reinventing

reinventing

reinventing

It always seems so exciting…so invigorating…to see someone change courses and find something they’re passionate about and run toward it with all their heart.

But being on the side of the one getting ready to change course…let me tell you, it’s terrifying.
I’ve been passionate about taking pictures of the dancing world since my girls started taking ballet (so fall of 2010). I realized it was more than just “fun” like the rest of the pictures I took when I had the opportunity to take pictures of a dance master class. Suddenly I wanted to become a “dance photographer,” which was a term I was pretty sure I’d invented.
I didn’t see it as something that would make money. I just wanted to take pictures of dancers. 
I did find a way to earn money doing it: studio work. Photo Days. 
I was pretty excited. A way to earn money and be with dancers?! What could be better!
The only problem was, this is an extremely stressful way to earn money. Like, crazy stressful. Seeing tons of dancers who aren’t sure what they want to do, trying to put them at ease while also making sure my backdrops worked (a continual struggle)…every spring I made it through, but every year I was crazy stressed.
I thought it would help to hire a friend to do the actual ordering, since that’s where I always made the most mistakes. It helped, tremendously, but it didn’t make it easy. Or particularly fun. But it was “the way to make money doing what I loved,” so I kept going.
This year I worked for three separate studios. None were large, but it was still separate photo days, separate ordering days, and more dancers than I’d ever worked with.
And something clicked partway through the long evenings shooting.
I realized I wasn’t enjoying myself.
Every year, I’d finish photo days and see just how much more I needed to learn about (and invest in) studio lighting. Every year I spent every penny I earned on more gear so that the next year’s pictures would look better. 
And every year I’d still walk away thinking how much better the pictures had looked in my head. Disappointed in my results. Not embarrassed, but not pleased with the results.
What am I doing all this for?
I’m blessed to be able to stay home with my kids and teach them from home. Josh’s job provides for us and he makes sure I don’t ever have to work to make ends meet. So really, bringing in money for pictures just to put it back into new gear is only a reasonable proposition if it’s fun in the meantime.
And it’s not.
So I’m bowing out of what I’ve been doing.
I’m not going to do studio photos anymore. 
I do know that I still love capturing dance, but I don’t know what that means.
So starting with this summer break, I’m only taking out my camera when I want to. I’m going to get out and do things I haven’t done in awhile. Maybe that means pictures of flowers…or spending a week shooting only macro…I don’t know. 
When I was in college studying music, there were times that my courses were so stressful, deconstructing music to the point that we weren’t enjoying it anymore, that I would turn on Tchaikovsky’s ballet music and just drown in the drama and beauty of his works. Right now I’m going to find out what the photography version of that is, and do it until I’ve completely fallen in love with pictures again. And then I’ll move forward in that path, whatever it is.
If you want to follow me on this journey, either because you’re curious or because this resonates with you, I’ll be blogging as I have things to say, and posting to my @charlaarts Instagram account. There I’m planning to share quotes that are meaningful for what I’m working through, as well as pictures I take while I try things. I want to play with editing techniques, the way light shows up in pictures, and the subjects. And I do suspect I’ll end up staying with dancing because it’s in my heart and I am, in fact, Always A Dancer, I don’t know what that will look like. Who I’ll take pictures of…whether it will be posed or spontaneous…and if it will become something I get paid for again or it will just be for the joy of photography.

Our other kids

Our other kids

Our other kids

I write about our three children all the time. Their pictures are scattered all over this website.

But we consider that we have several other children. Kids we’ve never actually met, but who we love very much.

The oldest is one that Josh and his sister sponsored when they were teens, and that we took over writing to and sponsoring when we got married. She’s now married, a pharmacist, and has two children (the younger of whom, by the way, is named Joshua. That tells you how much of an impact Josh had on her life!) 

There are three more that we’re currently sponsoring. Each of our (birth) children takes the responsibility to write to one of our (sponsor) children. Our oldest writes to a girl her age in Indonesia. Our middle chose a girl to sponsor from Tanzania. Our youngest writes to a girl from Peru.

Having these children in our lives means we’re much more aware of what’s going on all over the world. Hearing about mudslides in Peru makes us aware of how dangerous life is for these families. And since I lived in Istanbul during the 1999 earthquakes, I’m VERY aware of just how devastating those kinds of natural disasters are. 

But at a more personal level, it’s incredibly powerful knowing we’re having a hand in helping three families get out of the poverty they’ve experienced. These children are given an education…medical assistance…and are being introduced to the God that notices when a sparrow falls. I’ve seen that faith blooming in our “graduate” sponsored child and we all celebrate as we see our three current sponsored children learning the same truths.

Because of how much we believe in what Compassion is doing, Josh and I are participating in a challenge to help 2,000 children who have been “in the system,” waiting for sponsors, for the longest AND who have birthdays coming up. We are praying for a 5-year-old girl named Mekedelawit Fekadu from Ethiopia. Her father passed away, so she’s living with a single mom. That hits home because we live in an area where SO many children are being raised in single-parent households, but I know the kind of poverty she’s experiencing is something I can’t even imagine.

Would you consider being HER answer to prayer? She and her mom are praying hard that someone will step in and offer her the same kind of education that the three girls in the picture on top are experiencing, and I can’t wait to hear that she’s being sponsored! 

Here’s her bio so you can learn more about her.

 

 

 

ACTION update: March

ACTION update: March

ACTION update: March

It’s now mid-March. How’s my action coming?

First off, I’m realizing that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. So I’m changing my schedule for some things, and I’m choosing to be okay with that.

 

  1. make tamales
  2. make macarons
  3. make Manti (a Turkish ravioli-style dish)
  4. edit and publish my Esther book (starting the audiobook format)
  5. edit and publish my 2018 NaNoWriMo book 
  6. learn Spanish using Rosetta Stone
  7. make vanilla extract in the Instant Pot (bought the vanilla and the containers)
  8. make Fire Cider (bought the containers)
  9. make sauerkraut (bought containers)
  10. make kimchi (bought containers and kelp powder)
  11. make croissants 
  12. ? I still don’t know what my final goal will be. 

So my Esther book (#4)? That won’t be published by Purim. It isn’t possible. 

Because that #12 that’s sitting there? That’s a really fun project I’m excited about, and the timeline for that is a lot more locked in.

I’ve been creating a book of dance poses, that I’m going to offer to dance moms (and photographers who don’t have dance training, as well as studios and teachers who want some added inspiration). It’s going to help everyone feel more confident walking into photo day, having a better idea of what to do in front of the camera. (or behind it, in the case of the photographer). I’m working really hard at getting it for sale in plenty of time before this year’s Photo Days, so that took precedence over everything else!

As far as the food challenges:

I started making vanilla extract, decided that was far too easy to call its own challenge, so I put something else in for #7. For that challenge, I’m making sourdough starter! Actually, as of this morning I can say I made sourdough starter, because this morning I made my first recipe using the starter! (see bottom of post for the sourdough dutch baby I made!) Tomorrow I’ll start some sourdough bread.

I made sauerkraut as well, and yesterday it was ready! I tried it on a hotdog and it was perfect. I’m definitely going to do that again, as it wasn’t hard. Just took some patience. 

I’m plowing through Spanish, though it’s getting a lot harder so I’m trying to figure out how to make sure I’m actually GETTING it and not just knowing how to answer the questions. I’m on unit 9 (out of 26).

So the updated list:

  1. make tamales
  2. make macarons
  3. make Manti (a Turkish ravioli-style dish)
  4. edit and publish my Esther book (starting the audiobook format)
  5. edit and publish my 2018 NaNoWriMo book 
  6. learn Spanish using Rosetta Stone (on unit 9)
  7. make vanilla extract DONE
  8. make Fire Cider (bought the containers)
  9. make sauerkraut DONE
  10. make kimchi (bought containers and kelp powder)
  11. make croissants 
  12. make poses book (almost done)

 

 

 

Action: Month 2

Action: Month 2

Action: Month 2

2019 is my year of Action. And boy, does that mean something different than I expected!

First of all, life throws curve balls. 10 days ago, I fell and landed on my tailbone. Like, directly on it. I’m pretty sure it’s just bruised and not fractured (the treatment is the same but the time it takes to heal is 4 weeks instead of 12), but I’m having to learn where my limits are and ask for a lot more help than I usually do.

Seriously, I had no clue just how independent I was until I couldn’t do it all by myself anymore!

Second, it’s been a crazy busy month. We’ve been spending our weekends at Disney if we aren’t cleaning our Airbnb or at the dance studio. This isn’t unexpected, but it does mean our schedule is more crowded than it used to be.

But I’m still making progress!

I bought a bunch of the tools I need for some of my projects (will list them momentarily), and I’m averaging a unit a week of Spanish. I’ve also made more progress on my Esther book. It’s going to be an audiobook as well as for Kindle and a print book, so this morning I read the first chapter. It’s harder than I thought it would be!

So while the kitchen projects will have to be put on the back burner (ha! get it?), I’m making strides on two of the goals. 

Currently the list looks like this:

  1. make tamales
  2. make macarons
  3. make Manti (a Turkish ravioli-style dish)
  4. edit and publish my Esther book (starting the audiobook format)
  5. edit and publish my 2018 NaNoWriMo book 
  6. learn Spanish (halfway through Unit 6 out of 20!)
  7. make vanilla extract in the Instant Pot (bought the vanilla and the containers)
  8. make Fire Cider (bought the containers)
  9. make sauerkraut (bought containers)
  10. make kimchi (bought containers and kelp powder)
  11. make croissants 
  12. ? I still don’t know what my final goal will be. 

 

 

 

2019: Action!

2019: Action!

2019: Action!

A few weeks ago, I heard something that got me very excited.

“Action is the antidote to fear.”

I liked it so much, I put it on my Letter Board so I could hold onto it.

But I didn’t really think about it when I was thinking about what I’d make as my word for 2019. I struggled with my word: for awhile I was calling it “Leap 2.0“, but I knew that wasn’t accurate. I’d faced my fears in 2018 in a very real way, and I no longer feel like fear holds me back (at least not nearly as much).

Instead, I wanted to tackle things that had always sounded like too much work. Things that intrigued me but scared me in their commitment. Things like making macarons.

After talking to people about this idea, a friend suggested the perfect word.

 

This year’s word: ACTION.

I’m going to choose twelve projects that I shy away from, not because I’m afraid, but because they just seem too big.

I’m not even sure yet what all 12 projects will be. But at this point here’s what I know it will include:

  1. making tamales
  2. making macarons
  3. making Manti (a Turkish ravioli-style dish)
  4. editing and publishing my Esther book
  5. editing and publishing my 2018 NaNoWriMo book
  6. learning Spanish (I bought Rosetta Stone right before Christmas)

First up: the Esther book.

My goal is to get it in Amazon: as a Kindle, a paperback, and possibly an audiobook, in time for Purim (since that’s the holiday connected to her story).

I’m excited to see these things come to pass and am very curious to see if it changes how I see time-intensive projects.

My Year of Leap

My Year of Leap

My Year of Leap

When it was almost 2018 and I looked at what I wanted to achieve in the coming year, I knew I needed my word for the year to be “leap.”

I’m sure it would have made more sense to do it on a leap year, but I’m not willing to wait that long. I was ready to tackle it this year!

What does it mean?

It’s my year to stop being so fearful and cautious. To do things that pushed me out my comfort zone.

The first opportunity came early in January: the offer to run the front desk at the brand-new dance studio. YES!

Several other opportunities have shown up as the year has progressed. Some have been things I’ve initiated (like running a small group for 6 weeks), and others I’ve been ready for when people suggested them (like surfing. Once you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, you can read all about my story here.)

Some are one-time opportunities, like the surfing (because as good as it felt to try it, it’s NOT my cup of tea. I still don’t like water!). Others are things I’m joining and continuing, like taking a musical theater class at the dance studio. Not only am I getting gradually more comfortable singing and acting in front of the class, but I’m pushing myself to tackle emotions I don’t usually experience (currently humor and anger!) Plus trying (and loving) yoga, and yesterday was my first stretching/conditioning class. Oh, and I’m going to attempt hip-hop with a bunch of 9- to 12-year-olds. No, you can’t see video ;) I’m a ballet dancer so this could be really awkward. No, I pretty much guarantee it!

I’m doing smaller things, too. Writing little notes to people, just out of the blue, to thank them for their friendship. Things that are still putting myself out there, but aren’t quite as earth-shattering as surfing. 

I’ve still got 3 1/2 months of the year to see what else I’ll tackle.

And you know what? I don’t foresee stopping this once it’s 2019. I don’t think my 2017 me would even recognize the me I am now, and I like that!