Fake It Until You Make It

This weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend my niece’s annual holiday dance show. An hour or so before, my sister texted me to ask if I could take some photos during the performance. Now, a normal person would say, “Sure!” then move on with their lives. I (not a normal person, obviously) commenced total freak out mode.

You see, even with my years working as a photographer, I still don’t really believe I’m the real deal. I have this dumb little voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough and that no one in their right mind would ever believe I’m actually good at this gig. Unfortunately, these self-sabotaging thoughts don’t only appear during photography projects, but in every aspect of my life. Rarely do I have any clue what I’m doing, whether I’m parenting, writing, taking photos, baking cookies or designing. Every now and then a subject or task comes up that I feel super-confident about taking on, but for the most part, I’m just trying new things and waiting for one of them to stick.

But that’s part of why things DO stick now and then, at least in my creative life. I’m learning the only way I’m ever going to get any better is to keep trying, even (or maybe especially) when I’m uncomfortable. That’s the only way to grow and learn. In the last month, I’ve been doing a lot of things that are uncomfortable for me, a lot that makes me feel like an actor playing a part.

Enter stage left, a “writer.”

The more people I meet, especially successful ones, the more I’m finding out no one really knows what they are doing. Sure, people have experience, and that makes certain types of work a bit easier for them than others, but in the end, we are all just weirdos wandering around trying to figure it all out. I’ve sat in meetings with CEOs who come off as cool, smart and quick, only to find out later they were faking it just as much as I was. The biggest difference? They didn’t let their fear stop them.

A big change for me in the past year is moving forward through the scary stuff. This means when you’re asked to take photos inside a dark auditorium of dancers whirling quickly around the stage, you say yes. You don’t obsess over your camera being too low quality or your lens not being right or your meager knowledge of stage shooting. Instead you walk in with your head held high, faking all the confidence you can muster. You let go of the pressure, and remember all you can do is your best. You do a few internet searches on tips for stage shooting. And then you take a deep breath, and do your work.

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Did the photos turn out perfectly? Nope. There are lots of things technically wrong with them. And sure, someone else with more experience probably could have done a better job. But that’s no the point. The point is if I would’ve said no or let the fear overwhelm me, there would be no photos at all! I was there, I could take the photos. So I did, to the best of my ability. And even though they’re not perfect, I think they are pretty beautiful.

For now, I’m gonna keep faking it. Maybe some day I’ll “make it” and maybe I won’t, but I know if I give up, I’ll never get anywhere. I’d rather be a faker whose trying, than the real deal on the sidelines.

Joy to the World (or something)

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Anyone else feeling burnt out by the holidays? I’m sure it’s just me, wandering the house at 2 a.m. mumbling incoherently about broken packaging tape dispensers and running out of ribbon. Where is all the ribbon, y’all?! It didn’t just disappear. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I bet the dog ate it all. He has an odd look about him.

Last year, I white-knuckled through the holidays with a forced grin on my face. It was a weird, strange, difficult year, and acting my normal holly, jolly self seemed wrong. Like that pair of jeans that was just a little too tight. I wanted to button them up, but that pinched look of pain on my face was obvious even with that silly smile I was wearing. This year is so different. Different and wonderful and joyous and lively and did I mention wonderful? I feel like myself again, only better or more childlike or something. I am that annoying mom who is super excited to make our Elf on the Shelf take a bath in marshmallows. I know, I know. I can’t stand myself either.

But along with this giddy glee of the holidays, my perfectionism is rearing it’s ugly head. I often refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist (amongst other things), and it’s times like this when I lose a little control. I am so in love with this season, I want to do every single thing I can to squeeze every last bit of fun out of it, even if all that squeezing isn’t actually that fun to begin with!

For example, I love putting up Christmas decorations. I just adore getting all those twinkle lights out and hanging them all over my house. If it were up to me, we’d have twinkle lights all year ’round. So I pulled out all the decorations, starting with the beast, our giant, pre-lit, fake Christmas tree. Now, I know, real trees are the better smelling option, but our dog eats ribbon and I’m sure he’d destroy a real tree. Plus, if you’d seen my houseplants, you wouldn’t want me to be in charge of an indoor tree. Our pre-lit tree is about six years old and not one light works. Not one. Last year I swore when I took down the tree in January I’d remove all those broken lights, but then January came and I was tired, so the lights stayed put.

A week ago I cursed my January 2014-self, and decided once and for all, I was removing those dang broken lights. I had an hour to kill while the kids were busy, so I set to it….and five hours later (!!!) with cuts all up and down my arms from fake tree branches, I was done. I probably was legally insane by this point, but I was on a roll, so I kept going. Why not, I couldn’t get crazier, right?

Ahem.

An hour later, as I cursed and yelled at a bulb-lit sign that said “joy,” which wouldn’t stay put on the mantle, Lucy mentioned, over the strumming of the Vince Gauraldi Trio, it was a little bit funny how I was screaming and cussing at a “joy” sign. Point taken, kiddo.

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Since that fateful day, I’ve been trying to keep it as simple as possible. And when I get too overwhelmed, I’ve been stopping. I stop, I sit, I watch Love Actually. Because, friends, it turns out, love actually is all around. As long as all the bulbs on my tree stay lit, that is.

For the Love of Theodore Roosevelt

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A year ago, through the magic of good friends and Facebook, we found this sweet puppy. For days we called him “Puppy” because no name sounded right. But Theodore Roosevelt Peters, Teddy for short, was the one that stuck. And yes, it’s a bit grandiose, for sure, but naming this dopey dog after the 26th President of the United States just made sense. I mean, Teddy Roosevelt was the man who coined the term “daring greatly” and since that has become my mantra, it was fitting that my partner in crime bear his name.

Yes, Teddy is my dog. Of course he loves the kids and Trent, and I’m sure they all think of him as theirs, but I’m the one who begged for him, did research on him, contacted friends to secure his adoption, filled out pages of paperwork, and attended a home visit with the rescue who had saved his life. I am the person who walks him, feeds him (although Lucy has taken over that duty as of late), buys him giant dog bones, sneaks him into the bed and let’s him sleep on the couch all day long. He follows me around, and when anyone is agitated, he runs to my side…not really to protect me or anything, more like to hide behind my legs. He’s a fierce beast, this Rottie puppy of mine.

Thanksgiving is a bit of an unlucky weekend for us regarding our dogs. Our first dog, Cali, ran off on Thanksgiving, was hit by a car and died. Our last dog, Miss Molly McGoo, died of old age after a long and happy life full of table scraps on the week of Thanksgiving. So on Thanksgiving morning I told Trent, “Nothing had better happen to that dumb dog.” Welp, you know what they say about Murphy’s Law, right? If it can happen, it will.

Teddy was run over by a John Deer Gator (sort of like a mini tractor, for you city folk) on Thanksgiving day, and I truly thought I was going to lose my mind. This dopey dog, however, was totally fine. Only Theodore Roosevelt could get run over by a John Deere and run off like nothing happened. We were afraid of a broken leg, or worse, but he came out with two small scrapes and that’s it. If anything, it worked out in his favor, as he’s been doted upon, fed Thanksgiving ham and snuggled pretty much constantly since the incident. I think the whole thing reminded us how integral he is in our lives these days. It’s incredible how a dog can work his way into your heart, until you can’t (and don’t want to) imagine your life or family without him in it, jumping on you as you walk through the door or wiping his slobbery snout on your leg.

Teddy is a big, dumb miracle. I’m so glad he’s our big, dumb miracle.

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner : Motown the Musical Giveaway

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It’s about that time, friends! Thank you so very much to everyone who entered the Motown the Musical Giveaway last week. I’m feeling endlessly lucky for all the support, feedback and high fives. You guys are the best. And now, DRUMROLL PLEASE, the winner issssss………..

ERIN BARNES!!!

I’m so excited for you, Erin! I’ll be sending you an email with details of the event and to get your mailing address so I can send the tickets your way! Have a great time at the show!

(Photo by Soul Studios for Crazybananas)

A Thankful Heart

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My heart is so full, friends. And not just because it’s almost Thanksgiving, although that helps. What could be better than pie and food and family and laughter and all that good stuff that comes along with the holidays? Thanksgiving has a special place in my heart because it really is all about being together and enjoying each other, without all that greedy gift stuff that can stress me out during the Christmas season. I’m excited to take some time off with my family and spend as much time as possible in my elastic-waisted pants. Ahhh, gluttony, an American tradition.

I’ve alluded to some big changes happening around the Crazybananas headquarters in 2015. While I can’t share every small detail (soon!) I can say starting in January this blog and everything that comes with it, including photography, freelance writing and design, will be my full time profession. I mean, along with nose wiping and lunchbox packing, obviously. I’m so excited/thrilled/terrified to start this journey, which is something I’ve been working toward for the past three years. I know this won’t be an easy road, but the idea of doing what I LOVE for a living is just an incredible thing. I’m so very grateful. I’ve spent most of my career working my butt off at jobs that didn’t make my heart sing (or hum or whistle or anything, actually) in order to provide for my family. I’ve sacrificed for them, and now they are choosing to sacrifice for me. I am so thankful to my husband and kids for being the greatest supporters of me and my crazy notions. This change will affect them in big ways too, and they are on jumping on board this train with little complaint and lots of cheerleading. I am the luckiest.

I’m also thankful for YOU! Yes, you! If you’re here reading this, or if you’ve ever shared, commented, liked, retweeted or posted anything from this site, you’ve helped me to realize my dream. It may seem like a small thing, but to me, it’s huge. I simply would not be here without you.

So, to say THANK YOU, I’m giving away a pair of tickets to Motown the Musical, part of the Broadway Across America series, playing in Kansas City on December 11th!

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is Broadway’s record-breaking smash hit that tells the true story behind the beat that changed minds, touched lives and took the world by storm. Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations – MOTOWN THE MUSICAL shows how these legendary artists and so many more created the soundtrack that transformed America.

If you haven’t heard of this incredible Broadway show, watch the trailer below. It’s freaking fantastic!

To enter this giveaway, please go to this survey, which will help me determine what you want to read on Crazybananas in 2015. Once you’ve completed the survey, come back here and leave a comment. (Ed note: If you’ve already completed the survey, just leave a comment below saying you’ve already done so…you don’t have to fill it out twice.) Easy peesy! You can get additional entries by doing the following:

– Liking Crazybananas on Facebook
– Following Crazybananas on Twitter
– Following Crazybananas on Instagram

Don’t forget, once you’ve followed any of my social media accounts (or if you’re already following!) to come back to this post and leave a comment so I can be sure your entry is counted! This contest will close on Friday, November 28th at 5 p.m., so get those entries in before you eat too much turkey and fall asleep!

Thank you again for all of your support and love throughout the years. I am so humbled and grateful. I’m not really a hugger, but I’d give you all a huge bear hug if I could! Happy Thanksgiving!

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