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Striking a Work-Life Balance with Dr. Songy

Striking a Work-Life Balance with Dr. Songy

Dr. Songy is, quite literally, the reason inDEPTH exists! He has been a dear friend of mine for over a decade. Dr. Songy introduced me to his brother-in-law, Mickey, who is inDEPTH’s other co-founder. We asked him to wield his impressive background in counseling to discuss the freelance lifestyle, burnout, mental health, and work-life balance, something we can all benefit to better understand.

1. Please introduce yourself! Who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.

My name is Donny Songy, I’m from New Orleans, and I am a Licensed Professional Counselor currently in private practice.

2. Tell us about your work. What does your day to day look like? What is your overall “mission” as a licensed therapist?

I see couples, families, and individuals (ages 14 and up) about five days a week. I usually get up, make coffee and breakfast for me and my beautiful wife before she heads to work, then head to the office around 10 AM. Once I get there, I try to do some deep breathing meditation and mindfulness exercises for about 30-45 minutes. I also like to give some additional time to finish case notes from the previous day and also prepare for my clients scheduled for that current day.  It allows me the opportunity to orientate myself mentally and emotionally so I can meet the different needs of each client. The work can be taxing at times, so it’s important to implement self-care with each day. My first set of clients show up around 12:30 – 1 PM and I provide psychotherapy until about 8 to 9 PM at night. On some days, there’s a slight break (30 minutes to an hour) so I use that to refresh, take down some critical notes from previous sessions, and prepare for the next set of clients that come in.I would say my “mission” is to provide an experiential and enriching therapeutic experience for my clients as they engage in their unique mental health challenges. Some of my clients have been receiving mental health services for many years and understand its place in their livelihood; however, others have never sought any sort of support like this. Because of this, I feel it’s essential to hold the counseling services I provide to a high standard so that I may encourage others to take priority with their own wellness.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 9.23.09 PM3. Why did you choose to operate out of New Orleans? What do you enjoy most about working here? What are some challenges?

In addition to being born and raised in New Orleans, I also practice here because this city is in dire need of counseling. We could never really have “too many mental health services” here. We’re a vibrant city with its own history and culture as well as its own set of challenges – including poverty, lack of psychoeducational resources for parents, unresolved trauma from Hurricane Katrina, familial iatrogenic strife, domestic violence, addiction, mental health related stigmas, etc. The diversity is very clear, though. I do a lot of family-systems-based counseling and love the different dynamics, philosophies, values, and characteristics of my clients. From a narrative standpoint, everyone has a story – and much of our own suffering can be understood and overcome if it’s part of a story.

4. Let’s talk about work-life balance, especially for freelancers (though you can certainly go beyond that). What are some of the challenges you see people face when it comes to balancing their professional and social/personal lives? Why do you think these problems arise? Do you think they impact certain industries or work styles more?

I’m going to go off with a few generalizations here, but I think we work too much and don’t sleep enough. Keep in mind that this is coming from someone who worked full time, did private practice, and wrote a dissertation at the same time. It’s just not sustainable. It’s been embedded into our culture that a successful person doesn’t need much rest and can work until they drop, but research shows that’s simply not the case. We consider it as a sacrifice for the greater good of ourselves and our family, but there’s a law of diminishing returns in there and I believe it chips away at us in ways we don’t realize. Lack of quality sleep has been correlated with depression, anxiety, marital and familial turmoil, work performance, physiological illness and distress, etc.

smart phones

img source: https://arynews.tv/en/smartphone-market-to-stay-cool-this-year/

We’re also incredibly stimulated, which can also be taxing for the mind. We live in a very interconnected world and, at the same time, I’ve found many people to feel lonelier than ever. Our phones, though a convenience for countless reasons, have also made it very difficult for us to establish an “off switch” to work life. I know these ideas aren’t new, but I also don’t necessarily see a shift in behavior to make me feel as though this workaholic culture is changing.

Certainly, some industries suffer from this culture more than others, but it’s found everywhere – even counselors and mental health professionals. Three industries I’ve seen this especially present in is medicine, parts of the service industry, and people who work offshore. There is no such thing as a schedule or regimen to their work life; and because of that, there are dire consequences.

5. What are some solutions you’ve seen or recommended? What can people do to determine if they are prioritizing their work and life properly? What methods can people use to correct it?

One of the things I preach often to young and up-and-coming freelancers or professionals is, if possible, to establish clear work boundaries and to stand by them. Set certain times that you don’t answer your phone or even check it. Identify your own personal limits and protect them. Once you begin to open the door and step on those limits, you also allow it to become the expectation for future opportunities. It may limit your financial outlook in the short term, but it will serve you ten-fold in the long run mentally, emotionally, and financially. Also – self-medicating only exacerbates.

6. Do you have any advice for people who maybe feel burned out or that they are spinning their wheels professionally?

The first thing is to not give up on the profession just yet. Sometimes a toxic environment can do great damage to career fulfillment and, even if it’s for lesser pay or growth opportunities, a change in scenery can do wonders. Assess your own self-talk and check if you’re implementing self-compassion into your daily life. Breaking away from “auto-pilot” is a big deal too. If you feel that you’re in a rut, switch it up a bit. Also take note of who you surround yourself with and evaluate if they’re contributing to the echo chamber of negativity. Go back and reflect on what were some of the major parts of why you got into this venture in the first place and see if you can still generate those experiences, either in your current job or elsewhere. Take a look at your goals and assess if they’re attainable or even realistic. Breaking down larger goals into smaller, more tangible ones, can also help build motivation and drive.

7. Do you have any great success stories you’ve experienced or seen with people trying to find their work/life balance?

Though I have to protect confidentiality, I’d say it happens all the time in my office. Counseling allows the world to stop spinning so the person or family can sit back and process what they’re thinking and feeling non-judgmentally. Most of my clients coming in for their intake session report, at the very least, a heightened level of work-related-stress. One of the most enjoyable experiences as a professional counselor is watching my clients begin to practice healthy coping strategies and mindfulness so that they get a better hold of their stress. That change, alone, really makes such a difference.

8. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for these questions and for giving me the opportunity to ramble.

You can find more thoughtful posts and content, as well as counseling services, on Dr. Songy’s website.

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Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

Traveling with Andrew Bui

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland
It is always a pleasure chatting with Andrew. He is a great friend, a top-notch shooter and editor, and just an overall amazing artist. We are thrilled to have him back on the blog to discuss his work traveling the world and making stellar video content out of those journeys. Join us as he discusses best practices, gives helpful tips and tricks, and more!
1. Please introduce yourself! Who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.

Hello there, I’m Andrew Bui but some people may know me as Dru or @drubui from Instagram. I’m from Marrero, LA which is located on the Westbank of New Orleans. Currently I’m in the “video” field and do a little bit of everything from directing to shooting, but overall, I am a content creator.

2. Tell us a bit about “Andrew Bui Films.” Where you’re based, how long you’ve been around, what your mission is, etc.

So Andrew Bui Films is actually my “official” business side of things, (somewhat separate from me as a brand) where we produce primarily wedding videos and event videography. We’re based out of New Orleans and the surrounding areas, and our mission is to produce cinematic stylistic event coverage. When I’m not freelancing, traveling for work or creating content for social media, I’m probably out filming a wedding.

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

3. So last time we talked, we talked a lot about “sloppy/dangerous” filmmaking vs. “guerrilla” filmmaking. You have clearly continued down the path of strong, powerful guerrilla-like content. In particular, you have been busy over the last few years traveling and showcasing/highlighting the unique cities, cultures, and people you’ve met along the way. Tell us a bit about how you got into doing these projects and how’d you’d describe them.

Haha, yes I’ve definitely held on to those same principals of guerilla filmmaking. I got into doing these kinds of projects through a good friend of mines “David Jones” who brought me into his brand (The Pioneer Collective), we did a ton of projects which involved us traveling all over the country as well as internationally and this is essentially where I would say I was able to hone in on creating content which revolved around travel/day2day stuff. I would definitely consider those videos to be more along the lines of travel vlogs/cultural pieces. However I would love to dive more into being able to really showcase a locations cultural aspects, I feel like that’s an area that I’m currently gearing towards.

4. How do you choose where to go? What is one of your favorite places you’ve traveled to? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced or are constantly keeping tabs on when doing this kind work?

The culture, the landscape, costs & time of year. Those are some of the things that I factor in when choosing a place to visit, I have a few places in mind that I’d like to travel to this year but definitely would prefer to wait for the right time to visit to make the best out of my trip. Iceland, hands-down has been my favorite place to visit, I really did feel like I was on another planet at times, there’s just so much to see, vast & scenic views for miles, with endless possibilities to capture the beauty of it all. Some challenges I’ve faced with this kind of work is, trying to stay consistent in putting out quality work that exceeds the last thing I made in some way, and not falling into the hype or current trendy thing to do.

Andrew Bui flying drones in Iceland

5. How do you decide what to pack? How do you get such high quality content while staying mobile?

If I’m traveling for a client shoot, it really just depends on the job & location. I usually start with the essentials that I know for sure I’ll be using, my primary camera, lens, and my gimbal. From there, everything else I pack is just an additional add-on that may or may not be used. I like to keep things somewhat minimal, with the technology being crammed into these smaller form factors, it just makes sense to want to keep things lightweight without sacrificing on the quality.

6. Do you generally go in with a concept in mind, or do you see where the trip takes you and put it together after?

I do usually try and brainstorm a concept the week leading up to my trips but rarely do I have a flushed out idea until I have all the footage in front of me and start piecing things together.

7. What are some tips you’d give to people considering doing this sort of “travel video” work? How can they keep costs down, best utilize their time, make contacts in new places, etc.?

Some tips I’d give, if you’re already going somewhere new & exciting, document it, don’t be afraid to get away from the touristy places everyone else goes to, show your unique perspective/outlook on the place you’re in (wherever that may be) and than piece it together and share it with the world. I’m not the best at budgeting but I do try to save money in areas where I can, a good example, when we were in Iceland, food was pretty expensive so to keep costs down we would just go to these Gas Stations which sold affordable sandwiches and hotdogs, which we lived off of for a week, you could also keep an eye out on sales throughout the year for flights, my friend was able to snag a round-trip flight to Iceland for around 400 bucks.

Andrew Bui traveling by rapids in Iceland

It’s definitely a good idea to come up with an itinerary for the place you’re traveling to, to make the best out of your time. Definitely have a few places in mind that you know for sure you’d like to visit but that aren’t too far apart from each other, driving to these locations will eat up the bulk of your time. I think a good way to try to make contacts in new places you’ve never been before is to maybe reach out to some local FB groups or see if that place has an Instagram Community, for example here in New Orleans/Baton Rouge there’s this new and growing community of photographers & videographers (LocalNomadsLA) that have meet-ups almost every weekend where they hang-out, take pictures and network with each other. Their completely open to newcomers and anyone who’s generally interested in learning and connecting with other like-minded individuals.

8. Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Get out there and make stuff, seriously! I appreciate you guys reaching out again and having me apart of this awesome blog, excited to see what else you guys have in store!

Andrew Bui traveling in Iceland

You can contact Andrew and find more of his awesome work at his website, vimeo, instagram, facebook, and beyond! 

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An Interview with Antoinette Savoie of Pigéon Caterers

An Interview with Antoinette Savoie of Pigéon Caterers

Yum.

Yum.

We conducted an interview with Antoinette Savoie, who is the current Wedding Sales Manager with Pigéon Caterers here in New Orleans. Antoinette is an incredibly skilled, driven professional who was kind enough to share her knowledge of the wedding industry with us.  Enjoy!

1. Please introduce yourself: Who you are, where you’re from, what you do, and how long you’ve been in New Orleans.

Hey there, my name is Antoinette Savoie and I am originally from Mobile, Alabama. Currently I am the Wedding Sales Manager at Pigéon Caterers in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prior to returning to the Gulf Coast, I was a chef in San Francisco. I came back to get my MBA at Tulane and have been in Nola for two years and some change!

2. Tell us a bit about the world of wedding planning. How did you get in to it? How much time goes into each one? What do you love about it? What is difficult about it?

Wedding planning has been such a rewarding career path! I have always been an attention to detail person and a chronic planner so it truly is a perfect fit for my persona. After attending culinary school I knew I wanted to work events, being able to plan for things in advance takes some of the stress out of the kitchen atmosphere. However, the best part is getting to be an integral part of one of the most memorable days of a couple’s life. Love really is a powerful thing and being able to be surrounded by it constantly makes this such an uplifting profession.

monastery3. What do you find distinct about the job in New Orleans? Are there any unique challenges/benefits to doing wedding planning here? On a side note: do you have a favorite venue? (feel free to ignore this last bit if you don’t want anger anyone haha)

New Orleans is such an exhilarating market! We are actually the 2nd most popular destination for weddings behind Las Vegas, so you never know what type of couple you are going to get. I love being able to expose clients to our culture – my favorite part might actually be explaining what a second line is!

My favorite venue, I am most certainly biased here, is our new venue – The Monastery. It is located on the new streetcar line on N. Rampart and is an old renovated monastery. The original chapel is surrounded by numerous courtyards and a very modern remodel of the interior spaces. The venue almost encompasses an entire French Quarter block and can accommodate up to 2000 guests!

4. Vendors! This is always a big question for people outside of the planning community, as wedding vendors and venues are often seen as the “gateway” into the world of weddings. How do you meet vendors? What are some criteria you have when deciding who to work with and recommend? How often are you helping brides find various vendors?

My strictest criteria for vendors is that they are team players. I work with a plethora of different people and it truly takes us all for an event to come together. If I ever see a vendor helping outside their realm of expertise (i.e. a lighting guy helping put a cake on a stand or a DJ straightening a flower arrangement), that vendor gets placed on my permanent list of recommended vendors!

5. With specific regards to wedding videos, do you find yourself often recommending videographers and videography companies? If so, what do you look for in these companies? Are there any common issues/pitfalls you have seen that make you hesitant to recommend some?

Surprisingly I almost never recommend videographers. Typically the people looking to video their wedding have already looked into and found the videographer that fits their style. Even when I was planning in San Francisco, couples would almost always handle the videographer themselves.

If I am looking on my own, Instagram is my first stop. Social Media is such a big part of weddings now and how a vendor represents themselves on social media is very important to me. Music is also near and dear to my heart. So it never hurts if the videographer has a good ear too.

6. Anything else you’d like to add?

Just a thank you for InDepth media for allowing me to share my story and expertise! Best of luck with any future ventures and please keep Pigéon Caterers in mind for any of your upcoming events.

You can find Pigéon Caterers online! Contact them for your next event – wedding or otherwise!

Check out our latest wedding films here and a recent podcast discussion about a wedding film!

Hit us up on twitter, facebook, instagram, and on our website

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inDEPTH Wedding Films are Here

cinema wedding video

inDEPTH Wedding Films are Here

We are incredibly excited to officially announce the launch of inDEPTH Weddings. As a film production company that emphasizes a cinematic approach to our work, combined with years of experience in the world of wedding videography, we bring our own unique style and flair to your special day. Come take a look at some of the work we have already done and contact us for a free consultation today.

Simply put: We are not a wedding video company, but we are team that shoots weddings with the care, professionalism, and style that we put into all our productions. We are confident you will love what you see.

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Contact us today for a free wedding consultation

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