I’m currently sitting in the passenger seat of a rented Jeep Wrangler somewhere between Atlanta and Chattanooga. It’s raining that misty type of rain that reminds me of the mist fans at Disney World, only it’s relentless, and even after 5 hours of misting, it still continues. We’re returning from a week long trip in Florida where we spent the holidays with family eating way too much and running way too little. I’m not complaining. But how strange it is now to be driving away from Florida, a place I called home for the last 23 years of my life.
Reflecting on 2019
It’s the season for reflecting! As an introvert, I really enjoy this part. If you were a part of my story in 2018, you’ll know that something triggered in me. With so many big changes happening, change started to feel normal; and as a follower of Jesus, how could I expect anything different?
At the start of 2019 I prayed for big things and I set big goals for myself. But — little did I know, God would have other things in mind. After putting roots down in St. Pete, I decided it was time to extend my branches to add a new destination to my list — Nashville. So in July, I packed my bags and my Uhaul and put tires to pavement to start a life, in love, in Music City.
New life in music city
The first few summer months in Nashville were practically magic. Despite the heat wave that seemed to cross the nation, we enjoyed countless footsteps on the hills of Nashville, hiking along lakes and big leafy trees. We discovered what a pickle back shot was and then continued to drink them. We found a liking to new local restaurants, and eventually, found a church home we could become a part of.
Life in Nashville is like any other growing city. It’s full of young people — and mostly young people who are working towards something. The creative energy here is contagious and it’s a place you can’t remain stagnant in — even if that’s what you were trying to do.
But — life in Nashville is not the only thing that happened in 2019. I traveled a ton back to Florida to photograph amazing couples and families. I’ve really got this whole “living out of a suitcase” thing down to a science. And if I’m being honest, I’ve learned to quite enjoy the plane rides. What used to be a cocktail for motion sickness is now a time of complete silence where I can goal set, read, or journal — and if I was really lucky, a time I could find some shut eye in between states.
How quickly life flies
It has been a year of fast transitions and what I realized when I woke up one mid-December morning was that a whole year had gone by without me really realizing it. In a world of planning and asking “what’s next”, I was shaken with the thought that my whole life could pass by in the same way 2019 did; with so much happening but so little time actually present in it.
Do you ever find yourself driving home, park, and then wonder how the heck you got there? Like driving, our life kind of becomes involuntary. Meaning, we do things on auto pilot without really being present in them. We experience them as they happen, but we are consumed by other thoughts or what we plan to do next that we forget to experience the moments as they are actually happening.
Thankfully for me, I get to experience wedding days click-by-click and moment-by-moment.
I find so much joy being able to still the chaotic moments you experience on the most special days of your lives. With that and with you, I’ve found a greater purpose than just clicking a camera for an image you can frame — but a purpose for capturing a memory that you can always remember every time you look at it. Thank you. Thank you 100 times for trusting me with your memories.
As I move into 2020, my hope is that I can take my abilities to remain present on weddings days and let it carry into all the areas of my life; and I thought you might want in on some of it, too 😀
- Creating a daily practice for self! For me, this looks like waking up early (like 5:30 am early) and reading the word and praying. Nothing makes me more present than when I am with God — just me and him. It’s also a time for me to journal and find healing in words.
- Count the tiny joys! I LOVE the sound of the wind in the trees. The nudge of my pup’s nose. These little joys remind me to stay in the moment.
- Practice listening before responding! This sounds simple, but how easy is it for us to jump in to respond without actually listening to the other? I’m pretty good at this listening thing to be honest, but I sometimes regret those moments where I could have really gotten to know someone or helped them in some way because I was too busy reacting. Presences builds relationships.
- Reducing unnecessary distractions! If you’re anything like me, you probably pick up your phone to check it about 100 times a day. WHY. How can I take a phone check time and make it into a time for reflection or enjoyment? In a coffee shop and don’t know what to do with my hands? I’m encouraging myself to pick up a book instead or spark up conversation with a stranger.
- Finding a balance between planning for the future! This is where I typically get tripped up. Often I find myself somewhere in the future, hoping for what could be. Sometimes I just have to release it to God. Doing this allows me to know with faith that good things will come.
Thank you, my dear friends. 2019 has been an amazing growth-filled year. I pray that 2020 continues to be a year filled with lessons, growth, laughter, and amazing, amazing present moments and memories.