Posts

With a baby on the way, my husband and I moved to California two weeks ago to be closer to friends and family for support.  While folks from the Methow Valley in Washington are posting photos of beloved snowy adventures, we are looking for jobs and a place to live seven months pregnant while crashing with friends in sunny SoCal.  (Psssh, no big).  😉 

 This was my last contribution as the weekly Mazama Valley Life Columnist for The Methow Valley News. Two weeks into our new adventure, revisiting this column was a reminder to continue to trust and embrace the adventure before us.  The column was originally published in The Methow Valley News October 18, 2017. 

*******************************************************************************************
 
It was 2013 and I had just moved back to Los Angeles. I had been there about a month, interviewing for various General Manager positions with a recruiter.  Sitting in traffic for an hour and a half on the 405, contemplating the very last of my savings, however, I kept turning down work as none of these positions felt right.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to be a General Manager.  I wanted to make a living but I also wanted a life. 
 
I went for a walk that night to let go of my fear, listening to a lecture on manifestation, being in gratitude for the deep pinks that burst out of the Pasadena shrubs, the orange trees and sounds of the breeze— my friend’s family that was letting me stay in their guesthouse.  I had nothing but I had so much to be grateful for.
 
When I returned home there was an email from my aunt: “Why move back to Los Angeles when you can move to the middle of nowhere and be a baker?”  
 
Yes, yes, yes…  My heart raced when I read those words. This is everything I want.  I had just moved back to the city, but in a month’s time here I was already disappointing 100 friends, borrowing $500 from my sister to drive two days to get to this mysterious and thrilling place called ‘Mazama’ for a summer job.  What most would call irresponsible is just how this seeker rolls.  I trust my intuition.  I follow the signs and listen to my guides. I am always where I am supposed to be.
 
I’ve been a contemplative person my whole life and I’ve always sought the spiritual, but to sum up my time here feels overwhelming.  It would require a novel and seven years of hindsight.  What I can say around 500 words, is that when I think of the past four and a half years— everything I didn’t know, who I was and who I would become, the word that resonates is Gratitude.’  My heart runneth over with this word.  
 
Thank you mountains for grounding me with your omnipotence, majestic size and beauty.  Thank you rivers for your crisp, cool water whose constant, clear movement reminds of my own cleansing and renewal.  Thank you light for the way you come through my windows, waking me with warmth and giving me hope for each day.  
 
Thank you trees for your roots that plunge deep and powerfully through the earth reminding me of your wisdom that lasts longer than the span of my meager life. Thank you blue skies for reminding me of goodness, the air in my lungs as life and the reminder that this world we’ve been given is a gift.  Thank you quiet of the woods for being the most amazing friend— allowing me to hear my thoughts clearly and for making my prayers easily accessible to God.   
 
Thank you for helping me become a woman that would take a chance on unexpected love— marrying some weirdo with different colored eyes and crazy hair.  Thank you for teaching me that the impossible is possible, buying my first house and with my honey, making it a home.  Thank you for bringing me teachers that would train and guide my creativity into delicious treats and weekly columns.  Thank you for the courage to start a family.  And thank you readers, for allowing me to share my journey with you.  
 
I knew with everything in me I was supposed to move to Mazama.  It is with this same knowing that we say goodbye.  I have no idea what the future holds in the mountains of California— without jobs, without a place to live, not much saved and a baby on the way.  But if I’ve learned anything, it is that we are always taken care of beyond our greatest expectations.  I’ve learned that God laughs at our plans anyway and, instead,  gives us what we need.  I’ve learned that change can be a huge catalyst for incredible adventure and transformation.  If it has been anything like the past four and a half years?  With a grateful heart and running eyes, I say ‘Bring it on…’  
 
Thank you, Methow Valley.  You all have been the most amazing gift.   We love you and will miss you all!
 

One of my favorite days on Maple Pass.

Wow.  Life.  Summer. Craaaaaazy… anybody else?  Damn, Gina!!

There are 4,598 things going on and while some days I feel like I am hanging on by a thread, most of it is exciting stuff– part of which, is what I am FINALLY sharing with you today.  🙂

I’d say the scales started to tip in my creative/exciting & time crunching/hair pulling favor, when I got to collaborate with THIS girl!

Everyone, meet Jess.  

She is ADORABLE.  

The fabulous Ms. Jessica DaCosta is an artist and ‘sculptress’ that specializes in copper, and more specifically, copper weathervanes.  So freaking cool.  You can check out her Facebook page here.

But she also does super fun stuff like pointed elf ears!

One of her sketches… 

And she does these fabulous masks… 

Jess was chosen by Methow Arts to be their featured artist for their summer magazine and I was lucky enough to get to do the shoot! 

A lot of her work is very magical which was a match made in heaven.  Some of her weathervanes have fairies or mermaids, phoenix (!!!) and so we decided to play with the whimsy and magic of her work… 

Her business is also called ‘CopperMaiden’ so I liked the idea of photographing her as such.  Those photos are later… In the meantime, we spent our time in some magical aspens and did our best to blow glitter.  Ha! 

I love the below photo… Not because it’s technically or compositionally great… I just caught her in this gorgeous moment laughing and you really get a sense of her girlish spirit.  

She also made this crown out of fantastic antlers… She’s such a sorceress!  🙂

Crystal balls… *swoon*

She was SUCH a trooper… We shot two days.  One was at her shop and the next day, we squeezed hundreds of photos into a few hours. 

This girl was up for anything and I think it really paid off.  

We had her wade in the river for some photos that weren’t my favorite.  But I wanted to include this one because you can see her fish weathervane below to the left and in her hand she’s holding a copper fairy!!!  I just love her work…

And then later, we got to transform her into the The CopperMaiden!  🙂 🙂 🙂

She let me put foil on her face and although you can’t tell too much, her face is covered in copper face paint.  We also through pieces of metal, glitter, crystal balls and God knows what else in her hair. Fearless!  It was so much fun… 

These turned out very Mid-Summer Night’s Dream to me… 

I really love to tell stories with my camera so I tend to gravitate toward documentary portraiture.  I looove to interview someone, hear their guts and really do my best to try and capture their story in a photo.  

The challenge with the Methow Arts’ shoots, however, is that I’m not the one doing the interviewing.  Jess and I had to get to know each other real quick, but she was so brave, fearless and trusting.   If these photos are successful at all, its all because of her! 

This is my favorite.  I love the light, the colors… it’s very summery to me. I think she looks gorgeous. 🙂  *swoon*  

If only she were prettier, ya know?  😉

And because I don’t get to do these more artistic, super creative shoots often, I really had a blast playing with any and every preset known to man. Ha! Presets are kind of to Lightroom/Photoshop what filters are to Instagram.  With documentary portraiture, you really want to stay as true as possible to the subject or the story you’re telling.  So I don’t tend to use them too much.  However, when a shoot allows for total, complete, chaotic and creative process? Presets can be SUPER fun.  🙂

This is super Lord of the Rings to me with her magical elven ears… *swoon*  🙂

It certainly doesn’t hurt that she’s a super gorgeous girl! 

She also had this gorgeous dress with all this COLOR… Ugh.  Makes the job so much easier.  🙂

I think this photo is interesting, too.  Technically, her foil is blown out but the dreaminess of it, makes me come back to it… (Sometimes ya can’t help but like what ya like!)

Also, Jess is TOTALLY a shapeshifter!!!  In this photo, I think she looks a bit like Jennifer Love Hewitt.  There are times she just looks like a Vogue model and other times, she was channeling Katy Perry.  I’m great at channeling Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, you know what I’m saying?  But I’ll take it…  😉

She took so many beautiful shots, and I had such creative fun, I had a really hard time which photos I liked most.  And even worse, knowing what to send to the magazine!

Our try at glitter again… Note to self:  Next time use strobes.  Also, who wants to carry around strobes?  😉

All in all, it was SUCH an honor.  You can read the Methow Arts Magazine article here written by Marcy Stamper.  

And while I’m saying a lot about how gorgeous Jess is, it speaks nothing to who she is as an artist.  And even moreso, just the fact she’s a doll of a human being.  

This girl is ALL heart.  I can tell she’s intuitive and connected.  She manifests her own magic… A ‘sculptress’ indeed!

AND TOTALLY ADORABLE!!!!

I hope you enjoyed these photos!  Please be sure to check out her work!!  She is currently taking orders WORLD WIDE!!!  I will say I knew her when…  🙂 

Thanks for the honor, Jess!  xoxo

 

JESSICA DACOSTA INFO: 

Instagram and twitter:  @coppermaiden.

Her Facebook page is @weathervaneartistry:  https://www.facebook.com/WeathervaneArtistry/

And her website is:  http://www.coppermaiden.com

 

I live in a tourist town.  Washington Pass connects Seattle to our little valley and when that pass opens every Spring, the flood gates of tourism open and the locals scrounge to produce, typically while being grossly understaffed.  It’s hard to find good help, and while a lot of fun, it can be insanely exhausting. 

So while we have maybe another week or two before Gandalf obliges, I’m doing my best to take in the little things.  Our valley currently is full of flowers… Spring beauties and glacier lilies for days… followed by hills of balsam root.  It’s breathtaking. 

flowers 1

Spring always reminds me of a song by Nichole Nordeman called ‘Every Season.’  Back in my Christian days, she was one of my favorites.  She was the only artist I was aware of that ever openly questioned life and faith in her music.  She wasn’t threatened to ground her faith in her humanity, where I feel so many other artists (and their PR firms) are afraid to look anything less than perfect.  Her recent Facebook posts on islamaphobia, helping Syrians and loving your neighbor, find me still a fan.  

flowers 2

Anyway, I always found it a lovely song… You can find the lyrics below.  

flowers 3

 

And you can hear the song here…

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You
In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what’s to come
You are autumn

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

 

Happy Spring.  🙂