Just Start (again)

Instead of continually NOT posting because I have so much to say and no idea where to begin, and inspired by Tiffany Han's podcast about just starting, I'm here. I'm starting. Again. Just Start

I'm simply going to say that I am in extreme learning mode since my relapse. I'm learning how to eat way healthier than I have ever eaten before. This takes a lot of time! I'm new to it and I'm not efficient yet. I'm learning how to let my heart lead the way instead of letting my mind be in charge all the time. This takes a lot of courage! I'm learning how to fit my work into all of this and it's not easy. It is not coming effortlessly or naturally. I have had a lot of upheaval in 2014, starting in May when we began our house hunting process. Work has been pushed largely to the back burner these past few months. I'm trying to be patient with myself and not compare how my business is (or is not) positioned for holiday sales this year. It's hard though. I do have a pretty calendar for 2015 ready for your gifting needs! I am proud of it and that I made it happen.

Alt for Everyone

Alt for Everyone | Sweet Eventide is going  

I'm really looking forward to Alt for Everyone which begins today. I signed up on a whim and after 8 years of blogging, my goal for attending is to bring back my joy of blogging. I enjoy blogging but let's be honest, after 8 years, some new inspiration is definitely in order. I love taking classes, learning new things and meeting new people too. It is easier for introverts (holla!) to do this online sometimes, but a small in-person workshop is something I also really enjoy participating in.

Cape Meares and Rockaway Beach

All summer, we did not get to go camping as we usually do. We did not even make it to the beach one time. Buying a house and moving is quite disruptive to normal routines and ours consumed an entire season. The coast, however, is my happy place. No, it is more than happy. It is my blissful place. My boys and I made it to the coast on Sunday at long last. Driftwood on Rockaway Beach, OR photograph by Jessica Nichols

decaying Queen Anne's Lace in autumn, Cape Meares, OR photograph by Jessica Nichols

Brewing coastal storm at sunset at Netarts Bay, OR photograph by Jessica Nichols

The soft sand beneath our feet grounds us. The salty air cleanses us. The ocean breeze rustling the coastal spruce trees is our soundtrack. The dramatic clouds rolling onshore at the end of the day is our slide show. Breathe with me.

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me

This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out the beginning post right here. I was tagged by Jessica Swift.

44Photo taken on September 13, 2014: my 44th birthday 

Question 1: How tall are you?

I am 5’1” — that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

I can go from lasso to my waist and back to lasso with my hula hoop.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

When bloggers with large audiences do not respond to multiple attempts by readers to interact on social media. I understand they may not see a question or comment on one try but over and over, if they don’t respond it makes me wonder where the social part of the media lives. I have unfollowed many a person over this issue.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

When people honk at you the nano second a stoplight turns green. Chill out people. Honking is for emergencies.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

This is impossible. How about songs that instantly remind of me of certain eras of my life?  Childhood: Chuck E’s in Love, all Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel songs. Middle school: Total Eclipse of the Heart. High school: it was the 80s, need I say more? College: everything from Luther Vandross, Paula Abdul and Babyface to Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Hootie and the Blowfish to Train, hey it took me a long time to get my degree. Marrying Jeff and rocking our newborn baby to sleep: Sade, Lovers Rock. And then in the past few years, I still just can’t get enough of Lisa Mitchell. Here is her audition for Australian Idol, here is one of my favorite performances and my favorite official video.

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

Regina’s shop Oh Albatross is beautiful beyond words and her Instagram is gorgeous too.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

Painting sometimes. Going for a little walk with my camera. Toodling around my neighborhood or my house. Honestly, when I’m alone at home, I sometimes simply like to sit still.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

For salty, I love chips. For sweet, I love this Theo chocolate bar.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

We now have four pets:  a a golden retriever/yellow lab mix named Jackson; a bearded dragon named Argus; and two newly adopted little tabby kittehs named Walnut and Chestnut. All boys! I'm surrounded by boy energy 24/7!

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

Favorite recent non-fiction book is Brave Intuitive Painting by Flora Bowley and favorite fiction book is so hard because I have an English degree but The Awakening by Kate Chopin was influential in my 20s. I love Pezzettino by Leo Lionni. There are too many books that I love. I prefer to read non-fiction since college.

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

I love this Evan Healey rose tonic. It is so refreshing. I used to chase my family and friends around offering to refresh them with it.

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

I was embarrassed last month actually when I took my husband’s grandma to the store to do some shopping. I was reviewing her shopping list in the parking lot and she uses abbreviations like “H Lotion” (for hand lotion) and "P Towels" (for paper towels). It wasn’t until I said loudly, “What are P Liners Grandma?” that I realized obviously what it was. OMG. Poor grandma. We had a good, hearty laugh about it though.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Liquid Sunshine from Kure Juice Bar.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

Il Postino, especially the soundtrack!

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

I was none of these things. I was the naive one endlessly trying to figure things out.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?


Question 17: PC or Mac?


Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My husband gave me a greeting card with a kitten on it during the chaos of packing for our move. It said to hang in there. My husband knew I wanted to get kittens once we moved and I did get them the very next day!

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

Well Ellen always cheers me up but I don't have cable tv so I rarely get to see her show.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want to be best friends with?

James of Bleubird.  I am inspired by her mothering a teen, a tween and two adorable littles while running a successful business.

Okay so I know this got started almost a month ago but I'll still tag a couple of people for fun.

1. Jessica of Sunday Peaches.

2. Megan Roop

3. Catherine Just

If you want to join in, just use the hashtag #20ThingsBlogTag in your post, on FB, and on twitter, so they can be found.

Birthday Eve

On the eve of my 44th birthday, here is my morning view. Morning View | photography by Jessica Nichols, Sweet Eventide Photography

{treasures from my visit to the forest yesterday}

The past month has been a wild rollercoaster. Did I mention that I don't like rollercoasters?

Two weeks ago today, my husband had a major fall on his bmx bike. I was on my way to get ice cream with my mother-in-law when I received a text from a stranger at the bmx park that I needed to come right away. To sum up the situation shortly, not my specialty but I want to try to be brief, he fell 12' and took the brunt of the fall on his face. So he broke his nose, jaw and some teeth, but needed zero surgeries. He also broke his hand and no surgery needed there either. Everything is feeling a lot better except his teeth, but his next dental appointment is on Monday so hopefully he'll start getting some relief. They had to let his mouth heal a bit before they started repairs.

One week ago, I went to see my oncologist to have him check out a lipoma I have had in my abdomen for over three years. It has been stable all this time but over the summer, it got bigger and felt different. So he wanted me to have a CT scan which I had Tuesday. Another long story short, the radiologist felt I was relapsing with my lymphoma and I read that before speaking to my oncologist, who actually disagrees. I do need to have it biopsied, so we won't know exactly what it is until that happens. It was a really big scare to see the CT scan report.

I put a lot of unpacking on hold while all this was going on, but that is what helps me feel centered and settled. So I hung some art yesterday and today, some large items are being picked up that freed up space on our basement. All of these unexpected issues have taught me again that old adage, life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

All I want for my birthday is to go to the Oregon coast, but we are going to a big family party tomorrow. Maybe on Sunday. Also before all this happened, I was tagged by Jessica Swift for 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me. I actually had most of that post prepped before Jeff's accident so stay tuned for that to be published next week. I had a lot of fun writing that post.

It feels very good to be back in this space. It is a sign of routines resuming. I'm so looking forward to fall this year.

Garden Bouquet from a Neighbor

Friends, the move has happened! We have been in our new house for 11 days. It was a lot of work as you can imagine. Packing, the actual moving, wrapping things up with our landlord and now, unpacking and making this house into a home. On our first day, a new neighbor came over with a bouquet of flowers picked from their garden! What a warm welcome! garden bouquet

Let me tell you right now: the afternoon light in my dining room is divine!

Springtime with Jess: Highlights

With only 9 days of spring left, and the school year coming to a rapid end, I thought collecting the highlights of my spring Instagrams would be a small way to slow down time. We collectively ask, "How is time flying by so quickly?" and one answer for me is being too busy. It is not my preference to be over-scheduled and busy but my need for slow and calm is often trumped by family and school activities. Let's face it, I'm the mom of an active 11 year old boy. Watching the wind in the trees happens sometimes for a few minutes during the summer, but certainly not for hours. Forget about it when school is in session. School is GO TIME and the school year has its own engine that zips me along the fast track from the start of the year to shiny book bags and brand new lunch containers to joining the Board to HalloweenThankgsivingChristmasNewYearsValentinesDaySomethingAboutBeingIrish (see how that happened right there?) and then comes Birthday Season. We have four birthdays  in our family from March 29th through May 7th, followed right up by Mother's Day. Then before you know it, we are here in June with three days of school left and shaking our heads asking, "How is time flying by so quickly?"

So, here is my invitation to slow down. Let's reflect upon the season that is ending before rushing headlong into the next.

Here are my highlights of spring!

spring Instagram highlights from Sweet Eventide Photography

Introducing Photo Jewelry

I am happy to announce I have a supplier for photo jewelry! Of course I used my best-selling Loads of Ranunculus for the first ones.

photo jewelry, oval photo pendant

photo jewelry, oval photo pendant

These come without a chain, as I don't have a supplier for those in place and most of us have a chain we can use at home already. I used one of mine for the photographs. Pendants are $40, measure 3/4" by 1" and ship in one week. Order by December 15th for holiday gifting!

If you are local to me in Portland, you can see this photo jewelry in person tonight at JoLa Cafe's Holiday Artisan Market and Happy Hour . The event hours are 6-9 p.m. and I would love to see you there.

Soul*Full Summit with Catherine Just

Catherine Just is a friend I made when I took Hello Soul, Hello Business last year and it was a true pleasure to meet her in person this summer while she was in Portland for the World Domination Summit. Her Instagram account (@cjust) is a source of daily joy and inspiration to me. She is putting on her Soul*Full Summit right now, a series of video interviews with thought leaders on crafting your own greatness and living with more confidence and courage. Every day from Oct. 14-24, Catherine is releasing a selection of interviews and they are live for one day only (unless you purchase lifetime access, of which 50% of each purchase goes towards Down Syndrome Education International).

I want to share a little about my day yesterday as it all combined to lead up to the moment when I chose to watch don Miguel Ruiz Jr.'s interview. Yesterday was a particularly hard day for me. I had gone to physical therapy (for a shoulder injury from last summer) and I was quite sore. I have multiple projects going for my work, my computer is very outdated and a source of near constant frustration. I felt overwhelmed by my expectations of my household responsibilities, (the yard work alone this time of year, oy) and my son was pushing a certain limit for what feels like the umpteenth time. I lost my patience with him in a big way and then was mired in guilt, self-judgment and bad feelings that I chose to expand to include every role I play in my life. After going for a walk in the cold, dark evening, I remembered the Summit. I had very little time left to watch that day's episodes. I did not know this interview would break open my soul. And, of course, it was more than just yesterday that led up to the power of this interview, it was my entire life.

I had of course heard about The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, and I had even spoken with my husband and son once about how our family could use some work on not taking things personally. Meanwhile, I continued to take all manner of things personally in my family, all the while knowing somewhere inside that I can only control myself. This I have learned so many times in my life, this is something I know. (I know, but still, I forget to practice.) Even bigger than taking things personally is my well-exercised muscle in judging myself. I had flexed the muscle in a big way only 45 minutes prior to hearing don Miguel Ruiz Jr. tell Catherine that everything in our lives is something we have said yes to being there. Everything, and most importantly, our thoughts. That's when my soul broke wide open to receive this information. It was divine timing from the Universe.

When I judge myself, or take things personally, I am saying yes to keeping these thoughts as evidence against ME. I am using these things to chip away at the very essence of my soul, and my spirit. When I look in the mirror, and judge; when I make a mistake as a mother, and judge; when I don't progress professionally at some expected pace, and judge; when I say no to things I am afraid of, and judge; when I eat organically or not, and judge myself either way.

It never ends with me, the judging.

When my son does A-B-C and I'm not interested in those activities but I turn it into something personal against me instead of seeing it for what it is: it is me saying no to those things instead of him saying no to me. If my husband wants to go rock climbing on Saturdays instead of purging the basement with me, that is not about me! If I tell myself over and over that I am not enough, I am not worthy, I am not successful, I am not an athlete, I don't know how to be a good mother because I didn't have mine around, I am breaking myself down and choosing to be those things.

Tonari no Totoro by Victor Vercesi

This illustration represents what I learned last night from don Miguel Ruiz Jr. and Catherine Just. I can fill my head with hurtful, painful, judging thoughts or I can free myself from those things and fill my head with beautiful, loving, empowering thoughts. Only I can set me free. Just as only I have limited myself, now I can expand myself. I have a lot to learn but I wept throughout the interview. My tears carried the wisdom straight into my heart.

I have not shared on this blog very much of my childhood. I have chosen quite actively to move forward always, and not look back. I want to share, and therefore remind myself, that my spirit and my soul have always mattered:

  • even though I grew up without my mother,
  • even though I was raised by my father in a toxic, violent environment at times,
  • even though I struggled through college for 10 years, 
  • even though I married the wrong person the first time,
  • even though I estranged myself from my father the year before he died,
  • even though I got cancer,
  • even though cancer gave me secondary infertility,
  • even though cancer gave me early menopause,
  • even though everything.

I have survived so many things in my years on this planet because I matter. I keep growing and learning about myself. I was ready for this lesson about how I think and that's why it came to me.  I am ready to think anew. As Catherine says, "Don't leave before the miracle happens."

Autumn Grows

yellow maple leaf with robert browning quote I think the transition from summer into autumn can be difficult for families. Going from the unscheduled, warm and carefree days of summer to the structure of the school week, from getting up on time to making lunches, signing permission slips and doing homework -- well, it makes sense that it's difficult even if it's a welcome change and you're the type who likes routines. Certainly going from autumn to winter is less challenging and winter into spring is a breeze.

After five full weeks, I am very happy to report that my family has successfully transitioned into the school year for the first time since we moved to Oregon in 2011. Our son is thriving under the energetic and enthusiastic care of his new teacher. He has some buddies in his class from last year and he is engaged in his learning. It is a huge, huge relief for us. (Now there are "only" the average ups and downs in a family of balancing everyone's needs and wants. Which as I shared in this post can be quite challenging for me still).

Although it has always been important for me to honor my needs and self-care, it has not always been easy to accomplish. I have had many days and hours in Portland over the past two years that were filled with conflict and struggle, doubts and sadness. There were certainly days and hours of contentedness and ease, confidence and happiness. I did not ever regret leaving California, but I knew if this third year didn't turn overall more positive, then I was not sure how I would manage anymore.

Settling into school after two extremely challenging years is a big victory but the little victories make me proud as well. Little things like navigating from the South Waterfront to the Alphabet District last week using a combination of streets and freeways without needing to use the map on my iPhone. Woo to the hoo people!

I could adapt this quote to say:

Tensions decrease, and roots grow, Jess in everything.

The Secret of Change

two stand up paddleboarders willamette river portland oregon

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. -- Socrates (not the Socrates you think)

For the past several months, I have been contemplating the direction of my blog. When I started blogging seven years ago, it was a chronicle of my life as a young mom battling cancer. After three years of that, I wanted to grow beyond my identity as a cancer survivor and mother. I began lightening up my content on the blog as I grew as a photographer and established my business. I tried to make it less about my personal life and more about my work.

I believe that I took too much of me out of my content however. I have gotten feedback three times in the three months from three different people (one of whom is me) about this idea.

1. I have shared many, many pretty photographs but if you are new to my blog and do not know my cancer history, you do not see that there is that edge to my work. The edge is missing, which is what gives my work depth and meaning.

2. There is actually no single location on my blog that tells my cancer story that is easy to find and read.

3. I am still actively dealing with late effects from cancer treatments eight years ago, feeling isolated about it and not sharing any of it on my blog.

This morning after I dropped my son off at school, I parked near the river and walked out on to a dock. I watched these two girl friends enter the river on their SUPs, and push off. Within moments, the current of the Willamette River whisked them north and out of my view.

I am going to stop fighting the old and start building the new. My blog is ready to grow beyond the two extremes of being all about my life with cancer and all about my work. It is about me and if i work on finding that just-right balance of content, I will build something new, build community, feel less alone and hopefully help others who may be dealing with the same things that I am. I want to be like the two women paddling this morning: going with the current and finding my flow, instead of fighting all the changes in front of me, paddling against the current and getting nowhere fast.

My hope is that by sharing more of me again, the true depth of my work behind the camera will be more easily seen with the eyes, because it has always had my heart and soul in it. I admit it is scary to add some of the depth and dark edges back to my writing here. However, I am going through a lot of changes and I realized this morning that I do not have to do it alone. I have simply chosen to do it alone out of fear.

Inventory Blowout Sale

If you are following me on Instagram and/or Facebook, you'll know that last week I promised an inventory blowout sale. I had a little hiccup in my timing due to an injury my kiddo sustained at summer camp but all's well and it's time for the sale! I am clearing out all of my inventory!

4x6 Photo Names:

Beach Light, Single Dahlia, Charming & Chandelier, Triple Dahlias; Acorn Caps, Enchanted Lanterns, Honey Leaves, Old Singer, Loads of Ranunculus, Purple Eventide (one left), Red Longboard

8x10 Photo Names (not pictured):

Enchanted Lanterns (2), Loads of Ranunculus (1)

8x12 Photo Names:

Acorn Caps, Baby Succulent, Beach Light, Birch Trees in Winter, Charming & Chandelier; Cove Creek Canoe, Farmers Grapes, Gift of Love, Loads of Ranunculus; Nature's Color Combos, Old Singer, Portland Cherry Trees, Purple Eventide, Red Trike, Seagrass; The Prettiest Tree, Tissue Paper, Enchanted Lanterns (one left)

Everything is buy one, get two free until they are all gone. My 4x6s are $10 and my 8x12s are $30. I will remove photos from the gallery as they run out so if you see it, it is still available. To purchase, email sweet dot eventide at yahoo dot com with the names of the photos you want and your PayPal address. Once payment is received, I will ship within two business days.

I do not have a photo, but I also have six Loads of Ranunculus iPhone 4/4S cases left. They are imperfect, with minor scratches or minor color issues so I never sold them. They are $20 each which is 50% off the normal price.

After this sale, I will not be offering these sizes again! Snap them up while you can. The 4x6s are awesome on an inspiration board.

Three Rules to Live By

I have a card on my inspiration board with a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote on it. It's a reminder of three simple rules to live by and I never regret following them.

Live in the sunshine,

coastal oregon wildflowers sunlight

swim the sea,

cape lookout oregon coast sunset waves

drink the wild air...

tillamook forest honda element road trip photo

These rules to live by are good year-round, but during an Oregon summer? No excuses. Which brings me to an announcement: I'm going to switch my blog schedule to posting on Fridays only through Labor Day. I want to get out there and drink the wild air, not be indoors on a laptop. Thank you for understanding!