A few days ago, right as the Great Home Overhaul of 2016 began, I sat down at the computer to clear up a few files. There was actually a problem with a client's photo gallery and I needed to get to the bottom of it, the kids were still asleep, and I had a few hours to spare. I noticed immediately that something funky was going on. There was an error message on the screen and it was running all catawhampus. After a few attempts to get rid of the rainbow circle of Mac confusion, I pressed the power button for ten seconds and started over.
At least, I tried to start over.
The Macbook, she was not starting over. She was, however, doing a great impression of something that doesn't work at all. Given the vastness of the home projects in front of me and with a sinking feeling, I just closed the cover and got to work emptying the kitchen cabinets onto the kitchen table so we could sand the empty cabinets in preparation for painting. But, I reasoned, I had just run a diagnostic test, and everything was fine. I was good, I thought.
I thought wrong.
Wednesday, it came to light that my hard drive had suffered an unexpected, unexplained, and absolutely catastrophic crash. There was nothing to be done but to replace it.
What could not be replaced, and could not be recovered by the folks at the Apple store, was the data from my old hard drive.
*Pause here to allow everybody to gasp in horror.*
I tried to be light about it: all of my clients' photos (except for the ones in the messed up gallery) were in online storage for ten years. Most of my pictures and documents were on disks or external hard drives. I subscribe to the Creative Cloud, so I still had access to Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom, if I ever decide to learn it. I didn't lose everything in a catastrophic fire. I didn't lose a limb. It was okay.
Except, of course, that I keep running into...glitches. Yes, I have Photoshop, but what I don't have is five or so years of actions and settings that I built as I learned: all of my photo processing "stuff" is gone and has to be reprogrammed. Yes, I have MOST of my pictures, but some are mysteriously missing from my disks: 2011 and 2013 have huge gaps in them and in those gaps lurk some of my favorite pics that now can only be viewed via Facebook or my creaky, probably about to implode old Dell (copying those to an external hard drive now.) 2015 and most of 2014 is gone, unless I edited the pictures and loaded them onto the online gallery I built for my family. All of the pictures of the house I took for my blog and Instagram, the "befores" waiting for "afters..." gone. New logos and marketing info...gone. It's all just GONE.
*Pause for me to clutch at my chest dramatically and cry out to the heavens.*
I gave myself a day to mourn and glump and berate myself for FOOLISHLY not backing up my hard drive every week, after every download from every camera disk, every time I changed my logo, uploaded a product...EVERY TIME. Foolish, Heather. Jeez.
Then...I took a deep breath and rebooted.
The truth is, after five years, I was ready to change the direction of my photography business. I love working with folks, and I adore most of my clients, but I felt my work getting stale. I fell behind in editing because I was just simply bored and could do it in my sleep. NOT that my clients weren't beautiful, awesome, great human beings, but because I just felt bleah about doing the same old thing over and over again. I was already lining up a shift to a new style, a new pricing system, a new delivery system, a stronger marketing plan. Now, I have no excuses to fall back into the "old way" because the "old way" is gone. Literally, it is not there anymore. Heather Ray Photography is officially rebooting and will be launching anew in the next couple of weeks. (Thankfully, I was smart enough to order the items for my logo design from Creative Market, which offers online access to your purchases for a good long while.)
Another truth: after years of stops and starts and weird backward loop the loops, I'm FINALLY on track in terms of what I want my home and work life to be. I've lost lots of links to recipes I've never tried, projects that interested me, self-help articles that I was saving to...help myself. I've lost bookmarks to sites that I thought would make me more marketable, that would make me sound more hip or smart or whatever. All I can say is, "Thank goodness." Those bookmarks and recipes and storage cabinets made out of leftover turf scavenged from golf courses were weighing me down, man. They were constantly making me question myself, constantly making me try to be cooler or meaner or more tear-inducing.
GAH. I'm just me. I say dumb stuff. I say smart stuff. I build cool stuff and completely fail at planting cucumbers successfully. I can crochet a lovely blanket and wind up crying over learning how to knit. And it's okay. If you don't love me for my perfect imperfections (sing it with me, now), that's cool. It won't hurt my feelings and you don't have to spend a lot of time framing a perfect response to something I said that was wrong or angered you or made you think I was a spawn of the Dark One.
Buh bye, bookmarks and websites filled with things that made me want to be more awesome than I already am. You were cool and pretty, but I've rebooted and I'm doing okay without you.
In fact, I'm doing just PEACHILY without you. The Willster and I have come up with a one year plan to get the house all spiffied up, the kids and I are working on the garden and planning for chickens, and I didn't eat ice cream for breakfast today. (I ate it for lunch yesterday, but...you know...protein.) My forty-second year is ending up awash in productivity.
Now, don't get me wrong: I've saved the old, crashed hard drive and maybe one day when I become an insanely successful something or other and people are throwing buckets of money at my head to do something fantastic, I will be able to find a tech wizard to get my pictures off of there, because that loss still stings. But...I lived those moments already. They will always be with me and I can see them any time I want to by closing my eyes. Sure, I'd like to show y'all a picture of my table before I paint it and make it faaabulous, but most of you have already seen it in pictures of biscuits I post on Instagram. Don't follow me on Instagram? You should totally do it. You can see pictures of biscuits! On my table!
Said table currently looks like this:
Sometimes it takes a while.