My Quick Visit to New York City

if your greedy
if you only live once

I just recently got back from a mini vacation to New York City.  I had two days of travel and five days in the big city.  The big, beautiful, amazing, city.  

Awhile back, I had two friends rack up enough courage to move out there and pursue their dreams.  After some time, I started to hear from both of them.  

"Oh Sharayah, this place is meant for you."

 "Sharayah, you need to move here!"

"Come Visit!"  

"You will love everything about it here."

I kept saying I would go, but I also found myself thinking that I probably wouldn't.  Why was I thinking this way?  Why wasn't I taking an opportunity that knocked at my door?  I knew I had always wanted to visit, and I had friends there with a place.  All I had to do was pull the plug and visit.  It was the perfect opportunity to try to make connections with photographers and other creatives.  It was the perfect time to visit cheaply and not worry about expensive hotels.  I got caught up in the routine of life and had already forgotten how fun random adventures were. 

So one day, I just did.  I pulled the plug and in less than two weeks I found myself on a plane flying out to the Big City.

I have been to many big cities such as Chicago, London, LA, Seattle, Paris, and Rome.  So I thought I knew what to expect.  In fact, I didn't think that the city would blow me away.  I believed I would arrive and leave almost untouched, unchanged from the whole ordeal.  But I was very wrong.  This one made a very big impression. 

Everything there sparked with life.  But so does every other big city.  So what made this place so different?  

It felt like I had traveled back in time, to the days I would kiss my parents goodbye, jump on a large charter bus, and head to camp for a full week.  New York is a young person's place.  It was beyond rare to see a child or the elderly.  It was like going to camp for adults.  The city is made of them.  Everyones there for a reason, for a purpose, for a dream, and are loving it.  Every turn you make, you bump into them.  Even if you were to close your eyes to try escape, you wouldn't, because you can hear the excitement in everyone's busy feet.

This energy and excitement grew inside of me quicker than my lungs could take a breath.  You were surrounded, and it was perfect.  It was perfect like the day you fell in love.  It was perfect like the day you graduated.  It was perfect like the time you fulfilled the desires of your heart.  It was just like that.  The moment life is so amazing, that all you can feel is inspiration.  And all you want to do is inspiring.  And all of it is pouring out of your ears and mouth.  You can't escape it, and you don't want to run.  You just want to be with it, live with it for the rest of your life.  Thats what it felt like.  

I made many connections, and had the chance to work with a well known fashion photographer, Lindsay Adler, for two days.  It was beyond incredible.  

I can't emphasize enough, how important it is to have these little trips in your life.  Sometimes the monotony of life can hit you for so long, that you don't even realize how much time has passed by.  It's hard to realize how these little trips can lift your spirits and create a new energy in your soul.

Get out, see the world.  Make little adventures.  And meet people you never would have met.


A Different Kind of Sunday

This Sunday came around with not a plan in sight.  I didn't realize at the time how much fun this day would be.  I was actually a bit bummed that I had nothing planned and was going to let a perfectly good Sunday go to waste.  I started early in the morning by lounging on the couch watching a surprisingly inspiring Netflix documentary.  It is called Maidentrip, about a 14 year old girl who decides to sail around the world on her own for 2 years.

I was intrigued to watch this documentary because one of my bigger fears in life is to be alone.  How could a girl at the age of 14 come to terms with the idea of being alone for 2 years?  Well, she did it, the full 2 years, and after watching it, I seriously don't think I could do anything like it.  But it did inspire me and made me think about how my life could be different if I pushed myself to do things, even when no one else wanted to do anything.

I've always thought that doing anything without someone else was pointless, because who would you have to share that experience with?  Who really cares to hear about your day if they weren't apart of it?  No one will be there to laugh with you, or reminisce on the breathtaking moments. It all just seems so pointless.  So, I will sit at home doing nothing if everyone else is busy doing their life. And I was fine with living life like this (but really, i was  miserable and wishing I was out doing something).  

So there I was, a beautiful, hot sunny Sunday, alone, wondering what in the world I could possibly do by myself.  I usually read in these moments, as it is one of my favorite things to do.  But it was so beautiful outside.  And all I really wanted to do was float the river.  So I called a few friends up.  No one could go… So I decided I would do it by myself.  Why not prove it to myself that I could do something like this?  Enjoy an evening on the river… by myself. 

After putting on my bathings suit, I decided to get some food, sunscreen, and a lot of water before the trip.  Along the drive, my mind kept giving me a thousand reasons to turn around and go home.  Or to call more people to see if others could join.  I grabbed both of my rafts for the just in case.  But I knew I wouldn't be using it.  I had to keep reminding myself that I "wanted" to go alone.  That I was happy to do this. 

Once I was down at the park, I pulled my raft out of the car feeling pretty proud that I had gotten this far.  Because you always know that once you get that far, you are more then likely not going to turn back.  I started to walk across the lawn to the bus when these two African guys asked me why I was going alone. Since this seemed to be the theme of the day, I stopped to attempt an explanation, but I didn't really say much other than "yeah".  But since I had stopped, they playfully said "Next time you go, let us know and we will go with you."

"You want to go?"  I asked

"Yeah, we've always wanted to float."  They both were sitting in the park on their lawn chairs.

"Do you want to go with me now?"

They both looked at each other a bit puzzled. And after some eye talk they had between themselves, they said yes!

So I ran back over to the car while they put their things away in their car, and grabbed my second raft.  Even though I had no idea who these strangers were, my heart swelled, because I knew I was about to have an adventure that I wouldn't have had if I just kept on watching documentaries all day long. 

While standing in line for the bus to pick us up, I learned a bit about them.  They were both Refugees from Africa.  One had been here for 5 years, and the other had only been here for a year. They both were extremely grateful and thankful about the whole thing.  Something that didn't seem like such a big deal, turned out to be a big deal for them.  Not only had they never been down the river before, but the guy who had only been here for a year told me that I was the first white person to really actually talk with him.  Hearing this made me so sad.  These guys were so intelligent and funny, how could something as race and an accent be a force that keeps people from approaching them?

Everything about what we did was so foreign and new to the both of them, from beginning to end, that it was almost like watching a young child experience new things for the first time.  They were so excited about everything.  They laughed and joked the whole way down the river.  Everything I lacked in appreciation, they had appreciation for.  I seriously haven't laughed that hard in a long time.  They were so much fun.

An the last major raft of the evening, we hit rock bottom at the bottom of it.  It completely ripped open their small two person raft, leaving them sitting in the water within seconds.  I was laughing so hard while they were looking scared and worried that they had just ruined the tube.  But I couldn't stop laughing, because to me, it was nothing more then meaning all three of us were all going to have to sit in my small two person raft, and make it another 45 minutes down the river.  So we piled in and somehow made it work.

Then, the thunder and lightning came.  The clouds swelled over the the sun, and the rain began to pour.  At this point, the mini trip was so ridiculous, we all realized it and just started laughing and yelling and being as loud as we could as the rain came down.  It was freezing rain, and our little raft was full of water.  There was no escape except to get to the finish line. 

It's incredible to think that something so fun came out of simply pushing myself to try something new. I felt like I was back in Europe, freely hanging out with whoever was around and not worrying about anything.  Just seeking the adventure and thrill.  We all had so much fun, and it's something I'm sure all of us will remember. It made a bigger impact on me than I expected, and along the way, I made some really awesome new friends.

All in all, I guess I just wanted to write this out to see it in writing.  To know I did it and to remind myself that going out on an adventure alone, doesn't always mean you will end up being alone. 

I unfortunately did not have my camera with me, so I did not get to document any of this.  It will forever only be in my mind and on this page. 

Europe

London:  Tower Bridge

London:  Tower Bridge

My dream vacation has come to an end and I sit here, back in the real world, facing reality again.  Was it that simple to forget what routine felt like?  Waking up every day, dressing, going to work from 9-5, and then heading home. 

For 19 days, Garrett and I had a whirlwind of a life as we went from location to location.  Every day I was seeing something new.  Something more beautiful than the day before.  My heart was beating.  My energy was high.  My imagination was running. Traveling is exhausting and terrifying and challenging.  It is everything that you could want in a day to push you to your next goal.  And I could no longer imagine a life where I sat still for a full day.

Venice

Venice

Rome:  Trevi Fountain

Rome:  Trevi Fountain

Paris:  Eiffel Tower

Paris:  Eiffel Tower

Before I left for Europe, many people gave me their own ideas and thoughts of each place I was going. People hyped me up for some locations while downplaying others.  Europe was everything I could have hoped for and more, but it wasn't what I expected from everything I heard.  For example, Paris was what I was most excited for.  I planned 5 days in this amazing town so I would really have a chance to soak in the romanticized city.  My best friend, all the way to Ernest Hemingway, painted this extraordinary place of perfection, with anything you could ever want in Paris.  I felt it was a city where my heart belonged, where my artistic side would thrive, and my romance would hit all new highs.  But when I got there, I was sorely disappointed.  Everything was so far from what I had read and heard and ever imagined that Paris would be.  There were parts that were beyond amazing, such as climbing every step of the Eiffel Tower and looking over Paris from the Arc De Triumph.  But for the most part, it didn't inspire my artistic side, it didn't make me look at Garrett with new eyes, it didn't make me feel anything I expected.  It was dirty and smelly.  The beauty just wasn't there.  I realized that my expectations were far too high.  Paris was a let down, though I still loved what I saw, it just wasn't what I expected. 

Paris from Arc De Triumph

Paris from Arc De Triumph

Saine-Chapelle

Saine-Chapelle

View from the Eiffel Tower over Paris

View from the Eiffel Tower over Paris

Inside the Eiffel Tower

Inside the Eiffel Tower

Then, there were places like London.  The one place I expected to like the least, I fell head over heels for. I have always loved London without realizing it.  It has everything I have ever loved that I never pieced together.  At first, I was surprised by the lack of "culture shock" I received from being there.  London felt like America.  Walking around did not give me a sense that I was in another country. Then, we came across Big Ben and I felt it.  Most childhood dreams I ever had centered around Big Ben and London, where I flew around never growing up.   I felt at home, like I had once lived there in a past life.  Everything felt familiar and comfortable as we continued on our day.  

While at the Buckingham Palace, we had an incredible moment, the kind where all the stars aligned. We saw the Queen no more than 10 feet away from us.  She was being driven out of her Palace to Westminster Abbey.  She was escorted by a force of Police on their motorcycles.  As she came out, she turned to us and gave the royal wave with her beautiful smile.  My heart dropped as we waved back.  It was one of the moments where you see it happening, but it's hard to believe it's actually happening.  I mean, there I was, waving to the Queen who was no more than 10 feet away from me.  It's unreal, but thats what I loved about London.  

Shakespeare is another HUGE inspiration to me.  Seeing the Globe Theater was another inspiring moment. There was no shakespearean plays during our short stay in London, but I saw what I needed to see to remember how one man changed a world with just his words. 

London:  Big Ben

London:  Big Ben

Buckingham Palace:  The Queen of England

Buckingham Palace:  The Queen of England

Shakespeare Globe

Shakespeare Globe

Kensington Garden:  Peter Pan Statue

Kensington Garden:  Peter Pan Statue

Italy was another surprising breath of fresh of air.  It is one of those countries that I had never given much thought.  I spent every day over there in awe over the magnificent history laid out on every street corner. There isn't a single moment that you're not looking at ancient ruins or pieces of history that have affected our whole world.  It's an incredible feeling to walk through the Vatican City.  To see what people are capable of.  To see the the Coliseum, and again see what people are capable of in a whole new light. Rome was the first time I was made to feel as small as I do now.  To see history before your eyes that is literally ancient.  It all became so real for me.  What people went through, what life was like.  It gave me shudders to realize the immensity of the world and what has happened to get us to where we are today.  There is a certain type of peace that came over me, knowing that there are places in the world like this that can link us to our history. 

Rome: Pantheon

Rome: Pantheon

Rome: Coliseum 

Rome: Coliseum 

Vatican:  St. Peter's Church

Vatican:  St. Peter's Church

Vatican:  St. Peter's Church:  Inside

Vatican:  St. Peter's Church:  Inside

Garrett and I took a Coachella (night train) from Rome to Venice.  We arrived around 5:30 AM with no maps, internet, or address to where we were going.  This turned out to be one of my favorite memories from the trip.  Garrett suggested that we look for the main bridge to watch the sunrise from.  So we began walking blissfully through the beautiful small/tight streets of venice.  It was the first time I had ever seen anything like this town.  It was so early in the morning that not a single soul was out for hours.  It was like a ghost town.  A beautiful ghost town.  There was no way of knowing which way you were going without a map in your hand.  We never actually ended up finding the bridge that morning, but the walk was incredible.  It was such a peaceful moment, I'm not even sure I can describe it in any way that would do the moment justice.  I loved Venice for everything it was and everything it wasn't.  The city itself was majestic, as I have never seen a city such as that.  They way the streets felt as you walked through them.  The way the gondolas floated past you with happy people lounging in love.  I couldn't take my eyes off of the beauty this city exudes.   Then 10AM roles around, and all of a sudden you are shoulder to shoulder with every tourist in the city.  Moving became difficult.  And the city turns from this beautiful city on water, to a tourist trap.  All the shops open and people start asking you to buy buy buy.  The peace and beauty just disappear like that.  Not all of it though, Garrett and I stumbled across many things that just took our breath away, such as the sunsets and finding random things around each corner.  

Venice Sunset

Venice Sunset

Venice

Venice

Venice Sunset

Venice Sunset

I sit here thinking, "What's next?"  How do I find my next adventure?  What's around the corner for me? I've had a taste and the travel bug has bit.  I'm getting antsy every day as I wake up to routine.  I find that I am struggling with transitioning back into my 'normal' life.  Perhaps this is a side effect that everyone gets when they return from travel and it goes away after some time.  Or perhaps this will be what pushes me into my next huge goal in life.  Whatever happens, I'm thrilled I had this experience. Without it, my eyes wouldn't be open.  

It's back to real life I go.  But!  Adventure awaits not too far around the corner.  I can feel it. 

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
— Marcel Proust

Europe In 19 Days!

EuropeAnnouncment.jpg

I can hardly believe that my love and I are actually making this trip.  Ever since the day I was born I have wanted to fly off to Europe.  I feel as if my blood and bones ache to be back with my ancestors.

Garrett and I have been talking about making this trip for almost 2 years now.  The day I started my job at Scentsy, I started saving all of my PTO and money to make this trip happen.  And now... it's happening.  And it's hard to even grasp that it is an actual reality.

So how did this all happen?  And why so fast you ask?  So lets back up a bit to Friday the 7th of February.  Garrett had been prompting me to take time to go to a travel agency to start looking into this trip for August.  So I went, with a skip in my step, and hope in my eyes.

I walked away infuriated 20 minutes later. The lady who helped me seemed less 

than available to help the likes of me out.  She practically laughed in my face when I told her my budget for two was $5,000.  She was, needless to say, no help at all.  This got my blood boiling, my competitive arms were up for the punch.  So the next morning, before my love awoke, I had done hours of research on flights and times of year.  Which to my surprise, I found flights cheaper than I had ever seen them before out of Boise this last year.

Rubbing his sleepy eyes away, Garrett lazily walked in the office room to a huge surprise.

"What do you think about flying to Europe next month for your birthday?!"

His eyes got big, "I was going to say we should go sledding today, but this is much better!"

For the rest of the day we planned away.  Where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see.  We had a total of 17 days to plan out.  We decided our main stops were going to be London, Paris, and Rome.  Three of many places I have dreamt of going to for so long. The rest will have to wait till later. 

As of right now, we don't really have anything booked accept for the planes and a few hostels.  It's going to be pretty amazing. I seriously cannot believe this is finally happening.  

I Can't Believe It's Been a Year

The other day I was working away and thought to myself, “I need to update my blog!”   Needless to say, I didn’t realize that it has been over a year that I have touched this thing.  It doesn’t feel like it has been that long.  So I guess there are a lot of things to catch up on because it has been one hell of an amazing year.

Last update on here was that I got job at the YMCA.  Ha, lets scratch that.  I ended up turning that gig down pretty quickly after I got a job offer with Scentsy to work on their video team.  I was hired the last month of May 2012 as their Production Assistant.  I was to do all things for production and edit videos as they came in.  That was fun while it lasted, as it only lasted for about a week or two before they realized that my skills in photography was a much more highly sculpted craft of mine.

They dropped me into the very small Photography team of two who desperately needed help over the span of three different brands and a fourth one (Grace Adele) launching in a month.  It was an amazing fit for me, it felt as if I was Cinderella and seeing the glass shoe fit on my foot perfectly.  I quickly changed job titles and became a Digital Photo Editor.

I have now been working with Scentsy for a little over a year now and have continually made leaps and bounds in this company.  I started off as a PA and am now currently working as a Second Photographer for the company.  I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this feels.  I have been the head photographer of sets over 10 times now (I’m loosing count).  And each time is as magical as the next.

I officially have two catalogs with my images in them:

  • Scentsy Fall/Winter 2013:  I shot almost 80% of the whole catalog.  It is such an amazing accomplishment for me.  You can check out all of my work on my online Portfolio.
  • Scentsy Spring/Summer 2013:  I had a few images from two different shoots I did for it.