Thursday, August 7, 2014

That's a Wrap

Tomorrow is my LAST day working at camp!  I can't believe the end came so swiftly, but then again there were definitely times I thought the days were dragging by.

Today is my last day off and I'm sitting in a cute little coffee shop in Great Barrington while my friend Amy takes a yoga class, then we're getting manicures and going to the Co-op for some snacks.  Hard life, right?

East Otis (and most of the surrounding Berkshires) is probably one of the most uninteresting towns I've ever been in... there are only 2 restaurants, a library, an antique shop, and a gas station.  The surrounding towns have a *little* bit more to offer, but not much in the way of entertainment.  But you know what?  We have found awesome things to do every chance that we got to leave campus, and I've actually had a lot of fun being outdoors in all these news places.  It's given me new perspective, if I can have a great time in a small town like this, I better never complain about being bored when I'm back home.  It's also interesting to note that here everything is very far away (the nearest town is about 30 mins away, the town I am in right now is about an hour away from camp) and driving an hour or two both ways is like nothing now.  The hour and a half drive from SD to LB will probably seem even shorter next time we drive it.

Last Saturday most of the staff departed and we were left with just a handful of other people who are staying around to close up camp.  It's been so sad!  I didn't think I would form meaningful relationships with people I only knew for 5 weeks, but I was oddly depressed this week and missing everyone terribly.  We offered our house to anyone who would come out to CA for a visit, and people are actually taking us up on it, so we're stoked to have some visitors when we return!

Last weekend was our staff banquet and I was in charge of compiling some photos and videos of our staff, so if you've got a *bit* of time to spare, check it out and see what it's been like ;)

After work tomorrow all that's left is to pack and then Saturday morning we get on a bus to NYC for our anniversary trip.  We are so excited, I can't even think about it too much or I get overwhelmed.  Everyone has been giving us input on where to eat and what to see and how to get around and I am just looking forward to all of it.  Not to mention I get to celebrate TWO years of marriage with my best friend!  How does time disappear so quickly??! I miss being a newlywed, but then again I wouldn't trade all the wisdom we've gained for any amount of honeymooning.  Woooohoooo I can't type anymore, I'm getting too excited again!!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

7 down, 3 to go.

(Quick jaunt home to shoot a wedding--and celebrate my birthday!)

I can't believe it's been 7 weeks that we've been gone and working on the east coast.  Some days it feels like we just got here, other days it feels like we've been here for an eternity.  Camp life has its ups and downs, but I think the feeling is mutual between James and I--we'd like to be home now!  I think if there's anything I've learned from this opportunity it's that I don't like being away from our "home base" for very long!  I miss my family, my bed, my shower, my cat!  I miss eating what I want when I want it, and being in control of my environment.  I don't like feeling like a prisoner--all the way out here with no car or means of transportation, always having to beg to borrow someone's car just to get some fresh coffee.  But now that I'm done ranting, I will say camp has had some great highlights.  We have thoroughly enjoyed the new little cohort we have formed with the other staff living here and I know it will be hard to say goodbye when most of them leave next weekend.  Besides making loads of new friends I think it has also been a great chance to evolve as a person as I have noticed some things about myself maturing more and more as the summer progresses.  I have definitely flexed my "confrontation muscle" a bit more than I'm comfortable with, as well as practicing humility and kindness in the face of adversity and pain.  Our marriage has taken on a different form while working here, in front of children and on display for everyone to see.  My OCD tendencies have been put to the test and my "survival skills" have been honed.  And it has been nice to be more or less unplugged!  While we still have our phones (and internet access in the office), it's been nice to put the phones down for most of the day, and to enjoy the great outdoors.  I even have my first tan line!  It's small, but it's there, hiding behind my watch band!

This coming week is the last week of campers, then we are here for one week of "post-camp" before heading on to New York for our anniversary trip.  My brain feels like it's about to explode with all the photos I'm shooting and editing--last time I checked I'm up to 12,000 for the summer so far!  (And at the same time, hurrying to edit the photos from the 4th of July wedding that I shot a few weeks ago!)  But I can't complain, it's work that I LOVE doing, and I wouldn't trade it for any other role here.

Like I said, we're are getting ready for our trip to the Big Apple, so I'll definitely have to post after that, when we're back home safe and sound.  Until next time!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Camp Update!

Hello?  Hello? Is anybody out there?

(Monday night I risked my camera's life to get some great shots from the canoe--more to come!)

We are here!  We are here in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains and we have been living the camp life for the last three weeks!  It has NOT been easy for this California girl to adjust, but I think I've made it.  First thing to note about living in New England--it rains A LOT, and preceding any rain storm is unbearable humidity that stays overnight into the next day.  I had to purchase rain jackets for both James and myself the second day we were here because when it rains it POURS (we weren't prepared), and I don't say that lightly.  I don't think we've ever experienced this much rain, or rain that falls this hard!  Like, each rain drop is the size of a golf ball, not like the measly rain drops we get in SoCal.

(Our backyard!)
(This is actually the cabin that we are living in, nestled in the woods, right on the lake.  Our bedroom is up on the top!)

But aside from the few rainy spurts we've had, it has been exceptionally beautiful here.  Everything is SO green and alive; it's gorgeous.  We have 20 acres of Lake in my "backyard" view and every morning there is an amazing landscape reflection on the calm water (before the wind picks up); I've tried to capture it on camera but even pictures don't do it justice..

(A shot from last night's yoga session--one of the more relaxing perks of pre-camp orientation)

I've been living/working in the office, helping with any and all administrative and design tasks that need to get done before campers arrive on Sunday, while James has been busy driving all around the state of Massachusetts (and Connecticut and New York!) to get all of our errands and pick-ups completed.  I've recently begun my transition from office work to photographer and all I will say is that I couldn't be more excited to be out of the office and onto my passion, so to speak.. And how lucky are we?!  My dad noted in an email that we have got to be some of the luckiest people around, to be spending our summer and earning our income living in such a nice place, taking hiking and swimming breaks along with doing what we love (in my case, photography).  And he's right!  It has been quite the change of scenery, but I'll take it.  Living in East Otis, the nearest town is about 30-45 minutes away (Target, groceries, airport, etc.) and I haven't had Starbucks in over three weeks!  (Or any lattes, for that matter.)  But don't worry, I'm going to Starbucks on my day off this Saturday and I plan to drink at LEAST a few cups.

So now we're down to the wire; Mia Hamm arrives in 2 days and everyone is in a flurry trying to get everything beautified and squared away in time.  Tensions are running high and coffee is running low.  But there is an exciting buzz in the air and everyone's gearing up!  I have to say, it's QUITE the privilege to know that I will be their exclusive photographer, and will be hanging out with them, speaking with them, eating with them, etc. at all times! :D  (Can you tell I'm a little starstruck??)  My new lenses just arrived in the mail today and I'm about to have a small heart attack over the excitement of it all.  Dreams are coming true here, people!

(Biceps, here I come!)

The internet usage here is quite limited, along with cell phone reception, so I can't promise many more updates like this, but stay tuned just in case!

Miss you all! (You know who you are!)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Berkshire Soccer Academy for Girls

On March 11th I started working as a seasonal office temp for the Berkshire Soccer Academy for Girls.  I didn't think it would turn into much, but it was a nice part-time gig, close to home, and was enjoyable enough.  Now here I am, not even two months later, working full time, doing what I love (graphic design) and about to be sent on the adventure of a lifetime.  I guess that might be an overstatement, but not by much!

BSA is an elite girls soccer camp that runs 6 weeks out of the summer in East Otis, Massachusetts.  They have 5 week-long sessions with short bridge sessions that connect the weeks for campers staying for more than one session.  They have amazing US Women's National Team stars like Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Tish Venturi-Hoch, and Heather O'Reilly coming to coach, and the rest of the soccer, elective and facility staff are creme of the crop.

When they asked me to come along for the summer I'll admit I wasn't initially interested, but mostly because I didn't want to leave my hubby alone at home with my family for two months.  But when they asked if I would come as photographer, and when they said they could make a place for James to work on campus as well, well that definitely sweetened the deal.

So here we are, 4 days from departure, ready to pack up and ship our lives across the country for the next 10 weeks.  I'm apprehensive and a little anxious (mainly because we found out on a moment's notice and I've hardly had time to even pull my suitcase out of the shed!), but I'm also so excited for this opportunity and chance to round out my photography skills.  I've always said sports photography wasn't my forte, but now that I'll be photographing soccer celebrities I think I can expand my repertoire. ;)

So you can probably expect this blog to be quiet for the summer, due to lack of internet access, and TIME for that matter, but you better believe I'll have some great stuff once I'm back!

Oh, and the sweetest part?!  Since we're all the way on the east coast already, and we end "work" on August 8th, we will be spending our [two-year] anniversary weekend/week celebrating in New York City! :D  I haven't been since I was maybe 10 years old, and James has never even been outside the airport, so we are SO stoked to be tourists and see all there is to see.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


April was good to me.... April was really good.  Not only was my mom able to go back to work but I was able to go back to work as well.  I found a great, small part time job on Craigslist and it enabled me to still pursue photography while bringing in a little money.  But one thing led to another and my part time job is now a full time job and it continues to bring more surprises each day.  It's not for sure yet, but come June I might be flown out to Massachusetts to take professional photos of Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Tish Hoch, and USWNT's Heather O'Rielly (and for anyone who doesn't speak sports language, those are all huge U.S. soccer stars) for Berkshire Soccer Academy's Team First event, and what makes it more exciting is that James gets to come with me and we get to live out together there for a few weeks!  Sports photography has never been my forte, but getting paid to take professional photos of soccer celebrities is not the worst thing in the world by any measure!  I am so thankful to have this opportunity seemingly dropped into my lap; BSA has been very good to me!

The most exciting thing to happen in April was the opportunity to shoot my first wedding! UUuhhhh can you say, surreal?!  I was originally supposed to have an assistant but the day before the wedding an emergency presented itself and she could no longer help me.  After about 10 minutes of utter panic I regained composure and mentally prepared for the task ahead, and let's just say all in all the day was GREAT!  There were multiple times where I had to fake like I knew what I was doing, but ultimately everything went off without a hitch and I got some amazing photos.  Being the photographer has got to be one of the funnest jobs you can have at a wedding--you really get free reign the whole day to go wherever you want and make people do whatever you need.  You get to see all the behind-the-scenes and you get priority position at any given time.  I think the scariest thing about shooting a wedding is being your own boss, and what I mean by that is that when it's just you taking all the photos (no assistant, side shooter, etc.) no one else is able to see what you're producing and no one else is able to offer you any constructive criticism or guidance--it's all on you to know that you're doing well and getting the right shots.  Also, if you miss an important moment, there's no one there to bail you out with a backup shot.  I had multiple nightmares leading up to that day, nightmares where I envisioned myself coming home and realizing that every photo I took was out of focus.... But I'm happy to report that was not the case.  The ceremony was maybe the most stressful 30 minutes of the day, and knowing where to stand and the right time might be a job in itself, but after that was over I was extremely at ease.  I think shooting this wedding solidified my desire to pursue wedding photography.  Not because it's where the money is, and not because of the romance, but because to capture someone's wedding day is a job you can't help but love doing.  As I edit the photos I have a huge grin on my face because I'm happy for them, but I'm also happy that my work will be with them for the rest of their lives!  Delivering never felt so good. :)

This month we also had a few visitors; my aunt, uncle, and their 2 gold retrievers drove across the country with their RV and spent a week living in our driveway.  They left their house at the end of march, drove through Utah's national parks, skied in Colorado, and stopped in at the Long Beach Grand prix before making it to us, and now they have gone up the west coast through all our big cities and are currently soaking up Oregon's Crater Lake.  They plan to return home sometime in May when they are done exploring... I'm so jealous!

Last weekend my sister and brother-in-law announced to the world that they are going to be parents come October.  I have known about it for some time but I haven't been allowed to tell anyone or share my photos, so now I can say I'm pretty excited about it!  I'm sure you will be seeing a lot of maternity photos in the next few months, and a ton of newborn photos come holiday season. ;P

Today I got contracted to take photos at a baby shower in La Mesa and tomorrow I'm headed up to Long Beach for the day to photograph my niece and nephew's first communion.  I don't know what it is about holding a camera in my hands, but I seriously love it.  I can't wait for what's next!

(after 9 hours of shooting and being on my feet I made James take a photo to commemorate the day!)

I don't intend to post a lot of my photography work on this blog because I don't want to inundate those who come here just looking to find out more about what the Doskocil's are up to, but if you are interested please feel free to subscribe to my Photo Blog here.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What a Difference a Month Can Make

Here we are, over a month since my last post, and I can't believe how much has changed.  At the beginning of this year I was really motivated to make 2014 count.  I wanted it to be better than 2013 and I wanted to achieve that by making conscious decisions to better myself inside and out.  The year has started off pretty rough so far, and at times I feel like I've already failed to accomplish my goal, but at the same time there has been so much good, especially in the little things.

In January my husband James and I moved out of our beloved first apartment and relocated to San Diego.  It was one of the hardest decisions we've made together and it was definitely bittersweet.  In November, after having been laid off for the second time in a year, the Christmas season found us in a tight place financially, and also a little low in spirits.  On Christmas Eve my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and found out that she would be undergoing major surgeries early in 2014.  My head was spinning as I tried to remain in control of my life and emotions but I was ultimately reminded again at how little we can really control, apart from God.  After many tears and prayers and days spent sick to my stomach, I agreed to quit my job so that we could move down to San Diego to be closer to my family, and to help us save up and pay off our debts.  Leaving our home, our church, and our family and friends was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  The last few days in our apartment I could hardly walk through the door without crying over losing our first place, our little corner of the world where our marriage started and so many great memories were made.  Long Beach is only about an hour and a half by car but it feels so much farther when you have no friends in your same zip code.

During late February and early March most of my time was concentrated on my mom.  She had a double mastectomy and tram-reconstruction (where they take your stomach muscles out to form new breast mounds) and was in the hospital for almost a week.  When she got home she could do very little by herself and needed a lot of personal care.  Two nights after we brought her home from the hospital my dad came down with a fever that required an overnight stay for us in the emergency room, only to find that he had contracted diverticulitis and would be dealing with that for likely the rest of his life.  To make matters worse, my kitty cat was acting very unusual and after a handful of visits to our [amazing] vet, she's better now but only after learning that she has a heart condition that will follow her the rest of her days.  I have to forcefully administer her medicine twice a day and three times on Wednesdays and Sundays, and her discomfort just breaks my heart.  Needless to say, I felt like I was playing nurse for everyone in our house this month and often times I was so burned out the days just blended together.  My dad is back at work now and my mom is doing amazingly well--she might even go back to work next week.  She is cancer free and doesn't even need chemotherapy--praise the Lord!  During this whole time I have been taking video clips of her progress and I put them together in a family documentary.  I'm so excited to put in the finishing touches and show it off...but maybe not here, as the subject material is a bit personal!

These past three months at home have been a bigger blessing than I anticipated.  I have really enjoyed spending all this time with my family, getting closer with my parents and Kayla & Shayne, and just being back in my hometown has been refreshing.  I can't lie and say that unemployment has been a walk in the park... there are definitely downsides, like having no income, and feeling like a bum, but it has also allowed me time to slow down and reprioritize the things that matter to me.  It's also nice to just take a breather and step off the "treadmill" that is life, to stop and smell the flowers.  It's harder for James who didn't grow up here, and who is suffering through the experience that is living with your in-laws, but I think he's managing well.

My absolute favorite part of 2014 so far has been my time invested in Photography.  If you will recall, last September I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime, to study photography and apprentice under a good friend of mine who has been shooting for years.  She lent me her Nikon dslr and gave me regular photo assignments to start learning the art and the industry.  We had a few practice shoots together and I've been shooting a bit down here in San Diego too.  I invested in my first dslr camera, my Canon EOS 60D, and I am in love.  Come February I settled on a name and started up my official "business" (how fancy schmansy that sounds!) and thus became Doskofoto.  Our last name, Doskocil, is Czech and in the Czech language, photography is written "fotografovánĂ­."  I figured the name would not only sound cool, but it would subtly incorporate a bit of our heritage to merge the two Czech words.  In March I bought my first domain, created my own website, and now am officially in business, pending my small business license.  I don't have as much professional experience as I'd like to have had by now, but it's coming, little by little.  This year I already booked five weddings and countless photoshoots, and I couldn't be more excited.  To think I could one day make a living off of doing something I truly enjoy has been nothing but a pipe dream these past few years, but now it is becoming reality.

On a more personal note I have had quite a slew of health complications myself, ranging from my ongoing hip problems, to random bouts of gastritis, heartburn, and waking up covered in hives.  I seriously can't catch a break.  I know the inside of my doctor's office better than most people know their own workplace, as I'm there at least three times a week (for physical therapy amongst everything else).  After undergoing an MRI, CT scan, arthritis bloodwork, and after receiving a cortisone steroid injection, I think we are nearing the diagnosis of whether or not I will have hip surgery again this year to correct my hip dysplasia.  While I don't relish the thought of another surgery plus the recovery, if there was ever a perfect time to do it, it would be now while I'm out of work and living with multiple caregivers.  So I guess the next 3-6 weeks will tell all..

So 2014 has surely been off to a loaded start, but like I said, there has been so much good.  I look forward to the next few months (sans the reality of hip surgery) and I am truly thankful for all the prayers and support that have gotten us this far.  Thank you!

While perusing the fabulous internet app that is Pinterest I recently found a cool little article on women's health and a few habits that each woman should have.  I thought I would share it on here for anyone to read, so if you have a minute, check it out:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Celebrating Presidents and Freedom and Stuff

On President's Day James and I decided to take a hike up to the top of our little town, Black Mountain.  Going up is a steep, straight shot, then coming down the trail loops and encircles the mountain, so needless to say, getting to the top means the hardest part is over (and cause for victory photos!).  We are both feeling it today, but it was fun!

Shutter speed is fun to play with ;)

"Look at that mountain back there, we hiked that!"

Beautiful sunrays poking through the neighborhood on the way home.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Funny Valentine

Today was such a fun day--I spent the whole day with a smile on my face!  This morning I woke up to roses and a hot latte, followed by a movie in bed and an incredible massage.  My hubby sure knows how to make a morning!  Then we headed up to a local park for a picnic and photo shoot which got a little out of control and had us rolling around in tears from laughing so hard (sorry, none of these laugh-inducing photos will ever be released to the public).  Then we came home for a bit before cooking our amazing surf-n-turf dinner, followed by a night of blogging and watching the Olympics.  We sure are spoiled sometimes!  (Can I also publicly express how much I love playing around in Lightroom 5?!)

Am I lucky or what?!  Not only is he handsome but he has the patience of a saint and lets me test out my tripod for hours on end....  (And then cooks dinner!)

Dear James,
I know you read this blog sometimes so in case you are reading today, I'm sorry I posted kissing pictures on the internet, and that I made you take so many pictures in general, but you have to admit we had a good time.  Thank you for always loving me despite my crazy whims, and for always supporting my dreams and passions.   You are the only person who understand me, you're my favorite shoulder to cry on, and the only person who can make me laugh any time I'm sad.  I don't think I say it enough, but I don't know what I did to deserve you and I will probably spend the rest of my life trying to pay it back.  I love you so much my funny valentine, you are my hero!
xoxo, me