A Successful Life

Creative Process, Fierce, Fierce Photography, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Fiercelings,

While reading a fellow photographer/blogger’s post about ‘success’ the other day my brain started reeling…what is success? Because I think we should redefine it. When most people think of success I think they think of being 1. rich 2. having a really nice house or car 3. having received a grand award or 4. working in a prestigious position. More often a mix of all 4 of those things = success. But are those what really define success? Another thing people think of is happiness. What makes you have a happy life? For some people it’s that relationship usually a romantic one. It’s that dream job. Or it’s traveling. I’ll be happy when I have gone on this trip. Maybe it’s having all three of those things going on at the same time. Happiness = going on trip with your significant other and returning to your dream job to brag about it? Haha! Speaking as a marred gal I can tell you that just having a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife will not make you ‘happy’. They can make you very happy. But they can’t guarantee your happiness for life. In fact, the only thing they can guarantee are a few headaches. ( I’ll have to write a positive post about marriage after this because that sounds so negative!)

Ripples

As a Christian, ultimately a “successful life” is finishing well. I long to get to the end of my life and say with Paul that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8 NIV) If I don’t make it to the end of my life having stood strong in the faith and having done something to further the Kingdom of God everything as been a waste. With that in mind one of the most important things is making God a priority in my life. Practicing the spiritual disciplines, listening to God. That is vertical, you could say, between me and God above. The next most important thing is my marriage and my child(ren). This is horizontal, you could say. Making sure most importantly is that my husband and child(ren) know the Gospel and are believers. Everything outside of that is secondary. Extended family and my circle of influence would  be next I would say. Work is next.

 

What does this mean for someone who is an artist? This means a lot. For one thing when we look at our work through this eternal lens ( hehe photography reference!) this changes the way we define success for the artist. Because all of the sudden having a full calendar of work, selling a lot of work, earning a lot of money, being mentioned or highlighted in magazines or publications, being featured at galleries, being recognized or awarded for our work is not what makes us successful. What makes the artist successful is doing the work. Yes, making a living off of our work is nice and for the serious artist I believe very vital because it’s extremely difficult to pursue the artist life when you’re spending 40 hours a week or more at your “job” to pay the bills. Which brings me to Madeline L’Engle and her quote from her book Walking On Water, “For most writers it takes many manuscripts before enough royalties are coming in to pay for a roof over the head and bread on the table. Other jobs must often be found to take care of bread and butter. A certain amount of stubbornness – pig headedness – is essential.” I found it interesting that L’Engle said “many manuscripts with royalties” are needed before you’re really making enough money to pay for a roof. You might be discouraged if you’ve been working as an artist for awhile but not generating enough income to support yourself. Don’t give up. Keep working. This is why I think it is so important not to gauge “success” off of your income as an artist. Success is serving the work not the paycheck.

Another way that this eternal lens changes the definition of success is recognition. Being applauded for our work is always enjoyable. We long to have affirmation that what we create is received with adoration. But if we never sell something or get praise for our work does not mean that we are not successful. Van Gogh only sold one painting his lifetime afterall.

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The last reason I’m going to share why this changes the way we define success as an artist is by reminding you of the Rumi quote I shared awhile back in this post . You may remember Rumi said “Let the beauty we love be what we do.” Creating art whether it is photography, painting, music, writing if it is what you love then bringing whatever vision you have to fruition is success. Doing the work is success. This reminds me of The Creative Call and Elsheimer saying “Create as if your life depends on it because it does.” You can read all about The Creative Call here. Now why is simply doing the work success? L’Engle helps us discover why by explaining that when we create something we are going back to the garden and are becoming co-creators with God. As an artist, we cannot separate our talents without acknowledging that they are God-given. That is why doing the work is a success in and of itself because we are using our God-given talents. That was the thesis of The Creative Call. And L’Engle sums it up perfectly,

“That’s what it’s all about. The journey to the coming of the Kingdom. That’s…- the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the Kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.”

This is why the work is a success in and of itself because in light of this eternal lens on success our work is using our God given talents, which makes us co-creators with God, which glorifies our Lord and He sees that whether or not we gain earthly praise.

All glory to God. How fierce is that?

alexandria

A (Fierce) Child of God

I am an Artist

Being an Artist, Philosophy of Life, Photography, Quotes, The Artist Life

As a creative person seeking to make a way in the world as said creative person one of the challenges that I believe you must overcome is thinking of yourself as an artist. When you think of the term “artist” what comes to your mind? Leonardo Da Vinci? Monet? Van Gogh? Maybe starving? That’s what I think of when I think of Van Gogh anyway, he is the definition of a starving artist. Do you think of the person playing the guitar that you pass on your way to the subway? Do you think of some eccentric character? Whatever you think of when you think of the title “artist” can you apply that title to yourself? Recently, I have.

sea shells

For awhile now I have been tagging blog posts “The Artist Life” because ultimately, I believe that’s what this blog is about. I express thoughts and opinions on various things but the main idea connecting all of them is art, being an artist and living life as an artsy/creative person. However, I am taking that even a step further by saying ‘artist’ now. I have always thought of myself as an artsy person. From a young age I was always interested in music, acting, primarily the performing arts but eventually that led into painting (which I am not very good at) which then of course led me to photography because even though I may not be able to paint what I see/want I can attempt to capture it in photography. Which is wonderful. Ahh….I love photography. But all of those could be considered hobbies. But they’re more than that for me, they’re apart of who I am…I am an artist you see.

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I don’t like the idea of identifying yourself by your occupation or job. What you do is not necessarily who you are. Perhaps, I put the term “artist” up on a pedestal because at one time I didn’t feel worthy of calling myself an artist. But that is what I believe I am. A person is a lot of things and I don’t like the idea of putting all your identity into one thing but I guess it’s different when you’re an artist. Creative people see the world differently and by claiming that I am an artist I think it’s a sign to everyone that hey I don’t think like you do. This sounds like a mystical thing which on one side maybe it is – afterall, why do artists see the world differently? But I don’t actually think it is. I think it makes perfect sense. To help clarify this, I of course turned to a quote! Surprise.

“I think the definition of an artist is not necessarily tied into excellence or talent; an artist is somebody who, if you took away their freedom to make art, would lose their mind.” ~ Richard Price

Oh. My. Gosh. I think I can just end this blog post right here and now! I think I’m fairly talented, but there are people more talented than me for sure and I love this quote because it says hey, someone who is extremely talented, that’s not what makes them an artist. What makes someone an artist is that they would go crazy if they didn’t make art. I think that is actually why artists are viewed as eccentric or crazy in general, they have this insatiable desire to make art and so they’re viewed as odd because art is always on their mind, creating is always running in the background. It can be aggravating sometimes because you can’t turn it off. It can be frustrating sometimes because you don’t have time to pursue art as much as you’d like to. So, let me step on my tiny soap box and say if any of this rings a bell in your mind firstly, call yourself an artist. And then, once you’ve done that, don’t lose your mind, go create art. Afterall, you’re an artist and how fierce is that.

Driftwood

Fiercely,

alexandria

Doing What You Love

Photography, The Artist Life

Hello, 2016.

Talbot Island seashells

 

The New Year has treated me well thus far. I really do like living in Jacksonville, Florida. As 2015 came to a close I took stock of all that has happened in the closing year – my mother in laws death, moving from an apt to a condo to Florida. Also, in 2015 I really discovered that I want to be a photographer which has then taken be to realizing I want to be an artist in other capacities. I have done a few things here and there but it would be difficult for me to claim the title photographer as an occupation. I don’t feel as if I have succeeded as an entrepreneur aspiring to be a photographer but with that said, I don’t feel as if I have failed. I love the quote by Elbert Hubbard,

“There is no failure except in no longer trying”

I have come to realize in pursuing photography that I simply love it. And as much as I would like to make an income from it I would be perfectly happy to do it for fun and as an expression of myself. Coming to this realization has been rather liberating because it takes the stress off of me to be “successful” – whatever that means. And if I keep pursing what I love, and don’t stop trying, well then there can be no failure in that.

So as 2016 has gotten into full gear I challenge you to do what you love for no other reason except you love it. Do what you love, now isn’t that fierce?

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Fiercely,

alexandria

Go Happen to Things

Philosophy of Life, Photography, Quotes, The Artist Life

As promised, another marvelous Da Vinci quote.

“It has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things”

Oh. Yeesss. I am just drooling over this one! It’s so fabulous. It’s stating something so obvious and true but then when you finish reading it you feel challenged. People of accomplishment, which I believe everyone should or does aspire to be a person of accomplishment, don’t sit back, I won’t sit back. They – accomplished people – went out and happened to things. So this post is pretty straightforward. Go out and accomplish what you want to accomplish. Go happen to things. Let me get all nike on you right now and say “just do it!” ( I have no idea what my fetish with Nike is. I don’t even think I own anything by Nike. As it is, I’d go buy Under Armour for active wear. I promise this Nike thing only happens when I’m blogging).

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Don’t listen to the voices in your head saying you can’t do something. You can. Prove those voices wrong. Be fierce, be fierce, be fierce.

Very fiesty and fierce today,

Go HAPPEN TO THINGS.

alexandria

Queen Fierce

Life, Simplified

Fierce, Fierce Photography, Philosophy of Life, Photography, Quotes, The Artist Life

I have been pouring and drooling over Lenonardo Da Vinci quotes. I have long loved the original Renaissance man.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Having moved from an apartment to a condo to halfway across the country I definitely have had opportunities to go through all of my stuff. There is something about moving that makes you go “why do I have this?” “I don’t want or need this anymore but I don’t want to throw it away” “Do I give this away?” and then when you go to Goodwill to give it away you see everyone else who has given away their junk. I remember when I dropped off some clothes at Goodwill how the room was fillllllled with stuff. Pointless stuff. I hate stuff. I love it when I go to someones house that seems a little sparse. This is one of those things that living in American culture that just seems to happen. I don’t think anyone really intends to accumulate so much stuff but if we’re not intentional about what we have we end up having an absurd amount of stuff.

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You may have heard of the idea of a “capsule” wardrobe. It’s an idea about dressing that has floated around the blogopshere. The main idea is that you have a small amount of clothing that you absolutely love and makes you feel great. How many times have you walked into your closet or opened your drawers and lamented “I have nothing to wear!” A capsule wardrobe let’s you wear your favorite pieces over and over again but in a different way. It’s about simplifying your life right down to what you wear.

When I read Leonardo’s words on simplicity I think of our homes and what we have in them, I think of what we put on our backs and keeping these things simple. It’s ultimately one of the most sophisticated ways for us to live according to Da Vinci. And it’s fierce =D

When you think of living simply what do you think of?

Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. More Da Vinci quotes coming!

 

 

The (Abandoned) Art of Listening

Being an Artist, Philosophy of Life, Quotes, The Artist Life

Fiercelings,

You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time – M. Scott Peck

For awhile, this blog post has been on my mind. It is a topic that I feel is very pertinent in our society because our culture is so very opposed to it. Which is ironic considering that this is the age of social networking and updating statuses and friending and being connected. We strive very hard to connect but it’s an open secret that a lot of people feel that we’re even more disconnected due largely to social networking sites. In the age of media soundbites, sharing our thoughts in 160 characters or less, and responding in texting lingo (k?), everyone seems to be in a hurry and I believe because everyone is in a hurry, no one listens. 

Red berries

When was the last time you had a conversation without being interrupted? When was the last time you held your tongue versus cutting someone off? Can two people even really open up toward one another anymore and actually feel like they have equally gotten to express themselves? I raise these questions because a long time ago I became aware and convicted of the fact that I tend to interrupt people. I am an exuberant type person and I have a lot to say therefore I must talk, talk, talk, all the time in order to get out everything I want to say. I’m not sure when I became aware of this exactly but I did and then slowly I started to not speak as much and slowly I became aware of many times within circles of family or friends where someone would get cut off by another person and the conversation would never circle back to them where they could finish their thought. I felt that I was the victim of this occurrence a myriad times myself. I would try to share something but someone would talk over me or cut me off and I, in an attempt to be cordial, polite, and nice would oblige them by not talking and letting them speak, however I noticed no one would ever oblige me the same courtesy. It would seem that everytime I would try to speak I would get talked over and because this has happened to me a plethora of times I’ve noticed that it happens to people a lot and no one seems to be bothered by it much.

“The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” ~ Alfred Brendel

I love the quote by Alfred Brendel, “The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” How perfect and true is that statement! If you rearrange the letters in listen, you can create the word silent. It is a very accurate statement because in order for one person to express him or herself, another person has to remain attentive and silent while they speak. This is one reason why I have come to favor one-on-one times with a friend versus a group setting. I just find that it is hard to feel like I have gotten to learn that much about a person in group settings. And usually I won’t find out anything about someone in a group setting because people that aren’t talking the loudest get marginalized. I also think to a degree people favor group settings versus one-on-one because people fear dead air in a conversation. I overcame this fear awhile ago, I view silence between two people as an opportunity to reflect on the last topic and see if there is anything either I or who I am speaking with want to add. This also serves as a chance to think about introducing an entirely new topic instead of letting conversation flow naturally from one topic to another.

Red berries 2

I could write about my frustrations and thoughts on listening and being listened to all day long.  It’s become a very important topic for me;  it is like a pet peeve except far more serious then just an irritation. For example, when someone is convicted of murder it’s either 1st degree, 2nd degree etc. I view interrupting and talking over people as a first degree offense. It puts you on the fast track for me to not like you and seek to avoid you. Yes, I know it’s crazy to compare interrupting someone to 1st degree murder but hey it’s an analogy, leave it at that. Alas, let me not bore you with my laments but instead challenge you to be a person that listens. And here is why; “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~Karl A. Menniger.

Green berries

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~Karl A. Menniger

How aptly does that put what happens when we feel that we are listened to and have expressed ourselves? Don’t you want to be a person that draws other people to them? Don’t you want to be a person that makes people unfold and expand? Then listen to people. It is so simple and yet it’s rare to find someone that does it. I really think this quote needs it’s own post because of how fierce it is! Because of how I feel about this subject and because of how marvelous that quote is I have decided to start a renaissance of listening and I invite you to join. Decide to be someone that listens to the people around them. It is magnetic, strange, and creative as Menniger said so perfectly. Maybe that’s why this is so important to me, as a creative person listening to people is an art that society has abandoned. Hence, the renaissance. I feel like Les Miserable’s “Do You Hear the People Sing” is playing in the background. Haha! So in the words of Les Mis, will you join in my crusade?  Let’s listen to our friends and family. Let’s tactfully point out to people we know that they cut people off. There’s no reason to embarrass someone when all you’re trying to do is help them. Most people aren’t even aware that they do it. Many people are immune to the way that we converse that everyone plays the talk over people game because the only way to be heard is to talk the loudest and oftenest. Let’s change that. Let’s listen. As creative people let’s listen to others,  it’s a creative force after all. And isn’t that fierce?

Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. If you read this entire thing you are fabulous!

Fearless

Philosophy of Life, Quotes, The Artist Life

Hi fiercelings,

I read this quote a few years ago but I came across it again this morning.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Nelson Mandela

This speaks to me very deeply. For example, I have this blog and I really really enjoy writing. But I am scared to share it with my family! In fact, I told 2 of my 4 sisters that I have a blog and WordPress notified me in the recent past that I hit 50 posts. They weren’t aware that I had a blog! And they were very impressed that I had written as much as I have…I don’t believe I’ve written anything that will necessary last throughout all time but I try very hard to write things that aren’t a waste of time. I shared with one of my sisters that I am scared to link my facebook to my blog because (and this makes no sense) yes I have a blog and yes I want people to read my blog but I am scared that if I share my blog to my friends on facebook people might actually read it. As in, people I know. I love all the people that read my blog and follow it but it’s different having strangers read something and people that actually know you and therefore have opinions about you. A lot of people that know me I feel like have a pre-conceived notion about me and blogging and being a photographer would not match that opinion therefore they will write me off or dismiss me as a creative person and as much as I say I don’t care what people think about me and  as much as I say my manta “be fierce” in my head there is a small part of me that thinks “maybe they’re right.” I love what one of my sister’s told me when I shared this illogical thought process  “a blog doesn’t have to be an academic paper.” she told me. This is mine. And it doesn’t have to be perfect because I am definitely not perfect.

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Back to the Nelson Mandela quote, I love where he says “there’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you” I’ve always felt to a degree that I intimidate people. I’ve always felt that I am misunderstood. But maybe I feel that way because I put on a mask and I don’t be myself fully around people. One of my dearest friends told me that I am “disarmingly intelligent” and to this day that is one of the best compliments I have ever received. To this day I get annoyed if someone compliments how I look or what I’m wearing. Don’t compliment the outside, compliment me. But most people don’t even know how to give a compliment that esteems someone for who they are…

there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you

There is fear involved in fully being yourself, maskless. Why is it that we humans shrink so that we won’t make others insecure? It’s an interesting observation. I fear writing my blog and being a creative and not being heard but I also fear being heard. It’s illogical. I want to be successful, but at the same time I am scared of being successful. “Your playing small does not serve the world.” Playing small does not serve the world. Or yourself for that matter. “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

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I just love this so much. It just says to me you are fierce, so be fierce. You are a child of God, He made you to be “brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous!” Be that. Be fearless. This reminds me of the book I read that I shared in a previous post. The thesis of that book was that being creative is deeply spiritual. The Creator created us to be creative, therefore it can be an act of worship to be creative and to make art. It can be a labor of love. It can be our purpose to be creative in whatever capacity that entails for you…which if it is our purpose to be creative wouldn’t that imply to not be creative is sin? Oh dear, I worry I am getting too theological now. Let’s wrap this post up before it dives down more rabbit holes! “We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…” Yes. That’s reiterating what I just said about the Creative Call, which is a fantastic book if you want to read something about being a creative person. “…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Let your light shine. Break through the fear. As you liberate yourself from your own fear, others will take notice and that will automatically help to liberate others. Gollee, I love this. Be fierce, be fierce, be fierce. Don’t fear. Liberate yourself. As pathetic as it sounds, a way for me to liberate myself from the fear of being brilliantly creative is to share on my personal facebook that I have this blog. Let others read it, their negative opinions be damned.

Bird

I pray that this blog post made sense to you and perhaps in some small way inspired you to pursue being an artist, a creative, whatever it is that you were made to do. I shared in a previous post that I experienced something that said THIS is what I was made to do…and I’m still stepping into that space.

Be fearless,

be fierce,

alexandria

Queen Fierce

Wedding Flowers

Wedding Photography

I FINALLY got to second shoot a wedding with a photographer friend! It was so much fun! The adrenaline rush of shooting a wedding. The romance in the air. The excitement. It was a very fierce and tiring day – in a good way!

I found a few quotes about flowers and thought I would share with the close ups of the wedding flowers!

“Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.” ~ Edwin Curran

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“Flowers cannot blossom without sunshine and man cannot live without love.” ~ Max Muller

“The earth laughs in flowers.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To me, flowers are happiness.” Steffand Gabbana

As are weddings. Will post a full blog of these gorgeous people’s wedding soon!

Holly's Wedding 1037 Holly's Wedding 1052

Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. Happy First Day of FALL!!!

Routine is Lethal

Philosophy of Life, Quotes

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it’s lethal.” ~ Paul Coelho

I found this quote scrolling through my Instagram newsfeed. It’s pretty fierce, eh? I’ve been thinking about all the changes that have occurred over my life in the past 6 months, the last year, the last 2 years. So much has changed. I’ve heard another quote that I’ve probably shared with you before, “day by day nothing changes, but pretty soon everything is different” it’s amazing how some humans embrace change and some shy away from it. Things are always changing. Life is fleeting. Sometimes we remove ourselves from certain situations or turn down opportunities out of fear. We’re all on this adventure called life and if you think it’s dangerous, well try a routine, it’s lethal.


Fiercely philosophical,

Alexandria

Give A Girl Some Shoes

Fierce, Quotes, Shoes

Shoes Edited

Chances are you have heard the quote that goes like so, “Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world.” I usually see it attributed to Marilyn Monroe but I read it in the book, “A Year in High Heels”, years ago and it was attributed to Bette Midler. Regardless of who said the famous words, this quote sassy! Even though shoes may not be a prerequisite to conquering, it sure does make it more fun to watch!

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I had been desiring a pair of wedges for the summer so this past week I went shoe shopping and got some and I found a super cute pair of sandals.

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Seriously, I am dying.

Whenever a girl finds a good pair of shoes something magical happens, I swear. I just fall in love. When I tried the sandals on I put the ballet flats that I arrived in in the box and told the checkout lady that I couldn’t take the sandals off!

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One of my favorite shots!

Did I mention they are designed by Christian Siriano? Gah.

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The king of fierce himself. I definitely could be a fashion photographer because in between telling a model what to do and snapping pictures I would drool over shoes and clothes. I can be a material girl sometimes, that’s for sure but with shoes as fierce as this who can blame me?

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Have a fierce day,

alexandria