My Carve Out Time for Art Interview

Have you heard of Carve Out Time for Art yet? It's a website and Instagram account started by Marissa Huber and Heather Kirtland and they're "on a mission to share inspiring stories of artists (who are also mothers) who are able to find time to create, despite hectic and full lives." They're also writing a book on art and motherhood because they're "tired of everyone telling new mothers that they can never do anything for themselves again." It's so inspirational, and I'm totally honored to have been interviewed by them this week. Carve Out Time for Art Interview with Jessica Nichols

Head over to Carve Out Time for Art to read my interview!

Thanks Marissa and Heather for having me.

Sellwood Flower Co. Tour

Boy, do I have a treat for you today! There's a fairly new flower shop in my neighborhood and I went over on a rare, non-rainy, day to snap a few photos for you. Introducing Sellwood Flower Co.! "We love flowers. And we love people who love flowers." Umm, sign me up. Sellwood Flower Co. photo tour Portland flower shop

Owner LauraLee has created a truly darling, inviting space for your floral and garden needs. You will feel like you've stepped into another world when you step into her world. Check out the delivery car! Perfection and totally on brand too.

Sellwood Flower Co. street view photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

Sellwood Flower Co. car photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

Open sign for Sellwood Flower Co. photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

outdoor seating at Sellwood Flower Co., photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

Pink roses at Sellwood Flower Co., photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

yellow flowers at Sellwood Flower Co. photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

chalk floral illustration at Sellwood Flower Co., photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

pink rose in sunlight at Sellwood Flower Co., photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

sunlit yellow roses at Sellwood Flower Co., photographed by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide

Right now, the Sellwood Flower Co. website says poppies, anemones and peonies are in! Guess where I'll be visiting soon! Hopefully you're following me on Instagram so you'll see a sneak peek when I pop in.

Having fresh flowers is a wonderful way to treat yourself, cheer yourself up or celebrate something. Having a photo of beautiful flowers is the next best thing and it lasts forever (well, at least 100 years with my lab).

 

 

A Nourishing Guide to Self Care

Is taking care of yourself a chore that stays on the bottom of your to-do list day after day? Do you feel like everyone else's needs are more important than yours? I used to be that way too. Until I got cancer. Five times. Each time I got ill, I'd vow to take better care of myself. And I did, slowly but surely I learned more and more things about wellness, exercise, nutrition, spiritual, emotional and psychological health. The biggest thing I've learned is that it's easier to take care of me a little bit at a time. I don't need huge chunks of time or cash to take care of me. Sure, I might want those things and a tropical vacation would definitely be amazing. But until I'm on a plane to an island, I can't keep on neglecting myself and neither can you. So I set out to share how I take care of myself, bit by bit, and day by day. I wrote a nourishing guide to self care called Five Thoughtful Ways to Love Yourself. 

a nourishing guide to self care by cancer survivor jessica nichols

 

Simply reading my guide is an act of self care.

"It's so beautiful it feels like a bit of a guilty pleasure."

— Marcia N.

Inside you'll find the following ideas:

  • Sayings: my favorite mantras to ground me when I feel anxious, worried, lacking or scarce
  • Juicing: my go-to green juice recipe to boost me when I need energy and nourishment
  • Stretching: my favorite stretches to loosen me up when I feel stiff or achey
  • Listening: my favorite podcasts to open my mind when I need a new perspective or new ideas on how to care for myself
  • Reading: my favorite books to learn from when I want to expand my knowledge of my body, nutrition or when I want to access my intuition and inner guidance

My hope is that as you incorporate these ideas into your thoughts and behavior, soon self care will become a sacred, rejuvenating ritual that you feel incomplete without.

As a wise friend told me years ago, an empty cup quenches no one's thirst.

Click here to sign up for my email list and start taking care of yourself today, bit by bit. ♥

 

Belief Systems

Once a month this year, I'm going to share a more personal story with you on the blog in a column called Heart and Soul. This month, my story is about changing my belief systems around what my value is as a person. Heart and Soul a personal narrative column on Sweet Eventide blog

During the times when I've been ill with lymphoma, I had to find ways to believe that I still had value as a person. It isn't easy for me to say out loud that I didn't believe I had value, but it's true. I felt useless. In addition, I had to learn anew every time I had lymphoma. Sometimes, I learned again in between but forgot because the old beliefs are a strong, well-used muscle and the new beliefs were little baby muscles that I forgot to keep using.

What I'm learning now is that the new beliefs "didn't stick" each time because of a couple of big things: a cultural belief that our value is defined by what we produce or what we earn (or both), and a subconscious belief that I'm not enough or I'm not worthy or I'm not valuable (or all three). Truth be told, it took a lot of conscious effort and support from loved ones when I was ill to believe in my value.

Guess what? I consciously realized yesterday that my new-found value beliefs go away once I'm healthy. When I'm healthy, I go right into Prove It Mode. I set out to prove my value, to prove I can be productive and helpful, to prove my gratitude and to give back to those who cared for me again. As a result, my self-esteem goes up and up and up. However, it's built upon a shoddy foundation of the old belief that my value is defined by what I produce. I hadn't realized this pattern until now.*

I'm honestly relieved that I realized this eight months into my recent recovery instead of years from now. I can repair my foundation more easily because the new belief system is more recent. I thought this year I had work to do around under earning and now I see that's only the obvious layer of this issue of value. The real emotional and psychological work on value is not really about money. It's also much more sad to face. It's hard to admit these things, to say clearly I don't totally, wholly believe that I have value. Ignoring it doesn't make it go away though. So I made myself a big reminder.

handwritten watercolor affirmations about belief systems by jessica nichols

I'm going to do this deep work. It takes more than a handwritten list of affirmations, I know that. Yet, it's a start. It's a visible reminder to do this work. Again and again and again until I've chipped away at the old foundation until it's gone and replaced by a new solid foundation. Tara Mohr's book Playing Big has been recommended to me. I'm going to dive in this weekend.

* I'm working with Megan of Tended Wealth on personal finances and she is compassionately assisting me with these realizations on my belief systems. I cannot recommend her enough if you have work to do around money!

New Logo + New Original Abstract Painting

Hello friends of Sweet Eventide! I've got two big reveals this week: a new logo and a new original abstract painting. First the new logo, which I designed to reflect a new mission and direction of including my hard-earned wellness tips with you regularly as well as to reflect what a large role painting is taking in my life now. sweet eventide photography art and wellness logo branding

I need to incorporate it into the website still. Since it's a square design, it will require quite a bit of tinkering, but I'll get there. This week I'm very focused on money: tax prep and setting up accounting systems. Stay tuned!

Next up is my new original abstract painting Spin to Me. This is a painting started last summer and put away for several months when I got stuck. Then I got stuck on a different canvas during my daily painting commitment and so I turned my attention back to this canvas. It's amazing how some distance impacts my perspective and then I knew how to finish the painting. One of my favorite things to do is go looking for the paintings within my painting and I included three that I found in this collage below:

original abstract painting by portland artist jessica nichols

 

Spin to Me is live on auction this week, so click here to place a bid if you have a blank wall in need of some color. Imagine if this was on your wall, how many paintings within your eye might find!

Introducing Bit by Bit, a Wellness Column

I've been giving a lot of thought to my blog over the past few months. I'm approaching my 10th year of blogging and of course, it's evolved many times over the years. I've come up with four new monthly columns for 2016 . Today, I'm super excited to introduce you to Bit by Bit, a column all about wellness and self care. Bit by Bit a monthly column about wellness and self care

 

January is a time of year when people naturally gravitate towards improving their health by making big changes, but I'm on a mission to show you that self care actually happens bit by bit. I built up my self-care tool box slowly after five rounds of cancer over the past 15+ years.

Bit by Bit will feature beauty, art, mantras, music, movement, nourishing food, book reviews and more to help you increase your wellness and build up your self-care tool box. Together, let's start taking care of you, bit by bit.

My 2016 Word of the Year

Happy new year! I'm going to tell you the story of the word I chose to guide me this year. It's a little long, so go pour a cuppa, but it all makes sense in the end.

Tree in Snow on Mt. Hood in Oregon

My journey to my word of the year started back on Winter Solstice, although I didn't know it then. This was my second year doing a small Winter Solstice ceremony. Last year, I wrote down a list of things I wanted to release and burned them in a bonfire. This year, I smudged myself and did a verbal release. My list was very short: I released any need cancer has ever filled in my life, and I released any need to hold on to that identity going forward. Then I welcomed in what I desired which was to be healthy and whole in mind, body and spirit. When I was all done smudging, I pulled an animal medicine card and it was the Swan card: grace.

Photograph of the Swan animal medicine card illustration

It tells the story of a little swan who wants to visit the Dreamtime, but  Dragonfly, the guardian of the Dreamtime, tells her she is only able to enter once she is willing "to accept whatever the future holds as it is presented, without trying to change Great Spirit's plan." She agrees "to surrender to the flow of the spiral and trust" what she is shown in the Dreamtime. When she emerges afterwards, the Dragonfly is stunned by her transformation. Swan explains that because of her acceptance, she was changed and she learned to "accept the state of grace."

The next two paragraphs I read that night gave me chills, considering what I had released during my smudging moments before.

"So it is we learn to surrender to the grace of the rhythm of the universe, and slip from our physical bodies into the Dreamtime. Swan medicine teaches us to be at one with all planes of consciousness, and to trust in Great Sprit's protection.

If you pulled Swan, it ushers in a time of altered states of awareness and of development of your intuitive abilities. Swan medicine people have the ability to see the future, to surrender to the power of Great Spirit, and to accept the healing and transformation of their lives." (I underlined the part that nearly made me faint.)

So I sat with this reading for a bit and then the holidays happened. The new year arrived and with it my thoughts for my word for 2016. I started choosing a word for the year in 2014. That year and last year, a word came to mind quite easily. This year, not so much. I came up with a trio of words to guide my work life for 2016 easily, but I was quite stuck on a personal word. Susannah Conway's email course, Find Your Word, was recommended to me so I signed up. It was truly helpful and a wonderful process that I recommend to anyone. It doesn't matter that it's January 12th either, you make the rules.

Find Your Word 2016 email course with Susannah Conway

First I did a guided visualization on my ideal day. Then, a series of questions about the coming year: what is happening, what I hope to happen, what dreams I want to nurture, what areas of my life need support, what qualities I want to develop in myself and finally, what does my heart need.

From these exercises, plus a long list of suggestions, I made a list of 16 possibilities and then narrowed my list to six words: Power, Peace, Grace, Grow, Golden and Pride. For each word, I wrote how I define the word, what it feels like, synonyms and the dictionary definition. Now the hard part, simmering on the words. I eliminated a few easily: Peace, Pride and Grow. I loved Golden, but decided to make it a color guide for the year instead. So it was down to two: Power and Grace.

These seemed like very opposite words to me, two different directions to go in and both were calling to me. Power meant physical strength, big energy, and financial power. (My husband and I have begun a big money transformation over the past few months so this meaning appeals to me). Power felt awesome, inspiring, hard but worth it. Grace meant soft, polished, elegant, and feminine. Grace felt intuitive, lovely and serendipitous (due to my pulling of that medicine card).

In the end, I went back to the question, "What qualities do I want to develop in myself this year?" My answers were forgiveness, softness, gentleness, confidence and respect. This question is how I have used my word of the year in the past to guide me. It's a very internal thing for me. After sleeping on it last night, and talking it out with two trusted friends, I made my decision.

2016 word of year for Jessica Nichols

And there you have it, a very long story about my word for the year! I put the word in gold glitter to start incorporating the golden word I didn't choose (which meant warm, shiny, magical, magic hour, light and delicious to me). I hope you enjoyed hearing the story.

Do you choose a word for the year? I would love to know, please leave me a comment and tell me about it.

Wall of Sunshine Photo Set

Do you have a blank wall in your home needing art? Have you been too busy with work and kids or overwhelmed by curating a gallery wall? I'm really excited to offer you a curated gallery wall from my collection and I'm calling it a Wall of Sunshine to chase away the cold. flower nature fine art photography set gallery wall decor

Here it is presented in vintage gold frames thrifted in Portland, OR for my very own home.

gold frame gallery wall flower and nature photographs

Purchase your own Wall of Sunshine today!

Shop Update: 2016 Calendars

My shop has been updated with my 2016 Calendar, Sperare (it means hope, in Italian). Calm your hectic work days all year with my nature and floral photography sitting right on your desk. May 2016 desk calendar by Sweet Eventide Photography

Closeup of desk calendar by Sweet Eventide Photography

 

Like last year, it comes with a reclaimed wooden clipboard with a magnetic back which was a big hit with my customers. If you are a returning calendar customer, you can keep your clipboard and order the refill pages only!

Refill Pages for 2016 Calendar

 

Choosing the images for my calendar is a fun task each year for me. It's a little year-in-review of some of the beautiful moments I documented.

2016 calendar images by Jessica Nichols

I was proud of myself this year for seeking and photographing the beauty around me even while I was so ill. I'm selling my calendars this year pre-order style and they will ship around the week of December 2, 2015 in time for holiday gifting.

May 2016 desk calendar by Sweet Eventide Photography

 

PS I love this little deer and he loves to be in my photos during the holiday season.

Being a Giver

After I healed from radiation, I had enormous amounts of energy and a desire to give back to everyone who helped me through my relapse. The day after my last radiation treatment, I chaperoned a two-mile walking field trip for my son's class. That was the level I was jumping in at. During the summer heat waves, I found this happy place on the Clackamas River, it was an easy 30-minute drive from home, a short trail walk, a shaded area near a cold, uncrowded bend in the river. There I sat, thinking of a family friend who had been diagnosed with liver cancer in May, right around when I was seeing rapid results from radiation. I felt so good in that spot on the river that I thought it would be very healing for our friend too. Thus began a journey from which I am now needing to restore myself. clackamas river oregon

Somehow our friend did pack himself  and his little Chihuahua up in the car and drive from Arizona to Oregon. I dove right in to setting him up with my oncology team and attending all of his appointments with him. It was the typical newly-diagnosed whirlwind of scans, tests, consultations, etc. At the exact same time all of this was going on, school started and my role on the Board of Directors there became a high priority as we were in the process of hiring a new Executive Director. For five weeks, from Labor Day through mid-October, I gave everyone my all. If I was not at the oncologist's office as a caregiver, I was in interviews with candidates. One evening, we managed to take our friend on an evening picnic to the very spot in the bend in the river where I had the idea for him to move to Oregon.

And then, it all ended. Our friend died unexpectedly two days before he was scheduled for his first treatment on October 16th. The Board finished up the all the rounds of interviews and made a decision on October 22nd. Then we went on a quick weekend trip to California for a family birthday on October 24th. Last week, I started saying no to almost every request made of me. An empty cup quenches no one's thirst is a phrase that has been ringing in my ear for years, but especially now. I am not sure how long it will take me to come back to neutral. I'm not there yet because even simple requests for information around home make me edgy. I want to screech every time someone speaks to me* but instead I go for walks, I buy a ridiculous number of beautiful pumpkins, I go to pretty cafes, I take baths with tons of lavender essential oil. Yesterday, I even got a spontaneous massage when by 11 am, I just couldn't even do Monday, you know? I just couldn't do it.

I possibly derailed my recovery by signing up for NaNoWriMo, I'm not sure yet whether that was brilliant or idiotic. I've longed to do more writing for many years. I was a writer long before I was a photographer or an artist. I'm revisiting a magical trip to Italy with my grandmother in 1999, two years before she died. I've got the photo album on my desk. It's hard work, but I've dreamed of writing the story of that trip for years. I've got three books I want to read right now too: Overcoming Underearning, Daring Greatly and Rework. My paintings have not been touched since September. I have squeezed in some new work when I could.

I do not regret all that I gave of myself. I felt absolutely compelled to help our family friend, although my naturopath gave me quite a look when I went in for a checkup. Her look said, "You were a caregiver for a cancer patient four months after finishing cancer treatment? What?" In addition to the caregiving and the Board work, I signed up for every meal train that was needed since I was the lucky recipient of a meal train earlier this year. I also help with the middle school art program every Friday at my son's school.

I'll be honest, there were some costs for all this giving I did. My house is a wreck. Well this weekend, I got the main level in shape and I felt so much better. My office upstairs is still a mess but I don't have it in me yet to fix it up. I cleaned out the fridge last week and found stuff from Labor Day weekend still in there. Ewww, that's not my style. When I'm giving that much to others, I have to protect myself and cleaning and cooking fell to the bottom of my priorities. But the biggest cost has been needing to be alone while I restore myself. Some things stayed high on my priorities, like going to sleep by 10:30 p.m. almost every single day. I also did some things for myself like attend the Hello Sessions and start physical therapy for some aches and pains leftover from the months spent in bed this spring.

southwest charter school middle school aerosol art field work

It's so sad that despite all I have given, there is still a voice in my head criticizing me for all that I haven't managed to do, especially when it comes to my work. It takes what little reserves of energy I've got left to shush that voice. But I'm never giving up on me, so hopefully no one else will either. That mean voice in my head can suck it, that's for sure. When I follow my heart and my intuition, I don't go wrong.

Probably I am not succeeding at not screeching as often as I hope.

Bloom True with Flora Bowley -- a heartfelt giveaway

UPDATE: The giveaway has ended. Congratulations Natalie Joelle Schwarting! The next session of Flora Bowley's beautiful, soul-stirring, painting e-course Bloom True begins one week from today on October 20, 2015. As promised with the auction of my first painting, Raining Hope, it is time to host my giveaway for a spot in this course. Nominate a friend to get them a free ($297 value) Bloom True painting e-course with Flora Bowley! Leave a comment here on this post, on my Instagram post or on my Facebook post and I'll pick a winner on Saturday, 10/17 at noon Pacific.

Bloom True painting e-course giveaway with Sweet Eventide

This giveaway is happening because I won a space in this course in January 2015 and vowed to sponsor another creative soul in this class someday. I auctioned my painting and here we are! Flora has given away many spaces in her course in the past and I'm inspired by one particular method she uses to give spots away: Nominate a Friend.

She says, "This particular Giveaway has become a Bloom True tradition, and we absolutely LOVE it because we get to hear you gush about your favorite people and why they deserve a spot in the course.  We think this is a pretty great way to share your gratitude…AND offer something awesome to your loved ones."

be true be you photograph of flora bowley

So leave a comment on this post and nominate a friend and tell me why they'd be perfect for Bloom True and why you love them so much! I will draw a name out of a jar on Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 12 p.m. Pacific time and announce the winner. This way the winner has a few days to gather supplies. Here is where you can read about what materials are recommended for the course.

Bloom True was a huge gift to me during a very dark time in my life when I was trying to heal from lymphoma for the fifth freaking time. I do believe the joy and magic I feel while painting had a direct effect on my healing process. I have fallen head over heels in love with painting. I have shared a lot of my painting journey on Instagram under the hashtag #jessbloomstrue. I wish the same for you!

jess blooms true collage

So go ahead and nominate someone! Let me know why they would be a perfect candidate for the course and why you love them so much. If you want to be entered, don't be shy and ask someone to nominate you! You can even ask me to nominate you. :)

I can't wait to hear the stories. Good luck.

 

Birthday Dahlias

I bought myself a lush bouquet of summer dahlias for my 45th birthday, which was Sunday. It was a small act of self care three days prior, when I was feeling too hot, tired and a bit miserable. Self care is not something I save for emergencies anymore, it's small daily acts of love that keep me energized for my life. dahlia photographs diptych by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

Late Summer Dahlia Bouquet photograph by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

Bold Red & Gold Dahlia Bouquet photograph by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

I had a wonderful birthday and celebrated with a potluck dinner at our home with my family and close friends who held my hands through the lymphoma relapse last year. My husband surprised me with a turn table and I've been spinning my dad's old records every day.

Raining Hope -- Sold!

For those of you who have been following my painting journey since 2013, you will be pleased to know I have completed my first painting, Raining Hope. original painting with acrylics hung over bookshelf

I learned how to finish a painting by participating in Bloom True, the painting e-course by Flora Bowley. In fact,  I am auctioning off my painting in order to pay it forward and host a giveaway for a spot in the next session of Bloom True. Click here to read the beautiful story behind this painting that explains its name.

UPDATE: The painting sold within two hours of the auction going live! The most amazing part is it sold to the beautiful couple from the first wedding I ever photographed! And the bride was the Noodle's beloved babysitter when he was two!

I am humbled and honored that I can sponsor someone in Bloom True. I will post about the giveaway once I have it set up.

Ozette Loop in Olympic National Park, Part 2

We woke up in our tent to the sound of gentle rain. Ahh, what a lovely way to wake up. Except that we had to pack up our wet gear and hike the next section in said rain. The hike in was on a beautiful boardwalk through the forest and our group covered the three miles in about an hour. "Where's today's hike?" we started wondering, realizing we didn't see a trail marker anywhere on our way in. "Oh! We hike along the coast for three miles." "Oh."  "We hike along the coast for three miles."

With our packs. In the rain. On six inches of squishy sea vegetables or slippery rocks with barnacles.

 

Sea Vegetables | photo by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

So there are zero pictures of the actual hike. It took 3.5 hours to go the three miles. It was actually very Zen. Every step could cause a fall and a twisted ankle so you could only focus on the moment. Or stabilize yourself to see what was coming next, how much farther we had to go (there was no way to tell). It was definitely the most strenuous hike I have ever been on and it was flat. However, we eventually did arrive at Cape Alava and scored an incredible camping site! Photos galore!

Lightweight Camping Chair | photo by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

The Noodle carried a 28-lb. pack and when we arrived, we opened the chair immediately.

Our Campsite View at Cape Alava | photo by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

Our reward -- the skies cleared and we had this view!

More Found Objects | photo by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

I saw a pile of these found objects so I put them on display.

Sunset at Cape Alava | photo by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

Shortly after sunset, we tucked ourselves in bed.

Tent View at Cape Alava | photo by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

The view from our tent at Cape Alava.

The Gift of the Boardwalk | photo by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

The beautiful boardwalk on the hike out, we love you boardwalk!

Stay tuned for the photos from the Osett Memorial to an ancient Makah village. Part one of our backpacking trip is here if you missed it.

Ozette Loop in Olympic National Park, Part 1

My husband, son and I recently completed our first backpacking trip with friends. We backpacked the Ozette Loop in Olympic National Park. I have wanted to visit Olympic National Park since 2013 when my sister-in-law went and told us all about it. For part one, I will share photos from the first leg of the trip, where we drove six hours to the starting point and then hiked three miles to the Sand Point camp site in one hour and set up camp in the late afternoon. ozette loop (11 of 55)

Sand Point beach

Sunset at Sand Point camp site

The Forest at Sand Point

Found Objects at Sand Point

Magic Light at Sand Point

Stay tuned for part two, the story of the rugged hike and the second camp site called Cape Alava.

Determination

Determination: firmness of purpose sunset portland oregon summer

Since I last posted, I have been to the depths of despair and back again. This fifth journey through lymphoma was painful, literally and figuratively. I have never seen cancer the way I did this time. I was stuck in bed, watching it grow. My husband, family and friends got me through each difficult day. We tried so many things to heal me. We finally found a treatment that was stronger than the lymphoma. It was hard to tolerate, but worth it. Since finishing treatment, I have been embracing life! Walking, swimming in lakes and rivers, painting, etc. I have been eating whatever I want too! I am rebounding. It's been two months since treatment ended. I'm still finding my way, figuring things out, unsure of my future, grateful for every minute I can bend at will, jump, walk -- everything I could not do for months.

As for my work? Who knows. I am my work and my work is me. HOW I share it and live from it is another story to be written. I wanted to capture some of my thoughts here, tonight. I cannot compare myself to anyone else, any more. It serves zero purpose, even though I do try sometimes. I am determined to live fully, with love and in color. That's all I know for sure.