Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The H&M #conscious Line Is Hypocritical For A Very Simple Reason

As I mentioned on my previous post, life has it that I spent my weekdays afternoons at a mall to wait to pick up my son. This has led to a series of thoughts about shopping, marketing and consumerism habits that I'm getting, well, disgusted at and today I want to share my #1 and that's where the title comes from.

By now you must have heard of the horrible collapse of a factory in Bangladesh in 2013 where many workers died, got injured or were trapped, exposing the atrocity of slavery and/or poor work ethics of adults and children alike in the garment/fashion industry and also how many fashion names were exposed as the ones hiring these shops; H&M being one of them. 

Well, with H&M releasing it's #conscious line of clothes made with recycled fabrics from old garments, many of us thought of it as walking towards the right direction. They even offer to accept our old clothes in exchange for gift cards at their stores. And I believed that was all good. Until last week. I went to H&M to purchase a pair of basic undershirts for little L from their #counscious line. They even have as of right now a huge poster by the cashier that says they donate a portion of the revenue of their #conscious line towards UNICEF. That sounds amazing too, right?! Not so much when I saw the label at home. The shirts are made in... Wait for it... Bangladesh. 

So why do I find this hypocritical, you might ask. I'll gladly answer that for you.
Because they are voicing out a change towards humane approaches in their industry and yes, their are supporting UNICEF towards children's rights while doing the absolute opposite on the other side. It's like saying: " hey, we are approving of poor work conditions at the factories we hire, which also happens to have children working but it's ok! Because we are saving other children over here..."

Sorry H&M but that's not how it works. If you want to make a change, start by being sure that ethical practices are been done at your factories. Hiring the factories and saying you didn't know is not an excuse. If sustainable small businesses like are capable of checking this before hiring a factory, you H&M who happens to make a lot of money and a big name can do much better than that. I also know you are going to justify this as an excuse stating that assuring the workers have a fair compensation and fair health care will be reflected on the final cost of the garment for the consumer. That is wrong as well because we all know each garment's cost to make for you is well between the 5-10% of the cost the consumer pays. So what about this: 
- revise and ensure the safety of ALL your workers, even those subcontracted through the factories.
- Inspect these factories before hiring them.
- pay them fairly
- stop trying to make the factories reduce the cost of each garment so they are not tempted to cut on workers salaries (that's how they can reduce the costs)
- stop being so greedy and keep the same price for the final consumer by decreasing your own revenue from each garment. I'm sure it won't hurt you as much and it creates more impact than a couple of donations here and there every opnow and then.

THAT is the way to make a positive impact in the world if it's really what you want to do. Unfortunately we know that is not what drives you H&M, but I sure hope someday soon you prove me wrong. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

My Temporary Life In The Shadows

If you are always in tune with my social media and have been following me for a while, you might have noticed I have been disappearing lately and show up a little bit here and then. You might have wondered where are all the photos you have grown accustomed to enjoy or all the blog posts about Reveal Your True Beauty and the experiences.

Well, sometimes life throws you punches. You can only get up and keep going. Sometimes life knocks you down and just when you are getting up again, it throws you another punch. Life can be a bully sometimes, just as it can easily be a dream. Life is bipolar.

Well, right now and for the last 3-4 months, I've been receiving punch after punch and I have to attend to those punches. They are my urgency right now so I have found myself with no time to attend to my social media, which from a small business owner point of view who relays on it as the sole marketing tool it, well, sucks.

To be honest and open about it, as is always my intent with everything I do, what's causing all this is that my son has been recently diagnosed with Autism and Severe Communication Delay. The punches, as you have imagined, are related to his diagnosis; parenting, my health (both physical and mental) and what this means on an every day basis, plus the normal day to day things that are part of being a parent, a wife, a professional and being me (you know, the things that won't stop and wait just because you are having a bad time). Decisions for the sake of my son had to be made that mean making sacrifices, for at least this school year. Right now for example, I'm writing to you from a Starbucks near his Preschool. It's a specialized school for special needs but it has integration with typically developed children as well (you'll hear more from me about this later). It's quite far from home and that means I have to stay around the area every day until he is transferred to the branch close to home for the next school year. In 3 months (to you it feels less because all the post you've been seeing had been scheduled), it has been the first time I've been able to sit and write. It's all happening from my iPad so it can be quite limiting for some things, hence the lack of my photography work lately (no, I don't own a laptop and honestly right now, If I had the money for it, I would spend it on private therapy sessions for my little L instead). I still have lots of material to show you including videos, photos, announcements, etc. that I have not released yet, but is a bit complicated to do right now. I'm still learning how to manage this juggling game.

What does it mean to Fela Photography and Reveal Your True Beauty? 
I'm still doing my business of course! Fela Photography and Reveal Your True Beauty is my happy place and for my sanity, I need that now more than ever. But it will continue at a slower pace than before. I can't overload myself.

What does this mean to you? 
Not much really. If you are a social media follower, It means that you won't see me around as often as I was showing up before. As a client it means my availability will be a bit more tight but it is still realistically doable (studio is closer to me now, actually!) otherwise (believe me) I wouldn't do it. I'm already holding too many things on my hands and I am being very conscious of not trying to hold more than I can. It also means that my delivery times will be longer than before because I won't be able to hold my record of 1-2 weeks delivery.

If you are reading this and you feel you don't want to bother me right now because you believe it's the best approach, because you feel bad for me and believe it wouldn't be fair to "bother" me with your needs, I'll tell you this: If you want to help me, give me photography projects to do. It'll make me feel useful and take my mind off my current everyday. Hiring me will be my therapy. Me being able to help you discover your amazing self will remind me of mine when I need it most. 

In the meantime, I'll work with the tools I have right now. I'll keep blogging as much as I can but it'll be a bit of everything. It'll do me good. Some thoughts I've had in my mind for a while have been screaming lately for me to let them out and things related to my journey as a mother of a special needs child that I hope others relate to and might be of help for someone out there. If you want to keep up with my blog in there's an option on the right side of your screen (if on a PC) or at the bottom (device) where you can sign up so Blogger lets you know of new posts.

Allow us both - you and me  - to punch life back on the face with a huge smile and sense of joy because we are strong, courageous and resilient. Allow us both to get back on our feet, look at life and say "keep it coming". 

My biggest joy will be able to help you in the way I know how and believe me, your biggest joy will be taking that step.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Revealing Charlene: What Sweetness Is About

Hair & Makeup by Kada Issa from Bombay Beauty Loft. Clothes from Studio Intent Boutique

Charlene appeared out of the blue. She was the first person to hire me by looking at my website. All my clients prior to her were referrals, friends or family. She was looking to get headshot done for her and her daughter. Part of her email said: "We both need headshots and were dreading it...until I stumbled across your site!". That made my day.

Charlene is the lady behind Real Food Freak, a holistic nutrition small business that offers educational services towards healthier eating habits; check it out!

Charlene is very sweet, kind and gentle; the way she moves, communicates and even laughs is an elegant gentleness you want to be surrounded by. You feel safe with her and free to be yourself; a motherly energy that seems to extend to everyone, not only her daughter.

I love it when my clients bring their families to the reveals. Charlene was no exception. With daughter and husband tagging along, the reveal could be summarize in two words: big smiles! Her husband was standing taller, proud of his beautiful wife. 

In her own words:
"Fela made something that I was dreading doing (getting business headshots) into a truly special experience. I was drawn to Fela's concept that she could help me see that I am beautiful, I was hopeful but not overly convinced that I would like the photos as I never like photos of myself. She did it!!!!! The photos are STUNNING! The photo shoot was fun, I was laughing and relaxed the whole time, Fela was amazing to work with. I am so happy with my photos!"

Indeed, one is never too old or too young to learn to see one's beauty. It's so rewarding to be able to help more and more ladies to see it themselves!

Thank you Charlene for letting me photograph you and your wonderful daughter. Thank you for trusting me to do so and hope we get to see each other many more times. Best wishes for you, your family and your business!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Being Different: You Are Not Alone

Despite that we are being told constantly that we shouldn't care about what people say, the truth is that it DOES affect in one way or the other. It affects because it is human nature to feel approved. Approval make us feel included and feeling included make us belong. We aren't made to be isolated individuals but individuals inside a community.

Now, you might be thinking about those who go against it all and think my words are incorrect. Even though these people seem to go on their own, the truth is they are not alone in the journey the chose; they just haven't found their way to their community.

When I was in school, I felt like I didn't belong. I was a "law abiding teenager" (which is uncommon); I wouldn't do things I believed were stupid choices, always measuring the consequences of those choices. I was called dumb for not joining. Passionate about learning, with a huge imagination, always dreaming high, full of ideas, but they were called silly by others. I studied hard because I wanted scholarships so my mom wouldn't worry about not being able to pay my school- a hunting worry. I was hated quite a lot because of that; my peers simply didn't understand the reasons behind my "nerdiness".  I wouldn't help my classmates cheat during an exam and I knew it would be uncomfortable to deal with them after class being called names, getting shoes thrown my way and even not letting me out of the classroom. Many of my ideas were thrown to the curb as one makes a paper ball and throws it to the trash. It was frustrating and confusing. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong because everything seemed to be against me but it was in my nature; I couldn't rub it off or perhaps I was very strong willed without meaning it. I know of people who are amazing, talented and choose to lower all of their selves just to belong. People who choose to dumb themselves before being rejected.

When I started University everything changed. My classmates were like me. I was still the more nerdy of the class but I was not made fun. Instead, I was being seek for advice, for help, people wanted to hear my ideas and be part of them and I grew more in that time than I did in so many years with my school peers. The difference? I found my community. I wasn't flying solo anymore.

After many years and circumstances that shaped my life into a muddy situation in which I was stuck, I knew I needed to leave my birth country. Who I was just didn't fit well anymore so I end up in Canada. After a week of living here I knew this was my place. That was 8 years ago. During these 8 years I have still feel strongly about that thought and this week I finally became a canadian citizen. It hasn't been easy but it has been gratifying and I have been blessed in many many ways, big and small. I'm flourishing as a person and as an artist. My skills have found their way to help others through Reveal Your True Beauty. I'm blessed but I know I'm still growing and the path is long with bumps on the way. I'm not scared about that. Sometimes overwhelmed, sometimes stressed, sometimes completely ecstatic but not afraid.

Take a deep breath, close your eyes and listen to your soul. But really listen to it, in humility and honest truth with yourself. What does it say? Ask questions: What do I truly believe in and why?

It's easy to feel like you don't belong in your own little world, city or even country. Your views of life clash against those of your peers and you feel rejection. You might feel that perhaps you are wrong because everything and everyone around you tells you that. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and listen to your soul. But really listen to it, in humility and honest truth with yourself. What does it say? Ask questions: What do I truly believe in and why?

Now here's the thing: if it's something you truly believe, educate yourself. Learn about what you believe and learn about the opposite too, because being blinded to other points of view make you a foolish person; but learning other perspectives brings wisdom and understanding.

Being blinded to other points of view make you a foolish person; but learning other perspectives brings wisdom and understanding.
Now seek. Seek like-minded people. Find your community. The beauty of living with internet is that you can do it from your own home but don't forget to take the trip and talk too. Living it is another thing and you learn more from the experience. 

You are not alone; just in the wrong place. If everything and everyone around you works against you, break free, find your solace- Find your happiness. Find your True Beauty.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Revealing Jaimie: Finding Discipline And Beauty In What You Love

Hair & Makeup by Kada from Bombay Beauty Loft. Styling by Ette Boutique

I met Jaimie through Courtney, owner of Ette Boutique. When I was just starting with the Reveal Your True Beauty experience, I was reaching local boutiques who would be interested on giving this experience to some of their customers. Ette Boutique found the idea very interesting so I offered them a session to try it out; it was Jaimie who happily volunteered to it.

Jaimie is a very sweet lady who impressed me the day of our shoot. Why? First, even though her session was early in the morning just before going to work, she had woken up even earlier to drive across town to get to see her horse and ride it. Then drove across town again to meet with us. In my opinion, discipline defines someone's passion. Her love and dedication to horses could be felt through each of her words and gestures; it was absolutely lovely. She could have easily skipped visiting her horse and nobody would have put any thought into it but she chose the opposite and that impressed me.

Second, she is absolutely, naturally elegant. I don't say this because she was wearing beautiful gowns from the boutique she works at but because of her body language and even the way she talks. I love the harmony of it all: paced, without rush and eloquent, always with a smile and kindness. It was something I noticed when she arrived, during her session (which despite her denying it, I believe she has model experience because she rocked it, don't you agree?) and afterwards when we met to do her reveal.

As someone close to her described her:

"Jaimie lights up any room she walks into, and people are drawn to her love and laughter. She balances the work she loves with the people she loves."
If you know Jaimie, I invite you to write on the comments what you think makes her truly beautiful. Words of encouragement go a long way and we all can use them so, let's brighten her day with some of them!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Reveal Your True Beauty: It Starts With Forgiveness

This were words I lived by on my early twenties and time and experience have taught me not to take them literally. Though this words allowed me to have many stories, experiences and opportunities to learn and grow from, there are also things I wish I could go back and change. Many choices that were poor in judgement and from which I didn't learn but grew in pain. 

I'm sure you have them too. Well, we're going to get a ride on the not-so-pleasant memory lane today because we'll use them to grow from them. Finally some good use to those bad memories!

**NOTE: As you may have noticed before in various posts here, there's a lot of spirituality in understanding one's self. I personally am Christian and so my examples come from my spiritual practices but I invite you to adjust it to YOUR spiritual practices.

We often hear about forgiveness as the start of a spiritual path. The first thing that comes to mind is forgiving those who hurt us; that's actually easier than you think: when you forgive yourself FIRST. But forgiving oneself is easier said than done because when we begin our spiritual journey, we start in a state of spiritual ignorance, so there are many things we don't understand as deep as we need to. Growth comes from building the path of our journey with teeth and nails but with the conviction of coming out of it as better people, equipping ourselves on the go. One of the heaviest rocks we need to remove is guilt. 

In Christianity it is common knowledge that when you accept Jesus in your heart, all your sins are forgiven thanks to His sacrifice on the cross and the power of God's Grace. Yet, though we expect this to happen as a magical spell in which the weight of our sins is lifted off our shoulders, we find that the guilt is still there. Why? Is it that He didn't forgive me? He absolutely did, but we are the ones holding tight to that weight.  

The reason why our guilt of the sins we committed is still there is because we haven't forgiven ourselves.

Just as we are our worst critics when we see our bodies in front of the mirror, we are also are strongest condemners when it comes to things we have done in the past that we regret. If we don't let go of those anchors, we won't be able to move forward and we're going to have a lot of difficulties forgiving those who hurt us as well. But how do we do that?

Life has taught me that everything happens for a reason. Everything, absolutely EVERYTHING is a piece of the puzzle that gives meaning to each of our lives. We can never understand why things happen when they happen but when we overcome the different seasons of hardship we endure through it, or better said, when we get out of the hole/tunnel, those things make absolute sense. They make us stronger, wiser, humble, but more importantly, they connect us, through understanding, to other people who have gone through similar challenges as well. When this happens, we understand others better, and the reasons why they did what they did. We judge less and understand more. 

When we understand, we love. When we love, we forgive. When we forgive, we grow spiritually- We become better humans.

So, I invite you to look back at all those things that hurt in the past and present. Make a list if you need to have them in writing. I challenge you to make a "Life Map". Connect the dots. Find the connection of these experiences with who you are now. How did they shape you? Think of choice situations; what would have happened if I made a different choice? Where would I be?

For example: My experience with my first job in Canada as a Live-in Caregiver was bad; I was humiliated constantly and living in fear. When I was close to meeting the time criteria to apply for my permanent residence, I was laid off (6 months short!). Being in a constant negative environment for 18 months without my family here to aid me brought me to depression. I had to go to counselling and deal with all the changes at the same time. With the help of friends I was able to find a job very quickly as a live-in caregiver to finish the time I needed. This second job was the best thing that happened to me; not only was the family kind but their trust in me and the love they gave me help to heal me. At this point, I saw my first experience as a blessing in disguise. Why? Because if I hadn't gone through such an awful experience, I wouldn't have appreciate the new family the way I did. It put me in the shoes of many immigrants trying to make their dreams come true and believing in a better life when going back is not an option. It made me understand people who live with depression every day; I know how it feels. I learned to put my pride aside and ask for help and many other things that would make this a very long post. I was angry with myself for a long time because I felt I allowed all that to happen but I understood it wasn't something I chose, it was something I needed to go through to humble me and connect more with not only myself but many others in many different levels. The experience was used to make me a better version of myself and every little thing and every person involved played a huge part on it. 

What would have happened if I had chosen to give up and just go back to my country? I wouldn't have met my husband, my amazing son wouldn't exist, I would be struggling with finding a job in a third world country so my family could survive each month, I wouldn't be able to be a photographer or help my family in the way I wanted and I would definitely not be here right now sending light your way to help you and guide you to overcome your own challenges and grow the amazing beauty that resides inside you and it's waiting to shine out.

Yes. Absolutely everything happens for a reason but this understanding and healing begins with forgiving yourself first. The weight WILL be lift off if you let go of it. Do you receive that?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Revealing Kada: The True Beauty Of A Makeup Artist

Hair and Makeup by Kada from Bombay Beauty Loft. Clothes by Studio Intent Boutique

If you have been in front of my lens, you have met Kada. She is the talented lady who does all my clients hair and makeup. Why do I love her? Well, let's begin with the fact that she's easy to love. Not only is she a great professional in her area who always understand what I want her to do (I love how good she is at cleaning the skin on site, she has saved me lots of editing hours that have helped me to deliver your photos very quick. Win for all!) but above all, she is such a sweetheart; always supporting what I do, encouraging me to keep doing what I do and a lady full of kindness and generosity towards our clients, her staff and just everyone around her. Their is a reason why Pritma, her business partner calls her "my business wife".

If you have been in front of my lens, you have enjoyed at least an hour of good conversation with her, laughing and feeling at ease in trusted hands. You have been impressed at how strong the makeup feels at the moment but in awe at how natural it looks in photos and specially, how you still look like yourself. Yes, I REALLY love Kada's work. And as a friend, she is as awesome too.

So what do I see as her true beauty? Her selflessness. Her willing to give her all in everything she does and do it well. Her ability to engage with everyone she talks to and the gentleness of her manners. She is kind and bold enough to say what's on her mind but always with respect. She's also humble enough to laugh at her own mistakes and rejoices as much as you when something good happens to you.

Also, even though she won't admit to it, she is hot. But I don't think I have to tell you this, because you can see it. And now she does too.

Do you know Kada? Share with her on the comments below what you think of her true colours. Words of appreciation are more powerful than you think!

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Beauty Of Trying New Things And How Liberating It Can Be

I have a confession: I'm a scaredy cat when it comes to trying new things or on a more positive light, I'm too cautious. I can try new food (if it's not spicy) and activities in which the risk might be getting highly bored or disappointed, but trying activities that involve some risk, or athletics of some sort? Not cut for that.

Why? Well, I guess that being a person that can learn from other people's mistakes can be a blessing but it does kick you in the butt from time to time. When it comes to these experiences, I automatically imagine all the gone-wrong scenarios from deadly situations to how embarrassed I can come out of it. I'm the kind of person that feels uneasy on the deep end of the pool. Not because I can't swim but because I have that eerie feeling that something is going to come out from the depths of the water and suck me in, like a Jaws movie (I watched that movie when I was too little. It's clear it left a mental wound. Also the Thriller music video. I still get the chills even though I know it's poor makeup compared to today's standards). 

So how is it to live this way? Well, quite horrible I have to admit! I know I'm missing out a lot of things even as I have found myself watching friends enjoy it but the fear has always taken the best of me and I hate it. Did not appreciate that my comfort zone was so little it was imprisoning me.

Just as the late Jim Rohn used to say: 

"If you want things to change, you have to change"

I knew I had to do something about it and so I finally did. And it was a week of firsts.

My husband and I went to Puerto Vallarta for a friend's wedding and we stayed for a week. I have to admit that having my trusty non judgemental hubby by my side was a big aid because I never felt pressured, forced or to the opposite, overly cared for. 

So here's my list of firsts:

Going on a week trip without my son. This was a huge thing for me. Imagine all the worse scenarios that can come out of this! But boy! We needed that time for ourselves.

- Boogie Boarding. I had so much fun with it that I went for hours on at the beach until everything hurt. Yes, my swim bottoms left me looking like the Coopertone girl a bunch of times but I did not care; just laughed it off and pulled them back up.

- Zip Line. I did it! I second, third, fourth, fifth guessed so much before lifting my legs that the instructor started encouraging me to quit instead. I took so long that my husband had already reached the last lap. But I kept telling myself "I have to do this, for me". It was so worth it! I looked at fear in the face and I won, ha!

Dolphin encounter. It was a 
childhood dream come true. Always dreamed of it but was a little afraid I would freak out once I got in front of the dolphins. Did not happen. I was so ecstatic about it that I enjoyed every ounce of it and even let a sea lion kiss me as well. How cool is that!

Underground beach (aka Marieta Islands). Those 2 words would have scared me away at first. They did. But I really wanted to see it (it's on the list of places to visit before you die). So I blindly paid for it and went. What did I face on this adventure? Swimming 200m in a jelly fish infested water in open sea to reach the underground beach and doing it twice (yes, I got stung in multiple parts of my arms; luckily I was wearing a wet suit which protected the rest).

Snorkeling. We did it at the Marieta Islands. I've never snorkelled for fear of seeing something I did not want to be close to (like a shark!) but it was very enjoyable. I still hesitated multiple time to look in the water but hubby made it into an "I spy" game.

Kayak. Still in the open sea on the area of Marieta Islands. I've always wanted to try it but I don't know why I hesitated so much about it. It was as wonderful as I pictured it!

I concluded three things:
1. I did not die, hooray!
2. If I embarrassed myself or a hiccup showed on the way, laughed at myself and I counted it as a blessing because I have now a story to tell. it created an anecdote I will go back to for the rest of my life and it will sure bring me joy to remember it.
3. When I did embarrassed myself, I was the first one laughing. Laughing at my own misadventures actually made me love myself more and appreciate all the wonderful opportunities God pours over me to enjoy His creation. 

Once I started, I couldn't stop. Every time I left my comfort zone it was as if I was having another step towards freedom. It was very liberating! Not only did I enjoy myself, I learned more about me and all the things I'm capable of that didn't believe I was built to do. I felt accomplished; when you feel this way it's satisfying and empowering. Giving myself the chance of trying new things showed me higher levels of courage and strength I didn't think I had; it fed my curiosity of "what else am I capable of"? 

Just as the hardest part of getting in the water is jumping in it (that first dip is always so cold!), the most difficult part of giving myself the opportunity of freeing myself from fear was taking the first step. It truly was. 

What made me do it after so many years? Finally believing in full understanding and consciousness that there was more to life and I was missing out big time. I had to be convinced that I had to make a change in my life and it would only start if I started it. Living your life at its fullest doesn't start on it's own. It need your nudge and only you can do it.

Words that kept me encouraged:








Are you ready to try a new first?
What is your most recent "first'? 
How did it make you feel? 
Why did you do it? 

Would love to hear all about it!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Revealing Katie: Finding Your True Beauty On Your Teens

Hair and Makeup by Kada from Bombay Beauty Loft. Styling by Something 2 Wear Boutique

Katie arrived to her session accompanied by her mother Glenna. When I saw Glenna I couldn't stop my eyes from looking at her beautiful ginger hair paired with the perfect red lipstick and the cat eyed black glasses she was wearing. All this, mixed with her personality made me feel like I was in front of a powerful woman that came out of a Fitzgerald book and that she could be interpreted by Meryl Streep if they ever made movie of it. Yes, she is that amazing.

Katie on the other hand, is on the quiet side. You can tell she plans every word carefully before she speaks which I like to call wise. Learning to control your tongue to think before you speak does not come easily for most of us, specially as teenagers but she nails it. She does not rush but she's not slow. She is eloquent and proper. She is definitely smart and has a lovely laugh; no doubt on that!

I identified a lot with her because I saw me in her when I was her age. She describes herself as: 
Charismatic, Optimistic, Empathetic and shy. I am very confident in who I am, I just don't show it as much. I am very artistic and imaginative".

To which, by getting to know her, I absolutely agree.

When Glenna mentioned how much she wanted Katie to see and believe how beautiful she is, my moms words came back to me: "you've always been beautiful; it was time you started seeing it yourself that way too". 

At the reveal Katie, her mom and family were speechless for a while, just taking it all in. Then her family couldn't stop reassuring Katie that she was captured in the same way the see her. Absolutely beautiful!

From my side, I can only say one thing:


Monday, 11 May 2015

What Do You See In Front Of The Mirror?

Image via Anastasia Amour
As women we have a love/hate relationship with the mirror. You know what I mean: We'll check ourselves in every reflection we find wherever we are. As soon as we wake up in the morning and we go to the bathroom, we check ourselves in the mirror.

But what do you find there looking back at you? What crosses your mind?

- "ugh! Look at those wrinkles...!"
- "What an ugly belly"
- "My boobs are too droopy"
- "my boobs are too tiny"
- "I'm so fat"
- "I wish I had more curves"
- "eeek! Cellulite!"
- "I have horrible bags under my eyes"
- "I'm not pretty enough"
- "If only my hair has curly"
- "If only my hair was straight"
... The list goes on and on...

We are never happy with what we see so we bully ourselves. You might not see it that way but that's what it is. Self bullying. If you don't like the idea of someone verbally attacking you, then why allow yourself to do it? If we don't respect and value ourselves, how can we expect others to do it?

Image via @NaziraSacasa

The main reason of why I created the Reveal Your True Beauty experience is to give you a kickstart towards self confidence, self worth and ultimately self love by turning these concepts into a custom visual reminder to cherish for many years. Sometimes we need to see it to believe it; I know that's what I needed when I believed I was ugly for so long (READ: The Ugly Betty Story And Why I Want To Show Your True Beauty To The World).

Self confidence begins with self respect. I believe it is all a state of mind and that you can easily train your mind to be in the right state. There's only 2 things you need to do to achieve it:

1. Detect every time you are about to bully yourself and stop it.
2. Be consistent about stopping yourself and change your focus.

The more consistent you are, the easier it will be and soon you'll find yourself complimenting the reflection in the mirror instead of attacking it. It all goes back to finding joy.

For example:

- Rather than complaining about our wrinkles what about we see them as what they really are: marks of every single time you have smiled and laughed. "Thank you wrinkles for reminding me of the good moments in my life; I've had a happy life".

- Rather than complaining about droopy breasts, what about we see them for what they really are: Testament of intimate days and nights snuggling your little baby as you fed him/her. "Thank you droopy boobs for reminding me that I was able to feed and nourish my children once. Thank you because you are testament of the love I have for them, that I was willing to sacrifice my own body for their sake. I know what love really is about".

I could keep on going. Is this simple: focus on the garden, no the weeds. Look at the whole of the white tablecloth, don't focus on the little black stain. What's going to be your mind set? It's your choice.

You are not your body, you are your soul. That's what defines you and that's what makes you beautiful.

Wouldn't be nice to have to deal with less worries? We already carry many, why not reduce the list by erasing the little ones and focus on what's really important in our lives? (by little ones I mean the way our body looks).

The choice is yours. You might think it's hard but sweetie, the hardest part is the first step, just as the hardest part of going in the pool is the first dip.

How can you begin? Go to the mirror and give yourself a good look. Write it all down, the good, the bad and the ugly. I'm sure you will at first find more bad things than good; we all are like that and it's ok. Now, for every bad and ugly thing you find, you are going to write in front of it the positive version of it, the good of having the bad. For example: "I love how I can just brush my sleek hair easily and I'm ready to go; don't even have to style it, woohoo!" or "love my temperamental curls, the surprise me every day. Today we'll do..."

Yes, I know what you might say: "but there's nothing good about it!". Yes there is. Think hard. If it's too hard, ask a friend or someone that loves you for who you are.

And now get into action!

You are going to keep your relationship with the mirror but with new rules: every time you catch your reflection or wake up and look at yourself in the mirror, as soon as you find that you are about to bully yourself, say instead the positive version of it; change your state of mind.

There will always be other women with better or worse bodies than yours, so why compare? As long as you know you are taking care of your physical, emotional and mental health because you care about yourself, then you'll be ok. Only compete with yourself; that's were you'll find true happiness.

Image via PrettyInside

Monday, 27 April 2015

Revealing Lana: Passion For Other People

Hair and Makeup by Kada from Bombay Beauty Loft. Clothes from Studio Intent

Lana is a fun enthusiastic lady who fell in love with the concept behind Reveal Your True Beauty from the moment we talked. She is passionate about entrepreneurship but specially keen of entrepreneurship with a social mission. So is no surprise that she works behind the scenes of REAP Calgary and Kensington Village supporting everything local and/or sustainable.

I have to admit I enjoyed how awkward she felt at the beginning of her session because she made it fun. She would laugh about herself and joked about it and tried hard to focus to no avail but then the awkwardness disappeared and I was able to capture all of her awesome personality, specially her "daydreaming" (as seen above). I personally love it because you know she's processing, thinking, solving and creating ideas on those moments. Moments in which her eyes start drifting into oblivion as you are talking to her, and then all of a sudden she wakes up and tells you all about it with excitement. It's always fun and great doing creative pow wows with her.

As better described by one of her friends:

"Lana is a compassionate, enthusiastic person with great passion for other people".

In her own words:
"I would recommend this experience to other people because I think it's something we don't consider to do for ourselves... You get to keep these beautiful photos for many years... It reminds yourself how beautiful you are".

Want to know more about Lana's story? Check her video interview HERE

Monday, 6 April 2015

What Makes You Beautiful

Last year I had an enlightening moment. I was going through the specifics of the vision I have for my business; an exercise I try to practice regularly to keep my focus on the right path for the Reveal Your True Beauty experience. I was thinking about the lack of tools and guidance I had when a teenager and wondered how much it would have helped back then and how much more impact it would have at young age instead of adult life. 

I thought about the strength of my personal story and how, despite how hard it seemed at the time, I was able to understand it, overcome it and learn from it. I thought about how I could reach out to teen girls and be there for them just as I would have liked to have a positive guidance about what to do with myself in a world that was telling me that being myself was wrong. 

2014 was a big year for empowering women campaigns around the world. I knew I wasn't alone on wanting to help young generations so I googled it, plain and simple. that's when I found Young Women Of Power or YWOP. 

Their goal is simple: 

"When girls leave our conference they will go away embracing who they are, motivated to support other girls and inspired to creatively use their talents to encourage and uplift those around them."
“I am a Beautiful, Wise, Powerful Woman of Principle”

Does it sound familiar? Of course it does, it's so connected to what we do with Reveal Your True Beauty, I was so excited! I emailed Alison, the founder, and shared my story with her. She emailed back eager to meet and so we did. Now, I'm very happy to say I will be speaking to girls between the ages of 12 and 18 about finding beauty by learning to love.

As I'm organizing my ideas for the workshop, I can't stop but thinking that is something that women of all ages need to learn and so, I'll share it through here. Not as I will say it at the workshop but as it's created. As words and ideas come to mind to form the final speech but also more detailed than the final sketch will be. As you know, these are ideas that come to mind from a personal level, from experience in walking the journey of self discovery and self love. I'm not a professional in this matter, just someone who shares her thoughts hoping I can share with you a bit of light to help you find your own path.

On April 17th/15, I'll be one of the speakers at the annual workshop organized by Young Women of Power

What makes you beautiful is the capacity of learning to accept yourself and to forgive yourself in order to not think of yourself, so that your personal growth is focused towards being a better person for others, by staying true to who you really are. At the end, is the light that shines within you towards others that make you beautiful.

What? Please let me elaborate on that:

What happens when you check off things from a to-do list? You don't have to think of it anymore, right? It's done and gone. Accepting and forgiving ourselves are the ink and pen that checks off worries from our list. So what happens then? Those things you don't like about yourself, those insecurities that don't let you be who you are, are done and gone, leaving you with more time and energy to invest in better things to do. When you accept and forgive yourself, you understand yourself which makes you love yourself. 

What happens when you love someone? You give them your all; you like making them happy, you are filled with joy when you can help them be their better selves and when they make a mistake, you don't judge them, you give them your gracious hand to help them get out of the mud and try again, because nobody is perfect.

Now let's write again the paragraph above but with a twist:

What happens when you love yourself? You give yourself your all; you like making yourself happy, you are filled with joy when you can help yourself be your better self and when you make a mistake, you don't judge yourself, you show yourself grace to get out of the mud and try again, because nobody is perfect.

Now, let's hold on to that thought and let's read below a more universally known paragraph (and wiser too):

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7(NLT)

 Can you apply those words towards you?

When you get to this state of mind, it all comes effortlessly so you forget about yourself, because "yourself" is not a worry anymore. If you love yourself in that way, instinctively you'll do the same to others. That bright flame you've been working on inside you will grow into a beautiful lighthouse that guides others in their own paths. And all by being who you really are. Isn't it amazing?

So when you have the right focus towards yourself, it is not a selfish act but rather an act of selflessness because it'll be others who will taste the fruit of the work you do in yourself, because it is others who will see your bright light shine through and be inspired by your true being to also be their better selves.

All it takes is the first step towards the right direction. The first step might be the hardest but also so rewarding.

Be true to yourself to find your truth.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Revealing Terezia: The Power Of Overcoming Depression

Hair and Makeup by Kada Issa from Bombay Beauty Loft. Styling by Studio Intent Boutique

I first photographed Terezia almost 3 years ago. She needed author photos for her then upcoming book "Heart Of Love Evolution" (which is now a Bestseller). She knew exactly what she wanted but allowed me to play with that a little, which turned out into my images being front and cover of her book, so neat!

She has since become a sweet friend. Despite her struggle with depression, which she speaks openly about through her book, she is a wonderful joyful person who is not afraid to let her emotions be known. You know she IS happy to see you, not only because she says it but because all of her being smiles. She has a gorgeous big and sincere smile with a great sense of humour and a talent for chatting. Every time we see each other (which is not often considering she lives in Edmonton) we have a time constriction, but we always end up arriving late at our next commitment, because she is so fun to be around with, that you won't notice time flying by. 

A big warm hugger, Terezia came once more to me, this time for a Reveal Your True Beauty session and as always a blast and lots of belly ache laughter. She calls me her "personal photographer" and I must admit, I really like the title.

Her brother (an amazing loyal and caring brother by the way), always her close companion, best friend and confident, has been present at both her sessions. Here's what he has to say about Terezia:

"She's gregarious, outgoing. Caring and sensitive.
Intelligent. Likes intellectual games, conversation.
Enjoys gourmet food. Shy. Likes gardening and Scifi."

Terezia has come a long way. Since publishing her book she has become an Award winning author and a writer for Huffington Post, CNN and Beliefnet. If you're interested in following what she's up to, you can do so at www.tereziafarkas.com

Here is what Terezia has to say about her Reveal Your True Beauty experience:

"Second time Fela Dales had done my author photos. Drove in from out of town just so Fela would be my photographer. Her focus on revealing the inner beauty of women and young girls is inspirational. We definitely need more Fela's in our world! Thanks for an awesome time, the laughs and beautiful photos. See you a third time next year!"