What's holding you back from the life?
When I was in 10th grade, I had to pick an elective in order to have enough credits for the school year. My choices were wood shop, auto-body shop or photography. I chose wood shop but...after a tour of the room with the teacher and seeing all of the heavy equipment, I knew without a doubt I'd lose a digit if not an actual limb if given the chance. I'm not very graceful and in fact, kind of a klutz. In fact, just this year, I almost cut off my finder and almost put a big gash in my shin after deciding I was going to use hedge clippers to beautify our yard. I jokingly say “my middle name is grace”. LOL
Because I had no interest in being a "grease monkey”, the only other option was photography. After only a few days of class I was 100% hooked. I knew this was my calling and in fact, my teacher and I believed it was a gift the Lord himself bestowed upon me.
Over the course of the next several months, I would plan out my entire photography future and had a dream to be a freelance fashion photographer for all the big name magazines like Elle, W, Vogue, Cosmo, and more. I remember day dreaming about what my life would be like as a fashion photographer. At one point, I even wrote my favorite and highly sought after fashion photographer, Herb Ritts, asking if he would consider taking me on as an apprentice. It was the scariest moment of my life at that point but I believed in the idea that you’ll never know unless you ask. I never heard back from Mr. Ritts and sadly, he died a few years later.
After high school I got a full ride scholarship to a private libel arts school where I would major in photography. Unfortunately, after three semesters of spending more time enjoying the college life and not enough time cracking open the books, I was politely asked to leave school and to study elsewhere for a year before returning. I didn't go back to college and instead struggled for the next year trying to live on my own on minimum wage earnings. During that time, as a poor 18 year old, I lived off of ramen and Diet Coke. After a short period of time, I became a vegetarian due to a memorable and disgusting incident with a raw chicken breast that in my mind was bleeding all over my kitchen, which would scar me for life.
After really struggling to survive in a big city in Upstate NY making only $150 a week with a $500/month rent payment, I knew I couldn't keep going at this rate so I decided to join the US Army to become a combat photographer. To my dismay, the recruiter convinced me there was no money in photography (lie #1) and that military intelligence soldiers made way more money (lie #2) so I instead became a "Special Agent" in the military intelligence field and truly THRIVED at it. However, while in the military, my dream to be a photographer never died. In fact, just before my enlistment ended, I started my own photography business and began traveling all over the Western side of the State of Washington photographing pregnant bellies and newborn babies. It was the highlight of my young life. This is when the entrepreneur bug bit me. My business took off in 2000 and I never felt so driven and happy in a career in all my 30 years of life. Sadly, my divorce in 2007 put my photography career on hold and it didn't start up again until 2010, this time around it was with boudoir photography and then transitioned to child and teen photography. Then in 2015, my dream of working with models and in fashion finally happened. My work was published in dozens upon dozens of magazines; I earned several photography awards; I worked with well-know models and a few tv starts but it wasn't at all what you would expect - they were child and teen models and tv stars, not the supermodels I had hoped to work with one day. Funny thing is, I absolutely loved it, the accolades, the validation, the awards...it all brought such a huge smile to my face and made me feel appreciated and adored...for a short-lived moment any way.
That's the thing, growing up, I was the eldest of 3 daughters. As such, I was expected to always look after my sisters who were 5 and 8 years younger than me. My mom became a single mom when I was 11, which resulted in her having to work a few jobs and hardly ever being home to parent us. It wasn't until recently after working with my life coach that I uncovered that I had abandonment issues as well as inner child wounds. These wounds created a huge part of my reality and perception of the world. It also was the reason I looked for validation and that my love language was "words of affirmation", because I never heard, "I'm so proud of you" or "You are amazing" as a child. Instead, I was told things like, "You are the oldest so I expect more from you" or "You know I rely on you to take care of your sisters because you're the oldest". In all honesty, I was learning how to become a parent by parenting my younger siblings but had no foundation or person to model that behavior after so I basically was winging it and flying by the seat of my pants. No plan of action. No road map. Nothing but my 11 year old pre-pubescent brain and a television to teach me what I needed to know. Because of this lack of parenting and in turn, lack of emotional connection with a parental figure, I sought it out from others as child, teen, young adult and older adult.
So where am I going with all of this you ask? I'm glad you're thinking that. My entire life construct was based off approval of others. Photography, my creativity, my gift, brought me the accolades, words of affirmation and instant gratification I was seeking. But it was fleeting and only lasted until the comments stopped on any photo I would post when I would share my work on social media. Once that moment passed, I was empty again looking for the next opportunity to bolster my confidence. And trust me, this was like a ful time job for me - always looking for the next ego boost. It wasn't until I started working with my life coach and a self-love coach that I was able to recognize these toxic behaviors of mine and damn... am I so glad I did because that truly was no way to be living life. The fact I lived life that way for 51 years is a tragic testament to the fact that trauma inside every cell of my body was making me do dumb shit.
That leads me to the point of me sharing my story. What's holding you back? What's keeping you from doing what sets your soul on fire? Is it a fear of judgment? Fear of putting yourself out there? Fear of rejection? Whatever it is, trust me, once you allow yourself to live fully as unapologetically as possible, your life will feel so much more authentic to who you know you were created to be.
When I was a photographer, I had no other desire to do anything but photography and to be the best in my area. I thought that was my destiny. It wasn't until I enrolled and graduated from nutrition school that I realized photography was simply a season of my life. One I needed in order to give me something I could look back on and see how much I have grown as a woman since those days. Don't get me wrong, I will always love photography and hold a deep appreciation for every client I photographed and every image I captured but today, the woman I am now has so much more deeply planted roots in the ground and has healed so much because of the journey photography took me on. Just like my mission with photography was to help girls of all ages feel strong, confident and courageous, today my passion for health & wellness is helping women find beauty in their past and to help them to build an even more beautiful and healthy future. Being able to help my clients to feel amazing in their own skin and to feel good mentally, emotionally and physically...that's the legacy I want to create now. I hope that you dear reader, can also find something that sets your soul on fire.