what if you said yes more often?

I made a choice this past January after the passing of my sister. I chose to do one brave thing a month for all of this year. I figured that after surviving the death of our middle child twenty years ago and the recent death of my sister, everything else that Life threw at me would be a cakewalk after those tragedies. 

I began by visiting local eateries in town armed with a few of my images of recent food photos I'd taken and my business card. It was really scary to walk in and introduce myself to the person behind the cash register and explain my purpose. Doing something like that goes against every bone in my body, and there were a few times when I had to sit in my car and talk myself into opening up the car door and walking inside the building. I think I tend to be a shy person by nature, someone who likes to sit and observe the scene before her rather than jumping in with both feet. But I really wanted to follow through with this personal challenge I had set before me and that trumped my desire to bolt the other way, so I continued until it no longer got to be scary or hard. 

I didn't realize it had stopped being scary until the day I walked into our local macarons shop to buy some of their cookies to take home and photograph. I was at the register paying for them when I blurted out that I was a local food photographer and did they need anyone to shoot their product for them? I don't know who was more surprised, the cashier or myself, but it was at that moment when I felt a gleam of pride inside me that I had conquered that shy little observer and that I was going after what I wanted to accomplish : doing one brave, scary thing a month.

I put that bravery towards everything after that day. I said yes to a Facebook friend of mine to meet up with her for a photoshoot with a college girl from the sorority house where my friend was the sorority mother. I said yes again to another photoshoot later the next month and finally I said yes to joining my friend in photographing cancer patients and their families last month at our local cancer support house in Fayetteville. If I had said no to that last project, I would've missed out on meeting some incredibly brave and beautiful people. 

What they have to go through on a daily basis makes my nervousness at being told no seem so trivial and trite. They are so, so brave.

I've also said yes to attending marches and rallies here in Fayetteville, supporting causes that are important to me. I've said yes to shooting the floor directory at my parents retirement home, and will accompany a small group of my parents' friends as they zip line over the Buffalo River Valley next month to photograph them as they come swooping over and whooping it up high above my head (my 80-year-old mom included in that bunch. My dad is just coming along for the bus ride. Smart man!).

Again, that mustering up of courage and putting myself out there paid off last week when our family's favorite burgers and fries place called me up and asked if I could come in on Wednesday the 20th to re-shoot their menu. We've been going to this particular restaurant since they've opened in 2009, and the owners have watched Meghan and Joe grow up just as we've watched their place get bigger and bigger, so much bigger that they are opening up a second location in a near by town, thus the the re-branding and the need to shoot the new menu.

To say that I'm excited is an understatement, but I'm also a little nervous. When I get nervous before a shoot, I tend to do the following: run or clean house or weed the garden or bake. Well, today I did all four, so yeah, I'm a bit scared. It's going to be a lot of fun, though. I'll be shooting seven hamburgers, one hamburger/fries/drink meal and also one Chicago-style hot dog/onion rings/drink meal. I have all my camera kit loaded up, along with fill/flag cards, tripod, surfaces, wooden picks to arrange the food just so . . . . I think that's all. 

Wonder what else my "Big & Brave Challenge" will lead me to this year?

Just think what might happen if you started saying "yes" more often?