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Posts tagged ‘Challenges’

What I know About Fear – Part 2

Firstly, I have to thank you all for the wonderful responses to my last post – Part 1 on Fear! I have been blown away by the positive response… particularly because this was a vulnerable post to share. I found myself immediately wanting to take it down, totally unsure of what the response would be! Yup, I was… what’s that word? Afraid! ;) All of your comments have really proven to me that is was worth putting out there though. So thank you!

In the first part of this series on fear, I told you a bit of my personal history with fear and how it has evolved through the years and through experiences that life has brought me. In this post, I want to share some of the things I’ve learned about fear just specifically in the past 4 months since losing Andrew.

Having had to face one overwhelming fear after another in the past months has given me a perspective I did not have before all this happened. The funeral arrangements, the viewing, the funeral, designing the headstone, going back to Dallas to clean out his apartment, trying to go back to work, deciding not to go back to work, packing up my cats and a carload of stuff and saying goodbye to the city we called home, packing my apartment (that part is still in progress, I decided to make a slow move to it wouldn’t be quite to overwhelming, still is), birthdays and holidays without him… every single huge, unthinkable, insurmountable task screamed “this shouldn’t be happening. This is wrong.” And each of those things feels like a ladder that reaches up into space that must be climbed. Hell, even a normal day sometimes feels like that still. But I did discover something of value in each and every one of those steps…

I discovered first-hand that human spirit is a remarkable thing. We can withstand absolutely incredible amounts of trauma and pain… far more than we ever truly know until it happens to us. I am dumb-founded still as to how I manage to get out of bed everyday and find some level of joy somewhere in that day. Some days are better than others, of course. As each painful task or event comes, I think that surely I will drown in the pain of it – or get halfway up that ladder into space and slip and fall. Aside from the overall living with this loss, speaking at his funeral was the hardest thing I will probably ever do in my entire lifetime on this earth. It was at his family’s church, the church where I sat by his side for Christmas service the last 3 years. The service was horrible and beautiful all at the same time. I remember afterwards so many people coming up to me and saying how much grace and poise I had and just how beautiful my words were and how it helped them… and I remember how odd it felt to be complimented for such a thing. I felt proud, that I made him proud, but what a horrible thing to even have to feel proud over. I knew, no one could even imagine how I ever got up there to speak. I couldn’t either, to be honest. All I knew was that in my mind, it wasn’t a choice. It wasn’t about being brave or having guts, it was about doing the right thing. If anyone on this earth was going to speak about the man I love and what our life together meant, it was going to be me. He deserved that – and it didn’t matter how scared I was. He would have done the same for me, this I know, and so fear didn’t matter. And that was just it – something in my life became more important than fear in that moment.

I found out what happens when a thing becomes bigger than your fear. This is a big deal in moving forward with anything in our lives… something has to mean enough to you, so much, that the fear doesn’t matter anymore. In fact, it has me looking back at many times in my life when this very idea lead to positive changes that had been waiting in the shadow of fear. It has me thinking back to when Drew and I first started dating… I’d been in a bad relationship before and was terrified to date again. But he was my best friend, and eventually over time, the idea of building more with him became bigger than my fear of a bad relationship, and I let go. That was definitely the best decision I ever made, as it led to a more beautiful relationship than either of us had ever imagined. And today, choosing a new direction in my life, a new career path, the desire for change finally became bigger than the fear. The fear is still there, and I still feel it, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Because now I want something enough that fear is not going to stop me. There will be hard days still, many hard days to come, but I will still stay committed.

I have learned to feel afraid and do it anyway. We learn through loss that today is all we have. We might as well fill it with the experiences and people that we love most. Fill it with our most authentic selves – whether that is joy or sadness or anger or love. Say yes only to the things that feel right with our souls or bring us joy today. Do things that truly matter to us and help others. And do things we are afraid to do, things we’ve never done before, with the perspective that we’d rather fail on a new adventure than succeed on a path we’ve already walked before. And also be honest with ourselves – truly, bluntly honest, about the things that fit into that life. Deep down, we really always do know what works and what doesn’t.. it just gets buried.

I want to feel life, not just live it out. And fear is just a feeling, one of many. It’s not a pit of lava or a thousand bullets or a raging bull charging at me… it is just a feeling. It is a natural feeling to anything new… and it will come. I think I’d rather it come over something important and meaningful than over something mediocre that my heart is not on fire for.

I have learned to sit with my fears. Our fears have the best of intentions. They believe they are protecting us from scary or dangerous things in this world. And sometimes they actually are. But other times, they overreact and hinder us. I’ve learned that it’s important to acknowledge fears, and to take the time to sit with them and see what they are really trying to say to me. Having lost both of my parents and now the person I was going to build a future with, I’m very afraid of losing people – and I probably always will be to some extent, but I know this, and so when it comes I try to listen to make sure I have the support from myself and others that I need. My fears about financial security are a big one too, especially now that I’m working to follow my dreams of being a self employed artist. I’ve had a stable job since I was 17, so of course I’m going to feel fear about trying to change that. That fear must be listened to also, and reminded that I have always landed on my feet in the past, and even though we’re trying things in a totally new and scary way, I will not let anything bad happen. I am in charge, and I can be trusted (or trust myself) to make the right choices. And with that, the fears can relax. They can be like small children that way, fears… sometimes all they need is a little reassurance that it’s all going to be okay.


So now, I have a part time job at an art gallery that barely pays for my gas money. But I love my boss and coworkers – and I get to be surrounded by great art, learn about talented local artists, and meet new people each day. I can feel Drew’s spirit beaming to know that I am here. I’m staying with his folks for now, quite possibly the first time in my life I have ever truly let my guard down and just allowed people to help me, really help me, to get somewhere new in my life… and am grateful each day for their support. And the rest of the time I am feeling life… the joy, the horrible pain of grief, the anger, the love, the beauty. I’m writing and painting and reading and sharing… I’m crying and trying and exploring and falling down and getting back up and figuring out this new path I am on. It’s kind of messy, I will say, but there it is.

As I look back, I think about where I was a few months ago… completely petrified with making the decision to quit my corporate job, leave Dallas and commit to this big idea. Barely even eating I was so freaked out. It was the scariest and saddest and most immense decision I’ve ever made – but it’s also been the most healing thing I probably could have done for myself right now. Every day I am glad I didn’t allow my fears to get in the way of making this change… even if I have no idea where I’m going yet.


I’m curious to know… is there something big in your life you have always feared? Are you still fearing it now, and is it holding you back? Or have you found something bigger than your fear that helped you to move through it? I would love to hear about other people’s experiences with fear, particularly relating to your dreams and making them happen!

April: Portrait Photography

On behalf of the April project themed on challenges – I reveal my first portrait series! Having never done portraits – I learned a great deal in just a few shoots! I am already seeing things I could have done better and have learned a ton along the way.. but am very proud of the results of this heroic little journey!

Below are the featured portraits large, including a statement by each person about a specific challenge in their own life. Following are a few others, including one self portrait I played around with the other night!


Personal Challenge: “Divorce changed me forever and though challenging, I’m still growing from it. Pain in a relationship can lead to redemtive actions and has for me. I couldn’t recogncile my divorce with loving someone, and wondered how could I divorce someone I loved? After anger and hurt subsided (6+yrs later), I know I loved, and now, I can love better.

A message found in 1 John 4:7-21 has significant relevance to me post divorce. Loving well means not fearing being loved. Resting daily by relying on the love God has for me frees me to love others well. In my heart, I want this but often forget.”


Personal Challenge: “I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood. My parents weren’t exactly the best at speaking English, and making friends was hard during my early years. I made a few, but I was still very shy and relatively quiet because of it. It wasn’t until later on in life (college and beyond) when I started socializing more.”


Personal Challenge: “The hardest thing I do is look myself in the mirror. I used to be a bully, really. Not take your lunch money at school type bully, but just a generally toxic person who relished confrontation with anyone I could find. I didn’t realize that I was such an ass until a few years ago, and have made major changes to how I conduct myself on a daily basis. I still have a hard time accepting that people like me as a person nowdays. Sometimes I suspect their motives, and honestly sometimes I suspect my own. I guess you could say I have a hard time forgiving myself for the person I used to be.”


Personal Challenge: “After having surgery 6 years ago and loosing over 300 lbs, I still to this day struggle with my feelings about my appearance. I still see that 600lb man in the mirror every morning and hate him and what he did to my life. I know that this will be a struggle that I will have the rest of my life, but it is a burden I am happy to take on.”


The Challenge of Portraits & What I Learned:

– The biggest challenge for me with this was connecting with the person and directing them. I had no clue how to direct them.. or even really what exactly I wanted! Plus, every person is different and has different needs and you must be able to adapt to that.

– Oh the weather! What a bitch to be doing outdoor portraits in the rainiest month of the year! Mother nature smiled upon me and parted the week-long stormy weathers JUST long enough on a few Saturday afternoons for us to make this happen! How lovely.

– When asking for help, make sure you ask the right questions! I was all set to fashion this home-made studio backdrop using ladders and sheets and all sorts of things… when a photographer friend of mine messaged me saying “you know, I have a backdrop kit… would you like to borrow it?” Ha! The thought did not even cross my mind to ask if anyone already HAD a backdrop kit! I will know next time to ask a better range of questions before jumping into the most complicated version! =P

– Apparently, I’m a wee bit oversensitive to constructive criticism when trying new things. Upon finishing the final shoot, my boyfriend (who posed for a portrait) gave me some loving advice from his perspective as the one in front of the camera. I suddenly realized that I had royally sucked at giving any kind of direction during the shoot… oh my God. I’m a total failure at this! And then began the tears. Geez.. How old am I? Thankfully, moments of reverting back to being 5 years old don’t last long – and I was able to remember… “Hey now! For my first try – I did pretty darn awesome!” Like the good perfectionist I am, it also wasn’t long until I was thinking of ways I could improve upon my directing skills.. even practicing a bit this week doing some self portraits helped me to understand what I might tell someone I am shooting in the future. Practice, practice, practice!

All in all, April’s project was a very fun one! And while I don’t think I’m going to be quitting my job to go be a portrait photographer… it was a great experience and not nearly as horrific as I had anticipated. I leave you with a few other shots from the month’s journey. And of course, a GREAT BIG thank you to all of my wonderful supportive friends who were brave enough to pose for this – and even braver to include some personal stories about their own challenges. Your words added such depth to this project and are much appreciated!

Facing Challenges & Faces

Good morning!

So I’ve decided on a direction for this months project. Since I’m already pretty familiar with a lot of areas of photography – I decided I would focus this month on the one area that has been the biggest challenge for me so far: portraits of people!

By biggest challenge I mean that I pretty much avoid taking photos of people at all costs (unless I’m particularly stealthy about it and can catch them unawares). For this project – I will be photographing people who are fully aware I am doing a portrait of them. This way I will have to face the challenge head on… you see, there’s a lot more to a portrait than just snapping a few dozen shots and picking the best one. From the workshops I’ve attended and articles I’ve read – I’ve learned that a successful portrait is about the subject trusting the photographer. And that requires a lot of just talking and getting to know each other, getting to that comfortable place where you can get the subject to relax in your presence. It’s a definitely skill – one which I unfortunately do not yet possess.

So on top of the technical challenge of learning how to shoot portraits and light things properly, I will be tackling the emotional and relational challenges of connecting with another human being. Great… little miss socially awkward is about to flop and fumble around trying to talk to people and gain their trust her while she’s photographing them. This is going to be interesting for sure!  But I am not backing down! I am confident that even if I’m a total and utter disaster – if I am just honest about my own awkwardness and nervousness, that it will work out.

…Did I just say I am confident about telling people I am not confident??! Oh boy.. here we go!


Photo Credit: “Story of Her Life” by Risquillo

Announcing The April Project!

Greetings friends!

Although the March project is a bit behind schedule… the show must go on – and April’s cards much be drawn!

After my exhausting and uncomfortable journey into the world of motion pictures last month, it seemed only fitting that the theme I chose next was “challenges”. Ha, definitely been in close contact with those lately. I am absolutely ecstatic that the project card I chose ended up being something FAR less out of my comfort zone than last months.. “photography”! Phew! My little creative spirit truly needed a break from being WAY out on the ledge this past month..

I am proposing right now to make this a single photo collection by the end of the month.. of 5-10 photos or so depicting “challenges”. Let the brainstorming begin!


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