2018 Goals Revisited

Happy new year, my friends! I’m still in shock that 2018 is actually over. I mean, it was a great year, but it went so quickly. I didn’t write here as much as I wished, but that was mostly because life/the calendar was so full, it was difficult to find time to sit down and put together a blog post. It’s hard to complain about life being so full, but I do want to attempt to do more writing for fun in 2019, and that’s really what this blog is all about.

But before we get going on the new year, I wanted to revisit some of the goals I shared here last year that would be my focus for 2018. I’m a pro at overshooting when it comes to goals, so last year I decided to focus on three things as opposed to the giant list I usually make for myself. I wrote posts about all of these at the beginning of last year, which you can read here.

Cut Down on Social Media and iPhone Use
As we entered 2018, I was feeling very overwhelmed by social media and the feelings of anxiety that came along with being attached to the entire world through my phone. So in January, I went on a bit of a social media break, and it was the perfect way to start the year. I slowly started posting to my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter again in the spring, as it was difficult to cut the cord completely with my job and my advocacy work. But in May I ended up having an unfortunate experience that convinced me to take another extended break. I ended up completely staying off social media from mid-May through July, and it was WONDERFUL. I am still struggling a bit with what this means for me long term. I know that social media has benefits too, and it’s a necessity in my work, but balance is hard to achieve. This is something I’m going to keep working on in 2019, with a few planned social media breaks on the calendar. You can read more about my social media break and the resources I used in this post.

Focusing on Friendship
My post about how I wanted to put more of a focus on my friendships in 2018 was my most read and commented post of the year! It turns out I definitely wasn’t alone in my feelings about friendship as a mom and woman in my 30’s. This year I did a couple of things that were out of my comfort zone in regards to friendship. I went to lunch and coffee with women in my circle who reached out after reading my post. I sent a note to a group of friends from all different walks of life, asking if they’d like to join in on a group chat in the Voxer App, an app where you can send voice messages to each other as if you’re having a live conversation. Six women said yes and we have been “voxing” for almost a year! It has been such an incredible journey, as many of these women didn’t know each other prior to joining the group, and we’ve developed such a lovely, encouraging space where we share about everything from raising kids, marriage, career and more. The best part for me has been watching my friends BECOME friends with each other. I would call this group one of my biggest wins of 2019.

Consuming vs Creating
After years of spending too much on fast fashion and ill-fitting clothes, in 2019 I decided to take on the challenge of not buying any new clothing. This goal was harder than I anticipated! It’s surprisingly difficult to go to Target and NOT buy a random garment that I don’t need. But I actually did okay on this one. I did end up “cheating” a few times, buying new running sneakers when my old ones wore out, and a new sweater this fall when I bought Lucy some new school clothes, but for the most part, I stuck to my goal. One of the biggest revelations in the process was how LITTLE I really do need. My wardrobe is fairly complete, and save a few specialty items, I have no reason to get anything new. I feel like this goal really changed my buying habits, and even though the year is over, I am finding myself resistant to fast fashion, instead looking to add pieces that I can wear forever or that are handmade.

What goals did you set for yourself last year? How did you do? I certainly wasn’t perfect, but I’m proud of the progress I made in 2018, and I’m looking forward to adding some new intentions to the calendar for 2019!

Never Not Grateful Podcast

Introducing : Never Not Grateful the Podcast!

There is something pretty amazing about finding a creative outlet and losing yourself in it. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had lightening strike twice before in this capacity. First, when I started this blog in 2004. What began as a way for me to let off steam, share with friends and family, and improve my writing voice quickly became one of the best parts of my life. I found myself writing into all hours of the night, only stopping when I could no longer keep my eyes open. I wasn’t writing for the likes or clicks, but because I simply enjoyed it.

Later, I found a similar peace in photography. I would sit at my computer as my family slept, learning new editing techniques and taking online classes. Photography felt like a puzzle that I was learning how to put together. I couldn’t afford to go back to school full time, but I could use every tool the internet put at my fingertips to be the best I could be. At the time, I wasn’t charging for my skills or take photos of others, but instead just doing it for the pleasure of creating. It was a wonderful time in my life.

It’s been a few years since I took these creative endeavors and made them into my career, and while I wouldn’t change a second of it, I do often miss that feeling of joy and freedom that comes from just making something because you feel called to do so, with no thought of outcomes.

I have been noodling around the thought of creating a podcast for a few years, but I never found an idea that really lit me up. I didn’t want to remake any of the amazing podcasts already out there, I wanted to do something new. However, I’ve been lucky enough to have been interviewed for a few awesome podcasts, so I had baseline knowledge of what I needed to make one of my own. And out of nowhere, this past summer (while in the shower because all good ideas come while I’m in the shower) I had finally had an idea for a podcast that I couldn’t shake. You see, that’s how I know a creative inspiration is one that MUST be carried out…when I just can’t get it out of my head. Usually the plans come and go, but this one just kept cropping up in my mind. So I decided to sit down and do some research…how does one create a podcast?

Turns out, my old friend “The Internet” still holds a lot of keys to the mysteries of creativity, and I found a wealth of information to get me started. Now, usually this leads to me becoming overwhelmed and giving up. But not this time!

I slowly started working on this little idea until it became a reality. And today, I’m sharing it with you!

Never Not Grateful Podcast

Never Not Grateful is a podcast about how gratitude can change your life for the better. One of the most significant tools I’ve used in the last five and a half years into my recovery has been cultivating a daily gratitude practice, and I realized this is something that’s not as popular outside of the recovery world. I wanted to share how gratitude has changed my life, and how anyone can use a gratitude practice to make themselves happier and healthier. Of course gratitude makes us feel better emotionally…that’s obvious! But did you know that by consistently practicing gratitude, you can improve your mental and physical health as well? It’s true! Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude sleep better, have more energy, are more alert, live longer and are more optimistic.  So why not give it a shot?

Never Not Grateful is a podcast that will dive deeper into how to create a gratitude practice, how to cultivate it daily, and how to surround yourself with people who encourage thankfulness. We will be talking about specific, simple things you can do TODAY to change your life for the better. I will also be interviewing inspiring people about how they have used gratitude to get through life’s challenges. I have plans to do episodes on motherhood, politics, grief and much more.

This is the first time in a few years that I’ve felt the creative pull from beyond…like I couldn’t rest until this idea was made and put forth into the world. However, I am feeling a little apprehensive. So far the only people that have listened to Never Not Grateful have been those in a trusted circle. It has been received with such joy and support, I have been overwhelmed, and part of me wants to keep it close so it can’t be ruined by critiques and unkindness. But then I remember the whole point of making this thing was to encourage more people to share and cultivate gratitude, and that won’t happen if I keep it all to myself. I hope you enjoy this little project and that it helps you find a little more gratitude in your day.

You can follow Never Not Grateful on Instagram, and listen via most podcast apps, including:

Apple Podcasts/iTunes

Google Podcasts

Stitcher

Spotify

Anchor

Pocket Casts

*If you don’t see your podcast app listed here, try searching for Never Not Grateful within the app itself and it should come up. Click the video below to hear a short preview of our first episode. If you enjoy Never Not Grateful, please rate and review in your podcast app, as that’s the best way for new podcasts to get seen by more people! 

Welcome 2018 Part 3 : Consuming vs Creating

This is the final piece of my series on 2018 intentions…go here to see part one on social media and part two on friendship.

As 2017 came to a close a couple of weeks ago, I decided to re-evaluate several areas of my life, and one that stuck out was my consumerism in the past year. At my core, I’m not a big shopper. I can’t stand buying clothes and I have a lot of anxiety about spending money, especially on myself. But in the last year, due to varied circumstances, I found myself spending more on clothing than in past years. Maybe it was a form of numbing…spending money on “stuff” to make myself feel better, to treat myself or to fill some sort of hole inside me? Or maybe I just needed to replenish my closet after a few big purges and life/career changes? Regardless of the reason, when I looked back on my spending habits last year, I was a bit surprised at how much I spent on clothes for myself. An even bigger surprise was looking around my closet and still feeling like I had nothing to wear…how was that possible?!

Consumerism Vs Creation

When it comes to clothes and apparel, less is definitely more for me. When I have too many choices, I become paralyzed and can’t make a decision. Plus, I found I was purchasing the same items over and over again! It was just silly! I was shopping for sales instead of shopping for pieces (that dress is 50% off, I have to have it!) and that’s not a habit I want to continue.

So this year I’ve made a commitment to myself to not purchase any new clothing, excepting specialty items like underwear or socks. I’m actually pretty excited about the whole thing! I think it will be a fun challenge to make due with what I have. Along with the cost savings to myself and my family, I have also been doing research on the global cost of “cheap” clothing (I have this book on reserve at the library…have you read it?) and how it’s affecting our communities and our planet. As someone who spends a good deal of time working with an organization who’s main goal is to help the poorest people in the world, my blatant consumerism of cheap clothing, most of which is made on the backs of these poor communities, just doesn’t ring true. It’s been fun to see how I can make this work, as more and more people seem to be trying this sort of challenge. I’m excited to start perusing thrift and vintage stores for used garments and have even pondered learning to knit or sew this year. I’m not very crafty by nature, so this would be a pretty massive challenge!

What about you? Have you ever thought about your purchasing habits when it comes to clothing? Would you consider cutting out buying anything new for a year?

Welcome 2018 Goals

Welcome 2018 : Goals, Plans and Social Media

Welcome 2018 Goals

Is anyone else THRILLED to say goodbye to 2017? I have to admit, while last year was full of wonderful, empowering moments for me (lobbying Congress on Capitol Hill, starting a new business and getting my first studio space, helping form a PAC that is hyper-focused on public education and local politics, hosting my first art show to benefit refugees, attending the Women’s March in D.C. to name a few) the overarching theme of the year seemed to be fear and overwhelm, and those are huge triggers for me. I am proud of how many of my friends and family found productive ways to make change and support causes that are important to them in the face of such fear, but all in all, I’m still happy to see 2017 go. Good riddance.

So far, 2018 has felt better, calmer and a bit more hopeful (thank you, Oprah). I have a plethora of goals for the new year in my advocacy and in my business, but I also really want to focus on a few personal goals. I think the biggest theme for this year is to try and live my life with more focus and intention. I know there are certain things that I use to numb out and “relax” that certainly aren’t serving me, and I want to do a better job of cutting those things out of my life. One that comes to mind is social media…how can something that has brought such joy and diversity to my world also be THE WORST THING EVER? When I use social media with intention, I find it to be an amazing tool of connection and creativity. But when I use it to numb out or fill dead time in my day, I feel a bit like I did when I used to drink…tired, depressed and sad. Not because of the content in my feed, necessarily, but because I’m missing out on so much in my real life while I scroll scroll scroll. I keep telling myself I “don’t have time” to do some of the things I really want to do, but when I actually sit down and look at the amount of time I’m spending on social media, I realize I DO have the time, I’m just not prioritizing how I use it.

Welcome 2018 Goals

So for this month (January), I’m doing my best to stay off social media. I can’t quit cold turkey, because I have businesses to run, but I’ve taken everything off my phone except Instagram, which you can’t use from a desktop. Instead, I have logged out of my Instagram account and am only actively logged in to the August Light Studio account. Every couple of days, I log back into my Crazy Bananas account to check direct messages, but I’m not posting, liking, commenting or scrolling. I’m also posting on the August Light and Crazy Bananas Facebook pages (since I don’t have to see my personal Facebook feed to post there, thanks Facebook!). So if you need to reach me, I suggest email as opposed to social media for the time being! Already I have found I have so much more time in the day, and I can do things like write this blog post, balance my budget, read the stack of magazines that’s been sitting by my bed for days and reach out to friends in a more personal way.

I plan on getting more into a few of my other goals for the year in-depth later this month, but the two that are my priorities at the moment are focusing on friendships and becoming a more sustainable shopper, with a goal of not buying any new clothing in 2017. These are both goals that probably deserve their own posts, but you can be sure they are (so far) equal parts challenging and awesome. I am feeling excited and happy about them, instead of dreading how I’m going to make it happen or if I can do it. I think that’s a good sign!

Do you have any 2018 that have you pumped up and ready to go? Let me know in the comments (and maybe not over on social media, since I’m not there at the moment…)!

Introducing: August Light Studio

Can you believe it is already close to the end of August? I can’t either…summer flew by this year, and for good reason. I had planned to slow down the business a little bit, restructure, focus on my advocacy work, and spend as much time at the pool with my kids as possible! By those standards, I’d call this summer a success!

One of my largest projects this summer has been creating a new business, and I’m so excited to be finally launching it TODAY! The name of this new project is August Light Studio, and if you’ve been following me on social media this summer, you’ve probably seen the name bouncing around! I wrote a post over on the August Light Studio website explaining more about the in’s and out’s of August Light, but I wanted to post something here as well, because I’ve had a ton of questions from friends and family wanting to know, “Wait, does this mean it’s the end of Crazy Bananas?!”

The short answer is NO! Crazy Bananas will still be here, just like it has been since 2004 (OMG, I’m seriously a blogging dinosaur, you guys). But things will change a little bit.

One of the main reasons I wanted to start a new brand is because my family life has been slowly changing. I suppose that’s actually one of the mainstays of this blog…it’s constantly evolving based on my life situation. When I first converted this space from a blog into a business almost three years ago, I had just quit my full-time job and one of my kids was still only in preschool part time. I wanted to find a way to convert this space into a place where I could still write about our life, but also share my photography and freelance writing projects, in the hopes of building a sustainable business. I focused on photography, because that was a place where I felt I could grow myself and create a business that would work for my family. I could be home (mostly) during the days with my son, and then work at night and during the weekends. It was a great fit! And by keeping it all in one space, here on Crazy Bananas, I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. I already owned the domain, all the social media handles and had lots of content from all of my blogging years. It worked wonderfully!

But in the past year I’ve felt a big shift in my life and my family’s schedule. Both of my kids are in school full time, but are very active in evening activities. I found myself hiring babysitters to take the kids to and from skating practice and soccer games. I was missing out on important moments, like helping with homework and evening time together as a family. I realized that while I love having a flexible schedule, I needed to focus more of my work hours during the day, between 8:30 and 3:30, when my kids are in school.

With my background in public relations, advertising and marketing, I realized that I had something unique to offer to small businesses and commercial brands. I have extensive knowledge of social media marketing, online branding, and more…and I wanted to combine those skills with my photography business to help brands get more clients and do better work. In the last year I’d started taking on a few business-to-business commercial photography projects, such as headshots for staff or project photography for architects and engineers. It felt like the perfect fit for me, but not necessarily a perfect fit for Crazy Bananas.

The idea for a new studio was formed, one that focuses on branding and business photography, as opposed to personal and family portraiture. I’ve worked for months on putting together a business I’m proud of, and I’m so, so excited to be launching today! Along with our online home at augustlightstudio.com, I have moved into a new physical studio space at the Bauer Building in the Crossroads District in downtown Kansas City. This is literally a dream come true, and I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity!

I have to give a huge shout out to the amazing Jenna Murillo from J. Lynn Designery, who created my logo, branding look and website. She is simply incredible, and her process was simple, streamlined and fun. I always loved getting her emails because I knew there would be something beautiful inside! If you’re looking for a web designer or someone to refresh your brand look, I highly recommend her! Please head over to the August Light Studio website to see more, and make sure to follow August Light Studio on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for the August Light Studio newsletter by clicking here.

Now, back to what this means for Crazy Bananas Creative Studio…don’t worry, it will still be here! I created this blog over 13 years ago, and I have no intention of quitting now. The blog will still exist as it always has, a space for me to share my thoughts, loves, happy moments, advocacy and life in general. The photography section of the site will also be around for the time being, as I plan to continue shooting personal and family portraits. As August Light Studio is only focused on business-to-business and commercial photography, I’d like to keep my portraiture side of the business right here for now. So if you’re looking for family photos, newborn sessions and senior photos, Crazy Bananas is still the place to be. This may change in the future, but I’ll be sure to let you know if and when any changes occur!

Finally, I have to thank my family for their endless support and love as I navigate this new adventure. I don’t really have a rational, linear brain, so the idea for this new studio came in bits and pieces and was often difficult to articulate, but I’m so excited they stuck with me and trusted me to make something great! Onward and upward!

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