Fear and Other Lessons of 2016

** This is the first official blog post and in a way it's meant to be recap of 2016. All images are taken by myself this year unless stated otherwise. 
So I have a confession to make...  blogging was one of my 2016 goals and here it is mere days before the end of the year and I'm barely getting to it. In my defense 2016 was a rough and I mean real rough... at least personally. If you know  me or follow me on social media, then you know the struggles I have had this year. Needless to say I am ready to say farewell to 2016, for real!
2016 2.jpg

 

But back to the blog…. One of the reasons I hadn't done it is frankly, I just didn't know how to start . I was scared to be vulnerable and of being judged. I think that's often what holds us back from doing all sorts of things in life. The thought of starting something new can seem so daunting that it can paralyze us from ever starting in the first place.  The idea of someone judging us can be upsetting. To put ourselves out there is intimidating.  This is us getting in our own way though. Our fear of failure sabotages us so that we instead stay in our safe zone . The thing is that we learn and we grow when we push ourselves out of those comfortable places. That's when we really get to know ourselves; THAT’S when we define ourselves.  

 

Six months ago I petrified to pick up my camera. I hadn’t taken a photo in nearly two months. That is crazy for me!! I don’t believe I have ever gone that long without taking a photo since I first picked up a camera.. After losing sight in one eye I was terrified I wouldn't be able to take photos like I once I did. I was worried I wouldn't be good enough and that I would fail.  But just like falling off a horse we have to pick ourselves up and get back up lest we fall victim to our fear. Fear can grab us and hold us hostage preventing us from living the life we want. But here is the thing we regret what we don't do way more than we ever will regret what we do. 

 

I realize now so many of my fears were unwarranted and that NOW is the time to live. I needed to stop worrying, stop doubting and be the person I have always wanted. I need to be the person that I AM! Confronting death made me face my fears and in the face of death they were invalid. They just didn’t matter anymore. I'm no longer allowing fear to keep me from being me or expressing what I want.  To be honest I'm not 100% sure where this blog will go but I'm not afraid of it anymore. I am not scared to start and I really no longer care if I am judged.

 

 It's actually quite fitting that this was the year that I stepped out from behind find the camera and finally got myself in front to experience what my clients do. At the start of 2016 I was horrified at the thought of being photographed. I'm not happy with my body and rarely think of myself as attractive.  Funny that someone that sees beauty in every single person around her can't see it in herself.   Instead I saw and focused on only my flaws and made up excuses to avoid being photographed.
Photography by Teri Hofford, Sioux Falls Boudoir by Shalista and Kara Leigh

Photography by Teri Hofford, Sioux Falls Boudoir by Shalista and Kara Leigh

 

Twelve months later after stepping in front of the camera of ten different photographers from all over the world I am beginning to see it. I see that am beautiful and that has empowered me to love, appreciate and care for my body in new ways. I think a portrait is so powerful in the way it can transform us mentally and emotionally. It's a ritual that allows us to see ourselves in a new way which is the key to the transformation. I believe in what I do whole heartedly now because I have been on the other side. I know what’s its like to doubt yourself. I know exactly what my clients feel and I can empathize with them. I can guide them through the process because I have walked in their shoes.  
Photography by Teri Hofford, Kara Leigh, Sioux Falls Boudoir by Shalista, Amy Peacock and Miranda Parker. 

Photography by Teri Hofford, Kara Leigh, Sioux Falls Boudoir by Shalista, Amy Peacock and Miranda Parker. 

 

 2016 has taught me so much. It's taught me humility, grace and gratitude.  It's taught me to appreciate all I have and that I have to live fearlessly and love myself unconditionally. It’s also taught me that's it's ok to be selfish sometimes. I used to think that spending the afternoon at a spa or treating myself to a vacation was indulgent and that I had better things to do. Like work, like obligations, like work, like more obligations, and like more work. And it's not that those things aren't important because they are but the truth is I am doing a huge disservice to myself and to those around me (whether it's my clients or my family)  when I neglect to care for myself first. Being selfish from time to time allows us to give more of ourselves back to the universe. We need to value and respect our wishes and desires in life. We need to care for ourselves... body, mind and soul. I no longer feel guilt when I treat myself to that massage or spend an afternoon daydreaming as I walk with my dog longer than I had anticipated.  I just enjoy the moment.  I soak it all up because I live in the NOW! Fearlessly now!

 

In life the most precious thing we have are time and the experiences we give ourselves with that time. I have spent over 30 years’ shy, often hiding behind the camera, denying myself of things I want to do or be out of fear but 2017 is the year I say FUCK fear... I'm no longer scared of any of those things I once was, As I said before I am not sure where this blog or even where my life will lead me but I do promise to not hold back anymore.  I will be me, authentically me. I invite each of you to live your own life fearlessly too. To do all those things you want, to stop waiting for the perfect time because NOW is the time! Don't wait for more money, to be thinner, to get more courage. Do all those things in life you want NOW!  Because the biggest lesson of 2016 was that life is too short and we have to enjoy it all before it ends.  Live now and live fearlessly with love. Honor and love yourself, to embrace all you are and all you can be in 2017 Cheers to living the best life we can! All my love!!!

 

I leave you with my favorite image of 2016. It's not boudoir, it's not fashion, its not taken with my big camera and it's not even a spectacular view. This is my favorite image of 2016 because of what it represents to me.... it's HOPE!  It's the first photo I took after my stroke and after losing vision in one eye. It's when I appreciated my sight more than I ever had. It's when I knew that as long as I could still see with my other eye that I could still do what I love. It's when I knew I could still be a photographer. - Angela Michelle

I leave you with my favorite image of 2016. It's not boudoir, it's not fashion, its not taken with my big camera and it's not even a spectacular view. This is my favorite image of 2016 because of what it represents to me.... it's HOPE!  It's the first photo I took after my stroke and after losing vision in one eye. It's when I appreciated my sight more than I ever had. It's when I knew that as long as I could still see with my other eye that I could still do what I love. It's when I knew I could still be a photographer.

- Angela Michelle