There is no WIN in COMPARISON..

This blog was originally posted to a retired allie b photography blog on March 8, 2012 when my now 9 year old daughter was only 2. I wanted to preserve it here.

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there has been a recurrent issue over and over again, my whole life.

It was REALLY bad when I first became a professional photographer;

it was even MORE when I became a mama just two short years ago..

Do you know what I am referring to?

It’s the comparison trap.

I see you nodding. I know you have been there.. maybe you are there right now. It’s human nature to look at your life, and other people’s lives and wallow in pity for the things you wish your life was, but isn’t. As a person who feels very much over comparing anyone to anything, I have some words of wisdom I learned the hard way. I apologize now for the fragmented paragraphs.. this is just going to flow out.. we shall see if it helps anyone out there!

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Do you realize how amazing you are? There is no other you in the world. Repeat after me; “I am *insert your name here* and I am a special and unique snowflake.. dangit!” This realization is huge in the process of getting out of the comparison trap. Specifically when it comes to things like professional photography! I started out in 2009 with the goal to A.) earn my income through making art for people, B.) to have the freedom to raise my family in the way I had always dreamed of and to C.) BE HAPPY.

Photography was a dream I have had since the 2nd grade. I wanted it and I wanted it bad. Yet, somehow, I allowed every single photographer within a hundred miles to get in between me and my goal, and they DIDN’T even know they were doing it. It was a form of self-destruction as I constantly created my work, made clients happy and then felt like it wasn’t good enough.

HELLO? Why did this matter?! I was attaining parts A and B of my goal, but I WASN’T HAPPY. I was miserable and it showed. I wasn’t creating to be the best me, I was creating to be better than so and so.

Newsflash – We can’t be better at being someone else than they are at being themselves.

Good news is that we are called to be the best version of ourselves, and once we stop mirroring and start just being.. AMAZING things happen.

I watched an amazing portrait photographer named Sue Bryce teach a workshop last weekend and she said something that completely resonated with me.

 “Whatever you focus on will grow and become larger.”

Are you focusing on the things that are important to you? or are you focusing on the things that other people have done and that are important to them? Where is this going to lead you? Will you be happy being a second rate copy of someone else or a first rate version of yourself? Are you focusing on the positive or the negative?

When I look at my life now, I realize that the difference between where I am now (living the dream, baby) and where I was headed (depressed clone of someone else) is directly related to the moment I stopped focusing my attention and energy on what everyone else was doing and started looking at what it was I REALLY wanted out of this life. I started to focus on finding my passion (within photography, within faith, within life) and the rest fell into place.

 

Starting out in photography (like many other businesses, where people are essentially selling themselves) is TOUGH. There are issues with territory, ownership of ideas.. client issues, people who don’t believe your work is worthy, people who think you charge too much or not enough, the way you work, people who don’t like your marketing ideas or who copy your business closely. Intentional and unintentional things you do that someone takes personally, or things people say that make you feel inferior. It is really, REALLY hard to push through and stick it out; to realize that people are not hiring you to be someone else, but hiring you because you are the only person that is YOU.Luckily, I am hard-headed and fiercely independent. So after letting myself fall into the mess that is comparison.. making friends and making not-so-friendly with people.. feeling pretty lost and not sure how to fix any of it.. something happened.

I think it might have been getting pregnant.. knowing that I was now responsible for another human that shifted my focus entirely to her wellbeing.. wanting the best for her in life.. wanting her to chase her dreams and NOT wanting her to experience this terrible feeling that only exists within our own minds of “not good enough.” I think there is something about viewing life through the eyes of your future child that wakes you up to how stupid you are being with the life you have been given.

Or maybe it was the comparison trap that lies within becoming a parent that shook me out of it. If you are a mom, you know what I am saying. There are only about a million choices to make when you get pregnant and only a gazillion opinions on what is the best.. and of course if your decisions don’t match up with the mom down the grocery aisle, then clearly you are an unfit mother. Luckily for me, I snapped out of comparing my life to others just in time to reclaim Ana’s first year and take my own road and so far (for the most part) I have been able to sleep just fine at night with the choices I have made, in love, for my daughter and my family. I am a firm believer that life is NOT one size fits all, and going by the book was not working for me (and it probably won’t work for you either!).. so our book went through the shredder and now it’s all “mom knows best.” We are all a million times happier to have a mom that is not obsessively reading “what to expect…” and fretting and panicing as another google search tells me that if the sure-fire methods to get Miss Analeigh to sleep are not working, then there is something wrong with her, or me.

Whatever it was that tipped the scale, enough was enough. And since then, I have been able to feel joyful about the life I have.

Unfortunately I didn’t wake up to this realization soon enough for everyone in the business (and out of it) to understand who I really am; and being misunderstood is the worst form of not being liked. I had to let it go though, knowing that eventually everyone who wanted to would know me, the way I want to be seen; the way I truly am.

The comparisons go beyond what was applicable to me as a photographer and a mother.. but I am sure you are already thinking about the things you compare in your own life. The house, the car, the job, the marriage..  we all think the grass is greener and until we water our own (focus on OUR own), we can’t see how green it will be!

Here’s to getting out of the trap and finding the joy that comes with freedom to be you, where you are right now.

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I watched a online church service from North Point Church last month completely randomly, and it was absolutely wonderful in speaking to our journey away from this trap.  He says is in such a straight forward way.. If you are struggling in this, watch it! It rocked my world. Here are a few quotes from the pastor Andy Stanley. http://www.northpoint.org/messages/comparison-trap

“There is no win in comparison. There’s no finish line, there’s no final sense of satisfaction. There is no win. If your better than people, that doesn’t help you. If your not measuring up to other people, it doesn’t help you. There is no win in comparison!”

“You find yourself rejoicing over their failures, their small failures and you know that is evil and embarrassing but its not just a casual thing , its a dangerous thing.”

“Don’t determine where you are based on where everyone else is”

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. – Proverbs 14:30

Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless–like chasing the wind. Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:4&6

 

xoxo,

 

allie

my Facebook cleanse...

This blog post was originally written and posted on May 16, 2013 when my daughter (now 9) was only 3 years old on a retired blog but it was one of the most popular posts I ever wrote and still relevant so I wanted to migrate it over to this blog.

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So over the last, say, three years.. I’ve been living with a monster.

No, not Analeigh.  (or even Tim, for that matter) hah!

Ever since I brought home my daughter, I have felt like Facebook turned into a necessary evil that existed in my life.

Okay, let’s be honest. It was sucking my time, distracting my thoughts and ruining my good intentions.

There. I said it.

But, over the course of the last year and a half, I started to take responsibility for putting facebook in its proper place, as a tool and a fun social utility and not as an every waking moment must know whats going on at all times thing. I had to break the addiction before I went insane.

Some of you may be kind of confused, like “whoa, chill.. it’s just Facebook!” but the problem wasn’t Facebook’s fault. It was within me. You see, I have a very sensitive soul, believe it or not, and Facebook, for me, caused what I call – information overload. I could get on Facebook at any given hour and be completely rocked by any number of rants, raves and general TMI moments.

My discontentment came in the form of status updates showing off someone’s new house/car/shoes/camera/vacation/whatever.

My self-worth struggles surfaced over a tagged photo of an old client, who had someone new take their portraits.

I experienced general disgust and lingering sadness when someone pokes at the political fires and creates a whole thread of ignorance and hate.

Even in an innocent “yay my two week old is sleeping all night!” or “it’s date night!” post from a mom friend left me feeling like a failure.

And I am not one who quickly kicks feelings like these..

I hope someone out there is saying “Amen!” right now.. but in case you still don’t get it, I will break it down even more.

Too much information is not a good thing. 

I felt bombarded by everyone and everything. My mind raced as I scrolled and scrolled through pages of things that I didn’t need to know or even want to know.. but was addicted to reading.

It came to me through a lot of praying and thinking that maybe not knowing what everyone else was doing all the time was not such a bad thing. That discontentment is not of my nature and that I could kick it if I tried and that God wanted more for me than an overwhelmed soul.

Because of my sensitivities, I decided I needed to be off Facebook.. but I knew that because I use Facebook for my business and love it for that, that just signing off and never getting back on was not a smart decision. So, what was a girl to do?

I started with deleting the FB app off my iPhone… it made logging in more difficult and the page clunkier to maneuver . thus squashing my desire to even bother.

Then about 6 months ago, I began the long and grueling process of hiding my entire news feed. (what!? you can do that?!) yes, you can! But, you must do it one by one until every single person and page you like is hidden. It takes FOREVER when you have 1,973 friends and like hundreds of pages. So, I thought back to when I had to block all other photographers off my Facebook over two years ago and remembered how much it helped to focus on what I was doing rather than comparing. (you can read THIS blog post about comparison if you’d like)

So, I started with removing the things that created the most unrest in me.. like political posters, pages that discussed parenting.. then I went to people I felt like I didn’t really know that well and then finally when I was comfortable and starting to enjoy my time and energy being spent away from Facebook, I took away everyone. Yes. Even you! (sorry!) I blocked my best friends and my loving husband too. I was ruthless but I really needed to have a clean break to wean myself from the habit of seeing a post, clicking the link and following the rabbit hole into the abyss that is FB.

When I got on Facebook the only thing I saw was my own posts.

And at the risk of sounding completely self-centered… I totally honesty LOVED IT.

I would get together with friends and someone would say “did you see such and such on facebook?!” and I felt so totally, utterly, beautifully out of the loop. In a strange way feeling disconnected made me feel like I existed in the world of the living again and the only information about anything I had was given to me directly and purposefully.

By being “disconnected”, I was reconnecting.

Over the last 6 months, my friendships are fewer but they are richer. We spend time texting directly and see each other more. It’s like Facebook was making my relationships exist only online and I am grateful to have broken the illusion that I was being “social” even though I felt like I never saw anyone.

My mind is calmer and happier, and a lot less bogged down. I can focus on my job when it is required that I sit at a computer and not feel distracted. I work smarter and faster and have so much more time to do whatever the heck I want. (like loosing 10 lbs at the gym and yoga, because I no longer have the “im too busy” excuse!!)

My daughter is happier. Yes, I still use the computer a lot for work and sometimes she has to deal with that since I work from home.. but in the last few months, I haven’t had her walk over and shut my computer because she wants my attention. Even if that was the ONLY benefit of weaning myself off FB.. I would have done it anyway.

Very recently, I started the participating againon Facebook.. but I feel like I am much more purposeful and direct with it. If I think of someone and wonder how they are, I go check out their page and post something.. maybe text them and say hey.. ask them for a playdate or dinner. And, it is glorious when they respond to me in a real, true way and we SEE each other as opposed to typing to one another.

If you are still reading this, Kudos! I assume that you maybe have struggled with the same negative energy in your life that FB can bring.. and I am here to tell you, it’s not scary out here in the world of the living, breathing and not scrolling endlessly.

Don’t be scared to say no to the things in your life that cause you distraction.. the gift of a clear mind and a purposeful life are waiting for you and I have never been happier!

Shannon and Ben Amos - Parkersburg, WV wedding

Such a great day with Shannon and Ben. Their bridal party welcomed us immediately and we had such pretty, even thought it was HOT weather! I loved Ben’s reaction to his first look and the details on Shannon’s bouquet honoring her grandmother. Thank you guys for having us!

Are you getting married and need a photographer? Click contact above to get in touch. Packages for any size wedding are available and we are booking for May-December 2020.

New blog- who dis?

I have been blogging since 2011 and have been SO hesitant to take down my old blog because of the memories there! I have been a professional photographer since 2008 and it just seemed almost silly to take down old work, because the process has been so good to me, but here I am.. FINALLY pulling off the proverbial bandaid in the name of progress! (and getting away from trying to re-learn wordpress! lol)

Let’s start with a post about me… since it’s probably been 8 years since I did one! and BOY have things changed since then…

Let’s see… I am proudly 33. I feel like the right to grow older healthily is a privilege and I don’t want to take it for granted.

I am a momma of kindest and most family oriented 9 year old on the planet. She LOVES both sides of her blended family and it makes my heart happy to know that even though her dad and I are divorced, we are all still very much family and she benefits greatly from the relationship we have all together.

I have been dating Sean for 2 years now, and we live together in Marietta, Ohio. When we met he had two cats, and I a big chocolate lab and a puppy Goldendoodle, who is now huge also. We moved in together and now the whole gang is living under one roof, in a strange balance. The cats sometimes are caught snugging the same human a dog is… its awesome. But the cats still swat at the puppy every single day as a reminder, lol.

We just bought a new house and are currently in the limbo of getting it inspected and all the ducks in a row. Pretty exciting stuff to say the least! The new house is right downtown, which is something I never thought would happen but I LOVE!

I am a portrait and wedding photographer and have been doing it for at least a dozen years. I have never stopped, but have taken time to slow down and try other things in life. I am a enneagram 7 so I am always open to new experiences and have been a mid level with a MLM (LuLaRoe) and also worked as a medical photographer for a while taking photos of people’s retinas! I worked at Enterprise rent-a-car after a bout of depression made it hard to be self employed (anyone else been there?) I have been a waitress as a 30 year old and loved it.. I would go back anytime I needed to! Most recently, I am a one person department at the largest local credit union, where I handle their marketing and community outreach. It’s a good job and I worked out being able to work from home/anywhere which provides me the freedom I need to be happy.

I am always reinventing my focus and trying to expand my mind. In August, Sean and I are going to Vegas to network for my clothing boutique. When I was with LuLaRoe - which was totally a random God thing, because I knew nothing about selling clothing or their brand, I learned that I REALLY like having an online community, I really like the business of fashion and helping people have access to unique clothes that are not dime a dozen at the mall (we live in a small place) So I continued out on my own with WOVEN. (@shopatWOVEN) And plan to really dig in to finding the brands I will carry when I go out to this vendor conference in Vegas next month! Very excited!

Everything I do in life has three purposes, to keep us debt free (hallelujah, the only debt I have is mortgage) and accommodate the lifestyle of adventure I desire.. WHILE helping others feel seen and help them see the beauty of this life. I have a very checkered childhood and past when it comes to anxiety, depression and suicide as my mother took her life when I was 13 and I have found my "WHY” in my adult life is to help people avoid those feelings of helplessness so no one I have the power to affect tries to leave this earth voluntarily.

If you read all that, I hope you learned something you didn’t know.. there are at least 3 other things happening privately in my life right now that I didn’t mention, but soon, people, soon. ;)

Photos by the wonderful, the lovely, Shilo Alyse!



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