Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! Sometime this weekend (or week off, for those of you skipping Monday and Tuesday to celebrate July 4th!) you should check out at least one of these lovely ladies. I love them to bits and pieces and not just because they sponsor this blog (and so my wine habit) but also because they're fabulous and wonderful.

What could be better? I mean, really.

This is Alex of Ifs, Ands, & Butts. She's a fellow Texan who has up and moved to Germany. Her life and story are just so cool - you have to check her out!
Selected reading:

This is Amy, of Crazy, Random Happenstances. She's ANOTHER fellow Texan who writes a lot about life, marriage, and awesome things to do in the best state in the US. Just sayin'. 
Selected reading: 
Beat the Heat: 5 Ways to Enjoy Austin in the Summer
Just a regular Thursday...
It's my birthday week! 

And this is dear Jamie of Awesomely Awkward. She is funny and often posts great hair tutorials - I mean, how could she not? She's got gorgeous hair, right?
Selected reading:

There you go! You can already tell these ladies are awesome, can't you? 

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! And since I probably won't be back before the 4th (I'm visiting family, myself) have a happy Fourth of July! Shoot off some fireworks for me. :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

our lives are a series of thunderstorms.

On Friday night, I sat in my kitchen and listened to a storm. For DC, it was a pretty bad storm, the worst I've seen since moving out here. But as a lover of rain, I threw open my backdoor, locked the screen into place, and watched the sky open up and the rain pour down in sheets. I listened to the sound of the rain hitting the concrete on the patio, and liked the way the booming thunder rattled the coffee cup I was sipping out of. Eventually, the storm passed on and the smell of fresh rain, wet dirt, and clean wood from the patio filled my kitchen.

It was beautiful. It was serene. I smiled widely, and long enough for my face to hurt.

Then the sirens started - the rain had come so suddenly, people lost visibility on the road and a lot of accidents happened in a short time. I got a text from my upstairs neighbors/housemates that a branch had fallen and damaged the property a little. The 25+ mph gusts of wind had messed up part of the porch.

The storm, wonderful a few minutes before, now seemed like a bad thing. An unfortunate incident that we would gripe about for weeks to come. Even though just days before, we'd been commenting on how what DC needed was some serious rain. And in a few weeks again, I knew we'd be thinking that DC was in serious need of rain.

Because that's how it always goes. We talk about how we need rain until we have it. The storm hits, we think it's okay until the damage is revealed. We hate the storm and complain about it.  Then we do it all again.

In a way, isn't this how we do everything in our lives?

We think we need something - a hair cut, a new relationship, a night out on the town. While it's going on we fall into it and love it - the new hair cut makes us feel so sexy. The new relationship is all excitement and butterflies. The night out on the town is the most fun you've had in ages.

And then it goes wrong. We realize the new cut looks bad curly, or the fun part of the relationship fades, or we have a terrible headache the next morning.

We get angry: I'm never cutting my hair this short again! I'm so done with guys that play guitar! I'm never effing drinking again! We bitch about it until the hair grows out or we're over the break up or the next Friday night.

Then before we know it, we're back to thinking: IT'S BEEN SO LONG SINCE... Wouldn't it be fun to get my hair cut short? That guy singing karaoke is cute. Let's go out tonight!

The events in our lives are a series of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms that make us throw open the doors to revel in the power, hate the mess when it's done, complain about it for a while, and want it all over again. Events that make us smile, force ourselves to get over them, and crave them all over again.

As for me - I'm at the in-between, the point where I'm done complaining about the storm and I'm starting to crave another one. Maybe not the same storm - not another relationship, not another guy in my life. But another storm all the same. I can foresee the consequences in the not-too-distant future; the things I'll hate about it when the beauty of the storm is over. But for now, I want the storm.

Where are you? Are you right in the middle of the thunderstorm, cleaning up the mess, or craving the next?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the realization that whether I got here by fate or choice doesn't matter. what matters is that I'm here.

I haven't been around much the past two weeks - the last two posts (1, 2) were pre-written and scheduled; they were thoughts pre-thought out, feelings pre-felt.  If that makes sense. Maybe it doesn't, it's 2 am as I write this after all.

It hasn't just been the blog I've been absent from; I've been absent from life a little. I've been avoiding friends, avoiding family, avoiding bonding too much with my new coworkers, avoiding being with anyone and everyone as much as I can until I figure my own shit out.

I've been so absent because I've been so angry. Those feelings that went live Monday - the frustration, the homesickness - those were real feelings that I'm still feeling, probably just as much as two weeks ago when I originally wrote them, but for different reasons now. But that's not why I'm here.

I'm here to talk about the why - I was mad at myself, as I mentioned, for having made a mistake. I perceived - correctly or not - that I had moved across the country for a relationship that didn't work out, as well as a slew of other decisions that seem questionable in hindsight. I ignored the Valorie of December 2011, who had actually made the choice to move. The one who had been excited about an internship in DC, and who was moving here for the internship, not the boy. That the boy was moving to DC too was convenient and exciting, but not planned. That the internship turned out badly was unfortunate, but not something I could have guessed.

Everyone does the best they can with the information they have, right?

I was trying to comfort myself by repeating to myself, 'It'll all work out - these things happen for a reason.' Then one day I just stopped and I wondered: "Do they happen for a reason? I mean, DO THEY?" I was angry - had fate or my own choices led me to a point in life that I was so angry about? Were those options - fate and choice - mutually exclusive?

As the few people I really talked to during that time can tell you - this was all I could think about. It was all I could talk about. I was a woman possessed - did fate lead me to DC? Were these experiences mapped by some sort of otherworldly puppeteer? OR, did my own judgement - good or bad - get me here? Do my future decisions actually change anything or am I just going to do what someone else planned for me anyway?

You know what I realized? That honestly, really truly absolutely HONESTLY: It doesn't fucking matter. It doesn't matter if fate or choice led me here. It doesn't make these experiences less real, it doesn't change what I've learned about myself, and it doesn't change who I am going forward.

Because at the end of the day I did something. I graduated from college and I did something with my life.

What difference does it make if it was predestined? What about if it wasn't?

We only have one life. Even if you believe in reincarnation, you still only have ONE LIFE as this person, in this body. And if you spend all your time wondering if the big moments in your life are shaped by your choices or by a puppeteer's, you're going to miss the important part - the LIVING part. 

The HOW? The WHY? Those may be important questions - but don't let them consume you. The answers only matter minimally - how you got here, why, they don't matter nearly as much as the fact that you are here. Right now. Something - who cares why - may change tomorrow, so don't worry about it too much.

Do something. Just, go do something. If it was destiny, it was destiny. If it wasn't, it wasn't. It doesn't matter, as long as you just do something.

Monday, June 18, 2012

okay, this post got out of control. i'm sorry for all the anger and word vomit.


A few weeks ago, I went home for a weekend. I went to old familiar haunts with old friends I'll always love. I had hours-long lunches with my mom. I talked politics, economics, and how to get rid of spiders with my dad. (Okay, so I did ALL THE LISTENING in those conversations.) I went for long drives on back roads, and I enjoyed the ridiculous heat.

That weekend showed me something that I hadn't been ready to deal with yet.

I love DC. It's a wonderful, beautiful, diverse city that a history nerd like me can totally Nerd The Eff Out in.

But I miss Texas.  I miss my home. It's more than missing my friends and family (though that feeling is so strong and overwhelming that I feel like I could throw up). I miss the actual state of Texas. I miss the sprawling Metroplex where I grew up, I miss the huge blue skies that go on forever, I miss the bluebonnets in the spring, the not-real-winter winters, and the oppressive heat in the summer.

I miss the way you could drive for hours and never really leave home.

I miss sitting in the grass, listening to the music playing from the car, and drinking real sweet tea.

I miss the pride of being a Texan. I miss the feeling of being a "local."

No one in DC is a local. The things I thought I'd love about DC - the ever-changing population as people drift in and out from all over the world; the public transportation system; the plethora of attractions and free shit to do -- are all the things I hate now that I'm here.

And as a ridiculously independent, control-freak personality, I detest relying on the shoddy schedule of DC public transport. I just want to get in a car and be in control of when I'm going to arrive somewhere. No more bus drivers just parking the bus mid-route and wandering away! No more buses just never effing showing up! NO MORE.

Something I didn't see coming: I'm going through worse culture shock here in DC than I did when I spent 13 weeks in China.

I've tried to cope with it as best I can - I almost always have fresh biscuits and honey available for breakfast, I've given up on eating Mexican food or drinking sweet tea here (I'm sorry DC, but you just can't make them right), and I've been listening to all the country music I own. I'm even trying to remember the things I hated about Texas, that made me want to leave.

I've tried focusing on the positives, accepting the negatives, and moving on. And there ARE positives here - the bars serve better mixed drinks (I value this, since I don't drink a lot of beer), I actually know more of my neighbors here than I did back home (sorry, Texas, do better at this), and DC is waaaay more efficient at things like conserving water and having bike lanes. Because no one is a local, it feels like everyone is a nomad, and so everyone is good at accepting a fellow nomad with open arms.

But it's not enough. I say all this not knowing what my next step is - I'm thinking about moving back to Texas, but I'm not 100% sure that's the right step. I have a job and a lease here. I can't afford the outrageous moving costs again. So until I figure out what my next step is, I'm listening to songs that remind me of home on repeat.

Anyone else ever been through this feeling? How'd you cope?

Monday, June 11, 2012

being single again, new chapters, and the peace to be okay with it all

I've been single since mid-May, and while I've mentioned it once or twice here on the blog, I've been hesitant to talk about it much. Not because I'm just that heartbrokenOMFGI'MGONNADIE, but because I haven't been.

I've been angry and sad and disappointed. I've felt like the universe cheated me. I've felt like an idiot for investing so much in a relationship that ended.

But, mostly, I've just felt... relieved. The last few months I spent trying to reconcile the pressure of commitment and my own internal voice saying, "No. There's too much left to do."

Waking up and wondering if this - DC, politics, a home without dogs - was "it" was a giant red flag. I cared deeply about my ex, and still do, but I was having to work really hard to try to want that life for the rest of my life. I was trying to convince myself I wanted a future that I don't actually. Finally, I had to admit that being in a relationship that limited my options on where I wanted to live, how often I wanted to travel, what I wanted to say with my life made me feel really trapped.

We had our problems too - it wasn't all about my need for an option to leave. Neither of us were perfect, we both made mistakes. Some mistakes worse than others. But, really, at the end of the day, that's not what matters. It took me realizing one day that I had to stop choosing either our relationship OR my happiness.

A word of advice: If you ever find yourself in a situation where you've having to choose between your happiness and a relationship, a commitment, or a person, seriously consider picking your happiness. I know everyone says not to; that it's selfish to pick your happiness. But it's not necessarily - because if you're not happy, no one else is going to be either.

So, what does this mean for me now? I'm not entirely sure. I'm not tied to DC in any way once my lease is up in September - maybe it'll be time for a Jeep and a trip somewhere else then.

Until then? A lot of life as a single lady. I need some space for myself, to figure out who I am without someone else's expectations, needs, and wants influencing that.

Truthfully? I'm looking forward to this chapter of life -- I don't know that I've ever had this kind of space (single and halfway across the country from my family and friends) to just be myself.

Friday, June 8, 2012

high five for friday!

Happy Friday, everyone! How are you guys doing today? I'm just so happy it's finally Friday. I feel like this week went on forever. Did anyone else feel that way too?

Anyway, I'm linking up today with Lauren from My Grey Desk for High Five for Friday - a review of weekly highlights. You should all link up too. Just sayin'.

1. I've started taking this High Five for Friday photo every week, and it always puts a smile on my face. :)

2. Exchanging text messages with friends made up solely of your ecards photos. Yup, this blog isn't the only place where I'm snarky.

3.  Getting beautiful stories as entries for this contest I'm running on my photography blog. If you're engaged and getting married by 12/31/12 in the US, you have until next Thursday 6/13 to enter this contest! And if you're not, tell your engaged friends - they'll love you for it!

4. Riding my bike everywhere around town. Yup, it has a girly little basket on the front of it and I couldn't be happier with it.

5. I've journaled almost every day this week, and I've loved it - I missed the time alone with my thoughts! (Adorable yellow journal courtesy of Molly over at Stratejoy; prompts courtesy of Joy Juice.)

What were the high points of your week? 

This week's weekly round up is brought to you by me. Was that anti climactic? Sorry. 

Things You Missed Here on Simply, Valorie
Things You Missed from Me Everywhere Else on the Internet:
Things I Didn't Come up with But LOVE:

Happy weekend, everyone! What are your plans?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

today is the end of 1001 days. that sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

1001 days ago, I sat down and created a list of 101 things I wanted to do. The list has evolved a bit over the 1001 days, and a lot of things didn't get accomplished, but the lessons I've learned since then have blew my mind and made me so happy.

The biggest thing I learned? That I've changed. A lot. Case in point: When I first created this list, I put "host a Bible study" down (which I accomplished), and now I'm not even sure where I sit with religion and faith. I've fallen in and out and back in love since then. I studied abroad in China and proved to myself that I'm stronger and way more of a badass than I thought I was. I've moved halfway across the country, and I've opened a wedding photography business, which wasn't even on my radar back then.

It's been a roller coaster. Here's the full list, what was accomplished and what was not:

Not Yet Started
In Progress


Total (70/101)

Travel (10/14)
1 Go to China
2 See Boston again
3 Take a road trip
4 See Niagara Falls
5 Go to Austin twice
6 Go to D.C. (MOVED here. Oops?)
7 Go to Canada
8 Keep a travel journal (Done in China.)
9 Visit a friend in Lubbock
11 Take a spontaneous day trip (My friend asked me where I wanted to eat dinner, her only rules were "IN Texas." We drove 100+ miles for dinner. It was worth it.)
12 Rent a cabin in the mountains and go snowboarding
13 Go fishing
14 Send five people postcards from a trip

Job/Education (7/10)
15 Study abroad
16 Complete two years of Chinese (Rocked 3!)
17 Take the LSAT (this was miserable.)
18 Take a fun class, just for kicks (Criminology. Changed my life - this is when I started volunteering/working with rape crisis centers.)
19 French 101
20 Apply to work at Sky Ranch/another Christian camp (didn't get the job. a good thing, looking back.)
21 Learn to play at least one song on the guitar (Sold my guitar instead. Oh well.)
22 Lead a Bible study
23 Graduate from Texas A&M
24 Finish the list of 50 banned books (33/50)

Health/Wellness (10/19)
25 Lose 15 pounds (7/15) (Actually lost 17 then gained like 10 back.)
26 Go one week without cheese
27 Spend one week as a vegan
28 Drink only water for one week (Ha! Like I could live without coffee and wine.)
29 Start and finish out a yoga class
30 Workout five times a week for six weeks (Sincerely tried to do this a hundred times, but there just aren't enough hours in the week)
31 Go for a walk 20 times (20/20)
32 Give up coffee for 2 weeks (separate from #29)
33 Do 100 sit-ups, 3 times a week, for six weeks
34 Donate blood at least twice. (2/2)
35 Do 15 pushups a night for two months
36 Do 20 pushups a day for two months
37 Do 25 pushups a day for two months
38 Master a basic jump in snowboarding
49 Play tennis once
40 1/2 marathon
41 Bike everywhere for a week
42 Go kayaking
43 Try skiing
44 Eat ice cream and don’t feel guilty afterward

Blog (3/3)
45 Get a blog makeover
46 Blog every day for one month
47 Meet a blog/internet friend in real life

Writing/Photography/Hobbies (4/7)
48 Find a new hobby
49 Write every day for a month
50 Finish a story!
51 Send said story to publishers
52 Enter a photography contest (opened my own business instead. sounds good.)
53 Buy a Canon EOS Rebel XSi (or better).
54 Complete a Wreck This Journal

Personal/Random. (32/39)
55 Fill a stack of post-its with inspirational messages and leave them places
56 Donate to Pantene Pro-V Beautiful Lengths
57 For everything I don’t do, donate $1.
58 Go to a concert.
59 Call Mom every day for a month
60 Cook a fancy meal
61 Clean out my closet and give away clothes
62 Attend a music festival
63 Attend an art festival
64 Go horseback riding
65 Go on a picnic
66 Fall in love.
67 Suck it up and get my eyebrows waxed
68 Get at least one tattoo
69 Spend at least six months single
70 Donate $150 to a non-profit
71 Send off one friend (of many) joining the military
72 Send someone flowers totally randomly
73 Volunteer at an elementary school
74 Plant a mini-garden.
75 Plant a tree
76 Get a bike
77 Go one week without making a list
78 Watch the sunrise with someone important
79 Live alone.
80 Sing karaoke.
81 Buy something at a flea market
82 Send in a secret to Post Secret
83 Watch 100 new movies (100/100)
84 Listen to 30 songs produced before 1990 (Beatles don’t count) (30/30)
85 Write my future self a letter (via
86 Watch the sunset
87 Project 365
88 Sit by a window in a café on a busy street and people-watch for a whole day
89 Buy another pair of TOMS
90 Start and finish an Ayn Rand book
91 Donate 1,000,000 grains of rice on (12,000/1,000,000) (1 million? WTF was I thinking?)
92 Take pictures in a photobooth
93 On the last day, read my letter from #85
94 Do some kind of sky-diving/bungee-jumping type thing
95 Create the Life List

Grown-up things (4/6)
96 Be a college graduate and like it.
97 Buy more professional clothes
98 Buy nothing but food for two weeks
99 Pay off loan
100 Learn how to cook Thanksgiving dinner from start to finish
101 Try 20 new recipes (20/20)

Some of the things that didn't get finished were accidental, or they were habits that died out. Some of them I look back and I think, "Really, I thought I'd be able to do that?" (The half-marathon is a good example - I don't have a lot of cartilage in my right knee, I am physically incapable of running 13.1 miles.) Some haven't happened yet, but they're scheduled, so I'm counting them as done. (I'm donating my hair to Pantene Pro-V on June 20th at 5:15 pm EST. I'm just saying.) One of them (#90) I've started but I haven't finished yet, and another one (#94), I'm working on completing. 
Now, the exciting part. As you guys see, #57 is "For everything I don't do, donate $1." So that means I owe a charity $31. Obviously, not much, but every dollar counts, right? Here's the thing: I want you guys to pick the charity. Nominate your favorite charity in the comments section - tell me who they are and why you like them. I'll pick, donate, and let you know who I picked. :)

Happy Thursday!

Monday, June 4, 2012

the roller coaster of May and good intentions for June.

{I'm on Instagram as TheValorieClark. Just sayin'. :) }

In all frankness, May was an emotional roller coaster for me. I spent nights alone crying in my kitchen, I spent a weekend jealous of #BiSC tweets (I AM going in 2013, if it kills me), I felt all the joy and excitement I can only feel when photographing a wedding, I felt all the anxiety of unemployment, I celebrated getting a new job with a Kate Spade weekender bag, I started running again and felt amazing about it, I spent a weekend in Texas and started feeling all the homesickness, I became a single lady again, and I launched a couple new projects that I'm outrageously excited about.

Any given day was a mixture of guilt, excitement, depression, joy, and anxiety, and the whole month ended on an intense manic swing that is surprising even me.

I went in to May with good intentions - Be healthier! Cherish my relationship with my boyfriend! Allow room for more creativity in my life! Of course, good intentions aren't everything, some things were beyond my control, and going in to June my life is dramatically different than it was a month ago. 

I think I'm scaling back for June - minimalism is the name of the game for me this month. I've got another eleven days of promotions for the giveaway I'm running* and I've started a couple new projects, but I need some time to myself to figure out my next steps. At encouragement from several friends, I'm slowing the hell down this month and focusing on myself. I'm spending more time meditating, more time outside taking pictures, more time journaling, less time watching Netflix, and less time worrying about whether I'm pleasing anyone else.

What are your goals for the month?

{Like this? It's by Paper'd App - designer wallpapers for your iPhone.}

Happy June, everyone! :)

*Are you engaged and getting married this year? My wedding photography biz for gutsy couples is giving away one free wedding to a very lucky couple. Will YOU be the lucky couple to win? Enter here! :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

high five for friday!

{You can follow me on Instagram as TheValorieClark.} 
This week I'm linking up with Lauren from My Grey Desk for High Five for Friday. Join in! :)

My favorite things from the past week: 
1. Launching this! Seriously, I'm outrageously excited.

2. I spent Tuesday night puppy sitting and I have literally never been so happy to be around puppies again. 
I looove puppies. 

3. These awesome finds at the Kate Spade outlet on Monday. 
I've worn those earrings every single day this week and I'll probably wear them again today. 
Anyone want to invite me on a weekend trip so I can use my new weekender? :)

4. Bringing an entire pot of coffee out to the backyard where I was writing on Wednesday night. It was worth it.

5. Watching my favorite movie with one of my good friends from 1200 miles away. I love technology. :)

Here we go, the Simply, Valorie weekly round up. This week was EXCITINGBUSYOMFG so there's a lot. The one YOU probably care about most is the GIVEAWAY. Just sayin'. ;)

Things You Missed Here on Simply, Valorie
Things I Did Everywhere Else On the Internet:
Things I Didn't Come Up With but LOVE:

In case you missed my mention of it yesterday here (and the two times I've ALREADY linked to it in this post), I'm hosting an awesome giveaway over on the Valorie Clark Photography blog: One lucky couple is going to win their wedding photographer completely free!

If you're an engaged couple that's getting married in the US by December 31, 2012, you're eligible! Go enter here. And if you're not, tell your engaged friends! They'll love YOU if they win. :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!