To be perfectly open, I still have quite a few days when I look around and think, "why the heck are we living in Jacksonville?" Of course the answer is a really good one (Michael's job is here) but still, if I let myself, I can get pretty down about living here. I could give you a many number of reasons why I feel this way, however, the point of this post is not to dwell on those reasons, but instead to list all of the good things this city has to offer. Although I cringe using "love" and "Jacksonville" in the same sentence, there really are some pluses to living here. So, in my resolve to be more content this year, this is me dwelling on the positives!
1. It has a pretty great food scene. Really delicious donuts at Sweet Theory, wonderful baked goods and eats at Community Loaves, some incredible restaurants such as Orsay. Oh, and several locally owned cool coffee shops. St. Pete kinda needs to step it up and give Kahwah a run for it's money.
2. There are seasons here! In springtime, there are beautiful blossoming trees everywhere that I'd never seen before living in Jacksonville. In the fall, leaves turn colors. And it gets cold here. Like, really cold. But the summers are just as hot as any.
3. Everything is really spread out, which may seem like a negative (and sometimes it is) but the bright side is that it has taught me that it really isn't a big deal to drive 30 minutes. Living in St. Pete, everyone talks of driving to Tampa as if you're driving to the ends of the earth, when in reality it is less than a half hour. Here, just about everything and everyone is 30 minutes away, so I've gotten used to it.
4. There are a lot of parks and nature-y things to see here. Washington Oaks State Park isn't too far, Big Talbot is really neat to visit, and there are many more places nearby that I've heard of which are on my list to see. Also, the Jacksonville Zoo is very nice! Never thought I'd say that about a zoo.
5. Adding on to that, there seem to be so many places to choose from when selecting a location for a photo session. As a photographer, obviously that's a big plus for me!
6. Jacksonville is close to a lot of other places. For example, charming Savannah, Georgia is only 2 hours away. Charleston is a bit further at 4 hours, but still pretty close! St. Augustine is 45 minutes away, which we visit on the occasional date night. Also, being so close to Georgia, we can go blueberry picking in the summertime! Another great advantage of living here is that we live less than six hours from Michael's side of the family. If we were living in St. Petersburg still, I know we would see them a lot less, so I feel grateful for how easy a trip is between us and my in-laws.
Lastly, I feel I can't end a list of what I love about Jacksonville without mentioning that we have met some wonderful people here who have become dear friends. Any place seems dull and empty without people to love and share life with.
My dear friend Sarah delivered her baby boy yesterday afternoon. Her little family has been an incredible blessing of friendship to mine and we are so happy for them! The arrival of her second son yesterday reminded me that I never shared the images from the maternity session here, which we photographed in June. I've now known Sarah through two of her pregnancies and she's been stunning amidst and between. This session was featured on Little Peanut Mag.
I do believe that this was the very first morning session I've photographed - and the early light could not have been more perfect. My brother (who I still can't believe is getting married!) drove up for a visit with his fiancée, Haley. On the night they arrived we tried to capture a few photo memories of this season of their engagement, but a thunderstorm got the better part of the evening. So, early the next morning on Sunday, we set out again with only a half hour or so of time, which seemed to be just enough to capture all the loveliness in the air.
My dearest friend Brittany is getting married just two months from today. Amidst all the crazy wedding planning, she has remained as sweet and kind as ever. After fifteen years of friendship, I'm not sure how her calm, cool, and collectedness has not rubbed off on me more.
We braved the windy, chilly air to capture a few memories on the boat where Kason asked Brittany to marry him.
There is nothing quite like the special time of being engaged & the anticipation of marriage, so I hope the both of you enjoy these last two months of excitement as you look forward to joining hearts and lives!