One of my fondest childhood memories is of my parents, siblings, and I gathering the crop in our garden, picking peas, watermelons, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra. These were all the fruits of nothing more than our own hard work. As much as we complained about the scorching Louisiana heat, these were some of the best times, times of story telling across the field, laughter, fun, and then a quick dip in the creek afterwards to cool off. One of the many things I remember learning from my parents – even as a small child- is hard work pays off. They made an example of it before our eyes and worked hard every single day, no matter how fortunate we ever were. They still are this way.
I have carried this same moral with me throughout my life, sometimes repeating it to myself when times were tough or I was physically, mentally, or spiritually put to test. Hard work has indeed paid off for me, just as my parents told me since day one that it would. I grew up in the tiny Louisiana towns of Pitkin and Merryville. We moved 40 minutes down the road to Merryville when I was 9 and my biggest concern was “could I bring my tweety bird pants?” Boy, have things changed.
After graduating from high school and heading to big ole’ Louisiana State University for college, my life changed. The summer between my Sophomore and Junior years, I came to a point in my life where I wanted more from life and I wanted an adventure all my own. I sought out an international internship on europlacement.com and landed a spot at a tiny little marine institute located in Samos, Greece to further my marine biology studies (now that’s a story for another post for the many of us that aren’t actually using the degree we went to school for..more on that later..promise). It was there in Greece though that my life was enriched and my heart was opened. I consider that summer to be the biggest “light on” in my life. I refer to things as a “light on” when they change my present circumstance/s for the better. A turning point. Just a few days after I arrived, I met a handsome, intellectual, blue eyed Texan who asked me for ice cream. His name is Chase and the rest of our story is well- history. Summer love that didn’t just end when the summer was over. We almost immediately fell in love, completed our studies in Samos several weeks later, and traveled all over Europe the rest of that summer. The next year we traveled back and forth between Texas and Louisiana and then ,the following year, Chase moved to Louisiana. Soon afterwards, we became engaged, I graduated college, and we were married June 1st, 2013 in a gorgeous garden ceremony amongst our closest family and friends. This was just two years after we met. Travel was always and continued to be something we loved. After a road trip up the California coast a few months prior to our engagement, something about the town of Half Moon Bay spoke to us and remained in our hearts. So we pulled out the map again, put our finger on the spot, prayed over it, Chase applied for jobs, and we were blessed with a position a few weeks later. A few weeks afterwards, we made the 2,157 mile move across the country. And of course, we settled down in the gorgeous, peaceful, coastal town of Half Moon Bay.
We made our dreams come true with hard work, determination, and a whole lotta’ love. Less than a month and a half here, we found out we were expecting our first child. A year and a half later, we have created a home full of love, a life full of continuous adventure, our own little garden, have more love than we ever imagined, can feel the freedom held in the ocean breeze anytime we want, and above all, we get to see all our love and dedication as one in our handsome 6 month old Carson. He is more than we ever imagined we could create together, such a light and truly the happiest little soul. He has been since the day he was born and laid on my chest to nurse for the very first time.
My days are filled with hugs and kisses from both my boys. Our hands dig in the dirt growing our own organic food in our backyard, trips are made to the market for the things we don’t have the space/climate to grow, and meaningful conversation is had with friends and family near and far. Chase commutes into San Francisco for his software engineering career and I do work that doesn’t really feel like work at all as a wedding, travel, and portrait photographer. It was Chase that encouraged me to pursue my dreams as an artist. Shortly after college, I found out I was not a 9-5 kind of girl. I am surrounded daily with beautiful souls, beautiful places, and beautiful love. I am blessed. I try to capture as much as I can of my surrounding so I –and others- have those memories preserved, even if it’s less than a millisecond captured in a photograph. My style is timeless. I am what the modern day photography world calls a hybrid. Film and digital are both my art mediums. Film inspires me. It ignites a light in my soul to be better than I am, to be smarter in my framing, to be more observing, to evaluate light, my environment, and then to take the shot when everything has aligned as closely as possible. It has made me a better digital photographer. A post with more about my art to come sometime in the future.
Lots of gardening tips, lessons learned, recipes, art, design, love, laughter, and life successes/struggles to come. It’s not always sunshine over here. I’ll share the struggles too.
Looking forward to opening my heart to y’all (a Southerner’s way of saying you all)
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Photography by: Natalia Cruz
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