2015 - the Year of Excuses

Wow, 2015. You were one hell of a ride. Sitting here on the first afternoon of 2016 and doing the typical reflect/respond and I'm absolutely floored by my year. Amplification seems to be the underlying theme of the past year, wherein everything was bigger, busier, brighter, and overall just way more intense of a ride than it's predecessors.

I feel like I've lived a dozen different lifetimes within 2015, mostly due to the amazing people I've walked alongside. I've added so many wonderful new family and friends and clients, but still had the support of my old true blue amigos and blood. So read on with my musings, or just enjoy some of my favorite shots from the year...

January - Kent Island, Maryland

I won't give y'all the full break down of this year, but I'll give you general gist - and we'll start with early 2015. Our winter in Maryland was brutal. An almost weekly snowfall, and a bitter cold was made (rather stereotypically) worse by a breakup just before Valentine's Day. Despite the two days of woe-as-mes in bed with my dog and gummie bears and marathoning the Office, getting my heart broken ended up being one of the best things that's ever happened to me. Cliche, I know. But in the aftermath, I met a travel buddy who urged me to get my passport asap and wrangled me for an adventure to Costa Rica.  That set the entire tempo of my year absolutely bumping - I'm so incredibly thankful for that friend, and for the many people in my life that have inspired and pushed (and maybe coerced) me to do great and mostly crazy things. Without further ado, here's what I'm taking from 2015:

April - Kent Island, Maryland

- to travel the universe first, and the world second. 

On the first: the introspective journeys are just as important as tangible physical ones. It amazes me how far we can travel in our capacity to try and fail and learn and grow. Perhaps I'm finally breaking out of my young/dumb/invincible stage where I think I know EVERYTHING, but it is truly astounding to me that we are the variable to the world around us and not the inverse. 

On the second: Who'd have thought a little 28 page blue booklet would become my most prized possession? Passport in hand and counting cocktails instead of miles, I've had a drink in over 30 cities/3 countries (and in a few hours, it'll be four!). The first time I left the United States, I had three beers in three countries in under twelve hours, just after my first fight with food poisoning - how 'bout them apples?!  

April - Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

March - St. Croix, USVI

September - Grasonville, Maryland 

March - Washington, DC

October - Solier, Spain

July - Chestertown, Maryland

May - Greenbelt, Maryland

- to share your joys and talents. Let's face it, 2015 felt pretty grim at times. So much death and destruction and hurt hitting so many people. It's overwhelming at times, especially when you ask yourself what you as an itty-bitty singular person can do to turn tides. The world is full of opportunities to give back in so many ways. It's easy to to be too busy or to feel awkward jumping to help others, but we all have so much to offer our local and global neighbors and it's so incredibly easy to do good.

Social media skills to help fight for the rights and interests of homeless persons in the Queen Anne's County area. Lifting arms for Saturday mornings working with the food bank. Beer money to help raise money for clean drinking water in developing countries (we clocked in almost 1k this year!). Legs to walk for awareness of social stigmas, or to take a stand in protest of injustices. Passion to speak to middle + elementary school students about pursuing what you love. The joy from doing small good deeds, like filling up a gas tank for a stranger or throwing out a piece of litter, or even something as tiny as smiling and saying hello as you walk past someone on the street. 

June - Kent Island, Maryland

October - Cala Pi, Spain

April - Kent Island, Maryland

June - Kent Island, Maryland 

- to find new ways to challenge yourself. Take on tasks that honestly scare you. Get overwhelmed. Try and fail at new methods, new styles. Sweat. Make friends of total strangers. Fail some more. Forgive yourself. Stand out in a thunderstorm to take incredible photos (okay, maybe use your own discretion with that last one...) 

I shot more fashion work for catalogs and even tackled pre-school photography (that was like herding adorable kittens), both of which were well outside of my comfort zone. I bought a new lens, and I almost fatally broke another. I've tried on new editing formats, many of which never make it past my own eyes. I set a goal to walk/bike/run at least a mile every day for 2015. I ended up clocking almost double that, with my biggest workout being a 56 mile bike ride in one afternoon in Mallorca. I also fell and busted open my leg in a big bruised, bloody mess. I took on a contract for a destination less than one week before it was to happen, departing at 5 a.m. the morning after my 100+ guest birthday Beer Olympics throw down. No one burned down the house, and I had a phenomenal time shooting my first international wedding. I joined a soccer league, my most hated of childhood sports. I was terrified of being out of shape and awful, and letting my team down, but I didn't suck and I had the most fantastic time on the field - plus my cleats were an obnoxious neon red + blue zig-zag!

March - St. Croix, USVI

July - Kent Island, Maryland - Beer Olympics + Brothers

October - Mallorca, Spain 

August - Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

August - Stockton Springs / Portland, Maine

- stop making excuses. "I'm too poor to travel. I'm too busy to see that family member. I'm too fat to wear that outfit. I'm too inexperienced to take on this job. I'm too embarrassed to tell you how I really feel. I'm too jealous to feel joy for this friend. I'm too proud to apologize. I'm too out of shape to try that. I'm too scared to let this fail."

I'm too sick of that voice in my head. It may not always be that explicitly worded, but it still speaks. Excuses are the enemy, dampeners of happiness and possibility. We have so much potential, so much innate talent and curiosity, and we're too good for excuses. Don't be intimidated or jealous of the successes and happiness of others, be inspired and humbled. It's okay to be afraid of changes, of dreams and desires and emotions that lead us to be vulnerable and open. Embrace it, run with it. Do what you want. Do what you love. Do what brings you joy. And most importantly, do it well.

So let's do this, 2016! Here we go - no excuses.

-MJ