There is a gentleness in a man’s eyes that only one girl can put there. The girl he truly loves.
Remember Cara, my neighbor when we were 6 year old girls living in Chicago? The friend who I lost contact with until we found each other on facebook years later. The friend who met a guy named Dan, fell in love, and married him in a small ceremony in the town of Manassas, Virginia. [view their Wilmington engagement session here]
Snow dusted the lawn, crunching beneath their feet as they walked to the church. It was late fall in Virginia and leaves were floating through the air creating a blizzard of orange and yellow.
I saw it on their faces that day. A softness in their eyes. A whisper in their voices. With family and friends gathered from near and far, two best friends were about to become forever.
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Wilmington, NC Wedding Photographer | Virginia Wedding Photographer
March 5, 2011 – Saturday
The start of a new chapter in my life. The wind is blowin, sun glowin, and music flowin. I’m laying on a blanket in the backyard. A butterfly just flew overhead, it’s like a dream… until I start sweating from the hot sun and mosquitoes buzz by. Reality sets back in. We have dreams and plans, but they aren’t always God’s plan for us…
My journal post was interrupted by the honk of the mailman’s truck around front. “YES! I got mail. Oh fun, and I even have to sign for it!” I thought, as the mailman handed me the electronic notepad.
Once I was inside, I tore it open. “Why would a lawyer from Colorado be sending me a letter?” The black letters seemed to morph into a blur. He stated his client had trademarked the name Paige Elizabeth and I could no longer be in business under that name. Everything had to be wiped clean from the internet within 30 days or I faced legal fines.
I have to think and write my way through emotions, so I did the only thing I knew to do: I went back out and continued writing in my journal under the shade of the mango tree. “I know God allowed it to happen but I don’t know why. I have no idea what I’ll name the biz. It’s frustrating, but I gave the biz to God when I first started and I’m excited to see where He’ll take it.” I just laid there and let the salty tears smear my makeup. I wondered why. I got angry. The blog had been up for over a year and it was finally showing up on the first page of Google. “Why God! Why would you allow this to happen? It’s been a good year and business was growing. Why!”
Silent tears are slowly running down my cheeks as I sit here writing this. It wasn’t until just now, as I read back through the journal, that I noticed how it started. When the ink touched the paper that day, the mailman had not come yet. [please don’t ask about the “blowin, glowin, and flowin”] Little did I know, I was about to experience what I had just written down: “we have dreams and plans, but they aren’t always God’s plan for us.”
Dear Mr. ——,
I received your letter regarding Paige Elizabeth. I agree to cease use of the mark Paige Elizabeth as related to photography… …in order to direct my clients to my new site, I request a 90-day period to maintain my current domain name…
The request was granted and the next month was spent starting from ground zero. Whether it was the right thing to do or not, I made the decision based off of how popular it was on Google. Every name I came up with already had rankings on Google. If I were to stand out, I had to have a name that stood out. So I finally googled my own name: there wasn’t another Paige Overturf on the planet. “But what if I get married? Then what? Do I have to start all over again under a new name?” After a few weeks of going back and forth, the odds beat it out and I purchased the domain names www.paigeoverturf.com and www.paigeoverturfblog.com – as well as set up Paige Overturf on twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
In my mind, it was a tragedy. Looking back, it was only the beginning. The beginning of putting my own words into practice, “we have dreams and plans, but they aren’t always God’s plan for us.” The beginning of God saying, “Paige, do you trust me? You talk the talk, but will you walk the talk?”
One day, I was feeling particularly defeated. The pages of my journal carry the emotions, “God, I’m trying to trust you. I’m trying to give up my desires, to surrender my life to You. But so often I fail. It’s hard. Life is so hard. Sometimes I want to give up, leave Guam, forget we ever came.”
As every entrepreneur knows, the reward comes after the hustle. I needed to get my name out and I needed more experience, which meant stepping outside of my comfort zone. So I called the main newspaper on island and asked if they published the work of local photographers. “No ma’am, we don’t. But we can set up a meeting if you’d like to consider doing freelance with us.”
I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. All I knew was I had a passion for telling stories through photography, adventure was calling, and there was a whole world waiting to be seen.
The newspaper assignments allowed me to meet people all over the island leading to opportunities from the community college to photographing an event with the governor, an article for World Bridal, a makeup artist with Philippine’s Cosmo Mag and eventually covering a 3 day music event, including writing the article for it. I was stoked!! …until it came time to publish and they didn’t use my article. “Your writing style isn’t what we’re looking for.” Vibe killed…
Shooting, blogging, exploring, reading, watching I didn’t know if I was doing things right or wrong. The starvation to learn and grow was real.
But, why so much about God? What do my beliefs have to do with owning a business? Let’s do a little reverse time travel back to 2008.
At 1 am all the lights were off in the house except for one tiny closet light. Sharing a room with both an older and younger sister meant the closet became my workspace after everyone went to bed. Pulling out a blank journal, I began to write: July 24, 2008… Every new journal is a blank book waiting to be filled with stories. The first page is dedicated to daring to dream and pushing the limits beyond human expectations. A little paragraph about what I would like to see happen by the time I reach the last page, as well as three goals. I don’t tell anyone about these three goals because then I know for sure it is God providing. One of these three goals was to have a laptop.
Hopping on Dell.com, I searched for laptops. Decent laptops were going for $1000+ so I wrote down what I would need:
Dark grey on the inside
Intel Core 2 Duo processor
“Cool, but how is this pushing the limits past human expectations?” I thought, “God, you are a God of the impossible. I don’t have $1000 to spend on a laptop. I don’t have $1000 at all. God, it’s impossible, but please provide this laptop for $600!” This was my prayer for an entire year. One rainy Sunday afternoon while flipping through the newspaper ads, my older sister said, “Hey Paige! Staples is having a back to school sale. Check out this laptop, you need one, don’t you?” There printed on the front of the ad was a 17″, dark grey, 4GB of memory, Intel Core 2 Duo processor laptop for $599.99.
I knew in that moment that nothing is impossible for God. He works in His own timing because He sees the greater picture and knows what’s best for us. Nothing, absolutely nothing I have done or accomplished is because of me. God has brought along every opportunity, provided every need, and opened and closed every door.
While out to lunch with a friend recently, they asked who my inspirations are. When it comes to inspiration, it’s not always people’s work that intrigues me but the way they live their life. Jasmine Star was the first photographer I started following. Her passion and determination could be felt through her writing, something I deeply admired, and she quickly became a role model for me.
When Jasmine taught a course on CreativeLIVE, back in 2011, I think?, there was no question but to stay in my room all day and tune in. During a question and answer time, one of her students questioned why she chose to fly her wedding photographer out instead of hiring one already at the location AND why did they treat him to dinner, “because I like that too.” The fact that one of the only things I remember from that course has to do with food only signifies how much I love food, but I quickly became a Tim King fan too. Again, not only for his images but the way he thought outside the box and wasn’t afraid to express himself. Plus, Tim has traveled all over the world.
There were two other photographers who greatly influenced me, Chris Burkard and Sarah Lee, both surf photographers. Chris was traveling the world doing what he loved, adventuring the unknown and pushing the limits for the world of photography with his intense landscape photos. Sarah was always in the waters of Hawaii, above and below. Her photos were captivating but it was the way she saw beauty in a totally different aspect that drew me in.
“So how do I become a traveling photographer?” I thought, “Especially when I live on an island in the middle of the ocean and ticket costs are out the roof?” Again, I had no idea what I was doing but I wanted to tell stories with my camera and travel, so I hustled every minute I could.
It’s about creating opportunities as well as taking opportunities that don’t always seem exciting and making them exciting. Whatever you do in life do it passionately and nothing can stop you. Are you a writer? Write with passion. Are you a waiter/waitress? Serve better than anyone else. Are you a teacher? Teach in a way that makes learning exciting.
All you have to be is YOU – because you are the only YOU there is.
I photographed everything that came my way. How was I supposed to know I didn’t like it unless I gave it a try? This included everything from babies to a funeral. Guam birthday parties are a blast to photograph, everyone is family – really, everyone is related in some way or another. In with all the drinks were husked coconuts for drinking. Meals were compiled of fish, friend bananas, red rice, pig, cookies, cakes, they had it all! This led to photographing a family reunion on the island of Pohnpei [blogged here].
Later that year I flew out to NC, TN, and GA to photograph two weddings and visit my siblings who lived stateside. I didn’t make much profit off of those weddings, but I was just starting out and was overjoyed to have the opportunity to document stories about love!
After my flight home to Guam, I opened my laptop to start editing and it crashed. Photos were disappearing. My worse nightmare was happening before my eyes…
daring to dream | PART THREE to be continued next week.
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My lungs burned as I kicked one leg in front of the other during my run this evening. You see, I’ve been trying to beat my mile time for a long while. I’ve tried running in the morning, at the gym, even in a thunderstorm with lightning. Can’t seem to get these short legs to go any faster. But I won’t stop trying.
Today I’m going to tell you a story. The story of a little girl who dared to dream big. But first:
This is not a “how to” guide. I have not done everything correctly nor do I have all the answers. What I have done is dared to dream. Everyone’s journey looks different, but we have the commonality of knowing how it feels to struggle. Writing is therapeutic for me. Unless I feel as if there is a volcano waiting to erupt within me, I don’t write. There has to be a reason behind each post, and like today, most of the time they are a pep talk to myself.
photo by my amazing friend Meredith of Meredith Sledge Photography
In April of 1992, the newborn cries of a chubby dark haired baby girl could be heard through the doors of a Florida hospital. By the time she was two, she had a fiery temper. It was her way or the highway and that was not flying well with her parents. They soon realized something had to be done about this strong will of their daughter’s. After some discipline, things started to turn around for the better. At least for a little.
That little girl was me.
Fast forward to December 2013 in a coffee shop on the island of Guam.
The screech of chairs against the floor filled the room as we pulled our little group around a table. Soon we were deep into conversation setting goals for the following year. “Can I ask you a question?” I asked one of the girls, “but you have to promise to be honest.” Her eyes widened with anticipation as to what I could be asking “Sure. I promise.” Tossing my pen between hands I said, “What are some things I need to change in order to succeed?” A cold sweat was probably starting to break out right about now as I felt the walls that hid vulnerability begin to fall. “I think,” she started out, after much thought, “I think you need to be more transparent. Everyone sees your adventurous life, but you never talk about the struggles. I think you need to be more vulnerable. Open up about how you got to where you are and what you’re going through at the moment.”
Right about now I was thinking, “Really? Why couldn’t you have said something like, ‘you need to smile more.’ Or, ‘you need to set your alarm earlier and get your life organized.’ Be more vulnerable? Open up about my failures? Heck no!”
A year later, I’m finally ready to give this vulnerability thing a go. If this inspires one person to passionately pursue their dreams, it will be worth every letter typed out.
I am the fifth of eight kids, still have lots of hair and chubby cheeks, and, well, I’m afraid that fiery temper has never left my side. With the encouragement of my parents, I have been an entrepreneur with many failures and successes since the age of 8. There have been many mountain peaks and lonely valleys. I am writing this post today not because I’ve finally reached success – is that even possible? No, I am writing this because I am currently walking through a valley, and, as mentioned earlier, this is a pep talk to myself to not give up. It’s a reminder that anything worth having is worth fighting for.
photo by my amazing friend Meredith of Meredith Sledge Photography
Photography is not the first business I started. It’s the seventh. To clarify, not all of these “businesses” were intended to carry into adulthood, but nonetheless, they paved the way and taught me valuable lessons about entrepreneurship.
#1 Paige’s Pages - It was a night like every other, Dad was reading a book out loud, and I had my notebook and pens out. Afterwards, Mom mentioned if I drew a design for note cards, she would take me to the local printing company, and I could sell notepads at the annual craft fair. This seemed like an exciting project so I started drawing, crumbling up paper, and drawing some more. My parents loaned me the money to print copies with the understanding that after they sold, I would pay back what was borrowed. They sold for a couple dollars each, and I was beyond excited to have some green paper in my wallet. I did this two years in a row and haven’t made note cards since.
#2 Holiday Brownies - The sun beat down on me as I pulled the little red wagon from door to door. The day went something like this: *knock on door, “Hi, my name is Paige Overturf, and I’m selling holiday brownies. Here is a flyer with what I offer. You can order and I will have them made in time for your holiday party. Would you like to try a sample?” I’m laughing as I type this, imagining what the brownies must have looked like from sitting under the sun all day. Business was good and it carried on after the holidays for school parties and other events. When we moved a couple years later, baking no longer interested me. And so another business came and went.
#3 Homemade Bread & Rolls - [the same time as Holiday Brownies] It was a weekly chore at our house to make fresh bread and rolls. The Oregon trail always seemed like the most exciting adventure, and this was about as close as I got to pioneer life. First, I took the wheat berries to the carport where they were ground into fresh flour with the grinder. If I wasn’t distracted by climbing a tree or running around the yard with the other kids, I would finish within 15 minutes and take it to the kitchen to start the process of making dough. So on and so on. This led to making rolls once a week for an older couple. Well, a typhoon hit the island a few months later and we lost phone for a few months. If I remember correctly, that’s how the business ended.
#4 Babysitting + Nannying – babysitting had been an on-and-off job but when I turned 16, I babysat a couple times a week for a neighbor. This turned into 2 nannying jobs, one of which I had to be at the house by 6am. At the same time, I was staying up until 1 am trying to learn everything I could about photography, stalk blogs and photographers whose lives I wanted [more on this later], and journal. Well, it finally caught up with me when I got a call at 6:30am. “Paige, will you be here soon?” She worked at the hospital, and being late was not an option. I jumped out of bed, hopped in the car, and arrived in my PJs.
#5 Sweet Treats - Or, should I write, “Sweat Treats” as I did on the first flyers we printed out. That didn’t go down well, as we were out all the money because of my typo. Sweet Treats was started with my older sister. We mailed fancy fliers throughout the neighborhood advertising cookies, brownies, and cinnamon rolls. Business was ok, thankfully it picked up around the holidays. But I was realizing baking wasn’t my thing. Not only did I have the hardest time remembering the timer – but I found baking boring. Plus, I didn’t have the patience to cook on low. WHY IS THERE A HIGH SETTING IF I COULD NEVER USE IT. I was itching to be creating and diving into photography more.
#6 Beaded Treasures - A hobby-turned-business because of the suggestion of a younger brother. They say it takes 1000 “no’s” before one “yes.” I quickly learned this as I took jewelry shop to shop in our little downtown area, asking if they would like to sell it in their shop. Finally, I got a yes! This was great, but everything I earned was going right back into supplies, leading to little or no profit. I was on the hunt again to get it in another store, this time landing in Sweet & Sassy Princess.
When a few craft fairs and local festivals came up, I spent most of my hard earned money on a booth, jewelry stands, and beading supplies. The next few weeks were spent making jewelry – morning til night. At the end of the craft fair, I had made a grand total of $22. My bank account had become a display of beaded jewelry in our dining room. The next craft fair, same thing. Soon after, I got a call from one of the stores saying several pieces of my jewelry had been stolen. Needless to say, I have a big box full of beads in my storage closet.
#7 Paige Elizabeth Photography - On July 29, 2010, I photographed my first wedding. “Yes!” I thought, “I’m finally a wedding photographer!!” Little did I know, being a wedding photographer is not just about showing up at a wedding to take photos. Hard to experience, yet I learned a valuable lesson – one I still put into practice at every wedding I photograph. In October 2010, years of dreaming, scheming, and practicing finally turned into reality when we moved to Guam and I was officially in business with the license to prove it. I thought I was living the dream when not only one person emailed me, but two! Business was good as families prepared to send out Christmas pictures and word of mouth spread. And then, the unexpected happened.
On Saturday, March 5, 2011 I received a certified piece of mail that changed everything…
PART TWO > To be continued on Monday, October 27, 2014
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She was 19.
He was 21.
She was “grounded” from going out of her dorm room after getting in trouble for a party that she didn’t have. He had flunked the Naval academy and was kicked out of IA State University twice.
The date was October 31, 1975. Two wild college kids met for the first time at a halloween party. Little did they know what the following 38 years had in store for them…
It was no secret they were completely taken with each other from the start. He had a big head of hair with a twinkle in his eye, she carried a hippy vibe with long hair parted down the middle. Five months later, they surprised their parents when they announced their engagement. Six months after that, she became Mrs. Timothy Overturf.
Two days after getting married, they moved to Detroit. Mom laughed as she explained, “It sounded exciting. We just wanted to leave Iowa.” Dad was familiar with the area and so off they went. “We were so poor,” dad told me between chuckles as he remembered the table that rocked back and forth from the legs being uneven, “we could hardly afford to get by on what we had.” But they had each other and they were adventurous. And there was one thing they were sure of, they never wanted to have kids.
“It was humble beginnings. I applied for a job and your Dad waited a year to apply for school again so we could get on our feet.” After a year, Dad decided to give school one more try when he applied to Lawrence Institute of Technology to study architecture. His hard work and dedication paid off when he graduated with flying colors.
One year later, on back to back days, my parents realized their need for Jesus and their lives were turned around. The change was immediate and the desire to learn and grow was immense. They were learning together, meeting with friends, and living more intently.
It was around this time that Dad decided to go into the ministry. There were days of studying and long nights of typing papers. It was a team effort between my parents, and where my mom found her love for peanut M&Ms.
During the next 30+ years, Dad joined the military as a Navy Chaplain, they had 8 kids, moved 14 times, went through several deployments – including Dad in Iraq for over a year – and are enjoying the growing number of in-laws and grandkids.
There were difficult times they had to fight through. Times when bills had to be paid and cars broke down. Times when they were tired but children had to be fed. There were days when, literally, all they could do was trust God. But the stories live on. The perseverance lives on. The good times outweigh every single hard time and the laughter is always louder than the tears.
They say, “when you know, you just know.” I once heard the words, “Real love is fighting like hell to hold on to every moment you have with her. It’s making a life together and making it work, no matter what happens. You want a love for the ages? I think that’s great. Prove it. Make it last. They can take away a lot of things, but they can never take away what you two have together.” [cool points to whoever can name who said that]
Love is so much more than a feeling. It’s finding someone who doesn’t want to change you, but who brings out the best of YOU. Love is someone who sees your quirks and says, “hey, me too!” Someone who will get up early to catch the sunrise with you. It’s someone who believes in you enough to push you out of your comfort zone. Love is knowing you could lose it all yet fighting for the possibility of winning.
But, this is so much more than a love story. How do you go from flunking the Naval Academy and being kicked out of college twice to a Captain in the US Navy. How do you go from wanting no kids to giving up your career so you can spend your time investing in their lives. This is the story of God’s grace. A story of God taking the broken and making something beautiful.
[photo by Caroline Lima Photography]
This is the story of my parents. I’ve watched them go through thick and thin, laughter and tears, struggle and celebration.
Happy 38th Anniversary to the best two parents a girl could ask for!
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