Monthly Archives: October 2012

Embracing change…

Change in Arkansas – October 2012

In my last post, I mentioned that I’m trying to make a few changes in my life & in the process, I’ve learned something about myself.  I’ve never really been an embracer of change.  I think it’s because I grew up my entire life in the same home.  Even when my dad built a nice, new home & moved to the country outside our tiny rural Missouri town, I stayed at my grandmother’s.  Not because I didn’t want to be with him.  Au contraire.  But I had it good where I was.  Not many children are lucky enough to live with two of their grandmas, one who lived to 87 and the other to 97, their entire childhood, yet still maintain daily contact and meals with their dad.  I was that lucky.  I loved my dad’s house and I loved my dad’s new wife & daughter but I also loved that I was in town where my best buddy could come pick me up in her Pontiac T1000 to cruise the town.  (One end to the other took about 45 seconds IF a few people stopped in front of you to turn off the main drag.  The town was pop. 1893 or close to that.)  I could hang out at my dad’s studio from school’s end to dinnertime & enjoy every minute.  Not to mention, another best friend lived right behind me on the same block, separated only by an alley & had a swimming pool.  Our neighbors were wonderful.  The boy next door was my secret best friend because we loved each other as friends, but I was a couple years younger and a girl at that, so, of course, he could only play with me when no other guys were around.  I got that.  We got each other. I was unhappily forced to embrace change when we went our separate ways in life and he died a young death at about 28.  I miss him.  I have regrets. But that’s an entirely different post.   I grew up with routine during my childhood and I loved it.  The comfort factor was amazing.  I won’t go into my younger grandmother also guilting me to stay at her home but it was a factor as well.  I think I might have stayed anyway.  I was blessed to be surrounded with people who loved me no matter where I was.

I attended the same school, kindergarten through 12th grade.  I learned to write with most of the same kids that I danced with at my senior prom.  Our school was all on the same campus, connected by walkways.  It promoted a feeling that we were all part of the same school family journeying together on the path from K-12.  Teachers rarely changed and when they did it was because one retired.  When Ryder started public school here in Little Rock, I was hesitant that she wouldn’t have that same experience.  And she hasn’t, but her experience has worked for her & I like that she is tough and independent enough to not need that stability & comfort.  I like that she has always embraced making new friends.  I like a whole lot about my daughter & yet sometimes I think she was born who she is and I have had little effect on her turning out like she has.  She’s a good one – we will keep her.  Never mind that while I’m writing this, she is driving me nuts with annoying texts.  I’ll overlook it.  We switched the boys to private school in 5th grade (& we gave Ryder that option in 9th – it wasn’t for her).  There are many, many reasons we switched, but one of them was that we wanted them to have a consistent experience at a school that was on ONE campus.  It’s been a great decision.  I worried about them having to embrace change and they did it without a hitch.

The toughest thing I’ve had to deal with since moving here is my friends moving away.  Is your husband looking for a job in a new town?  If so, friend me.  I’m your girl.  It essentially guarantees he will be hired.  I’m secretly a recruiter with clandestine ways of operating.  I have seriously had AT LEAST seven friends move since we have lived here.  (Eight if you count the nutjob that wasn’t really a friend at all but left me wondering what I could possibly have done to her other than what she said I did, which was forget to offer her some birthday cake.) That’s right, I said SEVEN friends.  And these were GOOD friends.  Friends that my children & I hung out with often.  I will give you this.  Two of them, including the latest to go, are only an hour away.  And with today’s technology & visits back to Little Rock I keep up with all of them.  I hope to stay in touch with my latest friend that’s moving as well because she, coincidentally, inspires me to take things as they come.  She helps me embrace change, see that things aren’t as big of a deal as I might think they are & occasionally even makes me realize I’m just worrying about something for no reason.  She can give me advice and make me feel confident,  yet stupid, for not thinking of it myself.   All of these friends fill a need in my life, whether it’s a need to vent because we’re just alike & know the other one will understand, a need to be creative, or someone to share a laugh with.  I love them all.  And selfishly, I never want to let them go where they’re going.  Except for Ms. Birthday Cake.

My business is changing too.  I am a professional photographer & if you don’t embrace change as a photographer, you will be left behind.  With the advent of digital, people’s standards have lowered.  There are people “just getting started” giving mediocre or just plain awful work away in order to get clients to practice their craft on.  Photoshop has had the awful effect of everyone wanting to look perfect.  It’s the poor man’s plastic surgery.  But it takes time & many of the newbies never consider that their time is an expense that should be factored into their prices.  They just like to play around in Photoshop as a hobby.  Thus, they don’t charge for their hard work & clients think they’re getting a great deal.   I had a difficult time accepting this change to our industry because when I started, you exposed a roll of film correctly, according to your light meter, presented the previews and requested the lab do a bit of retouching to the blemishes.  There was no liquify tool to decrease the width of your hips.  There were rules for portraiture and posing.  Print competitions at regional meetings were the best of the best.  Not anymore.   I’m closer to embracing it every day though.  Digital has it’s positives, for sure.  I still enjoy my job and I try to stay on top of what’s current, yet offer simple classic portraiture to those who still want it.  And in the South, believe me there are clients who still want it.  I have also changed my business to specialize in children, families, pets and women.  Pretty much, portraiture in general.  No weddings, no anniversaries, no sports, and as my dad is fond of saying, no “monkeys humping a football”.  I’ve always had just the right amount of work to keep me busy with three kids and a husband who travels off and on, especially in the fall, which is my busiest time.  I’ve never needed a website because “word of mouth” has worked just fine.  I’m changing that too.  I’ve been working on an “identity” for my business.  I have to admit, it’s kind of a fun process.  This is change I’m embracing.  Plus it will keep me busy with my friends away in far (& not so far) places.

We’re changing our house slowly too.  In fifteen years, most of the upgrading we have done has been the boring stuff.  Electrical upgrades, new windows, plumbing, new heat/air, etc.  We did add a new roof and redo an entire bathroom.  But it’s time to do more.  It’s time to really think about what we have and get rid of things we don’t need.  Change, again.  Time to be less sentimental and more practical.  Time to commit to paint colors and get stuff done.  Time to change my way of thinking in so many ways.

I know that I have many constants in my life that make me happy – Chuck, the kids (yes, yes they do make me happy), living on our street, wonderful clients & friends both near and far. Maybe, just maybe, I’m more flexible than I think I am.  Since one of my intended changes is to be a better blogger, I’ll let you know how it goes.

It’s Been A Long Time…

Best Dog EVER

Being a better blogger has not been happening for me.  I’m not giving up though.  I was reading through my favorite blogs the other day & it occurred to me that many of my favorites may not necessarily post a lot every time they post but they do post often.  I have so many topics I want to write about, yet I seem to take the easy way out and choose none of them.  Hopefully that will change.  Bear with me.

I’ve been working on some changes in my life.   Simmer down, girlfriends.  Chuck’s not on the market.  I’m not having breast augmentation.  I’m not entering the job market.  I haven’t stopped collecting swimwear. I’m just trying to do some things better.  Be a more attentive mom (CHALLENGE – being attentive is not something I do well in any capacity), be a better, more aggressive business owner, cook more often, take charge of some home projects & truly evaluate the things in my house to decide what is important to me & what can go off to Goodwill.  I’m also trying to be a better dog owner & that’s where this story is going.

We have had Apollo since Thanksgiving of 2010 & in that two year span I have thought many times about taking him to the dog park.  Simple enough, right?  A park for dogs + Apollo = “Good Time For All”, right?  Perhaps, but for two things.  Apollo has a tendency to eat people who annoy him, much like me & Apollo thinks every other animal in the world would like their butt licked by him.  You know, kinda like that ONE frat boy in college that was at every party you ever attended?  Also, Apollo is the kid at Disney World whose mother left his ADD drug in the hotel room.  Oh, what fun!  Socializing usually results in him running in circles with a “you can’t catch me” look on his face while I run in circles behind him, until one of us turns to butter.  (Not really because then I’d eat him. On bread.)  This scenario happened most recently, this summer, in the street in front of my house.  People in our neighborhood like to ride around on golf carts, though the nearest golf course is over a mile away & my hunch is most of the people who own them have never played that “0ld money” course.  Whatever the reason, they come down our street quite often & a couple weeks ago an innocent dad, his two kids and their dog happened down Waverly Dr. on their cart.  We happened to have let Apollo out to pee & it happened to be early morning so I was in my long (that’s a stretch) sleepshirt.  And only my long sleepshirt.  I had no intention of doing anything other than sticking my head out the door & yelling, “Come get a treat!” to Apollo.  Apollo saw the dog & he went straight for the cart.  I yelled for him to come back.  He’s harmless but some kids have dog fears and although that gets on my nerves after a certain age, I’d rather my dog not terrorize the neighborhood children.  That’s what we have a mailman for.  Apollo was determined to give this dog a salutatory butt-licking, the kids were screaming & the dad STOPPED THE GOLF CART. (Duh!  Keep going. My money is on the dog wearing out first, Sherlock.)  By this time, I have yelled for the kids to get a treat (the entire tub of sliced turkey, to be exact)  because yes, yes, I know, self-righteous dog whisperers of the world, the best way to change bad dog behavior is to reward it.  I say in some situations, whatever works.  That’s why sometimes Brooks goes to bed, cheeks STUFFED with bacon.  We should probably work on socializing our boys too, come to think of it.  Anyway,  my children are completely useless when it comes to anything like this so, of course, they fail me.  I end up running around the golf cart in circles after my dog, sometimes doubling back in an attempt to fool him & cut him off.  (Not successful.) The other dog barks, the kids shriek and the dad, most likely took a clandestine video that will go viral on YouTube.  At least it was summer and my legs were tan, since, remember, I have on NO PANTS.  Eventually Apollo got a treat of some sort, the dad had a brainstorm and headed on down the street & we headed inside.  Me, exhausted, and Apollo, feeling smugly like a kid at the mall who threw a fit and got the toy he cried for.  Sooooo, suffice it to say, we don’t get out much.  HOWEVER, I’ve been feeling like he needs more space to run so why not try the dog park?  Let me tell you, when you say “Who wants to go help me take Apollo to the dog park?” in your best Mr. Rogers happy voice, the answer is nothing more than crickets chirping.  You will be on your own.

Riding in the car is NOT Apollo’s favorite activity.  Luckily, we live three blocks from his veterinarian so he really hasn’t had to travel far since his initial trip to Arkansas from Missouri, on the day we rescued him.  The dog park is about 4 miles away.  I know this because I jogged down there once.  I jogged down there and called Chuck to come pick me up but I DID jog down there.  Not TOO far in a car, right?  The amazing thing was as soon as I said the words “dog park” and got the leash, he went straight to the car and waited for me to open the door.  He had no clue what a “dog park” is so it amazes me that he knew we’d be driving there and not walking.  This dog was the valedictorian of his rescue class, I’m sure.  Usually when I get the leash to go for a walk he waits patiently by the street.  This time I opened the door and he jumped up in Chuck’s passenger seat and sat proudly.  Wasn’t shaking at all.  Didn’t seem nervous.  Off to a great start.  That is, until we get about 1/2 way there and fear strikes his heart like a swimmer who has spotted a shark fin.  Suddenly he is ON ME, like one of those stuffed witches pe0ple wrap around their trees on Halloween.  I’m still driving; he’s still clinging.  All the time we’ve been in the car, I’ve been trying to calm him with the music of Gary Allan & he’s clearly not a country fan.  I get so distracted trying to avoid cyclists and joggers with a dog wrapped around my neck that I MISS THE FREAKING TURN-IN. I mean, why not prolong wearing a dog around your neck?  We seriously looked like Wile E. Coyote when he would slam into a pole in pursuit of Road Runner.  Except I am the pole in this scenario.  When we finally got there, he leaped out of the car and stopped in his tracks.  There were about seven dogs frolicking, licking & enjoying themselves and he was checking them out as we went.  Not one bark.  So far, so good.  He doesn’t even approach one of them.  He doesn’t bark at any of the owners.  He does pee on the chain link fence.  And that’s where he stays.

My crazy, hyper Apollo was the shy wallflower of the dance.  He got asked to dance many times.  Maggie wanted to play.  Bo wanted to play.  Apollo returned a few butt sniffs but he was not amused in the least.  He walked in circles, sniffing the scents of dogs long gone from the park.  He was completely enamored with the sounds of kids playing soccer over on the nearby field and even the goldendoodle who greeted every single dog with a complimentary hump could get nowhere.  Finally a dog with some strange, mystic name came over and he was, for lack of a better word, pissed that Apollo wouldn’t play.  He got mad, he barked, he growled, he attempted to jump all over Apollo.  Finally his mystic owner came over and told me her name (also very “new age”), kinda looked at Apollo like he might be the uptight, anti-new age devil dog, but proceeded to start a conversation while leaving her phone on speaker hold with elevator music blaring.  I didn’t point out that it was interfering with my chi or shui or whatever gets fooled with…. MY INNER DOG PARK PEACE.  We chatted a bit & I told her it was Apollo’s first visit to the park.  She seemed sort of relieved like when someone yells a curse word & then people find out they suffer from Tourette’s.  I mean Apollo had an excuse for his odd behavior, so that’s better, right?  She then went back to her bench to read her yoga manual (not even making this shit up),  Apollo sniffed some more and then went over by some odd little tanks.  I asked mystic lady what they were and she said, I kid you not, “Oh!  Have YOU never been here either?”  WTF?  No, I don’t normally hang out at the dog park sniffing butts.  Why would I have been here if I told you it’s my dog’s first time?  I almost laughed out loud.  She explained that they were for splashing and drinking water, most often used in summer weather.  I thanked her, said it was nice to meet her and went to retrieve my dog.  Overall she seemed like a nice woman but if you know me, I’m much more at home talking the latest fashion than where the center of my spirit is.

As I walk over & tell Apollo our adventure is over, an adorable puppy meanders over and I stop to pet it.  ADORABLE dog.  English Mastiff that is 11 weeks old.  So cute!  I ask the owner his name and she said, “Hagrid.”  I said, “Oh, cute.  I love the name Ingrid.”  She said, “HAgrid.”  I said, “Oh, that’s an unusual name. Cute.”  She suddenly looked stunned like she had just found out she was pregnant with twins and said, “It’s from HARRY POTTER!”  It clearly came out as, “It’s from Harry Potter, you uneducated, non-cultured IDIOT! Where have you been the last 10 or so years?”  THAT’s what it sounded like.  And then, as if I haven’t driven a dagger through her heart & erased any and all faith she had in me as an earthly being, I said, “Oh, sorry.  I’ve never read ANY of the Harry Potter books. Or seen the movies.”  And I bid her adieu, got my dog and left. I hope she’s ok.  I’m hoping the thud I heard as I exited the park wasn’t her head hitting the concrete path in disbelief.

Two things I learned at the dog park:

1)  It’s quite possible Apollo does not like it.

2)  It’s even more possible that I do not fit in. :-)

But maybe we will give it another shot when it’s summer again.  I certainly don’t want to endure that in the cold.

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