There’s no doubt that 2016 was pretty much terrible for just about everyone. However, when it comes to photography for this year, I have no complaints whatsoever. I LOVED this year when it came to that. Being featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine, traveling all over the world and Thailand to photograph two people I love getting engaged, venturing out in making fashion videos, I got to see Beyonce live (omg), and then I got started on a new project that I hope to have completed within the year. This year was GREAT for art. However, I don’t really want to use this platform right now to talk about photography and I am more interested in talking about my personal experience with 2016. I try to be as open and real with people on social media as I possibly can be. Obviously none of you know me 100% because I can’t share every personal aspect of my life with you all. None of you see how I treat my friends and family on a daily basis, things I like to do in my spare time, how big of a nerd I am when it comes to video games (literally just bought a new Dinosaur game for Xbox this week), that I actually listen to piano music every single morning (you should always start your day the way you would want it to end), how I’m basically a crystal hoarder now, how many hours I spend each week researching veganism, space, animal sanctuaries, wedding venues, or even things that inspire me regularly. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t share those things with you if you knew me personally (all of my friends know that stuff about me of course). I’m an open book with people and I don’t try to act mysterious or something I’m not. You all are on the internet to connect, to learn, to grow, to weave in and out with others from all over the world. Whether it be an article about pigs in pajamas or something local your hometown is doing. You’re connecting. And that’s what I try to do with you all. I’m not writing this blog post to prove a point, to show you guys something that isn’t real (as most social media is), or to come off a certain way. I don’t care enough to be fake at this point. This has been a HUGE year for me and I’m finally ready to open up about it. This blog is literally a diary to me. A public diary that I choose to share a lot of my life and creative passions with thousands of people. I LOVE connecting and I’m going to try to do it here now more than ever.
This has been the hardest but most spiritually progressive year of my life. I’ve dealt with loss in all forms and I’ve felt pain I didn’t even know was possible. However, through that I’ve been able to feel love I didn’t know was out there. I’ve felt kindness and acceptance pour through me during the most influential and hardest times I could ever imagine. I’ve connected deeper with my friends and family more than I thought possible. I have grown so much this year because I went through the most uncomfortable crap ever. I pushed through boundaries and I can actually see it.
When you lose someone, whether it be a death, breakup, whatever.. you change. You just do. The whole first part of this year was spent on me forcing change when I just wasn’t ready. I’m not even completely comfortable talking about the person I was January-July because I don’t know who that person even was. I was literally traveling all over the country and world at the first of this year just to escape reality. I didn’t want to be home and I didn’t want to be near my phone. I just wanted to work. It was a confusing few months of, “What am I doing? What do I do now? Where do I go from here?” but ever since I left Denver in August, I haven’t been the same and I now know the answers to all of those questions.
Instead of having maybe 1 friend, I now have over 10 best friends that I would do anything for and that have helped mold me into this person I have always wanted to be. Of course the beginning of this year was an influential time that I needed but all of the huge self progression happened in August for me. Ever since I left Denver I do not want ANY negativity in my life. I have dropped friends that talk poorly of others, I have stopped speaking to people that have negative energy around them, and I do not involve myself with anyone that is not on the same wavelength as me when it comes to being a positive person.
I spent the past several years surrounded by negativity. Whether it be me to blame for that, the people I chose to surround myself with, my actions, their actions, etc. Whatever the reason was, it created a big negative black hole and it was awful. BUT, it was a learning experience. I was able to take all of that negativity and apply it to my life to grow and change. At the beginning of this year I knew I didn’t want that in my life anymore and I chose to mold my negative personal experiences and change it to a positive learning experience. I wanted to be a better person, love people harder, and delve into areas and aspects of my life that I wasn’t familiar with.
This year my best friend, Nancy, taught me so much about positive energy, love, souls, soulmates, happiness, growth, acceptance, etc. I seriously would be so lost without her but I know she is here in my life for a reason and I never want her to leave. She said to me, “You are your own antenna in this universe and you will receive what you put out. All the things you want and need will come to you if it is supposed to.” And you guys have no idea how comforting that is to me. I’m soooo the type of person that worries about everything and over analyzes so it’s pretty relaxing knowing that I can release control to something way greater than me. It’s also really awesome having a best friend that is older and wiser than you and that you can basically trust with your life. Also, she’s spicy af and she will stick up for her best friends until the end of time.
When I see people talking negatively about others, blocking people on social media sites, or just even holding grudges against others I finally understand why they do that. It’s because they aren’t happy. Think about it. If you’re a happy, successful person with love and all of that surrounding you.. nothing else can really get to you. You don’t “react” negatively, you don’t talk negatively, you don’t do any of those things if you’re happy. Isn’t that an interesting perspective? Happy people are happy. I’m not talking about the type of happiness where you tell people online, “I’m so happy!” but then in reality all you do is talk poorly of others and treat people negatively. No. I’m talking about GENUINE happiness. The kind of happiness where people can spit venom at you, talk badly of you to others, etc. but you don’t react. Why? Because you’re happy. You’re happy in your life and you’re happy in your craft. What more do you need?
That’s what I’ve been learning and trying to apply to my life all year. A few months ago I had a situation where someone was talking poorly of me and my business and instead of reacting and going through legal situations to terminate it, I just turned on music and danced. Because when it comes down to it, WHO CARES?! haha. Nothing like that matters to me anymore. It’s even weird for me to talk about it now but the only reason I am is because it was a big milestone for me. Old Stephanie would have never just turned on happy music and danced. I would have reacted negatively and I would have let it just grow. But when you learn to receive negativity and turn it into something positive, you’re pretty untouchable. And I like that.
If you’re looking at my social media to find something specific, some type of change, or anything new.. you probably won’t get that by looking at a screen. My social media is not a clear depiction of who I am. Even though I share as much as I can, social media doesn’t describe my mind, the way I am with people, or any of the important parts of me. If you want to see who I truly am as a person you have to be in my life. The way I am now with people, myself, and even with art is not the same. How can so many influential parts about me be the same at this point? So much has happened. My friend Samantha said to me, “You post things that are so different now. For one, you have so many best friends that genuinely love you. We all love you. And we are all in your life for a reason. I don’t know what change or differences anyone hopes to see on your social media. Whatever they are looking for, it has to be something with them, not with you. If they aren’t able to see the strides you’ve made then that’s really a shame because it’s something to be extremely proud of. Very few people can set aside their pride and admit they need to better themselves. It took the most difficult situation you’ve ever faced to do it, but you took the most negative thing that’s ever happened to you and turned it into the greatest motivator. I’m not saying it’s perfect and it’s absolutely not easy, but nothing worth having comes easy. It goes to show that you are truly in control of your happiness.” And I thought to myself, “Yeah.. wait. Things ARE different. I am surrounded by positive, loving people who continue to progress right along with me. That alone is huge and that doesn’t even reach the tip of it all.”
One of my favorite quotes is:
“Anyone who is not on your same evolutionary and spiritual frequency will distance himself from you, while those who are on the same frequency as you will come closer to you. You will see how amazing it is to discover that everyone who needs to be by your side will ultimately appear in your life in the most spontaneous and divine manner. That’s how powerful the mind is.”
That describes everyone in my life so accurately.
If you have negativity in your life, get it out. It doesn’t matter who or what it is. This is YOUR life and you have to keep growing, changing, and progressing or you will be so limited with a negative mindset and atmosphere. Don’t be the same person you were even a month ago. Be kind to others and keep going.
In October of this year I got a text from a local photographer, Myranda Randle, that completely overwhelmed me with so much happiness.
She said to me, “For many years your photography and work ethic has inspired me beyond words can even start to explain. (Like I could go on for days). But what has been especially beautiful to me is watching you grow not only in your art but as a person. You are a beautiful individual, and that’s what I appreciate about you the most. You seem ‘truly’ genuine. Although I’ve only observed you somewhat from afar, I look at your work and I’m like, ‘Man I’m proud of her!’ And though I’ve only had a small taste comparably of how boo boo headish people can be in this industry, your ability to pick up and keep going is one for the books girlfriend. I want to do a photo shoot of you, being you. What makes you tick outside your photography? I would love to capture images of a day with Stephanie; around your place, chilling with your cats, dancing to Beyonce, cooking your favorite vegan dish, etc. What do you do to clear your head between craziness? I just want to capture images that show you, and that crazy awesome spirit of yours.”
This text meant a lot to me for many reasons. It was like all of the self progression and happiness I explained above was not only getting noticed by myself, but by others as well.
For awhile I had actually been thinking to myself that I wish I could document what my life is usually like on a daily basis so I was really excited when Myranda reached out to me with this idea. Mostly every day consists of waking up, turning on my record player, making coffee, playing with my cats, editing, answering phone calls and emails, deciding what to make for dinner, working out, going on a bike ride when it’s not a crazy wedding season month, etc. There’s a lot of randomness in my life and Myranda truly captured me in my element. I can’t wait to look back on these when I’m old and say, “Omg. My first little apartment. I was 25????????? Where did the time go?! Oh my goodness, I remember those cats. I loved them so much.” Basically all the things my mom says when looking at old pictures of herself. Thank you, Myranda! I will cherish these photos forever.
Here’s a pretty normal day in the life with me in my little apartment. Except I usually have some sort of cat pajamas on and my hair is a mess.