Highway 101 Road trip. Checking in on life a year ago.
A year ago, I set out on my first solo trip that was just for me. I didn't have any shoots booked or reason to go, but I knew I needed to do it. I wasn't in the best of places personally and needed to do something that was 100% for myself.
THE BAG. My friends at Peak Design sent over their EveryDay Backpack to carry with me on my road trip. It fit everything I needed it to and more. I was able to carry all of my gear, my essentials and had pockets for every memory card, pen and notebook. My computer and hard drives fit in there too and I had the 20L, not even the biggest one they make. I have received so many compliments on this bag about it's design and functional aspects. It's perfect for so many things. I've even had people tell me it would make for a great diaper bag. Go check out all of their awesome gear HERE.
This photo below was the photo that summed up my trip. The idea of me doing exactly what I wanted to do because I wanted to do it. That was reason enough. I felt so happy in this moment. This was also the day that I gave myself a deadline. To pull myself out of the depths of what was bringing me down. I had to choose to continue putting more work in and figure it out or start fresh. But whatever my choice would be, I couldn't continue to be in the darkness.
Life is not always cookie cutter. It can surprise you sometimes. When we were younger, my sister Jessie and I learned that we had another sister (half sister from biological father side) out there somewhere west of us. Then about 9 years ago we found her on Facebook. Im not sure how it happened or who made the connections but it did. Our lives were completely different. She hadn't learned about us until later in her life. We lived across the country from each other. None of us were quite sure on how we would fit, if we would fit in each others' lives. Last year, while on this trip I made the decision to reach out and finally meet my youngest sister. I meet people all of the time and after years of Facebook friendship I figured it wouldn't be much different than meeting other people from the internet. I didn't take in account that she might be nervous or not want to meet me or any of the things. But we made it happen. She took a chance on me too. I was on this road trip and I had places to go and stops to make. Along the way, I picked her up and she headed to the coast with me. We chatted and found similarities and some differences. She told me about her life and growing up as an only child. She took me to meet her Grandmother and showed me her favorite places. She wouldn't let me sit on the edge of the sandstone cliffs and warned me about how people died doing what I wanted to do. We sat in silence a few times and took in the views. I got to visit with her again this year when I was in Portland for a friends' birthday and Im sure we will see each other again many times in our lives. This may seem not as warm and fuzzy as a movie would make it play out. Long lost sisters and family we didn't know of. Here is my reality of the entire thing. I'm the oldest, well sort of. (different story maybe one day) I've always had a little sister. One that I love with all of my heart. Before meeting JC I felt so much guilt and nervousness that my sister Jessie would feel less than or something along those lines. I made sure to ask about her feelings of me meeting our sister and with her approval I moved forward to do it. I went in with no expectations and left feeling relief and content. We don't know where our relationship will go or what it will become but what we do know is that we had different upbringings, different lives and experiences. We have our own lives and it's ok that we don't fit into them in an intense way. My family is made up of what a lot of families are: step siblings, step parents, half siblings, crappy family members, divorces, marriages, crazy aunts and uncles, some cousins that are weird and extended family that you aren't sure you would admit to being related to. You know the drill folks. Families are weird. But I am a firm believer that you get to choose your family. I have the best family I could ever ask for. That family is always accepting of adding new people into our chosen family. I feel so privileged to have met Jennifer and that we continue to be in contact. I cannot wait to see all of the incredible things that she does with her life. (she's already doing great things) It's crazy how the world works and how with the internet you can find people you are related to like never before.
After I returned from my trip I was met with a lot of negativity and confusion. As soon as I was back in STL I was ready to go again. My wanderlust had only began to take flight and I knew this (traveling) was something I needed more of in my life. To feel connected to the world and to myself. Someone told me "I thought you would be better when you got back" as if my anxiety and constant daily struggles would magically disappear. Another person told me "Jenna, I know you see other people doing this, but the grass is always greener...." I tuned them out. Listen folks, the grass is greener where you fucking water it ok? Take care of your grass whatever form that comes in. For me, I needed to take care of myself to learn from the struggles. To allow change to happen even though it was met with the most resistance. There were others that asked me about my trip and genuinely wanted to know how it made me feel. To those people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Keywords: california, california coastline, highway 101, oregon, oregon photographer, peak design, pnw, roadtrip, san francisco, seattle, seattle photographer, travel, travel photographer, traveling entrepreneur, utah photographer
I really enjoyed this post! I admire your courage to travel and share your story. I hope your recent trips have brought you some peace. You are a wonderful artist!
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