The Culprit: A Short True Story


I keep getting these emails from my apartment complex reminding me not to break the rules; particularly, rules that have nothing to do with me. They can’t single out people directly for fear of backlash, so whenever something goes wrong, they email everybody. Hence I was reading yet another message about cleaning up after one’s dog, not running water across balconies and proper trash disposal. It was like primary school all over again. I don’t even have a dog or balcony and we always throw trash away in the proper areas like capable adults.

Not that I blame the complex for messaging everyone. As nice as it is living here, there are some real slobs living here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen puddles in the elevator left by people who went swimming. Or worse, their dogs peeing in there, GROSS! Imagine slipping in the elevator and landing in dog urine. Crap like that deserves a monetary penalty or eviction! I wish they’d had an elevator camera to catch them fiends. Why can’t adults be decent humans and good neighbors?

Today I witnessed one of these rule breakers in action. I was sitting by the pool, reading a book and just trying to breathe after finally being able to spend an afternoon at home after months at my day job. As I got through a few pages, I started hearing something that sounded like a sprinkler. No, not a sprinkler. Rainwater? I looked up from my pool chair. Two floors up, a middle aged lady was walking back into her apartment from her balcony. Moments later, she returned with a water bottle and began pouring it out onto her planters. These planters apparently have no trays beneath them because the water was just cascading over the edge and splashing onto the balcony below. Afterwards she leaned over the edge of her guard rail as to assess how much water had fallen below.

That right there, my friends, is why humans can’t have anything nice. SMH.

I will always ‘take a chance’ on myself. I am worth the risk.


Last time I got on here I mentioned that I’ve decided to live by a new set of affirmations. Since I’m sitting in a dealership waiting area, I figure now is as good a time as any to start sharing them on the blog.

I will always ‘take a chance’ on myself. I am worth the risk.

I know my slogan is to have courage but I often find myself going out of my way for others to be dependable. However, I haven’t been doing that for myself. I haven’t been taking risks (small or otherwise) in order to see what I can make outta a situation or my goals. So I’m starting small by putting myself first. It started the other morning at a One Million Cups meetup. I was there to hear a few presentations and then network before heading into my day job at 11am.

Once it was over, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to chat with the two people I was most interested in before I needed to leave. The bookworm in me wanted to cut my losses and get to the car but then I thought about my affirmation; I will always ‘take a chance’ on myself. I am worth the risk. Instead of rushing off, I decided to stay and talk with both of the people I had my sights on. And you know what happened? I spoke with the creator of Jobbertunity, an app that helps locals connect with other local artisans. These services are searchable in the local market by distance, not by paid ranking. By the end of our conversation, I’d signed up to be a beta tester. I also made a connection with the founder and managing editor of Underest, a web publication for underserved entrepreneurs! I told him my vision for my company expanding into doing photography for brands via monthly retainer and he said he’d like to be my first client!! I’ll be meeting with him this evening.

See what happens when you take a chance on yourself? 🙂 If you see an opportunity, big or small, and you have even the slightest desire to pursue it, do it.

Have courage,
Elle

 

Chapter 32: Things are gonna change


I’m almost 32, what! Seems like it was only a few years ago that I was about to be 24. I often forget I’m even in my 30s in general but with my birthday coming up, I decided to do some thinking about my life and how I approach it. You know, it’s hard to just be genuine to oneself for women. We are groomed to please others, think of other’s feelings over our own and say yes to others even when we really don’t want or can’t do something. This is not fair and I’m calling BS on the whole thing! From this day forward, I’m going to put a conscious effort to make decisions based on my own ambitions and desires.

This is the part when most people add a disclaimer about not being arrogant or meaning to sound self-absorbed because we’ve often mistaken confidence and self love as a negative personality trait. Who told you it was wrong to want something or to say no? If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it! They will survive, they will get over it and you’ll be calm and have a lot less anxiety because you didn’t sign up for more work than you can handle. And by you, I mean me.

To keep myself in check when I start reverting back to an unhappy yes woman, I came up with some affirmations for chapter 32 of my life. If these inspire or strike a chord with you, feel free to say them everyday in the morning. Since I came up with quite a few of them, I’ll be posting each one as its own post with some additional details and ideas. I hope you enjoy!

Have courage,
Elle

Yellow Flowers on the Side of the Road


I only ended up getting through 44 days but I enjoyed the journey. I don’t feel guilty or like I failed. I will try it again some time. Simple as that. 🙂 Meanwhile, I’ve got to keep reminding myself that if I want to try something, I should try it. If I don’t finish something, it’s ok. If I look kinda silly or odd but I’m happy doing what I’m doing, that’s reason enough to keep going. Sometimes living with courage means focusing on your feelings and being honest without worrying about how others think.

I was walking with Brandon the other day around 8pm when we spotted a happy bed of yellow flowers on the corner. For a split second I thought I’ll just photograph the flowers because if I get down on the ground for this, I’ll look crazy. Then I just said skip what I look like, I’m going to get on the ground and take this selfie! As I got up and looked at the pic, I was so happy that I pushed aside the concern about others watching because I loved the result.

Elleword-sunflower-pic-on-the-side-of-the-roadThis inspired us to walk into a housing development and wonder into a model home. No one was there, I was a little nervous. As we looked around the home, we were loving everything we saw and it dawned on me that our current apartment is pretty tiny in comparison LOL. No we aren’t about to go house hunting but I’m glad we looked around and did something spontaneous on our walk. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but I felt free in those moments.

Have courage,
Elle

3/365 Lounging at Legacy Hall


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Today, after a couple of meetings and networking at the Plano Chamber of Commerce, I spent some time with my good friend Damarys. We ate lunch, walked around the shops and ate fudge brownie bars in the sun. It was the perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon. She took this pic of me at Legacy Hall for my 365 project. It was so great lounging around and chatting about whatever came to our minds. No social media, no obligations, just two women enjoying the city. Here’s a few more pics from our time together, including Berrynaked the ice-cream bar shop.

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Me and Damarys chilling on patio chairs.
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Go check this place out if you like popsicles!
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They all looked so good! We both decided to get chocolate fudge brownie bars (with real brownie inside!)
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We had lunch at Zoes Kitchen
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One of the guys saw me taking pics of myself and wanted to join me hahah.

The more I read, The more I write


As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been cutting down on the unnecessary items, obligations and ideas in my life so I can put all of my energy into things that I truly care about; my business, spending time with loved ones and unleashing my creative side once again. One of the things I’ve been getting back into during this process is reading for pleasure. Oh sure, I’ve read a lot for reference purposes, scrolled through hundreds of emails (eye roll) and those long a** chain letters people keep sending me on Facebook even though the time of the chain letter died in 2001. But I digress.

The more I read, the more I write

As of late, I’ve felt motivated to write and draw. More than motivated, like I had to pick up a pencil and see what came out the other end. I’ve also felt the delicious urge to blog on here again. If you’ve followed me for awhile, you’ve noticed my pattern of showing my face to prove I’m still alive before disappearing for 5 months. I really want to get past that and back to my love of sharing my ideas and memoirs. I have to attribute this spark of authorship to reading. It’s like the books are tapping into a part of my brain that I thought didn’t exist anymore. You know, the creative witty part that life does it’s best to choke the living daylights out of. The more I read, the more I want to write, draw and even vlog. Before I go into my plans of reincorporating those glorious rituals back into my daily routine, I’ll show you what I’ve been reading for the last two weeks.

Marie Kondo’s ‘Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up’

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Now before you start cracking jokes, you should note that this woman has inspired thousands of people with her philosophy about turning your home into a joyful space. I didn’t want to jump into a long, complex read so I thought I’d start with a manga written for adults. Then I went and chose this blessing of a book and my whole mindset was changed! Aside from things, her philosophy inspired me to ditch other things and seek out projects, endeavors and people who bring me joy. No, I’m not delirious. I know there will always be something that I’m not happy about all the time. But there’s something magical about not having to live my life based on things, groups and whatever else that society tells me I need to be happy. I dare you to read it and see if it doesn’t inspire you!!

Gabrielle Union’s ‘We’re Gonna Need More Wine’

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Have you ever read a memoir and thought ‘they must have been me in a former life or parallel universe’? Well if you’re an African American woman who grew up in the 80s and 90s, you may feel like Gabrielle has tapped into your mind and pulled out excerpts for her book. While I can’t relate to everything she’s included in the book, I can easily relate to the feeling of being the black girl in a class full of pale faces. Her descriptions about trying to fit in to black and white crowds, changing the way she talked and what she talked about to fit her company is all too painfully and hilariously familiar.

I haven’t finished this book yet, but judging by what I’ve read so far, she’s going to share with us how, over time, she became who she is today. She’s so upfront and transparent about things in this book. It makes me want to both crack up and offer a sympathetic somber hug at the same time. If you’re brave enough to confront the insecurities of the past, this book is a page turner.

I forgot how great this kind of reading is!

Welp, that’s all for tonight. I’m going to get back to leaning back on my sofa, listening to the gentle hum of the city and the sounds of my pencil moving vigorously across my sketchbook and note pad.

Have courage,
Elle

Came Back from Cuba Feeling Anxious


How is it that I feel energetic enough to make it through a Taebo workout, yet unable to get off the couch at the same time? (Gets up, walks down 5 flights of stairs, checks mail, jogs back up 5 flights of stairs and resumes typing) Sigh, it all started two months ago….(Proceeds to waste 20 minutes scrolling on FB while eating grapes… I have a problem!!)

This past June, Brandon and I took our first trip abroad. Since I was hired to capture a group vacation as the official trip photographer for Vron’s World, Brandon decided to book the trip too. When I tell you we had a blast, that doesn’t even come close to describing it. We experienced Havana, Cuba to the fullest. We danced the night away salsa dancers, saw a shipwreck while snorkeling (also a first!), took an AfroCuban tour ate dinner beside the sea and much more! All my years of Spanish class came in handy. Being able to speak with locals revitalized my desire to learn new languages. It was incredible and we can’t wait to take another trip across the globe with Vron someday.

 

Once we came back, Cuba felt like a distant memory. This is when the trouble began.

At this time, I was heavily considering what to do with my life after struggling to build my photography businesses. It’s fun, challenging and hard as heck to build your business from scratch when you only have a few hundred in the bank. There have been plenty of times when I felt like a failure but my heart kept telling me that this is what I was supposed to be doing. Looking over my life, my attention was heavily divided. During the week, I was spending 6 – 8 hours a day babysitting my niece and the rest of my time recovering, LOL. Weekends were split between errands, church, dance ministry and spending time with Brandon. Needless to say, I hardly had any mental or physical energy left for working on my brands. Something had to give!

I quickly realized that part of my anxiety of attempting to work in a cluttered apartment. We had stuff overflowing from our bookshelves, dishes taking over the countertops, books, bags and other random items invading my desk. It was no wonder I couldn’t get anything done. So I started discarding the junk from the life. Anything that didn’t get discarded got assigned a new ‘home’. Then I started clearing my schedule so that I’d have time to give my best efforts to work during the week and on weekends. Now I’m no longer babysitting and in a few weeks, I’ll be on hiatus from dance ministry. You’d think that would open up my mind to progress right?

Well I guess my mind has become weak from a lack of stimulation for two months and now I have to build it back up if I want to do anything productive. I’ve been eating primarily fruits, grains and veggies but my sleep quality has really sucked the last couple of days. When I’m up, I have to convince myself to try to work, or at least move my body until I feel an inertia to keep going forward. I guess this is the ‘withdrawal’ stage of my former routine. Dang it karma! Despite that, I have managed to book a few shoots, network and spend time reading for pleasure. You know how long it’s been since I read or listened to an audiobook just for fun? Months! Maybe a year or so!

And now, here I type at my almost cleared desk, staring at my to do list that hasn’t yet been finished. And yet, I feel hopeful. Hopeful, because I now have put time back into my hands. Relived because I was able to let go of some things and obligations that were stressing me out more than anything else. Thankful because I’m blessed enough to have these issues without a day job. Yes, I’m feeling antsy and tired (WTH) but I’m free to figure things out again. I can’t wait to see what happens when I create a new daily routine for my life.

Have courage,
Elle ^___–

Making Moves…Literally

Elleword - just lounging around the house in gifted jeans, thrifted top and my husband's sweater. Like the afro?

Lately I’ve been making moves.

I’ve been focusing more on relationship building and collaborating with other vendors on projects while I build my company resources and systems. Business hasn’t skyrocketed but I’m starting to notice more inquiries and opportunities start coming down the pipe. I’ve got a bunch of things to type up, design and prepare (plus it’s really boring work!) but once they are done, it’s just about repeating the process with each client. Till then I need some personal projects or hobbies to keep me inspired.

Elleword - A prom photo I took of a beautiful high school girl at the Westin Hotel Downtown Dallas location
These are images I took during a prom event that I was asked to co-sponsor. I’m in love with her whole look, I was NOT this stylish in high school!

So I’m getting back to vlogging, blogging and focusing on my photo skills via a 365 project. I haven’t chosen a start day or a subject, though I’m considering photographing myself each day. I just want to do something fun and creative for the sake of creating ya know? Speaking of that, I’m currently converting a long skirt into a swim suit. I have one but it’s magenta and kinda boring lol. I’ve been wanting to pull out my sewing machine for so long and make or tailor something from the thrift store. I’m so excited!! Once I get my sewing skills back into shape, I want to try my hand at tailoring some pants and a skirt from three name brand thrift store suits. When I start those, I’ll make a separate post and video.

Elleword - just lounging around the house in gifted jeans, thrifted top and my husband's sweater. Like the afro?
I’ve been seriously slacking on my style goals, wearing yoga pants and tees most days but that ends now!!! I’m going to put on real clothes every day from here on out.

Aside from that, we moved into another apartment this past Friday. It’s a long story but I’ll try to sum it up for ya!

When we first moved to DFW (5 years ago), we lived in a quaint apartment complex within walking distance of a bunch of places. We loved it so we stayed there almost 4 years before moving up the street. We loved the new place but it didn’t quite feel like home so after our lease was up we went back to the old place.

BIG MISTAKE!

Our experience this time around sucked! We had bug problem after bug problem. Issues with the heat not turning off. The AC blowing out air that smelled like a sewer and water leaking into our living room. We couldn’t take it any longer so last week, after only 6 months of being back, we packed up our stuff and came back to the new place. After that experience, the new place definitely feels like home! Our internet was installed last night so hopefully I’ll keep up with writing on here. Even if no one reads it, I like looking back at my days and seeing all the things I’ve done over the years. Otherwise I’ll forget!

That’s all I have for now. Thanks for stopping by.
Have courage, Elle

I Almost Gave Up


Sitting on the floor in my cluttered living room, challenges swirling around my mind like fallen leaves, I almost threw in the towel. What was I thinking trying to manage two photography brands? I was barely making a living from the first one! What made me think I could manage two Facebook pages, two Instagram profiles, two Twitter profiles, and two business blogs (plus this one!!)? I almost gave up. I was overwhelmed. I sucked at juggling all this stuff. Maybe I was in over my head.

Or maybe I had the wrong mindset.

After taking a long walk, stoping all attempts to do anything work related for a day and a prayer said aloud (my husband Brandon was cracking up at my candor), I got an epiphany. The fog didn’t clear in my mind, but that didn’t negate the fact that my dreams and goals were still there waiting to be activated. I heard God telling me that I had been much busier than this in the past. During those times, I was thriving on all sides. The problem wasn’t that I had too much to do. The problem was that I wasn’t holding up my side of the deal.

Whenever you want to do something you’ve never done, you gotta do what you’ve never done to get there. My mind was blown!

I chatted with my brother on FaceTime as he commuted from the airport to his hotel in New Zealand and thought ‘how can I do what he’s doing?’. He’s traveling the world, creating art (music) and making a living from it. I started thinking about his journey and how he was always, always, always posting about his work or shows. Then I was reminded that he’d been doing these things for years. It wasn’t an overnight miracle.

I started scrolling on Youtube and watching those ‘back then life sucked but look at me now’ type videos and discovered similar results. These people worked their butts off, took chances and believed in themselves enough to bet their time, money and reputation to make their dreams known to others. That’s when I started to get pumped.

Is the photography industry heavily saturated? Yup, but so is just about every single industry out there. There are literally millions of people picking up cameras and taking photos of stuff or people or places and trying to make a living from it. But you know what? None of those people are me.

Now, instead of freaking out and focusing on what I don’t have, I’m looking at what’s at my fingertips. I’ve got two cameras, Adobe CC, free modes of promotion on social media, a phone and a voice. I’m a member of a bunch of communities online full of people who love giving help to those who are humble enough to ask for it. I’ve got a library card which grants me access to thousands of resources that will help me learn the skills needed to be successful for FREE!! And best of all, I serve the Lord of all creation.

Seems like Jesus eased up beside me and said ‘My word says that we’ve been given the power to get wealth. Time to plug into that power and watch as I light up your life.’

After storming the library catalogs for inspiration, (there a 10 or more books on my desk!) I’ve began reading daily. While I read, I write down the parts that I can apply to my life and start implementing whatever I can the same day. I don’t get down on myself when I miss a day or make a mistake. I just keep going, keep reading, keep learning and keep applying what I learned.

Today, my domain mapping for this blog was set to expire and I contemplated letting it go. I thought I was too busy to continue some passion project that I started in college (I originally blogged about life after undergrad!). Instead of giving up, I renewed the mapping so elleword.com would still take people to my blog, despite the fact that it hadn’t been updated in months. Then I finished reading one of my library books about blogging and made a list of the kinds I want to blog (and vlog about) in 2018. Then I waited until I couldn’t stand not expressing myself in writing, opened my laptop and let the words flow from my mind through my fingertips to this post.

I’m not going to give up. I hope you don’t either.

Have courage!
Elle

The Last Six Days


The last six days have been a roller coaster of events and emotions.

On Saturday, my husband and I moved from our fourth story studio to a cozy bungalow up the street. While we were really happy about the new space, we ran into a few issues up front. The place hadn’t been cleaned, there were dead bugs in the closet and an unidentified splatter of some brown liquid in the kitchen. I was able to help get everything inside of our place before running off to shoot a wedding. I was exhausted leaving the reception at 11:30 and had to call Brandon up so he could keep me company on the way home; and keep me awake.

The next day we went to church and celebrated our 6th anniversary with my twin sister and her husband at Red Lobster. This was really special for us because Red Lobster is where we had our rehearsal dinner two days before our wedding day. We came home to discover that our box of books had been chewed open and our books were spread across the floor. I vowed to get a kennel ASAP! That evening, surrounded by boxes and slightly peeved at the dirtiness of our place, Brandon and I cuddled up on the couch as he munched on Tortilla chips before going to bed.

On Monday morning, I heard Brandon exclaim “Ants!” in the other room. Apparently at some point in the early morning hours, the ants came marching two by two through a small opening at the base of our living room wall to feast on the bag of Tortilla chips Brandon had munched on the night before. Brandon called in PTO day for work as we scrambled to move our things out of the critter’s path and resolved to move out if the front office didn’t agree to do something about our place. It was bad enough that it was dirty but this was too much to take. Thankfully, the manager was very compassionate and helpful.

She sent in the property managers to clean and reseal the windowsills and clean up the sloppy job that had been done to the flooring in the bathroom. A few hours later, pest control came in and sprayed down our carpet and couch. I pulled back the edge of the carpet while he sprayed the base of the wall down. We could see the opening where the ants were coming in and I made a mental note to seal it up with hot glue later. We then spent the night at our sisters’ house chatting while I uploaded two weddings to my contractors.

The next day, Brandon and I returned home and found an ant free bungalow waiting for us. Brandon went to work and I headed off to shoot a mid week wedding an hour away. The bride and groom were so kind and you could see how much they loved each other. The food was amazing and the bride invited me to dance with her and her family so I danced and sang along to ‘Living on a Prayer’ and taught them how to do ‘the wobble’ dance. At the end of the night, her mother blessed me with a $100 tip and thanked me for my help. It really was my pleasure. The next morning, my friend Isidora drove me to the oral surgeon to get a tooth extracted and prepped for a dental implant. The procedure was fast and I was asleep the whole time.

When I woke up, my friend Isi took me to pick up the three medications and medicated mouth rinse from CVS before dropping me off at home. I ate soup and a smoothie before resting a few more hours. We still hadn’t really unpacked but I felt so comfortable and at home. This place feels so much more homey than our other place! Speaking of, Brandon and I went back there to clean things up but he forgot to grab the broom so we’ll have to finish up tonight once I come back from covering an elopement in Fort Worth.

That’s my update, in case you were wondering where I’ve been! Thanks for checking in with me. If you like my blog, please subscribe. I’ll be rebooting the OOTD posts once we are settled in.

Have courage,
Elle

P.S. We borrowed a kennel from my sis and Justice (woof) is slowly adjusting to life behind bars when we are gone, lol. Our belongings are once again safe from his reign of terror!