Isn’t it Time to Talk to Your Doctor?

Have you found yourself weepy during this deplorable deletion of Daylight Savings Time and simultaneous bout of horrific weather? Have you looked out the window to the darkness, cursing its existence? Do you feel hopeless, as if warmth will never return to your life?

Then you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, along with millions of other Americans.

Which means that you may qualify for a free drug trial* for Fiji®!

Fiji is a treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder that targets your Serotonin receptors to fool your body into thinking that it’s summertime and your life is a permanent vacation. To help you visualize what this drug does inside of you, picture Olaf singing about Summer. The way the drug is administered is that you simply take a trip to the island of Fiji.

SAD AdUnderlying photo by Christian Haugen. Because I haven’t been to Fiji. But it’s definitely right for me.

The study is a double-blind trial, so you will not know whether you are in the control group or test group. Well yes, you probably will. Because if you’re chosen for the control group, you’ll still be sitting in your living room in the dark behind a pile of snow. But if you’re chosen for the test group, you’ll receive an all-expenses paid* trip to Fiji!

So while you are lounging in the sun on a flawless beach with an umbrella in your frozen drink, we will be monitoring your overall mental health to determine if Fiji® is an effective treatment for SAD. While you’re on a private yacht at sunset dancing with your significant other while dolphins jump up and create heart shapes with their tails in the background, we will interrupt for just a second to get you to choose the face that represents how you’re feeling:

SAD Scale

And then, after returning home and having a full, frigid, dark-by-afternoon Monday back in your normal life, we will ask you to reassess your mood on the above scale so that we can quantify the efficacy of Fiji®.

So talk to your doctor. See if Fiji® may be right for you.

Side effects include extreme depression upon the discontinuance of this drug, impulsive behaviors that may include selling all possessions and attempting to hitchhike to Fiji, sudden and extreme political involvement and lobbying for the permanence of Daylight Savings Time, and death. Because all drugs these days could cause death. Talk to your doctor to make sure that you’re healthy enough for Fiji®. If you find yourself daydreaming about Fiji® for more than four hours, seek medical attention immediately.

Disclaimer: Despite our overwhelming confidence that it will prove to be 100% effective for the treatment of SAD, This drug will not be covered by Obamacare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicare, or any other type of insurance.

* All Expenses Paid, with the exception of airfare, accommodations, meals, and expenses.

The Day I Started Wearing Leggings as Pants.

Leggings as Pants

It’s a tough row to hoe, sharing one’s principles on the internet.

Because sometimes you end up changing those principles. And there’s nothing the internet loves more than hypocrisy.

For instance, the time that I made fun of Toms, then had to admit that it was all my son would wear – and worse, that I was starting to like them.

Since I wrote that, my son’s collection has only grown, Ali has a couple of pairs, and I now own four (four!) pairs of Toms myself, with one more on the way.

Toms Collection

I know. Right? I should fire me.

But leggings not being pants is a principle I’ve long stood by. Crotches were meant to be covered by more than cotton/lycra stretch fabric – because extraordinarily unsightly things can happen when they’re not.

But then.

Then I began running this summer.

Running voraciously, daily, and passionately.

There was no problem at first because it was summer – I was running in shorts and a tank top, blissfully unaware at the wretched corner I was self-painting into.

I realized my error and began fretting as we entered September. It wasn’t time to make the decision yet, but I knew it was coming.

What would I wear for cold weather running?

This was a serious situation for me to grapple with. A perception-shattering dilemma. A potentially credibility-crushing decision.

I realize that running leggings are not at all the same thing as an Aztec-print legging that doesn’t line up in the crotch. But my town is brimming over with girls who wear workout leggings to hang out at Starbucks with full makeup and hair to accompany them, and I admit I’ve judged that, as well. It’s the “I want to look like I’ve been working out so I can get away with this outfit but I still want to look good while doing it” look.

At least I am aware of my stranger-judging problem. And that I am a terrible person.

So I began considering my options.

…There were loose running pants. This seemed fraught with issue. Knowing my level of grace I was sure to get my foot tangled in the cuff right as I was passing by a cliff and fall to my death.

No, I don’t want to die over my stand on pants.

…There were the skirt-over-leggings running pants.

I wore enough skorts in Junior High. No.

…I could wear shorts over my leggings. This was the most reasonable option, but it felt rather like a homeschooler trying to be overly modest at a 90’s track meet.

(I have reason to feel this way. We actually had to sew extra-wide ribbons on the ends of our already-long Umbros for our track meets. I feel it necessary to say that even the homeschool parents thought this practice was ridiculous – it was the private school sports association hosting the track meet that required such full coverage, along with the sleeved t-shirts.)

Track Meet Nineties

Umbros have never felt so violated.

(It should also be noted that there were no corresponding Rules of Decency for males at this track meet, as my brother’s Creeper Mustache more than adequately proves.)

Shorts-over-leggings was not a viable option for me.

And so my choices seemed to sift through my fingers, nothing left but grossly trespassing my principles.

And trespass I did.

I clenched my teeth, balled my hands up into determined fists, and bought four pairs of running leggings – one pair’s tag even used the phrase “Running Tights.”

And I wore them.

In public.

With a shirt not covering my butt.

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And when I finished running, I went to Target.

And I bought coffee.

And I even ate a meal out with my husband.

And I judged myself harshly.

Then one day, the universe gave me the opportunity to complete my full level of hypocrisy – I went running after being super dressed up for something else.

So I was in public in running clothes and full makeup and hair. Which means that perhaps all those other girls at Starbucks had also just been running in their full makeup and hair. And that I’m a terrible person.

Chris demanded that I take a photo of my moment of breaking every principle I held dear (and looking downright ridiculous).

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At least you can’t see my leggings as pants. Or the Frappuccino.

The Journey of a Year.

This time last year, I was beginning to realize the layers of beauty in what I call “Double Blessing Shopping”.

I blame this on a blog reader. I learn so much from all of you – if you didn’t keep me informed and educate me on the best stuff, my life would be so much less enriched. But this particular blog reader was Dyan, a missionary in Africa who started a site called Karama Gifts. Learning about their beautiful products and more gorgeous ministry to the women who make them birthed a process and a stirring in my heart.

They were helping women escape from trafficking, from societal shunning, and from poverty by teaching them a skill, paying them a living wage, and ministering to their heart. In doing this, they also created an easy, quick, simple way for me to buy beautiful jewelry, bags, and other gifts to give to my family and friends for Christmas.

And buy I did – I think everyone in my life now has at least one product from Karama.

Shortly after that, I decided to do an exhaustive search, trying to find as many organizations as I could that had this double blessing philosophy, which led to me writing a super-long Christmas shopping guide to tell you about the best products that I ran across.

God was speaking to my heart through these discoveries, and at the same time, He had been prompting me to find a way that I could help The WellHouse, a local ministry rescuing victims of human trafficking right here in Birmingham as well as all over the nation. The discovery of double blessing organizations was one of the pieces that God used to unveil what exactly He wanted me to do – and that was to open Picture Birmingham, where I could sell products derived from my photography and give 100% of the profits to The WellHouse.

Picture Birmingham

It felt kind of crazy of God – I wasn’t exactly looking to create an organization, or really to add anything to my already quite-Thanksgiving-sized plate of life. But it was completely unavoidable. And somehow God has multiplied my time to enable me to do it, although my office looks a bit more tornado-stricken than it used to, and my husband and Siri have to remind me daily to do simple things that just don’t fit into my brain anymore.

But it has been exciting, exhilarating, and downright shocking at what God has done. Since starting in March, Picture Birmingham has been able to donate $5,000 to The WellHouse, and I have had many opportunities to share about their crucial ministry both on social media and in traditional media.

And now that Christmas is rolling back around again, I would ask that you consider adding Picture Birmingham to your list of Double Blessing organizations from which to choose gifts. My list from last year is still fantastic for jewelry and accessories, but here’s what I can add to the product selection this year:

1. Note Cards – Printed on luxuriously thick 100% cotton artisan paper and available in a number of different quantities, these make fantastic stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and teacher gifts. They come in three different sets – two featuring scenes and sunsets from Birmingham, and one from the Gulf Coast.

All Note Cards

If you would like for me to print customized Christmas cards or if you have specific photos from my collection that you’d rather have on note cards, I can do special orders.

2. Calendars – a collaboration project with Mission Birmingham, this calendar is printed on premium glossy cardstock paper and features a different, beautiful angle of Birmingham each month. Prayer prompts are provided from Mission Birmingham as well, and at the end of the year, you can cut out the images and frame them, if you like.

Calendars

50% of the proceeds from the calendars go to The WellHouse, and the other 50% is donated to Mission Birmingham.

3. Curated Collections – In an effort to help people sift through the way-too-many photos that I’ve taken, I carefully chose coordinating photos for ten different curated collections.

Abstract Beauty Curated

Each of these collections has a theme – Birmingham Landmarks, Abstract Beauty (great for non-locals, as the photos are not location-specific), Railroad Park, Wonders of Alabama, Trains and Rails, and more.

Birmingham's Angles Curated

Each collection contains 3-5 coordinating photos, allows you to choose from five different sizing options, and is 25% off of the regular print price. Starting at just $41, these collections are fantastic for Christmas gifts, office decor, or wall collages.

Waters Curated

4. Gallery-Wrapped Canvases – every print in the shop is available on canvas. The three-dimensional effect of the gallery wrap along with the ready-to-hang ease makes this a fantastic gift.

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Also, if you’re local and one of those people that would rather browse actual products than look on the internet, I will be at West Elm at the Summit on Saturday from 11:00am – 3:00pm – I would absolutely adore it if you came to visit me! I will have prints, canvases, note cards, calendars, and postcards, and will be available to sign them (although I don’t really like writing on them and still think that’s weird. But whatever.)

Thank you so much for your support of my new endeavor – you and I together have helped multiple women find freedom from sex slavery – and that is so very totally worth me having an extra-messy office.