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Posts tagged Face Your Fears
Seth Godin's "Your Turn Challenge"

I want to write, but I'm scared. So on top of everything else, I'm making a blog post inspired by Winnie Kao's "Your Turn Challenge" (and Seth Godin's newest book "What to Do When it's Your Turn").

Day 1: Why are you doing the Your Turn Challenge? The Wisdom of Shaking Your Ass

After a long, cold, confusing day, the last thing I feel like doing is writing some sort of thought-provoking blog post. It would be far easier to kick back with Netflix and Instagram for the next two hours, and then go to bed.

But fuck easy. (Oops – are we allowed to say the eff word?)

I’ve spent most of my life as a dabbler – a mind-changer. Couldn’t seem to ‘find my calling’. Couldn’t stay focused. Then, a couple years ago, I read The War of Art and everything changed. I realized that I was scared; scared of hard work, of discomfort, of caring for something and being wrong, of failure, embarrassment, rejection, heartbreak, scared that people would find out I wasn’t the real deal, and that ultimately I would never find love… My ovaries would dry up and I’d die alone, in an apartment full of cats.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it’s the truth (although what’s so wrong with cats, really??).

Somewhere along the way I realized that I’m never going to stop being afraid of rejection and failure, and that’s okay! It takes a few (or many) rejections and failures to have some success… or at least an adventure. And I do like adventure.

A belly-dance teacher once told me, “If you stop coming to class you’ll never learn to shimmy – you have to show up and you have to try."

So here’s to practicing new skills: showing up, putting my booty on the line, and accepting the fear factor!

Seth Godin What to do when it's Your Turn
Seth Godin What to do when it's Your Turn
Are you Free?

There are some times in life when I’m honest with myself – maybe I’ve had too little sleep, or it's low blood sugar or PMS – whatever it is… But something clicks over and I let my barriers down enough to be honest. And I hear this voice in my head saying, “I just wanna be free." I ask myself, “Am I free?”

Why do I feel this way? I have all my rights and freedoms. I’m a middle class, white Canadian, university educated, blah blah blah… what do I know about not being free?

But my soul has this craving for liberation, and all I want is to fly high up into the sky and scream at the top of my lungs.

Skydiving, Barrie Ontario
Skydiving, Barrie Ontario

Once in 2005, I went skydiving (okay, I went three times but that’s another story). I stepped out under the wing of that plane, and flung myself into the sky at a measly 4000 feet. All by myself, alone. The static line jump. After the shoot opened and I found myself peacefully floating above the breathtaking view of the greater Barrie area (if you detect a slight hint of irony here, you’re wrong and not wrong all at once – everything looks perfect from far away), I was actually and literally speechless for moments. Moments and moments and moments. Like, whatever – I have no idea how long it takes to do a 4000 foot jump – probably not long. But anyway, I was free. I floated silently for some amount of time and then suddenly remembered that this was worth celebrating.

So I started to scream! I whooped and hollered, and hooted and howled, and felt like I was Jonathan Livingston and that nothing could stop me.

As I mentioned, it’s a whole other story about how I got my feet back on solid ground… But let me ask you right now:

Are you free? Are we??

Because there’s something inside you that needs to be let out; let go; let be; and set free.

Ask yourself at this moment, “What can I do to be free for just one second, right now?” And do it.

'Cause when that craving fades you’ll be back in the Matrix and, not that there’s anything wrong with that but, wouldn’t you rather be alive for just one second (and have everyone around you think you’re a weirdo) than let that feeling pass for another day?

If the answer you said is 'no', just ignore yourself and listen to me instead: yes! Go and strike a victory pose, or howl at the moon, or call your fiancée and tell her you freaking love her, or dance a little jig, or buy that plane ticket. In two seconds you’ll convince yourself back to conformity and you’ll have to wait until tomorrow (/ next week / next month / next year) for freedom to present itself again.

Written from an open place.



2013 Year Review… Prepare Yourself - it's Emo.

So it’s mid-January and I'm finally writing a 2013 year review... There is much to say. A year ago I was obsessively researching websites for Sweetheart Empire's portfolio. For those of you unfamiliar with the phenomenon of “obsessively researching” I'm talking about Procrastination. I studied all sorts of stuff until finally – for whatever combination of reasons – I snapped out of the fog and took action.

I started even though I felt I wasn’t ready… And everything began to fall into place. A year later I have experienced the following list of awesomeness.

Neither chronologically, nor in order of importance, in 2013 I:

  • Launched my own website and had to stand by my work all on my own
  • Experienced weeks and months [on and off] of debilitating fear of rejection and failure, self-torture, doubt, excitement, and more fear
  • Flew to Las Vegas (first time) alone for eight days, and attended WPPI – the world’s largest wedding photography conference
  • Had a portfolio review by José Villa (I was starstruck, and had to concentrate so hard on controlling my facial expression that I almost forgot to listen to the feedback)
  • Attended a Jesh de Rox workshop, had my mind blown, and felt that I had found “my people”
  • Meditated and worshipped the new moon with belly-dancers, yogis, philosophers, MBA students, and other such wandering souls
  • For the first time, a couple booked their wedding date based on my availability (and sent me a delicious babka to boot!)
Jose Villa, Nico Koenig and Babka
Jose Villa, Nico Koenig and Babka
  • Celebrated my mum’s 70th birthday in the same week that I found out my sister was pregnant
  • Experienced, from afar, the death of my nana and my uncle
  • Had a broken heart
  • Faced things about myself that I had been trying to ignore for many years
  • Experienced moments of self-acceptance so profound that words couldn’t explain the shocking peace of it
  • Relapsed back into judging and then judged myself for being judgmental
  • Began to work with some of my favourite photographers in the city, and was astoundingly lucky to learn and grow both professionally and emotionally from this
  • Co-produced my first video testimonial
  • Photographed my first magazine cover (and spread!)
  • Shot my cousin’s incredible wedding in Manhattan, and got to know family members who have lived in Ireland all my life
  • Assisted in the delivery of my sister’s beautiful daughter - indescribably life-changing.
Manhattan, Persian Tribune & Elle Daftarian, Baby Aisling
Manhattan, Persian Tribune & Elle Daftarian, Baby Aisling
  • Met several new soul-sisters and reconnected with old ones
  • Made many mistakes, stayed up late nights, relapsed into perfectionist-procrastination, doubted my decisions, let down my loved ones, over-booked and over-worked, missed many birthdays, hunched over my computer for too many hours
  • Started doing yoga again, dancing more, singing louder in the shower, going for walks around the park, and making green smoothies
  • Forgave
  • Took another Jesh de Rox workshop and consequently started training in Beloved Technique
  • Had my first interview published online
  • Made the commitment to only work with people I feel a connection with
  • Doubted my commitment and felt scared
  • Read Seth’s opinion on choosing who you work for, and felt good again
  • Then booked several awesome new clients who I totally feel the connection with!
Silverline Studios, Jasper Savage, Jesh de Rox, Sunset
Silverline Studios, Jasper Savage, Jesh de Rox, Sunset

...and finally, the topic to which this website is dedicated… In 2013:

  • I got to know amazing couples who put their faith in me, and allowed me to witness their strengths, vulnerabilities, and unique expressions of love and family.
  • And felt so overwhelmingly grateful that there was no appropriately powerful hashtag… so I kept it for myself, in my heart.

No doubt this is the same year most people experienced. Possibly with fewer bouts of neuroses – though really it’s just the "normal" neuroses, I like to think. Anyway, come on - the emotional roller-coaster is pretty okay!

So. Now is not the time to list my resolutions – you're all listed-out for today. But I do hope to start posting some of the many beautiful moments that took place, here on the blog, and I hope you will join me for more adventures this year.

Follow @SweetheartEMP on Instagram to catch a glimpse of the Empire, or just reach out to me and let's have a chat. Happy 2014!



Is there something wrong with me?

Are you a Dabbler? For a long long long long time I felt like there was something wrong with me. I had interests. I’d pursue them and find, more often than not, that things came pretty easy. Then as I moved up the scale in knowledge/experience, the difficulty would increase, the improvement would slow down, and my interest would Suddenly be sparked by something else.

Personal Journey

I remember in college, half way through Applied Photography, I complained to a friend, “I just can’t seem to focus…” Undoubtedly this elicited a dorky photography joke about auto-focus and we all laughed. But my frustration was all too familiar.

After graduating with great marks and working in the commercial photography industry for a few years (as a half-hearted assistant more interested in the catering cart than studio lighting), I found myself at York University studying International Development and Spanish… for a while.

“Why am I like this?” “What is wrong with me?” “When will I find my path? What am I meant to be doing?”

I’d start something new and do great. Then over-confident, I’d slack off, stop doing great, and get “bored”. I've dabbled in just about everything. But until recently I could never PUSH it; I could never cross the threshold into expertise.

I am now 32 years old, and I can say for the first time in about 20 years I have found a path. I’m not saying it wont change – change is inevitable, and the only thing you can truly count on is unpredictability – but what I feel now is definitely different.

I have decided to write a series about this process - my continuing journey of becoming an independent entrepreneur.

Following your passion is not easy. I hope my experiences speak to you as you work towards your own dreams. Comment below, or just contact me straight up for support, a laugh, or a shoulder to cry on… (seeing as this is one of the scariest trips there is, crying does occur.) Because when you're putting your vulnerable side out in front of the world, it helps to know that you're not alone.

Hello, and Welcome!

Wow. It's my first ever blog post in Sweetheart Empire... What to say? I didn't plan to write anything at all until I was "ready". Ready with what, you may ask? Oh I don't know: some photos, an announcement about the "launch", an actual website that's got content or even a logo? Nope - I've got none of those, yet.

But someone recently told me to Start Before You're Ready. And I was just sitting at the kitchen table on this bright, wintry day, working away at the preparations, when I was overcome with excitement (most likely caffeine-induced) and decided to write RIGHT NOW.

So I'll tell you what I know:

It's 2013 and after 8 years of shooting weddings with my amazing friend, Rudo Vacula, I've taken the leap and am starting my own wedding photography company - one that embodies the personal care that I feel for both people and pictures!

Rudo and I will continue to shoot together often. Yet the time has come to fly higher, try something new and try something on my own.

I hope that what you will see before you, this blog, will be an expression of my passions and inspirations:

  • Creating genuine, caring connections with people
  • Living life in the present moment
  • Being honest and human, with both brilliance and flaws
  • Photographing other people doing the same

It has taken me 32 years to learn that the freedom I crave in life comes when I am open and accepting with myself, with my heart, and with my fears. I know this may sound cliché, but that is honestly what I am going through.

I hope that by taking the step into the unknown with me, you will also see the beauty and feel the caffeine-like surge of anticipation, possibility and wonder, that life holds for us - whether you're in love, learning to dive, singing on stage for the first time, or taking any leap that requires hope, faith, adventure, risk, and trust > all at once. HERE WE GO!