To My 18 Year Old Self

My little brother graduated from high school yesterday. It was a surreal experience for me. He is ten years younger than me. And although I call him my little brother, he is much taller than I am and has been for years now. I remember the excitement I felt at that point in time-finally finishing high school, ready to move on to college, not knowing how difficult life as an adult can be. This is an open letter to my much younger self, on the cusp of adulthood and college and so much more...

Dear Kelly,

What an accomplishment! I know you are excited to move on from high school. But I want you to take a few moments to recognize your place of privilege. I know that it seems obvious that you would be graduating high school. Your worries were always, can I maintain a 4.0, will I get into a good college, will I get a boyfriend before I graduate...But there are so many kids out there with far greater worries and stressors in life. Instead of fretting about grades, they're stressed about getting enough food, or their electricity shutting off, someone leaving for the day and never coming home, an abusive parent or caregiver...Graduating from high school is not always a given, or a right, for everyone. You are so fortunate to have a family that supported and encouraged you unconditionally along the way. 

The friends that you had in high school will not be the same friends you have as a adult. And that is ok. Life moves you in different directions. The important people in your life will stick. Those few people know who you are, and they love you anyways. Remember that those few meaningful relationships are better for you than having numerous surface level friendships. You guard your heart pretty fiercely. Trust few, but be open to many. 

College will bring its own challenges and excitement. Do not get caught up in comparing your university to theirs. You are meant to walk your own path, as are they. You are meant to be on a specific university campus with peers and professors that will play parts in your life you may never fully recognize. Do your best to settle your lonesome and envious heart. You are here for a reason, and hopefully one day you will see that more clearly. 

Work hard. Take risks. Be brave, and be compassionate. When the weight of responsibilities gets you down, reach out for advice and wisdom from those who have gone before you. Do not open a credit card. Live the broke life and learn about yourself in the process. These years of struggle and stretching yourself thin will teach you so much. Do not compare your story to someone else's. No one has it all figured out. And if you think they do, they are either fooling you, or themselves. Everyone is scared. Everyone is lonely. Everyone wants more love and less doubt. Everyone is deserving of love and kindness. 

Open your heart and your mind-intellectually, spiritually, socially. Be open to new experiences. You do not have to play the role of the good girl or live up to impossible standards of perfection. Life is messy. Even those messy parts can be fun. Do not judge others for living differently than you. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you let go of judgement and the need to be in the right, the sooner you will attract people into your life through love. You never know the battles someone else has faced. Do your best to give benefit of the doubt, to give second chances, to act instead of react, and to listen and be present. 

This life is hard. This life is uncertain. Stay true to your heart. Get into a little bit of mischief. Push yourself in every area of life. Mess up. Fail. Get down and dirty. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is life. This is growth. This is being present. 

Yours Truly,

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.

If I'm Being Honest

I grew up watching Mary-Kate and Ashley, Lindsay Lohan, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Matilda, and Madeline. I am 100% sure this is why I want to work with young girls and women. And, to be honest, I've fantasized about working at a boarding school in Paris somewhere just like in Madeline, where I mentor a little girl and make those important emotional connections. 

I'm sitting here watching The Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan version, of course) and realizing just what an impact these movies have had on my life. I love the short scenes at the beginning of the movie where the "girls" (side note, who else was shocked when they found out that Lindsay in fact did NOT have a twin?!) are making new friends and having a great time at camp. I loved how in Madeline all of the girls slept in the same large room and navigated different peer relationships. I love the stories the little girl told in A Little Princess (even though at 28 it still makes me cry every time when she's trying to get her amnesiac father to recognize her). 

Sure, some girls have an experience with a doctor at a young age and want to go into medicine. Some girls are impacted by an ill family member, others have a family member in the armed forces and grow up wanting to serve their country. Still others grow up with examples of self-starters and entrepreneurs and want to go into business...

I grew up watching movies of unrealistic summer camp/boarding school experiences and wanted to become a den mother. Same/Same. 


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.


The Universe is Conspiring For You

One of my yoga teachers says, "The Universe is conspiring for you, not against you." So often we think we're being "tested" by God. But I don't think God tests us. I choose to think that things are working in a way that is supposed to challenge us, but also uplift us. These "tests" show us the strength we have within that we might not otherwise have been witness to. 

It feels very vulnerable and scary to put yourself out there into the Universe and trust that things will work out in your favor eventually. I felt nervous and self-conscious posting last week on my Instagram that I'm available for photoshoots. It felt presumptuous to assume my work is good enough to gain the attention of others, and then to have someone pay me for it. 

But, as it so often does, the starts aligned and I found myself encouraged and surprised by the interest that post received. I spent an afternoon last week with Caroline. We met as new coaches for Girls On The Run Sacramento and have spent the last three months taking a rowdy, sassy, and endearing group of 3rd-5th grade girls through the GOTR program. 

Caroline is a writer and was looking for new content to include on both her website and Instagram. Her enthusiasm for the whole process was contagious. She is a natural goof and has very little shame in making a fool out of herself. I envy people with these traits-to not worry so much about what others think of you must be very freeing. 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to push myself-both emotionally in offering my services, and technically in photographing someone other than myself or the trips that I go on. And even if Caroline is the only client I book, I know that had I not spoken up, had I not taken that leap of trust and faith in the process, I never would have felt this particular pride and excitement.