I posted this photo of Bridget running up the stairs at the gym on Instagram yesterday, with the caption "Bee, post-gym." As the picture sunk in, so did the story—enough that I wanted a chance to redo the telling of it.
What I should have written instead:
Lately I have to hold my breath when Bridget runs up the stairs after gymnastics, not sure if she'll be bouncing up the stairs with excitement over some new skill attempted or deflated by a self-imposed sense of defeat brought on by a disproportionate ratio of exuberance to strength or endurance. She has impatiently waited for over a year to be promoted to pre-team, and now that she's there, she's discovering it is a far harder place to be than she imagined. Do we encourage her through the transition until her muscles and skills catch up? Do we start to firmly suggest other sports, even though her heart has always been at the gym? Is she pursuing gymnastics because it's become the family business, or does she genuinely love it, too? Is there anything worse than a kid who is afraid to voice her true opinions?
It is so hard to know. Even when you ask her, it's still hard to know the right thing.
When I saw the light falling on these stairs yesterday, I hot-footed it over to catch a picture of it. I knew she would come up the stairs before the sunshine shifted, and I wanted to get a picture of her in that light, too. She was four parts unhappy-exhausted to six parts happy-tired last night when the shadows fell away, so we'll continue to wait and see for now.
You know who is really good at teasing the stories out of people and pictures? Angie Lucas. Her newest Big Picture Classes workshop kicks off tomorrow, and I'm excited to share a free spot! Here are the details:
There's no question about it: your story matters.
And there's no easier, faster, or more satisfying way to tell your story than through quizzes and questions!
Introducing Quizapalooza, a 5-week interactive workshop that makes it simple to share meaningful stories in your scrapbooks, journals, and Project Life albums—or even via your blog or social media channels.
Your instructor, Angie Lucas, has carefully curated more than 180 questions to help you capture fascinating tidbits about all areas of your life, including:
Who: The People You Love
What: Objects, Ideas & Experiences
When: Past, Present & Future
Where: Places that Matter
Why: Reasons & Explorations
It is a fact: Angie makes people better writers and storytellers. Her workshop is full of questions that won't let you fall victim to the generic caption, whether you're a scrapbooker, a blogger, an Instagrammer, or some combination of all three. Leave me a comment here to be eligible to take her class (normally $39) for free! Registration will remain open until September 24. I'll announce the winner tomorrow so you can jump in on Day 1!
[Giveaway now closed, thanks for playing along!]
[Ed. note: I found out this morning that Daniel Wallace will be in town on September 6 to sign copies of Big Fish (I KNOW!!!!) so I'm going to leave this giveaway open for a few extra days; the winner will now receive a signed copy!]
[Ed. note, #2: Comments are now closed, though I'm going to open them back up for a little bit this weekend so I can comment on all these cool coincidences!!]
A few months ago I was listening to a This American Life podcast about coincidence stories; it was an especially good episode, because it featured a number of stories that make you say "NO WAY!" and shake your head at the sheer unbelievability of how such a coincidence could actually occur. As I was listening, I was thinking about the coincidences I've experienced in my life; up until that point, the only one with true staying power was the one about my locks: the Masterlock lock I began using in 7th grade for gym at Kimpton (and still have!) was exactly one digit off the combination for each turn as my high school locker for four years (34-0-14 and 35-1-13). That seems like a really super one to me, but maybe not noteworthy enough to submit to This American Life or anything.
Since I listened to that episode, I now have two more stories to add to my list of coincidence stories. The first the one is about how Maddie's first friend at her new middle school just so happens to be the daughter of a friend of fellow photographer and scrapbooker Christa Paustenbaugh; the girls found each other independently of knowing this connection. It was only when her mama and I struck up a conversation about being new in town and where'd we come from at a school orientation (as you do when you're a military family) that I learned they had just recently come from Japan. Ever the seeker of needles in haystacks, I said "hey, my friend Christa just moved from Japan too!" and she said "hey, she's my friend too!" which I find to be a pretty coincidental kind of discovery. Especially since they weren't assigned to the same place in Japan, but rather met at a previous assignment. Christa had been hoping we'd meet, but hadn't yet given us the heads up to go looking for each other.
The other one is quite possibly the most unbelievable coincidence I've ever experienced. Here goes:
So right after we got back from Disney World last month we took Maddie over to her new school to check things out and get her signed up for the already-in-progress symphonic band camp going on (which, coincidentally, is where Maddie met her new friend). It was scheduled early in the morning a few times a week, and one of the days I took her over Matt didn't have to be at school until a little later in the morning so I opted to explore downtown Montgomery instead of driving all the way home and back. One of the places I went was a bookstore I had scouted out last November when we were online house hunting, Capitol Book & News. We didn't end up renting the house down the street from the bookstore, alas. When I walked in, I could tell that it was a hundred times cooler than my Google Map walking tour let on.
I gleefully explored for about an hour, picking up a few birthday gifts and Other Things I Couldn't Pass By. I took a bunch of photos of books I wanted to remember for later (does anyone else do this in bookstores? I must have 100 photos of me holding books in my hand). My last selection was a copy of Big Fish, which I have written about here before; it's a book/movie that I absolutely, positively loved but is also very significant to me because it was the book that got me to finally work up the nerve to query Simple Scrapbooks back in 2004. I'm pretty sure my copy is missing—I think I must have lent it out at some point so I decided on a whim that it was time to both reread and replace it.
As it was nearing time for me to head back and get Maddie, I wandered back up front to pay. I plunked my books down with Big Fish on top; the lady working smiled and said "ah, Big Fish. That's a great story." I am always happy to strike up a conversation with a friendly bookseller, so I offered that I loved it—both the book and the movie—and was replacing my strangely lost copy. She then went on to ask me if I knew that part of the movie was filmed in Cloverdale, the neighborhood in which this book store is located right here in Montgomery?
I must have looked totally shocked but then launched into an abbreviated and blather-y explanation of why this book was so important to me; she went on to tell the whole story, how Ewan McGregor, Danny DeVito, and the rest of the cast (to include Helena Bonham Carter!) stayed in Montgomery for the months they filmed the movie, occasionally hanging out in the bookstore on their breaks and off-hours as a quiet and safe place to go. She explained that the staff tried very, very hard to maintain nonchalance about the whole thing, earning the trust and goodwill of the actors; the entire bookstore staff was invited to the final post-production dinner as a thank you for their hospitality.
Seriously. I have unwittingly bought a replacement copy of the book that I credit with launching my freelance writing career in the bookstore WHERE THE ACTORS FILMING THE MOVIE VERSION HUNG OUT?!?
I had no idea this movie was filmed in Alabama. There is no amount of head-shaking that will help me to process the unlikeliness of this coincidence, ever. Especially since I've been kind of mulling over taking some big, brave action to do more with my writing since we've moved here. Maybe my coincidence is really just the universe giving me a Big Push. Whatever the case, it truly is a coincidence of mythic proportions.
Do you have a coincidence story? Leave me a comment about it and I'll do a little random drawing in the next day or so to select one person to receive a copy of Big Fish. Because sometimes, you have to share the gifts of the universe : ) As usual with giveaways here, comments remain open until they're closed.
Giveaway is now closed! Thank you for playing along!
The Phone Photography Project 2 kicks off in exactly one month! I decided I better get my giveaway done now, because in the next month we will pack up the house, move to a new state, unload the truck to a house we have not yet stepped foot in (ever), unpack as much as possible in a week, register the girls at their new schools, settle on a new gym, and then visit Disney World for the first time ever.
OH MY GOSH. Seeing it all written out like that...
Let's focus on the giveaway for now. Here's some info about the class:
Would you like to take better photos with the camera you always have with you—your smartphone?
Get ready to transform your mobile photography in a brand-new interactive workshop, The Phone Photography Project 2, starting July 17. Twenty expert iPhoneographers have collected their best tips, tricks, and tutorials for phone photography, and they're ready to share it all with you inside a private online classroom—with lots of fun happening on Instagram, too.
With practical tips for mastering lighting, composition, editing, and more, this workshop will give you the tools you need to create impressive photos you'll be proud to share online, in your home, or in your scrapbooks.
I am so excited for this class. I think I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this point, but it is just full of amazing, inspiring, and useful content. If you take pictures with a phone (or iPad), this is for you, whether you're new to phone photography or have been at it for a while. It will be well worth every penny! If you've already registered and your name is selected, you'll get your money refunded. If you have been sitting on the fence, please consider signing up! Either way, to
be in the running just leave me a comment to say hi, or tell me something fun you're doing this summer, or share your must-see list of attractions in Alabama. Whatever. : )
As usual with giveaways here, comments will remain open until... they're closed. I'll aim for sometime on Sunday. One person will be selected at random, so hurry, hurry, comment away!
Thank you all so much for sharing your stories here... as always I simultaneously love and hate to do giveaways, because on one hand, it's so nice to be able to share these classes as a treat but on the other hand, I can only share them with two people. I wish everyone could win : )
My trusty partner in giveaways, Random.org, chose the following comment numbers tonight:
Which means the following two readers will receive a free seat in An Update To Remember!
Congratulations, Gina and June! I hope everyone else will still consider taking this workshop. Registration is open until April 2!
An Update To Remember opens next week (March 27) at Big Picture Classes! This is a different kind of workshop than has been offered before, because it's all about incorporating social media into memory keeping and scrapbooking. It's definitely geared toward scrapbookers, though anyone who wants to be more deliberate in their social media usage can benefit. It's divided into four weeks and will cover Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. (See video above! I didn't make it, but you can spot some familiar faces if you watch it!). I will be joined by Kelli Crowe, Tami Morrison, Katie Scott, and Stacy Julian during the four week workshop.
Katie and I have (sadly) never met in person, but I can tell you that Kelli and Tami are among some of the funniest AND funnest people I know (yes, I used that on purpose—Tami is actually The Funnest Scrapbooker Ever, officially crowned in an international contest held by Simple Scrapbooks Magazine, may it RIP). They are also true internet/social media friends: Kelli and I go waaaaay back to 2004 on Two Peas and have run in the same online circle ever since, and Tami was the first person to show me how Instagram worked, a good year and a half before I ever had an account. Our lasting friendships are all examples of the Positive Power of Social Media.
That's Kelli and me in 2007, when she gave me like five minutes notice that she and her husband were coming to my house for lunch when we lived in California. (OK, it was more like three hours, but I still was hot and sweaty from running around getting ready when they showed up). It was SO MUCH FUN, and now I have a "surprise Kelli with three hours notice" card that I am totally going to cash in when we move to Montgomery.
That's me and Tami in Bishop Arts District, after our first day teaching together at the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Arlington, TX in 2010. Monica McNeill took the photo, and it was hands down one of the most fun late afternoons/evenings I've ever spent traveling—kindred spirits, all three of us.
And bonus! Stacy Julian will also share an adapted version of her recent talk at The Timpanogos Storytelling Conference held in Provo, UT titled Building Family Stories Through Social Media. I'm really excited to watch it. I was looking for a fun picture of me and Stacy together because we go way back now too, but then I found this one that I took in 2008, which is even funnier because I had forgotten about it: that's Stacy with her mom and another famous Scrapbook Mom in Valley Forge, PA. (Can you identify her?) Talk about family stories!
Leave a comment to tell me one of the most memorable things you've ever shared on social media... I'll close comments sometime on Thursday evening!
#10 and #38 will get a free spot in Finding Your Photo Style (yay for Lauren and Susanna!)
and #28 will get Alessandra's new book in her lucky little mailbox just in time for the weekend! (Yay, Rachel!)
Congratulations! I love giveaways, but I also hate not being able to award a prize to everyone! : ) Registration for Finding Your Photo Style is open until February 20, and it's totally worth it and a total bargain, as I'm pretty sure you couldn't get a local two hour workshop with some of these fantastic photographers solo for less!
Psst: I just turned in the last of my content for the newest Big Picture Classes workshop I'm contributing to (yay, Elizabeth!) called An Update To Remember and you can still get in on the discounted introductory price if you act quickly.
The second run of Finding Your Photo Style begins on Thursday and I have two spots to give away today ($75 value)! This is the same workshop as the last time around, except for one thing: a seventh photographer (Alessandra Cave) has been added to the roster. To celebrate her addition, I'm also giving away a copy of her brand-new book, Shooting with Soul. I haven't read it yet but a.) from what I know of Alessandra's work and b.) how many other incredible Quarry-published books I own I guarantee it will be fabulous.
Can the same person win both a spot in the class and Alessandra's book, you ask? Yes, if there are only three people who enter this giveaway ; )
After working on my own content for this workshop and studying/particpating in the other photographers' weeks (with the exception of Alessandra's new content—I'm excited for that!) I was really amazed at how differently we all approach photography. Not different bad, but different AWESOME. I learned so much from each instructor and was able to really evaluate my own photographic style in the process. Which, of course, is kind of the point.
Every photographer wants the same thing: a photograph that satisfies the vision you have when you survey the scene of what you're about to photograph. That vision is made up of many different parts, and some things are more important than others. At the top of my list is storytelling. I want my photos to be technically good and full of the right kind of light, but my #1 priority is the storytelling part. Naturally, my week tends to focus upon this : )
Check out the other photographers who are part of this workshop:
Andrea Jenkins | Bio | Hula Seventy
No matter what style—or combination of styles—resonates with you the most, you're guaranteed to learn a lot about your own photography over the course of this workshop. And best of all, once you're registered, you have "forever access" if life gets busy or you want to revisit material later after the live portion of the class closes in April. Leave me a comment to enter! If you've already taken the workshop there is a special discounted alumni price so just indicate you're entering for the book only. I'll close comments Wednesday night so you can start on time this Thursday! You can register through February 20, though.
Earlier this year I had an Instagram photo picked up for a book being published by Chronicle Books called This Is Happening, which is a great little collection of stellar photos from Instagram users. I was very excited by this for three reasons:
1.) Chronicle Books has always been my favorite publishing house, because they published the Griffin & Sabine series. Plus a whole lot of other wonderful things over the years.
2.) The first seven months of 2013 were devoted to designing/marketing/pulling off The Phone Photography Project so it was nice to have a little external confirmation that my phone photos did not stink.
3.) The photo that was selected is, in my opinion, one of the best Cheyenne Frontier Days photos ever taken. Heh.
I also discovered when I got my advance copies that my photo appears next to a photo taken by Bakerella, which makes me both hungry and excited.
I am a blog of modest means (read: zero means) and little advertising (read: zero advertising) but in the spirit of December, I thought I'd follow the lead of Cathy Zielske and her One Days of Giveaways and give away my extra copy of This Is Happening + a $15 iTunes card (that I received at OfficeMax for buying a kazillion ink cartridges—easy come easy go) to a friendly and loyal reader out there : ) All you have to do is leave a comment telling me the last thing you purchased on iTunes. Or your favorite title from Chronicle Books. Or just say hi, that'll do, too! Comments will stay open until they're closed (ha) but probably until Tuesday night-ish, so don't delay.