I've had only a handful of pivotal moments in my life, all of which I will never forget. The first was when I was 18 years old, getting ready to graduate high school, and I was informed, very unexpectedly, that my father was not going to survive cancer. Growing up as an only child, and a tomboyish one at that, I was very close to my father. I still remember how excited I used to get when we would examine rocks together that I found (and cracked with a hammer and goggles) in our backyard. I'm sorry, but Barbies were boring and one-dimensional! In my mind, I was a budding geologist at 7 years old who was planning on finding dinosaur fossils and beautiful amethyst specimens that would be housed in Manhattan's Museum of Natural History. Lost in what I thought was the right direction, I ventured off to the University of Delaware to study environmental science, where I found myself surprisingly bored by the curriculum. Here I am now, a computer science major, with some sprinkles on top, or in academia terminology, a Master of Science in International Marketing Management (I wanted to do something techie with a creative spin). Cheers to a lot of late night projects, programming, and term papers. Woohoo! I still collect rocks, by the way...
Now where does this all leave me? Oh wait… We forgot my second pivotal moment. I was in California in my early twenties, exploring gardens outside of Santa Barbara with friends. I had strayed off on my own and found myself in a field of wildflowers overlooking the valley, with my point-and-shoot camera. The breeze was gracefully blowing across my back, the sun was warm on my neck, and my…. I was snapping amazing shots of vibrant flowers dancing in the wild. It was at that exact moment that I realized how in love I was with photography and capturing perfect chilling moments that probably no one would understand unless I snapped a picture of them. It was right then and there that I knew photography had to be, in some way, a part of my life. Shortly after, I enrolled in courses, workshops, and even a National Geographic expedition in Tuscany. Part of my masters degree requirements were to market a website, and, I ended up creating this portfolio site and what once was a photography business, which has now finally gotten a desperately-needed makeover and a new blog!
So let's skip over all the fluffy warm cotton candy feeling stuff about how I love photography and get to pivotal moment #3. My mother, who has always been there for me and is my best friend, decided to sell her house in CT and retire in Florida. Coincidentally, I had just gotten a business analyst job that offered to transfer me to their office location in Orlando. Always an adventurer, without hesistation, and with little holding me back, I knew moving was the right decision, as I had always wanted a change from living in CT, besides my 4 years away in Delaware for college. We packed up, took a leisurely road trip down the East Coast to Florida, with a few stops in Williamsburg and Savannah, and, well, here I am on a humid patio outside of Orlando sipping red wine and typing on my iPad overlooking stars and palm trees, rough life, I know.
This brings me to the last and current pivotal moment, #4. It has been an insanely busy few years since my move… Settling in, working like a dog (well more like a cute poodle), socializing, making new friends, learning to cook for myself, and, of course, the pursuit of what every girl wants (or thinks she does)... fried chicken... oh wait did I say fried chicken? I think I meant to say love... For the first time since I have moved into my little modern NY-gone-Florida apartment, a few weeks ago, I sat on my screened-in patio, with glimmering candles, the shadows of bamboo, and quietly ate my French chicken roulade dinner, freshly out of the oven, in calming and perfect silence. It was, in that moment, that I felt what I felt photographing the wildflowers in California. Somehow, for whatever reason, I am right where I need to be, where I am meant to be in life. Even though I have no idea why, but in the words of Steve Jobs:
"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever."
Recently, I had the urge to escape from Orlando and booked a spontaneous exploratory road trip through the South, which I have always wanted to do. Looking back, I am not sure why I waited so long to do this or to invest in myself, in traveling to places I have always wanted to see. I have come to the realization that I have lost focus in the past 5… maybe even 10 years. A generous person, I have given 90% of myself to work and numerous failed relationships, and as a result, what makes me happy and what makes me feel fulfilled was slipping farther and farther away from my grasp... And, I have been finding myself feeling more and more drained and disheartened. The grandest thing in life to me is traveling, photographing, learning, and exploring new places, new ideas. I realized this week that I have given that up in pursuit of a conventional white-picket-fence life which may suit others, but maybe it is not meant for me, and how much more time can I let slip away? Maybe someday, someplace, at the right time there will be a happy-ever-after. Or maybe happy ever after for me is a series of wonderful mind-broadening adventures that will give me amazing stories to tell?! And, as it turns out, I am pretty excited about the latter. So, in midst of preparing to leave for my first Southern road trip, here I am trying to pull together my photography portfolio and new blog in preparation for the beginning of a new chapter of my life. I want to see and explore as much of the world as possible and share my photographs and words, no longer as a business, but merely just as pure enjoyment, art, and love of life and all the little things I find along the way... And as my wise tea bag said the other day, sometimes we find the very best things and come to the greatest realizations when we stop searching and stop trying so hard to please everyone.
So, that leads me to my new vision for Tania Maria Photography. After working weddings and family portraits, I realized photography is only fulfilling to me when I can freely shoot what I like and what strikes me as beautiful, in the moment. At least right now, photography is not my career, it is my passion and what I do to relieve stress from my career. So I am maintaining my portfolio page to exhibit my photography, which is taking more of a stock/travel photography and fine art direction. I have also begun to dabble in painting and return a bit to drawing, which I will also exhibit here. I will try as frequently as possible to accompany my art with my story, which you will find on this blog. In the meantime, I am beyond ready to head out of state tomorrow, as I have not left Florida since last October. I will be heading through Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia, and will leave all the exciting details for my future blog posts after I return in July. Here is a sneak peek at some of the goodies that will be hitting the road with me, along with my FUN rental muscle car (love driving it!), and another inspirational and perfectly timed message from my wise Yogi Tea bag this morning as I left town:
Needless to say, I'm definitely at a place in my life where I wouldn't call it lost, but open to discovery. I have no idea what the next few months will bring, let alone the next year, or where I will go, what I will do. But I do know that I am going to make it amazing, and the fact that it's all completely unknown is the fun part... It's so true that everything in life happens for a reason, and sometimes we need a little push to continue on the journey that's meant for us... Looking forward to sharing my adventures here with you and all the beautiful little moments I snap along the way! Until next time... See you in July!