taking you to prague

Sometimes when I’m traveling I wish I could bring you all along.  I want to show you every quiet corner I see and every ray of light.  This “sometimes” happens so often that I forget to show you even just a slice of a month photographing. 

So for today here is a slice. 7 frames of Prague. A mini adventure inside of a grand one. Believe me when I tell you, I wish you were here.

Xoxo suzanne

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Dreaming of Greece

Hi wanderers, 

I am Lea and am currently part of the wonderful She Wanders team as an intern. Getting this internship opportunity at She Wanders meant the world to me. I have been joining Suzanne on her journey for a month today. I have learned so incredibly much and have grown as a person as well as a photographer. The incredibly positive and loving spirit of the photos and she wanders blog that attracted me in the first place is being lived by Suzanne in every moment. I believe this is the true secret to the amazing work Suzanne creates (next to her experience and professionalism of course).

I am a current photography student and have a great love for travelling, discovering and emerging in foreign cultures. As such I was thrilled at the opportunity to go through Suzanne’s photos of her Europe adventures and would like to share my favorites with you. Don’t they just make you want to go travel? I definitely fell in love with Greece through these photos.

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // My Last Dollar

Once I got out of the Airbnb in Prague and looked around at the familiar painted houses in Vinohrady it hit me. What the fuck am I doing here? A bit of shock, horror and a small fleeting moment where my mind rejected the whole idea.

The highest part of me is 100% certain I want to be a mom. That’s my intuition and knowing. I’m also bombarded and occasionally run down with moments were my inner being says no. Are those moments true? Am I following my right path?

Despite the image of holding my baby in his or her pajamas, there is a lot of guilt involved in being “all in” in this process.

I’m an adventurer and up for the best life has to offer, but I’m not irresponsible. This year I’m all in. All the debt, all the months of stepping out of my life and responsibilities, the time away from my husband, and my sanity - all in.

I’m not usually a gambler.

Though there was this one time that I spent my last dollar….

I was at a bar in Sydney on the ground level of a hostel. I bought a VB (Victoria Bitters) for $2 at happy hour. My friends were always spending their last dollar, and I thought they were nuts, but there also seemed to be freedom in it.

So I tried it. I sat there, in awe of myself drinking that beer. It was thrilling. Of course I knew I had groceries at home, my subway ticket and a direct deposit going into my account from my ad agency job in the morning, but from 6pm until the next day I was “skint”. I felt so rad.

That was over a decade ago, but just telling you about it makes me feel alive and a little indestructible.

When I walk into the clinic today, I’m going to hold on to the feeling of being that girl, sitting in a bar, drinking a beer she didn’t particularly like, feeling like she had the coolest secret ever. It felt like jumping off a cliff and landing in the sweetest blue water and coming up laughing, gasping for air with salt water running down my face.

I’ll choose to be her instead of the sad, broken poker player risking everything.

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Fertility Vacation 2.0 // Duplicity

My heart skipped Fall. All of this traveling has confused my inner season clock. Like so many parts of me, I am searching for a true north that I can’t quite find.

I like Vienna. I like coffee houses. Is this beautiful city my hideaway? Walk, shoot, museums, eat, shoot, walk. I think it’s the right thing to be doing. I love to cheer myself up with everything that’s available to me.

For me, being happy is being grateful for what I have and pointed in the direction of what I’m looking for. If you are someone who is always using the silver lining as a north star, it’s easy to move your expectations a little to the left or right, but still forward.

Motherhood is a deal breaker. I don’t want to move right or left, I want the dream. I want the sunny day, a family with Mike. However we get there; adoption, surrogacy, IVF.

It makes me think of the quote, "how many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?". How many times will I walk down this road?

Who will I be at the end of all of this?

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The Town

The last time I entered a photo contest I was still living I my hometown and probably 19.  It was at the local community college and I won first place for a black and white street scene taken from the Georges Pompidou in Paris.  I cut out two shapes of people and blocked the light from the enlarger from hitting the print in that area.  I've always been interested in this idea of connectiveness.  I guess somethings never change.  All these years later in still concerned with the idea of people finding common ground no matter where they are from.

I recently decided to spread my wings a little and try new things again.  

Here's my entry into The Magnum Photography Contest

Xoxo Suzanne

The Town

This body of work is about the idea of a town that is created in many places but exists in one body of work.  I’m interested in what we can have in common.  Maybe our sameness can expand our compassion.  I’d like to change the idea that our identity is based on us versus them.  That countries need borders and walls to separate us.

Our beginnings and endings, trials and errors, questions of identity and worth, dreams and risks can take place on any street.  Beauty is in the door frame we walk by without a second glance, the public art that questions gender or our most basic assumptions, in the buttons you push to get entrance/acceptance.  This is my collection of images and wishes that seeing beauty in a space might help others to see beauty in each other.  I hope that each image reminds you of something.  Maybe your hometown or somewhere you’ve visited.  I am looking for the familiar in far away places.  

Fertility Vacation // Worrying About Worrying

Today could have been our implantation day, but instead it will be tomorrow or Saturday. It feels scary that it wasn’t the first possible day. I’m guessing that it’s not actually better or worse which day it happens.

I wonder why I’m struggling so much. Is it the hormones? Is it because they took the eggs out? Does that make you spiral a little? Is it a withdrawal from the hormone shots? I guess I should be grateful for all the easy days I’ve had.

I’m worried about being worried. I want my body and mind to be relaxed and peaceful. The doctor said the only thing I can do to raise our chances is to think positive. Instead I feel panicky.  I swivel from feeling so much power and gratitude, to feeling fear and panic. I’m sure it’s the hormones.

I have to keep remembering that everything is going so well. Seven of our 10 eggs are growing. All of our friends say that’s great.

I’m scared anyway. I meditated. Scared. I took a bath. Scared. I’m trying to write it so it gets out of me. Scared.

Finally we’ve gotten to the part in the IVF process that people complain about. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed during certain moments of the day.

Mike was supposed to fly home tonight, but I asked him to call and change his flight. I’m not ready for him to go. The next three days are crucial and with everything happening at the lab, I don’t want to be without him. Cristina arrives in an hour so I know I won’t be alone, but I need Mike here too. Everything feels more hopeful with him here.

I’m not a very needy or demanding wife. Usually I’m independent to a fault. But for a couple more days I want to explore the city via “Mike’s Walking Tour” and sleep holding his hand.

An hour goes by and I’m feeling even and calm. Mike is the best at talking the fear out of me.

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Fertility Vacation // The First Injection

There we sat, the carefree girls from 8 hours earlier, now on the apartment couch, overcome with fear. In a brave moment of, "let’s just get it over with", I grabbed everything out of the fridge. Jenny and I set it up as fast as we could, just as the nurse had explained.

I pinched the skin on my stomach and pointed the needle at my skin. I didn’t want the medicine. I didn’t want to willingly hurt my own body. Logically, it made sense, but a part of me felt like I was betraying the universe and the gratitude I work to cultivate. I recognized this as the fear talking and remembered the greater purpose.

I pictured the nurse looking at me and I heard Jenny's helpful voice that felt steady and determined. "Is this the right number? Then push."

I pushed the needle in. The pain was small and only at the beginning. I awkwardly pushed until everything was in my body; exhale.

The three of us congratulated ourselves and drew on some shrinky dinks to distract our minds. 10 minutes later I was coloring the mane of my shrinky dink horse and my eyelids were suddenly heavy. I laid down.

The translator mentioned I might get hungry, tired, and feel a deep swell in my lower abdomen. I closed my eyes wondering if I would be out for the night.

I noticed an odd feeling in my belly and drifted in and out of consciousness. After about 20 minutes, I slowly sat up on the couch and felt myself waking up; as if I had been asleep all night and had to transition to being awake.

The rest of the night I surprisingly felt a general ease. I enjoyed chatting, eating tacos, and sipping the smallest amounts of tequila.

I can’t really tell how I feel in the end. Do I feel balanced and relaxed because nothing other than an unrequested nap happened? Or do I feel good because my body somehow needed those hormones?

Either way I’ll take the win. I feel good, normal, and balanced. Really good actually. I have exactly 7.5 hours until my next injection so I will see how it goes.

I’m actively choosing activities and thoughts that feel beautiful and in alignment with positivity.

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Fertility Vacation // 8 Hours

We walked around Prague laughing and taking pictures. Three seemingly carefree tourists with tiny bottles of alcohol in our winter jackets. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

8 hours of freedom. 8 hours before my first injection.

My happy place is walking around and falling in love with a new place. It makes me feel positive and at peace. I feel a deep sense of contentment knowing that I’m not taking my life for granted. One of the easiest ways I can show gratitude for my life is to travel to the world’s meccas and pay tribute to how beautiful the world is.

Hi Universe, I see you. I'm profoundly grateful for your accomplishments and these pockets of peace that you have created all over the globe. I see your light and I'm doing my best to reflect it in my images, my open heart, and the soft, happy smile I pass to others enjoying your beauty.

We wandered into Shakespeare's old book store and took photos of the picturesque buildings. We asked tourists to take our picture in front of the river with the Charles Bridge behind us. We saw the Lennon Wall which felt peaceful and open. Alongside us were families, school groups, travelers, Instagrammers, Facebookers and lovers from all over the world, all walking by and talking pictures.

We stayed a while, sipping whiskey and indulging in Vanessa’s deep love for St. Patty’s Day (she’s from Chicago). We had a pub lunch. We passed the river again and saw a boat pulling a life-size inflatable pastel tank with a giant sign that read #MakeLoveNotWalls. I'm glad that someone felt like making floating art with that message. I didn’t let it cast any shadows of reality.

I still had two more hours until I would willingly give myself a shot. Two more hours before I would find out how the hormones would affect me. Two more hours to not be afraid of the possible disruption in my mental stability.

Medicine and I don’t typically get along. When I was in Africa, the malaria medicine made me hallucinate spiders. I took antibiotics 10 years ago and my GI tract has still not recovered. In fact, one of the effects of the antibiotics was temporary infertility, which is why I'm waltzing around Prague in the first place.  Why would I willingly shoot hormones two inches to the right and one inch down from my belly button?

Eventually we made our way back to our Airbnb apartment. About a block away, time ran out.  As always, I’m able to completely ignore something until a few minutes before it happens, and then panic sets in. All of a sudden my mind was shouting, “No, no, no, don’t do it!”. My head was shaking back and forth as I told Vanessa and Jenny that I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t want to do it.

As we approached the door, my heart was running a full blown hundred-meter dash.  I knew it was unreasonable, but I had no idea how my body or mind would respond. Neither were interested in finding out.

Vanessa was sweet and tried to think of calming techniques. She told me to focus on my belly because one day, it might grow a baby.

My mind desperately tried to find something to hold onto. “The sooner you do it, the sooner it’s over”.

That I could get behind.

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Creativity Tell All // Amanda Thorne

Amanda Thorne owns the amazing Thorne Artistry, a mobile, creative styling company based here in San Diego. I love Amanda. She's kind and such a boss. I share office space with her in Mission Hills and it's always inspiring to see her work. 

How do you continually stay inspired and creative?
It sounds hokey, but I find inspiration every day. Just taking a walk or driving home from work, I'll notice a cool tree or how the rain has made everything in San Diego look like Ireland. I'll think to myself, "Wow! I really need to find a bright yellow dress to shoot on that hillside. Some berry tones would be cool to tie in, maybe by doing a bold lip or some fun flowers!" That's how my mind usually works; a mile a minute with ideas that I'd like to explore and visions that I want to create. It can be overwhelming sometimes. I get anxious if I can't get them all out!

Is there anything special or unique about your morning routine?
I romanticize everything including my coffee in the morning. It's definitely a ritual in a sense that I use the same mug and have everything set up the night before so it's ready for me in the morning. It's a must that I wake up to make my coffee before I get to my emails. I honestly can't work and feel complete without having some good music and really strong coffee from my favorite mug that I bought (for someone else - whoops!) in Sayulita, Mexico.

If someone wanted to break into your industry, what advice would you give them?
Prepare to do a lot of grunt work in the beginning and some thankless jobs to gain the experience that is so crucial. I'm a believer that whatever you want to do in life you do by jumping in head-first and learning on the job and gaining as much knowledge as you can. Shadow someone that you respect, ask a ton of questions, do a lot of research, think about what makes you stand out, and network as much as possible! Show up everywhere and meet as many people as you can. This one can be daunting, but it is so valuable. I always gain some insight or make an important connection by showing up and just saying hello. I let people know that I'm here and interested in not only what I'm working on, but what they're working on!

Did you always know this career path was ‘the one’?
Subconsciously, yes, but practically no. I've been doing styling since I was five years old; making clothes for my dolls, doing my friends hair and makeup at ballet, and even cutting hair in college when my friends had no money. While I was in college, I even tapped into styling work to pay for school, but I was pretty focused on my degree (radio, tv and film). I ended up becoming a radio DJ for over 10 years before the light bulb went off that I needed to go back to my true passion that was there from the start! Sometimes I'm so laser-focused that I miss the obvious signs that are there all along. I'm so thankful that my husband finally pointed out the obvious and pushed me to start my business.

What season inspires you most?
Summer, always. I'm happier when the sun is out and that generates my creative juices.

Do you have any funny short stories or embarrassing moments from when you first got started?
Everything about when I was starting out was embarrassing. No one knew that I had this other life and styling background so I was basically starting with nothing and had to prove myself on every level imaginable. People that knew me from radio thought I was crazy for getting out of the business, and creatives in my new industry wondered how in the world I ended up in their world, and if I had any right to be there. There were a lot of doubters and even some haters. Luckily, those people actually drove me to be better and gave me the motivation to step up my game. I'm always pushing myself and trying to improve and that's a big bonus when you're jumping into the unknown. There are sharks in any profession. It's how you handle them that matters. Don't get me wrong, I definitely had my share of days that I curled up into a ball crying and thought I made a huge mistake. Thank God, the important people who do love and support me always talked me off the ledge and got my head straight again. 

What is the best advice you have been given?
Turn others negatives into your positive. I might have made that up just now, but I like it and I think it resonates.

What is your dream project?
Working on a photo shoot in another country - Paris or Africa pop into my head. I'm already dreaming up the crazy dress that I would create and the avant-garde hair and makeup that I would do. Oh man, how fun would that be!?

If there was a song that played every time you worked on your craft, what would it be?
I love New Politics 'Harlem' and anything from Grouplove and Vampire Weekend. For my mellow days, anything from Royksopp, Sigur Ros and Bon Iver.

Is there anything in particular you are obsessed with these days?
I'm always obsessed with vintage shopping, road trips, and bad late night TV.

What would you do if you had $40,900 for a vacation?
I would go back to Europe and take my entire family to visit all of the friends that I met when I lived in Australia. I'd retrace some of the adventures that I've already had and add as many new ones as possible. I'd also plan on seeing a lot of live music in the nordic countries (I love electronica!) and taking part in the Summer Solstice in Sweden.

Lots of love,
Suzanne, Mike and the Wanderers

4 Things // Dancing Lights

Hi friends =)

I just arrived in Berlin after a few days in magical Iceland. WOW airlines offers free stopovers - check it out!

Exploring :Game of Thrones Tour by Grayline Iceland was so witty. It was exciting to see the actual locations from the show and hear some fun back stories. 

Dreaming of : Being right here. right now. I'll be in Berlin for a few days then head to Prague. My dreams are to stay present and be where I am. 

Meditating : With the Headspace App. I tried for the first time in public at Roamers Cafe in Berlin. I meditated on the creative spark - it felt wicked and fun for some reason. I had my eyes closed and a smile on my face sitting outside waiting for my table and it felt like I had a secret. Sparks flew in my journal, maybe there's something to this after all. 

Watching : The Northern Lights danced for Vanessa and I in Iceland. It was a dream come true. 

xoxo

Suzanne

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