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,



// 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