June 22nd marks the three year anniversary of Cole and I beginning our new life as Oregonians. Throughout this past year, I have crossed paths with many wonderful people, have had photography successes, travels, visitors, health concerns, heartbreak, and new beginnings. It’s been another amazing year of highs and some lows in Oregon and I couldn’t be any happier than to be exactly where I am.
|My parents in Bandon, Oregon|
I was thrilled to play tour guide last summer by showing my parents around the Pacific Northwest. It was a dream come true to be able to show them around in person, not just through photographs on Facebook. I never thought they would be able to ever visit so needless to say it was an experience that I will certainly cherish forever. My cousin/best friend also came for a whirlwind two and a half day much needed adventure one weekend this spring. It felt so good to be able to finally show her around as well, something we both thought wouldn’t be able to happen for quite some time. Between the Oregon Coast, Northern California, the Cascade mountains, Southern Washington, and the deserts of Eastern Oregon, the Pacific Northwest is such a fun place to show off.
|Old friends at Topp’s Hideaway in Windsor, Wisconsin|
This past winter I went home to Wisconsin after a two year hiatus and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with family and friends, drinking, eating, and catching up. I was able to enjoy a Packers game at my parents house with my sister and her boyfriend while we celebrated an early Christmas together. I met up with a series of friends at all my favorite spots throughout Madison and the surrounding area while also enjoying all my favorite foods, drinks, and local musicians. It was great to see familiar faces and know that while everything inevitably changes, some friendships certainly do seem to last the test of time.
|Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero, California|
I took a weekend trip to San Francisco this spring for my birthday and enjoyed exploring the city as well as driving south along the coast toward Big Sur, a place that’s been on my bucket list for some time. There are certainly some amazingly beautiful spots on the California coast but I’m fairly certain that the Oregon coast will always have my heart, and although San Francisco left me with a new appreciation for Portland’s less hectic traffic and cleaner streets, I definitely would enjoy another trip at some point to explore more of the food and art scene, but perhaps next time I won’t drive.
I moved two times this past year. First from an apartment at The Yards at Union Station where I lived for two years by myself to a house in the St. Johns neighborhood with two roommates. It was fairly clear from the beginning of that adventure that the particular roommates I had, although nice people, were not the right fit for my lifestyle so a few months later, I found myself moving back downtown, this time to the Essex House apartments where I continue to live now. I love being downtown again within walking distance to so many delightful things but perhaps the best part is that my workplace is right across the street; a two minute commute is hard to beat.
I kept myself overwhelmingly busy with photography endeavors this past year. I joined the Portland Photographers Forum as a member but then within a short period of time was elected to the board of directors which met monthly on top of the monthly member meetings. I started a networking Meetup group through Blue Sky Gallery and hosted monthly gatherings there for local photographers. I volunteered on Saturdays at Newspace Center for Photography as well as once a month at Blue Sky Gallery. I entered my photography into contests and submitted proposals for exhibitions and landed my first juried exhibition at LightBox Photographic Gallery in Astoria as well as had work included in several shows throughout town, one of which gave me the opportunity to test my public speaking skills and present another body of work to the public. Through a volunteer critique group at Newspace Center for Photography, in which I met with monthly, we laid the groundwork to start a new photography zine as well as were given the opportunity to curate shows at a newly designed space within the gallery. I attended numerous presentations and lectures at the Portland Art Museum and Blue Sky Gallery. I also had a series of photographs hung throughout my workplace and once again donated a couple of pieces to an art auction to support homelessness prevention programs.
|My ever-growing supply of vitamins,
supplements, and medications
All of that photography business on top of my demanding workload certainly took it’s toll on my health and I found myself getting sick more and more frequently. Not too long ago I discovered I suffer from adrenal fatigue which has prompted a new interest in Naturopathic medicine. I’m so grateful for finding the right doctor to work with on a holistic path to getting better. There are a lot of things one can do to try to recover from adrenal fatigue, the most important for me right now is to reduce stress, get lots of sleep, and focus on nutrition. I decided I needed to make a drastic change to my lifestyle. I resigned from all of my volunteer activities and took a hard look at how I was going to spend my time going forward. That rejuvenated my dedication to a more minimalistic lifestyle. I continue to take a microscopic look at all aspects of my life to determine whether or not each part is still pertinent to my well-being. Meanwhile, I’m selective on what plans I agree to and am enjoying spending a lot more time at home with Cole. Rest assured, there will still be plenty of nature adventures to look forward to in the future.
I had a new, extremely promising romance develop at the beginning of this year with a man who had so many wonderful qualities that I’ve long been searching for. For a few months, from a relationship perspective, it was wonderful. I thought it had great potential to be a long-lasting and mutually satisfying and meaningful relationship. That is why when it unexpectedly and abruptly ended shortly after my birthday, I was devastated. It seemed so unfair, almost cruel. Why would the universe bring this amazing person into my life just to then rip him away by powers beyond both of our control? Processing all of that was difficult but luckily we were able to remain friends, which I’m thankful for. I truly want the best for him going forward and I hope we maintain a wonderful friendship for years to come.
|Matt, Cole & I|
With all of that heartache, it was surprising to find someone new not too long after the breakup who peaked my interest. His patience and understanding during those first couple of months allowed us the time to get to know each other in a meaningful way and gave me the space I needed to work through my emotions from the breakup. The whole thing was unexpected in so many ways. Through the time spent talking, hanging out, and exploring Oregon/Washington, I was able to learn just how amazing a person he is and what a good fit we are together. I’m so thankful that we were able to navigate that uncertain time and even though this is not how I thought things would turn out when this year began, I’m pleasantly surprised to learn it is exactly where I’m meant to be. Next month we are moving in together and I’m excited to see what this new chapter looks like for us. I feel like the life I have long waited for, the one I was certain I would find here in Oregon when I set out on this journey, is finally beginning and I couldn’t be happier!
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.”—Gilda Radner