January 31, 2010

365 Project: Day 98

I know. This isn't my typical self portrait. But what this picture is about is more important to me right now. These are my feet standing in the middle of my street. This is the asphalt right in front of my house. At 2 o'clock this morning. A man was shot right here. 

I heard the entire thing. You all know I don't sleep, and at 2 o'clock this morning I was laying in bed, lights dimmed, with my headphones on, enjoying a little music. That's when I heard gunshots. 

There is a woman who lives across the street from me, a couple of houses to the left. She and her boyfriend have an incredibly dramatic relationship. I've never even seen them, but I have heard several screaming and yelling fights in the street. I definitely know more about their relationship than I care to, and so does the rest of the neighborhood. Its like a soap opera over there. They just can't seem to get along. Last weekend, in the midst of a fight, he sped out of the driveway in his truck and rammed her car...on purpose. I've never heard a woman scream like she did. She was attacking his truck and yelling at him through the driver's side window. You'd think he'd run over her dog or something. He sped away and left her in the middle of the street, still screaming after him. 

You'd think that after multiple public screaming and yelling altercations and your boyfriend purposefully crashing into your car, you'd decide that things just weren't working out and maybe, i don't know, breakup or something. Apparently thats not the way everyone thinks. You know, rationally. I'm not sure how things escalated this time. I'm not even sure that the woman was involved. I never heard a word out of her. All I heard were gunshots. When I took off my headphones, I heard another gunshot and several men yelling, running and speeding off into the night. One of the men had been shot. I could hear him yelling "I'm hit. I'm hit!". I'm assuming he was only wounded because he was still running and yelling. As his friends were shoving him into the car I heard them saying that he was bleeding everywhere. 

At this point, I'm sitting indian style in my bed, being very quiet. I was even breathing slower and softer. I was listening, waiting to hear what would happen next. There was no way I was going to look out the window for the fear that I might see something that would scar me for life. 

As soon as they drove off, tires squealing, the street was again quiet. Just as it should be at 2 in the morning. Just as if nothing had happened. Then, the calvary arrived. Police were everywhere. In cars, in SUVs, in a helicopter with a spotlight, on foot with flashlights. They swarmed the neighborhood like insects on a rotting animal's corpse in one of those time lapse videos you'd see on the Discovery Channel or somewhere. They were spotlighting houses and cars, looking in the street, knocking on doors. It was all quite the scene. I watched them scour every inch of the block looking for....well, I'm not quite sure what they were looking for. Blood? Bullet casings? You know, evidence. Maybe I've seen too many cop shows. A little while later I nodded off to sleep with cops still deep into their investigation.

All of this just takes me back to my previous statement. Something is not right in the world right now. People are doing crazy things and reacting in irrational, violent ways. What possesses a person to try and kill someone in the street? Over what? A woman? Money? Hurt feelings? Drugs? Respect? Apparently respect is a really big deal. What is going on in this hypersensitive, overreactive world? Oddly enough my reaction to this situation wasn't fear. It was sadness. Sadness for these people and the chaotic, over dramatic, stressful lives they must live. What kind of life is that? 

January 30, 2010

Hot Child in the City Triptyc

I like the way things look from above. I don't mind heights at all. I love to fly. I must always have a window seat so I can look out at the world below. I've been skydiving. I like standing on the rooftops of buildings. This is what San Francisco looks like from a hotel roofdeck.  Isn't it romantic...

My Hot Child in the City triptych print is now available in my Etsy shop.

January 27, 2010

365 Project: Day 97

You don't have to see my whole face to recognize the sadness and worry captured in my eye. I heard some horrifying news today about an old, dear friend of mine and it just crushed my heart. My attachment to and love for my friends is very powerful. It takes a lot for me to let someone into my life and really consider them a close friend and I consider those friends to be my family. They are a part of me and I would do ANYTHING for them. When they're hurting or going through something terrible in their lives, I feel it in the deepest part of me. I get this overwhelming compulsion to help them and comfort them and be there for them. Knowing that they are beyond my help is devastating to me. I always want nothing but the best for everyone and I personally know so many people who are in a lot of pain right now for various reasons. I feel so helpless and my heart is just breaking for them.

I've got this sinking feeling that something is going terribly wrong in the world right now. I feel it in my gut. I feel like something just isn't right. Yes, I realize that its a cruel, cruel world and bad things happen every day. But I feel like its different. Something has shifted. Natural disasters, economy, hardship, suffering, heartbreak, politics, bad relationships, bad choices. We are living in a very sensitive time. People are distraught. People are on edge. People are at a breaking point. I keep hearing sad story after sad story, not just about the world in general, but from the people in my life. People need help. So, what can I do to help you?

January 26, 2010

365 Project: Day 96

I can't WAIT for summer. I'm going stir crazy from spending so much time inside. Winter is not my favorite season at all. Its cold, dry, windy, it snows, the days are shorter, everything turns all brown and twiggy. Honestly, I hate it. It would be fine with me if we skipped right from Fall to Spring without even a single snowflake. I'm just dreaming of a summer day, or better yet, a summer night.

I want to go outside...without a jacket. I want to sit in my house with all the windows open. I want to go for walks at night in a tank top and flip flops. I want to go swimming. I want to lay on the beach with the hot breeze blowing in my hair. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I want a sno cone. I want the smell of blooming flowers. I want to be bare foot without frozen toes.

But, its still only January. I'll just have to hibernate in my sweaters and jackets for a little longer. *sigh*

January 25, 2010

365 Project: Day 95

World, meet my first love. My first real camera. My mom gave this camera to my dad as a gift when they were dating. My baby pictures were taken with it. I found it in a closet when I was about 13 years old.  It was just sitting there, waiting for me to grow up and discover it. It was just waiting to be mine. So it could play its part in my life. So it could help me fulfill my destiny. So it could be my first true love, my best friend, my outlet, my crutch, my ice breaker, my passion, my catalyst, my hero. It was just waiting to show me who I was meant to be.

This is my most cherished possession. It was the first step in my journey. Who would I be without it?

January 24, 2010

He loves me...

...he loves me not.

I love flowers. Even when they're dying, they still manage to be beautiful.
New print now available in my Etsy shop.

365 Project: Day 94

Art. Its my life. Its everything to me. There is nothing in this world that brings me more happiness than art, creativity, and self expression. Humans are so incredibly complex, and having the ability to express those complexities in a visual way just amazes me. I love that I can show people what I am feeling through my camera. Its such a freeing experience to spill myself out through a lens, or through a drawing or a painting. Yes, I also draw, and yes, I attempt to paint.

Art museums are some of my favorite places in the world. I fell in love with the Getty. I could spend days and days in there. But, the thing about me and museums, is that I like to go alone. That way I can take my time. I can browse, I can observe, I can really take in what I'm seeing. I often just bring along my iPod, put on my headphones and peruse the exhibits to the soundtrack of my choosing.  I hate being rushed by someone who maybe just isn't moved in the same way by a Jackson Pollack painting. I can sit in front of a Jackson Pollack for hours. I find his work so energizing. A lot of people don't get it, or just don't like it, and that's ok. But I absorb his work like a little sponge. The other reason I like to go alone, is because as much as I love art, I don't like to discuss it. I don't want to stand in front of a Monet and talk about color, composition, brush strokes. I just want to enjoy it. I want to take it all in without someone chattering away in my ear.

One of my favorite exhibits was an Andy Warhol exhibit I saw when I was living in San Jose. I always really loved Andy Warhol, as an artist and as a character. If you don't know anything about his life, it was fascinating. I highly recommend reading his biography. So, here is my little tribute to Pop Art.

January 23, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Now, where do I begin? This blank page holds so much possibility. A poem, a novel, a letter...its all up to you and your imagination. What's your story?

Now this print is available in my Etsy shop!

January 22, 2010

Picture this

After many, many requests for framing options, I went looking all over Albuquerque for decorative and affordable frames. I think these vintage frames are the perfect complement to the nostalgic style of my photography. So now, selected prints are available in vintage frames! There are several different frames that will soon be available in my Etsy shop in addition to these.

Each frame has been cleaned up, but still has that aged and distressed vintage look. They are sealed in the back with brown framing paper to protect the prints. These frames can be propped up in a display or hung with the claw hanger on the back. I just love them. They remind me of the framed family pictures that hung in the hallway at my grandmother's house.

January 21, 2010

365 Project: Day 93

I woke up this morning with the groggy haze of sleep thick in my head. I couldn't sleep last night. I just couldn't settle. I tried watching a movie, I tried listening to some music...and nothing. Not one droopy eye lid, not one yawn. I was wide awake. I finally nodded off around 4:30 this morning.

When I finally pried myself out of bed around 11 o'clock I didn't even think twice when I put on the boots that were next to my bed instead of the slippers I usually wear in the morning. I slipped my arms into my robe and headed to the kitchen to make a BIG pot of coffee. Its wasn't until I had finished that first cup that I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized what I was wearing. I paused, cup in hand, and looked myself over in the full length mirror. I had to laugh and shake my head at myself. I might have even rolled my eyes. I looked ridiculous and I had been walking around for at least an hour like this before I even noticed that I was wearing boots.

These are the little moments that make me aware of myself from an outside perspective. I like that I can laugh at myself and these little quirks in my personality. Things like this are what make me who I am. These are the moments that make up my life. These are the private little moments that make up my relationship with myself. It was one of those moments when you catch yourself just being yourself.

365 Project: Day 92

I am a list maker. I always have been. I live my life task by task, checking things off of a never ending to do list. I was thinking, if I make a daily to do list, why shouldn't I make a to do list for my life. So, I've decided that I'm going to make a running list of all the things that I want to experience or accomplish in my life. Dreams, goals, travel destinations, milestones, landmarks or places I want to visit, things I want to photograph. Sort of a map of the places that i'd like for life to take me. Sort of a bucket list I guess. But I don't want to think of it as a list of things to do before I die. That just feels like I'm working against the clock. I'd be checking things off my list as more of a means to an end. Who knows when I'll die anyway? That could happen tomorrow for all I know. I want to think of it more as a guideline for living my life. I have so many random things that I want to do or projects I want to start, and as life goes on, those things get forgotten, or put off until another day. You know, that magical day when everything is finally perfect, the stars align, I have more free time, more money, etc. I hate to break it to myself, but that day may never come and I can't just keep waiting for it. So, its time to come up with a game plan.

By the way, these headphones are my new favorite toy. Well, I guess my new favorite old toy. These were mine a really long time ago and I gave them to my sister for whatever reason a few years ago. She just found them in a box yesterday and gave them back to me. I love the way music sounds through headphones like these. Earbuds are just not the same. Listening to music with these headphones is like hearing your favorite songs for the first time all over again! If you are a music lover and don't own a really good pair of headphones, I highly suggest you rectify that situation immediately.

January 20, 2010

365 Project: Day 91

No one knows I come here, but I come here all the time. Its quiet. Its beautiful. Its the perfect place to watch an amazing New Mexico sunset. I can always be alone here. I sit, I think, I pace, I listen to music, I watch the people walking down below, I observe the people in the offices across the street, I listen to the sounds of the lives going on around me, I enjoy the breeze. Spending time up here gives me great perspective both literally and figuratively.

Its nice to have a place in the middle of a city where you can hide out for a while and find a little peace.

365 Project: Day 90

I saw a theme for a photography contest today: What is love? I think I might enter this image. Its not really the sappy hearts and flowers picture that the judges are probably expecting. I've written about love before, but I've never asked myself this specific question. What is love?

Honestly, I can say, I don't think I know anymore. My past experiences with love, in a romantic sense,  have gone from wonderful to frustrating, confusing, and painful. I've lost a lot of myself in relationships. Every time I meet someone new it only gets more and more difficult to give my heart away. Now days, I tend to keep a safe distance.

Each time a relationship ends I retreat to lick my wounds. I hide away and try to put myself back together, stitch by stitch. I won't let anyone in for a long time. Its tough to get through the layer of scar tissue that has grown around my heart. It gets thicker and harder with every break, every wound, every little prick of a hurt feeling.

Right now I feel like things are as they should be. My heart is back in its rightful place. The stitches will hold me together until I can heal completely. It'll take a while, but I'll be good as new one day.

So I ask myself...what is love? To me, love is a broken heart on the mend.

365 Project: Day 89

Photoshop is amazing. I learned how to use this program about 10 years ago and, wow, it has come a long way since then. It is one of the many tools that enables me to express myself creatively. Its just incredible what you can accomplish with this one program. I've been working on learning some new skills and techniques lately and I am having so much fun playing around with it.

This smoke effect could not better describe my state of mind this week. I've just been going crazy with stress. I've known I would be a photographer since I was 7 years old, but pursuing it as my full time job is really new to me. The work and sales are still really inconsistent at this point and its a scary feeling when funds are getting low and it starts to sink in that maybe I should try to find a job. Ugh. There is no worse hell that I can imagine at this point than having a full time job. When I'm working at a job, I melt down creatively. Its not that I don't want to work. Believe me, I work harder now than I ever did with a full time job. But its a different kind of work. Sitting in a beige office with utility carpeting, florescent lighting, little bobble head dolls and various other knick-knacks on people's desks just crushes my soul.

I walked into an office today to pay a bill and almost had a panic attack. Walking through the rows of desks, phones ringing in the background, people glued to their rolling desk chairs, motivational posters on the walls, cubicle partitions...I don't want that sort of life. Its just not for me. I stood in line waiting to pay my bill and seriously started to break out in a sweat just thinking that I could be working in a place like this in the very near future. I could just feel my dreams starting to slip away from me.

My dream of being a full time photographer is like my baby. I'll do anything to defend and protect it. I am so happy with my life right now, that the thought of losing it all because of something as stupid as money is just devastating. But, the universe (or whatever you believe) came to my rescue once again. I don't know why I ever doubt that there is a plan for me. This is what I'm supposed to be doing right now. This is exactly where I'm supposed to be and things have just fallen into place yet again. Somehow, whenever I need help the most, it just appears and I'm amazed every time it happens. This has turned out to be an amazing week and I'm so glad that everything has worked out.

January 19, 2010

365 Project: Day 88

This is how stress feels to me. It binds me, restrains me, holds me back. It takes a lot of focus for me to free myself from its grasp. I tend to fixate on whatever is stressing me out. My mind gets clouded in a panic and I find it really hard to concentrate on fixing the situation. The worst part is, I know this about myself and I still do it anyway.

I've been really stressed out this week. Everything has turned out to be fine, as it always does. For some reason, knowing that everything will work itself out doesn't ever seem to comfort me when I'm in the throws of my stress panic. There has never been a situation in my life that hasn't worked itself out in some way or another. So why do I stress? Why am I afraid? Why do I let it get to me? Why is it so hard for me to believe that everything will be just fine?

January 18, 2010

365 Project: Day 87

Ugh. Laundry. Its one of those annoying little tasks in life that you just have to do. Its right up there with dishes and grocery shopping for me. I despise having to do it. I'll let my dirty clothes pile up as long as possible before I actually make the effort to wash anything. The day always comes when you get up and go to the closet to get dressed only to find that there's not one single thing that is suitable to wear. In my life, that day is also known as laundry day. Otherwise, I just can't force myself to do it. The washer and dryer on this rental property are in a little cinderblock shack behind the house. Its terribly inconvenient to have to drag my laundry outside and through the backyard, not to mention its freezing now that its winter. However, having a washer and dryer at all is a big plus for a renter. I shouldn't complain. As much as I hate doing laundry, I hate going to the laundry mat even more. Something grosses me out about washing my clothes in a machine that countless numbers of other people have used. The dryers never manage to get your clothes completely dry, always requiring one or more additional quarters to finish the job. I swear they're rigged.

People watching at the laundry mat is fascinating though. There's a certain crowd of people who you run into at the laundry mat. I've seen some pretty strange people hanging out washing their clothes. There's always that person who comes in carrying a year's worth of laundry and with no consideration for anyone else, uses almost every single washer in the place. Or the person who puts their clothes in the washing machine and then just leaves. Where do they think they're going? What do they expect is going to happen when the washer is finished and other people are waiting to use it? That's when you get into shady territory with boundary issues. There is that point when the person has been gone so long that you have to decide if its appropriate to take their laundry out of the washer so you can use it. I mean, there is a stranger's underwear in there. Do you really want to touch those? There's also that person who insists on talking on their cell phone the entire time they're washing their clothes. I was in a laundry mat once with a woman who was not only on her cell phone, but she was talking on speaker phone. What possesses a person to talk on their speaker phone in public is beyond me. Just today I drove past a laundry mat where there was a homeless man laying not only on the sidewalk, but across the sidewalk casually picking his nose. I'm usually the girl sitting as far away from everyone else as possible, headphones on, book in hand, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.

Most laundry mats are set up exactly the same. Washers and dryers, of course, rows of plastic chairs all linked together so you have to sit uncomfortably close to the person next to you, one or more televisions chained to the wall or on those hospital stands hanging from the ceiling, usually set on some horrible channel that no one wants to watch, overpriced vending machines that have been picked over so the only things left are trail mix or licorice, change dispensers that are inevitably out of order or just keep spitting out your dollar bill no matter how hard you try to flatten it out, tile floors with dryer lint and dust bunnies in the corners...its quite the scene.

January 16, 2010

365 Project: Day 86

I just pulled in the driveway after my weekend shooting Mike Kelly, Asleep at the Wheel, and Bleu Edmondson. Its so good to be home. I feel like I've been away a lot in the last few months and every time I return it makes me appreciate the feeling of home even more.

My bedroom has become a little world that I have created for myself. This is the first time I have really had my own room since I was 18. I was so excited to make this space my own. This tiny little room has become not only my bedroom, but also my office, my creative space, and my sanctuary. I spend the majority of my time in there.

There is something about standing in someone's own private space with all of their things that can tell you so much about them.  From the art they have hanging on the wall, or the lack thereof, to the color of their sheets, or the furniture. Are they a pack rat or a minimalist? The things that people choose to surround themselves with speak volumes about them. Standing in my room you probably get a really good understanding of my personality.

There are lots of nice, calming blues and greens. My room has big windows that let in a lot of light during the day. There are 3 lamps in this little space. I despise overhead lighting, so I rely solely on these lamps to give off a soft, warm glow at night. I have a small desk lamp with an embroidered shade, a japanese paper lantern and blue, glass vintage lamp. The switch on my wall never gets flipped. I also have a ton of Candle Cottage candles that add a little ambiance.

Having a desk I can tolerate sitting at all day is really important to me. I searched all over until I found the perfect little vintage desk. It was supposed to be used as a vanity, but I have repurposed it as my work space. Its small and made of actual wood, not that compressed particle board crap that they make most furniture out of these days. It has brass knobs on the drawers and small decorative detailing in the wood. Its perfect for me.

The walls are full of art and photography that inspires me. Some I created and some I didn't. I have three posters from Paul Michael Dellostritto. He designs incredible venue posters for bands and live music shows. There is a bulletin board above my desk full of Polaroids, inspiring quotes and pictures of family. I have my Shade image in a 20x20 framed print hanging next to my desk. That picture was taken on Crystal Beach, one of my favorite places in the world and I look at it often. There is a print of The Soul of the Rose by John Williams Waterhouse next to my bed. I've had this print since high school. It has those blues and greens that I love and the expression on the woman's face is so tranquil. She is lost in the moment and the scent of a rose and seems totally at peace.

In one corner I have a tall, black shelf full of books, photo albums, and vintage cameras. I don't keep many books around. I try to give them away or donate them once i've read them. The only books on the shelf are the ones I need for reference or ones that I really love and will read or look through again and again.

My vintage cameras all sit proudly on display on that same shelf. They are my babies and the only thing I collect.  I dream of all the pictures that they once took of events, families, friends and treasured memories in people's lives. I wish I could see the things they have seen.

My bed frame is black rod iron twisted into swirls and curly Qs. My mattress is covered with light cornflower blue sheets made of organic cotton. I have two pillows and I sleep with both of them at once. Each has a case to match the sheets. There is also a chocolate brown, chennile body pillow that I snuggle up next to. I have a down comforter with a soft, tan, micro suede duvet cover. My bed is amazing. Its a shame that I don't sleep much.

So, now that I'm home, I unpack the car, walk into my room, toss my coat on the bed and take a deep breath. Its so nice to have 4 walls I can call my own. A place where I can close the door behind me and decompress, relax, and spend time with myself. I love my little home.

January 14, 2010

Self Portrait Contest!

I'm working really hard to fulfill every single one of my New Year's Resolutions in 2010. One of those resolutions is to enter my work in as many photography contests as I can afford.

I'm so excited to say that I just entered the Artist Wanted Self Portrait Contest! The grand prize is 6 months free rent in NYC or $7007! The portfolio with the most public votes wins a $1,000 prize. Please vote for my portfolio!

Please spread the word! Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, email, call everyone you know. Make that social networking work! I want to WIN! Thank you guys for all the support! Keep your fingers crossed for me.

January 13, 2010

Cup o joe

Good morning! I love coffee. I'm drinking a cup of it right now actually. Doesn't this image just make you dream of lazy mornings, sleeping in, reading the paper in your pjs, and sipping a hot cup of coffee in your favorite chair.

This print is now available in my Etsy shop. Enjoy.


365 Project: Day 85

Ouch. I have got to learn how to slow down and pay more attention to where I'm going. I'm a walking accident, always have been. I don't know if its a lack of spacial awareness, or that I'm impatient, or that I'm always looking ahead to the next thing rather than paying attention to what I'm doing. I'm just always in a big hurry.

Throughout the years I have suffered a ridiculous number of bumps, bruises, stumped toes, skinned knees, splinters, paper cuts, and knots on the head. I've never quite figured out how to clear a doorway properly. I always cut it too close and end up hitting my arm, shoulder, or hip on the door frame or worse, the door knob. Oddly enough, even with all my clumsiness, I've never needed stitches nor have I broken anything. Although, I'm convinced that I broke my nose as a toddler. Not paying attention to where I was going, I peddled my tricycle directly into the bumper of my dad's work truck. I still have a small scar on my nose and across my right eyelid. However, I do have a very suspicious bump in the bridge of my nose, not to mention that I can't breathe very well out of my right nostril, which is why I think it may have been broken.

This particular bruise came about while attempting to shoot yesterday's 365 picture. In a hurry to get into the back seat, I managed to run directly into the side of my car. This was immediately followed by shooting pain and a slew of unladylike expletives. How I managed to do this, I'm not really sure. I wasn't paying attention, but damn, it really hurt.

365 Project: Day 84

On the road....again. I just can't seem to stay home these days. I'm off to fulfill another of my many New Year's resolutions, to photograph more musicians. This weekend I'm shooting Mike Kelly, Asleep At The Wheel, and Bleu Edmondson.

Long drives alone through the desert are good for contemplating the complexities of life. On my drive I was thinking about why I waited so long to really pursue my dreams of being a photographer. I've known this is what I wanted to be since I was a little kid. I'm going be 27 next month and I have just now gotten my butt in gear? I know what was holding me back: fear. Knowing what you want out of life is scary. What if I try as hard as I can and it just doesn't happen? Then what am I going to do? Failure is not an option here. I have no back up plan. This is the only plan.

I feel like I'm getting a late start, but I guess its better late than never. Maybe its good that I hesitated for so long. Now, I'm older, I'm wiser and this time around I really mean it. I really want this. I see now what I was missing out on during all those years of being afraid. How did I ever expect to get what I wanted if I never even really tried? I've realized that not trying my hardest is failing and that is unacceptable.

I look back on all of that time and now I see myself clear as day. I wonder what in the world did I think I was doing? I wouldn't call all those years a waste of time though. They were only a waste if I learned nothing and I feel like I have gained so much from that experience. All those years of internal struggle, being afraid of my ambition and not really understanding why I was unhappy. I could have lived my entire life that way. I guess that's just my style. Stubborn. I don't learn unless I struggle. This lesson took me almost 10 years to learn the hard way. They say hindsight is 20/20 and man, they are right. My future may be blurry, but at least I know I'm headed in the right direction.

January 7, 2010

365 Project: Day 83

BIG sunglasses. I can't live without them. My eyes are super sensitive to the sun. I can't even go outside without my shades or I'm blinded, eyes watering, squinting, and overall looking quite unattractive, I'm sure. The sun gives me a headache. Probably because my facial muscles are all tensed up and contorted from trying to keep the blinding light out of my eyes. At one time I probably had 10 different pairs of sunglasses, all equally huge and crazy colored. Most of them have since either broken or been lost somewhere along my journey. I'm down to 4 pairs. I know there is one pair that was left behind in Vegas, but I think that pair really belonged in Vegas. Hopefully there is a really stylish hotel maid running around in my awesome shades.

I get a lot of comments and non-complements about my different sunglasses. Either people love them or they think they're ridiculous. You know, when someone says, "I love your sunglasses. I could never wear those, but you can pull them off." That's a non-complement. Why not just say nothing?

I've always made bold fashion choices. Ever since I was little I dressed myself in these crazy get ups. There are pictures of me as a kid wearing so much jewelry that I'm surprised I'm standing upright. I had a favorite dress too. It was all one piece and had a white top with a little embroidered rainbow patch on the chest. The skirt was knee length, and vertically striped in rainbow colors. It was really brightly colored and I loved it. Even now, I still love it.

During my teen years, shopping was like a battle. My parents were still paying for my clothes and, with complete disregard for my style and taste, mom refused to buy me anything she thought was ugly. Unfortunately, she thought at least half the clothes I wanted were exactly that. So, I was forced to find a happy medium, or have no clothes. I remember her throwing away a pair of vintage bellbottom jeans that I bought at a thrift store because she thought they were hideous.

Things haven't changed much. My clothing choices have toned down a little as I've gotten older, or at least I think so. I still love bright colors, I still wear huge jewelry. The best part is, I still genuinely don't care what anyone else thinks about what I'm wearing. So, here's to being bold, being yourself and wearing ridiculously huge sunglasses every single day.

January 6, 2010

365 Project: Day 82

I woke up really stressed out this morning. It was the strangest thing. I was in a panic. There was a lot to get accomplished today, but that's not really different from any other day in my life. Sometimes, when I have a lot to do, even though I'm organized and I've made a list of what needs to be accomplished, I lose direction. I'll find myself standing, usually in the middle of my house for some reason, just trying to decide what I need to do first. That's when I start to feel overwhelmed. I'll just stand there or pace around thinking and trying to sort everything out in my head. Then I usually do the dishes or clean something. For some reason, doing the dishes calms me down. Maybe because my hands are busy and I can focus, accomplish something that needs to be taken care of, and burn off some of my nervous energy all at the same time.

I realize its not only the tasks on my list today that are stressing me out, but that's what I focus on. Even though I absolutely love my life right now, there are always those little issues. For one thing, I am exhausted. I don't sleep much or well when I do manage to fall asleep. Money, or my lack thereof really upsets me, even subconsciously. I try not to think about it, but every now and then, it'll creep up on me. There is a reason that the term "Starving Artist" exists, its not a myth. I think it gets to me because I know I'm working so incredibly hard and I'm trying the best I can to pull it all together. I LOVE what I do and that's why I keep at it, but I never seem to get ahead. All this work is toward an ultimate goal, and that's what keeps me going. The tasks on my list, those are the things I have control over. I can complete a list of tasks, but I can't make money magically appear and I can't force myself to rest. Believe me, I've tried to do both. So, every now and then, I have a day like today. A day where all of the things I try not to think about confront me. A day that is overwhelming and upsetting and unbelievably stressful.

Working out helps. I had a long workout today. I'm going to hurt like hell tomorrow, but I feel better right now. Then, I laid down and read a book for a short while so I had time to just breathe. I got to lose myself in Edgar Cayce's life for half an hour. Maybe that's why I like to read biographies. I get to experience someone else's life and avoid whatever is bothering me about mine.

I finished most of the tasks on my list today. I kept up with several of my New Year's resolutions. Those are accomplishments to be happy about. Just as I'm writing this post, I received several positive comments on my photography and an email letting me know that I was featured on a really great blog today! Those are the things that make this struggle all worth while for me. One day all of my hard work will pay off and I will finally get ahead. I know tomorrow I'll be just fine.

January 5, 2010

365 Project: Day 81

I am determined to stick to my list of New Year's resolutions this year. So, today I attended my very first business class at a local non-profit organization. I walked away feeling much more prepared and confident. I got a lot of my questions answered and was able to bounce some ideas off of the person giving the presentation. She had some really great advice. It was so refreshing to get answers from someone who knows what they're talking about. There are always so many ideas dancing around in my head and its nice to know that I can go there any time and get informed guidance on what my next move should be or which ideas I should pursue more seriously. Its amazing that these resources are out there in the community and available for FREE or almost free. Its a good feeling to know that there are entire organizations who want to see you succeed and will help you in any way they can. I will be taking several more classes in marketing, finance, SEO and website optimization and several other subjects over the next few months and I think my business is going to thrive this year because of it. I feel, overall, really encouraged and supported after this class.

Since I am the Jill of all Trades running this business and single handedly taking care of everything that goes along with that, I sometimes feel really isolated. I know that I have an amazing family and friends who love and support me, but there is no one who is actually in this boat with me. That can be hard. Sometimes it would be nice to have someone to collaborate with, someone who knows what I'm going through to talk to and rest my head on when I'm stressed and exhausted and just worked a 15 hour day, someone to just be excited with me when things are going well. I do get that from the people in my life, but its just not the same as having someone directly involved. At least now I feel like there is a place I can go where the people have the answers I'm looking for. Just knowing that gives me a little peace of mind.

January 4, 2010

365 Project: Day 80

I used to want to be a photojournalist. I wanted to travel and document the major events and injustices of the world. I thought about joining the Peace Corp. I still think about it. There's a part of me that will always want to do that and I may still attempt it. But, sometimes being a photographer is emotionally really difficult. While everyone gets to see the pictures you take and say "Oh that's terrible, someone should do something." You actually have to be in those horrible places witnessing everything first hand. The hard part for me is not only seeing it, but knowing that there is almost nothing I can do help or to change it.

Kevin Carter was a South African photographer who traveled documenting war zones, the famine in Sudan, the brutality of apartheid, etc. He became famous for an image he took of a little girl who was starving, dying and struggling to drag herself to a feeding center. As he crouched down to take the shot, a vulture landed behind the girl. It sat, waiting for her to die. That photo became the defining image for the famine in the Sudan in the early 90s. After he got the shot he wanted, he shooed away the vulture and left the girl to continue her struggle. Carter sat under a tree, smoked a cigarette, talked to God and cried.  He was obviously deeply effected by this little girl, but he still didn't help her. Who knows what happened to her, but Carter won a Pulitzer for his image.

Two months later he committed suicide by carbon-monoxide poisoning. He left a note in the passenger seat that said, "The pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist." Through all the years of documenting these terrible events he had become a drug addict and his personal relationships were suffering. Although he won a Pulitzer for that image, he received a lot of criticism for not helping that child and that deeply effected him. He received the international acclaim he had always wanted, but at what cost? He had to live with himself and the fact that he left that little girl there to die and profited greatly from it. Its tragic.

I can't imagine living my life traveling from place to place, witnessing the most horrible tragedies in the world and watching people suffer every day. I couldn't do it. I could never have left that child there to die. A lot of good can come from making the world aware of people and places that are less fortunate and in desperate need of aid, but there is a fine line between documenting for the sake of international awareness and documenting for personal gain.

January 3, 2010

365 Project: Day 79

This is one of the seven books that I'm reading right now. Well, there's not really much to read in this book, its mostly pictures, but it still counts. Richard Avedon is one of my favorite photographers. Hell, I'd even venture to say that he may be my favorite photographer. When I saw this book sitting on the shelf at the library, I had to take it home with me. There is a lot of truth in his images. The way he captures people seems to show them for who they are in that moment. I love all the black and white portraits that he shot on a clean white background. The white background allows the person to become the focus of the image without any distractions. The intensity is incredible.

He was able photograph so many amazing people and document many important time periods of the 1900s. I love his images from during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963 he photographed William Casby, a man who was born into slavery.  Its one of my favorite of Avedon's portraits. The tone of Casby's skin is so rich. The expression on his face shows how hard his life must have been. He's worn.

Avedon photographed Napalm victims in Vietnam in 1971. One of his subjects is a woman who was terribly scarred and disfigured. She is looking into the camera with the only eye she has left. She has so much intensity and sadness. It makes me cry every time I see it. My heart goes out to her. I can't imagine what she's been through, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. You can't survive something like that without it permanently damaging you inside and out.

His images from the East Louisiana State Mental Hospital are disturbing to say the least. He documented people who are lost, childlike, afraid, confused, distraught and locked up in a facility because society and their families don't know what else to do with them. The patients all look abandoned. They all seem so alone, each in their own little worlds. The hospital is all tile. Its stark and cold. Avedon's own sister passed away in a mental institution.

Avedon also photographed fashion. Ah...Avedon's fashion portfolio is amazing. In the 50s he created a series with Dovima wearing Dior and posing with elephants. Brilliant.

I can't say enough about his work. If you haven't seen it, you are missing out. It is incredible. Avedon inspires me.

January 2, 2010

365 Project: Day 78

I am drawn to anything vintage or antique. There is something about owning things that are older than I am that I find appealing. Items hold history. They tell a story of a different time and they also hold the memories of the other people who owned them.

There are certain things that I particularly like. Vintage postcards (especially if there is a message written on them), old photographs, cameras, typewriters, buffets, vanities, ash trays, records and record players, chairs, anything from the 50s or 60s, lamps, desks, clothes and jewelry, metal serving trays, and stained glass windows in wooden frames. While I admire all of these things, I try not to own more than I can fit in my car so I very rarely buy them. The only things I really collect are vintage cameras, but in my room I have an antique desk, a 1950s telephone table, and a glass lamp probably from the 60s or 70s.

I bought this typewriter for $20 in a thrift store today. As soon as I saw it I had to have it. I can only imagine where it came from, who bought it, where they bought it, why they bought it, and what kinds of things they typed with it. Love letters, Dear John letters, resumes, formal requests, applications, school papers, essays, maybe a novel. I'll never know, but that's part of the charm. Whoever owned this typewriter took very good care of it. There is hardly a scratch on it. But I can tell that it is well used. All the paint is worn off around the nob on the right side that you turn to advance the paper. Someone was doing a lot of typing.

Now, how did this cute little typewriter end up sitting in a thrift store full of crap? There was seriously nothing but old, broken, dirty junk in this place. It was a disgusting mess in there. But, sitting on a table was this typewriter. I think maybe it was meant to be mine.

365 Project: Day 77

Today is the first day of 2010. Not only is it the beginning of a new year, its the beginning of a new decade. I have always loved New Year's Day and all that it represents. I like the idea of a fresh start. Its a time to put all the mistakes you made over the last year behind you and resolve to do better and try harder this time around. My cousin said to me the other day that this year she will be 2000 and thin. Say it out loud. Yep, very clever. A new year fills people with hope that they can make a change for the better. Really, if it weren't for a calendar, this would be just like any other day. But, because it is the first day in a 365 day cycle it is seen as a beginning. It feels like a new beginning to me.

I made a lot of major changes in 2009. None of which were actual resolutions of mine. In fact, I only remember one of my resolutions from 2009. It was to get back in shape, and I did. I started running every day and I lost 20 lbs. I feel like 2009 was the year I started my life over. It was a long, rough year for me in so many ways. I burned a lot of bridges, I revisited a lot of old ones, and I built a lot of new ones. I finally got the courage to change the things in my life that were making me unhappy. I started working on my photography full time. I began this 365 project. I moved, again. But it was an important move because it brought me home. I've spent more time with my family in the last 7 months than I have in the last 8 years total since I moved away. There is nothing like going home again to recharge you, ground you, remind you who you are and that there are people in the world who will always love you and take care of you no matter what. My family has proven that to me time and time again. They are my rock and I am so grateful for them and all the support they give me.

I'm starting 2010 feeling stronger. I'm starting out on the right foot with goals, dreams, direction, and hope. Real, genuine hope for a happy, fulfilled future. For once, I feel like I'm headed in the right direction. There is a positive momentum happening in my life and everything just keeps falling into place, piece by piece. I'm working harder than I ever have and I'm happier than I have ever been. In fact, I don't even think happy is a big enough word to describe how I feel these days. I just feel really good about where I am right now and that is a refreshing, welcome change.

I have a long list of resolutions. Some of them are small changes, some of them are just goals that I want to accomplish, and some of them are really going to be a challenge. I'm going to list them, because I want you all to help keep me in check this year. I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, but I put a lot of time into this list. I really thought hard about what I could do better, where I should devote more time and energy, what will make me happier and more fulfilled, what is in my life that is holding me back?

Business Goals/Resolutions:
- Figure out what I'm going to do with this 365 Project when I'm finished. Should I publish it? Offer the prints for sale? Submit it to a gallery? Nothing? I'm just not sure where I'm going with it yet.

- Find a new project to start when my 365 project is finished in October. I'm really enjoying this project and I'm going to be sad when its over. I need a new project to transition into.

- Enter at least one photography contest a month or as many as I can afford. I hear about photography contests all the time and I never enter or I can't afford to. This year I want to enter.

- Start selling my fine art prints/gifts wholesale. I feel like this is the next step. I love my Etsy shop and I won't stop selling retail, but I want my business to grow.

- Expand my portrait business to include much more music photography: promo shots, album covers, live performance shots, etc. I LOVE music and I want to incorporate it into my life in as many ways as I can. This will make me very happy.

- Submit my work to galleries, local coffee houses, business, salons, basically anywhere that is willing to hang it. I would love to have my work hanging in a public place.

- Take business classes offered through the SBA. There is always room for improvement. I want my photography business to succeed and thrive. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life and I want to learn everything I can to make that happen.

- Get health insurance. I have no health insurance and that is a scary thing.

- Attend trade shows/craft shows and sell my prints/gifts. I think this will be a great direction for my fine art business to go. I'll get to travel a little, meet new people, and present my photography to entirely new audience. It will be a huge change to have people looking at my prints in person instead of just selling them through the internet.

- Introduce new product lines in my Etsy shop. I have a lot of new ideas for this year. I'm not going to let those secrets out just yet, but I think its going to be really great!

- Be more persistent about promoting my photography. I do a lot to promote my business, but I'm not doing everything I can. I want to focus more on marketing.

Personal Goals/Resolutions:
- Find a charity or non-profit that I believe in and start volunteering. This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. Now is the time to start giving back.

- Give blood more often. I used to give blood all the time and for some reason I stopped. I think I just got busy, which is a lame excuse. Its an important thing to do and I need to stop making excuses.

- Start exercising regularly again. I'm really thinking about taking up Yoga too. I feel so much better over all when I'm working out regularly. I think more clearly, I sleep better, and I have more energy. The end of 2009 was so crazy with all the traveling and everything. I got out of my routine and I need to get it back.

- Cook my meals at home and stop taking the easy way out...no more drive thru. Its hard to cook for just one or two people so I just grab fast food rather than take the time to cook. Its expensive, its bad for my health, its bad for my weight, and I don't even really like it. I need to stop eating it so much.

- Create a budget and actually stick to it...or close to it. I am terrible about not keeping track of my money. I don't really spend a lot, but I don't keep track of where its going either. I want to start saving a little money this year.

- See more concerts and attend at least one major festival. I love live music and I wasn't able to afford to attend many concerts in 2009. I hear there are going to be a lot of awesome bands on tour this year and I'm determined to go to more shows. I'm putting it in my budget.

- Start meditating. I need something to center me and calm me down. There are so many benefits to meditation. I need something that will help me stay focused and bring down my stress level. Plus, it just feels good to breath deeply.

- Read MANY more books. I have a list of books I want to read and a list of subjects I'm interested in learning more about. I just need to set aside a little time in my day to sit down and read. I love it and I haven't been doing enough of it lately.

- Not drink as much. Don't get me wrong, I definitely benefit from the occasional jack and coke, margarita, or glass of wine. Lately I feel like drinking is nothing more than a huge waste of my time, energy, and money. I'm cutting back.

- Take a real vacation somewhere other than Texas. I love Texas, and I will be on Crystal Beach this summer, but I want to go somewhere I've never been before.

- Spend more time outside. I sit at this computer most of the day. I want to get out in the sunshine more, even if its just for a quick walk.

Happy new beginning everyone!

365 Project: Day 76

Its New Year's Eve and I've decided to stay home. I finally got back to Albuquerque this evening after being away for a week. I spent the drive home with my stereo cranked up, singing as loud as I could in my car. It was a relief to spend some time by myself. Tonight, I'm exhausted. I just want to be alone and I don't really feel like going out or drinking. I ate the homemade chicken and dumplings and cornbread that my mom sent me home with, had some coffee and stayed up working until 4:30 in the morning. I wished everyone Happy New Year via text message.

I've been going through this phase lately where I really enjoy spending time alone. I'm usually a very social person. I love going out, seeing my friends, meeting new people and chatting until the wee hours of the morning. But lately I'm tired. I'm tired of going to the same places and drinking the same Jack and Coke. I've never really been alone. I went from sharing a room with my sister and living in my parents' house to living in a dorm room with a roommate. After that I lived with two different boyfriends. My sister and I live together now, but I have my own room this time around.

I genuinely enjoy spending time with myself. This is the first time in my life where that has even been an option. People are put off by someone who likes to be alone. They find it strange. I think its a great thing to  be content hanging out with yourself.  I'm more put off by the person who can never stand to be alone. Starting off 2010 at home, doing what I love and focusing on myself was the perfect night for me. It was exactly what I needed after a week of traveling and holidays and family. I needed to recharge. I needed to be alone. I just needed quiet.

So, Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2010 brings you all happiness, health, and everything your hearts desire.

365 Project: Day 75

I had an awesome time shooting with my dad today. I tried to go shoot at an indoor range when I was living in California and they wouldn't let me because I wasn't licensed and they didn't have enough people available to supervise me. So here I am, in the middle of the desert, shooting at soda cans with my dad. Who needs a shooting range anyway? Not me apparently.
I shot two of my dad's pistols, a Beretta 3032 Tomcat and a Ruger 9mm (not pictured), and my grandfather's old Browning shotgun. The pistols were no problem, but that shotgun was really heavy and it hadn't been shot in about 40 years. I was a little worried that it would either knock me down or just explode. I kept having visions of that Red Rider BB Gun from A Christmas Story. "You'll shoot your eye out!" Luckily none of those things happened. 

I had shot pellet guns before, but never anything like this. I took a hunter safety course when I was younger, even though I would NEVER kill a living thing, but I've always been really interested in shooting. I just hadn't gotten the chance until today. I wasn't a terrible shot either. I actually hit several of those cans. Not too bad for my first time. Now I'm hooked! I loved it! Its been on my list of things to learn how to do for a long time. I will definitely go shooting again. I want to get better and the only way to do that is to practice. 

Now I can check that off my life list. Next on the list, I want to learn how to ride a horse. 

365 Project: Day 74

I'm so ready to go home. I miss my bed, I miss my Mac, I miss my work. Yet, here I am again, in the cold, in the dark, roadside in the middle of who knows where, Texas.

My iPod is my only salvation right now and the battery is dying. I need to invest in a book light so I can at least read after it gets dark. Right now I'm reading Edgar Cayce's biography. He was absolutely amazing! Cayce called himself a "seer". His grandfather had telekinetic abilities and could move objects with his mind. Even as a child Cayce had psychic abilities and had several visions at a very young age. He spoke often with his grandfather about the things he saw. His grandfather was accidentally drowned in a pond by a horse when Cayce was only 4 years old. However, Cayce claims that he was able to see and speak to his grandfather even after he had passed. He also claimed to see several children who he played with that no one else was able see.

Later in life Cayce discovered his ability as a healer. He was able to put himself into a hypnotic state and tell a physician exactly what was ailing their patient and exactly how to cure it. He had no medical training and knew nothing of anatomy, but his diagnosis and suggestions for treatment were always correct. Cayce never even met most of the people he was diagnosing. He became very ill at one point and completely lost his voice for a period of time. But, once under hypnosis he was able to speak normally. Cayce diagnosed himself and told the physician how to treat his problem. The doctor would give him suggestions while he was in a hypnotic state and his voice would return as normal when he awoke. It was incredible.

I can't imagine having that sort of ability. He was afraid of it and, being very religious, he was also ashamed of it. Many people in the church shunned him and told him he was going against God. How sad to have this amazing ability to help countless numbers of people, and to have people make you feel like you had to hide it. It must have felt like both a blessing and a burden.

I'm only as far as his mid-twenties, so I haven't read yet how he used his ability throughout the rest of his life. I can't wait to finish the book and find out!

365 Project: Day 73

This is the Port Arthur Seawall. It is 16 feet tall and it protects much of the coastline in Jefferson County from flooding. I only remember visiting the seawall a handful of times when I was a kid. All of my dance recitals were held at a school auditorium right up the street and I vaguely remember driving down there at Christmas time and looking at the lights.

This used to be the main part of town. Proctor street was the place to be when my grandparents were young. There were hotels, restaurants, shopping, night clubs and bars. When my mom was a little girl, she and my grandfather saw Janis Joplin walking down the street wearing a feather boa. Janis was from Port Arthur. Now most of those buildings are closed up, the businesses have moved out. There are only a handful left. This area of town has become so sad. There are a lot of beautiful historical homes right along the seawall, but beyond that, the place is falling apart. Many houses and buildings are still boarded up and damaged from Hurricane Ike and that was well over a year ago. The worst part is that people are still living in them in that condition. There are streets full of houses that are abandoned, condemned and falling apart.

Now, downtown Port Arthur is thought of as a dangerous place to be. I had wanted to go downtown to take some pictures for a while now and I was too scared to go alone. A young woman walking down the street alone with an expensive camera is an easy target. My dad and I made plans to get up early and take a drive around so I had someone to go with me. My mom came along with us and neither of them could believe the condition the city was in. They both grew up in the area and they didn't even recognize the place.

How does this happen? Where did everyone go? The main industries, fishing and oil, are still there. Why did people leave? Its disappointing to see the city where I grew up in shambles.

What do you do about that though? You can't just knock it all down and start over. Its such a huge undertaking to try and rebuild it. It seems that there is nothing you can really do without massive amounts of funding. I'm sure people don't see the point of even trying anymore. So, everyone moves away or just pretends its not there anymore. They allow an area that was once alive and vibrant to sit and decompose.

365 Project: Day 72

I love the water. I love the way it looks, the way it feels, the way it sounds, the way it smells. It relaxes me. I can sit and watch the ripples dance across the surface all day. I particularly love the rivers, lakes, marshes and bayous in the south. They all have a special charm. The way the sky turns the water purple at dusk, the reeds that grow along the shore, the thickets that line the banks, the white Egrets that stand majestically wading in the shallow water, the turtles that poke their noses out just above the surface. All of those things make these places special to me.

Heaven is sitting on the end of a wooden dock in the summer, dipping your toes in the water, watching the sun set and hearing the crickets, frogs, and cicadas come alive. There is nothing else like it.

January 1, 2010

365 Project: Day 71

Today we drove to Mt Sylvan, TX to visit my grandfather's grave. He passed away on November 19, 2009. Today, December 26th, is also my other grandfather's birthday. He passed away on November 5, 2007. Its was a day to remember two incredibly important men in my life. I miss them both terribly.

On the way back to Port Arthur, we stopped at the Mt. Sylvan Coffee House and Mercantile. I fell in love with this place, and not just because they made me an excellent latte.

The woman who owned the coffee house was so incredibly friendly, sweet, and hospitable. I love when you meet someone who is a genuine, good person. I felt like I was in her home. She took the time to tell us all about her journey in opening this place. You could feel how much of herself she had invested in her dream. Its not often that you meet someone who is excited about what they are doing in the way that she was. It was inspiring.

We got the grand tour. The building was the original Masonic Lodge in the area and had been completely restored. She even reused parts of the original building in the restoration. The cabinet doors in the cafe were made of the original windows from the front of the building. She took us to the upstairs, which she may eventually open as a bed and breakfast. It was an amazing living area. There was also an incredible office upstairs. If I could close my eyes and picture my ideal workspace, this was it. Original hard wood floors, vaulted ceilings, and huge windows with the sun streaming in. The best part was the enormous wooden work bench. I wanted to work there! I would have moved in immediately if she had let me. We all left smiling and talking about how great it was.

It was so inspiring to meet a woman who had worked really hard and made her vision a reality. She had made her dream come true.  I look up to women like her, who have the courage to not just dream, but to dedicate themselves, take a risk, and see their dream to fruition.

365 Project: Day 70

Christmas Day. No, I did not get this miniature 4-Wheeler for Christmas. It belongs to my little cousins and they are actually selling it. I was trying to convince my dad to buy it for me, with no luck. But, I couldn't resist taking my picture with it.

My cousins are 9 and 7 years old and full of questions. They were standing outside watching me and asking why I was taking a picture of myself. I really gave them no clear reason aside from "just because." That seemed to do the trick. But I started thinking about it...why am I doing this project?

I had been thinking about starting this project for a long time. A couple of years. My photography was in a rut. I was looking for a way to get myself shooting and thinking creatively again. It was that simple really. But my reasons evolved as each day went by. My intentions were only to take a picture each day. That quickly changed and I began writing. I'm not sure why I started writing, but I was suddenly compelled to explain myself. The writing started slowly. Just a short sentence. A caption to go with the picture. It wasn't enough. Apparently I had more to say. Much more. So, I kept going and I'll keep going until I run out of words or I hit 365 days. Whichever comes first.

In the last 70 days, not only have my reasons for this project changed, I have changed. The way I look at my life has changed. It has given me purpose. It has provided me an outlet to express things I didn't even know I was thinking. I cannot tell you all how much this project and the people I've met because of it, have enriched my life. I have grown tremendously as a person. I am learning about myself every single day. I feel like I'm becoming acquainted with who I am as a person for the first time. Its incredibly overwhelming for me. I'm so glad that I get to share this experience with the world. And now...here come the tears.

To sum it all up, this project has been a great, humbling blessing for me. It rescued me in so many ways. Or I rescued myself through it. Either way, even if no one ever read the things I write, I would still continue. Its a huge bonus that I've been able to reach other people through this project. The response I've gotten has been incredible.

Now, how do you explain all of that to a 7 and a 9 year old? You say, *shrug* "I dunno. Just because."

365 Project: Day 69

On the road...again. Its Christmas Eve and here I am at another gas station somewhere in the middle of Texas. Its dark, freezing, I'm tired, not in the best of moods and we still have hours to travel. There is a tree directly in front of me containing an incredibly loud bird that I have obviously pissed off by standing on this side of the building.

I love road trips, I love to travel, I love my family, but I am a little tired of making this same trip down this same road over and over again. I've made this 14 hour drive at least 3 times in less than 2 months. Round trip, that's about 84 hours in the car.

Are we there yet? Ugh.

365 Project: Day 68

People have always told me how beautiful they thought the desert was. I never saw it when I was younger.  When I looked around, all I saw was brown, dead earth. Its hot as hell during the summer, freezing in the winter and the wind in the spring will knock you down. I never appreciated it growing up.

I moved away when I was 18. Every place I have lived since has been green and near a large body of water. I craved the ocean, fields of grass, and lush trees. But, every time I came back to the desert for a visit I appreciated it a little more. The vast, open sky amazed me more and more every time I left the confining buildings of the city. I started to see that the desert wasn't just brown. It was gold, rust, chocolate and so many other shades of the earth. 
For a few weeks at the end of summer there is a monsoon season in New Mexico. It will rain for days and days like its never going to stop. The land is so thirsty from a long summer and it soaks up every last drop. After the rain has passed, the desert explodes with growth. The once lifeless land grows into green fields and millions of beautiful wild flowers almost over night. It is amazing to see the transformation.

Now that I'm living in the desert again, I really identify with it. For the longest time I was dormant. I felt plain and lifeless.  But being back home and near my family and friends for the past few months has recharged me. I feel myself coming back to life. I see now that the desert isn't dead. It just doesn't have everything it needs to live and reach its full potential. With a little rain it can come alive and surprise you with a beauty you never expected.