Here’s a story all about how, an important teen book fell into my lap and flipped my life upside down.

Every once in a while you read a book that just changes you or your perspective. 10 years ago for me it was 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. After reading that book, I stepped back and looked at the way I treated the people in my life, even the ones who just pass me by for a moment and wondered to myself, “Am I adding to the list of things in their life that doesn’t make life worth it anymore? Am I adding to the list of things in their life that does make life worth it?” I wanted to always try to make the answer that I was adding joy to people’s life, or at the very bare minimum, not making it worse.

Then, here I am, working at Chapters (#indigoemployee holla!) and there is this book coming out that a friend of mine received and advanced copy of and I hear that it was just so good and so important. I marked it on my “to-read” list on Goodreads and vowed that I would read it this year. Fast forward to the beginning of July and I’m sitting on a conference call with Harper Collin’s, representing my store with their marketing team, and I hear that there’s a chance that I’m going to get to meet this author in the fall. I had to step up my game and read it by the end of summer, and here we are.

For those of you who follow me on instagram or facebook, you’ve probably already seen my post, but for those who didn’t, the book is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

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This is one of those books that no matter your background will make you think. The story follows Starr Carter, a sixteen year old black girl who lives two lives. She has grown up and lives in Garden Heights which is considered “the hood” but goes to school at Williamson which is in a rich and predominately white part of town and a bit of a drive from her neighbourhood. There are a lot of issues in her neighbourhood, drugs, gangs, you name it. The story opens up where she’s at a party and ends up leaving with one of her old friends who she hadn’t seen in a while, and when he’s driving her home they are stopped by the cops.

Unarmed, Starr witnesses the murder of her friend at the hands of a white cop, and the repercussions that follow are huge. There are protests, and riots, the story making national news. This is a story that may be fictional but very heavily based on some very true stories coming out of the US with police brutality and the deaths of young black men. Now, if you’ve known me for a second, you know I’m quiet and not vocally political, but damn this story is so needed right now.

Me, a white girl, so white that when you turn the lights off, I’m probably still glowing. I grew up going to a Jr. High where half of my school’s population were black, so I might not be completely unfamiliar with this story, but I will tell you right now, I, in no way have been able to relate because I am white. I don’t feel the struggle that Starr Carter or any black person feels because of their race, I acknowledge that I’m in a privileged position to never have to understand that struggle. This book though, this book is letting me look through the eyes of a young black girl, and it’s breaking my heart. I’m still never going to truly know what the black community goes through, but having this story, this perspective, I hope, will make me a more compassionate person who puts bravery on and stands up for injustices.

The thing about books is that people who read tend to be more compassionate people because they are always seeing the world through the eyes of other people, even if they’re fictional. I’m seeing this world where Starr lives, and I know I would be straight up terrified to live there, and here she is, standing up against police brutality, standing up against the murder of her friend. She is a character that I can look up to because she has gone through some tough things before she’s even eighteen years old and she’s handling them. It’s a book like this that we need to be getting into the hands of everyone, just so that they can see this perspective of what the life of someone they feel like that they could never possibly relate to. Just to see that we’re all human, and we humans, we can do crappy things to other people but that we have the ability to be the change.

Please friends, if you are white, don’t just look at this and say, “Naw, it’s a ‘black book’ I ain’t interested.” I’m telling you right now, you are doing yourself a disservice and you’re doing your brothers and sisters an even bigger disservice. Read it. Honestly, do it and I hope and pray that it helps to give your perspective. You don’t have to go out and be an activist after you read it, (though, that would be cool) and you don’t even have to LOVE the book, but I honestly think it’s so important and that now that it’s out, it should be read in schools, and the conversation it centres around talked about.

Just to add, the story does use a lot of slang and “words them young people use” (like dab?) and there’s a bit of swearing in it, but please don’t let that deter you. When reading it, at first I was a little uncomfortable with how the English language was used (because I’m so used to reading books written in a certain way) but it adds to the authenticity of the story. Please, give this book a try, and then tell me what you thought, because I would love to have a conversation!

In 365 days, a lot of things can change

It’s incredible how much can change in 365 days. This year I have experienced so much change in my life, but I’m also thankful that so much stayed the same as well. This time last year I wasn’t shooting with my camera anymore, in fact, it had been almost a year from that point that I had barely picked my camera up. Now, I’m shooting again, and relearning everything, and rediscovering why I loved photography in the first place. I have been taken under the wing of a photographer who is really good at what he does, and it’s such a blessing. If you had asked me 365 days ago if I would be working with this photographer, learning from him, I would have laughed and said, “No. No way.” It’s funny how things change.

I like that I’m moving forward too. I was so stagnant in my life, kind of just floating in one spot, not sure which direction to swim and what was to come next. I’m still a little unsure of where the destination is, but I know the I’m taking this journey forward, and it’s nice that it’s with people who are encouraging and wanting me to find happiness. They want to see me succeed, and that, in itself in a priceless gift, so if you’ve encouraged me, pushed me forward in the last 365 days, I want you to know how thankful I am. I love you a lot because of it.

In the last 365 days, there has been a change of the people in my life too. There is one person in my life who I thought would be very important to me for a very long time, who barely crosses my mind now. It’s funny how someone who felt like such a permanent thing in your life doesn’t even make a blip on your radar anymore. It took a lot of hard work to get there, because letting go of someone who you had hoped would stay for a while takes a lot of effort, but I’m better and stronger for it. And it’s nice knowing now that they really weren’t worth keeping around in my life, that when I held the door open they walked over the threshold, and stood there staring back in until I closed it in their face, which, trust me, was needed.

Then, this time last year, my anxiety was on the rise, and made worse by certain events. I was sure that the panic/anxiety attacks were never going to end. They were so frequent and even irrational, and I thought, “Why can’t I just not be like this anymore?” Trust me friends, I’m still kind of like this, but I’m better at handling it. These last 365 days have helped me take those steps that I needed to gain the tools to handle my anxiety better, and for that, I’m a stronger person. It would be a lie to that I don’t get anxious or that I don’t have attacks anymore, but I’m better equipped to take them on and not let them build into something more. They’re fewer, and not as debilitating lately, and it’s because I’ve taken the time to better understand what makes me panic and using that as a jumping off point to get myself in a better headspace.

I’m moving forward in my faith too! What would have tore me apart and away from God a couple years ago only brought me closer and building that trust that through any storm I have an anchor to keep me still. I can see and put into practice what I learned from my season of anger with God, especially after this past year. Between the losing someone I thought would be important for a long time and my anxiety trying to rip me apart from the inside out, I am still standing. I have a couple scars from the battle, but I also have a faith built on a relationship and unwavering God. I honestly don’t know if I would be around right now if I didn’t have that relationship, because when my mental health was taking a nosedive, I saw some pretty dark places. Places that I hope that I never, ever will have to see again.

Overall, there has been a lot of changes since this time last year, changes that at the time I saw as something bad, with some distance and perspective, I can see as some of the best changes to happen to date. I’m excited about my future, and where I can go next, I’m excited to grow and see new places in the next 365 days. I know that having a post like this in the middle of May is kind of odd, it’s one that you usually do at the end or beginning of a year, but I can definitely pinpoint that this time last year was when a lot of these big changes were happening, and it was kind of good to look back and reflect on how far I’ve come since then.

I look forward to what will happen in my life by May 2018. Maybe a humanitarian trip to the Dominican Republic (I’m seriously considering this one), new opportunities with my photography stuff, stronger and happier relationships and so much more. Whatever is to come, I’m excited.

I ❤ the beach

I’m incredibly blessed to be able to live five minutes from the ocean and ten from the beach. It’s always been in my life, and I’ve never lived anywhere where the ocean has been more then 30 minutes away. I consider it my home, and have experienced it in so many different ways. Last year I had an experience that tainted the beach for me, made it a place of sadness and hurt…a place of anxiousness. I was determined not to let that ruin one of my favourite places to be, so I decided to make new memories there.

It really sucks when something that usually brings you so much joy gets tainted by a painful memory, and when you’re there/when you’re experiencing it, it’s all you can think about and it makes you feel like panicking. I’ve made a point to try and make new and happy memories with the things that have been tainted. I’ve made many visits back to the beach to shoot, and just enjoy the peace again that the ocean brings me and bring joy back to it.

Below are some of the photos I shot the last few trips out, where I made new memories, learned something new and brought new joy to going to the beach.

December 31, 2016
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April 14, 2017
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April 18, 2017
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4. Go for a photo adventure with people I barely know!

I did something recently that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and that was, to go on a photo adventure with people I barely know. There was one person I knew personally and well, (Rachel, a former classmate) and then a bunch of faces I either recognized through Instagram, or not at all. With this trip I got to check off 4 things in total on my list. Of course the go on a photo adventure (4), but also, meet someone I follow on Instagram that I haven’t met before (159), go to an instameet/photo walk (160) and make a new friend and make it Facebook official (167). Done, done, done and done!

Because this big bucket list item was also a photo adventure, it would stand to reason that that would, y’know, actually contain pictures. So first, an iPhone photo of the squad for the day…

IMG_2895Shaeline, me, & Rachel! (Thanks Natasha for taking this for me!)

…and the network we were doing, adding each other on Instagram!
IMG_2893.JPGShaeline, Rachel, Natasha, Karlene & Kyla!

Then there were the photos with my camera and not my phone…

IMG_1823Cove Kombucha provided us with some with a bottle of their Kombucha to try while we were out and about shooting.IMG_1832 bwRachel decided that she wanted to be Spider-Man and scale a wall.IMG_1847Raymond was all smiles.
IMG_1853The guys just taking a moment. It was nice meeting them!IMG_1886My new friend Shaeline, shooting Rachel’s portrait.IMG_1888 bwIMG_1909IMG_1913IMG_1911IMG_1918Maugher Beach LighthouseIMG_1947IMG_1955
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There are so many Rachels :OIMG_2007 bwIMG_2016The view from the fort!
IMG_2021 bwIMG_2024IMG_2053.jpgSuch a beaut!IMG_2057 bwNatural moments, getting to know each other and making photo friends!IMG_2068IMG_2126

If you want to see any of the other shots taken by other photographers from this trip, check out the hashtag #igmcnabs on Instagram and check everyone out! You might even find a few from me there!

Quick, make a list!

What if we only had 8 months and 12 days to live because an asteroid is hurtling towards earth and we were all going to die, what would you want to do before that day came? What things would you put on your “Apocolyst”? A friend of mine suggested that I watch a show on Netflix called No Tomorrow with this very premise in mind, and it got me thinking, what would I like to do before I died? After finishing the first season I mulled over the idea for a couple of days, and I decided to make my own “Apocolyst” or sorts and do it.

I know I won’t get everything on it done, but I wanted my list to be realistic, and I didn’t want it to be just big things. So my list contains a lot of little everyday things, and I’m constantly growing it (I’m at over 250 items right now, wow,) and I wanted some of them to challenge me into being a better person. There are things to push me out of my comfort zone, to get my creativity going, to try and be selfless, and simple things that I have never done that I would really like to do. Some things, I have already done earlier in life, but haven’t done in a while and would like to do it in my adult life.

I’ve spent a lot of time scouring Pinterest for ideas and inspiration for my list and as I was doing so, I felt so blessed that some of the things from other’s bucket lists I had already done. “Own a fancy camera.” Done. “Learn how to use a decent camera.” Done. “Call someone from a red telephone booth in London.” Done. “Ride on a double decker bus.” Done. “Go up the Eiffel Tower.” Done. “Travel to a new continent.” Done. “Go to Disney World.” Done. There were so many other that I could say, “That can’t go on my list, I’ve already done them.” and it felt like making a list and already having things checked off. It’s so satisfying.

I’m not going to put my whole list here, but I hope that as I check things off that I can blog about them and share my adventures. I have this cute little Hello Kitty Moleskine journal that I had bought on sale a year or so ago, just sitting, waiting to be used for something inspiring. So, I decided to write my list in it, allow myself to check things off as I went. I have a matching Moleskine journal that is a bit larger that I plan to be a companion to the little one, to write about the story attached to a completed task. IMG_2866

I want to inspire myself to try new things, re-try old things, be better, fuel my soul with adventure, see the world, and do small things with great love. I want my list to be ever growing, and be a journey to push myself out of my shell and live a joyful life. I want to encourage people, do things for others, and just generally feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Below are some of the things on my list, and as time goes on, I hope to post blogs that have some that I didn’t list here with accompanying stories and photos!

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1. Visit the Studio Ghibli Museum in Japan!
2. Meet Meghan in person!
3. Leave a note in a library book for someone to discover!
4. Go on a photo adventure with people I barely know!
5. See the Northern Lights!
6. Go on a missions trip to a different country!
7. See McFly in concert!
8. Try to make amends with someone I’ve hurt!

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46. Tell someone how much they mean to me!
47. Do something selfless and expect nothing in return!
48. Tell someone who gave me great customer service that they did!
49. Go snorkelling/scuba diving!
50. See cherry blossoms in Japan!
51. Truly forgive someone who hurt me!
52. Have my own personal library!
53. Have a date on Valentine’s Day!
54. Attend a high school reunion!
55. Have a photoshoot with a celebrity I look up to!
56. Try and meal I would normally never try!
57. Write a letter encouraging someone!
58. Have a tea party!
59. Leave a 100% tip!
60. Meet an author I look up to!
61. Shoot photos of a concert with one of my favourite bands/artists!
62. Go apple picking!
63. Join a book club!

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147. Find something good or happy for 100 days!
148. Make a baby laugh!
149. Learn a new word everyday for a month and use it!
150. Finish a novel in a day!
151. Leave anonymous love for someone!

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226. Have a yardsale!
227. Send someone a postcard!
228. Have a ‘treat yo’self’ day!
229. Just sit out in the sun and blow bubbles!
230. Fly a kite!
231. Buy a pet fish!
232. Learn origami!

I’m always looking for new interesting things to do, and try, so if you have any ideas or have done some really cool things on your bucket list, let me know! Let’s encourage each other to go out and check things off our lists.

 

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Self-Care

Most people who have read this blog know that I struggle with my anxiety. I can get anxious over really big things, but I can also get anxious over really little things too. A memory can wipe out my day, and sometimes there’s just an avalanche of really crappy things that can knock me out for longer. As I go through my life, I worry about things, and a lot of the time, they’re things that I don’t even have to worry about but I just can’t help myself. Sometimes they’re silly, sometimes they’re not.

Sometimes when I start to worry about things that I would have to make a decision about, I weigh my options into “do I need to” and “do I want to”. Example: The other day I was worrying about having a much needed day off. That day and the day before were really bad days, and I was worrying about what would happen if they called me into work a shift, and how I didn’t want to do it if they did because I just had two really bad days and I needed to just not be there. But then I started to worry that it would effect how often they called me when I was actually feeling up to taking an extra shift or two. I was worried about saying “no” when I needed a day to take care of me, which typically includes laying in bed with a book and a cup of tea, or watching Netflix, or photo editing. They’re kind of the lazy day things, and I was worried that they weren’t good enough reasons to say no to taking another shift or extending a shift I already had.

My friend and co-worker then reminded me that it’s okay to say no to those days sometimes because if you can’t bring your best self to work, then you’re likely to have resentment grow or lose whatever joy you’ve found if it’s a job you love. She’s right, and if you neglect yourself and your needs, especially when it comes to your mental health stuff, you only hurt yourself. Because of this, I’m learning that self-care is very important. That sometimes we need those days off, and we shouldn’t feel guilty to saying, “no” when you need your scheduled days off to relax and recoup.

This is a hard lesson for me, and I know that moving forward I’m still going to have to fight with myself about saying “no” because I don’t like disappointing people or letting them down, but I also have to remember that I’m no good if I’m not well taken care of. If I’m not taking time for me to recharge myself (especially because people are energy stealers and they wear me out) then I burn out and hate everything. That I really truly need to take care of me because I feel like I give so much of myself to others, and I don’t want to have nothing left.

Here are some of my favourite ways I try to show myself some self-care:

  1. Read a book. Lots of people read for different reasons, and mine is to relax and to escape. I don’t read award winners unless I’m genuinely into the stories because I don’t find reading something because I “should” or “have to” relaxing. I read the stories I like to read, and if I’m not digging the story, I try to not waste my time in finishing it.
  2. Have a cup of tea. This is usually combined with many other sources of my self-care choices, but mostly when I’m reading a book. It’s warm, and delicious and just makes snuggling up with a blanket and a book so cozy.IMG_2797
  3. Listen to music. Music is almost like soul healing it feels like. If I’m feeling down I usually go for some upbeat fun music, or something comforting like an old favourite album of mine. If I just need to relax and mellow out, or just need some white noise while I’m working on something or reading, I have a couple playlists with some of my favourite musical scores from movies, tv, and video games.
  4. Taking photos. There is just something about you + the world + your camera. A solo adventure or even one with some other creative people, it’s all good. Photography is just something that really fuels my soul, and makes me feel at peace…when I’m doing it for me. Sometimes I get lucky with a photo job that I really want to do, that makes me feel like this as well. They’re my favourite jobs, and make me feel better.img_9744
  5. Photo editing. I don’t know what it is, but I find editing photos just so relaxing. I find that it can be done at a decent pace, and gives you a final product which makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something while still being relaxing. Also, the colours when editing a landscape helps make me feel calm, especially when it includes a sunrise or sunset.
  6. Writing, even if no one will ever see it. It’s just an outlet to get my anxious thoughts out into the universe so that they’re not bundled up inside of me and making me more anxious. Write novels, write short stories, write blog posts, anything. Writing is such a therapeutic way to take care of yourself, and seeing your thought process in a physical way.
  7. Watching an old favourite or discovering a new one. A couple of years ago I realized that I watched a lot of my old favourites over and over again. Beauty and the Beast? I’ve probably seen that thousands of times in my life time. So I started keeping track of, and pushing myself to watch more movies that I had never seen before. I still very much watch my old favourites, but with this push to watch things I had never seen before, I found some new favourites that I can add to my repertoire of “I need to feel better, so I’ll watch this” movies.
  8. Spend some laid back time with people who don’t drain me. I like getting out and spending time with people, despite being an introvert. I like sitting at a cafe, both of us with our laptops working on something, or having a book, or just catching up, and it not feeling like a chore. I don’t do it often, because I’m really rather lazy, but when I do, I feel better.
  9. Crocheting a crap ton of roses. I don’t know how many I’ve made, but I’ve made quite a few crochet roses. They’re quick and easy and good for when I’m feeling anxious. It gives me this sense of accomplishment when I feel like I can’t do anything, and it keeps my hands and mind busy while I count stitches. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them all, but they make me happy.FullSizeRender.jpg
  10. Skyping with my beautiful friend from Connecticut. We don’t get to do this often, but when we do, we can literally talk for hours. It’s so recharging just to have this person who I trust and love so much to talk to when things are going to crap. She’s an incredibly supportive friend and I’m forever thankful for her.
  11. Naps. Do no underestimate the power of a really good nap. Sometimes you’re just so emotionally, physically or socially exhausted that a good nap pumps you up. I think we all need to take more naps.
  12. Colouring is magical, and if you haven’t tried it, you must. We all coloured when we were in elementary school, and some of us even participated in the adult colouring phase. I’m pretty sure I was apart of the teenager colouring phase, because even before it became a big marketable thing I was still colouring, in my Hello Kitty colouring book with a 64 pack of crayola crayons. It calmed my anxiety, and helped me relax, which made it an important part of my self care.IMG_2524.JPG
  13. Mindless scrolling through Instagram, or Facebook, but mostly Instagram. I have such a love for that app. It’s where I’ve connected with local photographers, found inspiration, and found accounts that give me an unreal amount of joy. (shoutouts to twhiddleston,  bonpon511, blackjaguarwhitetiger, popyeyethefoodie, logreglan, elsasketch, hotdudesreading, and a few others.)
  14. Just spending a day with no responsibilities or any set plans. It’s nice to be able to just lay and do nothing, or just go with the flow.
  15. Spending time in the sunshine. I struggle a lot in the winter, because it’s cold and grey a lot of the time, and that makes it hard to motivate myself to get out. Sitting out on the dock at the cottage with a book and a cup of tea in the sunshine is a soul healer.
  16. Spending time away from the regular world like at my family’s cottage outside of the city and by a lake. I grew up on this lake at my grandparents cottage, next to ours, and there’s just something about spending a weekend away down there. Sometimes I get anxious while I’m there, but it’s usually just left over from what I have been pushing back. I usually have no real responsibilities or things to really distract me from dealing with the issue, but sometimes that’s a good thing. It allows me to process it.
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There are so many more things, big and small, that I do to practice self care. It’s important to remember that we sometimes need to do things for ourselves, especially if we’re the type of people who do a lot for others. We need to remember that while we’re taking care of others, while we’re doing stuff to bring people joy, we also need to bring joy to ourselves. I truly believe to have a happy and joyful life, we need to have a nice balance. If you only give and never take, you wear yourself out. If you always take and never give, you’ll never be satisfied. So, for those of us who gives a lot of ourselves, those of us who are introverted and being around people takes a lot of energy, please don’t forget to take care of yourself a bit. You’re worth it, trust me.

Double the Cute, Double the Trouble

Last month friends of mine welcomed two new beautiful (identical) additions to their family, and they recently asked if I would take some photos for them. I had never shot newborns before, and having the opportunity to explore and experience this part of photography made me so excited. Normally I would be nervous too, because never having done this before, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get it right, but I’m happy with my results and didn’t feel nervous at all. The photos aren’t perfect (but these new little boys are, as well as their big brothers) but they’re a great first shot at newborn photography and I’m very happy with them. Without further ado, here are some photos of Israel and Ezekiel, as well as their adorable older brothers Gabriel (Gabe) and Emmanuel (Manny).

CurtzFamily004Big brothers, Manny and Gabe. IMG_1445 bwSweet Gabe. He’s such a wonderful big brother.CurtzFamily010 bwLittle Manny, the little rebel.
IMG_1585 bwEzekiel was wide awake for the first half of the shoot, while Israel just napped on.
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Thank you Jon and Tonja for trusting me with your two precious little ones as well as the older ones, and thank you for trusting me to capture memories for you. It was awesome being able to learn something new, and snuggle some cute babes.

Thank you to the women…

Thank you to the women who walked before me,
Building bridges, burning down road blocks and sacrificing of themselves.
Thank you to the women who fought so that I could keep moving forward,
For making a way so that we don’t feel so constrained in our fight forward.
Thank you to the women who laid the ground work so that our paths are a little bit smoother than those who walked before us so we can go farther for those ahead.
Thank you to the women who taught us, who mentored us, who poured into us, who fought for us and who prayed for us.
Without you doing those things, we wouldn’t be able to do what we can for those who will come after us.
Thank you to the women who have led me, who gave me chances, who stood up for me and who didn’t give up on me when I fell.
Your wisdom and faith in me have helped me see what I have to offer to other girls and women who cross my path.
Most importantly, thank you to the woman who gave me life, who held me when I hurt, who pushed me forward when things got hard, who built me up when I was tearing myself down, and who shows me such an unfathomable amount of unconditional love.
I am so lucky to have such a wonderful example of what it means to be a strong woman.
You are why I know that I can be a strong woman too.

Thank you.

Going from Me to We

Back in January I did a little photoshoot with one of my friends and coworkers, Abbey (you can check out her blog here). She is one of those young voices who just likes to inspire and talk about the things that are important to her and the world and if you give her like five minutes of your time to chat about one of her favourite organizations, she’ll probably make you want to be apart of it too. Even if it’s just as simple as buying a bracelet. Abbey has such a huge heart for the organization Me to We which is a global initiative that gets people involved in making a difference in places in the world that need our help. There are lots of ways to get involved and it doesn’t even have to be that expensive. Of course there are the trips to Kenya and going into WeVillages that will be quite expensive, but I know Abbey will tell you the trip is so worth it. There is also just supporting them and the companies that support them.

When I first met Abbey, we were actually being interviewed at Chapters for a seasonal position (#indigoemployee in the house!) We didn’t really talk to each other and honestly, I didn’t even realize that that was here until like months later. Then we became friends, and the company decided to keep us both as permanent employees and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship (and twinship!). There are often times when some of my managers will call me Abbey, and Abbey my name because we kind of look alike. We’re about the the same height, same hair colour, same weight, and we both wear glasses. From behind, the only way to really tell who is who is by our distinct differences in clothing style it would seem, despite our seven year age difference. I’ve even had her sister come up to me when my back was to her and called me by her name, and when I turned around, she was like, “You’re not Abbey.” It gave me a good laugh.

One thing Abbey did share with me while we worked together is her love for the products that come from Me to We. She is always talking about these beautiful rafikis that she wears to anyone who will listen and the cause that they support is a fantastic one. Because of her love and passion for this organization I have so many rafikis of my own (I currently have fourteen and I have two Imani bracelets on their way to me this week!) I have also bought them as gifts for friends because they are such a beautiful and simple piece to add to an outfit, but yet is doing so much good. Single rafikis run about ten dollars per, and when you buy one there is a code written on the back so that you can track your impact.

These two rafikis are my current favourites that I wear all of the time. My Refresh rafiki gives water and my Forever rafiki provides financial tools. When putting my codes to track my impact, I find that my Refresh rafiki has brought clean water to a child in Los Rios, Ecuador and my Forever rafiki has brought a financial literacy toolkit for a woman in Pimbiniet, Kenya. Awesome!

What’s wonderful about these rafikis is that they are all handmade with love by a woman in Kenya. It’s giving them the skills to make products to support themselves as well as those in their community, and beyond. Each piece that is made and sold brings money to a child and their family by supporting their healthcare, their education, food, clean water, financial tools, and opportunities. It’s one small thing that I can do in supporting, selling, and talking about what a fantastic thing these rafikis can do. When talking to my customers at Chapters (#indigoemployee), they get just as pumped hearing that this small thing they are buying for someone or themselves is doubly awesome by also supporting someone half a world away. I also love telling them that these rafikis are not the only things made supporting these families, but that there is a whole website selling so much more that support them (Me To We Store).

Also, their fantastic partnership with DavidsTea that is also bringing support to families half a world away, and for someone who loves DavidsTea, this makes me so happy. This partnership is bringing clean water to children, each product providing a different amount. A 100g tea of their Me to We Tea brings one month of clean water to a child. Their Me to We travel mug brings six months of clean water, and their lip balm and rafiki bracelet gives access. It’s so awesome seeing these two incredible Canadian companies coming together to work on a global change.

So, when I was feeling in a funk about doing my photography stuff (because I get the winter blues, yuck) I had the idea to have a little photoshoot with Abbey to explore a product we both really loved. When I asked her if she’d like to do it, she was practically bouncing she was so excited. When I asked her if she would be down through text, her first response was “HELL YEAH” and so we did it. We were both so excited to do this, and being able to get a photoshoot done with someone that I’m passionate about while having a model who was passionate about it as well was so much fun. Afterwards we grabbed a coffee at Starbucks and chatted, and it was just such a fantastic day that brightened up my winter blues a bit.

img_2355Abbey enjoying that post shoot java boost. My friend is cute as a button!

So, without further ado, the photos from our shoot!

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And just because we have so much fun when we get to hang out, here are a couple outtakes that are just there for the giggles.

Thank you Abbey for just being you, and bringing your love for Me to We to me.

Those damn winter blues

I know that a lot of us struggle during this time of year, I know that I do. This time of year makes me feel dull, like my light is going out. I’m always tired, I’m even more introverted then I am when the weather is nicer, and almost all motivation to do the things I love is at an all time low. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some pretty good days where I do get out with my camera, or catch up with a friend, but winter is mostly blah for me. On those good days, I feel my brightness and my glow come back for a little bit, but it doesn’t last, the winter blues come back full force. It’s a genuine effort that I just don’t have sometimes, to make these days filled with light.

So far this winter, I have spent a good deal of time secluded from everyone. I just don’t have the mental energy to sit in the living room with my family or go out with friends. I know that I get so tired after a day at work, where I am constantly surrounded by people and having to talk with them. I have spent a lot of quality time with my Netflix account and books since the weather started to get colder. I’ve watched seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, plus the revival, the second season of Fuller House, two and a half seasons of Jane the Virgin (season three is currently running), I’ve watched the first season of Dirk Gently: Holistic Detective Agency, two seasons of iZombie, I’m keeping up with Riverdale as well as keeping up with the network shows I’ve been loving (This is Us, Gotham, The Good Place and Schitts Creek). I have also been re-watching Veronica Mars with my mom, because she had never seen it, and has been enjoying. Then, since October I have read eleven books and I’m currently working on the twelfth one. I’ve just been consuming this low energy loves to keep myself sane.

Even blogging has been an absolute chore, which, I suppose you might have noticed because they have been abandoned, when I used to write one almost weekly. Winter blues have got me feeling super blah. I have ideas for posts, but no motivation to actually sit and write them, let alone finish them. It’s a miracle that this is even being written at all, and it’s not without it’s challenges. I keep getting distracted by things, like my phone lighting up every ten seconds because I just posted a photo to my photo instagram and I’m seeing the likes coming in, or because I’m watching Pitch Perfect and I started to actually watch it and sing the songs instead of writing. I’m not kidding when I say that I have 17 drafts of unfinished blog posts sitting in my account, waiting to have new life breathed into them. I just cannot bring myself to finish one, and it sucks because it’s one of my outlets for my excess anxiety.

I’m trying though, I promise you, I’m so trying. I hate this time of year, it makes it hard for me to get outside. Not that I’m an overly outdoorsy type of person, but I definitely enjoy it more when the sun is shining, the weather is warm, and getting up early doesn’t feel like such a chore. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember, and you’d think that I would have found a better way to cope, but not really. I’m trying though, actually writing this post is proof, and the mornings I get up and actually go shooting. Even extending invitations to spend time with people when I know that it’s a real effort for me to do so.

I look forward to the days that are sunnier, warmer, and when the landscapes are greener. I look forward to my energy being restored, being able to get out more with my camera, not freezing to death or just feeling absolutely drained all the time. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, and I know that sometimes things are too dark to see the light, but I promise, it’s there. I struggle to see it often at this time of year, but I promise that things do get brighter. And I’ll extend this to you as well: if you feel like you’re in the winter blues and want to get out and grab a coffee, send me a message. I can’t guarantee that I’ll always be down, because y’know, winter blues, but I’ll definitely try to make that effort. Send me a message, or a text, let’s grab coffee, let’s go out shooting with our cameras. Let’s try to make the darkness of winter a little brighter together!