A Year of Self Portraits + A Letter

December 31, 2010
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Instead of a typical year in review, best photos or goals. I am going rogue & anti resolutions this year. A friend mentioned this idea of non-goals and I love it.

This year I do encourage you to goal set (here are some great excerises on how to do so) but also review your year and take note of things that you did right, that you want to continue. This list is just as powerful.

Erin from Design to Mankind wrote this challenge :: What do you love about yourself, your life and your circumstances? List them. Say them out loud. Write them on your mirror in royal red lipstick. Remember them forever.

Even thought this is going to be extremely uncomfortable, I am going to go through the year of my monthly self portraits and I am going to give myself my own advice. I am writing myself a letter. Bear with me, as I talk to myself and reiterate what worked and what didn’t work. Truthfully I hate talking about my accomplishments or failures, because I feel like I am being selfish. Yet, then I don’t allow their value in my life, so I am working harder and accepting compliments and accomplishments. Here goes nothing….

2010 Non-Goals ::

January 2010 :: You started the year with big expectations. You traveled to California to learn from other great photographers. Never stop pushing yourself to learn. It doesn’t always need to be a workshop or mentor, just keep being uncomfortable. Also, keep shooting portraits of others. They make you tick.  Keep standing in the truths that were listed here. Accept your body. You are beautiful because no one else can be like you, God made you unique.
February 2010 :: This month you really continued to work on accepting. You met some great new friends at WPPI. You found Hot Yoga and did some real personal work in that blistering sweaty studio. You need to do Hot at least once a week, it is a place for accepting you and what your body can do at that moment and being ok with it. You almost got fired from your day job. Which as scary as it was. It was all part of God’s plan and was totally necessary in the process of leaving your job. Trust God in all circumstances, he knows what he is doing. Also, you went through many instances where you didn’t trust your gut. TRUST YOUR GUT. Do what you know, bounce it off your sounding board of friends and go for it. Other’s opinions should never again define who you are or what you are worth. You are worth it.

March 2010 :: This month you really were in a dark place. You fought and fought and tried to do it on your own for over 3 full weeks. FYI. IT DIDN’T WORK. The second you reached out to God and gave it up to him. It was released. The pain the hurt and the cloud that was surrounding you and bringing you down. Remember this is a choice, to hold on to the hurt or to be open and let God in to the deepest parts of your own heart. Remember he already knows what is there but give you the free will to choose to give it to him or not.

April & May 2010 :: You put in your notice at your full time job this month. You actually did it. You were so so afraid of this. You talked about it a lot, you planned, you calculated, you even knew what time you were going to do it….but then a day earlier it fell into your lap. You didn’t even have time to rehearse it or write it down. It brilliantly happened in God’s perfect timing. Be grateful and smile at all these moments in life. They happen more often that you notice. You travelled to Canada and met some amazing new friends and mentors. You have never laughed so hard or relaxed that much during a photo shoot. Side note :: Get back and visit them. Also, one April day you were bored and you went through your inspiration images and created 3 inspiration boards. You were delighted about these. Not even a week later Southern Weddings put out an all call for cover submissions. You sent one of your 3 and it was chosen. Never stop putting together things that inspire you to be greater. Things that inspire you. That make you do happy dances. Gina…I love the face in this second picture. So content.

June 2010 :: You launched a new website, blog and all new branding this month. You worked with a designer that exactly a year ago you wished you would have the money to work with. Yes this actually happened. You produced a shoot that would be featured in a magazine and  had some serious fun in Texas. You didn’t sleep much. Your last day of the corporate world was June 9th which also was your 3rd year wedding anniversary. You did some big things this month, you made it through with an amazing support system of friends. They were there for you when you needed, so reach out more and ask for a helping hand when you feel stuck. Sometimes you just need someone else to say DO IT. Also note. Take that hat out of your car already, I swear its been there for months.

July 2010 :: This month you found how to relax a little. Your schedule was still jam packed but you found brilliance in getting a good workout outside in the morning and getting a latte (which you little miss no dairy, can’t have anymore) nummy lunch after. You worked outside on your laptop there for hours, you replied to email in the hammock for hours. It was pretty awesome. You also stopped washing your hair so dang much and this is also fantastic. Kettlebells rocked your world.  They are a great way to get strength training in. Try to work these in at least once a week. You asked a couple of questions and put offers out to help small businesses, and boy did those go well. You love helping and showing others how to grow. Just make sure you have ample time in your schedule and don’t get to stressed out with your to-do list. I can’t wait for you to live your ideal day with morning workouts next summer. Lara Casey called you and asked you to go on the MTH fall tour. You have no idea how big this is going to be for you come November. Oh and you turned 26. That is weird. Your mom called that morning and said one more year closer to 30 and that sort of totally freaked you out. So get on living your perfect days, you are in them now. Don’t dream too small. Don’t be small. Play BIG. It will be an adventure.

August  2010 :: You struggled a lot this month with not having it all together. Not having a perfect plan or schedule or even being content. You went backward on the mini workout revival you had in July. You recognized that what was holding you back was so much more than just quitting your job. You felt like that you didn’t have the tools. You really were subconsciously ignoring opening your MTH book and trying to live out your ideal day. I think you actually thought it would or should just come to you without the work. (Funny that I have perspective now to see through this.) Gina. YOU HAVE THE TOOLS. You have a God first. And behind him a network of people that you can reach out to when you feel helpless or lost in the jungle of life. Just stop for a second and be grateful and know that ONE choice at a time you can alter your day, your mood. CHOOSE to prepare yourself to be your best. Get to the gym your routines, you rock at them once you put your shoes on and actually walk out that door. Life isn’t perfect, but you only can control your circumstances and your schedule. So fix yours if it needs fixin’ and just get to it.

September 2010 :: You hired an intern last month. Woot. You let go of needing to be perfect and let someone see your messy, 1979 house that in always in the midst of some construction and she didn’t run away when she arrived. She has been able to understand your mumble jumble and they way you work, even though you were afraid only Leah & Lauren could do so. She has been an immense help to you. THANK HER more for being brilliant and allowing you to have more time to do the things you are passionate about. You spent alot of time outside in reflection. This was really good for you. Do this once there is no snow or sleet on the ground. Take Mya for a walk or whatever, just get out and breathe the fresh air. You reviewed goals that you set in January and really rocked most of the business stuff, but your personal goals almost every single one was not met. DORK. YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS. If you are not healthy or fulfilled neither can your business be. OK?

You dabbled in video for the first couple of times and had so much fun with it. Look to add this to some sort of your creative outlet. Just keep doing it. It’s fun. It’s a mesh of your two favorite things music & imagery. Play in the leaves next fall. Drink lots of tea. Shoot less this month. It’s your favorite season. Lastly, I think the progression of my self portraits really hit here. Look back at Feb, March you could barely look at the camera and now you looking at the camera and  are smiling showing off your vampire teeth? Rock it out girl. PS. I really like your blonde hair back.

October 2010 :: You shot 44 sessions and 5 weddings this month. Amazeballs and high five for having business and wonderful clients. BUT…Never Ever do that again. Now that is maybe going to sound bad if any of your clients are reading this but I don’t care. They know you love them. But this is was TOO much. Say NO. You didn’t even have time to breathe. Now you did rock out a corporate shoot and had two beautiful days for mini sessions, but set your schedule up so you can handle it gracefully. Set your schedule up so you can watch your husband coach his football and have a sit down homemade dinner or two. Those are going to be the moments that you will want to savor.

PS stopping to snap this picture below was perfection. You had been eyeing up these weeds or whatever they are for weeks in between shoots. Thank you for taking 30min and just sitting in them. Feeling the wind hit your face and thanking God for that sunny day. Shoot more in those weeds next year. PS. you have a two page spread in a magazine. Pretty sweet huh?

November  2010 :: It’s almost hilarious that you wrote in your October self portrait that your main fear was being open on the MTH Tour. Boy, did God place you directly where he wanted you. From November 2nd on you spend time with two other amazing women and faced that direct fear. You did the work at each MTH. It was hard yet so great for you to write a real “I am” and “I want statement” daily. It put you in touch with your emotions. Where you actually were each day. Gina journal an “I am” or “I want” everyday. Just journal everyday and stop trying to do it all perfect. Journal whatever comes up. Grocery lists. Lyrics, words. Free write. It helps you. Then get into devotional time.

You learned the value of routine. You worked out every single day. Whew did you miss that. You had great leaders to follow on this. If you need motivation to go, tell them you are struggling and they will ignite the fire.  You didn’t watch an ounce of TV for two weeks and you didn’t miss it. Try to get rid of your TV time, even cable. You don’t really need it. You ate gluten & dairy free and it has opened up a whole new world to you. High five on this, its not easy. These eating habits have made food a friend and not an enemy. You are choosing to fuel your body with the fuel it needs. Sure you can eat the other stuff, but EAT TO LIVE not LIVE TO EAT. Say that mantra when you smell the nummy fast food or pizza. Indulge every once in awhile, but remember most of the time it will make you feel worse.

You ran on the beach in Maui and it was the most at home you have ever felt in your body. Remember the way the saltwater tasted and how you seriously were a kid again sprinting through the waves. Find that kid inside daily. Find that smile that reaches ear to ear daily. It’s hard sometimes to see past the mess or the to do list, but this fuels you. Like in the picture below, you were so nervous that day before LA. It’s ok to be nervous or sad or happy. Feel them all let them pass through you and move on. You learned so much on this journey and made lifelong friends. I am SO SO proud of you. Review your fall tour notebook whenever you doubt yourself.

December 2010 :: Oh December. It also flew by. You shot a destination wedding in OK. Yes it wasn’t tropical but it was on your goal list and you did it. so there! You tried to embrace the holiday spirit before you left for florida. Next year the house will be ready for a freaking awesome christmas decoration fest. Put up a tree or two or three. One with paper chains and the other with instax. You came home from the fall tour and really made strides into your marriage. You decided you are going to get baptized in 2011 and your not that scared of it anymore. You made lots of green christmas wreath cookies, and ate them for breakfast for a week. Definitely do that again. 🙂 You and Matt have been attending a bible study for about six months to a year now, you realized how much you missed them in November. They are such a blessing in your life. Also, get on Christmas shopping earlier. You are brilliant at gift buying, when you actually have time. You are ADDICTED to sushi. Maybe look into buying stock in it.

You had an incredible time at the MTH Watercolor weekend. You came in the first day feeling a little weird and mostly frustrated that you didn’t feel much. You didn’t feel reminiscent about the building, or the meeting room you were in just a year ago. The day  that catapulted you into this awesome 2010. Remember when you prayed to God  that morning about wanting to feel  the good or the bad or whatever. When you were sick of feeling numb. Later on that day during the intensive you received some brilliant advice from Natalie Norton about your body language. You were sitting cross legged and with arms crossed, looking down. Now you weren’t doing this because you were mad or sad. This a lot of times is where your body goes automatically. subconsciously. Natalie asked you to stand, look around, uncross, stop fidgeting and OPEN up my physical nature. This changed you. You said your words then sat down and for the first time in a long time you felt. Gina you so often close yourself up unconsciously. While you can survive like this, you can’t thrive. You can’t feel the great and you can’t feel the hurt. They are both equally important in the story of life. Open your hands as a conscious reminder of where and how you want to be. Open. Just like in the self portraits below, open in whatever that may be.

At the beginning of the year you had the hardest, I mean hardest time writing down strengths about yourself. You couldn’t think past 3 of them. Now through a lot of work you can list them close to effortlessly. Don’t be worried that people are going to think you are bragging or self righteous be humbly confident in your abilities. I am going to list some here in case you forget.

You are strong.

You are a leader.

You are creative.

You are encourager.

You are a coach.

You are a great friend.

You are God serving woman.

You are a wife.

You are a dancer.

You are beautiful.

You are hilarious.

You are full of life.

YOU ARE OPEN and can be this way if you choose to be. Gina choose to be present in 2011 and the rest of your life. Choose to live the brilliance that you have just tasted in 2010. Choose to be a wonderful wife, friend, boss, photographer, person each day. You already are these things, you just need to choose to be them daily. It’s as simple as that. Strive to make your faith and your family and yourself a priority next year and the rest will fall into place. I know it. I am counting on you to pull out this post whenever you feel doubtful or lost or frustrated. This is a year of your life, and look at the beautiful change God has made already. Be ready for what is coming next. 2011. 2011 watch out for this woman.

40 thoughts on “A Year of Self Portraits + A Letter

  1. This is hands down the best post I’ve read all year. It all speaks volumes to me and gives me strength. I’m absolutely amazed by you, Gina. Thank you for allowing us in.

  2. I see you with those hands wide OPEN, Gina Zeidler! I love you so much and am so grateful to have you as a best friend. Thank you for YOU.

  3. OMG Gina! I am SO PROUD of this post! I’m so happy and excited for you to kick 2011’s butt! You ARE open and beautiful and amazing! Own it!!! I’m so blessed to have met you.

  4. Gina,
    This is an amazingly beautiful post! We have heard so many great things about your from LK and we hope to get to chat with you some time in the near future! Love watching how you have grown this year!

  5. So thankful for you! You inspire me and I’m so glad I could jump on board the Gina Zeidler team and not only be your intern but also become your friend. I love you G!

  6. wow…loved it. I actually cried as I saw the last 3 pictures…with you 🙂 I will now just call you my bossom friend (Ann of Green Gables style). I admire much about you Gina–the top one being your genuine realness! Here’s to 2011!

  7. Tears….Amazing Gina, God is so good. Thank you for sharing HIS faithfulness with me. Happy New Year to an amazing person that I don’t know that well but feel like I do 🙂

  8. This was a truly inspiring, and beautiful post, Gina. I’m so happy that you posted it today. So proud of you. You are strong, capable, and beautiful. You ARE powerful. And you are OPEN. Happy New Year! xoxox

  9. Hi Gina! I stumbled upon this post and was drawn in from the get go. glued as I read. so inspiring, so beautiful, so real. I love it and desire to get to know you more! I love your love for the Lord and for this industry. Thank you for sharing your heart to us all!

  10. Holy Moly Gina! That was seriously the most inspiring post I’ve ever read. It was so REAL and so OPEN and so INSPIRING and so BRILLIANT and so YOU! And so what I needed to hear at this exact moment. Thank you thank you! I am so happy to have met you! You have inspired me more than you know. Huge XOXOXOX!

  11. I love this, Gina! You are so, so, so beautiful and I can’t even begin to imagine all of the wonderfulness that you’re going to experience in 2011!!

  12. oh baby this was so awesome. i could just sense the growth you made with each month. what an amazing way to document your year! glad to have met you in it!

  13. Gina, I am so, SO PROUD of you! What an inspiring journey this past year has been for you. I cannot wait to see the encouragement you pass on through this new year just by your actions alone. I am so thankful for you! Love you!

  14. Gina, I am so, SO PROUD of you and your words! What an inspiring journey this year has been for you. I cannot wait to see the encouragement you give just by being yourself in this new year. Yay! Love you!

  15. Wow! I feel like I remember some of these moments in your past year and seeing you in Watercolor outside of our Minnesota element, it was clear you are the same kind, loving, passionate woman, but also a more forgiving and content woman-forgiving yourself and content about where you are. You have been an inspiration to me for a long time and a really good friend. I appreciate you more than I think I share. Love you girl! You are AMAZING!

  16. Thanks for sharing your heart! Wow I know it’s not easy putting your thoughts, hopes, dreams, etc out there but just know what a blessing they are. : )

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Gina is a Minneapolis based wedding and lifestyle photographer that loves bringing the LIFE out of people & capturing that energy on camera. Contact Me