“Explore the things that excite your soul”

I do not remember when I first heard that saying but I know it struck a chord when I did.  As you may or may not know (depending on where you are reading this), I use the saying a lot in my personal photography business.

I have learned that we all interpret saying in different ways, to me that saying means follow that stirring you feel. See where it takes you. Follow those “things”, whatever they are, that excite you for some reason.

I strongly encourage you to (and sincerely wish I had) follow the first feeling, no matter how small, just follow it.  It may take you nowhere, it may take you everywhere. It may take you someplace you never expected.

At first you may not even fully understand what it is you are following, just follow it.  You may not even be right about what is exciting you but follow it. You may not know exactly where you are going to end but you will be headed in the right direction.  All of this goes against most of our traditional upbringing, our domestication, if you will.

Years ago, I was in Sugar Loaf, NY with a good friend exploring a place called Artist Row.  I had just retired from the Army after 20 years.  I knew I like places like Sugar Loaf and Artist Row. I never took the time to explore those feeling deeper than, “I liked them”. My friend and I wandered from shop to shop. We eventually came to a small gallery that sold photography.  I loved what I saw. In particular, there was a print that I really like. I am not one to slow down or linger. Truth is I move to fast for my own good most times.  But I lingered at this print, talked about it, even mentioned buying it. Something I had never done before. I was not the type of person to purchase prints, that just “wasn’t me”. Luckily, my good friend, being indeed a good friend, noticed all this and after the obligatory “no you shouldn’t protest” from me, bought the print for me.

Fast forward nearly a decade and a couple of nights ago I hung that print in my new photography studio. It was the second print I hung, the other being one of mine.  I understand that print now. I understand what I love about it, why it appealed to me. Why I wanted it.

Ten years ago, I thought things like, I wish I could do that, that is very cool. But those thoughts went back to where they hid when I left that shop. I still loved the print but it became picture on the wall when I got home. Occasionally, but with less frequency, over the years the print and poked at the passions that were safely tucked away in the dreamer drawer.

I have had many moment like that over the last 10 years. Moment where my desire to create and photography have bubbled up, temporarily, to the surface.  Always to fade back into the background as they are replaced by my more practical thoughts, as my head filled back up with my “real life”. Always lost again to the fog imposed on me years ago by a sensible upbringing, or perhaps a restrictive and sheltered upbringing (sorry Mom). I did not come from people that did things like that, that thought that way.  “Those people” that did things like that were different and weird. So, I always put those thoughts back away in the weekend, vacation, impractical drawer.

As you may know, about four months ago I quit my “real job” for moral reasons and during this break I have explored my passion for photography and creating.  It started slowly at first but once I started to follow the path my passion, desire, and knowledge took off.  I guess to complete the analogy (is it analogy or metaphor?, I can never remember) what started off as a tentative tip toe down the path has turn into a frantic sprint, a strong want.  In the last four months, I have leapt ahead into the guy I wanted to be in that gallery almost ten years ago.  I started to explore the things that excite my soul.  I followed those mental leads, those emotional stirrings.

As I mentioned this exploration has not always gone where I thought. For instance, I thought I liked videography. Well I guess I should say I though videography excited my soul.  Truth is, although I find it interesting it is not what excites me. So I followed it for a time, found out what it was that I liked about it, turn out it is capturing the beauty in something and for now,  I would rather do that with photography.

I think a lot of us do not follow the path because it is not an easy path to follow.  It is much easier to stay on the well-worn path.  But either way I am following what excites me. For the first time in my whole life I am truly excited about what I am doing.  I enjoy the me that is developing as I do.

Maybe you do not get lost down the path, maybe do, but at least wander down it.  Even if you slowly, tentatively wander down it but go.  And do not go back, like I did.

I would follow my path for a way only to go back to the way things were.  The way things were was all I knew, it is what I thought was supposed to be. Who I thought I was supposed to be.  What a silly concept really, who you are being define only by what you know.

I do not know exactly where I will end up, what path I will follow to completion but I know I am wandering in the right direction because I am excited about it.  My excited, my passion grow, the further I go.

I get tempted still, scared still. I often want to go back to the to that well-worn road.  I am often confused on what to do next, where to go next and it occurs to me that is because I have never been here before. There is no “right way”. There are no familiar people to follow. No clear path to safely follow.  As in real life, it is scary to wander off.  But it reminds me of the saying if you want to go someplace you have never been you must do something you have never done. Or something like that.

There are times I am paralyzed by doubt and sometimes I am completely free with assuredness and sometimes those two moment are back to back to back.

It is funny the longer I am on this path my worry has changed. I now just as worried that I might go back as I am at the thought of wandering further. Kind of like a smoker that worries that they will be tempted to pick up a cigarette after quitting (BTW former smoker).  I worry that this journey may be too long or too hard or too whatever and I will not finish. I will go back to the familiar way.  I now fell as equally anxious about going back as I do about being on this new path.

As I see the light of the familiar way fade, as the path is less obvious I get nervous and I have to remind myself that I have, we all have a built-in compass.  Our compass the that stirring, those things that excite our soul.

I am all these things…

People and their boxes confuse me.

Yesterday someone who I thought already knew said, “Do you have tattoos?!” Ridiculous question since it was seeing my tattoos that prompted the question… but anyway… I bit back my sarcastic retort and simply smiled and said, “Yes”. “I thought you were a cooperate man?” She looked legitimately confused when I said, “Well, I am.”

I am a guy that graduated with a 3.8 when I received my BS in Management. I’ve been tattooed about a dozen times. I have drank a $100 bottle of Opus 1 and done shots of wild turkey. I jumped out of airplanes and carried a machine gun in the Iraqi desert. I love the movie Notting Hill. I turn wood, draw, take pictures, write stories, etc. I wear a cowboy hat and run a chainsaw better than most. I have drank coffee from the same tin cup I just used to shave but I’d rather have an expensive cup of Starbucks. I listen to country on the way to the gym and then blast gansta rap while I lift heavy crap. I have gutted my own deer but I also make a kale, cauliflower, and turkey soup like no one else. I used the f word and the word whom…

“What screws us up most is the image in our head of the way things are supposed to be.”

Wayne (Tad) Jones

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Your best is always good enough…

Your best is always good enough until you know it is not. 

I have been told that Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.” 
Someone said to me today that the guessed our best was not good enough for each other.  Admittedly, I did not argue with that person.  If I had I would have explained that someone’s best is always good enough. It has to be, its all you can give.  And if all someone can give is not good enough for me, well then I am kind of an ass.  Which, at least I believe, I am not.  

The reason I did not protest that person’s announcement at that time was because my issue was not with the person’s best but with their decision that this was all we have to give. That this will always be our best.  I know that is not true for me and I believe it not true for that person. Who I am now, the best I have to give in this moment, will not always be my best.  I learn everyday and with that my best changes everday.  

It has also been said that those who say that can and those that say they cannot not are both usually right.  I believe that one belongs to Ms. Ford but I could be wrong. As I mentioned, I do not believe that is this person’s best but I have learn to not argue cannots with many people.  It is a discussion that often gets twisted.  Ultimately the only voice people listen to is the one in their own head and that is the one that always gets the last word.  

I shared something on my IG account yesterday. The four agreements my Miguel Ruiz. The fourth agreement is, Always Do Your Best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.” 

As the agreement states your best is going to change from moment to moment.  It cannot or should not be a fixed point, I forgone conclusion, or a limited factor.  Humans are evolving creatures, or at least we should be.  As we learn we do better.  

This was the first time I have done an impromptu blog on my IPad.  Please forgive the lack of structure.  It is just a thought that needed to leave my head.  A push in the positive energy of the universe, if you will.  Or a rant from a guy with too much time on his hands on a lazy Saturday.  

Not today…

I love the saying that if you are sad you are living in the past and if you are anxious you are living in the future.  Also, “Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity.” What can I say I am fan of Buddhism and Will Smith.

Right before I retired from the Military I was going through a very trying time in my life.  I was unexpectedly (well maybe not totally unexpectedly) told that by my wife that she wanted a divorce. I assume it’s a good writing technique not to say “from me” here.  With my marriage was going my plan for… well… life.  Where I was going to live, what I was going to do, where I was going to work, etc.  Suddenly, I was faced with this huge blow and simultaneously I had to plan, well again my whole life. Although I am professional procrastinator even I was crippled with the small amount of time I had to rethink everything. While being excessively distracted by the crushing emotional blow.

I have no idea what was different about this morning but one morning I while getting ready for work I was suddenly and completely crippled by my situation.  I literally could not move, I could not finished getting ready for work, I could not even bring myself to cry.   I manage to collapse in a lump on the side of the bed with one boot on.

I have no idea how long I sat there.  I know somewhere in my mind I was processing everything.  I could hear thoughts, ideas, like you are not going to have a job, you are not going to have money, you are not going to have a place to live…

And then it happened. I am not sure if it was my voice or a voice from somewhere else but suddenly I heard the words, “not today”. Just like that I realized that yes one day I may be out of work, have no money, no place to live but that day was not today.  That day I had money in the bank, I had a job to go to, I had a place to live.

I could move again. I was lighter. I was still very heavy with worry but lighter.  I still had a lot to figure out but I did not have to figure it all out that day.  The first answer to questions like are you going to be out of money, out of a job, out of a house was well, “not today”.

I had all these to dos on this whiteboard.  In hindsight, maybe it was the sight of all those to dos that started the chaotic spiraling into despair that morning.  But anyway, I got up off the bed and erased all those to dos and wrote the words “Not Today” in big black letters.  It is a bit cliché but those words on that board got me through a lot of rough times.  Those words stayed on that board for years.  I kept it in a place I could see every morning when I woke up. After sometime it began to realize that all that worry was for a day that to present and not come to be.  I imagine it is something like death, sure we will all die someday but that day is likely not today.  And if god forbid it is would not you want live life to fullest.

I can tell you from experience that sitting on the edge of you bed with one boot on is not living life to the fullest.

Wayne (Tad) Jones

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Just one small bite everyday…

How do you eat an elephant? The same way you eat anything else, one bite at a time?

Of course, the first obstacle is deciding you want to eat an elephant. It will be tough, it will take a long time, and you will often regret even starting.  Okay, my metaphor is starting to fall apart on me but hopefully you get the idea.

In case you have not unraveled my clever play on words here the elephant stand for any large accomplishment, anything big, if you will. And in this case a bite is a day, at least for me anyway.

Some time ago I was feeling really overwhelmed by everything I wanted to do in my life, by the things I knew I needed to do. I would start thing of how to accomplish these things and this massive number of things to do would come rushing in my head. I was often left thinking, “I don’t know if I can do all that.” No matter the number of steps I have to take the first one before I can take the next.  So let me start with doing the one thing, the next thing.  In some ways my initial approach was a way out.  I would think, “Let me just do that one thing today and I can say I have done something.” Well next thing you know things were getting done.

I cannot think of many things that take 365 bites. If you do just one thing, no matter how small, a day you will have taking those 365 bites on one year.  And in the end, you will have accomplished something great in just a year.

I often ask those close to me, “what is your one thing today?”  I am especially diligent with people that say they are facing any overwhelming problem. Despite, or maybe because of, my personal challenges J people often ask me for advice.  I introduce them to this theory of one thing a day.  I warn them that I am going to ask them, and then I do… everyday.  How can you say you want things to get better if you are not willing to do at least one small things every day to make it better?

I still ask myself this question every day.  When I first adopted this practice I actually set an alarm to go off every day about 8pm.  I did that so if I forget it was not too late in the day to do something, anything, to make my life better.  At first it was anything, even the smallest gesture. Read a chapter, do some pushups, etc.  I am happy to say small things have become a way of life and I no longer can consider them my “one thing” and consequently bites have gotten bigger, and easier to chew.

As important as all this is do not fret over it.  Just do something, anything.  Watch a YouTube video, read a page, do a push up but do something.  Let us face it, some days you will forget, be too tired, or just not want to.  That is why I say do it every day so if you miss a day or two, so what.  How many people can say they even did 300 things last year to make their life better?

So, decide which elephant you want to eat and take a bite every day.  Do just one thing every day to make your life better, your dream come true, or to just be a cooler person. And who does not want that.

So, what is your one thing today?

Wayne (Tad) Jones

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My darkness…

I do not remember when you first showed up.  You have been with me for as long as I can remember.  You are certainly there in most of my memories.

For some time now I have been aware that you are always with me. Sometimes off in the background. I put as much distances as I can between you and I.  But when I stumble a bit, stay a little too still for a little too long, you catch up.  Closer sometimes than others. When you are closer I can feel you more.  When you get really close, when you catch up, you often interrupt me.

Sometimes you manage to even get in front of me.  When you do you block my vision, you block my way.  You make it hard for me to see where I am going.  You slow me down from getting to where I want to me.

When I first realized you were there I called you by a different name.  I labeled you with something different. With time I have come to realized you are me. You are my darker side, my darker memories, my darker thoughts, my darkness.  You are my other half. I am comforted by the thought that you use to be a lot bigger than my lighter side.

I use to think I could get rid of you, or at least pretend you do not exist. I have learn that when I leave you alone, ignore you, let you run around unattended you become more unruly. Like a spoiled child that does not get attention with the usual ways, you really pitch a fit to be noticed.  I think you worry that if you are left alone long enough you will vanish.  Truth is we both know if I could manage to leave you alone long enough you would grow very weak.  Because you have already.  You are weaker now than you have ever been.  You are tired.  I feel it often, sometimes I share in your tiredness.  You cannot catch up as easily.  You cannot hold on as strongly.  You cannot keep pace for as long anymore. You do not stay in front of me as long as you use to.
Maybe you are not my other half, maybe you are my reflection. Maybe I only notice you when I am stupid enough or brave enough to look in the mirror.  That mirror is, for a lack of a better word, my mind.  Maybe you are not smaller or weaker than you use to be, maybe I am brighter than I use to be.  I think maybe my reflection is better than it use to be.  I think the more I can sit quietly and look at you, the more I can stand to look at me, the more restful we become. The more I acknowledge that we do exist, that you are me, the clearer the mirror becomes.

You were given to me, given so much strength, from other’s darkness.  You grew strong before I realized what you were.  Maybe you were born from necessity. You stood guard while my light side found its way.  But I think you have done enough now and I understand you do not yet know how but I hope that one day you can rest quietly at my side while I vigilantly protect your existence. So, come sit with me, let us just breath and be.  Let us sit in the same place and acknowledge this all as it is. Embrace the truth.  I see you. I acknowledge that I need you because without darkness there is no light.  Without what was I cannot be what is.

Your but is a killer

I have heard it said that but is a dream killer. I completely agree with that.  On a much smaller level and a user level, if you will, but is a sentence killer. I have told numerous people that everything you say in a sentence before but does not count.  And if you want that sentence, that thought, to count stop before you say but.

We have all heard it. We have heard it so much that we not accept it.  We have all heard someone say, I would love it go but… I want to go out but… I would love to get a new job but… I want to help you with that but… All of those sentence basically are saying but I am not, or I can’t or I won’t.  In most cases, every sentences could be started after the but.  I am not going to go.  I am not going out.  I am not going to get a new job. I am not going to help.

There could have been a but any of the sentences, the idea, the efforts, that have literally lead to changing the world.  If there was no but in the sentences, I want to go to space, I want to be president, cure polio, etc. Why should there be in your and my sentences?

But will kill a sentence, a conversation, an idea, an effort, a life… but will kill your dream.

My YouTube rant about this 😀

Wayne (Tad) Jones

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Right versus left

First, let me say I can never remember which side of the brain represents what. I guess it does not really matter or maybe that says something about my approach on this subject.  I joke all the time that I cannot decide if I am a businessman with an artsy side or an artist with a head for business.  I blame this conflict, contradiction, whatever you will call it, on my success and failures in both my art and business world.  Sometimes is hard to decide what rabbit to chase.

You know there had to be a quote buried in here somewhere, “It you chase two rabbits they will both get away”.

However, when I manage to point both sides of my brain in the right direction very good things happen.  I am reminded of this today because the monotony of looking for work and my routine for the last couple of weeks has lead to me falling in a rut.  I went to bed last night with my head spinning with all the things I could/should be doing to get my dream on track.

I woke up this morning and literally made a list of all the things I should do today.  Things really I should be doing everyday.  I had the most productive day I have had in sometime.  I accomplished things in a few hours that have been looming for a few weeks.

My advice is really more for artist.  Although, I believe it is sad that many business people do not have a creative outlet, let us face it, they do not need to be artsy to be successful.  Conversely, I think we can all think of that one Artist that has so much talent but just cannot seem to every get a successful career going.

I am proof that your business and analytical skills can be honed, improved, or developed. It is necessary that an artist bring in a business plan to their life.  I mean you got to eat, right?  So if you do not have a mind for business, find someone that does. And maybe, even just a bit at time, apply some business sense to your artistic day.  The brain, like most things in life, must be well balanced to thrive long term.

Wayne (Tad) Jones

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What I want to do when I grow up

“What do you want to do when you grow up?” It is sad that no one really ever asked me that question and as a result I never really thought about it.  On the rare occasion when someone did I would think to myself, “how should I know?” But, finally, as I am about to turn 47 I finally know the answer to that questions.

Let me be clear. I have no world changing cause. I have no desperate need. I will likely make this happen without help. With that said if you are still reading let me tell my story. As I mentioned, I am about to be 47 yrs old. I was raised in a fairly unmotiveated environment. With no plan, mentorship, guidance, or push I did what everyone in my hometown did when they did not have a plan, I joined the Army. I spent 20 yrs as an Enlisted Man in the US Army. Since retiring I have spent about 9 yrs in cooperate American. Without a vision I managed to push to where I am by know what did not feel right.  I would do what was expected or next or the obvious choice and I would think, “Nope this isn’t it”. I never knew what it was I just know I was not “there” yet.

But, for the first time my whole life I can answer what I want to do when I grow up. I am going to be a photographer.

About a month ago I quit a good paying job in the medical management world. It was miserable, I was miserable, the people were miserable. And then one day I had enough. There was some money in the bank so I have a cushion while I look for a job I want. The problem is I still didn’t know what job I wanted.

During my search there have been gaps of time as I look for a job and I do not sit still well so I started filling them with photography. I have always dabbled but well long story short, for the first time in my whole life I finally feel a passion for something. Sadly enough I have never felt that before. Just like I never understood how people knew what they wanted to do, I didn’t understand it when people would talk about thier passion. Until now.

And now I do not want to go back. But the cushion will run out. And as good as I think I am I don’t think my photography will pay the bills before the cushion runs out.

So I am here, I figured what the hell. Maybe someone want to help a retired Veteran that wants to pursue the art of photography.

If you are still here, thanks for listening.

Wayne (Tad) Jones

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Just like that…

I heard someone die today. Just like that.
I was outside getting my stuff ready to go camping. Suddenly there was a loud boom near by. I assumed in the neighborhood across the street. It was loud enough that it actually startled me. Followed a few minutes later by sirens. I thought at the time and even said to someone later that it soundly like something blew up and that I hope no one got hurt.
Someone did. A car crossed the line and went head on into a semi and a lady died today.

Just like that.
I didn’t know her and my world will keep going. Heck, I didn’t even stop packing at the time. But I heard someone die today. Maybe that should mean more or less ,I don’t even really know. People die all the time, very often in fact, and we keep going. Really we have to, we are suppose to. It’s our proximity to the death the determines it’s impact on us. Either by location or connection.
Someone close to her though, their life was shattered today. Just like that she is not coming home. Or keeping an appointment. Or cooking or whatever. Just like that, it all ended.
Me, well I guess I was “close” enough to be struck by the fact, right before I go to bed, that I heard someone die today. With a boom her part in this world was done. And I am reminded that no matter our plans or obligations our part in this world can end…

Just like that.
#love #life #live

Wayne (Tad) Jones

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