Friday, February 14, 2014

MOM Jessica Part 1: Missing Big Moments

I'm so excited about the Momster of the Month and to share why I find her to be such a brave inspiration. 
I met Jessica at a mutual friend's birthday dinner back in November, but I already knew of her, because she is also a mutual friend of a different friend, does that make sense?  She is a photographer, and I have drooled over my friends' gorgeous family and newborn photos over the past few years, photos that she has taken.  I had the opportunity to sit next to her and her adorable daughter Mykenzie at the birthday dinner and our conversation flowed like we already knew each other.  Jessica has such an easy sense of humor and a comfortable air about her!  We got to talking about life and such, and I found her career path so interesting, I asked if I could feature her as my MOM for February. 
Photography as a career wasn't her first choice, nor an easy one, necessarily.  We'll get to that, but first, meet Jessica!
Jessica grew up in Forks, Washingtion (Twilight Town!).  She lived part-time with her Grandparents, and the rest of the time with her mom in Lake Stevens.  Jessica says that growing up in Forks defines a lot of who she is, "I loved growing up next to the Ocean, the forests, and being able to have acres of land to run around on."
She is very close with her extended family.  She considers her sisters and cousins to be her best friends.  They talk daily or weekly, have weekly dinners together, and won't shy away from wearing matching outfits.  Jessica says that her family is "very loving, accepting, and loves to laugh.  I am very fortunate to have them and I know I wouldn't be where I am without them."

               Jessica (right) with her sister Liz               
Jessica (right) with her sister Amanda
Jessica attended Seattle Pacific University on a President's Scholarship, which meant she had to maintain a high GPA. 
"I was getting my Bachelors in Education as well as getting an Art Major.  While working on my Art degree I took photography courses, and thought that because my mom did photography I had it down...Long story short, I spent more time goofing off than learning.  My priorities were my friends and Facebook.  When I got my grades, I panicked because I didn't want to lose my scholarship, so as a safety net I switched majors."
Her professor told her that she could have a career in photography if she would just "focus and buckle down", but Jessica says "I just didn't believe in myself.  I was too young to know who I was yet, and what I wanted."
Jessica ended up majoring in Education because it felt like a safe route, "When you're so young, you don't understand what lies 10 years ahead.  Your priorities change, you change."
And this is where I think Jessica's story really gets  interesting.  Jessica explains how she came to a realization that she wasn't necessarily happy with her career choice, "All I knew is that I wanted to be there for my family and do something that I loved.  Teaching wasn't giving me either of those."
A few years after college, Jessica was working on her Masters Degree and had no intention of doing anything else the rest of her life.  Her daughter's adoption was complete, and she was working at the same school her daughter attended.  Jessica says "life was very busy and very full."
But then something happened.  Not one incident, in particular, but more of a shift of priorities and a realization that she wanted a change. 
"I loved my school, the people I was working with, the kids, the community, but I was not loving teaching in the way that I knew I should.  More importantly, I was missing valuable family time because I was always at school.  I missed 3 years of first day of school for my daughter, open houses, ballet recitals, the list goes on.  I couldn't take it any more, I didn't want to miss any more big moments."
It's one thing to have the desire in your heart that you need a change, but it's a completely different story when it comes to taking tangible steps to make that change happen.  So where did Jessica start?
"One night I prayed, I was ready to let go of controlling my life, and that whatever door opened for me I would take it as long as it meant more time with my family."

Here is Part 2: Raney Day Photography,
where Jessica shares her transition from teaching to professional photographer.

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