AN OPEN LETTER TO THE VOICE IN MY HEAD

I don't like you. 

You tell me I can't do the things I want to do and so I don't like you.

I don't need you.

You convince me I'm not as strong as I know I am and so I don't need you.

I don't want you.

You never help me accomplish anything and so I don't want you.

You can leave now.

Do you hear me?

You can leave now.


Do you guys struggle with the voice in your head? My voice tells me that I'm mean, argumentative, thoughtless, lazy, posses no talent or abilities, I could go on but you get the point. My voice is my biggest adversary. She doesn't like me. 

I know that the voice is me. Me at my lowest, at my darkest, at my most vulnerable. She sees every weakness I feel and reminds me of them constantly. She doesn't let me forget even a single wrong thing I've done. She's always waiting for me to mess up. She is relentless. Ruthless. Unforgiving. 

I am my own biggest adversary and I need to figure out how to get out of my way.

@happsters https://www.instagram.com/p/BFT4mARpFkJ/

I'm sure you guys have heard that saying, "the only one holding you back is you." Have you ever rolled your eyes at it? I have.

"But I'm not holding me back! People just aren't receptive. They don't understand. I got in it too late. The market is saturated. No one listens to me."

Sound familiar? I hope it doesn't. I hope you don't make excuses like I do. I hope you just charge ahead, ready for whatever comes your way. I hope you know that you can do it, no matter what. Just in case you don't know, let me tell you.

You can do it. No matter what.

Whatever it is that you're wanting so bad- to write, to sing, to paint, to teach, to move to a new city, to build airplanes, whatever it is, you can do it. It might take time. It might take a lot of time. It will definitely take work, a lot of work, but just know- no matter how long it takes and no matter how much work it takes, you can do it. 

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/d8/a0/e1/d8a0e137eca79bef266fb84aea925101.png

MY WHOLE30 EXPERIENCE - DANI

Hello friends! First let me say, it is REALLY hard to get back into the rhythm of writing one of these every week. Sorry, yet again, for the lateness. We’re working on it!

As some of you may know, if you happen to follow my social media or actually know me in person, I recently completed my first Whole30. I have gotten SO MANY questions and comments about it, ranging from “why the heck would you do that?” to “tell me exactly where to start”, that I decided to do a post about it. 

Let me start by saying that I would strongly suggest reading It Starts with Food and The Whole 30 (no affiliation). I read both and they blew my mind! I couldn’t put them down. I finally realized how important what you eat is to your overall health, not just your waistline. All your questions can be answered by these two books, the whole30 website, and of course, Pinterest and Instagram. But for those of you who just want the quick and dirty breakdown, here it goes…

taken from whole30.com

taken from whole30.com

Whole30 is an elimination diet meant to help your body (digestive track, inflammation, neural pathways, etc) heal and reset. You eliminate a TON of different things for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce them to determine if that certain food /ingredient is what’s making you sick, tired, anxious, fill in the blank. I decided to try it for a couple reasons. 1) I was sick to my stomach literally. every. time. I ate. I just felt terrible all the time. 2) I know a few people who have done it with amazing results so I knew it wasn’t completely ridiculous. 3) I wanted to jump start a new eating lifestyle. 4) I heard it helped with anxiety and depression, which as you know from a previous post, sometimes incapacitates me. 5) I’ve had a hip injury for years that causes me to be unable to lay on my right side, be in one position for too long, or exercise in certain ways like running or hiking. I wanted to see if Whole 30 would help alleviate that pain. 6) And let’s be real, I was hoping to shed a few pounds as well. 

Sounds great right? Oh- except you can’t have: sugar, dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes, soy, or additives, especially MSG, sulfites, or carrageenan. You can’t even have gum folks! (You can find out what additives are okay and the specifics of each ingredient through the above resources.) You’re allowed meat, fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds, and certain fats like ghee, olive oil, animal fat, etc. I could write an entire post just describing the experience I had. But I’ll boil it down for you: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. Some days were totally amazing and I felt awesome. No tummy issue, sleeping better, more energy, happier. Some days, a commercial would come on for cookies and I’d be begging my husband to go buy me some then get angry at him when he said no, I would regret it, I made him promise not to let me have that stuff, etc. But overall, WORTH IT. Everything I hoped would happen, did. 

Results:


1) By the beginning of the second week, I stopped having stomach issues.

I no longer felt sick after every meal. I was able to enjoy my food and not worry that something in it would have me curled up in a ball in agony.

2) I slept better than I had in ages.

I didn’t even realize I wasn’t sleeping well, until I was sleeping better. 

3) My hip pain decreased.

For the first time in TWELVE YEARS, I slept on my right side. Through the whole night. I can sit or stand in a position for longer. I can walk further without it hurting. I’m about to start **trying** to jog again. 

4) I had more energy.

It took about a week for me to stop feeling constantly tired (because my body was no longer getting energy from a constant stream of sugar and had to work to burn fat) but after that, I no longer needed a cup of coffee at 3 in the afternoon or felt like I might fall asleep sitting in rush hour traffic. 

5) I was happier.

Honestly, in the entire 30 days, I didn’t find myself sinking into depression, I had no panic attacks, and I didn’t constantly stress about every. little. detail. (Except for the ingredients in everything I bought. What a pain.) 

6) I discovered that I do not handle lactose well which wasn’t that big of a surprise- this was my suspicion before starting.

But also, I don’t handle soy or gluten well, although they don’t bother me as much as dairy. Moderation people. I know how to pay attention to what is in my food, I know how to cook delicious meals without grains or sugar or well…added crap. 

7) And because I know you are all wondering… I lost almost 12 pounds.

And I’m still losing weight without following the strict plan. I didn’t work out at all during this process because I didn’t think adding in a new workout routine on top of eliminating a bunch of stuff would go over too well. That might be a little more than I can handle. I lost that weight purely by changing my diet.

So for all the people who asked me “What’s the point” or if you’re thinking to yourself, “this girl is nuts”, just know this: it works. I feel better, I’m healthier, and I’ve learned about 50 new recipes that are so delicious I will continue to make them. But more than anything, I have a confidence I have never experienced. It’s not because I’ve lost weight (I’m still technically overweight) or because I look better (I do have clearer skin though- score). It’s because I know that I have taken a step toward overall health and that I have the skills to make wise decisions about what I put into my body. Because as they say…it starts with food. 

LIFE IS SHORT, EAT MORE CAKE!

Hello, friends! It looks like we missed a week! Oh no! We were in pre-holiday mode, ok? Busy busy bees. 

Ok what really happened was I got lazy and Dani was actually busy driving to OK for the holiday weekend/friend visits! YAY! #worthit

But we are back this week and ready to roll! Today I'm going to share something I find to be wonderfully amazing and a GREAT way to express yourself creatively: a cake recipe!

Yep. Cake. That's right. It's delicious and fun to make and you can get as creative as you want with it! My older sister had asked me to bring a cake to her daughter's confirmation last week so I got to work trying to come up with the messiest cake I could think of. Just kidding. But it really was the messiest cake ever. And delicious so whatever.

I honestly hadn't given it much thought until well, the day before I needed to make it...I work better under pressure :) I started thinking about how I could get creative with it when my friend Amanda sent me a text telling me she had planned to decorate her cake with flowers (she is my nieces's aunt on the other side of their family). She was letting me know because she said she realized I might have had the same idea and she wanted to at least coordinate colors. My thoughts were, "oh crap! I forgot all about that cake!" quickly followed by, "great, now I have to make it pretty." :-D I only wish I was kidding about that.

Pinterest to the rescue! I went to find inspiration on my "sweets" board and you know what? It totally worked...sort of. Nothing really got me excited (except for the recipes that required 800 ingredients I didn't currently own) so I started doing searches on food blogs I really like. I finally found a cake that was calling to me on Half Baked Harvest. She was beautiful and colorful and layered and white and just so ...beautiful! Bonus points to the cake for requiring only a few ingredients I had to go buy! It was settled, the Coconut Eton Mess Cake with Whipped Ricotta Cream was the cake I would make for my niece's confirmation. 

image from Half Baked Harvest 

WOWZA ISN'T SHE BEAUTIFUL??? Just the most gorgeous cake I have ever seen. 

Ingredients

  • Coconut Cake
  • 3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 cups canola oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 whole eggs + 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 6-8 homemade or store-bought meringues
  • edible flowers, for decorating (optional)
  • Whipped Ricotta Cream
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 16 ounce whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • To assemble the Cake
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, divided
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 blood oranges
  • 2 passion fruits
  • 6-8 homemade or store-bought meringues
  • edible flowers, for decorating (optional)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch (or 9 inch) round cake pans, or line with parchment paper, then butter/spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand held mixer) beat together the canola oil, sugar, honey, eggs + egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low until there are no longer any clumps of flour. Add the coconut milk and mix until combined. Batter should be pourable, but not super thin. Stir in the lemon zest.

Pour the batter among the 3 cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes, until the tops are just set and no longer wiggly in the center. Remove and let cool five minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan. Grab 3 large flat plates, line them with wax or parchment paper and invert the cakes onto the paper lined plates. Cover and let the cakes cool completely before assembling.

Whipped Ricotta Cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand held mixer) fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the ricotta and heavy cream, continue to whip until the the ricotta is smooth and the cream has fluffed, about 6-8 minutes. Add the honey + vanilla and whip until combined. Keep the cream covered in the fridge until ready to assemble.

Assemble the Cake

In a bowl, mash together 1/2 cup chopped strawberry and 1/2 cup raspberries until you have a loose sauce.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand and drizzle lightly with honey. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cream over the cake and then swirl 1/3 over the mashed berries into the cream. Crumble 2-3 meringues over top. Add a handful of fresh chopped strawberries, raspberries, orange slices and passion fruit. Repeat with the remaining 2 cake layers. Be careful not to over fill your layers with fruit or the cake will be hard to slice.

If desired, decorate the cake with edible flowers.

** Ingredients and instructions taken directly from Half Baked Harvest 

So that's how you make the Coconut Eton Mess Cake according to Tieghan over at Half Baked Harvest. Want to know my version of it? You see what had happened was...

I went to Whole Foods to get the missing ingredients (eggs, meringues, berries) because WF is closer than my normal grocery store (Sprouts). But I encountered a little bump in the road of my shopping list when I got there because the berries were SO expensive and also I couldn't find meringues. I was thinking about just splurging for the berries but then I noticed that cherries were on sale. SCORE! Cherries are better than berries anyway (no they're not but I liked saying cherries and berries together). Anyway so I got home and looked up roasted cherry recipes and I found this one for Bourbon Roasted Cherries on The Bojon Gourmet via Rolling Pin Punches

image from The Bojon Gourmet

Roasted Bourbon Cherries:

12 ounces sweet cherries

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons bourbon, divided use

Make the roasted bourbon cherries:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450ºF. Spread the cherries in a single layer in a small, rimmed baking dish or pan. Sprinkle with the sugar and 1 tablespoon of the bourbon. Roast the cherries in the oven, giving the pan a shuffle every 5 minutes, until they are oozing juice and beginning to collapse and look like prunes, about 15 minutes. Watch them closely so that the juices don’t burn. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When the cherries are cool enough to handle, pit them (I did this with my fingers, breaking each cherry in half and removing the pit). Be sure to save all the precious juice. Chop the cherries coarsely – you want them in roughly quarters or eighths. (This can be messy, so wear an apron!) Combine the chopped cherries, their juice, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon in a jar and chill.

**ingredients and instructions from The Bojon Gourmet

*** I didn't have any bourbon so I used some of the coffee infused rum that is sitting on the counter never being used (but the label is oh so beautiful so I don't even care). 

I felt like I needed something in addition to the cherries so I made some caramelized nuts that I had made for Mother's Day that everyone really loved! I used a recipe I found on The Big Man's World for Sugar Free Caramelised Nuts (his spelling, not mine). 

Ingredients

  1. 3 cups raw nuts of choice (I used cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts)
  2. 1 tsp sea salt
  3. 1 T cinnamon
  4. 1 tsp vanilla essence
  5. 1 cup Norbu natural sweetener (can use coconut palm sugar or a stevia baking blend)
  6. 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Heat a large frying pan or deep pot on medium heat. When hot, add the Norbu sweetener. sea salt, cinnamon and water and mix until fully combined. Allow to heat up, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the sweetener has completely melted, add the nuts and mix until fully incorporated. Watch over the pan and continue stirring often until most of the sugar has been coated and beginning to crystallise.
  3. Remove pan from the heat and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir the nuts once more to avoid overly large clusters and set on a plate or chopping board to cool completely.

Notes

  1. For more cluster like portions, allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Nuts can be stored in an airtight container.

**Ingredients, Instructions and Notes taken from The Big Man's World. 

image from The Big Man's World

I ended up making my own version of a mess cake, and it was a giant giant mess. It turned out nicely though! Excuse my lame pictures because I was too scared to move the cake into a room with better light.

Do you guys ever mix and match recipes? What's your favorite? Oh, heads up, if you make this cake and want to travel with it...it will melt, so be careful! 

 

*** oh and also, I didn't have enough white flour so I used white wheat flour. It was still delicious! Just a little more dense than it would have been. Someday I want to make this cake again and follow the original recipe exactly.

HOW TO LIVE AN AWESOME AND CREATIVE LIFE ON A BUDGET PT. 2

Katelyn and I have been talking about money quite a bit and this week, we decided we were going to share with you some ways to save money in order to have the freedom to be creative. Katelyn took a lot of my ideas- the downside of posting the second blog each week. And of having a friend who pretty much reads your mind. I am going to tell you a few more things I have personally done to lower my expenses while still allowing myself to have a life.  So as I have done previously, I am going to add on to Katelyn’s last post.

Step 1:

Figure out what your budget is

As Katelyn mentioned, you have to start with knowing how much you actually have to spend. So make a budget. There are so many ways to do this- an excel spreadsheet, a notebook or bullet journal, the envelope system. And probably a bunch of other cutesy ways can be found on Pinterest. Something to think about when you’re starting- is your paycheck always the same or does it vary each pay cycle? Tyler is salaried but my hours varied, meaning our overall monthly income varies. When I created our budget, I went through my paystubs for the last six months and calculated it off of my lowest paycheck. That way if I worked less hours one month, we wouldn’t have to worry about it. And then I have my 1/3 rule. Anything that we bring in over our monthly budget gets divided into thirds and dispersed into savings, giving, and fun. The same goes with certain bills that fluctuate each month. Gas prices go up, our electric bill is higher in the summer, etc. So our budget is based on the highest each has been and anything left over- you guessed it- 1/3 rule. And don’t forget to budget in for fun things and random expenses. Don’t budget without a dining out/entertainment allowance because…well, let’s be real. And don’t forget these things that don’t necessarily happen each month- pet expenses (anyone else ever had an unexpected vet visit? ugh), car registration and emissions tests, birthdays and holidays.

Step 2:

Planning

I couldn’t agree more with Katelyn here. If you take the time to plan, you will save so much money. And stress down the line. I don’t have much to add here. I love planning, planners, lists, office supplies and all the organizational things.

Step 3:

Don’t Stress

If you aren’t the planning type- don’t worry about it. Not everyone has that type of personality. And that is totally fine. If you try it and it doesn’t work for you, try something else. Or just enjoy the fact that you aren’t as OCD and high strung as I am.

Step 4:

Take advantage

Katelyn already gave you a fantastic list of things you can do to save money. I’m just going to mention a few that I have personally done.
*Michael’s: Katelyn mentioned cartwheel but there are other apps that can save you money. I LOVE the Michael’s app because there are always coupons on there. There is always a 40% off one item, so if there is a more expensive item that is cheaper this way than amazon, I’m all about it.
*No interest credit cards: BE CAREFUL with these. They are amazing but if you aren’t good with credit cards (aka you can’t pay off the balance or control yourself- STAY AWAY). Tyler and I use these when we need to make a bigger purchase but don’t have the cash on hand. For example, you can often get 18 month no finance cards at places like Best Buy or Home Depot. We did this when I started Seminary and needed a new laptop. We just divided the total by 18 months and paid it off before the “no interest” period ended. Just beware that if you don’t pay them off in time, you pay interest on the original total, not your new balance. Bonus- they raise your credit score if you make the payments each month.
*Cash back cards: SEE ABOVE WARNING! I would highly recommend getting a cash back credit card if you can stick to your budget and pay off your statement balance each month. Then you aren’t paying interest and you are literally earning free money. I’ve done this since November of 2011 and I have earned $933 in FREE money. We just charge everything that we would normally have to pay for anyway- gas, groceries, certain bills, date nights- and pay it off each month. Guys, that’s a free $200 every year!
*Lower your overall interest: If you have student or car loans, or a mortgage, I would suggest looking into refinancing. Tyler and I did this because our credit has gone up over the years and we saved $70 a month on his car plus all the additional savings in interest. We also pay about $13 a month in additional principal to our mortgage. (And yes, I chose this amount extra just to make an even number. I told you- OCD.) This doesn’t seem like much but over the course of our 30 year note, we will save THOUSANDS of dollars. You can also find credit cards where you can switch existing balances to a new card and have a year no interest. If you have the ability to pay off your balance in 12 months, you won’t have to pay all that additional interest that makes it so hard to get to 0!
*Shop around: Even if you’ve had your insurance for years, take the time to look around. My friend B told me that she switched her car insurance and saves $400 a year for the same coverage. Awesome.

Step 5:

Find cheap things to do

Katelyn already mentioned the best things to do for free (or nearly free). And I listed some on my blog about dating your spouse. So I won’t beat you over the head with it. Just know that we actually do these things! Just today I went to an amazing street fair in one of my favorite neighborhoods. I love things like this because you can literally spend as much or as little as you want. Yes, the food can be pricey but just decide how much you want to spend, bring only that amount in cash, and when you’re out- oh well. Plus, you can usually get free stuff. Besides free samples, you can get a few other things too. Today I got coupons for free (local and delicious) pizza, a glass of kombucha at a cultured tap room (what?! I can’t wait for that), an appetizer and drink at a pub, and a paint-n-sip class. I also got a free 20 minute massage. Not one of those quick neck massages you see in the mall- a legit massage. Seriously, find the local festivals and fairs. Go to a farmer’s market where there is always amazing stuff and usually you can get samples. Plus, you have the opportunity to support other creatives who are selling what they love to make.

HOW TO LIVE AN AWESOME AND CREATIVE LIFE ON A BUDGET PT. 1

In our last posts Dani and I talked to you all about our individual struggles with money and how we are trying to make things work. Sometimes the desire to make more money is stronger than the desire to keep doing what makes us happy (or happier). We are so lucky to have each other and supportive friends and family to remind us that it's OK to make a little less money than what we might want. It's OK not to take extravagant vacations. It's OK not to go out to eat a lot. It's OK to just make it work with what we have and be happy with where we are.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to live a more creative life. I’ve never been drawn to the corporate life, selling clothes doesn’t excite me, serving food doesn’t give me joy, managing people doesn’t fill me with purpose. None of those things are what I want for my life. What I’ve always wanted is the freedom to express myself in a way that feels completely true to me and honest to all of you. I’ve always wanted to give something beautiful to the world instead of just trading my time for dollars (clock in, clock out, get paid, done).
— IS A CREATIVE LIFE WORTH IT?
I just want life to keep moving forward and me to not get left behind. My job makes me feel like I’m being left behind. Well, not my job, the amount of money that I make. Isn’t that terrible? I don’t know, maybe it’s just normal.
— IS A CREATIVE LIFE WORTH IT?

 I wrote those things in my last blog post. I wrote about how I almost applied for a job that I already knew wouldn't make me happy or bring me closer to my dreams. I wrote about how money has been stressing me out and how I'm really thankful to have people remind me to chill out. I wrote about how amazing it is to have this little space on the internet where I get the opportunity to share my struggles and successes with you lovely people. Today I want to write about something very practical: how to live an awesome and creative life on a budget

Are you ready? Come on, we got this!

STEP 1

Figure out what your budget really is.

This step might seem obvious but I like to cover all of my bases (oh hey, I just made a sportsball reference!). In order to live an awesome and creative life on a budget you have to know what that budget is. How much can you spend on groceries? Bills? Gas? Going out? Clothes? Fun stuff? Figure it all out and stick to it! You won't regret it. (**this is still something I'm trying to get the hang of so if you're not there yet, know that I'm with you!**)

STEP 2

Plan. Plan. Plan. And then plan some more :)

If you can set aside a day or a few hours a week to plan out what you will do tomorrow, next week, next month, etc., you will save yourself so much time and money. This is especially true for grocery shopping (which I'm sure you know) but easily carries over into things like shopping, date night, filling up free time, cleaning, cooking, basically you name it and planning will help you get it done more efficiently and for less $$$ (and who doesn't want that?). 

STEP 3

Know that you don't have to figure out everything all at once.

Don't stress yourself out trying to come up with plans. I mean it. Set aside the time, put forth some effort, but if you can't figure everything out today, don't stress about it. Stress isn't good for anything. 

STEP 4

Take advantage of deals

Some of you may be super coupon-ers (and if that's you, please, show me your ways) but most of us probably don't want to put that amount of time and effort into saving a few bucks. Luckily, you can still find awesome deals without clipping coupons! Here are some of my favorite ways to save money:

- Target REDCard: I save 5% every time I shop at Target and use my REDCard. The REDCard isn't a credit card, it links directly with your bank account!

- Target Cartwheel app: This app is awesome and free and gives you access to pretty sweet deals and discounts on Target merchandise. Just download the app, search for what you need, select the deals you want and let the cashier scan the barcode on your phone when you checkout! I saved $30 TODAY with my REDCard + Cartwheel app. 

- Groupon: I have saved the most money with Groupon when buying gifts for other people. Groupon is awesome people- save yo' self some money.

- Southwest: If you like to travel you should definitely sign up to receive e-mails from Southwest Airlines. They run awesome deals throughout the years and sometimes you can find flights for as little as $49 one-way! I booked myself a flight to see Dani in Denver later this year for less than $100 round trip! WINNING!!!

- Amazon: Ok for real. If you need/want something, look it up on Amazon to see if you can find it for a better price than the store is advertising. I've saved a lot of money buying books through Amazon (and I mean a lot of money). 

- Big Lots, Ross and other discount stores: These types of discount stores can save you a lot of money on common household items, decor, food, storage, clothes, etc. If you don't mind digging a little bit and making semi-frequent trips, these stores should be your jam. 

STEP 5

Find local activities that won't cost you too much to do

Check out what your city has to offer that wont cost you a lot of money but will give you a lot of memories and a super fun day! In OKC we have things like the Sonic Movie Nights or Sunday Twilight Concert Series at the Myriad Botanical Gardens that are FREE! Both events are super family friendly, fun, and wont cost you a single cent!

Here are some ideas of free (or close to free) things you can do:

- kayaking

- camping

- happy hour specials

- discounted movie tickets (usually before 4 or 5 pm)

- festivals 

- farmer's markets ( a really fun way to spend a weekend morning!)

- parks for public tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, fields for soccer and baseball, etc. (more sportsball- you get the idea)

- lakes

- museum + zoo (some offer free days)

Just check out what's happening in your community and go have yourself a good time FO' FREE!

OKC INDUSTRY FLEA - a FREE event

OKC INDUSTRY FLEA - a FREE event

KATIE BUGS SNOW CONES @ OKC INDUSTRY FLEA - an INEXPENSIVE way to treat yourself

WHAT ELSE?

Do you have some super awesome ways to save money? A list of amazing things to do for free? How creative can you get with spending less and loving life? Let us know in the comments!

MONEY ISN'T EVERYTHING

There I was, sitting on the bathroom floor in tears, begging my husband to let me quit my job. Yep, 28 years old, sobbing like a child in the bathroom of my workplace. I had never before been treated with such disrespect at work, much less by a boss. I don’t want to share all of the gory details, but my new boss said such disrespectful and hurtful things to me that my husband and friends encouraged me to call our compliance hotline. I, to this day, cannot understand how he was promoted to his position or why he received no repercussions for his words and actions toward myself and my coworkers. But really, this isn’t the point of my story at all. The point is that I finally hit that point, you know the one, the point where you can’t take it anymore. The benefits no longer outweigh the costs. Free coffee and pastries no longer outweighed being treated like trash. Good insurance no longer outweighed being yelled at by customers for things we have no control over. Flexibility no longer outweighed feeling horrible about myself each day. And on and on. I worked for this company for years and I would say I loved it 99% of the time. I believe the company overall is a wonderful place to work. I met some of my favorite people working there. I met my husband there just over six years ago. I started my first 401K and received stock that helped me travel. I was able to work a flexible schedule that allowed me to pursue both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I would wholeheartedly encourage others to work for this company if they asked (albeit not for my recent boss-that would be an emphatic no). But in the last month before I left, all of those feelings faded away. I couldn’t see the good anymore. The only reason I was still there was one thing… you guessed it…money. 

Money kept me waking up at 3 am to open my store. Money kept me smiling when my customers yelled at us. Money kept me there. And the saddest part, it wasn’t even that much money. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, I was struggling to find a new job that aligned with my degree. I made enough to make things work and I had the flexibility to keep searching for a job, volunteer, and have a life. And then, finally, in mid-April, I received a part time position at a nonprofit seeking justice in Denver (more on this in another post). I decided it was worth it to cut my hours down at my current job, to keep my insurance, and work both. I was ecstatic. Finally, things were lining up and I was able to do something that I felt called to while making enough money to pay the bills. And then, unfortunately, the above mention jerk became my new boss. And money no longer mattered at all. I just needed one final push to convince me that money wasn’t everything. That taking a significant pay cut (seriously- less pay, less hours, and the increase in insurance by switching to my husband’s) was worth it. I could say it over and over “money doesn’t matter”, but I had no opportunity to prove it to myself. I could pray to not let money control my life, but until I let it go, it meant nothing. 

So, there I was, sitting on the bathroom floor, begging my husband to let me quit. (When I say “let me” quit, I simply mean consider and talk it over with me. I don’t mean he would force me to stay there. He just tends to be more level headed than I am, especially when I’m upset. So I wanted him to take me seriously and not assume I was just having a bad day). He was furious when I told him what happened, encouraging me to call my boss’s direct supervisor, and told me that we could seriously talk when I got home. I went over our budget, I prayed, I reworked the numbers, figured out where we needed to make cuts, prayed more and finally said, “I’m doing it.” Tyler agreed. We put my emotional and physical well-being above money. Something I had never done before. I gave my notice the next day. I felt lighter and happier. I was excited to be finishing up this phase of my life.

http://southernpiphi.tumblr.com/post/119846235435/live-simply

It’s been just over a month since I made the choice to not let fear of money (or rather, a fear of the lack of money) run my life. And it has been fantastic. Tyler and I have had to make a few cuts, primarily to our “date night” budget, to pay for the difference. We refinanced our car loan and are getting a different car to lower our monthly payments. We’ve eaten at home every night for a month. Luckily, a few weeks after I quit, the executive director at my new job approached me about additional hours each week. These additional hours have lessened the burden from quitting. What’s even better is knowing that I wouldn’t have been able to take on the additional hours at a job I love, had I still been working part time at a job I dreaded. All I know is that God is good and, somehow, my decision to stop fearing money has turned out for the better. I enjoy my new job, I delight in the small things that Tyler and I choose to do for date nights, I cook healthier meals at home for us both, and I think less about money. It used to consume me, but I’ve discovered that trusting God is easier than trusting money. He has never failed to provide for exactly what we’ve needed, even if what we wanted was more. 

When Katelyn asked if she should take the manager position for the money (a conversation you can see on her post from last week), all I wanted to do was tell her “no!” Obviously, I didn’t say it in quite that way. I encouraged her to think about what we’ve been discussing on and through our blog. I wanted her to feel the freedom I’ve found in trusting that doing what you love is more important than doing what pays. I still work part time so I’ve had the opportunity to continue volunteering. I wrapped up Seminary and now have time to dive back into this blog with Katelyn that I love so much. I’ve found cheaper or free ways to spend time with friends. I’ve found freedom. Money is helpful. But it sure isn’t everything. 

http://thenletitbe.tumblr.com/post/116755682310

IS A CREATIVE LIFE WORTH IT?

Is it awful for me to be considering being a manager again? for the money...

ummm...its not awful but you hated it. 

but...money. So maybe worth it. I don't know.

I don't know either... 

would It make you happy? Is it worth it?

I don't know :-/

It would help you get here and save up to do what you want. But then you might not have the time or energy to do those things. And who knows how long it could take to transfer as a manager to Denver

I'm really just concerned with not being worth negative money

Yeah it seems to kind of go against what we've been talking/blogging about. Not go against...that's not the right wording

I know. that's why I'm wondering if it's awful

I think it's not worth it. I should just wait tables for awhile.

http://imgfave.com/view/2082294

That, my friends, was a real conversation I had with Dani a couple of weeks ago. I'm the one in bold, she's italicized. This probably goes without saying but, THE. STRUGGLE. IS. REAL! 

For as long as I can remember I've wanted to live a more creative life. I've never been drawn to the corporate life, selling clothes doesn't excite me, serving food doesn't give me joy, managing people doesn't fill me with purpose. None of those things are what I want for my life. What I've always wanted is the freedom to express myself in a way that feels completely true to me and honest to all of you. I've always wanted to give something beautiful to the world instead of just trading my time for dollars (clock in, clock out, get paid, done). 

I talked about it in the very first post of this new adventure (aka "blog"). 

I’ve spent half of my life wishing for more and aching to let out my creativity and let it mix with my love of business. There are really not enough words to describe everything I’ve felt in all of those years but the words don’t even matter now. They don’t matter because they don’t mean anything anymore. I am here. I have arrived. I’m doing this.
— me (THIS IS NOT THAT post #1)

"I am here. I have arrived. I'm doing this." I wish that right now in this moment I could feel that same confidence. Right now I just feel like, "Where am I? How did I get here? What am I even doing??" I have been beyond stressed out for months now. Most days I'm too frustrated or exhausted to take a step forward. Sometimes I even take a step back. I'm just here, waiting for life to fall into place and to move me forward.

waiting for life to fall into place and to move me forward...

*pause* Are you thinking what I'm thinking? What am I even saying??? *unpause*

Ok. Nevermind that. I'm back to reality. But can we have an honest talk about what just happened? That's really how I've been feeling. I just want life to keep moving forward and me to not get left behind. My job makes me feel like I'm being left behind. Well, not my job, the amount of money that I make. Isn't that terrible? I don't know, maybe it's just normal.

I blog about being creative and not letting money define success or dictate the worth of what I put out into the world and sometimes I don't even believe what I'm saying. I mean, yes, I believe it in the moment and I do believe it in the big picture but right now...here in this little picture that I see, well, I just don't believe it. 

Money defined success in my mind. Now I’m defining success as doing what I want to do.
— me (HOW I'M LIVING A CREATIVE LIFE)

^ I wrote that a little while ago in a post telling you all about how I'm living a creative life. It's a nice statement. A nice thought. A nice feeling. The only problem with it is making it stick. Making it last. Making it resonate within me. I want to believe it. I want to believe it every second of everyday but the reality is that I don't and I can't. I might never be able to. But you know what? That's ok.

It's ok because I have people in my life that I can come to when I feel like taking a job I hated so that I can make more money and they can tell me to get it together. I'm so thankful for Dani and the way that she is always honest with me even when it's something I might not want to hear. You guys, it's so important to have people like that in your life. I'm thankful for my boyfriend who believes in me and believes that what I'm doing is worth something. I'm thankful for my siblings who will always listen to my crazy ideas and help me brainstorm ways to make them better. I'm so so so thankful that I have parents who have always encouraged me to be creative. Do you know who else I'm thankful for?

you.

That's right, you. And you. And you. And you. All of you. 

 I'm so thankful that you guys allow me to have this space on the internet where I get say things and you hear me. I'm glad that blogging exists and is something that people take seriously now. I'm glad that so many people have access to the internet and I'm glad that there are so many people out there blogging and being creative and sharing their gifts with the rest of us. You are all an inspiration to me. You are all what is helping me to stay the course and do what I want to do instead of just doing what will make me a few extra dollars. 

http://www.heartlovealways.com/2014/11/thankful/?crlt.pid=camp.4tLR0AzWj62L

I think that a big reason why I've felt so stressed is because I stopped blogging for a little while. If you follow us on Facebook you might remember back in March Dani and I let you all know that we were going to take a break from blogging for awhile. It was something that we both needed but I know that at least for me, the break was too long. I have missed being here. I have missed so much being able to share with you guys what I'm passionate about and also what I'm struggling with. I don't think I realized how much it was affecting me. Even after just writing this one post, I feel less stressed. I'm starting to feel less like I want life to just move me- now I'm feeling like I want to be moving life. 

I love it here. More than you could ever know. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of your lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding me that yes, a creative life is definitely worth it.

Money isn't everything. I really might get a second job just to relieve a little bit of the stress, but that's ok. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Bring on all the hours at work- as long as I still have this little place on the internet and my family and friends, I'll be ok. It'll all be ok.

In closing I want to leave you with another quote from another one of my previous blog posts. It's what I need to hear right now. I need to be reminded that yes, a creative life is most definitely worth it.

Can we stop saying, “money sucks,” and start saying, “hey, this is hard, but I’m ok” ?? I need this. I need those words. I need that thought process. Do you? It’s a new year you guys, 2016 is waiting for us to make magic in our lives and the lives of the people around us. What will we do? Lets be so thankful for jobs that pay the bills and even just 1 extra hour in the day to do something just because we want to and not because we are thinking about how to make more money. I know we all want to eventually make money doing what we love but in the meantime, how can we chose to minimize our financial burdens and maximize our creativity?
— me (WHAT IF MONEY DIDN'T MATTER)

http://modernhepburn.tumblr.com/post/135427278616

hey you, long time no see

HELLO INTERNET! OH MY GOSH I'VE MISSED YOU!!!

Fo' real though. It's been too long, friends. What even has been happening since I last saw you? That was in March! Like I said on Facebook, Dani and I took a break from the blog because she had a massive paper due (her last even in grad school, yay!) and I started dating someone and just couldn't (*read chose not to*) find the time.  But hey, her paper is over and I'm getting back into my routines so, here I am! **Dani isn't back yet because she just started a new job - YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY - I'll let her tell you guys all about it when she's ready!

So in the last month I've been working a lot, watching a lot of webinars on blogging, brainstorming ideas for video interviews (I'm so excited about this you guys!), cooking, traveling, drinking lots of coffee, and hanging out with my pretty cool boyfriend. I'm going to post all about our recent trip to Denver soon but for now I just want to leave you with this crazy awesome recipe I found and adapted for CHOCOLATE GRANOLA! Um, yes. YAHS!


I found the recipe on What Should I Eat for Breakfast, an amazingly beautiful blog devoted to breakfast. What could be better than that? Marta Greber is the blogger over there and she's pretty great so you should check out her blog! Here's the recipe as found on her blog :

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup walnut and pecans cut in small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cacao powder
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup (or honey)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped chocolate

Heat your oven to 160*C (325*F). In a big bowl mix oats, coconut flakes, nuts and salt. In another medium bowl whisk cacao, coconut oil, vanilla extract, agave syrup (or honey) and brown sugar. Place cocoa mix to the oat’s bowl and mix everything well, so oates are cover equally with cacao mix.

Place the oats equally on a baking tray covered with a baking paper and bake for 15 minutes. After this time bake for another 10 minutes, but mix oats from time to time, so it won’t burn. When your granola is ready take the tray out of the oven, spread chopped chocolate on it (it will melt as granola is hot) and let everything cool down. When your granola achieves a room temperature , place it in a jar or a bag.


I made mine a little differently!

My coconut flakes were actually coconut chips

I added 1/2 cup slivered almonds in addition to 1 cup of pecans and maybe 1 TB or so of walnuts (all I had)

I used 5 TB amber coconut nectar instead of agave/honey

I used cacao nibs instead of chopped chocolate 

I also added 2 TB chia seeds 

Next time I'm going to add buckwheat groats too because I like more crunch. It could also use a bit more of the coconut nectar but all in all, I'm very happy with it! I'm going to use it tonight on the "nice cream" I'm making for my sister and I. I'll let you know how it turns out! 

all of the dry ingredients together! aren't they pretty? *photography by me

up close and personal with some beautiful ingredients just waiting to become chocolate granola! *photography by me

 

CHOCOLATE GRANOLA *photography by me

Ok so what are you waiting for? Go make this and tell me what you think! 

 

**It was super delicious with strawberries on my "nice-cream" :)

WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT IN LIFE?

What is it that you want in life, my dear?

What is it that burns deep in your being? 

What is it that pushes you to your limit? 

What is it that inspires greatness within you?

Can you see it?
Can you feel it?
Can you taste it?

What is it?

Does it keep you up at night? 

Does it breathe deeper with every breath you take? 

Does it gain momentum with every step you take? 

Does it change as you change?

Can you see it?
Can you feel it?
Can you taste it?

What is it?

Is it everything you ever dreamed it would be? 

Is it more than you could have ever imagined? 

Is it more beautiful than anything you've ever known?

Can you see it?
Can you feel it?
Can you taste it?

What is it?

 

I lived most of my life believing that because I never felt "called" to do something or born with a burning passion for something, that I would have to settle for ordinary. I thought that I had somehow missed out on some session in which life hands out callings. I had no calling. No burning passion. No desire toward something that lit me up. I was just me. 

I didn't know at the age of five that I would be a doctor someday. I didn't start singing when I was three. I didn't pick up an instrument at seven. I was just me.

I started taking pictures when I was around twelve years old, but even then, I didn't feel like photography was calling me, or drawing me in. I just liked taking pictures. Sometimes. I was just me.

I knew at fifteen that I liked to write but I never considered myself a writer. I wasn't a poet. I was just me.

I felt like I was just me while everyone else was, well, special. They all knew what they wanted to do. They felt called to it. They didn't choose it, it chose them. They had it made...or so I thought.

I was just me, a quiet girl who was pretty good at a lot of things but not great at anything. A jack of all trades and master of none, as the saying goes. I was just me. I didn't have many friends, I was never the social butterfly. I wasn't the smartest, prettiest, nicest, funniest, kindest, strongest...whatever it was, I wasn't it. I was just me. 

 

What is it that you want in life, my dear? 

Does it keep you up at night?

Does it breathe deeper with every breath you take? 

Does it gain momentum with every step you take? 

Does it change as you change?

Can you see it?

Can you feel it?

Can you taste it?

What is it?

 

I realized somewhere in the last three years that there aren't many people who know what they want to do in life. I thought that it was just me. Until it wasn't. It was them. It was you. It was everyone. 

It is a truly beautiful thing to meet someone who has a deep sense of calling toward one thing or another. Muscians completely devoted to their music. Lawyers who give everything to the law. Dancers who live and breathe and die by their movements. Writers who become their characters. 

Lives centered around a purpose that beckons the soul are remarkable...and they are rare. 

Delicate. 

Precious.

Powerful.

Magnificent.

Dangerous.

...and rare.

They don't know how to be any other way. They are just them. They live and die for it. They live and die in it. They live and die by it.

They live and they die and they are just them, like I am just me.

There is not one single thing that beckons my soul.

There are a dozen things.

A hundred things.

A thousand things.

A million things.

 

What is it that you want in life, my dear?

Is it everything you ever dreamed it would be? 

Is it more than you could have ever imagined? 

Is it more beautiful than anything you've ever known?

Can you see it?

Can you feel it?

Can you taste it?

What is it?

 

I am beckoned by the water; it calms me. It gives me a sense of space and of belonging and of scarcity.

I am beckoned by art; it shows me what is good in the world, it reminds me to choose to see what is beautiful, it keeps me in a place of gratitude.

I am beckoned by people; they teach me how to be a better human, they show me how to love, they make me stronger.

I am beckoned by photography; it lets me reach people in ways I wouldn't otherwise be able to, it gives me an avenue to explore the world, it teaches me to learn about what's around me.

I am beckoned by the call of a writer; it helps me to express myself more clearly than I could any other way, it provides a medium for honesty, it shows me how to say what's on my mind.

I am beckoned by something new, all of the time. These things come and go. Some call me louder than others. Some are only a whisper, often gone before I even have the chance to try them. Some live and die in a single thought. The ones that stay, that continue, the ones that are persistent - those are the things I hold most dear. Those are the things that make me, just me. 

They are things like the desire to create, to sing, to dance, to run, to laugh, to love deeper, to be stronger, to be healthy, to be stable, to be honest. These things are my hopes and dreams for the future. To travel often, to eat well, to live a life that I am proud of and at peace in. These things are the standard to which I hold myself and the measure by which I push myself to be better and better. They are just me.

 

What is it that you want in life, my dear?

Can you see it?

Can you feel it?

Can you taste it?

What is it?

http://painttheworldgrey.tumblr.com/ http://painttheworldgrey.tumblr.com/post/13860322580/smear

http://painttheworldgrey.tumblr.com/ http://painttheworldgrey.tumblr.com/post/13860322580/smear

DARE GREATLY

A few weeks ago, I posted about living with anxiety. I wanted to write a follow up post on the responses that I received, but that week Katelyn was all, “I’m going to write about vulnerability and Brené Brown”. And I was all, “Umm that’s exactly what my follow up post is about.” So I wrote about my six month anniversary instead and contemplated if I should post this blog because I didn’t want our posts to be too similar. But, I decided that it must be something really important if both Katelyn and I, separately, decided to write about being vulnerable. I wrote the majority of this post before seeing hers, so excuse any overlap or similarity. (Remember how at the beginning of this journey I told you that sometimes Katelyn and I are scarily alike? This is one of those times).

I first encountered Brené Brown a few years ago as part of an assignment for seminary. As part of our degree, we had to have a mentor and do something called a “character contract” each semester. Pretty much we pick an attribute or character skill that we would like to develop such as compassion or humility. For my first semester, my mentoring director suggested I work on a practice called shame resiliency. She knew that I had been struggling with accepting and trusting that God had truly forgiven me for my past and present mistakes. I was drowning in shame and incapable of trusting my past to anyone. I had no idea what shame resiliency even meant, so she assigned Brown’s TED talks on vulnerability and shame. These were truly formative during my early years at seminary as I grew to understand what it meant to be vulnerable before God. But to be honest, I didn’t take it much beyond that. I continued to keep myself hidden from the people around me, be it friends at school, in my church community group, or even family. I don’t exactly know what propelled me to tell a bunch of strangers and friends alike about my struggle with anxiety on a blog. But the responses were more than encouraging. Before I share about them and how it relates to Brené Brown’s talks, I want to throw out two disclaimers. 1) I am not sharing these responses to brag. More than anything, the responses prove that what Brown says in her talks and her book, Daring Greatly, are true in the real world and I have now experienced it myself. And 2) I am not usually a fan of self-help/ self-improvement books for a number of reasons. They tend to be rather hokey, cliché and pithy while attempting to be profound. I’m not here to give you a book review, but Daring Greatly is so much more than that. First of all, it is backed up by years of research and clinical studies. Second of all, it aligns with my values and beliefs as a Christian (even though she only ever describes herself as spiritual). And thirdly, she’s hilarious and not trying to be anything other than herself.

So let me give you a quick rundown of what Brown’s book says. We are all created to connect with others and it is connection that provides our lives with meaning, purpose, and joy. Without it, we suffer. I agree with this whole-heartedly, taking it a step further in my own belief system that we were created to connect first with God, then with others, with nature, and even with ourselves. Brown says that “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experience.”[1] In essence, she says that we live in a culture of scarcity, of never being or having enough- not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, not enough money, etc. Which leads us to feel shame at who we are, especially in comparison with others. In short, shame is “not enough”, whatever that may look like for you. (For me, as I mentioned above, I felt that I wasn’t good enough for God, that there was no way he could truly forgive my past. And if he couldn’t, neither could other people.) This in turn leads us to fear being vulnerable- a fear of showing who we truly are, the work we’ve produced, the art we’ve created, etc, because we don’t want to be told that we aren’t good enough, the work isn’t good enough, the art isn’t good enough. (This is a very quick summary of a much larger piece of work that YOU HAVE TO READ because there is so much more amazing stuff in there! She talks about how to build shame resilience, how to be whole hearted, how to know who you can be vulnerable with, leading and parenting with vulnerability, etc.) But the most interesting thing to me that arose from her research is this: when other people are vulnerable and allow us to see them, we find them brave and applaud them. In other words, being vulnerable is not weakness but rather courage.

And I found this to be true from my own post on anxiety. I wanted to share my experience but I was terrified of truly being seen by others. What if they judged me? What if no one understood? What if, what if, what if. But somehow, I managed to write about it. And you know what happened? I received more responses than any other post I’ve written so far. I got texts, FB messages, likes and comments on the blog. I was called brave multiple times, told I was inspiring and that my openness would encourage others. A friend admitted to me that she suffered from similar symptoms and felt encouraged to see a doctor. A family member shared that she suffered from anxiety for decades, something that had never come up between us and helped me understand myself more. Another family member told me he was “welling up” (a big deal for this particular person). Not one person told me that I had shared too much, criticized or judged me (at least openly), or laughed at my mental illness. The girl I mentioned in that post came up to me and hugged me in silence. I had dared greatly and shared a big piece of who I am to the world, and the world told me… “That was BRAVE.” Like I said, I don’t tell you this to brag. I tell you this to encourage you. Daring greatly is being courageous enough to let yourself be seen. What are you afraid of? What haven’t you tried for fear of failure or criticism? I’m definitely not saying to share your biggest secret on Facebook if there is no foundation of trust there. (Brown actually writes about oversharing as a way of pushing people away and running from vulnerability. And how sharing publicly needs to be done with set boundaries AH! Seriously, go buy this book. Haha) But Katelyn and I are here to help you dare greatly and let yourself be seen- at work, in your art, in a relationship. We created our blog to encourage people to be authentic and live creative lives. I have written “dare greatly” on a piece of paper that I see every day to remind myself to be authentic, to let myself be seen, to be brave, and to know that I AM ENOUGH. How can we help you dare greatly and encourage you that you too are enough?

LIEBSTER AWARD NOMINATION

Happy Friday, everyone!! I've been in such a daze the last few weeks so I'm just going to apologize right now for my lack of being present! I'll let you know why later :) 

A couple of days ago on Instagram I noticed that someone I didn't know had tagged me in a post and when I went to check it out I found that it was a nomination for the Liebster Award. So cool! I had to look it up because I'd never heard of it but here's what I found:

‘Liebster’ is a German word meaning beloved or dearest. In the blogging world, the Liebster Award is an online recognition given by bloggers to other new bloggers for enjoying or valuing their work. It is meant to highlight and credit favorite new up and coming blogs within our writing community. Once nominated, a blogger is asked to answer 11 questions provided by the nominating blogger. They are then expected to nominate 11 other favorite new bloggers and come up with a list of 11 new questions for those nominees.
— Jen of www.jentheredonethat.com

I was nominated by Madison of keepingthecreativity.com! Madison, thank you so much!! It really means a lot to me to have my work noticed by another blogger.

I'm going to follow the rules of the nomination in stages because I don't have time today to do all of it (must be at work soon!). Today I'm just going to answer the questions Madison asked and I'll come back later to create my own questions and tell you 11 things about me and nominate other bloggers. (I feel like such a rebel breaking the rules!)

Madison, here are the answers to your questions:

  1. What is the purpose behind your blog? The purpose behind my blog is to inspire creativity in others. Dani and I want to help others live the most creative life they can while either working "normal" full time jobs or working a creative full time job. 
  2. How did you come up with your blog name? This Is Not That initially came from several conversations with a close friend of mine. We would misunderstand each other and when the other person caught on we would say, "oh no, I know what you're saying, but this is not that." It was our way of reassuring the other person that what we were saying and thinking and feeling, while maybe similar to a past situation, was not the same. Those conversations stayed with me and made a huge impact on me when I decided to start putting myself out into the world in a more creative way. I would always think, "there are so many photographers already," or "eeeveryone has a blog, I have nothing new to add," and then I would think, "you know what? That's ok. It's ok that everyone else seems to be doing what I'm doing. It's not the same because we are not the same." This, this thing that I am doing here, living life, this is not the same as that person's life. This is not that. 
  3. What is your go-to social media platform? Instagram is by far my favorite but it's actually the one I'm least active on for my blog (oops!). I only use Instagram and Facebook but being a photographer makes me much more drawn to Instagram.
  4. How long does it normally take you to create a post? It depends on how motivated I'm feeling ;) I've been working on a post for almost a month now because it's just so personal that it's hard to finish it but usually it only takes me about 30 minutes.
  5. What is an area of your blog you want to improve or work on? I want to incorporate my photography into the blog more. So far I've mostly just sourced images from Pinterest or some stock photo sites and I really want to get more of my work out there. It's been hard since it's a part of my own creativity and the fear of rejection is strong!
  6. What tool do you think every blogger should have? Evernote! Does that count as a tool? :-P I love Evernote. I write all of my posts in it first and then transfer them over (after I've sent them to Dani for proofing - except this one because I waited too long!). Oh and you guys should listen to the interview Tim Ferriss did with Phil Libin, co-founder of Evernote, it was really good! 
  7. What is your favorite smart phone app? Instagram and VSCO are the apps I use the most. I'm not really that into apps but I do use those everyday. VSCO is my favorite photo editing app by far. 
  8. What is your favorite item of clothing in your closet? Good question! I have this convertible pantsuit from Seamly.co that I absolutely LOVE. It is so so so so sooooo comfortable and classy, I love it. I found out about it from a periscope Hilary Rushford did! 
  9. Who do you bounce ideas off with the most and why? Dani! Because she's my blogging partner and she knows me really well and can help me figure out what will work and what wont and she keeps me accountable to the mission of the blog and what we want to accomplish with it (sorry this sentence is so long, Dani!).
  10. How do you relieve stress? I love to cook as a way of relieving stress. That or driving around listening to music. I also really enjoy walking around our downtown area. Basically anything that I can do alone... :)
  11. Guilty pleasure TV show? I don't know if I have one! I don't really feel guilty about any of the shows I watch, haha, I just embrace it! One of my favorite shows of all time is Gilmore Girls. I also love watching Grey's Anatomy. I'll watch the whole show on Netflix and then start it all over again. It's pretty awesome!

OK! Sadly that's all I have time for today but check back soon for 11 facts about me, the 11 questions I want to ask other bloggers and the 11 bloggers I'm going to nominate! Madison, thank you again for thinking of me!

SIX MONTH ANNIVERSARY

Yesterday Tyler and I celebrated our 6 month anniversary. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it was a good excuse to go on a date. I was going to write about the responses I received from my last post today but I decided to wait until next week. The responses went along almost perfectly with a book that I am reading so I want to finish that book and include it all in the same post. So today, I’m just going to talk about our celebration. If you can really call it that. For Valentine’s Day, I wrote about dating your spouse and it hit me that Tyler and I hadn’t gone on one of those “dates” in a while. Our schedules are pretty opposite most of the time. The only day we know we have off together is Sunday and it is usually filled with church, cleaning and other things that just “need to get done”- like giving Bear a bath or doing the laundry we’ve neglected all week. A typical week day for us: I get up at 3 am to go to work and by the time I get home around 1, he has already left for his job. When he gets home from work after 9, I’m in bed because I have to be up in six hours. Not every day is like this, but his schedule just changed so more will be than not. Yesterday I happened to work a short four hour shift and was home from work before he even woke up. And he was scheduled the day off. We didn’t request to have our “six month” off together, but somehow it worked out that way. So what did we do?! We just spent the day together. We didn’t do anything remarkable life altering or go on some major adventure. We just…were. He made me waffles for breakfast. We sat together on the couch while I read the book I was just talking about and he watched a little t.v. We played with Bear. We took a nap (hey! I’d been up since 330am). I gave him this card I found in Boulder when Katelyn was visiting. I thought it was hilarious and held on to it for over a month. He took me out to dinner to one of my favorite places. Nothing fancy but I actually put on make-up, so it was somewhat special.  We ate way too much food and came home full and happy. No need to go into detail about what happened after that. And the whole day was wonderful. Because we were just Tyler and Dani spending time together. We had conversations about everything- dreaming about cars we couldn’t afford, moving to this place or that someday, when we would have kids, who we would and for sure wouldn’t vote for, etc. It was just life. And to me, it was an amazing day.

Plus, I got to practice a little hand-lettering making him a fun present. When I realized that we hadn’t been on as many dates recently, I decided that we needed to make sure we were making time for each other, despite our ever changing, opposite schedules. I made him a little packet of dates- one per month- until our one year anniversary. Now, this is not an original idea AT ALL. I saw it on Pinterest ages ago and a friend of mine did it for her husband last Christmas. Or maybe Valentine’s Day. (Super cute story- he actually did one for her too and they had no idea. They ended up having two dates a month and sometimes they were exactly the same! And then this year, they ended up making each other the same gift again, this time an “I LOVE YOU BECAUSE…” board to write little notes to each other. How adorable are they!?) Anyway, Tyler gets to open the envelope at the beginning of the month and we will pick a day to go do that date. Probably a Sunday, let’s be real. When he opened it, he kind of smirked and said, “Are these all dates that only you would want to go on??” I started cracking up and promised they were all similar to things we had done together before, so I knew he liked them. For March, we’re going on a hike to have a picnic near a waterfall. I don’t want to share the rest of them because he doesn’t know yet! But at least two include one of my 30 by 30 goals, because who else would I want to attain my goals with but my husband? 

Here are some pictures. (TYLER- DON’T LOOK! IT WILL RUIN THE SURPRISE!) 

Today, we’ll probably just clean the house and I’ll force him to watch the Oscars with me. Ah, that married life.

THERE IS NO CREATIVITY WITHOUT VULNERABILITY

There is a place that I live in that is cold and dark and lonely. It crushes me and leaves me disabled. It suffocates my dreams and ideas. It kills my ambition and affection. It torments me and holds me down. I can't breathe there. I can't see there. I can't move there.This place has a name. A name you know. A name you hate. A name you love. This place is called fear. 

Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being enough. Fear of losing. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of not being loved. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of not doing anything that matters. 

I am afraid to be me. Pure. Uninhibited. No restrictions. No apologies. Just me

This fear that I feel makes me someone else. Some version of myself that doesn't quite measure up to my own standards. This half-me looks like me and sounds like me but never expresses my real thoughts. This half-me can't fully embrace anyone else. She can't offer a loving word or a tender touch. She is not understanding or forgiving. She cannot create anything worth sharing. She cannot conquer the world. Most days She cannot even get out of bed. She says things that I never even thought. She does things that embarrass me. She hides from love and acceptance. She questions affection and attention. No one is honest. Everyone wants something. She is not me, but...I am her. 

She is a part of me that I wish didn't exist. I wish, oh how I wish I could be brave. Courageous. Strong. Diligent. Caring. Forgiving. Kind. Affectionate. Peaceful. 

And I am those things, I am, but she tells me that I'm not. She tells me that if I were to say what I really thought or do the things I really wanted to do, I would be rejected. People would laugh. They would walk away- no, run away. 

That fear, that half-me person that lives within me, I don't want to put up with her anymore. She is not welcome here. Fear settled around me and swallowed me whole and I let it. It was assisted by words and actions from friends and strangers. Things that cut me down little by little over time until I was smaller than I had ever thought possible. Those words and actions will likely never stop, I can't control that, but I can control how I react to them. Or rather, I can retrain my mind and heart to decipher what is good from what is of no use to me. If it isn't going to help me be better, it is useless. 

Fear, do you hear me? you are not welcome here anymore. 

Yes, you make sneak in from time to time but please, hear me and know how serious I am, I will chase you away every time. You are not welcome here anymore. You are of no use to me. You are useless. Please, see yourself out. Better yet, I'll see you out. Again and again and again. Every day for the rest of my life.

I know I wont always win this fight on my own. That's whats beautiful though. I'm not alone. 

I'm not alone.

I'm not alone.

I'm not alone.

neither are you.

we are not alone. 

 

To anyone who is reading this and feeling this struggle hit far too close to home, please, listen to me...

you. are. not. alone.

 

Fear doesn't have to control any of us ever again. This world that we live in is beautiful and waiting to be seen and experienced. There is no time for fear. 

just be you.

be beautiful.

be fearless. 

be courageous.

be

whatever

you

want.

 


A while back I came across this interview on the Tim Ferriss Show titled "Brene Brown on Vulnerability and Home Run TED Talks." I was intrigued first by the TED Talks reference because I love a good TED Talk (who doesn't?). But there was that other thing... vulnerability. I listened to it and it changed so much for me. Brene is a researcher who studied shame and vulnerability. Who does that? Well, she did, and I'm so glad that she did because now she's talking about what she found. 

Do you know what she found?

Vulnerability is not a weakness.

It is a strength.

That's what the research says. 

That's what is in the evidence.

Does it always feel like a strength? No. You know that. It feels like the opposite. It feels awful and low and scary. We often build up massive amounts of fear to make sure we don't give in to being vulnerable. We make whole homes out of this fear. We construct entire lives out of it. And to what end? What is it that we are hoping to accomplish? To never feel anything that is real? To never connect with anyone who is real? To never create anything that matters?

Or do we just not want to be hurt?... but if you are never hurt, how can you ever really know what being happy is like? If you can never be hurt then you have nothing to lose but if you have nothing to lose...you have nothing.

Wait. Stop. Please, just listen to the interview. Just listen and really hear what she's saying. Let it sink in for awhile. Days. Weeks. Months if you need to. Just let it be and let it set and be open to change. 

Her TED Talk is good and her interview on the Tim Ferriss Show is good but the one I really love is her interview on Chase Jarvis Live. If you are a creative of any kind, I really recommend watching that interview first. I'll even put it right here to make it easy for you.

I'VE FELT SO ALONE

A girl I know, let’s call her Jane, told me that she had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder recently to which I responded, “Oh, me too. I’m here if you need someone to talk to”.  Her eyes welled up with tears, she thanked me and said, “I’ve felt so alone.” That sentence has stuck with me ever since. It broke my heart because I completely understood what she meant. I wished I had all the answers to give and all the reasons why she was feeling the way she felt. I wish I had said more. I wish I could have done more to help her. But I didn’t say anything else because I didn’t know how. Because I am still trying to figure out how to live with it myself.
It’s been just over a year since having what I now know was my first panic attack. I had no idea what was going on- I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing, my chest hurt and my mind was telling me that I was about to die. I literally thought I was dying. A few days later, I had something similar at work and went straight to the emergency room. They ran a litany of tests- blood, breathing, x-rays, etc- and they all came up normal. Nothing is wrong with you. Perhaps you just had a panic attack. (As if I was overreacting and it was no big deal that I thought I was dying and couldn’t catch my breath) Long story short, another doctor told me I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder with panic attacks, prescribed me medication for when I have another, and referred me to a therapist. Truth be told, I was relieved to get a diagnosis. Suddenly, so much of my personality, my decisions, and who I am began to make sense. I‘ve known since I was a teenager that I suffer from depression (more about that at another time. These two do intertwine quite a bit but that’s for another post). But now I felt that maybe I wasn’t so strange or weird for constantly worrying. I have a disorder that often times controls me. I also realized, much more importantly, that I wasn’t a bad Christian. I have been told so many times, indirectly and directly, that I just need to trust God more. I’ve wanted to scream at people “I’M TRYING!” And then, of course, I would worry that I was worrying too much. A vicious cycle really.

So, why am I writing about this? Honestly, because I can’t stop thinking about it. And I wondered, how many people don’t even know what it means to have an anxiety disorder? I’ve had discussions with people about the difference between suffering from depression and being sad for a time. There’s confusion and the word is over used in our society. But I think the same applies to anxiety. It’s normal to worry about things in life- a presentation at work, a final exam, a relationship on the rocks. Worrying and being anxious is a part of what it means to be human. But there’s a difference with anxiety disorders. For me, worry consumes my life, lasts for months, and is often over things that I know aren’t worth worrying over. And yet, I can’t control it. I can’t stop myself. It often causes me to have trouble sleeping and makes me irritable towards others. I’ll share an example from just the other day when my husband went straight from work to a dinner with his coworkers. Apparently, being out past 8 pm and not answering his phone (which, I later found out had died because he had been at work since 6 am) was enough for my brain to go into overdrive. By the time he got home, I was curled in a ball in bed, tears streaming down my face, barely able to breathe, convinced that he was dead on the side of the road. No amount of telling myself that he was fine worked. I was paralyzed in fear and dread, convinced my husband had died and I was all alone. It took only a matter of an hour between his last text for me to panic. And then when he got home, I yelled at him for not considering my feelings! And this is what it’s like almost daily for me. I don’t have a panic attack that often, but that fear and dread surrounds everything I do. I worry about people liking me, replay conversations in my head, stress that I will lose my job or that we can’t pay our bills, practically wait for the phone call to be told I someone I love has died and on and on it goes.

I’ve never really shared how intense my anxiety can get. I don’t know if anyone knows how entrenched my soul is with fear. It isn’t something you tell people, because will they understand? And of course, there’s the added worry that I always have about what people with think of me. So I have anxiety just over telling people that I have anxiety. If that makes sense. I was unable to write this post the last couple days because I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone to see me. I actually stress about every single post I’ve written and get anxious each time I sit down to write for this blog. Am I ready for people to know that I am broken? Will they judge me? Or think I’m overreacting? Or worse, crazy?

Well, I’m trying to overcome the fear and anxiety that so often runs my life. It leaves me afraid to take action, to try new things, to step out in faith, to look for a new job or practice calligraphy for fear of failure. It makes me worry that no one likes me and that everything I do is wrong. It leaves me terrified to post this.

What are you afraid of? What part of your life is controlled by fear? Will you take just one small step to overcome it? If I can do it, so can you. Take that step.

KEEP YOUR ART ALIVE

There is a way that seems right to man, which in the end leads only to death. -Proverbs 14:12

 

That isn't going to make much sense at first, but just be patient with me. I'll get there. 

I'm sitting here in a coffee shop, watching a video on Facebook by a photographer that I follow, tears streaming down my face, confronted by all that is good and kind and evil and wicked in the world. The video does not present any new information about the world or even about this photographer. I've seen a lot of what the world has to offer and I've followed this particular photographer long enough to know his story very well. 

Let me tell you a little bit about him. His name is Jeremy Cowart and he's most known for his photography work with celebrities like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Imogen Heap, Sting...I could go on an on. He's kind of a big deal. 

In addition to his work with celebrities, Jeremy is also known for founding HelpPortrait, an event held every year around the world during which photographers donate their time and talents to photograph people who can't afford professional photos. For some of these people this event was the first time they had ever had their picture taken. 

There are really a lot of things Jeremy is known for and I wont list them all here. You should take 20 minutes to watch the video he made about how he got started in photography and art and what it all means to him. I'll post the video at the bottom of this page.

Toward the middle of the video Jeremy starts talking about his time spent in Haiti and Rwanda. In Haiti he spent time photographing people after the earthquake. He went to be able to share the stories of the people of Haiti with the world. More than just the statistical analysis of the damage, he wanted to show the world who these people were and how this disaster had changed them. In Rwanda he went to show the power of forgiveness with portraits of people who were meeting with those responsible for the deaths of their loved ones. 

I haven't seen the rest of the video left because I got too emotional to continue. I'm in public, people were staring... although I'm pretty sure it was more uncomfortable for them than it was for me but I think this kind of emotion needs space to be expressed. After you watch the video you should listen to the Sleeping At Last Album, "Atlas: Space 1." The whole thing. Go somewhere you can be alone, preferably outside, listen to the music and just let your mind search out whatever it is that it wants to find. I'll wait.

My mind found Proverbs 14:12. Yes, I find it a little odd too. Here I was watching a video about broken places and people finding restoration and peace and my thoughts drift toward death. 

It is not a literal death I'm thinking about though, it is everything else. Spiritual, relational, emotional, intellectual, physical...death. How often do we make decisions that we feel are so incredibly right but in the end they lead to the death of something. The end of a friendship, the crossroads of a relationship, the unraveling of a life of faith, the painful spiral into a deep pit of depression, the deterioration of our bodies, the dementia of our minds. 

In the beginning of the video Jeremy talks about how as a child and even still his first thought whenever faced with something new is always, "I can't." I can't. I can't. I can't. How many times do we say that? We think we're right. In fact, we know we are. I can't. It feels like the truth. We really can't do whatever is being asked of us. There is no way. No possible way for us to do and be what is asked of us. There is no way to do the things that we really, truly, deep down, long to do. There is no way for us to be who we really, truly, deep down, long to be. We can't.

This truth, as we tell ourselves it is, seems right, but in the end, leads only to death

What if Jeremy couldn't? Or worse, what if he could but he didn't because he didn't believe he could? HelpPortrait might not exist. The people of Haiti might not have had a voice after the earthquakes. We might never have seen the power of forgiveness through the people of Rwanda. If Jeremy had kept believing, "I can't," those things would have never had life. It would have been the death of his art, his voice, his contribution to the world. 

Are you telling yourself you can't do something? I am. I tell myself I can't make a difference. I'm just one person. My voice is small. No one cares about what I have to say or offer. I can't be a legit photographer, I can't be a successful blogger, I can't make an impact on anyone. I can't. I have nothing to offer. 

But...what am I killing by believing that? What if I could just believe, for just a few moments, that I can. I can do whatever I want. I can make a difference. I can be who I was created to be. What could I help give life to if I could just believe? Maybe it will never be on the scale of what Jeremy has done but that's ok. The magnitude is not the point. At least, on a good day, it's not the point. If I could help give life to just one idea that impacted just one person... what could that create in the world?

If I can do all this, then just imagine what you can do. What have you been too afraid to try? What voices have kept you from reaching your potential? What voices have closed your sense of wonder? If you’re alive...if you’re breathing... we need you. We need your vision. Remember, the very word impossible actually spells ‘I’m possible.’ You can do anything through Christ who strengthens you.
— Jeremy Cowart

No matter where you come from or how far you have to go, when you believe that it is right to say, "I can't do/be _____," you are killing something. We are all here for a reason. It doesn't have to be profound or even specific. You exist and it's not an accident. What are you going to do with it? What will you create? What will you keep alive?

Dating Your Spouse

Happy Valentine’s Day! I, as usual, had great plans for this post. I was going to share the cute little project I am working on for my husband’s gift. But, as usual, life had other ideas. The hubs is super sick. He had whatever I had last week, only about 10X worse. I have never seen this man take a sick day from work and today was his third. So instead of making him presents, I made him soup and played the good little wifey. I guess I will just make it a “6 month anniversary” present, which is coming up in a couple of weeks. So instead, I’m going to share a little about me and Tyler, via our dates. When Katelyn and I were coming up with post topics, “date your spouse” was one that came up for me. I’ve seen about a thousand pins about date ideas, so I figured I wasn’t exactly the expert and wasn’t planning to do a post about that. Now I am. I’m just going to share some of the dates Tyler and I have been on (with pictures, if I was able to force him to do it!). None of them are all that original but most of them are special to us. Maybe you’ll get some inspiration for tomorrow. 

*Typical dinner at a restaurant*
Yep, super original. When Tyler and I were engaged, I lived with his sister and he lived with his parents over an hour away (don’t judge- we were able to buy a house that way). But that made dating a little difficult because neither of us had much space to do original at home dates. So we went out to dinner quite frequently. It was one of the only ways we felt we could be alone, even though we were surrounded by people. It was nice to just get away from life and be together. And we were able to try a bunch of different restaurants in and around Denver. But before and after that temporary situation, we wanted to spend less money and do more fun things together. 

*Trips to the mountain*

One of the best (and cheapest) things about living in Colorado! We drive to little mountain towns all the time! These dates vary quite a bit. Sometimes we literally just drive and enjoy the scenery, sometimes we grab hot chocolate and go to little bookshops. We’ve taken pictures of the changing aspens and gotten almost stuck in snow packed “off limits” areas (oops). Other times we’ve rented a boat, camped overnight, or gone on a hike, all of which were a first for me before we moved here! This is probably one of my favorite things we do together. This is also exactly what we were doing when Tyler proposed. 

*Boozy dates*

Tyler and I have had plenty of dates revolving around alcohol! Mainly, because these dates are super fun and usually not that expensive. We’ve been to multiple brewery tours, a whiskey tour and a wine festival. The brewery tours are always free and the wine festival was about $13 each to try wines from dozens of vendors. Plus there were booths with people giving out samples of whatever they were trying to sell. Score!

*Art walks/ festivals*

Yet another cheap date for the Paulks. If you can find your city’s version of a “first Friday” art walk, you should definitely hit that up. All the galleries are open to the public for free and they usually all have snacks and drinks out. Plus, looking at and talking about art is so much fun! We’ve also been to quite a few art festivals, both in OKC and Denver. I think we had more free samples of alcohol, coffee, and food at these than anywhere else. 

*Sporting Events*

Tyler and I aren’t the biggest sports fans, but we usually try to make it to a game or two each year. Here in Denver, you can get Rockies tickets for about $5 and in OKC we were able to go to Thunder games for about $10. We’ve never been to a Broncos game because, well, money and we’ve only been to see the Avalanche because we got free tickets. This isn’t our go to date, but we’ve always had a good time. Once, we went to a Rockies game on Memorial Day and got to go down to the field and watch fireworks!

*Cooking*

Tyler and I have a lot of at home dates where one of us will make dinner for the other. This becomes a “date” because we will share a bottle of wine and actually eat at the dinner table. These are less common than you’d think because we often work opposite schedules and I’m in bed before he gets home from work. Katelyn got me this amazing newlywed cookbook that’s centered around cooking together and Tyler and I have already picked meals that we want to try. We also always celebrate New Year’s Eve at home rather than at a big party. We’re homebodies a lot of the time. 

*Mini-Trips* 

We’ve also been a few “mini trips” together. I call these mini trips because they are to places where we can drive in one day and we only stay for a weekend. Denver was our usual mini trip until we moved here. We’ve also been to Manitou Springs, Estes Park, and Santa Fe. These don’t usually end up being cheap but they’re definitely cheaper than an actual vacation. We try to find festivals and events going on while we’re there that we can do for free. And we pig out on all the best food. 


Feel free to share your fun date ideas! Tyler and I have decades more of dating each other!! 

HOW I GOT STARTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY

This blog is about chronicling mine and Dani's journey into the creative life and hopefully away from trading time for money as well as being a place to give encouragement to others to do the same... I've always known that I don't want to spend my life working for anyone else but it took me awhile to know what avenue would start to draw my attention away from an office job. Today I want to share more about my background with photography and how I got into that specific creative field.

It all started when I was about twelve-years-old. I had my Dad's film camera and one day when we had some family friends over, I took their youngest child and my youngest sister and I did my first ever photo shoot with them. They were maybe seven-years-old at the time and completely loved the attention and I loved having willing subjects (thanks Matt and Jenna)! I set them up in front of a tall wardrobe in my room, placed a blue silk robe around the corners of the drawers for a backdrop and started taking pictures! That shoot was a lot of fun for me and I still remember it vividly but it wasn't my "AHA!" moment. I hadn't found my calling. I wasn't set for life. It was just something that was fun and then I moved on.

I've often found myself questioning my decision to pursue photography because it wasn't something I ever felt was deeply a part of me. I love hearing stories from people who say they found their passion at three-years-old or had a moment in which they just knew that this thing they had discovered was what they were meant to do forever. Passion never really described my relationship with taking photos and because of that I felt left out of the artist community and like I was an imposter. 

Maybe not even a year after that initial photo shoot, a family friend gave me his film camera to use. This was also not my "AHA!" moment but I did began taking pictures of pretty much everything and everyone around me. Taking pictures became something very personal for me. It was a way for me to hold on to what was happening in life and be a part of it while still staying out of the light of attention. 

One of the most significant memories I have using that film camera was during a church trip to Colorado. I had taken five or six rolls of film with me (that was a lot of pictures at the time) and I went through them all in the first few days of the trip. Those pictures are still some of my favorites from that time in my journey with photography. I focused a lot on people and capturing them as they naturally appeared. I never gave anyone any direction and if someone caught me taking their picture I would snap a photo quickly to get their initial reaction of surprise or confusion and then wait to take more until they forgot I was there. I wanted what was truly them and not some version of themselves they were trying to show the camera.  

Scan 2.jpeg

Sometime after that I remember my Dad and Clifford (the family friend who had given me his camera to use) looking through some prints I had gotten back and stopping to critique one particular photograph. It was of my sister's desk, messy, colorful, sitting in perfect light. They began to comment on how I should go back to that same spot and reorganize the shot a bit. Move this over here, position that there, clean that up, stand here... I had no idea why they were saying these things. Photographs are supposed to be an accurate representation of what was really there, not some version I created. At least, that's what I thought at the time. This moment was really the first time I had ever considered becoming a part of what I was photographing. 

After that I remember being on a family vacation in New Mexico and visiting San Francisco de Asis Mission Church, just outside of Taos. We were all standing outside looking at this church and taking pictures (and by all I mean my parents, my aunt and uncle and myself because everyone else was just running around or bored). My Dad was telling me what angles to look at, how to see the right light, where I should stand, etc. That was really the first photographic instruction I ever had and I remember not really understanding what he was saying but doing it anyway. I got bored pretty quickly with doing what I was supposed to be doing and what everyone around me was doing (shocking, I know). There were a lot of people at that church and they were all trying to take pictures of it. So, I turned around and started walking the other way and began finding new things to take pictures of. There was an older car that I found and some neat fencing and plants but what really caught my eye was a pile of trash. It was more junk than trash but it was a big pile and I found it to be so much more interesting than anything else around me. To this day it is one of my favorite images. 

Scan 9.jpeg

It would be another couple of years before I really started thinking about photography as something I could learn more about and do rather than just taking pictures because I wanted to. This is all I have time to tell you about to day but keep checking back for the rest of the story. 

Have a lovely Tuesday!

-Katelyn

 

There is a peace to settle your soul

I was going to write a post about what I am currently working on, but sometimes real life gets in the way of what we plan to do. I have no “currently working on” because I am just getting back into the swing of regular life. I am “currently working on” getting over illness and grief.  I’ve heard, “when it rains, it pours.” Well, I experienced that cliché in full force this past week.

My stepfather’s dad passed away on a Thursday and I was driving home to Oklahoma City by early Sunday morning. Patrick has been my stepdad since I was eight years old, and in my life since I was three. So there really is no distinction for me- I lost a grandparent. And I needed to be with my family. But I had also been sick for the previous three days and was unsure how I would make the drive. My parents offered to buy me a plane ticket but they were literally two to three times as expensive to get a last minute flight. And with all of the layovers, the flight would have taken almost as long as driving. So I decided to tough it out. I had cough drops, a roll of toilet paper for my runny nose, and a pack of Dayquil for companions in my passenger seat. I was feeling slightly better by Sunday, so the drive wasn’t going as horrible as I expected…until I had a blowout on the highway. Long story short, I got a new tire put on and made it to Oklahoma a few hours late. More importantly, at least to me, I didn’t start bawling in the middle of nowhere Kansas. I kept my cool and got it all straightened out. Thank goodness for cell phones, AAA, and data for googling tire shops. I spent some quality time with my family and prepared to travel another couple hours to the funeral. And then Patrick’s stepmother, Charlene, had a stroke. The morning of the funeral. Patrick told me he’d heard this saying “They say God won’t ever give you more than you can handle. But I really wish He didn’t think so highly of me.” We chuckled but it was definitely a true sentiment. What more would happen? I won’t go into too many details, but the day ended up being exactly what we needed. Grandpa Charles’ service was lovely, we spent a lot of time with my uncle and cousins, and we were able to see Charlene in the hospital before having to return home. I was a nervous ball of stress driving home, worried I would have another blowout or something else would happen. But I made it home safe and sound. I returned to work Friday morning and spent Saturday cleaning, doing laundry and grocery shopping.

 It isn’t exactly the most exciting thing and this isn’t exactly the most creative blog post. But we wanted to be real with our readers and that’s what I’m doing. I had a really rough week. Through it all, I had my family, my friends, and my faith to sustain me. And yes, even a little creativity. I didn’t exactly have time to do much but as I packed, I threw a pad of paper and one random new pen I got for my birthday into my bag. At the hotel after the funeral, I pulled out my new pen (it has its own ink cartridge so I didn’t have to worry about dipping into ink or cleaning up a nib). I didn’t realize it was red ink, but I didn’t really care. I had these song lyrics stuck in my head all day. And writing them out helped me realize exactly how it is that we are able to handle everything that real life throws at us- whether our own illness or a loved one’s, unforeseen circumstances, or even death. The Prince of Peace comforts us. Maybe He doesn’t think highly of us at all, He just knows that if we come to Him, we can handle anything? 

D.I.P. Calligraphy

D.I.P. Calligraphy

D.I.P. Calligraphy

D.I.P. Calligraphy

D.I.P. Calligraphy

D.I.P. Calligraphy

D.I.P. Calligraphy

D.I.P. Calligraphy

Currently Reading: REWORK BY JASON FRIED & DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSSON

Happy February, everyone! Gosh, is it really ONLY February?? I'm ready for summer. These last few days have been SO nice outside and I know that winter is waiting and that makes me so very sad. Oh well, summer will be here soon enough and then I'll be too hot. I can't be pleased. 

ANYWAY! On to the topic for today. Drumroll please! lkasfowinerlkjasdfkjwoeirnlsdf (that's the sound a drum makes, right?) Today I'm talking about

WHAT I'M READING

Let me just tell you guys right now, I don't really like to read. I get bored. I will start reading a book, get bored, start another, get bored with that one, go back to the first one, bored again, start a third book....and so on and so forth. I think I've been "reading" six different books at one time. That method has never really worked out well for me before (go figure). 

I've been trying to be more intentional about actually finishing books and picking books that are relevant to my interests (mostly business/marketing/photography). My friend Sarah got me a couple of books for Christmas, Poke the Box and We're All Weird by Seth Godin and I finished those books super fast (they are so small and easy to read). I'm going to be honest, I was suuuper proud of myself for finishing not one but TWO books in like...two days. Yes, they are small, but still, I did it. #bossmove ? Yeah, I'm gunna go with that. As of this moment I am currently in the process of [actively] reading four books ... #bossstepback ? Nope, I'm gunna say it's still forward motion. I'm getting better. 

So what am I reading? Well, I'll tell you! (in order that I started reading them)

Book #1 Group f.64 by Mary Street Alinder - I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of photography. There is a quote in this book that completely altered the way I think about my work as a photographer. That's for another post.

Book #2 Ansel Adams An Autobiography

Book #3 Rework by the founders of 37Signals

Book #4 Essentialism by Gregory McKeown 

All of these books are so so good and I'll get to talking about all of them at some point but I'm going to start with book #3, Rework.

I found out about Rework through Dale Partridge's Startup Camp, which I enrolled in at the end of 2015. Startup Camp is an educational membership site for people who need some guidance in making their dream business happen but don't want to go back through traditional school and class work. It's been completely amazing so far and I'm excited to share more about it in a later post but right now the point is the book...Every module in Startup Camp comes with a book recommendation and the first module's book was Rework

katelyn swanson photography

katelyn swanson photography

This book is broken up into really short "chapters" and "sub chapters" that make it super easy to read really fast. I got through 90% of it in about two days, while only reading it on my breaks at work! It's hard to really sum up what this book says and has to offer so I thought I would just lay out the chapters + intro and conclusion like they're found in the book. Each bold word is the name of a "chapter" and the list that follows is the "sub chapters" found in that section of the book. 


INTRODUCTION

THEY SAY YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY COMPETE WITH THE BIG BOYS WITHOUT A HEFTY MARKETING AND ADVERTISING BUDGET. THEY SAY YOU CAN’T SUCCEED BY BUILDING PRODUCTS THAT DO LESS THAN YOUR COMPETITION’S. THEY SAY YOU CAN’T MAKE IT ALL UP AS YOU GO. BUT THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT WE’VE DONE.

THEY SAY A LOT OF THINGS. WE SAY THAT THEY’RE WRONG. WE’VE PROVED IT. AND WE WROTE THIS BOOK TO SHOW YOU HOW TO PROVE THEM WRONG TOO.
— REWORK
katelyn swanson photography

katelyn swanson photography

TAKEDOWNS

IGNORE THE REAL WORLD
FAILURE IS NOT A RITE OF PASSAGE
PLANNING IS GUESSING
BE A STARTER
MAKE A DENT IN THE UNIVERSE
SCRATCH YOUR OWN ITCH
DRAW A LINE IN THE SAND
LIVE IT OR LEAVE IT
DO YOU REALLY NEED?
YOU NEED A COMMITMENT STRATEGY NOT AN EXIT STRATEGY

PROGRESS

LESS IS A GOOD THING
YOU’RE BETTER OFF WITH A KICK-ASS HALF THAN A HALF-ASSED WHOLE
START
DECISIONS ARE PROGRESS
FOCUS ON WHAT WON’T CHANGE
YOU CAN’T MAKE JUST ONE THING
GET IT OUT THERE

PRODUCTIVITY

GET REAL!
GOOD ENOUGH IS FINE
QUICK WINS
DON’T BE A HERO!
GO TO SLEEP
YOUR ESTIMATES SUCK!
LONG LISTS DON’T GET DONE
MAKE TINY DECISIONS

COMPETITORS

DON’T COPY
POUR YOURSELF INTO YOUR PRODUCT
PICK A FIGHT!
UNDERDO YOUR COMPETITION
FOCUS ON YOU INSTEAD OF THEY
katelyn swanson photography

katelyn swanson photography

EVOLUTION

SAY NO
LET YOUR CUSTOMERS OUTGROW YOU
DON’T CONFUSE ENTHUSIASM WITH PRIORITY
AT-HOME GOOD
DON’T WRITE IT DOWN

PROMOTION

WELCOME OBSCURITY
DON’T OUT-SPEND, OUT-TEACH
EMULATE CHEFS
GO BEHIND THE SCENES
FAKE
PRESS RELEASES ARE SPAM
NICHE MEDIA OVER MASS MEDIA
EMULATE DRUG DEALERS
EVERY THING IS MARKETING
YEAR 10 OVERNIGHT SENSATION

HIRING

DIY
HIRE WHEN IT HURTS
PASS ON GREAT PEOPLE
WHAT DOES 5 YEARS EXPERIENCE MEAN ANYWAY?
GPA’S DON’T MATTER
DELEGATORS ARE DEAD WEIGHT
HIRE MANAGERS OF 1
HIRE THE BETTER WRITER
THE BEST ARE EVERYWHERE
katelyn swanson photography

katelyn swanson photography

DAMAGE CONTROL

OWN YOUR BAD NEWS
SPEED CHANGES EVERYTHING
I’M SORRY // WE APOLOGIZE
EVERYONE ON THE FRONT LINES
TAKE A DEEP BREATH

CULTURE

CULTURE IS THE BY-PRODUCT OF CONSISTENT BEHAVIOR
DECISIONS ARE TEMPORARY
BUILD A ROCKSTAR ENVIRONMENT
THEY’RE NOT 13
SEND PEOPLE HOME AT FIVE
SOUND LIKE YOU

CONCLUSION

WE ALL HAVE IDEAS. IDEAS ARE IMMORTAL. THEY LAST FOREVER. WHAT DOESN’T LAST FOREVER IS INSPIRATION. INSPIRATION IS LIKE FRESH FRUIT OR MILK. IT HAS AN EXPIRATION DATE.

IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING, YOU’VE GOT TO DO IT NOW. YOU CAN’T PUT IT ON A SHELF AND WAIT TWO MONTHS TO GET AROUND TO IT. YOU CAN’T JUST SAY YOU’LL DO IT LATER. LATER, YOU WON’T BE PUMPED UP ABOUT IT ANYMORE.

IF YOU’RE INSPIRED ON A FRIDAY, SWEAR OFF THE WEEKEND AND DIVE INTO THE PROJECT. WHEN YOU’RE HIGH ON INSPIRATION, YOU CAN GET TWO WEEKS OF WORK DONE IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS. INSPIRATION IS A TIME MACHINE IN THAT WAY.

INSPIRATION IS A MAGICAL THING, A PRODUCTIVITY MULTIPLIER, A MOTIVATOR. BUT IT WON’T WAIT FOR YOU. INSPIRATION IS A NOW THING. IF IT GRABS YOU, GRAB IT RIGHT BACK AND PUT IT TO WORK.
katelyn swanson photography

katelyn swanson photography


WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK

It reinforced the challenges I've heard recently to almost everything I'd ever heard previously about business. This book completely supports my own internal struggle about how there HAS to be a better way. I don't want to go into debt over my business, I don't want to spend countless hours/days/nights struggling to figure out what else I could do to make something better and more appealing. I don't want gadgets and bling and spice. I've always felt like less is more but for so long I have felt bombarded with "YOU NEED THIS," "DO THAT," "TRY ME," etc., etc., etc. I've been so overwhelmed with all of the options and opinions out there and this book had a way of calming me down. I'm starting to see this more and more in the things and people I find, this less is more, or less but better, mentality. It is so refreshing and energizing! I finally feel like I can really do this. It's ok to take it slow and it's ok to want to stay small and it's ok to not toss tons of money at an idea. Here's what the inside jacket of the book says:

Most business books give you the same old advice: Write a business plan, study the competition, seek investors, yadda yadda. If you’re looking for a book like that, put this one back on the shelf.

Rework shows you a better, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses.

What you really need is to stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.

With its straightforward language and easy-is-better approach, Rework is the perfect playbook for anyone who’s every dreamed of doing it on their own. Hardcore entrepreneurs, small-business owners, people stuck in day jobs they hate, victims of “downsizing,” and artists who don’t want to starve anymore will all find valuable guidance in these pages.
— Rework

Right after I got my copy of Rework I stumbled across an interview on one of my favorite podcasts with one of the authors! #score! You can listen to it below! Also, if you've never checked out the #beingboss podcast, you're in for a treat! Kathleen and Emily are so awesome and I love love love listening to their podcast episodes. And hey, major bonus points because Kathleen is actually a local creative right here in OKC! 

What are you reading right now? Cause, you know, I need another book to start... ;) 

Five Things You Probably Don't Know About Dani

 

Katelyn shared some things you may not know about her, and now its my turn!

 

1. I love q-tips. Seriously. I love the feeling of cleaning my ears after a shower and I get super sad when I'm on a trip and forget them. Its weird. 

2. I really don't like driving. And I'm not that great at it (don't tell my husband I admitted that). Especially through tunnels. Eww. Luckily for me, Katelyn and Tyler enjoy driving, so I get out of it most of the time. Unlucky for me, they scare me in the process.

3. I talk to myself. All the time. I'm sure people have probably noticed and thought I'm crazy. Because it's portrayed as if it's something crazy people do, but I think it keeps me sane. 

4. I cry a lot over television shows and movies. But not for real life things. Usually if I'm sad about something in real life, it takes a sad scene to cause me to actually cry. A few years ago,  Katelyn told me she's only seen me cry "like twice". We'd been friends for over ten years at that point.

5. I'm lactose intolerant but my love for cheese is too important to me. So I suffer through tummy pain to eat all the cheese. 

 

PS it was really difficult to think of these five things. Either I'm an open book or super boring. 

 

And some things you may or may not know about Katelyn. 

 

1. She's cooler than you. And me. And everyone. I swear she sets trends. She'll talk about something and then all of a sudden its everywhere. I'm talking about phrases, clothing, everything. Next time she randomly starts saying something new, I'll tell y'all and guaranteed it will be popular two weeks later. 

2. She's unbelievably awkward about compliments. You probably do know this if you've EVER said something even remotely complimentary. I save every meme about awkard compliments to her Pinterest board. It's hilarious. 

3. She's only been to the doctor maybe... twice in her entire life. You'd assume more but apparently she didn't even go when her arm was pulled out of socket...twice...  If she's sick, I'll tell her to go to the doctor and then sort of chuckle, because, yeah right. 

https://blog.etsy.com/en/uk-edition-jamiemilk-on-mountains-and-molehills/

https://blog.etsy.com/en/uk-edition-jamiemilk-on-mountains-and-molehills/

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