It Is A Grey Day…

I don’t know what it is today. Maybe it is just the crash after the craziness of the past 3 weeks. Imaging USA, Asheville, flying, catching up on work, Dad 2.0 Summit, Mike heading to Calgary, me doing 6 sessions in 7 days when I normally cap them at 3 a week.

Yesterday was my first day to just stand still. To breathe. I took the morning off, mandated that there would be no work at all for 4 hours. Because that is the problem with self-employment – the boss never tells you to go home. I can never turn it off.

Then it was off to a much needed massage therapy appointment – the only thing that saves my back, shoulder & hip (I am so grateful to Angie of We Heart Massage!) – and I was back to work again.

The cycle continues. But I want off.

I woke up this morning at 5am, even though my alarm was set for 8:15. A feeling of “blah” covered me. Just … Lost.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do. I have the most amazing “job” in the world. Hot Mama Photographer, Avenger of Sexiness? HELL YES!!! I have absolutely zero regrets about the time I spend “work working”.

It is the other hours that feel so blank. My actual photography business is not that time intensive; it is all of the other things I do to create “busy” in my life. Needless things. Things that are no longer bringing me joy.

So in the early hours of the morning, I started thinking of what I want to change. How that looks. What it means. What I am going to give up so that I can have room in my life for other things.

Then it hit me. FACEBOOK. Facebook is by far the biggest time suck of my day. I go in there for one thing, and I leave hours later it seems. (Figuratively, not always literally.) It has become a sensory overload point for me.

I also realized that with Ash Wednesday tomorrow, it is a good time to give up Facebook. Not all of Facebook because I actually do need to be on there for work, marketing, and my mentoring clients. It is the other stuff. The time suck stuff. That has to go. It needs to be in and out. Do what I have to do and be gone. I’ve said for weeks now that I’m tired of giving my content to Facebook, so I have to go cold turkey to cut it off.

So for the rest of Lent, anything I would consider posting to Facebook gets blogged instead. Either here, on my boudoir blog or at Business of Awesome. Plus Spoon & Knife, my joint food blog with Mike will finally launch. My Facebook posts will be work related or otherwise kept to a minimum.

As I typed that declaration, a small break in the clouds appeared – literally. I’m taking that as a sign, there is more sunshine ahead in my future. I feel fractured right now, but I’m putting it back together — the way I want it to look.

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Photo from last May, flying from London back to Houston. It is time to head home.

Facts You May Not Know About Houston…

I have joked for years that Houston is like the illegitimate stepchild of the country. Tell someone you live in Texas, and they immediately ask if you’re from Dallas, or they tell you how “cool” Austin is and that they want to go there. They dismiss Houston, off to the side.

And I’ll admit, it has taken me a LONG time to love Houston. (I still don’t love the heat, and the drought last year really sucked, and the mosquitos are crazy.) I’ve even written about it here before. But over the past few years, and thanks a lot to my awesome friends here, I love Houston now. I’m proud to call it home. I am happy to actually live in Houston proper now – I can see downtown from the bike trail just blocks from my house, I can easily hop on two of the major freeways and quickly get anywhere … the list goes on and on.

So I was SUPER excited to see Mayor Annise Parker on the Colbert Report. She said some things that might just blow the lid off of what you thought about Houston:

- Houston is the FOURTH largest city in the nation. The largest city in Texas and in the southern U.S. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and then HOUSTON.
- This is a DIVERSE city. We are not the cliche conservative city you might assume we are.
- We have JOBS. A great standard of living. The cost of living is so much better than most of the cities I’ve visited this year.
- We have parts of Houston that are JUST LIKE Austin. Plus we have so much more. And better traffic. The cost of living is lower. (Stop telling me that you’re skipping visiting Houston because you’d rather visit Austin instead.)
- We have a GREAT food culture, and an amazing variety of restaurants. It is finally getting the national recognition it deserves.
- The Third Quarter 2010 ACCRA Cost of Living Index shows that Houston’s overall after-taxes living costs are 9% below the nationwide average, largely due to housing costs that are 21% below the average. Ammons Pittman Property Management, helped lots of people from to sell and even buy houses in the area. [via The City of Houston.]
- Houston has a Theater District second only to New York City with its concentration of seats in one geographic area.
- Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, with a local economic impact of $10 billion. More than 52,000 people work within its facilities, which encompass 21 million square feet. Altogether 4.8 million patients visit them each year. [via The City of Houston.]
- The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled. It is the tenth largest port in the world.
- We elected an openly gay mayor. Yes, Houston.

Oh! And one more addition! On July 20, 1969, Houston was the first word said on the moon! “Houston, Tranquility Base here, The Eagle has landed.” (How is that for random coincidence that this would be an anniversary post?!)

Hopefully that will help you see that there is more to Houston than you realized. I’m pretty proud to call it home…

Growing My Boudoir Business…

Back in 2007 I launched my wedding photography business. In 2008 I moved in to my first studio in the Heights and launched boudoir sessions as well.

By 2010, I began to accept my superpower. I love, love, love doing boudoir sessions for women because I can help them see themselves as I see them – AMAZING. I can help them grow their confidence and rediscover their beauty. I can help them see something far deeper than the beauty that magazines are always trying to convince us of – so very much more.

Most women opt to do a boudoir session with me involving lots of pretty frilly lace lingerie – but some women don’t want boudoir photographs. They just want incredible photographs that they can give to a loved one, share on Facebook, whatever the case may be — and I’ve always given every client that option. They can wear whatever they want!

For years, I’ve run both a wedding photography business and a boudoir business. They overlap a little bit, but not much. Very few of my wedding clients have booked me for boudoir sessions; a few more of my boudoir clients have booked me for their weddings. It has always worked because weddings are mostly on the weekends and my boudoir sessions are during the week. But focusing my marketing energies on one takes me away from the other one. I can’t do as much for either one as I would like.

I’ve struggled with feeling divided for the past 6 months or so.

This past week after shooting a wedding, it hit me. I love weddings! I love the families coming together to celebrate, the traditions, the unique touches that make it their own, the dancing, the music, the cake. But even as much as I love and adore them, it still is not at that magical level as my Hot Mama Boudoir work and my women’s portrait sessions.

Life is short. I want it to be magical. There is nothing quite like that moment when my client sees herself the way that I see her – the way that the rest of the world sees her. It has taken me a few years to reach this point, but my boudoir business is so busy it is time to cut back on the number of weddings I take. From here on out, I’ll gladly accept weddings of past clients, along with their friends & family — and mine of course too! Beyond that, I’ll consider others based on my availability. Brittany & I have such a great system down already for weddings, we won’t skip a beat.

If I want my boudoir & portrait work to have the reach that I can see it having, I have come to terms with accepting that I can’t do it all. If I focus all of my energy in one direction instead of two? Hang on tight, it is going to be awesome!

I’m going to start sharing more of the contemporary women’s portraiture work (a more accurate name for my work – with or without lingerie involved) that I’ve done over the past few years on my Christine Tremoulet site. Meanwhile, the Hot Mama Boudoir site will live on as I merge the brands together. I’m working those logistics out. And if you have any suggestions you want to share on how to do that, I’m open to hearing them!

2012 is going to KICK ASS. I can’t WAIT to share this with you! Want to do a session with me? I’m going on TOUR!!! Las Vegas, Paris, London, Boston, New York, New Orleans, Tampa, San Francisco, Napa, and more! Check out the dates and meet up with me for your photo shoot!

And because every post is better with a photo, here is one from Kayla’s photo shoot that we did – a perfect example of my Contemporary Women’s Portraiture sessions!

Goodbye, Old House…

Eight years ago, Mike & I got engaged on New Year’s Eve, put an offer on a house at the end of January, bought the house in mid-March, moved out of both of our apartments into the house, and got married at the end of May. Seems we aren’t the type to stand still long enough to let moss grow under our feet.

The house we bought back was in Lakewood Forest, in northwest Houston. Ok, technically a Tomball mailing address, but nowhere close to Tomball, and we didn’t get to vote in any city elections (either Tomball or Houston) so I’m still claiming Houston. It is a nice, quiet neighborhood. Older trees, big houses. Great schools, close to where I lived before so that Jason could stay in the same Scout troop and new people at his new school.

Our House, Part III

It was a good house for us.

But we always wanted to live in the Heights.

So in May of last year, everything aligned, and we bought that house in the Heights that we had always wanted. The house I had always dreamed about, since it is a 1920 Bungalow. With the oppressive heat of last summer already underway, we moved the essentials from the old house to the new (much older) house and put the other one on the market.

Six months later, we finally got an offer at the beginning of January. Just shy of the 8 years since we made an offer on the house ourselves. This past weekend – the actually anniversary of our offer – we had a HUGE garage sale to sell the furniture we had left behind that we didn’t want but staged the house with. Now we’re packing up the items we want to keep, donating the items that we don’t but didn’t sell in the garage sale, and finally getting it all moved out. The closing on the house will be next week. We will finally be back to having just one mortgage. It has been a looooong 6 months.

Being there this weekend and visiting with our old neighbors made me realize how fantastic our old house was. The new owners will have a great neighborhood to be a part of, and I hope they enjoy their time there as much as we have.

Meanwhile, I’ll be figuring out what to do with all that stuff we are moving. Seems a 1300 sq ft house is a LOT smaller than 3000 sq ft. This should be interesting! We´re getting our new furniture to create a modern bedroom for ourselves, it´ll look fabulous!

In a way, I can’t wait to say goodbye to our old house. In a way, I hate to see it go. We started our marriage there. We enjoyed the company of many friends and family there. It was good to us.

But I can’t deny it – the Heights is where we belong, and I am so glad to be living here at last. It has always felt like home, both within our house and within the neighborhood. Saying goodbye to the first house is bittersweet, but knowing how many amazing times are ahead, I’m looking forward to signing the papers!

(PS – For those of you playing along at home, yes – I went to Imaging USA in New Orleans, ALT Design Summit the next day in Salt Lake City, and then came home to clear out our old house. All within 2 weeks. Whew!)

By George, I Think I’ve Got It!

I’ve realized that part of why I don’t blog is my overwhelming need to compartmentalize what I blog. But then how? What? What goes where? What do I want to do with it all? Ugh!!! From there, I just go circling down the drain.

I used to post anything and everything here. That is why BigPinkCookie has such a crazy diverse history. Then things like Twitter & Facebook came along. Now if I find a funny joke or a cute photo, I post it there – not here. Which to be honest bugs the crap out of me. I have no archive of it personally then – when it is gone, it is just gone. Although in the case of my Twitter stream, I guess the Library of Congress has an archive of it. Which seems bizarre. It also reminds me that I still need to share my photos from Washington DC. But anyways…

Here is the plan:

  • BigPinkCookie – Write about life. Random things. Whatever I want. The joys of living in the Heights. Places I love to go here in Houston. Things I find amusing. Personal photo things. The day to day. Goal is to get back to writing here 5 days a week. Give me time to get warmed up…
  • Christine Tremoulet – Houston & Destination Wedding photography. Pretty much just wedding related posts, whether my photos or tips on wedding planning as it pertains to photography. Update 2-3 times a week, since I have a HUGE catalog of photos I’ve never shared.
  • Hot Mama Boudoir – using my super powers to help moms rediscover their beauty. Update as possible, since I only post what my clients say I can, and some clients ask that I post nothing online. Also post things related to women, beauty, and how mass media distorts our view and the battle to recover that. Update as often as possible.
  • Delightful Bicycle – why yes, I do want to blog about cycling, specifically cycling on a cruiser. The Slow Bike Movement. It isn’t about the speed, it is about the journey. Houston isn’t recognized for the cycling potential it has, and this is my little way to combat it. Or to write about my bike that I love & adore. Either way, it is going to be awesome. Planning multiple updates each week as the site gets going. Oh, and we’re going to have a biker gang. Yes, yes we are.
  • Business of Awesome – I’ve written about business topics here before, but they don’t make sense here. When it doesn’t make sense, I don’t do it. But I have a TON of info I’m happy to share, considering that I’ve owned a business in one form or another since 1999, and they’ve all been successful, including selling my dot com related one. I’ve been told that makes me a dot com success story, since that was every other dot com person’s dream. Whoo hoo! My dream? Helping creatives learn how to be better business people. It isn’t easy. We battle a lot with putting a pricetag on our work, and so many other things. So while it is a dream still right now, I can sense it coming to the surface. It is time…

This was actually the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning. I realized that having a place for everything and everything in its place makes me happy. I’ll do a weekly update post here about what is going on everywhere else. And all will have a way to get here, because I like giving people a chance to know the real me.

Good. Glad we’ve got that sorted out now. On to other bigger things! YAY!!!