Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just Stop!

A couple weeks ago a local business woman that I greatly admire posted a blog about the phrase "just sayin'" and how negative it was. I realized I was guilty of using that phrase and that it was in fact negative every time it came out of my mouth. I vowed to stop using it so much, except when teasing my husband. ;)
Since that blog post I've started to notice how often I, as well as many other people use the word "just". I am just a mom. I am just a photographer. I am just a wife. etc, etc...
I've started to sit back and watch as it's been posted on Facebook, or listen as it's being used in a sentence and very rarely does it have a positive connotation to it. Last night I vowed in front of many to stop using the word "just" and I asked them to do the same.
Last night was my cheerleading banquet for my JV Competitive Season. Often times my girls are referred to as JUST the JV team. They are hardly recognized for the good they do and they are overlooked because of our Varsity team. I get that the Varsity team is the elite and I get they are better when it comes to skills, etc, so I'm not trying to take away from their talents or achievements. Many of those girls were once MY girls and I'm as proud of the Varsity team as I am of my own JV team. What I am trying to bring attention to is that if my girls are JUST a JV team, then why do we have a JV program at all? Is it really that bad to be on a JV team?! When I was in high school it was assumed that as a freshman and even sophomore you were going to be on JV before earning the Varsity level position. And being on a JV team was better than being on no team at all. Maybe I'm wrong and alone in this thinking, but when did being on JV become such a bad thing??? Or is it only in cheerleading?! I'm not sure how to answer my own questions and I'm sure I'm opening a can of worms with the statement "why do we even have a JV program if it's such a bad thing?". But as a coach I feel it's my job to not only teach my girls the sport, to guide them and motivate them, but also to protect them. I get very attached to MY GIRLS and when being on a JV team is made out to be a negative thing, I get defensive.
So anyway, last night at the banquet I stated that they are way more than JUST a JV team. They are/were a great group of girls that looked at obstacles as challenges. They proved what working as a team was all about. They stayed positive all season and they continued to improve and prove even me wrong when I had nervous feelings about certain rounds and skills. They continued to outscore several Varsity teams at meets, but never once did they get congratulated or acknowledged for that...besides from me and their parents of course. My little team of 9 girls has a lot to be proud of and if nobody else will acknowledge it, then I will shout it from the rooftops for them. I'm proud of all of the Onsted Cheerleaders, from 7th grade on up to Seniors...we have a wonderful program that I am honored to be a part of.
I'm off subject as I often am...the word "JUST"...
I stood at the podium last night and asked for my team to not be referred to as JUST a JV team again. I said that if you refer to someone as JUST this or JUST that, eventually they will start to believe they are that and will settle. Instead I have a Junior Varsity team and I expect them to learn Varsity level skills and perform at a Varsity level. And they do.
When I state that I am JUST a mom, or JUST a coach or JUST a photographer, etc. I am limiting myself and my identity. I am all of those things and more. I am a mom and a coach and a photographer and a wife and a friend and a sister and a daughter, and on and on and on. When I state that I am JUST something I am limiting my own ability at being anything else and I am lowering my own expectations to be anything better. Why in the world would I want to limit myself? Why in the world would anyone want to limit themselves? Why in the world do we use the word JUST?
I am vowing right now to do my best to eliminate the word JUST from my vocabulary. It's negative and it does not belong in my conversations. I have big dreams. I have big ideas and big goals. And as I have stated before, I will not stand in my own way. So while I'm JUST Angie in small town Michigan, I AM ANGIE IN SMALL TOWN MICHIGAN and I challenge you to eliminate the word JUST from your vocabulary as well. JUST STOP!


To read the blog post "Just Sayin'" by Erika of Tecumseh's Boulevard Market visit:
http://blvdmarket.blogspot.com/2012/03/just-sayin.html

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beautiful and Brave - SMA Survivor

A couple months ago I saw several of my Facebook friends 'liking' and commenting on a Youtube video that was circulating. I'm nosey. I checked it out and was instantly in tears. I knew who this young lady was by name and by face, but had never met her. Watch her video and keep your Kleenex at the ready!



As a mom, my heart broke for her. I wanted to hug her. I wanted to do all that I could to help her. I unrealistically wanted to make her all better. I couldn't imagine going through what she had gone through and was still going through. Her illness isn't cured, will never be cured and her body will never be the same again. As a woman, body image is a constant struggle, let alone having scars and tubes as permanent reminders of what you've been through. I just wanted to hug her and tell her she was brave and beautiful and so inspiring!

I was racking my brain on how to help her. How in the world could I be a voice for her? This brave young lady had already put herself out there on her self-made video. All I knew to do was to help her spread this video and gain awareness. To try and drive people to her Facebook page and hopefully get them to buy a wristband or donate to NORD. I reached out to her to do some photos with her. To help tell her story with photos and plaster her face all over my business page to try and get people's attention.

We started Facebooking and brainstorming ideas, then decided to meet up to go over a few things. As if it wasn't crazy enough that we lived in the same community and had never met, it turned out that she lived across the street from me. We are neighbors, who would have thought?!

We had our first photoshoot 2 days after her 9th surgery. I was ready to cancel it because I was sure she wouldn't feel up to it. HA! This girl is a girly girl and was too excited to have her photos taken. There was no way she'd let 'a little surgery' stand in her way of feeling beautiful. Hmm, maybe that's just the survivor in her?! Anyway, we played dress up. We tried a few different poses and I tried a few new ideas that I wasn't really sure if they'd work. They worked. And to date, this is one of my favorite photo sessions ever. EVER! 

Click to see all of Courtney's photo session


Her goal in these photos was to feel like a beautiful woman despite the scars and tubes. To be a positive role model to young women with body image issues. To say that you ARE beautiful despite anything your head might be telling you. But her main goal was to get people to see that she is a survivor. That despite the illness that she will battle her whole life, she will live as normal a life as possible. She will keep fighting, she will keep wearing makeup, she will keep being a girly girl. She will still wear a bikini and proudly show her battle wounds. She will not let SMA keep her from loving and living life.



Miss Courtney Slatick, it's an honor to know you. It's an honor to have photographed such a strong young woman. You ARE beautiful and you ARE inspiring! Keep on fighting!!

Please take a moment and become a fan of Courtney's SMA Facebook page to keep following her story. Here you can make arrangements to buy a SMA Awareness bracelet for $1.
SMA Syndrome Awareness Page

To get more information about NORD or to  donate in Courtney's name visit:
NORD

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So What Wednesday!

Ah, it's So What! Wednesday and I haven't written one of these blogs in months. I'm chock full of 'so what's' today as they've gotten pretty built up, but I'll try to keep them limited and not get carried away.

So what if I'm a photographer and have a blog that I barely use, even though as a photographer you're 'supposed' to blog. I have many reasons for it, but mainly because I have a website and a Facebook page to manage, not to mention my 2 online stores. I get my info across to fans in FB, so why do it twice?! More work but less productivity. I am going to (try) to blog more about random stuff and not just my business information. I need an outlet other than my husband and I'm sure he'll appreciate me rambling on here rather than when he's trying to go to sleep. ;)

So what if I stopped looking at local photographer's fan pages to see 'what they're up to'. I do not care anymore. I have realized I'm confident with my own work and the direction in which my own business is going. It's counter productive to drive myself crazy with what the locals are up to. I have my own business to run; I do not need to worry about how they're running theirs. There's a statistic that says 95% of photographers fail at running a business...well I'm here to tell you, I'm not going to be in that stat. I will not fail because it's not an option for me...plain and simple. And worrying about what others are doing is only feeding the chance of failure...spending time worrying is not spending time wisely. so simply put, I.DO.NOT.CARE.

So what if I speak my mind and stand up for what I believe in. I'm honest and straight forward. I don't sugar coat and what you see is what you get. And if you don't like me, I'll be ok without you in my life. I have a big heart and a natural giving nature, but I do not take kindly to being disrespected. I have built my business on my good reputation, my honesty and my integrity...and maybe, just maybe, I take good pictures and create art as well. A friend posted on his FB status the other day a quote and I love it. Fits me perfectly: 'Don't judge me until you know me. Don't underestimate me until you challenge me. Please don't talk about me until you talk to me.'

So what if this has turned into more of a rant. Everyone is allowed to vent once in a while. So I'm venting. It's your choice to read it or not. This rant makes me sound like a jerk or a snob or even arrogant. But if you know me, I'm so far from those things. I'm a natural born cheerleader (I'm a cheer coach for those that don't know). I motivate, I teach, I encourage. I share knowledge, I share my own inside tips, tricks and helpful hints. I truly want everyone to succeed. At the end of the day I am still a person, with feelings...very sentimental, emotional feelings. I care too much about what others think sometimes, so the confidence I exude may not always be how I'm feeling. At the end of the day, I just want to be cheered on once in a while...

So what if half of the people reading this have probably formed an opinion of me and now hate me. LOL I'm just standing up for myself. Most of the readers have no clue what this is about, other than a random rant. But there are a few that will know. So to those few, I say to you, I DO NOT CARE what your opinion of me is. I'm doing big things with my business...is it possible you're jealous because it's me and not you? If you spent more time working and trying to improve your work rather than worrying about what me or other people are doing...you would have the same opportunities that I have. I've worked my butt of to get to where I am. And I do not take it for granted. It could all be gone in an instant. So I'm gonna keep doing me. And I'm gonna keep being positive and honest and conduct myself with integrity. And I'm gonna keep on keeping on because failure is not an option and I will not stand in my own way of success.

So, SO WHAT! I feel so much better now that I have all that off my chest. Thank you to the people that have supported me from the beginning; that have believed in me, pushed me to keep going and cheered me on...even when I sucked. HA! Thank you to the people that let me rant and love me for it. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got work to do.
 

Monday, March 5, 2012

2013 Senior Reps

Spring is just around the corner, hopefully sooner rather than later. And with spring comes high school graduation. I'd like to congratulate the Class of 2012, especially the nine seniors that I photographed, on surviving their last year and also wish them the very best in their future endeavors! As the Class of 2012 is preparing to spread their wings, there's another class ready to take their place.

Enter the Juniors...the Class of 2013...and here's where I come in...

Senior pictures are a must-have. They are as important to a high school kid as the class ring, the Varsity Jacket, Spring Break and Prom. And 'WHO' takes your portraits is just as important. You want the photographer to give you options, not limit you to an old fashioned standard of what senior photos are 'supposed to look like'. You want the photographer to capture who YOU are by bringing your personality out in photos.

That's what I do. I take you to YOUR locations, YOUR sentimental places...the places that make you relax and smile from within. I do not limit you to 1 outfit and boring poses. I include your pets, cars, sports memorabilia, anything that you feel makes you, YOU. There are no rules or limits in photography...just time limits.

Now here's where YOU come in. I'm looking for exceptional young men and women to represent Laughter and Love Photography for the 2013 Seniors. Senior Reps enjoy the benefit of 50% off session fees as well as the chance to earn free prints.

In the past I did a first come first served type of applications for the Rep program. But with trial and error comes experience. This year I'm going to ask that the applicants explain to me WHY they feel they should be a rep. Reps will be carefully considered. I'm looking for a male and female from each of the surrounding schools...Lenawee and Washtenaw counties are preferred, but anywhere within an hour's driving distance is eligible.

So Class of 2013, if you're interested in being a Rep, please email laughlovephoto@gmail.com with the answer to the following questions ASAP!
1) full name
2) school you attend
3) all activities/sports/clubs, etc you're involved in
4) why you think you'd make a good rep
Extra Credit: what you'll do to help promote Laughter and Love Photography

Full Senior pricing info can be found at http://www.laughterandlovephotography.com