Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Giving Stone

"If everything looks good to you, I'll just have you sign this," I told my client, consulting a stack of papers on my desk. But the paper wasn't where I thought it was.

A mom of one of our brides had come in for a morning session to order her photo book. We were just wrapping things up.

"I have something for you," she told me. I was still searching the stack of papers.

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes. I might cry," she confessed.

At this, I stopped my search and looked up. Seeing the emotion on her face, I turned toward her. This was no time for searching for a design contract.

"When my father died a few years ago," she began, but then her voice broke. She covered her mouth and let the tears come.

I allowed a few seconds of silence, and gave her a sympathetic look.

"See," she shook her head, "I told you I would cry. I'm still emotional about it sometimes."

"That's alright," I said, still unaware of what she would be getting at.

"Anyway, when my dad passed away, my mom gave me this stone," she continued, handing me a small black bag. I opened it up and out slipped a shiny silver stone with the word "Imagine" carved into it.

"Every time I became sad or had a hard time, I looked at this stone that sat on the table in my house, and it brought me comfort," she said. "Knowing that this was a special gift given to me in a difficult time really helped me to get through it."

She smiled.

"But just today, I saw it again before I came here. And I thought... it's time. It's time to pass it on. So I brought it here to give to you and Kristi. Whenever you have difficult times or struggles in your business, let this stone be a reminder of hope and joy."

I studied the stone, and then looked up in wonder.

"Thank you so much," I said, but even as the words came out they seemed too trite for the generosity of this gift.

"And I think it's so appropriate that it says 'Imagine' on it," she said.

"Absolutely. When we renamed our business, we chose the word 'Imagine' because of all the possibilities that the word holds," I told her.

And the possibilities ARE endless. The sky is the limit with creativity... and with generosity, kindness, and joy.

That simple but thoughtful gift of giving on in remembrance of what or who was leaves me feeling warm inside. The concept of paying it forward and touching others through a simple object is magnificent. I am honored to be on the receiving end!

Love you all!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

August Rush

I have been wanting to write. I had to wait until I had time, and the time is now.

It has been incredibly busy. So busy, in fact, that even when I am supposed to be relaxing (i.e. resting, listening, watching, or sleeping), my mind is still on overdrive. It's like every part of me is still and relaxed except my brain. It is like there is some part of my subconsciousness that is still making to-do lists and solving yesterday's problem and creating tomorrow's plan. Oh, well.

I would like to say that everything will settle down in September. But it won't. We have 3 weddings and the only weekend we don't have a wedding is the Pumpkin Festival, so Kristi and I will be in our studio during a great portion of this event. Don't get me wrong; I'm still going to go to the food tent, ride the Ferris Wheel, and eat an elephant ear. But most of the time, I'll be found behind Imagine Artists' new door, conveniently located right in the heart of the P Fest!

So enough on how busy my life is. I am glad to have the time to sit down and write at this moment. I truly do love to write.

One thing God has been teaching me over the past several weeks is how sufficient His grace truly is. That Truth has rung a new melody in my ears. It is interesting how God uses certain situations in your life to teach you different lessons or reveal certain truths. I love it. We cannot possibly understand why God does what He does, even the good things. Sometimes, we are blessed far beyond measure, and other times, we are left standing in the middle of an open field, empty-handed, deserted, and lonely. Either way, we still have Christ.

I just read a quote the other day that I loved. Confession: It came from one of my Droid apps. But hear me out, it's this Daily Bible app that gives you a Bible verse every day, and among other features it has a "Daily Quote" that I always read. Here it was:

‎"Contentment is not by addition but by subtraction: seeking to add a thing will not bring contentment. Instead, subtracting from your desires until you are satisfied only with Christ brings contentment." - Jeremiah Burroughs

That really is the truth of the matter.

I'd love to stay and chat, but on the agenda for tonight is a bubble bath while reading my book, and possibly a bowl of Lucky Charms before I call it a night. Yes, I even schedule my nights of relaxation. It's funny, because I'm not really the "planning, regimented" type. At all. But somehow, making a mental to-do of all the fun things I have planned for myself helps me to enjoy it even more. Go figure. So... I'll be back soon. But first, a few pictures I took tonight. Here are 3 of my favorite things:

{1} Candy Corn. Every Fall, when I see the bags of candy corn lining the store shelves, I smile really big and buy a bag. Even better than candy corn? Candy corn pumpkins!
{2} Piano. I love to sight-read, although I'm far from perfect. My personal favorite is to tap out classical pieces, like the sonatinas and inventions. Improvisation comes in at a close second. Nonetheless, playing helps me to wind down after a busy day.

{3) Fall Weather. Exit, hot humidity. Enter, crisp, cool mornings & evenings with blue, sunshine-filled days. The sunsets are pretty, too.

Love you all! T

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

California Excerpts

*Note: Pictures at end of post, in case you don't want to try to make it through the 5-page read!*

In an effort to give you a consolidated yet entertaining synopsis of my time spent in California, I will provide a few excerpts for you to read. Unfortunately, these aren’t true excerpts, because there is no “larger piece” that I’m drawing from… in hindsight, I wish that I had recorded in a journal during this trip. Yet I didn’t, so what you have in store is a read that mimics what 5 excerpts might look like had I actually written a complete story about this getaway.

Excerpt 1 | The Journey

“This flight is running an hour late, and everything is backed up right now in Chicago,” the flight attendant told me, handing me my boarding pass, “So I have provided a back-up pass for you, just in case you miss your connecting flight.”

I thank the lady, gather my boarding pass, and stroll away from the counter. Memories of my nightmare traveling experience that I had several years ago came flooding into my mind… no cell phone… stranded in Chicago airport… had to catch a bus home… arrived so late that the airport was closed… had to find a pay phone and call my brother, but it was so cold outside that my fingers shook and I misdialed three times…didn’t arrive home until 1am, and had to be at a science lab in 4 more hours…

I quickly pushed the memory out of my mind and found a seat right outside the security area. Peoria Airport is currently being remodeled, so everything is in disarray, with big fans blowing in several different directions and signs pointing you to where you need to go.

After waiting the extra hour, I boarded my flight and made it to Chicago, and had absolutely no problem making my connecting flight. I even had time to grab lunch and a Starbucks.

However, traveling woes would still creep their way into my experience. As I boarded the plane and took my seat, already ready to be in San Diego, I noticed that I was quite warm. In my past traveling experiences, I have found that planes are either VERY cold or way too warm. Usually it’s the former, so I made sure to dress in heavy clothes. Wrong choice, this time.

“Good afternoon,” the pilot’s voice came over the loudspeaker, “We are quite aware that the heat is on, and we’re working on resolving the problem as soon as possible.”

That explains it.

A few minutes later, “There is a maintenance issue we are working on,” he told us, “And we hope to have it taken care of in 20 minutes.”

One hour later, we were finally leaving the runway. The flights is almost 4 hours long as it is, but free music, movies, and a book kept my mind from becoming too bored.

Arrival into San Diego was wonderful. The airport was surprisingly small. I wondered outside after gathering my orange suitcase and waited for my uncle and cousin to pick me up. It was about a fifteen minute wait, but one I was willing to make with high spirits, considering the beautiful weather.

A deep blue sky stretched above me, and the air had a cool breeze to it. Within the first five minutes of standing outside, I almost forgot what Illinois humidity felt like.

My uncle and cousin drove up soon after in a convertible with the top down…

I smiled.

This is going to be a great 5 days.

Excerpt 2 | The Scene

I stayed at Hotel Del Coronado with my cousins and their families in Coronado.

It’s a historical place, with a navy seal base nearby. Planes and helicopters fly overhead multiple times a day, very closely. While standing on the beach, you almost feel like you can reach out and grab them from the sky.

The beautiful building has its original parts nicely preserved and newer places added on. Our rooms were a stone’s throw away from Babcock and Story, the Sun Deck, the beach, and Moo Time.

The food was all excellent; among one of my favorites was breakfast time. Selections include but are not limited to fresh fruit, yogurt, whipped cream, oatmeal, raisins, chocolate chips, coconut, eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, waffles, pancakes, omelets, flatbread, croissants, pastries, and more. I would usually follow up breakfast with a “Kate Morgan Mocha.”

Kate Morgan has a story. Evidently, she stayed at the Del many decades ago. She was waiting for her husband-to-be to come, and in the process found out he was seeing another woman. She became depressed and ill at this news, and shot herself on the steps, taking her own life at the Del. Some say they still see her ghost today…

Anyway, despite the dark story, the coffee is real good.

The beach has a plethora of seaweed washed up from the ocean, as well as swarms of flies. Despite those discrepancies, it is also quite charming with its sparkly golden glitter. It essentially looks like someone dumped a giant tub of glitter on the beach and mixed it in with the sand.

Little shops are peppered inside of the social part of the Del, and the main lobby is in its historically fit fashion, with a hugely tall ceiling, original woodwork, and a massive chandelier.

Excerpt 3 | The Company

“How old are you?” Josiah asked me, his eyes big with curiosity.

“I’m 24,” I answered.

“Are you married?” he asked.

“No,” I smile, “I’m not.”

“Well, my mom was married when she was 19.”

Two nights later, I was seated next to a man about 20 years my senior at dinner. He is a cousin to my family, but on the other side, so I am not related.

Josiah came up to me and tapped my arm. I looked at him, and he pointed to the man, and whispered into my ear, “Is that your boyfriend?”

“So,” my uncle said, taking a sip of his morning coffee, “Are you nervous for tonight?” he asked me. “Since you’re taking our big family picture, do you feel pressure at all?”

He was smiling.

“Not really,” I answered, “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Well you know,” he told me, “photographers may think they feel pressure, but we, the photographed,” he continued, pointing toward himself, “have our own set of problems. We have to make sure we are looking our best for the photo.”

“Taryn,” Todd said, catching the baseball that was headed his direction, “I know it may be difficult, but try to refrain from all the pictures you want to take of me,” he instructed.

“I don’t know, Todd,” I told him, holding my camera up and taking a shot of him with his blue shades on, “This might just be what they put on the cover of the book.”

“Adelayde, didn’t you have a tornado when you were little?” asked Amelia in her high-pitched little voice.

Have a tornado?” I repeated.

“Yes, Adelayde, that’s what you told me,” Amelia affirmed.

“Oh yes,” Adelayde remembered, “Once, when I was 4 or maybe 6, I was spending the night at Ava’s house in Illinois, and Ava woke me up at midnight and told me there was a tornado outside and to come look. So I did, and all the trees were blowing and the leaves were everywhere,” she told us.

“What are you up to?” Shannon asked.

“I’m a photographer, and I have a photography and design business in Morton,” I told him.

“That’s great,” he told me.

“Yes, I really love it.”

He walked up to me and gave me a hug, and looked me in the eyes.

“Keep it up,” he instructed. “Seriously.”

Excerpt 4 | Top Moments

{1} Catching up with all my first cousins

{2} Eating macadamia crusted halibut

{3} Taking a large family photo with the San Diego skyline as the backdrop

{4} Seeing for the first time my aunt & uncle’s condo in San Diego, which is situated on the 42nd floor (of a 43 floor building) and peering over the edge of the balcony at night time, and even catching a glimpse of fireworks from afar

{5} Breathing in the cool California breeze

{6} Having free reign over a candy store and picking out something for free… my choice was a caramel apple coated with chocolate and miniature peanut butter cups

{7} Sitting around a campfire on the beach and making s’mores while singing praise songs

{8} Having some great conversations with my aunt, uncle, and cousins

{9} Drinking 5 Kate Morgan Mochas… 1 a day

{10} Having the independence to enjoy this getaway yet still capture it through images

Excerpt 5 | In Closing

It was a beautiful journey, almost the type of trip that dreams are made of. And it only lasted 5 days. IMHO, this is the perfect amount of time to spend with a large family; not so long that you become bored and restless, but not so short that you feel as if you just arrived.

I was reminded again how very blessed I am to have such an awesome, generous, and loving family.

Love you all!


Just a small preview...

Running on the beach

Hannah, Kailey & I

I love palm trees!
Elijah's candy store buy
Fireworks from my aunt & uncle's condo
Alexa in the ocean
Emma's sea shell
Hotel Del Coronado
I love everything about this picture
Supper at the Boat House
Whitney & I outside of the Boat House
Sharing a towel... the CA breeze was chilly!
Baseball on the beach
Sea buds
They all loved the jacuzzi!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Visual Update

I recently had a request to start sharing more pictures on my blog. Tonight seems like a great night to do this, because I'm a little exhausted and words are short (believe it or not). And what can I say, I like to please the crowd.

So in an effort to explain what I've been up to over the past week, here is a recap in photos.

I will be trudging through a busy tomorrow, and then early Wednesday morning I will be flying out of Peoria and headed to California. I am very excited. My aunt called me a couple months ago and asked if I'd be interested in coming out during their family vacation to take family pictures. I agreed.

They have a wonderful place in CA. We will be spending time in Coronado and San Diego. It's been a long time since I've experienced this state, so I am looking forward to the trip. I will be there through the weekend. I'm sure pictures will follow sometime soon.

About that recap. Here it is...

In NO particular order (since blogger uploaded these randomly and I don't currently feel like reorganizing them):

Garden Party at Katie & Arlan's. This was the table I did not sit at.

Blueberry Picking while in Michigan.

Go-Karting at Holly's in MI.

One of the kitties at Plattner's house

Milo, getting so old already!! Aunt Tonya is holding him.

Sunflower field in MI. P.S. There's a HUGE sunflower growing in our Imagine Artists garden!!

Garden Party "scene" at Katie & Arlan's. Hors-d'oeurves and wine.

Amazing summer salad at the garden party.

Back in MI. Some intense 2-on-2 volleyball.

Croquet at the garden party. We played!

Sylvia turns 1. Eating some cake at her birthday party.

Kent, diving for the ball.

Naomi's method of eating raspberries.

The group that went to MI. Here we are with the product of our blueberry picking.

By far the best move of the volleyball game, by none other than former gymnast Holly.

A shot of the pier on Grand Haven Beach.

My table at the garden party. Fantastic company!

Sophie & Tillie on the tire swing.

Tillie Sue

We were piled on the tire swing... it was me, Sophie, Naomi, Tillie, and Beau. And the camera. Spinning really fast!

Food at the garden party. Thanks to Katie & Arlan!
Tire swings = happiness

A little bit of croquet action.


Evidently this is the hottest fad among ankle-biters... silly bandz. Hmmm. I mean, I came from the generation of beanie babies and giga pets. To me, I think this phenomenon is a bit of a downgrade...

More fun times on the tire swing.

Little climbers

My dad had another birthday. 63... or something? Oh, but he's young at heart. Silas is always available to help blow out the candle.

Sophie & Naomi
That's a wrap. Late night at the office... and I need to get home and clean, pack, and find my way to bed sometime tonight. Love you all. Be back soon.