Dear Me,

I recently read a letter a woman wrote to an aspiring photographer: herself.  I was moved by the letter and forced invited Chad to read the letter, as well.  After reading it he looked at me and said, you need to write a letter to yourself. 
Since that day Chad has reminded me on several occasions, you need to write that letter. 

Why would he be so insistent, you wonder?  Well, as my friend Malissa says. . . women tend to be neurotic.  Whether that’s true across the board, I’m not sure, but as far as neuroses goes. . . I’m the leader of the pack. 

You see one day I was minding my own business and taking pictures of my kids and one thing led to another and suddenly there was a website bearing my name.  For one who naturally tends toward nervousness and worry, this series of events has, at times, nearly sent me over the edge. 

So today I’m writing this letter with the awareness that by the end, I may decide not to hit the “Publish Post” button.  Either way, I need to remind myself of a few things that I tend to forget on a daily basis. I suspect that I will return to these words again and again as I face all that 2013 will bring.

Dear Me,

Do you remember about two years ago when you got your first “big girl” camera and decided immediately that you were going to shoot in manual mode?  Do you remember when aperture, shutter speed, and ISO would haunt you in your dreams?  Do you remember when you didn’t think you would ever make sense of it all? 

Well, you’ve come a long way.  Don’t forget that, okay? 

Do you remember when tiny little seeds of a dream developed in your heart and you squashed them down with words like that would never. . . you could never. . . impossible. . . ? 

Well, guess what?  That dream?  Little buds have have sprouted and there is a lot of growth to come.  And just like anything that has life, growth takes time.  It takes nurturing.  And it will take a lot of hard work. 

I know you’re up for the challenge, but since I’m you and I know you so well, there are several things that I need you to keep in mind. 

*It’s a marathon not a sprint
You of all people should understand this.  When you trained for your first marathon you didn’t go out on the first day and run 26 miles.  It took patience, diligence, commitment, and faith.  You can’t know what you don’t yet know but if you move forward, slow and steady, you will get there.  Don’t forget to take in the scenery around you and celebrate where you are today.  Forward movement must take place one step at a time or just like what happens with many runners. . . you will burn out.


*Leave perfectionism at the door
You will not be perfect.  You will make mistakes.  You will have bad shoots.  You will forget something.  You may break your equipment.  Some people won’t like your pictures.  Conditions won’t be ideal.  You know these things will happen, because they already have.

Don’t be discouraged.  Don’t turn your back on your dreams.  Don’t doubt yourself. 

Summer, trust the process. 


*Keep Jealousy At Bay
As you know, this is a big one.  There are countless photographers out there who you admire.  You know that feeling that so easily creeps? The man-I-wish-I-were-like-her-wish-I-could-do-that-wish-I-had-that-talent feeling? 


This is not a suggestion, but a command. . . celebrate their work. . . do NOT be jealous of it. 

Stop the comparing.  Stop the wishing.  Stop the evaluating.  We are all on the same team.  We may be traveling different journey’s but the team needs support. Jealousy does nothing for anyone.


*Remember how you got here
This one is real simple, Summer.  You know that feeling when you get when you press that shutter button?  When you frame a shot you love?  When you upload a picture in the evening and sometimes tears come to your eyes?  You know that feeling? 

It’s love.  You love doing this, Summer.  Pure and simple. . . you love it.  Don’t lose that.  When you feel discouraged (because you will)  and when you feel like you can’t do it (because you will), always go back to that. 

You love this.


*Remember who you are
Just be you.   Stay true to who you are and the work you do.  You know what you do well. . . and what you don’t do well.  It’s okay if you don’t fit the mold for someone. . . you can’t be all things to all people.   Continue to develop and grow, Summer, but always stay true to who you are.


*Continue to Learn
Invest time and effort into classes.  Read those books.  Immerse yourself in the communities of photographers and don’t be afraid of constructive criticism.  It’s the only way you will grow. 


*Be Confident
Oh, I know how difficult this one is.  Confidence is a tough one, isn’t it?  But Summer, you have to be confident.  You have worked really hard to get where you are.  You may not be where you want to be, but you’re not where used to be and you have earned the right to be proud of the road you’ve traveled. 

Remember, Summer, there is a big difference between confidence and cockiness

Be confident.


*Pursue Balance
You know that you are prone to obsess.  Don’t do it.  You are blessed to have an extremely supportive husband and three beautiful kids who are growing up way too fast.  Take time to laugh.  To play.  To be silly.  To breathe in the beauty of life.  Don’t miss it, Summer. 

Don’t miss it.


Through it all, you must remember this. . .

Whether you are doing counseling, doing photography, running, mothering, or any other thing you must remember. . . these things are just things that you do. . .

. . . they are not who you are. 


Oh, I just have one more thing before ending this letter to you, or, er, me. . . Summer, have fun, okay?  Little eyes are watching. . .

. . . they need to see you having fun.


Enjoy the journey, Summer.  It’s going to be an exciting year.

  • Katie - January 11, 2013 - 2:18 pm

    That one about not being jealous . . . that's a hard one for me, too. I see so many beautiful shots of wildlife and all those gorgeous shots on Flickr, and I think, "Man, there's no waaaay I can ever achieve that level of photography!" But then I stop myself and remind myself that that wildlife photographer has been shooting for over 25 years and I've only been shooting for two; that person on Flickr has an arts degree in photography, etc….. It truly is a matter of perspective. I like this idea of a letter to yourself. ReplyCancel

    • Summer - January 12, 2013 - 4:30 am

      I know you get it, Katie. . .

      . . . write that letter, okay?ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - January 11, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    this made me cry – so proud of you, my friend. i really am. this is going to be a GREAT year. always remember how far you've come and how far you are going. i love the "it's what you DO, not who you ARE" – so true. and women?! yes, we're neurotic; i cannot wait to meet one who will prove me wrong. but for all of our neuroses, it makes us way more lovable! i mean, you melt kitchenware on a constant basis and Chad still loves you for it….. ; )
    love you, miss/Malissa ; ) ReplyCancel

    • Summer - January 12, 2013 - 4:30 am

      I sure appreciate you, Miss. I really, really do. ReplyCancel

  • Abbe - January 11, 2013 - 3:25 pm

    what a neat letter to yourself, summer. believe it, and live it! i can't wait to watch where this year takes you!!ReplyCancel

  • lisa - January 11, 2013 - 5:28 pm

    Ok…Summer, I'm sitting here crying right now reading this. You have NO idea how this is EXACTLY what I would've written to myself. I literally just said a prayer about 10 minutes ago asking for some guidance of what to do with my life…and here you are writing all these things that weigh so heavily on my heart!

    You have been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks…I finally did it and took 2 photography classes this week! I can't tell you how excited I am and all these things that I hadn't known before just *clicked*…
    I just kept thinking about you and all the growth you've made over the last couple years…watching you since the beginning of your blog and the changes you've made has been a HUGE inspiration to me. I'm sorry I haven't shared that with you til now…but there you have it. YOU are an inspiration, my blog friend!

    Sorry that I've been absent in commenting…still one of your biggest fans! πŸ™‚ ReplyCancel

    • Summer - January 12, 2013 - 4:32 am

      Oh, Lisa. Thank you. Thank you for your constant support and for being brave enough to venture this journey. SO happy that you are going for it! I'm thrilled for you!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - January 11, 2013 - 11:33 pm

    Summer, thanks for writing this entry. I can totally relate…no, not because I'm a photographer, but because these are the exact feelings and emotions I feel while trying to learn a completely new language. There are definitely days when I need to remember that it's a process, a journey, and I won't be arriving at the destination any time soon…but that's okay. It's not a bad thing. In fact, it's quite good because there are so many lessons I can (and am!) learn along the way. I will not be the same person one, two, five, ten, (etc) years from now. Instead, I will continue to grow and develop and become the woman God created me to be. Thanks for giving me some often-needed perspective tonight. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • Summer - January 12, 2013 - 4:33 am

      Thank you, Stacy, for writing this. And for the reminder that really, we are all on this journey together. The destinations may be different, but the roads are so very similar. It truly is about the journey, isn't it.

      You are so brave to do what you are doing. So very brave.ReplyCancel

  • Wrestling Kitties - January 23, 2013 - 6:27 pm

    This is perfection and so much of this just hit me.

    I seem to be fighting some internal conflicts within myself the last year, and I have been trying REALLY hard the past few months to just STOP and enjoy this journey and gain perspective. To breathe, relax, and find some balance in my life. Not just be a mom or a wife but be those things AND ME. It can be so hard some times. But with people like you around and many of the other bloggers it helps you to refocus your life, and that is such a blessing!

    Thank you for this post and enjoy YOUR journey!! πŸ™‚

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