Alone In McCurtain County

In the last year and a half, I’ve learned the difference in being alone and being isolated.

Being alone looks like a quiet house, a fat book and a full glass of wine. It feels full but also spacious.

Being isolated feels like no one can hear me, not even me. It looks like 3 a.m. and bad TV infomercials.

Isolation is a frightening feeling. I would characterize it as depression’s best friend and anger’s favorite third cousin. What we do in isolation is even scarier than what we do in the dark or behind closed doors. Feeling isolated is scraping the floor of the emotional ocean, bottom-feeding on the worst of the worst: insecurity, resentment, madness.

But being alone – and traveling alone – is one of my favorite things. At 19, I ditched my group of classmates during my study abroad and proceeded to take the train all across London. Alone.  This was 100 percent against my professor’s instruction and university policy, but like usual, I said to hell with the rules. Because I know and believe in the things that lie beyond the parameters of conventionality and rule-following: creativity, exploration and self-discovery. Taking that train to Picadilly Circus and back again was exhilarating, but never, ever scary. I vowed to take more solo trips in the future.

Then I read Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” a book about a 22 year old and her decision to hike over 1,000 miles across the Pacific Crest Trail alone in an effort to find her way out of intense internal isolation. I read this book during a time where I as feeling most isolated and incredibly sad. You wouldn’t think the cure for isolation is time alone, but it is. It’s about shifting your thoughts – not your physical surroundings.

So I took off to McCurtain County, Okla. to visit a friend. When she was off to work, I’d spend the day hiking alone in Beaver’s Bend State Park. I packed my backpack, grabbed a water bottle and trail guide and crossed my fingers I wouldn’t get lost or mauled by mountain lions, Sasquatch or meth heads. And behold, I didn’t. I hiked for hours without seeing a human, and traded the company of people for that of deer and toads and minnows and crawfish.

And I never felt so safe, or full.

I know a lot of us feel isolated…classmates in new jobs and in new cities, newlyweds, the newly divorced…pretty much anyone and everyone under the age of 30. But we aren’t alone in feeling isolated. We are just a road trip, a phone call, an email away from each other.

And, maybe, just a long walk in the woods away from ourselves.

Love,

J.

 

Camera 101 – The Basics

In summer 2011, I ordered my first DSLR. The Canon Rebel came in this sexy, sleek black and red box. I thought I was big time.

And guys. I took some shitty photos. Heck, I’m still taking shitty photos…just not as many as I used to.

I wanted to share you guys what I’m doing to ever-so-slowly get better at this little thing we call photography and how you can, too.abbey_OKC3

1. Don’t believe the hype. Lots of folks around the ‘net say full frame sensors are the way to go. They say buy the biggest and baddest camera body, paired with a brand new top-of-the-line lens and *poof* you’re a photographer. Not entirely the case (I love this post about why).  I’m still holding on to my crop sensor and still loving it. She’s a big girl, she’s capable of more than she let’s on. It’s all about your skills and how you’re working and growing behind the camera.

Also, I buy lots of used equipment. Used lenses are cheaper but usually impeccably cared for. Plus, I kind of dig meeting up with local photogs and hearing their advice, stories, etc. and buying some equipment they’ve outgrown.

2. Get legit. This is a hobby for me and sometimes a nice, small side gig that affords me some pocket change. If you want to really do this professionally and full-time, I would suggest drawing up some contracts for your clients and familiarizing yourself and your business with the legality of what you do. Because it’s all fun and games until you shoot a wedding, the bride hates her photos and then proceeds to take you to court for all you’re worth.

Of course, that’s not likely to happen. But it is possible. If you’re aiming to run a business, protect yourself and your finances. Contracts are a great way to set and manage expectations for yourself and your clients, and ensure you get paid.

3. Sharing is caring. For whatever reason, creatives can get super territorial and defensive about their work and their clients. Guys, newsflash: there is plenty to go around. Plenty of clients, plenty of creativity, plenty of money. By simply shifting your attitude from a place of defensiveness to an attitude of abundance, you open yourself up to greater and more diverse opportunities. Share your tips and process with others instead of being shy or secretive. Encourage others in the game. Celebrate the growth of others. It’s good karma and teaching is the only way to truly master anything.

abbey_OKC1

P.S. – These photos were shot with a Canon t2i and an 85 mm 1.8 lens. I almost always edit images in Photoshop…I run a clean edit color base action and then top that off with some eye brighteners and (if needed) some skin correcting.

What camera Q’s do you have? What photog skills are you working on? Tell me in the comments!
xo,

J.

The L Word

I’m only, oh, 10ish years behind on watching and loving the TV series The L Word. To be fair, I was 14 when the series first aired – the Showtime hit that follows the lives of a group of lesbian friends living in L.A. isn’t exactly tweeny bopper material.

I first heard about this series from my husband – he had lots of lesbian friends in college and often watched bits of the series with them. He laughed off the sometimes-super-racy scenes but gave it a great review.

After being hounded by friends to finally watch it, I found the series on Netflix and hit play. I’ve been watching it nonstop since. It’s funny, sexy, relatable and addictive. The women are executives, housewives, hairdressers, students, writers, small business owners and sports figures. They’re witty and funny and kind, sometimes confused about their own lives and choices. They face parenting alone, discrimination, breakups, breast cancer, the death of parents, divorces, military deployment and career changes. They’re extremely loyal and painfully honest.

It’s the most relatable series I’ve ever watched. Which is interesting for someone who isn’t gay and has very little in common with anyone who lives in West Hollywood. I’ve never dated a woman, a solider, a person dying of cancer. I’ve never buried a parent or been fired from a job. I’ve never dealt with addiction or fame. But on a very simple but profound level, I understand what it means to be a woman. And I’ve never watched a series that so perfectly illustrated the nuances of female friendships and what it means to be a woman in this world – an educated, passionate, ambitious, smart, funny woman.

What series are you watching and loving (even if you’re a little late to the game)? Tell me in the comments!

XO,

J.

 

Christmas in July: Wishlist 2014

July is my usual time for a whopping case of reverse seasonal affective disorder. I hate sunny days. So does Cory.  Our apartment is dark and 67 degrees year round…Yes, that’s ridiculous electricity usage. I have no regrets. We just  prefer cold and stormy weather – the drama of a thunderstorm, the flickering of candles in an icy power outage, the crisp bite of a winter morning. After a full day at the lake this weekend, Cory said to me “I’m ready for fall.”

Me too, boo.

So in the spirit of Christmas in July,  I wanted to fill you guys in on my already formed 2014 wish list. Y’all, it’s really never too early to start thinking about the most wonderful time of the year. These are my favorite picks around the net right now, and they are perfect for the free spirit or creative heart in your life.

xo,

J.

via Kelly Moore Bag

via Kelly Moore Bag

velour

via Velour Lashes

1. Kelly Moore Bag, The Kate: I already own the Chapel bag, but just one of these isn’t enough. All canvas with leather trim + lots of ways to wear it make it the new bag in my life.

2. Velour Lashes in Strike A Pose: These 100 percent mink lashes look gorgeous and you can wear them up to 30 times… Yes, please.

daydesigner

via Whitey English Etsy Shop

 

3. Whitney English Day Designer: I’ve tried to digitize my life organization, from Google Calendar to Evernote. The truth is, nothing works for me like old fashioned pen and paper. I have a monthly/daily planner + a composition notebook to keep random thoughts and lists. With this beauty, I can combine the two for one, go-to place for everything.

mala beads

via Mala Collective

4. Rockstar Mala Beads: This wish list item marries my hippie tendancies + my skull obsession…Cory has a large skull tattooed on his back. The image always reminds me of him and has become a theory in my wardrobe. Mala beads are made  with 108 beads, similar to the 108 beads used in a rosary. In addition to being beautiful, I love the symbolism + integrity of this product.

Fuji-Instax-Mini-8-Pink

 

6. Fujifilm Instax Mini 8: Film is making a comeback in a big way, and I don’t want to miss out on the fun. While my iPhone takes amazing pictures, I’m always delayed at getting them printed and up in my home + in my frames. Taking fun, adorable mini photos and seeing them instantly in my palm is tempting enough. Plus, it’s pink.

 

Weekend Wear: Denim

If you see me this summer, chances are I’m wearing any one (or all) of these pieces. Like memories, I’ve picked ’em up along the way: second-hand boyfriend jeans from someone who didn’t want them anymore, chambray tank on sale, a black lace bralette I love so much I bought in multiple colors and a straw hat I found (really) at the general store. They’re all new, but feel so comfy and familiar. Denim is like that: soft and easily worn and yet, somehow, always fits great and looks even better.

I rounded up some of my favorite similar pieces here:

Straw fedora

Madewell’s boyjean

Chambray racerback tank

Epicure sandal 

Black lace bralette 

To see what else I’m in love with fashion/makeup wise, check out this Pinterest board.

love & light,

J

PS. I’m over at Brit+Co. talking about all the ways to wear summer leather.