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Random Thoughts // Week 53

December 27, 2016
AUTHOR: Emilie
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I have a random collection of thoughts that I thought I would share with you to help catch you up on my life.

I’ve been having a hard time writing.

I’ve been so busy. I’ve been trying to be more intentional and spending energy in places I want them to go, but writing has not been my forte right now. Words have been hard to write, but not think or speak. I will have to think about how to better my systems so that I don’t take up all my brain space before I get to writing.

Growella Games

I’ve been working with the Growella team on one of their new challenges. Growella Games challenge people to meet specific, money-related goals. When players succeed, they earn a prize of cash I filled out a questionnaire for Growella about where I stood financially- how much did I have in savings, what were each of my debts, etc. They issued me the challenge of putting an extra $75/week on my highest interest rate credit card. over the course of the next 8 weeks. The game started the 15th. I’ll be sharing more about my progress on Instagram most Fridays.

Rockstar Community Fund Gives Unexpected Gift

Three times since moving here in May, I’ve gone through all my clothes, purging the things that shouldn’t have moved at all. Every time I seem to find more new clothes with tags still on them that I’ve never touched, I’ve never worn. Fuzzy socks, which people seem to obsessed with giving as gifts, I find absolutely repulsive to the touch (#sorrymom). The first time that was the case, I reached out to the folks at my gym and a teacher replied to me. Raeford, the town I live in, has over 40% of its population living below the poverty line. It wasn’t until this teacher friend of mine shared stats about her school with me that I had any idea! I don’t have kids and living inside a gated community within Raeford- I knew nothing.

I’ve been giving clothes o this teacher friend of mine whenever I can. When I heard about the Rockstar Community Fund giving $20 for people to make an Unexpected Gift this month. I knew exactly where that $20 was going to go: To this teacher friend of mine. I passed the $20 on right to her for her to use as her classroom needed fit. I don’t know what she did with it- I don’t know if she bought a coat or school supplies for a student she needed. I’m confident that she put it to good use. I’m glad it could go somewhere it was put to good use.

No Christmas pictures this year

Did you notice I didn’t share any Christmas pictures on the blog this year? This one above is from last year with Megapixels Media. I loved doing my Christmas shoot with them and had so many great pictures in our thirty minute shoot. When I finally convinced Casey to do Christmas cards for our post cards this year, I thought that was going to be the biggest win of the Christmas-photo-season. Absolutely false.

Fort Bragg friends: Avoid Nicole S Freeman Photography. Here is my honest account from my perspective of what happened: Nicole was incredibly flexible on scheduling. When I brought our idea to her- that we wanted to have pictures taken in our home highlighting our Christmas decorations and that we wanted these pictures to be for our Christmas cards- she responded extremely positively (we had already exchanged information on pricing). She even sent me a couple of Pinterest screenshots on what potential photos might look like. I looked forward to our pictures being taken on Dec 4.

On that morning, Nicole came over. She was on time and prepared. We explained to her some of the poses we were looking for and jumped right in. I have done a three other shoots before. Nicole gave little direction, compared to others, but I assumed that meant that the pictures must be going well. I wrote Nicole a check for the agreed upon amount. When she left it would take her a week to get us the pictures. In fact, I reached out to her that evening telling her it was a pleasure to work with her.

We got our first “sneak peek” the following day. It was a picture not of Casey or me but of Bo (we are blurred in the background). I thought it was great. Nicole asked me if it would be okay to share the pictures on social media. I told her yes.

On 12/6, Nicole asked for my email address to share the gallery with me. I provided it on 12/7.

On 12/11, I followed up with Nicole on the status of our pictures. She responded with the following:

I *thought* I had them complete a couple days back, then loaded to your gallery and checked it on my phone to make sure it opened with the password & such… and the colors were completely different! ? so I attempted to quickly tweak them as a batch & it made them look worse ?. So I will have them to you nlt [sic] Tuesday morning because I had to start over on about half of them. Also, I was going to let it be a surprise since I didn’t have other sessions piled high, but there are about 10 photos instead of 3-5.

No worries on my part. There was a problem with the colors and editing. It happens. It would take a little bit longer than the 7 days.

On the morning of 12/13, I received the email with my gallery with 12 photos. Immediately, I hated every single picture. I downloaded them all and sent them over to Casey who expressed similar disappointment. That evening, I reached out to Nicole saying that we were unhappy with our pictures and asking for them. I even offered to have us edit them. She responded:

I’m sorry to hear this. What is it exactly that you are unhappy with? I would love to try to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I do not offer any raw images & never release unedited images nor allow any outside editing as this would be a misrepresentation to my art. If you are thinking there is something better you haven’t seen in your gallery, I assure you I’ve spent my time culling to hand select the best images & because you had such beautiful images that I couldn’t choose just 3-5, I even provided you with an extra 7 images at no extra cost– a value of $90 more than your investment.Thank you for your understanding.

I expressed that while I appreciated her doing that, I didn’t like any of the pictures she had chosen. I also pointed out that while we had asked to take pictures in front of the fireplace, we were not given any. Her response:

I’m sorry you guys don’t love them. Honestly we tend to be the most critical of photos of ourselves.. you two are a beautiful couple and the photos portray it. I didn’t feel any awkward vibes from the ones I selected. As a photographer, I especially love that Casey was a willing and smiling participant. Sometimes the guys don’t want to cooperate for photos and leave the ladies looking like they are dating or married to the grinch? . However the ones in front of the fireplace did have a few awkward faces/the lighting wasn’t perfect so there were some strange shadows&grain in those after getting a closer look while culling through them. I wish one of those had made it too. In order to save memory space, when I cull through photos, I delete ones I won’t be editing or that won’t live up to the expectations for my work, so the 12 photos I chose for your gallery are literally the only 12 I have saved from your session.

At the end of the day, I am not happy with any of our photos. So there was $75 and a Saturday morning flushed down the drain. In Casey’s words, “We could have done better with an iPhone on a timer.”

Casey is the best gift giver ever

I wrote a couple of years ago about how Casey and I try to practice practical gift giving. I am totally bragging right now because Casey really just gets me. He knows how to give the best practical gifts. I wrote that post after Casey gave me luggage for my 22nd birthday. A year and a half later, I have used and abused that luggage plenty. It was the luggage that took me to and from the 8-hour pass from Darby phase of Ranger School. It was that same luggage that helped me move here to Fort Bragg.

With Christmas having come and gone, I am reminded of Casey’s generosity and how he is the greatest gift giver ever. Casey got me a standing desk. When I started my first job post-college, I used a standing desk every day for the first 8 months. Then we switched offices and I moved and there went the standing desk.

Even though, I had mentioned in passing a couple of times that I wanted my standing desk, I was thinking of buying an ironing board. Casey, instead, bought me the best version of the desk that I could have imagined- one that goes up and down and has wheels and is great. I love it so much. He’s amazing.

(Not that it’s relevant, but I got him his diploma and commissioning frames, in case you were curious.)

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Emilie is a data engineer by day and lifestyle blogger by night. A Jersey girl at heart, she is currently living in her fifth home in three years, Savannah, GA with her college sweetheart. She’s learned the hard way that home is wherever the Army sends them. She enjoys eating food, cuddling with her dog, and binge watching HGTV.