The days turn in to weeks, and the weeks turn into years. Time seems to speed up as we age. My birthday is next week, and I’ll be turning 28. Wait, what? I thought I’d take a few minutes to contemplate life, complete with a few of my favorite quotes about living life.
Since I routinely get mistaken for a college student, and I don’t feel nearly adult enough (despite owning a house and a business and having been married for almost four years) to be 28, I still feel pretty young. It’s more of a shock because it was ten years ago that I had my first international flight. Ten years ago, right after my 18th birthday, I left my hometown and flew off on the adventure of a lifetime. I spent a year with AFS in the Czech Republic, living in Olomouc, with a host family that I still try to keep in touch with (hi Lida! hi Honza!) and friends who, to this day, take time to meet me for coffee when I manage to find myself back in country. It was one of the most significant experiences of my life, and changed almost every view I had of the world. I have never regretted traveling.
Ten years ago, I’d never left the country. Ten years ago, I had no idea what my future would hold, but I never predicted this. I was going to have a job working in some kind of international company, or maybe for the European Union, or the United Nations. I was going to change the world, in big and abstract ways. Instead, I’ve changed the world in concrete, little ways. I’ve worked with children, hopefully teaching them to be dreamers and doers. Teaching them creativity and compassion and the strength in knowing their own minds. I’ve used my camera to capture moments that are precious, and will become even more precious as families grow and change and leave us. I’ve tried to run my business in a way that is good for my life, my clients, and my community. I’ve done my best to wake up every morning and leave the world a better place than I’ve found it.
In the past ten years, I have loved and I have lost. I have climbed to the top of mountains in Switzerland, visiting the small village where my great-grandmother was born, and traipsed through Beijing. I have shot weddings in four different states, traveled to more countries, states, cities, and little towns that I could count. I’ve gotten a college degree (that I’m still paying off), and I’ve married a wonderful man. I have cried, so many times. In joy and in frustration. I’ve laughed, and felt joy so all consuming that I couldn’t sleep. I’ve moved over a dozen times, and left a little piece of my heart in every place I’ve lived. I’ve traveled across the world only to find that home is more of a feeling that an actual location.
Since starting the business, I’ve pushed myself to work harder, and play harder. To develop my talents as a photographer, and as a business owner. After years of struggle, long days, and sacrifice, I’ve finally seen a payoff in my business after learning that I need to do things my own way, not the way everyone else does them. In these days of constant connectivity, I struggle with comparing myself to others’ curated feeds, and remind myself that, if you only knew me from my Instagram feed, my life would seem pretty charmed too. I’m slowly learning that I don’t have to live my life by others’ timelines, and that working in a construction zone (with a cat in my lap) is normal.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned in the past ten years is to be your own person. And maybe that’s a lesson I’ve been working to learn for the past 28 years, but in the past decade, in going to college, finding a degree, numerous jobs, getting married, and owning a business, I’ve learned that you have to be true to who you are. You can’t fake it, because if you do, you’ll never be happy.
And I’ve been lucky enough to marry a man who respects me, supports me, cheers me on, and picks me up when I fall. He makes dinner when I’m stuck editing at my computer at all hours, he sends me silly texts in the morning to make me smile, and he has been here with me every step of the way for the better part of the last decade. He’s been there for (most of) the long haul flights, the middle of the night Skype sessions when we’re in radically different time zones, the early mornings, and the late nights.
For some reason, 28 feels like a milestone to me. I guess I’m officially in my late 20s, but that feels more like a badge of honor than something to panic over. I never felt this way about 25, and I don’t know that I feel anything towards 30. But 28? It feels good. And I feel good. I feel confident – and happy – in a way that I couldn’t have imagined at 21, or 25. Now, all I have to do is decide what flavor cake I want this year. Decisions, decisions. :)
I have this habit of starting posts and then…nothing. I’ll get a paragraph or two, or sometimes I save a draft with a two sentence idea. This post, I started in Alaska. I’d just been on a glacier cruise in Wittier, and I was in awe, to say the least. And yet, I felt like it needed more. Instead, I think it just needed a photo or two.
I’m on the bus between Wittier and Anchorage, just after finishing one of the most spectacular days of travel. And as I sit here, I want to savor every moment. I want to savor the moment when I saw those sea lions, playing on the rocks, and how the glaciers didn’t look so blue because the sun was shining down on us but the sea was that perfect shade of teal. The shade I’ve always associated with the ocean, because it’s the color of the Puget Sound. I want to remember how absolutely thrilled I was to see sea otters playing and swimming around our boat. How cold and crisp the air is here, even only a few days in to fall. How the glaciers, larger than I could have imagined, more beautiful that I could have dreamed, have lost miles of their mass into the ocean due to our planet warming. How these mountains kiss the water as the tide comes in, how the clay bottom of the sound looked as the tide went out this morning.
Because this is why I travel. To experience the newness of life. To taste the beauty of the world. It’s not to check off a list or to brag to my friends. It’s to open my eyes to the beauty of the world. To feel my heart swell with admiration for what this world holds. And I hope that, as I see the beauty in this world, I appreciate it more. That I cherish it enough to do my best to save it for my children, and their children. Because I want them to understand the beauty of Alaska too.
These images can be purchased as prints here.
It’s been almost three months since we went to Alaska. H had an opportunity to go up there for a work trip, so I bought a plane ticket and tagged along. We were there for four days, and while I worked for part of the trip, we also did some exploring around Anchorage, I went on a glacier tour, and we rented a car to drive down Highway 1 on our last day.
I knew I really wanted to see some glaciers, but after looking at a few options, I wasn’t sure I could rationalize the cost. I could take a cruise out of a couple different areas, or I could fly on a helicopter and land on a glacier, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. They were all expensive options, and I was debating just not going and hanging out in Anchorage. H had been to Alaska before as a kid, and he decided I needed to see the glaciers, so he took matters into his own hands and booked a trip for me. And it was possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever done. After a bunch of debate, he booked me a 26 glacier cruise with Phillip Cruises. And I was a fan. I’ve already posted all over my Instagram feed, but I mean, I held a glacier in my hands!! As far as crazy and cool travel experiences go, this was in my top five.
While H was at his work conference, I would work during the day. One day, I was (luckily) working away on the main floor in the cafe (because the internet was a bit spotty in our room on the 16th floor) and I felt a bit of a rumble. I’d noticed planes flying near the hotel the day before, and at first, assumed it was a plane. Turns out, it was an earthquake! Once it started getting a little more forceful, I realized it was an earthquake, but no one else in the cafe was doing anything. So I just stayed put! Later H called me and made me leave the building for about 5 minutes. Turns out, Alaska gets thousands of earthquakes every year, but most of them are small, and in areas that are far away from civilization. This one, a 6.2, was about 100 miles from Anchorage. It was kind of entertaining, in retrospect, because my chai didn’t even spill!
One afternoon we visited the Anchorage Museum. I didn’t take many photos because it was dark, but it was so wonderful! They have a Smithsonian exhibit and I really liked the whole museum.
On the last day, we rented a car and drove down Highway 1 to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where we got to see moose, elk, reindeer, musk ox, and more that I’m probably forgetting. We also pulled over a half dozen times to take pictures because Alaska is just that pretty, dang it.
And then we flew home, over the glaciers I’d seen just a few days prior on the cruise.
Whew. What an adventure. And what an inspiration. I wrote a little other piece, but I’m going to save that for another day. Because I’ve blathered on enough. Here are so many pictures, including one of a rainbow!
These were shot on my Nikon FG-20 with Portra 400, Ektar 100, and Ilford XP2 400. You can find most of them for sale in my personal work gallery on my proofing site.
After a whirlwind summer, I wasn’t sure how my body was going to handle my trip to Europe. Two weeks of visiting family and friends, of traveling almost every day seemed like a lot. But overall, it was a really great trip. I spent a lot of time offline, and the disconnect from social media was good. It wasn’t a “social media fast” but a diet. Which has give me perspective on just how much time I’m spending on social media each day [a lot] and how I really need to assess my priorities in life, both offline and online.
All in all, it was a great trip. I realized that, while Paris is pretty, I’ll never love it the way I wanted to love it when I was 12. And that, given the chance, I’d move to the Rheingau in a heartbeat, but not Munich. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Munich, but I don’t want to live there. And my Czech host family and friends are amazing, it was so wonderful to see them (and my favorite Czech cities) again after six (six!) long years. I came home with a cold, which I don’t recommend. Flying while congested is hard on your ears.
Anyway, all in all, October was crazy and wonderful and I’ve got lots of stuff to share with you in the next few weeks.
I’m running my film to the post office today, so it’ll be a couple weeks before I have photos from my Europe trip. In the meantime, here are a few of the film scans from my trip to Alaska. All shot on Kodak Portra 400 (color film, the black and white images was changed using VSCOfilm). I’m furiously editing up the last few weddings of the year and trying to catch up on blogging everything. The good news? I’ll have lots of beautiful summer images to show you during our long, dark winter.
PS – I have to say a huge HUGE thank you to everyone who reads this blog, sends clients my way, or has booked me for their photography needs. It’s been such a blessing and honor to work with you all, and I’m so excited that I’m already 25% booked for next year, all thanks to you wonderful people. I love you all so very much. <3