Calling on Your First Love

This post is written in collaboration with some of the most stellar and deep-thinking women I've met. It's a series called The Refined Collective, organized by The Refined Woman. Each month, we'll each share our thoughts on an assigned topic. This month is all about Love. Be sure and check out the other women who are a part of this Collective: Katherine Harris and Joanne Encarnacion. Check out the other ladies on Instagram!

Visiting my friend in Italy circa 2010 before I decided to become "a photographer."

Visiting my friend in Italy circa 2010 before I decided to become "a photographer."

When I received the notification from Katherine (from The Refined Woman) that the next topic on queue was love, I immediately dreaded saying yes to this task. Love has always felt so much bigger than me. A topic that I couldn't possibly tackle in real life let alone write a public post about! I felt utterly inept to write about love because the first thing that came to mind was a recent break-up - and then I remembered one of Brené Brown's insightful comments when she said that "When you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak." It's a behavior that intrinsically draws us closer together through connection and vulnerability. I knew then that I wanted this to be about something even bigger than THAT type of post, so I want to invite you even deeper into my heart.

Today, I want to call upon your first love - that which first set your soul on fire - which started as a seed and either sprouted into full-on blazing flames or perhaps got nipped in the bud prior to its first spark. Our first love is that place in our hearts where we forgo our egos and opt for something bigger. It's what inspires us to create, what inspires us to be a better fill-in-the-blank, what inspires us to dream, what makes our heart skip a beat, what sends our voice into a higher pitch and our speech cadence into a quicker rhythm because We. Just. Can't. Contain. Ourselves. In her TED Talk about success and failure, Elizabeth Gilbert calls this place our home. "Your home is whatever in this world you love more than yourself. Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential." For her, home is writing and storytelling. For me, it's photography and creativity. 

I received a message on Instagram the other day from a lovely gal who essentially asked me how I started my photography career. I enthusiastically sent her an e-mail with as many tips and industry-related tricks as I could rack up in my brain. As corny as it sounds, I felt compelled to let her know that it's never too early (or late) to pursue her dreams - and if photography is what lights her up, what brings her home - then that's exactly where she should expel her energies. How many of you relate to doing something temporarily because "that other thing" just isn't practical at the moment? Or perhaps because it'd be foolish or seen as silly despite that intense feeling deep down begging you to give it a try? It may be writing, or being a great wife, or becoming a SoulCycle instructor, or inventing the next app, or doing community work, it could be anything! What is it? Dig deep. Go there. 

When I was a young girl, I'd beg my parents to buy me disposable cameras at Walgreens so I could document my super exciting tween life. I remember my grandpa giving me one of his old Polaroid cameras because he noticed my affinity for the art. I'd go through old photo albums with my mom, asking her about her memories, helping her rearrange the pictures, mesmerized by the entire process of photography. As time passed, I kept using my hard-earned money from selling limes and banana bread (#IslandLife) to buy cameras and film (translation: my parents bought them for me). I'd be the friend taking pictures at school and at the few parties I was allowed to go to. I'd make albums that I'd then show all my friends. In college, I'd do my friends' hair and make-up so I could photograph them and show them how beautiful they were (and how awesome my photo skills were). Looking back, it all seems so clear to me. From a young age, my home has always been creativity, human connection and capturing emotion through photography. It's what always brought me joy.

There's so much sacrifice in life. Inherently, to live is to experience a range of emotions that far exceed the limitations of human understanding. So why not make it a joyful life? I'm not saying life is perfect when you choose to do that which your heart craves, but I do believe there's a lot more room for joy when we do something we love. It's our way of communicating to the Universe that we're receptive to its call. 

What I want for you, my darling friend, is a life full of inspiration, joy, excitement, satisfaction, fulfillment, self-exploration, outward focus and LOVE. I want you to find your home. I want you to be blessed with a rich life because you've given yourself the gift of going through it with open communication with your heart. I want there to be more joy in the world by starting with you. If you've been strayed from your soul's path, as Gilbert says," your job is to fight your way back to that home the only way its ever been done... by putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next."

Do it. 

With love always,

Tutti

 

// S O U R C E S //

Elizabeth Gilbert, TED Talk, Success, Failure and the drive to keep creating

Brené Brown, TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability

Loving the Skin You're In

This post is written in collaboration with some of the most stellar and deep-thinking women I've met. It's a series called The Refined Collective, organized by The Refined Woman. Each month, we'll each share our thoughts on an assigned topic. This month is all about Loving The Skin You're In. Be sure and check out the other women who are a part of this Collective: Katherine Harris, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Chelsey Korus, Danielle Bennet, Kate Labat, Joanne Encarnacion and Nikia Phoenix. 


It was dinner time. I was hanging out at my neighbors’ house because I loved spending time with their three young daughters as they played with their toys and talked about their day. The eldest daughter, who was about five or six years old by then, looked over at me as she was braiding my hair and asked, “Why do you have so many mosquito bites on your face?”. Despite the tiny punch to my stomach and the tears that followed, I felt relieved that someone FINALLY had the courage to admit that my acne was real, that I wasn’t making it up. For so long, I had struggled with an annoying stress-and-hormone-and-everything-induced acne condition, but everyone around me kept telling me that it “wasn’t as bad as I perceived it to be” and that “I was beautiful no matter what” and that also “no one really notices it.” Well, I noticed it, dammit! Didn’t that count for something??? 

It did. It does. 

When I first started thinking about turning photography into a full-blown career, I remember comparing myself to my peers based on what they'd experienced and what I hadn't. They'd either had a rough childhood or gone through some sort of dramatic experience that led them to feel more than me - in my eyes, their voice, their expression, their work mattered more than mine. I remember feeling that I'd never create anything as compelling as them because nothing that'd happened to me had been that bad. I mention this because when it comes to digging into what we're feeling or what our story is, we're all equally worth the work and worth the freedom from it. 

It doesn't matter if it's something as seemingly simple as an acne predisposition or as serious as an eating disorder, it all matters equally. What I feel matters. What you feel matters. We all feel shitty sometimes, we all struggle with self-esteem issues, we all feel beautiful sometimes, but not so beautiful other times. It’s all real. When it comes to loving MY skin, the first step I had to take was to simply admit to myself that I didn’t have to love it ALL the time. That just wasn’t a realistic approach for me and every time someone tried to diminish what I was feeling, it just made the feeling exponentially stronger. One day, however, I was having a cup of coffee with my friend and she just blurted out something about hating her wrinkles. I looked at her in disbelief because I honestly couldn’t see what she was referring to. A lightbulb lit up in my head. Was it possible that I was looking at her through some biased lens because I deeply cared for her? Like beer goggles but instead of beer it was love? I thought back to that evening at my neighbors' and realized my young friend was acknowledging me and my biggest insecurity through eyes of innocence, and it was then that I first asked myself, “How can I be present with how I feel - and maybe a little innocent and raw - but still choose to see myself through the eyes of love?” 

We are masters of lifting our loved ones up and loving them wholly. We're all willing to accept their stories, holdups, challenges and struggles as somehow more valid than ours. The biggest challenge I’ve faced in loving myself as a whole and not despite my perceived flaws but because of them has been in turning the lens of love around on myself. One of my favorite [paraphrased] quotes is, “Care for yourself like you would the most special person in your life.” It speaks to me because I tend to give love freely, affirm others with all my heart and lift them up until they believe me, but I’ve noticed that I rarely give myself the same blessing. Does anyone relate to this? Realizing this was the first move into stepping into a life of authentic self-love. Self-love doesn’t mean the crap I sometimes feel insecure about doesn’t exist or that my story is less meaningful, it means that I choose to see a bigger picture. A more loving picture. 

What does that look like for me? I tend to eat healthier, workout harder, meditate more often, research about natural skin remedies, ask people about what’s worked for them, do more face masks, practice more fun yoga poses, wear more colorful clothing, roll deliciously scented oils all over my skin, surround myself with positive people, go out more, stay in more, and just about anything else that lights me up. This whole loving-myself-in-the-skin-I’m-in thing is one of the hardest practices I’ve honestly thrown myself into, but it’s also one of the most liberating experiences I’ve felt. No matter what your particular thing is, I’m certain you’ve experienced freedom from it at some point. Maybe it was a passing compliment, maybe it was a great mood or even something as simple as great lighting! But that powerful feeling is the closest thing to tangible that the self-love lifestyle continuously brings - if you choose it. 

Let's continue to lift each other up and to allow each of our stories to be told. In verbalizing what's holding us back from fully loving ourselves we release its hold on us and therefore create space for love to settle.

Yours in all things love,

Tutti


This post is written in collaboration with some of the most stellar and deep-thinking women I've met. It's a series called The Refined Collective, organized by The Refined Woman. Each month, we'll each share our thoughts on an assigned topic. This month is all about Loving The Skin You're In. Be sure and check out the other women who are a part of this Collective: Katherine Harris, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Chelsey Korus, Danielle Bennet, Kate Labat, Joanne Encarnacion and Nikia Phoenix. 

 

 

If You Could Go Anywhere, Where Would You Go?

It's become a tradition (if two years in a row counts as a tradition) that I opt to travel during Thanksgiving instead of doing the whole stuffing-my-face-with-family thing. Last year, I was lucky enough to go on a 10-day roadtrip through Northern California + the Southwest the week of Thanksgiving. It was beyond magical and I'm already yearning for more of that terrain. This year, however, I had Europe on my mind. Living in New York and having a pretty flexible schedule allows for a fresh batch of spontaneity to infuse my destinations options. Between 2009 and now, I've visited 15 countries in the EU, but I had yet to venture to the westernmost one: Portugal! I'm just now realizing the repeated theme of "traveling west" that both trips have in common, despite actually traveling east to make this one happen. ANYWAY, you may have seen a couple photos I posted on social media of my trip, but in case you didn't, here are some more.

I've written a more detailed post about the lifestyle, feel and overall experience of my trip to Lisbon over at With Love Tutti, which is where I post all the other things I'm passionate about beside boudoir: travel, wellness, yoga, beauty tips and community events! I'd love to have you subscribe to that blog as well so we can be connected in more ways.

Before I leave you, I'd love to ask for your advice. I'm about done clipping inspiration pieces for my 2017 vision board, and there's a lot of travel going on. What I'd  like to know though is: what is YOUR favorite place and why? I'm much more of an experience type of traveler rather than a sightseeing one, for the most part, so I'd love your anecdotes and insight!

Looking forward to sharing my vision board with you very soon.

Lots of love,

Tutti