She was born to be courageous

“Her courage was her crown and she wore it like a queen.” – Atticus

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Courage! It is such a powerful word. It came from the latin word cor which means heart. Living a courageous life is choosing to live from the heart. It’s allowing your heart and soul to be seen by the whole world. Courage is to be vulnerable and continue forward.

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“The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is to live in insecurity; it is to live in love, and trust; it is to move in the unknown. It is leaving the past and allowing the future to be.” – Osho

Having courage is essential in life. Without courage it is impossible for us to achieve or conquer anything. Those who are courageous are the ones who succeed. They are the ones who achieve their goal and live their dreams.

Courage is not something you can be given. It is something you were born with and a skill that needs to be nourished so it can flourish.

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“Courage is a love affair with the unknown.” – Osho

 If you have read my blog, followed me on instagram or have me as a friend on Facebook you’ll know that I’m just your ordinary girl. What could I have to say about courage? How could I possibly label myself as courageous? Well I’m not going to lie I struggled finding an example of my courage and most of my life thought of myself as a coward. So I tried to start writing down possible examples of my bravery and then I scrunched up the paper and threw it away. I then went to my “resources” also known as my parents. I have to say this slightly boosted my confidence when their reaction was “we have to pick just one?”

So here it is, after some lovely and encouraging talks with my family, I’ve come to realize that my courage has resided in me since the day I was born. I was born with a congenital heart defect called Ebstein’s anomaly. Despite what the doctors said about my odds of living, I was a fighter and had the strength of a warrior. Eleven years later, I had my open-heart surgery. I knew the risks involved but my courage was so much more powerful than my fears. The day of my operation I was prepped for surgery early in the morning with my parents there by my side. When the time came that I had to be taken into the operating room and say goodbye to my parents, I didn’t cry, I just hugged them and waved saying “see you soon.” I had a million fears yes, they were fierce and real but I was able to carry on strongly despite them. I rose above my fears. My courage and my strength made for an extraordinary quick recovery and to this day my doctors still talked about how my bravery made for a miraculous recovery.

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“She was powerful, not because she wasn’t scared but because she went on so strong, despite the fear.” – Atticus

To you who are reading this, maybe you can relate to my personal story or maybe your fears seem like such a catastrophe that you feel nobody would ever understand. We all have fears! Being courageous isn’t the same as being fearless. Fearless is having no fear at all, while courage is recognizing your fears and carrying on in spite them.

Fear is a feeling not a fact! When we allow fear to overcome us we have a false belief that we are powerless and have no affect on an outcome. Stop and be mindful of your fears, be aware that they are there; in fact they are there for a reason. Observe your thoughts of fear without judgment. Choose to carry on and accept the challenges that life brings.

Fear is a negative energy that can overtake us completely, while courage is positive energy to overcome fear.

“When you are willing to stay even a moment with uncomfortable energy, you will gradually learn not to fear it.” – Pema Chodron

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Several years ago I packed up all my belongings to move across the country to Whistler, B.C. on my own. I left all my friends, family and job behind in order to embark on a new life changing adventure. It was exactly what I wanted, my big step in becoming my fiercely independent, free-spirited and crazy self. However, when my flight was booked and my moving day confirmed all my fears began to overwhelm me. “How could I possibly move to the other side of the country where I knew no one?” “What if it didn’t work out?” or the worst one “How can I move so far away on my own when my health isn’t great?” Well toughen up sweetheart! Yes I was totally…completely…utterly…TERRIFIED! The easy option would have been to stay home, but I would have missed an amazing opportunity. I was courageous, I was a warrior and I carried on into a whole new world of the unknown.

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“Don’t call it it uncertainty – call it wonder. Don’t call in insecurity – call it freedom” -Ohso    

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Courage is risking the known for the unknown, the familiar for the unfamiliar, the comfortable for the uncomfortable, a road map for a trip to some unknown destination.

Learn to take risks! Sometimes taking risks may lead you into danger. Sometimes they may lead you astray but sometimes you need to go off course in order to grow. You will fall but you will rise up again. What defines us is how well we rise after falling. We learn and grow from our mistakes. That is how we become strong.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. We all learn from our mistakes and know what not to do next time. We cannot depend solely on other people’s lessons learned. We all have struggles and battles we are fighting. We are all facing challenges. There is nothing wrong with that! Having struggles does not make us weak. Having courage to face our challenges makes us strong.

Don’t live a life out of fear but live a life full of conviction! Stop analyzing life and live it. Stop trying to understand love and move into it. We gain knowledge through experience.

Go forward into the unknown with strength and bravery. It will take an extraordinary amount of trust and courage because you will be moving away from the norm. Learn to embrace change even when it may seem negative and choose to consciously turn challenges into opportunities.

Embrace new opportunities whenever they arise. Take on challenges. Embark on new adventures. Be open to all possibilities.

Choose to be alive, truly alive and venture out into the unknown. There may be danger but don’t let the fear hold you back. Be courageous!

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“Be here now, with all the insecurity that life is, with all the uncertainty that life is, with all the danger that life is.” – Ohso

Cultivating Gratitude

This morning I woke up to the cheerful sound of my one and half year old niece chattering away to herself on the baby monitor in my room. I laid there smiling to myself as I listened until I decided it was time to go in and get her out of her crib. When I walked into my niece’s room she stood up in her crib hollering “Eee” (her handle on Auntie). I lifted my gorgeous little darling out of her crib, embraced her with a good morning cuddle and kiss then carried her back to my room. We curled up in my bed watching Dora of course, which is my niece’s absolute favourite show at the moment (and also helps me to brush up on my Spanish “skills”). I watched my darling little niece in astoundment and astronomical gratitude for such a special moment with my precious girl. She had grown so big, her eyelashes are astonishingly long and dark outlining her gorgeous big brown eyes; she is no longer a baby. I had missed so much over the last year of her life while I was living overseas. So I laid there holding my beautiful baby girl in my arms watching and listening to her giggle along with Dora (and Backpack and Boots for those who have seen Dora the Explorer) taking every last ounce of it all in and completely present in the precious moment with her. I was completely overflowed with gratitude.

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” – Brene Brown

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Being mindful and practicing gratitude on a regular basis sounds so simple right? Well maybe it is in some ways but it does not come easy in the world we live in. We live in a society where we take everything for granted and are constantly busy. We never seem to focus on where we are but instead worry about where we are going. We miss out on so many precious moments because our minds are distracted or somewhere else. Instead we need to be thankful for this very moment we are in now just as it is. Mindfulness and gratitude to me come hand in hand. When we are completely aware and present in each moment is when we are truly awake. It is then when we start to find more joy and peace with the way things are. We begin to find our hearts are full of gratitude for all things, indifferent to whether they are positive or negative. For appreciation in our tribulations is just as important as appreciation in our triumphs. We find we are overflowing with thankfulness for what we have right here right now.

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While writing all of this I find myself singing “No day but today” from the musical Rent. “There is no future, there is no past, I live each moment as my last. There’s only us, There’s only this, Forget regret – or life is yours to miss.” Okay, now that I’ve gotten completely sidetracked with my “magnificent” singing voice let’s get back to what I was saying. Let me explain to you when I first really learned about the power of gratitude.

At 15 years old was the first time I traveled to Africa. We spent a day with the children living in a village on an island off the Okavango Delta. Now, before going into more detail I just need to state this would be one of, if not the very best and most significant days in my life. When our boat pulled up to their island, the children were standing along the shoreline jumping, waving and dancing with pure excitement to see us. They ran to our boat holding theirs hand out, not to beg for money but instead to lend us a hand getting out of the boat. The young ones never let go of our hands once from the time we arrived until we later departed. They showed us all around their village, how they caught fish and grew food. They showed us their homes that they had made of mud, elephant dung and straw. These people did not have much at all. They wore no shoes and torn old clothing that was either too big or too small. They survived off very little food and water. The children made toys out of sticks and stones. In this particular village the children are taught to never beg for anything but be thankful for everything. They only knew of what they had and did not want for anymore.

That day with those children little did I know, would forever change my life and my perspective on being. Those children had decided to be consciously grateful for all the little things that seem so minuscule but yet are so astronomical. Their gratitude astounded me and it was then when I made the subconscious decision to try my very hardest to be more thankful.IMG_1633

Practicing gratitude does not mean denying all of life’s difficulties. We live in troubling times; we are all battling challenges, facing obstacles, dealing with uncertainty and disappointment. When we cultivate gratitude in both the joy and the hardships we encounter we begin to become more mindful of the circumstances we are in and the world that surrounds us. Keep in mind that gratitude is a practice; it is not a trait that we automatically possess rather is a skill like all others that needs to be practiced. Cultivating gratefulness and grace helps to open a heart that has been guarded. Gratitude is neither sentimental nor indifferent, it is not jealous nor does it boast, it is not judgmental but rather accepting. It sets the stones and builds the foundation of the ability of forgiveness and clears the mind so it is receptive of spiritual growth.

Be grateful. Be mindful. Be present. We only have moments to live.

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My Self Love Story

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Not that long ago, I stared at myself in the mirror, pointing out every single one of my flaws inside and out. I stood there completely exposed to myself, shouting in the mirror how much I hated myself.

For such a long time now I have been playing this game of masks. I was consistently switching what mask I was wearing depending on whom I was with at the time. I didn’t think anyone would accept me if I showed them my true heart and soul. It was exhausting, depressing and it finally wore me out. Every day I was trying to look a certain way, dress a certain way and act a certain way in order to try to hide my flaws from the world. I needed to learn to love myself again because my self-hate was ruining my relationships with the most important people in my life, and most importantly my relationship with myself.

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Slowly I have been taking off my masks and learning to love the girl underneath them. I am learning to love and accept myself. I have learned to accept that not everyone will love and accept me.

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“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” – Brene Brown

This is my self-love story.

TRUST MYSELF

Over the past few years I have lost trust in myself because of my own self-judgment and negative beliefs. I have been dissecting false beliefs like; “I’m not smart everyone to figure things out on my own,” or “I’ll probably make a mistake anyway,” or “what if I do it wrong?” Every single time I tried to put trust in myself to do something or make a decision; questions and doubt came pouring over me. Here’s what I’ve learned though, I am smart enough, I am good enough, I am enough, so much that I can trust myself to make the right decisions for my life. I won’t let others change my mind with their shame, guilt and disapproving tactics.

“Daring to set boundaries is having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” – Brene Brown

I started to ask myself then how do I act upon trusting myself? To start, I thought about my boundaries. In order to trust myself I need to honour my own boundaries. Then, I need to show up and be reliable to myself. I can only trust myself if I do what I say I’m going to do, not just once but over and over again. Last, I need to hold myself accountable when I do mess up and make mistakes. I need to have integrity. Allow myself to fall apart and struggle without self-judgment.

“Intregrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.” – Brene Brown

LET GO OF MY PAST AND FORGIVE MYSELF

I can’t change what has happened in the past but I can learn from my past mistakes, forgive myself and let go. I have been so hard on myself for my past mistakes and failures by consistently beating myself up over things I could have done differently. It’s time to accept that yes, I have made poor decisions in the past out of pain, fear, being lost or just simply messing up! That’s normal. I’m human!

PRIOITIZE MY HEALTH

Over the entire course of my life I felt that my health issues defined me and were what people knew me by. I gave up fighting and let my health take control. It was the constant worry or the decision to miss out on something because of the possibility of the “what if.” When it came to my health I feel like I’ve had one thing after another, always something to drag me down and prevent me from getting ahead in life. This is my time to fight back and not let me health issues control my life. Get back to eating right, managing my stress, exercising daily and stop worrying!

EMBRACE VULNERABILITY

It has been a constant struggle for me to take off my masks and allow myself to be completely seen by others. Being vulnerable is being one hundred percent open with others and myself. It is revealing my heart to the world and being authentic. After posting my first blog I had several people say to me “I love your authenticity.” Right away I said to myself, “What is authenticity? I know I want that!”

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice, a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” –Brene Brown

I need to let go of who I thought I should be in order to be who I really am. I truly believe what makes me vulnerable makes me beautiful. Now as I’ve been working on loving myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about my past and present relationships, I am learning how important and necessary vulnerability is because without vulnerability there is no joy. When we completely open up and are vulnerable is when we find out true peace and happiness in life. We need to be vulnerable in order to make real connections with other people. It’s about loving whole heartedly even when there is no guarantee.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable but they are never weakness.” –Brene Brown

ACCEPT MY FLAWS

We all have flaws and we all have failed. Nobody is perfect. We are only human. I’m learning how to accept and even love my flaws that I cannot change. My body may be covered in scars, but they tell my stories. My scars make me beautiful and they show my measure of strength.

My internal flaws are a work in progress. I recognize I have them, learning about what they all are and am working hard on changing them.

“I myself am entirely made of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

OWN MY POTENTIAL

My self doubt has held me back from owning my potential. I am more then capable of anything I set my mind to as long as I put in the hard work and dedication. I believe my opportunities are limitless. Living up to my full potential is not trying to avoid making mistakes. It’s about giving it my all, wholeheartedly, with all I’ve got.

BE PATIENT WITH MYSELF

Hard work and dedication pays off but it takes time to get to the end results. So many times I have lost my patience with myself when I was working towards a goal. I felt like no matter how hard I tried I was getting no where or something would come along and set me back. Now, I need to constantly remind myself that I am doing the best that I can, be patient and I will get where I want to be.

BELIEVE IN MYSELF

Believe that I am strong enough to do this. I believe I can make all my dreams and goals a reality. I believe I am enough.

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“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” Christian D Larson.

Learning to love myself is the hardest thing I have ever done. I have always been my worst critic and constantly put pressure on myself to be perfect in everyone else’s eyes.

“You owe yourself the love you so freely give to other people” Alexandra Elle

A coffee, a onesie, a good book and good vibes.

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Over the course of my life I have lost myself completely time and time again. Only to find myself again every time and learn something new about myself. Now, after losing myself this time around I sat across from my friend bawling my eyes as I explained to him my current life predicaments. My heart has been broken and after years of being on my own, I find myself living back at my parents. I put all the blame on myself. I had done it again. I had been pretending for the last part of my life to be someone I wasn’t just to try to be please everyone around me. Because of that I lost some very important relationships to me, and most of all I had lost myself. I wasn’t looking for comfort, I literally wanted my friend to tell me flat out all the things I had done wrong and yell at me. But of course he didn’t. He told me how gorgeous I was and that it wasn’t my fault. Then of course he created me a tinder account to boost my confidence (which the account lasted a grand total of 5 minutes).

I had lost all my independence and confidence. I stopped doing all the things I love and that make me, me! So who am I? What defines me? Well I’m a coffee addict who loves to hang around in her onsie all day and read good books or binge watch tv shows. I love and am passionate about photography and travel. But over the past few years I forgot about the joy doing those things on my own brings me. I just stopped doing them. When I stopped doing the things I enjoy and doing them for myself I lost myself. I fell into the comfort of a long-term relationship. Not that that’s a bad thing, we had a great relationship, but I lost my balance in life. Going back to my original question of who am I? What defines me? I listed the things I enjoy and my habits but those aren’t who I am and what defines me. At this point in time I don’t know who I am.

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So, now yes in my search to rediscover myself I have spent 3 days in my onsie, photographing my daily activities (which consists of drinking coffee, reading, editing photos and walking around the house or on the treadmill when my fitbit yells at me that I haven’t been active enough), and writing all my hopes, dreams and thoughts down.

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So to anyone reading this I just need to say, it is ok to take time out, stay in your onsie all day and do all the things you need to do for you! It does not mean your lazy or a bum if you are sincerely taking time out like I am to think about you and do the things you enjoy to do!

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Inhale confidence, exhale doubt. So now as I sit here trying to edit this weeks photoshoots and drinking my 5th cup of coffee of the day. Yes 5th I know I have a problem. I have decided to book two trips for next year. The first one is to Utah to photograph the different national parks for a couple of days and then the big trip to Greece and Italy in April. So depending on how work goes, I am praying and budgeting hard to be able to do them both. However, Utah may have to be put on the backburner for some time.

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I am however committing to Greece and Italy for a year. Which is terrifying for me. I once again find myself having to pack my life up again and move across the world. I’m 28 years old and honestly feel like time is slipping away from me. So that is why I can’t put off this trip any longer. I have dreamed about it for years and there is no day like today. But with my current lack of confidence, health issues and not being able to drive I find myself doubting myself often. I however moved across the country on my own 5 years ago and my health was much worse and I managed…barely but I managed. I learned how much I was capably of and I learned how to love myself. Now feeling like I’ve backtracked completely, its time to do it all over again.

There is something so empowering to me seeing how much the world is my oyster. Realizing how much of it is in my reach, I just have to take the right steps to get myself out of my comfort zone and go out and grab it. So that is exactly what I am doing. In hopes to finding myself again, letting my spirit free, being true to my heart and feeding my soul.

“She dances to the songs in her head, speaks with the rhythm of her heart, and loves from the depths of her soul.” – Dean Jackson