Saturday, December 31, 2022

2022 in a Nutshell

WOW GOD, WHY!!!!!!!  Can I just end my recap of 2022 there?  Okay see you guys in 2023 ✌✨

But no, I do want to acknowledge this year and everything that happened, as hard and traumatic as it's been.  I know for many it was a stressful year, and I was no exception.  I did everything I could to keep afloat - networked to get freelance projects, stuck with my Etsy and Threadless shops, worked full time at my sea turtle job again, picked up side work, applied and interviewed for dozens (and DOZENS) of jobs and art projects, but I just couldn't keep up, and had to make the decision to move out of my place.

While I've always been on hyper-speed mode in my career doing a million things at once, the stress of living really broke my spirit this year.  When I started my journey in art and science, I always thought  that if I sacrificed enough of my life (my home, social life, dating, having any nice thing ever lol), that my career would be successful in time.  But almost a decade later, I feel like all the running and wishing and hoping has caught up with me, leaving me feeling burnt out and defeated.

This is the side of pursuing arts and conservation I try to avoid talking about, but it's the harsh reality.  Jobs like these require so much of our bodies, time, energy, emotions, and our lives, and on top of it all we have to have two degrees and still fight for a livable wage.  It's dehumanizing, and it has broken too many caring and passionate people in this world.  And because of this, these incredibly valuable fields of work also suffer greatly.  I'm not sure what, when, or even if this issue will ever be fixed, but despite all the pain and frustration my career has put me through, I wouldn't change it for anything.  I still encourage anyone who dreams of creating art and protecting our wild spaces to do it without hesitation.  The world needs your personal expression in it, the planet needs us to fight for her, and if you never try to do what you love full time, you'll never know if it could happen.

Even though this year has been challenging, it made me realize I need to separate my self-worth from my work (which is the hardest thing my Aries moon in the 10th house could EVER accept).  It's made me realize that even though I want to fix all the problems I see, I'm not a failure just because I can't fix them.  I'm not a failure because I can't compete in this capitalist nightmare.  And I'm not a failure because of all the rejections I've encountered.  I am so proud of everything I've done, and I'm learning now that I need to take a break, and give a little of that passion I've been pouring into the world back into myself for a bit.

On this final day of 2022, I'm still uncertain of what I will be doing of where I'll be in 2023, but I can feel the pit in my stomach starting to fade.  Brighter days are ahead, and for anyone else struggling, you are worthy of ALL the love, pride, and kindness, even if you are the only source you can get it from for now💛


Ironically, after all of that, this year was actually one of the best years of my art business, with many commissions, shop profits, and even several murals✨  I saw huge growth in my business in 2022, and while I'm taking a break from it for the time being, it certainly won't be forever.  I'm just going to start making art for me again💛

Here's a look at all the art I made this year, including a look at some of the art I made over the past two years for applications/projects I was ghosted on that never came to fruition.  If you're in the freelance world, you understand 😅


Etsy and Threadless


My mural "Summer Moonlight" I painted live at the first annual Space Coast Mural Fest in Cocoa Beach

"Backyard Birds" - a mural I created at my parent's house in homage to the birdies I grew up with

(Left) "Midnight Snack", (Right) "Who Goes There?"
"Tiny Mice" - my dear friends asked me to create a couple murals of mice in their homes, and I just couldn't say no.  We like to think that they connect all of their homes together in a series of underground tunnels<3

Art Made for Applications


In order to destress this year, I definitely took advantage of the peaceful outdoors more than I ever have before.  I visited 29 unique preserves, state/national parks, and manmade nature spaces in 2022, and revisited some of the same places many many times💛  I tried to keep a nature blog for every month, but had zero time for it after July 😅 If you'd like to read more about the places I saw in the first half of the year, check out my posts for January, February, March, April, May, June, and July here.  Otherwise, here is a lil collection of my favorite nature moments💚

A white-tailed deer at Micco Scrub Sanctuary
Tiny carnivorous plants at Jordan Scrub Sanctuary
An otter trying its hardest to befriend a pair of hesitant sandhill cranes
My favorite curious FL Scrub Jays (not baited)
Sunset in the scrubs at North Sebastian Conservation Area
A scene straight out of Jurassic Park at the Pelican Island NWR
Gulls, terns and skimmers relaxing at sunrise
The best girls in the entire world<333
The magical forest of Ochlockonee River SP
An INCREDIBLE array of rare, endangered, and endemic flora that makes the FL panhandle so special
The mollusk egg cases were HUGE this year lol
Tarflower blooming in the summer at Micco Scrub
9 out of the 11 milkweed species me, Kate, and Steff found on our Milkweed Extravaganza in May!
A male bobwhite quail in plain sight at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve SP
I just so happened to be in Monterey Bay during the one week this herd of sea lions decided to beach right by the Fisherman's Wharf - something that hasn't happened in over 5 years!
A fun, wet hike finding coins and pine lilies with Kate and Steff, right before Hurricane Ian hit
The sign of fall in Florida - purple Muly grass - at Ralph E. Simmons state forest
A female green lynx protecting her egg case in Micco Scrub
A hungry bobcat staring down a flock of wild turkeys early morning at the St. Sebastian River SP
Florida Scrub Jay
Purple gallinules and Glades lobelia filled the Everglades in November
A pileated woodpecker hunting along a cypress tree in Loxahatchee NWR
A winter solstice sunset at one of my favorite places, Micco Scrub<3
White-tailed deer grazing in the dry praires of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve SP

Sea Turtles

I know I say this every year (this time it might actually be true), but I completed my 8th and final turtle season in 2022🐢🐢🐢  Working five days a week on the beach hits a LOT different when you're 32 compared to when you're 25 lolll, but all the pain, sweat, and migraines are always worth it to be in the presence of these endangered species again.  2022 brought on an intense hurricane season, record breaking nesting numbers, and new stranding events I've never seen before, like a loggerhead mama who accidentally crawled 1500 ft into the dunes that we had to carry out on a UTV, and a green mama who got stuck upright when a dune collapsed on her😱  If there's one thing I've learned about field work in the past eight years, it's that you should ALWAYS expect the unexpected.

Said loggerhead mama who got lost in the dunes
Said green mama who got stuck in a dune collapse
Possibly the greatest accomplishment of my entire career - someone turned my photo into a semi-viral meme. I can die happy now
Damage from Hurricane Ian and Nicole
Damage from Hurricane Ian and Nicole
Damage from Hurricane Ian and Nicole

An Ode to my Home

Finally, I wanted to make an ode to my home before I leave it.  For the past few weeks I've been slowly moving out of this tiny trailer I've lived in for two years, my first ever place of my own, and even now it's hard to fully say goodbye.  Living here gave me space to breathe, grow, heal, and find independence in ways I've never experienced before.  Not to mention my first official art studio💛  I will cherish this humble nest on Thrush Circle forever, and while I know some day I'll find a permanent place to settle down in, for now I'm still a little teary eyed.

Past year's "In a Nutshell" Posts