you.

there is no one like you in the world. not everyone will understand you. sometimes, you won’t understand yourself. you will be loved. you will be left. you will feel despair. and hope. sometimes simultaneously. you will beat your fists against the wall and hear nothing. you will lie there sometimes, lifeless. you will rise and begin on a path unknown. you will meet travelers. some will betray you. others will show you your light. you are not alone but you do inhabit this body alone. do you love it? how does it make you feel? remember that you’re all it’s got.

the courage to be disliked and stand alone

a few weeks ago, a book titled the courage to be disliked sprang up on a facebook ad for me. i was so moved by just the title alone, that i posted it to my instagram stories immediately.

the message became louder and louder over the course of that day and the days that followed. signs appeared on my path in an uncannily steady stream:

a few hours later, a friend with some extra audible credits made an offer to gift some folks an audio book of their choice. i looked up the top 10 audible books, which happened to include brené brown’s dare to lead. i reviewed her other recent titles and came across braving the wilderness. the premise: “belonging” by belonging to yourself first— especially when it means sometimes standing alone in order to fully rest in your truth. naturally, i knew which title i was supposed to request.

that evening, an article on arundhati roy came up on my facebook feed. the article was titled as a direct quote from roy: the point of a writer is to be unpopular

late that night / the following morning, i ended up in an interaction that prompted me posting a series of instagram stories about boundaries when people want access to your contacts and/or resources. this is a topic i’d been dragging my feet to speak on for a year in fear of anyone feeling offended, singled out, or triggered. sharing these thoughts definitely required channeling my personal courage to be disliked. interestingly enough, these posts ended up being some of my most popular posts on stories— by far. they also potentially resulted in some unfollows. my previous blog post shares more about the topic if you’re interested.

that afternoon, while searching for something unrelated in a facebook group, i came across the courage to be disliked once again— this time, as part of a recommendation someone was making. casual.

the next day, i found a piece of paper in my purse— it was from a discussion i’d facilitated a couple weeks prior at the wing. at the close of the discussion, i prompted guests to write down a commitment to themselves. we mixed up all the bits of paper in a bowl and on their way out, folks pulled out a random person’s commitment. here’s what i found:

“i will acknowledge my whole being— stop disowning parts of myself just to save the discomfort of someone else.”

my takeaways here:

i need to stand in my truth (sometimes alone)— even and especially when it’s scary.

and i think i’m here to tell you that if this all resonates, you do, too.

<3

what having boundaries with personal resources really means

i love supporting my people, my community, marginalized and invisibilized folks, people with whom i resonate, and those i share common challenges with. i enjoy doing so in a way that is not only nourishing to those receiving from me, but also a healthy choice for myself and others concerned or involved. i am disinclined to engage with people who feel expectant or entitled to me or my resources. passive-aggressiveness is also met with deaf ears. i shared the below mapping on my instagram stories a few weeks ago and many people found resonance. so i am sharing it again here. peace <3

just because someone is:

  • a woman

  • a woman of color

  • a person who i share commonalities with

  • a person i generally like

does not mean i will automatically do what they want me to do, give them what they want from me, or hook them up with resources (people, things, institutions)

this does not mean that: 

  • i’m a hater

  • i’m being competitive

  • i’m hoarding resources 

  • i’m reveling in gatekeeping

  • i’m operating from ego

  • i don’t like a given person 

  • i don’t respect a given person

  • i don’t want everyone to win

this does mean that:

  • i am very discerning

  • i am very deliberate/purposeful 

  • i take very seriously who and what i offer my time, energy, resources, and co-sign to

  • i honor my boundaries and capacity 

  • i don’t owe anyone anything 

  • i am courteous of my network and their time, energy, and boundaries

  • i have no interest in doing something i don’t want to just because someone else wants me to  

love is

being in love is a fractional concept; a limited attempt to grasp and express love’s infinity.

there is constriction in its selectivity, its specificity. an innocent cloudiness in the bliss. we think we’ve found home. in a way, we have.

being in love feels more like a stepping stone, a window. the vibration of another resonates with a matching counterpart within us— we vibrate. this feeling: a taste of all-permeating divine oneness. we are in recognition, remembrance of our true nature. to love and to be loved is a mirroring.

our loves are not “the ones,” exceptional unicorns uniquely deserving of our bright eyes. our loves are guides and messengers of the truth of what and who we all are. the truth of all beings: that we are love and our fabric is a single shared universal consciousness.

experiencing love is an awakening. it is an expansion that will always live with us should we choose to accept this gift. the loss of a body or a relationship can never destroy or negate the opening that was created.

being brave for love in all forms at every opportunity, without stifling it by qualification; our hearts flower open more each time, breath becomes easier. life becomes more of a being and a knowing than a doing. there is freedom.

i find myself leaning towards the softness and sweetness of simply being unconditional love; where we are deeply “in love” with all beings, all at once, at all times, without exception. i think it’s the secret to all things.

<3

remember to exhale

some years ago, a therapist told me that i tend to subconsciously hold my breath. i learned that this habit comes from subconscious anxiety (probably amongst other things) and that such limiting of my oxygen intake can erode my health over time. i was paying attention.

now when i catch myself— which is typically daily— i let out a big, big exhale.

and then i let in a big deep breath and exhale again— slowly or swiftly, whatever is needed in the moment.

i often say to myself, “exhale exhale exhale.”

this becomes a pretty powerful opportunity for in-the-moment awareness as well. i might ask myself:

  • what am i “holding my breath” about?
  • or, what am i holding onto?
  • what am i afraid will happen?
  • is there something i’m secretly dreading?
  • what am i hiding from?
  • what might be making me feel tense or uneasy?
  • do i feel unsafe right now? why?
  • am i disallowing flow and trust in this moment somehow?
  • am i simply holding onto generic anxiety because that’s what i’m used to?

what often arises upon answering any of these questions is a realization of some sort of subconscious “clenching.” typically, this clenching— or bracing— is the result of repetitive thoughts or beliefs about the “reality” of our world, our lives, ourselves being erroneously deemed truth and subsequently embedded as a broken record in our subconscious.

once we recognize this subconscious fight or flight (or freeze) loop is silently draining our life force, our exhale allows us to gently recognize and release our false narratives, moment by moment.

exhale and let go, loves. i’m doing it right here with you <3

why we do that unsolicited advice thing and how to stop

unsolicited advice: that boundary violation when someone prescribes their will upon you.

the idea of “should” is way too hella much embedded into our culture.

however subtle or seemingly harmless, the person on the receiving end often feels uncomfortable, annoyed, frustrated, condescended, pressured, unseen, and disregarded. yet many of us continue to dish it nonetheless— why?

what is this irresistible compulsion to give our two cents? and to double down upon resistance, even?

identity and ego.

the identified mind creates ideas of what it believes the world is and references these ideas when deciding how to move about life— on the most base level, in the interest of survival.

our egoic minds and constructed identities are ultimately fragile holograms and our subconscious knows this; it knows that our true selves are formless and devoid of the “i.”

and so, if we are too attached to our egos and identities, our safe space resides in a clearly defined, delicate box. then when anything feels divergent from my safe space construct of a sound reality, it is perceived as an actual threat to *me* and my very existence.

we try to organize and control the world around us as if it were a simulation of what our minds have decided is “right” and therefore “safe.” that’s not real life, though! and it ain’t no funnnnn.

when i learned these concepts in therapy several years ago, it blew my mind and changed my life.

so much of the pain we cause ourselves and others is because of this death grip we keep on our egos and identities as a form of protection. we think that if another person doesn’t see the world how we do or live their lives per our values, that their refusal is an affront to our own goodness, worth, and “rightness.” we question our own freedom to safely exist as we are.

once i really digested this and began to observe what was behind my urges to tell people about themselves, i saw my “advice” was often more about me than the other person. i also started to notice how crazy much everyone does this unsolicited advice thing. and as i stopped imposing my will upon others, i became further sensitized to and uncomfortable when others tried to impose their will upon me or someone else.

what i’ve done since is my best to:

1) ask people if they want feedback or my thoughts before giving it. and be totally fine if they say “no!”

2) cut “should” out of my vocabulary and replace it with things like: “you could consider,” “have you thought about,” “it might be helpful to,” leading questions, personal accounts, etc

best wishes if you decide to take this journey! it’s been a mutually affirming one for both me and folks on the receiving end.

empowerment makes me uncomfy

the popular usage of ”empowerment”— particularly in relation to self-development, the current women’s movement, wellness communities, and inspirational leaders— has long triggered unease within me; beyond gross overuse, i feel the way the term is often used is incorrect— and insidiously disempowering to the subconscious as a result.

some definitions i pulled across a handful of online dictionaries, including merriam-webster, cambridge, and oxford:

  1. to give (someone) the authority or power to do something

  2. to give official authority or legal power to

  3. enable (to provide with the means or opportunity)

  4. to give someone official authority or the freedom to do something

  5. to enable or permit

  6. to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights

  7. to encourage and support the ability to do something

  8. to promote the self-actualization or influence of

for me, definitions one through five cover the formal empowerment of someone by granting them access to execute a certain position or action of power within a given institution or system. depending on context, this can be a fair naming, particularly when operating to “correct” systemic imbalances and injustices; the privileged using their means to empower the disenfranchised rightfully exists as one tool, amongst others. though some might get it twisted, such empowerment is not a transference of actual agency, ability, or deservingness, which every person innately possesses— it is largely  functional and surface in nature.

then we arrive at definition six— the deeply troubling common usage definition in wellness and women’s communities; here, the first five definitions are rolled up to imply that one human can somehow “make” another human stronger and more confident. we can sure be deluded into this notion, but only after we decide— consciously or subconsciously— to give our own power away first. that this is a formal definition makes my head spin.

as far as i’m concerned, the only way it is possible for one person to empower another— i.e. give permission or power to— is by also giving power to systems of oppression and the victim-savior paradigm. our power is not derived from another. the power of our essential nature cannot be given, taken, or transferred— it can only be illuminated; others can inspire us to open to our truths but true empowerment can only ever come from within.

the only definitions i find relatively sound within a psychosocial context are seven and eight as they have a supportive quality— focusing instead on inspiration and promotion around self-actualization and self-empowerment.

but even then, i wonder how much we can escape the common usage assumptions embedded in our subconscious: “empower” as a subject oriented verb inherently disempowers the object by assuming its lack of agency and erasing its innate power. these subtle disempowering suggestions that have pervaded our collective subconscious require us to believe that we need something or someone outside of ourselves to be truly powerful— to “fix” us, to “heal” us, to “give us permission.” this is false, capitalistic, imperialist, supremacist, oppressive bullshit. it is quintessentially “giving our power away.” i don’t feel fucking empowered when someone suggests that they can empower me. making someone or something outside of ourselves the actor within contexts of empowerment, healing, and permission/agency is harmful, reductive, and regressive— let’s take some heavy pause here, please.

we wholly empower ourselves, heal ourselves, and give permission to ourselves— any outside influences are conduits and facilitators— that’s it. anyone claiming differently— saying they are saving, healing, fixing, allowing, empowering you (giving you power)— is quite possibly a false leader coming from ego.

even in healing modalities where say, someone performs a chakra clearing on you: your body, your energy, and your subconscious are active participants in these processes by offering permission, access, insight, and the willingness to shift— whether or not you are consciously aware of this. we are our own healers, even when we have assistance— healing fundamentally cannot happen without our consent or participation.

a quick shift back to institutional  empowerment: though technically another can empower us in these situations, self-empowerment is still the purest and truest form of empowerment at the root level— even here. for example, the act of white people empowering people of color by offering them job roles will not alone correct racist institutions— or the issue of racism; as such, this deference or assignment by a white person or “white” institution to a person of color is still a phenomenon occurring within the original oppressive paradigm; it is “empowerment” only to a degree.

as much as we must do what we can within existing constructs, we can’t take for granted the need for imagining and building new paradigms from scratch ourselves, where terms like “diversity” and “inclusion” are no longer needed because our new systems are inherently sound and of integrity.

all said, in it being a word deeply intertwined with current movements, i don’t believe “empowerment” is going away any time soon. so my hope is that we at least use it and receive it with more discernment, awareness, self-respect, and humility— and that we explore fuller, truer ways to express how we are supporting each other in collective healing and liberation.

much love <3

i don’t owe anyone my inner world

upon deciding that i wanted to talk a bit about my depression that consumed the second half of my 2017, it took me a moment to realize that my previous post was in part about the bliss i was able to connect with earlier in that same year. i also recalled how the bliss itself was borne in response to pain. all around, the duality of that year was profound.

over the course of 2018, i couldn’t quite comprehend what the fuck 2017 was. because 2018 was confusing as all hell on its own; it was this extended sense of being suspended in transience, which i was aware of the whole time and simultaneously knew that it wasn’t something i could control or fight. i just had to be in this long ass incubation period of what felt like a whole lot of nothingness.

i still don’t have enough distance from 2018 to have much clarity on what quite happened— but my sense is that my system was integrating the rollercoaster of transformational experiences and deaths/rebirths that 2016 and 2017 brought me.

now having some distance from 2017, however, i can see what an important example of duality it was. it’s fascinating to know that what we view as opposite or polar are never too far apart— particularly with the recognition that duality itself is a construct. the only thing that is actually true and real is oneness.

i remember being awe struck by the daoist view of impermanence and the ever-changing nature of what we view to be opposite or contrasting; for example, light is not light but light-becoming-dark and dark is not dark but dark-becoming-light. because everything is constantly shifting, a static assumption or prescription upon anything is essentially inaccurate and moot. it’s deep and something i’m still unpacking.

existential interlude aside, i want to share a couple stories related to my experience with depression— particularly within the framework of vulnerability, authenticity, and personal boundaries.

to first offer some foundational context: i was on and off depressed from 15-25, then was totally in the pits from 25-27, and started therapy at 27 in 2010. i felt the depression pretty much fully lift after my first eight months of therapy and my first two months of a naturopathic regimen for my neurotransmitter imbalances. since then, i’ve had depressive dips for a week or two on a handful of occasions over the years and one few month long very low point around early 2013.

what i experienced in 2017 was the longest and most nuanced, shape-shifting, unrelenting depressive period i’ve experienced since what brought me to therapy in 2010. shit was real as fuck. basically, a succession of deeply traumatic and very unpleasant challenging things happened back to back to back— it took me out and knocked me all the way off center.

thankfully, i had my awareness tools to keep from completely going off the deep end, but i was literally teetering on the very edge of that hole for months. it took all my energy to at least just stay teetering and not fall in. after several months, i got two steps away from the hole— my awareness allowed me to measure that— and it took everything in me for another several months to maintain those two steps away from the hole. sometime in the first quarter of 2018, i felt like i got beyond two steps and finally was able to feel more grounded and self-possessed.

in fall 2016, i started sharing my poem-quote things and occasional reflective thoughts on instagram; some people decided i was wise and woke and zen and shit. i am, thanks. i’m also human and have eccentricities and quirks and seeming inconsistencies and personal boundaries. though that may be confusing for some, i get to contain all of that and still be authentic and in integrity.

in fall 2017, during the peak of the aforementioned deep depressive period, i ran into an acquaintance at an event.

she asked me how i was and before i could answer, she said something to the effect of, “and i know you being you, you’re gonna keep it real and not just be like, ‘i’m great!’ if you’re not.” i know she meant to be complimentary, but it was not what i needed to hear in the moment.

in those months, my whole life had been consumed around salvaging my mood the best i possibility could; my own thoughts on ‘how i was doing’ were already encroaching on my space in my alone time. i had decided in advance to do my best to act as if i was okay during this event— because that’s what i needed; i needed a goddamn break.

i got extremely uncomfortable and began wondering if i was inauthentic because i didn’t want to put energy on naming that i wasn’t well. i wanted to answer that i was good and move on to some other type of conversation that i could actually enjoy.

i told myself that saying “good” was true in a sense; because ultimately, i am always alright. and at that time, i was simply experiencing an ebb of my human experience.

i think my discomfort with her remark and my ensuing internal conflict blew my cover; i’m quite certain she felt my reservation and unease when i said “good.” it changed the vibe. and i mostly didn’t care. i wasn’t there to cater to her vision of me.

i chose my self-preservation. and that’s what i’ll choose in the vast majority of cases. i know how useless and even harmful i can be when i’m unwell and not tending to my needs. when i’m real low, any filter i’ve got to maintain a semblance of normalcy and civility with the outside world is paper thin— i know this.

i don’t think we need to feel obligated to say we’re feeling unwell while we are still amidst that experience; it doesn’t help my healing to put energy on a given challenging thing that i’m already working on for the sake of updating someone— especially an acquaintance—perfectly truthfully.

when i’m not intentionally going into my shadow to do work, i want to focus on light to help raise my vibration. note, there is a distinction between mindfully raising my vibration and avoidance/distraction.

online and on social media, there’s a  pressure to name our precise reality while we are still inside of a challenging time— in the spirit of “vulnerability” and “authenticity.” nah.

internet and instagram vulnerability culture has distorted our vision on boundaries and what actually constitutes healthy sharing. this culture, which can also be beautiful, has also somehow allowed certain folks to think that they have license to our inner worlds.

our own vulnerability isn’t supposed to harm us. and it isn’t a service to others if we are self-sacrificing our health to share before we feel ready.

important: vulnerability online isn’t a replacement for professional help if you think you might need that. no shame in it— i’ve been in some form of therapy or another for a decade.

some things are only meant for specific people and specific communities in my life. and even then, that doesn’t mean i ever owe *anyone* anything i don’t feel called to share. for more introverted folk like me, certain things may be meant for us alone (and perhaps a therapist or healer, if inclined).

basically, we don’t owe the internet shit— least of all our bleeding hearts. <3

living the feeling first: a means to manifestation

i’ve been thinking about joy lately, especially as it being a way of manifesting our dreams even before they materially come to fore;

a couple nights ago, i picked up the book creating money by sanaya roman after a long while. i re-read my notes and a bit more of the book. i’m only about 20 pages in; i tend to read very intentionally, stop to reflect a lot, and simultaneously take notes.

in my review, i was reminded of a powerful perspective shift:

i manifest best when i choose to *right now* genuinely live out the higher qualities i believe money (or whatever i’m looking to manifest) will bring into my life.

an exercise + illustration:

  • think of something you’d like to manifest

  • what higher qualities do you think that manifestation will bring into you and your life?

  • what are some easily accessible ways you can bring those qualities into your life now— today, this week, in this moment?

unfolding the perspective shift:

  • i want more money because i believe it will bring me freedom.

  • i realize that i can also easily access the feeling of freedom when i’m being silly, when i’m being fully myself, when i see children being free, when i deeply connect with someone in a way that i can almost touch the entire universe in that moment

  • when i choose to be in the vibration of freedom *now*, i am calling in the matching/correlating vibration of that which i desire. and because i am coming from a place of authentic connection to source, i am simultaneously manifesting 1) what i *really, actually* want and 2) more precisely for my highest good.

before finding this book, i intuitively created a similar practice and paired it with intentional action towards manifesting the money i needed. with this way, i catapulted myself out of major, heart-wrenching brokenness in early 2017.

it was a time where every other day i was getting notices of bills being declined, my credit cards were maxed out, i had no idea how i’d be paying rent, and my cash was just enough to feed myself.  it was the closest i’d ever been to feeling like i could soon be out of choices— and would possibly need to move back to cali to live with my parents.

i decided that if this was it, i was going to respond in the best way i possibly could and opt out of weaponizing my pain against myself. i was going to live my best life with what i had been given. it almost felt like that choice was all i had left.

i chose to:

  1. live in joy anyway, because i was alive— that was something i did have

  2. try my best to turn things around— i did have agency over my actions

  3. accept any outcome with grace— i always have a choice in how to respond

from this space, i found myself the happiest and most magnetic i had ever been— socially, financially, and with the opportunities that flowed to me like a force of nature (because it literally was).

since then, my path has ebbed and flowed as i continue to dismantle old programming and belief systems. however, now i have the gift of the experience and evidence of what is possible. i know what i can access when i am in flow. i know that making *who i choose to show up as* my starting point is what truly creates the type of life-affirming magic that is beyond dreams.

the belief that something outside of us will give us the higher qualities we desire is false; if we do end up manifesting what we think we want while we are out of alignment, it’s always ultimately a lesson of some sort. sometimes we can be taken through a long journey before we realize we are still unhappy and unfulfilled. think about the loads of celebrities who have all their “dreams” come true, only to feel more alone and lost than ever. most might not show it, but this phenomenon is very very real.

dreams without grounding in your higher qualities usually end up empty.

if i lack freedom in my life already— before having the money i desire— deep down i will continue to lack freedom even once i have said money; that is, until i practice cultivating freedom from within and with what is already available to me.

so, let’s ask ourselves:

how am i choosing to engage my most basic blessings on a day to day?

how am i showing up as “the person i think i’ll be when i have everything i want” *today*— right now, in this moment?

much love <3

my first printed photo portfolio

IMG_3302 (hr).jpg

this post was created in partnership with blurb.

i got put onto blurb years ago when i first started shooting -- roughly 8-ish years ago -- and remember being in complete and total awe that any regular person could self-publish 'a real professional book' about whatever their heart desired. i decided that one day i was going to make an awesome book about something and print it through the blurb platform, even if it was just one copy for myself.

years passed and no book, but the dream remained. recently, i was able to realize my fantasy after blurb themselves offered me an opportunity to create a book to celebrate the launch of their new layflat book format. i was like, 'duh, hi. yesplz.'

the layflat book format is blurb's fancy new creation that allows books to -- wait for it -- lay completely flat so you don't lose any part of your image to the center. aka you can have full bleed two page spreads that win at life more than any other two page spreads in existence. 

of all the things, why did i decide on making a photo portfolio? when i first moved to new york about six and a half years ago (i have no idea where the time went), i was looking into printed portfolios; i'd been researching a screw-post situation for which i'd have to buy inserts and then pay for prints -- the smallest size for maybe a 40ish image portfolio was going to run me like $600-700. i decided to opt for an ipad solution instead and that's what i've been rocking with since about 2012.

this blurb project finally allowed me to delve into the long-time-coming realm of printed portfolios in a new way and presented me the super valuable opportunity to practice laying out a photo book -- something i've never done before and is really its own art form.

i prepared myself for a daunting task as i've been told that book and magazine layout design can be a beast. however, thanks to blurb's bookwright software and preset layouts to get me started with how things work and can look, the task was much more approachable than i thought it might be. and honestly, praise due to layflat book format for greatly expanding my layout possibilities and ability to play; i can imagine that with a limited gutter situation, layout options would be much more challenging.

i felt so gleefully reckless splaying photos across the gutter on as many pages as possible.

i got the large landscape style book and upon receiving it, i can tell you that the thing is not a casual situation -- it is an event; it is also neon grellow -- because, why not? the build of the hardcover is solid and the pages are substantial. to create the layflat effect, all the pages are essentially two 100 lb. stock pages glued together, yielding a luxurious page weight of 200 lb. in effect. not for the faint of heart.

the opening page is my only full bleed spread in the book and really, i sort of made it by accident; i dragged the image in just to see what would happen and it looked so good, i kept it. the feel of this layout combined with the richness of the color in the print quality is especially bold and striking.

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the cost of the book with shipping came out to something like $250ish (which i luckily didn't have to pay, compliments of blurb). crazy that it was about half the price of the portfolio option i was looking at some years ago. that considered, i could see printing a portfolio like this bi-annually or quarterly as a real possibility for adding a special touch to portfolio review meetings; i find that photo editors really welcome and cherish the nostalgia and tactile nature of print.

if you feeling extra fancy, blurb books can be sold on the blurb bookstore (which ships worldwide), apple ibooks, amazon, or via ingram (a distributor to many bookstores). and if perhaps, maybe, you feel like getting your very own copy of my october 2017 portfolio from the blurb bookstore -- that can happen.

perusing through the leave behind series some photo editors have on their instagrams, i've become quite fascinated with the creative ways people choose to present their printed photo portfolios; any fun ideas you have in mind or have seen out there in the world? also curious to hear your experiences about self-publishing since this is a space i'd love to grow into more with time -- maybe next time with a magazine or a trade book :)

how do you showcase your work or photography?

spontaneous crystal therapy

photo //&nbsp;pinterest

photo // pinterest

my crystal bowl has sat there for years, relatively untouched; presumably clearing and shifting energetic fields unseen and unknown to me.

the other day i was drawn to one crystal, then another, and another. the minute i grasped the trio in my palm, i began shaking (as i do at times when energy is shifting/clearing/generating) and underwent my first spontaneous intuitive crystal healing; i was pretty sure i wasn't done and 15-20 minutes later i went through one of my craziest shake sessions to date.

i kept this trio by my bedside and near me during the day for the following couple days during which i still felt a charge/connection. today i picked them up, felt nothing immediately, and became quite clear our work was done for now.

as i set them down back into my bowl, i stayed for a minute to see if any other crystals wanted to connect with me. i grabbed a black tourmaline (grounding/protecting) first and placed it in my left palm, then the white selenite (elevating/opening); recognizing the duality in color and vibration, i placed the selenite in my right palm. again, an immediate energetic response.

as i sat down, i placed the tourmaline on the left of my seat and the selenite on the right; and surely, i felt the crystals interacting to create a potent energetic field, forming something of a 180 degree arc around and above me; i'm buzzing as i write this.

a reminder that all in our lives ripens when it is time for us to receive it. 

half of the crystals i've used were gifted to me, half i've had for years; we came together for these moments.

it's really quite surreal to follow your intuition and connectedness as it opens; kind of like the real life magical land i always dreamed about when i was little. i knew it was real.

<3

bleeker: a personal + professional development fellowship

in january 2017, i'll be joining the good folks at bleeker for a unique year-long personal and professional development fellowship. unlike many fellowships, bleeker does not hinge on a monetary grant but instead gifts its fellows with a thoughtfully crafted resource framework. the core of the program includes four main elements — executive coaching, monthly workshops, mentorship, and a full-time administrative assistant — intended to actively and regularly engage fellows in their development process.

bleeker has two fellowship cycles each year in both new york city and the bay area. one cycle begins in january and the other begins in july. applications for the july nyc and bay area cohorts are still open and are due january 31. you can go to this link for more detailed info about the fellowship and to apply.

before beginning our first group session in january, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire to help guide our experience; they said it would take 20 minutes but i knew i was going to have to set a few hours aside when i saw questions on there like “what is your purpose?” if you read my inaugural blog post, you know that’s a question i’m constantly asking myself that is forever yielding new nuance and answers. 

as always, i learned more about myself and my path from this inquiry and also got pretty real about some shit that somehow even surprised me. like, how the 'positive' and 'negative' ways people might describe me are almost opposites or two sides of the same coin. or how the “projects” reflecting my abilities that i was most moved to write first have nothing to do with my photography career. i also came away grateful for the subtle and new articulations i found to communicate how i presently view my purpose and path. you can dig into my questionnaire below:

describe a positive impact that you've made on your community, neighborhood, company, city or country.

by being honest and open about my challenges, my growth, and who i am, i have inspired others to find their strength and follow their truth.

describe the positive impact that you intend to create in the future.

more of the above but with more structure and intentionality; applying that same ethos to various models for conversations, art, media, community spaces, cultural exchange, and social problem solving. with an additional focus on integrating a value of healing into our daily work, lives, relationships, and into a new paradigm for activism. specific areas of impact i am interested in are feminism (+ challenging what that's come to mean in the mainstream),  multiculturalism, and social equality for marginalized groups.

describe the projects that you've initiated, led or contributed to that best define your abilities.

'the forum' - founding + moderating a discussion group series about whatever is on participants' hearts and minds in the moment; 'freewrite' - a social media short poem/personal adage series that encourages mindfulness, awareness, vulnerability, and authenticity; leading an intro to chi gong session in my home after a particularly challenging time with police brutality news & helping soothe my peers' systems; keeping a photography business and portfolio thatconsciously represent and honor people of color; capturing people through portraits that are honest and down to earth; creating space to capture raw and vulnerable cast portraits for the 'fit the description' documentary (it features honest conversations between black male police officers and black male civilians)

what is your purpose?

to foster healing and peace by extracting and illuminating truth from confusion, chaos, and seeming contradiction/disparity; and as such, to be a bridge for people and institutions. i see myself as a communicator/storyteller, strategic facilitator, and community builder.

what are your principles or values? (the rules that guide your personal and professional actions when no one is looking.)

authenticity, truth, healing, justice, balance, inner peace, contentment, mindfulness.

describe your personality. (how would your friends, teammates, family members and collaborators describe what it's like to spend time with you?)

insightful, intense, loving, silly, withdrawn/in her own world; what it's like to spend time with me? sometimes healing, inspiring, warm, and other times uncomfortable, challenging, isolating. 

what is your professional trajectory?

i am interested in using my experience with photography, writing, media, marketing, and community building to conceive and produce multidisciplinary projects for social impact-- whether that entails me drawing from my own skills/talents or acting more as a visionary and culling the talents of other individuals. at the moment, my sights are primarily on devising a web-based social project + community spaces that foster empathy, conversation, learning breakthroughs, healing, and creative activism.

accepting others as they are

photo // CC0

photo // CC0

in the past year, i experienced one of the most profound pains of my life; through it, i came away with many gems. i've been grateful for one in particular lately: 

a newfound ability to truly receive, love, and accept people as they are.

i find myself disappointed less, and when disappointment does creep up, i'm much better equipped to reframe;

what is actuality? what are my projections, my expectations, my ego? who would i be without these expectations — who would we be?

i've been especially in awe of my ability to let go without apathy, disdain, or spite — or at least much less of it; a subconscious shift that recognizes the subtle difference between releasing and detaching.

to let go yet still sustain connection, care.

related and bizarre is a willing acknowledgment and acceptance that anyone and everyone has the capacity to surprise me, let me down, stray from course, and to deeply hurt me — i don't hope for it but i yield to a certain inevitability now; it's just not personal anymore.

at one point, i would have considered accepting this reality lonely; instead, i find an odd comfort in knowing that i can no longer be side-swept by a hopeful ignorance that my loved ones won't one day go out and be extra human. lifting the veil has also empowered me to renew my commitment to myself as my own greatest ally; now that i know that for real for real 'all i have is me,' i find solace in also happening to be the one thing that i do have control over.

though i've only just begun to cultivate and strengthen these shifts, i'm already moved by the felt peace, openness, warmth, and lightness they've inspired in myself and those around me; in many ways, i feel new — and so do my relationships and my life.

in allyship with anger, fear, and pain

photo // CC0

photo // CC0

the most potent balm;
a dialogue
in allyship
with your anger
fear
and pain.

most often, our relationships with anger, fear, and pain tend to center around our reactions to the emotions themselves; themes of frustration, shame, avoidance, and overwhelm pervade. this unfortunately only compounds existing “negative” feelings and drives us deeper into cycles of misery, escapism, helplessness, and self-judgment. we begin to feel like we’re drowning.

in these instances, we have opted to merge with the challenging emotions; take them on and wear them as parts of our identity and who we are — perhaps even beginning to look at ourselves as deficient. in my view, this is inaccurate as our essential selves are always whole, powerful, and wise. our spirits are indestructible and i personally refuse to see it any other way.

what i have to come to learn is that anger, fear, and pain are messengers; they are not negative, but are rather gifts we receive to learn more about ourselves and our relationship to this world and this existence. through my own rigorous experience, i’ve learned the unparalleled transformative power of making friends with my anger, pain, and fear — as entities separate from my true self whom have come to me as my teachers.

in unpacking the underlying truths my anger, pain, and fear reflect, i have come to more deeply meet and embody my true self, what i stand for, my connection with others, and the nature of existence. committing to this process has allowed me a greater acceptance for what is (no matter what) while simultaneously equipping me with a resolve to go out and fight for who i am and what i believe in with a delicacy and strength i’ve only just met.

yes, i preach love — lots of it; but my love is not one of passivity, one that turns a blind eye to injustice, or one that withholds itself from so-called ‘lower based emotions.’ if so inclined, i encourage you to connect with your anger, pain, and fear. ask them what they have to say; layer by layer — until you have stripped down to the core — to the truth. the fire behind that truth will naturally propel you to transform both what is within and what is beyond.

with love,
seher

seher.co is here and this is why

photo // self portrait

photo // self portrait

writing this is the most nerve-wracking shit i’ve done in a while. in anticipation, i ate a whole meal and drank some water just before starting. still, i find myself dizzy. heart’s beating fast. something like public speaking jitters except the only thing i’m actually facing in this moment is myself. maybe it’s not so peculiar; our relationship with ourselves is ultimately the most frightening and highest stakes one of all. 

putting myself out there to the internet world is requiring me to more firmly own myself and the things i am about to share.

launching this new website means many things to me at once:

  • self acceptance and stepping into my name
  • getting out of my own way and honoring my work
  • owning both what i know and what i don’t know about my purpose
  • taking what i do know and formally claiming a career pivot
  • a jumping off point for projects that embrace my skills and interests more fully
  • a platform with the intentionality to communicate who i am and what i stand for

this site will be a living representation of my personal and professional metamorphosis in progress. you will find projects popping up in my new ‘projects’ section that may involve photography or have nothing to do with photography at all. this site is me officially giving myself license to do whatever the fuck i want — and a declaration to others of the dynamism and relationship with the unknown i intend to fully embrace.

and this blog will perhaps be the thread that weaves it all together. just like everything, i have no concrete plans for it. the possibilities: anything and everything on my mind and in my world. a window into my process and my path to purpose. still, definitely open, fluid, and real.

i bought this domain about two and a half years ago, just because i thought it would be good to own my name in this way online. i began to consider that it might be nice to move my website to this URL. soon, that tiny thought became a decided leaning towards changing my business name and web address to just “seher.” rehes creative just didn’t fit anymore, and by some miracle, i felt this unfamiliar pull to embrace my given name.

i spent most of my adult life brushing off compliments about how pretty my name is because it was never something i believed myself. apathy probably better described our relationship. i was teased for my name from childhood through high school and in retrospect, it came to represent the many ways i was different and didn’t fit in; i’d wrapped up much of my not-good-enough-ness in it. i realized that in naming myself “rehes” (my name backwards), it was my subconscious trying to hide from myself and the shame that came with my name.

i quickly became clear that owning “seher” represented a deeper shift: i was ready to more fully own and accept myself.

i started thinking about my name, particularly in the vein of career shifts i’d been thinking about. seher translates to dawn. i thought about beginnings, the sun; i realized my personal work of the last two years had lead me to explore coming into myself as an initiator, an illuminator. i’d also recently learned that my name in german means seer; another connection — i had spent the last two years deeply awakening to my intuition and inner knowing.

the inherent resonance my given name shares with the true self i have been unfolding gave me profound pause.

an intuitive initiator and illuminator; sharing and championing the truth of things, the truth of us — that is, in fact, what i care about most. writing this, i am in awe once again.

i’ve shared a bit about finding my purpose and exploring a career pivot on social media. recently, i wrote:

i’m coming to see myself more as a thinker, artistic communicator, and facilitator for the universal good. where i’m going, photography and writing — amongst other skills i intend to conscientiously develop — are simply my tools for self expression, individual/community/global healing, and mobilization towards social change. these values form the root of all things for me now — not photography, not writing, nor any other skill or talent i may possess.

i’ve spent the last couple years engaging in deep spiritual work to identify my life’s purpose and true gifts. upon getting a grasp on the general themes, it quickly became clear that my career needed to shift; as far as what the details look like, i accept that i cannot force the natural process of inner awakening — it’s all still a work in progress.

during this period, my relationship with photography has constantly been hazy and in flux; figuring out how to redefine my relationship with photography as i explore a somewhat nebulous career pivot is a constant challenge.

the last couple years found me frequently disconnected from photography and even resenting it; in so desperately wanting to figure out the complete picture of my purpose, photography oftentimes felt like a mindless distraction. so through all that, it feels really great to be able to say that this new site and the new work i’m sharing are something i feel proud of. i don't take time to do that too often — stop to feel proud of myself and celebrate myself. 

going through the labor of launching this site and framing it in a way that leaves open space for the other pieces of me and my talents that are slowly emerging — for me, it’s fuel. to look at work that i like is affirmation that i do want to keep shooting and reclaim my relationship with photography — reincarnating it into something that more fully speaks to my spirit and that of others.

as i continue my process of personal discovery, i am constantly updating what i think is exactly my purpose. right now, how i’ve chosen to phrase it is:

using art, media, and community building to promote personal healing and social equality.

i see personal transformation and healing as powerful catalysts for activism and social change. in some way, i also see my work exploring this important intersection. where i currently stand, the issues closest to my heart are social equality for women and people of color, and personal healing as it relates to mental health and the body-mind connection (subtle energy stuff).

in expanding the scope of my work, i have natural strengths i’m looking to exercise and develop. these include: idea generation, creative problem solving, facilitation (people + groups + ideas), storytelling (speaking + writing + photography), leadership, strategic planning, and building safe community spaces.

to help me do this, i am looking to connect with people working in progressive and interdisciplinary spaces in the arts, media, personal healing, and social equality. i’d like to partner with people and/or organizations already doing work in this realm — even in a volunteer capacity — to inform my career pivot and process of personal discovery by diving into the work itself. i want to begin exercising my entire skill set, contribute towards meaningful causes, get a lay of the land, and connect with like minded individuals. 

if anyone is willing and able to make an introduction, i would love to link with any relevant people, organizations, or companies. even if only for an informational interview! 

in any case — my deep gratitude to you for reading this far. and to so many of you — thank you for believing in me and in my work countless times where inside i was secretly at war with both. you've kept me going.