Thursday, April 19, 2012

Challenges, Support, Changes, and Re-discoveries

Last Wednesday was part 2 of the webinar series Making Brands Happen is hosting, and after part one I was beyond anxious for the next fix. I restarted my computer after running the installs I'd put off (I don't turn my computer off nearly as much as I should). I wanted a clean slate. I pulled up the webinar, and just minutes before it started my computer gave me the beach ball of death, resisted all attempts to force quit, and encouraged, nay, begged me to violently turn it off (but I only softly held down the power button in dismay).

I pulled up my laptop just in case, I didn't want to miss anything!, and watched as my main computer gave me a gray start up screen, which after a little progress, resulted in a power down. Again and again and again. Not long into the webinar (from my couch in my office on my far less impressive and exciting laptop screen), my laptop crashed as well. I wouldn't be surprised if my inner cry of "CONSPIRACY" made it out into the open.

Eventually I was able to ignore the big black screen and get focused, but my day was mostly wrecked. I've grown up with Macs and while I don't recall all of the recovery methods by heart, I'm always able to resolve problems on my own given enough forum searching, so when I gave up and went home only to return with the start-up disc which was spit out repeatedly (out of spite, I'm sure), I felt like a failure.

The errors I was seeing pointed to hard drive failure. I couldn't get to the Apple Store until Saturday morning, and when I got there the outlook was bleak. I felt like a parent asking about their child's illness when I asked the Apple Genius Bar guy, Herbie, how something like this could happen. What makes a hard drive go bad? Did I do something wrong?

All of my client photos are backed up a million times, so while I didn't have the urge to vomit, I still had to keep myself from trying to remember what WAS on the hard drive. Mostly word documents, schedules, variations on the templates I use for cd covers and the like...not the end of the world, but not something I want to re-do. So, my computer is currently at Perry Computers, where they've spent the last 18 hours backing up my hard drive (Hallelujah!) and where they'll put a new drive in.

Since I'm so long winded I almost feel like making these posts multi-part but I'd hate to leave people worrying about me, and all of the above minus the part where so far they can back up my data sounds miserable.


This will seem ridiculous, but in the past week or so we've had an unusual number of fairly large spiders in our living room at home, especially near the front entrance. Garrett and I are both freaked out by them and so we yell at each other to kill them, angry if either of us misses them first try. One day I came home and killed one only to see a second inches away which I immediately got as well. The best part: in the blur of the 10 seconds or less that the whole episode took place, the second was very black, unlike the first and other brown (I'm thinking wolf?) spiders we've seen, and when I squished it at some point I saw an orange rectangle. I thought surely that meant it wasn't a black widow, but after (stupidly) google searching I can't figure out what else it could've been. Oh goodness. Garrett didn't see it and denies the likelihood of such a thing, and since I don't seem to have any paralyzing bites, so far so good. We also had two slugs that came in another night. Today maintenance is sealing our front door, since there's a place that light (and apparently evil) is coming in.


I'm going to MTH in Atlanta in a few weeks and more and more 2012 just feels like it will be the year when things come back together (or really for the first time), and my personal life, business life, and future will have some harmony at last. I was particularly ambitious a few weeks ago, reading The Happiness Project, sleeping 8 hours a night, running in the mornings. I'm still making progress, just a bit slower. The computer fiasco set me back a bit, as well as a pretty full weekend, and the groggy feeling I woke up with on Monday. I convinced myself that I couldn't get sick, and I think it mostly worked.

OH, and apparently I am the QUEEN of self-fulfilling prophecy. I opened an album box in front of Morgan in my office the other day and said, as I was unwrapping "The cover photo is going to be wrong", mostly as a joke about how my week had been. Guess what? The rest of the album was perfect, but the photo on the front was another couple entirely. How does that even happen and why do I not buy more lottery tickets? So, I immediately swore myself off of negative talk forevermore.


A few months ago I'd been thinking about how hard it had been for me to make friends in Birmingham when we moved, how un-welcoming the wedding and photography world could be in town to a newbie, and how much I craved the support from other women that I'd found in my friends growing up or my hall in high school. I LOVE my photographer friends, but I've realized that comparison, jealousy, and competition are hard to avoid, and that it's so much easier to talk openly about my accomplishments and struggles to my friends in other industries, without the fear of seeming arrogant or less than, even. Only spending time with other photographers, talking about the negatives we encounter or the gear we wish we had, it puts me out of touch with the rest of the world. I love that people are different, and I want to be more open to everything else out there.

So, I started a small, top secret creative girl support group, with a handful of girls I know and suggestions from a few other girls I met, and we've met twice now. I want to be able to talk about the group to some extent, especially to encourage other people who might want to start something similar, but I also don't want to make it seem like I'm excluding anyone, which is a tough spot. So far at our meetings we've had about 10-12 girls (with a few more in the fb group) which has seemed just right. I really love a bit of structure (I'm a tad obsessed with the IDEA of productivity), so we'll be spending some of our meetings sharing our craft and others talking about business.

I started the last meeting by having everyone to "download," which was awesome. I almost want to pinch myself seeing such an amazing group come together, every girl (woman) has been an inspiration to me and it's already a place where we're tossing around ideas, admitting our weaknesses, praising each others' strengths. I'll definitely post some updates on our group as well, and while we are very new I'd love to chat with people in other cities thinking about starting the same sort of thing. I know there are some similar creative women's groups at some local churches, and it's really exciting to hear and feel how powerful it can be!


I'm still reading the happiness project, a few pages on my kindle a few nights a week before I go to bed, and I'm utilizing my highlighting feature like crazy. I love all the quotes by authors and all of the validation the book provides. I also might have said before, but I'm using the author's one minute rule about household tasks (if it would take a minute or less I can't put it off).

In the chapter I'm on now, Gretchen (the author), talks about being serious about play and making time for fun, which also led her to figure out what is actually fun for her. The great thing about this chapter is realizing (especially reading some of the blog comments she received and included) is that the things we think everyone enjoys or should enjoy, a lot of us don't. I feel like I breathed a sigh of relief when she admitted that she enjoys reading children's books, and that upon opening up to someone else who shared her Harry Potter obsession, they started a children's book club for themselves.

I've always wanted to be the kind of person who would read deep classic literature and totally get it. I've chalked up my lack of success there to my ADD but what's even more true is that I LOVE children's books. I loved reading up until about 9th grade, when we had to start reading far less interesting and far more adult books. The Giver, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Wrinkle in Time, Redwall...why aren't the adult books as good? I feel like I get enough of "real" life, and would rather read the kind of fantasy that those books provide. I'm happy to have been given permission to decide what I like.

I've spent the past few years feeling like I needed to be a grown up (a very hard thing for a petite youngest child), and acting the part, mostly in the way that I scoff at "going out" (mostly because my profession leaves very few Friday nights open for staying up late and are most certainly out for drinking), work incessantly, and complain much too much about money and bills. I forget what I even enjoy. Vacations feel stressful because my inbox keeps filling up. "I don't have time" for anything. "What do you do in your free time?" was a laughable question.

One of the author's friends suggests to her that she might enjoy the same things she enjoyed as a child. So I'm reflecting on that. I loved craft projects, pretending to be a spy, my clothes, face masks at sleepovers... and those things still do make me smile to think about. I probably won't pack my backpack with spy gear and hide out in my yard with walkie talkies where I pick up on some kind of signal and convince myself it's a conspiracy...but the freedom to find things I like, that already makes life feel lighter.


I'm returning to more CHALLENGE progress here next, I have lots of work on it ahead and am excited to keep encouraging and being encouraged by others taking it on as well.

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