31 December 2008

Julia: Reinvented

Exactly one year ago, my life changed unexpectedly. It changed for the better, but you could have fooled me at the time. Life has a funny way of keeping you on your toes. All you can do is move forward and survive.

So, I took a new approach to my life. I begrudgingly accepted the support of my friends and family - those who love who I am, who I was in my darkest moment, and who I will become when all is said and done – and I decided to do the opposite of everything the old Julia ordinarily would have done. A very simple-sounding task perhaps, but terrifying as hell to me.

And undeniably energizing!!!

I flew out to Chicago on a whim to participate in a Women’s Photography Workshop and it turned out to be a huge turning point for me; traipsing after models on frigid city streets, getting used to shooting people, and trying to keep the creativity flowing.

A couple weeks later, and a bit closer to home, I attended a “Rediscover Your Love of Shooting” workshop. I trekked off to Hartford to join a bunch of total strangers – an already well-acquainted group of professional wedding and portrait photographers – amongst whom I was the least experienced. I totally crashed their party. I was the self-proclaimed “girl who doesn't shoot people.” But it didn’t matter; I was welcomed with open arms. We shot all day long, completely out of my comfort zone. People were barking at me, challenging me to think differently and do better. It was intimidating and invigorating all at the same time. When we sat down to anonymously critique each others' work, I sat terrified in the back of the room until my image popped up on the enormous screen and everyone cheered.

Fueled with excitement, I set off to do as much as possible. I had the amazing opportunity to second-shoot a bunch of weddings throughout the summer. I did two craft fairs. I published a book. I traveled to Nashville for yet another workshop and to the Berkshires for a photography retreat. I worked for the New Haven Animal Shelter at their Mutt Strut. And I attended seminars, gallery openings, and meetings up the wazoo.

I watched American Idol for the first time ever. I sent my first text message. I joined Facebook. I refined my cooking skills (which admittedly, uh… still need serious work.) I decided Rachael Ray wasn't the antichrist. I created a “101 Things to Do in 1001 Days” list of goals and have accomplished 28 of them already. (29 now!) I bought a house all by myself. I learned I can be a great Ms. Fix-It when the need arises. I learned the hardware store people now know me by name. I grew a backbone. I learned what love isn’t. I met old friends. I made new ones. I became a Mac person.

And in the middle of it all, I started a new job. A job I love, for a company I adore, with a group of co-workers I look forward to seeing every day. Feel free to tell me "Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve heard it ad nauseum. It’s totally true.

My life has a whole new direction. I met some of the most wonderfully supportive people I have ever known – and I became closer to the ones I’ve known forever - people that continue to inspire me daily, make me laugh, and prove that most people are innately good and kind.

Take a chance and open yourself to something new. You will be pleasantly surprised.

I thought a slideshow might be a good way to photo-summarize...



All my love and profound thanks to all my blog followers and all of my dear, dear friends:

My Mom and Dad, Christine, Jen G., Kris, Colleen, Rita, Shannon, Jen H., Amy, Lorraine, Nik, Jenn S., Kristy, Lori, Erin, Kate, Kath, Tanya, Kristin, Christine M., Krystal, Cathie, Christie, Kim, Cathy, Jen W., Melanie, Kari, Barb, Michelle, Gary, Deb L., Debbie L., Sue, Gail, Lynsie, Amy, Robin, Amanda, Carla, Justin, Mary, Steve, Aimee, Jacob, Val, Eileen, Paul, Corrie, Doug, Ken, Ingrid, Carol, Mary, Suzanne, and countless other people that I'm sure I've left off completely unintentionally.

I will never be able to thank you all enough. I can only hope someday I can offer the same kind of love and support to you in return.

Out with the old, in with the new! Here’s to 2009! XOXOX - Julia

31 comments:

  1. that was great julia. i loved it. i loved the music, and your pictures. you have awesome range. you shoot everything (people too!!!!) so well. i am so glad to have met you in chicago and hope we can do it again soon!

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  2. Julia, I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes after watching that slideshow. Tears of happiness. I'm so proud of you and in awe of your spirit. I can't wait to see what 2009 has in store for you!

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  3. Wonderful post Julia! I am so happy for you and everything you have discovered and accomplished this year! *cheers to more greatness coming your way in 2009!*

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  4. The slideshow brought tears to my eyes. Well worth the wait. Julia, you are amazing! You are one of the strongest people I know. Life handed you lemons and you made some awesome lemonade. OK, maybe lemonade isn't the best reference, but you know what I mean. =) You have grown so much, both personally and professionally, in such a short time, and this is just the beginning for you. I can't wait to see what 2009 holds in store for you - I hope it's your best year ever!

    Thank you for answering all my photography questions, and thanks in advance for the million more I'm sure to ask.

    Beautiful song in the slideshow, BTW. Who sings it? I totally recognize the voice but I can't place it.

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  5. I declare 2009 the year of Julia! You've triumped through so much in 08 and I know that 09 will be bigger and better and I can't wait to come along for the ride! xoxo

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  6. Congratulations on your year of triumph! Your words and photos are beautiful. I'm so pleased for you that you've accomplished so much this year and I look forward to keeping up with your work in 2009! Blessings to you!

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  7. Julia! Meeting you and becoming friends with you has definitely been one of the highlights of 2008 for me. Thank you (a million times over)!

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  8. Julia, I'm so proud of you for posting this. I have to say this meant a lot to me, as I am just starting up myself and and it is certainly a daunting task. I'm so excited for all that is coming up for me and my business, but quite nervous too. Thanks for the inspiration!!!!!

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  9. Julia, I have watched your blog and photos for a few months envious of your talent. No matter what you take photos of they are all wonderful. Your shots of Grover are great. Thank you for sharing your work. Have a wonderful 2009. I look forward to your new work.

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  10. Julia,

    I don't even know where to begin. That was one of the most touching blog posts I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Have patience with me if I ramble on in this comment, but I must confess that you have moved "the-rock-of-no-crying" to tears. Your slideshow...uh!!....seeing your amazing progress and reading your reflections on the year... I am so honor to call you a friend. A friend that I love working with, talking with, being silly with, all of it. Yes, everything DOES happen for a reason, and I am so glad, because if circumstances had been different, I wouldn't have such an amazing new woman in my life right now. You inspire me. You encourage me. You make me happy! Your energy and joy is contagious and I can't help but smile every time I see a picture of you or someone says, "Oh yeah, Julia! From Salty Grapes!"

    I can gush forever, I could send you boxes of bon-bons everyday, but it could never begin to show you how special you are to me and everyone you have touched this year. Thank you for being you Julia! Love ya girlfriend! Looking forward to many more adventures with you in 2009. Bring on the floor pillows!

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  11. You have me all teary woman...how wonderful to be you right now. We all love you Julia, you're something special girl!

    Here's to 2009! *cheers*

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  12. I'm totally sitting here crying right now (it seems I was not alone). You are amazing, Julia! A rocky start to what turned out be a great year for you, 2009 will be awesome.

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  13. Julia - This post is SOOooOO wonderful. You have me in tears here - I can only wish that your 2009 is better than you could ever imagine. Congratulations on your growth accomplishments - you have done something that many people can not; you looked into the face of adversity, laughed, and overcame. Good on you girl!! :)

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  14. Julia
    That was truly inspirational. In ways that you can't even imagine....Ok, maybe you can actually. Anyway, Kudos to you for really finding yourself and 'happening' for your own reasons.
    You are a good egg. : )

    See you around campus.
    Kim T

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  15. So so proud of you, my friend. I continue to be inspired on how much you have made out of this year. You truly are amazing! I know 2009 will be more than fine for you! :smooch:

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  16. Pass the Kleenex. Wow. I am so glad you posted this. I am just floored. You are such a gift. To everyone who has had the good fortune to meet you and have you in their lives. I know it has been said before but it bears repeating. You are just an amazing force of positivity and beauty and good energy. I hope you appreciate how much that means. How much your presence lifts people up. You are so beautiful and so strong and it just amazes me how well you have handled what I'm sure has been a crazy and difficult year. You are one of those people who I walk away from thinking, "I want to be more like her." Everytime. Thank you, Julia. Love you! Happy 2009!

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  17. Thanks a lot Julia! Now I need my box of tissues after watching your awesome slideshow. :) You know, I read your blog and am so incredibly proud of you! You have done so much in 2008. I wish you lived closer so I could sneak some Grover kisses and of course to hang out with you too. Hope to see you at a Bulldog Show this year. You are simply an amazing woman. Keep up your incredible enthusiasm for life. You are so very fortunate to have found the sweet spot in life, my dear. :) Kiss Grovie!

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  18. I'm just so thrilled for you Julia! I think we all wanted to beat you in Chicago because you are so amazingly talented and had yet to realize or admit it. lol Here's to a beautiful 2009 and many hugs to you across the country! xoxoxo

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  19. Wow Wow Wow. I just watched the slideshow and the music with those images and your amazing story made me cry. You've come a long way baby and we all love you and know that 2009 will be a fantabulous year!!! xoxoxo

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  20. Beautiful post and slideshow, Julia! I am not a blog visitor (the little monsters that live here and call themselves my children turned out to be real time suckers! LOL!) and didn't realize that on top of being an awesome photographer, you're a great writer, too. Is there anything you can't do if you put your mind to it, woman?! I am envious of your bubbling personality and think of you often when I feel like I'm being negative. "Be like Julia! Even when she has reasons to be crabby she's still positive!" :) I also have you to thank for introducing me to the word "schlepping" which is now a staple word in my vocabulary. Hugs to you and well wishes for an even more fabulous 2009!

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  21. Amazing! You are truly an amazing person. If you can make 2008 such a great year surely 2009 will AWESOME!

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  22. If that was 2008, imagine what your 2009 is going to be!!
    You are an amazing person Julia, truly inspiring. Your spirit shines through everything you do, your photography, your writing, and I can only say thank you for letting us enjoy it all. I always knew that something great was on the horizon for you, and I think that is only going to continue! The slideshow has brought tears to my eyes, and I can only say... bravo. Thank YOU for being such a wonderful friend!
    Love you,
    Christie

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  23. salty old julia!!!!!! this was beautiful, moving, inspiring... everything that you are.

    I am so honored to be a part of your life

    xxoo

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  24. Greatest song ever!

    Be true to yourself and you will never fail.
    You go girl!

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  25. Julia, I'm so proud of you, even as I type that proud really doesn't begin to decribe what I feel for you. You are a true inspriation to me and so many others. You are a great friend. You really have grown so much this last year. I knew you could do it. I look forward to all the great new things you will do in years to come! I have truly loved watching you come into this new form of yourself. Keep growing and taking risks

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  26. Wow. That is a beautiful way to sum it all up. You have done a great job starting over. A new job, new friends and new life- that's hard to do all at once. I only wish I had all your strength and courage. You really are an amazing person. 2009 can only get better!

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  27. What a beautiful post. That, combined with the slideshow, have me in tears as well. I feel blessed to have been a small part of this journey with you over the past year. Seeing you grow in skill and confidence has been amazing, and I look forward to seeing you progress even more in 2009.

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  28. Fantastic!
    You're such an amazing photographer and I'm so glad that you followed your heart and went with this!

    Hoping for the most wonderful 2009 for you and Grover of course!

    :)

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  29. Julia....LOVED that post. Very inspiring! And though I have only met you a few times....I am so proud of you. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments and hurtles won this past year.....and I wish you all the best of luck in 2009!!!!! You go girl!

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  30. Well, Julia ..... if personal struggle can transform one into such a showcase of accomplishment and success, I need to find better difficulties! You are sheer inspiration! I'd wish you great things for 2009, but I can see you've already got 2009 well underway. I knew you'd do it!
    Gail B

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  31. I don't know where to start Julia. I am still filling up. Taking breaks from the keyboard to fan my eyes. Such a beautiful heartfelt post. I still remember the day we met. Sitting at the table exchanging life stories. You are an AMAZING person! Everytime someone mentions your name I always acknowledge with Julia? I LOVE Julia! It's so TRUE! I feel so honored that you have become a chapter of my life. I can never express to you how thankful I am for your friendship.

    ~GIANORMOUS HUGS~
    Val

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