This is Jessie. She is 16 years old and the youngest of 5 sisters. I photographed her and her family in May of 2012 and have since had photo sessions with her sisters. On February 27th Jessie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Being one of 5 daughters as well, I can only imagine what this type of diagnosis would feel like. Absolutely heartbreaking...
This is a strong girl with a strong support system. I have already seen an amazing outpouring of love on Facebook!
I wanted to share this story so I could help spread the support and get more love, positivity and prayers going Jessie's way! She just started chemo on Monday and I'm sure she would appreciate it!
If you would like to wish Jessie well or send her a nice message, write a status on Facebook and hashtag #jessieSTRONG. Let's show this beauty some love!
Also, if you would like to follow Jessie's progress, go to www.carepages.com and search: Jessie Davin. Find out ways to donate and support Jessie along her journey!
Isabella *She is Beautiful!*
On April 20th, my little baby girl will be 5 years old. Whoa.
The last 5 years have been a total whirlwind... An emotional roller coaster of love - *sings the Ohio Players 1975 hit song*. When I found out I was pregnant I was in shock. When I felt her kick for the first time I was in awe. When I saw her for the first time I was in love.
Isabella is an amazing girl. She is full of expressive energy that can be seen through every face she makes. I have definitely photographed plenty of them. She has a huge heart that shines so bright with every smile! And I just can't get enough of that giggle!! :)
Never in a million years could I imagine my life any different than the way it turned out. I feel so blessed to have Isabella in my life. She is my constant reminder that every day is a new day, a special one, and that the same goes for the people we meet. She reminds me to slow down, be patient and always stop and smell the roses!
I made this video to celebrate her 5 years of life, and all of the joy she has brought into mine.
Happy New Year to all!! I would like to start this first blog of the New Year with some great news!!
Back in October I photographed a girl named Danielle (See Blog post titled "A Beautiful Fighter"). She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was shaving her hair before chemo to donate it to Locks-of-Love. Well, I am pleased to inform that Danielle is starting off 2013 in remission!!! She is such a rockstar and I couldn't be happier for her! What a great way to begin this New Year!
In the blog post about Danielle I also talked about her sister. There is a lot of love between these two sisters. It reminds me of how lucky I am to have my sisters.
Leslie *She is Beautiful!*
Leslie. My oldest sister. She is an incredibly intelligent, theatrical spirit. I've always looked up to her.
As a kid I can still remember sitting in the basement playing 'school' and Leslie was always the teacher. Her name always was Miss Zeek. She would stand in front of our desks with her pen and paper, writing down our lunch orders to give to the lunch lady/principal (aka our mom).
Through the years, I've had many talks with Leslie that have really meant a lot to me. And, believe me, this girl can talk! :)
To my first school teacher, I love you! You are an amazing person, don't ever forget that!
Diana *She is Beautiful!*
Diana... The little troublemaker! The one who wrote some of the best diary entries as a kid that we get to fully enjoy reading now!
She is one of the reasons I went to art school to pursue Photography! With a creative mind and beautiful outlook on life, she has really found a way to truly be herself. I always love talking to her about my creative ideas and get her feedback. Both of our minds can just dance with ideas!
To my fellow art-schooler, I love you, Sis! Never lose that light that shines so bright in you!
Erica *She is Beautiful!*
Erica. The one that I always had to share a room with. We had plenty of moments of getting on each other's nerves, but also many moments of making each other laugh. Erica has always been a nurturer. She loves kids and has always had a huge heart.
Growing up we were always together. When we finally were at the age of having our own rooms they were right next to each other. Every night I would either hear The Sound of Music or Sister Act playing on her tv. This may have led to a conclusion that she would someday be a nun (although she did not).
To my older, but always shorter sister, I love you! Always smile, because your smile is contagious!
I do have one more sister. I wrote about her in my second ever blog post! She was the first True Beauty picture I took!
To my later-in-life sister, Madison, I love you! You always love to play pretend. Whether you are pretending to be Rose, the big girl dolphin trainer, or Nala, the big girl leopard... To me, you will always be my little bean! :)
The Mother-Daughter Beauty
My Mom :) *She is Beautiful!*
My last blog post was about mother-daughter relationships. This theme has also been present in a couple of the other posts I've written. This is because I cannot stress enough how important it is to have some sort of mother-daughter bond to strengthen us as we get older.
Growing up, I've had a very strong bond with my mom. She is one of the most amazing women I know! Full of strength, full of love, and definitely full of beauty! She has taught me a lot of important life lessons that I still hold true to this day. She is the reason I'm so true to who I am, and the reason I know how to stand my own ground. I'm truly lucky to have an amazing mom that supports and loves me. I hope that one day my daughter will look at me with the same amount of love, respect and graciousness as I do for my mom.
So, I would like to say thank you to my mother. Thank you for being such a huge part of my life and always calling me to tell me you love me and your proud of me. Thank you for always being there to make me smile and to kiss my boo-boos when I'm hurt. Thank you for showing me how to be strong and how to love with my whole heart.
To all the other moms who are showing their daughters that it's ok to be yourself... Thank you.
"Fathers be good to your daughters.
The Power to Be You
*They are Beautiful!*
"How do I look?" - This is a question that we often ask. We are asking others a question we should be answering ourselves. We often seek the approval of those around us in hopes to fit a stereotypical genre of 'beauty' that society is trying to form. What we should be doing is stop focusing on appearances so that we can start focusing on what's important in ourselves, as well as others.
I just recently read a quote from actress and mother, Jada Pinkett Smith. After her daughter, Willow, shaved her head she was asked by a reporter why she let her do it. This was her response:
"The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First, the 'LET' must be challenged. This is a world where women, girls, are constantly reminded that they don't belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It's also a statement that claims that even little girls should have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother's deepest insecurities, hopes, and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be..."
What an amazingly accurate statement. This is exactly what this True Beauty project is about. I obviously don't personally know Jada Pinkett Smith or her daughter Willow. But, after hearing her words spoken so true, I would love to one day photograph them for my project.
I believe we are all born as a blank canvas. As we grow up and learn from lessons we are molded and shaped into who we will become. The people in our lives have the ability to create art in the form of a human. When we reach a certain age, we are handed the tools and materials we need to continue our own masterpiece. We gain control of the illustration that will be our future. At that moment, we choose what kind of painting we want to be. My family has played an incredibly influential role in my life-canvas. They have been a huge influence in who I am. Let's just say they've dumped a few paint buckets on my life.
There are some people in our lives that are not born into our family, but become a part of our family. (There will be a few more blog posts about these people in my life because there are a few too many for one post.) One family that has became very close with mine is the Wheatley Family. My step-mom babysat all three kids, Samantha (Sammie), Griffin, and Jordan from when they were babies. This family is truly a beautiful one. Kelly and Pat make two incredible parents to their awesome kids. The few things that I love about them is how they let their kids be who they are and fully accept them for it, they always have big smiles on their faces and have plenty of laughs to share. How lucky I feel to know them! <3
BEAUTY IN THE BYRD HOUSE
*She is Beautiful!*
I met Dani in July 2007. She was VERY pregnant with her first daughter, Abigail. I immediately loved her and knew that she, along with her husband George, was someone to keep in my life. We're two artsy girls with a love for photography, how could we not be buddies?!
When I went to visit her in the hospital after delivering Abi, she joked with me saying, "When are you going to have a baby??!". I laughed it off thinking that it was something totally out of my near future. Low and behold, 9 months later, my daughter was born. I'm pretty convinced in her newly mothering state that she had a sixth sense.. The I-can-tell-you-are-going-to-be-a-mom sense.
The past 5 years have flown by, with Dani and George having 2 more daughters, Autumn and Avery. They are growing up way too fast! Although we don't get to see each other nearly enough, the times we do see each other are always full of motherly bonding, hilarious children playing, and so much happiness. She is one of the greatest women I know.
She has not only been raised as a beautifully strong woman, but she is also raising her daughters the same way. Talk about a role model!