Johny’s Photo Session

This would be my fourth photo session with Johny. And this one was also completely spontaneous. He and I hadn’t taken pictures for over a month, and we both were missing it. I chose the location, and we went with Johny’s idea for an outfit. But we didn’t have any plans further than out. So we showed up at the location, and awkwardly started snapping pictures at any tree in any pose.

And then, at the end of the session, we had done much better than I expected! I had over 70 successful photographs after all my post production. That’s a lot more than I usually get out of a session! And they were better quality pictures than I had taken of him before. Had I improved during that month in which we hadn’t been taking pictures?

His reaction was my reward. He was, and I quote, “insanely satisfied.”

YASS!

Here are my favorite pictures:

This was one of those comfortable-looking locations where I wanted to put my camera away and sit down.
He said, “Oh, should I have a total white girl moment and cover my mouth with my sleeves?” I said yes, obviously.

Related Post: Kelly’s Fall Photo Session

Is this picture emotional? I don’t know. I feel like it is.
He said he wanted a forest type background, and I knew the place.

My photography on Instagram.

I absolutely loved this little part of the location. All around us it was shady, and then right there was a patch of sunlight.
Johny complains that the only thing he knows how to do when modeling, is to run his hands through his hair. But it’s okay because it looks good every time.
I’m quite fond of Johny’s modeling skills.
I also appreciate the few sun flares that I got in the picture.
Said he wanted a superhero pose.
We found an old machine, and he sat inside it like it was his throne.
He wanted to look like he was sitting on his throne.
I’m already gathering ideas for my fifth photo session with Johny.
Vulnerable expressions.
Okay this picture belongs in a magazine.
Another magazine cover.
The last picture of the session, and after that we sat down on the shipping container and talked and stuff.

Kelly’s Fall Photo Session

kelly's photo session

Only a week ago, I blogged my photo session with Crystal. Only a week after my photo session with Crystal, I took pictures with Kelly. Kelly’s a natural at modeling, just as Crystal is. Kelly said “fall-related pictures,” so that’s what we did. Also, I finally did my first in-home session in her house; it had so much natural light! And I liked the way the pictures turned out.

Related Post: Why I Love Boudoir Photography

Kelly's photo session
I love contrast in my photos, as you can tell.
Kelly's photo session
That’s such a dramatic expression, though.
Kelly's photo session
I told her to sit against the wall because I love how the light filtered through the curtains and onto the wall.
kelly's photo session
Flawless white girl moment.
kelly's photo session
She looks so happy and comfortable.
kelly's photo session
But this is my favorite of the three.
kelly's photo session
This one is so elegant, almost Victorian.

Related Post: Crystal’s Photo Session

kelly's photo session
This has the same theme as the previous one, but more flirtatious.
kelly's photo session
It’s almost as if she’s flirting with the corn. And the corn is totally falling for it.
kelly's photo session
I love how her hair covers half her face.
kelly's photo session
I realized I haven’t taken many pictures from this angle. But I like it.
kelly's photo session
Do you feel like maybe Kelly’s hair is the real model in these pictures?

More of my photography here.

kelly's photo session
This is by far the cutest picture of her, okay? This is absolutely my favorite one.
kelly's photo session
She said she had a strange side profile. Perhaps she meant a flawless side profile.
kelly's photo session
And another one of her side profile, but in B&W.
kelly's photo session
There were so many leaves everywhere!

More of my photography… also here.

kelly's photo session
She thought that perhaps if she covered her face, she’d be mistaken for a pumpkin.
kelly's photo session
Yep, identical. I can’t even tell the difference.
kelly's photo session
Dramatic, melancholy glances.
kelly's photo session
And side profiles of queens.
kelly's photo session
You’re welcome.
kelly's photo session
I have overshared on photos.
kelly's photo session
This adorable duck face, though.
kelly's photo session
Okay. I hope you enjoyed my fall photo session with this pumpkin.

 

Crystal’s Photo Session

crystal's photo session

In the past, I’ve written blog posts with a few photos featured from a few different photo sessions, all having a few different themes. But now I’m showing off one single photo session, because I’m happy with how it turned out. I took Crystal’s pictures.

crystal's photo session
A photo of my fabulous model, Crystal Kornelsen, in her backyard.

My client’s/model’s reaction to the photos is my reward. Crystal said a few things like “speechless” and “incredible” and “I’m shook.” I had a wide smile on my face, and decided that if she was happy with the results, I was happy with the results.

crystal's photo session
I do not like greens because they’re difficult to work with, to edit. But maybe I succeeded this time?
crystal's photo session
We couldn’t find a spot on the ground that wasn’t covered in leaves. It was so pretty.
crystal's photo session
I need every model ever to play with his/her hair more often. It’s cliche, but it’s also extremely flattering, and makes a lovely picture. Anything a model does with her hands, as long as they’re not down by her side or under her waist, makes a good picture.

Also, after this session, I want to do more fashion photography. I might like to take pictures of a model showing off a new outfit.

crystal's photo session
“If looks could kill” or something. I love this photo and I love that lipstick.

It was late October, and her backyard was filled with orange leaves. There wasn’t any part of the ground that didn’t have fallen leaves on it. And it was gorgeous.

crystal's photo session
This photo is so comfortable and adorable.
crystal's photo session
Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.
crystal's photo session
She looks so happy and relaxed.
crystal's photo session
I’m kind of loving that line across her forehead.
crystal's photo session
For the first time ever, harsh lighting was not a bad thing. I loved the lines made with the sunlight and the shadows.

Since July, I had been planning a photography challenge along with 3 other photographers and one model (the model being Crystal). Each photographer was supposed to choose a location and an outfit from Crystal’s closet. All five of us would go to the first photographer’s location, and Crystal would wear the outfit that that photographer had chosen. And so on with each photographer’s location and outfit. We each would have ten minutes to take pictures of Crystal. The purpose of this whole challenge is to see how one photographer’s style varies from another photographer’s style. When the model, the location, and the outfit are all the same, the only difference is the photographer’s style.

The other three photographers failed to come up with a location and an outfit. It was as if they forgot the group chat existed. On the day we were supposed to finally do this challenge, they hadn’t texted us. And so I took these pictures in Crystal’s backyard. I knew she was excited for the challenge, and I figured I could at least be a decent person.

Fortunately, she was happy with the results.

crystal's photo session
Oh my goodness, the way the sun creates highlights in Crystal’s hair!
crystal's photo session
I love that vibrant smile.
crystal's photo session
Again, gorgeous sunlit highlights in her hair.
crystal's photo session
She’s a cutie.
crystal's photo session
I haven’t even asked her where her outfit came from. Maybe I should?
crystal's photo session
This is the first photo session in which I got any headshots. I like this headshot.
crystal's photo session
I captured only a very few pictures with a solid wall for a background.
crystal's photo session
I like her pose in this one.
crystal's photo session
And the shadows in this one!
crystal's photo session
This may be my favorite in the entire session!

Related Post: My Friend Helped Me Win

crystal's photo session
Never mind; this one’s my favorite.
crystal's photo session
I find that lately, whenever I begin a new photo session, I immediately tilt the camera in this weird angle.
crystal's photo session
I aim to have 10% of a session’s photos in B&W.
crystal's photo session
Again, the harsh lighting is so good.
crystal's photo session
That mysterious glance.
crystal's photo session
I had to post another one. Because this mini series is so cute.
crystal's photo session
There were so many fallen leaves in her backyard; the ground was full of it!
crystal's photo session
Credits to Jessica Kobeissi for giving me this idea.

You can see more of my photography here.

crystal's photo session
I’ve never had much luck with these Christmas light pictures. But I liked this one.
crystal's photo session
A small little rainbow in her eye.
crystal's photo session
We worked so hard to create this rainbow with artificial light in a dark room.
crystal's photo session
Seriously, you should’ve seen the setup of CDs and iPhone flashlights we used for this. It was dramatic.

Related Post: Conceptual Photographs

 

Five Days With My Love

five days with my love

On October 6, I flew to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. October 7 through October 11 I spent with my love, for the first time in ten months. On October 12, I flew back home. Because we’re both young, still in school, and working part-time jobs, we only get to see each other twice a year. When we do reunite, it’s huge. It’s the whole world. And this is a summary of my five days with him in October, though not necessarily in order. I have to warn you, though: this blog post will be cheesy and romantic and gushy.

On the last day of my visit there, when we went to his grandma’s house to keep her company and to talk with her and to lie on her couch, I had brought a book I purchased from Chapters. It was a workbook filled with writing prompts. At the top of each page was a title for my short story and ten words I had to include within the manuscript. I had a perfect plan for the first story… except that I managed to write down only two sentences within an hour. And it’s all because my boyfriend was sitting beside me. All I could do was watch him be gorgeous and watch him smile, and occasionally tickle him with my toes, and I couldn’t focus on my writing at all. Which is why the first story in my workbook has two sentences in pencil and the rest are all in pen. Of course, as soon as I was waiting at my gate in the airport or was in the air, and he wasn’t beside me, it was easy to write five short stories within three hours.

He told me in advance that there would be a lot of people to meet. I was nervous about it. Jeremy and I have only ever gotten to know each other when it was just the two of us talking; we haven’t communicated much in social settings among other people. Which is probably why he has the impression that I’m not that bad at communicating. But I still am not comfortable in social settings, and was nervous to meet many new people. But… I think maybe I did well? There were a lot of people. I remember a lot of names, but can’t remember which face belongs to which name. And then there are people whose names I don’t even remember. There were people who knew my parents and who knew me even though I didn’t have a clue who they were.

I wondered from the beginning whether I might encounter a moment when I would fall in love with my boyfriend all over again. That’s a thing, isn’t it? To be deeply in love with someone and then have a moment in which you realize “Oh my goodness… I really, really love you”? That happened two or three times within these five days. One of those times was when he was singing along to certain songs in the car while I sat beside him and held his hand; sometimes I’d look out the window and sometimes I’d just watch him. We listened to the songs that were part of his playlist for me, and I listened to the lyrics and sometimes he looked directly at me and sung the words to me, and all I could do was smile. I love his voice. I love hearing him sing. And hearing those songs again brings back the memories, and then sometimes I cry a little bit but it’s okay because those are wonderful memories.

Related Post: May in Winnipeg (Part 1)

Photographers are supposed to take pictures of every part of their life, right? I didn’t get enough pictures of us. I don’t even know exactly why! Maybe I just wanted to enjoy my time with him instead of running back and forth from my tripod to my boyfriend’s side a dozen times before getting a good picture. Self portraits are a lot of work. Also, I discovered we’re not very good at taking selfies. I mean, he thinks we are. Because I’m a photographer, I have high expectations for my selfies, and I keep only the best of them and discard the rest. But he’s okay with any selfie, however it looks. The very first time that I set up my camera on a tripod and attempted to take pictures of us, I only took two pictures that were failures, and the third one is the cutest picture ever.

five days with my love
Five Days With My Love.

I’m proud of that photograph. After that, I didn’t succeed to take another cute picture of us, photograph or selfie. But I later decided to keep the blurry pictures, because they carry memories.

We went to one place together, which is absolutely goals, especially for me. And it was most definitely as wonderful as I wanted it to be. We went to Chapters. My paradise is Barnes & Noble, but I will gladly go to a Chapters when there isn’t any Barnes & Noble nearby. We looked through the classic books, and through the horror novels, and through the books on religion and spirituality, and even through the Young Readers section because my sister’s birthday came soon after this visit and I know she loves to read. Jeremy bought me one book that I was extremely excited to take home and to read: Lord of Shadows. The sequel to Lady Midnight, which is part of the Shadowhunter universe. I keep up with every new Shadowhunter novel, because I love that series. I’m proud of my boyfriend as well, for going home with five classic novels. Aside from the purchases we made, I was just happy to be in a bookstore with my boyfriend. I like being in bookstores, because I like knowing that I’m surrounded by all the knowledge that all the wisest people have written down. I like knowing that all the information and wisdom and knowledge and imagination and emotion ever, are surrounding me. And to find out later that Jeremy didn’t stay there because he had to, but that he enjoyed our time in the store as much as I did… that warmed my heart.

Related Post: May in Winnipeg (Part 2)

On my last day there, we visited 5 different restaurants (!!!!!). Our very last date within those five days was a formal date that he took me on, which I tried to look good for. I’m not sure that I tried hard enough, but he did tell me about four times that I looked really good, so maybe I did look good? Having eaten just a few hours before, we ordered only one meal together. We discovered a few new and somewhat foreign flavors that I absolutely loved, that he gladly let me eat without sharing. He did, in fact, look gorgeous that evening. I thoroughly enjoyed that evening, and enjoyed holding his hand during the drive home.

The drive home was more serious than other drives we’d taken, because it was our last. Our few days had come to an end, all too quickly. We hadn’t been given much time to begin with, and now that I look back, it feels like a few hours.

I felt safe and untouchable for the duration of the time I was with my love. At home, each day I’m attacked with a new expectation and a new responsibility and a new flaw, and it’s all overwhelming. I have learned to deal with these things and work them out, on most days. But I’m still stressed out, too often. But I require the simplest thing to be okay, really. To be beside Jeremy and to hold onto his hand, is really enough for me. And when I was doing just that, I didn’t think of the things that would demand my attention as soon as I returned home. I really didn’t worry about my busy schedule, and when I went to sleep, I didn’t feel that stone in my heart that comes when I know there’s something tomorrow I’m dreading. I just felt okay, and I felt happy.

And then later, I felt refreshed. This short break was exactly what I needed, with exactly whom I needed. When the whole week was over, and it was time for me to go back home, I had thought up new goals and new ways to achieve them. I made plans for how strategically I would catch up on my duties at home. I was honored by how welcome my boyfriend and his family made me feel within their home, and how polite all his friends and extended family were when meeting me; I was inspired to treat my siblings and parents with intentional kindness when I returned home. I was ready to go home and follow the meal plan that my nutritionist had assigned me, and to work out hard at the gym, so that I could look different and better by the next time my boyfriend and I would be together.

On the way to the airport in Toronto, and during my flight to Dallas, and during my layover in Dallas, and during my flight to Chihuahua, I reflected on those five days. You’d think I might’ve taken the opportunity to sleep or catch up on blogging or edit a few photos or whatever, but all I could do was think about my time with him and how we finally were able to go to the places we wanted to and how we had also forgotten a few things but that’s all right because I immediately added it to the list of things we could do and places we could go when he came to visit me. All I’ve been doing since that week in October, is remembering.

 

Juniper Milk: Part 2

Juniper Milk: Part 2

Last week, I published Part 1 of Juniper Milk, and if you haven’t read that yet, you should definitely do so, by using this link. And then come back here and finish the story.

“Will you meet me at the school playground this afternoon?” he demanded, all in a breath. “At 6:00 P.M. I finish my route at 5:30.”

“Yes.” I spoke in a whisper, and then closed the door on him.

And that afternoon, I sat at the bottom of the slide and waited for him. I arrived at 6:15, mentally kicking myself for being late to something I cared about. When I arrived, he wasn’t there either.

I wondered if he was late too? Or maybe he arrived on time and just left when I didn’t arrive on time. But he had my number, and he could’ve called me. I stressed and panicked and over evaluated these things as I sat there, making circles in the gravel with my bare toes.

At 6:37, he came. He came breathless and distressed. He apologized sincerely and explained how he was unexpectedly assigned another neighborhood to deliver to. I smiled and told him it was okay, told him to sit down. He sat down on the ground in front of me, and it took a while for us to say something. I hate when that happens.

4

He asked about me, pointing out that we had talked about the milk business, but not about what I do.

“I’m not doing much,” I shrugged. “I go to school, but now in the summer, I take my dogs to the lake daily and say hello to pedestrians. I help my mom print out hundreds of copies of all her graphic designs, and recently I started drinking milk.”

That last part made him smile.

“Will you continue your route when school starts again?” I asked. “I suspect you’re going into 12th grade. Or 11th, but you don’t look younger than seventeen.”

“When did I say I was 17?” he asked.

I am so stupid. I assumed, and I never even asked. He just really looked 17. I’m 17, and he looked my age.

“Oh. You didn’t. How old are you?” I ask, and I must be blushing.

“I’m nineteen,” he responded casually. I tried to respond casually. I was actually kind of shocked.

“Oh,” was my glamorous response.

He smiled, and then asked me which was my favorite milk of the ones he’d delivered to me. I told him it was the “feminine” milk. It made me feel royal; it was so richly flavored. He pulled two bottles of feminine milk from his bag, and we drank feminine milk together there on the playground. I asked him why he called it feminine milk, and he said that his dad came up with the promotion speech and was convinced that every speech he’d created was brilliant.

We continued to talk for another two hours. When it started to get dark was when we parted ways. Late into the night, I thought about him. About us, or something that was becoming an “us.” Why was I putting so much thought and contemplation into a flirtatious communication with a vegan milk promoter person? Like, had I asked any person six months ago what my life would be like in six months, and they would’ve said “You’re going to fall in love with a boy who comes to your door to talk about organic, vegan, cruelty-free milk, and drives a truck that says ‘Embrace nature. Drink plant milk.’,” I would have laughed. And right now, I am laughing. Because it is odd. And why am I so okay with confessing to myself that I’m falling in love? I’m not sure. Maybe because he doesn’t scare me at all. He gives me milk. That’s the most innocent thing in existence. And to me, it is now the sweetest thing in existence.

I like him. And tomorrow I’m going to see him again.

Wait. What even is his name?

●June 29, 2017●

5

Today, I’m going to give you the summed-up version of what I did. As best I can. Because I did a thing, and I’m blushing too hard right now to give away all the details.

He came to the door. After he greeted me with a dazzling smile, he reached into his bag, but as he did so, I pulled him inside and I kissed him.

I just… you know, grabbed onto his shirt and pulled him inside the front door and gave him a few really awkward kisses and everything was awkward after that, but I still think it was a good idea. He smiled and kissed me back. And then he proceeded to tell me about the milk he’d brought me, which he was embarrassed about. Which he very well should’ve been.

Unicorn milk.

*Cringe*

He blamed it on his dad, which was probably fair. He said his dad thought the recipe had a lot of “style.” Which I could agree on. The colors were all sparkly and pastel and magical. I just wondered how it would taste. I took the milk.

And he kissed me again. And then he left.

And I shut the door behind him and sat down on the floor and sighed with all the sunshine in the world beaming out of my heart, and clutching the bottle of milk close to my heart.

I’m still a stupid child.

●June 29, 2017●

This morning was the best morning to happen to me this summer. When Milk Man showed up at the door, he did not come with his leather bag full of glass milk bottles. He took my hand and we ran into his milk truck. It was like a regular food truck but with multiple refrigerators full of milk bottles.

At first I sat in the leather seat next to his, but then I stood up and opened a fridge, where I found several dozen bottles of milk arranged by color.

“How do you not make a mess of all this glass and milk?” I asked.

“The bottles are secured with wiring and stuff,” he answered, intelligently. “And I’m not allowed to go faster than sixty kilometers an hour. Forty is preferred.”

I began to read labels.

“Do you have any idea how deceiving this truck is?” I asked with a mischievous smile on my face.

“How is it deceiving?” he inquired.

6

“Well, you know. When everyone else sees this truck approaching, they think of free food. And animal rights activism. But… I think of romance. And anticipation. And gorgeous green eyes.”

He didn’t answer. But when I looked to his reflection in the mirror, I saw him smiling.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Juniper,” he answered. “My parents are the true definition of hippies.”

We were Juniper and Sienna, and I liked the way it sounded in my head.

I stayed with him while he delivered milk to the rest of the people on that block, and then he dropped me off when we came back around to my house. But before he ordered me to leave his truck or whatever, he gave me a glass bottle of milk. It was white, like the original milk.

“What’s this flavor?” I asked him.

“Nothing special,” he answered. “Coconut and mint. It’s just—it’s my favorite. You won’t know it by any foreign products or dramatic health changes, but it’s my favorite of all the flavors we’ve ever produced. So you can call it Juniper Milk.”

That was adorable, and I had to hug him tightly.

And then he left.

And all this happened on a Friday morning. Which means that it was three days until Monday, therefore three days until I saw him again. But I didn’t see him again on Monday. Someone else was driving the milk truck. Someone who was not my Juniper. And that fact alone made the bottles difficult to open, and the taste of the milk was only average. And that truck was only an irritating advertisement driven by an irritating salesman.

Epilogue

That wasn’t the last I saw of Juniper. I did see him plenty more times that summer. It kinda sucked that he had to alternate shifts with another driver.

Our romance did not stay a romance. Eventually I would ride in his milk truck every day—or we would chat at my door for twenty minutes at a time—which was when his dad decided that Juniper wasn’t getting his shift done fast enough. Juniper and I became friends. It was difficult, but it worked. He shifted from being my adorable green-eyed milk man and my adventure, to being my cute delivery guy. Juniper and I continued to flirt with each other. Sometimes I kissed him impulsively, and he would say “no no no no no no no,” and would attempt to yank me off him, and then walk back to his truck. Because, like, he cared about his job, or whatever.

I don’t even know what we were that summer. I just wanted to tell you the cute story of how I fell in love with the milk man who advertised organic, vegan, cruelty-free plant milk at my door and introduced me to a thing called Juniper Milk.

7

Do romances get to be cliché? Are the two characters always either high school students or college students or 35-year-old neighbors who have each been divorced twice? I wanted something a little different.

I don’t think I could very well have given them more advanced ages, because I don’t yet know how to write from the perspective of a grown-up. I am the same age as the characters in this story. But as far as their roles or back stories, I think maybe I was original there?

I hope you enjoyed it.

Juniper Milk: Part 1

Juniper Milk: Part 1

This is half of the romance I wrote, called Juniper Milk. The title is mysterious, I know. The second half of the story explains it. If you find yourself complaining that this romance doesn’t have any heartbreaks or realistic disappointments, I did that on purpose. Truthfully, all stories within my writing club were getting a little dark, with dreadful endings. I wanted to create something cute and innocent. And I also like that one character sells “organic, cruelty-free, vegan milk.” I like it because Nicholas Sparks and John Green never created that character; I did. I hope you enjoy Part 1:

Juniper Milk

by Erica Penner

(Milk. Style. Deceive. Embrace. Feminine. Brave.)

June 26, 2017

As I write these entries and pour my thoughts unrestrainedly onto these pages, I cannot even attempt to deceive you by saying that this was a usual morning and that this was a usual man. Boy. Man. I don’t know. He’s my age. But he was intriguing to me. And on this day, I began to care about milk.

He knocked on my door at exactly 9:25 A.M. on Monday morning, and greeted me with a charming smile. He reached into his bag and pulled out a bottle of milk. An old-fashioned-looking glass bottle of pale purple milk. I took it ever so hesitantly. And we started a conversation.

“What is this?” I asked him, because asking what peculiar object a person places into your hands without your permission is the perfect way to start a friendship.

“Blueberry milk,” he answered coolly. “You see my truck over there? We’re selling plant milks. Everything we release is totally organic, vegan, and cruelty-free. We’re promoting ourselves right now, so we’ll be handing out free milks for two weeks. Try it; you’ll love it.”

“Oh. Okay,” I answered with a smile, to this cute guy in front of me who seemed to actually be into his vegan produce promotion. I caught him staring. “Oh, um. Try it… right now?”

His smile dropped quickly, and he began to stammer. “Sorry, I—no. I mean, sure. If you want to. I just—try it anytime.” And he turned around and walked quickly back to his truck. I quickly twisted the cap off and took two swallows of the liquid, unhesitantly.

Those two swallows of organic, vegan, cruelty-free blueberry milk… were the beginning of everything.

“It’s wonderful!” I yelled after him. “I absolutely love your blueberry milk!” He turned around sharply with the widest smile on his face. “That’s great!” he called.

He hopped into his truck and drove it forward only about ten feet, then stopped it to deliver a free bottle of blueberry milk to my neighbor. I read the phrase on the side of his milk truck: “Embrace nature. Drink plant milk.” I could’ve cringed.

I should’ve cringed. The whole encounter was ridiculous. A seventeen-year-old boy in black jeans and a green hoodie had shoved a bottle of blueberry milk into my face. And had vivaciously run his speech by me. And his truck ordered me to embrace Mother Nature herself.

But he was into it. How many seventeen-year-old guys like the job of advertising an eco-friendly nutritious supplement, and do it with vibrance? I couldn’t think of any. And his smile was the sun itself.

1

I looked forward to seeing the milk boy again.

●June 27, 2017●

I needn’t bore you with the uninteresting details of my morning. At exactly 9:25 A.M., milk boy came to my door. He remembered me. I could see it in the way he looked at me.

“Hey!” he said with a wide smile. “Hello!” I answered back with lit-up eyes. There was a moment of awkward silence.

“Oh, um, I brought you something,” he said, pulling a bottle out of his bag, but not giving it to me yet. “This is definitely one of our more feminine selections,” he started, and it sounded like a script to me. And yet one he enjoyed repeating. “It’s dark chocolate milk, made from the cacao plants in Columbia. It’s known to encourage hair growth and clear skin. And if none of that matters, it tastes awesome.”

He still didn’t give it to me. He didn’t want to leave.

“Who do you work for?” I asked.

“My dad,” he answered. “Mom travels. Dad purchases and stocks the milk truck, then asks me to drive it and sell the produce. I mean, he doesn’t pay me, but it’s not too bad.”

I nodded. “I, um, I loved your blueberry milk. That was—how do you make it?”

“What, you expect us to give away our recipe?” he laughed. I mean, he laughed. I loved it. “Dad’s super secretive about it. Not even I know.”

He still hasn’t given me the milk.

“You seem to enjoy your job,” I commented.

“Yeah, like I said, it’s not too bad. I’m not getting paid, so I get to drink milk for free. That’s the one perk to the job. I stay well hydrated.”

“So, can I… have my milk?” I asked.

And just like last time, I caused him to feel flustered and clumsy. He fumbled with it, and then handed it to me. He was quick to leave, but he gave me another wide smile before he did so.

When I twisted the bottle cap off this time, something was jammed in it. I carefully extracted a small piece of paper, folded about eight times over. Once I finished unfolding it, I saw ten digits written on it.

So that smile wasn’t just related to dark chocolate milk. Which, by the way, tasted amazing.

That afternoon, I decided to be brave. But I felt nervous about being brave. Is that even a thing?

2

Can you be brave and nervous at the same time? If you’re nervous, you aren’t feeling brave, but maybe

you’re brave for pushing past your nervousness. I was brave. I dialed his number and waited for him to pick up the phone. It took so long. It left me plenty of time to panic and evaluate every possible awkward thing that could ruin the start of a very interesting friendship. Or whatever this was.

He answered with that vibrant voice that he greeted me with on milk mornings.

“Hi,” I answered. “I don’t know your name.”

“I don’t know yours,” he argued.

I wondered if I shouldn’t tell him my name. I could play a game. I could make him earn it.

Never mind. I am stupid.

“My name is Sienna,” I answered formally. “What’s yours?”

“I’m sure you’ll find out someday, Sienna,” he answered smugly. Stupid, I’m so stupid. I could’ve played that game.

“So long as you don’t tell me your name, I’ll call you Milk Man,” I threatened. Oh look, I played that game after all.

“You’re not the first one to call me that,” he replied. Well, what was I supposed to say to that? It was like the ending comment to a barely surviving conversation. Like someone answering “lol” instead of “Seriously, how do you never fail to make me laugh?” There’s nothing to say to it.

“Milk Man?” I ask. “Yes, Sienna?” he answered. “Do you even like your job?” I asked him. “I don’t want to offend you in any way. At all. But how many seventeen-year-old boys enjoy promoting a vegan health product to dozens of people in the neighborhood? You must be brave.”

“Consider it bravery if you like, Sienna.” Wait. Did he know how psychologically intimate it is to consistently address a person by their first name? I felt like we were best friends already. “But I really enjoy it. I can’t give any plausible reason as to why I like promoting vegan milk, but I do. I guess I’m trying to be different. Other guys are playing football and modeling leather jackets or even being manly enough to fix trucks and construct furniture, but I’m just trying to be genuine. I believe I’m doing good in this world, or at least this community, by offering people a healthy alternative to an overlooked cruelty.”

Oh my gosh, marry me.

He went on. “I embrace it, honestly. I’m hoping people will catch on to my enthusiasm.”

I won’t tell you the rest of that phone call. I told you the highlight of the phone call, and the rest was petty details. At the end of the call, I still didn’t have his name.

●June 28, 2017●

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It was another lovely summer morning. When he came to the door, there was clearly some sort of chemistry between us. It was weird, because we were past the stage where we carefully observed each other with admiration and curiosity, and yet we were not quite to the stage where we could freely kiss each other.

Oh crap. I did not just think that.

Did I?

I did.

I noticed that when I opened the door for him, he leaned casually into the doorframe. It looked like he felt comfortable here. But then he peered into my house, looking both ways. I tilted my head and wondered at him.

“I did a thing,” he confessed. “I’m not giving you the same milk I give my other clients. They’re all trying some weird protein concoction, but… I brought you something slightly less innocent.” And he handed me the bottle.

I opened it and smelled it, and it made me grin.

“The flavor is vodka and lime,” he started. “In that whole bottle is 7% alcohol, 4% lime, and six—”

“Why are you still giving me the speech?” I inquired, attempting to be adorable.

“Just doing my job, Sienna,” he grinned, and then walked away. I started to close the door, but then he turned around and put his hand on the doorknob.

At this point, I hope you’re dying for Part 2. Stay tuned! It’ll be here soon.

Updated Bucket List

Updated Bucket List

I wrote a bucket list a while ago, but I have added new things to my list since then. I’ll list a few of them here. Most of them aren’t huge enough to visit another country–in fact, many of them are things I should have done in my childhood but never got around to–but I want to do them anyway! Most of them aren’t big dreams that I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time, but rather little things that I might take up sometime in the future to entertain myself and challenge myself.

1. Participate in a game show

I’ve seen very few game shows, but I’d like to be in a few episodes. Even just staying in the audience and not getting chosen would be fun enough, but I’d totally like to get up there and compete and test my luck. Yeah, I’m gonna try that. Not sure which show yet, though. I’ll figure that part out at some point.

2. Get rid of my entire wardrobe and replace it all

I’m in the process of getting rid of all the extra fat on my body and replacing it with muscle. Once I’ve slimmed down and reached a weight I can appreciate and maintain, I’ll get rid of every single item in my wardrobe. Down to every pair of shoes and socks and intimates and hoodies, simply for the sake of replacing it all. And I’ll buy new dresses and tees and jeans and shoes that fit me perfectly. I anyway do have a bad habit of keeping certain things in my wardrobe for way too long before setting it away in the pantry.

3. Purchase men’s clothes

I have always wanted to purchase men’s clothing, for comfort. I’ve always complained that jeans meant for females never have large enough pockets… which really sucks because we are the ones who need to put things in there. I do believe dudes only have to put away their keys, smartphone, and wallet, and don’t we have to store away those things plus everything we need to put in a purse because we don’t have pockets to put it in? So I tried to purchase men’s jeans once. Yes, there was plenty of pocket space, but so much crotch space that I simply couldn’t fill. So I didn’t buy them after all.

4. Paper sailboats

Sometimes I like doing things that are meant for children. My best friend and I often build a blanket fort while I’m at her house. However, I don’t know that I have ever floated paper sailboats. And I definitely want to do that at some point. It would also make for a lovely photography project–to set up Legos in lifestyle scenes atop a paper sailboat, and take macro photos of that. Or I might leave anonymous notes for whomever happens to pick up that sailboat once it’s floated away.

5. Build a grand sand castle

I don’t think I have ever built a successful sand castle. Maybe that’s because I rarely ever visit the beach, and I do remember filling plastic cups with wet sand and then turning them over onto the beach, but I never did get far. I have plans to build a larger one, and to decorate it with flowers and sea shells, and then fill it with miniature figurines and photograph it. I do have to photograph everything I create and everything that happens, you understand.

6. Learn to braid hair

I used to know how. I made it a habit to open up a picture on Pinterest and braid my little sister’s long blonde hair just like the picture. I was good at it for a little while, and I’m not sure why I stopped. I can’t practice on my own hair, considering my hair isn’t even long enough to cover my ears, but I’d like to return to braiding my sister’s hair in fishtails, and waterfalls, and Dutch braids, and boxer braids. And braided ponytails and braided buns and headband braids. My sister hated that, but it’s okay.

7. Play with animals at a shelter

I’d enjoy that so much! I honestly love playing with my fur babies but if I ever decide that training them and cleaning up after them and feeding them is too much work… I might as well simply go visit the animals at a shelter. Although I would not be able to leave them here; I’d take them all home. No matter. I’ll do so if I find it necessary.

8. Learn how to juggle

I don’t know where this idea came from. Do I even want to juggle? Is that important in life? Probably not. But I want to know how to do everything ever–like dancing and fighting and singing and pole dancing and yes, everything ever–so I suppose this is one of those things. Maybe I’ll juggle something on fire or something. I don’t know.

Never mind. I have no idea why I put this on my bucket list. Whatever.

9. Backpack through another country

This would kind of be a huge challenge for me! I lift weights, but I don’t do cardio or aerobics. I hate that stuff so bad. I simply don’t have the endurance to continue a single exercise for hours at a time. But to pack everything I need to survive on and carry it from one end of a country to the other end… I would be so proud of myself. I would do it just so I’d know that I can do it. And I would likely lose quite a bit of weight in the process.

10. Give a public speech

My dad has suggested to me multiple times that I might like to become a public speaker. I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to make a career of speaking publicly, but I do want to give a few speeches to huge crowds, at some point in my life. I have only given one speech before, which was a message to my youth group at church. I was nervous enough to be speaking to do those few dozen people. But I’d like to try this sometime, and see if I can inspire people or teach them something.

11. Live in two different countries with two completely opposite cultures

I love travel anyway. And I want to explore all the cultures of the world and be introduced to the ways of foreigners. I won’t learn much about the world until I see it firsthand, and get to know it, and talk to people that I continue to talk to even when I’m back home, and photograph these countries. So I might as well take one year out of my life to live in New York City, and then one year to live in a city in China, or a city in the Philippines. It would be a dramatic change, and a memorable experience.

12. Write a book

When I was younger, this was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a writer and to publish dozens of novels. That is no longer my dream, but I have written so many poems and short stories and have practiced my narrative style for so long, that I can’t imagine I won’t do anything with all of it. I want to publish at least one book, one day. A novel, preferably, with an idea that came of my own head.

13. Learn to make sushi

Before I do this, I need to learn to like sushi. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the chance to taste sushi, and at the time I didn’t appreciate the flavor very much. But I’ll try again when I can, and I’ll be brave. And then I won’t only follow a recipe online, but I’ll try to create a recipe myself, based on the different sushis I’ll taste.

14. Go to a playground late at night

Playgrounds are something that I haven’t missed out on. I do visit playgrounds often; I love to simply sit on the swings. But I haven’t yet gone late at night. In general, I don’t like the open darkness; I don’t like being outside at night. There’s just way too much space. But I’d like to try this someday. I’d like to take a friend along with me. I’d like to take long exposure portraits on the playground and photographs of the night sky.

15. Go to an art gallery

I was once asked which museum is my favorite. I didn’t have an answer. I have not yet had a positive experience with museums; I haven’t had the chance to. I’ve only visited museums with my classmates during school trips in middle school, when you get yelled at for not staying in line, and when there are two boys who won’t stop talking, and you’re really just trying so hard to stay alive that you don’t have a chance to learn and appreciate. Also, there are very few museums where I live. I want to visit art galleries and museums and learn about the artists behind every creation.

16. Catch fireflies in jars

Only for a little while. I’d release them at some point. I’d probably keep them for an hour. I haven’t done this ever before, and I’m not quite sure how. But I’d like to do this sometime.

If you haven’t yet seen my original bucket list, which has considerably more epic things, read this blog post: The Greatest Bucket List

Comment and let me know if there are things in here that you’d like to try out as well… or probably already have tried.

 

 

 

 

The Rules of Vulnerability

the rules of vulnerability

I am part of a writing club, and for this month I have written a journal-like narrative in first person perspective. I titled it The Rules of Vulnerability. I hope you enjoy it. Please comment and let me know what you thought of it.

The Rules of Vulnerability

by Erica Penner

I keep my truest thoughts to myself. Vulnerability is appreciated, yes, but is a weakness nevertheless. It can get out of hand. Most people beg and pry to see vulnerability, but then are frightened by the naked truth. You’re supposed to tell people about the things you love, not the things that leave gaping holes in your heart.

For example, right now I smell spices. Sweet spices. It reminds me very much of Grandma’s house on the hill. It’s a steep climb for any car to make, which is why I’m still nervous to visit, if I’m traveling by myself. But the visit is worth the terror of the journey. And that’s because my grandma makes pies. The ones she makes in the fall are the best ones. Apple pies and pumpkin pies. With the decorations and carvings in the crust. She lets me stay in a room upstairs, and the floor creaks when I walk up there. The creaking never frightened me. It gave me such content and nostalgic chills that I cried a little whenever I walked up those stairs. And I stayed in the room upstairs with the slanted ceiling and the triangular window overlooking the pond. And when I woke up in the morning, from underneath a heap of quilted blankets, I smelled her pies. I’d wrap a blanket around my pajamas and walk down the stairs and breathe in the warm, cinnamon-y air, and hug Grandma and get flour all over my blanket. Her blanket, that is.

And, you see, that’s the sort of thing people appreciate. If I tell them that I wear flannel pajamas at my Grandma’s farmhouse, and that I love the sound of creaking stairs and that I eat pumpkin pies with her for breakfast, they answer with an “aww” and a smile and a tilt of the head. At least the girls do. Oh gosh, it’d be weird if the guys did that. And they say, “You must be the sweetest grandson.” Yeah, I guess I am, but my Grandma deserves it more than any other grandma does. And honestly, in other scenarios, I can be a scary demon. But I don’t tell them that. Because no one wants that kind of vulnerability.

They really don’t want to hear about the time—when I still lived with Dad—that I finally got mad enough at him for sitting on the couch and leaving liquor bottles all over the floor, that I threw the bottles at the TV until the screen was cracked and the bottles were shattered on the floor. And then he came after me, and as an act of self-defense, I threw a punch at his nose, and broke it. I had to take him to the hospital, and by the miracle of sobriety, he didn’t specify what had happened to his nose. He was back to his senses. He’s not that bad when he’s sober, and I’m not that bad when he’s sober. I apologized, and so did he, and I sat beside him in screaming silence.

The girls don’t like to hear that.

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I wonder what you’re picturing in your head as I tell you these things. Are you picturing warm, fresh pies dusted with sugar and cinnamon? Or maybe a nineteen-year-old boy gasping at the crack he heard from his dad’s face? Or are you picturing me walking in a snowy park as I think about these things? They say I’m pretty handsome. I’m not nineteen anymore. I’m twenty-three now. I know how to style my hair now, and it looks even blacker after I’ve gelled it in the morning. I’ve got long eyelashes. I wear denim on denim. But not today. Today it’s cold outside. Hence the snow.

I go for a walk in the mornings, even the winter mornings. I like walking quickly to keep my body temperature relatively warm, and then pouring a cup of coffee when I get home, to warm my hands and ears and nose and toes. I’ve got a comfortable home, too. I tried to make it feel like my grandma’s home, with quilted blankets folded on the couch, and a fragrance diffuser spreading the scent of vanilla into the air. It makes me feel less alone. Money got me a nice house, but I haven’t found anyone to share it with. And I’m so afraid to be alone. I’m afraid to be alone, but loving can hurt. So what do I do? I pour myself into my music. Oh but not with total vulnerability, don’t worry. Only the good vulnerability. The kind that draws people closer to me so I have friends to be with, so that I’m not alone. And this music is why I’m handsome and famous and rich. And not always alone.

Thinking about my warm house makes the winter air feel colder. I look down at my hands and see snowflakes collecting on my sleeves. And I see something else, as well. Someone else, that is. My beautiful, unobtainable distraction. Jemma is the one I’d like to love.

Even to myself, it feels weird to say those words liberally. The words declaring that my fascination with her has surpassed friendly conversation. We’ve come to know each other over the last two months. She knows the rules of vulnerability. And because of that, I’ve come to learn all the wonderful things about her. Whenever I’m on the road, I tune in to the radio station which she speaks on. And I listen to her theories and speculations and intelligent ideas. She’s brilliant, really. And just as beautiful.

And here, in the snowy park, she’s walking toward me. As is her dog, Prince. Prince’s long golden hair has gotten wet and muddy because of the weather, but he still looks radiant. Prince greets me before Jemma does, by stopping at my feet and sitting down and raising a paw in the air. I hate to be that kind of guy, but if Prince loves me, how long before Jemma will? Jemma raised her head from a manuscript she was reading and smiled a genuine smile that lit up her face.

“Liam!” she exclaimed, and I returned the wide smile. “I had no idea you’d be here at this time. I would have walked right past you had Prince not noticed you.”

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If it helps you to visualize how charming she is, I should mention that she’s got a British accent. She’s also twenty-four years old with ever-straight auburn hair hanging down to her ribcage. The book she carries is small enough to fit inside her coat pocket, where she tucked it away upon greeting me.

“Good morning, Jemma. Prince looks like he’s in a good mood today.”

“Oh, Prince is always in a good mood when he comes across you. And so am I, though I’ll be less of a sunshine once we get home and I’ll have to wash the dirt out of his coat. He doesn’t understand how spoiled he is.”

She speaks with such ease and gracefulness, as though everyone in the world is the next-door neighbor who brings wine when you’re feeling down. It’s charming, but impersonal. How am I to know what she feels for me?

“I noticed you were reading a book as you walked. Isn’t that dangerous?” I inquired of her.

“Not when Prince is along. He’s my guardian angel, and wouldn’t let me get hurt. Plus, I haven’t been crossing intersections. Only walking laps around the park.”

I mentioned that I had heard her on the radio this morning, and she asked what I’d thought of her theory. I told her I agreed with most of it, but that I didn’t think children were as susceptible as she’d illustrated them to be, but that they were rather intelligent. Women love a man who loves dogs and children. It isn’t hard to love Prince, and it isn’t hard to love my neighbor’s newborn twin girls. And even if it was hard, I’d do it for Jemma. She told me she’d heard my song, and I asked what she thought of it. It seemed she loved it sincerely. You see, it’s a shame I chose Jemma. I’m just a boy with a one-man show, and everyone listens to me. But Jemma is everyone’s friend, and I am everyone’s friend, and she can’t know that many of the songs are about her. Both Jemma and I, we’re friendly to everyone, because that’s what celebrities are supposed to be in public. Because of that, we’d never know what flirtation or romantic interest looks like.

If Jemma was a musical instrument, she’d be an acoustic guitar. If she was a drink, she’d be hot chocolate. If she was a season, she’d be fall. And if she was a house, she’d be my grandmother’s house. I have promised myself that I will never turn those thoughts into a song. Today, I’ll order roses to be delivered to Jemma’s house. I’ll write her a note telling her the things I’ve come to know and love about her. I’ll take steps toward the love that might hurt me if it comes to life. But I will risk it, because I’m scared to be alone. I scratch Prince behind the ears, stand up and tip an imaginary hat in Jemma’s direction, and proceed on my journey.

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A Collection of Introverted Thoughts

a collection of introverted thoughts

What exactly is this blog post? I’m not quite sure. Perhaps it’s a collection of thoughts of mine that have not become such a speech that I can write an entire blog post about one concept. But I am an introvert, and I am creative, and I am artistic, and I am a Christian. And these are the things I’ve written about.

I don’t talk very much. When socializing, I prefer to be with one person at a time. Social settings are simply not my thing. I don’t like to be in a room full of people that I’m expected to attempt to make conversation with. There is one friend of mine that I used to hang out with weekly. We had long conversations about many topics. When he invited me to hang out with his other friends, I did so, but I probably spoke about twenty words within those two hours. I simply didn’t find it necessary to insert shallow words into a random conversation. He mentioned later that he forgot I was even there. I concluded that that was not my comfort place. I like to be quiet. I like my words to carry meaning. I am okay with being silent until someone wants to speak with me.

Related Post: My Passion For Living

My boyfriend and I had a debate about coffee. His point was that coffee isn’t even worth debating (which was why he soon forfeited the debate), but I said some profound things. I pointed out that it wasn’t the physical beverage of coffee and sugar and cream that I appreciated so much, but rather the whole artistic world that it represents. You see, coffee is associated with watching sunrises on a chilly morning, and editing photos on my laptop, and reading a book in bed. I rarely go to a coffee shop for coffee. In fact, if I invite a friend to “go for coffee,” I am likely going to order a chai tea latte or a caramel Frappuccino. And I’ll probably eat an oatmeal cookie or a slice of cheesecake. I didn’t drink coffee at any point, and that’s because “coffee” is a relative term, representative of artistic and introverted activities. I feel like I’m making perfect sense, and that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I don’t start my morning with coffee so that the caffeine can wake me up. I start my morning with coffee so that I can wrap my hands around a warm cup and cover my legs with a blanket while I’m wearing pajamas and think, “This is wonderful. I think today shall be a good day.” And that’s a good attitude to start the day with, as opposed to stumbling into the bathroom, still squinting. Agreed? Okay, good.

a collection of introverted thoughts
I haven’t inserted this photo into this post for any reason other than the fact that I look so fresh faced and radiant without my makeup. At least I think so. Photo taken by Wynonah Loewen.

I have bad days, of course. And I have had some days that are simply… terrible. So terrible, I can’t even. When this happens, I panic. I over evaluate everything. I recognize that the rest of my life will be miserable and disorganized and I’ll never restore what I lost. I am sometimes that dramatic, honestly. Not often, okay?

What do I do when that happens? I have to talk myself through it. I have to tell myself it doesn’t matter. And that’s such a miniscule that shouldn’t even be able to help me, at all. But it does. I have to tell myself that I’ll find a way through it, that I have previously been able to do this same thing, and that this is tiny and insignificant in comparison to larger things. And then I make tea. And I sit on a couch and drink hot tea, and maybe cry a few tears. And then I carry on with life. And soon enough, before the day is over, I have either moved on or the issue has been resolved. I simply communicate with myself until it’s over.

Similarly, when I’m in a terrible mood, I will experience within six minutes all the upsetness that anyone else can feel within two years. And I automatically pick up my phone and text a friend about how miserable I am. Such a bad habit! And so embarrassing. And in the morning, I’ll regret whatever I said to that friend. So I’ve found a way to replace that terrible habit. Whenever I feel upset, I’ll pick up my phone and text my friend to ask them how they’re doing, or to mention something that I know they like talking about. I focus entirely on them, instead of on myself. When I feel like saying, “Life sucks” or “I’m in a bad mood, okay?”, I’ll rather tell my friend that I started watching that Netflix series they recommended. It takes my focus entirely off my own pathetic problems, and by giving my attention to someone else, I’ll soon feel better.

Related Post: Introversion Improves My Friendships 

This year, I started listening to God. Last year, I only technically passed for a Christian. But I couldn’t have claimed to be living like one. Now, I can be proud of the progress I’m making, and I am excited to continue pursuing a relationship with God. There’s this very common fear among Christians, the teenagers as much as the adults. It’s the fear of how much we’re going to have to give up for God. We fear what dramatic sacrifices he’s going to ask us to make, what he’s going to take away and what he’s going to replace it with, and what he’s going to ask of us. Like C. S. Lewis said, “We’re not concerned that God doesn’t have the best in mind for us. We’re worried about how painful the best will be.” That may be the hugest thing that we have to overcome. But once you’re past that, it’s wonderful how free you are! God did, in fact, scare me a few times, such as the time he asked me to step on stage and speak to my youth group. I really didn’t want to. I’m isolated enough as it is; I don’t like to socialize with groups of people. But then to have everyone’s eyes on me and their full attention on every word I said… seemed far too much. But I trusted that God would give me the strength to do it and to do it well, because he had asked this of me. And it went well! I received such positive feedback from many people! I was told that I “looked calm and comfortable,” that my speech was “well prepared,” that they were inspired. I was, and am, so incredibly thankful for that, and that’s just one example of how wonderful and fulfilling and secure life is when I allow God to take control of it. Also, as the Bible claims that God will “bring things to your remembrance,” so Scripture has been coming to my mind in the exact situation when I, or a friend of mine, need it most.

I love early mornings, honestly. I like to be up before the sun is. When I wake up at 5:00 A.M., I can get many things done before the day begins. At 7:00 A.M., I meet with my family at the table for breakfast, but within those other two hours, I can work out, shower, practice a monologue for speech class, and make my breakfast. It’s so convenient to wake up that early and get many things done in advance, and I like the silence. I like the silence when no one is singing loudly or playing the keyboard or calling for me to help them. I like being the only one awake. When I’m done doing several things early in the morning, I get to watch the sunrise while drinking coffee, and that’s a pretty wonderful way to start the morning.

I like doing coffee dates. That’s my preferred method of hanging out with friends. When a friend is visiting my area for two days, I’ll ask to meet them at Mi Encanto. Mi Encanto is my favorite coffee shop to visit. It’s comfortable and Paris-themed and maybe a bit elegant. Their menu is full of coffee-related drinks and sandwiches and crepes. The first time I tried their crepes, I ordered the combo of Oreo and sweetened condensed milk, and have not since then ordered any other flavor combo. Because that one is too perfect. I melt every time. They have the most wonderful ice creams: they remove the fruit of a pineapple, mix it with ice cream, and place it back into the pineapple shell before serving, and they do this with a few different fruits. You understand now why I love coffee shops, and love meeting with a person here? Okay, good.

I rather like who I am becoming. Within the last six months, I have become both more confident and more certain of things. I think powerful thoughts that get me through a rough day. I believe in certain concepts and ideas that I live by, and I care less about what people think of my appearance. I believe in myself, and take on some more difficult projects. There is always room to grow, of course, but I like what God has done with me. I’m getting there.

I hope you can relate to some of these introverted thoughts. Thanks for reading about my quiet self.

Convenient Facebook Resources

convenient facebook resources

Honestly, so much of my photography inspiration and knowledge comes from the other photographers I interact with on Facebook. And I would only be able to continue writing blog posts and learning about this blogger lifestyle, if I had other bloggers around me! So I’ll give you a few of my super convenient Facebook resources that helped to teach me and inspire me.

1. Build + Bloom by Jessica Whitaker

Link provided here.

First of all, Jessica Whitaker is such a huge inspiration to me (hearteyes). She’s got such a cute, vibrant personality (as well as, appearance) and she’s from Hillsong, so thank you! She created this group, which currently has somewhere around 35,000 members. These people are all photographers with a diverse style, and Build + Bloom is a place where they can all go with their questions and requests. When you’re asking a question to 35,000 people, you’re bound to get a thorough answer! Also, people share their latest photographs, and seeing these photographs is a major thing that inspires me to constantly be growing and improving!

2. LooksLikeFilm

Link provided here.

LooksLikeFilm is a group of 41,000 people who are all skilled photographers. Seriously, I don’t fit in there. The photographs shared are always captured with emotion and a story, as well as insane photographer skills and general perfection. Most of the photographs posted in this group are pictures with deep shadows and contrast. I’ve seen so many photographs of birth sessions and of boudoir sessions, as well as portraits of actors that have been my childhood heroes, and I’m in love with all the art I see. This group has definitely inspired me to better my photography.

3. Conceptual (Self) Portraiture with Holly Rose Stones

Link provided here.

The people in this group are so insanely creative and talented! There’s a portrait of a girl chained up the braid in her hair, and a portrait of someone with blue lightning crawling through their face, and a portrait of a girl with her wet hair covering her face and blood covering her mouth, and a portrait of a man holding light in his hands while balls of light float around him, and a picture of a hand reaching out from under the water, with a ship sinking in the background.

And all these pictures have such perfect composition and lighting that they evoke emotion and tell stories and illustrate the imagination of the artist who created it. I cannot recommend this group enough. The best photographs ever are posted here.

4. Creative Ninja Nation

Link provided here.

This group was made for the creative ninjas, as you probably gathered. It’s a place for creative bloggers, entrepreneurs, and side hustlers to ask their questions. A group filled with bloggers is the perfect place to go to ask all your blog-related questions. An admin will often, at the beginning of the day, ask a question to initiate discussion. She’ll ask something like, “What are your three goals for the rest of the week?” or “What inspired you today?” and I like to answer these and receive responses and see what others have answered. Creative Ninja Nation is a fun place to be.

5. Rooke & Rover Crew

Link provided here.

Rooke & Rover is a set of presets. I personally do not use presets because I don’t use Lightroom to edit my photos–I use Adobe Photoshop Express and GIMP 2.8 and Watermark!. But this group is also filled with many inspiring photographers who use the Rooke & Rover presets, and then share their final results with the group. They post such adorable photos of couples smiling at each other and looking into each other’s eyes while a sun sets in the background and gives the whole scene a golden glow. I love scrolling through the photos in that group.

6. BELOVED STORIES COMMUNITY

Link provided here.

Aside from how talented and vibrant the photographers in this group are, this group is one that provides for some extra opportunities! In BELOVED STORIES COMMUNITY, where photographers share photographs of adorable couples who are deeply in love, the admins will give you a chance to be featured on their website. Also, every week a “story” will be shared on their website, as an article. The photographs are the cutest!

7. Photography – Education – Heck Yeah!

Link provided here.

First of all, I appreciate how straightforward and summed up the pinned post is. Ben Sasso, the admin, very simply stated that you aren’t allowed to spam, advertise, sell gear, create follow trains, or create Instagram pods. You are very much allowed to be helpful, encourage art, and seek growth. Ben offers photography classes, as well as sells his own presets. Most of the photographs in this group are light and airy… not my style. I do dark and moody. But some of the concepts are so heartwarming and vulnerable, which is enough to make me stay.

8. Boost Your Blog

Link provided here.

Helene Sula owns this group, which is a huge plus right there. I’ve been following blogger Helene Sula for a while, and I love her Instagram stories as well as Instagram pictures! What I really appreciated was that she actually answered me when I sent her a DM on Instagram. People who have knowledge to offer you but ignore your questions are pretty useless, and Helene was kind enough to provide a solution to my specific problems. Anyhoozle, her Facebook group Boost Your Blog is very helpful for bloggers who need some support and love from other bloggers, to help build each other up.

9. Promoting Your Sales & Advertising Your Business

Link provided here.

Most Facebook groups don’t allow you to promote yourself, but this one does. It’s meant for people who have something to sell. Frequently, they have threads in which you get to share your Facebook page, like some other Facebook pages shared in that thread, and wait for some people to like your page. Some people will even start buying threads! In which they’ll purchase $30 worth of product from you, in exchange that you buy $30 worth of product from them. It’s very helpful!

10. Bloggers Supporting Bloggers

Link provided here.

Again, it’s so convenient to have a Facebook group full of bloggers that support each other! With daily threads, I can find people with engaging blog posts that I’ll comment on, in exchange that they’ll leave a comment on my social media posts. It’s a great way to meet and collaborate with other bloggers! This group also offers expert tips on blogging and shares links to blog posts that you need to read.

Related Post: Instagram Accounts That Provide Inspiration

11. Blog Booster

Link provided here.

Pretty much identical to the one listed before! A Facebook group full of bloggers who will support your content on your blog and/or social media, and will answer your questions, and will ask you questions that you have the opportunity to answer, and will share with you blog posts that have convenient resources and lists and ideas that you’ve never considered before. I appreciate groups like these so much, because I wouldn’t enjoy the blogger lifestyle very much if I didn’t have anyone to interact with. I have met up with other bloggers that I’ve collaborated with, and have enjoyed it!

12. Connect & Cultivate with Ivory Mix

Link provided here.

This one is similar to the two Facebook groups mentioned before this one, but even better! I love the graphics. Every picture included in an engagement thread is designed with the cutest flat lay and font, as well as aesthetic things such as flower crowns, Polaroid cameras, coffee cups, iPhones and earphones. The statuses are written with enthusiasm and friendliness, which only encourages a blogger that much more to take the time to support other bloggers and leave them some compliments. I love this group, for those simple little details that make it visually appealing! Make note of that.

13. Instagram Impact

Link provided here.

This is a very new one. It was created and is run by Helene Sula, the owner of Boost Your Blog. As I was scrolling through posts in Boost Your Blog, I noticed that Helene was inviting people who were specifically interested in Instagram to join her new group called Instagram Impact. And, since Instagram is my favorite and most-used social media platform, I requested to join the group, and am today enjoying it thoroughly! It’s very helpful to have many people around me who are willing to answer my questions about Instagram, should I ever have any.

14. TheLawTog – the legal resource for photographers

Link provided here.

This one is quite different from the other groups I am in. Despite the disclaimer in the description of this group claiming that nothing stated in the group can be taken as absolute truth about the law, this is the place to ask questions about what the law says about photography. Certain landmarks and architectures are not allowed to be photographed without special permission, and it takes quite a bit of effort to gain that permission. And this is the place where I can learn about such things.

15. LOOKSLIKEFILM LEARN

Link provided here.

The other group, called LooksLikeFilm, is only a group to share photos. No one gives CC (constructive criticism) in that group; they’re only allowed to tell you how much they love your photo or they can ignore it if they don’t like it. But in this group, the members are allowed to ask questions and answer questions and critique each other.

I hope you found this list of resources convenient! If you’re a blogger or photographer or Instagrammer, you may like to join one or more of these groups and interact with me there.