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Sunday, August 30, 2015

You Can Choose...Your Mood...Your Outlook...Your Reactions... and More!

Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects. – Dalai Lama 
I took this at Reelfoot Lake, TN in June of 2015. 
I was once very Han Solo in my attitude towards life. He didn't believe in Hokey Religions, or positivity. I was once so similar. I felt like so many things were happening TO me. I felt a need to try to CONTROL things so much that in the end all I did was lose control. In those moments, I would often make some of my WORST choices in life. 

Somehow over the past few years I have learned a few things.

1. Those "glass half full" / "make lemonade from lemons" people ARE indeed on to something.
2. By choosing to let go of the things I can't control and focus on the positive, my life becomes more blessed.
3. The more I count my blessings, the better I feel. 
4. One person can have actions that reach so far, and I want my actions to be far-reaching in a POSITIVE way - - not a NEGATIVE ONE.

Today I am groggy, tired, and a little drained from a week that was jam-packed with meetings, teaching, photography work, and more...

When I woke up, I decided it was going to be a good day. I made that choice as I laid around and snuggled with the girls (cats). I decided I would embrace a goofy photo my friend took of me last night and make it my facebook profile photo.
I decided to make myself a brunch... and in doing so I decided that this plate of food was going to be the focus of my thankful mindset to get me pumped about the upcoming week.
* The eggs are a gift from my downstairs renter. Nice young man who attends ECC and said he had way too many. Who can complain about farm fresh eggs?! That's a blessing. 

* The bacon and grape juice are courtesy of a dear friend who is moving. She had too much food to consume before the big move and didn't want to take it with her. Instead of being sad about her leaving, I can think about all the positive things she's done for me and continues to do for me. (Plus, I love bacon and grape juice!)

* The toast... that has a story, too! My mom knew how busy I was this week and asked if I needed anything. I did. She picked up some stuff for me. Looking at that made me think about how blessed I am she cares enough to do kind things for me to this day. Not all people have someone who is always watching their back for them...even if it's a simple thing like helping you out when time is lacking for a grocery run. 

* The Fiestaware always reminds me of my mom's best friend, Linda. I always loved eating at her home when I was younger. Yes, her meals were excellent, but I loved her plates. I was excited to see which color of plate I would get. I dreamt of having plates like this when I was an adult. Here I am. I have so much color and fun when I eat. I am indeed blessed. 
Instead of complaining about a lack of time - I am trying to focus on doing what I can with the time I have. 

Instead of complaining about the laundry - I am trying to focus on being happy I have clothes to wash, clean water and MORE to do so, and that half of those clothes belong to my daughter (who I adore). 

The more we try to look at things with a positive outlook and let go of the things we can't control; the more positive our impact upon others and our world can be. 

Don't you agree?

Until next time, 
~ M of MK Designs Photography 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Creative isn't a TYPE. It's about Heart, Hand, and Head...

Over the past 41 1/2 years I have become more and more in tune with what I feel isn't a gift only bestowed upon certain "special" people. The older I get, the more I believe creativity is something found within all of us. However, too many people are afraid to be creative. 
Ask a 5 year old if they want to do something creative and they get excited. If a 15 year old is asked to be creative, about half of them shut down. Tell a 40 year old to do something creative and MOST find an excuse to leave the room. 

It makes me scream out mentally, "WHAT!?!?"

I am a firm believer that creative isn't a type. I get so sick of hearing things like, "Michelle, I am not a creative type like you are."
It's something found within all of us at birth. Something goes wrong along the way. Our creative thoughts and desires are often destroyed or ignored. Maybe it's a kid sitting by you in 7th grade who tells you that you can't draw well, or maybe it's a teacher who says your sky should be blue when you really feel it should be pinky-orange. 

The reality is we all have this drive to create and when we don't answer that drive...well, it makes for some misery. 

I think we all have the potential to change the world one creative way at a time, especially if we go at it based on the 3 H's artist Shea Hembrey ( mentioned in a TED Talk he gave. 

Heart: our creative art and/or outlet has emotion connected to it. 
Hand: craftsmanship and fine quality.
Head: it has intellect - it makes us and people around us think.

I think creativity is everywhere, and I thank God for it. 
Thank God Jessica is creative with fashion and words. You can follow her at "MostOrdinary" on facebook, or check out her blog: She makes the world more beautiful not just by being in it, but by inspiring people. She's so awesome at helping them find the clothing that fits not only their bodies, but their personalities. She's just an overall interesting person. Her heart is fully into what she does. 
I am thankful that Gabe with Camping Missouri ( is so creative. He's constantly trying to make the world a better place with his words and actions. He for sure puts his hand into his creative outlet. He gets muddy and messy to clean our natural places with Operation CleanStream. The end result is one of the finest quality. Who can argue with clean streams!? He's also creative in that through both his emotion and logic, he can get a lot of people to give a damn. We need more of that in today's world.
I view my parents as creative. My mom makes the coolest "upcycled" tote bags, and t-shirt quilts. She is amazing at taking things that are cast off and giving them a new purpose, instead of being filler for the dump.
She and my dad have recently teamed up to repurpose old frames, or cabinet doors. They distress them, add fun features, put in a chalk board and/or cork board. The end results are so fun to see. 

All the creations my parents come up with have heart, hand, and head. They always make me think about the things we think are worth hitting the trashcan. All products are made with the finest craftsmanship. There's certainly heart there, too. The end results often make me smile. 
Growing up, my parents always inspired me with gardening. That's another form of creativity. Will my thumb ever be as green as my mom's or dad's? I am not sure, but today it felt great adding more hosta starts, mulch, rocks, etc. for a back shade-loving flower bed. Nothing grows there, so this is indeed an improvement. Using my hands to create this made me feel good. It was like some question was being answered inside of me. When we don't take the time to create; be it a flowerbed or a cleaner stream - - we lose a piece of who we are.
I know I am blessed that where I teach, I am surrounded by people who believe in creativity and encouraging others to tap into their creative urges. My friend across the hall, Juli, is one example. Through her "day job" and her other side efforts like (, Juli is someone that is the example of living a life where you answer those calls. She so often works with her hands, and her projects have emotion and intellect behind them. You can also follow her on facebook at Juli Schuster at Olive and Ash Studio.

I don't care if you're diggin in the dirt, stitching on fabric, using words to inspire, clicking photographs, or cleaning up someone else's mess... we ALL have this calling within us to be creative. We need to answer it. If we don't, it sure makes for some sad days.
Until next time,
M of MK Designs

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

August IS Summer #SaveAugust - An Open RANT to Anyone Who Will Read! (If you know a political power who could help us #SaveAugust, pass this on to them!)

All these words you are about to read and images you are about to see are all me. If you agree, thank you! If you do not, I am curious about your thoughts on the matter. I really am!

Here we go…

I am a firm believer that SUMMER is made up of three months: June, July, and August. Yet, in my lifetime I have seen summer here in Missouri get hit hard by this thing called SCHOOL. I think it's time to #SaveAugust 
Do not get me wrong, I am all for education (if you know me, you understand that). Yet, I am also very pro-SUMMER.

I have watched too many school districts, as well as private schools, speed up their “First Day of School” across our state for years now. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why.
I just read another article this morning about how increased homework and increased days on the school calendar are NOT helping our students succeed. If anything there’s a backlash and statistically more kids are disliking school than ever it would seem (along with their parents).
Call me crazy, but some of my most amazing (and tragic) summer memories come from mid to late August. Maybe it was the heat that branded them into my memory banks? I can still feel that itchy hat my mom had me wear at the State Fair one year; sweaty band and all!
I firmly believe in these statements; DECLARATIONS if you will:

School shouldn’t be going on during the Missouri State Fair.

We shouldn’t have to close local swimming pools in mid-August, and theme parks like Six Flags should have peak attendance right about NOW. Tourist traps all over the country should be BUSY!

Yes, kids should be eating cotton candy and riding rides until they nearly pass out instead of scouring the “Back to School” sales aisles looking for whatever obscure item is on that mammoth class supply list.

I doubt there’s any study to back me up, but hear me out: 

Kids need time to go smell the smells and see the sights of the Missouri State Fair. 

They need time to wade in spring-fed creeks, or splash in the town pool. 

They need time to bond with family and explore on their own. 

They need to explore our tourist traps, National Parks, State Parks, creeks, lakes, waterfalls... 

...Oh, and they also need time to be so BORED of summer that they are just itching to get back into the books. When I had LONG summers, I actually used to get BORED and want school to start. What a concept! 

I want my childhood to not be nostalgia, but one that still exists in my home state for future generations.

Think about it.
#SaveAugust can become a movement. It sure can! 

Until next time,

M of MK Designs Photography