Hello, 2016. Let’s Do This.

Hello, 2016. Let’s Do This.

I’m endeavoring to make my monthly recaps a thing. They probably won’t be my most popular posts, but I want to have some way to look back at life, and see what happened each month. Especially because I often get months behind in blogging weddings, and although I love blogging summer weddings in the dead of winter, it’s nice to keep some things current. :)

2015 ended in a whirl, and 2016 started with a cold that I’m trying to kick to the curb. Ugh.

Crane Beach Barbados // Emily Wenzel Photography

At the beginning of Barbados, we packed up our bags and headed to Barbados. A lot of people have asked me why we picked Barbados over other islands. Well, there were two reasons! First, as a kid, I read a book about a girl who lived in Barbados during colonial times and it talked about how she swam in the clear blue ocean with turtles. No, I don’t remember the name of the book, but that has always stuck with me. Second, we knew we wanted a warm vacation, and we were using up some airline miles* that H had racked up, and we happened to find a killer deal that fit our travel dates. So, boom. 6 days in Barbados. It was the most lovely vacation full of rum punches and beach time and swimming with turtles.

After we got back from Barbados (and the pup realized that we hadn’t left him forever), we dove right into the holidays. It was all tree decorating, cookie baking, and holiday partying. I’m still exhausted. We did Christmas with both our families, and enjoyed all the crazy snow that has fallen. I’ve been working to get the last bits of prep done for the bridal show, all while fighting a cold for the past few days.

So, of course, being sick right now, we’ve just started tearing apart the bathroom to do a little work. It should only take us a few days to do the work, but full disclosure, the living room isn’t finished yet, since the next bits of work require a good amount of time with the table saw (which, conveniently, our neighbors let us borrow all the time). So we’ve decided to work on a few indoor-only projects until the weather gets a little better. Because I don’t think H wants to be out in the (unheated) garage in these freezing temps. I know I don’t want to be out there!

Swimming with Turtles Barbados // Emily Wenzel Photography

That said, here’s a plug: I’ll be at the Spokane Bridal Festival this weekend. I’d love it if you’d send your engaged friends my way! I’m in booth #342, and I’d love to hear about your wedding plans, or just get a hello from the people I know. :)

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*We are HUGE Alaska Airlines fans. I cannot tell you enough about how much we love them. A few years ago, we made the decision to spend all our flight time on one set of airlines, and picked Alaska for our FF accounts because they are based in Seattle, and we fly a lot around the Pacific Northwest. They’re also partners with KLM and Delta, who we regularly fly on our trips to Germany. We have the Alaska credit card, and last year we used our companion fare to fly to Alaska. Flying to Barbados used less miles than flying to Hawaii, for example, so it was totally worth it. I am in no way a FF expert, but I do have a few friends who are, and they’ve lent me some of their knowledge. If you’re interested in getting the Alaska card, feel free to ask me any questions you have!

Getting Some Sun & Surf // Barbados Destination Photography

Getting Some Sun & Surf // Barbados Destination Photography

Earlier this year, we realized that H had a lot of airline miles just sitting around. So we cashed some of them in and booked a vacation in the Caribbean for the first part of December. With the crazy windstorm that happened in November, adopting our puppy, and renovating the house, an almost week in Barbados was exactly what we needed. We hadn’t taken a vacation only trip since our honeymoon, we realized, because every other trip was based around visiting family, or a work obligation. Not a bad thing, but it was nice to get away to do nothing but soak up the weather and read a half dozen books.

I’ll be back later this week with Lizz & Ken‘s wedding, but I had to share one phone photo from our trip. Because today, here in Spokane, it’s dreary and gray. And I’m missing the rum punch filled, sun soaked days we had last week.

Emily Wenzel Photography // Barbados Crane Beach

Paris in October // Travel Photography on Film

Paris in October // Travel Photography on Film

Oh Paris. I wanted to love you. I wanted you to be the city I dreamed of, the city that inspired to me travel when I read about you so many years ago. But, you’re not that city. You’re great and you’re quirky and you’re filled with fun things, but we just didn’t jive. My heart wasn’t in it. It’s not you, it’s me has never felt more apropos. And I think that’s why I couldn’t love you. Because I wanted to love the pre-war Paris, the Hemingway Paris. But that Paris doesn’t exist anymore. And it doesn’t help that I can’t speak French, so I felt completely lost. When I took the train to Germany, it was almost like coming home. I knew how things worked and I fit in.

I still love the view from Sacre Coeur. That church will always have a special place in my heart (but I’d forgotten how many steps I had to walk up to get there). But while I think you’re nice, you don’t compare to the laughing, outgoing people of Munich. Or the artsy, hip vibe from Berlin. Or the layers of history and culture of Prague.

What saddened me the most about Paris, was that even though I stayed in an apartment out of the city center, an area that seemed to be mostly students, and not tourists, I still saw tourists everywhere. However, I’m still glad I came. And I’m still glad I gave you a second chance. And I will say, your gardens are top notch. I could spend weeks wandering through your gardens. You’ve given me so many ideas for my own garden. I guess that has to be enough.

Paris on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel PhotographyParis on Film // Emily Wenzel Photography

All photos taken on my Nikon FG-20 with Portra 400. Most of them are available for purchase as prints here.

Finding Peace & Strength — Personal Post

Finding Peace & Strength — Personal Post

Yoga Photography // Emily Wenzel Photography
Monday at noon, this is my view. At least twice a week, I walk away from my computer, grab my mat and go to yoga. I fold myself into poses and marvel at the progress I’ve made. Sometimes it’s a noon power class, where I swear I’m going to collapse if I have to do one more vinyasa. Sometimes it’s an evening flow class where I leave feeling both relaxed and energized. Either way, this is my view. This is my time. When I can’t make it to the gym, I roll my mat out in my living room. It’s like a drug in my system. I crave the zen.

How did this start? In April, I had a moment of clarity. Sitting on a park bench in the rain, I realized that I was stressed, I was tired, and I was empty. I had nothing left in me to give – even to myself – because I hadn’t taken anything in. I was sore, I was stiff, and I was in pain. I was on the road to burn out because I wasn’t taking care of myself.

Thinking it over, I figured, the least I could do was go to yoga and get some stretching in. So I did. Once, then twice that week. I was sore, but it felt good. And while I’ve been an on-and-off yogi for the better part of 10 years, it has been years since I’ve regularly practiced. And at the end of practice, just a few days after that rainy moment of clarity, I sat down to meditate. I knew I needed to do this more often. So I did. Since that week in April, I have practiced yoga at least twice a week at a studio, and often at home in between, on those days when I can’t make classes.

At first, I bribed myself. Doing yoga twice a week became a reason for me to get a new yoga mat. And after four weeks, I did that. It’s the most amazing yoga mat ever, and I love it. H finds it hilarious that, without meaning to, I picked a mat made in Germany.

But it’s been almost four months, and I haven’t really bribed myself since. I’ve gone to slow yoga, power yoga, restoration yoga, vinyasa flow, and more. I’ve done most every kind of yoga offered at my gym. Have a lost weight? No. But I’ve got some killer muscles and much better posture. I can touch my toes, and I am more toned. I’ve got muscles in my arms, and nailed crow pose for the first time recently.
Yoga Photography // Emily Wenzel Photography
I’ve gone to yoga because I can’t go without it. In fact, as I write this, it’s been a couple days since I’ve done yoga and I’m missing the clarity a good practice brings me. I’ve gone to yoga because I find peace, and to recognize my own strength. And more than that, I’ve found a community, friends in my teachers and classmates, and myself. I’ve got muscles, thanks to power yoga. I’ve got peace, thanks to meditation. And rarely have I felt like I was adrift in the past few months. I’ve felt strong and centered.

Oh, I’ve been stressed, and worried, and even angry. But going to yoga has taught me to let go. It has taught me that there is strength in letting go, just like there is strength in hanging on. And that letting go is not failing, not when letting go keeps you centered. There is a moment in almost every practice when I’ve pushed myself to the limit and all of a sudden, it’s just clarity. There is just me and the mat and the pose. Nothing else matters.

In the past few months, I’ve let go of a lot of things — the stress, the worry, the friends who don’t call back — and in return, I’ve gained immeasurable peace. I’ve gained strength. I’ve gained focus. Something I wish I’d had during wedding planning. [Hey brides, try yoga!]

Next week, I’ll be out of the office all week. I’ll be on vacation with my family, and then shooting a wedding out of state. I’m really looking forward to the time away, but I’m also sad. It’ll be the first week in almost 4 months that I won’t have my yoga studio. So I’ll take my mat on the road and do yoga on the deck, by the river. And surrounded by the natural beauty, I don’t think I’ll miss my studio too much.

I hope.

 

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Photos taken with my HTC ONE and edited with VSCOcam for Android, using the new HypeBeast presets.

Family History, The Ballard Locks — Seattle, WA

Family History, The Ballard Locks — Seattle, WA

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.

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Merry Christmas everyone. I’ll hopefully post again before 2014 arrives, but if not, I’ll be back with more in January!