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Secret Homework

Secret Homework

In 2018, am trying this thing where I, ya know, figure out how to continue growing to be the mentor I need. 

And that’s a whole lot less lonely than it sounds.  

At the end of 2017, Mentor Deanna concluded that I needed to assign myself secret homework which I would find time to work on just for me.

This is something I…

1) couldn’t get paid for, but rather something I would do for the freaking love of it all.

2) This would need to be something that could help me develop rituals, a stronger network, and allow me to give back to some really deserving folks.

• • •


Babes, I did something crazy. I started reaching out to strangers. These were businesses/entrepreneurs I loved that I recognized had arguably average photos and I wrote each one a personalized love letter, only taking on one client on at a time, and I offered my time and my talent to them. 

This is a bonkers thing to do for fun and for free when you can barely fit in enough hours to run a full-time business.

This also made me better at everything I touch now, btw.

UNEXPECTED: With this homework, I positioned myself to take on ACTUAL WORK in an arenas outside of those I pride myself on capturing so effortlessly, such as wedding, newborn, and family portraiture. I clung fiercely to telling honest stories and collaborating with other small business owners.

What happened? I learned and became a better creative director and a better lady boss. 

Months ago, in a truly serendipitous conversation with a stranger, I found that because I was honest and real about who I had been up to this point, I had positioned myself to collaborate with the incredible Aks Mathur, a local and insanely talented designer, for whom I've photographed his brand's Spring Launch. He is so gifted, passionate, and a champion of women pursuing their power and I am honored to have been chosen to give him content to launch this stunning line.

Oh, and yes, she does look familiar, doesn't she? When you need the job done, you get it done. Whether you need to play one role or sixteen to do so.

Do you need some of that juice too?

See below: creating a survival pack for life in the creative wilderness.

• • •


It’s inevitable when you’re the CEO, creative director, bookkeeper, janitor, and so-so barista of your own business that you accept the fact that prescriptive methods are out and autodidactiscism is in. 

I oft need an expert on x so then I do the homework to become knowledgable about x.

Try x. Work x. 

Connect with others that dominate in x. Get pretty great or fail at x.

Probably find out you really need to develop y.


• • •


Do you want the life hack here?

Put yourself out there to interact with people who already make waves in the areas they are passionate about. It just cuts out so much busywork for you (and it's a lot more fun!)

If community isn’t happening for you, inspect your rah-rah skills. If you’re cheerleading those out there absolutely killing it, you allow yourself the grace to remove the COMPETITION goggles, you stop adding to the Ways I Will Never Be Good Enough bucket, and instead you can begin taking pages from their triumphs as inspiration. It will liberate you.

Do not miss out by reserving your action for later. You comment, “yeah, girl, I LOVE _____ you’re doing!” AND you totally mean it. The big but is that you’re never get around to doing _____ which inspires you too. 

What? What is that? 

Tell me YOUR next move. (Seriously, you can pop over a message. Let's chat.) Because the absence of someone else’s participation/adoration in your jam OR if your thang currently has no following is NOT an excuse to not do it, believe in it, or share it. These rockstar examples of badassery that help you vibrate at a higher frequency should never turn into you someone that requires a hall pass from them before putting more of what you think the world (even if it’s just YOU) needs.

tl; dr — Do the damn thing, whether or not Oprah has the time to sign off on it.

Okay. Next.

• • •


From doing my secret homework, these are some of the things I learned I will need to thrive in 2018. 

Of course, your list does not have to look like mine, but I’d encourage you to take a moment to put pen to paper and write, somewhere, your survival pack for life in the creative wilderness.

After that ask:

"What am I doing about it?”

I can't think of anytime I've ever sat on my booty and good things have just rained down upon me.

Get up and do it.

• • •

A peek at my list.

So what am I doing about it? I appreciate you asking! I HAVE SO MUCH TO SHARE WITH YOU, but here's a little snapshot. 

2018 Q1.

1.  Create a bubble, no matter how tiny, to synthesize within (think: A Room of One's Own). This is requiring literal sweat and is so much less glamorous than Joanna Gaines would have us believe. 

2. Solid role models that cast away the meh. Interviews are on the horizon. Yeah, this is happening. WILL YOU PLEASE JOIN TOO? Do you wanna hear how other cool kids are crushin' it? Is there a story out there from someone you’re dying to hear tell theirs? Are you that cool kid?? Let me know if you have any interest in talking about what sets your soul on fire. I know I become less and less shy about this thing with every passing year. 

3. Honesty re: purpose (see also: integrity, convictions). I am telling these things to you. It feels weird. I am embracing it. I wasn’t born to be a writer, but this feels true and good so here we are.

4. MEGA FIRE COLLABORATIONS. In January 2018, I taught a class to people who are paying for higher education. SO THAT WAS A BIG DEAL. Secret homework isn’t stopping either. See: diving into creative design for local bosses is MEDICINE FOR MY CREATIVE BONES. 

5. More celebrations. I am just continuing this great habit of feeding my wanderlove (yeah, I did make that wordplay). Connection heals us. I won’t stop exploring the world and the beautiful humans on it, ever. I have been making a point to take advantage of little clusters of days I CAN get away to visit some personally influential humans. I celebrate their accomplishments. My soul is fed. I share with you. Everyone wins. Austin, TX and Washington D.C. are my most recent, but the year is still young…


2018, oh you fickle mistress. What will you be? 


Now, I think you should go be exactly who you wanna be too.

Share it with me if you can brave to!

Because I bet you’ve always been exactly what you need.


❤️, Deanna

A Labor of Love v. Soul Sucking Lifestyle

A Labor of Love v. Soul Sucking Lifestyle

Holly + Brandan take Pioneer Square

Holly + Brandan take Pioneer Square