THE BLOG
08/25/2014 01:51 pm ET Updated Oct 25, 2014

Go Make Something Beautiful

ANDALIB via Getty Images

I have spent my life feeling like an outsider. I grew up in a small town in West Texas where everyone around me was consumed with football and oil. I, on the other hand, was consumed with art and music. Friday Night Lights was based on my high school. The TV show doesn't do it justice, but go back and revisit the movie or if you really want a birds eye view into my childhood, go read the book that all of it was based on. If you think growing up as an artist in that environment was easy, think again.

I was different from the time I took my first breath. My parents took me to the doctor when I was just an infant and left me there for the entire day convinced something was wrong with me. I was fussy and uncomfortable and angry. The doctor found nothing and told them that the best advice he had was to start to enjoy the taste of a stiff drink because I was just who I was.

As a kid, I was hard to handle. Sleep was a weird thing for me. I used to get in trouble for not participating in naptime at school and bedtime at my house was really hard. I saw things and walked in my sleep. They diagnosed me with Alice in Wonderland syndrome at some point, but there were many nights where I ran screaming through the house with my dad on my heels chasing me. All I knew was that I didn't see my dad, I saw a stranger and I saw other things and I was terrified.

In school, I was the odd kid out. My parents divorced back when it wasn't so common and to add to it, I went to live with my dad, not my mom. My skin tone was different; my pale blue eyes were different. My body was different. I was in a full C cup by 6th grade. Ridicule was part of my daily life. I learned to adapt, but I was always different.

Not only was I different, but as I grew up, I was vocal about how I saw the world. And when I challenged the system, I suffered for it. When I screamed so loud that everyone could hear me, I was ostracized and brutalized for it. One day, I will find the strength to write that blog. But that is not this day.

My youth though, set the tone for the rest of my life and it has not been an easy road. I have seen things, witnessed things and been through things that have taken other people down. Nothing in this life has been simple or without tragedy.

I have spent the better part of a lifetime thinking of myself as weak and flawed. I have felt sorry for myself and I have wallowed in pits of darkness and despair. And I punished myself. I took it all on and absolutely punished myself mentally and physically for being so tragically different from everyone else. I isolated myself from people, relationships and love. And I never once thought of myself as strong or beautiful.

Not until recently.

It has taken me a lot of looking inward and a lot of self-forgiveness and a whole ass-load of finding forgiveness for other people to get here, but I am finally here. And it is a beautiful place to be.

My friend Rod Picott has a song called "Bluebonnet." It's only two minutes long, but it speaks volumes about the human spirit. He told me once that I am the Bluebonnet. When he told me, I cried. I cried because I've had a visceral reaction every single time I have heard it. And I can't see him play it live without bawling my eyes out. It's the only time I have ever heard something that acknowledges everything I fear most about myself and yet, still makes me feel undeniably and absolutely, beautiful and strong. Hefty task for what seems to be such a simple song.

It's just a little flower
But it's stronger than you think
You can cut it down
But it comes back again

It's not a falling star
Dropping through the black
To make you catch your breath
Until the moments passed

When the world turns cold
And the birds refuse to sing
She's long gone baby
But she's stronger than you think

It's not the pretty one
It's not a flame of red
It's just a little blue
Like a thought inside your head

When the world turns cold
And the birds refuse to sing
She's long gone baby
But she's stronger than you think

It's just a little flower
But it's stronger than you think
You can cut it down
But it comes back again

-- Rod Picott, "Bluebonnet"

I wish I could walk around with it playing over me like a theme song so that as soon as I walk in a room, everyone can see how truly beautiful I am. Having that ability would make life so much easier. But you know, unless I want to walk around with a boom box on my shoulder like some throwback to 1986, that's not gonna happen. And as I've said, I've taken enough sh*t for being an oddball, so instead, I make beautiful things. That's my way of saying it. That is my way of sharing it with the world.

I take photographs and make films. I throw pottery and sometimes paint. And I write volumes of stories and blogs all as way to bring something beautiful into this world.

I lived for so many years behind a veil of fear and insecurity that all I want to do at this stage in life is project beauty. And I want it so badly that I have literally accepted it as my mission on this earth. I want to erase everything ugly about my past, and myself, and replace it with something beautiful.

I'm a celebrity photographer but I'm not in this business for the fame or the glory and certainly not for the money. There are no Annie Leibovitz budgets in my particular client list at the moment. I'm in this business because it allows me to capture moments in a way that only I can see them. And trust me, I am looking for the beauty in every moment. I'm in this business, because I get to show people themselves through my eyes. And through my eyes, they are all beautiful.

It has taken 45 years, but I have finally figured out that all of the things that made me feel like an outsider, all of those things that made me feel different, are exactly why I see the world like I do and that is what makes me good at my job. I finally had my "ah-ha!" moment.

All of the things I have been through and all of the things I have witnessed and struggled with are the very reasons that I live this life now. Without them, who knows what life I might lead. Would it be better? I can't imagine a better life right at this second. I'm surrounded by beautiful people, in a beautiful place, sharing beautiful ideas and art. And I am only able to see it now because I know what ugly is. I can only feel the light because I lived in the dark.

And I want that for you too. I know you feel different sometimes. I know you feel like an outsider sometimes. I just want you to know that those are the things that make you beautiful. Those are the things that give you a very special set of skills and gifts. And I want you to find them. So get off this computer (after you share this with your friends of course) and get out there and take all that pain and all that anger you feel because you are different and go make something beautiful out of it! Trust me, you are the bluebonnet too.

Epiblog: A place for paying it forward and supporting artists, entrepreneurs and people who inspire me. I hope you find some inspiration here too.

This weeks epiblog is dedicated to Rod Picott. And it won't be the last time he gets mentioned here. Rod is the only person I have ever known who can hold a mirror up to my thoughts with his words. You probably won't find yourself putting his records on at a party to liven the mood, but you will absolutely find yourself in his songs if you put them on, all by yourself, and listen. He is also on tour right now promoting "Hang Your Hopes on a Crooked Nail", which is the record where you will find "Bluebonnet" along with ten other equally beautiful tracks.

Rod Picott - "Bluebonnet". Live at Daytrotter

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