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New site & blog coming soon

August 31, 2012

This site is about to get a makeover. New blog theme and content coming soon – stay tuned! #findingafterfive

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Peace of Mind and Star Power

March 24, 2012

This past Tuesday I attended theFIX with Jasmine Star, a world renown wedding photographer based in Orange County, CA. theFix was a 12 stop tour about much more than the technical aspects photography; it was about building a business, confidence, following your passion and making friends the in the industry. The aura of the evening was open and trusting, as we were encouraged to ask questions about almost anything. It created an indescribable feeling of being surrounded by supportive friends even though most of the attendees where people whom I have never met.

theFIX detailed Jasmine’s life and her photography business with the interaction and participation of the crowd. Her road to photography stardom is what movies are made of: struggle, determination, dropping out of law school to pursue your dreams, family, friends, love and success. Jasmine’s down to earth personality and optimistic outlook on life is hard not to love, and by the end of the seminar I felt a refreshed sense of confidence, self-awareness and hope. Her message of with the right attitude the possibilities of life are endless (and it’s our choice to make it all happen) is a lesson that never gets old learning.

It’s a few days later and I am still feeling at peace with where I am in my career, photography, life, all of it and am excited to move forward. I understand that there is no better starting time then right now, and setting and achieving goals, no matter how big or small, are the key to feeling success.

So, my first photography goal comes as a recommendation of Jasmine, to make a list of goals for this year and my goal for life is to maintain this feeling of peace and positivity. And for tonight, it’s to work on my website!

theFix at the Silent Movie Theater

Engaged Life is Lovely

March 4, 2012

February 5, 2012 was one of the most incredible days of my existence. My best friend and better half asked for my hand in marriage on a picturesque bridge over Stow Lake in San Francisco’s stunning Golden Gate Park. It was (for the most part) a complete surprise. Yes, we have talked marriage countless times before the occasion, but the moment felt surreal, like it was directly from my dreams. It will be, of course, a day I will remember forever and a story that will never get old telling. It was the two year anniversary of when we first met at Saddle Ranch in Los Angeles. It was also, not to mention, a complete bouns the Giants won the Superbowl that same evening, making the day that much more flawless.

Since returning from that magical weekend in San Francisco, wedding planning has consumed almost every thought. Venues, the guest list, decor, the dress, the date, the theme, the song, the invites- it can all be overwhelming but – when the decisions get though – we remind each other that we just want to marry one another, the rest is simply the details of how we want to celebrate with our loved ones. The journey has only just begun and my excitement for this next chapter in my life grows more each day.

Here are a few (unedited) shots that a kind passerby captured of the proposal:

Chris and I at Stow Lake

The Proposal!

Taking it all in 🙂

Besides engagement, I started a Beyond Basic Photography Class which is part of the Santa Monica College Extension Program. My teacher Ed is remarkable and is taking my love for photography to a whole new level. My first assignment is to photo a building capturing lines, angles, textures and patterns. It will definitely test my artistic ability! I will be sure to share my assignments.

Day 20 of a 30 Day Meditation Challenge

January 21, 2012

Back on January 2, 2012, my boyfriend and I made a pack- we would meditate for 30 days straight. No exceptions or excuses. This came about not as a news year’s resolution (even though it would have been a good one), but because meditation was one of those “things” we talked about but just never got around to doing. We can safely assume that my retreat at Expanding Light was a major motivation for this, but mostly, we were just craving the stillness.

So now it’s day 20. Every meditation hasn’t been easy, but the positive impact on my life- priceless. I choose to spend the 5-20 minutes a day using a technique I learned at the retreat. Focused breathing for the first 6-8 breaths followed by either the repetition of an affirmation or simply inhaling with the word love and exhaling with the word light. I don’t beat myself up over other thoughts that arise; I just let them go as easily as they came. We are also huge fans of the Abraham Hicks meditation and do them intermittently as well.

The biggest difference I’ve noticed is the letting go of resistance and the allowance of living in the present. Clique as it sounds, my outlook on my career, finances and current state of being have all shifted more towards appreciation instead of angst and worry (I’m still working on it don’t get me wrong). A few days into regularly meditating, I had a memorable encounter with a man at Nordstrom Rack.  I was on line buying a pair earring for $7.97 and he insisted he purchase them for me along with two Burberry perfumes, one for me and one for my friend who’s birthday dinner I was attending that evening. He looked at me and said, I believe everything we give, we receive- it all comes back, it’s a continuous cycle. He went to state he felt my energy and this was something he had to do for me, and then read me a poem he had written for his son about the beauty and renewal of springtime. That was it. I said thank you probably a hundred times, then proceeded with my afternoon in an almost euphoric state. Every time I wear the earrings or spray the perfume, I think of his message.

My hope is I continue this practice even if it’s not possible every single day in the future, but there is no need to worry about that now, right?

Expanding Light Retreat: Nevada City, California

November 12, 2011

I am awake and ready! I am awake and ready! I am positive! energetic! enthusiastic!

This is a chant I am promising to take with me from my very first “retreat” stay at the Expanding Light in Nevada City, California.

For a special friend’s birthday, I traveled to Expanding Light for a weekend of yoga, meditation and classes on How to Be Happy All the Time based on the practices and teaching of Paramahansa Yogananda.

Peace. Photo by Jenna Markowick

My biggest take aways from this retreat were:

  1. Meditate. Even if it’s 5 minutes a day. Take a few minutes for yourself and focus on your breathing and moving energy toward the area between your eyebrows.
  2. Choose to be happy. It’s always a choice, and in each of us is the power to direct our thoughts, energy and intention to be happy.
  3. When things seem out of whack, get back to the basics and start appreciating.
  4. We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.
Expanding Light is perfectly nestled in picturesque Northern California, about a 3.5 hour drive from San Jose. One can easily forget the stresses of city life driving into the lush green landscape. Los Angeles seemed a world away as I got deeper into the mountains and further away from bustling civilization.
The days start early, with an optional 2 hour yoga, chanting and meditation session starting at 6:30 am. There is a second 2 hour session at around 4:45pm for the dedicated who want to do both or for those who choose to sleep in. Three delicious vegetarian meals are served daily and everyone eats in the small hall, with some meals silent. Eating silently seems strange to those who have never tried it, but it’s oddly nice, peaceful and comforting, even if you are surrounded by 50 people.  For those of us attending the How to Be Happy All the Time retreat, we had several meetings/sessions each- almost like a workshop. With the little free time we had, we explored the 750 acre community and enjoyed having the opportunity to do absolutely nothing. The weekend ended with a Purification Ceremony. I could explain what the ceremony entailed, but I fear I would take away some of the power and meaning of it.
This was a weekend I will truly never forget. It was all about being positive, appreciation, love, light and being your best self. I was surrounded by like-minded people, good friends, great energy and am now yearning to return. Taking time to be with yourself can be magical, uplifting and refreshing. I highly recommend it.

Expanding Light, Photo by Jenna Markowick

Dave Matthews Band: The Gorge, Washington

October 12, 2011
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This past Labor Day I experienced the true, ultimate pilgrimage of every serious Dave Matthews Band fan: 3 nights at The Gorge in Washington State. It was also my first time to Seattle, a city I now dearly love, but the reason for this trip was to fulfill one of my most vivid dreams. It’s no secret I’m bias when it comes to Dave Matthews (the fire dancer tattoo on my back is a dead giveaway) as I whole-heartedly believe he is the greatest musician. Ever. And this year the stars aligned and allowed me to experience what I have been fantasizing about for years.

The Gorge- Venue

The DMB Caravan tour landed at The Gorge in Washington State from September 2-4.  Situated 2½ hours southeast of Seattle, the Gorge is a stunning outdoor amphitheater overlooking the Columbia River. Placed far enough of civilization, neighboring cow fields and vineyards, this venue beings together an array of ages, backgrounds and soul searchers. My boyfriend and I, visiting from Los Angeles, camped for 3 nights under a sky so clear the stars lit up the night. This excursion was more than a music festival- it was an invigorating, yet relaxing, spiritual-like retreat. I sometimes have a hard time expressing my passion for Dave. Hearing his music, especially live, sends this almost electric vibration through my blood.  It brings me to a place of complete bliss and total understanding- and at the same time it feels like nothing else exists- except for that moment.

DMB played 3 full sets each night, ranging from 2 1/2 -3 hours. Dave & Tim also played an hour solo set (incredible). The daytime were spent relaxing near the camp, checking out artsy vendors that set up shop outside the venue, hanging with new found festival friends and discovering new Caravan bands, my favorite being The Belle Brigade and Blind Pilot. I’m also a huge Brett Dennen fan, who is fantastic as well, but unfortunately missed his performance this time around.

If plan on traveling to the Gorge from out-of-town, here are some tips:

  •  Fly into Seattle or Portland and rent a car. We were lucky enough to reserve the most affordable rental car available and upgraded (for free) to an SUV- perfect for car camping.
  •  If you need camping equipment and you are flying- rent it from REI. We rented a camping stove and it was perfect for making coffee in the morning and pasta in the evening.  It’s a great deal and doesn’t break the bank.
  • We needed a shower but didn’t want to wait in the long line at the campsite. We explored the surrounding area one morning and, from a tip from a local, discovered a beautiful state park/campground with a shower. Priceless.
  • Go with an open mind and accept everyone you meet for who they are. From frat boys to families- the Gorge has it all and everyone is there for one reason- to have an amazing time. And that’s a beautiful thing.

A few of my favorite songs from the weekend include Everyday, Bartender, Stay or Leave, Little Red Bird, Time Bomb, Eh Hee, So Damn Lucky, Save Me…who am I kidding, I could go on forever. Whether  you’re a Dave fan or not, make it to the The Gorge for a festival. It might open your mind and give you a different perspective- even if it’s just for a few short days.

On that note, here is a lyric from Dancing Nancies that summed up the weekend:

“Look up at the sky,
My mouth is open wide, lick and taste,
What’s the use in worrying, what’s the use in hurrying …” ❤

Me & Chris at our campsite!

Seattle & Friends

Inspired.

October 4, 2011
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I had a very inspiring evening with a good friend of mine Nicole.

It was a necessary reminder of how grateful I am to be surrounded with creative and passionate people who challenge me to be better and expansive.

There isn’t much to this post but the promise to myself to keep moving forward with my dreams with the greatest of confidence.

I recently made a step in the right direction by purchasing my domain site (www.jennmarkowick.com) and I’m looking forward to the progression of whatever intention I decide for this site.

I have the feeling that I’m on the verge of greatness and it’s exhilarating!