that time we went to LA & Harry POtter

Friday, April 29, 2016

Last February, in the middle of a bunch of stress & chaos, I was browsing plane tickets for a future work trip. Browsing plane tickets is something I always save as a right before bed routine when I'm exhausted and just want to shut the computer off. It works because it's so easy to get lost looking at travel deals before I'm suddenly considering a trip to Iceland (.... real story.)

However, in February we were stressed and I'd just been to 3 cities in one month for weddings. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE exploring new cities on my own and being an independent working woman and all that feminist stuff. But I've also missed having someone to share those experienced with, too. There are so many photos on my phone in the folder "Seth" to show him when I'm home. One of my favorite places I went last year, much to my surprise, was.... Los Angeles. I loved every minute. And that night, I found myself staring at an available travel deal the week of Seth's birthday. And I bought them. Without much thought. I texted my friend's really quickly to see if they could host us and as soon as they said yes, I began budgeting and planning our itinerary. And I ultimately decided that this time, on this trip, I would visit a city without having a drop of work to do and let it be a trip for JUST creating memories.

For three months I kept it a surprise. I told Seth I had an OBGYN appointment with my doctor in my hometown (lol, NO questions were asked) and would he please, please take a couple days off work so he could drive me back to Boise after? Like, girl appointments are PAINFUL and I need you to drive? He said okay with no suspicion.

I packed his bags. I forgot to pack a single pair of pants for him, but I brought 5 too many T-shirts. I put everything into one checked suitcase and dropped it off at my friend's house. The day we were set to leave, I told him we had to go help my friend move some furniture in their new apartment really quickly and she was picking us up. Again, zero suspicion. We drove around Boise to get to the airport the super long way. No suspicion. It wasn't until we were at the curb that he looked at me and said, "We are going on a plane?"

And you guys, I have tears thinking about this trip. The look in his eyes when we walked through security and up to our gate wondering where in the heck we were going. The way he kept looking back at me like I was completely insane but completely wonderful. The way he would randomly laugh and look over at me on the plane every so often in disbelief.

I put my phone on airplane mode the whole weekend. I took hundreds of pictures, but never cared if they were centered or composed correctly. Several are blurry. I got day drunk at Harry Potter and my photos from the afternoon are stupid and mostly pointless. We held hands the entire trip.

We went to the beach for an entire day. And because we were from Idaho, we were the only ones swimming when it wasn't even 80 degrees outside. We went to Hollywood and went to a club where we saw 3 celebs. I spent $150 at a bar without regrets. We went to a thrift store to buy dressy clothes for a night out because I also forgot to pack those. We spent an entire day at Universal Studios, doing everything twice. We ate Mexican food most of the time and when we weren't doing that, we ate at In & Out.

Only those who live together or have been together for years will understand this when I say, we forgot how much we LIKED one another.

If I learned anything, it's that making someone else happy is one of the best feelings in the world. Knowing you are responsible for days worth of smiles and laughs is amazing. Vacations are important. Being busy all the time is overrated. Living for what's happening now kicks ass.

I also learned I like myself a little bit more after that trip, too.

the lumineers + eddie's diner

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Today, we met my second grandparents at their favorite diner. Every time they come to Boise, we go to Eddie's Diner without any question. Breakfast at 10am? Don't need to ask where. We order 5 rounds of the CRUNCHY French Toast and it's by far the most sickening thing I've ever put into my body, but it's so stupidly sweet and filled with the nostalgia of 10+ years of going there. We spent a solid 2 hours and stayed long after it became comfortable to keep sitting there digesting our cornflake crusted french toast. We laughed and somewhere near the end of our visit, all the stress seemed to dissolve in front of my retired old grandparents who spend their days secret shopping and driving across the country with their dog in their Subaru.

I also spent a solid few hours totally alone in my house with the new Lumineers record. Do you ever save that first listen of a new album for the perfect moment? Today, with the afternoon sunlight streaming through our windows, I knew it was the time. I left my anxiety at the door of Eddie's Diner and hugged away my stress into my grandma's chest. It was the perfect time to be still and listen.

It's a ritual with new music, k?

And you know what- I freaking cried. I cried over my computer keyboard.

There are albums that move you and there are albums that just become you. This album swallowed me up whole. This album felt like being 19 again when I was so unsure of where to take my life, who to date, and what I wanted to become. It felt like the worst kind of heartbreak when you feel like you're failing yourself by standing in your own way. But- but! There is so much beauty in the memory of being 19, and that's what this album feels like. It feels like being at the cusp of going somewhere great. It feels like not knowing how great you're about to be.

I felt it so deeply. And I felt so proud of that once 19 year old who picked herself up and landed in Boise, Idaho 5 years later in a city she loves, with a career in progress she loves, and a life she wouldn't give up for the world surrounded by family and friends.

I have a feeling I won't be letting go of this album for a long, long time. And let's be real, as long as Taylor Swift is on a break from music, we are in serious need of some soul-aching tunes, you feel?

the spring of work

Saturday, April 16, 2016

I've been absent and for good reason. I dug my heels in this spring and addressed the things I needed to.

I have worked SO hard this spring. Like, days and days without so much as a few hours off. Which, I know I said in my last post was what I needed to work on. But in evaluating the situation and seeing The Intern a few times, I knew in my heart my work wasn't the problem. I needed to prioritize everything else. Blogging & the internet was the first to go. Reading was the second to go (I didn't read a book for 2 months- maybe the craziest thing of all.)  TV went as well. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook notifications got turned off on my phone so that when I did use them, it was intentional.

This spring I wrote a novel. The first draft is done. I still can't believe how easy it came to me, which probably isn't a good thing. But I did it, in a little under 6 weeks. I'm finally coming back to it now that one chunk of it has been written.

This spring I worked with a business consultant to basically redo my entire photography business model so I can afford the bills and make a living off of my art. It took weeks and months of daily homework and a hard look at who I am as an artist. Because at the end of the day, if you're going to sell a product, you have to know what it is and who is buying it. It was hard. But in the end, I have a brand new website about to launch, a promotion video, and an entirely new mission. It rocks.

This spring I spent more time being uncomfortable. I got out more. I spent more time on friendships. I went out with the girls at work. I watched Grey's Anatomy in bed with my best friend rather than in bed alone. I spent more time making myself happy by connecting with people around me. Growing my roots in Boise. Losing myself in the community.

This spring I learned a lot about my relationship. It was rough there for a while and honestly, it still is tough. What I've learned is that talking about the uncomfortable stuff is beyond important. I learned that I am wrong sometimes. I learned that I'm right at others. I learned to not apologize for who I am or try to change who I am, but to also meet in the middle and compromise. It's taken a lot of fights and a lot of mean words, but I feel lighter after. I feel more open. I feel more honest, which is the biggest takeaway. I'm so happy. I actually feel more loved than ever. But, shit, it's hard work. I'm tired after all that fighting. But also relieved.

This spring I planned a huge styled photoshoot. I have so many moral issues with sticking a skinny model in a wedding dress for the sake of slapping it on my portfolio so women want to look the way the model does on their wedding day (#unrealistic), but I did it my own way. I stuck to my guns and only hired models who felt right to me and represented the type of client I wanted to work with. I put myself out there and went door to door asking small businesses to work with me on my shoot. I assembled a huge team and the entire creative vision is mine and mine alone. The session is planned and ready and I actually feel damn good about it.

And finally, last weekend, after so much work, I got to get away. And sans boyfriend. And I'm so glad he didn't come, because after all of that, it felt good to take a deep breath and take a road trip alone. It felt amazing to travel back to the place I spent five years of my life. I took maternity photos for the first couple who ever hired me to be their wedding photographer and it was like traveling back to visit my younger self. I drove the roads I took 5.5 years ago to get to Missoula on my own and it felt right to visit for the first time after college alone.

I went to Glacier National Park, the most magical place I've ever been. The place that reminds me to relax and appreciate the season we are in. To take things less seriously and love everything a little bit extra. I always manage to leave Glacier feeling like my best, most beautiful self. I always manage to come home feeling like I traveled to the moon and back.

My goal for the summer is to let things fall into place as they will and take it in. I did the work. Now it's time to let loose and enjoy the results.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

I haven't known how to talk about anything that's happened in the past few months. So let's recap, shall we?

I went to Europe for the first time in my life. Even typing that sentence feels weird because I actually can't believe I was lucky enough to do the things I did. I can't believe that for a few weeks, eating dinner on the Pantheon square, on the steps of the Vatican, and on high mountaintops of Tuscany. We went to visit my sister who lived in Venice all of last semester studying architecture and I told exactly 3 people I was going. Including my boss at work. It was the best secret.

I also went to Texas and then to Nashville in January. To photograph live podcast shows and weddings. I got to experience Austin, Dallas, and Nashville. I got to hang with Demi & Kevin backstage from Gilmore Guys and I got to experience the biggest snowstorm Nashville's seen in 10 years.

I ate so much food and drank glass after glass of wine in the past few months. It was amazing and I don't regret a second of it. There was never a moment where I considered not indulging because, how could I not? How many times are you in Europe or the food capital cities of the country!?

And then... in January. There were the moments I was home.

I wish I could say they were good. I wish I could say I wasn't slightly in denial.

In the past year of being out of school and in a new city, I have had some truly amazing things happen to me. I've started designing a life I LOVE for myself. I've traveled literally around the world. My job has taken me to all different parts of the country.

There hasn't ever been a day when I questioned what I was doing. It honestly feels like I'm living my dream life. I feel like I'm doing the things I was born to do and put on this earth to do.

Unfortunately, it never occurred to me that the person I live with and love might not know what the thing he was born to do is. That all the wedding and baby talk might be interpreted into passive aggressive hints about the future. I am not sorry for being so focused on my own career and life that I didn't look deeper into the silences and multiple nights in a row of going to bed having barely acknowledged the other. But, it did happen. We're okay now and it's a new month, but it was a hard time. And we're still getting through it.

Having a relationship at this stage of life has been the biggest blessing. Having someone on my side and someone to come home to is the best comfort. Having a friend 24/7 to count on and live life with? It makes everything so much easier. I push harder for things because I know I have support. And yet, it's also a weird time and the shock of coming out of college to so many possibilities in front of you is daunting. The future seems HUGE. And we're navigating self-discovery and exploration... together. Which in and of itself seems impossible to do. And yet, here we are. Trying. Sometimes failing. But getting up and reevaluating our needs and discovering new things all the time about the other.

In 2016, I'm already on a roll. I'm writing a novel this month in 30 days. I have a Tumblr where I post my daily 2,000 words a day and so far it's day 4 and I've done 7,200 words. I don't know where I'm going with it or exactly what this story is, but I'm uncovering it as I go. These characters are finding their voice and giving me their story.

In 2016, I'm going to continue from where I took 2015. Perhaps the thing I know I need to do at this stage in life is continue to evaluate my own needs and ask for them. I need to make my needs a priority because the thing I learned most in my life in 2015 is that things are damn good. And to be successful in every aspect of my life, I need to make time for the things that matter. For running, for YouTube, for reading, for writing, for my relationship, and for my friends.  I can do it.

Holy, October!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Well, hey! It's November. Um, how did that happen!?

October was the best month. October has never let me down. Not a once. It certainly has tried (lookin' at you fall 2011), but no matter what, those trees, nightly Hocus Pocus airings on Cable, pumpkin everything, and first crisp nights always win. And for all seriousness, this might have been the golden October of all Octobers.

This October, I photographed my first October wedding. I have wanted to photograph an October wedding for YEARS. Those orange leaves contrasted with an ivory wedding dress!? It was my personal little heaven.

Ultimately, I also came to another conclusion. It was in the hospital storage closet on the second floor of downtown Boise's hospital where I broke down because I was so tired after an 80 hour work week and I couldn't walk into another patient's room that I knew I had to change some stuff.

This month, I decided enough was enough. Here's the thing: I had this magical realization this month that I know exactly the thing I want for my future and my career. I know EXACTLY what I want. And rather than stretch myself too thin working 4 part time jobs at one time, I needed to take a deep breath and go all in. I quit my day job (not my morning job or my afternoon job), but the one that was taking the most energy out of my life with the least payoff. I decided, if I'm really going to do this, I need to stop distracting myself with 10,000 responsibilities away from what I really want to be doing and... take a leap. I debated for weeks and months. Is it the right time!? Don't MOST people do photography as a hobby for 10 years before going full time? Am I good enough!? How will I pay bills?! Should I wait until I'm more established locally!?

You guys.

There are so many reasons not to do a thing. So many. And quite frankly, I'm sick of them. After my best friend, Glenna, came over the same day as said meltdown and typed up a resignation letter for me and watched over my shoulder as I pushed send, I felt immense relief. Despite loving all that I do, I need to pick a lane and stay in it. So, as of now, my primary job right now is being a photographer. It's my sole income and my sole priority. It's finally the place where I can truly invest all my heart and energy Business wise, there could be a better time. Personally, there could never be a better time. So I've done and did it.

For the past 3 weeks, I've woken up early. I've fallen into routine of taking care of business in the morning, answering emails and filling client orders, eating lunch in the middle of the day, stealing my uncle's dogs for a mid afternoon walk, and coming back to work between 3:30-7pm. And it rocks. With all this extra time, I have time to go outside, cook healthy food, prioritize my personal work, and get some shit done.

This month has been the biggest relief. Not 4 jobs, just 1 (and a half.) ;) JakeVal-6
ps, you can find me HERE! 

anniversary trip!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

About 2 months ago, I told Seth we had to absolutely make a point to block out the weekend of October 17th for our anniversary. It was the only free weekend I had in a 2 month window. We requested time off work... and then... both of us forgot to actually plan anything. We had not even an idea of a place we wanted to visit or what kind of trip we wanted to take. So, come Friday, we realized we didn't know what we were doing still. After waking up on Saturday morning and going to brunch, I did a couple "best undiscovered places in Idaho" and "best things to do in Idaho" Google searches and came across the Owyhees. It had been months of living in Boise and we've heard the word "Owyhee" dozens of times and still hadn't figured out what they actually were. I saw that it was a 1.5 hour drive and took us through Nevada and Oregon and was like, so let's go... here?

No plan. No map. Just a road I knew took us 140 miles through some sort of wilderness. We didn't know that the entire road was gravel or that there wasn't a gas station or civilization for 150 miles (luckily we got gas just before heading out). We didn't know it was mostly desert with occasional enormous canyons in the middle of nowhere. We didn't know we'd be camping off to the side of the road in a canyon known for flash floods, while it started raining as we pitched our tent. We didn't know it was an extremely popular area for hunting and didn't see a single other Subaru or hiker on our journey. We didn't realize we wouldn't have cell service for 16 hours.

And yet, it was all pretty perfect. For hours, we felt like we were the only two people on the planet. Every few miles, the landscape broke out into a new prairie or mountain range. We found canyons thousands of feet deep. We stood on cliff faces and threw rocks as far as we could waiting to hear the sound as it finally hit the floor.

We were just us and that dang open road we love so much.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sometimes I'm all, "Oh yeah? This blog? I forgot about you?"

I spent the last week in Denver, visiting two of my best college friends. (Is it weird, or is it weird to reach this weird part of life where you refer to your friends in groups "high school friends" "college friends" "work friends"?).

After traveling all summer, which was deliciously fun, and spending so much time living out of a suitcase, I decided to take a trip just for me. I didn't pull out my SLR even once. I slept in until I wanted to, I ate as many delicious Lucille beignets as I wanted, I talked the ears off my friends, I explored, I shopped, and I drank. I forgot about everything entirely. I never knew how delicious a week long vacation could be until this week. Winter breaks in college didn't feel a fraction as good.

I think easily one of the best parts of getting older is the fact that I get to zoom all around the country these days to see my amazing friends living their dreams and doing great things with their lives. I get to see my friends do the things we talked about when we were 15 and 18. I'm choosing to embrace this getting older shiz, even if it means that friends live 2,000 miles away these days and it feels like a trick that we once spent every day of our young adult lives together and now we see each other once a year.