thoughts

It's Not All About That Online Life. by Emily Margaret

Confession: I'm tired of the internet.

I'm tired of the constant comparison game, the hustle, the brighter and louder, and the more. It's hard when you use the web and see what everyone else is doing, but when it's an integral part of your business, it's even easier to feel like you're constantly trying to keep up and find the next thing before someone else does.

And I know it's not all like that and there are so so many good things that come out of the web, but it is so easy to get lost in the hustle and the noise.

internet-emilymargaret

I've been thinking about the internet a lot lately, and right before I went to write this post, I found that I'm not alone (recommended reading: Rachel's post) and that gives me hope that things will change. But we have to actively start making those changes instead of only talking about it.

In my social media feeds, I've seen how the bigger and better becomes trendy and drowns out the small and honest and real. The stylized coffee instagrams and images of well-dressed couples embracing in front of a backdrop of mountains somewhere in the #PNW becomes all we see, conditioning us to feel that unless we're doing that too, we're doing it wrong.

We know that's not true, but yet we feel inadequate. If you didn't instagram/blog/tweet it, it might as well not have happened, right? We talk so much about living with intention and authenticity that the words change to represent a curated instagram feed and the real meaning gets lost.

In the words of Hannah Brencher, "I wish I could meet more people who are devoted to the reality of life, rather than the perception of perfection we give our lives to on the screen."

So, I'm going to do things that I want to do and the way I want to do them- not because it's what they say I should do to keep up with the hustle or to be successful, because how do you define that anyway? 

There's a time and place for creating spaces of pretty things and I really enjoy doing that, but I don't ever want what I post to create feelings of inadequacy in someone else's life. I think there's a balance in there somewhere between posting the pretty and the real messy moments and I'll be the first to admit that I don't yet know how to find it. It will take time and experimentation, but I want to be real and yet inspiring at the same time.

In an effort to simplify and remove distractions, I'm logging off and unfollowing. I'm limiting my online time and keeping the media that I consume to a smaller amount. I'd rather create more than I consume and follow those who truly inspire me and don't cause me to constantly compare myself to them. I'm following who I want to follow, instead of who I feel like I "should" follow. I'm finding that streamlining my systems helps me manage my online accounts and decrease the amount of time I spend on them.

I hope that you don't feel pressure to do what others do, but instead do what makes your heart feel alive. With the power of the internet comes great responsibility. Use your powers for good. (Yes I'm a nerd, whatever.)

Thoughts? How do you feel about the internet? How do you keep it from negatively impacting your life?

 

The Week Without A Phone by Emily Margaret

Last week, my phone spontaneously died, which was very inconvenient but also fantastic at the same time.

My friends and I were having a conversation recently about the influence of social media and technology in our lives, for both the good and the bad. After being convicted by Jen Hatmaker about my instagram addiction, I set out to decrease my screen time, but there must be a law of the universe dictating that when you decrease your intended online time, you actually decrease your offline time. So when a few days later my phone broke and forced me to unplug, I did not miss the irony. Aside from the inconvenience of having to use other methods of communication (hello old-school email!) and being unable to randomly text my boyfriend cat videos (you know, the important stuff), I didn't miss my phone.

I didn't miss the constant buzz of notifications or the feeling that there was so much going on that I wasn't a part of. I wasn't thinking of about what everyone else was doing, comparing my life to theirs. I wasn't thinking of the tweets, the facebook statuses, or the instagram likes that I wasn't getting because despite the way we feel and what facebook would like us to believe, that is not the stuff that matters. What matters is the things like the relationships that I grow, the books I read, things I write, praying, my church community group, traveling, actually cleaning my room, spending time with my family, doing yoga, and using my gifts and business to help people instead of growing my own following. That is the stuff that matters. 

Let's have less stuff and more experiences. Less facebook and more people. More of the things that matter. Rome wasn't built in a day and I'm a big fan of progress over perfection, so this doesn't mean going full retro and ditching social media all together. Technology/social media can be amazingly useful and powerful, but it shouldn't be a distraction from the important things in our lives, but instead a tool we can use to create more connections and community.

What are your thoughts on the influence of social media? How do you keep it from becoming a distraction in your life?

Hello 2016. by Emily Margaret

Happy new year to you all! I'm back from my little blogging break and have some fun things I'm eager to share. With a new planner in hand, I'm eager to see what this new year brings, but I think it's also important to not quickly move on to the next year without taking a good & close look at the past one. 

minimal-bird-emilymargaret

A couple months ago, I was watching a Periscope from Emily P. Freeman, a favorite author/blogger. She talked about looking back over the past year and making a list of things that were life-giving and life-draining and it really stuck with me. Don't we all want more things that are life-giving and not draining to our soul? I thought it was a good question to ask myself when thinking about my goals for the new year. What were things in 2015 that were beneficial and helped me grow, and what were things that weren't? I had some sort of an idea, but as a chronic list-maker writing it out on paper was even better and starting seeing a pattern-

Life-giving // going to church, friendships, my Bible study group, reading good books, journaling, regular quiet time, prayer, good music, exercise, playing piano, volunteering at church, my photography clients, getting rid of clutter and excess things, monthly/weekly goals, preparing for things beforehand (setting out clothes, making lunches), less social media, learning new things, deep conversations with friends, reading good thoughtful blogs, trying new things that stretch and challenge me //

Life-draining // messiness, disorganization, busyness, setting too many goals, bad music, not eating healthy foods, not exercising regularly, not sticking to a budget, procrastination, too much social media/internet in general, comparison, overanalyzing, fear, too much noise, not making time for connecting with people //

I noticed in my lists that many of the things that were life-draining stemmed from being busy. When I over-committed myself and took out the breathing room in my day, it stressed me out. I'll be the first to admit that I always have lots of goals I want to accomplish, and that is a good thing, but it's not helpful when I do so much that I don't have room for my soul to breathe. For me, busyness easily translates into the hustle of hurry, where I no longer thing about people or God, but my to-do list. And that's not a good thing for anyone.  I need time to think and journal and have deep conversations, or else life feels dry and dusty and shallow. This quote says it all-

“Being busy is an outward condition, a condition of the body. It occurs when we have many things to do . . . There are limits to how much busy-ness we can tolerate, so we wisely find ways to slow down whever we can . . . By itself, busy-ness is not lethal.

Being hurried is an inner condition, a condition of the soul. It means to be so preoccupied with myself and my life that I am unable to be fully present with God, with myself and with other people. I am unable to occupy this present moment. Busy-ness migrates to hurry when we let it squeeze God out of our lives.

I cannot live in the kingdom of God with a hurried soul. I cannot rest in God with a hurried soul.”
— John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

What do you find to be life-giving or life-draining? Do you find that being busy has an effect on your life?

Getting Started | On Making Art and Being Authentic by Emily Margaret

Back in the days when I was getting started with photography, I copied what I liked. I followed a handful of photographers that I admired and tried to make my photos look like theirs, because they were successful and popular and obviously knew what they were doing (spoiler alert: no one completely has it all together). I had not yet developed my own voice and style and looked to others' work as a place to start.

With many things, not just photography, we tend to copy what we like. And that's okay- to a point.

making art - Emily Margaret Photography

When you first begin with something new, you have to start somewhere and it's common to follow the lead of those you admire. I wanted to be like those photographers, so I made my photos like theirs. I posed my subjects like they did, used similar locations, and mimicked their editing. But, there came a point where I had to find my own voice and my own style. I used what I saw as a starting place to begin to build my own ideas, find my own inspiration, and develop my own style, but once I had developed my skills and techniques, it was time for me to stop following and start doing my own thing.

Developing your own style and voice is a hard thing, but it's a crucial thing for any creative. It's easy to continue to follow what someone else is doing when you like their style and you see that they're successful, but simply copying is a discredit to both the other person and yourself.

As creatives, we constantly find inspiration in what others do and use that in our own work, but we must be careful that we aren't merely doing what the other people do because we want to be like them. We must figure out the "why" behind our work and what makes us different from everyone else, and focus on that, to truly develop our own creative voice.

Have you found your creative voice? How are you working to develop your own style?