“If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.”
WRITING A BLOG IS NOT FUN
I don’t want to have a blog. I just want to show people my work (which is photography, not writing). The trouble is, my photos come with hundreds of tiny details and years of backstory. Without some explanation, they just look like pretty pictures. Or ugly pictures? I have no idea.
So I have to write stuff, because to anyone but the people in the photograph, the story is lost.
Writing stuff isn’t that bad. What sucks the fun out of it is worrying what you will think about what I write. Even less fun: worrying what you will do after you read it.
- Will readers share this story and help a foster child find an adoptive family?
- Will strangers offer help and compassion to a struggling parent?
- Will parents choose books that celebrate diversity, kindness, and compassion for storytime?
- Will neurotypical people look at autism differently?
- Will potential collaborators like my work enough to subscribe to my newsletter?
- Will future collaborators hire me so I can keep doing the work I do?
- Will people who don’t understand my work call me a terrible mom, a terrible photographer, and a terrible person because the picture below was my favorite picture of the year – one that sums up our life perfectly – because Nikolai will find mortifying in 10 years? (And then hilarious and priceless in 30 years.)
DO THE THING
I’m not just writing to write – I’m writing to ask for help. Asking for help is painful. Not fun.
Everything I write is a call to action. Every sentence I publish is a new way I’m trying to say:
“Look what amazing things we could do together if only we all do this one small thing. Do the thing. Please.”
The pain of asking you to see gets easier with time. The pain of asking you to do stuff is still rough.
When I fail (and I fail a LOT) you, dear mystery reader, close the browser and disappear forever. I failed to move you to action. Ouch.
When I succeed, you share, you email me, you subscribe, you hire me, you support my art, you find a way to tell me that what I do matters. This is when you join my tribe of awesomeness (aka Awesomesaucers). Reminders that you are here and we are connected is how I get through the rough spots.
This is how I drive through my biggest shame – my career takes more money away from my family than it contributes. You making yourself heard reassures me that setting an example for my sons is worth what I pay – in time together lost, and all the things and experiences they will never get because I’m doing this instead.
Your reminders are how I get though the really hard, unpleasant sessions that make me wonder if I’m doing any good.
Your reminders are how I get through the dizzy day after each photo session when my eyes stop working, and I lose my sense of time and space, too confused and befuddled to hold a basic conversation.
It’s how I get through that squicky week after each session – when I’m convinced that all my pictures are crap, I’m a crap photographer, and everyone is going to be so disappointed and regret working with me.
It’s how I get through the rejections and failures that all artists, do-gooders, parents, and humans face.
It’s how I got through my first full year as a working mom.
Politics and the crises of humanity excluded, 2016 was a wonderful year for those of us at Bumblebee Hollow. But it was also really hard work, full of doubt, worry, frustration, a weird facial tick, stress-nachos, and a bonus 15 pounds. (As is everything worth doing.)
So for those of you who wrote emails, subscribed, shared, were inspired to start your own do-goodery projects, invited me into your family to document your story, donated gifts and time for kids in foster care, adopted a shelter animal, supported Books for Littles with your Amazon purchases, donated to support my do-goodery projects, and of course, for those mega-stars who started the adoption process, thank you.
There’s no better way to say it. There’s no end to when I stop being grateful. So, thank you.
Oh – did you think I had any idea what I was doing?
I didn’t! Still don’t! As I head more toward the expert side of the spectrum, I’m realizing that no one does.
2017 will be an experiment too. As will every year after that. All spectacular things are the result of educated guesses and a lot of hustle. If it was easy, it just wouldn’t be any fun.
2016 was an experiment in do-goodery. My do-goodery projects will continue and grow, but now that I have a better idea of how do-goodery works with photography, it’s no longer an experiment. It’s just a part of life now. (Thank you, again, for making this possible.)
Buuuuut, 2016 got a little heavy. I focused too hard on all the things that need changing. I neglected to include the hope and potential that propels them into something you should care about. Nothing lasts without that – we can’t be bothered to change the world if there isn’t any hope.
My stories started getting stagnant (even a little desperate), and darkness crept in. I took on too much work while worrying I was doing too little, too slowly – the mom/do-gooder/artist’s paradox.
I put off publishing the second and third Invisible Obstacles documentaries because I didn’t want them tinged with dreariness. I needed to gather my wits and reticulate my splines.
Thanks to social media, those of us who have lived safe and comfortable lives of indoor plumbing and Sesame Street programming have all started to see more of the darkness in the world than we used to. And then HOLY CARPSICLES that election happened. My fundamental understanding of humanity and our country needed to reorient and reabsorb. I had to sit down for a moment.
ROMPING IN THE LEMON GROVES
I’m back now. And in case you’re wondering, I’m not going to try to make lemonade out of lemons.
I’m going to grow miles, and miles, and miles of lemon groves. I’m going to share them with all of you, and together, we’re going to make lemon tarts and lemon tea-cakes and lemon puff pastry and lemon haddock en papillote.
For those of us who love a challenge (meaning you – my tribe) we’ve got a world to change. For those of us who can’t settle down, who don’t do stuff the way we ‘should’ do stuff, for those of us who can’t say ‘good enough’ and would rather give 110%* effort for an extra 1% awesomeness, for those of us who stand up and firmly declare ‘NOPE’ when things aren’t right – this is the raw material we have been given, and this is the raw material we will build something amazing from.
Together, we will still change the world. Instead of dragging it behind us, however, we shall romp with it.
* 110% isn’t possible, you say? NERDS, YOU DON’T KNOW ME.
December is my listening month. It’s when I gather 1-on-1 with a kick-ass people whom I admire, and listen to what they have to say. What we start talking about doesn’t matter. What matters is that I listen.
If you listen closely enough, a conversation will always lead to things that matter. It will lead to what we have in common – what challenges we both face, and what needs to change. If you listen even harder, the person who is giving you the gift of their voice will tell you things you need to know, the challenges they face that you have never considered – so you can connect those needs with the tools you have. That’s where inspiration and do-goodery are born.
And then, after you’ve listened, and thought, and compiled the needs and wants and wishes and purposes of a bunch of really awesome people, you can come up with ideas for how to help them.
Listening is hard. I want to share fun stories and ideas and commiserate. I’m not great at staying quiet. Luckily, like writing, I don’t have to be the greatest at it – I just have to be better than I was yesterday.
If you’re interested in the questions I asked, feel free to check them out – or even to add your voice.
Katamari of Voices
From December’s listening sessions, I have something important to share with you. Very Important.
Please set a 3-second timer before continuing. Don’t wing it and count. Get a timer. For official-ness.
The important thing that I was missing, that we all need, and the one thing I’ll be focusing on in 2017 before all else – it’s fun. Because fun is important. There’s nothing trivial about it.
2017 is an experiment in lightness, joy, and play.
Fun is Very Important And Serious (but not Too Serious). We can discuss why later. For now, just trust me (for no particular reason at all, other than that I am a stranger on the internet who takes pictures of people making pancakes and folding laundry and sometimes writes stories about it.)
Sign up below to join me and I’ll notify you via email when things are all set and I can get my splines reticulated. (It could be a while, weeks or months. Whichever is funner.)
Trust me because I want to show the amazing things could do if we just took these small actions.
So do the thing, please.
(Also, thank you.)
Stay in the loop – find out what big ideas are coming up in 2017 (hint: awesome ones)
“This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
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