I've Got Your Back, ft. Caroline Williams

I met Caroline earlier this year through the non-profit Girls on the Run. We were both first season coaches and I can tell you we both learned a lot through the process.

Caroline has a zest for life. She’s got a ton of energy and excitement for the things that make her happy. Sure, at first it can feel slightly overwhelming, but the more time I spent with her the more I saw that Caroline is incredibly genuine, she is unapologetically herself, and her energy is contagious. Caroline is the first one who took me up on my recent promotion as a paid photographer. The whole experience was a beautiful soft landing for my first professional photography job. Her excitement for the project, the ideas I had, the shots I was capturing...it gave me so much confidence and reassurance that what I was passionate about was also a talent of mine. I could never thank her enough for the way she made me feel in that experience. 

Keep reading on to see exactly what I mean when I say that Caroline is passionate and real. You can also find her website here to read her personal essays and work that's been published. 

(If you'd like to hear to the full interview, head over to Soundcloud to give it a listen.)

What is the most recent book or article you’ve read that has influenced, encouraged, or challenged your thinking?
I’m currently reading Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about living creatively, and being open to living a creative life. I guess as a freelance writer I feel like I need to be writing a personal essay every single day or I’m not being productive, and I need to have my blog constantly updated. This book has taught be to be open, and that the ideas will come. Elizabeth Gilbert is just a goddess.

Who is an influencer in your life?
My mom is my everything. She is also sober, and she’s taught me a lot along that journey. She was an attorney and married to my father. When my father passed away from cancer she grieved. But then she knew my dad wouldn’t want to see her in this perpetual state of sadness. So she reevaluated her life, picked herself up, found love again, found a new passion…They moved to Georgia on a farm and they rescue animals. She was in a situation where she could have wallowed and said, “That was my one true love and now I’m done.” But instead she realized she had a lot of life left to live and said, “Let’s do this thing.” My mom is just the greatest person in the entire world.

How do you see her influence in your everyday life?
Well, I try not to feel sorry for myself. That’s a huge thing. When I was drinking I definitely got into a hole of thinking, “I’m the girl with no dad. Why me?” My mom kind of reminds me that everyone has his or her own shit, and that I’m not any different. She reminds me that I’m not benefiting anyone by using your dad’s death to feel sorry for yourself.

And she’s just a badass. She’s an attorney turned animal activist. She could have been happy to go retire on the beach but instead she wanted to go adopt a bunch of elderly cows! 

What does feminism mean to you?
I was turned off by the word feminism at first. I think it can have a really bad connotation. I think some people think it means being one of the guys, and I don’t see it that way at all. It’s being treated equal to men, but still owning that you’re a woman.

Someone once told me I needed to stop wearing pink to work if I wanted to be taken seriously. And I thought that was so silly. I’m feminine. I’m giong wear lipstick and pink and I’m still really smart. So I think feminism is embracing your womanhood.

I think there are a lot of things that guys can do really well. There are a lot of things women can do really well. I think we’re equal, and we have these incredible strengths. I think a lot of women feel like they have to become more masculine to be as good as men. But it’s about owning your femininity. Or, if you have a masculine side, own that if that’s what’s comfortable for you. But you don’t need to change to be more manly to be treated equally.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live your life by?
I have two right now that are always in my head. One of them is “every situation is temporary”. I used to look at it through the lens of having a really bad day, or I was broke to remind myself that the struggle is temporary. But now, I’m in a very good season of my life. I have a job I love. I’m planning a wedding. There are these exciting things going on in my life. I feel very blessed. So now I remind myself that even the good stuff is temporary, so get off your phone, don’t take things for granted, this moment is fleeting. I’m learning to be present.

The other quote is, “if it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive”. I was in a job I didn’t like for a very long time, simply because it made financial sense. I had an office job like all my friends and I was trying to be this big city professional. And I was more comfortable financially then, but so unhappy everywhere else. All I did was wait for the evening when I was done with work. Sunday nights I would dread going to work on Monday.

Right now I’m writing, and working at a fitness studio that I love, and I’m so happy and at peace. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. And I don’t have as much money, but it’s not costing me my peace. It’s so important to love what you’re doing. Your job is a big part of your life. Do something that you love. This year I realized I’d take happiness over a huge salary any day.

What are you most passionate about?
One thing I’m extremely passionate about is fitness. When I got sober I kind of fell into exercise. At first it was out of necessity. My skin was crawling. I didn’t know how to unwind without wine or vodka. I started running, and running, and running, and then I was too tired for wine or vodka. And then I discovered what my body was capable of. I started running half marathons; I started feeling fit. I’m passionate about teaching people what their bodies are capable of.

How will you be an agent for encouraging other people’s health and wellness?
I recently took a part time job at a fitness studio.  And now being around people like trainers and the studio owner-exercise is their life. There’s a mindset of motivation and high energy. I don’t know in what capacity I want to work within fitness, but I’m interested in growing in that field.

I have had a lot of friends reach out to ask about exercise and the studio I work at. But they tell me they want to lose thirty pounds before they come in to the gym. What I try to do is encourage them to show up as they are, and to let the exercise change them. You don’t need to change yourself to start. I want to be a cheerleader for exercise, and show people that eating healthy is not just to lose weight; it’s to fuel your self with the right stuff. You don’t have to be in shape to show up at a gym. Come as you are. Do what you can. And you’ll feel amazing. Just try something. You’ll discover your power if you just show up and try.

Fill in the blank: I am ______________
I am sincere. 

Upside Down

I started practicing yoga about eight years ago. It quickly became my main source of community. I threw myself into volunteering, workshops, classes, and connection. I began to feel good about my body again. I had some pretty powerful God moments on my mat. And most of all, I learned more about taking care of myself and finding balance.

Many of my teachers say that how you do anything is how you do everything. The work I put in on my yoga mat transferred into every other area of life. I became more open minded and accepting of others. I felt more powerful and confident in my body, as well as my general presence outside of the practice. 

But within the last year my low-back pain progressively got worse and worse. I tried taking out backbends and spinal twists. Still I left class feeling worse than when I walked in, and I knew that wasn't right. I feared pulling back in my yoga practice would mean losing my community and my sense of belonging. But I also knew that my body couldn't handle it any more-at least not for some time. 

So for the past four months or so I haven't stepped onto my mat once. It feels wrong. I sometimes so badly want to get on a mat and do sun salutations or inversions. I long for a hot sweaty class with pounding music and tangible energy. But it also feels right. In many ways I have lost that community and that sense of belonging. In other ways it's been a beautiful push to put myself out there in other arenas and to build my network. I've gotten more and more into photography. I've gotten into weight training with a personal trainer. I've listened to my body and my physical therapist and have healed so much already. 

I've always known the practice of yoga would be a life-long practice. Although my body isn't in vinyasa classes, I'm still meditating. I'm still using my breath to calm my mind and heart. I'm still practicing ahimsa (non-violence) by capturing spiders in my apartment and releasing them outside instead of killing them...

How you do anything is how you do everything. And I'm doing yoga whether or not I'm in handstand or at a desk. 


Capitol Gardens

Guys, working a full-time job is exhausting...In the last year my work has been somewhat inconsistent (in not nonexistent), and getting back into the swing of a nine to five has been rough. I'm working at a summer school program teaching math in the morning hours, then dance and yoga in the afternoon. It's a quick transition over to dancing and corralling two classes of thirty pre-teens. I had all of these plans to go to the gym several days after work since they are close to each other. But honestly I haven't gone once. Hopefully week two will see me more settled and better at distributing my energy!


When Things Just Come Together

Last weekend I was invited to go camping with my friend Allie, and then three more of her friends I had never met. I have been so blessed by my new relationship with Allie, that I immediately jumped at the chance to hang out with her more and meet her friends. Let me just share something with you: I was not raised as a camper. So this is a big deal. I definitely went o REI and spent far too much money on "appropriate gear," and outsourced other necessities (hello sleeping bag) to my badass camping and backpacking friend Carolyn. 

We camped at Salt Point in Jenner, California. The drive was a bit long, and far too windy for my stomach's liking, but it was so freaking worth it. The ocean, the company of Allie and her friends, the food and s'mores...It was so perfect. I asked Allie to let the other women know I'd be bringing my camera and if they wanted to do a photoshoot they should bring a flowy dress, knowing we'd be by the ocean. Taylor brought the most gorgeous, crisp, flowing dress and whatever backdrop I had her in, she and the dress just popped. 


McKinley Rose Garden

Man, migraines are not joke. I got hit hard with my first migraine Monday afternoon and it had me down for the count. It's been on my mind a lot lately the amount of time I spend on my computer and my phone, especially with how much photo editing I've been doing. I know I need to get a larger monitor to do my editing so that my eyes aren't straining as much. But this recent migraine-whether or not it was due to screen time-has me even more motivated to dedicate specific, limited time to picture editing and social media.

Last Friday I got to photograph a friend's sweet daughter. She recently got her braces off and this photo session was a gift to celebrate it. I remember when I got my braces off and wanting to cheese in every photo op. It was so nice to work with MacKenzie. She was focused and open to my direction. She was silly and genuine, and she brought her own ideas and style. 


Creative Mornings

Last Friday I had the pleasure of working with Creative Mornings Sacramento to photograph their meeting on Serendipity. I first heard about CM Sac from my friend Allie a couple months ago. The first meeting I was able to attend was titled, "Taboo." This past month was Serendipity. The cool thing is, thousands of people are gathering around the globe each month to discuss a specific topic. Creative Mornings is international, and we're so lucky to have our own chapter here in Sacramento. The more I put myself out there-in the community, in the ether, in this life-the more I realize how awesome my city is. 

See you there next month, creative people.


A couple years ago on a weekend trip to Seattle I discovered Darling Magazine. Darling is all about "the art of being a woman". None of their models are retouched. There are various body shapes and sizes; races and ethnicities. The articles in Darling are thoughtful and meaty-I've learned something about myself with each issue. 

With that being said, actually reading through each one is a lengthy process. When I first starting reading Darling I was still in school, reading endless articles and writing masterfully b.s.'ed papers...I hardly had time to relax and take a breath, so reading for myself wasn't a high priority. But now that I'm basically unemployed and in the final stages of my thesis, I still find myself turning to Netflix or HBO instead of reading. It's one of those things that are so good for you, but also not your first instinct because we so often deflect and self-sooth by distracting ourselves. 

With the most recent issue of Darling I'm doing my best to dive in. I was reminded of why I love it so much. It's a magazine for women. It's about both challenging and uplifting the reader. Darling is about learning and growing and knowing yourself and being comfortable with your self. It's little, but I love the fact that they use feminine pronouns. One day, I would be so honored to work for Darling. It encompasses everything I'm about: connection, creativity, femininity, and sense of self.


The Nature of the Beast

I've resisted Facebook for so long now. I remember feeling anxiety and ineptitude when I was on it in my early college years. I was disappointed that I hadn't gone away for college, and watching all of my classmates post about living in the dorms, college parties, meeting new friends, and leading these seemingly exciting lives made me feel resentful of my own. I deleted my page and was pretty much off social media for the next five years. 

I only recently got back to Instagram, and as I've written here before, I have had such an amazing experience with it-connecting to new people, growing as a photographer and influencer. In this time between jobs, I decided to pursue photography with more drive and purpose. I want to work with more clients, engage in collaboration, and expand my own knowledge and skills. Because of this, I felt I needed to get back on Facebook to reach a wider audience. 

Coming back to it at 28 years old, I know I am much more aware of the fact that we only post the picture perfect images of our lives (for the most part). I know myself well enough to not scroll through my feed for any great length of time. I know that everyone is fighting a battle, and what we put on Instagram or Facebook or any other social media is what makes us feel good about ourselves, and those things should be celebrated. 

So I'm taking the opportunity to use Facebook to enter into another period of growth and challenge. One that I'm hoping will also bring abundance and connection.