Trying to be Scruffy

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I’m not sure why it caused me so much anxiety. It’s not like I had never invited folks out to my house before. To me though it seems that invitations usually had a “real” reason; birthdays, holidays, family visiting, open houses.  One does not simply invite people out just because! Yet there I was coyly asking a friend and his wife out for dinner at my house.

Two things took place this year that pushed me to this “out of my comfort zone moment”. The first was a somewhat of a News Year Resolution thing. I had come to realize that I know a lot of people. I see them at networking events and out and about. And they are more than happy to talk to me at the moment but once out of that situation we don’t communicate much. I don’t invite them to my personal events and they don’t invite me to theirs. Our relationship doesn’t go much beyond the surface. So I decided I would make an effort, a strong, dedicated effort to get to really know the people that I enjoy spending time with. And my hope is they will want to get to know me better as well.

The second thing that happened was a friend of mine (another networking friend that I’d love to know better) posted this blog on her Facebook page.  The topic was about having “Scruffy Hospitality”, not “I need to have everything absolutely perfect before I let people see who I really am” Hospitality. The author wrote about how he and his wife rarely invited people to their house, despite really wanting to, because of that fear of needing to have a specific perfection reached before an invite can be offered.

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These two ideas seemed to latch together in such a way that I couldn’t ignore it. So there I stood about a month ago, in the doorway to the office of a friend that I had gotten to know pretty well in the last two years or so. We rarely see each other outside of a networking event or at work yet we spent a lot of time having conversations, probably to the detriment of his business, and really getting along. I met his wife at one of the networking events and we seemed to click pretty well too. So they were going to be my guinea pigs, so to speak.

As nonchalantly as I could I asked him what his plans were for Saturday. He responded by saying he’s heading out of town and then asking what I was planning to do on Saturday. This could have been my out, but instead I jumped right in head first. I then told him that I wanted him and his wife to come out for dinner on Saturday.  I didn’t pause and went right into my reasoning and he didn’t object to the idea. So we found a day two weeks later and put it on the calendar.

As that day got closer I began to negotiate with myself about which chores I should do. I found I was making excuses to clean places that I would normally not clean: “Oh, I spilled milk now I must wash all the cupboards; “I need to mop because we have some grease ants coming into the house”. It went on like this for a week. In the back of my head, though, I knew I had to let things go. I had thought I should make my OCD list of things I really wanted to clean but “chose” not to so I could have a true “scruffy” party and then present it to them. That made me realize how ridiculous this whole thing was making me. Not only was I failing at hosting this “scruffy” idea but I was really stressed about this dinner plan. WHY? Why was this so hard? So, I started to think it through. And I realized that trust played a huge part with the idea of being who you are on a day in and day out basis in front of someone else. It’s one thing to show up at an event or party or someone’s house away from all your closets, laundry, kids, kids’ toys, stacks of papers; and be yourself but completely different to be who you are in your environment. It was a huge leap for me to trust people coming into my home and seeing that my kids had drawn on the walls and I hadn’t painted over it yet. Or that I don’t have any photos on the walls, or that I haven’t recycled in two weeks, or that our carpet is remnants because we haven’t had the time or money to replace the carpets our dog ruined while his kidneys shut down for a year straight. It all is having a trust that those people won’t come in and judge, or ridicule or even use what they see to gossip about me later. It was trust and fear. I needed to let go and let myself trust people and let go of the fear about these incredible insecurities I have. I didn’t realize that would be so hard for me. It’s easy when I hide all my insecurities behind a closed door or a dirty dish in the oven, but to purposely leave the stains out so the guests can see the real me was terrifying! The whole situation put me in a very vulnerable state. And yet I knew deep down inside that few people really would come to my home and judge me, especially people I like and who I think like me as well. As my friend at one point said to me; “I think you’re over thinking this”.

So I did it. I had “Scruffy Hospitality” and it was great. We sat at the table and talked over a plate of vegetables and ranch dressing. We created a lovely meal together and even the burnt burger was consumed. We shared stories, had a nice swim, and watched the kids play with the dog. It was a good night and I really hope it was mutual!

So it may happen that sometime in the future you get asked to come out to my house. And when you get here and you notice the floor’s not swept, there are some unwashed dishes and maybe even the lawn’s not mowed, I hope you realize that you are the beneficiary of some O’Meara Scruffy Hospitality. It’s not that I was too lazy to clean up for you, but instead I chose to leave my home in a state that’s more reflective of the true me and that’s what I want to share with you.

“The Mirror”

For a few months now I have been working on my SEO for my photography business. It’s a bunch of “think like a computer programmer” tricks and really not my thing. I get easily frustrated by its “popularity contest” feel, especially when it gets bought out by the higher bidder. Yet, I feel like I should try. I heard recently that adding video content to your website actually increases its chance of getting ranked higher on Google. I’ve been putting together little video slide shows for years., decades even. So, here’s my little ditty. It’s a poem about being the person behind the lens and what I see when I take you into my camera.

TEDxLansingED 2014

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How often do you get to enjoy a solid afternoon learning about local groups promoting better education policies? Yesterday I had the great honor of not only attending one such convention, but also acting as lead photographer for this event. The name of this event is TED. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. Its catch phrase is “ideas worth sharing” and that’s exactly what it does; share ideas. Each area that promotes a TED event uses the “x” to denote their location, hence TEDxLansing. Each presentation is called a TED Talk. If you check on line you will see how global this event really is. I was very fortunate to get involved with TEDxLansing from the beginning. I loved the concept and have enjoyed each event that’s been hosted in the Lansing area. This year’s TEDxLansing event had a concentration on education. I had not been aware of the ability to create a concentrated event. By hosting this event with a specific theme I found that it drew in a very specific, dedicated group of individuals. They all seemed engaged and energetic. It worked well. In fact as someone who sat back and watched it all unfold from the background, it appeared flawless. All the coordinators seemed happy with the results as well. As with the previous TEDxLansing events there was an interesting mix of ideas presented. There were speakers who shared their stories and experiences of traveling to other locations like; American Samoa, the North Pole and Peru.

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There were education professionals that shared their anecdotes and tested ideas about bettering the way to educate children.

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There was a moving presentation by a woman, after the loss of her son, who developed a program to bring shelter dogs into the schools to enhance the emotional climate of the schools.

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It also incorporated some fantastic performances by Wally Pleasant and Ed & Lisa Smith.

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At the end of the day each of these TEDxLansing experiences leave me enlightened, enriched and entertained through the technologies shared, entertainments given, and the designs used.

You may find the entire set of images here and a Flickr set here.

Ten Reasons why the Winter of 2013/2014 Could Benefit You

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snowflakeYou can cancel your massage or chiropractor appointment- Get in your car and drive really fast over those long edges of potholes. Don’t go into the really deeps ones, although it’s hard to avoid them at this point, but the string of smaller ones, where it gets the car vibrating, those can really make a difference on a sore back.

snowflakeWhile you’re at it cancel your gym membership-Who needs to work out at the gym when every day you can head outside, pick up a shovel and push that snow off the driveway and sidewalk. You can burn from between 400-600 calories an hour!

snowflakeYou get to really support your local coffee joint-Living in Mid-Michigan it’s hard to avoid a giant Biggby billboard. This weather makes for the perfect opportunity to stop into your nearest shop, order your favorite drink and head off to work. If you have a Biggby card and it’s your birthday you even get a free one! This allows you to support a local business owner, which makes you feel really good inside. The warm coffee doesn’t hurt either.

snowflakeYou can act like a jerk and get away with it-I am pretty sure most of the Michigan residents (and probably the whole Mid-West & East Coast) are one snowball short of a maniacal outburst. We’re at the point where anger, hostility and aggression are at its peak. Of course you could try to counter it by being nice, but no one will hold it against you if you’re cranky.

snowflakeYou get to cuddle-Do you remember those super hot, summer days where you were so hot and sweaty you didn’t want anyone touching you? Yeah, me neither. Not this winter. I find myself cuddling up to all kinds of people and warm things. The other day I stood at the exit at Meijer extra long to enjoy the hot air that shoots down. I cuddle my kids, my husband, and people in the elevator. I’m at the stage where I’ll take warmth almost anywhere.

snowflakeThere are no bugs!-No mosquitoes, no bees, no wasps, no nothing. It’s just empty, cold air out there.

snowflakeYou don’t need to shave-Not your pits, your legs, your face, nothing. Why should you? Keep that hair as long as you want or need. My son refused a hair cut because he said it kept him warm. I hear ya, son! You keep that long hair!

snowflakeYou don’t need to shower either-On the same note, why suffer through that moment when you are wet and naked and it’s extremely cold? You’re not really sweating much at all and you will just cover back up with that super warm, oversized sweater anyway. So skip a couple of days. I am sure no one will even notice.

snowflakeYou finally get to watch every episode of your favorite Netflix show-You’re stuck inside day after day, month after month, what a great time to catch up on your shows.

snowflakeYour snowman never melted-Remember how you spent hours on that one almost freezing day and constructed the perfect snowman. During a normal winter you might get a day out of it before the melting began. First the carrot nose would fall off. Then an arm would get droopy. By the mid afternoon, with the full sun blazing down, the head would shrink until it finally fell right off. Well, not this year! If you took the time to make it, it’s still there! In fact, it probably, somehow increased in size and durability. It’s really been that kind of winter.

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So go grab your favorite sweater and blanket, curl up with your favorite saved show with your super hot Biggby coffee and say a Hallelujah that you aren’t swatting the one random mosquito that decides this is the best time to bite you.

When it All Comes Together

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Since November 2013 I have been managing (voluntarily) a gallery in REO Town. For three years this space was operating under the name Art Alley. I was quite familiar with it as Art Alley and attended many events and meetings there. I even went to the curator of Art Alley to see if I could have my City Saunter photographs put up as an exhibit to celebrate completing this project. In September 2013, a month before my planned exhibit, Art Alley shut down. I won’t get into all the gossipy details but the main point was a community based event & gallery space no longer had anyone managing it. I was in a panic when I got the news. I was told to contact the landlord and since I had funds in place already I was able to rent the gallery space (the entire space, not just one wall like previously planned) for three weeks. I am not sure what was more exciting, that I could move forward with the exhibit, that I was finishing my three year walking project or that I was renting gallery space in a turn of the century building in REO Town. For three weeks I set up a mobile office at the gallery and invited pedestrians and social media contacts to stop in and check out the exhibit. For three weeks I sat in a fully functioning gallery and fell in love. I loved the roughened, painted advertisement wall that at one time was on an outside wall. I loved the large southern facing all window store front that glows bright with the setting sun. I enjoyed meeting the other tenants that resided in this building, all of whom I became fast friends with. I liked being in REO Town and seeing the burgeoning groups of business owners and employees walking passed my window. I soon realized that I wanted to stay and be a part of this progress. When my three weeks of renting was over I had planned to vacate the building but before I did I mentioned to the landlord how much I would like to attempt to do what Art Alley had tried to do before. I proposed a three part plan. The first would be the rental of gallery space. This was a given, since it was a gallery after all. The second was the venue space. Despite not having a bunch of extra things, many people I spoke with loved the space and enjoyed the idea of hosting parties there. My final idea was a photographer share. For the three weeks I was at the gallery I was able to offer studio photography sessions with my Ariniko Artistry business. This was a great opportunity for me as a photographer and I knew of quite a few other photographers that also were interested in a space that could be shared. I pitched the idea to the landlord and he agreed to let me continue on as the manager of the space. To stop the confusion about the name I decided to rename the space to AA Creative Corridor. It took me about a month to get organized and reach out to people but by December I was booking events including a wonderful Salsa Dancing group that come in every second and fourth Friday of the month. However, it was my most recent event held at the gallery that knocked my socks off. The event was the second Art & Craft Beer Fest. Paul Starr, the owner of I’m a Beer Hound had come to me back in November asking about using the gallery. Since I had just been put in place as the manager I didn’t really know what to do or what to expect. I gave him the go ahead without much more thought to it. In passing he mentioned I could leave my City Saunter photos up for the second day but that he was looking for something different for the Friday night event. This was a two day event with art being featured on both days. Paul wanted sculptures. It was my job to get him 8-12 sculptures. My first thought was David Such at Such Video. I knew he was an active member of The Scrapfest and Old Town and I thought he might know of some artists. With one communication David’s brother, nephew and friend was able to bring in close to 20 amazing pieces of art for the first night of the event.

aaccIMG_0225Gorgeous dark blue rose stem created by artist Dace 13

aaccIMG_0218Beautiful lake edge scene, crafted out of metal by Dace 13

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As we were loading all the pieces into the gallery, some as tall at 15 feet, I, for the first time, felt like a curator of a true gallery. I even at one point said, this looks like a real gallery to which David responded, “This is a real gallery”.  He really meant it. Wow. The next day I spent 3 hours helping move out welded art and hang over 30 City Saunter & Ariniko Artistry photographs plus 6 Miranda Hartmann drawings.

aaccIMG_0268Steely Flower by Dace 13

For those two days, this one event brought together Right Brain craft beer makers, the folks at REO Pub, at least six artists, four musicians and over 300 community members who came out to enjoy all that we were offering, including Meat. Southern B.B.Q. Lovers & Carnivore Cuisine, who fed us all.

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aaccIMG_0278Musicians Mark Warner & Garret Bielaniec 

I don’t know what’s coming up next for the gallery space, but I am looking forward to whatever adventure is around the corner. If you are looking for a venue or if you are an artist that wants to exhibit your work, or if you’re a photographer that needs some studio space for inside shoots, well, give me a holler, because I’m the manager of an art gallery, event venue and a photographer share and I can’t do anything without all of you.

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