A Midsummer Night’s Dream

It’s no secret that I love Shakespeare. I’m a big fan of the Bard and spent a considerable amount of time working for a classic theatre company who primarily focused on the works of Shakespeare with a few other classic playwrights mixed in. I haven’t really had a chance to be involved with theatre in quite some time, so when Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival asked me to do the press photos for their upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I was beyond thrilled. I met up with the cast at their rehearsal space and along with the Director of the show, we managed to capture some of the pure joy of this show. Here are my favorites from our time together.

If you’re in Northern Arizona or just want to take a drive,  this show, as well as their production of Romeo and Juliet, is going to be amazing. If you’re not in the area, you can always support them through their IndieGoGo Page.

SaraSig

Book Review and a Painting: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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My sweet husband knows that gift buying for me is pretty easy when he enters our local bookstore. Somehow, he just so happened to walk in on the day when Elizabeth Gilbert was signing copies of Big Magic and since it was on my ‘to read’ list, he graciously waited in line and picked me up a signed copy for Christmas last year. I’m a little embarrassed that I’m just now getting to this review when this book has been in my hands for so long, but I had a few others to finish off first and I just can’t read more than two books at a time.

I’m excited to share my painting inspired by the book cover. This painting was challenging and I had to keep reminding myself that it doesn’t have to look exactly the same and it’s meant to be a loose interpretation inspired by the cover. The letters are always the most challenging part. We have a projector and they’re still hard to get right. Hand painted letters just aren’t as pristine and it looks a little more red where I wish it were pink, but I’m fairly happy with how this one turned out. So on to the review…

 

Author of the acclaimed Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert brings her unique perspective and wisdom on the subject of creativity and living a creative life. I LOVED the premise of this book and couldn’t wait to dive in. This book is such an easy and fast read, but the thing I appreciated most is that Gilbert is a best-selling author writing about creativity from an author’s perspective. It seems like there is a ton of content out there on creativity from painters and other creative professionals, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard of an author offering her two cents on the subject. Being a writer myself, I loved feeling like I relate to everything she said as it was written.

 

Gilbert has a way of taking really profound and ethereal concepts and making them accessible. She describes creative ideas as their own entities that are floating around looking for a human host to carry them out. I liked thinking of creativity like this and it stirred up my imagination in a way that made me feel excited to reach up and grab ideas as they came to me.

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I appreciated hearing Gilbert’s stories of failure and learning as she shares her own creative journey. I found myself highlighting and underlining key concepts that I found to ring truth to me. This book is exactly what I needed to hear at this time in my own personal creative voyage. Her words of encouragement were just the stepping-stones I needed to make big decisions and giant leaps of faith. I felt like she was giving me permission to move forward when I didn’t even know I was standing still. She seems to have hit all the reasons that people don’t create and completely crushes them. I’m not original enough. I’m not an artist. My art isn’t that important. I don’t have a degree. I’ve already hit my pique of success. Gilbert doesn’t buy any of these excuses. She gives short bursts of wisdom like “done is better than good” and “no one is thinking about you.” She dispels the idea of the suffering artist and encourages us all to take great joy in our art. She even dispels the idea that the only time making art is worth it is if you can make money or do your art full time. I’ve spent an unreasonable amount of time meditating, reading and thinking about that very issue, that I found her words to pierce right through me and give me what I needed to finally believe and accept what I already knew to be true. She offers perspective on failure, fear, and persistence in a way that feels like your cool aunt who is giving you advice on boys while she paints your nails. Conversational and littered with intentional examples to prove that she struggles or has struggled with the same things you’re fighting.

 

Gilbert explores some concepts that do have to be taken with a grain of salt, but for the most part I wasn’t put off as some other readers were. For me, she successfully takes her own opposing viewpoints into account and seems to thrive in the contradictions. She is an advocate for creativity and believes that everyone has the capacity and right to be creative. I would recommend that every artist, writer, and person who is otherwise interested in exploring his or her creativity pick up this book.

I’d love to know if you read it and what you thought. If you’re on Goodreads, you can find me here.

SaraSig

Full of Hot Air

The winds have welcomed you with softness,
The sun has greeted you with it’s warm hands,
You have flown so high and so well,
That God has joined you in laughter,
And set you back gently into
The loving arms of Mother Earth.

— Anon, known as ‘The Baloonists Prayer,’ believed to have been adapted from an old Irish sailors’ prayer

The Mister and I opted for a hot air balloon ride this year instead of a staycation, which is how we typically celebrate our anniversary. I enjoy capturing moments in time through monuments and celebration. They help to solidify time periods and separate the years. For me it keeps the days and years from blending into one another. I can identify them easier and I love knowing I’ll be able to look back and remember this very specific day without any trouble. That’s comforting to me for some reason.

We set our alarm clocks for 3:30am and arrived at met up with Rainbow Ryders who then took us by bus to our launch site. The whole process was mystifying and magical, peaceful and calm. It was something special and I’m so happy we enacted our sense of adventure and celebrated this way.

SaraSig

Nine and Counting

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This past Wednesday was my 9th wedding anniversary! I’m kinda a sentimental person and I really appreciate making memories and finding grand ways to celebrate. We don’t have enough of that, celebration that is. I think it’s easy to get caught up and forget how special it really is to have fought for your marriage and how special it is to really celebrate your time together and allow yourself to marvel at that gift. Pictures are my favorite way to celebrate anything. For obvious reasons of course. I love commemorating a certain moment in time with a few snaps to look back on for the rest of our lives. I imagine I’ll be a little old lady surrounded by photos of a life well lived. I love that idea.

So… we opted to get in front of the camera for a few short minutes and we walked away with some photos that I couldn’t love any more.

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A special thank you to our friends at Denson Creative for capturing these special snaps for us. I’ve always wanted friends to trade photo shoots with and I’m so happy to have found that!

SaraSig

 

Hoola Bars Rebrand

A while back I took some product photos for Go Be Happy bars for for my dear friend Wendi. Since then, the bars have been rebranded, repackaged and now have a new life as Hoola. She needed updated photos for the website and some that she could use on her social media. I gladly pulled out the dates from the cupboard and took up the challenge. These bars are DELICIOUS! They’re all practically gone now because everyone in my house has been eating them up. You can buy your own here.  Here are my favorites from the shoot.

 

SaraSig

Summer is Here

 

It gets hot in Phoenix in the summer. Duh.

We’re right at the beginning stages of heat. The I haven’t yet burned myself on my seatbelt, but I’m starting to use the sun shade kind of phase. We’re getting ready for the wave of triple digits and like many prepare for the long winter in the midwest, we have our own preparations to make. We stock up on sunscreen, bust out the beach towels, have the ac unit serviced, make sure the water cooler in filled up, and buy this year’s kiddie pool. Of course, many people have their own real pools and we have access at both of our parents’ houses, but in our own backyard, we have the blow up shark. I think I love this more than having a real pool on most days. There’s no deep end, Harvey can get in and out on his own, there’s no chemicals to buy, it inadvertently waters our grass, it doesn’t take up our whole yard and did I mention there’s no deep end? The possibilities of him getting hurt are far less and he just loves the freedom to splash around and climb in and out on his own.

Our BBQ was cooking up some dinner and we found the perfect shady spot in the backyard to set up. I sat close enough to get splashed a few times while Harvey joyfully reminded me to soak in the sun and the memories.

Adventure and Stellar Day Magazine

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The June issue of Stellar Day Magazine is out today and I’ve contributed words before, but this time I stepped out on a ledge and offered to photograph for the magazine as well. I was welcomed with open arms. I tied up my tennis shoes and hiked up a mountain with my brand new camera strapped to my back in an effort to prove that I was worthy of my efforts.

The theme is adventure and it’s actually quite fitting. Adventure can mean so many different things, but it has close ties with fear; at least for me it does and based on the issue, I’m not the only one. Fear is what often keeps us from pursuing great adventures.

Capturing pictures is something I’ve loved for many many years. I can remember the excitement of stopping by the drugstore to pick up my film. The anticipation of opening that envelope was a thrill. Pulling the 4×6 prints out and shifting through them as quickly as possible was like Christmas morning. All you needed was one, just one really great picture to send you beaming out to the parking lot. That love and constant pursuit of the one great image has never left me and I’m thankful. However, adulthood has a way of squashing your innocent and completely valid love for something. I’ve allowed my internal dialogue tell me that I’m not good enough amidst so many fantastic photographers, and I do know many. I tell myself that the professionals I know will mock me or vilify my efforts.

But those are lies and I’m done cheating myself out of practice, feedback, and quality adventures because of fear. The truth is that they’re all really supportive and we have a common love for something. They’re all excited to share their knowledge and include me where I have the courage to be included. I might not be the best, but I’m putting myself out there. I don’t need to be great, I just need to try. I feel like I’m in a new season of creativity and a new season of confidence in what I can do. I’m excited to see where this takes me and I’m excited to kick fear to the curb.

Here are some of my favorites from my shoot with Jessica of Stellar Day Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

SaraSig

Book Review and a Painting: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

This is the second edition of my new series where I share my review of a book I just read along with a painting I did inspired by the cover. This one is for The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

I was originally drawn to the idea of this book based on the premise alone. The idea of following a group of creative teenagers as they grow up and try and reconcile their longing for art with the rest of their life. This theme seemed familiar to me and was something that I could find myself in.

The Interestings follows a group of teens who meet at an arts summer camp. It shows us their lives as they grow up, go to college, choose professions, start families, and make second starts later in life. We’re made privy to the big defining moments of their lives and get long peeks into the mundane.

This isn’t a novel with a page-turning plot. In fact, it took me a bit longer to read it than how I typically consume pages one over the other. I don’t think it was because I didn’t like it or that I couldn’t get into it as much as it was just written with a slow pace. It seemed to stylistically match the pace of life. Sometimes it was a rush of big moments, but mostly it was day-to-day, year-to-year.

Even if you’re not an artist, if you’ve never felt the longing and the constant urge to be creative and to be recognized for that creativity, there is still truth in this novel for you. The novel is more about growing up than it is about art. It’s more about holding on to the idealistic views of your youth. It’s more about looking back on being young with an unhealthy lens. When we first meet our friends, when we first make affirmations about our identity and the place we want to take up in the world, when we aren’t influenced by realism. If we’re not careful, we can spend our whole lives trying to recreate what we once had only to realize that we’re missing what is in front of us. It’s trying to honor the memory of your youth and recognize that it will never be the same; it will never feel as it felt then. It can’t be forced and it can’t be fabricated. Youth is a fleeting gift, but to chase after it is to abandon the rest of your life.

My biggest criticisms are of the characters themselves, but I really believe that characters should be flawed and dynamic. I don’t feel like I have to like them to like the point that the author is trying to make.

Wolitzer’s most profound observations about her own characters were made mostly in the last part of the novel.

“All Right,” Dennis said. “So it did. It made you feel special. What so I know-maybe it actually made you special. And specialness- everyone wants it. But Jesus, is it the most essential thing there is? Most people aren’t talented. So what are they supposed to do- kill themselves? Is that what I should do?…”

However, some of them surprised me and gave me depth when they did something unexpected or when the author let us see past the same collection of adjectives she’d been using to describe them.

Unfortunately, the one who lacked depth for me was the main POV character Jules, which ideally would have been the one who I’d like to have the most depth. Jules was described at witty, loyal and funny, but I never saw these characteristics come to life in her.

The only people she was loyal to was her friends and there were times when it felt she was forcing herself to choose unnecessarily. I think it’s perfectly possible to have valuable adult friendships while still being loyal and present to your husband and family. Jules obsession and jealousy with Ash and Ethan was distracting at times and made me really dislike her. At 15 her characteristics were annoying, but plausible, at 30 they were inexcusable and at 50, they were damaging and troublesome.

Overall the book was worth the read and it made valuable points about growing up and reconciling the dreams of your youth with the reality of adulthood.

Did you read it? What did you think? If you’re on Goodreads, connect with me here.

SaraSig

Sisterhood Strong: Website and Blog

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I’ve been waiting what feels like forever to share this project with you. I had the pleasure of working with Laura and Hannah (or Ham as we know her) over the past few months to bring their vision to life and I couldn’t have asked for more kind, trusting, engaged, and inspiring girls to work with. They’re two sisters who are out to revolutionize the wellness industry through their new community Sisterhood Strong.

Sisterhood Strong is a wellness community like you’ve never seen. They’re out to make all women, and I do mean all women, feel empowered, encouraged, and loved both inside and out. They’re combining science and soul to help you live bold and be free. They’re using their experience and education to help women break free from body hate, social insecurities, and food obsession.

I was able to engage many of my skill sets for this project including: branding, copywriting, editing, graphic design, web design, formatting, email marketing, blogging, and consulting. They came to me with a logo, brand colors, and the heart behind their idea, but the rest was up to me to figure out. Although they came with the basics in branding, no true brand identity had been established. We looked at tons of other websites for things they liked and didn’t like. We spent time talking through style, mood, and user experience.

Sisterhood Strong color palette

We successfully used several Pinterest boards (including a fashion one) to give insight into their style along with a series of questions that would steer me in the right direction. They really engaged in this process which made landing on a brand they loved all that much easier.

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We landed on bohemian and classic with a nod towards geometrical; natural, but not too hippy. Modern, but not overly young. We were really intentional about the brand representing all kinds of women. We didn’t want anyone to feel excluded based on age, race, body type or any other identifying factor. We wanted women to really connect with the content.

I’m so very proud of this project as well as the amount of time, intentionality, and heart that went into making it come to life. I hope that you’ll check out the site and send Laura and Ham some love. You can connect with them here:

Website

Instagram

You can check out more of my freelance work on my portfolio page and feel free to email me at chickswhogiveahoot@yahoo.com if you’re interested in working with me.

SaraSig

Chicks Who Give a Hoot Interview Series: Vol 4 Liz

Liz

Welcome to Chicks Who Give a Hoot: an interview series featuring inspiring women talking about the deepest cares of their heart. We’ve all heard the age old question, ‘what do women want,’ but I really am out to know ‘what do women care about’, what makes their hearts beat faster and what keeps them going? Of course we’d all expect the answer to be our families, but after that… deeper than that. What is it that women really care about at their core? What issues get their blood pumping and what platforms do they scream from the rooftops? I’m hoping we’ll all get a peek into the humanity that these women contribute to as well as inspire us to get involved and all become Chicks Who Give a Hoot.

 

Liz is just one of those inspiring ladies online who shows you that she’s a real person and she feels like someone you wish you could be friends with, and not in a fluffy ‘let’s get coffee’ kind of way. Not that there’s anything wrong with coffee or grabbing some with a friend, Liz just feels like the friend who would skip all the crap and tell it like it is. She feels like the friend that would inspire you to be the best you could be and wouldn’t allow any self-deprecating thoughts or actions to show their ugly face. She’d tell you how capable and smart you are and then push you toward your dreams. She isn’t afraid to be vulnerable, try something new, and admit that she’s figuring things out too. As a writer, I deeply appreciate her voice and perspective. She just lives boldly and it’s been so inspiring to follow her journey for several years now.  She’s a photographer at Liz Morrow Studios, she is a co-founder of Wild Bride Retreat, and she blogs over at Delightfully Tacky. Although, she’ll always consider Alaska home, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and Corgi pup Dusty when she’s not traveling around in her 1973 Winnebago Brave.

She’s also the type of person to offer you all kinds of grace when you accidentally ask her to be interviewed again long after she already sent you her questions back. Here’s to me being more organized. Opps 🙂

Anyways, I’m honored and thrilled to have Liz here on this space because she inspires me and I know she’ll inspire you too.

 

Name:
Liz Morrow

Age:
28

Occupation:
Photographer

After your family, what do you care about most- what are you most passionate about?
Empowering women and creating more beauty in the world.

What is one activity would you say feeds your soul?
Creating art and living a creative life.

How do you contribute to the betterment of your community?
The most I can say at this point is by challenging the status quo surrounding sexism, body hate, rape culture, and feminism.

What would you hope that the next generation of women does differently?
I just want to see women supporting one another. Woman on woman hate is so disheartening. It’s like, we’ve dealt with men keeping women down for so long, let’s not start putting down one another now. 

What non-profit means the most to you?
Make a Wish Foundation is pretty close to home because my brother is a make a wish kid. But also, Priceless is an organization fighting sex trafficking back home in Alaska and its headed up by a good family friend. It’s so amazing seeing sex trafficking rings getting taken down and the women and girls rescued being given the opportunities to lead new lives. 

What can others do to get involved there?
Non Alaskans can donate to priceless and if you’re a local Alaskan you can become a mentor to those rescued from sex trafficking.

How would you describe a woman’s unique ability to drive change?
Women have a deep power that draws from a well of passion and creativity. I think the experience of motherhood also brings a very unique motivation for change as well. 

What book would you recommend to every woman?
Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Give me your best lady-inspiring quote. It could be your own or from someone else.
“I am going.” These are the best words. Say them, then go. -Clarissa Pinkola Estés ph.d. 

Where can people connect with you online?
Website

Instagram

Facebook