• Explore: Style & Costs

  • Experience: What They Said

  • Enjoy: Become a Client

As I predicted last month, September was another month of pure reading randomness.  I actually started 2 books but just couldn’t get into them and decided to move on and try something different.  There are just too many great books in the world to force myself to read something that isn’t keeping my interest.  By the end of the month I was totally blown away with many, many words of inspiration from Jen Hatmaker and Elizabeth Gilbert, but before I jump into that let’s take a look at what the original plan was for September…

Murder in the Sentier by Cara Black (Aimee Leduc #3)
*Daily Love: Growing into Grace by Mastin Kipp
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (Books of Beginning Book #1)
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
*Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
**Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
**For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

*I tried REALLY hard to get into these two books because I love John Green and I love the idea behind Daily Love.  It just didn’t happen.  Sometimes I can really struggle with a YA book that has a teenage boy as the protagonist because the male teenage angst just wears me out.  Well Will Grayson actually had 2 teenage male protagonists with STRONG doses of teenage angst and I couldn’t handle it, so, onward.  The idea behind Daily Love is wonderful, and I think Kipp has a very gentle tone in the book.  The writing was just really elementary and I felt like he was trying to dumb down the concepts way too much so, onward.

**Decided to add these two to my list because, why not?


I’ve got a tie this month for Book of the Month – the award goes to both Liz Gilbert and Jen Hatmaker.  Here’s the funny thing – I read these two books simultaneously, which I basically never do, but they played so well together I just couldn’t stop.  I’m going to go ahead and assume that these two women didn’t intend for these books to be read at the same time, but I’m so glad I did because they rocked my world together!

I think separately they both would’ve been great books, but together it was like a choir singing in harmony and I found myself laughing and following Chris around the house saying, “No, seriously, just let me read you this paragraph.  That’s so me, right?”

Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about here are a few excerpts that I can’t get enough of…

When speaking about how we all need to run our own race, Jen Hatmaker says, “How many trot out that tired cliche – ‘I’m waiting for God to open a door’ – and He is all, ‘I love you, but get going, pumpkin, because usually chasing the dream in your heart looks surprisingly like work. Don’t just stand there, bust a move.’ (God often sounds like Young MC.) You are good at something for a reason. God designed you this way, on purpose. It isn’t fake or a fluke or small. These are the mind and heart and hands and voice you’ve been given, so use them.”

Liz Gilbert basically picks up where Jen leaves off and says that if you want to do something, do it.  Don’t wait for permission to be creative or to make what you want to make.  You don’t have to be the best, brightest or fastest, just do your own thing and make what you feel called to make.  So many creatives feel like if what they make isn’t perfect it can’t be shared and Gilbert quotes writer Rebecca Solnit when she says, “So many of us believe in perfection, which ruins everything else, because the perfect is not only the enemy of the good; it’s also the enemy of the realistic, the possible and the fun.”  Then Gilbert adds, “Create what you want to create – and let it be stupendously imperfect, because it’s exceedingly likely that nobody will even notice.  And that’s awesome.” Holy weight-off-of-our-collective-creative-shoulders Batman.

Hatmaker continues that line of thought with her chapter on balance (the Worst Beam Ever). “Balance. It’s like a unicorn; we’ve heard about it, everyone talks about it and makes airbrushed T-shirts celebrating it, it seems super rad, but we haven’t actually seen one. I’m beginning to think it isn’t a thing.” A few paragraphs later referencing the Pinterest life of perfection she says, “Listen to me: No one can pull this off. No one is pulling this off. The women who seem to ride this unicorn only display the best parts of their stories. Trust me. No one can fragment her time and attention in to this many segments.” Amen to that! Hatmaker does a wonderful job using the balance beam as a way to help us visualize that we should keep “on the beam” what matters most to us and what we want to do, and feel free to throw things “off the beam” that are only making it hard for us to live sane lives.  I’m a very visual person and this really hit home with me.  Making things I want to make – on the beam. Making meals that we love – on the beam. Reading great books – on the beam. Worrying about things I can’t control – Off the ever-loving beam!

Gilbert goes on to talk about how important it is for us to do what we feel like we need to do and make it a priority.  For example – if painting or writing truly makes you happy, you need to do it, and do it regularly, or the rest of you will suffer. I seriously almost shouted “AMEN” when I read this next paragraph, “It has taken me years to learn this, but it does seem to be the case that if I am not actively creating something, then I am probably actively destroying something (myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind).”  Seriously – Amen to that.  For those of us that are “makers” it is so important to just make something.  I ALWAYS need a project that I’m working on, a creative task to solve and something new to learn or I’m like a border collie that hasn’t been outside in 3 days – slightly manic with a scary, crazed look in my eyes.  Whenever I tell Chris I have an idea for a project he basically does cartwheels because he knows that means he’s less likely to come home and find me crawling up the walls for the foreseeable future.

Now here’s the interesting thing – Gilbert goes on to say that for those of us that are makers it’s actually a bad idea to tie that passion for making to our livelihood. Her argument is that by putting that much responsibility on our creative juices we kill the joy of just making. I read this paragraph 3 times and then forced Chris to listen to it twice, “…I never wanted to burden my writing with the responsibility of paying for my life. I knew better than to ask this of my writing, because over the  years, I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills. I’ve seen artists drive themselves broke and crazy because of this insistence that they are not legitimate creators unless they can exclusively live off of their creativity. And when their creativity fails them (meaning: doesn’t pay the rent), they descend into resentment, anxiety, or even bankruptcy. Worst of all, they often quit creating at all.” Amen Liz, amen.

Here’s what spoke to me – and I know there are a million photographers out there that will disagree with what I’m about to say but frankly, I just don’t care.  The photography industry is filled with people that consider themselves professionals because they work as full-time photographers.  Working full-time at something does not make you a professional any more than babysitting makes you a Mom.  These full-timers often consider the folks with a day job as “less professional” or “not-yet professional” because they aren’t depending on photography to pay the bills.

Speaking as someone that has done it both ways – with a day job for 7 years and full-time for almost 3, I can honestly tell you that I’m the same person.  Nothing magically changed in the way I operated my camera or my business once I started depending on photography to pay my mortgage.  I’ve always had the proper equipment, licenses and insurance. I’ve gained experience each year, taken continuing education classes and run my business with integrity.  None of that changed when I left my day job.  What did change was the pressure I put on myself and my creative juices while on the job. It was no longer just fun or inspiring all the time, it was work, and sometimes work sucks no matter what you do.

I’ve had to make significant changes to my business since going full-time to protect my time and what matters most to me, and to make sure that I still make shooting things that inspire me a priority.  It’s been so much harder to remain focused on photography as a creative outlet while running a business.  I’ve recently found myself creating things with paint brushes and power tools in order to encourage my photography creative juices.  I can totally see how maintaining a day job and working as a photographer would’ve made me a more creative photographer, and in no case would it have made me less professional.

It’s a crazy thing, this being creative for a living, and it’s not for the faint of heart.  If you are a “maker” or a creative soul I highly recommend For the Love and Big Magic.  My world has been rocked, for the better, and I think there are little nuggets of wisdom and inspiration from both Gilbert and Hatmaker that can encourage every creative spirit.

I know this Good Reads post has been, in the words of the Mad Hatter, “Much more muchier” than my usual light-hearted fare, so if you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking around until the end. For October I need a solid dose of fantasy in my life so I’m going to re-read the All Souls Trilogy by Deb Harkness.  It’s my favorite trilogy of all-time, and if you’re looking for a reason to enjoy witches and vampires this October Harkness is always a great option. Happy reading interwebs!

Related Posts:

About 2 months ago we decided that in order to take full advantage of some free weekends we really needed to plan a few daycations.  I asked for recommendations on Facebook and got some awesome ideas!  We are water bugs by nature so we ended up selecting trips that were within 3 hours of home and mostly involved being near water.  It was a huge hit and I’m already brainstorming some fall trips. ;-)

NOTE: All photos taken with my iphone

Daycation #1 – Zen Tubing

We love tubing, and it was well worth the drive to Asheville for cooler temps on the water!  After 3 hours of relaxing down stream we drove into Asheville for an amazing meal at Juicy Lucy’s.


Daycation #2 – Lake Lure

Lake Lure is frequently called the beach in the mountains, and that’s exactly how I’d describe it.  We swam, ate a picnic lunch and sat under our beach umbrella reading for about 3 hours.  It was total perfection after a long week.


Daycation #3 – Grandfather Mountain

Neither of us had ever been to Grandfather Mountain, and we were pleasantly surprised!  For starters, it was 72 degrees up there! The cashier at the restaurant was apologizing to me for the overcast skies and I just couldn’t stop smiling.  She said, “Is this your first trip to Grandfather?” I said, “Yes ma’am, and we love it!” She said, “Really?” I said, “Yes, it’s like walking through butter at home right now so I’ll take overcast and 72 any day of the week!” She just about died laughing, gave me my change, and wished me a good day.  I’m pretty sure she thought I was crazy (not a new observation), but if she felt 92 and humid everyday for 4 months I think she’d understand our excitement.

We had a great lunch, visited the animals, walked across the swinging bridge just before the rain started pouring down and then hunkered down at the fudge shop with coffee to wait on the storm to pass.  Any day that begins with cute animals and ends with fudge and coffee is a fantastic day in my opinion!


Daycation #4 – Old Salem

To be totally honest, this daycation was mostly about the food.  We enjoyed the sights, and Chris loved the historical aspect, but we ate sugar cake and had a fantastic meal at The Tavern and that was totally the highlight of our day.  Everyone at The Tavern is dressed in period costumes and I wanted to scream, “There is a colonial woman on the wing. There is something they’re not telling us. She was out there churning butter. She was churning butter!” (If you have no idea what this quote is in reference to, I’m sorry). The cake, amazing. The lunch, amazing.  Well worth the drive to Winston just for that lunch on a Saturday.


Daycation #5 – Carowinds/Boomerang Bay

We had some discount tickets that had to be used on 8/29, so we decided to hit up Boomerang Bay right as it opened.  The lines were non-existent and we rode slides 5 times in a row with no wait.  It was awesome! I won’t mention who cheated on the water slide races, but his name starts with Chris.  After riding the rides and eating food that was insanely overpriced, we spent an hour or so in the wave pool and lazy river.  A wonderful end to a great summer daycation series. Now here’s to an awesome fall!


Related Posts:

August was kind of all over the map for me in terms of reading.  Looking back over my list I can now see that what made total sense to me at the end of July was truly a compilation of total randomness.  Sometimes it’s easy for me to take huge shifts in genre between books and sometimes it’s not.  I ended up having to take a few days off between books in August just to make the transitions but it all worked out in the end because randomness was what my head really needed.  So let’s take a look at what the plan was for August…

Golden Son by Pierce Brown (Red Rising #2)
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Take this Child by Calley Reed
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Murder in the Sentier by Cara Black (Aimee Leduc #3)

I ended up adding Love you More by Jennifer Grant and pushing Aimee Leduc into September, but I really like how the month shook out.

Book of the month goes to Golden Son by Pierce Brown. To say that this trilogy is intense would be a HUGE understatement.  It’s reminds me of Game of Thrones, Hunger Games and Ender’s Game all combined.  Seriously, it’s a wild ride. The 3rd book comes out early next year and I’m not sure I can wait that long!  Reading the reviews online I thought, “Hmm, I’m not really feeling dystopian Mars.” But once I got into it, man-oh-man.  Make time for this book, it won’t disappoint.

I did some serious procrastination on Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and finally dove in towards the end of the month. It’s gotten some pretty harsh reviews, and I can totally see why, but I can also see the brilliance of it.  It is most definitely not as brilliant as To Kill a Mockingbird, but unlike other reviewers I don’t see the Watchman Atticus as a totally different Atticus than the Mockingbird Atticus.  It’s just that we’re finally seeing him through the eyes of an adult instead of a child that idolizes him.  He’s human and he’s imperfect, but he’s also still the Daddy that raised her.  It’s a tough read, especially for those of us raised in the south, but in the end, I really enjoyed it and it does shed new light on Mockingbird so it’s worth a read.  Just keep an open mind. ;-)

On a completely unrelated note – Timehop reminded me that it’s been almost 2 years since I finished the All Souls Trilogy so I took a peek at Deb Harkness’ website to see if she had anything new coming out and even though the answer to that is no, she did have a cool playlist that she published for The Book of Life.  I have to say, she nailed it.  So if you’re missing Matthew and Diana like I am, check it out and enjoy. ;-)

I think September will be more randomness, and why not? So here we go…

Murder in the Sentier by Cara Black (Aimee Leduc #3)
Daily Love: Growing into Grace by Mastin Kipp
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (Books of Beginning Book #1)
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

Related Posts: