Bay Area portrait photography

Celebrate Daughters, Celebrate Legacy

I love when clients bring in their daughters to also be photographed - because she is essentially shaping the life of a human that will grow into a young lady one day knowing it is absolutely awesome to celebrate every year of your life, whether you are 8 or 80 years old.

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Celebrate the legacy of girls and women in your family with a portrait to last a lifetime - there’s something beautiful and powerful that is beyond the images itself.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Image by | Heartbox Photography

Hair & makeup | Katie Pheneger

Preview | Azalia, 2018 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Santa Clara, CA

"Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful."

 - Sophia Loren

Azalia is a wife, a mother, grandmother, and sister - a woman who is as beautiful and unique as her name. We had chatted briefly a few years back when I had met her through a mutual acquaintance and it is my honor to now have her in front of my camera. I love when women step out and not only get dolled up for the day, but also make that decision to celebrate their life by choosing to exist in gorgeous images that will last a lifetime.  

The light was perfect for her shoot (that gorgeous, natural daylight was ahhh-maaazing) and below is just a sneak peak into her photo session. Be sure to stay tuned for more to come!

Special thanks to Kalani Brown of Kalani Style for Azalia's hair and makeup!

Preview | April, 2017 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Fremont, CA

 

“Luxury to me is not about buying expensive things;

...it’s about living in a way where you appreciate things.”

Oscar de la Renta

When I think about April and her journey, her smile then becomes something else to me. It's radiant, genuine, and most of all it is full of celebration.

A smile that celebrates this season of where she is.

A smile that celebrates the journey, the highs of it and the stumbling parts of it. 

A smile that celebrates wholeheartedly what is to come, trusting her life in the Hands of the one who breathed life and purpose into the depths of her soul and being.

Below is just a sneak peak into April's photo shoot with Heartbox Photography. I invite you to stay tuned as there is more to come and more to share on the life of this beautiful woman.

photography by: Heartbox Photography

hair/makeup by: Keziah Dauz

 

Rhonda | 2017 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Santa Clara, CA

 

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." - Proverbs 31:25

When she first shared her story with me, I remember feeling just this sense of "whoa". Mostly because I am more prone to being skittish about the future than confident and am always immediately floored when I meet a woman like her who has survived so much and still wears the badge of an unwavering faith for all to see.

The hint of her Southern roots can be heard in the sweetness of her voice, but don't let that fool you. This beautiful lady is refreshingly honest and straightforward, but in such a way that clearly reveals that at her core, she is also strong, kind, and loyal, being the first to stand up for what she believes is right or even to defend a friend from a bully as a child growing up in the South. 

And that laugh? Well, you can see it for yourself in the twinkle of her eyes through these photographs and video that I am so very proud to share with you all of this beautiful lady named Rhonda. 

Rhonda, thank you for being willing to step out in front of my camera, to share your story and your faith without filters or shame, to boldly live life out loud, to dance simply for the joy of it - all so as to encourage other women - other people -  to do the same. I have enjoyed getting to know you, to laugh with you, to be a part of celebrating this new season of your life. May these photographs continue to draw forth that shining smile of yours for all to witness, even years down the road. 

"I went through a 2 year period of loss. My parents, my dog, and my husband of 25 years all pass in a 2 year time frame. We moved from New Mexico to take care of terminal parents so we left behind our support system of friends and church, too. After the loss of my mom on Mother's Day 2013, I came to California to grieve and start my life over."

 

 

 

 

"My life is beginning again.

I have related my life to the Japanese art of Kintsugi where they turn broken pottery into beautiful art by putting it back together with gold or other precious metals."

 

 

When was the last time you left your comfort zone? I performed a dance routine on stage last May and we had some mistakes but it came out fine.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why? This is tough. Abraham Lincoln because he stood up against the norm [even though] it wasn't a popular idea and [because] he wanted to bring the entire country back together to heal. Jesus because he loved me enough to die for me.

My dad - he died when I was only 10 and I didn't know him very well or what his dreams were for me, but I know he was respected and well loved. His funeral wasn't even standing room, the building was packed and the procession was over 5 miles long in the rain.

What is one piece of advice you would give your 18-year-old self? Take better care of your health, skin and body - you only have one and you want it to last! And...insist that your husband learn to dance with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think makes a woman beautiful? 

"Her spirit and heart.

Women are designed as emotional beings and we need to appreciate that."

 

 

 

 

What do you appreciate most about your life now? 

"How good God has been to me.

He has seen me through some long and difficult storms and blessed me with some of the best friends a person could know."

 

A funny or surprising fact about yourself? I presented flowers to the wives of the Russian cosmonauts that first shook hands with American astronauts in space. Shook hands with all of them.

I am [also] stronger than I look. I have dead lifted over 200 lbs and bench pressed 90 lbs. They still ask me at the grocery store if I need help out with my items...haha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I know that I am in God's hands and that he has a purpose for the next half of my life.

I found God's joy - His internal, overflowing, abundant joy."

 

Many thanks to Keziah Dauz for her styling of Rhonda's hair and makeup!

 

Preview | Angel, 2017 | Glamour & Contemporary Portraits | Santa Clara, CA

"Be confident enough to stand by what you think is beautiful..."

- Jessie Adore

I hope your 2017 is off to an awesome start! These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of wrapping up 2016, celebrations, and honestly, just trying to reintroduce a vegetable or two in into my meals instead of chocolate. Or cheese. Or cookies.

I'm not quite ready to give up having a cookie or two with breakfast, though. Ever bake an entire tub of chocolate chip cookie dough into one big cookie? No?! Well, let's just say that a ginormous cookie to eat ranks right up there with all things wonderful, right next to Target and YouTube videos of puppies. YES.

The potential and possibilities that lie ahead for 2017 are truly endless and my hope is to be able to continue to have the privilege to get to know and tell the stories of more incredible women this year. 

Angel is a nurse and mother whom I recently got to know and photograph. Her lovely smile radiated beautifully with each image captured and I am so thrilled to share with you all a little sneak peak into a photograph from her session. Stay tuned for more to come!

Happy New Year!

Many thanks to Becky Lau of BeautifulOne Makeup Artistry for her work on hair/makeup for Angel!

PREVIEW | Bea | Glamour and Contemporary Portraits | Santa Clara, CA

Even in this digital age, I am still a huge advocate and fan of having pictures printed out, whether it's treasured in a special folio box, an album you can touch, or a beautiful frame to display. And in this era of blinding speed and fleeting moments, I am still a huge advocate for stopping time in a special way for a woman through a timeless portrait of just herself.

Yes, I know it seems odd to take some time out of an incredibly hectic and busy life to have your portrait taken. I know it seems odd to have your hair done, to go beyond just the two second application of eyeliner and instead have a professional do your makeup in a way that makes you feel your best, polished self. However, many years down the road, it won't seem so odd anymore. Because that portrait of you that you hold in your hands is now part of the legacy of your family. Your children will treasure it, your grandchildren will have a glimpse into generations before them. It will serve as a reminder to you, that every year of your life is important and that there is something wonderful about reflecting back on a photograph of yourself from years ago. It will bring a smile to your face as you recall just where you were at in life when it was captured. And as a woman, I hope it resonates something deep inside you and reminds you that you are valued and wonderfully made.

Exist in photographs for yourself. Exist in photographs for your loved ones. 

Exist in photographs. 

I am incredibly excited and honored share with you all the latest celebration of women who have chosen to exist in photographs, a lovely mother and wife named Bea.

Bea not only a mother and wife, but a daughter, a sister, a friend, yoga instructor, speech and language pathologist, a homehealth therapist, a Netflix marathoner. Having spent an afternoon with her in the studio was more like hanging out with a familiar friend as her easygoing personality and laughter filled our conversations. 

As always, this is just a sneak peak, so stay tuned for more!

Happy Thursday!

Many thanks to Kat Tinney  of A List Makeup for Bea's hair and makeup!

Marie | June Birthday Rewards | Portraits by Heartbox Photography | Bay Area, CA

Awhile back, I had the honor of photographing the lovely Marie as part of the Fifty and Fabulous series. Her constant smile and upbeat personality are nothing less than a joy to be around and it is my pleasure to announce her as the winner for June's Birthday Rewards drawing!

Cheers to you, Marie! Here's to many more years of life, joy, and hula dancing like there's no tomorrow - happy birthday! 




Preview - Danielle, 2015 | Headshot Portraits by Heartbox Photography | Los Gatos, CA

Walking into any new situation that involves crowds of people and name tags has never been easy for me. Ever. It is almost a guarantee that as I maneuver my way through the crowds of confident chatter from women of various professional backgrounds, my focus and footsteps will always be zoned in on finding the snack/refreshment table quickly so I could hide my lack of confidence beneath the casual munching of cheese and crackers.

However, despite my innate ability to be terribly awkward and shy, I have been very fortunate to meet a ton of friendly and welcoming professionals who have been helpful and kind beyond what I can ever measure. 

Danielle is one such individual and I had the privilege of meeting her at a local networking event hosted by a wonderful organization called Women in Consulting. I had the opportunity to get to know this talented graphic artist and project manager as we spent a beautiful and sunny afternoon preparing for a photo shoot to update her headshots. 

Below is just a sneak peak into Danielle's photo session - there's definitely more so be sure to stay tuned! 

Happy Tuesday!

A special thanks to stylist,  Kat Tinney,  for her beautiful work on Danielle's hair and makeup!


Asmeret, 2015 | Portraits by Heartbox Photography | Bay Area, CA

The one thing I've always, always, always loved about the kind of portrait photography I chose to pursue is that it is not a one-way deal. It never gets tiring to be able to see a smile light up a person's face when they see themselves in a new light because of a photograph I can present to them.

It had been about 15 years since I last spoke with Asmeret and to be able to reconnect through photography has been nothing but fun and fabulous - much like Asmeret herself! We had last seen each other when were teenagers and I had the privilege to spend a sunny afternoon chatting, catching up and laughing with an old friend from long ago.

In our laughing and chatting, we each learned how life had grown us, what rough seasons it had taken us through since high-school, the victories we got to witness and experience as young adults growing into, well, older adults, how God's grace sustained us through it all, and what we still hope and dream for as 30-somethings now.

Azzy, I am excited to have reconnected with you after all these years and beyond honored that you have allowed me to capture your kind smile, your unique fierceness, in these photographs. I hope they serve as a lasting reminder of how awesome it is when you let your internal beauty shine through - brightly, unwavering and most of all, real.

Happy Wednesday, folks!


A special thank you to the talented Kathleen Tinney of A List Makeup for her beautiful work on Asmeret's hair and makeup!

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Stephanie, 2015 | Portraits by Heartbox Photography | Santa Clara, CA

Whenever I finish a shoot, I often have moments of complete photographer's geek out. It's a bit like a happy euphoria for an artist and photographer, when something they envision comes to real life in a photograph before them on the screen.

That's how I felt when I photographed the lovely Stephanie. 

Stephanie is a wonderful friend of mine and being able to capture the very essence of her in these photographs was not only an honor but an incredible reminder of the joy I feel when I'm given the opportunity and trust to paint a picture for a woman. To paint a new perspective for her, to show her what she may not always see or remember everyday - that she is, indeed, a beautiful and unique creation in a class all her own.

A special thank you to the wonderful Kathleen Tinney of A List Makeup for her beautiful work on Stephanie's hair and makeup!






























Preview | Asmeret, 2015. Portraits by Heartbox Photography, Bay Area, CA

The theme was movement, mystery, fierceness. Add a beautiful late afternoon light and it's enough to make the little artist in me geek out and smile all kinds of happy.

A little sneak peak into this weekend's shoot with the lovely Asmeret...

There's more, so be sure to stay tuned!

A special thank you to the wonderful Kathleen Tinney of A List Makeup for her beautiful work on Asmeret's hair and makeup!





Ezraly, 2015 | Portraits by Heartbox Photography | Santa Clara, CA

When I first chatted with Ez about a photo shoot and possible themes, I remember distinctly how she described herself. A mom, a wife, a career woman, a yoga instructor, just trying to do it all. And funny how that can describe a lot of us women - busy, striving for the people we love, for ourselves. 

At first I thought about how I can possibly convey in a photo session that she was a mom, a career woman, a wife, etc.? It was in that moment I realized that while all those characteristics are important and significant, the main theme I hoped to convey in Ez's photo shoot was that she is a beautiful woman who laughs, loves,  and is a person who has life in her to share. 

So, the theme of this shoot? Show off Ez's warm smile. Capture who she uniquely is. Have fun and dance around in a tulle skirt....just because. Paint a an elegant portrait of a woman whose children and husband will one day look back on these photographs and be reminded how truly special she is to them.

Ez, it was an honor to have you in front my camera. Really. Thank you for allowing me into your world, for being yourself, for sharing who you are and being a part of a bigger message that every woman is fabulous and beautiful just as she is today. 

Happy Thursday, all!

A special thanks to LilyAnn Nguyen of A-List Makeup for her 
beautiful work on Ez's hair and makeup!

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"I consider people who have an ease about them beautiful. Those who don't take themselves too seriously and can make fun of themselves is very attractive. I'm drawn to authenticity, sincerity, and consistency."

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"[The perception of] beauty has definitely changed for me as I got more comfortable in my own skin. Trying not to judge oneself will always be a struggle, but I'm getting better and better at its a I learn to simply "breathe" through it."

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"There will always be features of ourselves that we aren't fond of, but once you learn to accept and love that feature, it all of a sudden sparkles in a different light. So come from a place and humility and gratitude..."

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Future Glory | Headshot Portraits by Heartbox Photography | San Francisco, CA

It never fails. 

Whenever I meet women who are doing big things in this world through their work, I always feel inspired and reminded that my own work and aspirations can be a game changer, an avenue of hope for bigger causes. That a dream can break limits in remarkable ways.  

Theresa Lee and her business partner Jennie Chen are two such women I had the privilege of meeting and photographing in the beautiful city of San Francisco. They are the owners of San Francisco-based company, Future Glory. Not only does their company create beautiful accessories and handbags, but they also support and partner with Freedom House and Because Justice Matters, two organizations that take huge active strides towards combating human trafficking and violence against women.

The rain-free, afternoon light peeked through the windows of a studio in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco (where much of their products are made), making it an ideal day for a head shot photo session. Though the afternoon San Francisco air started to cool down as the time passed, both Theresa and Jennie remained upbeat and patient in our search for the best light and backgrounds for their shoot.

Theresa and Jennie - Thank you for not only being an inspiration as business owners, but for playing an active role in restoring hope back to women and victims of human trafficking. It was truly an honor to meet you both and I am excited to see more of what's in store for Future Glory

Happy Wednesday!

Many thanks to the talented Tammy Do from A-List Makeup for Theresa's beautiful hair and makeup!

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Preview | Ezraly, 2014. Portraits by Heartbox Photography, Santa Clara, CA

She teaches her class with patience, encouragement, and with a quiet reassurance. The quiet reassurance that make even the newest student feel comfortable and willing to try their very best.

To sit in a class set at an average temperature of 100 degrees for 90 minutes can be somebody-please-call my-mommy a little intimidating, the instructor makes all the difference in the world. Thankfully, I landed in a class taught by a very patient instructor named Ezraly.

I had the privilege to photograph the lovely Ez recently and am excited to share a little sneak below. As always, there's more, so be sure to stay tuned!

Happy Tuesday!


Many thanks to the talented Lily Ann from A-List Makeup for Ez's beautiful hair and makeup!


Marie. 2014 | Fifty and Fabulous | Contemporary Portraits by Heartbox Photography | Santa Clara, CA

If there is one fast way to determine just how tough you are physically, how graceful you are as a dancer, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you take a Hot Hula class with Marie. I have two left feet, survived and it was still fun. =)

I had met the lovely Marie awhile back when I signed up for a Hot Hula class taught at a local community center - she was the instructor and I quickly learned how fun (and challenging!) it could be to take a beautiful Hawaiian traditional dance and turn it into a fabulous way for folks to have a great cardio workout. (My legs just about fell off after the workout and I have renewed respect for those who can dance hula for hours!)

Before the shoot, I got a chance to talk with Marie a few times and learned that she is not only a go-getter career woman, talented dancer, beloved daughter and friend, but a mother and grandmother as well. Chatting with Marie is like chatting it up with your best friend or sister - her genuine smile, cheery spirit, and sense of humor make it obvious to me why she is a great instructor and why many of her students enjoy her classes.

I have always believed that a woman should celebrate every season of her life and am proud to share Marie's photo shoot as part of the Fifty and Fabulous series offered by Heartbox Photography.

Marie, thank you for being so open and genuine from our very first conversation. It was an honor to photograph you, to learn more about you and your family, and just to be able to connect with such a lovely person. Here's to celebrating beauty that never goes out of style....

Happy Thursday!

Many thanks to the talented Vlada Fomenko-Haggerty for Marie's beautiful hair and makeup!

















Fifty and Fabulous: Preview | Marie, 2014. Portraits by Heartbox Photography, Santa Clara, CA

As an artist, sometimes the new ideas can fill every crevice in my mind in crazy abundance that it almost becomes hard to pick one and run with it, grow it, try it out without being trapped to my perfectionist ways.

I'm basically saying that I can be very crazy, slightly A.D.D. when it comes to the world of creative possibilities that photography can offer. 

One of the ideas that I'd been wanting to try out for a while was portrait sessions that celebrated women who had reached that remarkable milestone of being 50 years old. Fifty and fabulous, as I once heard it phrased. 

That life stage where her beauty is timeless more now than ever because in addition to her outward beauty, she also carries internally a unique element of depth that only comes from a full life of a woman who has lived, laughed, loved, cried, triumphed, and grown.

Marie is a beautiful mother and a grandmother. A graceful dancer who invests her time teaching the art of hula to other women for them to enjoy. A woman who celebrates 50 years of life with joy, gratitude, and laughter. Lots of laughter.

There is more to come, but for now, here's a little sneak peak into Marie's Fifty and Fabulous photo session with Heartbox Photography - stay tuned!

A special thanks to the talented Vlada Fomenko-Haggerty for Marie's beautiful hair and make up!

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Noel, 2014. Santa Clara, CA. Portrait Photo Session

I have known Noel since before I was old enough to drive, back when junk food was our best friend and after school homework and talking on the phone with friends was what filled our days on weekday afternoons.

It was a time of fun and innocence and though there are moments presently where waves of nostalgia overcome me, I also can't deny the even more beautiful moments where I see how life has come around full circle in ways sweeter than the long summers of our days as teenagers.

Noel is a wife and now a mother to the cutest little kid named Dominic. During the photo session, the undeniable joy that Dominic brings Noel was apparent with each giggle and mischievous smile that graced this little one's face. I half expected to Dominic to start throwing his toys at me before the shoot was over, but this kid's a champ and actually survived the entire time in front of my camera - he must get his camera charm and patience from his momma! ;)

Noel, it was honor to capture you and Dominic in these photographs. It's so sweet to see that the kind smile I knew from when were kids has only gotten more joy-filled with the presence of Dominic in your world. I am thankful that we are back in touch even after all this time and hope that in years to come, you will always be reminded of how beautiful you are as a wife, a mom but even more so, as a woman.

A special thanks to the talented Vlada Fomenko-Haggerty for Noel's beautiful hair and make up!

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"People who are confident in themselves and lead their life by treating peoples as they want to be
treated are beautiful to me."

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"People that treat themselves and others with respect tend to give off a certain light. That light is what makes someone beautiful."


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"I surround myself with kind, good-hearted people...and they are are a reflection of me."


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What are you confident or proud of now that maybe you weren't so proud or confident about when you were younger?

"Understanding what I want, finding strength to reach goals. I am more confident in expressing my emotions and have learned that I don't always HAVE to be happy."


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"We need to accept the fact that every woman is different and no one woman is perfect." 


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"Take care of your health, emotionally and physically - you only have one shot in life."


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"Laugh often and love deep."


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Ramya, 2014. Santa Clara, Portrait and Makeover Photo Session

She possesses a quiet nature, a sweet face that will break into a smile throughout your conversations with her.

Meet Ramya.

Throughout her photo session with me one sunny, Saturday afternoon, I learned that she was a wife and a mother and loved being a model. She was patient with my inability to tell a good joke and flowed through the entire session like an absolute pro.

Ramya, it was an honor to to get to know you, to work with you, and to capture your beautiful smile on camera. Thank you for being a part of the  Heartbox Photography movement that encourages every woman that she is not only beautiful, both inside and out, but is also worth celebrating today.

Many thanks to the talented Vlada Fomenko for her beautiful styling of Ramya's hair and make up!

Happy Monday!
















PREVIEW: Noel, 2014. Santa Clara Portrait Photo Session

There's something that radiates nothing but happiness and warmth when you see an old friend of yours from junior high grow into a lovely woman who eventually becomes a beloved wife and mother. 

I've known Noel since we were teenagers, back when pagers were considered as cool as iPhones and the only major worries centered around what to wear to our after-school dances and English homework due dates. A couple of years ago, we got reconnected and I was privileged to photograph her and her husband, Jorge in this shoot

Noel has recently become a mother to the cutest little boy named Dominic. Needless to say, I was more than excited to not only meet her baby boy for the first time but to also photograph them for a special mother and son shoot. 

Here is a little sneak peak into Noel's photo session - more to come, so be sure to stay tuned!

A special thanks to the talented Vlada Fomenko-Haggerty for Noel's beautiful hair and make up!

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Reckless, Happy, and Growing

Sometimes, being a photographer, an artist, and entrepreneur can be lonely. Most of the time you work solo and even face some challenges and learning experiences solo. You wonder if you're the only one with that editing question, that tax question, or that editing question. 

In the same vein, it's this very feeling of occasional loneliness that have made me truly value the relationships and connections it's pushed me to forge with others in this industry. This journey so far has connected me with a ton of individuals I am forever grateful to. I've made friends with another photographer who also happened to be an attorney by trade. Much of our conversations entailed her generous input on the way my contracts could be tweaked and exchanges of creative marketing ideas discussed over Thai food. 

In the beginning when I didn't know which way was up and what focal points were on my camera, another photographer based all the way in Tennessee took the time to extend some Southern hospitality via email with every question I sent to her. Her advice and much-needed encouragement proved tremendously valuable as a fledgling newbie looking to steady herself in a competitive field. 

I've met other women entrepreneurs who, though not in the same industry, have offered their advice, encouragement, and have even become clients to show how much they support my dreams and remind me that it is more than ok to dream big.

And this? Well, this picture was a pleasant surprise awaiting in my inbox this past Monday morning. I received this photograph from one of my stylists I often work with, the talented Vlada Fomenko-Haggerty. While she occasionally stays to assist during the shoot, I had no idea she had snapped this photo of me working. Her talent and professionalism make me thankful that we work together and this photo felt like an extra blessing and unexpected extension of encouragement for the start of my week.


It was an encouragement to see this because sometimes, as an artist and often solo entrepreneur, I need someone to hold up a mirror to me when I'm immersed in doubt and question and remind me of what I look like when I'm happily pursuing my passion - content, creative, and happily growing.

Happy Wednesday!