Life Update: February 2018

So, it's been a bit of radio silence since the New Year arrived. The past month has been exciting, terrifying, and down right busy. I'm currently writing this from the corner table of Mill Mountain Coffee in Blacksburg, VA, and I'm still pinching myself that this is real life. So what exactly has been going on this month?

The first week of January, I hit my wall. The one I knew was coming. The one I saw myself careening toward for the past 6 months. Since graduating with my Masters in Clinical Counseling, I was faced with a question that terrified me. Is this (being a clinical mental health counselor) what I want? Now don't get me wrong. I wasn't asking myself if this was something that I was good at, or something that I could see myself doing. I had dozens and dozens of heart to hearts with myself and those around me to pick apart my heart to answer this simple question. Is this what I want?

To understand the relevance this question has with my photography business, you need to know a little bit about how I think about the world, my careers, and my purpose in life. I truly believe to live a life that is vibrant, and real, and celebrates humanity, you're going to experience life on a spectrum. There will be immense joy, unbelievably pain, humility, compassion, and anger. One has the potential to experience the harsh slap of rejection, and the peace of experiencing what it means to be known and loved unconditionally. I believe the best, and most challenging, aspects of life happen within relationships and these relationships deserve honor, attention, and hard work. So when I approach working with clients in a clinical setting, I want to join them in a relationship, and help them address whatever challenges they may be facing through the context of relationships.

So what the heck does this have to do with photography? Well my theory is the same. Truly, its precisely the same. Photography is how I join with you to show attention and honor to the human experience. To the relationships that brought you into the world, the ones you choose for yourself along the way, and the relationship you have with yourself as you learn and grow and become more fully who you are intended to be.

So back to my big question. Is being a clinical mental health counselor what I want? Specifically no. Well, more like, that's not all I want. So I expanded my question and dug in deep, and asked myself what I wanted in life. I shut out expectations, I quit thinking about my degree in terms of a decision and began thinking about it as a tool I had at my disposal. What was my conclusion? I want to be an explorer and celebrator of the human experience. I want to utilize the different skillsets I have to pursue the same goal- to help bring people into closer relationship with each other, more in touch with themselves, and celebrate them as grow more into the person they are intended to be. Does this mean I'll pursue a career in counseling. Yes, that deserves a big and resounding yes. I now know it's most likely not going to follow a traditional path. Photography is a big driving force in that. I cannot see myself living a healthy life without these two careers playing an active role.

So this leads to this month. Two weeks ago I left my job at a local restaurant to pursue photography full time. Within the next few months I hope to find a counseling center that I will be able to join on a part time basis. This choice to leave was overwhelming, and just a wee bit scary. But here I am, traveling around the East Coast, seeking to build relationships with other like minded creatives and shoot every chance I get. I'm focusing on making my business more welcoming and celebratory for all humans, specifically those in the LGBTQA+ community and POC. I'm opento traveling more, taking more risks, and learning how to not apologize for stepping into this journey. So here's my heart folks. This journey wouldn't be possible without the incredible support and business of those trusting me to celebrate their story. Thank you.

Now for your enjoyment, here's a celebratory photo of my niece on Christmas morning, because this is the type of joy I'm feeling.

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