We’re so super happy to present the photos from the portrait studio. You can view them all at the Heal Something Good website. (That’s the lovely A’Driane Nieves shown below.) (Psst. Here are links to the audio you listened to in the portrait studio: Amy Turn Sharp & Robin Plemmons.)
We talked about what you’re supposed to say on a day like this. You don’t want to say, Happy Memorial Day. That sounds….wrong. But saying something like, “I hope you spend the day thinking about all the people that have died for you to enjoy said day,” sounds like a bit too much.
You know that many of your friends and family are getting to spend the day with their loved ones and that’s happy. You aren’t near your own family so you do the next best thing and spend it with good friends.
You remember the brave service men and women that gave their lives so all of us have the opportunity to sit around an outside table in 80 degree weather, watching meat slowly cook while sipping the beverage of our choice. You appreciate the people currently in service and you worry a little about your own kids, partners, parents and other friends and family who are in the military and keep the hope of peace in your heart.
You make your mom’s favorite potato salad recipe because you miss her and then you find out your sister in Seattle made it, too, and you feel just a little closer than 1,255 miles. You make the 7, no 8! Layer Dip that’s made you famous. In fact, I hear you’re “known for your 7 Layer Dip.”
You make fresh croutons and BBQ sauce because anything less wouldn’t be right for today and you’re resourceful and creative and they’re delicious enough that a non-grain eater eats them.
You feel lazy and unhurried in a way only an extra long weekend provides. You wander around the backyard, feet burning on the hot pavement until you borrow someone’s flipflops to get around.
You take the time to inspect the seeds on unripe strawberries promises and the blossoms dropping off the cucumber vine.
You’re charmed to find the tiniest globe hidden in a flowered archway and take the wee selfie.
There’s a dog.
There’s hopefully always a dog.
A very cute dog.
You drink beer and sweet tea out of mason jars because that’s how it’s done on a day like today, where you have the luxury of time and friends and family and love.
You ask your friends to pose so you can practice a new camera setting and they oblige because that’s the kind of friends they are and we’ve all got nothing but time today, anyway, so why not. But, mostly they do it because they’re your friends.
The sun keeps peeping through the green leaves and winking at you.
You’re so glad you get to be lazy and drink out of mason jars and spend the day with good friends and pet adorable dogs and your heart feels bursty.
And then it’s time to eat grilled chicken with homemade Alabama White BBQ Sauce and you don’t even like BBQ sauce but this is different and it’s the best you’ve ever had and you’re already looking forward to leftovers the next day.
Thanks, Chad & Jen.
I had the good fortune to spend the afternoon with Marci and her two lovely daughters plus a group of the nicest women you’ve ever met a few weeks back. (Fun fact – I actually realized I knew some of them from years ago and it was so nice to see them again!)
Marci’s friends threw her a Girl Shower, all about how great it is to be a girl. Everything was pink and floral and the weather was perfect. It was such a lovely day.
This is my favorite shot from all 600+ shots I took. (I know! So many! But little girls are pretty and fun and everything was, as I think I mentioned earlier, lovely. I couldn’t stop taking photos.)
Just look at that joy.
You can hire me for a photo shoot here.
You guys. I’m just going to go ahead and apologize ahead of time because I’m going to be using phrases like, “I remember when,” and “Back in the old days,” and I’m very aware of how tedious and eye-rolly that can be. BUT.
Back in the old days (See? I wasn’t kidding.) when I first started online journaling in the late 90s, it was a brand new world where I could share a story on my computer with my family who lived miles and miles away. I’d post pictures and write what was essentially a monthly update about the kids and it was fun and it meant something personal.
And then in 2002 when Joe moved me to WordPress, my mind was blown with how easy it was to add posts and update more often and easily put in images and add headers and and and…
But it was the day he introduced me to Dooce.com and said, “Look. Here’s someone else writing about their life and sharing it with the others,” that I realized there was the possibility of a real community out there in the innernets.
Soon after that I started my sidebar blogroll and kept people listed there that I felt a connection to and I started my interview series to highlight interesting writers and photographers and “internet people.”
We had a smaller group then. It was 2004 by that time and more and more people were beginning to write their stories but it still felt like we could keep track of each other. It still felt small even as it was growing. I kept seeking out new bloggers so other people could find them and I loved it! And then at some point the world of blogging wasn’t about storytelling anymore. It was all about “Brands” and “Cultivating an Audience” and sidebar ads, which I tried out in various forms myself and have nothing against in the abstract.
But things changed over the next few years, didn’t they? We started having fewer and fewer storytellers and leaving comments on blogs became a way for people to make money. Traffic was king and everyone was being judged on their numbers. We could look up each others stats and decide if that person was worth knowing on or offline at a conference. If they were worth our time. If what they were saying mattered because other people said it mattered. Oh, popularity. Just like High School.
That was when I didn’t want to do interviews anymore and I shut my series with bloggers down. It wasn’t fun to get emails from people saying they should be interviewed by me because “they were getting 10,000 uniques a month and wasn’t that enough? Why wouldn’t I interview them? What was wrong with them?”
I stuck to Google Reader. I went in and read the websites I loved every single day and left comments when it struck me to do so based on their stories and not on their brands. I still felt a part of a community of friends.
When Google Reader went away, I really felt like I was being abandoned. (I’m still kinda upset about it.) The other options of feed readers were all lacking (for my needs) so I just dropped out. And I’ve missed out and I’ve missed you!
I miss the real stories. They are still out there. I see some of my old friends are still blogging and talking like real humans without all the freshly pressed look of a fine magazine going on. Not that I’m dissing fine magazines. I like them. But I’m much less likely to leave a comment on a post that isn’t a personal story. That’s where the heart is.
I recently noticed that Angela has an old-fashioned sidebar blogroll (You don’t mind if I call it old-fashioned, do you Angela? Not you, it!) and it got me thinking. I should stop complaining about missing Google Reader and woe-is-me-ing and do something about it.
So here it is, finally, the request I have for you. If you know of a writer/blogger who is telling personal stories and not “crafting their brand for an audience,” would you let me know? I’d like to add them to my Storytellers page. I’d like to read them and connect with them. I’d like to cultivate a community again. I’ve missed it. I’ve missed you! I know there have to be thousands out there that I’ve missed out on while my head’s been in the sand.
Personal story telling and this community is what’s helped me through some really tough times. Really feeling other people’s stories is what it’s all about for me. Help me find you.
Today I went to Alta Vista Gardens with my friend, Debbie Friedrich. I brought an In-n-Out cheeseburger, protein-style, for my picnic lunch because that’s how I picnic. And then Debbie showed me the gardens. You guys. They are lovely. You should go. Somewhere in the images below there is a self portrait. A frillion dollars if you can spot it. (Debbie took the nice photo of me below. She takes really great photos in general.)
Turning 43 has just helped reinforce what I felt when I turned 42 – I’m so happy in my 40s. I love it here! My brain works well, my physical body has never been healthier and I no longer worry so much about what other people think about me. That has been a long time coming.
For my birthday this year, my daughter, her fiance, my son and my husband all put on a game night in my building’s rec center. Some of my friends and extended family showed up and we hung out and played games. It was completely low-key and perfect. I may have made about 10-gallons of Mac-and-Cheese for everyone.
Alex picked these blue orchids for some of the table decorations. I can’t stop staring at them. There is something very silky and sultry and full of passion about them.
They are totally and uniquely themselves. They embrace their variations of vibrant color and show it off with pride. And in the recesses, way in the centers, you can see the deep, still wisdom that lies there.
I suppose that’s what I’m going to be aspiring to this year.
Of all the things Eden could have put in my drawing, she chose The Bear, which is one of my favorite things she draws. And he’s a friendly bear that’s just kind of friendily swatting at the birds helping him hold up the banner. Like they’re old pals. You can practically hear the bird twittering, “Oh, you old so-and-so!”
It makes me smile every day.
Friends, riddle me this: How many times does a girl have to eat the perfect three bites out of the center of a delicious buttermilk pancake to learn that even those three mouth-watering, delectable bites will probably send her on emergent trips to the restroom a scant few hours later while the Target pharmacist is trying to talk to her about getting all her meds to auto-refill on the same day of the month? I eat Paleo for a reason. And yet. Every. Single. Time.
Here’s what I love about this picture:
1. I haven’t yet eaten 3 bites of a pancake that are going to make me ill.
2. Joe’s hair. I mean, really.
Here are our shoes while we wait for a table.
I assure you, Joe does have another shoe attached to another leg just to the right, off frame.
And then, and I know this is really exciting for you all, I changed shoes a few hours later and put on these before we went out with friends:
You guys, I love these shoes. I really, really, do. They are orange. They are cork. My husband says they are sexy. Most importantly, I can walk in them and not fall down.
The evening ended at Top of the Hyatt with friends where we imbibed cocktails and talked for hours and stared at the view. I love being able to see Emerald Plaza from up there (green rings far right in the image below).
I went to ALT Summit this year. I’ve wanted to go since it began a few years ago and thankfully, this turned out to be *the* magic year thanks to Heather and Joss & Main, who had a last minute extra ticket and generously invited me to take it.
I reconnected with some friends at the conference (which is always my favorite part of any conference) and had a slumber party every night because Amy Turn Sharp and Anna Beth Chao were also staying with Heather and they know how to have a good time.
My two main takeaways from this conference were:
1) I still haven’t figured out how to tell people who I am very well. I watched person after person introduce themselves and rock-it with the 10-second spiel and I am just SO BAD at that. I can’t sell my paintings to someone who already wants to buy them and I can’t explain what I do in less than 5 minutes and not without a lot of “ums” and “well, and also, kind of like“s. It’s horrifying. This is a skill I really need and would like to develop.
2) I have yet to figure out how to fit in when a cluster of people gets larger than four. There’s three of us? Awesome. Someone else comes along? Cool, let’s keep talking. This is good. And now someone *else* comes to our little group and makes it five? Hhmm. Ok. But I’m going to have a harder time talking, but I’m still listening and I’ll try and pipe in now and again. Wait, what? Someone else? So, six? Seven? Eight? Dude. I’ll just be over here on the edge of the group and smiling and nodding but feeling totally unable to connect anymore. Like, the group is now “The Group” and I’m “Not Part Of It.” And this is all people that I like and want to talk to. People I’ve been waiting to talk to. I find myself later feeling really disappointed in myself that I wasn’t able to pull myself out of whatever that invisible wall was and participate in what appears to be a really great conversation. I used to be good at stuff like that.
Here is me (not shown), taking a photo of a group of people having a great conversation while I watched. On my left are even more really nice people that you can’t see, making our group about 10 or so.
So, yeah, I’m going to work on that.