Unconferencing the World Domination Summit

For the past three days in Portland, my town was filled with World Domination Summit (WDS) attendees. Many of my favorite online people travel to Portland for the conference and I visited with as many of them as I could in between their events. (It turns out there was a name for what I was doing, "unconferencing" and there was even a hashtag #unwds going all weekend for it.) pink flowers sunshine downtown Portland OR photographer Jessica Nichols

Let yourself shine, even if you don't always feel shiny inside! That's what I did!

I went to the Soul Shine Studio Open House. I went to The Declaration of You book party to support my friend and former coach Michelle Ward and my local namesake Jessica Swift. Today is my last event, a luncheon with my soul sisters from Hello Soul, Hello Business last year. I went to two meet-ups and met many very interesting people. I pushed myself way out of my comfort zone and I am beyond proud of my introverted self for her bravery.

I am also thrilled to announce that Michelle and Jess have asked me to contribute a post this week for the BlogLovin' Tour for The Declaration of You for Success Week. My post will be live on Wednesday, July 10, 2013 right here. I am in stellar company this week with Kelly Rae Roberts and Jennifer Lee, two women I admire and respect and I have even been their students. I have been reading my signed (with love) copy of the book and it's beautiful, colorful and heartening. I highly recommend it! They have a Vimeo channel which I have been thoroughly enjoying!

See you here on Wednesday to talk about success!



Inspiring and Motivating Sayings

stair inspiration quotes reminders sepia My neighbor uses the stairs leading up to her front door as a place for inspiring and motivating sayings. Isn't that a great way to remind yourself of something every time you come and go? These are a few things for which I could use daily reminders:

Patience is a Virtue Play Now, Clean Later Never Give Up More is More Take a Walk

What do you need reminding about right now?

Farm Fresh Raspberries and a 4th of July Wish

farm raspberries oregon kruger's farm sauvie island The essence of summer in the Pacific Northwest for me is time spent on Kruger's Farm on Sauvie Island, listening to various bands, eating ripe berries, roasted corn, dancing with my sweety in the field, watching children giggle and run around, feeling the soft summer air, breathing deep, watching the sun go down in glorious colors.

I wish you all a happy 4th of July tomorrow, I've been pinning some festive 4th of July treats and things if you need some last-minute ideas. Not everyone feels joyful on holidays, I think of those mourning the loss of loved ones and for you I have a special wish for tomorrow: find those moments where your heart is not heavy and hold on to that feeling at the molecular level. Take that berry and savor it for the one you are missing. Dress up your corn and eat it in rows or around the cob, just the way they would. Send a wish up to the skies with every sparkler, send love out with every explosion of fireworks and color in the sky.

Vote for Your Favorite Edit: Wheat Fields

I photographed a wheat field during my trip to Adelman's Peony Farm this year. I need your help because I liked several edits. Take a look at the original, plus three options and then leave your opinion in a comment.  I will list the most popular vote in my shop, marked as a Reader's Choice.





Thanks for your help!

Tenth Wedding Anniversary

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary.

We were new parents, I had started chemotheraphy six days prior to this photograph being taken. I was afraid of losing my hair so with much help, we planned a wedding in six short days. I debated about the date as it was the anniversary of my father's death in 1998. I decided to make a new memory on that date, a happy one and it worked like a charm. I don't dread June 21st, I love it. Our son was barely six weeks old on the day we got married. My aunt held him during our ceremony, and Jeff's mom took him overnight so we could go to San Francisco for a little one-night getaway. We went out to dinner two blocks from our hotel in Union Square dressed in our wedding clothes. People thought we were in costume, but we were for real. We are still for real.

I still love our vows, here is an excerpt:

I will laugh with you

and cry with you.

I will love you faithfully

through the best and the worst,

through the difficult and the easy.

What may come

I will always be there.

As I have given you my hand to hold

so I give you my life to keep.

June 21st has a distant bitter taste, wrapped in a joyous celebration with a side of summer solstice this year.

Divorcing Information

I had a wonderful conversation with my mother-in-law on our way to Astoria last weekend. We talked, for the umpteenth time over the course of 10 years, about how my intuition is the weakest muscle in my life. I told myself, "it is even a part of my personality type, having weak intuition." I rely very much on information, I rely way too much. When faced with uncertainty or fear, I look outward for information, hoping to gain confidence and reassurance in my decision making. I don't even think about it, I simply seek. My information-seeking muscle is so strong, it requires no thought in order to flex it. Giclée print by artist Paper Whistle title Intuition

Intuition by Paper Whistle on Society 6

As Betty and I drove along Highway 30 towards Astoria, discussing my lifelong struggle to trust myself to know what is right, the conversation naturally meandered to the fact that I clearly recognize that until I start trusting myself, this muscle will remain weak. And that's when the proverbial light bulb moment arrived. I said (without over thinking), "I am in a bad marriage with information. I need to divorce it."

I've had that phrase ringing in my ears all week long...as I unsubscribe from this email list or that one (no offense people!) or unlike this Facebook page or that one. These are easy decisions for me now. "Divorce it! Divorce it!" I whisper to myself as I click. I have not even seen the effects of a less-crowded in-box yet, but I trust that they are going to be positive effects and arriving soon. On a daily basis, I bring in so much external feedback, it's absolutely overwhelming and paralyzing at times. I seek information on everything from mothering to food to climate change to politics to photography and entrepreneurship. Looking outward for business advice, particularly marketing, is leading me astray from my biggest strength: ME.

I know it's not going to be easy, but I'm looking forward to growing my intuition muscle and the relief of letting go of my fears. I will often state goals and dreams out loud as a way to take the next step in the process. Usually I just say it out loud to my darling husband but this time, it's blog worthy because of the business piece. I have been feeling for quite some time now that there is some "missing piece," some "thing" that was holding me back in business. I have sought and sought and sought that missing piece. I thought more and more information was the way to figure it out. We'll see what happens as I divorce information and open the door to ME.

I am 42 years old and I'm ready to trust myself.

Field Trip: Astoria, Part Two

I mentioned on Monday that Astoria reminded me of San Francisco. The day was clear, sunny and crisp with a gusty bay breeze. There were hilly streets with historic Victorian homes and a thriving art scene. I was camera happy all day between the rainbow painted utility meters to the garbage cans with vintage typography and the bridge, oh the bridge! Enjoy more of my Astoria photographs! colorful utility meters astoria oregon

rainbow painted utility meters astoria oregon

vintage typography royal chinook salmon astoria oregon garbage can

astoria bridge underside oregon

columbia river astoria oregon sunset photograph

Tell me, are you about to book a vacation to Astoria now?

P.S. While I was editing the very last photo in this post, I though there was a lot of dust in it.

As I zoomed in, I realized every "speck of dust" was a bird in flight! Cool! :-)

Field Trip: Astoria

This weekend, two little dreams came true: I went on a field trip to Astoria and I got to ride in a Mini Cooper. My mother-in-law Betty arrived from CA Friday night and was game to go exploring on Saturday with me. She rented the car and we had a super fun day! I hope you enjoy these photos of a pretty store's outdoor display and all the old signage that can be seen in historic Astoria, Oregon. turquoise metal patio table two chairs retail styling astoria oregon

jc penny co sign astoria oregon

Abe Co. sign Astoria Oregon

old sign circa 1930 Astoria Oregon The House of Choice Meats and Service

I will have more photos to share so I'll post those on Wednesday. I hope you'll return to see the rest. Have you ever been to Astoria? It really reminded me of San Francisco.

Market Peonies

Sadly, on Saturday morning a migraine foiled my peony farm field trip plans with Chelsea. But I did go looking for 400 mg bottles of riboflavin at the natural foods market because my friend (who is a physician) told me it significantly reduces migraines if taken regularly. Lucky for me, the market had a beautiful florist on site, Espe Floral even though they didn't have the riboflavin. Elizabeth was a joy to chat with and we gushed over her peonies and exchanged business cards. Espe Floral Portland Oregon market peonies flowers photography by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide

Aren't they divine? I'm trying to reschedule my field trip. And wouldn't you know, I bumped into Espe Floral on Chelsea's Instagram photos from the peony farm. The floral world is small and beautiful.


Butterfly Kisses Etsy Treasury

I've been busy today making lots of treasuries to promote my female Photogaphers of Etsy (fPOE) team. My first one today was in Caitlin's honor, and I called it Butterfly Kisses. It's full of purple, pink, butterflies and rainbows, some of Caitlin's favorite things.  

Butterflies rainbows pink purple etsy treasury curated by Jessica Nichols

Did you know it really helps my visibility on Etsy if you click on my treasuries and favorite them? I would really appreciate it if you have a few minutes to do that. Here's one inspired by the anticipation of school getting out! Woohoo summer is on its way...

The sunshine has returned to Portland and I'm going to the peony farm tomorrow. I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned too!

Highlights from the Past Seven Mays

I've been blogging for a long time now. Very rarely do I go back and read what I have written, so today I am doing just that! Here are some highlights from the past seven Mays on Sweet Eventide. sunflower photograph by jessica nichols


May 2006: the one where I taught my son to chew gum.

May 2007: the one where my son taught me about his sister.

May 2008: the one of many where I share my dad's poetry.

May 2009: the one where I pretended I was on a beach in Italy.

May 2010: the one where I visited Portland to research neighborhoods.

May 2011: the one where I talk about stress and how important it is to breathe.

May 2012: the one where I tell everyone that I quit my day job.

I hope you had as much fun going through the blog archives as I did!

Sad Days

There have been some very sad days lately. My friend Meri's beautiful girl Caitlin died last Friday after a long, strenuous fight against her brain tumor. You can read an article about how much joy and life this girl squeezed into nine years and 11 months right here. The world has indeed lost some of its sunshine.

foggy winter morning pacific northwest jessica nichols

I find it very hard to find words because there are no words for a loss this large. As a mama, I cannot imagine the pain of losing my child. As a cancer survivor, I am reminded of the randomness of cancer -- who it strikes, who survives and who dies. I feel very raw and vulnerable during these sad, dark days.

At the same time, I know that I must not stay in a sad, dark place. Every day, I must find something beautiful, something to smile about, something to love. So I find myself staring at my garden blooms, or holding the Noodle a little bit longer than he'd like during a hug. Sometimes, I ignore the chores and sometimes the chores are a good distraction. Sometimes I don't feel like eating, sometimes cooking is the best thing to do. Sometimes I cry till my head aches, sometimes I watch a funny cat video on YouTube.

And isn't this the gist of life? We are neither able to maintain deep levels of despair, nor majestic happy highs for hour upon hour, until the day is over. Instead we bobble along a spectrum sometimes in a circuitous fashion, and sometimes in a rollercoaster-like way. Sometimes it's like driving down the interstate for hundreds of miles and sometimes it's more like a switchback.

I typed this post from the plane on my way to attend the funeral. When there are no words, at least this time, there can be hugs.

I will resume a normal blogging schedule next week.

P.S. Last Friday, hours before I found out about Caitlin, I sent out my email newsletter which contained a video in which I spoke about Caitlin. If you aren't on my email list, you can view the video here. I am going to extend my offer through May 31, 2013 to subscribers, so sign up here. I am also going to be hosting a lemonade stand for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation on Saturday, June 8th in honor of Caitlin's 10th birthday (on June 6th). More on that later...

Ten Years of Motherhood

My son turned 10 on Tuesday.

I had a lot of fun birthday photos to share on my blog, but then...my friend Meri got devastating news about her daughter Caitlin.

And I really don't have much to say right now except I am so grateful that I am a mother to my wonderful, healthy son. I am beyond lucky that I've had ten years already with him.

Hold tight to love, that's all I know.

That's really all we have.

Let's Talk About Sharing Content Online

Holly Becker of decor8 has brought up a meaty topic on her blog today about the blogging trend towards 100% original content vs sharing each other's content or some mixture of the two styles. She writes: "How can we discuss trends if no one has images to share supporting those discussions unless they take these images themselves – and because they don’t have the images they clam up? While it’s important to get permission from photographers and to link back, credit sources, etc. These discussions need to take place and should be taking place for the sake of our community." pale peach peony photograph by jessica nichols

As a content creator, I feel like chiming in. There are three factors I feel contribute to issues with sharing content online: 1. Ad-supported bloggers are being compensated for their content, and not necessarily sharing the compensation when they are sharing other people's content; 2. Content has been shared irresponsibly leading to fears by creators of losing control over their work as well as possible sales; 3. There is a culture of immediate gratification and urgent deadlines that do not allow people to take time to ask for permission to use other people's content.

On the first factor, I can say it can be hard to see bloggers grow their reach by generally being content aggregators, get ad revenue and make a living with their blogs but not credit responsibly at the absolute minimum or perhaps come up with a way to compensate people for their work by inviting them for a paid guest post.

Regarding the second factor, when sharing happens irresponsibly (hello Tumblrs and Pinterest), creators lose sales and this hurts them in a direct way. This has happened to me, and brings up the large debate over the issue of watermarking. If you watermark your work, people can find you IF your watermark is not stripped. But if you watermark, then people are less likely to feature your work. It's a tough decision for a lot of creators. There is also a very large risk of your work becoming an orphan work and losing your copyrights all together.

Finally, in the rush to be on trend, and our fast-paced lifestyles, who has time to wait to publish a post so they can get permission? Many people operate by the idea that they'll use the content now, apologize and remove it later if needed. I know I need to slow down and get back to my blogging roots when I would read posts and comment. If you are not using an editorial calendar and planning your posts in advance, you are less apt to be patient. I do not use an editorial calendar yet so I do not use other people's work anymore. I don't know when I quit but it was a long time ago. Before that, I tried my very best to use work with Creative Commons licenses or copyright notices on the sites stating it could be used with credit. Speaking of which, let's all take the time to create copyright notices and state clearly what we allow. Let's make it easier to share! I've got one in my sidebar over there on the right.

I have asked myself, "How big would my Pinterest account be if I was willing to repin every gorgeous un-sourced Tumblr image that crosses my feed there alone?" It is frustrating, not to mention blogging. Please know I am not speaking in absolutes here. I know there are so many ethical, wonderful bloggers out there who take the time to share the love. In an ideal world, people would share content responsibly all the time and content creators would be compensated fairly for their content. Unfortunately, this has been the exception rather than the rule. Today, I'm not even going to get into copyright infringement on the corporate level, a topic I am passionate about and have experienced.

I hope you will join the conversation too. It is a big conversation and I love to contribute and try to help improve things. Holly is right on the money when she talks about the power of the blogging community. It can elevate or not, depending on how the power is used. I am sure I was rambling a bit, but I'm thinking out loud. At the heart of sharing, there needs to be trust. When trust has been broken, it's hard to overcome. I know I feel vulnerable but I don't let it stop me from sharing my work. That would be giving in to the fear.

Have a wonderful weekend!

One Branch -- Available Now

one branch postcard subscription service by sweet eventide photography for cancer patient encouragement

Order Your Subscription Here

It is with great honor and pride that I announce today the launch of my One Branch postcard subscription service! As you know, this offering has a very special history to me and the title comes from this quote by Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire: "We are the leaves of one branch, the drops of one sea, the flowers of one garden."

Whether you order one month, three months or six months, you will feel great supporting a loved one going through cancer with soothing images from nature and encouraging quotes from Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Voltaire and many more inspiring authors and thinkers. Three and six month subscribers will receive a discount of 10% and 20% respectively.

I will take this opportunity to share a special detail that I've been waiting to reveal: 10 percent of every subscription will be donated to cancer research and I have vetted the following 11 organizations representing the ten most common cancers in the United States, plus one focusing on children because their needs are very different from adults.

one branch postcard subscription service by sweet eventide cancer research funding

I couldn't be more proud to launch One Branch on May 1st because May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. My dear friend Meri's daughter Caitlin has been fighting a relapse of her brain tumors. You can follow Caitlin's story right here.

I'm going to build a wall of hope for every survivor I learn about through One Branch. One reason I chose a toy deer for some of the product photos was this quote by Emily Dickinson: "A wounded deer leaps the highest." I know this to be true.

Here's to our collective health and a cure for cancer!

An Apple Blossom

Spring in Portland is a feast for my eyes. The bloom cycle this year: cherry trees, magnolia trees, apple trees, dogwood trees and now the rhodies have popped. Here is an apple blossom I photographed this weekend on my in-law's tree in Lake Oswego. apple blossom fine art photograph by Jessica Nichols Sweet Eventide Photography

I know my Monday started off a little rough, so if yours did too, I hope this photograph lifts your spirits as much as it did for me.