes, helping his grandfather build a shed, and so on. Being a very physical person, I imagine him being a skilled tradesperson, rather than an architect or designer sitting at a desk. If not that, then he’s likely to be a ninja or a “rock’n’roll guy,” as he likes to say.
What are your children’s favorite things to do as a family?
We are lucky to have a city with two rivers and a canal, as well as a lake, and we love spending time at each. The walk to the water is just as much fun as the destination. Definitely their favourite thing to do is to visit the Ottawa River where the rock balancing sculptures are. We have a local artist, John Ceprano, who, for the last 28 years has been making sculptures daily (weather and season permitting) from rocks in the river. Most days when he arrives half of the sculptures have washed away or been blown over. So he continues his work with what remains. The water is shallow and warm and the children love to play there, and to make their own sculptures alongside John. It’s pretty much everything we love as a family put together, art and being outdoors, with a little adventure thrown in.
What is the hardest thing about being a mama?
Being away from my children. Never did I ever think I would miss my children so much while away at work each day. I long so much to spend more time with them. I am not the kind of person who needs a break from their children, every minute that I have with them is a gift. They have taught me so much about how to appreciate life and to appreciate the most simple things. Their curiosity, wonder and honesty are food for the soul.
And of course, what is your favorite thing about being a mama?
Everything, except for cleaning up vomit. But especially, getting to experience childhood a second time, through my children. Oh and snuggles. Definitely snuggles.
What are some daily rules/mantras you use for being a mama?
As a person and a mother, my mantra is always to appreciate every moment. To not look to the next day or the next hour, but to enjoy now. When you are living in the present you can then make the most of it. You want to use that ‘now’ time in the best way, because that’s where your attention is.
This way of focusing on the present also encourages slowness, as you aren’t rushing to anything, like that birthday party at noon, it allows you to savour every minute leading up to that party. I want my children to appreciate every moment, and especially to appreciate those moments we see as transition time, like walking to the park, which can be wasted. Fun and discovery don’t have to start at the park.
So my mantra is enjoy now, it really brings a positive perspective.
When all the babes are in bed sleeping, what are you most likely doing?
Most of the time, if I haven’t fallen asleep with them, then I’m editing photos or writing. I used to spend their sleeping time cleaning my house, I’m a neat freak at heart, but one day I realised that cleaning was a very poor use of my time. I should really be putting my time into creative projects and things that might add value to others lives.
If you could take your family anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Probably, Bora Bora. It is a dream of mine and Ro’s to go there, but I know we’ll never be able to afford it, so if I had a magic ticket that’s where we would go. Currently, we have a family dream of going to Italy, there’s great cycling for Matt, art history and architecture we would all enjoy, great food, markets, and beaches. I am someone who would travel virtually anywhere, I will try anything. My favourite thing to do is just wander around and explore, and find things I never expected, in that sense I’d be happy to go anywhere.
Who are some of your favorite instagram users?
Oh dear, this sort of question makes me anxious! I have about 50 instagram accounts that I thoroughly love and check into almost daily. I’ll name a few that are public (so others can look them up) and that are lesser known. I love these accounts because they depict a way of life that resonates with me, close to nature, slow and soulful.
@kawaspics - a beautiful gallery by Swedish artist Kajsa Wallin, she shares her illustrations, beautiful flower art and images of her gorgeous children.
@flutterbyhannah - great photos of Hannah’s rural life with 2 boys and a husband, funny captions, and nothing feels forced.
@dibonjo - if I could pretend any gallery was mine it would be Dieny’s. Beautiful mix of photos of flowers, her home and her beautiful boy.
I would be remiss to not mention @shelleylawnikanis, @dollyandfife, @nellyrandall, @larksnest, @fareisle, @kirstenrickert, @danceypantsdisco, @danaluna__, @kandicebreinholt, @sangthebird, @nicolebianchi_ @faithevanssills – all beautiful galleries, with photos of children enjoying the outdoors.
Can I list 37 more? Seriously. Not seriously. But seriously.