It Wasn’t So Impossible After All

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We keep talking about how easy it was. We should be more shocked as so many people where we lived found it completely impossible to leave. No one knew where to start and it surprised me because it all seemed very simple; we saved the money then booked everything. That’s how we did it. For two years we saved money and the last nine months we got serious about it and started saving even more.

Neither one of us had an expensive degree or even a cheap one and neither one of us had a job waiting for us out of state. The plan was essentially simple. The money was saved so once we got an apartment in place my husband went on to move in and get a job while I stayed behind to work another month to pay our bills until I could meet him. He found a job within a week and a month later I road tripped with my best friend across four state lines to our new home in Texas.

It’s only been about a month since I’ve moved in but we settled in quickly and life has taken on a new normal. The town already feels familiar and we’ve met a few new people. I still need to find a job or get some photography jobs scheduled to bring in a little extra income but so far we have been doing fine and we marvel about how easy it all was. All we had to do was save the money and make the leap and once everything was scheduled it was all downhill from there.

Everyone talks about how difficult it is to leave, most would say impossible. But what we’ve found is the only thing that can make it difficult is a negative mindset and a reluctance to take a chance on yourself and the hope of a better life. Difficult challenges are always so much easier once you have accomplished them and realized how much smaller they really were. The more you do what seems impossible the more you learn it wasn’t so impossible after all.

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Trying to Find the Words

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I sat for hours filling in the pages of my journal entry. I finally finished writing about my last Texas trip in February in more detail than I cared to include but I knew several years from now I would be grateful I was so careful with including every description because as time went on I knew certain details would fade to the background and I did want to remember this past trip. Since then we have made plans, saved even more money and change has been swiftly altering our lives forever.

My husband and I are moving to Texas and it’s been such an amazing experience and there has been so much joy knowing that we will finally be making our dreams come true that I felt I wanted to write about every detail. But every time I sat down I only came up with two paragraphs or less before becoming completely lost at how to continue. When something so life changing occurs, when a lifelong dream is coming true and when so much has happened in the past few months that my head sometimes spins, how do I untangle the mess of events and emotion to capture the gravity of what is happening to us and do it justice.

I knew that if I simply tried to recall every detail and write about the process that not only would it take me several days to finish but the post may just end up being way too long for a blog and so that strategy is better suited to a journal entry. I knew that if I made too light of it and summarized it too much it wouldn’t do it justice. So here I sat at my computer time after time for weeks knowing that my weekly blog has been silent for too long. I felt the awkward silence probably more than anyone else ever would but still I was determined to put something down.

I tried different angles, I tried a story and many times all I could do was stare at a blank screen trying to think of anything else to write about but the one thing on my mind was this big move. It has hindered my ability to focus on anything else even though I have talked to countless people in person about our plans. It clearly isn’t out of my system and I have no choice but to write about this block in hopes that inspiration will strike.

Many people would probably think that I should simply write out my frustrations and never post it; moving onto something much more interesting at a later date. But I assume, few creators, that many of you have had this same problem and so here I share my writing block. So stuck because I can’t possibly find the words yet to describe how happy and hopeful I am and wanting to tell stories but not knowing where to start because the shear amount of events that have occured. A truly wonderful problem to have I assure you.

Because life is moving forward quickly, finally putting me where I want to be and dragging me along by my hand urgently whispering for me to hurry up. So while there may be silence for now, know that I am merely caught up in a whirlwind in the best way and that once I compose myself and settle I may be able to break it all down and write it all down for you. About how my life has changed because of a huge risk and a leap of faith.

Badass Women (A Tribute to our Friendship)

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“We are some badass women!” I sent the last sentence in my email to my best friend of over 20 years and dang it, I meant it!

We both have been through so much, both together and in our individual lives but as she so eloquently put it “Our lives run parallel to each other”.  Truer words were never spoken. Each time we catch up with one another it seems our stories are similar and our struggles are the same. (She is also a blogger and a more talented one than I so be sure to check her out here: https://jazzedaboutstuff.com #shamelessplug.) I know no matter how many miles are between us I know we will always be connected and always be best friends.

Which of course is even more important now that my husband and I are moving out of state to Texas. She is making a move of her own and we are both going to experience a new level of independence and change that we have never known in just a couple short months.

With all the changes we reminisced about how much we have grown and how much stronger we have become from the struggles and challenged we have tackled head on. We have said we inspire each other and always try to be there for one another because that’s what true friends do.  And we know that through all the challenges we face that we are going to be okay because we are strong, courageous, determined and two of a kind; a couple of badass women.

 

Starting My Photography Business

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Am I scared? I think I’m scared… yeah I’m scared. But what do I really have to lose? Nothing yet. I knew it was time to start my own business.

So I did it. Although a financial investment to get started for sure and nerve-racking to put myself out there for possible ridicule, I didn’t really have much to lose. My husband and I have been talking about moving out of state this year anyway. As there aren’t many job opportunities for either of us here and what with California being so expensive, living here long term isn’t really a viable option. Bonus is we’ve always wanted to move so for the most part it’s a win win. So if for some reason things go south here and no one wants to hire me, well.. I guess it wouldn’t be much of a waste and we would just start over elsewhere.

So how did I start? Well although I’m still new to the business side of this I have always loved photography and I’ve always wanted to know how to be better. It dropped off my radar in a sense for several years. Life got hard and then distractions happened, smart phones became popular so I dropped the tiny slide open camera I had at the time in favor of the graphics and filters of the new and flashy phones.

However, this year I finally picked up a camera again and something about it felt so right. I only gave myself two short months of retraining myself before offering free photoshoots in hopes of building my portfolio. I have started so many things and never made it past the planning phase, so this time I just jumped in.

During February and March I bought my domain, jenagalindophotography.com, started editing a website, started a Facebook and Instagram page and invested in some nice quality business cards. I also started researching liabilities and all the legal stuff I may need to learn starting off. As I am still in the beginner phase of my company I still have so much more to learn but it was enough to get me started.

Release forms to use peoples pictures to promote my business were printed and signed and contracts were made up to use once I (hopefully) started getting paying clients.

I scheduled six photoshoots with one cancellation last minute and booked two more. I had a local gym book me for staff photos and want to pay me to do a full photoshoot the next month. I booked a coworker for free in April because she was completely busy for March and sometimes it’s easier to keep the peace and call a loss.

I felt that was plenty and I was already getting a packed schedule. I’m still working full time at the job that is currently paying the bills and I still needed to make sure I had some time to edit all the photos and work on my website, facebook and instagram, making sure everything was updated and ready before I handed out my first business card.

So I called myself all booked up, knowing I will be using all the little spare time I had left to edit photos, put them on a flash drive and deliver them to customers as if they actually paid. It was a lot of work but I decided not to take the easy route even though all the services I provided were free as I wanted to make sure I got in the habit of actually putting in all the time and work I will need to once I (hopefully) got more bookings.

I won’t lie, once I realized how busy I would be I was wishing I had at least charged a little something. Camera equipment, software, the flash drives and my time aren’t usually free and March was a hard month for me. Mid March I felt like I wouldn’t have anything up in time or at least finished and I seriously questioned whether or not people would pay the prices I listed.

However, I was determined and after calculating my time, experience and expense I posted the prices on the website I would be publishing soon knowing it was a risk but also knowing I wanted to buy a new camera, equipment and a computer and that in time I would have to save a minimum of $4500 for those things.

So I set my prices with the advice of the owner of a local photography shop. If people liked me they would pay, not everyone would but at the end of the day my time, experience and the equipment I used was something I seriously had to keep in mind if I hoped to make a profit.

I knew I would have monthly expenses and though nothing in compared to say, renting a space I knew that I would have to keep those monthly charges in mind. I had to think about the cost of the flash drives I’d been purchasing and the prints I might order for clients not to mention the editing software. Nothing is for free… except my services and photos during March madness.

So with the prices set, the facebook and instagram page up, my business cards in hand I was almost ready to publish my site; the thing I felt would validate whether or not I am going to be a true professional at this. I finally purchased the use of the website for a year, filled in the blank places where the photos needed to go and eventually pressed publish.

Although everything was set for me to (hopefully) be hired by many clients I felt it wasn’t enough. I was ready for the hustle and I was determined to make money on this. The passion comes first but the money is very important if I have any hopes of one day leaving the job I hate and want to pursue this full time. I wasn’t confident I would suddenly have a full schedule of clients and I was okay with that. There were still ends I had to tie up and I wasn’t sure I would have the time with all the editing in the end.

But I had a weekend here and there that was free and I wanted to go to the mountains with hopes of getting some great nature photos. In my mind I would print them, mount them and get some local coffee shop or restaurant to feature them for sale. They would hopefully be art until they were sold and then I could shoot and print more. It was something I wanted to do to cover my bases, try a new way of doing things and I was just plain curious to see how they would perform.

I have yet to print the pictures I deem worthy as I am at a point where I don’t think I can justify paying for prints until I make a little money from the business itself. I know I will pursue many avenues eventually as I believe photography spans throughout many aspects of our lives and can used for many things.

But in the meantime, I set up some specials to draw in some clients and have booked my first paying gig. I’m on my way and it feels so right! I know it will be a long road. I know it will take a long time to gather traction. I know that I will probably get a fair bit of business at one point and then it will probably fizzle out. I know I will have to just have faith and keep my nose to the grindstone.

I know that I will not quit on this because I finally know what I want to do with my life and I will make it happen!

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Spring Cleaning

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Lately I’ve noticed my house has been a mess. A lesser mess than it usually is as I have finally been cleaning more and I just rid my closet of a massive pile of clothes, but still a mess nonetheless. Despite my best efforts and my attempt at purging in my spare time I have yet to accomplish my goal of living in a decluttered space. I’ve even sold old pictures and art on the wall that I didn’t need anymore in an attempt to refresh my space.

It’s left me to wonder, is spring cleaning ever really done? Of course with the warmer weather and the world coming to life again many feel the need for a fresh start and to take the time to declutter and organize their homes. But if we are being honest with ourselves the battle is never really ever over. I can only imagine how parents must feel constantly cleaning up after their children as I am merely a newlywed to a clean husband (I am blessed) and two medium sized hyper dogs and I have a hard time gathering the energy to accomplish the massive project that is getting my entire house organized.

I have taken small steps in the direction but even with the progress I have made I know there is so much more to go. I’m almost tempted to take vacation just so I can make getting my house together my full time job for the week. Only time will tell how long it will take me to get my house the way I want it to be, I just wonder how many more seasons will I be Spring Cleaning.

Being Pretty is Pricey

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Have you ever walked down an aisle at CVS and saw all the discounted makeup, looked at the prices and thought it was fairly reasonable? Maybe you buy a few things and walk up to the counter and pull out your wallet to pay only to be surprised at how quickly a few reasonably priced items can add up to so much. You reluctantly pay and walk out to the car with your new stash of beauty products, happy to have them but silently disturbed at how trying to be pretty can be so pricey.

My boss gets facials and treatments all the time in an attempt to reverse the clock though she is only in her early thirties. She goes to good spas and finds professionals who excel at what they do and I can only assume she pays a ton of money a month for the services.

My beauty routine consists of Pond’s lotion for my face neck and chest and Vaseline for my dry under eyes. I’ve never had a facial but I occasionally put on a loreal clay mask. It’s hardly a beauty routine at all but thanks to good genetics so far it’s effective.

It costs a little more for me than my husband to get ready each day and every evening but I know it could be far worse. Once I realized stress and lack of sleep from my job started giving me small lines under my eyes that only seemed to deepen I went to my local CVS and searched for under eye cream. I’m only 28 but why not try some prevention early? I found a very small jar of eye cream for $35. It was the most reasonable out of all the eye creams and I almost bought it except at the last minute I thought I might try to find a substitute instead.

It was such a tiny jar I worried it would be gone in a week or two and at this time I can’t justify spending that much for so little. So I scoured the adjacent shelves trying to find a product that could replace an eye cream and finally came across a fairly large Vaseline container with shea butter in it. It was only $5. After checking to make sure no one has dug their fingers in it I happily walked to the counter and purchased it. That was a few months ago and even now I haven’t even used half. As the main issue was my under eyes being dry using vaseline has worked out quite nicely for me. I also use it as a lip balm before bed so I get multiple uses out of it.

Some of you may be scowling at my frugal lifestyle as far as beauty goes. Maybe for your skin type you have to pay a bit more and it’s frustrating. I know my little tricks may not work for everyone. But all I’m saying is that with a little creativity maybe being pretty doesn’t have to be so pricey.

Toxic Relationship

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I trusted you and you let me down. How could you? I invested so much time and money into you and now you pull this? Well I guess this is goodbye. I’m not spending another dime on you. I’ve wasted enough time dealing with your crap.

And so went my mental conversation with the first vehicle I ever bought. It charmed me and it seemed to only need a little work but in the nine months I owned it I dumped so much money into it that it was finally easy to say goodbye, cut my losses, sell it for cheap and walk away. Although it will probably need to be sold for parts I’m at peace knowing I got out of this toxic relationship with a car that wouldn’t give back what I put into it.

It’s Not What You Think (A Short Story)

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Her name was Ally Harmon and it was happening again. Her body began to tense up and her breathing came quicker and more shallow. She began to look around herself, paranoid, panicked. She knew there was someone, someone was in her kitchen, she could feel it. She looked over the room, her house was open, not too many walls and the kitchen was open to the living room. Luckily, she would be able to see whoever was in her house before they got too close, she hoped.

She could see the front door and wondered if she should try to make a run for it. The living room had a couple couches, a side table and a TV on her left. No one was to be seen. She shuffled over to her kitchen knives, which were in the corner of her kitchen and grabbed her largest chefs knife and waited for the intruder to reveal himself.

She waited and the eerie quite made her heart only beat louder in her ears. She had seen him before, he’s been here before. He stalked her and found her, she got away before but she feared for her life again. Then, she could see him.

He was wearing an oversized hooded sweatshirt and his face was in shadow beneath the hood. He had his weapon again, just like last time, a jagged hunting knife. She didn’t know why he continued to pursue her all this time but here he was again and she was scared for her life just like she had been before.

Last time he appeared in her bedroom. She was cleaning out her dresser when he was suddenly in her room standing like he was now, with knife in hand, waiting. He ended up chasing her downstairs and through the living room. She was about to run for the door when she looked back and he was gone. No reason, no answer. But now here he was again, in her kitchen this time.

She was still frozen in place, he didn’t move and so she didn’t either. She waited barely breathing, waiting for him to do something or say something. Maybe explain what is happening to her and why he’s here, why he was here before and why he won’t leave her alone.

“What do you want?” Desperation and confusion in her voice as she wondered why this was happening to her.

He took an aggressive large step forward towards her. He was about eight feet away from her and she was in a corner, the only thing between them was the kitchen island and she knew she could use that. He moved fast towards her moving to her left side and she dodged right, keeping the counter as a barrier between them.

She wondered why she didn’t try to find her phone earlier to call for help but it wouldn’t have done much good as she couldn’t currently remember where on earth she had left the thing anyway. But there wasn’t much time to think about that because he was moving again. This time to her right side and she moved again to keep the counter between them. She was back in the corner and gripped her knife tighter and prayed she would get out alive.

He moved again, more quickly this time and swung out at her with his knife which she barely dodged and she ran to the front door. He was close behind she could feel it but she was able to get the front door open and she ran out. She started running down the sidewalk and she turned around to see her pursuer gaining ground and she pumped her arms faster as her legs pushed harder against the smooth concrete. She started screaming, surely her neighbors would hear and come out. They would get help or at least seeing them come out would surely scare him off.

“Help! Help me! I’m being attacked!” She screeched at the top of her lungs. “Help!”

She kept screaming down the road and around the next block. She made a complete circle until she was back on her block again. She would turn around whenever she could still seeing her pursuer, still trying to get her. By this time the neighbors had come to investigate and some were on the phone. Concerned faces showing her they were probably calling for help. But there wasn’t much time, he was still chasing her and she was tiring.

“Help! I’m being attacked!” She yelled with less power than before.

Her neighbors looked concerned but nobody rushed to help her. They must be afraid of him too. But the police should be here soon and they can help-. She tripped and fell. She turned around into her back and saw him standing over her. He raised his knife and she screamed. “Aaaaaahhhh, Help! Help!”

He was stabbing her and everyone looked on as she flailed and screamed. Why won’t anyone help me? She cried as she continued to scream and kick out. Blood, blood everywhere. She began to feel hopeless when she heard the sirens. A few moments later she saw the lights but her attacker wasn’t stopping. She screamed for help and fought back as the officers approached her but they didn’t stop the man attacking her. She felt the knife she held knocked out of her hand and she was being lifted up. Her attacker stood off the side, completely calm and no one was arresting him.

“Arrest him! He attacked me! He got into my house! He’s been chasing me! Get him, Get him!” She was shrieking and pointing to where he stood. But the officers only stood there, looking confused.

“Ma’am, there’s no one there.”

She was hysterical now. “What do you mean? He’s right there! He’s standing right there!”

The closest officer to her tried to soothe her. “Okay ma’am, we’re going to get you out of here and we are going to get you help, you’re bleeding a bit so we are going to take you to the hospital, okay?”

It was an understatement, blood had run down her arms and legs although they were surprisingly shallow stab wounds. She hadn’t lost too much blood but it had managed to almost cover her entire body.

“He stabbed me! Why aren’t you arresting him?” Tears started forming in her eyes as one of the police officers took her gently by the arm and helped her into the back seat.

She was still hysterical and balled her eyes out all the way to the hospital, where they immediately put her in a room and started cleaning up the blood and treating her wounds. The whole time she tried to tell them what had happened but they only nodded politely and kept telling her the doctor is going to be here soon.

After about 15 minutes her arms and legs were bandaged, she had an IV in her arm and she began to feel safe again. The man didn’t follow her when she was taken away, he only stood there and watched as she was driven away in the police car.

The doctor finally came in with a woman beside him that held a clipboard and a calm expression. She began telling her story, all the while they nodded and asked the occasional question, waited for her to answer and then would nod some more. After a couple hours of this the doctor spoke.

“Miss Harmon, this is Dr. Applegate and she is our hospital psychiatrist. I brought her in because your story and the police report didn’t add up. I think she will have some answers for you.”

Ally looked over to Dr. Applegate feeling confused but ready to listen to what she had to say. She needed answers. This has happened before, she had told them so but now she needed to know why.

“Ally, after talking to you I think you don’t need to be scared anymore but you do need help.”

Ally, waited and leaned forward a little more, waiting for the answers she needed.

“Ally, it’s difficult to understand at first but you weren’t really attacked. Not in real life. It was all in your head, you’ve imagined the whole thing. We believe you are schizophrenic.”

“But what about these cuts? They’re real! I was bleeding!”

“Ally, you did that to yourself when you thought you were fighting off your attacker. You cut yourself with the knife you were carrying.”

Ally was very quite then. It was a lot to take in but it all started to make some sense. Mainly because the man attacking her more than once for no reason really didn’t make any sense and now she knew why. She knew why her neighbors looked on but didn’t help and why the police stood around and didn’t arrest her attacker.

The psychiatrist spent the next hour and a half explaining what schizophrenia was. She learned that she might see things and even experience things that weren’t there and that she could experience anxiety because of it. She learned about treatment options and set up an appointment with Dr. Applegate to continue to learn more and get help.

She was released from the hospital later that afternoon. As she walked out she saw the hooded man standing in the parking lot. But this time she was more calm.

Ally, it’s not what you think.

Thank You!

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So many times I have abandoned this blog only to eventually come back to it or hastily write a number of posts to try and catch up. Since I started this blog I’ve tried to post every Friday. My first year was probably my best. I didn’t work or if I did it was short term and part time and I had no other serious obligation other than making sure my posts were published every Friday.

As time went on I realized that I could schedule my posts in advanced. This came in handy on the weeks when I was overflowing with inspiration and topics to talk about. I’ve shared a lot, I’ve shared too much at times and I somehow got people to like me enough to follow me. It’s given me confidence in my ability to connect with people because I’ve found other people who feel the way I do.

I’ve learned a lot of things from this blog but probably the most important is that we are not alone. There is always someone who actually does understand. There is always someone who can benefit from your words and life experiences. I always tried to make a point to add a positive twist at the end of my blogs no matter how negativity I vented about whatever angst I was going through at the time. I felt that it was not only important for me to listen to the words I was writing but for others who may need to hear them.

I am not abandoning this blog at least not permanently but as the years pass I find myself with new challenges and I continue to get busier and I find less time for writing. But I wanted to thank those who have been here from the beginning and if you just arrived I appreciate your time and knowing I’ve built a small audience has given me so much satisfaction. I will be here for a while more yet and I will always come back to write when inspiration strikes again.

But if you want to see more of what I am doing now you can find me on instagram and facebook as Jena Galindo Photography. I have started a business and when I catch my breath I can’t wait to tell you more about my journey with that.

Thank you all again so much! You all are amazing and I will see you soon!

God Bless Texas!!!

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It seems appropriate that the one mark I left in Texas was a lipstick stain.

In the world’s largest HonkyTonk I looked up and down and all around the massive bar and music museum. I was in awe of the multiple dance floors and bars and I about fell on my butt when I saw the indoor bull riding arena. Yes, real bulls. Although it was empty at the moment it was still impressive.

Along the walls on one side of the building were hand prints and names set in concrete, signed and hand stamped by famous singers. Lipstick stains were on some more than others but I chose a small unoccupied spot on Miranda Lambert’s square. I kissed the wall and left my mark.

Even then, only a few hours being in Texas for the first time I knew I wanted to leave my mark there. Little did I know how appropriate that kiss would be.

The Stockyards in Fort Worth was the first piece of Texas I got to experience. After finishing my lunch in Billy Bob’s Texas I headed over to the Stockyards and walked around the shops and adjoining streets. I wouldn’t see the longhorns, cattle drive, shops and restaurants until Friday but Sunday I soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed the day until I had to head to my hotel room.

As the week went along I fell more and more in love with Texas, becoming comfortable with the highways and relishing the food. It all felt so natural with the exception of the occasional culture shock and exceeded expectations.

Southern hospitality is alive and well and I enjoyed sharing conversations with so many people I met along the way. I was surprised by how open and kind people were and I was floored when a gentleman apologized to me because I opened the door before he could get to it.

Did I mention I love the food! My taste buds couldn’t believe it! I actually walked into a steakhouse and had to take pause as the smell stopped me in my tracks. I understand now what it is to have your senses overwhelmed. The smell was so strong and amazing that for a moment my mind went blank and I swear I might’ve gone blind for a second as the amazing smells of the restaurant filled my nose making me ignore everything else. I had to snap myself out of it as I walked up to the hostess desk. The steak and potatoes I ordered didn’t disappoint and although I was stuffed I had the best peach cobbler a la mode I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

I didn’t have a single bad meal while I was in Texas and in fact I had some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. And the great thing was that everything was so filling I could only manage one or two meals a day and sense I was walking so much every day I had the great joy of hearing my husband tell me I’ve lost weight after he hugged me when I got home.

The music was something else. No matter what genre I heard it was more diverse than anything I’ve heard in California. I heard the current hits, music I haven’t heard in years and a lot of music I’ve never heard ever. All of it was good and I knew I would miss driving down long country highways listening to the radio. Even now being home I already miss the stress free drives and wish I could run away from the congested streets I have to drive in California.

Waco was a dream. I didn’t think such a large town could maintain such a small town feel and yet it did. I adored the shops, museums and all the little activities that there was to do and I’m sad to say that in two days I barely made a dent. I was sad to leave all the friendly faces as well but I look forward to my next visit.

Texas has left it’s mark on me and I’m glad I could at least leave a kiss because I know I will be back as soon as I can and hopefully I can leave my mark again soon. God Bless Texas!