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Thursday, February 28, 2019

So, THAT is what you think of ME?! ((and a 2019 Goals Check Up))


I was bullied. Odds are anyone reading this has been bullied. 

Yet, it didn't break me. (Did it break you? I hope not!

What it did was toughen me up. It takes a lot of pressure to make a diamond, right? 

I know there were days I felt isolated and alone. 

Certainly, that little "note" that kids passed around, autographed, then promptly handed to me that said, "Michelle is a BiT*#" didn't make my middle school years grand. 

Oddly enough, I didn't cry when I read those signatures below that statement. 

I thought, "You think I am one? Ok, I'll show you." 

I marched up to my teacher and told her I was leaving to go see the principal. It was very unlike me to do anything like that. I was typically one to ask for permission. I was not one to TELL an adult what I was doing. 

I marched into Mr. H.D. Goldner's office without an appointment and showed it to him without a tear in my eye. After all, would a "B" cry over such things? 

He was so kind to me. He said I was strong and proud of me for bringing it to his attention. He made sure that each kid was spoken to, their parents were contacted, and they were to leave me alone. Which they did. 

A few of them (over time) became friends of mine in high school. In a school that small if you held a grudge forever that really limited your friend group! ha! 

I am not even sure I told my mom about it at the time. I just handled it. 

Yes, I did cry alone over it, but never in public. It made me stronger and showed me that I can stand up for myself. 

Fast forward to now. 

What is up with people these days? 

Why are people so quick to instantly plot revenge with weapons or homemade bombs? 

Why are people so quick to end their lives? 

Why are people, dare I say, kinda "soft" when it comes to these things? 

I see less and less young people standing up for themselves or reaching out for help from a trusted adult when they can't fully stand on their own. 

TO BE HONEST: I am not trying to endorse bullies. 

What they do should not be glorified or honored, but why not use their actions as a chance to learn resilience and inner-strength?

I am not going to lie to you and pretend I never had horrible thoughts about easy ways out of horrible situations like I listed above. I just know that something snapped within me that day when I read the note from my classmates. It's like I suddenly felt empowered and strong. 

I know this doesn't just apply to my life. 

Think of people like Stefani Germanotta. You may know her as Lady Gaga. She was bullied horribly throughout childhood and into college. While she was in college, there was a private facebook group created that went by the name of 'Stefani Germanotta, you’ll never be famous.' 

Wow. How wrong her haters were. 

She took all those negative words and thoughts, poured them into her career, and became one of the most-honored artists of our time. Stefani (Gaga) has gone on to also create the Born this Way Foundation to combat bullying and negativity by promoting kindness. 

"Kindness is foundation to everything we do."

Her words are powerful. Yet, will her good deeds eliminate all bullies? Probably not. Yet, we can learn from her (and maybe even from me) that being picked on isn't the end of the world. We can bounce back stronger and learn how to be our best selves. 

We are not defined by what others think of us. It's how WE view ourselves that matters most. 

And, most of all, I think how WE view ourselves greatly improves when WE see that we have a purpose. The moment we realize we were made for a reason, THAT is when the harmful words from those who find joy in tearing down others have little to no impact upon us. 

For too long in my life, I was able to put up walls and build a strong fortress with each incident of bullying I faced. However, on the inside (that part of me that I didn't show to others often) I was deeply hurt. Something finally clicked for me during my adult life, when I really took Jeremiah 29:11 to heart. 

I know that God put me here for a reason. I know he has incredible plans for me, many of which I have been able to accomplish and I am excited for what is yet to come! I know that his plans are never to harm me, but to give me a future. 

What a joyful thought that is! To know that we all have unique gifts and a purpose, and that God is FOR US - NOT AGAINST US is incredibly powerful. It helps guide me and keeps me thinking, "This may be tough. The 'haters' may still be out there. BUT God isn't going to let me down. He is making me stronger day by day." 

Because, like I said, it takes a LOT of pressure to make a diamond! 


#1. Drink more water. Some days are better than others!  
#2. Continue to do daily devotionals and prayers with my daughter. We aren't perfect and may miss a day here and there, but we always catch up! 
#3. Floss at least 3 times a week. Uh oh! So I was really good at this for about two or three weeks, time to get back on it again! 
#4. This blog -- quit neglecting it! Here I am today working on it! 
#5. My photography -- create new content at least twice a month. YEAH, I have done a good job at this! 
#6. Send a messages electronically or via snail mail to loved ones to let them know they are valued. I don't know how well I have done at this. I think at times I do it without even taking notice, but I could be more pro-active! 
#7. Practice more prayer and meditation to quiet my mind before bedtime. Oh, this needs work! 
#8. Continue to stash $ in savings and apply extra $ towards the principal on my house loan monthly. Still doing this, but could be doing even MORE. 
#9. Don't miss church. Now that we are doing Church Online via Life Church, we haven't missed a week since the last weekend of December 2018! 

~ Michelle of MK Designs Photography

Monday, January 14, 2019

Habits Can Lead to Big Changes

In just a few days I will be 45. 

More often than not these days, I find myself wondering if I am who I want to be? In many ways I am, but in others I have not lived up to the standards I have set for myself. 

Yearly, I share my goals on this blog to help guide me through the days, weeks, and months. They help me focus on outcomes that, to be honest, are sometimes pretty fleeting. With that said, I think there are small tasks that I need to make habits. By doing so, who I want to be will be more in tune with who I actually am.

I believe in the power of creating habits, even though I do struggle with self-discipline. I can see that "mountain" in front of me, but can't seem to put one foot in front of the other to reach the peak. I know I am not alone, that's why we love those roads to drive up the mountain. It's quicker and less painful!
Over the last year, I went from someone who had a "fun" savings account to a person who was saving for a rainy day. Now that I have developed the monthly habit of paying my savings account and making an extra payment towards the principal on my house loan, I don't even question doing it. Sometimes I even go a little wild and do it twice a month!

What if I can take that mentality and apply it to the little things -- those little things that can become so habitual I don't even think about it? Just like with a savings account, $100 can over time and discipline become $10,000 or more! 

I think it's possible. And, as small as some of these habits may seem, I know they will help me be the "ME I WANT TO BE" as I enter my 45th year on planet Earth. 

#1. Drink more water. May sound silly, but I struggle. This past August I started being more mindful about water intake. It is a true work in progress. 

#2. Continue to do daily devotionals and prayers with my daughter. This habit has been ongoing and one that I do not want to cease.

#3. Floss at least 3 times a week. Right now I floss like a maniac when a dental appointment is near. I have to fix this. 

#4. This blog -- quit neglecting it! 

#5. My photography -- create new content at least twice a month.

#6. Send a messages electronically or via snail mail to loved ones to let them know they are valued.

#7. Practice more prayer and meditation to quiet my mind before bedtime.

#8. Continue to stash $ in savings and apply extra $ towards the principal on my house loan monthly.

#9. Don't miss church. I have no excuse to these days because I have recently found an online church that I enjoy as well as the fact I have gotten better at trying new churches when one I am attending isn't meeting my/our needs. 

I think by making these things habits, I will see changes within myself and in my life that will be rewarding on many levels and those rewards won't be temporary. 

Until next time,
M of MK Designs 

PS Enjoy this lovely image from Fall 2018 at Robertsville State Park. I enjoyed this moment and am glad I captured it. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Taking Inventory of 2018: Accountability, Goals (Written and Unwritten), and More!

Sticking with my mantra of accountability, it's time to update the blog! 

So, did my 2018 Goals fly or crash? Let's find out!

(Click HERE if you would like to see them in full.) 

Continue blessing our Compassion International child, Beatrice. 

Have a backbone. 
Do not put up with bullies. 
Be strong and courageous, as it says in Joshua 1:9. 
Do all those things to be a better example to my daughter. 
I reviewed this with my friend a few days ago. 
She thinks I did pretty well. 
I believe I can do better. 
Remember that I do not walk through challenges alone. 
This was also based on Joshua 1:9. 

Be kinder to those who are kind to me. 
Be kinder to myself. 

Read More. Write More. 
I read a few great books, but not as many as I wished to. 
Writing really slacked in 2018. 
I stayed on track with my deadlines for River Hills Traveler,, and JEA Digital Media
When it came to writing for ME, aka for MK Designs, I bombed!  

Don't enter art shows and have work in a "gallery" to validate myself as an artist. Do it when I feel compelled to, and only if I have the time. 
SUCCESS! This was a HUGE leap for me in 2018! 

SIDE NOTE: One of the few shows I entered, I actually WON! 
Maybe that's a sign to only enter ones I can really FOCUS on. 
Find some plant-based foods that don't make me gag. 
By August I gave up. 
I felt like I was wasting time, energy, and money on stuff that just made me sick to my stomach. 
I will keep trying to find a way to sneak more veggies and fruits into my diet, but vegetarian/vegan, I am not. 
Just look at that steak I grilled! 
With all that said, I now want to focus on the goals I accomplished that I didn't write down. Those are some ones that I am exceptionally proud of. 

In my personal life, there were some serious changes. Those changes drove me to save, save, save. I am not just saving for a rainy day, but for a storm that could be coming at any second. 
On a whim, I bought a book and took a lettering class! 
I enjoyed it and hope to do more things like this in the future!
I photographed some beautiful souls. 
I think I did some of my best portrait work in ages. 
Granted, I don't have a line of people begging me to take their photos, but I have had some people tell me they WISHED they'd booked with me once they saw their typical run-of-the-mill portraits compared to my work. 
I am willing to try new places, various lighting techniques, and even a smoke bomb or four!
I branched out and did some work with babies, moms-to-be, and even a wedding in San Diego!
I think because I do not take on a TON of clients, that helps me focus on attention to detail. It also helps me find new ways to approach subjects that have been photographed many times in their lives. 
The work I did for people in 2018 is work that I am very proud of. I feel it helped me grow more in the area of portrait photography. 
We got a turtle. 
Yep. Even though I said I never wanted one.
While getting a pet turtle was far from a goal, it has become my goal to keep that turtle alive! 
My daughter loves Sparky and I do, too. 
You can even find him on Instagram. Click HERE

It's also come to my attention that I am at my happiest when I see others succeed. When I can help elevate people to a level they didn't expect to reach, that's amazing. 
I don't want to bask in their glory. I just like standing to the side and cheering them on once they've reached their goals. 
Maybe that is why teaching is such a blessing in my life and has been for over two decades. 
Also, I have to toss in the fact that we found a dumped cat on a hiking trail, fostered it for over 20 days, and saved its life. 

"Vladi" is now living a dream life of being a VERY SPOILED boy with his new family. (Nope, we didn't keep him. We already have three cats and a turtle, folks!) I plan to share more about this experience soon!

While I ponder what to goals to commit to in 2019, I hope that this post finds you content, blessed, and at ease. 
I recently heard a message that I connected with deeply. I have taken the liberty to elaborate upon it as a post on my Instagram and Facebook. I will leave that with you today.

I am hopeful your 2018 was a good one, and look forward to sharing more blog posts with my thoughts and photography with you in 2019! 
M of MK Designs Photography: Fine Art and Portrait.
January 1, 2019.