Home. A four letter word I am not used to. Three years ago I packed up my Chicago apt to move to paris for three months. I put all my belongings in storage knowing that I did not want to return the same person. I was looking for change. Once I arrived in Paris in the freezing cold month of February I knew I wanted to stay longer. Back and forth between the states and paris I went moving more times that I care to admit. Without a visa I couldn’t stay put long term. Three months turned into three years of a nomadic life. The thing is I wouldn’t change a thing. My life has changed in so many ways I am still trying to sort everything all in my head. So here I am in Chicago three years later. A different person than when I left. My storage unit filled with belongings that are just now “things” Instead of moving them into my new home I gave away everything and threw away the key. A new beginning starts now.
It still gets me every time when I walk into a retailer and find my work on the shelves. I get goosebumps and tears. When I lost my job in 2008 I sat in a park bench in Chicago and made goals. One of them was to be on a Papyrus card. I strategized on how to make it happen. A few years later I got an email from Papyrus to do a card. I was thrilled and so proud to have my work for sale in the store. I have had a few other projects come out with them in the last couple of years.
Yesterday I was walking to a meeting and passed by Papyrus in downtown Chicago. I popped in and right in the front of the store was my new calendar. Yes, tears and chills filled my body once again. Last years sold out Planner is back but there are two calendars to go along with it. You can purchase them at Papyrus, Barnes and Noble and of course directly through me on etsy
I promise to continue my series of Solo Travel later this week but I wanted to share this little bit of good news. Last week I spoke to Fortune.com about my etsy business. 86% of people that sell on etsy are female. Luckily they decided to chat with me for a little about my story. Of course only a small snip bit made it into the article but I thought I would share.
I am a big dreamer but in my wildest dreams dreams I never thought I would make it to a fortune.com article. I guess it shows you if you think BiG you get BIG!! Click here to read the Fortune.com article.
A while back a friend proposed the idea of me traveling alone. I thought the idea was crazy and dismissed it. I was in my young twenties and was honestly too scared. 2007 rolled around and I decided to take a trip back to Italy. My first since studying abroad. I brought two of my best friends along to show them some of my favorite parts of Italy. This is when I first started waking up early to photograph. I thought this would be a good way to explore the city solo and get out of my comfort zone. To my surprise my two friends willingly woke up early to join me. I was happy to have them along but still wanted the experience of being alone in a city. They could sense that I wanted to stay in Italy since I had been talking about how much I loved my time abroad. At one point they both encouraged me to just stay and not come come. That would be crazy I thought… or would it be?
Either way the seed had been planted knowing that I had the support of two of my best friends. I lost my job shortly after in 2008 and really wanted to follow my passion for being a travel photographer. Sometimes its other things that push you outside of your comfort zone. I have always been grateful for that little push. What did I have to loose? It took me a while to figure out my footing how I was going to make it happen and in the end of 2009 I decided I was going to go to Paris. Yes my family thought I was crazy but once I get an idea in my head its hard to let go of it. So I started planning. This was just a short trip 10 days total but my first solo trip abroad. I went using unemployment money and airline miles from my previous job. I did a lot of research on an inexpensive hotel and booked a ticket.
My high school French teacher taught us how to use the metro and it all came back to me. This was my first photo as my arrival to Paris back in 2010. I remember it vividly. I was so excited to explore and can’t remember being nervous at all. I photographed the city from morning to night for a total of 8 days. I learned to much about the city by walking and exploring. Everything was new and exciting. I remember walking around the eiffel tower and thinking ” I wonder what it would be like to live here and be inspired by this every day?” That of course planted a seed to my move to Paris in 2013. After the trip I came back to Chicago and started really working on my etsy shop posting photographs and selling them. I can’t say it was overnight it took a little while to figure things out but by the following year I was completely on my own financially as a travel photographer. That was a lot scarier than going to Paris solo.
When I talk to friends and strangers about solo travel the first thing they mention is fear. It can definately be scary going outside your comfort zone. The next couple posts I will talk about Staying safe while traveling, eating alone, perks of traveling solo and more. I would love to know your thoughts have you traveled alone? Love it or hate it? If you haven’t what’s holding you back?
A few posts ago I mentioned that I moved and was unpacking boxes. As I have run into people in person that read the blog (you guys are awesome by the way) they have asked me about the move so I thought I would update you all here.
Its taken me a long time to process this part and I will continue to do so. After 3 crazy years of being a nomad and 17 moves I have finally landed in Chicago. Chicago will be my second city (paris being my first) and home base for my business.
I am sure your first thought is what now? Will she travel again? When is she going to Paris? How long is my lease? These questions have all been asked and I don’t mind answering them. I have been in Chicago two weeks and I am already dreaming about traveling again. There is no doubt I will be back in Paris soon its in my blood and a huge part of my life. As far as my lease its a year which is the longest commitment I have made since 2012.
My biggest struggle personally is reminding myself that I am not in a hurry. When you constantly live your life in 3 month or shorter increments you feel pressured for time. I am trying to take that out of my daily life and live each day as it comes. I am looking forward to reconnecting with my life here in Chicago and having a place to run my business from.
There is so much I have taken away from 3 years of traveling but a lot of it is still processing. I have an open word document where I am writing my notes. I hope to share those thoughts with you soon and inspire you all to travel and dream big.
Most of all my biggest takeaway from everything is that I regret nothing. Its been a challenging and life changing experience for me and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Thank you all for your kind words and support! I still have a lot of photos to share from this last trip so stay tuned.
Its easy to fall in love with the South of France when you are taken care of like I was at La Bruyle. While staying in the South I was able to explore the neighbors a bit while taking a walk down the gravel roads. I know the roses are much higher now than during my visit and the garden is full with berries. So many reasons to go back!
This summer is flying by and I knew July was going to be crazy! I moved this week along with having a show this past weekend on Michigan Ave in Chicago and one of my many projects launches this week! Yes my head might be spinning but I am doing the best to keep it all together and unpack at the same time. If you are in Chicago I hope you will join me for the West Elm Local Launch party.
My work will now be available at the Lincoln Park Chicago West Elm Store and the Oakbrook West Elm Location. The kickoff Party for the Lincoln Park store is tomorrow July 16th 6pm – 9pm. Stop by and say hello!