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She Loved Herself

Last week I shot my first boudoir session. I have a newfound respect for boudoir photographers. Both my friend and I were exhausted after shooting for two hours. It's all about the angles and the perfect balance between light and shadows. I'm learning to embrace shadows, the dark makes the light that much more powerful.

"The world needs strong women. Women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will." -Amy Tenney

Every woman was once a confident, quirky little girl with the world at her fingertips. And somewhere between then and now, that confidence took a beating. Every woman possesses beauty. The filter in which that beauty is interpreted has been made dingy by society's definition of the word "beauty", but remove that dinginess from your lens and every single woman on the face of this earth possesses beauty. And that's where I can play a part in helping women to see what I see, what God sees and what others see... their beauty.

My heart for embracing boudoir photography is to empower women to see their own beauty. To learn to focus their attention on their own strengths. Not to compare their weaknesses to other's strengths. When I see a stranger, the first thing I often notice is their strengths. I was standing in line at the grocery store last week and I noticed how the woman in front of me has amazing hair, she has great legs too and she has a way about her that is just graceful.

Pause for just a moment.

This is a complete stranger. I took two seconds out of my day to put my phone down and to notice someone in front of me and the very first thing I noticed were her strengths, her best qualities. Why can't I immeditely notice my own best qualities when I look in the mirror? And that is what drives me these days. I can tell a woman she's beautiful all day but I had rather show her what I see, show her that she has the confidence of a shooting star, she is a warrior and she also has some pretty amazing cheek bones, a fierce smile and a unique femininity.

"Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely that when others see us, they know exactly how it should be done" -Rudy Francisco.

Empowering women to see their own beauty is easier said than done. But how on earth can we expect others to respect and love us if we don't respect and love ourselves?

If you are a business woman, a college student, a stay at home mom, a grandmother.. any stage of life you are in is the perfect season for you to begin to receive your own acceptance, accept that you are loved and believe that you are valuable.

God doesn't make mistakes. He created you because He knew the world needed you. Don't waste another day keeping the real you hidden. Your story, your abilities may be just what another person needs to blossom as well.

"Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back."

The generation of allowing mean girl behavior stops here. It took me 30 years, but I've surrounded myself with women who support and encourage me, who are honest with me and who don't play mean girl games with me. You know the games I'm talking about, the backhanded compliments, the insults given with a smile on their face, the eye rolls, the constant comparison. I refuse to tolerate that type of behavior. And it took me years to realize that I deserve better than that. It took me years to really believe I'm worthy of good friends and a strong tribe. But here I am, smiling as I type this, because my women in business friends, my mom friends, my circle of women who I allow close to me, aren't mean, spiteful or threatened. They're real, they're experiencing my growing pains alongside me and they're the first ones to stand up for me when I'm feeling defeated. This unity, this togetherness.... this is where women bloom. We've been stereotyped as catty, ridiculous and unable to work together. When you're not where you're meant to be, then yes, a woman will feel the need to defend what is hers. But when a woman is surrounded by other women who allow her to be genuine, unfiltered and uncensored... that is where she can dig her roots down deep and know that whether she blooms this season or not, she belongs. And she will not be dug up and cast aside for lack of performance.

"She remembered who she was and the game changed." -Lalah Deliah

I've always felt drawn to helping other women. In my 30 years, women haven't always been kind or good to me. But that hasn't ever dimmed my passion for empowering them to do better. I consider myself a strong woman. I have gotten quite used to the games other women can play and I will always remain the same because the best way to win that type of game is to not participate.

In my twenties, I wanted to start a magazine that was written for teenage girls to help encourage and inspire them to do their best, be themselves and work hard. I wanted teenagers to know that no matter what their home lives, their school lives are in that moment, it does not mean that their future is not brighter than their current situation. Their potential is not dimmed by their background.

Now that I'm married and have a son, I still feel drawn to that same message. I want other women to know that I see the best in them. I choose to reflect their strengths to them, to reflect God's love to them and to meet them right where they are and say "Ya know what, it's ok, I've been there too and it sucks, but you can't stop there, the best is yet to come."

"She never seemed shattered; to me, she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she's won." -Matt Baker

I hope you will join me on my new adventure and start seeing the best in others. I hope you will focus on your strengths when you look in the mirror tomorrow and remember that your strengths are what I'm focusing on also. I hope you will start to see your shadows, your flaws as a reason to be bold.

You are strong. You are enough. You are stunning.

Now believe it.

(Thank you to my beautiful friend for modeling for me so I could have some images of my own to advertise. And thank you to Madison Davis for doing the hair and make up for this session!)

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