Exactly one year ago today I moved into a house in Nebraska with the best of intentions. I wanted to live a simpler life, closer to my family, with a lower cost of living. I even carefully weighed the pros and cons of this big decision and decided it was worth a shot. And while it has been nice being close to family, I missed Portland—and the Pacific Northwest in general—too much. It was time to go home.

In less than two weeks I will be officially moving into my new home in Portland, Oregon, which I hope (crossing fingers) will be the last time I move in a very long time. This will be the third time I’ve moved to Portland since 2012, and I don’t even want to say how many times I’ve moved before that. At this point I’m hoping I’ve learned my lesson; Portland is my home, it’s where I belong, and (most importantly) it’s where I want to be.

Creatively speaking this move to the midwest has been challenging. The drain hasn’t hit me too hard, not yet, but I can see the signs. I have successfully managed to write two books while living here, along with several other small projects for both my blog and online store. But to do my job I need to constantly create photographs, and as the months passed and the dust on my camera built up, I knew something needed to change. Traveling from Nebraska to do photography trips (where I tend to bulk up my portfolio) was not as simple as I had hoped, and the photographic opportunities in this moderately-sized Nebraska town are limited. In time, my work and business would eventually suffer, and along with it I feared the spark of happiness that I always carry with me—typically regardless of my circumstances—would eventually fade away.

I would like to say it was an easy decision to move back to Portland, but it has still been tough. It has been a wonderful gift to be close to family this past year. But while you—my fellow photographer—may read this and nod your head in understanding, trying to explain to my family the need for a creative environment, a place ripe with culture, and to be surrounded by beautiful landscapes, has not always proven to be so easy. I’ve learned that being geographically close to family is not as important as that feeling of knowing that they only want what’s best for you.

I’m excited to be only a walk away from thew neighborhood’s farmer’s market and a beautiful nearby park, and a short drive to the mountains, waterfalls, and ocean. I’m so happy that I can bring my dogs to their favorite dog park. But mostly I’m looking forward to dusting off my camera and carrying it with me as often as possible.

Want to see where my adventures take me? Follow me on Instagram.