You’re probably wondering why I didn’t phrase the title as a question.

The truth of the matter is that it is a constant question of mine, and the following is my feeble attempt to explain the enigma that is my mother.

Ladies & Gentlemen.

Who is Planet Sheila.

To understand where “Planet Sheila” comes from, you have to understand that my mother operates by her own rules and communicates in such a way that seems cryptic and bizarre yet is so profoundly simple and earnest. I first introduced Planet Sheila as a “character” of sorts in my life, far beyond the standard role of “mom,” to friends who questioned some physically present as well as world-view oddities I carried with me; the only way to make sense of what I couldn’t easily explain (at least not without a million back stories and “you had to be there” moments, which let’s face it, are painfully boring if you weren’t) was to tell people she hails from another planet: Planet Sheila. Maybe the laws of society and physics and reason don’t apply here on Planet Earth; but in a galaxy far, far away, the rules for which my mother is bound and lives her life is perfectly sound.

You see, her out-of-this-world behavior(s) and communication style are not merely wacky or utter nonsense. Quite the contrary, in fact. It happens with such frequency and pattern that it can’t be chalked up to typical “my mom is crazy” rhetoric. No, no… this is a social scientist’s dream of a case study.

Or space scientist, as it were.

^Behold, the humble beginnings in the evolution of Planet Sheila (circa 1986?). Look at how happy we all were before my other 4 siblings came along. LOOK HOW HAPPY.

For instance, when the dawn of texting came about and the shorthand along with it (LOL, BRB, WTF, etc.), my mother essentially invented her own. It took me months to be able to understand it without staring blankly at the glowing screen, and I wasn’t sure whether to be proud of myself or worried of my own understanding of it coming so easily. She also texts exactly how she talks, long before voice-to-text was even a thing, complete with emphasis on her word choice and with the same speed and chaotic jumping around she does in real life. During those days of running myself ragged in college and to this day of trying to manage a business, reading her texts between those intense moments of work bring me some weird little comfort of “hearing” her voice.

Probably the most famous of the Planet Sheila character points comes from the goodie boxes she sends on the occasion, whether special or just-because. I am 100% convinced she doesn’t realize she does this because it’s just too perfect (and maybe it’s a Planet Sheila social custom). Since I went away to college years ago, she still sends several boxes of items meant to bring some small joy and touches of the heart, but not without wondering where some of this stuff came from… it never, ever fails that a Planet Sheila box comes with the following three things: a practical item (ex: a travel wallet, a notepad, an “as-seen-on-TV” type device, etc.); a fun & frilly item (maybe a bracelet, some chocolate, wine with a fun label, cute slippers, etc.); and a WTF item. As in, I have no idea where it came from or who or why they would sell it… so random and bizarre it can only come from a store on Planet Sheila. A bright green St. Patrick’s Day stocking with my name embroidered on it (because on Planet Sheila, the elves fill a stocking then, too). Statues of religious icons (Child of Prague? yup, we’ve got him). A bright red shoe covered in bedazzles meant to hold your wine (as if we keep wine around long enough to need a holder). The list goes on.

But then there were the things that she introduced my siblings and me to from Planet Sheila in my early years and kept the spirit alive so well I can’t imagine having grown up without some of those memories.

For instance, we didn’t listen to Top 40 in the car driving to school or running errands, but rather my mother loved show tunes and ballads from big musicals. It opened up the conversation to things like history and asking what certain words/phrases meant in songs, and it wasn’t until I was in college I realized how weird it was to my siblings and I to beg for the Les Miserables soundtrack (“Red, the blood of angry men; Black, the dark of ages past!”… not exactly Kidz Bop).

Then there were the Christmases we’d bake an absurd amount of cookies or fudge or rice crispie treats to deliver to the usual suspects, but then we’d have the real fun and drop off goodies to those who we generally just found to be fun people in our lives: the attendants at the mailroom; our family pets’ vet; the shop owner of the quirky general store; the owners of the eclectic restaurant; the lead pharmacist at our favorite local drug store; etc. I grew up thinking that’s what you’re supposed to do, and I remember year after year getting so excited to see what new friends we’d add to the list of deliveries, thinking my lumpy and awkwardly designed in colored icing treats were better than any grocery store could hope to make.

Friday nights growing up, if not spent watching classic movies (okay, and occasionally Dumb & Dumber because Planet Sheila would snort-laugh at how stupid it was), were spent going to the theatre or opera or ballet. We learned the etiquette of applauding through movements, dressing for the occasion, and were always treated to a late-night dessert and discussion of the production afterwards.

Planet Sheila prepared food in such a way that either made you eat until you exploded or questioned the meaning of life. There was the one time she made a wild attempt at making biscuits when we moved from the Midwest to the South, and I thought she was trying to murder us by choking on the chalky, dusty hunks of flour and water (true story, I didn’t touch another biscuit until I was 19 because I thought they were supposed to taste that way and I thought Southerners were insane for liking them so much). But then she could make the most incredible corned beef or rack of lamb that to this day rivals any gourmet restaurant, and her invention of the “Squirrel Gut Cake” (a layer of brownie and a layer of cake separated by a thick filling of gooey red colored icing and topped with ugly green colored whipped topping and “guts” – basically nuts and a crap-ton of sprinkles and gummy worms) had all the neighborhood kids asking for that hideously delicious dessert.

On Planet Sheila, there are no strangers – only friends, and interesting ones at that. It took me years to realize she and my father didn’t “know” everyone in town… but they, especially my mother, gave them the space to be themselves and found everyone they met exceptionally fascinating. While I operate from a place of caution with a guarded heart, Planet Sheila opens hers to people she knows needs it most.

The attitude of gratitude is hallmark of Planet Sheila, as is the necessity of showing up BIG when called to do so (for Halloween one year she went full zombie and wore one of those creepy beauty peeling masks with some strategically placed makeup that was so perfectly horrifying, I’m still shocked Hollywood special effect people haven’t figured out how genius that was).

On Planet Sheila, time is a construct and not a fact, which can be so endlessly frustrating yet liberating at the same time. (If she’s 15min early or late, she’s basically “on time.”)

Sharing really is caring on Planet Sheila; she carefully choose several angel tags off the Christmas tree at church and invited us to shop for the people those tags represented, to whom I only knew by name. But I remember getting really excited to pick out sparkly pens and stickers and clothes for them and hoped one day we’d meet and share stories about who we were going to be when we grew up (and what their favorite scene is from Guys & Dolls, because doesn’t everyone have one?).

Generous. Bright. LOUD. Overtly positive yet with a hint of doom and cynicism. Curious. Hungry for new experiences. Full of life. Full of surprises. There is no word for “dull” as it’s a concept that doesn’t even exist, and bathroom sinks are used for vodka and wine storage. #alwaysprepared

These are the qualities you’ll find on Planet Sheila.

While one may never know when you’ll receive a transmission or maybe when her ship unexpectedly lands in your backyard, but I will say I can always count on her presence to light through the cosmos when you need it most. She can find the humor in anything and remind even the most self-inflated personalities, HEY MAN, we all put our green corduroy pants on the same way.

I hope one day I get the chance to visit Planet Sheila, as it must be simply marvelous. But until then, I’ll look to the stars knowing she’s always orbiting like a bedazzled spinning tea cup ride in the sky, sprinkling joy and absurdities everywhere she goes.

In the spirit of Planet Sheila and this weekend being Mother’s Day, I’d like to take a moment to officially announce my start of a new weekly newsletter inspired by the woman herself. Each week you’ll receive another piece of junk in your inbox with links to three new discoveries on the interwebs: 1 practical item; 1 fun & frilly item; and 1 WTF item. Sign up here (if you dare) and prepare to be amazed. Or at least mildly entertained.

And with that, I bid you all adieu, Earthlings.

Hugs & High Fives to infinity – and beyond!

-C

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In the last couple of weeks I’ve had several intense experiences with people in seemingly mundane, everyday occurrences. I don’t know if it was some cycle of the moon or the fact I maaaay have been sneaking an absurd amount of leftover Easter treats (I mean, COME ON they were 75% off), but it left me feeling out of sorts and anxious.

Being someone who feels and experiences things REALLY big, I’m used to having to take a step back to make sense of how I actually feel about things. But this was different. Like some force decided to take me down a notch, and do so in ways that would chip away at my weird little spirit. Small passive-agressive jabs. Belittling questions. Back-handed compliments. Seemingly normal interactions that seconds later make you say, “Wait – what?!” I chalked it up to reading too much into things but for some reason I couldn’t shake it.

And then the tipping point.

So there’s this lady, a new neighbor, who just moved in on our floor down the hallway. She’s got that croaky, huffy kind of voice that is only made louder when she’s got something to complain about… which is pretty much every time I’ve spoken with her. Since the day she’s moved in a few months ago, I’ve tried to be helpful and offer ways to get her acclimated to the island and share what makes this place so great when I run into her, and it’s only met with angry, self-important remarks. She’d carry-on about her assortment of medical issues then bark at me how I’d better get ready for the “joy of old age.” Then there was the host of “problems” she’s discovered about living on the island she’d rage on about while I’d listen as intently as I could and offer suggestions on some of our favorite spots. She’d respond with a scoff and an eye roll. So, I quit trying.

During this heightened period of WTF with humanity, I was walking out to my car to teach at the studio and she was talking with our downstairs neighbor, an older gentleman who’s been nothing but nice to us since coming to the island. I politely smiled and waved and caught some teeny bit of the conversation about one of her latest health problems and maybe needing some help with something in her car (?) and she literally yells at me while standing next to our neighbor: “Well I wouldn’t bother asking HER, SHE doesn’t care. SO selfish, that one.”

Bwuh?

Stunned and a little disoriented, I didn’t have the time nor wit to respond… and it really threw off the rest of my day.

Ruminating over all the moments I’ve interacted and all the conversations we’ve had with our new neighbor, I wondered over and over what I had done to come across heartless and selfish to this woman. Of course, John being the kind and wonderful person he is (and having had the similar experiences with her as I had), he assured me it was her just being a mean old bat and not to think so much of it. Which of course only made me do so more.

A couple of days later, still feeling out of sorts with life and letting our neighbor’s angry words get to me more and more, I blew off my normal morning workout and took to the beach. It was a particularly cold and drizzly morning (the last of those April showers, I suppose), but I felt compelled to so anyways. As soon as I heard the crash of the waves and felt the squish of  sand under my shoes, things suddenly better. To my surprise there were several beach goers that morning, all of whom offered a wave or a smiley “good morning” as they power-walked the shoreline or trotted along with their equally as friendly dogs. A long, brisk walk listening to one of my favorite podcasts started to put a lot of my glitchy thoughts and feelings back into order.


Sure enough, later that day the sun came out my downstairs neighbor and I ran into each other. He assured me he put her in her place after her shouting at me and didn’t tolerate her being so negative. Even for a guy that has to be one of THE nicest people on the planet, he felt she was just a mean old woman. “Don’t let her bring to her level,” he told me.

I think being a person who likes to fix and help and generally is anxious when things are out of order, it hurts at even the thought of someone believing I don’t have the very best of intentions. I prefer direct and open communication, and try to leave the doors open to that as much as I can. And I have to remind myself there are people who don’t prefer these things – and people who are so broken after a lifetime of choosing to be unhappy. Misery is so easy; it’s so easy to be down and stay there. And it’s a lot easier to bring someone down with you rather than try to rise above.

For those people, there’s a part of them missing that only they can fill with a sense of wonder and curiosity and gratitude. They’re often jealous because they feel others’ success means they’re just that much further away from theirs. They like busting chops. They’ll never have enough and never feel like they are enough… and the only thing, I think, we can do is listen when we can and pray they take that step out of fear and loathing to a place of hope and fortitude.

Something that brought me back, too, is remember how many amazing, kind, supportive, and generous people I DO have in my life. The sweet emails from clients. The messages on social media saying incredibly kind things about my work. The unexpected hugs from friends. The late night night texts to check in. The smiles from strangers on the beach. The shnoogles from my favorite shark-dog.

I can’t say I’m out of the funk yet, but at least I know I’ve got a hug somewhere when I need it. And I’ve decided a long walk on the beach should always be in my repertoire.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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Birdie James @ Shelter Cove Towne Centre // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

I am not exactly what you call a “fashionista.” I’ve spent more money over the course of my life on fitness clothing, and some of my favorite and most-complimented pieces were found in thrift stores. As mentioned in my last post, I was more interested in a good deal (and elastic waistbands) than I was in making investments in fashion. To be honest, I didn’t think I was worthy of having “style.” I enjoy a little retail therapy and always aspire to look put together when called for – but if I can’t compete with the bevy of fashion bloggers who eat $12 bedazzled donuts washed down with rosé and still fit in Size 2 pants that cost more than my monthly rent, what was the point? (DisclaimerI know they’re not all like that… but sometimes it feels that way…)

Coastal Bliss @ Shelter Cove Towne Centre // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

When approached to collaborate with the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber for their inaugural Chamber Fashion Week, I thought there had to be some mistake. I went to the meeting anyways. When I met the initial group of women involved in making Chamber Fashion Week happen, I felt an immediate sense of powerful #girlboss vibes – and I LOVED IT. I may not entirely recognize the difference between vintage pink and blush, but dangit I know the smell of ambition and possibility. I told them to sign. me. UP.

After we sorted out the details and negotiated the what’s-what-and-wheres, I embarked on a two week adventure with the HHIB Chamber that included meeting with the boutique owners, learning about brands and trends, and taking a zillion pictures of the store interiors (while somehow winding up -in front- of the camera, which you can all rest assured my 15min of Instafame are up now). It was an intense and exhilarating experience… and I cannot tell you how lucky I felt to be a part of this experience. Every one of the owners and associates were so welcoming and attentive; each of the shops were so unique in their style; all the clothing and accessories were chosen to reflect our coastal community in some way; and most importantly, they each had a story to tell about why they chose and love Hilton Head & Bluffton.

Maluka in Bluffton // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

———-

Y’all, we truly have something special here in our little corner of the Lowcountry.

And if you think you need to venture to other big markets to find the latest in beautiful coastal fashions, unique accessories to go with your favorite pieces, or lovely finds for your home,  YOU CRAY.

Louette Boutique in the Village at Wexford // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

The best part?

Each of these stores knows and loves on their regular clients while always reaching out to new shoppers with a big smile and a handshake (or a hug, because huggers recognize other huggers). I felt free to wander and browse while knowing someone friendly was closeby to help when I needed it (and y’all know I NEEDED IT).

Seriously, it made me truly appreciate what we have here in terms of brands and variety; but also, as well as the hard work each of these stores does for it’s local and visiting clientele.

Overall? The experience was exhausting (you know, standing around trying to look beautiful) and a total whirlwind of putting all the puzzle pieces together (and wondering how I could afford all my favorite pieces and still be able to eat this month). But how magical to be around these hard-working, big thinking, down-right lovely people.

Suffice it to say I’m thrilled to know where to go to get my next ensembles, whether a waterside brunch or a fabulous soiree; and to do so knowing I’ll be greeted by new friends.

 

 

Traveling Chic Boutique @ Coligny Plaza // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

I’ll still most likely never be the called a “Fashionista.” And I doubt I’ll be able to eat expensive confectionaries and be able to pull off anything that doesn’t have at least a little elasticity to it (which is why Pure Barre HHI will forever have me on retainer as a client). But one thing I learned is that I am worthy of style. That choosing quality brands and supporting local vendors can be and very much is an expression of that. Because a true friend won’t let you walk out of store looking like a crazy person. And they’ll help make you feel beautiful no matter what.

Copper Penny @ Shelter Cove Towne Centre // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

—-

A very big THANK YOU to:

Dorothy, Hallie, and the whole staff at the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce

Too Belles Boutique @ the Fresh Market Shoppes // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

… and the following retailers:

Birdie James

Coastal Bliss

Copper Penny

Gigi’s Boutique

Island Girl

Louette

Maluka

Too Belles

Traveling Chic Boutique

….. and…. 

Island Girl @ Coligny Plaza // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

—-

And an even bigger shout-out to my better half, John, for not being too upset when I maaaaay have come home with a new new finds… and for always telling me I’m worth the $12 bedazzled donut.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

Gigis Boutique in Bluffton // Celia G Photographie + Harbour Affair 2017

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When was the last time you really held something in high esteem? Or looked at a product or piece of art or plate of food and became incredibly overwhelmed by the time and thought that went into making it?

When was the last time you thoughtfully purchased something, truly considering the workmanship, production, and the careful selection of materials?

When was the last time you chose to support a company or store that supported its people and missions?

When was the last time you really honestly “valued” an experience or a product or person?

I’ve been contemplating all of these questions a lot lately as the concept of “value” has been a reoccurring theme in the last couple of months. Not only the value of worth but the values to which I want to align my business and the clients I want to work with… and personally for myself. It seems at every corner I can’t avoid the conversation, and more and more I’m in situations where I have to make decisions about what I value and be confident in explaining my worth to others.

Let me explain.

I have been that girl who scours the endcaps of Target hunting for that bright red clearance tag (the more layered on there THE BETTER). I used to “just go out and buy something” for events at fast-fashion stores and didn’t care it would fall apart because I could just go get a new whatever-it-was for the next thing. Cheap drugstore makeup? UH YEAH, you’re not getting me to pay over $10 for stuff I don’t even know how to put on anyways. Y’all, there are certain restaurants I’ve been to where I only go at happy hour because I could never wrap my mind around paying for the “real” food there.

I love a good deal and I always will.

But certain things are NOT worth the cheap price tag. And I’ll tell you, I’m paying for it in some ways now (pun intended?).

And not knowing how to articulate and speak up for –my own– value has cost me even more. Literally.

The concept of “value” has been on my mind a lot, but it really started to pick up steam when I attended a national photographers conference in Texas back in January. No matter what seminar I went to – technical lighting, posing, marketing, business strategy, etc. – each and every speaker spoke to some degree of presenting one’s business and being confident in your work so you are appropriately compensated at the highest level of your worth. For the first time since turning my photography into a business over five years ago, it hit me like a bird into a glass door: the business of photography is not the cutesy girl in the felt hat with her “retro” camera bragging about wearing sweat pants while she edits charming flower-field engagement pictures drinking her $8 latte. It’s a PROFESSION. And the people I was surrounded by and learned so much from wanted to make it crystal clear that yes, creativity is important, but treating your business with the same professionalism, customer service and value as any other career is what makes one succeed. While photographers all do things a little differently, when they do not value their own work and think they’re “lesser than” (e.g.: undercharging, giving away too many freebies, letting clients take up valuable time without additional compensation) because they’re not curing cancer, the whole industry suffers.

WHOOOOOA

Coming back from that experience has prompted me to explore other areas of my life needing a serious value audit. I suddenly found myself being more mindful when making purchases, checking to see if they were sustainably produced, quality made, and even if they supported local/semi-local/small shops. As I’d run out of beauty and personal products, I’d research safer, cleaner alternatives that aren’t made with junk or tested on animals (I am always on the hunt and welcome your suggestions). When choosing vendors to use for my business, I explored the companies that invested back into its employees and clients (people first, people!). I started, too, evaluating my time, assets, and education so I could communicate with my own current/potential clients what my work product is worth… and not let fear of “not being enough” let me undervalue the way I conduct business. (Because, y’all: I still have to eat and pay rent, too… and we all know I LIKE TO EAT.)

In doing so, it brought me to other people who are also supporters of quality goods and services. Seeing them so gracefully declare their work to be of a certain quality so effortlessly has motivated me to be serious about my work. To stop giving away time and talents to people who can’t seem to get past that red clearance sticker, demanding and expecting more but wanting it for less.

And it’s not easy. In fact, it’s terrifying.

But what’s scarier is knowing I’ll burn out and live in a space of never having/being “enough” if I don’t make that change (and I’ve lived in that space repeatedly… there’s only so much I can spend on wine to keep getting through it). And I risk putting the well-being of the creative/photography industry at stake when I cheapen it with my own ridiculous fears of people not respecting my work. Sounds dramatic, but it’s true.

Harbour Affair Small Business

via: http://whitneyenglish.com/

I share all of this because I believe the concept of “value” is rooted in bigger conversations of appreciation and respect. While I’m not suggesting to go out and wildly spend your cash on top-tier goods and services, I am suggesting that maybe the ability to truly value things and experiences has been lost because they come so fast and cheap these days, easily replaceable and momentarily appreciated because the next “latest & greatest” is around the corner.

As a business owner and someone who really wants to be part of our coastal and larger digital communities, I’ve come to realize what I wear, what I purchase, what I put on my face (no matter how terribly I do it), what I eat, and what brands/products/shops I choose to support has implications. I know there are a lot of people who make these decisions for a status thing, and that’s not what I’m suggesting – but rather, taking time to invest in things with a little soul.

Listen. I will always be the $5 bottle of wine & Oreo girl at heart. And I truly do believe in being a good steward of money and choosing the sensible options to support one’s self, family, and business. You have to pick and choose, I get it, and the price tag isn’t always the best indicator of the true worth of something (I’m looking at you, $5 fancy grocery store bottled water).

And you’d best believe I won’t turn down the cute Target endcap find with brilliant layer of 10 bright red clearance stickers on it.

But I’ve learned being truly enamored with a quality piece of clothing or product instead of buying several cheap ones makes you feel better about putting it on and more careful to maintain it. And getting that little hand-written note in your purchase when you  support a local/small retailer is a feeling of connection you don’t get when you wistfully buy something at a big box store. And working with clients who appreciate and LOVE on your work because you deliver an experience that gets you both extremely happy you took the chance on each other… that’s the stuff of an entrepreneur’s dreams.

And one of these days I’ll get to one of my other dreams: eating my Oreos with a crisp glass of Dom Perignon.

But until then, I’ll do what I can.

And I welcome your suggestions on ways to do so, products to buy, or places to support that provide heart and value.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

#seanlucagram

Photo of my chubby chihuahua, Sean Luca (aka, Shark Luca), because we all know this is #priceless.

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2017 is here. It’s already February.

And I’m not even mad.

Celia G Photographie

2017 came in like a big, squealy sorority girl hug: a little loud and questionably tipsy, but with a gaping mouthed smile – maybe a little ugly-happy cry – and excited to get things started.

How weird to be sitting exactly where I sat a year ago… I was wearing 2nd (maybe 3rd) day old pants, crying, praying, thinking I had made a huge mistake in moving to our new coastal home and trying to take my business full time all at once. I was upbeat and positive on the outside, but internally I scared and lonely. Lost. The place John and I had wanted to call home for so long felt so nostalgic yet foreign and desolate. That yucky floating head of social norms boomed with a voice that said to let go of my ambitions and ideas and dreams of owning a profitable photography business. It told me to settle… so I went to the job boards and started planning how to quietly close up shop, at least “for now.” Maybe I’d try again later.

Thankfully, the voice of “Lil C” was louder. Much louder. And more persistent. And she only got more intense the more I snacked on leftover Christmas candy.

{For those of you who are joining us here for the first time, “Lil C” is the inner voice of my younger days… she was fearless and bright-eyed and knew not the meaning of limitation. She guides me on the regular.}

So I took small steps in my business. I planned and I set goals and I kept key people in the loop. I asked for how I could help. I asked for help myself. I also took literal small steps on the beach or local trails – lots of long, quiet walks with my little fuzzy butt to meditate or pray or let my mind wander uninterrupted.

celia g photographie

Things began to happen.

ALL THE THINGS.

And thus began one of the most wild rides I’ve ever been on that was 2016.

I ‘effed up a ton ( and pretty royally at that). I lost a lot of sleep. I had to ask a lot of John in terms of patience and understanding. I said “yes” to everything for fear I’d miss a big opportunity. I felt overwhelmed but never knowing where to start. I let the Doubt Monster and the Comparison Beast take up space in my head and my heart. I learned really quickly that there are some people who only see through the perspective of what they get out of things, never truly valuing creative work. I found out there were those who didn’t believe in my goals or who said mean things. I noticed there were people I had constantly supported and valued as friends who suddenly went silent or became apathetic or became difficult to reach.

It was embarrassing and so, so painful.

BUT, I also scored a few key victories. I gained some incredibly valuable experiences and learned a lot through taking chances. John continued to highlight the progress and express support. I discovered some splendid, magical, selfless (often hilarious) people who want nothing but good, GOOD things for my endeavors and our new lives here in this special little island community… even when I had nothing to offer in return. Some of those people even came out of those screwed up experiences, which feels even crazier that it’s all part of the story.

More importantly, there were people who stuck with me and were the wildly encouraging, funny, and graceful beings who held me accountable because they knew I knew better than to accept defeat. Even when things got tough or scary or weird, they reminded me repeatedly why I was doing it in the first place.

I often feel so undeserving of these people, new and old friends, far and near, because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to repay them for what they’ve done and continue to do for me.

But I do know I wake up every day motivated to live into – if not beyond! – the space of generosity and ambition they’ve created for me. And it ultimately led me to my Word of 2017: Responsibility.

I toyed around with several words and thoughts for weeks: Fearlessness? Intention? Gratitude? While strong words, they didn’t feel quite right. In looking ahead to my 2017 year and the fullness of things already well in progress or already in planning stages – things I couldn’t even fathom sitting in my 2nd (3rd?) day old pants a year ago – I felt it needed to be a big, more encompassing idea. And “responsibility” hit me, hard, as I sat in the airport on my way home from Texas in early January 2017, filling out my 2017 planner and making To Do’s and scribbling down big ideas. They were all things I was insanely excited about, despite the crazy amount of work they’d take; things that other people helped make happen and believed I was the right person to do; things that Lil C screamed GO FOR IIIIT! while running in muppet-flailing arm circles.

I have a responsibility to give THEM the biggest YES’s!, to work whole-heartedly and appreciatively for the chances they’ve provided, and to hold space for relationship and friendship (hopefully over bourbon or waffles… or both). To realize I have something and someone(s) to work for with no room for distractions is something I’ve prayed and worked and wished for, for a long… LONG time.

celia g photographie

I realize that 2017 so far for the world at-large has been tumultuous and disheartening and scary. I’ve witnessed fear and self-importance and mean-spiritedness in ways and on levels I didn’t know existed.  It makes me feel guilty when something good comes along and creates a lot of “what’s the point” feelings. I feel compelled to say something, but I can’t find the words. The noise is deafening.

I’m not nor will I ever suggest one should be blind to what’s going on. But I will say the digital mobs will distract us from what’s going on around us – and being blind to how we can truly BE is how the bad guys take control. Or so I’ve noticed.

Being responsible to my commitments and the people who have given me so much while also giving everything I have to what I really feel I should be doing… that’s the only way I know how to deal with what’s going on in the world. To continue to feel things fully. To start giving back to the people and organizations in my community. To hold others accountable to live into their best selves. To be fully and totally aware and appreciative of the freedoms and “ordinary” luxuries I enjoy every day. To stay excited. To be inspired by people who don’t hide behind angry social media posts and classless protest signs… but who trust the process, do the work, believe in themselves, believe in others, and who just darned NICE people.

But anyone taking time to read this flatulent musing of reflection already knows what they can do to combat apathy, suffering, and ignorance.

And know I’m here to support you every step of the way. Because the world needs your light and laughter and joy. It needs it real bad, y’all.

For the times that get scary or rough or hopeless, I’ve got a full glass of red wine and buttery soaked waffle with your name on it.

Let 2017 give you that big squealy hug and feed your inner “Lil” that leftover holiday candy… because we have work to do. And we’re literally just getting started.

Hugs & high fives,

C

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