Friday, April 21, 2017

This is me dressed as a mermaid on my private beach in Key Largo the day after I shot an underwater surprise proposal.  Its a photo that represents the culmination of an amazing journey I have been on, a journey that started with one little word, yes.
I noticed one day that I was really great at saying no.  And I felt pretty proud of that, back then, I was a hell no kinda girl.  Like no I don't want to meet you, I don't want to try that thing you think is cool, I'm not a joiner, I do these things super good and I don't like to fail so I will just only do these things here in this box.  Then one day I did a really big thing, I adopted a baby girl with a special need.  Every single person in my life including my husband said not to do it.  It was the hardest most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, but I knew I wanted it since I was a small child, I knew I was born to do that.  And I moved mountains, to get it done, I convinced everyone it was a good idea, I learned to save money and not be a consumer so I could afford it, I fought the Ontario government at court to allow me to be her parent, I struggled to learn everything I could so I could be a good parent to her. And I did it and she is my soul mate and she is everything I knew I had to do with my life.  But once she was safe at home I realized I wanted more of that.  Maybe it was more adopting, because that is the most life altering thing I think anyone can do... but that didn't seem quite it.  I was stuck.  I felt unable to make any decision.  I really wanted to start my own photography business but my family had just followed me on this really big crazy dream and they told me: Stop.  This is enough.  Be satisfied.  Be happy here, stop now.  So for a while I did.  And I lost myself.  And I was full of shame and guilt that I should have all these blessings and still want more.  I just wanted to be more me.  One day I just started saying yes, I got invited to a concert but I thought the band was stupid and I had no one to go with so all of me wanted to say no, but instead I said yes.  And it was a great night! I decided from now on what if I just stop being indecisive and say yes to every single thing.  At least it would be some sort of choice that has to be better than no choice!  And that is how the year of yes was born.  The first 4 months, I hated every single yes with a passion.  I loved each and every experience though, and that was odd.  Why would I hate saying yes, have to fight myself so many times even though I was not getting negative results?  So I started keeping a journal of all the times I said yes, I said yes to tomatoes in my salad even though I hate tomatoes only to find out they are sort of okay and it nice to not have to pick around them.  I said yes to hanging out with a girl who sort of rubbed me the wrong way, 3 times I reluctantly said yes to her invitations and today she is a dear friend and one of the biggest advocates of my business and work.  Yes, I have a photography business.  Yes, now I am a successful published photographer.  I photograph underwater pole dancers, just because I said yes, and people who like to pretend to be mermaids and surprise proposals in Key West, and babies who were just adopted and are coming home on airplanes, and stay at home moms who don't think they are pretty, and a porn star and special needs kids too.  Because of yes.  I think it took me about 18 months to enjoy saying yes, at about the 12 month mark I knew that yes was always going to be uncomfortable but worth it.  I still get that feeling but it's shorter all the time now.  And there have been a lot of days I feel crazy, and I have lost a lot of people who I call the caterpillars, the ones who stay on snooze and repeat, and sometimes that is sad, and sometimes I doubt myself because the caterpillars think butterflies are crazy.  But I can't go back to caperpillaring its biologically impossible even if i wanted to.  

I read a quote recently that said: 
The world is full of dead squirrels who couldn't make a decision.  Don't be a squirrel.  

It can be easy to not do something because we fear the correct outcome, but the reality is that the fear is what holds us back from achieving.  In the spirit of my continued commitment to  yes I am excited to announce that I will be offering limited underwater pole portraits at Pole Expo 2017 this year in Las Vegas.  I am following this dream, as my dear friend Jocie once said, on a build it and they will come philosophy for this project.  I am looking forward to the connections that I know this will bring me, and the amazing people I will meet and the beautiful art we will create.  I hope you have said yes today and I look forward to seeing you in Vegas!


 The yes isn't the elf living in the wall its openness to hear the elf.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

the year in review 2016



I have been answering these same questions about the new year for 20 years now. Ya, some of the questions sound like something a teen would ask... I considered looking for a new list, but my love of tradition and consistency won out and voila, this year's year in review:


1.     What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
I crossed several items off the bucket list this year.  Including the world’s best Wednesday, and visiting Iceland and France.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did keep my new year’s resolution which was to keep to spirit of the year of yes going.  This year’s resolution will be centered on mindfulness.
I will be following this formula for hacking my brain to rewire it towards more peace and light.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Shayla!! The other half of shalyvia had a beautiful baby girl.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No one close to me, but Leonard Cohen’s death was just incredibly sad for me.  He is a poet I’ve always identified with so deeply.  He was a creative inspiration too, the type of artist who was continually creating new work, that’s not easy but I always felt like he couldn’t stop creating even if he wanted to.  It was simply the realization that I would never get a new Leonard Cohen. These ones on earth I would have to make due with forever, there would be no more.  Now that being said his volume of work is as large as it is masterful, so to leave behind that legacy of words to us is such a huge gift.  I spent the day of his death sending his poems to everyone I love.  Still on my bucket list is a piece I want to shoot in a wheat field inspired by his song Hallelujah.  I actually cried when the field got harvested this summer before I got to make the project.
5. What countries did you visit?

Both France and Iceland. Some of the trip highlights for me were the beach and ocean and food in La Rochelle, France and my visit to Monkey Valley.  Monkey Valley was pretty much heaven on earth for me, my heart exploded with joy when I shook hands with a teeny tiny monkey with a mustache. Attending the Moulin Rouge in Paris in a designer gown and feeling like the belle of the ball.  Lazy days in the hot tub and couch at the foot of an Icelandic mountain under endless sunsets and northern lights. Witnessing my darling Bobo marry her love by the arctic ocean, and of course the day Jessie and I were brides gone wild.  In what has to be the most healing moment of female empowerment and artistic frenzy I’ve ever experienced.



6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

2016 to some degree lacked focus.  I had lots of bursts of energy and excitement but also set backs and turmoil.  I felt sort of like a lighting bug bobbing around in the wind.  I am not complaining because over all that little bug flew into some amazing experiences and adventures, but I would like to start to define my goals and paths more now, it’s been two years of following the wind, and those lessons have been invaluable, but it’s time for something more in the middle of aimless and rigid.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I ate the yummiest blue berry pie, and I remember thinking to myself, take in this moment right now, etch it on your memory forever, this is one of the best days of your life, right now, you are living it. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Learning to be more self-sufficient.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I’ve said this in many different ways each year, I don’t believe in failure.  I choose not to accept the choices or events in my life to be branded so negatively.  I did the best I could in that moment, in the future I tried to do better, and I always gave it my all.  I always said and acted my authentic self, and the results are this life I have.  That is no failure, just growth, and you can’t grow without these lessons.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

It was a very healthy year.  I am constantly having muscle aches and bruises but they are just badges of honor that show off my hard work. (using 2015’s answer because it still applies)


11. What was the best thing you bought?
My elf ears!! I seriously feel so beautiful wearing them.  I’ve always wanted to be a faerie.


12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

I am going to give the shout out to myself :P I think I faced some serious challenges this year with serenity, forgiveness, love and peace.  I think I have been the back bone for several of my good friends and family who’ve had an incredibly challenging year.  

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Obviously the Trumpster is the top of everyone’s list in this category right??? ….Continued depression that he is now president.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, and there is no better place to spend it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got really excited about my vision for my business, about how things I’ve been silently wishing for started to come to reality.  Dreams and collaborations bubbled to the surface and I just know that 2017 is going to be an amazing year for me artistically.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
"I Found" by Amber Run
And I'll use you as a warning sign
That if you talk enough sense then you'll lose your mind
And I'll use you as a focal point
So I don't lose sight of what I want
And I've moved further than I thought I could
But I missed you more than I thought I would
And I'll use you as a warning sign
That if you talk enough sense then you'll lose your mind

And I found love where it wasn't supposed to be
Right in front of me
Talk some sense to me

And I'll use you as a makeshift gauge
Of how much to give and how much to take
Oh I'll use you as a warning sign
That if you talk enough sense then you'll lose your mind

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? sadder

ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner, but stronger too

iii. richer or poorer? Richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I would like to be dancing more; I had a tough year learning to balance by growing business, full time job and family.  There was some points I only got one hour a week of Brass Belles and that’s just not enough for my sanity.  4-6 hours a week is perfect for my mind and body so I am aiming to keep that a priority moving forward.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Fighting with myself.  I try to be true to myself as much as possible but I spent a good part of 2016 trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  That’s all part of the self-discovery process but I wish I had surrendered sooner.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We mixed up Christmas this year by inviting my bestie to join in our crazy family fun and experience his first “white” Christmas, complete with presents, turkey and sledding.  It was a hoot!  It was certainly a holiday to remember, so many laughs and fun. He was a great sport and wore an embarrassing holiday t-shirt (that I am pretty sure he would kill me if I made public here) and my new elf ears.  Look how holly jolly he is! That photo still makes me giggle every time I see it.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
“Now if you’re making tea for a girl, right, for nine months, don’t you think, guys. I mean, help me out here. Your noodle, it can hold a lot of information, right? But don’t you think you can remember how many sugars a girl takes in her tea after nine months?, Sugar, he brings me sugar…” –Tori Amos

24. What was your favorite TV program?
I have been watching less and less TV, not really as a conscious choice just that I have so much on the go, something has to give. That being said I liked Vikings this year.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No, hate is so worthless. And karma came to my rescue, so have some faith in that.

26. What was the best book you read?
I read Mountain Tale by Lori Lensens, it was a very good book and the only one I finished this year so it’s got to take the spot in this category but I would say that that author’s book Girls was one of my all-time favorites ever and still stays with me all these years later.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Hanna Georgas, she was the opening act at a concert I attended this summer, and I must say loved her music instantly and much preferred her performance to the main act.

28. What did you want and get?
More horsey time!  Got to ride a few times this year after not having ridden for quite a few years.  It’s my happy place.

29. What did you want and not get?


I think things I want and did not get are still available for me to have in the future.  To quote Tori yet again, “maybe my wish knew better than I did” it’s all about trusting that the place you are is exactly the place you are meant to be.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I saw How to Be Single with Jen and we laughed so much that I missed half of the movie I think.  So it gets top spot not for the fact that it was exceptional cinema but because it was a super fun night with my best friend.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I celebrated birthday week with a trip to Cirque du Soleil with my pole friends it was a great night and a great week as well.


32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably satisfying?

This year was immeasurably satisfying. Wow that is five great years in a row, I am on a roll!

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?

I am still proudly rocking the spanks pants and onsies! And now I also have quite the collection of pole shorts (who needs pants!?!). This is still true....

34. What kept you sane?

Brass Belles!

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Cillian Murphy aka Tommy Shelby. (my crush is still going strong)


36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Trump for President.  BARF


37. Who did you miss?
I missed the Owens in Keene Valley, I didn’t make my annual trip to the mountains this year and I miss it so much.  I have spent endless hours this year plotting and planning a way to get there even for a weekend, but it never came about. 


38. Who was the best new person you met?
Anna!!

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
Sometimes your dreams are bigger then the person you want to share them with.  And that’s okay.  You are a whole entity on your own, capable of everything and anything.

Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Married to Mother Earth

There comes a time when you need to just lay down at Mother Earth's alter and surrender to her.  Come with an open heart and commit yourself as an empty vessel for her to her to fill.  It is time to promise that you will accept her guidance. You will do your best to know when that storm is in your way to build your strength and resolve or are the winds meant to guide you on her right path?  Regardless, you will find gratitude for every bluster, hurricane and gentle summer breeze flirting with your hair.  You will vow to the universe that you will find beauty in her everyday and to share your gratitude with her and others.  You will honor her by being your best possible self.  On that day when you commit to love and self acceptance they will in turn fill your life.  This marriage to her creates endless dreams and a lifting of your hopes because a love you never could have imagined surrounds you with deep and peaceful joy.  
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The universe has been sending me the most amazing gifts, most recently a gift came in the form of a dear old friend who I've known since I was a baby.  It's sort of a long story, but for two very different reasons we both ended up in Iceland with wedding dresses hidden in the crevices of our luggage and a secret hope to create something beautiful and healing in the mind blowing Iceland landscape. As we both packed, getting ready for this journey, we had no idea that we shared this desire, neither did we know that the other was even going to be traveling to Iceland.  Complete shock and joy as we found each other in Reykjavik. We live far apart and haven't seen each other much in the past decade, but as old and true friends do, we picked up the conversation right where it left off.  Several days of giggles and long chats in the hot tub under the stars and northern lights at the tip of the planet soothed my soul and also set my creativity ablaze.  This is not the first time the universe sent me this friend when I needed her most.  It seems she appears almost like magic drawn to me when I am experiencing an internal earthquake.  She said; "I am here to remind you in this time of change who your core self is, your child self, your true self.  To help you hold on to that as you journey through this because I am the witness to your past that will help you find your future."

Here is what we made together.  It was like playing dress up again as we had done a million times in childhood, running free and wild in the wilderness, hunting for faeries, building forts, being naughty (me more then her, let's trespass I urge her, its just a silly law, no one owns this earth) imaginations and giggles completely uncontrollable.  Just like a million times before, but this time my camera gets to document it, and I think, this is exactly what mother earth must have seen as she shone her endless golden sun down on us countless times before.  What a blessing that this time I get to see it through her eyes, and now, and that I can share it with you.


"If you ask the universe for patience you will get a bank line up. Life does not give you what you ask for.  Life gives you the people, places and situations that allow you to develop what you ask for.  And if you don't get it the first time, life will give it to you again.  Because life is very generous that way"

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

,

the elf in the wall

The Romans thought that a genius was a sort of magical divine entity, who was believed to literally live in the walls of an artist's studio. An elf, and who would come out and sort of invisibly assist the artist with their work and would shape the outcome of that work. My wall elf took us to this abandoned mill in formal attire. Thank you, my fae.
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