Absolute Yes

Absolute Yes is not a new concept, I’ve touched on it before. In fact it was my New Year’s resolution this year. My goal was to let five words – wonder, growth, friendship, contentment and giving – define my year. Now I’m paying the price.

Not unlike Brett, I find that life has become far too busy. Too busy in fact to comfortably fit everything I want to do in. I seem to be always working at least several days or even weeks behind schedule. Every day I make a detailed to-do list just to stay on track. I blame my five words of Absolute Yes for this situation. Specifically three of them: growth, friendship and giving.


This year I wanted to grow my little arts business as well as focus on personal growth. Participating in gallery shows, group shows in art centers or open air arts festivals have been a part of my artistic life as long as I can remember. Not only are they fun, but they also create deadlines that are helpful when trying to complete something…anything! With this new body of work I decided to start with the humble coffee shop. I find local coffee shops to be warm, inviting and the hub of their neighborhoods. I’ve focused on creating contacts at various cafes as well as working to find alternative places to show my work around Seattle. I’m building my show schedule one cafe at a time.

In addition to these public exhibitions I also created a line of greeting cards for my local toy store. This came about in the most random fashion. While I was in the store purchasing a birthday gift I wasn’t happy with their card selection. I asked the owner if I could create a few cards for them. Because they are so awesome, they said sure! The initial test was a success, as was their first order. Now I simply need to find the time to create more cards with diverse images so I can restock their display.

Can you see where this is going? While I’m thrilled to be growing my little business, and I’m excited to be getting my work out into my community, what little free time I had before is rapidly disappearing.

Growth is one of my absolute yes words and I’m grateful I made this commitment to my art. But I also made a commitment to grow myself as a person. I write down three things I’m grateful for every night before I go to bed. I meditate in the evenings and also in the morning when I have time. I’ve been learning to breath and be present in the moment. Walking everyday is part of my process too. I get out and walk three to four miles (5 to 7k), rain or shine, because my life feels like its a marathon and I need to train for it.


Life is short and I want to spend more time with friends, family…the people most important to me. As I get older, my friends become even more precious to me. Do I have time to get together with a friend for coffee, engage in a Google hangout, meet up for lunch or even a walk? No. Do I do it anyway? Absolutely yes!

I don’t care how busy my life gets (I know, I ‘m doing this to myself) I will always make time for my family and friends. Maybe not everyday, but there is always time in my life for the people who make my life a happy place. With each passing social encounter I get a little more behind. But I don’t care, I adjust my obligations and I know there is always tomorrow.

“. . . as one goes through life one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe kayak, you don’t move.”Katharine Hepburn

Have you heard the saying “what goes around comes around”? I think when most people say it they are thinking about negative consequences. I like to think about it terms of giving. The more you give back, the more you get. If you give of yourself, your time, your talents, you will be rewarded in ways you cant begin to image. This has been my experience since I adopted an attitude of giving about ten years ago. I haven’t always been the person many of you know today. Bitter, angry, resentful and selfish are a few of the words I might use to describe an earlier version of myself. Its taken a lot of work to turn into a person that I can both like and respect.

Part of the giving process has been sharing with this community. I also share what I can in our G+ community and with the people who attend our annual meet-ups. I want to nurture and support this community as best as I can.  The toy photography community has given me so much joy and opportunities over the years, I want to give back.

Absolute Yes

Why am I telling you all of this now? I’m telling you now, because change is inevitable. Growth happens, we get busy, we adjust. I’m making these adjustments myself, everyday. I find myself posting less to social media. This is a really hard choice for me. I’ve made many friends through my time online and I feel I’m turning my back on this amazing community. If you don’t see me around on Instagram, Facebook, Flickr or Twitter, its not because I’ve given up on toy photography, its because I’m taking toy photgraphy into the physical world.

This blog and the G+ Community is a part of my Absolute Yes. I’m not going anywhere. In fact I will be doubling down on the G+ Community as I spend less time on other social media platforms. And as Brett alluded to earlier this week, we have several big projects we’re working on and I want to do my part. In fact I couldn’t be more excited about the projects we are working on behind the scenes. But more on that later. 🙂

I’m glad I’m not the only one who has been making decisions that feel like absolute yes choices. There will be a few changes on our writing staff starting this week. Jennifer has taken a leave of absence to concentrate on her own work. I applaud her for knowing when its time to focus her energies on her own work. She has given so much to this blog and community this year, I encourage you take a tour through her past posts. I’m grateful she was willing to share her process and inspiring the community with her creativity. I will miss Jennifer. But I’m thrilled she’s kept open the possibility of returning when the time is right. Thank you Jennifer for all everything you’ve done to help this community grow!!

What are your absolute yes words?

I believe in the power of words. By choosing five words that represent what is most important to you, decisions can be easier to make. Opportunities arise all the time. When you have your absolute yes words to guide you, you can feel confident you’re making the right decisions.

I invite you to check out this list of value words and choose five words that have meaning to you. Create your own absolute yes words, words that represent your core values, and see how they can guide you. As my mentor Shari Miller cautioned me:

Watch your tendency to choose words that you feel you should choose versus the ones that you really want to choose. Choose five that speak to the essence of who you are (not what others want you to be).

If you would like to share your absolute yes words and why you choose them, feel free in the comments. I’m always interested in hearing the view point of my fellow creatives. And if you see Jennifer posting her images on social media, be sure and leave a comment and let her know how fabulous her work is. She will be missed here on the Toy Photographers Blog.

In the mean time I will be busy behind the scenes and in the G+ Community. Come say ‘Hi!’ and see what all the fuss is about.


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  1. It sounds like you’ve achieved your goals this year Shelly – maybe too well 🙂 Congratulations on everything that you’ve accomplished! I really enjoy this blog so I’m grateful that it’s on your priority list. I can relate to the struggle of keeping up though. As my work has gotten busier, I’m struggling to keep up with my own photos and social media. Unfortunately, this means less time for Google+ but I’m hoping to get back there very soon.

    Good luck with the upcoming show at the coffee shop!


    • Thanks Lynn for you kinds words. I think this is one of my worst blog posts; it seems very braggadocios. Honestly, that was not my intent. Im sure I’ve created a monster in my life, but since I recently had a numerological report done, some of this is just a symptom of my life cycle. It will end soon enough.

      Im sorry that your work has gotten busier and you are struggling to keep up with your photos. Now that we are all heading into the holiday season, Im sure it will only get worse! I hope you can carve a little time out for yourself to be creative. And don’t worry about G+, you will always be welcome. SoMe should never be a burden it should be fun!

      Cheers my friend! xo

    • Thank you so much Chiara! It has been an amazing few months that have followed what seems like years of effort. I have no idea where it will lead, but I will keep pushing. I know those five words helped me to focus on what is really important to me. Sending you a big hug back! xo

  2. Great post. Not braggy at all. My 5 are career/work related. But the most important word for me, not included in that list, is family. I left a fairly successful wedding photography career because it was keeping me from spending weekends with my family. Family guides everything I do. Here’s my 5:

    1) Ironically, “No” is my first yes word. It’s a powerful word that, when used correctly, can give you back your life. There are a hundreds of things that will pull you every which way if you let them, and those things prevent you from doing what’s truly important to you. Learning to say “no” more often will allow you to focus on what’s important to you.

    2) Courage – the courage to pursue your dreams and goals, to try new things and be open to new opportunities.

    3) Value – as in know your value. And have the courage to fight for that value, or walk away even, when offered something less.

    4) Calmtience (two words, calm and patience combined for this exercise!) – This is something I constantly need to work on. I want to move at a million mph to reach my goals and can push too hard, or communicate in ways I later regret, if I feel others in my orbit aren’t doing the same. I’m learning that if I just relax things tend to fall onto place soon enough.

    5) Growth – creatively and professionally.

    • Thanks for the feedback Mitch. I really don’t enjoy talking about what Im up to. But it has gotten to the point where I cant do it all. Which brings me to your first yes word: no. This made me laugh, but I totally get it. Im trying to figure this one out now, because no matter how much we try, we cant do it all. My favorite of all your words though is Calmtience. This has been my greatest lesson in the last few years. I have had to learn to wait, which is really hard for me! I really wish we had connected in LA. I think we would have gotten along famously – because I believe we think about this in much the same way. Thanks Mitchel for sharing your own five words!

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