How To Be Okay: Passion Projects

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In between attempts to write this blog post, I'm overcome by fits of coughing that has me doubled over, praying to Yeezus that I don't make myself gag and vom on my bed. TMI? Too bad. We're all about being uncomfortable on this blog. But if that mental image of me nearly throwing up is too much, how about these lovely food photographs to put you at ease? I'm coughing so much because I have strep throat and it sucks but it's sort of become an opportunity for me to be productive. When I'm not resting up (read: laying in bed for hours wondering where it all went wrong), I force myself to get out of bed and get at least something productive done.

What's really helped with my productivity has been writing down my weekly Shit To Do lists in my planner. It's just a mini binder with planner sheets that Target sells but it's been wonderful with helping me get things done. Even though I've been sick, my planner motivates me to check items off my Shit To Do list because the thought of leaving things unattended will haunt me otherwise.  While the planner sheets help me with daily reminders, another section of the binder is dedicated to creative projects and ideas that I'm interested in pursuing. This is beneficial to me because my mind is constantly bombarded with new project ideas, especially before I go to bed, and I always forget them once I've moved onto the next thing. I also just work better with pen and paper rather than digital notes so this section of my binder has really motivated me to work on creative projects when I can.

A good portion of my notes is dedicated to food photography and food styling. I'm always writing down ideas and future post goals, so the interest never wanes.  The hard part for me has always been actually gathering ingredients, making whatever food I have envisioned in my head, and then styling the food into something I can photograph and proudly share. There's always going to be some excuse for why I don't practice my food photography more often, whether it's because ingredients are expensive or I don't have the time or I lost the natural light for the day. And as much as I try to rationalize why I can't do what I'm interested in more often, it's always a load of bullshit. It ultimately comes down to the same philosophy that I'm always grappling with: You have to put effort into the things you care about.

So when I mustered enough energy (and chugged enough coffee), I forced myself to practice my food photography and styling. Not being able to afford cute props for food photography has always been one of the factors that held me back from practicing but I've been able to find affordable ones I liked so that made the process more enjoyable for me. I was excited to use the things I'd gotten for hella cheap and super excited that the natural light was on my side this day. In a few hours, I photographed some homemade rice krispy treats with Fruity Pebbles and white chocolate drizzle, chocolate covered pretzels, and chocolate covered potato chips.

After editing the photos and cleaning up the mess I made in the process, I felt so creatively fulfilled. I always forget how good it feels to be happy and satisfied with creating content you love and that's why I've been trying to get a handle on my creative projects with my planner. Getting these projects done makes me feel so good that I will never want to stop creating. It fuels my desire to do and make more and most importantly, it reminds me that I'm okay. Getting out of my doom and gloom headspace is soooo vital (damn you hormones) and passion projects like food photography are helping me with that.

(Another way I can work on being okay is taking all of my antibiotics, but that's not something I really want to photograph and share, so look at these photos instead!)

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Nancy Hoang created Hopeless Thunder in 2007. She conducts the interviews, writes the articles, photographs the concerts, and handles the site's coding & design. (Basically, she's a control freak.) Her work can also be seen on music publication, CMJ. Contact Nancy for image licensing, assignments, or just to say hi.