"She always knew she had something to say. Deep in her soul she always knew the way. And now emerging from the suppression and silence.... Now is her time."
The beginning of the year is an incredible time. Isn't it cool that one little moment soon after the winter solstice can evoke so much reflection, goal setting and new beginnings across the entire planet?
I for one have not been exempt from digging deep and examining the last twelve months, reflecting on the entire path of my 25 years in this lifetime, and also consciously creating a path for the future. As I sit and evaluate the past 12 months I am surprised and grateful for what I see. The best way I can describe the year of 2017 is this – It has been the Year of THE VOICE.
I've been learning to speak. You see, my story begins in a place of human imposed oppression, where pure hearts routinely submitted to those with less pure intentions. Brainwashing and mind conditioning were very real things and even self-respect was often examined and judged because it was labeled as pride. In the religious community that I was a part of until I was seventeen years old, living a full, expressive, creative life was highly discouraged and often punished. And of course the lifestyle of the religion was also deeply rooted into my family. As the 9th of 11 siblings I thought my worth lay in perfection - doing all I'm asked in the spirit of a servant without hesitation and questions, cultivating a meek and quiet spirit and personality, never showing the softness of emotion, and never ever pushing the boundaries that others had set for me. Yes, this was my idea of perfection. And because of the lies I believed I thought I wasn't worthy of being heard and I had nothing of importance to contribute. But deeper then all this conditioning, ever since I can remember I knew there was more. Even though that knowing remained simply a feeling for a very long time I look back now and recognize it even when I was young. What started me on my journey of ridding myself of this bondage was my willingness to ask questions and follow every bit of truth that led to the answers that resonated with my soul. The first question I asked myself was this - "Am I willing to question everything I know and open myself to exploring the unknown?" The path of allowing myself to open and explore has often been a painful and lonely one but looking back now I can clearly see the beautiful process.
It wasn't long into this journey that I discovered photography. As I shed the layers of protecting myself and began to open my eyes to the needs of those around me the thing that hurt the most was watching hurt and depleted people try to offer hope and help to others that were empty and aching. I developed an intense desire to share the message that true change starts within ourselves. If we are wanting to make a difference in this world we must always begin from a place of fullness and overflow. We cannot offer that which we don't claim for ourselves; we cannot give love that we don't give to ourselves; the words of empowerment and courage we offer to others loose their power if we are not also speaking them also to ourselves. As my photography skills developed I found that what I found the most fulfilling was capturing a person's own unique beauty and strength and showing in back to them in my portraits and it was then that I realized I wanted to go into photography professionally and use it as a tool to speak a message of value, self-love and unique beauty to women everywhere. I started Captured Imagery in July 2015 and the last two years have been filled with every possible opportunity for personal growth and continued exploration of all that's still unknown. In September 2016 I met the man that is now my fiancé and fell totally in love (like head over heels). I remember telling a family member that for some reason I feel like this relationship was meant to be the thing that takes me to the next level in my own journey of self-discovery and uncovering the blocks that still remained. I could not have been more right. In the last year I've moved from my comfortable and predictable life in small town NY to the breathtaking island of Oahu Hawaii with him. I've met the most amazing people who have walked with me through the thick and thin, I've had the joys and struggles of again building my photography brand, but the most amazing and life changing discoveries I've had have been within my own soul. I uncovered the deepest hurts of my childhood and found healing for the pain. I learned that I could express myself fully and be met with unconditional love. I've also learned that if I am ever thought to be not enough for some or too much for others the strength and confidence of my spirit lies only in what I believe about myself. I've learned to leave space and love for the dark shadows that remain in certain areas of my personality. I've learned that boundaries are not only okay, they are crucial if I want to live a life of full expression. And I’ve learned that my voice matters and needs to be heard. Through it all my passion to continue the work I do through my photography has only deepened and expanded.
And this collection is a direct result of the deepening. It begins featuring me and my story and not only do I claim the title of being an Empowered Woman but also in this first feature I wanted to give you the clear meaning and purpose of this collection for me personally, and what you can expect to find when you come to this blog. Because of the oppression and silence I’ve lived in for so many years, my desire to uncover the message of hope, beauty and opportunity that I’ve been carrying is enormous. I’m so excited to share the messages and portraits of women who are making a difference and living their dreams, and it is my intention that for some who read these features it will be the voice that encourages them to break free from any self-imposed limitations. I can think of nothing that would bring me more joy then seeing more women completely committed to themselves and the dreams of their heart, more willing to challenging every limitation their mind has set, more enabled to give from the overflow of their own empowered spirit, and more fully prepared for the journey that every courageous path takes us on.