With little sleep the night before, our flight left at 7 a.m. sharp and Joshua and I could not contain out excitement. Not only were we looking forward to our first flight together, but simply the fact that we would be spending the next few days in New York City.
When we arrived, my uncle took us to two local parks in the Bronx. The weather was gloomy, making the trees and plants pop with color and life. The bridge pictured in the second photograph is the Throgs Neck Bridge.
The next day we ventured into the heart of the city: Manhattan. The car ride alone had Joshua and I jumping out of our seats. His head was practically glued to the window in complete awe of the buildings and life that surrounded us.
This photograph shows my Aunt and Uncle taking in the peaceful atmosphere created by the 9/11 Memorial. Despite living nearby, this was their first time stepping foot into the area since the time of the attacks. You could see the appreciation and remembrance in their eyes, as I’m sure they felt it in their hearts.
Views from the One World Trade Center: both daytime and night.
The next morning we had breakfast at the Crosstown Diner. It was quite rainy that day so we stayed inside relaxing- until we heard a little tune cruising down the street. MISTER SOFTEE! We don’t have Mister Softee ice cream trucks in Florida, so Joshua and I hopped on that, bare feet and all.
Before being dropped off at LaGuardia airport on our final day, we decided to take in some breathtaking final views. My uncle took us to spots in the Bronx with the BEST views of the city skyline. An unforgettable trip followed by an unforgettable view.
One year out of high school and life is much different. While on a roller coaster of ups and downs, I have realized a lot about myself: my strengths and weaknesses, what I want out of life, and especially what I have lost and found.
One year out of high school and I have lost great friends. Friendships that have faded out with time or distance; friendships that were only strong due to being in each others daily lives via school. I have lost a sense of time- a schedule, a routine. The days have become lazier and more relaxed. I have lost a lot of creativity and inspiration. My elective classes in high school really helped to keep me on my toes with ideas and being able to pursue them. In AND out of school I was constantly challenging myself to excel with a photo project, a painting, a song on the piano or even a yearbook page spread. Without those classes there are no assignments to tug at my creativity. Without those amazing teachers I am no longer inspired on a daily basis.
However, with any hardship comes experiences and lessons learned. Deep within the vast layers of myself, I have found the ability to be more outgoing and proactive with making plans. Sometimes you truly have to be if you want them to follow through. I have found that sometimes schedules will conflict- for months- but if the friendship is true and genuine, then you can pick up right where you left off. I have found that some days my body wants to stay in bed until the afternoon, and that it is okay because my body deserves it. I have found that keeping a big calendar on my wall helps me to stay organized with what I have to do and when something is due. While college material is a challenge, taking the initiative to keep track of your assignments and complete them on time is an even bigger one. Something that I am constantly losing and finding is inspiration for creativity. Some days I find it through social media while other days I cannot. Lately I’ve found a lot of inspiration within this Earth: nature, cities, humans- you name it. While I may not have the time or materials to pursue some of my ideas, I DO write everything inside of a journal. The things I see, the things I love, ideas, goals- they’re all written within the pages of this journal. I’ve found that this alone keeps my creativity/inspiration in check. Something else that has helped me is this blog! I set a tiny goal to post material at least once a week, and it truly does wonders for me. It keeps my passion for creativity alive and thriving. As much as I post for others I am very much doing it for myself, as well.
And I guess that’s the most notable thing that I’ve found: that you come first. That as much as you may lose yourself, you will surely find yourself again. Because these ups and these downs are what make you, YOU. Because this life is all about learning- about losing yourself in the things that you love, but finding yourself in them, too.
Despite living in Northern Florida for several years, I have never quite explored the surrounding areas. Upon driving, getting lost and losing cell phone reception, my family, Joshua and I stumbled upon the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. It was interesting to learn about the history of the swamp lands and see the protected wildlife. We came face to face with many alligators but can reassure you that we made it out in one piece.
Riverside (5 points) is a neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida located along the St. Johns river. I find myself coming here as a place to get away. Flowering with art and beauty, this part of town never fails to inspire me. Below, I featured pictures from my most visited and beloved places in Riverside. Whether it be the grand trees in Memorial Park, the dusty antiques and vintage records inside the shops, the rich smell of coffee at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters or the breathtaking views from the Cummer Art Museum- Riverside always has me coming back for more.
This past weekend was filled with many exciting, new adventures. Something I have never done in my life is gone strawberry picking- or any kind of fruit, at that. My parents did a little research and were able to find this adorable little strawberry farm (Brown’s Farm; Hawthorne, FL) just a few hours away from where we live! We arrived and my mind was absolutely spinning from all of the beautiful colors and smells.
We were able to bring home several GIANT buckets of strawberries. I think we ended up paying around $20 for it all, which, in my opinion, is completely worth it. Store bought strawberries can cost around $4 and are picked, selected and often times gassed by someone else. These were straight off of the vine and picked with my own two hands! There was something so relieving about picking my own food- this experience has inspired me to hand pick fruits more often. Plus, it was seriously one of the funnest, most unique things I’ve done in a while.
The other adventure that I experienced for the first time, was visiting the fair! I’ve been to a few smaller fairs before, but never the annual Clay County Fair. I’ve lived in Jacksonville, Florida for quite some time now, and everyone is always incredibly surprised when they find out that I’ve never been to the fair. This year I was determined to change that. I went at night with Joshua, Jenaya and Steven and had an absolute blast. We went on every ride until our stomachs were turning. The food was also notably interesting: FRIED BUBBLEGUM. I didn’t try it, but I’m sure it’s… delicious. Anyway, I had an amazing time and 10/10 did not die on the rides.
I’m the type of person that tends to store negative feelings inside of me in order to move on with my life. I don’t really know how to react to bad situations. Instead, I quickly turn on a fake smile and resume living. Sometimes life can become so overwhelming that ‘brushing things off’ is no longer an option. With that being said, last week I decided to take a break from every aspect of my social life and take time to focus on me.
With no phone, no one to talk to and nothing to see, I was able to dig deep inside of my brain and find strength in unfamiliar places. Every morning I struggled to stay away from my phone. Checking social media and talking to people are things that play an important role in my daily routine. Not only did I feel left out, but also forgotten about. For whatever reason, it killed me to know that I wasn’t showing off what I was doing or even where I was eating. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s the truth. As the week went on I had many life realizations. First and foremost: we live in a generation that thrives off of showing off. I feel as though people are slowly forgetting how to live their lives without showing everyone else. While it IS a blessing to share with others and document your experience, I think everyone should have their limits. Sure, take some pictures, but then put the phone away and live in the moment. Even as a photographer I struggle to do this. So often I find myself more focused on capturing the moment rather than experiencing it.
Through living unplugged for a week, I was also able to find a sense of freedom. It was such an odd, yet inspiring feeling to live my life without documenting it. My spring break will forever remain a mystery to the world. This has inspired me to change my habits and how I go about life. While I adore taking pictures and videos and sharing my life with the world, I am definitely going to cut back. I want to take more time for myself and for this beautiful life that we only experience once. Ultimately, I realized how important your own well being is. It’s not selfish to take time for you, because at the end of the day life isn’t going to be wonderful if you don’t feel wonderful; you are your first priority.
On Thursday, March 10th, my best friend and I made our first beach trip of the year! Florida has already blessed us with 80 degree weather, and we made sure to fully take advantage of it.