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One type of photo I love more than ANY other is every day stuff.  The little things that are seemingly mundane and boring.  The things we do and see every single day.  The things we think we’ll remember forever because in this specific moment they’re a huge part of our life.  But slowly, over time, those things subtly change.  And we forget.

I like to photograph those things.  The expressions my kids make with their faces on a daily basis.  The toys they play with or leave around the house (kids live here).  The way their bedrooms look.  Who sits where in the car.  What activities they currently like to do.  Where we eat.  What we eat.  Homework time.  Bedtime routines.

You get the idea.

These are also my favorite photos to print and include in our yearly albums.  We love looking back on how the every day things have changed and remembering all the little things that make us who we are.

I created an entire guide on this very idea.  The Every Day Photos Guide!

I was rounding up some photos this week for a project I’m helping with for another company and thought I’d share a few here.

I don’t have time.  Words I hear more often than possibly any other.  And for some reason it’s really started to bother me.  I don’t have time.

We live in an age where all people do is try to save time.  Find more efficient ways to do things.  Inventions that help us do more, faster.  To get places faster.  To accomplish things, faster.  To cook faster.  To clean faster.  To wash faster. To become something, faster.  And yet, we still claim “I don’t have time”.

I’ve been doing some thinking about how I spend my time and why I spend it the way I do.  What matters.  What doesn’t matter.  What’s taking up most of my time.  Is that what I want to take up my time.  Am I doing things that make a difference in the long run.  Am I busy for the sake of being busy.

At the end of the day, can I say I used my time the best way I could.  That my use of time made me better, my family better, the people around me better.

As I’ve gone through this process, the phrase “I don’t have time” has nearly left my vocabulary.  Because we DO have time.  We have plenty of time to do the things that really matter to us.  We have time and to spare.  We just have to pick what it is that matters.

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try making a shift in your words.  And anytime you find yourself going to say those words, say “It’s not a priority for me” instead.  Be it out loud or in your head.  And see what happens.  Suddenly the things you thought you didn’t have time for but actually really matter to you start to take priority.  And the things filling your time that maybe don’t matter as much as you thought they did, those get replaced with top priority items.

“I don’t have time” changes to “It’s not a priority for me”.  We have time for what we want to make time for.  This is almost always true (barring obvious things like chronic or short-term illness or really little kids who need our constant attention to stay alive, etc.–you all know what I mean).  But even then, there is a season to our time and priorities shift during different seasons.

Yes, some things get left behind and things we’d like to do don’t get done.  Sacrifices have to be made.  Not because we don’t have enough time but because some things don’t matter as much as we fool ourselves in to thinking they do.

And not all time should be filled with a million activities.  Sometimes, we need time to just be.  Time to be available.  Time to think.  Time to talk to God.  Time to be still.

But the things that matter the most–those get done.  We have time for those.

Try it.  This week.  Instead of saying I don’t have time, make that mental shift and see if it helps get the things that actually matter to the top of your list.  You’ll be surprised at what you actually have time for.

I was walking in to the Verizon store several weeks ago to exchange my phone.  My new phone had arrived in the mail, I took the case off the old phone, put it on the new phone and had the old phone in my hand.  As I stepped up the curb to go in the door to the store, that slippery little bugger shot right out of my hand and landed face down on the sidewalk (about 2 feet from the door).

I flipped it over, saw the shattered screen and uttered some not-so-nice words for all the parking lot people to hear (I’m sorry for what I said when I was super angry).  I have amazing phone cases, drop my phone at least 10 times a day, and I have never once shattered a screen.  Until now.

Obviously a phone will still work with a shattered screen, but I share this story to point out an already obvious fact of the million and one ways to ruin our phones.  Sometimes we get lucky and they’ll still work.  Sometimes we drop them in the lake or pool, bust them up in a recliner (true story–totally happened–see photo below), forget about them in our pants pocket and they fall in the toilet (I know you people are out there), run over them with the car, lose them on a rollercoaster (seen this first hand), drop them off a ledge, get them stolen or lose them, and on and on and on.

I know most people are taking all their photos with their phones these days.  So my question–if your phone suddenly stopped working today (for whatever stupid reason), would you lose all your photos you have on there?

If your answer is “YES”, keep reading.  This is for you.  If you answer is “NO”, are you sure?  I don’t say that to be snarky–I just mean, are you really sure your photos are safe?


My first piece of advice is to make it a habit to get the photos OFF your phone and on your computer on a regular basis (and especially after a big event or vacation).  Plug those babies in and get the photos on to the computer (and of course back them up from there).  I keep a lot of the photos on my phone even after I do this, but my computer is the main hub for all my photos.

In the meantime, it’s good to have a backup solution to keep the photos on your phone safe until you can get them on your computer.  If you have a lot of storage on your phone, my guess is you have thousands and thousands of photos on there.  Of big events and every day moments.  Things you obviously wanted to remember and preserve when you took the photo.


The good news–There are 3 easy ways to back up the photos on your phone so when you can’t access the photos from your phone, they’re still safe.



Google’s claim is “Free storage and automatic organization for all your memories”.  It’s true, it’s free.  Just keep in mind that google’s main purpose is data-mining and their user agreement is a little loose, but if you’re comfortable with that (which I personally am), you don’t have to pay any money for this service.

I only use Google photos for my phone (I have a different backup system for the photos on my computer and external hard-drives).  My rule for back-up is at least 2 different places, and 2 different locations.  So Google photos is one of my 2 for my phone (the other is iCloud which will get to in a minute).  But you can use Google photos for the photos on your computer as well.  We’re not getting in to that here.

To use google photos, download the app to your phone and walk through the steps.  It’s very user-friendly and easy to setup.  It works on Android or iPhones.

A few things to keep in mind.  It can take quite a while to initially get all the photos backed up.  It starts with photos, then it does the videos.

When I initially did this, it had several glitches and started over a few times so just make sure when it says it’s all done, that all the photos and videos were actually backed up (just a quick scroll through to see that the photos are on there).

When you delete a photo from your phone, it doesn’t delete from Google Photos.  They’ll only delete from Google Photos if you delete them from there, not if you delete them from your phone.

The unlimited free account of storage will reduce the file size on your photos only if they are bigger than 16MP. Photos on your phone aren’t bigger than that so the photo quality won’t be compromised at all.

To FIND the photos once you’ve uploaded them, you can see them through the Google Photos app on your phone, OR you can go to photos.google.com and login there to see all of the photos that uploaded to the Google cloud.  The screen will look like this:

google photos

Google Photos has some pretty incredible search features (not surprising–that’s what Google specializes in) and it also uses your photos to create animations and short movies like this (you don’t do anything–it just takes photos and starts creating things you can watch and save):

This was just a random one I saved real quick of a trip we recently took to California.  We went on a whale/dolphin boat excursion and it was SO so cool.  Something we’ll never forget.  Google Photos just grabbed a few photos from that day and made this little movie.  My kids have loved watching a lot of these creations with no effort on my part. Winning.

If you want a more in depth look at how Google Photos works, how to get it set up (it really is super user friendly), and some of the extensive search features and perks of Google Photos, check out this FREE resource from Modern Photo Solutions.



iCloud is another cloud based service (obvious from the name) that will backup the photos on your phone.  iPhone users get 5GB free (which will store like 7 photos–okay maybe a little more but 5GB isn’t going to do much), 50GB for $.99 a month, 200 GB for $2.99 a month, or 1 TB for $9.99 a month.

If you’re just using iCloud for your phone (which is all we’re talking about here), the storage amount you get will be dependent on how much storage your phone has.  My phone has 128GB of storage so I have the 200GB plan (because 50GB won’t be enough).  I could just use the 50GB plan if I didn’t want to keep as many photos on my phone, but I do–hence the reason for the bigger phone.

Yes, it costs.  But I think $3 a month is totally worth the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing all my photos are safe until I get them on my computer.

To check your iCloud storage or to buy more, go to Settings, scroll down to iCloud, then choose “Storage”.  You can choose “manage storage” to see where your storage space is going (with all your apps on your phone including Photos) and how much storage your photos are using.  Then you can choose “Change storage plan” to change your iCloud storage amount to fit however much you need.

To start your photos backing up to iCloud, go to “Settings”, then “iCloud” and find “Photos” and make sure it’s switched to “On”.  This will start the backup of your photos to iCloud.

To FIND your photos once they’ve loaded to the cloud, go to iCloud.com and log in to your iCloud account (your apple account).  There you can see all the things that are uploading to your cloud account (contacts, calendar, notes, etc).  If you click on the “Photos” icon, you will see all the photos that have uploaded to iCloud.  The screen will looks like this:

iCloud screen

This will also take some time if you have a bunch of photos on your phone.

The intent of iCloud is to sync ALL your photos from ALL devices so you can access them anywhere (computer, phone, iPad, etc.).  I don’t love the workflow of that so I just use it for my phone (and phone backup is all we’re covering here).

One thing to remember–and this is important–iCloud works kind of like e-mail (syncing all devices together).  So if you delete a photo on your phone it will delete from iCloud just like if you read e-mail on your phone and delete the e-mail, you no longer have that e-mail in your account on a computer or another device.  

The only time that won’t happen is if you’re using the “save storage” feature of iCloud and when you take a photo, it automatically goes to iCloud and doesn’t store on your phone at all.  But that can be really confusing for people.  So for the sake of this post which is merely to get the photos on our phone backed up and safe, just remember that when you delete from your phone, it is also deleting from iCloud.



I only recommend Dropbox if you are already paying for the additional storage in Dropbox and have it anyway. Otherwise this would be a more expensive option and not necessary if you use the other two features.  I love Dropbox and use it all the time to access all my photos from other computers and devices.  This is another way to back up the photos on your phone.

If you already have Dropbox and want to use it to backup your phone photos, download the Dropbox app to your phone.

If you have an iPhone follow these steps:

  1. Open the Dropbox app.
  2. Tap Recents.
  3. Tap the gear icon at the top of the screen.
  4. Tap Camera Upload.
  5. On the next screen, toggle the Camera Upload option on or off

If you have an Android phone follow these steps:

  1. Open the Dropbox app.
  2. Tap the menu button.
  3. Tap the gear icon (or Settings, on older versions of the app).
  4. Scroll to the Camera Upload section.
  5. Toggle to either Turn on or Turn off Camera Upload.

Dropbox has a ton of easy to follow tutorials to get up and running with this, but if you follow those above steps, that will start uploading your photos to a Camera Uploads folder.  The downside to this is you’d have to organize the folders from that upload folder.  But it at least gets the photos somewhere safe until you’re able to do this.  You can also manually choose different photos you want to upload and choose the folders they go in to.

So there you go.  THREE EASY WAYS to get the photos on your phone BACKED UP and SAFE so when something happens to your phone, you won’t lose any of those photos.

Here’s the aforementioned phone that slipped out of a pocket and went down in to the crevices of a recliner.  We pulled the lever to try and find it and, well, it didn’t go so hot.  It’s funny now.  Well, it was funny then too.

Backing up the photos on your phone is something you can easily do right now.  It only takes about 10 minutes to get one of these systems set up and I am positive you won’t regret it.

If you want some more info about managing your digital photos, some mistakes you might be making and how to fix them, check out this post.

If you want to see what company I use to back up ALL my photos and why I chose them (after an insane amount of research) check out this post.

Get those photos backed up!!!

  • Danielle Clayton

    Thanks. I have been struggling with this for some time now. I really appreciate this and am downloading google photos to my phone right now. I have icloud but hate that it mirrors everything on my phone. I wish when I first got icloud I would have known that. I think a lot of people are misled with that information. I even talked to a few techies at Apple on the phone and they didn’t know it did that.ReplyCancel

  • Yvonne Gustavsson

    I have a problem with google photo.
    When I delete pictures from my phone it also deletes in google photo. How can this be fixed?

    • ltross17

      Hmmmmm….that’s weird. I’ve never had that issue. Maybe check the account settings and see if there’s something in there?? But it shouldn’t be doing that. you should be able to delete from your phone and not have it delete in Google Photos. If that problem continues, I’d try contacting Google Photos support.ReplyCancel

Nearly six years ago, my brother stumbled on to a busy road while he was “black out” drunk.  A car traveling around 40 mph hit him head on.

My phone rang late that night.  It was my sister telling me about the accident.  My brother had been life-flighted.  She was on her way to the hospital.

My first response:  “Well sh*t.  Do I pray for him to live or to die?”

My second response:  “Call me when you get there if I need to come.”  This wasn’t our first “Burk is in the hospital” call or even his first time on life-flight.

From the outside it doesn’t make sense for me to not immediately jump in the car and head to be with him.  But that’s the world of addiction.  Near death too many times to count.  Him forgetting it ever happened and continuing to do the same things that consistently and repeatedly landed him in the back of an ambulance, in an ER, or several times in the ICU.

There’s this word thrown around all.the.time when referencing the world of addiction.


The definition:  to give someone the authority or means to do something.

When it’s tossed around in the world of addiction someone will say “You’re enabling them” or “You can’t enable them” and on and on.  The essence–if you help them, in any way, you’re helping them sustain their addiction.  You’re allowing them the means to continue drinking or continue using drugs or continue whatever addiction it is they have.

I remember the first time I heard Dr. Phil lecture someone about being an enabler and I wanted to throat punch him.  My question for Dr. Phil and anyone else who tosses that word around:

If your son (brother, daughter, sister, wife, dad, mom) showed up on your doorstep in a hospital gown, identifying name bracelets still on, traction blue socks from the hospital and no shoes, and not another possession to their name because someone stole their one remaining backpack of worldly goods while they were passed out, what would you do?

Would you turn them away?  Would you close the door on them?  Would you refuse to answer at all?  Would you pretend to not be home?  Would you cry?  Would you yell?  Would you be numb–to tired and weary to care in that moment? Would your heart ache or would you be filled with anger?

What would you do?

It’s a sincere question.

And the truth is, there’s no right answer.

When you’re in the thick of the addiction world, it often feels like there’s no right answer.  You’re damned if you do.  You’re damned if you don’t.

Over the years and years (and years) of dealing with my brothers addiction we ran the gamut of “solutions”.  Volunteer rehab, forced rehab, pineapple picking in Hawaii, hard labor fishing crew in Alaska, rehab in the mountains, rehab in the city, jail, compassion, anger, tough-love, coercion, good-cop, bad-cop, guilt, limited contact, open contact.


And guess what–nothing worked.  Nothing.  He never “got better”.  He never stopped (for any significant period of time).

He just got worse.

You know another phrase that makes me cringe–“they have to hit rock bottom before they get better.”

You know what I think my brothers rock bottom is?  Death.  Truly.  I think he would die before hitting rock bottom and “recovering”.  So when someone says “You can’t enable him”, are my choices help him or let him die?  Or maybe somewhere in between?  Help enough to keep him alive but only that?  If I truly believe death is his rock bottom, then what?

We were in the middle of a “tough love” phase when my brother was hit by the car.  Our family went through varying degrees of willingness and ability to “help” (in quotations because was it helping or hurting–no one can even answer that).

Some addicts disappear and go do their thing.  That was not our case.  You know the song “the cat came back, we thought he was a goner.  But the cat came back; it just couldn’t stay away.”  That was my brother.  He stayed close.  He always came back.  He continued showing up on our doorstep, calling our phone up to 50 times a day, sleeping in our yards.  He knew we’d never be able to completely cut him loose and forget about him.

He’s family.  And family takes care of each other.  But that’s the question.  If we keep rescuing and aiding, is it actually helping?

My brother showed up at my parents house the day he was hit by the car.  He was drunk.  And there were boundaries we were trying to keep (how easily those boundaries often blurred and became muddy–unclear).  No using at their house.  You can’t come in if you’re drunk or using.

So we took him to a nearby area with a sleeping bag so he could sleep it off.  Sounds awful, right?  Dumping my brother in a field so he could sleep off his drunken stupor.  We could have let him in.  We could have made sure he was safe.  But there were “rules”.  We can’t enable.  That’s what the experts say. That’s often what we believed.  And sometimes I still believe.  Addiction is a whole lot of gray and not a lot of black and white.

Late that night, he got up.  He certainly had no idea where he was.  He walked.  And he ended up on the side of a busy road.  And then he walked IN to the road.  The car didn’t even have a chance to hit their brakes.

Somehow he lived (he’s got more lives than a cat).  One shattered leg, the other broken.  A broken shoulder, bruises everywhere, swollen abdomen (it was huge) and a bleed in his brain–traumatic brain injury.  No one expected him to live.  People don’t survive things like that.  But he did.

The next few months were a living hell.  For him.  For my parents.  For all of us.

What if we hadn’t dropped him in that gully?  What if we had let him in even though he was clearly violating the rules?  How would that have changed things?

We were trying not to enable.  That backfired big time.  Sometimes death isn’t always worst-case-scenario.

But had we let him in, who knows what would have happened the next day?  We knew we couldn’t keep doing what we were doing and watching him destroy himself.  His life was in shambles.  And he was making my parents life a living hell.

The point–there are no right or wrong answers.  Is it enabling or is it just trying to keep them alive while we feverishly cling to hope?  Hope for healing.  Hope for life.

For some, tough-love is the way.  For some, compassion.  For some, turning them away is the only solution.  For some, letting them in is the only solution.

No right.  No wrong.  Just.plain.HARD.  Either way.  No easy decisions.  And very rarely decisions that are confirmed as good ones or right ones.  Always doubting.  Always wondering.  Always second-guessing nearly every single decision.

I have no answers, but I have all the compassion in the world.

And if I decide to let my brother in when he shows up on my doorstep in a hospital gown and someone calls me an enabler, so be it.  He’s my brother.  And though I didn’t let him sleep at the house (I’ve got kids and using drugs around my kids is not a decision I ever question), I fed him, I found him clothes, I rounded up a new backpack, I found shoes and then I drove him to the homeless shelter.  Because there was no hand-book to handle that situation.  There was no right.  There was no wrong.

If you’ve never had to deal with addiction with a loved one, consider yourself incredibly lucky and withhold judgment.  If you’re an addict, be kind to yourself. If you love an addict, do the best you know how and hang in there.  Although it often seems bleak, there is always hope.  Always.

  • Debi

    I love this post! I love you and your beautiful parents! The questions still pop up in my mind what could’ve should’ve would’ve we done to save him?
    Thank you for speaking mg the truth and for being so honest and open! It feels like an epidemic to me.. drug addiction. Maybe I’m just more aware since Dustin’s death… my heart will never judge another’s choices regarding their family members battles! It’s a freaking nightmare… the end!
    Love youReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Debi–I love you. I’ve always wondered why some people overdose and end up dying and some people don’t. There’s no logical explanations. Burk should have died SO many times. And I have no explanation for why Dustin did, but I DO know it wasn’t your fault.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah jane

    Thanks for sharing this Lindsay.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey Stephens

    Thanks for writing this. My brother is also a drug addict/alcoholic. It has been SO hard like you described. We have definitely struggled with the word “enable.” I truly don’t think people understand how hard it is when the “addict” is someone you love. My brother has 2 beautiful kids and I always have hope that things may one day turn around. Thanks again for the honest post.

    Stacey (from your photo class😊)ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      I know who you are. 🙂
      I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. You know I know. So so hard. If you ever need someone to talk to, I’m always available.ReplyCancel

  • Dave

    Thanks for helping me see what I’ve put my family through. They went through hell. And yet I’m still alive because they never gave up. I sort of have my shit together now, meaning instead of heroin or pain pills I take Subutex every day to manage my opiate addiction. I’m able to function and live normally for the first time in years. I don’t go in and out of the E.R. because I can’t control myself, I don’t pass out and drown in my own vomit (thank God mom walked in and called 911. Anyway thanks for your honesty. This is mine.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Glad to hear you at least “sort of” have your shit together. I know what Subutex is. For sure a step in the right direction. And bless your mom. That is not a scene I’d wish on my worst enemy. My mom and I found my brother in an “he’s almost dead” situation and the HARDEST part about it was watching the horror on my moms face. Truly horrific.
      Be kind to yourself. And hang in there.ReplyCancel

  • Dan

    I have been meaning to read this for a while now. For some reason I started it and never finished it when you first posted it. I can relate to this on so many levels. Thank you for always being so real when it comes to dealing with an addict. I got chills when I read this because you did what you had to do because you love him. It is something you can only understand when you have gone through it. We are in the thick of it dealing with an addict in our family and my emotions run like crazy.ReplyCancel

I’ve been trying more lately to take more photos with my “good” camera (my dSLR).  I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “the best camera is the one in your pocket” and while I appreciate the sentiment and understand what it means, I’ll always argue the best camera is the BEST camera.

I let myself slip in to the habit of only using my phone camera.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love love love my phone camera.  And as far as phone cameras go, it’s a really good camera.  But.  It’s not better than my dSLR.  And I dare say it will never take better quality photos than my dSLR (at least not in the near future).

So I’m consciously picking up the high-quality camera more and consciously photographing our Every day lives more.  Because it matters to me.  And it is 100% worth the effort.  I’ll never regret taking 2 extra minutes to get the good camera out.

As a tip, I leave my camera out on my desk.  My kids know not to touch it and surprisingly it’s one of the few things they actually obey.

My challenge to you. If you have a dSLR, dust it off and get it out.  Put it on your counter or somewhere you’ll see it often.  And make a little extra effort to document the every day lives of your family using not just your phone, but your nice camera sometimes.  I am positive you won’t regret it.

And now for some snow pics.  Because it’s January.  And it’s cold.  And it’s snowing in Utah more than it has in years past.  If it has to be cold, it might as well be snowing!

I took all of these with my Canon 5D Mark II with a 70-200mm lens.  And I took them from my door because it’s cold outside and I don’t do cold very well.  Total cold baby.

Wishing you knew how to use your dSLR a little better??  THIS is where you can learn and a perfect place to go if you want to take better photos with your dSLR AND your phone camera.

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