I will admit. When we first began this quarantine season I was in a bit of denial. My busiest wedding season of 2020 was about to start in May. 6 weddings in a row! I had spent all of November, December, and January preparing a new brand with an updated website. Then I spent all of February prepping for my upcoming engagement sessions and what was sure to be an extremely busy spring season. In the Virginia wedding scene, the end of the winter is typically a “slow” period. As a photographer I typically spend this time preparing new projects, updating my marketing efforts, putting new systems into place for the busy wedding seasons to come. This year things look a lot different.
I planned to give myself some room to breath. In the beginning I had so many “ideas” about all of the incredible time I was about to have on my hands. I could be so productive! As time began to crawl along I felt further and further away from thinking I needed to complete as many projects as possible. It reached a point where I just needed to survive and take it day by day. Weddings began to reschedule, postpone, shift around. There were lots of conversations about contracts and potential rescheduling. The stress of it all resulted in some severe insomnia for nearly two months. I had to adapt and be comfortable with new decisions and new choices. I allowed myself to take things day by day.
It is not lost on me that this has been an incredibly difficult season. It has been hard on Josh and I in a variety of ways. However, this blog post is not going to reflect on the “difficult”. Instead, I’m going to write about the positive things that came out of this time in isolation. The activities that kept me feeling creative and inspired and the things I am looking forward to when life begins to feel a bit more “normal” (whatever that is anymore!).
To start, I took charge of my health. Some of you may know my health history. I’ve shared a lot about my battle with Eczema and Topical Steroid Withdrawal on my Instagram stories. It’s been a two year battle or WAR if we’re really being honest. In early March I decided to take a new approach and work with a Naturopath. We started our consultations right when quarantine began. It could not have worked out better. I will not get into all of the specific details. But I will say the changes we have made are working and I am seeing improvement. Praise Jesus!! It has been so encouraging to finally notice healing skin. I have been on a strict diet, a strict supplement schedule, we are renting a Kangen water machine which ionizes and cleans our water. All of these changes have been making a difference. The time at home has given me a great opportunity to keep track of what i’ve been changing and has also kept me away from temptations like eating out.
Next on the list…puzzles! Again, if you follow me on Instagram you’ve likely seen my new addiction. It all started when Josh and I went to Target for groceries. I mentioned grabbing a puzzle and went to the game section to grab one. This was about 2 weeks into quarantine and I don’t know why I thought i’d be able to just “grab one” off the shelf! The shelves were completely wiped clean! This inspired me to go home and do some research. I started with Amazon and quickly learned that puzzles were a hot commodity! I found my first puzzles on Etsy. Two unique 500 piece puzzles designed by female artists. From there, the obsession took off. I did tons of research and quickly became extremely addicted.
My requirements were that the puzzles had to be at least 500 pieces and have some kind of interesting image. I can’t get into it if I don’t like the image I am building. I believe my background in design and architecture is what fuels this addiction. I love matching color and pattern and find so much satisfaction in putting together the full piece. I thinkI have something close to 20 puzzles now….(gifts from my parents, puzzles I’ve purchased myself, and several birthday presents). I’ve created a collage of all of the ones I have below. I’ve also shared links to all of the manufacturers/shops where I’ve purchased them! I will say Barnes & Noble curbside pick up was my best source!
In the beginning of quarantine I spent most of my “work time” rearranging my calendar. ALL of my shoots from March through May had to be rescheduled. These were things like engagement sessions, family sessions, and biggest of all, weddings. I am very fortunate that I will still be working with all of my booked clients from 2020. We will just be working together either on a smaller scale, on a new date, or even in 2021. It has been a very rough time for the wedding industry and especially our couples. But there is hope, because Love is not cancelled!
As a result of nearly two months off I had a lot of time on my hands. Puzzles, books, and long walks around our neighborhood began to take over. I downloaded the Audible app on my phone and realized that I had 10 credits available! (1 credit equals 1 book) We had the Audible subscription the previous year but had obviously not put it to good use. I took full advantage of my newfound credits and downloaded 8 new books. I began to pour through the audiobooks. As I finished most of my list I discovered that I could “exchange” titles through the app which meant I could return a book and get my credit back. Whoa…more reading to come! Next a couple of friends recommended that I sign up for GoodReads. It essentially tracks all the books you’ve read, are currently reading, and would like to read in the future. You can rate the books after you finish them and read reviews from other friends and the authors. I was already keeping a list in my phone and this proved to be a more manageable way to keep track! I love it!
I also discovered the Libby App. It connects your local library card to the app and you can download ebooks and audio books for free! Up to 10 loans at a time. I know I am late to this game, but it’s amazing. My kindle is loaded up so I have been listening to audiobooks throughout the day and reading my kindle before bed (borderline obsessive at this point).
Follow me on GoodReads! I am listing the 13 books I have read so far this year in order of my favorites!
Hooked from the very start!! I listened to the entire audiobook in 1 day! I love suspense and thrillers and this one had an incredible twist at the end. I am DYING to discuss it with some friends and family so I ordered the book for my sister on Amazon. I told her she has the weekend to finish it so we can discuss. This was my favorite so far.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Charming, witty, emotional, sad, captivating, hilarious. This book also caught my attention from the very start. It is set in Ireland and I loved the accent of the narrator while listening to the audiobook. My second favorite! Highly recommend.
Where the Crawdads Sing
Also a favorite so far this year. There is romance, twists, and an incredibly strong female character. It makes me think this may be the fictional story in comparison to the nonfiction book, Educated. I was also into it from the very beginning.
I listened to this book at the very beginning of the year. It’s extremely hard to imagine that this was someone’s real life. The strength and perseverance of Tara Westover is remarkable.
Watch Me Disappear
I loved listening to this book and will admit that I was curious the whole way through. It is another suspenseful, thriller, type novel. However, I have thoughts about the ending. Kind of annoyed, a bit bothered. Text me or email me if you read this one. I’d love to discuss!
Little Fires Everywhere
Very, very slow in the beginning of the book. I am glad I stuck through it because there are some compelling themes and circumstances towards the end. Also glad I read it before I watched the show on Hulu. Another great recommendation by Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club.
Josh and I both love reading from the perspective of different operators in the military. The mental fortitude of a Navy Seal is so impressive. There were a lot of good lessons in this book no matter what side of the political aisle you come from.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
This was a heartbreaking story. I learned afterwards that some parts of the story may not be entirely true. I understand that may be the case with historical fiction. I do want to listen to the sequel.
Faith, love, and Jesus. This family is an incredible inspiration. I loved this book.
Make Something Good Today
I love reading about creative people!! This is the story of Erin and Ben Napier from the HGTV show, Home Town. It was sooo good and her creative journey felt very similar to mine!!
Home Work: A Memoir of Julie Andrews Hollywood Years
This was a slow read or “listen” for me. Julie Andrews lived a very charmed life.
The Secrets We Kept
Not crazy about this book. It kept me interested because half of the story is set in DC and they make reference to lots of places in the area. That was about all I liked.
Daisy Jones and the Six
Also, not a fan. I know so many people love this book, but it was crazy slow for me and not dramatic enough! haha It did make me listen to some Fleetwood Mac…
I will admit that I was intrigued by this book, but there was no plot!! It jumped all over the place and it was painful hearing the inner monologue of the two main characters and knowing that they were just TERRIBLE at communicating with each other. I mainly listened to this book so I could watch the show on Hulu, but now I’m not sure I’ll even do that. Just being honest here…
The BEST part of this whole entire crazy time is that we are bringing home a little puppy at the end of May!!!!!! His name is Murphy Burdett and he will be 8 weeks old! He is a Cavapoo. A mix between a King Charles Cavalier and a Mini Poodle. I was on the hunt for pup that may be a little more hypoallergenic, small, and friendly. According to the internet….he meets the bill. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!! We are so EXCITED! He was my birthday present and may be the best birthday present I’ve ever received.
I had just started doing research on pups and was starting a spreadsheet about where we could find our pup. I had mentioned to Josh that I didn’t need to rush into finding a dog within that week, but we should take our time and find the right dog. Well, I found the right dog….that DAY! hahaha The breeder let me know that as soon as she posted the puppies they were all accounted for within the hour. I guess everyone has been looking for a quarantine friend!
Flowers have also brought me a lot of joy during this time. Whenever I’ve made a Costco or Trader Joes run I’ve been sure to grab a bunch of flowers. They’ve filled our apartment this entire time and I’ve taken out my camera for several occasions just so I had something to edit again!
I have been following Jamie Beck on Instagram for several years now. She is an American photographer living with her family in Provence France. At the beginning of her quarantine she established the #isolationcreation series. She created a new piece of art everyday for 60 days. She then turned her fabulous prints into a poster series and sold them through her online shop. Every day she documented her process and shared other artists work through her Instagram stories. It became a ritual for me every morning and I absolutely loved following along. I ordered a print of several pink peonies (my favorite) that she photographed. It is yet to arrive, but I am counting down the days. Her work inspired me to stay creative in quarantine.