My mind wanders

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Lately my mind wanders. It’s not always where it’s supposed to be when it’s supposed to be there. It’s scattered and withdrawn, it’s racing or it’s slow. It’s a busy place to be, this brain of mine.

And sometimes I am able to slow down.

Sometimes I am able to feel peace.

Sometimes the anxiousness about what is ahead and what is unknown, sometimes that is quieted for me for awhile.

And I’m grateful when it happens.

The last minute and 49 seconds of Ani DiFranco’s “32 Flavors” is one of my favorite parts of a song ever.

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No point.

Just that.

And a picture.

Silencing Inner Voices

Recently, in an attempt to get a hold on what direction I want to go with in photography  and in trying to launch a successful business, I have been working with a dear friend and creative spirit – Toni, who is the creator and founder and queen of all things Makearoo.

One of the key challenges Toni has issued is that I am to write a bio for my photography website.

And it’s a challenge that has stopped me in my tracks time and time again. I did hit a point where I did a bit of freewriting about it – describing myself, my shooting style, what I loved about photography, though none of it truly made a cohesive bio and I never revisited that copy in order to make edits. Instead, I left it dying on the side of the road gasping for breath.

{I just equated my bio copy with road kill. I think you can see why I may have a problem here.}

In my head, when it comes to photography – or my other various creative pursuits – I’m often hearing this voice, “Who do you think you are?” As I hear so frequently, Anyone with a camera thinks they’re a photographer so… why am I special? Why am I different? Why SHOULD you hire me over that guy or that girl or so and so?

Writing – and clicking publish – on my bio takes it out of this realm of WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE and puts those words squarely into the WELL THIS IS EXACTLY WHO I THINK I AM category.

And I don’t know.

This has been a huge undertaking – and one that has been such a challenge for me that surely there is deeper root than just…laziness. There’s a reason somehow, somewhere that I don’t want to show too much confidence, seem too uppity, act as though I think I’m all that.

The thing is.

I have an eye for capturing moments – having that eye? That can’t be taught in any class or from any book.

I know this to be true. I know that in every shoot, I have that moment where I know to the very core of my being: This is it. I’ve got this. This is THE image that will define this shoot for me.

And so somehow, I have to take that point and wrap my words around it.

I don’t know where my fear is rooted – that I feel I need to slap myself down before someone else does. I wish it’d go away. I wish that I could sell my work and my art with confidence. I know I’ll give you photographs that you’ll be proud of and treasure – what I don’t know is how to put that into words.

Those people who walk through life with that bit of bounce and that certainty that THEY can do exactly what needs to be done? I wish I had some of what they had. That bit of (god, I so hate this word) swagger. I wish I didn’t feel apologetic when I felt proud of my work, as though it was unwarranted. Because… I’ve done a lot of work that I love. I have taken pictures that I swoon over.

This week it is my mission to unapologetically tell that voice in my head asking just “who I think I am” to STFU.

Can I do it?

Well. I have to.

It’s important to me. I would love to spend more time with a camera in my hand. I would love to be able to express to others why I know I would give them great photographs that they’ll treasure (“Because I said so…” doesn’t seem a legit answer in business).

And it is Toni’s hope, and mine as well – that leaping over this hurdle will be the start of a series of positive chain reactions.

I can do this. I know I can.

I just wish it wasn’t so difficult.


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“And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world it’s best to hold hands and stick together.”
-Robert Fulghum

Yesterday, in the midst of alphabetizing my CDs and culling through the ones that just don’t seem to fit my life and my tastes anymore, I ended up with Jewel’s song “Hands” stuck in my head for about 15 minutes.

That, my friends, is about 15 minutes too long.

(Guess which CD is now in the pile for GoodWill?)

So, here I am today, fortunately without the ear worm but still kind of thinking of hands.



Thursday Ten: Back to School Edition

1. Today is day THREE of the new school year. They seem quiet okay with being back – and the bonus is that bedtimes are a little easier to enforce, especially for Pumpkin, because when the day is over she is EXHAUSTED.

2. New music this week, well… You know, you have to realize I was probably just the right age when Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” came out in the mid-90s, so when I read a review of her new album “Havoc and Bright Lights” and saw that it was on sale on Amazon (remember, iTunes – you are dead to me), I just bought it sight unseen, or….er… song unlistened? Well… there are some pretty melodies but there are some lyrics in this collection of songs that make me think, “Uh, Alanis? What are you even talking about?” So, what I’m saying is… don’t buy this album in its entirety. Take a listen, pick up a track or two and then go back to her older stuff and think fondly of loudly singing “You Oughta Know” while driving with your windows rolled down.

3. If I had known when Lisa asked me to guest post on her blog that she was moving this week, I’d have devoted my post to begging her to stay. Instead I wrote about a few of my favorite things.

4. For a short week, it has been C-R-A-Z-Y busy. Admittedly, I prefer busy to bored… but I also kinda dig the feeling of accomplishment I get when I am able to complete my whole to-do list for a day. And, yeah… that isn’t happening these days.

5. The kids and I finally made the bruschetta and served it over pasta and it was our prelude to strawberry shortcakes and whoa-my-goodness I was feeling a bit rock-starry in the kitchen that day. We were definitely right about how yummy it was – and I’m gonna call it a good start to when my Kitchen Through the Lens project takes me into the realm of making my own pasta sauce.

6. While I don’t know if my cooking is getting any better, my comfort level with making new things is certainly higher. That’s kind of awesome. (It would be more awesome if my cooking was improving too, but I’m hardly impartial.)

7. I believe in signs.

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8. Two weeks until ArtPrize!

9. I was walking past the television at work the other day and Matt Lauer was on the Today Show and suddenly the thought that flashed through my head was, He reminds me of Ben Stein. Whut? I’m not sure if there is a real resemblance or if my brain just needed coffee at that moment. What say you?

10. Wrapped up one 365 last week, started a new one. Are you in?
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Thursday Ten: Doggy Antibiotics edition

1. After the whole dog pee catching debacle for my puppy who had suddenly been peeing in his crate (when he’s NEVER EVER DONE THAT), the vet let me know that he had a bladder infection. Poor little dude. It’s been an interesting learning experience of how to give a dog pills (he prefers ’em wrapped in turkey) and even just to gain the knowledge that a) dogs CAN get bladder infections and b) apparently dogs can also get kidney stones so your vet may want him to get an xray to make sure he doesn’t have stones and if you’re lucky, he is stone free but you won’t find that out before spending $60 for an x-ray. Ah, no matter. Glad he’s on the mend, really. 346 | 365

2. The concert last week was a good one – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals put on a great show. Is it the best concert I’ve ever been to? Meeeeeh, not so much. But The Princess had a great time, despite the fact that we got caught in an AWFUL downpour, and her joy made it fun for me. I love live music and if I can share it with my daughters, I’ll be happy.

3. In my Kitchen project this week, last night I was able to cross margaritas off my list. I, uh, didn’t take very many pictures. It was a very good margarita. Look out for that post soon. Know, when I write my post I will not make you do margarita math (one parts this, two parts that, blah blah blah). I get the point but everything tastes better if you don’t have to think too hard.

4. Annnnnd because I have some tequila left from this week’s adventure, I already know what I’m making next week. Hint: There’s also tequila in it. Might make a fun snack for next Saturday’s U of M season opener against Alabama (GO BLUE). Hmmm… Perhaps I need to cross a few other things off my list as well. Michigan football might be an excellent occasion to try out the stout braised beef tacos (also on my list).

5. Writing this post is making me hungry.

6. I wanted to write more of a post about my dinner with Lisa the other day – and I may still – but one of the things I love most about her is that she is so creative and sweet-spirited. It’s really uplifting to be around her. I’ve struggled in my thinking about my photography often – because the market is pretty saturated with people and their cameras – and I struggle sometimes in the feeling that I should be comparing myself to others. It’s an awful feeling. Lisa was tremendously encouraging and she gave me some great ideas as well as perhaps an unintentional pep talk. I took her words to heart and will be trying some new things – including perhaps (soon?) opening an Etsy store to sell some of my photographs. I’ll post the information when I do it – and I fully hope y’all will kick me in the ass if I start taking too long. {And Lisa? Thank you.}
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7. Dear West Michigan theaters: Why do you not have the movies I want to see showing anywhere? I have heard NOTHING but great things about “Beasts of the Southern Wild” annnnnnd… looks like I’d have to go to Detroit to see it. Pfft.

8. Politicians need to stop talking so much.

9. The other day I needed a lift so I went to visit my sister and my niece. My niece puked all over me. I think that means she loves me.

10. Just over a week left for year four of my 365 project (366 this year?). Any ideas for what I should shoot on August 31 for this year’s final picture?

Lose Yourself


“Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?”
– Eminem


I never stop being amazed at some of the people I’ve met and opportunities that have come my way via the internet and social media. Through blogging, I have met some of the most amazing people that have become some of the closest friends in my life (I briefly thought about tagging and linking to y’all here – but figured it would take too long, you know who you are, y’all know I love you and would move a body for you). I’ve gone to some great conferences. Had some great exposure to some great brands. I even learned how awful I am at doing laundry while getting to meet Tim Gunn at the same time. Y’know? Not too awful.

And as I have fallen in love with photography over the past several years, I have continually been exposed to photographers who showcase their work and mad skills on line – people with more talent in their little finger than I can shake a stick at. There’s an inspirational bunch of people out there – people who make me want to be better, people with such a clearly defined eye that just a glance at a photograph on my screen and sometimes I can identify who shot it (That KILLS me, y’all – when I can recognize someone’s art like that with absolutely nothing but the visual? Ah-maze-ing).

And sometimes those talented people reach out and give people like me an opportunity to come out and assist shooting an outdoor wedding in Detroit on a gorgeous eleventy-billion degree day.


stay hydrated


Admittedly, I have only shot a few weddings – all small, intimate events. Typically, I’ve shied away from them altogether. I knew a photographer a long time ago who never shot weddings – absolutely refused – because, as she said, “You get one chance. That’s too much pressure.”

That’s kind of a cowardly way of thinking – but I see now what she means. There’s a whole lot of margin for error when shooting a wedding, and it IS stressful.

A good wedding photographer? Y’all don’t have ANY idea really JUST HOW MUCH TALENT it takes to shoot a wedding and shoot it well. And I give mad mad props to those who can, because not only are you charged with capturing the happy couple’s special day – face it, emotions are running high on a wedding day. People are stressed. You have all sorts of elements out of your control (hello WEATHER?). You have to just roll with it – come what may.

splash of pink

I had the opportunity to use some amazing glass that weekend. I had the opportunity to soak in knowledge from someone who has been doing this for YEARS. I had the opportunity to ask questions and really? I learned a lot that I will carry with me as I move forward and with whatever I do.

I am grateful that I was asked to assist – it was an opportunity and a lot of hands-on experience I would not have otherwise gotten. The wedding was beautiful, the bride and groom and their family and friends were joyous and beautiful and the occasion was a laughter-filled riot, including a lot of festive touches to incorporate the bride’s Armenian heritage (can I just say that I’m in love with the Armenian dancing? LOVED. IT. Truly).

I could have sat and just watched people all night.

And I did, to a degree – from behind a camera.

bouquets and sass

One of the things I have found more than anything through this experience is that my style of shooting – more by feeling and less by technicalities – doesn’t necessarily lend itself to weddings. I don’t know if I want to juggle and pose and organize and wrangle a wedding party. I want to sit back and catch those moments when a flower girl is grabbing her daddy by the hand and trying to drag him across the garden. I want to capture those moments when people aren’t looking – the backs of the groom’s parents, his arm wrapped around her, as they face the dance floor watching their son’s first dance with his bride. Flowers on a windowsill.

kick off your shoes and relax your feet

The discarded shoes of a bridesmaid who has traded her heels after a long day for a glitzy pair of flip flops. That’s what I want.

And it may not be what anyone else wants. Which, is why I don’t market myself as a wedding photographer, really. Shooting stills, things, candids of people, children being children… that’s what I really love. I love the moments that cannot be manufactured or recreated or staged – because I am simply no good at doing so… and I’m not sure that I want to be.

There’s a lot of criticism for photographers like me, I suppose. People who go by gut rather than a technical understanding of lighting and shutter speed all the clicky little buttons (I know I may have made the photographer cringe SEVERAL TIMES during this shoot! But he taught me a lot) – but, as I figure, you can learn that stuff. And I am. All the time. If you can’t see the world around you with passion and with perspective, though, you can’t really learn that.

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I take any and all opportunities to learn and improve seriously and am grateful for those who are willing to reach out to people like me and mentor and teach and help us improve. I learned more in those hours on my feet than I had in awhile – and even though it was a long, HOT, difficult day I am so very glad I went.

But will I be shooting your wedding? Um. No. Probably not. I may Uncle Bob some moments at your reception, but beyond that? Call me when your ready for baby’s newborn shots. I’m SO there.

Thursday Ten: Grateful Cancellations Edition

1. My book club was cancelled last night. I had, uh, actually decided to skip it before they cancelled it but then someone’s kid(s) got sick and so the whole shebang was off and so I was no longer an antisocial canceler and instead just like everyone else. If, by chance, you’re in my book club and you’re reading this – it wasn’t y’all. I just didn’t feel like being social. Or making a dish to pass. I’ll be better next time around. Probably.

2. So instead of book club, I went to Sephora because I had a gift card. Now that was fun. It also only took five minutes.

3. I am officially burned out on Olympics.

4. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to assist shooting a wedding. The experience deserves its own post, surely. As someone who doesn’t usually shoot weddings, it was definitely a learning experience and one that was a tremendous shake to my confidence, and since I’ve returned from it, I’ve been slower to pick up my camera. And maybe that’s okay – because the thing is, it’s okay to realize I have things to learn. I’ll learn them. And that is kind of a scary realization. I’d like to get a bit of my faith back, though.
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5. Lately, I stay up too late. Good thing I bought concealer at Sephora. If you can’t sleep, you can buy sleep in a bottle. A little under-eye concealer and suddenly, voila, well rested.

6. In new music, I downloaded Missy Higgins’s new album and iTunes promptly ate half of it. Because iTunes is broken in stupid ways. And none of their remedies have fixed it. SOOOOO I will be doing my music buying from Amazon (and then I’ll be a jerk and link everything here with affiliate links because I can and if you’re going to buy it anyway, might as well use an affiliate link, right?) Anyway, Missy is especially moody lately and it’s all fine.

7. I am having a ridiculous amount of fun with my Kitchen through the Lens project. Mission accomplished. I have many weeks to go, but it’s nice knowing that once a week, I’m trying something new and often  delicious and I’m kind of glad I started it. I will try not to strain my arm patting myself on the back.

8. My house feels empty when my daughters aren’t in it.

9. This is the time of year when Facebook fills up with people sending their kids off to school and here in Michigan we have nearly another month until kids go back to school. It’s the law, y’all. No school until after Labor Day.

10. Sometimes you need, for no good reason, to end a post with baby piggies. You’re welcome.
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Thursday Ten: I AM A GIANT edition

1. I am typing this edition of the Thursday Ten on a netbook. I never ever use my netbook – mostly because I have huge gigantic manhands but here I am, using the netbook and I feel like a giant using this tiny mini little bitty thing.

2. What IS it that Java is always wanting to update? DAILY, y’all. What does it change daily?

3. I feel tremendously old, tired and run down this week – and I feel like it shows. I feel like my eyes are weary and heavy and that I have aged a hundred years in the past week and a half. Certainly that can’t be true, but am grateful for filters in Lightroom.
see you seeing me

4. Seven years ago today I was really sick of being pregnant. Tomorrow is the Pumpkin’s birthday and I’m gearing up for her birthday festivities. This may be a more low key year than most, but I am still very very excited to celebrate the day she was born. I love birthdays – especially the birthdays of my kiddos.

5. There was an amazing show in the sky the other morning – I love the colors and how beautiful the sky can be. Surely, my neighbors are used to me standing in the driveway in my pajamas with my camera taking pictures of the sunrise.
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6. I got invited to an event via Facebook the other day by a woman I went to high school with. I had actually just walked past her in a public place last week – neither one of us said hi to each other (and we’re “friends” on Facebook why?). It’s a weird thing, Facebook. And it’s a weird choice of terminology… “friends”. Anyway, totally not going to her Tupperware party or whatever it is.

7. I’m having fun with my Kitchen Through the Lens project so far. I think I’m going to have to give myself more time for the next project. I come home after work and get busy trying to make SOMETHING, and I feel like I am rushed and just want to HURRY HURRY HURRY and finish so I can eat. And that kind of defeats the second half of the project which is to really work on the photography side of things. I need to sloooooow down. I’ve yet to decide what to make next week. What do you think I should make?

8. New music this week? Not much. Tristan Prettyman’s new single “My Oh My” was released so I picked that up. I like her – she’s mellow and acoustic-y and generally pretty positive and so while this isn’t my favorite TP song, I do like it.

9. Tonight, I bake a cake. A doughnut cake. My legendary cake. I’m kind of looking forward to that. Mostly because cake sounds really good right now. As does cake batter.

10. The Princess and I have been re-reading children’s stories at bedtime – older books, books far under her reading level. We started earlier in the week reading “Goodnight Moon” together and we followed the next night with “Harold and the Purple Crayon”. It makes me smile, revisiting these books with her. She hasn’t wanted to be read to in so long. The stories we’re reading are fun, and revisiting them is a fun little regression. I still love children’s books – so I hope she hangs on to that also.

Kitchen Through the Lens: Baked Lemon Pasta

garlic & lemons

I admit – I didn’t want to cook. The Princess was at a friend’s, Pumpkin was birthday shopping with my mom and the thought of going through the production of making dinner for myself was not something I was getting too enthusiastic about. I mean, hell, it takes about twenty seconds to pour a decent bowl of Cheerios. I LOVE CHEERIOS.

But I did it, y’all. And in the midst of the process, The Princess came home and helped me cook and it was lovely fun, just me and my oldest in the kitchen.

you said i must eat so many lemons cuz I am so bitter

I had seen someone post pictures online a few weeks ago of their version of lemon pasta, and I wish I had thought to grab the recipe at the time. Instead, I used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman – and I have to say, that… well… I’m not entirely a fan. I hear “lemon” and I think crisp and light, and this recipe probably could be with some modification – maybe cut that sour cream in half, and use butter OR oil and not both. OY. But don’t cut out the parmesan because YUM, also the salt is crucial to balance out the sour of the lemon.

The sour cream gave the dish kind of a stroganoff kinda feel to it – which to me screams fall/winter comfort food and not 104° heat index.

But, no matter.

I didn’t feel like cooking and I DID IT. I did.

Parsley? Not my favorite.

Would I make it again? Hmmm, not this recipe. I would love something lighter. As it was, by the time I got done I really didn’t feel like eating. I had a few bites of the pasta, some of the warm french bread and bundled the rest up and shoved it in the fridge where it will probably stay until the end of time or until I run out of food storage containers and have to clean the leftovers out.
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Now which recipe should I make next week?