I’m in a strange place right now. This retail job I picked up, it’s driving me crazy. Besides the full load of work I do for the photography (which, at this time of year is less photo-taking and more business-maintaining), and the 20-30+ hours at the retail gig, we’re also house hunting. That doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the job. It’s been a learning experience and I’m gleaning whatever I can from this, as well as working with some pretty fantastic people. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting the days until I head out. I miss making my own schedule, having time to read a book. Being my own boss.
Back when we went to Seattle in October, I conned H into driving us all the way out to Ballard on Monday morning before we left. We were driving against traffic, so it wasn’t even that bad. I love the locks, for more than one reason. First, because they’re fascinating. Because it’s fun to watch the ships come through the locks. Heading out to sea, coming back in to port. Second, because I feel connected to the locks. If you’ve ever visited the locks and walked all the way across, you might have seen the plaque below. It’s in honor of my great-great-great grandfather (my dad’s mom’s grandpa), Thomas Heinrich Peterson. He was one of the first shipbuilders in the Seattle area, and his shipyard was at Salmon Bay (which is long gone) and he lived in Ballard around the turn of the century. We have a model of one of his ships in my parents’ living room, but we didn’t know about the plaque until recently.
As we look at houses, ones old enough that my great-great-great grandfather could have lived there, I’m reminded that the past is just as important as the present and the future. That we need to remember the little things. This plaque doesn’t tell you that he almost died in a shipwreck once, or that he wrote very long run-on sentences with little-to-no punctuation, or that he had five children, or that his wife outlived him by many, many, years. But it’s there. A testament to a life well lived, to a man who left his mark on Seattle’s history.
Merry Christmas everyone. I’ll hopefully post again before 2014 arrives, but if not, I’ll be back with more in January!
We spent three years in the Seattle area. And shortly after we arrived, I realized I was going to have trouble adapting. It was the light. Gone were the clear blue skies that seemed to go on forever. It was all trees. Lots of gray and rain.
But now, now I’m back in the light. And it calls to me.
We used to drive over the pass — to my parent’s home, to Spokane — and when we’d get to a point, between Easton and Thorp, I’d always tell H to look at the light. I don’t think he understood what I was talking about. Even in the rain, Eastern Washington’s light is different. And in the winter? When it snows and then the sun comes out? So bright it blinds you? That’s something I missed. Blue skies, white powder, flying down the mountains. Oh, yes. That light is right.
It’s soft and elegant. It’s warm and clear. And it’s so right.
Even now, on a crisp fall day, as the leaves are just starting to turn (and I cannot wait for crisp fall leaves), it’s clear and bright.
Yes, I miss Seattle. But this light? Oh this light. I’ve been looking for the light for three years.
It’s good to be home.
Top photo: from a shoot I did at the beautiful Camden Ranch in Elk, WA for Applebrides. 10 minutes before that photo, it was pouring. Bottom: Alaine & Dan‘s gorgeous Mazama wedding. I can’t wait to share more from both shoots!
I’m leaving town again this weekend, right after publishing this baby. Thankful for the friends who take care of my cat and apartment. The number of weekends we’re home during the next two months is less than the weekends we’re away right now. Between work and family and H’s triathlon’s, we’ve been busy. Here, there, everywhere. It’s not such a bad thing. The photos below are from a couple weeks ago, when we went to visit my family in Mattawa, and H ran a triathlon in Ellensburg. We’re going to be traveling around the state and country during the next few weeks. At the end, there’s a list of three weekends when I have time. Time to meet up for coffee, time to for a shoot, time to just…be. Let’s meet up.
(c) Armosa Studios
Earlier this month, I watched Tess Vigeland get up on stage and say that she left her dream job at NPR because she had “too much self respect to stay.” And I choked up, because I understood. I saw Chase Jarvis expound on the importance of creativity, of artistry, and how there is a lack of it in our culture. And my heart ached, because I know that school system too well. I watch Steve Schalchlin played the piano, singing songs he wrote after almost dying of AIDS. And I cried. Because life is about living every moment to the fullest.
Last year, WDS made me realize that I wanted to be a photographer. Full time. Not as a hobby. And I knew I wanted to do it in Spokane. So, here I was a year later, working at a photographer and moving to Spokane. Check and check. And I watched Tess say that she quit her job. That people asked her “what’s next?” and she didn’t know. Because when you’ve accomplished those goals, what’s left? And I felt her words echo in my heart. Saying things I couldn’t have verbalized.
Last year, WDS sparked something in me. And I took that something and ran with it, straight into my business. This year, I was expecting the same, but it never came. I thought, what if I have no other business goals? I do, and I know that I do. Because I want to do more with my business. And I know that. But those are little goals. What is my next big goal? What if I don’t have any more goals? Obviously, the lack of sleep was turning me into a drama queen. So I asked myself, what did I learn this year?
When I think back on WDS 2013, the difference is that it’s more about the people, and less about the message. Last year, I met so many wonderful people, but didn’t really keep in touch. And even though those people sparked so much change in my life, I didn’t feel like was holding myself to those goals because no one in my everyday life knew about them. This year, my goal is to keep in touch. To create and grow those relationships. To be fully present in my life, living every moment. Not holding back.
As I danced Bollywood with 3,000 people and sang along to Journey with 1,000 others, I realized that my life is beautiful and wonderful. It is remarkable. And I can’t keep wishing for something else, I need to live the life I have. Don’t wish for a different life, find a way to make your own life amazing.
PS – You can read the transcript of Tess Vigeland’s talk here.
This post is long. If you’re the kind of person who reads the last chapter first, scroll to the bottom for a short version.
For almost a year, this post has sat in my draft folder. I’d open it up, read through it, rewrite parts (or all) of it, then click “save draft” again and again. Time and time again, we’ve come so close, only to have things fall through. But now, it’s real and it’s happening.
Sometimes, you know a life path is right from the start, but you don’t quite know how to say it. It has to rattle around in your head and your heart, collecting the words it needs to express itself. Sometimes you ignore it, because you’ve got other plans for yourself. But that path calls to you. And eventually, when your heart and mind find the clarity they need, you realize that path is meant for you. And you follow it.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough” — Lowell Lundstrom
For me, that path was photography. It called to me. It was always there, in the back of my mind, whispering to my heart. The desire to be an artist was so strong, that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t deny that urge to create. To tell the stories. The decision to dedicate the bulk of my time to growing my business was the first step. And it was great. I started growing my business, then I quit my day job, and worked on it even more. It was liberating and terrifying and BIG. I knew I was embarking on the path I was meant to be on. But that wasn’t all. Even though starting my business was great, I still felt the pull. Something was…off. And when we sat down last summer, after a whirlwind visit to Spokane for a wedding, and Portland for WDS, we realized what it was: our long terms goals didn’t have us in Seattle.
At first, I wasn’t sure. I knew I didn’t want to deal with the traffic or the rain. H didn’t want to commute an hour to work. But I love Seattle. And H does too. And so we talked. We discussed our long-term goals as well as short-term. Our business and personal goals. Our dreams and wishes and hopes. And H start looking for different work. Work in Spokane. Because as much as we love Seattle (and I swear, we really do. It’s one of the quirkiest, most wonderful places in the world), it wasn’t the place we needed to be. And even though we knew it was the right decision, we had doubts.
This has been a year in the making. A year of ups and downs, of getting SO CLOSE, followed by weeks of nothing, of waiting, and wondering if we were making a mistake. But, it all worked out. Last week, H accepted a new job in Spokane. A wonderful, fantastic, perfect-for-him job. A job that not only allows us to move, but will further his career. A job that would create the life we were looking to live. A job that would allow us to be near our favorite snowboarding spots. A job that would bring us, as a couple, full circle. To the city that shaped our lives and brought us together.
“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.” — John Irving
What does this mean for my business? Not much is changing. I’ll be living in Spokane instead, but like I’ve always said have camera, will travel.
Long story short: H got a fabulous new job, we’re moving to Spokane, but I’m still going to shoot in Seattle, and we all have to follow our dreams.
The last few weeks have been a little quiet around here. And it’s not because I have nothing to share. It’s really the opposite. I have so much to share that my mine flutters all over. I’m here, there, and everywhere right now. Dying to spill my guts about awesome projects and plans, but wanting to wait until they’re real. So this might be all over the place, but here’s what I have to say today.
In the past month, I’ve traveled all over this great state of Washington (and a little bit of Oregon). Really. I’ve been in Vancouver, Portland, Mattawa, Moses Lake, Spokane, Bellingham and all over in the Seattle area. I’m at the point where I think I’ve become part of my car (his name is Otto, by the way, and I love him). And beside a few phone shots, I haven’t used my camera that much when we’ve traveled. I even went to a wedding as a guest and it really made me think. It’s the first time I’ve been a wedding guest in over 3 years.
There’s more travel to come. I’ll be in Portland for WDS in July. July 4th-8th, to be exact. And not only am I attending the conference that sparked me to quit my job, but I’m doing a little work there too. So if you’re in Portland and in need of photos, let me know. I’m in the Portland area every couple months now and I’d love to head there even more often. I’ll also be in Chicago in September with time for one session. I could use some tips on what to see and where to eat. Since I’ve never done anything but madly dash through O’Hare to catch a connection.
What I’ve learned in the last few months is to let go. I’ve been trying to make plans, but time and time again, they’re changed. Life has been in constant flux, which has been hard for me. I’ve struggled to accept that, but I’m realizing that I need to let go. I don’t need to plan everything, because it’ll work out. Eventually. And life will take me where I need to go. Like going out to dinner with friends without a watch or my phone. And just letting go. Or going to the park and snapping a few photos on a Monday.
I’ve been doing more of my work on paper lately. Writing out my ideas and sketching out plans. I find it helps me think better. I’m also working on slowing down. An editing tweak that I spent a few hours working on yesterday. A new font that I haven’t yet fulling decided I want. Slow down, my heart is telling me, and find what you really want. Do not be swayed by those around you. Don’t let the noise distract you from the music. Follow your heart. And then…let go. Just be.