Back to Basics

The Basics. Why I started this blog in the first place.

To share my photos. To share my work, and hopefully create some art along the way.
I didn’t think that art was something that was created until it was finished, and then you realized it was art–you didn’t set out to create a meaningful piece, it just came about as you worked at it consistently.

As with most things, it morphed, and changed, and grew into…something that I wasn’t even sure of. A short six years ago, we were told to “brand” ourselves, to give people something more to come back to other than photos, to put ourselves out there and dig deep into our psyche to write informative but personal but not too crazy but eclectic but funny but general but interesting posts. Every week. So I did partake.

Ugh, boy, did that make a trap for me.

I started in with the writing, and then the photos I took during the week, and then trying to coordinate it all together, all while showing somewhat of a portfolio…it all became consuming and overwhelming and…blogging is supposed to be fun, right?

I’m supposed to be writing and showcasing my personality and growing my photography business, where did I go wrong? I’ve got a few ideas:
* I couldn’t pick a niche
* I tried to tie everything in with photography
* I let the process become too detailed
* I felt the need to address every detail
* I felt the need to share, share, and share some more
* I followed business models that weren’t a good fit for me
* I let others make me feel badly about my work
* I let others make me feel that I wasn’t doing enough
* I let others make me feel that I hadn’t accomplished enough
* I became consumed and in turn, frustrated
* I constantly compared myself to other photographers/bloggers who had completely different lifestyles from me (could write like 8 posts on this…)

So what are you supposed to do when you are caught in this spider web (gross) of all consuming fire of needs to fulfil and you’re drowning in your unfulfilled dreams, your bullying industry peers, your relationship, your tiny children and their education and needs, your self care, your extra baby weight, your midnight ice cream cravings, your household tasks, and your proofs that are due in one week? DUH! You have a nervous breakdown. A nervous breakdown is like a pack of wild animals who haven’t been fed in a month, in a tornado of saurkraut vomit, taking place in a bayou, on the top of the Empire State, without even a blade of grass to cling to.

You don’t want to go through one without a best friend who will keep you alive for a week while you are having problems doing basic things like breathing. She’ll aslo try to cheer you up by taking you to Hershey Park and getting you chocolate and wine. She’s awesome. She is super hard to live without.

In short, if you’re good with dates and like math [12/13, 1/14] you can deduce that I dropped blogging from my to-do-list. And when I say dropped it, I mean dropped it like a hot fucking potato. What did my portfolio or my online presence matter if my personal life was on the back burner like it was? I had this thing completely backwards.

Without going into an insane amount of details (privacy, time, my fingers would fall off from typing so much, ect!) it’s taken me a long yet steady road to get back on my feet. I’m happily on my feet, and back to doing something I once loved, but I will be more careful now. You will not see weekly posts. You will not see something written on set days, on the hour. This will be random. Not because it’s good for business, because I know statistically “it’s not” but, because it’s good for my mental state, my life, and my family, and that is the most important aspect to regard.

I have, since these life-changing events happened, accumulated a few posts I want to share. I’ve shot some sweet weddings that I’d love to show off, and I really enjoyed spending the day with these awesome couples. These will be coming up as I dip my toes back into the water of blogging, carefully keeping an eye out for the undertoe of consuming waves.

More updates to come! More study posts, prayer posts, weddings, more photos, but…all at random with no planning and no pressure.

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Experiencing Confidence

It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s not something that’s here to stay. Confidence. Getting Secure in yourself.

We spend over half our life just trying to figure out “who” we are. At the young age of 18, we’re expected to know enough about ourselves to actually choose an education path for a career. Most of us don’t even know what our true hobbies are, what our likes and dislikes are, and the most important question of “What makes you tick?”

Finding out what makes you tick requires a lot of trial and error. The only way to know if you truly love something or finding a passion is to try it. Finding something that didn’t make you tick is seen as a failure, when it should be seen simply as a “check-off” on the list of things to try and move on from.

How will you know if you never try? How can you equate failing and moving on if you tried? We’re so quick to say “fail” instead of just saying “it wasn’t what I expected, so I moved on”. How many situations can you say this about? How many people do you know that could benefit from this different frame of mind–including yourself? Often we turn out to be our own worst critics.

It’s a monumental task that sets a lot of us up for failure and disappointment. Many of us change majors and jobs or careers several times well into our 30s, and only now are people realizing that this is perfectly fine, and even something desirable.

Everyone has their own career story to tell. I know people that graduated with their BA only to go work at UPS because of the awesome benefits and great paycheck. I know people who graduated with a BA they didn’t even want just to apply for their commission. I know women who got their Master’s and walked away from their job to stay home with their kids. I know moms that returned to school to go after a better job to support their families.  Everyone’s story is vastly different from others, but there is one common thread–and that is that there is no “right” way to do this.

A short ten years ago, right at the start of the changing college scene, everyone was in such a hurry to graduate to get the best job possible. We were motivated, energetic, and worked like mad people. We quickly learned that the job market wasn’t what was promised. We would have a much harder time finding a job, let alone one we were passionate about, let alone with all the daydream aspirations of paid benefits, full pension, ect. We were basically on our own.

For some of us, this was a huge blow to our egos. We had strong, clear goals, and didn’t want anything to stand in that way. Our ego. Our confidence. Our young ages. Our educations that we wore like badges of honor. To look back and tell my 20 year old self that this isn’t all bad, that things will work out, and that you’d be so incredibly surprised, and that new things will always come your way.

You are so much more than your job, your career. You are a friend to your co-workers. You’re the person who others look forward to talking to you in the break room. You are a person, not a machine.

We try new hobbies, and make new friends. We lose interest, or have a falling out. No one ever sees it coming. No one ever sets out to make a new friend and keep in mind that they could end in a blowout and not speak anymore. People have an inherent good, and naturally seek out other like-minded people to share their time with. Friendships and relationships can be messy, we are flawed humans that have feelings that are delicate, no matter how tough of a facade you can build. Even though you may have been hurt in the past, your heart keeps you pushing forward and trying, because you know deep down you are capable of being a wonderful friend and are worthy of friendship in return.

It may have taken you a long time to get to where you are. You may have had to start over multiple times. Obstacles like job loss or malicious people could have stood in your way, but you persevered. Each small win adds another facet to your personality, and bolsters your confidence.

In my early 20s I was massively confident, remember being joyful and energetic, and through life’s changes and punches, flowing along with the tides of pregnancies, weight gain, weight loss, depression, anxiety, relief, success, achieving independence, job changes, career changes, income loss and gain, seemingly innumerable events that shaped my personality to who I am right now. I only say “right now” because I have no idea what the future holds. The only thing I can be certain of is that this will change many times over throughout the course of my life. I’ll have highs and lows, and now I can realize that confidence isn’t something that you have–it’s something that you experience.

Confidence ebbs and flows with time, with your life lessons, your situations and surroundings, and the experiences you travel through.

Baby steps. You will get there.

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Freefall

“So, wife, mama, photog…freefall? Why did you put freefall?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t know, I kind of didn’t know what else to put and it sounded right at the time,” I replied almost sheepishly.
“Awwwww, it’s because you LOVE Tom Petty!” he exclaimed.
“Well, sure, I mean who doesn’t?” relieved I had at least said something.

While I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t like Tom Petty, but about an hour later we went to the gym, and as I was running my laps (listening to Ty Dolla $ign now) this question kept popping up.

Why did I write freefall? Why do I feel like freefall fits me right now?

Plans. I have no plans. And it feels foreign to me.

For most of my life, I plannnned out like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve always loved lists, and being prepared. When I was in fifth grade, I started laying out what I was going to wear for school the night before–from socks to hairbands.

As I got older, the plans got more detailed and more long term. Entering my freshman year of college was probably the start of my planning-panic-attacking. I was interning at our county courthouse and one of the clerks that worked there asked me what I was majoring in, and what I wanted to do. She was just being nice and making conversation, but I literally told her: (this is practically verbatim…)

“Well, I’m going to go to college now and get my BA, and then work for a few years, and then get married and have kids, and then raise the kids at home until they’re old enough for school, and then when they’re at school, I’ll work part time so I can still be home when they are.”

This chick was really sweet, and she just kind of blinked at me and said a bunch of nice things about me being ambitious and knowing what I wanted and soforth. I really just wish she would have said what her facial expression said–that I was nuts, and you can’t plan out your life in FIFTEEN YEAR INCREMENTS. It doesn’t work.

I made no room for changes. No room for new interests or dreams. I had it all planned out, and if it just went according to plan, I’d be successful, happy, and well, “finished exactly how I wanted to end up.”

Big surprise, it didn’t work out. Here are some things that I couldn’t forsee, but kept throwing me off my “perfect” course:

* I changed my major twice after finding out that math requirements were hell on wheels.
* I discovered that technology could be a friend to artists.
* I didn’t know I’d be a military wife, and all the joys and challenges that come with it.
* I started working full time for the military the week after I graduated high school.
* My husband and I decided to get married before we graduated college. (Life’s short!)
* We bought a house at ages 19 and 20, with NO financial help from anyone.
* When most people were graduating with their BA, I was a first time mom.
* When most people were getting their MA, I was pregnant with our second boy.
* Eventually I DID graduate with my BA in CCJ/counseling minor. Win.
* I started taking classes that dealt with art and technology (cue new career).
* I became super interested in doing my own thing and working for myself.
* I took the kids out of private school to home school them.
* I held down the fort during four deployments with two babies and a business.
* After the last deployment, we totally rearranged our lifestyle.

Did you see what happened here? I accomplished all I set out to do, I just did it completely out of order! I was so focused on the next step on the list, I left out room for learning new enjoyments, or falling in love with someone that would travel or serve our country. I discovered the satisfaction of teaching my children to read, or to try to not hate art class so much. We discovered that we valued freedom more than having the old American dream of “big house, luxury car” and found out payments aren’t fun–freedom is! We adopted a minimalist lifestyle to spend more time together and less time working. This is totally opposite from the life I’d envisioned before. A life I thought I wanted so badly that early on I’d start panicking if things weren’t going right for my end result. I know other people can manage to work and build a portfolio, but personally it makes my skin crawl thinking back to when I was owned for eight hours a day with no personal phone calls and toe-tapping lunch breaks. There are so many companies that don’t know how to run a company that hires people, like, real-live humans that have needs other than to just be “lucky to work” and other stupid shit they say. How about…you can keep your pittance of a paycheck and instead of being poor and stressed, I’ll go be poor and have free time. HOW BOW DAH.

In short, I’d be missing out on a lot of great experiences and awakenings. These rigid plans can put life in a box. You cannot live in a box. It’s not healthy for your mental state. My fifteen year plan was totally torn apart and given to me in pieces. And it’s served me much, much better that way. My personality is too wonky to have it any other way.

This took about 7 years to work this all out. There was a lot of re-configuring. A lot of Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C, before I finally just turned it over to God and said
“Fine! This isn’t working! I’m not in control, You are, just please fix this mess!”

Every day I see Him fixing my mess, making small miracles that add up to a beautiful picture of our life together. I cannot fix my life alone. I cannot change myself and my environment alone. This life is far too complicated to think you can actually control it. We are mere humans, and life will happen to us, change will happen, unpredictable events will happen, and you will drive yourself insane digging your heels in and not being flexible.

Letting go of the control you think you have brings you a marvelous peace. It’s God with you saying that He’s got you, just listen. Make your footsteps slowly, and enjoy them. Letting go lets you realize it’s more fun this way, even if it is foreign. Sure it takes some getting used to, but all good things take time. Letting go brings more fullness to your life, you can F R E E F A L L into so much more than you dreamed.

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The Hurting Creative Brain

So I wrote a completely different blog post today, but I’m holding off on sharing it. It’s kind of dark and sad, and on a rainy day like today, that’s the last thing anyone needs.

But that’s the paradox of being creative. You have things you want to say, but HOW do you say them without sounding like a menacing banshee flying out of hell? You can’t. So you don’t say anything.

And that’s the effect of your creative brain. You feel and experience so much more. There will be another person that went through the exact same thing that you did, and will be able to walk away and just say “Eh, some people are just a$$h0l3$,” and be done with it. You find yourself incredibly jealous of these people and ask for lessons on how to not care about things so much.

I wish I could be cut and dry. I wish things were easier to process. I wish I wasn’t so GD emotional and that I could just forget about people that have treated me badly. I know they’ve forgotten about me–or they wouldn’t have treated me that way in the first place. But still, here we are, resurrecting old hurts and trying to figure it out. Answers! Well, there won’t be any answers. Maybe that’s the hardest part. No justification.

After a while, the sting will wear off. Let some time pass. You’ll stop checking their social media. (You might even give up social media for a time!) You’ll stop wondering if they’re still talking about you. You will have a better grip on how much to let the hurt take up space in your mind. You might even be able to hold a conversation with them when you run into them at the store, even if you do cry as soon as you get into your car. Baby steps. This won’t happen overnight. This is so much easier said than done. You’ll be stronger for just letting yourself take your time, when you’re ready. This creative brain can’t be forced. Rest easy knowing that just because you cried over them today, doesn’t mean you will cry everyday, this won’t last forever. Look forward to your stronger, clearer self. It will take time to get there, but it will be worth the journey. You’ll stand tall, unmovable, and strong.

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