July 18, 2014

Été en Provence (or, new beginnings)

Almost exactly two years ago (on July 6, 2014 to be precise) I quit my job and promised myself that over the next couple of years I would "figure myself out." I think most mid-twenty-year olds, having worked for a couple years at some miserable post-undergrad corporate desk job, can relate to this feeling: that the life they had envisioned in that incredible fantasy world we call college (where, literally, the world is your oyster) is not quite what they had thought it would be. I had followed my dreams, hadn't I? Gotten the job everyone else would have killed for? Why didn't it feel right?

The first phase of this journey was a European adventure. I studied abroad in France, worked in France--and yet I can never get enough. Every time I visit, I learn something new about myself. Provence, with its saturated colors, dreamy landscapes, and open skies provided a source of inspiration and clarity I could not have imagined finding anywhere else. I immediately fell in love with the small villages, markets showcasing luscious fruits and vegetables, endless lavender fields that suffused the air with their fragrance, and brilliant sunsets that imbued the sky with vivid blues and purples and pinks. I photographed my way through the trip, hoping to capture the essence of this beautiful region. I knew then that this was life worth living for. It didn't matter what other people thought of me; at the end of the day, what mattered was that I lived the life I loved, whether that included Ivy League schools or secret societies or lucrative jobs... or not. Perhaps a beautiful sunset and some wine was enough.

I went on to business school where I could continue on this journey. There were moments where I was set-back: feeling the rush that I needed to be at the "top" and everything needed to be perfect. But at the end of the day, it taught me something I needed: yes, a part of me is that boring corporate cerebral girl that loves to perfect an excel spreadsheet or a powerpoint presentation, but I can only live and be happy if I merge that lifestyle with the joie de vivre I adore about France. A part of me fears the return to consulting and the corporate world. But another part of me is excited because I know so much more about myself, and I know that it wasn't the job that felt miserable; it was the pressure and stress I put on myself, and all the restrictions I placed on my life that prevented me from enjoying those things I loved because they took away from the time I could spend perfecting that person I thought I should be...

In many ways, these are the reasons why I started this blog. I've always been slightly afraid of starting a blog because fashion and shopping and style seemed so vapid. But I love it: I can't help but getting excited about the latest issue of Vogue Paris or about how great that dress looks with that dazzling pair heels or about that colorful new eyeshadow palette. I love creating scenes through the lens of my camera. I love trying out new beauty products in search for that holy grail item that will make me look and feel like the best person I can possibly be. It doesn't mean I can't enjoy reading Lexington from the Economist or I can't talk about business strategies or political issues. It just means I found another escape that makes me feel happy. Furthermore, I don't think I need to justify this passion any longer; the more I learn about the industry, the more it becomes apparent that yes, it is fun, but it also requires a lot of hard work, creativity, and energy to be successful and to create something truly inspiring.

Have you guys gone through similar transformations, similar realizations about what you love and what you need in life to be happy?

Now that you have that background... more about these photos. I'm by no means an expert at photography or photo editing, but I simply loved taking pictures of everything in Provence. There are thirty photos here, but my hard drive contains over 1,000 photos from that advanture. These capture moments in Avignon, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Bonnieux, Gordes, Roussillon, l'Abbaye de Sénaque, St. Rémy-en-Provence, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, and Cassis/Les Calanques. I couldn't get over how I could be in the most serene pastel landscape one moment and be in the bold dramatic cliffs of Roussillon the next. The colorful landscapes of Van Gogh and Cézanne are perfectly reasonable when you see the magnificent beauty of Provence. As a side note... the bizarre warp in the corners in some of the later photographs is a result of a very unfortunate accident whereby the glass of my lens came loose off the body of the lens during a bike ride and I haphazardly was able to reassemble it (sort of) to enjoy the rest of the trip before taking it to get repaired back in the US... a note to young wanderers: always bring a camera case!

See below for outfit info!

Equipment signature blouse
Lululemon black legggings
Vanessa Bruno Athé printed cotton dress
Miu Miu mini bow bag in light blue
K Jacques t-strap sandals
Club Monaco dress & leather belt

Photographs by me, using a Nikon D7000 and Nikon 18-200mm VR lens.