Introducing: The New Boss of Me

Louie05Everyone, I would like you to meet Mr. Walter Louis White.

His name WASN’T my idea. I have never seen Breaking Bad in my life, but my parents have, and since they were his foster parents for a couple days, they decided on Walter White. When he became mine, I picked his middle name, and that’s what he goes by: Louie.

As the January entry of my 2014 New Years Resolution, “Do Something New Every Month,” Mr. Louie is featured as “Adopt a Cat” – which, if you’ve read my full Bucket List & Resolutions, you will see that this also crosses off a life goal as well!

Living with Louie has certainly been an adventure, and it’s only been two and a half weeks since he moved in. He’s taught me invaluable life lessons about kitty ownership that I think ought to be shared.

1. Cats are not like dogs.

Yes, this is common knowledge. But try going from being a dog person for most of your life to living completely alone for over two years, and then getting a cat. I’m used to dogs. Floor dwellers. Silent unless commanded to speak, or a leaf flutters in the wind. Teachable, out-smartable. The bigger the dog, the more protection against intruders. Not so with felines. It didn’t take long to figure out that there is nothing out of Louie’s reach unless it is behind a closed door. Also, I learned rather quickly that Louie does not tend to come when he’s called, as do most dogs. And, it was immediately apparent that Louie likes to talk – A LOT. And not much will get him to stop (“Louie! Hush!” hasn’t worked yet, though for some reason I keep trying. He just sasses me right back.)

2. You don’t train cats. They train you.

After I figured out that my space is Louie’s space, there needed to be some immediate changes. This realization came after I watched him dance around my dirty dishes on the kitchen counter the first night he was home. I could have scolded and punished him for being on the counter, but what good would that do since he has free reign to go wherever he wants to while I’m at work? So after a couple of incidences where I had to chase him out of the dishes, the laundry, the stack of mail, and the pile of shoes, it was clear that Louie’s first training session for me was titled “Don’t want me in it? Put it away.” Needless to say, my house was spotless in a couple of days.

Louie also has a very strict timeline as to when meals ought to be served to him. Yes, he instilled this timeline himself. For example, he is under the impression that breakfast is served NO LATER THAN 7:30 every morning. Even on Saturdays. Sleeping in is for dog owners. As soon as my alarm goes off at 7:00, he is on my chest, staring into my soul with those big ice blue eyes, and says, “MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM. MOM.” until I either body slam him into the mattress, or finally shuffle halfheartedly into the kitchen to measure out his 1/3 cup of Kitty Kibbles. And then he takes two stinking bites and then goes off to play with his little mousey toy.


3. Catnip is crack for cats.

Louie, when he’s not hungry or grumpy, is a pretty chill dude. He is very fond of naps, and cuddling, and he’s not very active (hence the carefully measured diet). His pastimes include scratching his cardboard box and scratch mat, and kneading my furniture. And he likes to follow me around the house and talk – nonstop.

That’s when I pull out the catnip.

The dude goes BONKERS. For like 5 minutes. Then he gets tired, and falls asleep again.

4. Purring is good for the soul.

There’s something about it that is like magic. Maybe it’s just my lonely heart bonding with the nearest living creature, but there’s something about a warm cat curled up on my chest, head tucked under my chin, purring low and slow like a motor boat that just washes the stress of the day away.

Louie iphoneAll that to say, my “Do Something New” entry has turned into a bond of true love. Louie may be a narcissistic, food-hoarding, carpet-scratching catnip addict who thinks he’s the boss of me, but who’s to say that’s not exactly what I need in my life right now? He’s officially a member of the Emma Dilemma family.

And I love him.





It was fun, but I’m glad it’s over.

I for one am happy to see 2013 disappear into the history books.

Not for any particular, profound, deeply reflective reason, but to me the year change is a nice reminder that no matter what happened, life moves on. As Victor Kiam said, even if you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.

I fell on my face a few times last year. It really hurt, and it hurt people around me too, but made standing back up all the more worthwhile. Let us pause and look back on a few of the moments that made 2013 memorable:

  • Graduation from college with an Associates of Science and an Associates of Arts (and 3.69 GPA – not too shabby)
  • Weddings – I was the maid of honor (for the first time!) in one, crashed another, and caught the bouquet in a third.
  • I traveled to Nashville, Pennsylvania, and San Antonio. (Some favorite moments included going to the Grand Ole Opry, meeting my cousins’ children, and taking my mom on a roller coaster, respectively).
  • Photography: I bought a camera, and quickly realized that I was over my head. However, with a little practice and some coaching, I discovered a true passion for portraits and close-up photography. (I also learned how much I love COLORS.)
  • I started a blog. Thanks to all of you wonderful people who read it, I’ve kept writing. And I still can’t believe you’re still reading.

I lost friends, won back some old ones, and gained a few new ones. I broke a heart, and I broke a car (to my knowledge, at least one of those has been repaired). I learned a lot about myself, and a lot of it surprised me. I discovered the strength of family and the power of a hug. I realized what it takes to be a true friend. I found freedom in forgiveness. And I was humbled by how much I need grace…

But for 2014, I’m ready for a year of discovery, exploration, adventure, and anticipation…
I want to take leaps of faith, even when they’re scary.
I want to make active choices for the life that I’m living NOW, not for the life I want to fall into my lap.
I want to work harder, push further, love deeper, and pray longer.
I want to enjoy the moment without my phone.
I want to look into my friends’ eyes and hear their hearts, not their news feeds.
I want to have stories to tell, songs to sing, moments to remember!
I want to enjoy contentedness with all that I have been abundantly blessed.
I want to learn how to love life as a process, not an event.

Beyond all of this, I want to become stronger in my faith and weaker in myself, and remember every day that without Him, I’d have no hope. No matter what year it is or season of life I’m in, He is still good and sovereign and on His throne.

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

– Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-15 (ESV)

These are a few of my favorite things.

Sometimes, words are just too much to handle. At least, that’s the way I’ve felt the last couple of weeks. I’ve been intending to put out another blog post for some time, but the words aren’t there yet.

So here’s a happy post of pretty pictures displaying just a few of my favorite things.

1. Puppies. Especially when they’re not mine to take care of.


2. Light after a rain storm.

rainyday033. Color.

258026_2114620227100_3436647_o4. My siblings. (I miss you guys…)

527833_3899628331187_1737418460_n-15. When design elements come together perfectly. The first time.

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 6.28.09 PM

Story behind this logo: The client wanted a permanent logo for this annual breast cancer awareness event. The town paints a symbolic pink stripe down Main Street, so the logo definitely needed to include the element of paint. She also wanted to include the iconic county courthouse as part of the design. With a bit of analysis and sheer dumb luck, the top of the courthouse just WORKED as the top of the paintbrush. The design was SO POPULAR that it earns it’s place in my design hall of fame.

6. Interesting art. (Found on the streets of Denton, TX)

IMG_13567. This guy playing the hang drum.

Hopefully my words will return to me and I’ll post something of substance relatively soon!

(Edit: I thought of a few more later last night! 🙂 These don’t have pictures… but they’re definitely on the list.)

8. The way my Canadian pastor says the word “clean.”

It’s really crisp on the first consonant, but then it rolls into the L in this really unique way that I can’t replicate. Must be a Canadian thing.

9. Crossing the last item off my to-do list.

10. The 5 minutes when my computer desktop is uncluttered and organized.

11. Grossing my mom out when I pop my joints.

12. Popping my joints.

13. Public speaking / Storytelling. Yeah, I love it. There’s something highly addictive in being able to captivate a listener with my words and leaving a particular message or emotion behind.

14. Completing a blog post.

Well, that’s embarrassing.

I am in a season of life when I look back on what I put on my social media and I wonder what on earth I was thinking.

With the support of family and friends, I’m undergoing a makeover of sorts. Not the hair and nails makeover, but more of a wholesome “change my way of life” upgrade. It’s a time to dust off old hobbies, practice some new ones, and triumph over bad habits. (Some of my newest hobbies include photography, ukulele, and basket weaving. Just kidding about the last one… maybe.)

Luckily for me, my number one fan (other than my mom) is my SUPER-FANTASTIC boss! I shall call her Shannon, for that is her name. She’s the director of marketing, and she knows a few things about personal marketing too, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when she marched into my office, sat down, and said, “It’s time to go through your Facebook.”


It’s amazing how many photos I had to go through and how many got hidden or locked. There were PLENTY of bad hair, no makeup, funny face, “I-don’t-give-a-cheezit-what-I-look-like” photos that were honestly a little less than presentable. Some were so bad that the entire ALBUM got trashed. *sigh*

Seriously, if someone I didn’t know was browsing through my photos, they could totally peg me for a renaissance ballerina/punk/vampire/musician-wannabe with no taste in style or haircuts.

Exhibit A:


Note the dark lipstick, the leotard, and black choker. This was clearly my Black Swan phase.

Exhibit B:

Is that a pretzel? Unfortunately for me, the punk rocker/young professional/hippy peace sign look doesn’t work.

Exhibit C:

I can only assume that I was having a seizure and thought it would be super cool to take a selfie at the same time. (And I will admit… this was in my bedroom. On my bed. Alone. And THIS is what I did with my time.)

So there you have it. Chances are, there will still be PLENTY of opportunities for terrible pictures to be taken, but hopefully next time I will think twice before publishing them for the world to see.

(Stay tuned for more “Project Emma” updates!)

It’s the camera’s fault.

I was sweating bullets.

Yes, it was nearing “Melting” on the heat index, but that’s not why I had a sudden perspiration problem. It was finally time to take Brooklinn’s senior photos.

Convinced of my impending failure, I talked my boyfriend into doing some test shots with me so I could cram some last second practicing in. Looking back, this was a mistake. I love him, but he just can’t get the hair-flip, hand-on-hip, glamorous-grin pose down. 

Thankfully, Brooklinn can’t get the hair-flip, hand-on-hip, glamorous-grin pose down either as she hiked through a field in a sundress and cowboy boots with a pocket knife hooked on the left boot. And double thankfully, she is extremely photogenic (when she’s not distracted by squirrels or the wind blowing or rambunctious brothers). 

As it turns out, we had a great time. Here are the best of the best. 




And just because he was such a doll for helping me out, here’s one of my boyfriend. 🙂



Nailed It!

Last weekend, as a surprise for their foster daughter, some dear friends of mine asked me to shoot her senior photos.

The only senior photos I’ve ever taken were at the hospital’s auxiliary luncheon, so imagine the panic that flooded my mind as I winced smiled and warmly agreed to do the photoshoot.

I know enough to be fully aware that a good (and expensive) camera doesn’t make a photographer. Although there are hundreds of photo apps to make everyone and their sister a “photographer,” professional photography is still an art form. And having stood in the shadows of real professional photographers (Michaella PhotographyHannah ImageMVision Photography), I don’t pretend to have any idea what I’m doing in the camera world.

Nevertheless, my achiever personality kicked in.

41yfIc+7vALI’ve been wanting to purchase a digital camera for some time, and since now there’s no time like the present, I started prowling on Craigslist. I found a decently priced Canon Rebel XS that comes with a zoom lens, a 50mm lens, carrying case, chargers, cleaners and more that would be more than enough of a startup kit.

Then I started studying. And I do mean studying. I looked at every senior photo my friends had ever posted on Facebook. I googled “Practical Tips for Posing Seniors.” I added my subject on Pinterest and spent several hours analyzing her boards with hundreds of senior picture ideas.

And I’m still worried that even with our great ideas for spectacular shots, I’m going to end up with this:


Rest assured, the young lady I’m photographing is an absolute doll. She is beautiful, charming, and has a great haircut, so I’m sure that she will look fantastic. It’s just up to the troll on the other side of the lens to keep her that way…

Tomorrow’s the big day. Pray for me.