Resolutions and Reflections

While heartbreaking in many respects, 2016 was still full of wonderful experiences. I found a writing group where I can hone both my writing and editing skills; my husband and I saw FIVE Dave Matthews Band Shows (including three at the Gorge); we took our kids to the polls for both the primary and the general elections; and we celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.

I wrapped up 19 months of photo-a-day challenges, I’m almost three-quarters of the way through my #52WeeksofCreativity challenge, and I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with some talented artists and writers.

This year, I’ll start each month with a quick rundown of my pieces from the previous month. I start today with the end of last year. I’m hoping this will keep me on track with writing more regularly.

Writing Reflections: 

On Writing
On ReWriting

Vocabulary:

A Lot vs Allot
Happy Holidays
Words of the Year

Musings:

The Llama Problem
Christmastime

Children’s Programming:

Criteria of a Good Show
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

ProTip:

Take a Professional Quality Selfie

Photography:

Lake Michigan

ProTip: Make Your Selfie Look Professional

 

If you’re part of the modern world of social media, you know that every platform requires a profile photo. If your business has a logo, it’s easy enough to scale or reconfigure that to a 1:1 ratio that’ll fit the square format required by most apps. But what if your business and brand are you?

Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re a judgmental society; we judge books by their covers, and first impressions matter. While content is the most important part of social media, most people browsing through a feed won’t stop if the profile picture doesn’t look professional.

If you can’t afford a professional photographer, and you don’t have a nearby friend who can help you look good, you can absolutely take your own profile photo… without it looking like a Selfie.

Steps for Success

  1. Look your best. This doesn’t have to mean “fancy” or “done up.” Take your time to think about the image you want to project for your business. If you’re a professional (realtor, consultant, etc.) make sure your photo will reflect that. If you’re an artist (musician, poet, etc.), you can (and should) go for a more creative look.
  2. Find the right spot: well lit with a distraction free background. In a pinch, you can create your own backdrop by hanging a sheet from a tree, window, etc. If you need more light, use a mirror (or reflective car sun shade) to bounce more light onto your face.
  3. Don’t use a front facing camera. The quality is usually lower: they have fewer megapixels, most of them don’t have auto-focus, they don’t allow in as much light as the regular camera, and they sometimes force an odd perspective. (Note: you can use the front facing camera to gauge where you should hold the camera.)
  4. Find right angle. For most people, this is a three-quarter pose to camera, leaning forward slightly, with the camera just above eye level. This requires you to lift your chin just enough to make you look just a touch slimmer.
  5. Focus on your face. Look into or just above the lens. Try different expressions: smiling, laughing, thoughtful. This is where to let your personality shine.

 

Pet Peeves (for the love of whatever deity you worship, please don’t):

  1. Wear sunglasses (we need to see your eyes!)
  2. Use extreme makeup (unless that’s part of your brand, e.g. makeup sales)
  3. Take a Selfie in your car (this should be self explanatory)
  4. Wear gym clothes (unless you’re a personal trainer)
  5. Make “duck lips.”

With all that in mind, here’s my take on some of the quintessentially bad selfies I’ve seen.

protip-selfies

The final result:

maggie-mcgarvey-profile-photo

I found a pose which slimmed my jawline without making my eyes look huge. The background (a hedge) works well with the color tones I chose. My hair, while not perfectly styled, is suitable my somewhat whimsical writer/author profile, and the almost smile hints at intrigue.

 

Bottom line: your professional profile photo is your first chance to make a first impression. If it’s an honest reflection of you and your brand, that’s all that matters.

 

A Call to Action

Like many of you, I often feel powerless to affect change in a world which seems to be heading ever closer to giving greed, hatred, and fear the right of way.

Rather than remain in silence, I’m joining forces with my writer pal, Laura to put out an anthology to raise money and awareness for those who are in the trenches fighting for gun control.

We are tired of seeing the death toll rising. We are tired of sending “thoughts and prayers” to the families of the victims.

If you’d like to get involved with DISARM, check out Black Heart Magazine for full details and submission guidelines.

#DisarmHate

Hashtag DisarmHate

Embracing Rejection

A huge piece of any endeavor is finding a way to deal with rejection. Whether you’re trying to find a new job, trying to expand your business, or trying to make sales, get booked, or shop a manuscript, hearing the word “No” is a big part of your life.

Rejection is hard. It’s hard to hear someone tell you that you’re not what they’re looking for and not take it personally. Sometimes it’s downright impossible to get the “thanks, but no thanks” response without spiraling into the self-defeating vortex of “I’m not talented enough, smart enough, pretty enough, good enough.” If you’re a creative soul, you may be very familiar with this world, in fact, you may have made yourself a cozy little life there, with cushions and comforters and cocoa, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that you KNOW you’ll never get anywhere.

I used to do that.

And then I hit a point where I was tired of hearing myself complain about how I wasn’t doing what I wanted: I was newly graduated from college, working retail, and sure that my life was never going to get anywhere. So I applied for a teaching job. I knew I had no chance of getting it – especially when I found out one of the other applicants was a former classmate of mine – but I applied anyway, and went for the interview, presenting myself as only myself. Since I already didn’t have the job, I figured I had nothing to lose.

While I would love for that to be the final turning point in my refusal to be scared of rejection, it certainly isn’t. I’ve struggled with fear of inadequacy, rejection, and ridicule in all areas of my life; secure only in a belief that it’s safer to avoid making waves than it is to make a splash.  I still have a hard time putting myself, my words, and my work out into the world. But every time I find myself hesitating, I remember what I told my Relay For Life volunteers: In order to get to the YES, first you have to dig through the NO.

I turned our collective fear of rejection into a game, for every twenty-five “No” responses that they got (asking for donations, etc.) they were entered into a prize drawing. For every one hundred rejections, they were entered into a drawing for an even bigger prize.

100 No'sTo date, it’s one of my favorite ideas; the only thing I didn’t like about the original, was how it’s designed for just one thing. To that end, I made an even better version:

Embrace Rejection

Enter a caption

Set your goals: will you get something for each NO? For each five? Will you play it like a bingo game? Will you challenge a friend or colleague?

A PDF version is available here for your use.

So, how will you Embrace Rejection?