Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Creative Stuff

I'm very excited to have gotten my photography website back up and running just in time for spring (well, supposedly it's spring but we did get snow yesterday).  I had a great time doing photography back in Indiana, and I'm happy to be doing it again here at our new home in Ohio.  I do outdoor photography (unless clients would like pictures taken in their home) and have experience with shooting couples, individuals, children, infants, and more.  I'm doing a senior photo shoot in April and my first wedding in August (yay!), but I still have lots of open slots.  Check out my website here:


You can contact me via email through my website to set something up or talk about options.  Prices and a gallery of my work are available on my website. 

A sample of my photography work.  This was a family shoot I did with my brother-in-law, Ryan, and my two adorable nephews, Nathan and Ian.  You can see more photos from this shoot and other samples on my website.
 Earlier this month, LEVELER Poetry Mag published my poem "Fawn" along with an amazing commentary by the editors.  The editors had no idea what I wrote this poem about, but I think their commentary was spot-on (from the LEVELER website):

"Before we discuss the context, we’d like to talk about how Kristin LaFollette’s poem ends: with the smell of rain. If you’re curious, there are reasons why rain smells the way it does. But to stay with the image, the smell of rain seems to evoke a universal feeling of freshness. It isn’t, however, a simple unsophisticated feeling you’d expect from, say, a sunny day (not to put down sunny days – not in a winter like this one). There’s something more complex about rain smell – it isn’t exactly pure; it isn’t easy-going. But it’s special. 'Fawn' ends with '[i]t smelled like rain' and 'it' is a heart. Our speaker remembers standing in the kitchen holding one, pressing on it. It is explicitly a 'real one,' not a metaphoric heart. Not the heart poetry may have grown weary of. For that very reason – this heart’s tangible, sensual existence in this stanza, 'purple tissue' and all, we are actually able to think of its underlying role. The speaker held this heart (a fawn’s maybe) and it smelled like a fresh thing. There’s an enigma to it. Perhaps the enigma is solvable, if you keep reading back. You’ll learn that boys lose their innocence early in Iowa. They’re taught to shoot, kill, be proud of bloody hands. Read further up. Our speaker watched such a boy. The boy became a man, learned to feel the still, sad music of humanity. The speaker watched it happen like she watched this heart, pressed it, maybe in order to try and grasp its essence. To us, this is a Romantic poem (as in Romanticism, not romance). We miss that boy. We know childhood ends this way more often than not. We learn to see things factually, let blood be blood. The smell of rain reminds us of a thing or two. The memory is ambiguous: metallic, wet. We handle it, we’re doing fine. Occasionally snakes come out of the corn."

Interested in reading the poem?  Head over to the LEVELER website to see the poem and commentary side-by-side:


The editors perfectly captured what I was trying to portray with this poem:  "We miss that boy...The memory is ambiguous:  metallic, wet."  "Fawn" just happens to be a coming-of-age poem I wrote about my little brother.

And in case you missed it with my last post, here is the latest edition of NEAT Mag, which features two of my poems:


What I'm most excited about right now is the new edition of Harbinger Asylum.  The new issue features several pieces of my artwork along with two of my poems.  I'm still waiting on my free contributor copy, but you can support this press and writers and artists like me by ordering a copy here:


There are several other amazing writers and artists featured in this issue, as well.  And you can check out my collages and poems.  Cool stuff, I promise. 

Coming up in May, I have two poems being featured in Poetry Pacific.  And, as always, I'm still writing and submitting like crazy.

I'm very excited about the poetry scene here in our new city.  The downtown library does a poetry series called Poetry Speaks every spring.  I was able to attend the first installment of that earlier this month and hear some wonderful writers read their poetry.  The most exciting thing about that night was that they had several poetry books from featured authors on a shelf up front in the room.  I was beyond excited to see that one of the featured authors/books was The Bottom by Betsy Andrews.  That book was published by Indiana University South Bend's publishing press, 42 Miles Press, which is based out of the English department and is run by my favorite professor there (I went there for my undergrad and grad school and taught in the English department there for three years).  My husband and I were both there at the release for that book and listened to Andrews read from it. 

There is some great poetry coming out of South Bend, folks. 

There is another Poetry Speaks reading this Thursday at 6:00pm, but I won't be able to make it to that one because of work.  Speaking of, my new job is going well.  The kids are great and I haven't picked up any major illnesses yet (every time I've had a job working with kids, I seem to be sick ALL of the time).

Life is good.

Now, go read some poetry.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sharing in LOVE

Justin and I went to Ann Arbor, MI, this past weekend.  It was my first time there and it is a beautiful city with lots of wonderful antique/vintage stores, an amazing farmer's market, and lots of fun locally owned downtown shops.  We had a great time there.

As we were walking back to our car, a homeless man sitting on a bucket to the side of the sidewalk stopped us.  He looked rough, but had the most vibrant blue eyes behind glasses, his long hair pulled into a ponytail.  If you know my husband, you know how he loves to wear shorts all year round, even in the winter time.  On this particular day, Justin was wearing a bright green sweatshirt with blue and red plaid shorts with skater shoes and a red hat (I love his uniqueness).

Laughing as we walked up, the homeless man said, "First, do you have any spare change?  And second, did she help you pick out your outfit!?"

Neither of us were offended.  He was laughing and joking with us and probably just needed someone to speak to him, to provide some human contact that he had probably been missing out on but craving so much.  Lots of people walked by on the street as he sat off to the side, ignoring him, maybe not even with negative intentions, but probably just because seeing a homeless person in downtown Ann Arbor is a regular sight, so much so that they don't even notice anymore.  These homeless people - they almost cease to be human.

As Justin and I stopped to talk to him, we laughed and I pointed out that he typically wears shorts, even when it is cold outside.  The man said he didn't mean to offend us, and I told him that it was nice to have a good laugh.  I searched my pockets for some spare change or a dollar, but came up empty.

"Don't worry," he said.  "You guys laughing with me was enough."

To me, this was one of the saddest things I've ever heard.  The fact that someone stopping and enjoying a small moment of laughter with him was such a happy occurrence probably meant that people didn't typically notice him.

When does a person's situation cause them to lose their humanity?  Isn't that how we are all ultimately connected - through our shared humanity?

I told him we were happy to have talked with him and, as Justin and I walked back to our car, thought about all of the people who miss out on the necessary human contact that we all desire because of poor circumstances.  I don't know what that man's story was, but no situation should keep a human being from enjoying the community of other humans.

Isn't a person's humanity enough?  Shouldn't people deserve respect based on their humanity alone?

Kindness.  It can go a long way.

If Justin and I had kept walking and ignored the homeless man in tattered clothing smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk, he would have missed out on a moment that meant the world to him and that ultimately affected Justin and I for the better.  It didn't take anything more than Justin and I acknowledging him and having a conversation with him - letting him know that someone cared enough to hear what he had to say.

I think this world is losing sight of something that is so important - each and every person in this world is deserving of love and respect based on nothing more than the fact that they are human beings.  We are made in God's image.  Shouldn't that be enough?

Jesus said we should love God and love others as we love ourselves.  So how can we do that today for the people in our lives?  For strangers?  For people that wouldn't normally receive the love and care that they deserve?

I have been so bogged down lately by the negativity that surrounds me.  People gossip, spread rumors, criticize, and refuse change based on their own selfish desires (we are all guilty of this at some point in time).  People have been unwelcoming, rude, and downright mean.  I get so tired of the negativity from people who should be sharing and spreading God's love and it makes me lose faith in humanity.  But then moments happen like what I experienced on Saturday and remind me what it's all about.  Nothing will change unless we all make an effort.  One person can start a revolution and change the world.

So what can you do TODAY to spread God's love?  How can you show love to someone who needs it?  How can you help stop the negativity present, even in our churches, and create an atmosphere of love, friendship, and kindess?

God is love.  Help others feel that love, one random act of kindness at a time.


If you read my blog at all, you probably know about my best friend, Dee (also known as Cohen).  She has been up against the battle of a lifetime since she was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor in 2013.  She just turned 26 in January, so she is no longer on her stepfather's insurance and her disability/Medicaid paperwork is taking too long, so she is currently without medical insurance.  Because of this, she has had to put off her next chemotherapy and radiation treatments and hasn't been able to go to her check-ups.  She also has been spending ridiculous amounts of money on her very important medications since she is uninsured.  When she was first diagnosed, my friend, Elisabeth, and I started a fundraiser for Dee to help offset her medical costs.  I just started it up again to help her get the treatments, appointments, and medications she needs to stay on top of her very dangerous brain tumor.  No one deserves to be in the situation she is in, so please, if you can contribute anything at all, visit her fundraising site at youcaring.com/deesbraindefenders.  The site is secure and uses PayPal to process all donations.  Every single penny goes to Dee and will help her until she can get insurance coverage again.  The site also shares her story, photos, and updates on her condition.  Thank you all for your love and support.  I also keep a Facebook page for her where I post photos and updates at facebook.com/deesbraindefenders.


I also wanted to share that I got a job this past week!  After moving to Ohio about four months ago, I was relieved to finally get a job interview (after applying to over 30 jobs).  I am now an employee of the Boys & Girls Club!  I start the new job on Monday and am excited to jump in and work with the kids.  I feel like this job will be a lot like my experiences at Recess (see my blog posts from summer 2011 and 2012), a summer camp for at-risk children.  Either way, I'm happy to be working again!

Since I start my new job next week, I decided to visit Cohen and then visit my family.  So I'm here in Indiana until Thursday!  It's been a great week so far.  While I'm excited to start my job, I will miss the freedom of working from home!


I had another publication this past week in NEAT Mag, a literary magazine based in the Midwest.  View the latest issue and my two poems at neatmag.net/issues.  These two poems are particularly special to me - one is about my father's struggle with illness and the other is about Cohen's struggle with illness.  Check out my poems and the other great work in this issue and support the literary community!

Here's my latest publication at LEVELER Poetry Mag - levelerpoetry.com/fawn-levelheaded.  I love that this magazine includes an editor's discussion alongside the poem.  Follow the link to see my poem and the editor's note!  They captured the emotion of the poem perfectly.