Sunday, August 23, 2015

t.b. laberge on loving God

"To think you can love God without being changed by Him, is to think you can jump into the ocean and not get wet. To really love Him, you must understand that your life is going to be wrecked by Him, and built again into something beautiful, something lasting." 

T.B. LaBerge

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

#transbrant: we're all okay

Dad in NYC, March 2015
It's been almost eight months.


That's practically almost kind of a year. 

On August 19, 2014, life changed dramatically for the Durrett family. My aunt generously donated a kidney to my dad, an entire organ from her own self, and now everything is okay.

Dad and Aunt Marcy, during his final dialysis session, August 18, 2014
Before that date, it would be a lie for me to say I did not live in fear of losing my dad every single day. Yes, kidney failure is a manageable (and fixable) condition (among all of my dad's other diagnoses), but no facts or science could soften the notion that my dad was broken and needed to be fixed in order to live. It was no mystery that he needed a machine to keep him alive, and that terrified me. I never really doubted that he would get fixed, but I am not sure I ever really believed it either. Things were kind of okay, but not really.

But that's not the story anymore.

Mom, Dad, and me in Austin, October 2014
My dad has functioning insides. His body works, the way that it was designed to (with some minor adjustments and with the aid of modern medicine). My dad can travel. He can eat bananas (among other things) again. He can leave town for a spontaneous adventure if he wants to. And, if you know anything about my dad, it is that he always does want to.

Dad and Mom in Central Park, March 2015
Recently, I returned from a vacation with my parents, a sort of celebration of seven months since the transplant. And my dad could do whatever he pleased. I almost cry every single time I think about that. And the man won't stop there. He continues to plan adventures for him and my mom all over the world.

This is not to say that things magically went from hard to easy on August 19. In fact, life for my dad (and those his life affects) is no cake walk. He has lots of medications he takes daily. There are lots of numbers he has to measure and record daily. There are more doctor visits each month than the average person has in a year. But these are actions we do now from a place of hope, facing a bright and joyful and promising and long future.

Jonathan (dialysis nurse for two years) and Dad, during final dialysis session, August 18, 2014
Some days are harder than others. Some days I still struggle to wrap my head around mortality in general and how it relates to my loved ones. Some days his numbers are not quite up to snuff or the medications make him feel gross.

But we are okay. All of us. My mom, my dad, my aunt, my grandparents, me, everyone. We made it through the scary part, all together. And everything is okay.

There is always hope. Always.

all my love,

April is #donatelife month! If donating life is something that you would like to learn more about, please feel free to ask me, or to check out Any kind of organ donation saves lives!

Monday, March 9, 2015

my heart overflows

I have always had awesome best friends.

I know, I know, that sounds obnoxious, but I promise you should keep reading.

For every season of my life until recently, I can count on one hand how many 'close' friends I had, the sort of friends who see your heart. I mean, I live with my childhood/forever soulmate and I consider my parents two of my closest confidantes. Two of my college roommates live nearby, and I LOVE that. And with these amazing friends, I was happy. I had these constants in my life, the people who challenged me and supported me in all the avenues of my life.

But holy cow y'all. Friends are fantastic and can come in the most unexpected of places. And who says there's a limit to how many besties one can have?

Sitting around a table of some pretty amazing people tonight (all of whom I have met within the past eight months) had my heart fluttering in the best of ways. The people I sat with are just a sampling of the many I am proud to call "friend," proud to love and cherish. Opening up to them, being vulnerable with them and with others has led to phenomenal things that I never could have imagined would happen.

Two of these people helped me teach a high school mobile photography class last week.

I co-founded a nonprofit with one of these.

Two of them came to my family Christmas dinner this year.

One of them coached me through buying my first camera and has helped me channel this interest in photography into something more than just a hobby.

One of these people sat on a stranger's front porch with me until the wee hours of the morning, discussing life and dreams.

A handful of them sit next to me at church every Sunday.

Four of them have adopted me as part of their own little families.

All of these people helped me celebrate entering a new year of life with a big surprise.

These people entered my life at potentially one of the most trying seasons I have had so far, which I believe allowed me to reach a point of vulnerability with them much faster than if I had met them at any other time.

They teach me new things, they listen to me, they support me and adventure with me.  These are just a few of them, but these are my people.

Tonight, as we gathered to celebrate the birthday of one, I was filled with immense gratitude...for these people and for all of my amazing friends, for the community I have here in Houston from all stages of my life, for realizing there is no limit to the people I can let into my heart.

Tonight, I am thankful.

all my love,

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

what i've learned in the past however long

photo by Kendall Hanna Photography
I used to do these "what I've learned" posts at the end of each school year. But since that is no longer the calendar I use to operate, I realize I haven't been keeping track of my life in the same sort of way.

Additionally, I haven't kept up with this blog with any sense of regularity or consistency, with no excuse other than the constant toll of other responsibilities. But here I return, with my heart overflowing with words to release to the world (or at least to my minor, yet so loved, audience).

The months, nay years, since my last post of this structure have been filled with more life lessons than I care to admit, clearly elucidating the fact that I had so much to learn, and I still have so very much left to learn. There have been heartaches and hospitals stays and life changes and travels and new friends and a whole lot of love.

So without further ado, a small few of the things I have learned in the past however long (I am guessing almost two years?) are:

- that I maybe like dogs. Maybe. Or at least one dog. Okay, two.

- that although hospitals (still) suck, sometimes they can be the places of greatest joy.

- that I fall more and more in love with Houston every single day and take great pride in sharing my love of it with non-natives.

- that I like (love) photography.

- that, even though I like photography and probably have a photo of me (taken by my mother) for every day of my childhood, I will never feel at home in front of a camera.

- that some people don't grow out of clumsiness (myself included).

- that car accidents are horrible.

- that when it rains, it pours.

- that a quarter life crisis can manifest itself in any multitude of ways.

- that age matters a whole lot less after college.

- that at times you have to stop asking questions and realize that these immediate connections you have with people are because you are supposed to have those people in your life as soon as possible.

- that there is always hope. Around every corner, in every situation, there is the hope of better days no matter what. 

- that the friends you make outside of your bubble (whether that's race, neighborhood, religion, industry, age, class) can teach you more than any book can.

- that taking balloons to a cactus store is as bad of an idea as you think it is.

- that the best way to learn how to refine your creativity is to surround yourself with other creatives. 

- that you'll never regret carrying an extra set of stationery in your bag.

- that filing for a non-profit is not for the faint of heart.

- that motherhood is deserving of every accolade it receives.

- that there is inspiration EVERYWHERE, you must be purposeful in noticing it. 

- that many secrets are shared over cups of coffee.

- that intentional vulnerability is worth every ounce of discomfort it may have.

- that the news of a new book from Harper Lee is enough to brighten the gloomiest of weeks.

- that nothing rivals a little kitten in the cuteness department.

- that having neighbor friends feels like living in a dorm all over again (without the shared bathrooms or twin XL beds).

- that it is worth your time to master just one dessert recipe and make it your signature. 

- that entering friendship with your parents (and even your friends' parents) as you enter true independence and adulthood is the coolest transition. 

- that an early bedtime is sometimes incredible.

- that helping to make art free or more accessible is always worth your time or money.

- that discovering a new beloved author or poet is like striking gold.

- that mustard-based chicken salad is a crime in every way.

- that all it takes is a little intention and a warm smile to get to know someone. 

- that organ transplant recovery is a weird and long process.
photo by Kendall Hanna Photography

- that a new hairstyle can be just the change needed for a renewed sense of self.

- that Martha Stewart's personal instagram account is a source of endless entertainment. 

- that eating dessert first is all it's cracked up to be, especially among friends. 

- that working retail is not for the meek.

- that I demonstrate how much I enjoy someone's company by how comfortable I feel making fun of them. 

- that 24 feels super adult. 

- that having your best friends live across the country is the pits.

- that God is at work in your unremarkable days.

- that being roommates with your best forever friend is the best kind of forever sleepover that you can ever imagine.

- that there is never a good reason not to go to NYC.

- that the Coppola family owns the movie industry. Just look it up. There are more of them than you think.

- that Trader Joe's is the best place to get snacks if you're hosting a last-minute party. 

- that a stink bug inside of your car is a MAJOR liability if I am behind the wheel.

- that I pride myself on my gift-giving abilities. Holy cow, I can pick out the perfect one. 

- that having a friend who speaks truth to your heart, that is truly to have found immeasurable treasure.

- that people outside of Texas just don't get things.

- that pen addictions are totally okay. 

- that sometimes, there are places that you don't want to be a regular. Like the car repair shop.

- that it is possible to have strep throat and the flu at the same time and it is as miserable as it sounds, especially when you are working the entire duration of the illness.

- that hearts are poured out over long car rides.

- that nothing humbles you so much as dumpster diving to retrieve your cell phone.

- that when the entire contents of your car are stolen, the greatest losses are the, journals, ticket stubs- the things that hold the dreams and memories.

- that almost all of life's big questions can be answered through a solo vacation.

- that Jimmy Fallon is a freaking genius, and the innovation he has brought to late night tv is amazing.

- that mornings never get easier. But coffee is nectar of the gods.

- that a radio station which plays only Beyonce is the best thing that exists.

- that sometimes you have to see the ocean as soon as possible, and living less than 100 miles from one is awesome for that reason.

- that surprise broccoli attacks are the WORST.

- that there exists a species of animal known as a miniature racing mule. No lie. They like to get in the way.

- that my life is not suited for last-minute black tie events. I need at least a two-day head time to get everything together.

- that purchasing your first domain name makes you feel really professional.

- that above all else, family (however you choose to define it, by blood or not) will be there for you until the very end.

all my love,

Read more posts like these: what I learned my senior yearwhat I learned this summer, what I learned junior yearwhat I learned sophomore year

Friday, October 10, 2014

tips and tricks for iphone/instagram photo taking and editing

I am no expert in photography, I know this. In fact, I know next to nothing about photography aside from what I have picked up in watching my mother and my photographer friends in action.

But in all my recent instagramming (and by observing other IGers) I have picked up some tips and tricks to taking and editing iPhone photos that makes them look a little bit better.

Trick One: Shoot in square.

A photographer friend of mine showed me this trick, and since then, the quality of my photos has markedly improved. If you're interested in posting your photos primarily to instagram, and you like their trademark square crop, try shooting your pictures in square mode. This allows you to frame the picture exactly how you'd like, so you don't have to stress later about cropping out a neat part of the picture while you edit or adding white bars to make it fit on IG (unless you want to, and then, by all means!! Afterlight has lots of options for white framing tools.). To access square shooting mode, simply slide the scroll bar at the bottom of your camera app to the right, until it reads "square" above the shutter. Now you know exactly how far out you have to be to get everything you want in the frame!

Trick Two: Make sure you have decent lighting. This is hard.

For a cell phone, iPhones have AWESOME cameras, but they aren't the best with poor lighting. An image too dark can quickly become grainy when brightened, instantly detracting quality from the shot. Aim for bright, natural light to get the most out of the colors and contrast in your images. One great thing about mobile digital photography is the ability to review quickly, delete, and retake a photo. Take advantage of this and retake any photos that appear too dark for normal editing. You want to edit the image as little as possible to preserve quality, and this is one of the easiest ways to do so!

Trick Three: Lighten, brighten, and contrast!

Even if you have the most perfect natural light in your photo, a little contrast boost takes any photo to the next level, I promise. Make those darks darker and those lights lighter. Also, skin looks better the brighter it is, and brightening skin tone doesn't make you look pale, it makes you glow from within.

Trick Four: Have the proper tools at hand.

I use a few different apps for editing, but my number one, all-time favorite, instant classic is VSCO Cam. Go ahead and spend the extra money for more filters and editing tools; it is undeniably worth it. VSCO will encourage you to take your mobile photography to the next level. Additionally, VSCO Cam has its own little subset of mobile photographers who share photos on their Grid. You will not believe the quality of images these people are producing. The VSCO Grid is a constant source of inspiration for me.

Trick Five: Wipe off your camera lens!

I forget this one a LOT, until push comes to shove and you can see how nasty the lens is through the viewfinder (iPhone screen...). The lens on your iPhone is just as important as any other camera lens and requires care and maintenance! Be sure to clean it off after your phone has been floating around in your purse or shoved in your jeans pocket. Nasty things collecting on there takes away from your images greatly.

Trick Six: Focus, focus, focus.

The iPhone camera has an autofocus feature, but make sure it is focused on what you want to be the subject of your image! To do so, click the screen where the subject is, and the lens will focus there. Nothing can ruin an otherwise beautiful image like blurriness.

Trick Seven: Zoom with your feet.

The iPhone's zoom feature is seriously lacking, and an easy way to remedy this is to move physically closer to the subject of your photo. Even zooming in a teensy bit detracts from the image quality, and no one wants that. (This is also a great tip for any other type of photography, and my mentor frequently reminds me of this!)

Trick Eight: HAVE FUN.

These tips are just things that I have noticed help with mobile photography, but by no means are rules or standards which you have to follow. So get out there, have a blast, and take pictures of WHATEVER strikes your fancy! Photography is a creative endeavor, so do as you please.

all my love,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

mary oliver on the creative calling

photo of @blairtruesdellphoto that I took at #exploregiddings this weekend

"The most regretful people on earth 
are those who felt the call to creative work, 
who felt their own creative power 
restive and uprising, 
and gave to it neither power nor time."

-Mary Oliver

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

instafriend: kendall hanna

Okay, so I have been the worst about posting on here for the past year. Justifiably there has been a lot going on, and I have eagerly explored other means of self-expression, but writing feels like home, so here I am...

Have you ever met someone for the first time and every single thing that they say resonates with you? It feels like there is someone else out there who understands your brain a little bit and can connect with it almost immediately.

Well, recently I met the super rad Kendall Hanna, object of my girl-crush, photographer extraordinaire, and basically next-door neighbor. It was almost silly for us to have met up at Boomtown Coffee in the Heights when we live a mere 200ft from each other.

A while back, Kendall volunteered to participate in a new project of mine, The Coffee Stories. Upon her expressed interest via instagram comment, I had a minor freakout, called my mom, ignored Kendall's comment, and eventually came back down to earth finally to get in touch with her about setting something up. I was so humbled to have this girl whose talent I have admired for a while interested in meeting me.

Sitting down with Kendall to talk life, art, experimental hairstyles, cameras, Jesus, alter egos, Houston, middle school, menswear, the importance of creative community, and books was just like reading a letter from an old friend. It was as if she knew every single thing that had been on my heart the past few months and years and was sitting there directly across the table from me, putting those thoughts and feelings into words. I wanted to 'favorite' or 'like' every sentence that came out of Kendall's mouth, and I frequently expressed this by acting out the praise hands emoji. Obviously.

Some words from her that spoke to my heart:

"When I was growing up, I knew I was a creative person, but I had no idea how to channel that. I would dye my hair one week, draw on my walls the next, try every way possible to release this creative energy inside of me without much success, and eventually landed in a marketing degree that was far from where I need to be. Upon discovering photography, I threw myself into it and discovered that is how I will express myself."

"I thought that people would not take me seriously, and because of that I did not take myself seriously. But I quickly learned that if I am passionate enough about my art and believe in myself, people will buy into that."

I left my apartment this morning to find a vase of garden roses and a hand lettered envelope from Kendall sitting outside my front door. Suffice it to say, this girl and I are cut from the same cloth (her exact words, that I of course agree with wholeheartedly). 

I sit here thinking over everything discussed and each idea shared between us yesterday, and I cannot help but walk away with a little lighter step. These conversations that I have had via The Coffee Stories, the people I have met, and the relationships being formed give me this overwhelmingly effervescent sense of rejuvenation and excitement, specifically the past few ones. There is something to be said for surrounding yourself with kindred spirits, and I cannot wait to get to know my new neighbor (as well as some other rad friends) even better.


Friday, August 8, 2014

#transbrant: a lesson in waiting, and the start of a new normal

DISCLAIMER: this is a very long post. And kind of emotional. But there is a happy ending (sorry if I ruined it for you).

photo by my awesome mother, @sharid86

In the past, I have prided myself on transparency and honesty. I have claimed to hold myself to a standard of genuineness (is that really the noun form of genuine? Come on, English language, do better.) of sharing my thoughts and worries and struggles with those around me.

But in this area, I have failed. Many times I have shared things from the "universal you" perspective, life lessons that I did not have to claim as my own, so that I could share the lessons I learned without having to share the tricky things that got me to those points. But rarely did I talk about my own shortcomings and struggles and hardships, as to avoid any weakness or vulnerability.

One major area of my life revolves around my father's health, and this is something I rarely discuss with people. On the occasions I do discuss it, I briefly summarize the situation, play down the seriousness of it, and gloss over how it affects me and those I love. I keep a smile across my face, despite my averted eyes, and attempt to move the conversation forward, hoping no one asks probing questions. I am well-versed in making it look like things are under control, and only those who know me closest can see beyond the fa├žade.

My dad has end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) and idiopathic thrombocytopenia (dangerously low platelets). These two things make his diagnoses a bit more complicated than if it were just one or the other, and there is no relation of the two things. He was diagnosed with ESRD halfway through my sophomore year of college. Around this time, I developed chronic acute migraines, but that's manageable and non-life-threatening. It is interesting to note, however, that I have never correlated the two instances before now.

For a while, the burdens of kidney disease were easily managed, just monitoring numbers and vital signs, making sure that nothing he did damaged his kidneys any more. He always felt generally crappy, but life went on without much disruption.

Soon enough (July 2012), his kidneys failed, and he was put on dialysis, a commitment that claimed ownership of fifteen hours of his week, in addition to a physical toll.  Life changed, greatly, and my family and I were forced to adjust to a radically 'new normal.'

Some might argue that, out of everyone, I took this the hardest emotionally. Realizing that my dad was not invincible, accepting that what keeps him alive is a machine that he hooks up to three times per week, acknowledging the fact that I was unable to save him; these were the things that toiled constantly in my mind. Additionally, I did not feel like the rest of my family accepted the gravity of the situation or responded emotionally enough, so I accepted the role of 'mourner' throughout all of it, taking on the emotions of each family member that was not emoting enough by my standards. (These assumptions were all false, FYI. This is just what I perceived and how I dealt with it). I was a wreck, right at the beginning of my senior year of college. In fact, the thought of going back to school that semester caused me much strife, and for a while I was planning on staying home, whether to take care of my dad or to have my family take care of me.

Many things helped to carry me through that time. I (reluctantly) leaned heavily on a very small group of friends and mentors, seeking consistent guidance and security from them. I read a lot of self-help articles (no shame) and visited a psychologist. I recognized that this time was too much for me to handle on my own, despite my best efforts to do so.

Somehow, by the grace of God, the care of some pretty special people, and frequent trips back to Houston, I made it though my senior year at school. I returned to Houston, only to turn around and retreat to Paris to reflect, grow, focus, and regroup before situating myself as my dad's right hand man, there to help at every turn. Paris was wonderful, and I crave it hourly.

Some people tell me that I am brave and selfless and good. I do not even hear it when people say that though, because it feels so far from the truth. I put my life on hold for this because I have to, because my heart will not let me do anything else, and because I really do not even know what else I would be doing. I do it because I have this need to be needed, to be helpful, and this is the only way I see to fulfill it. In fact, I was even upset that I was not able to get tested to donate, as I wanted to be the one to make things better, I wanted to save my dad.

This past year has been a tango; one step forward, two steps back, and on and on and on. We make progress, and then his platelets go down to a dangerous level. We begin testing donors, and then he's hospitalized for RSV (a very very severe and dangerous cold, for lack of better term). We find a match, and then the dates do not work for everyone. Up and down, back and forth, hope tethered my heart around and around. Eventually I shut off my emotions from the whole situation, not letting myself believe progress was being made. I became comfortable with the waiting, and I continued to wait and wait and wait.

Until now.

Until this moment in time.

Until the reality of the news that we have a match, a surgery date, a solution. A closing of this chapter in our lives, and the start of another 'new normal.'

On August 19, 2014, my father will receive a kidney from his sister, my amazing aunt.

On August 19, our lives will change.

I do not know what August 20 will look like for us. Or any of the days after that. I can only rest confident in the knowledge that God has carried us this far, and He will continue to guide and protect my family with His loving embrace for the days to come.

all my love,

P.S. For those of you who have been asking how to help out in this time, all I can request of you is your continued prayers for this surgery and recovery, both for my dad and my aunt. Pray for the surgeons and nurses and other doctors and every associated with this healing process. Pray for comfort and peace and endurance for my family. And please send encouraging messages, cheesy quotes, poignant verses, or silly jokes to distract us to my family and me throughout this whole process. I want to hear from you, pretty please! That is ALL that we need!

Also, stay tuned for a soon-to-be-revealed blog to document the entire transplantation. Also, keep checking the #transbrant hashtag for information and status updates on this adventure.

Come, let us return to the Lord. 
For He has torn us, but He will heal us; 
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 
He will revive us after two days; 
He will raise us up on the third day, 
that we may live before Him.
So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. 
His going forth is as certain as the dawn; 
and He will come to us like the rain,
like the spring rain watering the earth.

Hosea 6:1-3

Saturday, August 2, 2014

a quote for you

“And men said 
that the blood of the stars 
flowed in her veins.”
-C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

divine desires: community and creation

For those of you who have been wondering what this recent instameeting is all is a VERY long answer.

photo from #silomeet taken by the VERY talented @jasonixcamparij

It has been almost a complete year that I have been back in Houston, now as an adult and living on my own. Through my reflection on this time, this first year of true adulthood has been marked by my consistent pursuit of two things: creation and connection.

Since moving back from College Station, moving into my own apartment, moving away from my firmly established roots, I have sought many methods of expressing creativity. I dabbled in photography, calligraphy, writing, web design, and many other things. I have taken classes, attempted self-teaching, asked experts and scoured far and wide to find ways to create things, to leave behind a bit of myself for the world. While I have mastered NONE of these practices, I still strive to create and actively pursue many of them. This inner impulse urging me to create is something I cannot deny, and I know it will be the driving force for a majority, if not all, of the things I pursue in the future.

In addition to this, I have found myself seeking connections with new people... new relationships, new friends, new mentors, new adventurers. This stems not from a lack of network here in Houston; I grew up here and attended a nearby university, so I have a friends and family from childhood and college. But I want a new network, a group of people that have met me as an adult and know me from this walk of life. While the benefits of lifelong friends are boundless (I do currently live with my best friend from infancy...), I will always crave making new connections, sharing a bit of myself with someone new and receiving a bit of them, learning their stories and simply loving them. I truly love people and want to find more ways to do this.

These desires represent some of what I consider to be the godliest aspects of human design, and they help us to understand God's intentions with creating mankind. He CREATED a species that seeks to CONNECT with Him above all else. Therefore, as we are made in God's image, we too seek to create and connect consistently, and fostering those desires can only help to demonstrate God's heart to us.

All this desire to create and connect that I have experienced has led me to some pretty cool places this year. I have started the #durrettcoffeetour as a way to tour new areas of this city and see what cups of coffee it has to offer. My dad is obviously the taste tester.

But even more strongly in pursuit of connection and creativity, recently, I have been connecting with lots of photographers and other creative types over Instagram (easily my favorite social media app). The Instagram community in Houston is STRONG, and many of these 'grammers crave similar connections.

In May, for Worldwide Instameet #9, Houston IGers organized and gathered for meets all across the city. I attended a meet at the Summer Street Studios. To say I was completely terrified as I walked up to the meet is a gross understatement. I would be lying to say my hands were not shaking. I did not know a single person who would be attending this event. I contacted a friend of mine who knew another person at the meet and grilled her for information on this person, just so that I would have a somewhat familiar face there. I do not really consider myself a shy person, but entering a group of twenty strangers (who for the most part all know each other or at least a few people there) horrified me. Was I cool enough for this? Did I look the part? Can I even interact with strangers? Is my phone's battery fully charged? Should I have brought a DSLR? These were the questions racing through my brain.

Quickly though, all my fears were set aside as every person there was extremely welcoming, and we were all seeking the same things: fellow creatives who love Houston. We walked around some empty studios, talked about the burgeoning creative community in Houston, discussed plans for the future, and took lots and lots of photos. It was a blast, and soon I was ready to make even more connections in the IG community. (Check out the #wwim9_htx tag for more images from some amazing photographers at this event!)

two friends made at the first instameet: @mikahdanae and @williamgeoffrey

the coolest guy at the instameet

A little while later, @danjoyce and I met up to bop around Houston and take pictures. It ended up being the best day. Not only did I explore new areas of Houston, take some rad pictures, and learn a LOT more about photography, I made a cool new friend. (Sidenote: Dan is making moves, and you'd be foolish not to keep an eye on him.)

This is Dan (in real life). (haha lame joke I know...)

Shortly after that, Dan announced that he and some other cool guys (@will_insull and @808mph) were hosting an instameet in late July. I could not have been happier! I entered this meet with loads more confidence as I knew what to expect and who some of the attendees would be. Meeting up with some old IG friends and many new people was a great experience (even if the event required hastily getting a tetanus shot the next morning). Check out the #silomeet tag for even more amazing pictures from some of the coolest Houstonians I know.

This meet had such a unique, high-energy vibe. Every person seemed so excited to be there. Talks of the next meet sprang up as soon as people were introducing themselves to one another, and the passion this group has for Houston and connections and creativity was palpable. I walked away from this meet thrilled to see the direction of the Houston IG community.

@sarah.e.alexander just hanging out

@jasonixcamparij was a spider monkey at the silomeet, I don't think I ever saw his feet on the ground.

the cool kids club (from L to R: @dayanfdez, @blairtrusdellphoto, @wvtrmrk, @92chill@jaybun3030, @connor.mizell)

I do not know much about photography AT ALL. Growing up as my mother's daughter, I am comfortable around cameras, just enough to get myself in trouble, but I know nothing about technique or editing or theory or mechanics. I just shoot things that strike me, sometimes the pictures turn out, 98% of the time they are awful.

All of this meeting and photographing has taught me so much...about photography, about myself, about people in general, about self-expression. I do not know what the final result of all this will be, and that isn't of much importance to me yet. But I do know that meeting these people and learning all these things is preparing me for something big, and I cannot wait to see what that is.

all my love,

P.S. If you want to go explore Houston sometime, let me know! I love exploring and photoing and making new friends.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. 

Hebrews 10:24-25