2013: Part 1

Confession: I am a blog stalker. A lurker.

I LOVE blogs, you guys. Like love. For a few reasons (like I just love reading in general), but mainly because, in this age of social media and internet-ness and distractions, I think blogs are some of the few advancements that are much more positive than they are negative. There is potential for so much inspiration and connectedness (TRUE connectedness, not facebook statuses about what you're eating for dinner connectedness) between people.

 We only get to meet a miniscule fraction of the people on this planet, and out of those people we get to form meaningful relationships with an even smaller fraction, and sometimes that thought is really depressing. With blogs, though, we have the opportunity to truly listen to someone. We get to be impacted by people that we've never met and never will meet. People have SO much to say, so much goodness to share. It used to be that we got to connect with people we knew, and we got to read the thoughts of published authors. The internet has opened up this whole new world (A dazzling place I never knewwwww) for us to be inspired by others, and I think it rocks. Literally anyone in the world can write something that literally anyone in the world can read. How AMAZING is that? (Also, I'm not claiming to really remember a time when the internet didn't exist, seeing as I am a child of the 90's and technology, but I think I can speculate well enough to prove my point :)

Okay, now that my blog-rant is over, I want to share with you a little project I'm working on, from one of the blogs I stalk (read: lurk on).

Go here ready to be inspired: http://laracasey.com/blog/2012/12/27/goal-setting-making-things-happen-in-2013-part-1/ 

This is scary for me. Sharing things is scary. But guess what, I'm gonna do it anyway. This is about the New Year, and making things happen. I'm only going to share some of mine, otherwise this post would take you 6 hours to read. There are multiple parts to this, this is just number 1!

Step one is to write out everything that "worked" in 2012. Here goes.


1. Starting this here blog. For some reason I was really scared to do it. Probably because I live in fear of people judging me (which I'm trying desparately to change). But you know what? There was NOTHING to be scared of. It was pretty painless, and since I've started blogging, I've had almost 20 photoshoots in 3 months (while being in school full time). That may not be a lot, but it's a lot compared to the zero I had before.

2. Buying a new camera. Probably one of the scariest things I've ever done in my entire life. You guys want to know the story? I'll tell you anyway. My parents gave me (read: I begged them until I was blue in the face) a Nikon D3000 as a joint Birthday/Christmas gift (the curse of the December birthday) a few years ago. I LOVED it. Loved. After a while though, I felt as though I had exhausted my potential with it. Y'all probably know this already, but cameras aren't cheap. I knew I wanted to upgrade to a professional camera (which usually run above 2 grand). It was money I simply didn't have, but I was determined. I searched and searched and searched (and searched some more) for good deals. I saved and saved and saved and saved and saved and saved (am I making myself clear?). Eventually, after having worked my butt off, and spending countless hours on ebay and craigslist, on youtube watching reviews, on camera websites, seeking advice about what to buy, going on flickr and looking at pictures taken with different cameras, I had saved up the funds I needed, and found a REALLY good deal on ebay. (Praise GOD.)The day I decided I was going to buy it, I was literally hyperventilating, I almost had a panic attack. It was the most money I'd ever spent on anything, which was absolutely terrifying to me. It was ebay, so it could have been a complete disaster. It would take all of my savings. IT WAS A LOT OF MONEY. I called my dad, almost in tears freaking out (okay... in tears), he told me that the worst that could happen was that I'd lose money. That was it. Lose money. It wouldn't be the end of the world, it was just money. Clicking that "place order" button was honestly (as lame as this is) one of the scariest moments of my entire life. All I could think about was that money that would disappear from my bank account. Since then, though, the way I think about money has changed a lot. Money is important, yes. You need it to survive, unfortunately. BUT when it comes down to it, it's just money. The value of it lies in what you DO with it. Having that money sitting in my savings account would mean absolutely nothing to me now. Having that camera in my hands: priceless. (Let me clarify a few things here as well.  I'm not saying it's a good idea to blow your money on a whim. I'd thought very long and very hard about this purchase. I'm also not saying that saving money isn't important, but this camera was what I'd been saving for. I also understand that a camera is just a material possession, but in this case, with my feeling called to photography, a camera is a little bit more than a piece of equipment for me. It is a means to my dream job and a really big investment in my future.) HOKAY. Story over.

3. Summer. Summer worked SO WELL. I spent the summer in Boone, alone in my apartment (with 3 other empty bedrooms where my roommates were supposed to be), away from my family. Boone was beautiful, I went outside ALL THE TIME (laying by the pool reading, running on trails). I was working, but I enjoy my job, and although it was stressful at times, it was calm for the most part. I was eating healthy, running A LOT. I'd never felt better about myself. I was able to enjoy the quiet and the calm, to BE STILL a lot. I was able to savor every single thing about my life. I read more, I cooked more. It was just a few short months, but it was kind of like a spiritual growth spurt. I've never been so focused, so at peace, and so grateful. I missed my family, I missed my friends, but the summer that I thought was going to be horrible and lonely ended up being a huge, huge blessing.

4. Becoming more appreciative of my family (especially parents). At the end of 2011, there was a lot of loss around me. I won't go into details, but I was hit hard with the emotions of people close to me, and my heart ached a lot for those who had lost so much. At first, I was just hyper-aware of the pain that they were feeling, confused, and also terrified because I knew that one day I'd experience those feelings for myself. This year, I've never felt more grateful for my everyone in my life, especially my parents. Not a day goes by where I don't acknowledge how completely irreplaceable their presence is in my life. I realize that people are missing what I have, and that I need to cherish every single second with the people I love. 

5. Giving more. Random acts of kindness. I felt compelled to help people, with no recognition. In fact, I'm a little torn about writing this one, because giving is not about ME. When you perform a random act of kindness, when the receiver of your gift does not know who you are, or that you even exist, it is easier for them to see those gifts as blessings from God. Their gratitude goes where it should: upward. (I'll admit that I'm pretty timid when it comes to things like this, so I'll give you a few suggestions on things that have worked for me without being overcome with shyness. Go to Little Caeser's and get pizza for dinner one night (because $5 pizzas are a staple in a college student's life), buy an extra pizza and tell the cashier to give it to the next person. Hide money around Goodwill in envelopes. Keep food in your car in case you see someone homeless (beef jerky, cliff bars, etc. things that will keep). Send someone an anonymous thank you note/ something encouraging. Once you've done something nice, let it go. Let the person you've helped be grateful to God, not you.)

Step 2 is to write out things that didn't work.


1. Jumping on and off the health train. There were times this year where I'd never felt better, was eating vegan and running 5 miles a day. Then there were times when I was eating out 4 times a week and hadn't run in a month. I wasn't good at balance. It was all or nothing, and that lead to extreme highs, but also EXTREME lows. It sucks to look at how far you've fallen.

2. Making decisions based on fear. I'll give you an example. I had the opportunity to graduate college early. I decided not to. I didn't (still don't) want college to end. I mean, this is the LIFE. I live with my three best friends, still have help from my parents financially, get to live in the mountains, only have to worry about school work and my part-time job. In short, college is AWESOME. Being someone who is hyper-aware of the changing of seasons in life and how much I knew I would miss this once I graduated, I was desperate for a way to stay here my full four years. So, I decided, with only 2 semesters left, to add another major (long story short-I made my minor into a second major, which meant that I'd have just enough classes left to fill my last semester here without having to stay any extra time). Worst decision of my life. It lead me into a semester of some of the hardest, most frustrating, unrewarding work I've ever done in my life, in a subject for which I have almost no passion. It's awful. I'm still dealing with this frustration and kicking myself for making that decision simply because I was scared of real life.

3. Getting distracted. Along with that hard, frustrating, unrewarding work, came a multitude of all-nighters, enabled by facebook and pinterest and blogs and iwastesomuchtime.com and... you get the jist. I'm not someone who is afraid of hard work, but when it's work that doesn't hold any value for me, it's nearly impossible to make myself do it. It's an interesting paradigm in which to be. I want to focus on what matters. Reading hundreds of pages a week for my French Lit class did not matter to me. But pinterest and facebook don't matter either. So basically I wasted ALL of my time doing things that didn't matter. If I hadn't been so distracted, I could have gotten the work done that was necessary, no matter how much I didn't care about it, and then had time to focus on those things that really do matter.

4. TV. Watched it WAY too much. Especially living by myself.

5. Comparing myself to others. We all know it's the thief of joy. That statement is so right, everything else seems wrong. (Pitch Perfect anyone?) I would finish a photo session, LOVING the photos, and then immediately go compare them to someone else's, get depressed, and tell myself that I'd never be able to make it as a photographer because I just wasn't on that level. I'd suddenly be really disappointed in the photos that I'd been loving 5 minutes before.

If you're still here, thanks a ton, you're dismissed for now, but don't think I won't be posting the rest of my steps later :)