Season of Reflection

"Chase the light whatever and wherever it may be for you; chase it"
-  Tyler Knott Gregson

 

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I’ve heard people call the early winter before the New Year rings in “the season of reflection” … I normally just call it my season of denial as I try to push Chaco's, light cardigans and my straw fedora’s. However, there is always a first for everything. This year I’ve witnessed my first solar eclipse, tried plain sour cream alone (so gross), and I guess we can consider this my first “season of reflection” …a season of reflection that has lasted 11-months.

When my husband moved out of state for his dream job, I’ve already expressed on here the bag of mixed emotions that came with the first 8-weeks of the adjustment. Being a military wife, and survived a deployment, I wasn’t a stranger to my husband’s absence. I was a stranger though to the feeling of isolation.

I grew up as an only child. I played 80% of the time by myself in the backyard pretending I was Jungle Jane scot naked with a stick in my hand and weeping willow branches braided around my head. But 5-feet away was the most adoring parents I could have ever dreamed of. I always had friends that on a rainy day I could call. I was a part of 4-H, homeschool groups, church groups, and we explored nooks and crannies of our town and the world all the time. I never felt alone. I never felt stuck.

All through High School I was surrounded by a solid group of friends, though they weren’t the best sort, I once again never faced the feeling of completely alone. Through a horrible abusive relationship and then divorce, through moving away from my home town, and college I never truly felt alone. There was always someone who would pick up the phone and listen. Always someone who would be up for coffee, going for a drive, coming over, going out. Yet there is always a first for everything.

In the last 11-months friends have moved or faded, jobs have come to a close, babysitters have moved away, pets have moved on and the town I’ve resided in for almost 7-years found a way to start closing me out. I found myself without a church again and spending too many showers letting the tears go. Our most amazing neighbors either moved or passed away and then new neighbors moved in who have caused horrible anxiety. And then finally finding out people I’d been confiding in had been talking behind my back. All to come crashing to this exact point.

The exact point of isolation.

It is a terrifying feeling.

Finding myself isolated and caught in the hum drum of the motions of the days of the weeks of the months left me feeling desperate. But when your truly alone, being desperate does you no good, it only leads you to darker places. I started questioning my faith, my relationships with everyone, including my husband, and the worst of it all…myself. I was slipping. I found myself grasping in desperation onto bloggers and social media that I was enamored with only to find that pretending I was living a life like theirs wasn’t strong enough to hold the weight I have been carting around like a darn bag of rocks.

It wasn’t though, till I went to a 5-day workshop where I was surrounded by 12+ amazing women did I fully grasp how alone I truly had been. You can be surrounded by a million people and yet at the end of the day be alone, I am surrounded by people I know every day and I smile and say hello to…but not one of them know any of this about me, how I’ve been doing. Because when you’ve spent 11-months slowly loosing people, it’s hard to find trust and honesty again.

I’ve spent 11-months cursing this and that, sobbing in hot showers and running on too much coffee and way too little of sleep. I’ve spent 11-months lying to everyone that everything is okay. When at the end of the day and another thing hit the fan, I’d be holding the phone without a single person I could think of to call. And it’s in that moment, the most hallow of moments that you find the bottom. Where your hands can run through the cold damp earth and there’s no air in between. Every credit card, every phone call, every excuse is used up. And I laid there in the soil for a while, because falling is exhausting.

But one morning I got an email from a magazine that stated they wanted to share my photography, then another evening another magazine contacted me. Then I got contacted by a handful of other people inquiring about my work. My daughter started telling me that I would always be her best friend and my son started coming and checking on me every night at least a dozen times…each time telling me “mama I love you.” So I sat up. I sat up because that was all I could muster. But I sat up and I emailed those people back, I gave my daughter a hug and I told my son I loved him too.

I drank a strong cup of coffee and just stood outside one morning before the light came up. It was so cold I was shivering like I was having convulsions. But I stood there, enamored by the stars. I rekindled my love for orchestra and music. I started listening to less news, less Facebook. More work. Not 9-5 work. But WORK. The kind that puts the chisel in your hand and your standing in front of that block of marble and you know there’s something marvelous inside kind of work.

I kept emailing people back, I keep inching my way upwards. I keep hugging my daughter and listening to her. I keep telling my son I love him. I keep also getting shoved back down with two grandma’s who have cancer, and other life scares. But I’m not afraid of the bottom anymore. I’ve been fighting it for so long that once I got there, and just laid there for a moment. I explored that little corner of my world, and seriously debated about staying there. But the thing about me that’s probably the most honest thing…I do not hold still well at all.

Hence the website being limited currently, my lack of blog posts, and some changes to my social media (oh baby there is more to come!) I’m not holding still.

I may still be drinking too much coffee, not getting the greatest sleep and still feeling pretty solo, but there’s something about losing so much that makes your fire burn just that much hotter (as my mama always says…if you poke someone’s fire too much they’ll out shine you) and life has just taken that metal prod to me a bit too much the last 11-months.

And I know this post at the point is now rambling…but I’m a rambler and a chatty Cathy and if you’ve read this far you get 50-points to your Hogwarts house of choice…but also have probably caught onto this “rambling issue” I’ve got.

To anyone who’s felt isolation, know that you are the bravest souls on God’s green earth. For you have known the worst sort of feeling and have persevered. To those who are still here, I don’t know when it will end, but find something and hang onto that. I don’t know when I’ll be back up off the ground, but I do know that this world is currently facing some of the worst horrors and I may not end cancer or hunger, but I will not be put back 6-feet in the ground having done nothing but be depressed and hurt.

So. Next week will be my last post until the New Year, when the new website drops and if you follow me on social media you’ll see a lot of stuff changing. And if it’s not your jam, I won’t be hurt if you unfollow me. Because in this season of reflection, it took my face down in the dirt fully pulled away from everyone to finally catch on that what I do matters. 100K followers or not.

And what you do matters. Who you are matters.
Even if you’re up to your neck at the bottom. Who you are and what you do matters.

With Grace+Guts,

-H
 

 

365/week fourteen (spring break, portland, St. Patty's and sunshine)

 
 Hawthorn Blvd | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

Hawthorn Blvd | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

97 days in -- 268 day's to go.  I just completed week 14 of this 365-days after graduation challenge and this week was really...a challenge.

It was spring break without the actual spring break.  Obviously I wasn't dying to get a break from homework and professors etc but when the University has spring break...so do my kids.

When we found out back in January we would be moving to the Portland area, both the hubs and myself thought it would be wise for me to take spring break and utalize it in coming accustom to the Portland area, learning the MAX, maybe finding a place...etc etc you know all the "adult" stuff that comes with being, well, an adult.

Both of my kids had other plans for this week, so I trekked out here to Portland by myself in hopes of all of the above, and what I got myself into was a roller coaster of realizations.

 Ace Hotel, Portland | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

Ace Hotel, Portland | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

Straight up I will tell you I did not practice a single word of Italian, except the occasional "bravo".  I did not work on my bodies of artwork other then doodling in my sketchbook.  I did not spend anytime with my kids as I am away.  I didn't master chocolate soufflè nor did I get on that airplane yet.  This week was a different set of challenges...something else I've come to learn I should have put on my list..."Be Brave and Try New Things!"

I can say that I have ate what I've wanted.  I have drank coffee like a Greek Goddess. I have read...and almost am done with a book!  I've spent time with my hubs every single night, which has been glorious. I've surly laughed...but I've also cried my bloody eyes out.  And though I didn't make a tape deck worth playlist, I found and bought tape decks for my drive back home (yes my car is only 10-years old and it's a donosaure apparently!)

 Ace Hotel, Portland | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

Ace Hotel, Portland | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

be brave, strong and courageous. Seek adventure and truth, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
— Joshua 1:9

Something that has come to my attention is that I have been blessed with a slew of people who would never let me get lost, or fall too hard.  I am someone who is socially awkward, have ZERO sense of direction and really has no plan past the next 2-years.  When it came to this week, because we're all graduated and adulting now, my husband still had to work this week...and I was left to figuring out the city, the MAX and the bus, the people and everything else...on my own.

Tuesday was blissfully spent, after 2-hrs of trying to figure out the MAX, at the Portland Art Museum, Powells (without having to chase kids...like oh my goodness HEAVEN!) and then I ended up at ACE hotel for coffee and sketching.  By this point my phone was dead in the water from having used it so much for a map.  This is the day Heather learned, one must ALWAYS carry around a charger.  It also was the day Heather learned that she needs a better rain coat, to trade a purse for a backpack and to remember that Oregonian's (or at least the Portlandian's) 9/10 X's are like Canadians and nice as all freaking get out!

 Portland Art Museum | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

Portland Art Museum | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

However, Wednesday was a whole other story.  Currently my husband is staying in one of the suburbia's of Portland and it's where we're looking at moving too (cheaper and we've got kids...don't judge!) But after a huge mixup at UPS that's been going on for a month, a wrong order on a company's fault I was at the Washington Square mall in tears.  Almost every person in there was a suburban mom.  Now, please do not take offense to this if you are one.  I was raised by one and love my mama more then ANYTHING.  But being a young mom, who has tattoo's, went to art school and has no desire to stay home 24/7...I've gotten more judgmental comments and looks from this category of women then any one else.  

Everyone around me (so it seemed, I get that it was surface deep and that I was judging) felt superficial and ten times richer then me.  I ended up buying pretzel bites and sitting at a bench secluded and alone. I did nothing after this but go straight to the house a lay in bed crying to both my mom and husband.  On Wednesday, I couldn't believe what I was moving to.  I truly did not believe that I belonged, and was 100% for certain I was going to get "sucked into it". (Gosh I'm so dramatic when I'm upset...I'm sorry!)

 Downtown Portland | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

Downtown Portland | March 2017 | Heather Woolery

But then Thursday came around and it was filled with sunshine.  I got onto the right MAX line, got onto the right bus (after three tries), and made it to Hawthorn on time to meet with my first clients in Portland at the cutest bakery with to die for bread and coffee.  I found adorable finds at back to back thrift, antique and junk shops and fell in love with Coava coffee.  The day ended withe the hubs meeting me at the coffee house and us going to the Toffee Club for some killer fries and a cider before heading home.

Last night I felt uplifted and encouraged.  I never once felt out of place on Hawthorn, was able to talk with everyone...from the bus lady to the barista.  And it came to me that though we are beautifully and equally made...how much more alive we feel when we are authentic to ourselves.  How we feel the beauty more so when we dress the way we want, and surround ourselves with honest good people.  

This week has been a learning curve for sure, and being authentic to myself and trusting myself have been the two biggest things this week.  But now is St. Patty's and I'm about to go venture downtown one last time for a wee bit and end it at an Irish pub.

So as the Irish say "there is nothing so bad that it couldn't be worse."

With Grace+Guts,
-H

 

365/week twelve

 

Well, here we are 83-days into this challenge.  I'm currently listening to a melancholy playlist on Spotify which is making me want to make some new playlists to listen to as it's now March (just apparently Jack Frost in my neck of the woods hasn't gotten that memo.)  What are you currently listening to on repeat?

I figured since we're 12-weeks into this deal I would review the list and talk about what I have done, haven't at all touched and the other's that are in the works...just waiting on warmer weather.

1. Write my book: Well, I've been on and off working on this.  I've submitted a few shorts to a few journals and waiting to hear back, but I'm defiantly slacking here.  Mainly because of inspiration. I find good ideas and then 20-minutes later they lack the luster.

2. Go full throttle freelance photographer: Oh boy!  this one is probably where I've done the most work.  Espically moving to Portland, I've really had a tough time finding work that fits, so I've had to sort of just jump off a cliff for this.  I've already booked my first (and some of my biggest sessions to date) in Portland and I'm so stoked!

3. Iceland...this is a much later in the year deal.

4. Get a puppy: Originally I was going to buy one at Christmas, but then we didn't find THE one (finding a puppy is like dating all over again!) and then we found out we were moving...so we are planning on buying a fuzzy baby in Portland this summer!

5. Learn the Cello: Waiting on PDX where I can rent one and take weekly classes

6. Learn the ukulele: This is really rough, lol. I have one and if you follow me on Instastories, you'll note that I sound like a dying cat...but I'm trying and I've found a teacher so hopefully by summer bon fires I won't be the drag of the party.

7. Relearn the piano: YES! I have been working on this, once again I've mostly shared this on Instastories.  But I fell in love with La La Land so much, that those songs are the one's I'm bound and determined to get down.

8. Fiber art + Lit body of work: I've really been working on this for Artwalk (which is in June) and I have shared studio shots on Instastories and will share more photos of the actual work as we get closer to June.  But I'm neck deep in threads and paint and some collage as well here.

9. Purge house: One MAJOR perk of moving to a new state...this isn't a goal...it's a HAVE TOO!

10. Learn how to make chocolate Soufflé: No reason or rhyme why I haven't done this yet. BOO!

11. Learn Italian: I've spent like 3-days on this, so like, nothing.  But I'm renting old Italian films this weekend to watch...so maybe this will inspire me.

12. Learn Polish: I can't even admit to this one yet, lol.

13. Learn hand writing lettering: YES! I've really started taking sketchbook time and have practiced my lettering and even did some work for the marketing company I work for.  It takes time and practice but I'm loving it.

14. Read more: I was doing really good on my personal side of things (see book reviews here) but then my kiddos entered a HUGE Roald Dahl phase and so that's all I've been reading lol.  Not sure if you all want my book reviews on those?

15. Be more involved with my kids: another thing that has REALLY manafested since the hubs moved for his job.  I am not involved with everything with my kids.  From being woke up at 5:23 to pop a lego dude's arm back in to swim and dance meet's to getting all the lice out of my daughters hair (YUCK!) But this is why they have somehow taken over my personal Instagram (sorry...not sorry!)

16. Monthly date nights: A not so great thing with the hubs 6-hours away...these just don't happen.  Man I miss him...okay moving on.

17. Explore AZ: coming soon...promise!

18. Get shoulder tattoo: in da' works yo'!

19. Eat what I want: okay so this week is a true testament to this one...brownies for breakfast...twice.  And zero guilt.

20. Go dancing: Okay, La La Land has really re sparked this one.  Currently looking for ballroom dancing in PDX to go with the hubs.  Anyone have suggestions?

21. Fly an airplane: ALSO...VERY SOON!

22. Get back into painting + illustrations:  you probably saw form a very early time in the challenge on that I just jumped back into drawing and illustrating.  It's upped my design game by 100 and I'm so much happier with my work and myself for just taking 10-minutes a day to draw.  I even had two locations since graduation show my illustrations.  I've also started adding painting to my faber art for Artwalk this summer.  I've learned taking 20-minutes or so a day in the studio is a MUST and at least it's something.  Netflix can wait...although I'm HOOKED on Chef's Table.

23. Learn more about botany: so far I've killed two cacti...I need to fix this!

24. Make a cover to a favorite song: this one is waiting till I'm reunited with my hubs...the guitarist in this endeavor.

25. Create tape deck worthy playlists: been doing...will keep doing...follow me on Spotify!

26. Laugh more: Every day is the goal.  Someday's I've rocked this...other days...I've failed.  But I've given up yelling for lent (I have a German temper I'm over with) so laughing come my way!

27. Coffee: Ever' Damn Day.

Now, for my millions of errands. 
Ugh.

Happy Friday Though Ya'll!

With Grace + guts,

-H

 

365/Week Nine

 
 Heather Woolery | 365-challenge | Week Nine

Heather Woolery | 365-challenge | Week Nine

In the past 7-days, I got to spend some time with my darling <3, which really just filled me up and all the feels and love just gave me the UMPH! I've been missing in my 365-challenge, being a mother, and in my art as well.

With me back in the game I was able to plot out my freelance photography and made a (big!) personal change and feel so confidant now in my work (its all about being yourself for sure!), spent some time in my studio which included nylons, embroidery thread and embroidery hoops and once again drank copious amounts of coffee.

I also finally sat down and I'm almost finished with my next book (which is sooo good ya'll) and started the editing process on my book.

Oh my heart.

Today is the first day in i'm not sure in how long where there is a slice of blue sky and sunshine and I can feel that vitamin D filling me up like a cup of coffee.  I'm so solar powered its really not funny.  With that being said, the hubs and I have been starting to plot out places to go on our next adventure...this whole winter ordeal and being stuck at home is killing my wandering soul.

So here's to week nine being more productive then I have in the past few weeks.  Thanks darling for being the extra shot of whiskey in my coffee that I need <3

WIth Grace+Guts,
-H

PS
If your in Boise, ID or Portland, OR (or know of some rad individuals that are) I'm looking too book a couple photo sessions in March!  Hit a gurlll up if you want some rad photos and some good times!!

 Heather Woolery | 365-challenge | Week Nine

Heather Woolery | 365-challenge | Week Nine

 Heather Woolery | 365-challenge | Week Nine

Heather Woolery | 365-challenge | Week Nine

 Heather Woolery | 365-challenge | Week Nine

Heather Woolery | 365-challenge | Week Nine

 

The Move...PDX

 

Something I've come to learn is that life is unpredictable.  And even more so when you think you've got a plan.  When I thought I was slowly getting used to being graduated and focusing on my work and my family...life decided to happen.

In the few days between Christmas and New Years the hubby got a job offer in PDX, OR...like offered his dream job.  His face was so ignited I knew that this was it.  We were moving.

Both the hubb's and I have been life long Idaho dwellers, and 24-hours after the news, all that Idaho has been for me in these 25+ years came flooding over me with huge emotional, nostalgic waves.  This will forever be my home.  The place that grew me into the wild one that I pride myself to be.

So this is the news.  The big one.  So, on that note, if you live in North Idaho and have been wanting me to do your photos you have until June (or until April to book if you want it for a date past June 1st.)  I also have added an extra feature on my website in the Etc. section titled Travel Dates.  There you will now find my travel dates...and if I'm going to be in Idaho, I'll be listing it there and you can book a shoot during those dates posted.

And finally, if any of you lovely souls are in the PDX area...let's get connected.  I'm super jazzed about all the new collaboration and creativity that's about to insue.

So I guess as I always say,

With Grace+Guts,

-H

 

Boise in November

I grew up in the Treasure Valley of Idaho, surrounded by the foothills and Boise mountain range.  Nampa to Meridian to Boise, though only a twenty to thirty-minute drive was always a "stretch" growing up.  There were fields everywhere, and lots of open spaces, and now, well...not so much.  This area has grown and exploded since I was a kid (or even just in the 5+ years since I moved away) and whenever I come back, I love to explore the new eateries, shops and hangout spots...and of course spending time with my family.

 

I am an only child, from a small family, so I am overly close to my mama and my daddy <3  They are why I am stubborn, a feminist, a Christian, an adventurer and book worm...overall their pretty outstanding humans and I know I brag about them a lot here, but they sort of deserve it (even if they can't figure out how to read my blog lol.)  Thanksgiving was simple and I loved every minute. Turkey with my folks and then the traditional Thanksgiving pie with my husbands family (will a tiny portion - he is not from a small family.)  If every Thanksgiving could be this laid back and whimsical I'd be one happy camper.

 
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Over our little "staycation" in Idaho we went to some wonderful stops that during the November/December months I truly think are a must! So let the list begin!

Boise, Idaho in November/December

  • The Idaho Botanical Garden turns a glow at the end of November for their annual "Winter Garden A Glow" turning their 50-acres into a Christmas heaven. Check out more HERE.
  • When the weather turns gloomy and you sort of miss summer, and your really over turkey leftovers, Flatbread is the answer.  Warm summer pizza's, sammies, salads and more to hit the spot with a wonderful atmosphere to boot.  You can find them HERE.
  • Shop Small is a huge deal in historic downtown Boise.  There are so many shops, but a favorite stop of ours is Idaho MADE.  Full of local artisans goods and lots of funky cactus and succulants, this little shop has so much to offer (and it's beautiful...so whats not to love?)  Find out more about Idaho MADE HERE.
  • There are many places to go for a cup of joe in downtown Boise, and there a lot of beautiful one's to boot.  Some of our favorites include District Coffee, Glodies, and the Flying M.  All three have funky shops, home roasted beans and a cozy atmosphere. (Even their bathrooms are funky!)  This time down I got to grab a cup of coffee and a pastry with my mama at the Flying M. Check out their coffee goodness HERE.

All in all we had a wonderful little Thanksgiving, and got reminded, though things at time seem bleak, we have a lot to be grateful for.  I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday...now for me to get back to the North so I can hunker down with Gilmore Girls!  (PLEASE no one say anything till I watch it!!!)

With Grace + Guts,
-H

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 Flatbread | Boise, Idaho

Flatbread | Boise, Idaho

 Flying M | Boise | November 2016

Flying M | Boise | November 2016

 Flying M | Boise, ID

Flying M | Boise, ID

 Flying M | Boise, ID

Flying M | Boise, ID

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IMG_8288.JPG
 MADE | Boise, ID

MADE | Boise, ID

 MADE | Boise, ID

MADE | Boise, ID

 MADE | Boise, ID

MADE | Boise, ID