“There’s going to be very painful moments in your life that will change your entire world in a matter of minutes. These moments will change you. Let them make you stronger, smarter, and kinder. But don’t you go and become someone that you’re not. Cry. Scream if you have to. Then you straighten out that crown and keep it moving. ” – Erin Van Vuren

That was this year. But I’m happy to say I have left everything that no longer serves me behind in 2016, and I finally feel like I’ve connected with my true authentic self. 2016 was my biggest transitional year. I learned so much about myself. This year I did something I always wanted to do, but always let intimidation, self doubt, and anxiety talk me out of it. When I began to love myself, I began to leave whatever kept me small this meant friends, family, my own ideas, and beliefs. When obstacles came, instead of listening to my inner thoughts talk me out of doing it, I quieted down, and just tried. And you know what, some times I failed, but most times I soared higher than expectations.

I’m a completely different person ending the year, than I was at the beginning of it. It’s almost as if I spent the first half of the year waiting for it to start, and the last half wondering where it all went. I definitely needed to make this 2016 round up video to remind myself what I even did this past year. I’m not going to lie, it definitely was a blur.

This year, I was grateful to have worked with so many new, and consistent clients on a variety of projects from magazine covers, to eCommerce, to billboard advertisements! I learned to cook. Practiced daily meditation. Went vegan. Said no. Found my voice. Finally took a vacation to unplug. Took time to just be. Watched the sunrise and set over the ocean. Swam with the turtles. Was able to be by my mothers side every day at the hospital and then became her full time caregiver until her recovery. I started taking regular yoga classes. Did my first L-handstand at the wall. Stood up for myself. I completely re-branded my business. I read a lot. I almost bought my dream home. And then, almost bought another home. I custom built, and coded a new website, (…coming soon!!…) and decluttered many aspects of my life. And lastly after all of these years, I feel as if I finally have a tiny grip on my pain management.

I’ve deprived my body for so long of the proper rest, and recovery it needs. I’ve always been the one to say, “No, it’s cool, I’m fine.” “I can do it.” “It’s just the way it is.” “I’ll deal with it.” “I’ll figure it out.” Pushing my body beyond it’s limits. I was the one starting off college in a sling with a broken collarbone, a big heart, and even bigger dreams. I was the one shooting in a wheel chair two days after I had reconstructive foot surgery. And the one shooting for Topshop with a medical boot on my foot. I was the one shooting 8 sets in studio, desperately relying solely on my inhalator to breathe. The one who had to go straight to the hospital after a 6 hour fashion editorial with Beverly Johnson, because of severe bronchitis. I was the one on set with a dry socket, a couple days after I had my wisdom teeth removed, and couldn’t keep anything down, not even water. I was the one shooting a national campaign for Claire’s Stores and Icing Stores with a broken finger. I was also the one who smashed my trigger finger while setting up for a two-day catalog campaign with Park Lane Jewelry.

I was the one with no set schedule, winding down my nights for sleep as the sun was rising and my fiancé was just getting up for work. I was the one throwing her back out a handful of times per year; the one who was always so hard on herself, pretending as-if I didn’t have pinched nerves and fibromyalgia from a severe car accident. You have no idea what 10 years of constant pain can do to the mind and the body if you haven’t experienced it yourself. If you have, I am so sorry.

I was the one who always bent over backwards for her clients even if their requests or the timeline were completely unreasonable. Like the time, I gave up all my 4th of July plans to retouch an entire shoot in one day for a client before they left the country for their vacation. Or the time I did 3 weeks worth of work in 3 days, to meet a deadline before I left the country. Or how about that time I replaced a girls face, with an entirely different face in Photoshop.

I never slowed down. I never stopped. I never took breaks. I never said no. I never took a vacation (post graduating college,) and I never let my problems, conditions, or any amount of pain I was in stop me, or get in my way. I just found a way, and pushed through. And although that is great, and I got a lot accomplished in a short amount of time I saw the quality of my life decreasing. I often questioned if I was in this much pain in my 20’s, how will my 30’s be? I spent so much time making other people happy, I forgot what made me happy, or I didn’t even know what made me happy anymore. I stopped making work for myself, because clients priorities came first, and even when I was shooting personal work it became about everyone elses needs, but my own. I worked myself day and night, playing every role and, then playing pretend when I had no idea what I was doing. I knew moving forward, I needed to take a step back and reevaluate my career and my life.

After failing to meet yet another website launch; having to once again reschedule and adjust the year accordingly, I finally decided to take a week vacation to unplug. I was in pure bliss for 7 days. I experienced the most relaxing and carefree version of myself come alive. I let my guard down, and stopped wearing make up. I was set to arrive back to the states with a new perspective, and a fresh mind. Only I was thrown back in to reality, with a blow to my gut when my mother was admitted into the hospital for emergency surgery the day I landed back in Chicago. 2016, will forever be the year I almost lost my mother. And as I write that, I can feel my eyes filling up with tears, my chest tightening, and my throat clenching because it’s still fresh, and real….And not over.

It’s crazy that my best and worst moments of the year were taken just days apart.


“Every next level of your life will demand a different you.”

I might be bitter, because 2016 wasn’t what I thought it could be. I didn’t get what I wanted, or even what I thought I needed, or deserved. But life doesn’t work like that. Sometimes life gives us what we need, and sometimes it just smacks us in the face. I’m still working on finding the value and lesson from every experience.

However with the being said, I am so grateful for everyone who has worked with me, believed in me, put faith in me, pushed me, and followed along beside me while I try to make all my dreams come true, and become the best version of myself. I’m thankful for modern medicine, and a career that allows me the flexibility to care for my family when they needed me the most. It’s been a hell of a rollercoaster ride. Please bare with me, I’m still trying to play catch up.

2017 is about progress, not perfection. Being kind to myself, finding balance, and being open to whatever and wherever life takes me.

Please take time for you, and let yourself be a priority. Be proud of yourself, and all the progress you have made. Especially the progress that no one else has seen. I know, it’s new to me too.