Didn’t I just write one of these? Did I not semi-recently hash out all the great/ish things that happened in the last 12 months? And now another 12 months has passed? I guess that whole thing about time speeding up as you age is actually real. Go figure?
I don’t even really know where to begin this post. 2016, as most know, has been a wild ride just as a whole. It definitely felt like a year a book would be named after. But, this is not a blog for politics. This is a blog where I spill words that are much too personal and that come from somewhere deep inside my soul.
There were so, so, so many things that happened this year that left a mark on me. I was one of the lucky ones where it was all good, too! My life, personally, was something to be so grateful for this year and that’s something that I will hold with me into the new year. But, we’re here to talk about the last 12 months, not the next. So onward!
Every New Years Eve, my family and I sit down and we make little creative lists/illustrations of the things we wish for in the new year. This was mine for 2016.
The pessimistic side of me looks at this and realizes all the things I did not do. When I wrote: Be a smarter photographer, editor, and business owner, I wanted to have a really strict workflow. I wanted to shoot to make editing easier, and I wanted to do all of these little touches that, turns out, aren’t as easy as they sound.
When I wrote Peace, Love, Death Metal, I wanted to learn the whole Eagles of Death Metal album on drums. I didn’t do that either (and I might regret that more than anything else!).
What I’m saying is that I do see these failures and I am acknowledging them. We are not perfect. We as people tend to put too much on our plates. We think, I have a year! How can I not do all these things in a year? Because we are human and life happens. We fall in love, we get distracted, we make other things a priority that weren’t even a thought in January. Simply put, life happens and that is normal.
I have a habit of putting too much on myself at once and becoming overwhelmingly disappointed when I don’t accomplish it all, or have to remove some things from a list. But this past year I’ve learned that failure is okay. How do I avoid it? Baby steps. Taking my time to accomplish a goal. Slowly giving myself more and more instead of diving in head first.
Alright, now that I have acknowledged the bad, we can move on to the fun stuff. Buckle up because this post is already almost 500 words and I haven’t even started my list yet. So, in a very messy chronological order, here we go!
Finally submitting to Art Calls.
In early February, I woke up from getting little sleep incredibly inspired. It was barley getting light outside and that day at 5pm was the deadline for submitting to an art call that had caught my interest.
The theme was “New Beginnings”, and this photo was supposed to speak of unearthing yourself from the cold of winter and blooming into something new and beautiful. This photo (and any photo that I made that had true depth this year) meant a lot to me. This year wasn’t the easiest as far as creating went. But this photo will always be one I will look at fondly and remember how nervous I was for the artists reception (for no reason) and the immense pride I felt.
Expanding my business.
I think one of the reasons why this year was a difficult one for creating was because I was truly busy for one of the first times in my life. Without really doing much different, my life was a little more hectic. I had steady photoshoots, a growing clientele base, I worked on a little more creative ventures. All in all, it was a great year business wise. I may not have stuck to a strict workflow, but somehow I did definitely expand and it was beautiful. It not only gave me confidence in myself and what I do, but confidence that I can do this and that making this my career was the right choice.
I talk about him a lot, alright, I know. I met him in November of last year, but he became a staple of my almost every day life early this year. He’s weird, funny, motivating, smart, and unafraid to be himself. I really have no idea how different this year would have been without him in it, but all I know is it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun and full of love.
Seeing Eagles of Death Metal
It seems like all of my blog post worthy concert stories are with one of my absolute fav’s, my good friend Taylor! EODM announced US tour dates and lo’ and behold, their Austin date was the day of her graduation (from UT, go her). So what to do? Luckily for us, Texas has many big cities and EODM wanted to play just about all of them. So in the middle of May we went to Houston for, I swear to god, the chillest concert experience I’m ever going to have.
We stayed just a couple of blocks away from the venue (and across the street from a Forever 21), had front row balcony seats, and for a good 2 hours we frickin’ danced. It was just such a good show. Such a good show. I am still shocked at how smooth that entire day way. Basically, if you want to have fun at a show, go to an Eagles of Death Metal concert.
Of course, driving back to Austin the next day we almost died in blinding rain, but that’s besides the point. May weather in Texas is almost always dangerous. Risk it for the biscuit..
Going to Indiana (and other road trips!)
I’m one of the few people that absolutely loves road trips. I love the boring scenery, the gas station food, sitting in a car, hotels, little hotel sized soaps, the adventures of it all, just all of it. My great-grandma turned 90 on September 1st and a trip to Indiana had been long overdue, and what a better excuse?
I love my family more than anything on the earth, so of course I loved going on this trip. Seeing everyone just in general was wonderful, but also seeing the look on my Nana’s face when she walked into her surprise party was so great. All of it was. The break from Texas’ summer heat, walking around Thorntown in the morning, making a beautiful dress with my grandma, it was a great trip and it made me so happy.
Releasing The Landslide, my poetry book.
One of the more scarier things, for sure. I have a whole post dedicated to The Landslide, so I won’t say too much.
Releasing this book felt very much like releasing a part of me. Those poems are myself at my most vulnerable and transparent. But that’s why I wanted to do it. I’ve never been a huge person for being… openly expressive. I like the little bubble of comfort I live in. But, expanding the bubble is never bad, and let me tell you – this book is definitely not bad.
I still feel such immense pride when I look at that book sitting on my desk and I love it to death. I read it sometimes in the bath. I’m one of those people.
Winning first place at a photography exhibit.
This one is probably the most wild to me. It was my first paid-entry art call and I was so nervous because after I entered I knew there was going to be awards. What if I won and I had to say something? What if I didn’t win?
I did win, and I won first place. Let me set the mood for you.
I was kind of nervous about awards. Nothing too crazy! I was more nervous for if I didn’t win how crazily upset my mom would have (silently) been for those judges just being simply crazy. We were sitting there, and the exhibit was for photography and sculpture. They dolled out the sculpture prizes first before giving out some honorable mentions for photography. That is what I really thought I would win. I did not think that I would waltz in, grab a trophy and waltz out. That’s not how my life goes! I am not my brother with his endless stream of luck! They got until 2nd place, and then really started dragging out announcements and things like that. I was really kind of relaxing at this point because I thought there was no way I would win and I was relieved! I wouldn’t have to give a speech or feel my voice crack like it does when I’m nervous, and then they said, “The Danger, by Ellie Chavez!”
So I went up there, my voice wavered and cracked, I thought I might cry but I sucked it up (my mom cried for me), and I told the quote that the photo was inspired by. I very much wish that I would have said more, but you live and you learn right?
Flying to North Carolina.
From Austin to Fayetteville, North Carolina, it’s a solid two day trip. I am definitely one for car rides as I previously said, but when my cousins called me and my brother and wanted us to come up there earlier this month and offered to fly us out, we couldn’t say no.
Leading up to this trip, I was terrified. My family, some friends, everyone tried to calm me down. Being a flight attendant is a job! They do it every single day! I just could not get over the idea of being in a big tube in the sky above the clouds and with all that being said, not freaking out. But, I stepped my way into the big scary tube that was destined for the sky and waited for take off.
I wanted my mom. I cried. I squeezed my brothers hand until he lost circulation in his fingers. I may have cursed.
As we were leaving from Austin en route to our layover in Charlotte, I decided that as we were taking off I would listen to one of my favorite songs, Aurora by Foo Fighters. I knew it would calm me down. As soon as the wheels left the ground, the crescendo of the song happened and I cried more. It was beautiful. You know that feeling when you break free from a fear? That was what I felt. It was luxurious. We had our free sodas and some little cookies and everything was so chill. I was super proud of myself.
Then we got on the much smaller second plane. It felt like an enclosed roller coaster and I was a brown bag away from having a panic attack. That didn’t really set a good feel for flying back home, but that first plane really was beautiful. I won’t be stepping on another for some time, but that feeling felt wonderful.
What will also feel wonderful is staying on the ground in a train as my method of long-distance transportation.
Let me also just say, being there was great! I love my two cousins like brothers. We were able to see my cousins new apartment, meet his girlfriend and her sister, watch movies, and just enjoy each other. That made flying and the newfound stress and anxiety it brings me worth it.
Getting a new camera.
I am now a part of the full-frame family and I see what all of the fuss is about. When I have that heavy hunk of metal and plastic and rubber and glass and just camera in my hands, I actually feel like a professional photographer. I can’t wait for the day that I have my 5D Mark II as my backup, and my 5D Mark III as my primary. For now, though, I will protect my Mark II with my life.
Phew. Is that it? Almost two thousand words later, and I still feel like I’m forgetting something.
The biggest thing that I will take away from this year (and as I take away from most years since we started doing these yearly lists) is that things don’t happen in the way you expect them to. I wanted a 7D Mark II, but I then found out it wasn’t a full frame camera, so it changed, but I got a new camera nonetheless. When I wrote “explore”, I envisioned great adventures! No spur of the moment adventures happened, but I did travel more this year than any year previously. I wrote “teach others”, I didn’t know exactly what I meant, but I wound up with my first two private students. I also didn’t know what “music” was going to mean, but thinking about my year now I realize that music was a huge, huge part of this year for me. Seeing wonderful shows, dating a musician, designing artwork for my brothers new album, and continually associating songs with memories.
What I will learn from those things is to be specific and to have exact goals in mind, and conquer them.
2016 has been a whirlwind to say the least. For me personally, weighing more on the good side than the bad. I know, however, that is not the case for many people I know and love in this world. I hope that for those, the new year finds you with love and compassion. And for those who have been fortunate, remember those who have not. Be kind and spread love. It will come back in heaps and bounds, but also do it selflessly. Give without the idea of good karma finding you. Do it because we are all human and are worthy of love.
With all that being said, happy new year. Thank you for everything. I owe my growth, success in 2016, and happiness to the continuous support I receive.
“I just kept hoping, I just kept hoping
The way would become clear
I spent all this time tryna play now
I found my way hereSee, I’ve been having me a real hard time
But it feels so nice to know I’m gonna be alright.” – Alabama Shakes, This Feeling