IMG_0433(Italy by Katie Gardner)

I’ve decided to begin and end July with awesome giveaways – yeah for summer! – and here is the first . . .

I’m so happy to bring you one of my all-time favorite photographers, Katie Gardner. Katie is out of San Diego, and when we lived there, she took some of the most amazing pictures of my kids. I feel like she knows how to capture the essence of someone. Love that about her work.

If you are in San Diego or if you are looking to bring a photographer to you for a special occasion, look Katie up. She’s fab.

The giveaway will be one of Katie’s prized travel prints. For a chance to win, please leave a comment with something from this post that resonates with you, something that inspires you. All comments need to be posted by Thursday, July 5, noon, EST. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced Thursday.

In addition to providing one of her amazing travel prints, I asked Katie if she’d respond to a few prompts so you could get to know her better. I ALWAYS love hearing where other artists find inspiration, self-acceptance, courage, and passion. You’ll love Katie’s responses. I gave her the key words and the ellipses. She did the rest. Enjoy!

loving . . . the abundance of support in my life. And bacon chocolate chip cookies. And goat cheese! But back to the former former: I truly believe there are no self-made people and I’m still relying on a village to raise me. With a business to attend to and a wedding on the horizon, I often find myself existing somewhere between mania, hysteria, and The Great Depression, circa 1929 (sorry, fiancé). However. With no lack of relational support in my life, including a very grace-filled fiancé (and rich food) I am finding moments of true gratitude each and every day.

questioning . . . what will this next year look like? First year of marriage, a possible overseas move, an evolving business . . . a few constants amidst a lot of open doors.

reading . . . Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen. This laugh-out-loud funny memoir was recommended by my future mother-in-law, winning some major literary style points from me. Janzen tells a story of “going home” after her husband of 15 years leaves her for a man he met on, while that same week, she gets in a serious car accident. Her smart, sardonic take on the world makes me want to grow up and be her someday.

considering . . . more travel! Getting out of the country is for me the time where the stuck becomes unstuck. The meeting new people, eating new food, getting freaked out by new bugs, experiencing life completely different than my own: that is where the clarity creeps into the foggy spaces that exist when I stay too long in my own element.

needing . . . rest and simplicity. Not just a nap, or less, but a quiet peace about life, and more spontaneous fun with people I love. And someone to bring me drinks as requested.

wearing . . . hand-me-downs and a few favorites purchased (mostly with gift cards) from Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. For a few years I reaped the benefits of working at a clothing company (see: free clothes). After said shopping vacation was over, I reaped the benefits of being in the same room on a repeated basis when people (ahem, happened to be getting rid of quality goods, some of which I still wear to this day. My normal go-tos usually involve jeans and a top, zhushed up with jewelry, my Steve Madden boots, or flats. If I forget to put on any jewelry, I usually feel naked and have a hard time making it through the day. (first world problems)

wanting . . . freedom. I think we (especially in the country of Southern California) tend to live life at breakneck speed. Merge onto our freeways, step into our malls, and get in the drive-through line at In and Out Burger and see what it feels like to live life with slightly higher blood pressure. I long for freedom from they tyranny of the urgent, the “keeping up with the Joneses”, the doing rather than the being.

and, finally, Katie’s advice to anyone wanting to follow their dream and pursue their creative work vocationally:

Listen to that voice that tells you to do something crazy . . . like quit your 9-5 job and follow your dreams and possibly lose all your money and end up in a van down by the river. (The latter will most likely not happen.)

Stalk and ask questions of people from whom you want to learn in a way that’s just short of earning yourself a restraining order. Okay, not really. But kind of.

Be willing to do some crap stuff, like lowly intern-type work, for those really talented people until you figure out what you’re doing. When you figure out how to be good, own that you’re adept at your craft and charge what you’re worth!

Continue to work your ass off, but not in a way that nullifies your relationships. When you get pushed down, get back up and remember why you started doing this in the first place. Remind yourself that you’re doing it for you (and sure, a paycheck too), but most importantly because creating gives you life.

Let the creating drive you, not the fads, or what people tell you they want to see. True art outlives its time, and the people I am most inspired by are pioneers, crafting their art differently from everyone else, even if it makes them look like total weirdos. Sit down at least once a year and write a list of personal and professional goals that will help drive your unique voice in the creative world.

Flannery O’Connor said, “I am a writer because writing is the thing I do best.” Fight the demons of “not enough-ness” and do the thing(s) you do best.


AMEN. Thank you, Katie!!! Be sure and leave a comment—something from Katie’s words that hit home for you today—for your chance to win!

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