"Live light, travel light, spread the light, be the light" // AmandaHoffmanArt 2017
"You are warmer than the summer time, so I hold you through the winter time and the love inside your eyes turns a cloudy day to sunshine."
When I was asked to shoot a wedding in January, in Ohio, I thought, yikes COLD! And then I got excited about beautiful snowy scenes. Turns out we didn't get either (thank you global warming for 60 degree weather) and it was even more beautiful than I imagined! This couple just glows! They are equally as sweet, funny and caring as they are gorgeous and I had so much fun being a part of their day.
Cheers to the start of many beautiful years together!
pronghorns + prairie dogs - maxwell national wildlife refuge, new mexico
It is hard for me to work on things that aren't immediately giving me rewards, whether that means a paycheck, connections, etc. I think this mentality is a product of my uber practical, hardworking, mid-western upbringing where "work" is not about doing something that you love but about doing something that provides for your family, your future or your immediate needs. And yet, I am convinced that I can and should be doing something that I love AND that will provide for my (very minimal) immediate needs*.
*screw the family & the future, for now anyway.
clarks nutcracker* - banff natl park
*i promise this is the actual name of this poor bird.
While I have always theoretically believed that I could do anything that I set my mind to. The lack of guarantees or consistency in carving your own path, so to speak, is crippling to my psyche. And at the very same time thrilling to my spirit. How is it possible to be so compelled and so frozen by something?
baby moose - glacier natl park
mama moose - glacier natl park
I am so thankful that I was raised in a way that taught me to work hard. To take a job, be it waiting tables, house cleaning, or photography, and show up everyday and give 110%. I was never one of those employees who could stand around; down-time on the clock always meant finding something to clean or organize or a new project to start.
Unfortunately this work ethic of mine has a hard time translating to my self-employment. It never fails that there is always laundry or running or a sandwich standing between me and my creativity. Maybe this is because I cant always pay myself. Or because there is no road map to follow. No schedule to follow or hours to fill. Its just me, choosing what to work on and what risks to take, and that is totally scary. I will not, however, apologize for or question the sandwich thing.
rascal trying steal said sandwich, unsuccessfully. I guard my sandwiches with my life. #backoffsandwichstealer
Last week I dove in. I stopped imagining several projects I have wanted to pursue and I went out into the world and truly started them. I spent money and time on my ideas and on my business and while I have no idea if any of the things that I am working on will amount to anything - I can see that it doesn't really matter. It only matters that I am trying, that I am starting. Its all about the movement. Feeling the fear, acknowledging it and moving forward. Because I have to. Because I don't want to go work for somebody else right now. Because its no fun to write songs and then have no one hear them. Because my art is just as important and therefore as unimportant as everyone elses. Because its time to get serious and give myself a chance. Because sandwiches cost money and I've got to earn it.
grand tetons, wyoming
This adventure, my life, I am totally determined to figure it out.
Love & patience,
Please enjoy the photos from this weeks post - which are part of my growing series "Wild" - full of all the amazing wild animals we encountered on the @westwewander adventure.
They are all available for purchase - just click on them & use promo code 20forfall to receive a 20% discount on your order!
Home is such an interesting idea. People make homes in all kind of ways. In giant, overwhelming, sprawling structures, that go mostly unused and force people to live beyond their means. In small, modest, comfy, old houses full of dust and history. In cars, in boats, on the street and in the forest and by the beach. In people or all alone, with 5 cats or 2 dogs, with children and parents. Home can be both a place and a feeling. A belonging. A sense that you are safe and you have all you need. Every person you ask will have a different definition of "home" and their answers will change over time.
Goldie, quickly and comfortably, easily, became home. And although the location and the landscapes, the temperatures and the wildlife changed, I was safe and had all that I needed. How swiftly I forgot the things I left behind, the material things, the fear, the bad habits and mundane life tasks that I had previously allowed to suck so much of my energy.
I knew that returning to Austin would be challenging, for many reasons. The speed and blankness with which most people move through their days is something that I am reluctant to return to. It was easy, and quick and meaningful to find the quiet and the peacefulness in my travels. To unplug. From my phone, from technology, from the clock and become immersed in the nature and the cities we visited. To live in moments, instead of schedules. I find myself clinging to this idea. Unready to re-join the world of hustlers who are working, moving, filling time and space with the to-do's. And yet, I must. On the road, full of inspiration, it was clear and easy for me to plan and get excited about the projects I'd embark on when I returned. But now I find it overwhelming, daunting, hard to take the first steps.
Ive experienced several clarifying moments, since my return. Tiny winks from the universe, reminders not to lose the magic. One in the form of an older gentleman, who approached me in HEB, using my baseball cap, which displayed "Republic, OHIO" on its front, a cap which I have lost & found and has a history all its own, to strike up a conversation. He was overly friendly, someone I may have normally blown off, or tried to move quickly away from, too busy, to distracted, to closed off to talk to. This time, however, on my first trip to the grocery store since my return, overwhelmed by the number of people around me, the loudness, feeling like I couldn't remember what I needed, I stopped. I talked. I shared my feelings and stories of my trip and stories about Ohio with a man whose name I didn't know, who was simply being kind and connecting me back to the world around me - which is in fact, people, the same way it is nature. And 20 minutes later, I left the canned vegetable aisle, feeling calmer. Renewed. Focused once more on what is truly important, connecting. People. Ideas. Not trying to be an island.
So now I am here, in this time and in this space and home is re-defined once more as I [still] unpack and settle back into life in Austin. Territory un-mapped, without hectic schedules or hours or paychecks. Just my own, wide open road (where I unfortunately can't call AAA on days I may break down). I am equally oozing with ideas, enthusiasm and excitement and at the same time desperately searching for a warm dark hole to hide in. Working on that balance. Telling the fear to shut the hell up. Good thing both of my homes come with a Franzia tap.
[For the record, I have mostly unpacked, but there are some little things that havent made their way to where they belong, this is my tiny way of thinking I am somehow more prepared to run again, if necessary.]
Love from home,
PS. In an attempt to humor my sister and her new favorite nickname for me, #stayathomemom, here are a hundred pictures of a kitten. I quickly fell for this little guy, who I found in a tree a few days after we arrived home. He's a cryer and snuggler and a relentless beggar for human food. He's playful and curious and jumps on anything in his path like a tiny jungle cat. And now has been passed on to someone who can love him without sneezing.
Ok, but seriously can you blame me for almost becoming a cat lady?!
Spent most of week 8 enjoying the great state of Colorado. Hot springs and red rocks and breweries and some incredible hospitality.
We had some rain in the Rocky Mountain National Park, but that didn't stop us from doing a couple beautiful hikes to lakes where the birch trees were already changing color, beautiful golden yellows. The Rockies, of all the mountain ranges we have seen are pretty spectacular and massive, and the drive through the park was both difficult, (Goldie's sweet spot up a hill is right around 30mph, so we were chuggin along), and incredibly rewarding.
Had some great recommendations from our good friend from Boulder and we had a great time there! Food and drinks & caramel apples & more excellent thriftstore finds (including an incredible Beyonce-esque one piece that I regrettably let slip through my fingers). We also did a pretty tough hike up the Sanitas trail and I realized that despite weeks of hiking and not having my pack I was still really struggling to breathe up this mountain. The elevation here is intense.
Every once in a while when we visited a city that we wanted to go out in, we had to find a semi-inconspicuous place to park, in a neighborhood and sleep for the night. This went well for us for the most part and we weren't bothered by anyone or awoken in the night and asked to GTFO. So when we got to Boulder we decided we'd park it in a nice, quiet, historic neighborhood, walking distance to all the restaurants and bars, on the side of someones property. We came "home" to Goldie around midnight, went to sleep and awoke early to unfamiliar sounds. Now remember, we are used to waking up surrounded by birds, maybe deer, elk, bunnies, wild horses, cows even. All of their respective sounds, mixed with the soft shushes of the forest, familiar. Children shouting, running, laughing, mom's chatting about schedules and pta meetings and dads scolding kids, "no, you cant play with RV," unfamiliar, jolting, in fact. I sat up in bed, (well there is really no sitting up in bed when you've got the top bunk and you're 6 feet tall, so I crunched over, rather) to look down at Leyna who is laying still, and mouths to me, "don't move." So we wait (at this bus stop!) for the chaos to subside and the moms and dads to disperse back to their homes, before we can move a muscle and start our day like the vagabond, street sleepers we are.
And then, just like that, as if nothing happened at all we are cruising to Denver, to see the Dixie Chicks (who even after all these years, were incredible)!
Denver was great, and such a break from our regular routine, we stayed with Leyna's cousin & his family. Got to drive a regular sized car, which was an experience all in itself (why are we so low to the ground!? how are we going so fast?! lets parallel park right in front of where we are going!). The hot showers, and warm beds & home-made cookies didn't hurt either. What a treat! And a HUGE thanks again to Chad & Betsy and Molly for being so incredibly welcoming!
Leaving Denver was bittersweet. We knew we were now on the road home but we also knew we weren't in a hurry. So we spent the next few days soaking up every last bit of nature and wander we could.
We hit our first major storms in New Mexico and then Palo Duro Canyon, where it rained through the nights, lightning so bright and thunder so crashing loud that you couldn't sleep. And yet, how calming, peaceful, refreshing it was to experience some real weather after weeks of nothing but sunshine and calm.
And so you realize that sometimes, you're just stuck inside in the rain. And that there really are treasures at the end of a rainbow.
And that roadrunners, do exist.
And so, from our final campsite, in Voss, Texas. We wander home.
Love from the road,
Week 7 started out in Yellowstone, and was, in a word, incredible. We spent cold, early mornings watching the sunrise and looking for wolves.
We made friends with some of the diligent wolf watchers (who happened to have way better scopes and binoculars than we did) and got to catch peeks of their views. And in the case of Howard, (who I initially thought must be this amazing wildlife photographer) I got to use his big zoom lens to help him see what we were seeing, because he literally couldn't see. But he was there all the same, and stoked. If you could adopt extra grandparents, he'd be it.
The different landscapes and the vast array of wildlife in Yellowstone was amazing. From wide open valleys full of bison, to numerous erupting springs, and breath-takingly stinky springs, insanely colorful landscapes, streams where elk roam and lakes, mountains and forest. I was really smitten with all this park had to offer.
It didn't hurt that we were able to experience a once in a lifetime kind of national geographic live situation involving a grizzly bear, the carcass of a young elk and a rare white wolf. I will tell this particular story in more depth when I am back on solid ground, but I cant help but share this teaser from our 7 (yes, seven) hour stint watching these magnificent creatures.
Due to some pretty intense (however,"contained") wildfires, our route leaving Yellowstone to head to the Tetons took a bit of a detour that landed us in Idaho for a night. We found an incredible campsite (or rather cow field) for the night and enjoyed the beautiful farmland, and incredible night sky that was Idaho.
Made it to Jackson Hole where we did everything from seeing the local rodeo & dancing at cowboy bars to getting massages and enjoying a spa day! Really loved the town and the vibe here - where you're super close to amazing hiking in the mountains and great coffee and shops and food in the town. Breakfast one morning at Lotus Cafe was particularly overwhelming when I was faced an almost entirely gluten free spread that included biscuits and bison gravy, belgian waffles with blueberry ginger compote & donuts made in house. Thats right, I ate all of it. I am not sorry.
The week ended on Sunday with an AMAZING view at the top of a canyon above Green River Wyoming getting as close as I could to a family of wild horses & falling completely in love.
Next is Colorado and its getting hotter, I can feel Texas coming.
Love from the road,