First, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. My life is changing so quickly and I really appreciate the support I've been getting throughout this process. My friends, my community, you help me more than I can express, and for that, I am forever grateful! You are all amazing and inspiring <3
A few things happened this year that changed the direction of my life. It started in March (give or take a few weeks of societal denial). Covid-19 shut down the economy and changed the way we live our daily lives. I worked full-time at a climbing gym until Seattle shut down mid-March. With little notice, the gym shut down and I was laid-off with no certainty as to when - or if - I would be able to work again.
Losing my job was hard.
I was living paycheck-paycheck with no savings and student debt that I could barely afford to pay on time. Any time I was hit with any sort of financial burden, I was thrown into a world of hurt. Being broke was hard and life was stressful having to budget for anything I wanted. It wasn't that I was bad with money, I just didn't have enough to cover my living expenses.
Sure, I could have worked for Amazon, Google, or one of the other larger companies around Seattle. I definitely would've had enough money to get by, but would I have had the time to enjoy my life? I couldn't tell you.
I chose to work at a climbing gym because I love the outdoors and I love being around people who share my interests. Not to mention, I'm a freelance adventure & lifestyle photographer so networking and promoting myself in the gym and within the community helped my business grow into what is today.
So when I lost my job I had to make some hard decisions. A few weeks into my unemployment, I decided it was in my best interest to move back to Bremerton with my family. Despite feeling like I had lost my life - and everything I was working to build - in Seattle, it actually ended up being a great decision. I'm really close with my family so being quarantined with them helped keep me sane, and since I wasn't paying rent, I was able to save my stimulus check and all of the money I received through unemployment benefits.
. . .
Quarantine was something else.
Three months flew by without notice. I spent my free time working out in my garage, spending time outside in nature, taking online courses, talking with a therapist, meditating, journaling, meeting with a career coach, playing card games with my family, learning how to mountain bike with my brother, and staying in touch with my friends online. I kept myself busy, but I allowed myself to take time to relax and not have an agenda.
With no job, no social life, and no real agenda, I was living simply. I would wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee on the porch, listen to the morning birds, read, work on my photography business, then have dinner with my family each night. The simplicity gave me the space to clear the clutter and distractions from my life.
For the first time in a long time, I could hear myself. I listened closely this time, knowing that I basically had a blank slate to begin with...
. . .
Since I was a kid, I knew in my heart that I wanted more out of life. I was most happy when I felt the freedom and joy while playing outside, especially during RV road trips around the Pacific Northwest with my grandparents (I'll talk about that in a future post). Aside from those unforgettable excursions, my childhood wasn't anything spectacular. In fact, my day-to-day felt really boring, I was never really interested in what a lot of my peers were interested in and I didn't spend much time outdoors until my early adult life.
As I grew up, my inherent free spirit became engrossed with the idea that I needed to live my life in compliance with everyone else. In my teenage years, the expectation was for me to fit into the groove that everyone else was in. I hated it and I rebelled against anything that didn't let me be who I wanted to be (sorry mom & dad!) To this day, I dislike the idea of sacrificing my freedom, my well-being, and my life to make someone else's dream come true...
I don't know the exact moment it happened, but after spending many hours alone during quarantine, the voice in my head grew louder. I spent the better part of my young adult years hushing that voice until it was a dull whisper in the back of my mind. I went through the motions. I went to school, I worked office jobs, I paid rent. But never did I thoroughly enjoy what I was doing. I always felt like I was being called in another direction...
Thankfully, the voice never went away. It was always there, subtly nudging me into alignment with my calling as I stubbornly attempted to follow everyone else's "successful" life path. Now that I've cleared myself of distractions and dead ends, I can hear that voice again, even louder now.
The voice in my head is telling me to live my best life. Not someone else's. Mine. It's telling me to stop comparing my life to others, stop worrying how the world perceives me, stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and start focusing on what I want out of life. It's telling me that it's time to go my own way, it's time to start living my life on my terms.
So here I am, cultivating my dream life, sharing my story in hopes to inspire others to do the same. For those who don't already know me, let me introduce myself:
My name is Heather. I'm an adventure & lifestyle photographer based in the Pacific Northwest. I'm a part-time van-dweller traveling with my dog, Indi. Together, we roam the outdoors, cultivating experiences and collecting memories along the way.
I'm on a mission to live my best life. This blog is my story, it exists because I want to practice intentional living, and I hope that my story will inspire others to do the same.
My blogging journey has just begun and I'm honored that you have found yourself here. Please read through some of my posts, leave a comment, share your experiences, or connect with me offline!
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Until the next adventure, live your best life!