Posts made in February 15th, 2011

a life-changing hike in the flatirons.


Posted on Feb 15, 2011 in Ramblings, Travel

Friday afternoon at our conference was designated “activity time.” There were a multitude of great choices that got all the conference attendees up-and-away from sitting in the same seat and having people talk at us. There were quite a few that were tempting (brewery tour bus, namely) but we settled on attending a hike in the Flatirons.

We chose the hike partially for exercise, but also partially because it would literally be our only time to get out and see nature. We could see glimpses of the foothills behind buildings as we moved between sessions, but really, we were trapped indoors for the greater part of our conference. Which is a shame in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

We took a bus to Chautauqua Park and split into three groups: challenging, moderate and easy.

We chose easy with a handful of other people and the world’s most amazing trail guide.

She was flat-out inspiring. She was a part-time Pilates instructor and part-time hiking guide. She had ostentatious, nerdy designers playing games and giggling like little school girls.

You could tell she loved her life. And it was easy to see why.  She loved walking through the mountains and telling people about the animals. She loved teaching us how to breathe to make sure we got in enough oxygen. She loved who she was. Not only that. She had figured out who she was and also loved it. Something I definitely haven’t accomplished yet.

There were a few of us on the hike that were awestruck by this woman’s life outlook. Coming from a group of iPad lovers and abstract thinkers, meeting a woman who was so content in just being, existing, and experiencing was refreshing.

For the entire hike, I was trying to figure out what made me so enamored with her. Sure, her life seemed blissful, but I’m not naive enough to believe that everything is perfect. Why was I so inspired by this woman? There were other people on the hike that were eye-rolling and scoffing at her; my adoration of her wasn’t shared among the entire group. Someone said, “I can’t take another damn picture of a mountain.” And another girl was actually texting on her iPhone the entire time. I’m hyper-connected, but c’mon! This is life you are missing, here!

I didn’t figure out why I was reacting so differently from the masses until I got back on the bus to head back to the hotel. We were chatting with our seat-neighbors and asked them how the moderate hike was and they reciprocated the question. We explained about our awesome Pilates/Trail Guide. The man in front of me laughed and then said, “There are a lot of people in my PhD program that are going to be looking for jobs as ‘Pilates’ instructors.”

Pretentious jerk.

It dawned on me that other people thought this woman was a flake. Unsuccessful.

It never even occurred to me that this woman could be viewed as unsuccessful. Was she making a ton of money? Probably not. But she was the happiest, most carefree person I’d met in a long, long time. I’d love to be that content in my life. She had shed any need to satisfy a stereotype of “success” and was just doing what she loved. She was successful. More successful than 90% of the conference attendees. Certainly more successful than a PhD candidate that needs to put down his classmates. . .

Sometimes I struggle with the culture of my career path. I’m good at what I do and I enjoy it, but culture of my profession has bit of a “pretentious designer” stereotype that is born out of a whole lot of truth. What I do is not life or death. And I accept that. A lot of members of my field don’t quite grasp how truly unimportant what we do is. And when people think they are overtly important, they think the “little people” aren’t.


I am not better than a Pilates instructor because I design websites. Or because I am a blogger. Or because I’m really good at Photoshop. Or because I am tall. Or because I have dark hair. Or because I’m from Indiana. Or for any reason.

Jobs are just jobs. Even careers are just jobs. The most important thing is discovering your own definition of success. And mine is not how many awards I win, conferences I attend or how many zeros are at the end of my paycheck.

To me, success is figuring out who you want to be and achieving it. Truthfully, I think the first part is the hardest. Once you have an end goal, the path reveals itself. I’m not there yet. Not even close. I have no idea where I will be next decade or even next year. And right now, that’s okay.

What is happening is I can see a picture slowly revealing itself in my mind. That out-of-focus picture is my end goal. My Flatirons. My Pilates class. My whatever.  As my life-experiences start to add up, I’m starting to put together a mental scrapbook for my definition of success. And the smile on that woman’s face as she led a group through the mountains, that is the first item on the page. I want to see that smile on my own face.

P.S. I promise I’ll write about food on this blog again soon. Maybe even tomorrow. . .

good reads + giveaway winner!


Posted on Feb 15, 2011 in Lifestyle

First of all, I hope you had an excellent Valentine’s Day! Babyface went all out for me! There were balloons and a candlelit dinner and Just Dance 2. I love him lots. :)

Secondly, remember the camera strap contest? Well, commenting is closed and we have a winner!

Congratulations to Tori!

Tori, go ahead and send me an e-mail with the colors, length and padding choice for your strap. Feel free to throw in any adjectives that you’d like, too (funky, simple, retro, etc.). And include your mailing address and I’ll get started.

Thanks to everyone for entering! It was awesome hearing about your favorite photography subjects!

Moving on to other topics!

One of my goals in 2011 was to read a modest number of books (twenty-five). I have been doing alright, finishing two books so far in 2011, but I really need to step it up! I am pretty active on Goodreads and try to keep my list of books I’ve read and I’d like to read up-to-date.

I love good book recommendations, so let’s share! Here are the things I’m reading right now (yes, simultaneously).

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

I love, love, love YA books and just started this series last night. So far, I am way overwhelmed with the bevy of characters that are spewed at you in the prologue, but I figure I’ll get used to them quickly. I’m excited that there are so many in the series to devour if I end up loving the first one. Plus a TV show (like I need more TV to watch).

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

I’ve faithfully read every other Sookie Stackhouse novel, but this one has been sitting on my shelf for nearly a year. I’ve tried reading it a few times without much luck. I started it again (on my iPad this time!) while on the plane Sunday and was totally absorbed. Yay! Honestly, I haven’t loved the last 3-4 books in the series, but hey, I’m hopelessly devoted to Bill, Sookie and Eric.

Operation Beautiful by Caitlin Boyle

I don’t really see this book as a “sit down and plow through it” type. I pick it up whenever I need a little boost. I read a few stories and then put it down until the next time I need a reminder how amazing we all are. Highly recommended. Caitlin rocks and JUST finished writing her second book in the series for tween girls!

The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan

This is more of a reference book that I keep opening up and checking in with. I love it! It is particularly great for people who are just getting started with homesteading and/or would like to figure out how to incorporate homesteading principles into a small space. The graphics and information are presented in a fun and non-intimidating way. I love this book!

Add me as a friend on Goodreads!

What are you reading?