Rest + Recharge

I've taken the last two days pretty easy. I've made a point to rest when I'm tired, eat home cooked meals, and work in quiet by myself at home cuddling with my puppies. If I don't take the time to recharge, I'll get overwhelmed. I'm sure you all know just as well that it's hard to get work done when it feels like your brain is going to break.

Recharging is necessary, whether that means quiet time to yourself, a bubble bath or getting to bed on time. When push ourselves to our limits, we have to make sure our bodies and minds can recuperate. During the holidays, when life is a hustle and bustle filled with more needs than the norm, we especially need to be aware of how we are spending our energy. .

💞 Wishing you rest and relaxation. 💞

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Alyson LawtonComment
Robyn

The metal of keys clinked together, a soft jingling on an otherwise fairly silent street. Somewhere a pair of birds were sharing secrets. Wind was rustling through the green leaves, a gentle whisper “wake up, you’ll have to rise soon.” Every motion and distant sound seemed to be on the cusp of something. The sun wasn’t even near the horizon as I turned the lock on my studio door. A chorus of sweeping metal against metal climaxed as the lock gave to it’s mechanics followed just as swiftly by the soft, nervous echos of metallic laughter as I returned the keys to my pocket. Stepping through the sheer white curtains, not yet tied to frame the door, I was greeted with a peaceful darkness. It’s moments like these where the atmosphere of my studio reminds me of a woman sitting blanket clad in a cozy chair, sipping hot chocolate, a puppy cuddled at her side, her hair cascading freely down her frame watching out the window for the sun to rise - not a care about anything other than the quiet moment she’s existing in. The morning was raw and fresh in its infancy; a perfect forecast for the session to come.

I quietly began my preparations. The gentle orange glow of pink salt rock lamps and string lights lit the quiet morning as Kirby and I set up for Robyn’s session. It was early and we were tired but we were buzzing with eagerness, making certain everything was set and welcoming.

Robyn stepped into the cozy glow of the studio with nervous laughter, slightly tousled hair and a warm smile - anticipation in her every step. The sun was still resting just below the horizon leaving a deep navy behind the windows lining the entrance. Over her arms were a pile of garment bags, a suitcase in tow in her opposite hand. With a quick side hug, I scooped her belongings from her arms. Billowing blacks and soft golds unfurled as we hung her garments with the gowns and dresses I selected for her glamour session. Her meticulous gaze studied each piece as we set her shoes in order. Once resolved in her silent thought, she made her way to the salon where Kirby had laid out her freshly washed brushes and makeup in front of a row of various warm-toned lipsticks. I paused by the dresses situated just outside the salon entrance. Kirby ushered Robyn into the salon chair and a flutter of conversation began. We once again discussed her goals for her session as I brought out the gowns one by one to pair shades of blush and lip color, ensuring a seamless transition between looks.

Robyn shared her stories over a communion of fresh brewed coffee and warm flaky pastries while having her hair and makeup styled. A combination of excitement and nerves brought bouts of jingling laughter and animated conversation. In her kindness and candor, her walls came down. The significance of the day settled amongst the three of us as the sun began to peak over horizon and vivid golden light flooded into the treeline and down the street towards my studio door. Hair and makeup styling approached an end and a gentle quiet found its way into our exchange. Not wanting to see how she looked just yet, Robyn took a quick assured breath and abruptly stood up from the chair at Kirby’s finishing touches. It was time.

Sunlight crept over the long low windowsill, spilling fresh morning light onto the floorboards and across the smooth grey walls on the far corners of the studio. Robyn was putting on her first dress as Kirby and I waited to do last minute adjustments. In perfect sync, Robyn stepped out just as the light began to rest in it's perfect position. The shimmer of the soft gold dress flittered in the new light as Robyn took steps forward, managing her butterflies. Working in unison, Kirby and I made slight adjustments, positioned straps, tailoring waistlines and putting every hair in its place. With a deep breath and a confident nod, we began. Assuring comfort and attentiveness, by the third outfit, Robyn stepped fully into her confidence. Her laughter grew, her eyes continued to warm, and her bravery to try new colors - a brilliant red - emerged. Her portrait session flew by and, before we knew it, there was one final outfit to go - a sharp black cocktail dress with a flowing chiffon cape. We posed her to accentuate her confidence and with five closings of the camera shutter, we were done.

Changing into her everyday clothing and packing her belongings, Robyn managed to not see what she looked like. In fact, she wouldn’t see how she looked that day until her Reveal & Order session. With a pair of hugs, butterflies dispelled and Robyn beaming, she stepped through the studio door into the now bustling street corner. All the leaves were awake and waving. The pair of birds now sharing their secrets with everyone who listened. Full of jovial brightness, the day was fresh and new. I took a moment to soak it all in. My own thoughts resolved and I left the curtains open letting the brilliant sunlight flow in.

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Women's Portraiture | Red Lip Looks | Black Cocktail Dress | Winston Salem, NC | WSNC | Photographers in Winston Salem | Places to photograph in Winston Salem | things to do in Winston Salem | Winston Salem tourist attractions | Greensboro Photographer | High Point Photographer | Clemmons Photographer
Women's Portraiture | Red Lip Looks | Black Cocktail Dress | Winston Salem, NC | WSNC | Photographers in Winston Salem | Places to photograph in Winston Salem | things to do in Winston Salem | Winston Salem tourist attractions | Greensboro Photographer | High Point Photographer | Clemmons Photographer
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Alyson Lawton Comments
Let's Be Human Together
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There she was, sitting across from me on my couch, apologizing for being scatterbrained, “I can’t think today. I’m sorry.”

I’ve heard apologies for people tripping themselves, accidentally spilling or dropping things, for not remembering my name, for forgetting information or having to ask a question for a second or third time. I have yet to come across a single one of these apology-instigating actions that I haven’t done myself and that I haven’t seen anyone else not do. We’re all human. We all fumble around. No one is perfect - this is a fact of life.

Earlier this week, at a business event I was attending, something peculiar happened. A man, whom I had never met, approached me and greeted me by name and with a firm handshake. Now, granted, I knew I was wearing a name tag but it was mostly obscured by my hair and I’m sure I looked bewildered because in my head I was instantly searching the archives of faces of people I had met. I knew I had never met this man before! So after searching and re-searching far back and thoroughly through all of the face files in my brain and being the awkwardly blunt human that I can be, I said, “Well, hello! Thank you for greeting me so warmly. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe we’ve ever met before. What’s your name?” He introduced himself and said we had, in fact, not met before but he wanted to address me by my name to show he cared.

Now, this event in itself wasn’t peculiar. It was the fact that, immediately after this gentleman walked away from me, a woman I did know came up looking at my name tag and addressing me by name. I greeted her warmly as, while I didn’t remember her name either, I knew her face and remembered her being a sweet individual and asked, “would you kindly remind me of your name? I remember you but I don’t remember your name.” She confessed she didn’t remember my name either and was thankful for name tags so that it could look like you remember names “because knowing names is important in business.” The woman who had just joined us stated, “people care if you know their name. It shows you care about them. My brain doesn’t work that way. That’s why I also like the name tags - especially the ones that are written large and clear. I can pretend I know people.”

I was slightly bemused at what I was hearing. It wasn’t the fact that remembering someone’s name shows you care, it was the pressure and shame behind the words and the repetition of the thought “knowing names means you care” in such resemblant phrasing from three separate people. This is something these people had been taught and was an area of stress for at least two of them. The first woman was truly embarrassed I saw her looking at my name tag. The second outrightly admitted she felt the need to pretend. I chortled lightly and let both of them know I would never be upset if they didn’t remember my name - that it’s okay to be human.

I see this pressure to be perfect and put together 100% of the time - not just in business interactions but on Instagram and social media and with my clients when we sit together. It’s a wonderful thing to strive to be better, to constantly improve yourself but, how many of us can agree that it is exhausting and emptying to try to show up like we are perfect all the time? (If I wasn’t typing, both of my hands would be raised along with my eyebrows).

Do you know that I’ve also been given the business advice to only show up when I can be 100% “my brand?” Thankfully for me, my brand is very much me - which includes my quirks and awkwardnesses and insecurities and transparencies. The point this speaker was making, however, was that as a business and as a person you should never appear to falter, you should always appear to have it together. I get where she was coming from, I really do, and there is value in what she was saying. You should instill trust in people and provide them with all the reasons to be confident in themselves and you (and your business). How many of us also want to hear a genuine apology when businesses mess up though? Or find it helpful and encouraging to see that the “perfect people” of the world are just as human as we are? It’s not that we relish in these mistakes or people’s flaws, it’s that we are seeking genuine connections and genuine people.

That’s just it, guys, it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to be scatterbrained, to forget information or a name, to have to ask a question multiple times. You don’t have to be #instaperfect or make it look like you’re living “your best life.” It’s okay to not be perfect 100% of the time. Your life is valuable and attractive because YOU are in it. It’s perfectly okay that you are not perfect. We are all in the same boat with you. Let’s all just be human together.


Alyson LawtonComment
Making an Impact on Your Community | An Opportunity to Shop Local

In June of 1963, President John F. Kennedy addressed Frankfort and stated, “As they say on my own Cape Cod, a rising tide lifts all the boats.” The latter of this quote has been embraced and could well be on the flag that is raised with pride in the heart of every small business. You’ve probably even seen these words splayed across the walls in your favorite local small businesses or gracing the digital walls of the makers and artists you support on Instagram and Facebook. Serving as a depiction of general prosperity affecting individual prosperity, this sentiment is one of the many reasons I love to support other local and small businesses.

Shopping and supporting local, for me, is about relationships and making a concentrated positive impact. I know many of the people behind the products and services I support. I know their family is affected by the ups and downs of income, and I know their success will mean the eventual success of my city, Winston-Salem North Carolina. That’s why, when Jen Brown the founder and owner of Fearless Winston Salem, told me about an idea pitched to her by Danielle Hoover the owner of Southern Comfort Boutique, to help uplift and support lesser seen small businesses I knew I wanted to be involved.

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In the world of social media, ecommerce and their ever changing geography of algorithms, small businesses can be drowned out. Danielle, as she herself runs her boutique online, has a heart for other entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and micropreneurs in the same position. She desires a platform for herself and those like her to be able to be more visible to the public and therefore consumers. Jen was the perfect person to connect with. She is involved with the Small Business Center, the Launch Challenge and makes her living giving people courage and confidence to speak on and represent their work and dreams. (Check out Engaging Educator to see how she does this). She also recently opened a women’s space built as a source of community and relationships called Fearless. Here, women can build connections with each other and delve into relationships in a way our city had been previously lacking. Together, Jen and Danielle decided to create a vendor fair. Shortly after they met, Taryn Jerez, the owner of One Crafty Miss, and I were brought on board and we founded Small Biz Crawl.

Small Biz Crawl is the perfect place to support local businesses around the holidays. There will be 17 vendors with an array of goods and services as well as 10 brick and mortar businesses offering gifts and goodies for the holiday shopper who likes to shop local. It is a great opportunity to connect with our community and a true example of the good that can happen when people work together and put competition aside. If you love to shop local like me or just want to see what the event is all about, feel free to come and visit us!

A rising tide lifts all boats
— John F. Kennedy
Unique Gifts for Christmas | How to support local small businesses | How to get involved with your community | Winston Salem small businesses | Shop Local | Support Local | Vendor Events | wsnc | WInston Salem North Carolina | Fun Events for the Fall | Unique Gift Ideas
Alyson LawtonComment