Showing posts from 2023

How to Interview (if You were Never Trained How)

Journalism was not a field I ever planned to go into. Both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees were in education and when I first decided to try freelancing seven years ago, I planned to use the skills I've honed over the years as a photographer to make a living.  As an avid reader, I did have a secret dream of being a writer, specifically of writing a book one day. But to regularly write articles for newspapers and magazines? That was so far out of my thinking it wasn't even a dream. Note that I have absolutely no training. I didn’t minor in journalism. I didn’t even take a journalism class. For that matter, I took the most basic English class I could as I was planning to be a math and/or physics major. It was a "God-thing" that I started writing professionally. Working as a photographer led to a chance to write a series of articles. That led to writing more. But before you decide that this post isn’t worth your time and you leave to read another post from someone who

When Hopes and Dreams Attach to Things

I'm embarrassed even as I write this.  Backstory... My husband recently joined my freelancing business. It's something we had planned to do "one day" but not right now.  An unexpected job loss and a little too much work for me to handle it on my own pushed us to try to make this work. It's not like we were living in the lap of luxury. Together we made only about $60k a year. Another $5k+ went towards medical bills due to his not-so-ideal health insurance and my many physical and mental health issues and another several thousand goes to help my daughter who currently can't work due to medical issues. With the change, we technically went to just over the poverty level. I really think we can build it to the point we'll have enough to live on. But with the transition, it became time to sell some of the things that I've been thinking about selling for a while - to help pad our income until we can figure things out on making a living doing this. Some were no

Categorizing Music

On the surface, this topic has absolutely nothing to do with stigmas. But read until the end and you'll see why this was included in this particular blog. One day recently I was listening to the radio. My husband and I are now driving a new-to-us car and we haven't figured out the radio system yet, so we were testing different methods to find out the easiest way to program and access our favorite stations. Some of the stations we ran across were obvious - a popular song from the 70s was pretty indicative of an oldies channel; a twangy sound was most likely the local country channel; the mellow speaking voice meant it was probably NPR or a local talk radio show. But some were harder to guess. Sometimes the lines blurred. A pop rock sound could be a contemporary Christian channel or a latest hits station. Modern country can be confused with some types of old-school rock. Even what seems to obviously be NPR, could potentially be news. It made me think - where is the line drawn. Ju

Racial Stigma - Sadly, One I Haven't Thought Much About

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference in Birmingham, AL called "There IS a Balm in Gilead." It was to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.  Growing up in Birmingham, I have seen both sides of racial discrimination. It's still hard to believe how long segregation persisted in this southern city. I have met many black people who weren't able to get the job they wanted due to their race. But on the flip side, my dad was also directly impacted by discrimination, being passed over for a big promotion in the Birmingham Fire Department by an unqualified black man. A little over two years ago, I had the great privilege of interviewing Barbara Cross, one of the children of Reverend John Cross, the pastor of Sixteenth Street Baptist. She lived through the bombing and was able to forgive those who did it. You can read the article I wrote on the Alabama Baptist newspaper's website at

Letting Go of Perfectionism

I recognized that I had perfectionistic tendencies when I was pretty young. However, I thought that was a good thing. I thought that being perfect was what everyone should aspire to. These issues early on may have affected others, but I didn't realize. Looking back, even though I know that my perfectionism (when I achieved it, that is) probably made me too standoffish to really be friends with, it was what it did to me that was the biggest problem. If I wasn't perfect, I had no worth. Second place wasn't good enough - I had to get first. The shame of not doing well in a piano lesson was almost too much to bear. My stomach hurt every... single... Sunday night - because I was terrified I had forgotten some homework or to study for a test. In adulthood, friends and family were the ones who clued me in that it wasn't actually a positive trait.  Some examples of it interfering with my life included... - not letting others come to my house unless it was absolutely spotless, -

Why Can't I Simply Be Like "They"?

"They" come in smiling and laughing. "They" greet each other with lots of how-are-you's and introductions. "They" giggle when they mess up on their name tags.  "They" hug people who were perfect strangers five minutes before. "They" take a seat right next to each other and pay close attention when the speaker starts. "They" don't need anything to fidget with in order to make it through the meeting. I'm nothing like "they." Today was a huge example of this. I guess it started last night. My husband and I had a big fight that I'm "not his boss" (though I kind of am currently since he recently joined me in the freelancing business I've had for about 7 years). Add to that, it's been a rough morning. Things that should have only taken a few minutes took much longer. When I washed my hair, I pulled out one of my earrings - into the murky water of my bubble-bath-infused tub. There were a co

It's Strange How a Random Possession Can Affect You Emotionally

It amazes me how a possession can be tied to strong memories and even when you know it's best to get rid of it, it's difficult simply because of that tie. I had a recent example of this happening. When I started trying to do photography for a living, I had many ideas of how to accomplish this goal. Some were crazy; some were too difficult to carry out; some cost too much to try. But one idea that I was I thought was brilliant. It had to do with portraits and nursing homes.  Back when I worked for Lifetouch (now Shutterfly) taking portraits of families for church directories, there was one church whose elderly didn't have a way to get there. One of the members mentioned that she wished that we had come on a different day - the day when a van picks them up and brings them to the church for senior activities. I told her I was sorry but that we had no control over the schedule. And I really was. I hated that so many people potentially wanted portraits of them and maybe their fa

Realizing the Link Between Fundamentalism and a Judgmental Attitude

I'm a person who hates to be judged and hates to judge... but does so constantly. It's one of my character flaws that bothers me the most. I judge to make myself feel better (when I know I'm better at something than the next person). I judge even when I know I'll feel worse (when I compare my body and mind with a healthy, young person). I simply can't stop judging. I've known about this issue for years (and years and years). It was extremely pervasive during a time in my life when it should have been the least - my ultra-religious teenage and early adulthood years.  However, I never realized that those years were not only when it was at it's worst - those years (and previously) were most likely when it started and became such an important part of my life. I was raised Southern Baptist. Though not as extreme as some denominations, such as the IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist), the church I went to from the time I was 2 weeks old until I was about 16 or 17

Faith and Fear

I'm a very analytical person. I analyze problems to figure out the best solution; I analyze good things to see if they can be made better; I analyze myself to try to understand why I do what I do. The subject of this post relates to the last example.  I'm 55 years old. I've been through a lot in my life - some very, very good experiences and some very, very, very bad ones with the mundane sprinkled in for kicks and giggles. I feel like I've analyzed (really - overanalyzed) every single one of them either at the time or years later. I have realized about myself that when a big problem comes at me, I immediately go into figure-it-out mode. I begin mobilizing. I start working on a plan.  I try to decide my next step.  At that point, I'm usually not afraid. It's later - after I've been mobilizing and planning and deciding for hours or even days when the exhaustion hits me and the fear comes at me. And boy, does it come - with a vengeance. There will be moments o

What I Wish I Had Done When I Was First Diagnosed

Receiving a diagnosis of a chronic and/or mental illness is life-altering. It's tough to think about the future, especially if you have had undiagnosed symptoms for a while and have put all your energy into simply surviving each day. This is true whether the diagnosis is for you or someone you love (as long as that individual is someone who relies on you for even a small part of their care). As someone who is a partial caregiver for my parents, husband, adult daughter... and myself, there are several things I wish I had made myself do from the time any one of us was first diagnosed. Sometime in the last decade, I realized what I should have been doing all along - and I started. Then during COVID, when we were all stuck at home, I continued. Intrigued? What I realized was that if I had simply kept up with my medical records on an ongoing basis throughout the years, it would have made it a lot easier now. I do recognize how hard that is... but trust me, it's very, very worth it.

Do Churches Practice What They Preach?

Many Southern church websites say "Come as you are."  Yet, when you get there, you see the pastor in a suit (though nowadays usually not with a tie). Those on stage and in the congregation are in business casual attire. Some are a little more lax. In them, men often wear jeans and not many women wear dresses. Instead, the common attire for women is a dressy outfit - slacks and a really nice shirt. In my experience, it's rare in most traditional churches, at least in my area of the country, to see women in jeans on Sunday mornings - and I have yet to see a female on stage dressed that casually. This has been a big deal to me since I was a teenager. I had a friend whose parents didn't attend church. My friend started coming with one of our mutual friends. She wasn't so poor to the extent she didn't have food or housing, but her clothing options were limited, especially concerning dresses. In fact, she owned only two dresses. This was almost 40 years ago. Then it

When Fears are Realized... At Least for Now

One of the main fears I have (excluding all of my phobias and the common fears like having a child die or becoming paralyzed, etc) is not having health insurance - or having it be so expensive that I can't afford the copays. My husband of almost ten months had said he would never get married before we met - and even the first four years of our relationship. Like me, this wasn't his only fear, but it kept us from taking that next step for a long time.  He was afraid he wouldn't be able to provide for me. Well, it ended up that he got fired from the job he had most of our relationship. He had been at that job for a while but a combination of developing an auto-immune disease that would flare up occasionally, a change of management, and having to work from home due to COVID, his performance went downhill. Then add nervousness about the possibility of being fired and he was a wreck - and continued to do worse. Even though he had been there 10?, 11? years before this happened, w

Disappointing Others Due to My Invisible Illnesses... "Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

I'm a people pleaser. It's something I've worked for years to overcome... to no avail. I worry way too much about what people think - even from people who I know love me "no matter what." This can be a huge issue with my work. I can be so paralyzed with concern about the product - photos or writing - that I'm producing for a client, that sometimes I will edit and edit and edit before I'm done. Or I overthink what I need to do so much that I can't even get started. This is something that I think pretty much everyone deals with to some extent at some point in life. When you add an invisible illness to the mix, it makes it much worse. For example, lately, I've been going back and forth a lot between physical and mental junk (at times both at once). I feel horrible when I have to miss or cancel an event because I know it could disappoint or inconvenience someone else. The thing is, I am able to attend some of the time. Out of those times I actually mak

Reaction to an "I Heart Intelligence" Facebook Post about Choices

I rarely scroll through Facebook posts. I have too many things I can get caught up in... I don't need one that also makes me feel bad because it can portray everyone else as having it all together when my life is most definitely not. However, today I needed to update some selling I'm doing on Marketplace and I ended up scrolling and reading the top few posts. I came across this post from "I Heart Intelligence."   I have loved "I Heart Intelligence" and their posts for years now. I'd never seen one I disagreed with... ... Until today. This was my comment on the post: As someone with several mental and physical chronic illnesses, everything is NOT a choice...  1 - My husband left me. I tried for a year to get him to counseling and tried everything I could to keep our marriage together. He left anyway.  2 - I'm obese. However, due to many circumstances out of my control, "getting fit" isn't a choice. I can work out, eat less, and do everyt

Highs and Lows... and Expectations, Part 3 - It Is What It Is

Sometimes life throws a curve ball... and you're rooting for the infield team. Tonight is one of those times.  There are so many highs and lows in life. Even in the highs, there are lows. Even in the lows, there are highs. My first post in this series was about a pretty high day - the day we were media as well as VIPs at an Indycar race. However, even though that day was one of my top lately, there were a lot of lows included. It was hot. I wasn't having a good day physically. There were times I felt stuck at the media center, far away from all of the action. It was an incredibly long day. Etc... Etc... Etc... My last post was about what I thought would be a really low day - or a few days. But I'll save the details for that post. However, a totally unexpected high was sent my way - and I wanted to note it in here. Yesterday, on the way home from another Indycar race (the "low" I wrote about), my husband/photography partner and I were talking about how exhausting t

Highs and Lows... and Expectations, Part 2 - The Lows

So... My husband and photography partner, Travis, and I had a blast at the 2023 Indycar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL (as I shared in We just knew that the upcoming Indycar race that we were going to get to shoot would be a million times better. You see, my husband is a huge Indycar fan. He fell in love with racing at the track closest to his childhood home in Ohio.  After picking up photography, it was a big dream of his to shoot an Indycar race - and an even bigger dream to do so as a credentialed media photographer at his home course.  This summer it happened. We got the opportunity to shoot for the same driver as we did earlier in the season. We were not only going to get to be credentialed media, get VIP passes so we could hang out with him and his team, AND do it at my husband's home track. We planned to leave for Ohio on a Thursday. That week was completely insane. - I had

Highs and Lows... and Expectations, Part 1 - The Highs

It seems like lately the only time I have to blog is when I'm at a shoot - and have downtime between sessions. So, here I am, at an Indycar race in Lexington, Ohio at the Mid-Ohio course, finally getting a chance to blog.  Being in media has some really high highs - and some really low lows. I guess that's really like most jobs, though.  It seems like everything was thrown at me this past week - so much so that I seriously considered not coming. However, this is one of the biggest dreams that my husband has had. He grew up really close to this track and this is where he fell in love with Indycar racing.  Once he picked up photography, he had one of those dreams that's so big that you can't even really dream it - it's just an underlying, very, very small nudge that it would be wonderful if it ever happened. His dream was to shoot an Indycar race as a credentialed photographer. In fact, the hope that he could shoot a race at Mid-Ohio was barely a flicker of a dream. T

Covering the K-Love Fan Awards Weekend, Part 2 - The Event

I couldn't believe that the weekend had finally arrived. It started off being very nerve-racking. My husband didn't get off work until noon on the day we needed to leave so it was going to be tight to get there in time to get our credentials at best.  Then, of course, things happened... having last minute, unplanned things we had to do before leaving and really bad traffic - worse than we had planned for. On the way, we discussed what we needed to do first when we got into town. We had planned to go to check-in where we were staying first, then go to the venue (the Opryland Convention Center) to get our media passes, with a quick stop at one of the book signings on the way to getting our credentials. Since we were delayed, we skipped the hotel and almost ran into the venue to get our media passes, realizing quickly that we couldn't find where to pick them up using the description that had been emailed to us.  As the clock ticked... and my heart beat... faster and louder and

Covering the K-Love Fan Awards Weekend, Part 1 - Background

There have been so many things that have happened in the past year that are so big I couldn't even dream that high. This one was especially amazing, mostly because of a part of my past I've almost forgotten about. I grew up around music. My brothers, who are nine and ten years older than me, started a garage band in their early teens. I started piano lessons when I was around six or seven. My mom always sang in the church choir and I sang in both church and school choirs from a young age. As a teenager, maybe 14 or 15 years old, I picked up a guitar. My brother gave me his old 12-string. (Fun fact... DON'T learn how to tune a guitar on a 12-string. It will scar you for life.) He showed me some simple chords, taught me a few ear-training basics, and let me go.  I never heard of anyone taking guitar lessons back then. I know it was done, but since guitar was an "easy" instrument, I learned how to play on my own. I had a book of chord fingerings and that was it. Reme

Pain that Interferes with Everyday Life

I haven't had a day without pain in so long that I can't remember it... My guess being at least a decade, probably more.  Since I was young, I was very sensitive. You probably thought when you saw the word "sensitive," you thought I meant emotionally.  Actually, you were right. I was incredibly sensitive emotionally. But what I'm talking about here is that I was sensitive to sound, texture, temperature - and, the reason for this post, pain.  However, it's difficult for me to express that I'm hurting. When I do tell others that I'm in pain, it's always accompanied by an apology (because my pain causes limitations that cause problems with being able to "go and do" as I'd like and usually my pain is also limiting the person I'm with.)  To the best of my memory, I was told or it was implied from what was said, that I needed to get over any pain I had, with sickness being an exception. I don't know how much that attitude in my fami

Cussing vs the Anger Behind It - What's Actually Sin?

If you read my posts regularly, you know that I question everything and usually think outside of the box. This is a trait I've had as long as I can remember.  This has led to many pet peeves and soapbox issues.  One is about cussing.  (Get ready... I'm now stepping on my soapbox and it will include some of the words I'm writing about.) I believe that it's the attitude, not the word, that's important. "Bad words" are a product of society, not something that is inherently wrong.  And I get SO TIRED of Christians apologizing when they cuss or judging others when they do.  Maybe I missed the verse in the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not say shit, damn, or fuck or I won't love you and you won't be mine."  I feel there's nothing different between saying "crap" when you stub your toe and saying "shit" after the same action. After all, don't they essentially mean the same thing? And how can you generalize certain words

No Longer Afraid, Part 3b: The Amazing Things that Happened After the "Years from Hell"

So that I won't bore you with another long story, I'm just going to list as many of the things that I have experienced and learned during the time after "the incident." (not necessarily in chronological order or order of importance... I'm just writing as I remember them.) Note: If you didn't read Part 3a of this series, go back and find it first. - Started back learning sign language, something I had tried to learn most of my life and had given up on a couple of years before the incident, after finding out that Travis also had started classes a couple of years before we met. We now go to a deaf church and I regularly "sing" (sign) songs during our church services. - After deciding to become a "none" (someone who has completely given up on organized religion), God led me to a church where I'm accepted as I am, and where I can practice sign as I am part of a deaf ministry within a hearing church - best of both worlds! - Learned a LOT of p