*Photo: Kyle Carnes Photography

Five years ago, I was a new Portland resident and incredibly excited about exploring the surrounding area. Over a long weekend in the Gorge fueled by music and friendship, I told some friends I wanted to explore the Olympic Peninsula, land of snowy peaks, rain forests and long, stony beaches. A few weeks later, I drove with a couple friends up to Seattle, picked up a couple more friends, crossed the sound on the ferry and went to a place our friend knew only through his father’s tales. That place was Shi Shi Beach.

What began as a single night of drizzly camping hunkered among the pines, sharing food and whiskey and stories turned into an annual tradition that incorporates friends, new and old, car caravans, extensive meal planning, Shi Shi rituals and the magic that can always be found there. This year was no exception.  We saw grey whales feeding near the shoreline, a pair of peregrine falcons feeding on a gull, and at night the sea was filled with phosphorescence that made the crests of the waves glow blue without the moon. This was my fifth Shi Shi trip and while that’s special in itself, this Shi Shi also marked another special anniversary.

A year ago I went in to my editing job on the Monday after the long Shi Shi weekend and was laid off from a job I had held for over four years. It was horrible but also exciting. After some consideration, I decided to pursue copywriting full-time, something I had only done in my spare time.

Starting my own business has been challenging, scary and not without its frustrations. Mostly though, the challenges have been wonderful. I’ve learned so much, I’ve worked with some really great people, and I’ve been able to do something that I enjoy doing every day. Thanks for being encouraging, for working with me or passing my name on to someone who might want to work with me, for buying me drinks when I was broke, for reading my blog, for showing your support. It’s been a great year.