Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The One with Fancier Photos than Normal

One thing I love about my job (besides my actual job!) is that we have some incredible benefits to take advantage of. I am so grateful to work in education and for an employer that values continued learning. With a variety of different opportunities, this year I'm focusing on taking advantage of some different creative classes and decided to start with photography. 

Photo courtesy of my friend Tory during class!
I've always been interested in, and also intimidated by, photography. It is such an essential skill to have in life because you can have incredible crafts and talent, but being able to capture it well takes it to a different level. While I am no pro, I must say that I love knowing how to use the "fancy" functions of my camera and haven't shot it auto once in 2015. 

The class has really pulled me outside of my comfort zone as well. I tend to pick up creative skills easily and the two things I've been focusing on this year, photography and calligraphy, are crafts that haven't come to me too quickly. There has been a lot of trial and error and a whole lot of blurry photos with terrible light. But, it's getting better.

Here are some of my favorites so far! The first few are from my friend Erin's baby shower which I still need to share more about, the details were incredible. Of course there's some volleyball, which has been a really easy place for me to work on my skills although shooting indoors is tricky. Lastly, a few snow shots from around campus as a part of my class homework. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

2015 Goals Update

While I did set up one goal for intentional reflection and checking in on my 2015 goals, I haven't quite done that yet this year. I mean I have spent a lot of time thinking about all that has happened so far, but have yet to really pull the list back up and think about what I've done towards each goal. There are plenty of things that I haven't started or really gotten into, but it's March so I'm going to go easy on myself.

So let's take a look at what I've been up to so far...

1. Read at least 20 books. Definitely not progressing at all towards this one! Any free time has been spent working on Dogwood Brides, but that really is no good excuse. Instead of finding new things on Netflix to watch before bed I could certainly be reading, and honestly I'd probably get to bed a bit earlier! I did start Make It Happen, but then I spent so much time making it happen that I have yet to finish...

2. Run three races. Well I've ran twice in 2015--HA! Was actually just talking about this today with a friend and really need to sign up for something soon. 

3. Get back to meal planning. Not quite back in full-swing with planning but I've definitely been much more intentional.

4. Institute meatless Mondays. Nope.

5. Intentional reflection. I haven't really done this by the standards I set for myself with this goal (sitting down, writing out mini goals, etc.) but have definitely been doing a lot of reflection.

6. Establish a regular activity oriented date night. We've definitely been getting better but still have a ways to go. Next up is fort building in the living room and a movie marathon!

7. Launch Dogwood BridesAnd this would be why every other goal has not been started on yet, but this one is a big 'ol CHECK! :)

8. Learn and develop a new creative skill. I have been taking a photography class and now know how to actually use the fancy functions and not shoot on auto! Definitely haven't picked it up as well as I'd hoped by now but I know it will come with more time and practice. Also starting to break out my calligraphy a bit more.

9. Save mo money. When did I become an adult and how do I make it stop? AKA nope...

10. Move more. YES! Something I actually have been doing. Going down two flights of stairs to use a different restroom at work, parking farther away, etc. I've been trying to do as many little things as possible to move.

11. Organize memories. Not quite yet, but I have organized some pictures and am starting to make a list of all of the albums and photo books I'd like to work on. 

12. Create a space that inspires me. My office is looking better than 2014 with a new shelf and table, but still have a ways to go. I'd really like to get it finished in the next month, will have some updates when it's finished!

13. Social media purge. I do this a bit on and off. As I scroll through all of my social media sites I've taken a second to stop and think about the content I'm looking at and thinking about why I follow it. Does it inspire me? Is it just funny? Is it someone that I know? I've been clearing out much more than I thought I'd be able to.

14. Re-establish a morning routine. Still working on this too, Rome wasn't built in a day my friends!

15. Carve out happy time. Definitely getting better at this and can't wait to keep blocking off some time to let my creative mind wander.

BONUS! After writing this list I remembered that one of my 101 in 1001 items is Project 365, aka take a picture every day of the year. To follow along check out #project365ay on Instagram. ---> I've been the best about this and while I did have one day I didn't post,  I did take a picture that day and posted the next! It's so fun to scroll back through my hashtag and see so many fun things I've already done this year.

So after taking the time to look through, I must say I'm pretty proud of this year so far. Although there are some goals I haven't really got into, I have been giving thought to all of them and trying to work towards them in small chunks here or there. Most of all I think this year I have really given myself grace. I can't do everything, I am not perfect, and life is not just about goals--but it's about living and fun!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Follow That Dream

What a whirlwind. 2015 has already been the longest, and most definitely the best, year so far. And I didn't really think many years would ever top 2011 for me. I am absolutely exhausted, and absolutely delighted. The best metaphor I have been sharing with those who ask is I feel like all of the hard work on Dogwood Brides was like growing a baby, we gave birth to it last weekend, and now have to figure out how to raise it! DB really is my baby, and a labor of love, sweat, and tears. Yes, many tears. My poor husband!

I am almost in a bit of shock that it all happened so fast. Bonnie and I talked about it forever, but when we really put our heads together and started bringing DB to life in early January it still wasn't very real to me. We set a launch date of March 7, but it still felt unreal to me that we were actually going to share our work with the world. I have learned so much in the past two and a half months, but most of all I have been able to continue confirming why I have never been 100% jazzed about any job description I have read. Because I am someone meant to create. Because the perfect job does not exist. You must create it.

Natalie Jayne Photography
If we thought the late nights editing posts and navigating html and coding to get things set up was hard, now comes the really hard part. Continuing to work our day-jobs and balancing Dogwood Brides. Having the drive to pour every ounce of my energy and time into something that I can only work on early in the morning, late at night, and on my lunch break. Now comes the trickiness of finding my perfect job, but not getting to fully pursue it. Just yet, that is.

But even with all of that, I am so incredibly happy friends. All of these things that I've wanted to do--I started doing them! I took the leap of faith, I put myself out there, and now I have a ton of work to do to keep it going--but could not be more excited about it.

Hopefully you've had the chance to check it out, but if you haven't head over to Dogwood Brides and give yourself a tour! All of our social media is listed at the top if you'd like to follow along. I promise you'll find a whole lot of pretty, and helpful information from all of our feeds.

So here's to all of the other big dreamers out there. To every bright-eyed girl with a passion to create something new in this world. Roll up your sleeves and take the first step. Because crossing off "Pursue my entrepreneurial dreams" on my Life List is absolutely surreal, and I cannot wait to see where life will take me next!

And I owe you a few more updates soon, like how my 2015 goals are going (trust me, not like this in every area!) and the first two months from Project 365. I'll be back soon...

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Long Time Coming: Part Two

Sweet friends, thank you so much for all of your kind words, support, and encouragement on my last post where I recapped the Creative at Heart Conference! You have no idea how much it means to me that there are people out there who believe in me. When I'm late night coding attempting to learn code, and trying to figure out Wordpress for our new site (more to come on that!) I love knowing I have y'all out there to hold me accountable. To keep working hard, and to believe I can truly do this crazy thing called starting a business. 

One of the most impactful parts of the conference was not learning techniques and tips on running a business, but Kat's closing presentation Hardwork & Fairydust. I seriously felt like she was telling parts of my own life story as she was up there spilling out her dreams, fears, and how she got to where she is with her business. It made me want to work harder, to keep pushing, to really do this thing. Because you may not know it, but I have given up so many times.

Reflecting on my life and decisions recently, I have learned that I do not challenge myself as much as I should. Maybe I fill my plate with responsibilities to the point of exhaustion, but I do not truly challenge my skills and abilities or fully pursue my interests.

via Lara Casey Shop
When I was in high school I dove into all of my passions head first. I was dancing (which I had done since a young age), taking ceramics, and head over heels with journalism. Anything creative that I could get my hands on--I grabbed it! I filled my parent's house with ceramic pieces and completely collaged my room with every teen magazine I could get my hands on. 

My senior year I was selected as editor-in-chief for our high school yearbook and I literally was eating, breathing, and sleeping that publication. Like seriously. I got to school early, I stayed late, I spent my lunch in the yearbook room, I actually was enrolled in two class periods of the class, and I took proofs home to edit every chance I could get. It took time, but I learned how to use Macs. I fell in love with graphic design and teaching myself how to use every Adobe program in the book. It was the first year we were using digital images--which was an incredibly big deal in 2004!

And I don't know if I have ever felt as much pride as I did when copies of those yearbooks came in and I held my hard work in my hands. I flipped through the beautiful spreads, and smelled pages hot off the press. I was actually really good at something, something bigger than myself, something impactful. OK, well as impactful as a high school yearbook can be, but you get the point.

I looked at colleges with journalism programs and had daydreams of working for a magazine in New York. Maybe I wasn't the best writer, but I could learn, I could find other areas of a publication to thrive in. Then I ended up at a college with only a journalism minor which I began and then quit when I thought the first copy writing class was "too hard". I completely ate up my creative writing class, but didn't think I was good enough to continue. I was incredibly interested in marketing--but I did not have the guts to persevere through having to take calculus.

When I got to the end of those four years the I had a ridiculous amount of student involvement experience and a room full of sorority crafts. Funnily enough, I did have one small internship...at a full service bridal boutique. I was floored to have the opportunity, but I did not run with it. Instead I steamed dresses, picked up paper goods from the printer, and ran errands. And I did not speak up. I did not beg them to teach me all the things. I did however listen to Norah Jones' Come Away With Me album at least 100 times that spring. They literally owned NO other music.

It can be hard not to look back and regret some of these choices or wonder where I would be had majored in something different or continued to pursue those passions in college. Without life the way it happened I probably would not have gotten to spend a year on the road working for my sorority. I may have not originally started blogging back in July 2009. I would not have had an incredible graduate school experience at South Carolina. I definitely would not have met my selfless and amazing husband, Mr. Young. I would most likely not currently be in Richmond, Virginia. I would not have met Bonnie, my fabulous partner in crime with Dogwood Brides.

Right now I am currently reminding myself to be grateful. Grateful to have come to this realization at 27 and not 47. To be at a place in my life where I have the emotional and financial support to pursue these crazy dreams. To have so many decisions to look back on and say "why?", ensuring that I start to follow my heart. It makes me feel a bit cray cray and sometimes I get teary when I'm overwhelmed with the excitement of it all. I am so grateful to already know I will look back at 2015 as the year that things happened.

Ten years after I held that first beautiful publication in my hands, I will finally launch another.