Chapter Twenty One- Theron Humphrey Book Signing at Boswell Books

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Last week Tuesday, my husband walked in the door after getting home from work and I dropped the dishes I was washing, said something like “I’m out of here” and headed for the door.  The kids had been testing my newly discovered zen-like patience, so when I got relieved, I put on my favorite handmade earrings and drove to Boswell Books.  Earlier in the week I’d discovered Theron Humphrey on Instagram (@thiswildidea), and when he posted that he was doing a book signing in Milwaukee, I cashed in some alone time.

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I arrived late (what?!  me??) but found a nice metal chair to sit on, while I sipped my fancy blended coffee drink.  Theron had just gotten to the podium to tell about his (amazing) journey as a photographer and story teller.  I won’t relay his entire story because I’d get some stuff wrong, omit parts, and just not do it justice, but I will say that he got a wake up call and inspiration for changing his career after photographing his grandmother and grandfather.  Theron left his commercial job and set out on a journey to hit all 50 states in one year, and interview one person a day.  The part I find especially fascinating is that he would go up to a random person, shake their hand, and start talking.  If they agreed, he’d do an audio interview and take a series of photos with them.  You can see the product of this project here.  But what a challenge to just meet people and get uncomfortable with strangers!  Actually, if you buy the book, it explains Theron’s journey much better than I just did.

So back to the book tour.  While Theron was traveling across the states meeting people, he realized that his dog, Maddie, has some incredible balance.  He started asking her to hang out in precarious poses, to which she happily obliged.  You may have seen some of the photos of Maddie in a guitar case, on a horse, on a stop sign, or at a diner yawning as her coffee is poured.  Theron has some great and terrible things to say about sharing your work on the internet, and what struck me the most was the idea that if you share something, you’d better be prepared to let go of it.  He’s had many examples of people and companies stealing his work, which is not too uncommon.  Ahh, the double edged sword that is the internet.  An amazing way to share ideas and connect with people, but also an opportunity for creeps to take credit for work that’s not their own.  Theron’s other main point was this: you’d better be doing something you love.  We have one life, and if we can find what gives meaning to our lives and is challenging, that’s sort of the ultimate prize.  I like the sound of that!

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Maddie is a great dog.  You’ll notice that I have no photos of her hanging out during the talk, because she was very busy checking out every nook and cranny of the store, and generally being a lookout.  By the time Theron signed my book, she was super tired from being a watch dog, and camped herself on the couch.  Speaking of when Theron signed my book…I didn’t get in line fast enough and spent close to an hour waiting to say hi.  You wouldn’t have guessed it from his enthusiasm, though (see first photo above).  He was really personable and I think that meeting people from all over the country has given him a sense of ease with strangers.

While I waited in line, I kept repeating “don’t talk about your kids or being pregnant, don’t talk about your kids or being pregnant” in my mind.  And here’s the reason…while my kids kick ass and I love my job of raising them, that does not define me.

But when we shook hands, he asked what I’m doing in life, and something sarcastic like “MAKIN’ BABIES!” came out of my mouth as I pointed to my large belly.  Ugh.  I’m the queen of awkward if you didn’t already know.

Anyway, I tried to steer the conversation away from being a mom.  We talked briefly about my blog and how the book signing was going to be my adventure for the week.  But as it often does, we ended up back on kids.  He wanted to sign the book for my unborn daughter, so I told him that I call her hummingbird (a theme that is ever present in my life currently) so BAM….

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It was a great first book signing for me.  Special thanks to my kids for being a pain in the butt and encouraging me to have some alone time.  Please check out the other projects here and here and here that Theron has done and others and he and his friends are working on.  And if he’s coming to a city near you, I recommend trying to see him and his pound puppy Maddie.

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And animals are the best.  I was reminded of that.  I immediately went home and spent some time with this old man telling him how much I love him.

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This post is for you, Bagheera!

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