Posted By: Ali Anderson
I had been tossing and turning beneath the snuggly comfort of my toasty warm covers for two endless hours in the middle of a winter night trying to figure out why I was so uncharacteristically restless. It wasn’t because my beloved had been sawing logs beside me like a woolly mammoth with a head cold. It wasn’t because I was stressed over how I was probably setting my kids up for a lifetime of failure because I let them watch back-to-back-to-back episodes of Dora the Explorer and eat their dinner in front of the television twice that week (gasp!). Then, in one of those cheesy made-for-tv moments, I surprised even myself when I suddenly sat bolt upright in bed (who does that?!). A calmness I’ll never forget wrapped itself around my shoulders and I breathed a sigh of relief, then said out loud to Brian, “I have to do something tomorrow.” He didn’t hear me. It didn’t matter. I knew.
I submitted my SOAR! application video two weeks later.
Thirty-six blog posts, seven video blogs, one hundred twenty-six images, ninety-seven slices of cheese pizza, forty-five glasses of wine (not all in a row) and nearly 365 days later, I am utterly and blissfully exhausted (yep, a whole lot of pizza and a glass of wine gets many a blog post written, my friends).
I imagine it’s the mental version of exhausted that a marathoner feels as she approaches the finish line. We’ve established my three criteria for running, right? (If you need a refresher, click here). Even if Robert Downey, Jr. was waiting at the finish line for me with a plate of cupcakes and a foot rub, I still wouldn’t run 26.2 miles to get a long-lasting congratulatory smooch from the guy. Sorry, love.
All the hours spent training, the blisters, chafing and tendinitis aside though, I get it. I get why marathoners do it. They do it for the same reason I applied for SOAR: I knew I could do it. Thankfully I don’t have the black toenails to show for it, but I’ve been steadily logging mile after mile, week after week, heading in the direction of a start line disguised as a finish line.
I’ve seen so many of you along the side of the road, enthusiastically waving your signs and shouting words of much-needed encouragement in your blog comments to me. We’ve shared dinners and drinks, Skyped, Facebooked, messaged and even shot together along the way. I’ve even gotten the pleasure of meeting some of you in person (truly a highlight for me) in a few of Me Ra’s CONFIDENCE workshops this past year. You all can’t possibly know how much I treasure these unexpected gifts from my year as a SOAR Recipient.
No one has cheered more loudly, pushed me harder, or believed in me more than the voice you heard in the outtakes of all those video blogs. I can write volumes about this guy, but really, this just about says it all: Brian, my love, I will always pick up the cat puke spray on the way back home to you.
I didn’t buy a camera to take pictures of my kids. I bought a camera because I lacked a piano. Since entering Smotherhood, I desperately needed to reconnect with the creative person inside of me and it was easier to store a camera in my closet than a piano. Everyone has to start somewhere, but when I think about where I started, I get a little embarrassed of things like sun spots on people’s heads, shooting with the wrong white balance, and funky skin tones:
In reality though, failures like those gave birth to images like these over the past year:
I know (and even hope) I will continue to make mistakes, although less frequently. It’s probably the most effective way I know of to improve.
As I approach the start line disguised as a finish line, I don’t know exactly where I’m headed. Does anyone really? With my list of What Ifs in hand, I know that I will put beautiful images into the world. I know that I will continue to tell the stories that surround them. Most of all, I know that when you wake up in the middle of the night and you hear the voice that says, “take this risk,” you should always, always listen.
From the bottom of my heart, thanks for SOARing alongside me this year.
This has been quite the year and how blessed we all are to have such amazing support from each of our husbands. James, Michael, and Kyle have been the silent steadies in our background. Encouraging and supporting us along this journey. Goodness knows where we would be without them. Here is a small part of what the Soar year was like for Kyle. Sure do love the guy!!
Ok…I cannot avoid it any longer…I have to write this blog. Now I always have other things to do…a million other things to do…but for some reason writing this blog has been at the top of the list to NOT DO. Why? Well for once in my life I don’t want to talk. Seriously it might be hard to believe…but I don’t (imagine a pouty face, hands crossed against my chest, and my right foot placed firmly in a stomp position). But nonetheless I am here.
So Me Ra has given us many assignments and for some reason this one, talking about my dreams, is the hardest one. I try to keep my dreams held tightly in my mind, only sharing with less than a handful of people. These dreams to me are one of my most private areas, and that is saying a lot since if you know me…I am not a private person. I was half tempted to have my husband write my blog, because for some reason he has no problem sharing his dreams or mine. This Soar scholarship was a huge step out for me to say this is my dream, and I was very quiet about it. Now my husband on the other hand could not share my video and dream with enough people, he was insatiable. But I suppose I would be too…for him.
For some reason sharing my dreams feels selfish and self absorbed. I feel as if anyone listening to them or reading them might think “Haha, why does she think that she could ever do that, or be that?” “Who do you think you are?” I was so inspired and in awe of the beautiful way in which Linda and Jen have shared their dreams.
So I thought back to what Jiminy Cricket told me when I was a child – “When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.” So with my brave girls and Jiminy as inspiration I am daring to share with you my dreams. Here goes (feeling a bit sick to my stomach).
So it would be easy for me to tell you my goals for the end of the year, but I don’t think that is what Me Ra has in mind. So what I am going to tell you is what my dream is for what will come. But first for the sake of openness (hehe) let me tell you my husbands dream. Kyle’s dream for himself is simple yet monstrous. His dream is for the right side of his body to be healed. No fair that his dream gets to be so direct, but hey you can’t knock him for it. It is one of my greatest dreams too!! Now whatever I share will seem easy, right?
My pie in the sky dream is to someday have an HGTV show that combines my two passions and loves. My love for photography and design.
Before following my true love of photography interior design and home improvement is what pulled me out of the depression after my husband accident. It gave me footing, and direction, and something to work for when it seemed I was walking in quick sand. What I really have grown to love is my ability as a woman to do things that make men’s mouths drop open, and it has nothing to do with my body ; )!!
My desire is to motivate and teach women out there to do it for themselves in yet another male dominated industry of home improvement. I have been blessed with a father that has talents beyond my imagination. He has taught me so much, and given me such confidence in my abilities that I would love nothing more than to share this with others.
My dreams show would start with me shooting family portraits. Then it would show me meeting with the family to show them the images and choose a main image or theme to design their room off of. Then the design would come in, (no male contractor involved) and I would teach them how and what to do on their own in order to make the room reflect who they are, as a beautiful and strong woman. Power tools are a must!! It is unbelievably empowering to hear the roar of a motor while you are sawing something in half!!
The show would end with me giving them a gift of a camera and a quick lesson on how to add more photographic art of their own to the space. This would be especially powerful if I was working with a mother!!
So there you have it…my big pie in the sky dream. It may never happen, but at least some day I will be able to show my children that I dared to dream. I wrote it down and cast it out into the world and it did not kill me. One of the greatest gift we have as American’s is this ability…the ability to dream bigger than we think possible. And in some rare cases (Me Ra) those impossible dreams become possible and give us all added “silver dust”.
Me Ra gave us permission to use the proverbial “magic” wand for this assignment. And Fay said to DARE to dream and STRETCH.
Although I feel a little selfish (or nervous?, sheepish? why is my stomach in knots?), consider the wand waving and the silver dust is falling all around. Dreams look better all silvery. And in italics.
My husband just brought me coffee with cinnamon and a little bit of frothy half n half as he shut out the chilly, snowy December with the close of our studio door.
(All of the photos included were taken at an engagement shoot my husband and I did together! More on that in the blog! Thanks Robin and Mike!)
Me Ra said to think the impossible. Just to give you a notion of how big a dream this is…we’ve been known to wear shorts in south Texas winters and my husband is terribly sweet but he doesn’t drink coffee and therefore doesn’t know how to make it! But this sure is fun, yes?! Okay, silvery dust, silvery dust. Back to our studio…)
It’s not a traditional photography studio. More like a “creative” studio where we work together, behind our house.
It’s decorated with things we both love and has a coffee house kind of feel. There are great tunes playing and he’s editing photos from a wedding we just shot. In one corner is all of our photography equipment. In fact, because of the money we saved from Christmas bookings, seniors, and weddings in the fall, we have all of the equipment we need, without having to rent anymore!
In another corner, he has his music studio equipment where he’s gotten back into writing and recording. And in another area, I’ve been able to replace my sewing and craft equipment from what was burned a year ago. From this room, we take care of business but also plan new ideas… like going once a year to photograph people in another country to raise awareness for some cause, and like starting a ministry encouraging couples to reconnect through creativity as they work on some type of project together. Mostly, we are using the gifts God gave us, together, to make a living, and to serve other people.
There you have it. These are the dreams that I think are somewhat impossible by December but are the desires of my heart!… Fully stocked with gear, a beautiful creative space, and a career with my husband. (Okay and maybe a little snow in Texas for Christmas!) He and I are better together and, through a lot of hard work, are learning to bring out the absolute best in each other. We are hoping that “best” allows us take all that we’ve learned from SOAR! and turn it into a creative adventure we take together.
In my original SOAR! application video, I had music playing in the background. Somehow, that didn’t transfer when I uploaded the video. Either way, the song was called “Dream Big” and I wish you could hear it now…
“…And when you dream, dream big. As big as the ocean blue. And when you dream it might come true. When you dream, dream big…”
(Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band)
Join us this week! We’d love to know where your heart is headed.
Dream big, y’all! Let’s do this,
So I am not sure if this is cheating since it is not actually one of the exercises at the end of the chapter. So I am telling myself that it is okay for me to be in the gray zone. I am so excited to say that I am actually getting business, but I am also realizing that my perfectionism and lack of personal organization are sucking up hours of my time.
I am working on this and trying to tell myself to not over think things. I believe that allowing myself to do something in the gray zone is a small step in the right direction. So for those of you who have The Artist’s Way these questions are in Chapter 3 on pages 73 and 74. For the rest of you the questions are in bold, there are a total of 20. So, here goes……..
1. My favorite childhood toy was a doll that had a rubber head and hands and you could pull down a flap on her bottom and pat her little bottom. The hilarious thing is I still have the doll, and she is missing bits of her hands, and there are little Lindsay teeth marks in her rear end :O !!
2. My favorite childhood game was Red Rover. Do you all know what that is? “Red rover, red rover, send Linda right over”. Seriously we didn’t get to play it that often at recess, but I remember being so excited every time!
3. The best movie I ever saw as a kid was the original Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Little Mermaid. This is not the Disney one but one that stays more true to the original story. I would insist on renting it and my Mom would say “Again, you always cry, why do you want to watch something that makes you so sad?”. She was so right I would watch it and cry my eyes out, but I loved it!
4. I don’t do it much but I enjoy painting. Not wall but one an actual canvas (I paint a lot on walls too). I struggle to find the time to add that in to everything else, but it is so cathartic and peaceful. I wish I had the space and the time to do it more.
5. If I could lighten up a little, I’d let myself breath. Seriously if I could just ease up on the expectations I have of myself I might be able to take a deep breath and get some serious work done!!
6. If it weren’t too late, I’d find when that perfectionist entered my head and kick her butt out!!
7. My favorite musical instrument is a close tie between the guitar and the piano. If I had to choose one it would be the guitar. I can’t play, but I dream that my kids will have the interest to learn and play for their old mamma.
8. The amount of money I spend on treating myself to entertainment each month is less than $10. That’s kind of sad when I write it down, but hey at least I’m saving money ; )!!
9. If I weren’t so stingy with my artist, I’d buy her a new lens. Perhaps a wide angle one.
10. Taking time out for myself is becoming more and more scarce. Between taking care of my kids, work, cleaning, laundry, yardwork, and all my other commitments I am finding it increasingly difficult to squeeze any time in.
The rest of my answers will be on the SOARority forum so please head on over there to see them. I had so much fun answering these!! I can’t wait to see how you ladies would respond to these questions!!
***The pictures in this Blog are from a Senior photo shoot that I did a week ago of Erynn. It was an absolute pleasure being able to capture this time of growth and change in her life. Thank you Katie for trusting me with such a cherished moment in your life and the life of your beautiful daughter!!***
(Both Jen’s and Lindsay’s blogs are here today. Don’t miss either one. Really, they’re both so precious and real. I kept seeing myself in both of your blogs – touched, moved by your self doubts and willingness to share them so openly. Thank you so much. Love you both! And Linda too. xoxo Me Ra)
So before I go into what I decided to do as far as assignments go I just wanted to tell you a little something. I have started many books like The Artist’s Way both in and out of school. I might start reading them with a serious interest and intention of completing the book. However that is usually where it has ended as well. I however have felt completely different about reading this book, but I went into it expecting it to be laborious and to be perfectly honest a fright boring. Not the case at all. I was so interested and so intrigued that upon finishing the first chapter of this book I opened up my computer searched for The Artist’s Way on iTunes and immediately downloaded it to give to my Dad. I can tell you I have never seen my Dad read a book, but he has listened to books. I cannot wait to give this to him, and see what he thinks. I felt in many ways that the author was speaking directly to me, and I know that many of you have and will feel the same. Below are some of the excerpts that really hit home.
As young artists, we need and want to be acknowledged for our attempts and efforts as well as for our achievements and triumphs. Unfortunately, many artists never receive this critical early encouragement. As a result, they may not know they are artists at all. (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, pg. 25)
Now let me say this in the kindest way possible. This is very much who I am. I come from a family of very talented and gifted people. My Dad is an amazing artist, my sister is incredibly gifted and I have always stood in awe of her ability, and then my oldest brother is a brilliant architect. Growing up my closest brother was the talented one (there are five of us total is this seems confusing). He was praised for his abilities and I quickly learned that while I had an incredible interest in anything to do with art or expression of art I just felt I could not compete. I was not told that I was worthless or anything likes that, but I was not encouraged as my more gifted brother might be. I am not saying this to blame anyone for it taking me into my late 20’s to figure out there was an artist dying to get out. I am incredibly thankful that I am now able to embrace her and foster her further growth. It does however make me look at how I treat my own children. My son Kohen has this incredible gift and interest in art, but my daughter does too. Ella’s is just different and I need to remind myself that she needs as much love and support as he does, in case there is a little Lindsay in there just itching to get out and be loved and encouraged. I want their dreams to be fulfilled and nourished; I don’t want to silence any part of their beautiful little minds.
Too intimidated to become artists themselves, very often too low in self-worth to even realize that they have an artistic dream, these people become shadow artists instead. Artists themselves but ignorant of their but ignorant of their true identity, shadow artist are to be found shadowing declared artists. (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, pg.27)
I am not sure how Julia Cameron found me, but she has managed to describe me to a tee up until a couple of years ago. I was lost as a high school student. I was intimidated and jealous of the artistic kids in school. Instead I focused on science and sports. I floundered aimlessly through school trying to figure out who I was and what I should be. I headed in the direction of nursing, because that was a sensible thing to do. It was respectable and would mean I had done something with myself. The only time I felt passion and at home was in a drawing class that I took in my second year of college. I received encouragement and recognition and it was the first time that I felt like someone might catch a glimpse at the real me. I was quick to convince myself I had no real talent, just look at the amazing work of my peers, they have a real future in this. I was after all from a family of Artists, and I knew first hand that this was not an easy life, so instead of following my passion I pushed it aside and went for the practical and interesting, but not inspiring for me.
For all shadow artists, life may be a discontented experience, filled with a sense of missed purpose and unfulfilled promise. (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, pg.28)
Typically, the recovering shadow artist will use these early efforts to discourage continued exploration. (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, pg.29)
I went as far as completing an entire year of an RN nursing program in which I was on the Dean’s List. I felt a sense of accomplishment, but not a sense of worth or personal pride. I would quietly watch and admire people around me that followed their passions and callings and felt sad. It was like I was living someone else’s life and I wanted nothing more than to be someone else. After my husband’s accident I felt rather lost, so I began doing things around the house. I remodeled the kitchen, demolished and redid my bathroom. It was at this time that my husband told me “No more, you have to find another outlet for your creativity.” So I began taking classes for Interior Design. I completed an intense yearlong course with the Art Institute, took care of my family, and maintained a stellar 4.0. Now I greatly enjoy Interior Design, but I am not allowed the freedom to be who I want in this profession. Most people don’t want my opinion much less my artistic vision; they want me to create their vision. I can do this, but there is so much more I have inside me.
Creativity is play, but for the shadow artist, learning to allow themselves to play is hard work. (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, pg 29)
My photography and art is the closest I feel to my creator. When I am in my element there is a peace and comfort that comes over me. I can’t describe it, but I can’t imagine living without it now. Now I just need to figure how to leave my shadow behind. I need to abandon self-doubt and judgment and allow myself to step out into the light. Otherwise I better begin to love the dark because that is where my life will be lived. And despite living in Washington which I know many of you think there is no light, there is nothing that I love more than standing out in the bright sun lifting my arms high in the sky and taking a deep breath.
Judging your early artistic efforts is artist abuse. (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, pg 29)
Masochism is an art form long ago mastered, perfected during the years of self-reproach; this habit is the self-hating bludgeon with which a shadow artist can beat himself right back into the shadows. (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, pg 29)
It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time. (The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron, pg 30)
Morning pages seem quite daunting to me. Not only am I supposed to write 3 pages free hand, in addition I am to write down all the thoughts in my mind. This is a bit scary. The hardest thing, and possible the most beneficial thing that I will have to do in order to accomplish this is going to be getting my behind up in the morning before my kids come in to wake me up.
What set up a schedule and make time for myself to succeed in something. Now that is something that is pretty unheard of. My children are at school four days a week for 2 ½ hours and I tend to accomplish very little. I am a super hard worker, but without a direction or direct outward goal for me to achieve I tend to flounder. That is being kind; I tend to be the opposite of a hard worker most of the time. Something very hard for me to admit, but I have become lazy. I am lazy out of fear of many things.
There is so much time in each day that I waste. I waste it for fear that I am really not good at anything. I waste it with a lack of direction. I feel lost without a true sense of what I am to do. There is not a step-by-step process in order to be who I want to be, so I just piss my time away. I am sick of doing this. I am sick of being this person. I am reaffirming the need for me to set up a schedule for myself. Something that my Mom would be the first to say I need desperately. I am going to take “The Artist’s Way” seriously. I am going to be dedicated to the tasks that I have taken on. I vow to start tomorrow. I will be the hard working person that I need to be. I will be driven and dedicated to finding myself as an artist, and loving her.
In order to be successful I need to act like a person that is successful. I need to get up every morning and act as if I have a job, which in many ways I do. I am blessed to have the time to follow my dreams. I am blessed to have a husband that supports me in finding them. Now I need to step out of the fear of failing that has paralyzed me my entire life, and step out. I need to know that it is okay for me to shine, and that I deserve it (hardest thing for me to write). I am blessed to have an amazing photographer named Me Ra, that sees more in me than I do in myself.
So tomorrow will be my first time trying my morning notes, which I am sure you will hear from Linda that she has been doing for quite some time. That darn over achiever ; )!! I hope that they are just what I need to get my day started, and I hope that they encourage me to begin a routine that puts more focus on my work, and less on my sporadic laziness and distraction. My goal is to set my alarm for 6:30am (early for me); I will head out into my living room sit down and write until I am done with three pages. Then my day can begin, and I hope it will lead to many more successful days to follow.
Ok I am now two days into my Morning Pages, and I must say that there is something to them. I awoke this morning with a terrible headache, but I managed to push through them. Perhaps it was the pain I was in, or just the rare mood of the morning but I felt a huge release when I set my pen down after three pages. I am notorious for rereading what I write, and there is something quite freeing about putting down the words and letting them go. I really like it. I don’t find myself dreading getting up quite as much, and I am ready to get out of bed when I lay my pen down. Progress is being made. It may be minute and mediocre right now, but slowly in time it might be monumentus!!
P.S. I just have to share something with you all. Have you ever had someone in your life that just shines a little brighter than most. Well I sure have!! In junior high I met a girl named Bree. She was just about as cute as can be, and let me tell you about the hair on this girl….beautiful…the kind people pay to have. This is going somewhere I promise. So there has always been something a little extra special about this girl, and if you have the privilege of meeting her you just know. I was blessed to compete with and more often than not be in the shadow of this amazing person and athlete. Bree is one if the most determined and driven people I have ever met. She has not taken the easiest road to travel, but in true Bree fashion it is so unique. I am so honored to say that my friend Bree Schaaf is an Olympian!! She completed her first Olympic journey tonight and finished 5th in the world in Bobsled!! I have tried to imagine what this would mean in terms of my normal life. It seems to me that it would equate to being one of the top 5 photographers in the world, so far from my reality!! I just wanted to say how proud I am of her, and how inspired I am to follow my own dreams!! Congratulations Bree!!
This week’s SOAR assignment sounded pretty easy to me. Pick two exercises to do from the Artist’s Way book – one that seems easy and one that is more challenging, and write about the challenging one here. ‘No problem’ I thought as I am already a huge fan of this book and already embrace the morning pages exercise. But when it came down to it I have to admit I struggled with them all. Here’s what I eventually chose…
Imaginary Lives: If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them? I would be a pilot, a cowhand, a psychic, a monk. You might be a scuba diver, a cop, a writer of children’s books, a football player, a belly dancer, a painter, a performance artist, a history teacher, a healer, a coach, a scientist, a doctor, a Peace Corps worker, a psychologist, a fisherman, a minister, an auto mechanic, a carpenter, a sculptor, a lawyer, a painter, a computer hacker, a soap-opera star, a country singer, a rock-and-roll drummer. Whatever occurs to you, jot it down. Do not over think this exercise.
And this is the point I began to feel challenged. Until that final statement I was eager to begin, to embrace these imaginary lives, with so many ideas spinning in my head. Then I read ‘do not over think this’ and I started to do exactly that! I began to think it seemed too simple, and then I read on…
The point of these lives is to have fun in them – more fun than you might be having in this one. Look over your list and select one. Then do it this week. For instance, if you put down country singer, can you pick a guitar? If you dream of being a cowhand, what about some horseback riding?
And there was the catch! I didn’t just have to dream up these lives, I had to find a way to live them a little, and not only that – have fun! I confess at this point I put the book aside and went back to my ordinary life. Reflecting back now it’s really quite funny. Funny that I felt safer sheltered in the comfort of my ordinary life, doing those day-to-day tasks I often complain of, than letting my imagination free and having some fun! But lucky for me, a deadline’s a deadline, so here you go…
Five imaginary lives I would like to lead in no particular order…
Now that I’ve taken this first step, I’m kind of excited. I feel a little lighter, a little freer, and very ready to embrace not just one, but a little of each of these imaginary lives… For me, I know that timing is a factor. I am just about to get on a plane, to return to my home, and put my ‘ordinary’ life on hold for a few weeks. I am excited by the possibilities. Perhaps I will visit a favorite restaurant, dine alone, acting important and somewhat superior, while discreetly taking notes in a leather-bound notebook. Perhaps I will contact an adventure tour operator and ask for an interview, telling them I am writing a travel article for a US photography blog… and perhaps I’ll just do it. Y’all are just going to have to wait and see, as I promise I’ll share the rest with you, either back here or on the forum. But for now, I just went to the Make a Wish Foundation website and offered my services as a volunteer a few hours per month. Oh, and when I was asked what service I had to offer – I checked the photography box! Who knows… maybe they’ll call!
So since I’m about to get on a plane, I don’t have a photo for you this week. What I do have is a little taste of New Zealand that I’d love to share with you all…
And just so you know, that ‘ordinary’ life I was talking about before? Believe me, in just a few short days, it is not going to seem so ordinary at all! I have not even left and I’m missing my boys already!
Take care and much love, Linda
ps. all going well I’ll be posting the easier of the two Artist’s Way exercises on the forum today.
Here are the final three nominations for the Most Creative category in the SOAR! Hall of fame. Our first seven were so much fun to see again and so are these ladies!
71 – We have Lydia rappin her way to SOARdom!
114- Elizabeth who is so casual about being so creative!
185 – Washington and all its politics didn’t stop Erin from releasing a video FULL of creativity!
Ladies, you all ROCK! There are more that could have fit into this list, but we wanted to save you guys for other categories. I am so happy that we could highlight you women for the STRONG, BEAUTIFUL, CREATIVE and PASSIONATE SOAR Sisters that you are!!
Come back Friday to see who will be selected for the Hall of Fame and who is in the group of “Most Hilarious”! Great laughs to come! See you then!
(Another two post day! Check below for Lindsay’s post about her experience at Igniting the Flame with Karen and Fay. She is so darn honest and real! )