My brain is always working, trying to figure out how to finance the sunroom I've always wanted, or how to buy the hot tub Mr. Tide and I would both enjoy slipping into after a long day of yard work. So I'm always thinking about the next story I can write or the next photo shoot I can do. I'm what you might call and expert schemer!
This can be frustrating at times, especially since the economy has had a major impact on print media. Almost all publications have tightened up their belts in order to stay afloat, and as we all know, some of our beloved magazines could no longer keep all of the plates up in the air, and they went under.
I've been lucky, even though I could never pay the bills on my own with my writing and photography alone, I've been able to help at least a little. Writers don't really make heaps of money, though I think that some people think they do...and no one wishes this was true more than me!
So about 6 months ago, I decided to pursue photography which is more lucrative, but the competition is even more fierce than that of a freelance writer, so I knew that it would be an uphill battle. My goal was to maybe work for a few magazines in time, and to do some fine art photography with a little portrait work too. People, like my friend Fifi O'Neill, and the editors at several other magazines have been SO good to me! Fifi believed in me and gave me my first opportunity when I shot some bedding for Romantic Country, and then the Ekster Barn shoot, and for both of those assignments I will be forever thankful!
I know a lot of people look at Fifi and think, wow I wish I lived her life. Trust me, she works like a dog, and way harder than I would ever want to. She is constantly on the road and schlepping heavy furniture and accessories hither and yon to get the perfect shot, so I don't envy her, but I do admire her!!
Today, while sitting at my make-up mirror I began to think, something I always do, but today it was different. Instead of thinking about what I "need" or "want" I began thinking about the way I think about things.
Last night Mr. Tide and I spent the whole evening just hanging out. First we went out in the kayaks and it was a perfect evening. When we got back we went for a dip in the neighbors pool and that was wonderfully relaxing. As we floated around in the pool we talked about how nice it would be to have our own pool...or that elusive hot tub. And of course that conversation always gives way to our need for a truck, college tuition, and all of the other "stuff" that is a priority over the fun extraneous things we have to pay for in life.
So this morning as I revisited our "wouldn't it be nice to have" conversation from last night, it dawned on me...I've been looking at life the wrong way. I've been out there trying to grab the brass ring when it's been sitting here in front of me the whole time.
Now if you think I'm going to wax poetic on appreciating everything I have, I hate to disappoint you because I'm not. I do appreciate every single thing I have, most of all my family and their health and happiness, but there are still things I want. Things like a hot tub that I know would do both Mr. Tide and me some good, so I need to figure out how to make those things happen and so far what I'm doing hasn't been working.
I have to face facts that editors aren't lining up to use my photos and the stories aren't going to get any more steady. So what's a girl to do? Well I sat down with our latest credit card bill and began formulating a plan. We use our credit card to buy almost everything because we pay it off each month and we get cash back, so it makes sense to use it.
I have to admit that I was amazed, and frankly a bit appalled by our spending habits. So I'm taking the reins, cutting the fat, and getting back to basics so that we can afford a few of the luxuries in life. Our biggest area for cutting back...eating out! So Panera, I love your Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, but for now we will have to just be once a month friends! And Target, you know I adore your pretty kitchen products in lovely bottles, but you gotta go hun, since I'm the only one who admires you I can go with something a little less attractive.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and I "need" a hot tub, and a few new lenses, and a truck. Not that those things are going to be bought with some simple cost cutting techniques, but every little bit helps, and in time I know I'll get all of those things. But more importantly I hope to get my life back!
All of the time I spend contacting galleries to represent my work, sending off query letters to magazines, creating vignettes on my blog in hopes I'll catch someone's eye can now be spent on staying close to home, working in my yard, kayaking, and enjoying what I already have while saving money.
When I first stated my blog, I remember visiting another woman's blog and reading her post. She was stopping her blog and in that post she wrote about how she wanted to get back to doing the things that inspired her to start her blog in the first place...in her case it was running. At the time I remember thinking, "what, give up your blog, but it's so much fun, why would you do that?" Now I get it.
I'm not giving up my blog, I don't feel like I need to do something that extreme, but I will be making some changes. I won't spend nearly as much time online, it just isn't good for me, and I won't take pictures because I think someone else might like them, I will take them because I like them. I also won't browse stores, both online and in real life and think to myself, "oh that would be perfect for a blog post on _____________!"
How many of us out there in blog land have spent money that could have been better used some place else in order to create a post that other people would like?! If you haven't ever done that, well good for you, but I have, and I'm done now. The question then becomes...is your blog running you, or are you running your blog?!
So see that pretty little seagull container in the pictures above? Well it will be my last "me" purchase for awhile. It came from one of my favorite stores, Traditions of Loveville, and I love it, but the truth is I didn't "need" it. And I have 2 portrait shoots scheduled this week, so I'm getting "real" about what can and can't make me money as a photographer. If the magazine editors start calling, well that would be great, but I can't sit here on the computer feeding a dream that may never materialize. Instead, I will hone my craft whatever way I can knowing that it will all pay off in the long run.
And that hot tub will become a reality, just not right now. But when it does...those jets will feel mighty good, kind of like finding my way a little bit this morning as I move into a new and different way of thinking!