Thank you, COVID
Welcome to my first blog post! I apologize in advance for the oversharing, but what's a story without a little bit of emotional context? As I'm writing this, the whole world has ground to a halt due to COVID-19... it's eerie. It's something I'd never thought I'd see or live through. It's almost like a work of fiction that we've been thrown into; the author of this story is apparently merciless.
I'm not going to lie, this quarantine started out pretty rough. While my body doesn't typically exhibit your run of the mill anxiety symptoms, it does tend to do some pretty weird things when I'm stressed. As a person who generally enjoys a quiet life, you'd think social distancing and staying home would align pretty well with my lifestyle, right? WRONG. I am irritatingly, unwittingly contrary. If someone tells me I must stay inside and not touch other people it makes me want to spring out into the world, my high-fiving hand poised for action. This pandemic threw off my groove, and my brain threw a tantrum. I was moody, claustrophobic, and concerned about things that were utterly outside my control. I will pause here to acknowledge that I'm lucky to live with an adoring dog, Loki, and my wonderful human, Philip. My consistent contact with them certainly eased the frantic hamster spinning its wheel in my brain, but it still ran hard.
While this time was uncomfortable, I look back with gratitude. Catalysts for great things typically aren't that comfortable, you know? After getting unreasonably frustrated about not being able to reach our stock of sparkling water that resided on a high shelf in my kitchen, I had to pause and take a hard look at myself. As you can imagine, what I saw wasn't all that inspiring; a disheveled girl who lived in her sweats, emotionally triggered by a can of La Croix. So, with new resolve, I began to force myself to exercise with more regularity, eat as healthily and plant-based as I could muster, put on actual pants despite having nowhere to go (occasionally, let's not get too crazy), pick up a book, and make progress on a few personal projects. While it's scary not knowing where the world will be tomorrow, let alone in a few months or even years, it has been nice to collectively take a deep breath and step back.
WORK TO LIVE OR LIVE TO WORK
I've been working a 9 to 5 for the last several years and, while I love my job (I'm a designer for a pretty incredible company that enables better care at a lower cost for heart disease patients around the world), I had lost sight of why I was working. What am I working towards? Where do I want to be in 10 years? Why am I on this path? Was it a choice or did I just fall onto it? It was so important to answer these questions because I realized that there are some big gaps that I've been overlooking in the bustle of day-to-day life. It was at this moment that I realized I've been missing one of my great loves in life for quite some time.
Your guessed it! HORSES. Growing up, I lived and breathed horses. I first sat on one when I was 2, started riding lessons at 6, and started competing as an eventer at 12. My last event was at age 18, jumping around the green placards at the Woodside Horse Park. During the first two decades of my life, horses were responsible for most of my joy and lessons-learned. When I left for college, I took a hiatus from horses - I had to figure out how to support the creatures I've come to love and no 18 year old on earth can do that on their own. It has now been 10 years since that point, and I've spent so long working towards a career that can support my life ambitions that I didn't quite realize when I got there. I only just began to consider that I could marry my professional skills to my heart in a way that would allow me to once again breathe life into my oldest passion.
After much reflection, an undeniable, hungry fire began to catch and grow in my soul. I've been a creative professional for decades, from digital painting and graphic design to photography and matte painting for high-end visual effects. I've had my professional Canon 5 series camera and L glass lenses for a long time, using them on my travels, for my astrophotography hobby, and to take photos for friends and family on occasion. I came to the realization that I could really DO this, already armed with the skills and equipment. Over the last several weeks I've been working tirelessly to launch Alaina Hower Photography, building my website, filing paperwork, and working with a few AMAZING clients. Documenting both the bond between horse and rider as well as horses in a fine-art setting is always an extraordinary honor. I've also been shamelessly using my connections with Vanguard Eventing and one of my best childhood friends, Danielle, to hop on horses as much as I can. Things have started off with a bang, and I'm so excited for this new chapter and the bright future ahead. Thank you for being here, supporting me, and following along. It truly means the world and I can't wait to share my journey with you.