+ stepping outside of my life. +

I’m in Charlotte, NC for a few days. Til Tuesday or Wednesday-ish, haven’t decided yet. I lived here for about 6-8 months back in 2007 and was blessed to make a few very good friends to come home to visit.

I love Charlotte. And what it is to me. Even though it was only a little blip in my life, between Arizona and moving back to Ohio, sometimes I think I grew more here than any other time in my life. Coming back is like reverting back to a life I had. You know those moments you catch a glimpse of a world that says, “this is who you could be?” Being here is a mix of this is who you could be and this is who you were. It’s difficult to process, and adds another level of confusion to where I am and the decisions I’ve made.

Starting over has always been tempting for me. And so I have, multiple times. This year’s tension has been between starting over, and reforming what I have. There is much to be said for both, and I’ve been pushed to do the latter, as the former began to look a bit like running from things. As I get older, however, I realize that life is 100% what you make of it, and proactively moving, changing, deciding, altering, pushing, going, leaving are the components of making your life. Active, not passive. I’ve always wanted this, and reforming the Lauren that exists in her semi-hometown seems too slow to be active, and I always have the discontent of passivity.

Sidenote: I focus better in a place I’ve never been. I am removed and undistracted and uninfluenced by the visual and tangible. The history of places speaks too much limitation to me. A fault, yes, and one I can’t seem to overcome.

Second sidenote: Is it alright to have faults you cannot overcome, and to consciously act out of that, knowing your action is determined by your fault?


And the problem it seems
Is with you and me
Not the Love who came
To repair everything

And I don’t know
What to do with a love like that
And I don’t know
How to be a love like that

When all the love in the world
Is right here among us
And hatred too
And so we must choose
What our hands will do


Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment. { Mark Twain }

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+ slowing down. +

I clearly haven’t been blogging. So, what have I been doing?

Slowing down.

Several months back, I read something about how we’ve become a society that is so obsessed with documenting [ twitter, taking photos, fb statuses, blogging, twitpic, moleskins in your pocket ] what we experience, that the documentation has become the experience, and not the experience. This has haunted me to the point of guilt, and I’ve finally decided to make a conscious effort to document less.

Quality, not quantity. I’ve felt so pressured to churn out quality en masse – and if you’re human, you just can’t do it. I’ve cut off 95% of my creative outlets for awhile to teach myself this lesson. The world won’t stop if I do. I’ve taken a little bit of time to watch the world, instead of the world being forced into watching me. Quality will come back, per elimination of quantity.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an excerpt for the book What Matters Now (you need to read this, by the way – it’s a free eBook here) that’s worth sharing:

We are the strivingest people who have ever lived. We are ambitious, time-starved, competitive, distracted. We move at full velocity, yet constantly fear we are not doing enough. Though we live longer than any humans before us, our lives feel shorter, restless, breathless…

Dear ones, EASE UP. Pump the brakes. Take a step back. Seriously. Take two steps back. Turn off all your electronics and surrender over all your aspirations and do absolutely nothing for a spell. I know, I know – we all need to save the world. But trust me: The world will still need saving tomorrow. In the meantime, you’re going to have a stroke soon (or cause a stroke in somebody else) if you don’t calm the hell down.

So go take a walk. Or don’t. Consider actually exhaling. Find a body of water and float. Hit a tennis ball against a wall. Tell your colleagues that you’re off meditating (people take meditation seriously, so you’ll be absolved from guilt) and then actually, secretly, nap.

My radical suggestion? Cease participation, if only for one day this year – if only to make sure that we don’t lose forever the rare and vanishing human talent of appreciating ease.


Also, a challenge from Rajesh Setty:

The Litmus Test: If you are truly enriching someone’s life, they will typically miss you in their past. They think their lives would have been even better if they had met you earlier..

+ marvelous, words can’t define. +

finals are done.

i have my life back for three weeks.

prepare yourselves.

xoxoxo


there are entire worlds between words so similar.

in love to be found: settled. not settling.

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+ an attempt to not crash and burn this time around +

Happy December 1st! We have one month to go in finishing out 2009!

I know that for me, December usually comes and goes almost overnight, and I wake up January 1st resolving to stick to the budgets and goals that I utterly destroyed in December. So, in honor of maintaining a well-directed, well-intentioned and unregrettable December, I wanted to blog some things that I will be using to keep my finances and my priorities in check!

Money.
It’s easy to spend more than you make in December, especially when we all guilt trip ourselves into buying presents we can’t afford for people we believe deserve them. Unfortunately, this still doesn’t mean we can afford them. Remember this: Irreplaceable love is giving of yourself, not of your resources. Credit cards are not the answer, and if you “must” use them, keep your utility over50% at all times. With this in mind…financial tips here we come:

Budgeting:

Mint.com – It’s the best out there, so don’t bother shopping around. It’s free, and there is also a free iPhone app to keep yourself in check by the minute. Set your budgets, follow them, track & organize everything. It’s awesome. You can follow them at @mint.

Spending:

Bestbookbuys.com – Searches the entire web for the best new and used prices on books. You’ll probably find what you want for $5.

That’s all I’m gonna give you right now (more coming), but remember to resist the urge to “go shopping” and do as much online as you can. Case in point: on Black Friday I was nearly convinced twice to buy a car charger “on sale” for $26. I found it on Amazon for $4, s&h included.

MAKE things, WRITE things, and be CREATIVE. Pretend you have zero balance in your bank account, and take some honest time to sit down and think of what the people closest to you would genuinely appreciate. Again, irreplaceable love is giving of yourself, not of your resources.

Financial Advice:

MyFico.com forums – You can find every question about credit, credit reports, credit cards, loans, debt, large purchases, and etc answered here. Free to join so you can ask your personal ones too.

MoneyUnder30.com – some awesome resources here too, and you can follow them at @moneyunder30. They have a great article on best 15 financial iPhone apps.

MintLife Blog – Solid advice here.

Giving Back.

Holiday seasons remind everyone how much they want to volunteer, get involved, help out, share love. Yay. Here’s a couple great sites to check out:

ItStartsWith.us – 15 minutes a week. I’m doing it. (@itstartswithus)

Help-Portrait – If you’re a photographer, I beg of you to do this. You can’t put a pricetag on family photos. (@help_portrait)

Staying Organized / Your Time.

This is the hardest for me. Sit down today or tomorrow and write down everything that needs to be accomplished this month, and everything you want to accomplish. Keeping things written down eliminates 75% of my stress. Keep track of presents left to purchase, loose ends to tie up on projects, and errands to run. Also, you’ll probably want to write down the order of your priorities so that you remember to spend time on things you might put on the backburner, and will remember why you’re saying no to others. Set your financial goals while you are at it. Self-discipline is a great thing. Pretend its a muscle, and work it out this month. 😀

Listography – Online to-do list. Simplistic, basic, fast, and fun to play with.

Evernote – Evernote is amazing, and offers a free iPhone app. I won’t even explain this, just go look for yourself.


This post is a work in progress, and I will be adding things throughout today and tomorrow. If you have anything you believe should be added, please comment, @laurenlankford or email me..

+ sometimes, i write. +

I’m getting better at knowing what I need, and even better at seeing my flaws. It’s amazing how honest writing forces you to be.

Someone stop her
the girl
with all the beautiful things
slow
slow her down
she enjoys
only
the finding and
not
the having
someone stop her
teach
her to see what
she has
already found
teach her
to enjoy it a little
longer
show
her she has found
enough
she has enough
someone

stop her

p.s. new self-portraits here..

+ flickr feature: lona +

I’ve been playing with the idea of interviewing and featuring new photographers on my blog on a weekly basis, and decided to just go for it. The first talented lady is Lona, from Amsterdam, whose work I’ve fallen in love with over the last couple months. I love Lona for her incredible ability to capture nature’s absolute calm, and to somehow make nearly every photograph seem outside of time. I want to just be there in every photo she takes. Oh, and did I mention that she’s both beautiful and adorable? You can view her Flickr stream here! Her website, prettypoppies, is under construction and will be fully functioning within a few weeks.

Lona

+ So, you live in Amsterdam. Were you born here?
No, I was actually born in the north of the Netherlands, in a town called Groningen. I moved to Wales in 2000 to live with my then boyfriend and after that we lived in Bristol, England for a few years. I eventually moved back to Groningen and about a year and a half ago I quite spontaneously decided to try out life in Amsterdam.

+ When did you first start experimenting with photography, and how old are you now?
I remember my father always being into photography and me having NO interest whatsoever. Then when I was about 21 I got a Pentax point and shoot camera for my birthday and from then on I was addicted. I got a minolta x300 from a friend (which I still use to this day!) and then my first digital camera. I am 30 years old now and still learning and loving it more every day.

+ It seems that some of us pick up photography because we stumble upon a photograph that captures us and we desperately want to pursue the ability to replicate the intensity of emotion expressed in it, while some of us find a camera in our hands, play around a bit, discover a love for it and continue to evolve through it. Which of these are you? Little of both? Something else?
Definitely the latter. To be honest I think for me it has been escapism to start with. There have been some bad events in my life, the worst of which has been losing my mother. I have been battling depression for years and photography is my escape to a better place, where I can focus on all that is good in life. It helps me remember there is beauty in the world, it relaxes me and it really does make me happy.

+ Where does photography fit into your life now? Is it daily or just when it hits you? Something you want to use as a source of income, or keep as a hobby?
It was always a hobby and I never considered whether I was good or not, it was just something I enjoyed immensely. Since joining Flickr and getting feedback from others my confidence has grown and I am considering trying to make a living out of it. I have always wondered what it was that I really wanted to do with my life careerwise, and although I am still a little too scared to admit it, photography might just be it. I only realised the other day that I think in ‘frames’ all day long. Wherever I go I look out for good photo opportunities. I think I have been doing it for years and it really annoys me to come across a perfect moment and not have a camera on me!

+ I notice you shoot with a few cameras and types of film. What do you use, and which is closest to your heart?
I currently own a digital Fuji Finepix 602Zoom which is OLD, but I adore it. It does everything I want from a digital camera. Then there is my old Minolta x-300, the Holga, the Agfa Clack, (both medium format) a polaroid camera I never really use and the Agfa Isolette. The last is the love of my life, a medium format foldout camera. I also sometimes use my dad’s digital SLR, a Pentax K200D and an Olympus Pen half frame camera. I mostly use Fuji, Kodak and Ilford 120 film or any old 35 mm film I can get my hands on! I’m saving up to buy another medium format camera, I would love a Hasselblad, but since I won’t be able to afford it, it will either be a Kiev or a Rolleiflex. Oh, and I would like a digital SLR, haha.

+ How did you get into collecting cameras, and how did you learn what you know about them? Are you primarily self-taught or have you had a mentor or teacher that’s helped you grow?
I’d say that almost everything I know today is a combination of trial and error and my father’s immense knowledge. He taught me practically all I know about manual settings on the older cameras and what different lenses and filters do. This is the technical side. The artistic side, or the ‘eye’ as they call it probably is something that you either have or don’t… Collecting cameras is something most photographers will want to do, I think, just because different cameras give different results and it’s interesting to play around with that.

+ I believe all photographers have a driving force behind what they love to shoot, even if it’s still developing. For me, it’s beauty. I usually find it in eyes, and in femininity. Are there a few things that drive you?
For me it’s definitely nature, which is my biggest source of inspiration, and small details in life that a lot of people overlook. There are so many beautiful little things in life that can make you smile and I really hope that by capturing those on film, that it makes others smile as well. Lately I have been trying out portraits instead of ‘stills’ so this is a new challenge, I really like to try and do the same thing, focusing on beauty and interesting things in people.

+ I can definitely see that. One of the things I love so much about you is your versatility between capturing emotion in nature and then in a person. I can also tell by your photostream that your style has developed a lot over the last year or so. Was there an internal or external influence that helped refine it?
I think I just started taking it more seriously. Where before I would shoot just anything I’d come across, hoping for a good result, nowadays I take more time to plan and think about the photos. I also have been trying to discover my own ‘style’ and playing with that, to see what feels right and what works for me.

+ When you want to browse other’s works online, who are the first three people you go to?
I mostly use Flickr to browse other work, it’s really hard to pick only 3 favourites!! There are so many talented people, all with their own unique style…I would say that right now my favourites are
flickr.com/popsongs
flickr.com/daniel_klass
flickr.com/peachplumpearblah

+ Amazing. I am in love with popsongs. Is there a photo you are most proud of?
I tend to pick ones that have huge sentimental value for me, but the one that I am most proud of right now is probably because it captures exactly what I love most; the sort of serene magic of nature and the feeling it gives me:

+ I absolutely love that entire mist series you did while in Groningen. Do you sell any of your prints?
I never did, but did recently sign a contract with a stock library, so hopefully I will start making some money soon(haha)and I have also been working on a book. It still amazes me that people would pay money for something I made!

+ The only thing your Flickr profile tells me about you is that you’re a fellow bookworm. Favorite author, genre, and book please!
I really love the classics, and mostly English Literature. My favourite authors are Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf. Favourite books: Persuasion and The Waves.
I do admit I have been neglecting the really good Dutch authors…which is awful since I do work in a book store. 🙂 I’m trying to catch up!

+ Alright, you knew it was coming! Tell me something absolutely ridiculous about yourself, that you’d much prefer no one to know.
I absolutely hate onions and won’t eat anything that has onions in it. Haha, I don’t really have any other weird secrets! Oh and I love rugby, when I tell people they always think I am joking!

+ Anything you’d like to leave us with?
Just that I hope people will like my work and that everyone should find something they enjoy this much. 🙂

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+ pretttttty. +

My room is still a work in progress, as is everything in my life. Here are some pretty new additions as of yesterday’s little hunting trip. I’m working on pampering myself this weekend, in part because the concept of my deserving it is brand new, and also because my birthday is on Tuesday! I’ve never been a birthday or holiday person, but I’m working on learning to love them. They make me uncomfortable and seem to bring out the missing parts of people and families, but I am going to stubbornly work to overcome those bits and pieces. 🙂




In continuation of pampering myself, I am off to get my hair cut and colored and hopefully visit a beautiful park before I tackle a finances class this evening.

– – –

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then I beg him to open his eyes, and to see. Too many live their lives with their eyes closed tightly, seeing none of the beauty that is before them. .

+ a thank you, and lydia. +

An incredible thank you to everyone that stopped what they were doing this past week to encourage me in the form of comments, emails, texts, phone calls, letters at my doorstep, packages in the mail, tweets, food, prayer and hugs. Every time I hit rock bottom I have the ability to see myself a little clearer. I’m doing better: trying to let myself rest, I will be taking an embarrassingly easy load next quarter, focusing on what I love a little more, and remembering to set my heart on things above (*). Thank you, everyone – I love you all and am so grateful for so many that care. I am blessed.

– – –

On Friday evening I took a couple hours to shoot the beautiful Lydia. JUST FOR FUN. Yes that’s right, hehe. And it was so enjoyable. I wanted to do some portrait work that was a little softer, a little more feminine and a little closer to what I’ve been feeling over the last few months. Here’s a few photos from the shoot, and the rest you can find here. You can click each photo for a bigger view (I recommend this, hah).

– – –

* “Set your hearts on things above…” Col 2:20.

+ okay life, you win. +

Well, I hope you all are ready for some honesty here.

I’m falling apart.

Which is odd, because I should be used to it by now, but what I’m not used to is bawling when strangers ask me if I need help finding where I’m going, or coming home, sitting down on my bed and crying because I’m too tired to take my shoes off. I’m not used to crying over a scripted MTV show within the first 60 seconds of my five minutes watching while I inhale my cereal if I remember to eat breakfast. Having zero control of my emotions is new. I’m also scared that my heart keeps skipping beats when I’m a healthy 21 (okay I’ll be 22 in about a week, but still) year old, and that I’ve struggled to keep food down over the last four days because I instantly get sick as soon as I eat. I know I’m doing too much. Enough people have told me, and I believe it now. I’ve finally adjusted myself to the fact that too much CAN be too much, and that I can’t do everything.

So, now I get to make decisions.

And I suck at making decisions. Because making decisions means knowing what you’re chasing. And chasing something means not chasing other things, and focusing on certain things means not focusing on others. It means acknowledging that you will close doors, and choose to miss out on opportunities. I’ve described myself as an ADHD perfectionist, which basically means have chronic stress, hehe. I throw myself into new interests left and right, but won’t be happy unless I can do them all well. I also seem to have an inordinate amount of compassion – and I’m not quite sure it’s the healthy kind. When I see a hurting person, or an imperfect situation, I can’t rest until I’ve done all I can to make it better. And if I can’t, it eats and eats and eats at me, and usually makes me physically sick.

So, right now I’m working 40 hours a week, taking 16 credit hours at OSU (and have all A’s so far, thank you), balancing some of the most draining & challenging family issues out there, still adjusting to learning how to not have parents to talk to, taking care of and supporting my 17 year old brother, and trying to appease my craving for photography, painting, making jewelry, decorating my house, web & graphic design, cooking, and on and on. [sidenote: my heart has skipped four times since starting this post – should I be worried?] All of the weight has been placed on my shoulders for every relationship within my family, and it’s set up for me to lose, and be at fault or responsible, for everything. I’m only a daughter, and a sister, and these are two roles I haven’t been able to experience for 6+ years.

I don’t know if my major (comparative studies) is actually what I want to do. I don’t know if I should justify switching back to an art program for school. And I don’t know if I should quit my job so that I can ACTUALLY learn what I’m going to school for and be able to sleep and make friends and study abroad and eat food and all of those some-fun-some-necessary things. And go back to being an honors student and make use of the mind God blessed me with. And honestly, I don’t even know if I want to be in the States right now. There is a really strong argument for me needing to get out and get away and see the world while I can – and I could, if I wanted, and if I tried.

I have no idea what I’m good enough at to bother pursuing. Just because I can handle a camera or a needle and thread or paint my walls or put words on paper a little bit better than the average person that’s never had the time or desire to try does not mean (to me) that I should pursue a field in that. I don’t know who to ask, or how to begin to decide what I want.

Oh, and did I mention I’m lonely? And terrified of being needy and emotional and the girl with daddy issues? Because that’s who I am right now.

Help.

– – –

I also just realized, this moment, that I have trouble publically admitting that I’m not doing well, because in the past it has been used against me as an attack of my worth, and proof that it’s a consequence of my sin, or that I can’t make it through life without unnamed person(s). You know what I have to say to that? To hell with you for making me believe that, and for still holding it over me. My God tells me otherwise.

– – –

Oops almost forgot.
This is the newest photo from my four30 project. Isn’t it cute?
A vintage necklace I found with a unicorn engraved in it.
One of my favorite necklaces ever.

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+ four30 project +

new photos for the four30 project.

just something fun i’m doing for myself, instead of a 365, and no other reason. new pictures added to it this week:

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