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!

Farm Sunset October 2016

Being Here, in 2017

Friends! It’s the start of a new year…and honestly, it’s a time where I can get easily overwhelmed. In the past I’ve written about lofty goals and ideas I want to tackle in the next 350+ days, but this year feels different. I have been struggling to wrap my head around last year and plan what comes next in several facets of my life. But after a chat with a good friend I realized something really important:

I’m already here.

The last three years or so have been a crash course in goals, resolutions and overcoming obstacles. Almost every facet of my life has gone through a fairly extreme overhaul…from my marriage to my career to my parenting status to my family. Illness and health have been a huge factor in the past few years, both for myself and for those I love the most. After really taking a look back on last year and everything I went through, I felt a sense of calm. Did I accomplish every goal I set out for myself last January? No. Not even close. But I learned so much and one of the biggest lessons was that I don’t have to wait until January 1 to decide to change my life for the better. I make that choice on a daily basis.

Farm Sunset October 2016

Last year was a big one for my business. I completely overhauled my pricing and the way I sell my photography. I created and facilitated the 30 Days of Summer Photo Challenge, which had hundreds of participants. I did a dozen television segments. I went to Greece to photograph a refugee camp. And I photographed dozens of families, newborns, children and couples…it was a fantastic year! Personally, I went through many (MANY) challenges, but I’m very proud of how I came through it all, even though there is MUCH to improve upon. One of the biggest personal goals last year was getting fit, slowly and surely, over about nine months of hard work, exercise and nutritional changes. I feel better physically today than I did in my 20s, which is saying something! I am officially in my mid-30s now and I feel stronger than I ever have. I also started working to find ways to make an impact as an activist in my community. This is something I didn’t plan on when 2016 began, but now I’m grateful for the opportunity.

In 2017, I’m looking forward to some more changes in how I do business, with a focus on continuing to be profitable while also serving my family, friends and community. There will hopefully be a few more writing and blogging projects (which took a backseat last year) and maybe even a new creative endeavor or two! I want to create more than I consume, and make the world a little more joyful every day. I am excited to reach out and work with even more creatives and amazing people doing wonderful work in my community.

If you’re interested in working with me in 2017, or you have an awesome project you want to chat about, send me a note at megan@crazybananas.com. Let’s make this the best year yet!

What Dreams May Come…

Today’s the day, and I should be frantically running around, trying to do all the things and check items off my list. But instead I’m sitting in bed with my laptop and the sleeping kitten. I feel oddly calm, which is so unlike me when I’m preparing for travel. Maybe it’s just because this trip is so different from any I’ve ever taken? Maybe it’s because I’m in denial this is actually happening? Maybe I just need more coffee?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always told stories. I tell them through my writing and my photography, and most of the time they are meaningless to anyone else. But that’s okay, because they mean a lot to me. I am made of that stuff that just inherently NEEDS to share, or else my head and my heart might explode.

We talk a lot in our home about using our talents to help others. I may not be perfect or famous or have a million dollars, but I can share my gifts in a way that lifts others up. I’m a storyteller, and my life’s goal is to tell stories for good. To tell the stories that need to be heard. Sometimes those stories are mundane and sometimes they are magnificent.

I met my best friend and chosen sister, Theresa, when I was 8-years-old. In the past few years she has grown so much, and these days I’m the one who looks up to her. She has risen in the academic ranks at her job and in the past year she has begun a very intense research project, which is focused on education rights for Syrian refugee children who have been displaced due to the civil war there.

This summer she reached out and asked if I’d be interested in traveling with her to Greece to photograph the refugees and refugee camps there in conjunction with the United Nations. I couldn’t believe it. This is a dream opportunity for me! Our goal is to learn more about the current state of primary education for refugees in Greece. We want to heighten awareness for support needed for further development of access to education, and the bigger picture for the Syrians, Afghans and other nationalities of refugee children residing there.

I fly to New York today. Tomorrow we leave for Greece.

I am in awe of this opportunity. I know I can’t even fathom yet how this will change me. I think that’s why I’m still laying in my bed, instead of frantically running around. I am preparing, in the only way I know how.

Be still. Be still. Be still.

I will be off the grid while I’m away, but I hope to keep updating social media when I have internet access. I would assume the best bet for photos is to follow my Instagram and for video content to follow me on Snapchat under the name “crazeebananaz” (I love Instagram stories, but it’s still a bit glitchy for me, so I’m going to plan on snapping most things and then uploading to Instagram stories if I can). If you’re able, send some good vibes or prayers or juju or whatever into the universe for us, as we embark on this journey. We can use all the encouragement we can get…

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