Exit through the Gift Shop

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Before you read, if you don't get the title of my blog, click here

Work.

If these photos don't really seem to go with the words I'm writing, that's because they don't exactly. I wanted to write a little bit about the progress I've made towards my 2017 goals and one word resolution. I bought a new camera around Thanksgiving and I've been wanting to get more comfortable with it and develop my skills and creative eye this year. I took the opportunity to see the extraordinary in the everyday while I was taking inventory of the book store at work this past Monday. I was really digging the light and shadows in the basement but even more than that I enjoyed having some quiet time to myself. One of my major goals for work this year is to really bring us into the 21st Century while streamlining some of our processes and procedures. I started with taking inventory of our gift shop in the hopes of selling our stock online soon. I'm really good at keeping a schedule and setting long term goals but sometimes I'm not the best at filling the down time in between. I would say that's one of my biggest struggles in managing my own time at work. Sometimes it's easier for me to get a lot done when there is a tangible deadline. 

Craft.

Over the weekend my friend Meghann took a chance on me and asked me to second shoot a wedding with her (hopefully more on that later as we cull and edit photos). I can't tell you how flattered I was that she saw potential in my work and reached out to me. It's an experience that I've wanted to develop my portfolio but just haven't had the opportunity before now. (Meg, if you're reading this, thank you for the millionth time!) I really enjoyed being able to put into words with her some of my strengths and weaknesses with my art and discuss things I'd like to improve on, how to reach those goals, and just the overall successes and failures coming out of my first wedding. I'm incredibly grateful for the friends and strangers who feed into my creativity and push me to do more and develop my craft. I'm incredibly scared sometimes to take chances but each leap of faith I take builds my confidence. I've still trying to figure out how to incorporate more drawing and painting into my daily/weekly routine but I feel like overall I've been much more creative at the start of this year than others. My creative outlets have focused more on my writing and photography. I'm a little behind on personal projects (gifts for the holidays) so I'm going to try to take advantage of my free time on the weekends a little better to catch up soon.

Reading Challenge.

For the past few years I've set a Goodreads Reading Challenge to read 24 books in a year. That's two books a month if you want to divide it evenly throughout the year. I have not been successful to date. I always start out strong then something comes up along the way. I'm hopeful that this year will be different. I finished reading Let my People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. To be honest, parts of it were hard to read. I got really into the first part of the book that outlined the history of the company and Yvon's journey. I didn't know much about Patagonia as a brand going into the book so it was really eye opening to read about how he just kind of fell into being a businessman out of the necessity of creating better products for his sport. There are tons of photos and breakaway articles which are fun to look at but I found myself getting distracted switching back and forth between reading the text of the book and then the captions and other asides. I never really developed a rhythm and the second half of the book regarding the company's principles felt a bit choppy. My main takeaway from the book is that Patagonia does a really good job setting an example for other companies with the values they have developed over the years. They're exactly the kind of company that anyone with an environmental conscious would want to work for or buy from.

(If you're still reading at this point Hi! and thank you!)

I started reading Mindy Kaling's book Why Not Me? yesterday and I can't put it down. I wish that I could write my blogs the way that Mindy tells her stories in her books. She just says whatever she wants and it's so honest, funny, and relatable. This is exactly the book I need to read for where I am in life right now. It was hard for me not to highlight every other sentence. I'll just give you one of my favorite quotes which happens to be about one of my favorite fast food meals.

I go regularly enough that the woman at the Crescent Heights & Sunset McDonald’s gives me ranch and buffalo sauce packets for my McNuggets without me having to ask.
— Mindy Kaling

Nourish.

...and that quote brings me to food. We may as well address the elephant in the room. I'm ten days into some lifestyle changes that I hope will be permanent. I'm not an expert and I certainly think it's too early to give any advice to anyone but I do what to write about what I'm doing so that you all can continue to work with me and encourage me. I haven't had alcohol, soda, caffeine, fast food, or meat in the past ten days and I've restricted my dairy intake significantly. There have been days that have been easier than others. Some days I've probably had a little too much rice, pasta, and bread but in general we have been eating a lot more fruits and vegetables than ever before. I'm also drinking water All. The. Time.  I'm drinking between 2 and 3 Nalgenes of water a day. So anywhere from 64-96oz. of water. I know what you're thinking... good for you, you're drinking what you're supposed to drink daily. It's a big deal for me, though. I'd otherwise be drinking my weight in soda or not drinking at all aside from washing down food at meals. Yesterday my coworker had Zaxby's and it was like the Devil. It smelled so delicious. Hot sauce just wafting through the room. Evil. Pure evil. I resisted and because of that I feel stronger. I still eat out some but when I have it's been like a vegan burrito bowl or a Greek salad, not McDonalds or Chickfila. My goal is to get to the point where I don't want any of that stuff anymore if it's offered to me or tempts me. We've all heard that it takes 21 Days to start a habit... or 30... or 60. Who knows how long it will be for me. But why do all this? For me, my body, and the environment. If you read Let my People Go Surfing or watch any food documentaries on Netflix, you'll start to see the value in thinking about how what you eat affects the world. I'm only one person but if a lot of us decide we're only one person, maybe we can start to make a more substantial change in the direction our planet is moving. We'd really like to have kids to share the world with someday. 

Those are just a few things I'm working on and figuring out right now. I feel pretty good about the progress I'm making and hope I can continue to find a better work/life balance in 2017. Thanks for hanging with me through this long blog post and for your support and friendship!