The decision to be fearless and otherwise

by Paige Ray


In some things, I'm not smart enough to know I "shouldn't be able to do it". Like when I started knitting with multiple colors 3 weeks after first learning. Oh the glares that I got from the ladies who had been knitting for a decade who'd never had the courage to try.

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My latest project: the quilt of many colors. (See it on Instagram.) Same thing. Different medium. Way too complicated / hard / above my level for my "might as well try" skill set.

What causes me to be fearless in some areas (crafting, international foods, and exploring a new town) but totally uncourageous in others? Why don't I apply my "might as well try" attitude to things more important to my professional life: asking that community leader out for coffee, standing up for ideas and people I really believe in, maybe more importantly, standing up for myself. 

I think I know the answer, but it's not particularly pretty. I think it's a matter of testing and trying and going with whatever the first response may be. I think it's been easy for me to fearlessly "make stuff" above my level. No one is there to tell me it's too hard. Professional / personal beliefs... everyone has an opinion on those. It's too easy, for my thin skinned self to get "shot down" by haters or nonbelievers or believers or whomever else may tell me why I should / should not pursue something. And I listen to them.  To my own, peril.

I'm in Seattle this week and I'm wondering if the ability to acquire thicker skin along with hater-canceling headphones will be available in the near future.


Inspiration Inbox // June.23.14

by Paige Ray


Happy Place

The past few weeks have been really good in that I have managed to inhabit this rare place where my ratio of creating and consuming is in a sweet spot.  I have felt productive at work while still having time and energy to pursue my personal creative shenanigans.  On top of that I feel like I have been getting creative "refills" from the inspiration I'm managed to read/ listen to/ absorb.

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Non-Fiction

Good to Great - This 14 year old business book is on loads of lists, maybe most importantly, it's on my own boss' "must read" list.  So I read it.
My takeaways:
#1 It's dated.  This book talks about companies that were great that would now be considered anti-great (i.e. Fanny Mae).  I realize that books are nothing if not a snapshot of a certain time.  It just left a horrible taste in my mouth that all of these heralded principles have been drawn from companies who may have, in the years since its publication, tanked spectacularly.
#2 Everyone focuses on the "Get the right people on the bus," principle.  And I agree that having a good team is important.  But I wish more would be said by readers of the the book about the "hedgehog principle", i.e. find what you're good at and keep on doing it.  I'm a big fan of the hedgehog.

The Firestarter Sessions - Pretty sure Jessica was the first person to mention this book about business / self actualization to me.
My takeaway: This book was an easy read that asked deceptively tough questions.  Questions like - How do you want to feel? What do you need to do to feel like that more often?  What can you actually control?  What do you need to quit doing?
Bonus points: It mentioned my beloved hedgehog concept from Good to Great.

Fiction

The Storied life of A.J. Fikry - A recommendation from my husband.  He admitted that it made him cry.
My takeaway: It was an absolutely lovely (if not totally implausible, slightly soap opera-esque) story.

Dept. of Speculation - I wouldn't have read this had I not seen that Slate's Audio Book Club was reviewing it.  (more about my new obsession with podcasts later).
My takeaways:  Confusing.  Poetic.  More "literary" than my normal fare.  The usage of change in voice (first person to third person back to first person) is absolutely beautiful.  Good gosh - I'm writing this review as if ti's the book itself.  I liked... No. Wrong tense.  I like it.

Podcasts

All. Of. Them.
Sigh... I had some chores to do around the house and I realized I had listened to all of the last three years of This American Life, so I went searching for more.  Which lead me to the podcast app, which lead me to Elise Gets Crafty, to After the Jump, to Death, Sex and Money and on and on and on, i.e. my current obsession.
Try it. Search out the things that really interest you. Subscribe to a few.  Be okay with unsubscribing to a few.  
I dare you not get hooked.

Any suggestions of those that I need to try?


The stories you tell yourself

by Paige Ray


When I was six I wanted to be a cheerleader. Not because I had a particular love for the sport of peewee football or that I felt a need to enhance my extracurricular resume. No, I wanted to be a cheerleader because they wore cute outfits and because it's what all my six year old friends were doing. But I never became a cheerleader for one simple reason: "Cheerleaders dance. We are Baptist. Therefore, to abstain from dancing, I should not be a cheerleader."

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For years, I told this story from the perspective of the girl who was referring to her upbringing in a conservative Christian family. That is, until I realized something much more important. This story isn't about religion or dogma, it's about one of my core values. 

Know thyself.

I've been really thinking about my strengths lately. What do I do naturally that I, perhaps, don't even notice? What is the hypothetical "water" that, as a "fish", I swim around so frequently that I'm not even aware of it's existence. 

The traits "customer service" and "relationships" kept coming up as things I just naturally do. These are different aspects of my own personality where I... Without realizing it... Navigate a potentially stormy situation with (what seems looks to others as) grace.

I realized that a common theme with the traits above is that they both tie into the fact that I am a pleaser. I want to make people happy. I want folks to walk away from an experience with me smiling. (Obviously, this isn't always the case in practice but role with me on this.) If I can make someone (especially someone in a client or customer position) a little bit happier by going out of my way and extending an extra bit of effort, 9 times out of 10, I do it. 

This trait is something that, like most traits, can be exponentially good if used in a correct setting or some something that has major potential negative consequences in my life. Regardless, it's part of who I am.

Tiny dancer

Which all ties back into the cheerleading dilemma. I ultimately didn't avoid a potential career in cheerleading because "baptists don't dance" but instead because I am a pleaser and always have been. 

The quote above is referenced directly from my owns thoughts of the matter. No one ever told me that I couldn't be a cheerleader. In fact, after I graduated from college, I recalled this memory to my mother and she said, "I wish you would have told me!" I held myself back so that I wouldn't potentially offend or mess up or do anything that would go against those who I loved. 

Lesson learned

I look at this new story as the first of many of my own stories that I need to review.  Maybe there's something in their that you simply haven't noticed yet because you're too close to it. Don't just look at the castle and the plants in the fish tank, check out the water. 


This week: Children's Miracle Network & Donate a Photo

by Paige Ray


Four things about the image below:

#1 These are two of my four nephews.

#2 Nephews are fun but exhausting. 

#3 Silly string is near impossible to clean up.

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#4 The nephew on the right was a premie. 2 months early. And now he's just as exhausting as the other nephews. But there in the beginning he had to fight. And he spent the first month of his life baby ICU.

So when my friend Stephanie asked me to take part in a drive to help folks know about the Children's Miracle Network and the Donate a Photo app, I was happy to help.

Here's the deal: For every photo you donate through the Donate a Photo app, Johnson & Johnson gives money to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.  That money helps provide a blanket for a newborn baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of a hospital.  Using the app you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day.

How to help:

#1 Download the app. 

#2 Be creative, have fun, take a picture.

#3 Upload it to the app and share. 

#4 Hug your nephews/ nieces/ babies.

Hey yo - This is a sponsored post about an effort which I'm happy to promote. Read all about the legal stuff here


Me versus The Brat

by Paige Ray


When I was younger I was scared to choose a major in college. 

"If I pick one thing I will be closing off all these other opportunities," whined the brat in my head. 

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The brat meant well. She was young and she realized that there was a lot of life and of the world that she hadn't experienced yet. I admire that brat's sense of wonder and adventure; but looking back I wish she wouldn't have hidden behind indecision. 

Similar to Buddhists who believe that they are given the same lesson to learn lifetime after lifetime to figure things out, the subject of becoming a "specialist" keeps reoccurring in my life and now I've now changed my mind. 

Here's what I would tell the brat:

Specialize. 

Find a calling that makes you the most excited person in a room. 

Use this excitement to soak up skills and draw other passionate people to yourself. In this process you will learn and grow and, ultimately, expand to somewhere beyond the place you originally started. 

Growing requires doing.  Doing requires making a decision.  If you have to make a decision you may as well make one that gets you all riled up and happy to wake up in the morning. 


What I'm reading this week

by Paige Ray


This week's internet history in short:  

productivity, networking, and my girl crush on Tavi Gevinson.

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Excited to attend this local business women's conference when summer winds down. 

What is your heurstic?   

I've been working on #4 of this article on increasing productivity by waking up earlier.

This doesn't surprise me however it does piss me off. 

However:  I was reading WSJ mgazine and read about Charlotte Tilbury. Is selling "magic cream" the same this as airbrushing? Is it sad that I'd like to try it out regardless?

To be filed under: Things I need to do more often.    Maybe while I'm outside enjoying Spring.

Also- be intentional.  

Earlier this week, I spoke about networking. Add this to helpful networking tips. Oh yes- and this

Looking for a way to justify all that time you spend on Instagram?  Check this out. 

(Also, check out the lovely ladies from Treasures and Travels who I met at Alt NYC this time last year being named an influencer.) 

Speaking of amazing women: This chick has intrigued me ever since I learned of her.  

Hey! It's one of my fave nonprofits and they're selling supa' cool TShirts

 


Networking - Then & Now

by Paige Ray in


I grew up in a very small town,

in a very rural part of a very Southern state, so when I got into the "real world" and heard about all this talk of "networking" I stressed out.

What was this skill set and why didn't I know anything of it?

 

That's not to say my growing up time was anti-social or "networking free".

Far from it.  In fact, I was sure that, collectively, my parents and grandparents knew every single person in town as evidenced from the conversations that they would strike up all over town.  That and the consistency of what everyone in town referred to as "visiting":

"I'm going to go visit Mr. Earl down at the Dairy Freeze before he heads back to the bank."

"Preacher, why don't you and the family come visit us after church next week?"

"Come with me and we'll go visit the principal about those special science classes you're interested in."

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I finally connected the dots when I visited a local cafe in my late twenties.

Despite the fact that the "comfort food" menu didn't exactly line up to my current health preferences, the restaurant reminded me of a home so I found myself going frequently.  It was during one particular meal of fried chicken, fried okra, and corn bread, that I slowly became aware of the "the good ol boys" club surrounding me. Nowhere in the restaurant was another young single woman, instead the restaurant was full of men talking politics and golf an interest rates.

And I realized I had the one networking skill set I needed.

These men were doing nothing more than the networking I was trying to figure out, but they were doing it under the guise of "visiting".  The genius was that it wasn’t an “event” the way that modern culture has taught us to think of networking events, instead it was a way of life.  “Visiting” was a habit developed over years of returning to the same cafe, coffee shop, or church meeting.  “Visiting” developed from a willingness to trust others for no other reason than that of their habit of being in close physical proximity.

I know how to visit.
I grew up visiting.
I've got this.


Things I'm reading this week

by Paige Ray


I'm reading Austin Kleon's book "Show Your Work" in which he recommends that every artist/ writer/ maker/ creative should share what's influencing them. So this is last week's list. This week's list soon. 

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Feeling like fraud? Me too dude. 

I haven't had many arguments later but this article is good in that case. 

Humans of New York is one of my social media favorites. Here Sports Illustrated did an interesting story on one of the subjects. 

My friend Emily was telling me that she's headed to this conference in Dallas.

Something I need to work on:  Willpower

I consider myself usual. I should start doing these things. 

The Northwest Arkansas Council acts as the older and wiser sibling to all the disparate towns in our area who says, "Work together guys. You're stronger together."

I participated on an all day Board Certification training with a local Chamber of Commerce and learned more about this nonprofit. Biggest lesson learned in the training: If you don't love an organization don't do it. The headache of all the work/ effort won't be worth it unless it means something for you. 

I've been interested in how my vocal presence helps/ hurts my prospects. Note: Avoid this. 

A friend recommended this to me. Is it surprising that we met while blogging?

 And this. Because sometimes you're doing something you've never done before.  (I.e. I did something I've never done before.)

What are you interested this week?

 


Re-Energizer and Friends

by Paige Ray


I wasn't looking forward to the long weekend. I had stayed intentionally "calendar free" (i.e. without plans) because, lately, I've been overwhelmed with "lots".  

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 Lots of work, which resulted in lots of early morning starts and lots of 6 day work weeks. 

Lots of time in front of a screen working on lots of personal projects. Learning and then putting into action lots of action items that push me to grow and change. 

Lots of life in general. Nothing bad, just lots of everything. 

But when a friend asked to meet me, my response was immediate: lots of time had passed since we had last seen one another.

So we made it happen. And, when we arrived at our destination we were invited over to another set of women who were catching up and sharing and advising and learning. Throughout the early afternoon and into the evening the group grew and contracted to account for daughters and husbands and loved ones. And when the buzz of technology told me that it was  my turn to bow out, I was hesitant. 

Here I was in the middle of something I had told myself that I wasn't going to do: I had made plans and moreover, used that planned time doing something that, being an introvert, generally takes away my energy. Because "going out" most always drains me, I generally run away from it for an extended period. But this group was different in that it reminded me how much I crave community. They helped me remember how, regardless of personality type, we all need to make that connection with "our people" so that we have a reason to enjoy all the other "lots" that our grown up lives entail. They unintentionally re-energized me and I am incredibly grateful.


This day has been good

by Paige Ray


 

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Because it's shown me the power of mentorships.

Because it's made me appreciate leftovers.

Because I'm more grateful that I can buy a plate of seafood whenever I want.

Because I can feel the support of my surrounding community.

Because I know that there are good people in the world.

Because bad stuff is out there. But good wins. It has to.

Because creativity is a beautiful thing.

Because even old ugly habits have a way of teaching us valuable lessons.

Because it's shown me the power of the slightly impossible.

Because people realize the value of dreamers. 

Because people can make a difference when they work toward it.

Because there is power in saying "no".

And power in saying "yes".

And "maybe" .

And "let's see".  

And, the overall chance of being able to change my mind.  

 

**I had the pleasure of working with a local group at a homeless shelter and having a productive day at work and seeing my favorite group of local bloggers today. 

I have to share my gratitude so it's locked securely in my memory for the less grateful / shiny days that will always come. 


One Little Word - Grow // March Update

by Paige Ray in


Violencia

Image credit // Infame Cless via Flickr

February my intention was to combine January's goal of planning February's goal of Bold.  I think I made that happen.  Here's how:

  • 48 Walks - I'm excited to participate in Alison's challenge as a way to push myself creatively & physically for the next year.  The lesson learned so far:  Tying up the boots and walking out the front door is the hardest part.  Check out all my 48 Walks posts
  • B School - It was a huge decision to say , "Yes!" to this on-line marketing class.  So hard in fact that I have yet to share with my most closest of friends.  
    • Why was I scared to share?
      • It was a big financial undertaking and I'm not a flaunter.
        However, I do believe in both investing in myself and putting money toward experiences instead of objects.  This class, will fit in both of those categories.
    • What I'm looking forward to:
      • This is on-line marketing.  I currently work in marketing.  There is always something new to learn.
      • Developing a personal business plan and implementing it within the next few months.  (Expect a blog post regarding this called "Things I am Embarrassed to Admit in Public" soon.)

After all the serious planning and boldness of February I'm excited to be squarely in March, the month I have designated as the month of Celebration.
We're less than two weeks in and already I have

  • Invited my local blogger friends to meet up with my husband and our friends from "his side" i.e. people I know through him and called it my own celebration of turning 30.  The group was small and weird and delightful.  Great night of celebrating with my people.
  • My husband threw a surprise birthday party for me.  Celebrating great friends and delicious food.  Look forward to the blog post soon.  
  • As a challenge to myself, I ran a 10k the weekend after I turned 30.  It kicked my ass.  I won a mug and surviving was a celebration in itself.  Again- it deserves it's own blog post.
  • Also birthday related: I decided to give away a ticket to the local TedX talk.  Check out the winner here.  Celebrate curiosity.

Thing that I'm looking forward to the rest of the month:

  • My husband and I's annual trip to Hot Springs and the horse races.  Celebrate traditions.
  • While in Hot Springs I am also celebrating the upcoming Spring during my very first InstaMeetUp.
  • I am taking part in Jackie's 30 Day Challenge.  Celebrate growth.  

It's a big month and I'm looking forward to all the growing and celebrating that will be happening simultaneously.  If I had a concern it is that all of this excitement runs a very close path to overwhelm.  Visualizing the truth that small steps are the best way to climb a mountain is helping me calm my mind.  What are your secrets to identifying and overcoming overwhelm?


Birthday Giveaway : TedX Fayetteville

by Paige Ray


Values have been on my mind lately.

"What do you value? What are your values? Why are these things/ concepts/ ideas important to you?" 

As someone raised with a religious faith I admit that I cruised by on deciding my personal values; I simply took the ones given to me. Add to that the blue collar, self- sufficient attitude that had been the way of life for generations and my values were laid in front of me:

•hard work

•truth & honesty

•faithfulness & loyalty

•respect  

For the longest time, those were my values. And, to an extent they still are.

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But more than anything I wanted to see which values truly guided the way I both perceive and interact with the world.  

It's not easy. It's simultaneously living life while evaluating actions, perceptions, and decisions. It's constantly asking, "Why?"

The first value that came to mind was "Education". Anyone who knows me, knows the first day of school was (and not so secretly is) my favorite. But I realized, while I consider education important it's actually the everyday level of "Learning" that is important to me beyond that of the classrooms and text books. When I dug further into that concept I realized that while I do appreciate learning new things it's really "Curiousity" that drives me.

Curiosity is the spirit that allows me to start researching a subject and not come up for air for ten hours whichever results in having a thorough (though obviously never complete) knowledge of a subject I just became interested in. Curiosity is the reason my book shelves look as if they could belong in the library of ten different people which subject ranging across the board. Curiousity is the part of me that is always hungry and always searching and always a little discontent until those brief moments where it's appetite is sated. 

It's with all that being the case that I am really excited about TedX Fayetteville. In short: TedX is a chance for the curious to "get into the headspace" of the local communities most creative, ambitious, and, you guessed it: curious people. I wrote about my experience last year and hope to link to it soon.  I'm going again this year and, as a part of my annual "birthday giveaway" (I turn 30 today) I'm giving everyone a chance to win a full day ticket to the event. 

Tickets go on sale to the public on March 10 & in the interest of sanity (tickets sales are crazy around here!) I've decided that I'm only going to have this giveaway open for the next three days and I will decide on the evening of the 9th so that everyone else (disappointed though you may be) may get a chance to buy your own if you do not win. 

Last side note: The person who wins this ticket get the pleasure of sitting next to me. If you win and we don't know one another, I officially promise to not chat your ear off while the speakers are talking... Most of the time anyway. 

To win: leave me a comment & / or shoot me a tweet telling me that you want to be entered into the giveaway. Yep- multiple tweets will be considered multiple entries but please be respectful of your community. 

So happy to make this giveaway happen and support curiosity, creativity, and community.  Happy March 6th.

 

 

 


48 Walks // Downtown Little Rock - Winter

by Paige Ray in ,


Another walk.
Another teaser Spring day.
Another afternoon of blue skies that threaten to drive even the murkiest of winter days away.

But, as I sit here typing, there is a quarter inch of ice on the ground and spring seems to be as real as a story I read sometime when I was young.  

Melodramatic?  Totally.
Ready for sunshine and Spring and warmer weather? Yes.

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What are you doing to keep *Seasonal Affective Disorder away?
*Yes, this is a real thing and no I'm not teasing.  Pretty sure I've got to get myself to a sun lamp.


InstaMeetUp - Hot Springs, AR

by Paige Ray in


Who's up for a photowalk?

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I am incredibly excited to officially announce my first meet up / photo walk. Combining my love of photography and social media, Instagram has been a favorite way to share moments from my life.  Connecting my online obsession with "real life" relationships is an exciting next step.

#SpaCityMeetUp Details 

Date: Saturday March 15th
Time: 8am-ish
*Location: Hot Springs, AR or On-Line (details below)
Meeting Place: The Arlington Hotel in Downtown Hot Springs, Lobby
**Theme: Spring
**RSVP: Use the hashtag #SpaCityMeetUp
***Prizes: Two separate $15 gift cards to Stickygram and The Arlington Hotel


*Obviously- it's a meet-up so I will be pumped to meet anyone who finds their way into the lobby of the hotel the morning of the 15th.  HOWEVER, the great thing about the Internet is that it is everywhere.  As a result I think anyone should be able to participate in a photowalk.  Keep reading to see how you can participate even if you're not in Hot Springs, Arkansas that day.

**Our theme is "Spring" because, as I type, I hear tiny pellets of ice assaulting my window and I am a little more than ready to welcome the new season.  I suspect many others out there are equally excited. So excited in fact that you will be welcoming the new colors and birdsong with some iPhone-ography celebration- so get to snapping.

***Tag any #Spring themed photograph you take between now and March 15th with the hashtag #SpaCityMeetUp and you (and any of your friends) are eligible to win the $15 Gift Certificate to Stickygram.  Because you need magnets; magnets are fun.
Check any of the #SpaCityMeetUp links to see real time updates of the latest posts.

Last thing: Be sure to RSVP on the MeetUp Facebook Page and let us know if you will be attending in person or virtually!


I'm really excited about this, but I know that first time events are full of holes and mini-disasters.
Have any of you hosted a MeetUp or photowalk?  What details am I missing?  Any gaping holes?  Please let me know.


48 Walks // Art Trail Crystal Bridges - Winter

by Paige Ray in ,


This walk happened during one of the many teasers that the Arkansas Spring gives to those who happen to experience its bits and pieces of good weather.  Like an unexpected visit from a good friend you're happy to see it come but, often, have no idea what to do once it arrives.

Should we take a walk?  Go to the museum?  Get a bite to eat?

I decided to vote "Yes!" to all of the above.  Though I intended to walk the Art Trail, I actually started in downtown Bentonville and took in all the happy people who were soaking up the sunshine and warmth.  Winding my down in between bikers and toddling families, the paved path was pleasantly busy.  The soft hum and slow movement of people mirrored the buds of the trees that are just beginning to peek out- slowly stretching out their energy, silently willing the sun to stay out just a little bit longer today.

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#5toFollow // Cancer Fighting Badasses

by Paige Ray in


Did you know that February is Cancer Prevention Month?  It's true.
Did you know that half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices like not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active, and getting recommended screening tests? It's true. 
Did you know that most everyone who has fought / is currently fighting cancer is a certified badass in my opinion? Again, true.

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Here are five people who are intelligent and talented ladies who totally own badass status in my opinion:

Just a note: The topic of cancer has been on my mind a lot lately- A family member just went into remission, one who just tested positive again.  A friend who had a big scare.  A recent acquaintance who actively supports people who went through what she once did.  And it's just got me thinking about community and ways to show support and love and strength and hope.


#5toFollow is a collection of folks guaranteed to brighten your day via your computer screen.   


48 Walks // Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges - Winter

by Paige Ray in ,


Walk two of 2014 and I'm hooked.

The day I walked the Dogwood Trail at Crystal Bridges I immediately thought two things: 

  • Why am I not running?
  • My fingers are cold.
  • This big camera is awkward.

The first was because this is a trail that I ran a few times back in the autumn and the thought of slowing down and really taking it in was a bit of a struggle at first.  The second was simply because I forgot to pack my gloves.  The third was because I lost my camera back in the summer and I haven't made it a priority to get familiar with it again.  

Instead of really pushing myself to play around with the DSLR, I stayed with the simplicity that is my iPhone. (Because cold fingers + awkward camera skills = bad shots.) 

Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter trees Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter trees moss Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter log pile Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter tree rings Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas tree rings moss Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter sunset Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas cedar Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter sunset grass leaves Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter tree branches Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter art Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas winter sunset pines Dogwood Trail Crystal Bridges Arkansas art robert tannen grains of sand

This past week I've had the chance to get familiar again with my DSLR (thankful to the University of Wisconsin for having my camera's user manual on file).  While I don't foresee myself ever totally neglecting my iPhone (because the best camera really is the one you have with you), I'm happy to say I all my futures posts will be a happy mixture of both cameras. 

Any old skills you've had to brush up on recently? Or am I the only one who totally forgets how to work a piece of machinery after six months?


Lessons Learned // The Case of the Missing Camera

by Paige Ray in


I loved Nancy Drew growing up.  When I was starting my adventure in being a bibliophile in the 90's I didn't care that I was six decades late to the sleuthing party, I was just excited to take part in the search just like the millions of young girls who had come before me.  Ms. Drew was smart, poised, and always able to push the rules just enough so that she always came out a winner.  Totally loved her.

My love for all things mystery stopped at the end of the book however- I could never revel in real life mysteries. In childhood, The Mystery of the Lost Shoe, was more likely to be titled,  The "How can you manage to lose something that you just had yesterday?" Discussion.  In adulthood, The Mystery of the Lost Keys, was more likely to be titled,  The "How can you manage to lose something that you just had yesterday?" Discussion, Part Two.  

In fact, part of that is just my personality.  I'm forgetful, or really, a better description: absent-minded.  I am the woman who will put her purse in the freezer with all the other grocery sacks.  The one who has yet to establish a permanent location for those aforementioned keys since they still regularly show up in pant's pockets, jackets, purses, and, only occasionally, the key ring.

Canon EOS 60D

That's why, when my "nice camera" (i.e. my DSLR that my husband got for me as a birthday present two years ago) went missing, I just attributed it to the fact that I had misplaced it somewhere where it normally doesn't reside. I had just transitioned out of my internship with the Eureka Springs Downtown Network and into my current job.  I was planning two separate events and spending 60+ hours at work.  Surely, it was hiding somewhere in between the pile of unwashed clothes in the closet and the collection of life accumulating in the back seat of my car.
But I could never find it. 

And then, the morning, I was to take pictures for a friend's magazine assignment, I went through my entire house on the search for the misplaced camera, only to come up empty handed and totally flustered.  Yes, life had changed substantially in the six weeks between living the life of a freelancer/ intern and that day, as I was running late to my 40 hours a week behind a desk.  But had I changed so much that I didn't even care enough about what I had previously considered one of my most prized possessions? Did I simply lose it in the time it had gone unused because I hadn't cared enough about it?

Other than sending out a dejected tweet I didn't say too much.  
Acknowledging the loss would make it more real.  My irresponsibility would have no place to hide in the light of the ugly truth: I lost a piece of expensive machinery (and, more importantly, a gift from my love) that I had once considered an extension of my body. 
I was totally ashamed.


Fast forward, two months.  Still camera-less, still not telling anyone, still ignoring the horrid feeling of the floor being yanked out from under me every time I re-remembered I had lost it.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the most amazing cabin out in the woods for a writing retreat and, at the end of the evening, in the process of unpacking and getting ready for bed, my friend Jackie casually says, "So, I'm not sure how to give you this," as she proceeds to pull out my "nice camera" from her bag.

As I sat stunned and open jawed she explained how she went about finding it.  She had heard me mention not being able to find it.  "You sounded like you were trying to not care... but you didn't convince me," she smirked.  "So I figured I would go down to the police office since I knew you had it when we were working together at the end of the summer."

From there she proceeded to tell me how she actually had to make multiple trips to the Police Station to talk to multiple officers before they allowed her the opportunity to dig through the "lost and found" pile long enough to find my DSLR with it's distinctive silk scarf strap.  
It was around this point in her recollection of events that reaction had traveled from the original jaw drop to major emotion welling up in my throat and eyes.

"Whatever images you had are gone now," she said in an apologetic tone, pointing out the missing memory card.  And right there, at the end of my own, real life Nancy Drew case I sobbed.  Unlike the ever poised Nancy, I was simultaneously racked with joy filled laughter and flood with tears of relief.  Astonishment, love, and more than a twinge of the proceeding shame all swirled around me leaving me an absolute puddle of gratefulness for someone willing to go out of her way to help that friend who is perpetually 16 GB short of memory.


Thank you Jackie.  Thank you for being the kind of person who listens to what's not being said and goes the distance to really effect someone's life for the better.  I want to be more like you.