It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since my husband, our 3 furry kids and I packed up everything we owned and moved to Florida. It was an exciting time as we chased a dream and began a new chapter in our lives. We didn’t know how things would unfold or if it would even work out. But realizing how short life is, we knew we needed to at least try.
Just over a year ago, after the sudden and unexpected death of my friend, I found myself lost. Especially creatively. I saw the world through a different set of eyes. Ones that I truly believe made me live life more fully and deeper than I ever had before. I had little to no desire to photograph during this time which befuddled me because this is truly one of my passions. But after our move to the sunshine state, slowly I began to feel like creating again.
The beach is my happy place. It’s where I find peace. It’s also where I found my soul re-awakening again after so many months of sadness and loss. The more I sat on the beach listening to the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore, feeling the wind in my hair and watching the sun set at the end of the day, the more alive I became. It’s where I was when I first started seeing images in my mind that I wanted to create with my camera. No matter how lost I had felt, bit by bit, I was beginning to see, my life was unfolding exactly the way it was supposed to.
It hasn’t been an easy journey. In fact, I’d be lying if I didn’t say more than once I wanted to pack up and go back home. To Pennsylvania. My safe place of over 40 years. It was familiar. And that made me feel less afraid. But I also knew if I did leave, it would only be a matter of time before I found myself wishing I was here, where I am now. In Florida.
They say when you step outside of your comfort zone, that’s when you truly begin living life. The thing you are most afraid of, is exactly the thing you must do. The bigger the fear, the more important it is you face it. I’m a creature of habit. I love familiarity and hate change. Everything in my life was new. If I was having a panic attack, all I had to do was close my eyes and picture myself back in my old home. Then I’d be ok again.
We sold our home in June. It wasn’t our dream home, so we decided it was time for someone else to love it like we had. When we accepted the offer, I sat down and wept. Not because I was ecstatic, but because I could no longer go back to the one place I always felt safe and welcome. I was way outside of my comfort zone. Yet, somehow I knew I was right where I needed to be.
I was fortunate to get the job I wanted if we had moved to Florida. I’m working for one of the most talented photographers of our generation. Everyday when I go to the gallery, I am surrounded by his beautiful photographs. I work with a team of people I feel like I knew long before I ever met them. I get to talk photography with customers and co-workers. For a girl who wanted to shift careers from pet sitting to photography, there couldn’t have been a more perfect way to make this happen.
Because of my new work schedule, I have more time to devote to my own photography. I earned my CPP (certified professional photographer) at the end of 2018. I made progress toward earning my Master of Photography degree by getting more education and exhibition merits this year. I’ve learned new lighting techniques and bought more equipment so I can continue to perfect my skills. After reading some incredible marketing books, I’ve revamped my marketing plan to promote my newly open photography business in southwest Florida. And finally, I am photographing again. I think my work is better than it ever was. Not just because the old adage - the more you practice, the better you become. But because the time I spent lost helped me find my true photographic voice. For all the tears I shed, the moments I spent curled up under a blanket, the words spewed in utter frustration, it was worth it. For I am home. Here. In. Florida. Doing exactly what I was meant to do.
The following quote has been my inspiration on this journey:
“Follow your dreams, because you wouldn’t want it so bad if you couldn’t have it. The universe gives you these dreams because you can have them. If you’re willing to work for it, you can have anything you want.” ~ Michael Flatley
Always chase your dreams. The universe wants them to come true. I can’t wait to see what the next twelve months has in store for me!
Thanks for reading!