Mujer

Mujer | Caitlin Crosby

Everything  Caitlin Crosby exudes life.  From the way she smiles while she's listening to people share their stories, to the way she wildly uses her hands when she's talking about something she's excited about, to the way she is running boldly towards her dreams. Caitlin Crosby, musician and founder of The Giving Keys (a rad philanthropic jewelry company), is living a life of meaning, depth, and passion.  Needless to say being around this girl is absolutely inspiring.

A few months ago Caitlin and I met at a local SoCal meeting of creatives, and I was drawn to her contagious and bright personality.  After hanging with her that day I knew that I wanted her to be apart of Mujer.  Over and over again I am humbled that such amazing women would take time out of their insanely busy lives to spend the day with me as I photograph them and hear their stories.  (I'm one lucky girl).

Enjoy getting to know Miss Caitlin Crosby.

Q:  Who is Caitlin Crosby, and what do you do?

I'm a love bug, girls girl, foodie, singer songwriter, jewelry designer, philanthropist, hugger.

Q:  What projects in 2013 are you most excited about?

My new EP coming out June 18 & the videos that we are about to film to go along with it.

Q:  How did The Giving Keys Start?  Where do you hope TGK to be in 5 years?

 I started making & selling them at the Merch tables on tour & then later met a homeless couple on Hollywood blvd I hired to start engraving the keys. In 5 years I'd love it to transition into an apparel line.

Q:  With so much on your plate, what are some tangible things you do to stay inspired?

I like going to church to stay inspired & focused on the meaning behind all of this. Also, I like to meet with other people who've started companies to feel related to....we feed off each other & have great mutual respect & understanding for the load it is... Knowing I'm not alone & that other people can do it, helps me keep going...

Q:  In 20 years when you look back on your life now, what is one thing that if you did NOT pursue you would regret, why?

It wouldn't be anything tangible like pursuing a job... It would be more of an emotional state... I wouldn't want to regret not enjoying the process..

Q:  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A track star, actress or clothing designer

Q:  Who are 4 people in your life that influence you most?

My amazing boyfriend Colin Benward, my mom & dad, & girlfriend/roomate Megan Morrison

Q:  What are 5 of your most favorite things (anything from a moment in time, to candy, to music, to movies, etc.)

1. N'sync

2. Backstreet boys

3. Foodie food

4. Mexican food (eating chips & salsa @ a restaurant w/good people)

5. Puppies

Q:  If you could give any advice to young women about pursuing their dreams and making them a reality what would it be?

Don't do it because you want attention or if it's a pride thing... Do it because you genuinely are passionate about that thing & what it adds to the world.

Hair + Make-up by the one-and-only Rachel Burney.

Mujer | Bianca Olthoff

A few years ago I ran across Bianca Olthoff's blog In the Name of Love.  Within minutes I felt as though she was my long lost soul sister. Bianca is vibrant, full of life, and radiates.  She uses her hands when she speaks...(like a lot), and fiercely chases her dreams without looking back.  What really stands out to me about Bianca is her love for Jesus and her love for people.  Her faith isn't compartmentalized nice and neat with a pretty bow on it in the God section of her life; it seeps into every area of her life.  When you truly love someone or something you cannot keep it in a box.  Love is doesn't allow for that.

I was so nervous to photograph her, because I look up to her so much, and was nervous that I'd say something super awkward (note:  that happens in most of my conversations with people) or that I'd just start laughing for no reason (note:  that happens a lot too).

BUT, the life giving and bright person that I have read about on her blog and heard about from others is the same person I met and photographed.  (You better believe we had some C-H-U-R-C-H in our car ride to LA).

Bianca is a gem. Her story encourages and inspires me to fight to live a life of depth and meaning and purpose.  I am so thrilled to share these images of Bianca and bits and pieces of her story.

Bianca thank you!  Thank you for sharing your heart, your passion, your resolve, and your laughter with me; it's contagious and absolutely lovely!t

Q:  Who is Bianca Olthoff, and what do you do?
A:  Other than solving the world's problems, researching a cure for cancer, and helping elderly women cross the street, I'm really a down-to-earth girl who loves hard, laughs loud, and is passionate about freedom.  [Note: I'm also dramatic and will exaggerate things... like finding a cure for cancer ;)] By day I'm Chief Storyteller for The A21 Campaign, a global anti-human trafficking organization. By night I'm a writer, wife, step-mom, and bible teacher.

Q:  So, you’re a wife, mother, blogger, speaker, and human rights activist.  Does it ever feel like all you do is work?  How do you stay balanced and keep your priorities straight while being apart of so many different things?  
A:  Yes, I work very hard. But I once heard it said, do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do. I have to wake up at 5:00am everyday to get to accomplish what is set before me. The day is full and I usually don't stop until about 9:00pm to read. [And by "read" I mean watch something on Bravo.]
In all seriousness, balance is a word I'm still trying to reconcile. By definition, balance requires taut lines, rigidity, and perfection. But how many people really live life in this manner? We advocate for balance, but what we really want is a way to celebrate life without being ruled by it. This will look different for every woman in various life stages. For the new mom with an infant, waking up at dawn to run five miles is not possible. I have two step-kids so staying up until 2:00pm to hang out with friends and build community is unrealistic. But how can each of us celebrate the freedom we have with the responsibility we are entrusted with? That's what I'm more fascinated with!
So instead of fighting for balance, I'm fighting for running hard and extending grace. Run hard: Do the work. Extend grace: Sometimes we fail. 

Q:  You got married a few years ago, and have been vocal on your blog about being single and transitioning into this new season of life.  Do you have any advice for young ladies like myself who are single, ambitious, and want to find that man?
A:  Yes! The two most important things to look for both begin with the letter J:
  1. Jesus. Does this man love Jesus? And I'm not talking about whether he attends church or has a 10-pound bible. Does he LOVE Jesus and live by His word? There is a direct proportion to how a man loves God and how he will love you. He may be hot, but so is hell. Stay away from men who don't love Jesus. ;)
  2. Job. Does this man have a J-O-B? We don't need to continually feed the cycle of ManBoys who refuse to grow up and be cared for by independent women. No woman deserves to be married to a leech!

Q:  Do you think there are some healthy ways a godly woman can put herself out there without seeming aggressive or desperate?
A:  The best way to meet guys and have them know you're available is to be in similar social circles. Do you have a free night? Round up some people from church for dinner? There is an event at church for young adults. Go. Check it out. And if you're really crazy like me, take a stab at online dating. You never know who you might meet. For me, a coffee date ended up leading to marriage :)
Q:  With so much on your plate, what are some tangible things you do to stay inspired?
A:  I read. A lot. I always have literature with me in case I get a few minutes to sneak in a novel, article, or news report. I also love listening to This American Life or watching foreign films.

Q:  There are so many aspiring bloggers out there.  What are some tips you would give someone that is trying to enter into the (intimidating) world of blogging?
A:  In the words of Nike, JUST DO IT! Take a baby step and be committed to the art of writing and posting. Whether it's a thought, a poem, a picture, or a story, post it, share it, and let others be inspired by your art. 

Q:  Who are 4 people in your life that influence you most?
  1. My dad. He came to this country with absolutely nothing and has given his life for the benefit others. I adore him!
  2. My mom. She's survived two forms of cancer, asthma, relapsing polycondritis, and five children. She's my hero!
  3. My husband. He deals with me and all my personalities. We thank him!
  4. My twin sister. We've been wombmates since day one. I love her!
Q:  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A:  I wanted to be Connie Chung, the 1990s news reporter for ABC Nightly News. I loved how she was able to tell stories from around the globe and how it affected our world. I may not be Korean and I may not work for ABC, but I now the baton of communication has been passed onto to us to share with the world what is going on around the globe. It's truly an honor. 

Q:  What are 5 of your most favorite things (anything from a moment in time, to candy, to music, to movies, etc.)
  1. iPhone: It's my bible, calendar, communication device, calculator, and map. 
  2. Ricci: He's my adorable Daschund  who I've fallen in love with.
  3. Stories: Nothing is more powerful that the art of storytelling. I can't live without them. 
  4. My wedding day: Everything was simply magical.
  5. My husband's study bible: It's MASSIVE and my favorite thing is to go through it and read his notes or highlighted passages to see how God spoke to him. 

Q:  If you could give any advice to young women about pursuing their dreams and making them a reality what would it be?
A:  Take the first step. Walking into the unknown is like attempting to find the light switch in a completely dark room. You may stumble, bump yourself, and maybe even fall down... but eventually you WILL find it. And the light will shine through and illuminate the path you created along the way.

That Smile...

A few weeks ago I was blessed to spend a lovely Saturday afternoon with Mrs. Bianca Oltoff.  You know Bianca:  wife, mamma, sista, blogger, speaker, human trafficking activist.  And did I mention she is one of the coolest ladies ever? I'll tell you this much, we had some church on our drive to LA for our shoot.  More on that later, but for now enjoy a few of my favorites from the shoot...

Mujer | Brooke White

At the beginning of last year I wrote down a list of names that included women that I dreamt of photographing.  Women that were chasing their dreams unabashedly, wholeheartedly without shame.  Women that were authors, speakers, musicians, mothers, and everything in between. Brooke White was one of those women.

On a chilly, rainy December morning a few short months later I found myself driving to her home to spend the day with her, getting to know her story and take her picture.  By the end of the day I felt like I wanted to dance down the streets, arms flailing in the air, singing at the top of my lungs.  When you are around people who are dream chasers; it's contagious.

Brooke, your story encourages, inspires, and challenges me to keep taking that next step, to run wildly after my dreams, to stay grounded and true to myself.  You are a wonderful woman.  Thank you 1,000 times for sharing your life and story with me!

Q:  Who is Brooke White, and what do you do?

A: Hmmm, So I’ve been trying to figure out the answer to that question for quite some time now… closing in on thirty years and this is what I have been able to come up with so far...Brooke White is:  London’s mum, Dave’s wife, the firstborn, a music maker, an artsy fartsy lady, wild haired, barefoot shoe lover, stripe obsessed, over-analyzer, free spirit, girl with glasses, child of God.

Q:  Has music always been a big part of your life?  No one’s journey is overnight, so how did you go about pursuing your dreams of being a musician?

A: Always, Always, Always. However singing wasn’t always a big part of my life, I didn’t discover my own voice till I was nearly 16, however I understood the language. We weren’t a TV family, we were a music family. It was always playing, while we jumped on the trampoline in the backyard, when we took Sunday drives in the Aerostar van, while we did homework, it was as common as breathing. My parents were passionate music lovers, surrounding us with the sounds of the 60’s and 70’s and passing that love down to their posterity. Literally the day after I was born and brought home from the hospital my parents took me to my dad’s band practice. We got a piano when I was 7 from my grandma Tootie. The keys were like magnets to my fingers, I just knew how to play, like recalling information that I’ve always known. The first song I learned to play was “right here waiting for you” by Richard Marx.

Yikes, The second half is a loaded questionthe journey is long, and complicated, and never really over. 

For a long while it felt as if music pursued me… I lacked confidence, belief in my own voice, doubted my gifts, but it was those around me that saw something and just nudged me enough to  try. I resisted, would take a step in the dark, then would quit, only for the “dream” to return like a boom-a-rang. My musical uncle who would play songs on the piano during family dinners at grandmas house, heard me sing along to myself, he said he heard a tone, always told me that I needed to sing out loud for people to hear. Introverted, shy and unsure, I never would, til he drug me to an audition with my cousin for “Meet me in St. Louis”. I was a sophmore, I thought, maybe a chorus part. I sang “it’s a jolly holiday with you Burt” from Mary Poppins. I remember being terrified and then suddenly brave enough. I got the lead role, and that changed everything. Fast forward a year later, a vocal coach and producer came to our high school to give voice lessons, I sang a tune, he asked me what I was gonna do with my life. I was going to beauty school half days, I told him I was going to be a cosmetologist and he told me I needed to pursue a music career. I had never even had the thought. But he convinced me, and my parents and I moved to LA at 17. But after a few short months away from home, I discovered true heartbreak, lost all confidence and ended back in AZ. For the next two years, I had worked selling shoes at Nordstrom, cut hair out of my bathroom, began dating my husband, and he didn’t even know I sang. But there was this hole in my soul, I knew I had to get back to music.

I moved back to LA on July 4th of 2003, went to music school for a few short months and discovered song-writing; it was there that I began to play and sing simultaneously.  That was a real challenge, but the best choice I could have made. That’s when the dream got serious. A manager/producer found me through a teacher of mine, convinced me to stay the course. I wrote my first ten songs and recorded an album in his attic. I learned the ropes, played the sunset strip and struggled. Married my boyfriend, moved to Van Nuys and did everything I could to support the music. I cut hair, I drew pictures for a clothing company, I was a nanny for twin babies, and then after four diligent years of chasing, the discouragement settled in, I felt perhaps my time was up and it was time to move on. But then there was American Idol, and maybe it was worth a shot so that I could say that I tried everything, though I never felt like I could ever compete on a show for singers, still having a deep inner conflict with the sound of my own voice. But with the encouragement of my husband, and then manager, I took a red eye to the last audition of the summer in Philadelphia, waited over 21 hours for my first audition, made it through over a handful of cuts and ended up with a golden ticket. Idol was a serious game changer, a pressure cooker, an emotional roller coaster. It was the place that helped to define who I was, musically, and even more important, who I was spiritually. I never would have fathomed I would have lasted til fifth place. Miraculously, I was able to connect with millions of people in their living rooms, singing, barefoot on the piano, on the television stage. But it was merely a beginning, a very big beginning. I spent a year at what felt like the top of Mount Everest. Life at the top was a lot of work, it was scary, it was exhilarating, and it was hard. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay there.  Little did I know, I would eventually find myself back at base camp, and slowly work my way back up the mountain. The years following the idol experience were a test of my will, how hard was I willing to work, how much did I want this career, what was I willing to sacrifice? Instead of signing with a major record company, I created my own record later the year after my elimination, June Baby Records, and released my first record, “High Hopes and Heartbreak”.  A record that was reminiscent of my childhood, a throwback and a very personal collection of songs that marked moments both high and low. I would go on to live out of a suit case for the next three years, sleeping few nights in my own bed. Hardly ever seeing my companion. There were many lonely days, but all for the music, and for what felt like a true mission. That life was hard, but at the end of the day, I loved the music and sacrificed nearly everything for it. I went on to act for the first time in a made for TV movie on Fox, “Change of Plans” and found that I enjoyed acting almost more than anything, but knew that in itself was a serious and challenging pursuit. I’d also started a quirky online web series “the girls with glasses” along side Summer Bellessa. My projects became quite a juggle, however I continued committed to the path of music I had been pursuing for so long. I went to Nashville and toyed with the idea of a country career, as so many people had told me I needed to do. But after a few trips, it just didn’t feel right, at least not yet. I got lost, didn’t know what my next move would be, and hit a rough patch, until I had a brilliant songwriting session with a young guy out of Sacramento, a good friend of my manager, Jack Matranga, that was the beginning of a musical collaboration known as “Jack and White”. It was a magical time musically. It was organic and pure, we had little money but a lot of inspiration and motivation. Together we released three EP’s in just a little over a year… Gemini, Winter and Undercover. Within that time, my husband and I would finally welcome our first sweet baby into our lives, again, she changed everything. I toured and recorded while she grew in my belly, with my guitar on my hip. From the moment she was born, the dynamic of my career, and my priorities shifted dramatically. After fighting and working years to stay relevant and visible after the idol experience, I realized I couldn’t give it what I used to. However, I knew that I always wanted both, music and motherhood. I’ve spent the last eight months really giving the M&M role a go; it hasn’t been easy. I created my first solo Christmas record, White Christmas. I took my daughter with me, here there and everywhere to promote the record. Music is what she knows, it makes me happy.

Six records later, I still love the music, however the struggle still continues, and currently I find myself at the core of it. The art is finding our way through it, out of it, over and over again… it’s more circular then a straight line, that is the journey. I promise that’s the short story !

Q:  So, you’re a wife, mother, musician, and blogger.  Does it ever feel like all you do is work?  How do you stay balanced and keep your priorities straight while being apart of so many different things?  

A: Ahh Yes! It does feel like I always work, and I am pooped, and  seriously overwhelmed and feel like I need to breath into a paper bag a good chunk of the time, but here is the good news:  I love it all. That must be why I keep saying yes, cause I just have an abundance of passion for my family, for art, for music, for creating beautiful things! And I have incredible collaborators that I couldn’t function with out, from my husband, to my manager, to Summer. I can’t claim I have balance, If I did, I’d be a liar liar pants on fire. I’m struggling with this balance thing, I always have. I think that is the nature of who I am. I’m just too intense, and completely unrealistic! Man, I want to do it all, but the Lord is humbling me in this twenty ninth year of life, and I am finally realizing that I can’t do it all, at least not all at the same time. I grieved that truth when I finally came face to face with it. And yet, trying to do it all is like a old habit, one that is hard to quit.  So I continue to try, and I continue to have a few small triumph and moments of complete failure and a lot of mediocrity in between. Though my intentions are genuine, I over promise, and under deliver more then I’d like, and I’m slow…I’m not perfect, and this I am acutely aware. But in my weakness I lean on God, and my dear husband, I make him crazy and he supports me, loves me and embraces my creative spirit. I may not reach the top of that mount everest ever again, or be super rich nor famous, BUT, when I look in to the sweetest eyes of my daughter, and snuggle her squishy little frame that is growing at light speed, I am struck with the intense realization, that she trumps Everest, and that an eternal family is worth more than any earthly pursuit.

Q:  With so much on your plate, what are some tangible things you do to stay inspired?

A: We get up everyday, listen to “here comes the sun”, make the bed, dance, and we soak in the sunshine that pours through the window.  This simple everyday ritual does so much for my spirit, and my motivation. I pray for inspiration, that I can be open, and aware of beauty around me, of people, of their situations, that I can have compassion and empathy. I am inspired by people and their stories, their complexities and uniqueness.  I eat delicious food, and thoroughly enjoy it’s taste.  I roll down my car windows and let my hair blow around and turn into a giant knot while I sing along to the oldies station at the top of my lungs. I go to thrift stores and love to give life to old things. On a rough day I make my way down to the beach and put my feet in the sand and watch the waves. My mom texts me quotes and emails me self help articles, I dig that stuff! I’ve become a curator of a slammin’ pinterest board of amazing quotes. I just look at my daughter, and obsess over her cuteness. I take lots of pictures with my iphone and instagram with a lovely community of friends. I clean my house, and I get a slew of ideas while I’m vacuuming.

Q:  Your blog Girls With Glasses with Summer is so cute and unique.  Your bio video is one of my favorites!  What are some of the reasons why you guys started your blog/show

A: Thank you Kat! Three years ago when we met up for waffles at Ihop we were both wearing our glasses, the idea was right before our very eyes, literally. We felt there was a void, a show for creative twenty and thirty somethings. Something smart but not too serious… A lifestyle variety show for the creative gal. We wanted to get to television but like anything else,  knew it wouldn’t be overnight, so we decided to create a blog to post all of our webisodes. We wrote a theme song, and with the help of our brilliant friend Angela Kohler, we created a stop motion video that spread like wild fire. Since then we’ve made nearly 70 webisodes and have a load of crazy fun making them. In my efforts to simplify, I am going to take a break from music for the next two months to focus on London and the Girls with Glasses… great things in the works for the GWG in 2013!

Q:  There are so many aspiring bloggers out there.  What are some tips you would give someone that is trying to enter into the (intimidating) world of blogging?

A:    Not sure if I’m qualified to give advice, but in any creative endeavor, I would say first and foremost, be YOU! Be You times a thousand, the best version of you. I think authenticity really counts. Know who you are and really shine at being that. Whether you’re an artist, photographer, foodie, mom or music critic… do what you do with great love, and it will attract others.  I also think it is important to not duplicate or imitate others. Focus on original content that you are passionate about. And as you mentioned Kat, it is an intimidating world, but there are also so many wonderful people in the blogging community! Look to connect and collaborate with like minded people. Resist the temptation to compare yourself to others that appear to have it all together. Everyone has challenges and had to start somewhere…

Q:  Right now, who are the bands/artists that you're listening to?

A: The Silver Seas, The Lumineers, Young Man, Atlas Genius, Band of Horses, Ellie Goulding… of course mixed in with the classics… Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor and The Eagles.

Q:  Who are 4 people in your life that influence you most?

A:   Mom… an example of authenticity and individuality, always striving for constant self improvement. She is a empathetic listener. Funny with out trying

Dad… The eternal optimist, hard working and faithful. He’s given me the gift of enthusiasm, he has always been there with positivity. He is goofy,  like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

Dave Ray CPA… my husband, Always Willing to change, and try harder, strives to serve others. Thinks before he speaks, takes his time in order to be sincere, His support is genuine.

London June my daughter, teaches me patience, sacrifice and pure joy. She doesn’t know how to do many things, she can’t talk, but her innocent dependence upon me influences nearly my every decision.

Q:  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A:  A lot of things, but mostly an artist of some kind.  For about five years all I could think about was being a cartoon animator for Walt Disney Studios.  I even wrote a letter to the head animator in the fifth grade, he wrote me back on Disney studios letter head, I still have it somewhere. I also wanted to be a hairdresser. I made it half way through beauty school, and I definitely always wanted to be a mom.

Q:  If you could give any advice to young women about pursuing their dreams and making them a reality what would it be?

A:  Sounds cliché, BUT, Be true to yourself, your beliefs, your values, your character. Don’t compromise these core parts of who you are; it will be tempting at times, but generally regretful. Resist. Be both patient and proactive. Do what you do with great LOVE. Practice, Work hard, Be authentic, be awesome, be kind, be careful. Listen to your gut. Value relationships. Never google your name, and Don’t forget to pray.

Hair and Make-up by the One-and-only:  Amy Clarke; Amy you are simply a dream to work with!

Brooke White | Sneak Peak

"...For a long while it felt as if music pursued me… I lacked confidence, lacked belief in my own voice, doubted my gifts… but it was those around me that saw something and just nudged me enough to  try. I resisted, would take a step in the dark, then would quit, only for the 'dream' to return like a boom-a-rang." -Brooke White

Goodness.  This women is the real deal.  I cannot wait to share more of Brooke's story, and more from our fun shoot on Monday...

Hair and Make-up by:  Amy Clarke

Mujer | Casey Wiegand

God has a funny was of circling back around, and bringing old friends back into your life.  Years ago I met Casey at my friends 21st birthday party.  Neither of us knew a lot of people so we kinda clung close throughout the day.  She was this gentle spirit that I was just drawn to.
Fast forward a few years, and I was camp counselor in college in Missouri, and I randomly see Casey...she's there picking up her brother who was one of my campers.  Weird.  Small world stuff.
Fast forward a good 5 years later when I'm living out in SoCal, and a friend sent me a blog they thought I would like to read, and whose blog was it?  Casey's.  This person that I had met here and there, and adored, now was telling her journey and her life through her words and pictures in a very powerful way.  I emailed her, and we reconnected.  When I was home for Christmas Casey graciously had me over to her house, and I felt like we had been friends all along, all throughout the last 8 years since we first met.
Casey is impacting culture and thousands of people's lives through sharing her story her joys and heartaches, her ups and downs in raw honesty; it's refreshing.
We need more Casey's in this world.  Enjoy getting a little peak into her world...

Q:  Who is Casey Wiegand

A:  I am a follower of Christ.

I am a wife.

A mama.

A daughter, a sister.

I am a writer, a storyteller, an artist, a romantic and a dreamer.

Q:  You are a wife, mother to 3, artist, and business owner.  Woah...how do you keep balance in your day to day life while wearing so many different hats?

A:  I recently took a personality test and one of my top scores was under "juggling"; it was interesting to see that for my personality, juggling many things comes very naturally and easy to me. I stay organized. I always put my family first, and I remember that tomorrow is always a new day if everything today didn't quite get finished!

 

Q:  You have an incredibly successful blog.  Did you ever think you would be a blogger?  How did your journey into blogging begin?

A:  I was going through some messy stuff a few years ago, and read this quote by Leslie:

"If you haven't already gathered, or happen to be reading this blog for the first time in your life, I am a melancholy girl through and through. I find beauty in not only the beautiful things in life, but the bittersweet and sad as well. To me, there is something poignantly lovely about the human experience from its splendor to its grief. God created all our emotions, not just the happy ones, and for His good purposes. That's why a good cry can feel so good. And hitting our limits forces us to look outside ourselves for a Savior. It is in the plea, when we're at our end, that we can find that which is truly life-giving. Personally, my moments of deepest grief, deepest pain, have resulted in the most beautiful seasons in my heart. I've met God more intimately in those moments than in all the other pleasant ones combined. What isn't completely lovely about that?"

In a moment where I felt alone...heartbroken, angry.....I read this and suddenly felt like someone out in the world possibly understood.

Two years ago, I started speaking out on my beliefs. I started talking about mama stuff, some heartache, struggles, csection scars, NICUs, my miscarriage....and that's not the half of it.

I wanted (and still do) this to be a blog/ a place of inspiration, uplift, joy...but also truth. Because life is hard.

A lot of us have been through some seriously icky stuff.

And so I wanted this also to be "real".

It's easy to take beautiful family photos and pretend to have it all together-but  who does that help?

(Read more about Casey’s beautiful journey into blogging HERE.

Q:  Have you ever gotten to a place where you have not been balanced?  What happened, and how did you get back to having your priorities straight?

A:  Yes. When I first started writing on my blog, I tried to say yes to everything and meet any need that came my way. And that got out of balance quickly. I quickly realized how much i was missing. I was missing it all. So that is when I decided to say no more and keep my family first at all times no matter what needs to be accomplished for a day.

Q:  What in your day-to-day life inspires you?

A:  My kids inspire me in ways I never imagined possible.

My marriage inspires me.

Music: I adore anything on the Hotel Cafe Christmas Album, and am a huge Priscilla Ahn fan!  Plus I love John Mayer's music!  His music always has a way of moving my soul.

Nature:  outside at a park or walking on a beach...eyes closed, waves crashing--all recipes for inspiration.

Books:  My favorite book is “A Beautiful Offering” by Angela Thomas, all of it inspires me.

 

Q:  What are 5 of your most favorite things (anything from a moment in time, to candy, to music, to movies, etc.)

A:  The moment that I met each of my babies for the first time,

sour patch kids,

sleeping on a beach with the waves crashing and the sun shining,

my wedding day,

and watching my kids experience or see something for the very first time.

Q:  Do you have any advice for people who want to begin a career out of blogging?

A:  Be Yourself.  Share your life, even the messy parts.  Connect with People.  Love People Well.  Don't ever share something that would hurt someone else.

Q:  How do you want your blog to impact others?

A:  I desperately hope that I can share Christ, that I can help fellow women and mamas feel less alone, and that I can inspire women to pursue their passions and their purpose.

Q:  One thing that stands out to me about your blog is your raw honesty about some pretty personal moments in your life and the life of your family.  That takes a lot of courage.  What motivates you to share from such deep places?

 

A:   People need to hear our stories. Our voices, heartaches, and stories being shared help people. When I wrote about losing our baby, at the time, it was an outlet for me. I was just writing to get through the emotions. To process.

I had no idea that over a year later I would still get daily emails of women walking that road.

I had no idea how much it would help other women feel less alone.

I love to write. I love to connect with people. Blogging is such a beautiful opportunity to do both.Then as I went to hit publish on a post an email came in (made a few changes to the names to keep it anonymous):

I just want to thank you for your sweet blog posts under Loss.  I used to read everything you wrote.  I had 4 kiddos, love art and just loved everything about your style.  Then we lost our 11 year old son.  For the last 6 months I haven’t read anything.  Until tonight.  I got to reading your family blog and have never felt such truth.  As if you could know what I was thinking and put it in words.  It felt good.  Thank you for pouring out your heart.  What a blessing.

Knowing my words could help just one person blesses me so much. You get to leave a "footprint"... What footprint do you have to leave? It can be anything. God has gifted everyone with talents and passions. We all have stories. Share it.

Living out your purpose.

and sharing your journey along the way.  

Q:  It's 2013, a year of New Beginnings.  Do you have any goals for this year?  What are some of them?

A:  I do! I have some big dreams and want to take a big leap of faith on two of them this year. Stay tuned ;)

Q:  Do you have a quote that you keep closeby to encourage you on hard days? 

A:  YES! Its is from “A Beautiful Offering” by Angela Thomas.  This quote moves my soul:

"When you decide to live out what you believe. When you decide you want peace in your possession, then you will find out what that looks like & feels like. You begin to pray for God to give you peace. You incorporate peace in your relationships. You decide to respond differently. You speak in love. Act in tenderness. You imitate what you know about peace until it becomes a reality for your character & your life."

Mujer | Sarah Dubbeldam

“Ideas belong to the people that execute them, not talk about them,”  that's what Sarah's husband told her years ago when she first shared her dreams of Darling Magazine with him.

Although Darling Magazine just launched a little over a year ago; it was a dream of editor Sarah Dubbeldam's for quite some time.  What inspires me about Sarah and her story is her faithfulness and patience.  A lot of times people have great ideas, but not the resolve to see those ideas become reality.  Or they make it a reality, but bring it to life far too soon only to see it disintegrate due to a poor foundation.

Sarah, on the other hand spent several years dreaming up Darling and getting friends together to create a definitive vision and solid framework.  This girl did her homework.  And the result is something that I believe young women all over the world can connect with.

If you haven't checked out Darling Magazine, please do so!  You can see their online publication HERE, and even order their Winter Issue which hits early December.

Now, let's get to know Miss Sarah a little better...

Q:  Who is Sarah Dubbeldam, and what do you do?

A:  I am a dreamer; an artist, a wife, a friend, a child of God…I find joy in the small things, and search for the beauty in everything. I am the Editor in Chief and Co-Creative Director of Darling Magazine, which is my passion project that I hope will bring more  light and hope to the world.

Q:  What made you want to start Darling Magazine, and how did you go about making such a big dream into a reality?

A:  I was really inspired by author Wendy Shalit and her book, “A Return to Modesty,” which is a fascinating exploration on the state of the modern woman, men, chivalry, modesty, and sexuality. After experiencing personal and relational difficulties myself, and observing many women around me struggling with dating, emotional baggage, self-esteem, body issues and life purpose, I wanted to create the magazine I wish I had during the formative years of my life. My friend and Co-Creator of Darling Kelli Lane and I spent two years developing the foundation of Darling, then recruited six more girls to join us for weekly meetings of content development for another year; then we launched the website on 11.11.11, let that build for around 9 months, and put out our first print issue in September 2012! Now we have over 75 contributors in the U.S. and several countries around the world, and are currently creating Issue 2 coming out in December.

Q:  One of your dreams was to have Darling Magazine in print, and you just recently accomplished that.  Congratulations!  How did it feel to accomplish that goal, and what are some other dreams you want to accomplish with the magazine?

A:  It was a surreal feeling the first time I held it, and now every time I actually hand it to someone I feel so much joy—it’s incredible to see it in tangible form, instead of this imaginary thing I was constantly trying to describe to everyone I met! I desire for Darling to grow largely in readership, and to expand into selling curriculum for high school and college mentoring groups. We also want to host events with renowned speakers and partner with non-profits to give proceeds to causes we care about.

Q: One of the taglines for Darling is the art of being a woman including everything from activism to femininity to style to creativity and so much more.  Was there a catalyst in your life that made you want to advocate for women and their stories?  I’d love to hear about that!

A:  There wasn’t a specific event, but rather my experiences mentoring high school girls coupled with hundreds of conversations with women that made me realize that women need, and feel so inspired by having a voice. They need to be seen. To be heard. To be understood in their personal story, joys, and pain. There is something about sharing with and helping others that makes women come alive; this is why I believe advocating for them and letting them share with the world is so important.

Q:  With so much on your plate, what are some tangible things you do to stay inspired?

A:  Being originally from Oregon, my main inspiration comes from being in nature. My husband Steve and I consistently get away to quiet green places, where I can hear my thoughts, talk to God, and get grounded once more. I also visit art museums and read classic authors such as Jane Austen that take me back to another period of time when life was simpler.

Q:  Who are 5 people in your life that influence you most?

A:  My husband because of his character, drive, and creativity, my mom because of her love for life, nature, and beauty, my dad because he is my model for being an entrepreneur, my friend Penny because of her wisdom, and my “college girls” Emily, Kelli, Annie, Lauren, Kelli, and Tiffany.

Q:  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A:  First, an actress, then a figure skater. (Fun fact: I skated competitively for 5 yrs and still can still do spins and jumps, haha.)

Q:  Outside of running a successful blog and magazine, what are some of your favorite things to do in LA?

A:  I love going out to eat, (to sushi specifically), hiking in Griffith Park, visiting art museums, and of course, shopping always inspires my creativity!

Q:  Right now, who are the bands/artists that you're listening to?

A:  Right now I love Passion Pit, Nouvelle Vague, Hot Chip, Ellie Goulding, M.I.A., Classical music, and on the spiritual side, All Sons and Daughters.

Q:  If you could give any advice to young women about pursuing their dreams and making them a reality what would it be?

A:  When I first met my husband Steve, he was inspired by my dream for Darling and told me to think on the fact that “only action is real,” and that “ideas belong to the people that execute them, not talk about them.” He reminded me there were probably people before Henry Ford that thought of an automobile, or one earlier than Edison who had the idea for a light bulb, but they were the ones that did it. My advice would be, do it! If you fail, you will only learn—as often our failures lead us to our greatest successes, and mature us to become the person we need to be to handle the dream that will succeed.

**Thank you so much to Rachel Burney of Remba Productions for doing an amazing job on Hair and Make-up.  Rachel is my partner-in-crime on this series!

*Wardrobe provided by Miss Sarah Dubbeldam's rad closet.

*Jewelry: 31 Bits

 

Mujer Sneak Peak | Sarah

Last month I got to spend the day with Sarah Dubbledam, editor of the up-and-coming Darling Magazine.  (Darling Magazine is both a print and online publication about the about the art of being a woman; it embraces boldness, femininity, modesty, and offers such a healthy and fresh perspective on who we are as women). Sarah is genuine, tender hearted, and just about one of the sweetest women I have been able to spend time with.

I cannot wait to share more images from our time together, and for you to get to know her better.  She epitomizes why I want to do the Mujer Series.

Here's a little sneak from our shoot...

As usual Miss Rachel Burney of Remba Productions did a flawless job on Sarah's hair and make-up:)

Mujer | Jessica Minhas

Jessica Minhas.  Manhattan, NY. Strong.

Resolved.

Genuine.

She's the kind of person who asks you how you are doing because she really really wants to know how you are doing.  She wants a glimpse into your world whether you just met five minutes ago, or have been friends for years.

Jessica believes in the power of story.  She believes that her story and your story matter deeply, and if told has power --as lofty as this sounds--to change the world.

A few years ago our paths crossed through a mutual friend.  We worked on a project together, but I was in LA and she was in NYC so never actually got to meet her in person.  However, the little I knew of this woman made me want to get to know her more.

Jessica is a NYC based actor, model, humanitarian, public speaker, and helps run the anti-human trafficking organization The Blind Project.  If you have never heard of who they are and what they are doing, please learn more about their story HERE.  I feel so honored that an amazing woman like Jessica would spend the day with me in Manhattan sharing her story and letting me take her picture.

Jessica your life has big things coming, and I am so privileged to see it unfold!

Q:  Who is Jessica Minhas, and what do you do? 

A:   I am a humanitarian and activist. My passion is fighting against injustice, and giving a voice to the voiceless. I do this by inspiring and informing my audiences, whether on-camera or as a public speaker or producer.

Q:  As an activist how do you stay inspired to do what you do?

A:   From my work in missions and with the Blind Project, I have seen first hand many of the young faces behind humanitarian injustices. I think it’s important to keep a connection with the real people who are being impacted by issues like abuse, trafficking and sexual exploitation. I’ve also seen how lives can be transformed by social enterprise—especially when awareness groups partner with those providing services on the ground. Seeing lives changed; hope that was once lost now found, ignites me and pushes me onward.

Q:  Was there a catalyst in your life that made you want to pursue your dreams of activism?

A:  I grew up in an alcoholic and abusive household with just my grandfather. He did his best with me but had no additional family help in raising me. When I was 15, he had a paralyzing stroke and suddenly our care giving roles completely reversed, and I took care of him until his death when I was just barely 18. Without any family to speak of, I set out to visit India and try and find them. Instead I found out about child sex-trafficking and came back changed, and committed to making a difference in the lives affected by such an atrocity.

Q:  Who are 5 people in your life that influence you most?

A:  Jesus; Mary Ann O’Rielly who is my best friend, Jill’s, mother and really stepped into my life when I needed a mom around; my college journalism professor, Bruce Dunn who has become like a father; Jennifer Haron, my best friend from middle school and truly like a sister to me and Somaly Mam, a sex-trafficking survivor and freedom fighter in Southeast Asia.

Q:  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A:  When I was little I wanted to help people. I thought I wanted to be a doctor; then I thought I’d be an actor; then I thought, why not play a doctor on TV, and wa-la! A few times over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to do that, and it always makes me laugh. I also wanted to inspire young people and I’m so thankful my career affords me that privilege.

Q:  What is your guilty pleasure? (Food, Bieber, cheese fries, etc.)

A:  Cookie dough, puppies and 90’s R&B music (now this is a girl after my own heart!)

Q:  Right now, who are the bands/artists that you're listening to?

A:  It varies, but Christy Nockels, Anthony Hamilton, Starfield, Phil Wickham, Drake, Dave Barnes, Hillsong, and a little bit of Keith Urban.

Q:  Why do you do human trafficking/humanitarian work? 

A:  I've really followed my passions and I know at the end of the day that fighting to replace injustice with hope is worth the fight. There’s so much goodness and joy in life, I want others to experience full lives, myself included.

Q:  Lastly, do you have a life mission statement?  If so, what is it?

A:  Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice to those being crushed. – Proverbs 31:8

**And thank you thank you thank you to Miss Rachel Burney of Remba Productions for doing an amazing job on Jessica's Hair and make-up.  You are a gem, and I am so thankful for you!

Mujer | Natalie Warne

There are so many things that excited me about my Mujer Project.  If you missed my introduction to this project read about it HERE. I could not think of a better woman to start off this series than my sweet friend Miss Natalie Warne.

It's not that Natalie is going to change the world one day; it's that at the age of 22 she already is.  She has been a catalyst for several international events with Invisible Children, has traveled throughout the US and world as filmmaker and story teller, AND has been invited twice to tell her story and inspire others at TED Talks

Please take a few minutes to watch her speech Anonymous Extraordinaires HERE.

Through many transitions and ups and downs she has persevered on towards the goal of living a deep and meaningful life while challenging others to do the same.  I am so proud to do life with such an unbelievable woman, and cannot wait for you to get to know her better:

Q:  Who is Natalie Warne, and what do you do?

A:  I tell stories, through filmmaking and public speaking. My dad always said, “Find a job that takes you places.” I’m fortunate to have discovered a job that allows me to do that. Both physically and imaginatively, my job allows me to travel to new places while getting to hear and experience new stories along the way. But most importantly, I am a daughter; the product of an unbelievable family. That is the role I am most proud of.

And yes...Natalie is rockin' some rad jewelry provided by 31 Bits.

Q:  How do you stay inspired to create?

A:  By surrounding myself with inspiring, creative, and driven people. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that inspiration and creativity don’t always come easy, if ever. It’s a discipline, a muscle that has to be trained. The more it is used the better quality of work it produces. I’m far from mastering that discipline, which is partly why surrounding myself by others who are moving and creating is so important to me. They push me to my own limits to move and create, as well.

Q:  What drives you?

A:  I am infatuated with and driven by my beautiful, ragtag community. It is made up of friends and mentors that I have worked with, sought with, and struggled with. People whose lives consistently challenge and inspire me as we do life together. Their investment in my life and mine in theirs has shaped me into the woman I am today.

Q:  What was the catalyst in your life that made you want to pursue your dreams of activism?

A:  It was a film. At 17 I watched Invisible Children, a documentary that exposes a 25 yearlong conflict about a Ugandan warlord, named Joseph Kony, who abducts children to fight in his rebel army. I was shocked to learn that something so atrocious had been going on unnoticed by the rest of the world for so long. Once I heard the story I was moved to action; at 18 I began working for Invisible Children to help bring the war to an end.

I’ve learned since then that this conflict isn’t the only cause worth fighting for, but I know now that this particular organization gripped me in part because of how they tell their story. Theirs isn’t one only of conflict and despair, but also of incredibly resiliency and hope. Learning from Invisible Children about the power of a well told story causes me to wonder about the countless other causes, conflicts, and extraordinary people who would benefit from having their story shared.

Q:  What is your guilty pleasure? (Food, Bieber, cheese fries, etc.)

A:  Ask me at any given moment to quote from beginning to end The Newsies or Princess Bride and you will not be disappointed. These movies were childhood favorites in the Warne household, and even in our twenties my siblings and I know every line, song, and dance routine. Guilty pleasure? Or material for America’s Got Talent? America’s Funniest Home Videos? You choose.

Q:  Right now, who are the bands/artists that you're listening to?

A:  I don’t have one specific taste in music. I love it all. My Spotify history would read, in no specific order, something like: Justin Beiber,  The National, Les Miserables, The Lumineers, and I’m still not over Watch the Throne or Beyonce’s 4 album. Like I said, I love it all.

Q:  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A:  Funny story: I recently found a letter that I wrote to my “grown up” self when I was 10 years old. I told myself that I wanted to be an actress, and also a spy for the CIA, two very different career paths. Almost every weekend while I was younger my friends and I would make our own home movies, and I wanted to continue doing that as I got older. My dream for becoming a spy was probably influenced by watching a few too many action movies with my older brother, and although I haven’t acted on that childhood dream, I haven’t completely ruled it out, either.

Q:  What is your mission statement?

A:  To create, share, and advocate for stories that matter.

Mujér | Part I

If you have known me for any amount of time, then you know that I believe in the power of story.  My heart beats for women, and that women would know their identity is grounded and unshakeable in Christ. The truth that I am not valueable because of what I look like, or what I do, but because I am His.  I long to see women be set free of comparison, and walking freely in their unique gifts.

When you meet someone who is grounded in their identity there is something so peaceful and freeing about being around them.  When a woman is free to be who she really is; it gives the people around her the permission to be freely and wholly who they  are created to be.  When you are around women like this; it’s not only freeing it’s contagious.

For reasons I cannot understand, I have been given this rare opportunity to live with and walk deeply with such women.

These are not just your average women, they are ladies that are actively changing the world, impacting culture, that are unabashedly and boldly pursuing their dreams, and are peaceful and free women.

I want you to know these women, to experience their story, their freedom, and I want it to encourage and inspire you.

This is the beginning of hopefully a long series of interviews and lifestyle shoots of telling the stories of these women with their words, my words, and photographs of them.

There’s this dream inside me that young women would read these stories and see the images and be empowered to pursue their dreams.  I want it to spark something from deep within, and spread like wild fire.

I want to see a generation of young women moved to living a life a purpose, depth, meaning, to be confident in their giftings, and actively and confidently moving forward in them.   I want to live this kind of story:  a life of depth, purpose, resolve, and meaning.

Grounded. Faithful. Peaceful. Resolved. Free.

The Beautiful Woman.

Mujér.

My first Mujer shoot will be up soon, but for now enjoy some of my favorite shots from a lifestyle session with Jessi.