Personal Thoughts

10 Things in 2017 I’m Most Proud Of

Like my parents always used to say, it seems like each year passes quicker than the last. In saying that, perhaps that means I’m finally an adult, with the true mark of adulthood coming when each passing year seems shorter and shorter.

Now with all the adult authority I can muster, I declare that 2017 truly passed in the blink of an eye, leaving us on the verge of 2018 before I could even get used to writing “2017” in my journal each day. And although these past twelve months have felt more like two, it is with some level of pride that I look back at what I was able to accomplish. So for my very last blog post of 2017, I wanted to share with you the accomplishments I’m most proud of this year:

 

1. I was published! My images made an appearance in several blogs and a magazine this year!

2. I created over 141 new pieces this year! That’s almost three images per week!

(And in case you were curious, I’ve share my favorite pieces from the year throughout this post.)

 

3) Over 500 new followers have joined the story on instagram, facebook, and my mailing list!

4) I finally tried collaborating with other designers, photographers, and models and it wasn’t half as scary as I thought it would be. In fact, it was actually inspiring AND very motivating!

 

 

5) For someone who claimed she would never write another paper again after graduating from university… I guess I spoke too soon, because this year I published over 40 blog posts!

6) I learned A TON about sewing this year and have ventured into the exciting world of creating my own patterns. Being the control freak that I am, I love having ownership of my entire creation, from conceptualization all the way through to the completed garment.

 

 

7) This might seem silly, but I’m really pleased with the fact that I finally, FINALLY created a calendar for the new year! In the past, I’ve either not had twelve pictures I liked enough to put in a calendar, or December came before I even realized it was time to start selling calendars. Not this year, though!

(Pssst…. you can buy your own copy right HERE).

 

 

8) I finally started Passages! I first had the idea for this series back in the summer of 2014, so to see it finally coming to life has been the most exciting accomplishment this year.

9) My little Freya joined me out in Boston this year, and she even still seems to love me (that, or I’m just a really comfortable puppy pillow at night…)

 

 

 

10) And last, but definitely not least, I would be remiss if I did not bring up the incredible opportunity I have had to work on the artwork for the official Green Rider Book Soundtrack. While starting Passages has been the most personally fulfilling accomplishment, this definitely ranks as the funnest accomplishment of the year. And Kristina and I aren’t even finished!

 

Looking back at all of this, the growth, the achievements, and the lessons learned, I’m saying goodbye to 2017 with joy at how this year went, and looking forward to 2018 with eagerness. I hope 2018 will be another year of growth, happiness, and success for all of us!

By | 2017-12-27T12:54:35+00:00 December 27th, 2017|Personal Thoughts|0 Comments

The #1 Thing I’ve Learned as a Photographer

Today I wanted to ask: what do you think is the single greatest lesson photography has taught me?

 

Wrong (it’s actually not how to take a good picture).

 

Get 20% off this print or any print of your choice when you sign up for my mailing list right HERE.

 

What photography has taught me is how to be patient. It has taught me to keep taking one step at time towards my goal and how to be happy with what I have achieved.

I realized this during a conversation with a friend a few months ago. After sharing how frustrated I was that I felt my life had stagnated, he shared something with me that changed my perspective.

He did this by sharing how he views progress. In life, we often wait until we’ve mastered something to say we’re better at it. We’re only better at violin when we’ve mastered a new piece. We’re only better at painting when we’ve completed a new portrait. We’re only better at hiking once we’ve reached the top of the mountain. In reality, though, we were better each time we picked up the violin, each time we sat down in front of the canvas, and each time we took a step up that mountain.

 

Get 20% off this print or any print of your choice when you sign up for my mailing list right HERE.

 

And then I realized, that just because I haven’t reached my ultimate goal of having a self-sustaining photography career, does not mean I haven’t made progress in my life. Every image I edit, every shoot I complete, every magazine submission that is accepted, and every blog post I write brings me that much closer to my dream.

We take one step at a time in life.  We get steadily more experienced, and even though we may be exhausted by the time we get to our destination, it was the patience to endure and to keep walking that got us there.

 

Get 20% off this print or any print of your choice when you sign up for my mailing list right HERE.

 

So the biggest lesson photography has taught me is not how to be a better artist or how to tell a story better (although those are important). More importantly, photography has taught me how to have the patience to keep doing what I’m passionate about, even if it means just taking one more step every day for a year, or three years, or five years.

One day, I’ll make it to the top of that mountain. And I’ll see it wasn’t the top of the mountain that was my success story… it was the hike that brought me there.

 

P.S. I’m currently clearing out my current stock in my shop to make way for new products coming November 15th. I’ll be offering a coupon code for 20% off your order to those signed up for my mailing list. Click here to join and to get your coupon!

 

By | 2017-10-31T14:51:32+00:00 November 1st, 2017|Personal Thoughts, Shop|0 Comments

Alright…. Maybe It’s Time You Took a Break?

There is one thing you should know about my family:

We are terrible with sympathy.

If you want a listening ear when life is hard and a fervent “I’m so sorry!”, it’s probably best you not come to us.

Of course, we’re not heartless, and we are sorry that sometimes life deals undeserving people a bad hand. But what you’ll receive, instead, is a suggestion on how to solve your issue.

Which is why, at the end of summer, I wasn’t surprised when, after a particularly lengthy amount of venting on my part,  my mom gave me some advice, rather than some sort of sympathetic phrase or reassuring sentiment.

Rather, she told me to take a break from my photography. To take some time, whether a week, two weeks, or even a month, and not do anything photography related. And despite how crazy it sounded, I did it.

 

Because deep down, I knew I needed it.

 

 

And so I spent the next two weeks doing things I hadn’t allowed myself to do in a very long time. Because I wasn’t obsessing over the latest batch of photos I needed to edit, or my next blog post I needed to write, I had time to cook nice meals. I watched tv. I worked on personal sewing projects. I read like I used to in high school (sitting on the couch literally all day, promising my roommates that I had indeed moved at some point between breakfast and dinner, despite all evidence to the contrary…)

(Ok, maybe it was only three times: to grab lunch from the kitchen, use the restroom, and answer the door for the UPS guy… but they don’t need to know that…)

Anyway, my point is not to wax eloquent about the benefits of providing solutions over validation when someone comes seeking a listening ear. In fact, normally I actually prefer people to be sympathetic rather than problem-solvers when I share my frustrations and hurts. Because I think most of the time people know how to fix the situation. They just want to know they’re not alone. However this time, this was something I would have never thought of on my own, and deep down, I knew it was what I needed. As Banksy so perfectly summarizes:

 

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quite.”

-Banksy

 

Not once in those entire two weeks did I pick up my camera or even open photoshop. During those two weeks, I saw so many changes and improvements in my happiness and wellbeing, changes I had been trying to find for so long. And suddenly they were right there in front of me, blocked from view by my obsessive grip on my photography.

 

(Of course, don’t get me wrong. I still LOVE photography, and I loved photography then. It is my passion! But just because you are passionate about something, doesn’t mean you should be obsessive about something. There is a HUGE difference, which I learned during my two weeks off.

 

 

So since I have had some time to think back on what I learned during this time (and because I love creating lists), I wanted to share the five reasons I think you and I should take a break every once in awhile:

 

First, you need a chance to catch your breath every now and then.

Before my self-imposed break, I woke up in the morning and worked on my photography. During my lunch breaks, I worked on my photography. As soon as I got home, I worked on my photography. Every. Single. Day. Anything not directly related to my photography was quickly brushed aside to the “I’ll do it when I have time” pile (which meant “never”). Looking back, I realized this pace was a frantic one, and it was wearing me down. So during my “vacation”, I did a lot of things…

Let me rephrase…. I did a lot of relaxing things:

I slept. A LOT.

I made nice dinners, as opposed to my go to “dinner” of peanut butter toast (… it has protein, right?)

I watched Netflix when I wanted.

I finished reading a series I had been trying to finish FOR MONTHS.

I sewed clothes just for me.

And most importantly, I didn’t plan out my days. I just did what I felt like doing… and once my two weeks were up… I felt rested. I felt better than I had in a long, long time.

 

Second, if your mind is cluttered, there isn’t room for inspiration.

Saying I was inspired by my vacation is perhaps a little misleading. I didn’t suddenly look at the green beans I was cooking for dinner one night and realize I needed to do a photo series on vegetables (definitely not my style). But after my vacation I felt much more rested, which helped my mind feel clearer. Suddenly there was more brain power and my thoughts were able to reach much deeper as I worked through my photography ideas.

 

Third, you need a chance to check in with your health and your happiness.

My vacation also gave me the time to evaluate where I was in many aspects of my life, primarily my business, my health, and my happiness. Once I wasn’t consumed with obsessively working on my photography, I could see that my business was growing better than I thought it was and it was growing in the direction I wanted it to go (even better)! I could also see that not sleeping was making me feel emotionally unstable (sorry mom for all the dramatic phone calls)! And from a spiritual standpoint, I realized I wasn’t doing the things I needed to be doing to find happiness with where I was (like taking a moment to appreciate all the incredible things I had in my life and recognize everything that had been happening with my photography).

 

 

Fourth, you need time to reorganize and prioritize the things that matter most.

With that perspective, refreshed, open-eyed, and inspired, I saw the changes I needed to make in my life. Areas I could improve on so they didn’t stress me out as much. I needed to remember where I started and recognize how far I’d come… much more often. I needed to take time for myself. Not myself as in Madeline Shayne the photographer, but myself as in Madeline… the girl who loves to read fantasy, be outside, refurbish furniture, and take photographs of beautiful things (and maybe watch a little anime or the Great British Baking Show every once in awhile).

It’s ok if I don’t shoot as much as I wanted to in a month.

It’s ok if I don’t grow my following as much as I would like.

It’s ok if I don’t make as much money as I had hoped.

What’s really important is that I take the time to be in the moment. To enjoy the process of creating, purely for beauty’s sake. To remember who I am as an individual, of which photography is only one aspect. There are many sides to me, and I shouldn’t let one of them completely overpower all the others.

 

And finally, taking a break gives you time to prepare for the next sprint… or marathon…

When my vacation was over, I felt so much better about everything in my life. I felt organized and refreshed. And I felt ready to start again. To give it my all again (with maybe a little more time set aside more frequently for the things that bring me joy outside of photography).

And do you know what happened once I reached that point?

I got an email from Kristina A Bishoff Music, telling me we had permission from Kristen Britain to create the artwork for the official Green Rider Book Soundtrack.

Was I a frantic mess again once I got that news? Yes. Absolutely!

Did I have time to breath or really think about anything for the next month and a half? Not really… but I knew it was temporary, and I knew that once it was all over, my number one priority was to take it slow and to be proud of what I had accomplished.

Right now I have about 5,000 images to go through. I have costumes I need (and want!) to photograph. I have new shoots I need to make costumes for. And I have more client shoots this weekend.

But I also have a puppy, and the New England countryside surrounding me. The outdoors are calling, so for now I’ll work on one image at a time, enjoy my time with Freya, and appreciate my life and what I’ve been able to accomplish in this year of growth.

Because it’s pretty remarkable when you take a minute to appreciate it.

By | 2017-10-25T12:28:17+00:00 October 25th, 2017|Personal Thoughts|2 Comments

Let’s Make This Simple: DON’T Follow Me Everywhere (Unless You Really Want To)!

To be completely honest, I don’t want you to follow me on every single social media platform.

I’m serious. Please don’t.

 

…let me explain:

I get it. You’re busy. Goodness knows I don’t have the desire OR time to consistently and methodically check my Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, email, and my top five favorite blogs all in one sitting… and I am pretty sure you don’t either.

So let me help you pick which platform you should be following me on, and which you shouldn’t.

 

Crown by Gems and Bones Jewelry: https://www.etsy.com/shop/gemsandbones

 

#1 – My blog:

It’s kind of a given, but my blog is where I share thoughts, insights, and general updates on what I’m up to. As you’ve read in the past, you’ll have noticed that I’ve shared everything from why I think collaborating is important to the latest photos from my Passages and Green Rider projects.

 

#2 – My mailing list:

With my mailing list, there are two things my email subscribers get for signing up:

  1. I let everyone on my mailing list know when a new blog post has been published, so you know exactly when to check. It’s the best way to stay up to date with my work without having to check my blog every day to see if I’ve posted a new update.
  2. I ALSO send out all the behind the scenes details behind my new series Passages to my email subscribers (like what inspired me to create each image, progress on the prop and costume making, the symbolism behind the props and costumes, and other interesting facts that relate to the series).

Now, why shouldn’t you join my mailing list?

If you hate checking email and deep down in your heart you know my emails are just going to be added to the 5,331 unread emails currently sitting in your inbox, please don’t sign up for this. I’m serious.

Here’s why:

  1. There’s nothing more annoying then getting emails you don’t read (reminding you of all the time you DON’T have to sit down and read them). I don’t want my emails to be the source of this frustration for you!
  2. The truth is, you are actually doing me a disservice every time you receive one of my emails and you don’t open it! Really! Every email I send out that doesn’t get opened brings my readership stats down, and that’s not good for business! Now, this is ABSOLUTELY not to say that I don’t want you following my work, because I do! I promise!

If you do, however, like getting new emails in your inbox and you want a short weekly update on what I’ve been up to (including new images I’ve created), then my mailing list is definitely for you!

Click here to sign up for mailing list!

 

 

 

#3 – Facebook:

Facebook is a bit like my mailing list in that I share all of my blog updates here. I also share new items that have been added to my shop, as well as previews of what is happening on my Patreon profile. Like my newsletter, it’s the best way to keep up to date with what’s happening, without having to check my blog every day to see if I’ve posted something.

And while I don’t share any exclusive behind the scenes details on my Facebook page (remember, that’s only for my email subscribers), following me here is a convenient way to keep up with my work by incorporating it into your daily routine… because we all know you (and I) can all too easily get caught scrolling down the Facebook rabbit hole…

If this sounds like you, do yourself a favor and add some beautiful images to your jaunt down the rabbit’s hole.

Follow me on Facebook here!

 

#4 – Instagram:

Personally, Instagram is my favorite. But I get that it might not be yours. If it is though, Instagram is the best place to follow me if you want to see my work every single day. Each day (around 12 noon EST) I post a new image, sharing my latest work, products I have for sale, inspirational quotes, throwback pieces, and many other things. It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s casual, and if that’s your style you’ll definitely want to come join me.

Why you shouldn’t follow me on instagram:

If you don’t like seeing anything that is not STRICTLY photography related, don’t follow. On my Instagram, in addition to my photography, I also share some of my favorite quotes, landscape shots, and decor details from around my house, so if you only ever want to see my photography, you might find this annoying. If you love quotes, landscape shots, and home decor, though, come join me!

Follow me on Instagram here!

 

 

 

 

#5 – Patreon:

Now, as much as I love Instagram, Patreon is currently my latest obsession. If you missed the announcement on that and are wondering what the heck Patreon even is, I’ll explain:

Patreon is essentially a mix between a kickstarter and a monthly subscription box. With crowdfunding, I can create and send my products (like greeting cards, prints, and thank you packages) to those who pledge a certain amount of money (I have different reward packages ranging from $1/month – $50/month).

So if the idea of spending a little bit of money each month in exchange for what feels like the Madeline Shayne Photography Subscription Box, then Patreon is a really fun place to follow me! It’s been exciting for me these past few months getting to reward my friends for following me and giving me their support all these years and I think it’s been just as fun for them to be on the receiving side.

To learn more about it, check it out here!

 

So, in summary:

  • If you want to read all my personal thoughts (which may be a bit overly dramatic sometimes, but if nothing else, there is humor to be found in that), read my blog.
  • If you want to know all the symbolism and meaning behind my new series Passages, and notified whenever a new blog post is up, sign up for my mailing list.
  • If you want to stay up to date with my work and you just don’t have the time to keep checking email, my Facebook page is the perfect thing to follow.
  • Which is also the case with my instagram… especially if you want to see fun little updates and uplifting thoughts every day.
  • And finally, if you want to be rewarded for the time you’ve devoted to following my work these past few years (because you DEFINITELY deserve it), pledge to my Patreon. I’d love the chance to send you some of my favorite images and gifts the old school way.
    Because, in my opinion, life is just better when you get real mail.

 

I hope this has cleared up the confusion and helped you to see the best way to follow my work! As always, thank you for your support and for participating in this journey!

 

By | 2017-10-18T11:50:44+00:00 October 18th, 2017|Announcement, Patreon, Personal Thoughts|0 Comments

I’d Like To Introduce Myself

While I was home in Arkansas, I finally did something that I’ve been very much wanting to do for quite some time:

I filmed an “about me” video.

This may seem like a strange thing to be wanting as badly as I did, but each time I looked at my About Me page on my Patreon, it just felt so… stationary. I wanted something that was more alive and could give you a better idea of who I am and why I create the way I do.

So, while doing a shoot I had planned to do while back in Arkansas, I had my brother film some footage and (combined with other snips and clippings of my life) began to compile a video that would give you some sort of an idea of who I am.

In this video, there is footage of me in some of my very favorite places back home in Arkansas, at work in my new studio space (which I’ll be sharing more of once everything is all settled), and of my shoots. I’ll let the video do the rest of the talking:

 

Watch my “about me” video here on my Patreon profile!

 

This video is honest. It’s me, and that’s what I love most about it. What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know!

By | 2017-09-12T21:20:23+00:00 September 13th, 2017|Announcement, Behind the Scenes, Personal Thoughts|0 Comments

Losing My Faith During the Climb

I had a completely different post written for today.

But yesterday, something told me to write this instead.

I kept telling myself that it wasn’t relevant to the news I have to share. I’ve also told myself that I’ve already discussed my frustrations and whined more than enough on this blog. Neither of these arguments, however, could prevent me from feeling like what I had originally prepared was not what I should be sharing today.

Recognizing that these promptings to change course have often led to good places, I guess I will stop fighting it. So here I am, 100% honest and (quite possibly) ready to embarrass myself entirely with my exaggerated whining.

 

 

At the beginning of the month, I spent some much needed time back home in Arkansas with my family. While I had planned this trip months in advance, I had no idea how much I would have needed this trip when I booked the flights.

As it turns out, in the weeks leading up to my trip, I was not in the best of places. Ever since I moved to Boston, I have struggled with purpose. That’s not to say I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew that and I still do. I just didn’t know how to get there. After being led so unwaveringly towards Boston prior to my move in June of 2015, at the time I felt that this move was the first of what would be many steps on the path to what I wanted. When I arrived in this city, however, I suddenly found that all of the guidance I had  previously depended on had unexplainably vanished.

I prayed a lot about this… and my prayers often sounded like “I’m here… what’s next?”

But I didn’t get any answers. I even tried making my own decisions, rather than waiting for answers, knowing that often Heavenly Father wants us to decide. But every step I took, every decision I tried to make felt wrong. Leaving Boston felt wrong. Looking for a new job felt wrong. Moving back home felt wrong. And with every new direction I faced feeling wrong, still I fought the only option left to me: keeping the course and continuing to do what I was doing. That couldn’t be the answer… to just keep going? Could it? My life is one that has been built on constant change. On constantly taking a step forward and upward, and I knew my answer would resemble that trajectory. And yet, despite how much I prayed… still I got no answer. By the time my two year anniversary of life in Boston arrived, I was angry.

I was angry with God.

I refused to pray.

I was giving up.

 

 

Ooof, that’s dramatic.

But it’s the truth. Never in my life have I been angry with God. I’ve been angry with people many times in my life… but never with my Heavenly Father. And NEVER have I decided to take my anger out by refusing to pray to him.

But I had had enough.

You know how they always say at church that you should have faith during your hard times, not just when life is great? Well, in that moment, I was the worst offender. In my depression, I was absolutely certain that Heavenly Father was purposefully ignoring me.

And yet, despite my anger, I decided to give it one more try. Before flying home, I said one more prayer. And it was a simple one:

“When I go back to Arkansas, tell me, even if it’s with just the slightest of an impression, whether or not I should move back to Arkansas.”

I just needed some sort of guidance. With low expectations, I kept my prayer simple.

Miraculously, the weekend before I flew back, I received word that a potential project I had been exploring had been given the green light. Maybe God was listening… but I wasn’t willing to bet on it, just yet. And yet, when I flew home, I had the faintest of hopes that perhaps Heavenly Father wasn’t ignoring me… and that maybe… just maybe… he would actually answer this one small prayer.

 

 

 

One of the central themes of Passages is the acorn, and I feel this symbol is entirely applicable in this situation. I clung to that little seed of faith, hoping that at the end of my trip, I would come back with something

 

And while I was home, I actually received my answer.

It wasn’t earth-shattering… no one screamed it in my ear. But I had a feeling, and when I boarded my flight back to Boston, I found that I once again had hope. I also found that I had come to a few realizations:

The prayers I had been saying, never actually went unanswered. Rather, they were being answered just a tiny bit, every single day. So tiny, that I never even saw it happening. The fact that I have a job that allows me to leave work physically AND mentally at 5 pm every day has been part of the answer. The fact that I have friends who are always willing to model for me whenever I need to create something has been part of the answer. The fact that I, the antithesis of a morning person, have somehow had the energy to wake up at 5 am every morning to work on my photography has been part of the answer. Every choice presented to me, every friendship made, and every new creative habit formed have been part of the answer.

I was just too blinded by my impatience to see it.

While I was back in Arkansas, I shot the next scene of Passages, and it’s funny how much of a “coincidence” it was that I shot the particular scene I did: the very beginning of Chloë’s grand adventure. Thinking back on where I was, and on where I am now, I can’t help but feel that Passages really has become much like a diary for me. Like Chloë in this scene, I am once again filled with hope and ready to see what lies ahead of me on my journey.

 

A preview of one of the images from Scene 1, which I will be sharing next week!

 

I’m no longer angry at Heavenly Father, thankfully. Recent events have convinced me that He was never actually ignoring me… that he has been answering my prayers all along. Passages and the Green Rider project aren’t just something that Heavenly Father handed me after I threw a temper tantrum and decided to stop talking to Him. They are two projects that He has been guiding me towards one tiny and seemingly unimportant decision at a time. How wrong I was to assume that He has stopped guiding me, caring about me, or answering me.

As a friend recently told me, we often mark our successes and triumphs by reaching the pinnacle of the mountain. What we often forget, though, is that every step up that mountain are just as important as that last step to the top. Every step are individual moments of success that lead us to the ultimate achievement. Every step should be celebrated just as much as our final climb.

 

Like Chloë in the first scene, I didn’t come back from Arkansas to start this next adventure with an undeniably concrete path or some grand answer to my prayers. But I came back full of hope and happiness. I came back ready to start the adventure.

And so, it is on that note, that I want to share a small something I have been working on over the past few weeks: my first ever vlog update! All the work I have put into this image has been my release from all these frustrating feelings I have had lately, and I have found that it has been fun to talk through my ideas with someone (even if it was just the camera). So if you want to see how I created the costume for the Passages scene I discussed in this post, as well as some footage from the day I shot this back in Arkansas, come check it out. I’ll share a little preview here, but you’ll want to visit my Patreon to see the full patron-only exclusive vlog update!

 

 

See the full video here!

By | 2017-08-31T07:01:21+00:00 August 31st, 2017|Announcement, Passages, Personal Thoughts|0 Comments

On Indeterminate Growers and a Delayed Realization

Over the past year, I’ve been learning perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned about growing my photography business. And it was the LAST lesson I, as the introverted artist that I am, EVER wanted to take to heart:

Networking isn’t just a good business practice, IT. IS. ESSENTIAL.

I cannot do it alone.

And of course, I may find “success”… but can I really call it that if I don’t have anyone helping me out, cheering me on along the way, and celebrating with me when I finally “make it”?

(Other than my family and friends, of course, who I know will always be there.)

In my opinion, reaching the “top” alone is not success.

 

 

This vein of thought all stems from a couple weeks ago, when April Bowles Olin, the mastermind behind Blacksburg Belle published a case study of my business on her blog. The intent of the case study was to share with her followers how successful her membership program, Sunday Society, has been in helping its members grow their businesses.

(PS…. it’s been very successful)

Prior to publishing the case study, April took the time to sit down with me and go over my answers to the questions she had sent me several weeks prior, when I first expressed interest in participating in her case study. As we talked, she asked me what had been the best part of Sunday Society in helping me grow my business.

Now, when I had first answered her questions, my answer to this particular question had been different. However, in the time between my initial responses and our phone call several weeks later, a new month came, and with it, a new monthly challenge within Sunday Society: improving our networking.

 

Uh… hold up. I work alone. My art is myself and I don’t need OR want anyone else involved.

And I stubbornly stuck to that story through the entirety of that monthly challenge.

 

 

However, as the month began to wrap up, I began to have two realizations:

1.  I realized just how frustrated I was with my current situation, of the almost stagnant growth I was seeing with my business

– and –

2.  I realized this situation was never going to be fixed by stubbornly telling myself I would be able to do it all on my own (I guess I have control issues…)

 

Metaphorically speaking, before this networking challenge, I felt as if I was a tiny fish convincing myself not to make the leap from the comfort of my goldfish bowl to the enormity of the ocean. I told myself that I was either going to be eaten alive, or lose myself and what made my art my own in the vastness of what was out there.

But in continuing with this metaphor, here is a very interesting fact about fish: they are indeterminate growers. This means that as long as the quality of their environment is good they will keep growing. They can even outgrow their living conditions, if their water is clean and the food they eat is healthy.

 

 

When our month of networking was up (and I still had not reached out to a single person), I began to realize something: sure, making that leap may have felt like I was dooming myself to failure in such a massive way, or that I was departing from what made my art unique to myself. But if I didn’t make that leap, even if I was doing everything right… even if I was consistently  creating new work, writing a blog post every week, and using all the right hashtags in my social media posts, eventually I was going to outgrow the tank of my own capabilities.

I would have felt as if my talents, although well practiced and honed to what I wanted them to be, would be stuck in that tiny bowl, unable to reach out to the wider ocean, to the audience I longed to reach.

 

You can’t do it alone. I can’t do it alone. We were not put on this earth to wander through our lives by ourselves. We are meant to interact with and connect to the thousands upon thousands of people we cross paths with throughout the course of our lives. Why on earth was I so caught up in the notion that my business, my art, would be any different?

 

 

And suddenly I realized, the one thing that was holding me back was the fact that I had tried so hard to do it all alone.

 

Last month I reached out to twenty fellow creatives. Costume makers, prop makers, and even a musician.  Five of them got back to me. The first one wrote an almost scathing letter in return, telling me how little financial sense it made for him to work with me.

I was humiliated. I could feel my cheeks warming by degrees with each word I read of his response. I wanted to write back and say “I’m sorry, that was stupid of me. Forget I ever asked!” But I refused to allow myself to be defeated by that.

And then I got another response from another creative.

And do you know what she said? “I would be honored to have my work in your photos.”

 

“I would be honored.”

 

That creative is the maker of the headpieces you see in the images I am sharing today.

 

 

I have since emailed many more designers and makers and am in talks with several of them about future collaborations. My follower counts have been increasing ever since, and I finally, FINALLY, feel like I’m no longer screaming for attention.

Am I 100% where I want to be yet? No. I still have a long way to go before I can make the leap to a full-time artist. But I’m getting there.

As I sat there and talked to April, telling her how my answers had changed and about the things I had learned, I began to realize something important: the world in which I wanted to live, the world where I did it all myself and was independent of any one else, is no longer the world in which I want to stay. I don’t want to stay in the goldfish bowl, left to swim in circles endlessly in my own space. In making the leap into the ocean, I may feel completely overwhelmed at times and may lose my direction, but in reaching out to others, I have learned that I can indeterminately grow. I can keep learning as long as I keep seeking out those around me.

I have learned that I don’t need to do it by myself and suddenly, I don’t feel so alone anymore. And that brings me so much joy.

By | 2017-08-05T13:49:45+00:00 July 25th, 2017|Personal Thoughts|3 Comments

27 Things I’ve Learned This Year (and My FAVORITE Pieces)

To be completely honest, this is my absolute favorite post to share each year. In fact, it’s the only blog post that I actually start writing up weeks before I plan on releasing it, and it’s not just because I always post it the Wednesday before my birthday. Rather, it’s because I enjoy new beginnings and starting over, and that’s what this post represents.

 

So…. a new year. A new age… Twenty. Seven. I’ll be honest in sharing that part of me is dreading these two specific digits. It means I’m definitely getting older and I sometimes find myself dwelling too much on the gap between where I am and where I had envisioned myself at this age.

 

But another part of me is excited. Excited to start a new year of life. To change things up if I want to and to learn more about who I am. And that’s the part of me that has been able to create this list. To recognize all the lessons I’ve learned and look forward to what this knowledge will help me achieve.

 

So, without further ado, 27 things I’ve learned this year (accompanied by 15 of my very favorite pieces), shared on the eve of my 27th birthday:

 

1. You don’t always get what you want, when you want it. And sometimes you don’t ever get what you want. It doesn’t mean, though, that life has to be terrible, for there are far greater things ahead than what we think we want right now.

 

 

2. You can travel the world, but everything you really need can be summarized in just six letters: Family.

3. If you want something, don’t just work for it. Plan for it.

 

 

4. You will have to see a doctor at some point. Get over it (but yes, visiting the doctor’s office is as bad as you think. So avoid it as much as possible).

5. Don’t make decisions when you’re upset.

 

 

6. It pays to follow through. With projects, with people, with everything. Either you learn from it or you get stronger. Both are excellent reasons to keep trying.

7. Life hardly ever goes according to plan.

 

 

8. Yes, you do get seasonal depression.

9. Yes. Dye the hair pink.

10. Focusing inward makes you more miserable, if that’s all you ever focus on.

 

 

11. Getting blood drawn isn’t half so bad as getting a shot, as it turns out.

12. It’s been far too long since you’ve left the country. GO. SOMEWHERE.

13. Silk Chiffon is a really difficult material to sew with.

 

In the Realm’s of Gold

 

14. Patience is not just a virtue. It is essential to growth.

15. Speeding tickets suck. Like… $120 suck.

 

 

16. You can’t do it alone and you will not find success without friends and without support. Even if you achieve your goals, you will have no one at the end to congratulate you, and you certainly won’t have anyone to cheer you on along the way.

 

 

17. Don’t argue with people. You will lose. Winning arguments may be some individuals’ superpower, but it is not yours.

 

 

18. Don’t create what you’re not passionate about.

19. Sewing sleeves onto a bodice is the absolute worst part of sewing.

 

 

20. Paying for your own health and dental insurance definitely makes you feel like an adult.

21. Some people are just not going to like you. Plain and simple. And that’s ok. Don’t dwell on it. Their opinion doesn’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.

 

 

22. Really… truly…. All you need is twenty seconds of courage. Twenty seconds to pack your bags. Twenty seconds to get in the car. Twenty seconds to push the “call” button. Time and momentum will carry you the rest of the way.

 

23. Don’t try to get out of Boston on a Thursday or Friday afternoon. Unless you enjoy sitting in an I-95, I-93, or I-90-shaped parking lot.

 

 

24. You probably will never see huge, drastic changes. But recognize that little by little, one incremental change at a time, you will get there.

25. Scoop N’ Scootery is the supreme ruler of Peanut-butter-ice-cream-topping-hood. Four words: Peanut. Butter. Bomb. Sundae.

 

 

26. Faith is not made in the moments when you see your path most clearly, or when you hear His voice the loudest. Faith is when you can’t see anything, when all you hear is silence, and yet you still believe and you still have patience in His plan.

 

 

27. Perhaps it won’t work out. In fact, odds are, it probably won’t. But don’t sell yourself short by not trying. Because one day, you will say the right thing, go to the right place, try the right tactic, or meet the right person. But not if you don’t keep trying. Like fishing, you won’t know until you’ve already thrown your hook. So try it. Do it. Say it.

 

 

P.S. Don’t forget, tomorrow I’ll be announcing the winner of my giveaway and my new shop! If you’re not on my mailing list, click HERE to sign up and be entered to win a free print of your choice!

By | 2017-07-11T12:07:06+00:00 June 21st, 2017|Personal Thoughts|0 Comments

Fighting Through “Creative Winters”: 7 Ways to Beat the Slump

I often like to think that creativity is much like the changing of the seasons. Quite fickle in its direction, at times I have plucked ideas left and right from the creative garden I have planted. At others, I have watched in dismay as everything I’ve planted withers and disappears into the frosty winter earth. However, throughout the years, I have found that all seasons change and, with patience and fortitude, all creative winters come to an end.

 

 

And all it really comes down to, is knowing where to look to find new ideas, budding into a new spring of stories and fairy tales. For myself, I have found several places where, when I go searching, I always return with a giddiness in my heart that can only be alleviated by an open journal, my ideas pouring onto the pages. While inspiration can come from many places, I wanted to share a few places that, through the years, have been the most helpful in guiding me through these creative winters:

 

First, I watch a tutorial or a class. This may seem like a given, but sometimes it’s the obvious things that can be the most helpful. Apart from teaching you how to acquire a new skill, seeing how other people work can often help you shake up your routine and try something you otherwise would not have thought to try. Recently, I watched Bella Kotak and Pratik Naik’s Creative Live course “Fine Art Conceptual Photography from Shoot through Post-Processing”. As I watched Bella guide us through her process, I wanted to grab my camera and shoot something, anything, at that very moment.

 

 

Second, I will never not be inspired by a good book. Right now, I’m re-reading an old favorite (the Green Rider series). While I don’t feel the need to go out and perfectly recreate the characters or story line, I have felt the urge to create something inspired by this favorite series of mine. The inspiration can be something small (the books have made me want to really experiment with the color green) but that one small detail always sets me to imagining once again.

 

Third, I learn a new skill. My current interest: using a soldering iron (I’m hoping that with proficiency comes the ability to stop burning my fingers, dripping hot metal where it shouldn’t be and melting my clothes…). Currently, I’m working on a small crown and I’m GUESSING that as soon as I solder that last brass stamping on, I’ll be wanting to throw it on my head and create a new piece.

 

 

Fourth, I go location scouting (or in non-photographer: I go for a walk or a hike). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself walking in the forest or through a beautiful field, itching to bring new stories to life. It’s as if my imagination has run off and all I can do is scramble after it, attempting to catch up.

 

Fifth, I copy someone. But, I don’t actually copy them. Rather, I pick one small detail that I like and recreate it in my own way. One of my favorite artists is the late James C. Christensen. Upon occasion, I have found myself making wardrobe choices for my pieces based off of one of his paintings. The end product never looks like his pieces, but there is an element of whimsy that carries over. Or with Bella Kotak’s work, her ability to transform colors into the most exquisite jewel tones constantly has me dreaming up ideas of how I can create my own jewel toned pieces.

 

Sixth, I am often able to pull myself out of the creative doldrums when I watch a particularly artistic movie. The first time I ever watched The Fall, I was mesmerized. Everything about that movie was absolutely spectacular. The colors were so vibrant, and the costumes so exquisite, that I still think about that movie to this day. Occasionally, I come across another movie like that, and every time I do, I find my imagination wandering for weeks afterwards.

 

 

Finally, when I find myself truly stuck (more than a hike, book, or tutorial can turn around), I start a new project…. I have found that when I get completely stuck in the middle of a project, it is because my eyes have become blind to what I should be seeing. In these situations, I find I must walk away entirely for a little while. Without the weight of my unfinished project nagging at me incessantly, I can once again breathe easy, and later re-approach my piece with new eyes and greater creativity.

 

If, like me, you have found yourself in the midst of these dreadful creative winters, remember to try something new. I firmly believe that creative blocks are a result of performing the same routine on a… well, routine basis. Just as there is no deviation in a mass-production factory, creativity cannot be produced from a life lived exactly the same, day in and day out. You must branch out. Learn new things.

 

So go out of your comfort zone, because that’s where dreams are realized.

 

Yours,

By | 2017-06-01T19:18:03+00:00 June 1st, 2017|Personal Thoughts|0 Comments

Timing Is A Total… B-Word

I just don’t have it in me right now to share what I had originally planned for you today. For the past few days, some thoughts have been weighing heavily on my mind and in an effort to be as authentic as I can, I’ve decided to instead share these thoughts, which seem to be endlessly circling in my mind lately.
A small disclaimer: I’m going to get very real with this post.

 

… deep breath…

 

Timing can really just be a…. b****, sometimes.

 

I’ve realized this after a few particular events these past few weeks have forced me to face this reality. What these events have taught me is a lesson I’d rather not swallow, but that, by talking it through with you, will hopefully make it a little bit more palatable. The lesson is this: you are never going to get exactly what you want, when you want, how you want it.

 

 

These rather grim thoughts stem, I believe, from one fundamental aspect of myself, and that is my imagination. Of course, I consider imagination to be one of the greatest gifts God has given me. With it I see new worlds and find ways to depict emotion in a tangible and beautiful way.

 

However, imagination has, at times, also been my greatest curse. The same tool that allows me to weave tales of magic and peace, also leads me to create expectations for situations and my own future that are often not fully realized.
And because I am a perfectionist, the fact that reality often falls short of these expectations can sometimes leave me feeling absolutely crushed. I begin to believe every hope I have ever had is just a fantasy.
Something that’s just not meant for me.

 

 

But here is the reality of life: these things are completely out of our control. At any given point, there are a million choices, actions, and intricacies that affect how your day, week, month, or year will turn out. Someone was late, someone made the wrong choice, or the weather wasn’t what we were expecting. Everything about life is centered around two things: everyone is capable of making their own choices, and, consequently, everything changes. Everything.

 

And here’s where this all ties in: When I moved to Boston (almost two years ago now), I thought two things would happen. First, I thought I would get married, and second, I thought I would start making a living off of my photography. In moving here, I felt as if I was making concrete steps towards achieving the two most important goals of my life. And I am not even close. While I might have made my choices about what I want, it isn’t just me that determines the results.

 

What is currently happening in my life certainly is not how I pictured the thread of my life to unravel. And as much as I hate it, I find myself at the mercy of others’ decisions and a timeline I would not have chosen. So as the events of the past few weeks have unfolded, I decided to seek the comfort found I can usually find in scanning through quotations, one of my favorite things to do when I am upset. As I scrolled through Pinterest (perhaps the best resource for this sort of thing, or really, any sort of thing), I found one quote that led me to begin to ask myself two questions:

 

Madeline, do you allow the timing to make the choice for you? Or do you decide what you want and, regardless of what the timing will be, go for it anyway?

 

As I’ve been thinking about this, turning this question over and over in my mind, what I’ve realized is the inconveniences of timing, falling short of expectations, and things beyond my control doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try.

 

 

So….what? Maybe the timeline you had envisioned was a lot shorter than the one you currently find yourself on. Maybe you had expected to have a new job a year ago, or you thought you would have found “the one” three years earlier, or you’re still five years away from achieving your number one goal in life. Just because the timing isn’t working out the way you want it to (whether something is coming too soon, or not soon enough), doesn’t change the amount of effort that you should devote to it.

 

I’m single, working a job I will never love, far from the people I care the very most about in this world. Timing, it would appear, is not on my side, but perhaps a shift in perspective is needed. When I look back at the events and experiences of my life, I’ve begun to realize a few things:

 

Because of timing, I could have been upset that my parents chose to move me to literally the other side of the world, just a few months prior to my senior year of high school. But rather, because of timing, I travelled the world and saw places and experiences that I could remember with a greater level of understanding and learning than I otherwise would have, had we moved when I was younger.

 

Because of timing, the study abroad I really wanted to go on was cancelled just a few months prior to my departure. But because of this, I was reassigned to a different study abroad group, where I met some of the best friends I have ever had. The kinds of friends that teach you how to illegally somersault down the entire Gloriette slopes in front of Schoenbrunn Palace and the friends that are always down to share their McDonald’s fries with you.
Because of timing, my inability to find a job immediately after college led me to spend an entire summer with three beautiful little girls as their au pair, traveling all over Europe in private jets and yachts, sleeping in fancy hotels, and enjoying wonderful summer evenings strolling the streets of historic Prague. How many people get an opportunity like that?

 

 

Sure, because of timing, I am forced to make decisions I don’t want to make, when all I really want is to be taken care of. And because of timing I have days where I cry in the car on my way home from work, partly because I’m overly emotional, and partly because the loneliness that sits in my chest like some un-fillable emptiness is just a little too present that day.
But because of timing, I am not the girl who is afraid to give everything I possibly can to a dream. I am the girl who is confident in herself (most of the time). The girl who knows what she is capable of. The girl who can figure it out and accomplish incredible things if she just keeps trying.

 

Because of timing, I WILL be the girl who will truly understand what it is I have achieved ten years from now, when I can look back and see everything timing didn’t allow me to have and everything timing instead granted me.

 

 

So I guess the lesson is this. As Gary Ryan Blair said:

“You cannot afford to wait for perfect conditions. Goal setting is often a matter of balancing timing against available resources. Opportunities are easily lost while waiting for perfect conditions.”

 

There are no perfect conditions. There is only now.
Say “yes” to that opportunity. Decide that today you’re going to start.
And know that timing may… and probably will, change your timeline, but it can never change your goal.

 

Yours,

By | 2017-05-22T14:22:06+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Personal Thoughts|2 Comments