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this will be our quarter

There are these places I frequent where I hear all sorts of wise things. Ambiguous, I know. But one of those things I hear often in one of those places goes as follows: basically, bombarding my problems with a will and a want to "do better" and to "try harder" is, contrary to popular belief, not what solves the problem at all. What solves the problem, #firstworld or #whitegirl or otherwise, is to do the next right thing in front of us that needs to get done. Life falling apart? You've probably got dishes to do and trash to take out, and you might not be making your bed or even showering as nearly as often as you ought to. That to-do list you keep staring at isn't going to do itself -- you can't clean out your whole inbox, or plan your whole life our or plan for a massive, multi-year project out by tomorrow, but you can turn that project-planning into a smaller list and maybe drop that bag of clothes in the trunk off to Goodwill, because it's been sitting there for a month. I don't know about anyone else, but I will look at those massive things that are in front of me to tackle and I'll often do nothing in defeat. Or do something, but totally phone it in because I'm under a giant, scary pile of whatever the hell is making me feel like I'm being chased at the moment. And then I'll turn down coffee with a friend because I feel like I don't have time to get anything done, and then I'm alone and not getting anything done, and we all know how that one plays out.

Getting little things done begets getting big things done. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. We can't run a marathon tomorrow, but we can start Couch to 5K tonight and go for a walk around the block and do some stretches. When we're off track, these little things help. And I'm off track. And so I need to do the little things to find some relief.

I started 2011 with a plan of attack and a direction and a map. Because I'd realized in the year prior that it was easy to To Do A Lot Of Shit but not actually Get Shit Done. Shooting a hundred shows is great, but what am I doing with it? Am I passing the product on to the bands and managers? Am I building relationships? It had become clear to me that while I was doing a lot in that arena, I wasn't doing anything with it, per se. And so I planned out how to be more purposeful. To make use of the networks I find myself in the middle of. To treat each show I shot as a learning experience, to go the distance, to shake the hand, to share the art. Same went for shooting at KEXP, what I did in my recreational photography, and the like. And it worked. My eye has changed, my focus is different, my approach is more purposeful, and the giant pile of associated to-dos I had in the midst of it all -- you know, all the stuff I felt like I had chasing me -- have (almost) all been finished in the last twelve months, one to-do at a time. All of my websites have been consolidated into this one, I have systems in place, I saved up for gear I needed and got it, and in a fit of crazy a couple of weeks ago, I even have a studio set up along with lights {thanks, Laura} and a zillion willing friends to sit and help test and learn with me. I picked journaling back up, I picked up a lot of things I'd left by the wayside a few relationships ago. And now I get to look around with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and try to figure out what's next.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I went to do my 2012 manifesto and couldn't structure out a plan. I have some wants and needs and desires and all, and Things That Need Improvement, but I didn't have this overarching goal-structure to map out so I'd have something to live by. I got so much done that it left me looking around trying to sort out what was going to happen next. And I learned in pages and pages of journal writing that day that it was okay to not have a giant, fueling burst of inspiration every minute of the day. That maybe my 2012 (or lifetime, or five-year) manifesto would come to me on a Tuesday in June. And I wrote and I wrote and I sorted out that I'm starting 2012 on the idea that it's okay to take it a quarter at a time. And that it's okay to not totally clearly and truly know what I want to do with the rest of my life. Really. I have more than enough that's rolled over or since evolved on that giant to-do list to get the motion in motion. I have plenty of things right at hand that need working on and elbow grease and improvement. I have enough at hand to be purposeful and to work towards. And some themes even came through, these commonalities that are more than clear that are going to be the foundations of what I build the 2012 floor of my house on.

It sounds square, but what came to me as an overarching vibe for this quarter -- on top of the fact that it's okay to take things a quarter at a time -- is "don't be afraid to shake what your mama gave ya", as they say. This one came from a want to be more purposeful in my work, a want to not phone things in, a want to get in better physical shape, and a want to be rid of the fear that haunts us all from time to time that keeps us from Being Great. And in those overarching umbrellas, there are plenty of little to-dos surrounding photography work, blog and internet-output management, day job stuff, working out, emotional self-care -- I can't be a different person by the weekend in all of these arenas, but I have starting points. Baby steps. Motions to set the motions in motion. And that's enough: a list of photography projects for the year and how to start them and what the budgets look like; a reminder to write a blog post like it's going to be read or not to write it at all, and to adopt a vibe of being more purposeful and discerning; a commitment to give my day job my all in the hours that I'm there, a full day's work for a full day's pay; starting an exercise regimen with a little help from my friends, being attentive to choices I make all across the health spectrum -- when I think about how I started off feeling like I didn't have a game plan for Q1 2012, and then I look back at all of these starting points... it's clear that there's plenty to do.

So, I'm off to put it all to Sharpie and giant legal pad. I've got to make sure I throw some big ones in there too, like tours and fantasies about being out of debt and all the huge, seemingly unreachable stuff that feels crazy to even commit to a list. I did that last year, and as I sit here on the three hundred and sixty-fifth day of 2011 typing this blog post from a photo studio in the house where I live, it makes it suddenly feel not so crazy at all.

Bon courage, you guys.

last flickr update :: adieu, 2011!

holiday greys