Intentions

As the end of the year drew near I started gathering all of my ideas and resolutions and tucking them away for later like a squirrel with acorns. I knew I would need them, I just wasn’t quite ready to do anything with them yet. I’ve been sitting on my stashed away notes and goals for a good month now and I think I’m finally ready to commit them to something more concrete than crumpled post-it notes. Please feel free to call me out on it if I’m failing hopelessly at any of these.

  1. Log a minimum of 1,000 miles on my Fitbit this year. And within that 1,000, a minimum of 365 of those miles must be running. Realistically, this should be easy, but if I don’t write it, I can’t be held accountable for actually doing it. If you’re a Fitbit user and want to cheer (or taunt) me on, add me here.
  2. Read 80 books. I’m including audiobooks in that number. And no, I do not consider that cheating. If you’re interested in following along, you can find me on Goodreads here.
  3. Have more respect for this shell that carries me through the day to day and feed it with proper fuel.  …I just ate a chocolate bar for lunch so I’m off to an awful start with this one! I have a game plan for this though and it revolves around Happy Herbivore’s Meal Plans. I’m confident it will be the glue to hold this goal together.
  4. Put myself, my health, and my well-being first more often so that I can be a better partner to my husband, and a better friend and family member to those I care about.
  5.  Write! For the first time ever, I promise that this goal will see a lot of love. I have a very serious game plan in place. I’ve told, well, pretty much anyone who will listen, and a few who didn’t about this and I’m 100% committed. I’ll be working on a book this year too. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself for when that will be finished but I’ve promised myself that by the end of the year I’ll have completed enough work on that project so that I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.

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A Year of Weird

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When I first told Aaron the crazy idea I had for myself and 2016 his face lit up and he cheered, “A year of being weird!”.

Good, he was on board with the plan. Now, to get over my nerves and match his level of excitement.

We discussed ideas, how I wanted it to play out, and eventually, all of the pieces fell into place.

Knowing that my number one goal this year was to put in some serious hours working on my book, I wanted to put myself in a position where I was constantly pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and participating in unique-to-me experiences. From there, ‘A Year of Weird’ was born.

I’ll be the first to tell you, some of the items on my list are going to make me, and probably you, uncomfortable. But, that’s why I’m so excited about this! I want to embrace my interests that some would deem ‘unusual’ and I want to see things that will make me squeamish.

Why? It’s all in the name of research!

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I’ve always had an interest in the taboo and 2016 will be the year I dive into all things ‘unusual’ and see where it leads me.

I’ve started a list. I love lists. I’m hoping you’ll be able to help me out and add to this list too. If you have any suggestions for experiences I should check out or even better, experiences you would like to read about please include them in the comments below! I’m using Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories- Chuck Palahniuk as my bible for this step of the process.

My list, so far…

*Spend a day with a taxidermist

*Spend a day with a mortician/funeral home

*Learn to fire a gun/visit a shooting range

*Join the local Police Force for a ride along

*Spend the night in a reportedly haunted location

*Attend an event hosted by the the local Society of Creative Anachronism

I can’t wait to hear what you suggest!

 

2016 Reading List

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Yesterday I announced my plans for what 2016 will hopefully look like around here. In preparation for the book I’ll be working on and the posts I want to share here, I’ve created a reading/research list for myself.

On my Goodreads account, I’ll be setting a goal of 80 novels read for 2016, which means I still have plenty of wiggle room to add more novels to this list as I go along.

Based on my list, can you guess some of themes of the book I’ll writing? What is my list missing that you would add?  I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!

1. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft– Stephen King

2. Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories– Chuck Palahniuk

3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life– Anne Lamott

4. Eats, Shoots and Leaves– Lynne Truss

5. Wiccapedia: A Modern-Day White Witch’s Guide– Shawn Robbins & Leanna Greenaway

6. Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy– Melissa Milgrom

7. New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families– Colm Toibin

8. House of Leaves: The Remastered Full-Color Edition– Mark Z. Danielewski

9. A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook– Janet and Stewart Farrar*

10. The Book of English Magic– Philip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate

11. Witch Hunt: The History of a Persecution– Nigel Cawthorne

12. The Witchcraft Sourcebook: Second Edition– Ed. Brian P. Levack

13. The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography– Simon Singh

14. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner– Scott Cunningham

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15. The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York– Deborah Blum

16. A Room of One’s Own– Virginia Woolf

17. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing– Mignon Fogarty

18. Writing from the Senses: 59 Exercises to Ignite Creativity and Revitalize Your Writing– Laura Deutsch

19. A Short History of Nearly Everything– Bill Bryson

20. Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community– Joy Deangdeelert Cho, Meg Mateo Ilasco

21. Grimoires: A History of Magic Books– Owen Davies

22. History Of Witchcraft– Jeffrey B. Russell*

23. Signs and Symbols– Miranda Bruce-Mitford*

24. The Book of Codes: Understanding the World of Hidden Messages: An Illustrated Guide to Signs, Symbols, Ciphers, and Secret Languages– Paul Lunde

25. The Black Arts– Richard Cavendish*

26. The Dictionary of Demons: Names of the Damned– Michelle Belanger

27. Cat’s Cradle: A Novel– Kurt Vonnegut

28. Slaughterhouse-Five– Kurt Vonnegut

29. Witches of America– Alex Mar

30. Fight Club– Chuck Palahniuk
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*-denotes books I still need to add to my bookshelves

Following my dreams

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Since the days when it was still socially acceptable for me to wear pigtails, I’ve dreamed of becoming a writer. I’m sure my fantasy of this profession is much more magical than reality but I figure it’s about time I live out that dream. I’m holding onto hope the adult-life I envisioned as a frizzy-haired kid is somewhat accurate.

My plan – take one year to write. I’ll continue freelancing and plan to blog 3-4 times a week, and the best part, work on a book! I’ve had an idea for a book floating around for a longer period of time than I’m willing to admit and I hope to finally give it the attention I’ve longed to for so many years. I’m free-Slurpee-day-at-7-11 excited!

What this means – well according to my husband, it means a year of me embracing my weird self and living that life as honestly and fully as I can.  According to me, well, I like his description, but it also means a few other things…

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Anyone who knows me, knows I thrive on a full schedule. Photography has provided me with that for a number of years now and it’s incredible. I feel so fortunate for everything it has brought my way and allowed me to experience. A huge part of my heart is nestled in my photography business and that isn’t going to change. What will change though, is the amount of photography I’ll be doing, but this is a good thing, promise! It means I’ll have a bit more time for writing and that’s amazing news!

My Dad has always been adamant that I just need to follow my heart and everything else will fall into place from there. I know he’s right because living those words has led me to where I am today. However for the last three years in a row, “Write!” has been at the top of my New Year’s Resolution list and it’s always the item that remains on there without ever being checked off. I’m excited, nervous, and a little nauseous, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t give that goal an honest effort. I’m utterly clueless as to the steps I take from here. The only thing I’m sure of is that to be a writer, I must write.

If you’re interested in hearing more about this journey please feel free to follow along! Over the next few days I’ll be sharing more hints as to what my “Year of Weird” will look like and some of the things I’ll be exploring.

I’m so excited for 2016 and hope that you’ll stop by often to keep me company!

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Free Writing : Vol. 1 – Prompt – What’s in your character’s bag?

I recently enrolled in a creative writing program through the University of Toronto. It’s something I’ve considered doing for quite a few years now and finally decided there was no better time than the present. I plan on sharing some of my writing from my class here with you! Please join in on the conversation!

One challenge I’m facing is the task of writing every day. I’m doing much better now than I was in the past, but I need much more discipline in this area. To help with this, my prof suggested some free writing prompts for daily journaling. This piece is a result of one of my free writing sessions. Her prompt was, “What’s in your character’s bag?”. I took her idea and ran with it 🙂

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Wild curls fell across her face as she twisted her body to dig through her bag. Merlot painted nails pushed aside a well-used deck of tarot cards. Her ornate gold rings caught on a scarf rumpled near the bottom as struggling to find the item she needed. Answering her silent call, a lavender-lined velvet pouch found its way into her searching palm. Slender fingers tugged gently on the ribbon ties, freeing a large eye agate gemstone pendant. She carried it for protection. Bangles she inherited from her grandmother clashed noisily on her wrist as she tossed her long mane aside to fasten the necklace. Her gait was confident; the thigh-high leather boots she wore beneath her skirt helped too. As she made her way down the busy city sidewalks she filled her lungs. Exhaust, wet pavement, and a hint of the frankincense she carefully applied earlier. Her emerald eyes narrowed as a smirk pulled at the corners of her lips. She was near her destination, not a minute late nor early. She looked and felt the part; she knew this role well.

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P.S. I must add a side note… the mala beads in those images were made for me by my father.  His callused carpenter’s fingers strung every single bead.  He and my mother gave them to me as a Christmas gift a few years ago.  Don’t I have amazing parents!?

Wild Eyes

“It would have been cheaper, to keep her, around.”

A country song plays softly on the radio and my husband laughs at the lyrics.

The moon is masked by winter clouds causing the sky to envelop itself. I can’t see past our headlights, but the landscape blurring outside the windows is familiar, even in the dark.

Our speedometer hovers around the speed limit but we are slowly gaining on the large semi truck in front of us. I look out my window to see wild eyes reflecting back at me, warning me they are ready to run, either into or away from the highway traffic. Sadly this highway is notorious for casualties, usually of the four-legged variety.

The turn-signal clicking breaks my stare and an engine revs loudly beside us, almost in response. We travel alongside semis on this highway often, but they are typically the most courteous of travel companions. We both look questioningly at the passing lane, unsure of why the man driving the semi beside us has sped up. He matches our speed, the hooks and chains on the back of his cab dancing wildly in the cold air. We continued down the black pavement, side by side. We were now cornered with a truck in front of us, beside us, and third quickly closing the space between our bumper and his. He flashes his headlights once, twice.

“I feel like we’re in a horror movie.” my husband quietly comments.

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Image – TJ Romero

Best friends?

Hello my little corner of the internet!

You probably thought I forgot about you. Possibly cast you aside for bigger and better things. Or maybe you feared I reverted back to ink from a ribbon pressed on paper. I know you are aware of my love affair with all things vintage.

The truth is, I haven’t stopped thinking of you since we last spoke. May 27th was the date according to your wall. I wanted to stop by and visit. I’ve been longing to tell you about my travels and adventures. I’ve experienced some pretty incredible things since we last talked about life while sipping tea. I’ve been dying to share them with you.

When my calendar rolled over to reveal a new year I promised myself I would be a better friend to you. I swore I would visit, at least once a week. I committed to myself, and you, that we would grow close throughout 2014. It didn’t happen though, and I’m sorry for that.

If you’ll have me, I would like to be friends again. Best friends, if you will?

So, what do you say, blog… can we give it another go?

Goals – 2014

Most people do their New Year’s Resolutions post on January 1st… so I’m a little bit behind.  Honestly, I was kind of scared to make this post.  By writing these things down and committing them to the unforgiving expanse that is the internet means I’m allowing others to hold me accountable to these goals.  And, for the first time in a long time, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to accomplish my goals.  But gosh darn it, I’m going to try!

We’ll begin with, what I hope, is my most attainable goal.

I desperately want to get to a point where I’m able to read 100 novels in one year.  In an effort to get to that point I’m bumping last year’s goal of 50 novels up to 65 for 2014.  I’ve been tracking my progress on my Goodreads account.  If you’re on there, please add me as a friend and join in the journey!

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I’m a workaholic.  This isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Because November is my birthday month (the big 30 this year, eck!) and it’s also NaNoWriMo, as a gift to myself and a celebration of my birthday, I’m going to save up for the rest of the year so that I can take most or all of November off to participate in 2014’s NaNoWriMo.  This is a scary one for me for a number of reasons.  1. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into.  2. I do not have a game plan, with my novel-to-be or how I’m going to make this happen.  I’m not even sure what I’m going to write about?  3. What if I don’t finish, or what if my novel sucks (realistically, it probably will, but what if it REALLY sucks?).  Wish me luck with this one!

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Get active!  I want, so badly, to start running again, take a yoga class, play floor hockey with my husband.  All of it.  I used to run, every single day and I miss it more than I can tell you.  I always allow my job to take over and never make time for me, to make time to do the things I love.  I know it’s important, so I’m going to start making that time.  I need to.

Shoot more film.  I love my film cameras and love shooting film.  I learned the art of photography using an old 35mm Pentax camera and I miss it.  Again, it always feels like life is moving too quickly to slow down and take the time to shoot a few rolls of film.  I really want to add film as an ‘add on’ to my photography packages and in order to do that, I need to start shooting it more often!

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Strive to learn and grow as an artist.  I never want to stop learning, growing, and challenging myself so I always add this goal to my yearly list.  The first steps I’ve made with this goal this year is to book myself a space in Sam Hurd’s workshop in Chicago this summer.  He is an INCREDIBLE photographer and I can’t believe I’m finally going to have the opportunity to spend a day with him, learning his creative ways.

So, that’s my list for this year!  Feel free to hold me accountable, ask me how I’m making out with these goals, or pester me for slacking off!

Update!

It has been nearly a year since my last post.  It’s ridiculous, really.  I have been busy with work and life, but I miss blogging.  I miss writing for me.  I miss sharing my photos and adventures!  So, I’m going to catch you up with what has been going on over the last ten months and then we’ll try this personal blogging thing again 🙂

In 2013 I…

*Photographed 18 weddings and over 200 portrait sessions!  Honestly, I’m not even quite sure how that’s possible, but my records say it happened so it must be true.  Interested in looking through a few of those weddings or sessions?  You can check them out on my site here: Ali Lauren Creative Services

*I said goodbye to my dear sweet bunny and had a tattoo done in her honor.

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Still needs a bit of work in this image, but it’s completed now 🙂

 

*I traveled overseas for the first time with Mr. T. to Dublin, Ireland.

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*I was published by these guys: Lemonade and Lenses!  I had another article published with them in January and have a third coming out in the March issue 🙂

*I was asked to join the team at City Slicker.  I’ve been writing for them for a few months now and I feel extremely fortunate to have joined such a great team of people.

*I participated in a handful of art shows and was asked to join the crazy talented team at the What Women Show for the Red Carpet photography.

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*We dropped everything and bought three tickets to game 5 of the NHL playoffs!  My Dad is a Blackhawks fan and we love the Bruins so it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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*I crossed the two final bands off of my ‘Must See’ list 🙂  Great Big Sea and Sir Paul McCartney.  I cried at both concerts.

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*I drove in a vehicle for 70 hours with my Mom, Dad, and Uncle, to shoot my cousin’s wedding just outside of Alaska.  It was worth every long minute of the drive!  You can view the wedding photos I shot while there on my website here!

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*The CFL team Mr. T. works for, the Roughriders, won the Grey Cup!!!

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Us trying, and failing horribly at taking a self-portrait with the cup!

*We brought another fuzzy bum into our family.  We adopted a Staffordshire Terrier named Anglea Lansbury.  Jelly, for short.

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And, just for good measure, a really funny picture of Gertrude to make you smile!

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With that, I think you’re caught up on some of the major events since we last spoke.  I truly do miss this space so I’m doing my best to pencil ‘blogging’ into my work schedule, which hopefully means you’ll be seeing more of me 🙂

 

 

Welcome!

Thank you very much for stopping by!

I’ve recently adopted this space and am happy to call it my new home 🙂  While I’m still currently in the process of developing the content and structure, I plan to have everything up and running in full speed in the very near future.  You can expect to find book reviews, photography features, travel adventures, random collections, and plenty of appearances from my fur babies.  If this sounds like a journey you may want to join me on I would love to have you!

I’ll be adding to my ‘About Me’ page soon so you can get a better idea of the person pressing down the buttons on the keyboard, but until then, my little bio will have to suffice.

Please check back in a week or so when things should be in full working order!

P.S.  For those curious about the name of the blog, it’s inspired by my favorite television show.  Do you know what it is? 🙂

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