Out with the Old, In with the New…

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve been going in circles about this blog for months. Actually, now that I think about it … I’ve been going in circles about it for years.

My business, my work, has always been focused around ME. Who I am has always been at the core of it. I have never hidden myself away from my clients. Back in 2007 when I started my photography business, I went back and forth about consolidating this blog with that blog. It made no sense that they were separated, but I wasn’t ready to let this site go – so it languished instead, neglected.

Lately, I have found myself writing so much more. With that, I have gone crazy trying to figure out what I want to do about that blog, this blog, my photography from my road trip, Vivid & Brave … well, you get the picture.

I finally asked my smart friends. I do actually have the smartest friends on the planet. Most of them said to consolidate EVERYTHING. It is far too confusing for them to have to go to different places to get a piece of me here and there. I completely agreed with them, yet it still didn’t feel right.

Then my friend Bobbi asked me about upcoming conferences I am going to, and what did I want to brand? THAT question was easy to answer. I want the world to know about the work that Stephanie & I are doing at Vivid & Brave!

So my plan was to focus my personal writing at my photography blog, my travel blog posts at a travel blog (very niche focused so that Google liked it) and put all of my energy in to Vivid & Brave. Easy!

Until I started spinning again.

I woke up this morning and really wanted to write a blog post about hotel sex and why it is so incredible. No, I did not have hotel sex last night. Maybe that was why I was thinking about it being so grand? Anyways… that post didn’t belong on a blog where my photography clients might see it before they see anything else. It doesn’t belong on a travel photography blog (although it is hotel related). CRAP. Once again? The circles were back. I was spinning. Again.

Stephanie & I finally had a chance to get on Skype and chat this evening. As soon as I told her my dilemma? She pointed out that those posts belong on Vivid & Brave. She has no problem with me putting them there. We both agreed that as we ask our coaching clients to be crazy vulnerable with us, we need to be just as vulnerable with them. We don’t have many “rules” for the Group Coaching, but the biggest one is tolerance and understanding. If I write about hotel sex and someone runs away from the post? Well … they probably shouldn’t be working with me anyways. Yes, this is true for my boudoir clients too – but I have BIG DREAMS for 2014, and they involve Vivid & Brave. Every last one of them.

Finally, the spinning has stopped.

So it is with that that my personal blog posts – and all my energy and focus – are moving to the Vivid & Brave blog. I realized today that part of why this decision has been SO difficult every time I face it is because this blog is such a part of me. It saw me through the ending of a tumultuous relationship that left me heartbroken, and emotionally broken as well. It has brought me hundreds (thousands?) of friends that I wouldn’t know otherwise. It is because of my blog that I met my friend Ann, who tipped me off on this great guy Mike who was living in London at the time but was moving back to Houston. It was through this blog that I announced our engagement, 10 years ago yesterday. Through this blog that I met Elaine, a month before I met Mike, who embarked on the adventure of being a professional photographer with me. The list goes ON AND ON.

However, it is time. As I start the new year, it is time to move on to other things. Mostly, it is time to stop feeling guilt about how little I update this site, how much I want to share but how my focus is pulled elsewhere. My focus is pulled elsewhere because I have changed. I have grown a LOT in the past 13+ years since I started this blog back in 2000.

I have changed.

It is time to close the book on this blog. Time to put it up on the shelf and focus completely on the new story.

This site will live on, remaining here online. I’m going to take the name back to being BigPinkCookie because that is what it has been for the past 10+ years. I’ll link to it from time to time, and reminisce in the memories about it — but it is time to start a new book.

One that is Vivid & Brave.

Things You Should Know – My Greatest Fear…

The Grand Tetons, Summer 2013

“What is your biggest fear in business?”

My friend and Philadelphia wedding photographer Mike Allebach asked that question today in the Brandsmash Facebook group. It stopped me.

Fear? I don’t have fear in my business. Ok, ok, I mean – I have the fears everyone has. Will there be customers? Will some major catastrophe happen and shut my business down? But I have systems in place for a lot of things. I have an amazing network of friends locally and nation-wide that have my back. I don’t have fear about my business.

“Letting my business take over my life, no longer having free time.”

It is so easy as a business owner to slide in to this mentality of it consuming everything. What I offer to my clients is built around my passions, so it is a part of me as much as my eyes are blue.

A few hours later, it hit me.

I have a far bigger fear — my story not being heard.
(Which of course starts with me telling it.)

I’ve spent a lot of the past six weeks going in circles. I have stories I want to tell, and choosing where to tell them is hard. I know I want them on my blog and not on Facebook, even though it is easier to just slide them in there. Faster. Always open. Quicker feedback from people.

But Facebook is so transient. Fleeting. My stories belong on my blog.

Having so much that I want to say leaves me silent. I don’t know where to begin.

Then there are the stories that overlap with the stories of others, and the blurred line of what I can share and what is not my story to tell.

If I want my story to be heard, I need to tell it. Plain & simple. I should get on that, shouldn’t I?

I thought long & hard about this week’s Things You Should Know Thursday. If we’re going to be BFFs, you should know that I need to be heard.

My goal for 2014 is to tell more of my story. Here. On Vivid & Brave. When working with my mentoring clients. When working with my photography clients. It is all about the story and being heard – and hearing them. We all have stories to share. I can’t wait to see what the new year holds.

Why Not Me?

I had the strangest day today. I’m still whirling from it all a bit.

My makeup artist asked me on Wednesday if I knew any event photographers. Uh … yeah. ME. (5+ years of weddings? Yes. Events.) She was doing makeup for an event, and they needed a photographer. I exchanged emails with the event planner, and at first all I knew was her name and the time of the event; at first, I did not know the client’s name.

Yesterday I was annoyed at myself. Events? They don’t fit my “Why” of helping women grow their confidence and rediscover their beauty — I was thinking of handing it over to a friend. After all, Stephanie & I are are in the middle of preparing a series for Vivid & Brave on preparing for the new year. I have a lot to do between now & Monday.

Then I got the email back with the name, and discovered it was a luncheon for Emily’s List.

I AM SO GLAD I WAS THERE.

Know when the world keeps pinging you and trying to send you messages? This summer when I was at BlogHer, I almost went in to the panel about how to run for office. Hahaha… who do I think I am? I could never run for office. I didn’t attend it.

Today’s event? All about encouraging women to run for office. And then I flashed back to my activities in high school – I was in a model state government program in Illinois; I was selected as an “Outstanding” delegate for the Model UN program in Houston. (Pretty big deal when you’re one of 5 selected out of a hundred or so.) I went to Close Up in Washington DC.

On my road trip, I said many times that it was easier to understand how certain regions voted certain ways when I spent time in their geography.

As the gears were turning and I was talking with State Senators today from three different states, I realized — why NOT me?

The moment that brought it full circle for me though — irony at its best — was when Ohio State Senator Nina Turner started talking about women, and how women are often the most critical of themselves. We as women tear each other down, and it is terrible! It is time that we come together in the sisterhood circle. “It is the Sister Circle that will make the difference.”

Well, crap. THAT? That is exactly everything I am about.

WHY NOT ME.

WHY NOT YOU?

I’m tired of a government full of men, mainly white men, deciding my fate. The current state of affairs in this country is horrible. I considered more than once trying to figure out how to stay in Canada this fall when I was in Calgary, just to get away from the insanity.

Maybe, instead, it is time to stand up and start figuring out how to change it. What I can do.

The start? Helping to get people out to vote. I’ve complained for years about people not turning out to vote. As someone said today, Texas shouldn’t be called a “Red State” when only 20% of the voters turn out – it should be called a “Non-Voting State”. 20%!!!!! That is just pathetic!!! Texas is LAST in Voter Turnout. Next election, when someone tells me that “they don’t bother because their vote doesn’t matter” I will point out that they are told to believe that, but it is not true. Not true AT ALL.

Beyond that? We will see. I need to spend some time thinking about this. I’ve always believed you have NO right to complain about something if you’re not willing to work towards a solution to fix it.

Why not me?

PS – Props to Nina Turner for introducing a bill to legislate men’s access to Viagra to counter the legislation on contraception. Kudos, woman. KUDOS.

I’m More Grateful Than Ever Before…

Walking in Yosemite National Park

I didn’t realize it until this morning, but this year has taught me one HUGE lesson more than anything else. GRATITUDE.

I’m grateful for my amazing husband, Mike. For my parents and my son. My in-laws. I’m so very grateful for their support, their encouragement, their wisdom and advice. I’m grateful for the life we have built for ourselves. For them giving me room to roam, and for making sure I know that they are always, always there for me even if they are 2,000 miles away or just in the other room.

I’m grateful for my incredible friends. The secret to going on a four month long road trip? Friends along the journey and friends waiting back at home. Both the ones you’ve known for years and the new ones that you make. The ones you share meals with, who let you stay on their couch or in their guest room, who loan you a washing machine when you need it, and give you a hug when you need it even more. The ones that greet you when you return as if you have never left.

I’m grateful for this country that I live in. I have learned so much this year about the geography of the land and how it influences the people that live there. I have a far greater understanding of the Western spirit than I ever did before, and I appreciate it so much.

I’m grateful for nature. In unexpected places, I found my sanctuary. My peace. My joy. Myself. From mountains to valleys, to the street that I live on.

I’m grateful for my work, that having a camera in my hand is my “job”, worthy of quotes because it rarely seems like a job at all. That magical black box has taken me places for 30+ years now, and I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life. It is only within the past six years though that it has helped take me far beyond my wildest dreams. It is surreal some days.

This gratitude is not something that I think about only on the day that the nation sets aside for giving thanks. I have felt it rather intensely every minute of the past 5 months, since I stepped out the door to head to Portland. I thought it was going to just be a quick road trip. A little vacation. I had no idea what it was really going to mean to me, and I’m still working on putting it in to words.

If we’re going to be BFFs, you should know that while I might not always say it out loud, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. My life is more than I ever dreamed it could be, and I am grateful for you being a part of that.

Things You Should Know Thursdays, or #TYSKT, (which Thanksgiving just happens to fall on) was inspired by a journal prompt at Vivid & Brave – join us in sharing things we should know about you if we’re going to be BFFs.

Above: Yosemite National Park, a hike in solitude along near Lembert Dome.
Below: My beloved Grand Tetons in the summertime.

The Grand Tetons

I Can’t Keep Up With a Daily or Weekly or even Monthly Meme…

A few days ago, I was thinking about what I was going to share this week for Things You Should Know Thursday this week. I was drawing a blank, so I decided to come back to it later.

Earlier today, well, actually it is after midnight, so it was yesterday, not today, I was thinking about it again, and I came up with a few ideas that I didn’t stop to write down.

So now that it is minutes after midnight, I realized that I know EXACTLY what I should share this week! Things you should know about me if we’re going to be BFFs? I’ve never been able to keep up with a daily, weekly, or even monthly meme for posting. (I know, irony in starting one myself, right?)

Every time I say I’m going to join in on something like this, it seems as if is the kiss of death for the idea for me. I tried to do a 365 photo a day project? NO. I think I made it to day 8. I was going to photography my dinner every day for a year. NO. I made it, sadly, to only the second dinner. So the fact that I’ve managed to write this post every Thursday? Brilliant!

I’m sticking with it. I’m determined to make them happen. Even if they are late!

Things You Should Know Thursday was inspired by one of the daily prompts in Vivid & Brave. Check out the site for all of the details!