Photography has been an outlet for me to express my feelings but its also been a tool for me to get to know people, to sit down and chat with them to find out who they are, where they come from, what they like, what makes them comfortable or uncomfortable, what they look forward to or run away from. Before I lifted my camera to start working with Gina I knew I just had to talk to her and get to know her before I could move on to do my photography session. So we did just that, we sat, we talked and in the process we both discovered we both loved hiking and working out. One of the reasons I love hiking is because I just love the outdoors but also, its a coping activity with depression which is a common condition among alot of people. After talking about how depression affects people and ways to cope I asked Gina what she expected out of her session and I know my hope with people is simple that they feel comfortable during the shoot so I can give them beautiful images especially the type of images we were going to be shooting, boudoir or lingerie photography like some may call it. Boudoir photography is bedroom photography, something I have been doing with work for years. Why do I love to do these sessions for women one simple reason, I want every women to feel comfortable and accepting of their bodies as they are in the present moment. When you love and accept yourself you are able to give yourself so much more back, there is no fear, insecurity, holding back but acceptance and gratitude with what you have only makes it for you to able to enjoy what you have at that moment and why would'nt you anyway? We are often our own worst critic or enemy when it would be so amazing if we could be our best friend in acceptance of ourselves. Like I had mentioned to Gina it took many years for me to feel comfortable with myself and body and today I have nothing but love of where I am, wrinkles, with extra weight, greys and all. Its just who I am and really who is to say what the perfect body image is anyways? So why do we put ourselves in a box that keeps us holding on to insecurities, fears and issues? My hope is that if women are in that box they set themselves free with a photo session and emotionally and spiritually allow themselves to love every inch of themselves without reservations. Then you can spread your love and light.
Love & Light Photo Tour 2018 Gina
The alarm went off, it was 6am and the temptation to hit hat snooze button one more time just seemed way to easy but then I looked around and there was an apartment that still needed to be packed and with whatever we could fit in storage and the other whatever we can fit in my small Saturn Vue which really was not much. For the next year whatever we could fit into that car is what we would own. Kyla and I worked together to get it done and we did just before we needed to be on the road for our first stop in Marana, Arizona where my sister and her family were waiting to be photographed. Before we headed out I asked Kyla to come and do a walk through one more time. We went into each room where memories were made, memories of laughter, nights of loneliness, moments where meals where shared where strangers from around the world had become friends, moments of creative thoughts and energy were shared, moments of me feeling numbness, joy, sorrow, excitment, accomplishment, defeat, anger so many, many moments were left in that appartment. Here we were on a new journey one where my only desire was to find forgiveness within myself for all the wrongs I had done. The most important person I wanted to find forgiveness in was my daughter Kyla. I dont think she realized that but from looking at her hands and legs, scars from years of suffering and expresssed through self harmhad deeply impacted her in ways that I could never take back. But I have always believed that it is never too late to change and it is never too late to ask for forgiveness so during this Love & Light Tour I find myself fighting all my bad choices from the past and finding a way heal myself and her from all the pain. We shared a few laughs, looked at each other and said, "Okay let's do this, let's spread some love and light".
Kyla really wanted to see the Hoover Dam so we made our way up there but when we got to the entrance they had a check point we stopped like everyone else, the security asked us to roll down the windows so he could see what was inside the car so I did. He took a look and saw the car was full of things then he asked, "Are you moving?". I replied, "Yes, we are". Yes acutally we had just moved into our car, of course I did not got into those details but he could clearly see that if was full of things, I remained calm after he asked me to go to a second line which was for inspection. Of course I did, drove the he second line got out of the car, opened the back door and side doors. When he asked me what was in one of my boxes I replied, "My computer." "What about this little box?", "Oh that one?" I asked back. I didnt really reply I just grabbed the box opened it and there they were, patches! Yes iron on patches that I had been collecting from all my travels, from travels to national parks, to Australia, US states and he looked at me and said,"Alright you can go". I thought to myself well that was easy! Then I realized this Love & Tour Photo Tour I was going to add so many more patches! How exciting was that? But what about Kyla, what did she find exciting up on the walkway one of the Seven Indutrial Wonders of the World? She said to me, "Mom I think I would be a really good comedian, all I have to do is make fun of myself, people would love that". Of course I think she could do whatever she wants and I think comedy is great as a matter of fact I was a regular in Vegas to comedy shows and I could totally see her doing that one day. But little did I know that this very night she was going to keep me in stitches as she unvieled her witty mind before myself, my sister Susy, her husband Fito and my niece and nephews. Little did I know I had not just an artist but a comedian in the making.
On the road
Headed to our first destination, conversation between Kyla and I.
First Love & Light with my sister Susy
Why does someone drive 6 hours, does the shoot and work another 6 hours? Passion, I have never felt like I worked a day in my life when I do photography. Its something I could do day after day, night after night because its something that I love from every bit of me. So not only does it bring me an immense amount of joy but it brings me even great joy to share what I love so much with others and having people in front of me to work with is such a huge blessing.
Love & Light Photo Tour
Our journey towards love and light.
Today I jumped out of bed at 6am after going to bed at 1am, I just had to get up and write! There are so many feelings and emotions I am going through right now that I felt that keeping them to myself is a bit useless so I might as well write about them. You see, you who walk with me don't just walk in my highs in life but also the lows. When I left Vegas I left with huge hope which is what carries me through everyday but also with a bit of broken heart for a day before I had a conversation with someone I loved very much hurt me very deeply and I figured giving each other space was best for the time being. But one thing I have promised myself is that no matter what happens always, always, always find the positive and the joy in the situation. So with that mindset I decided to be happy! Yes be happy and dance. I found gratitude so comforting. Gratitude that I am now at my sisters house and she and her family are taking Kyla and I in and we are having such an amazing time. It has been years that I have spent a night a her place. As a way of showing my gratitude I offered to help clean up and share in the household shores but to do shores without music is almost a sin to me, so Fito graciously put on my favorite song, "Despacito" only because it is a song that Rhea and I love to dance to. So with a mop in one hand and my spirit of gratitude I opened myself up to happiness. I allowed myself to feel the emotion and guess what I had a great time! Solo! Yes solo! I danced while cleaning which as anyone knows cleaning can be a dread but I took that mop and rocked it like a rockstar, well a Mexican rock star with two left feet as you will see I almost slipped but caught myself, I am very good at catching myself because I am excellent at almost falling. Well its kinda easy to do when the floor is wet. But I hope you find entertainment in my excellence of clumsiness. There is no greater acceptance than self acceptance. Be yourself, be who you are be genuine and let light flow through you and share your light with others. My journey is about finding my own light and sharing it with others as I begin to love myself and accept me with all my virtues, flaws, character traits, good and bad. Its a wild ride but I wouldnt have it any other way.
A Mop & Two Happy Feet
Dance like no one is watching, laugh like you've never cried and cry like you've never laughed. Be happy, share love share light.
Last night we all sat around the dinner table Kyla, Fito, Susy and had a heart to heart. I can't thank Fito enough to help me navigate through these waters of being a single parent with a teenage daughter. His patience and calmness was so relieving as we all listened to Kyla and all the pain she carried for years. She talked about the hurt of me leaving California for which I am still dealing with myself and the pain it caused her and the bullying she was given at school for being that awkward teen. It was evident that years of pain had taken over her body because the only way she was able to relieve her pain was through self harm. I listened to everything as she came down with anger, sadness, confusion and all these mixed emotions with a reminder of her bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is something that I understand all too well. As its something I was diagnosed with back in 2007 after the birth of Daisy my third child. For anyone who suffers from this debilitating illness my heart goes out to you. I still battle it and some days are better than others. Right now I am going through a low which is rough spells of depression mixed with the unability to focus, maintain conversations, a mental fog, crippling depression and anxiety. This morning was so hard to get out of bed for me but the night before I had told myself I just had to get up and go no matter what, I had to force myself no matter what. So this morning I did, I got up, it took everything I had, all the energy and focus I could muster to get my aching body from the depression to get my shoes head out the door and start walking. In this next video you will see what emotions I go through. For those who suffer from bipolar or any other mental illness it can be debilitating and difficult but I want you to know that it can be overcome too. I decided on my journey I was going to let people in, my mind, my head so they could see what it was like to get a glimpse at someone who suffers with an invisible illness. Many times those of us who suffer are often misunderstood and judged, through my journey I just want to show you the courage it takes to battle it on a daily basis and the mental exhaustion that can be caused from it. This love and light tour is about giving something to others that helps me heal inside. Giving is a way of coping for me. As you watch the video you will hear me speak of Karan who I love and respect very much as well as Sayali his fiancee. They have been amazing and instrumental in helping me grow my music production business but also in showing me what love is. If anyone out there that is reading this blog and watches the video needs an editor please hire Karan. I pledge for his professionalism, dedication, energy, creative mind and talent. He will deliver something incredible. He is without realizing it helping me heal my relationship with my daughter Kyla. So Karan thank you for your example as a kind and compassionate person but also who has incredible talent to help and help others through your craft as an editor. May you be blessed with so much and your dream of getting married to your beautiful Sayali come soon. You both are loved.
Today I fight depression and you will see a glimpse of my roller coaster ride, internal pain that I must fight when it gets intense, the lows of this crippling mental illness but the strength it takes to overcome and keep going. Thank you for watching and may you filled with love and light in your lives because without love and light in our life we wither like a flower without water.
My Mom is an amazing woman
Find out what makes my mom so amazing and why she is so strong.
Yesterday was my day, today is your day Sister
Running to honor my Sister Grisol's struggles.
Your body is your only body so make the best of it.
In this video I talk about not holding onto grudges and taking care of your body.
Recap of whats to come
Kyla and I recap what we have overcome and are about to encounter on our next journey to our next destination and the growth we have shared in our relationship on this road trip.
After leaving Tucson with memories to carry us through the downs we now headed out to Bisbee, Arizona a small mining town near the Mexican Border. Kyla and I drove through the mountains and noticed the sudden change of temperature drop up to 30 degrees and we looked at each other and we just breathed a sigh of relief! No more 100 plus degree weather, our journey had been one of powering through a drive without the comfort of the AC into the desolate desert terrain but being up in the mountains now was a breath of fresh air! We felt alive and happy to enjoy the cool breeze flow through our hair and hands as we rolled down the windows and enjoyed every second of the Arizona mountains.
We drove into Bisbee making the first stop at the mine then taking a scenic drive through town we made our way. Bisbee is not a very large town with a population of over 5,500 people it does not take much to run up and down its main street. We parked the car and strolled around walking through its scenic main street which happens to be one of my favorite locations to walk around and window shop. I love looking at the displays. One could find so much creativity here in Bisbee from the shops to the alleys, the murals and art that cover its streets give something to stop the wandering eye. I found myself distracted contstantly, so much that at times it seems a bit annoying to Kyla. I could not help but to stop and appreciate the art and life that lived there, life that screamed at me from its walls, screamed take my picture. We had driven so far to not have done that, it almost seemed like a waste to come so far and leave empty handed. What is the purpose of a roadtrip if you don't capture its amazing beauty? At least to me its not as fun leaving without a trace of my presence. So we walked around its streets, most shops had closed their doors by 4:30 and 5:00pm giving it a feel of a deserted ghost town. It was most eerie feeling, having daylight and the streets being so empty. We were cautious as to not be too loud and interrupt people's ciestas. Despite the quietness of the town I still found it a place to capture lots of art and document its quaintness.
We knew that during certain times of this tour we would have to sleep in the car, something I knew much about since I lived out of my car for almost 8 months back in 2015. For Kyla growing up with the comforts of a bed, AC, and food this was something totally new. But she adjusted even though this was not her preferred way of doing things, sometimes she questioned why were were doing all of this and got frustrated with the process. I however knew that this experience was about appreciation and gratitude. It is interesting to me that when we have things we don't appreciate them and complain and when we do have them we complain, the question is at what point in our life will being happy be a thing? For me its an everyday thing. Gratitude is key in finding joy and happiness. I appreciate every moment no matter the circumstance. One of the lessons that with time I feel Kyla will gain even in the discomfort of the situation. She is a trooper I do have to give her that. Teenage years are tough years and she is going along this journey with an open mind. The next selected town was Tombstone, Arizona.
Kyla and I work up and walked the streets of this desolate place, there was not much going on at 7:30 am but we could not spend too much time there as we were headed to Silver City, New Mexico for our first Workaway and we did not want to be late. So we strolled through Tombstone briefly just enough to get a feel of the town which did not take more than 20 minutes then off we went to our next desitnation.
Its difficult to put into words the excitement and anticipation I felt about going into New Mexico. There was this feeling that I had in my heart that I was going to experience something great with Kyla. It was my first Workaway after all. I booked a whole week in New Mexico the land of enchantment for a reason a reason I would soon find out would leave me in a state of trance in in love with New Mexico, the people, the culture and the mountains.
A series of unfortunate events lead me to Silver City, a series of moments that felt like a punch in the stomach at moments taking my breathe away due to the shock but those series of unfortunate events soon turned to a series of memories that would leave me in awe of how outlook and a positive mindset can impact ones lives in the most meaningful and beautiful ways. Several months ago an incident started the domino effect of what lead me to a town I had never heard of before, it all started with me looking for my hard drives so I could upload a wedding I had recently shot after I got back from Australia, it was in April I will never forget the feeling I got when I realized what happened to all my hard drives, the chill I felt run across my spine and the defeat I felt when I realized these files had been stolen and I knew exactly who had done this and why. I did make various attempts to go to the police in Vegas to see if they would help me retrieve my files only to be told that there was nothing they could do. What was I to do? My family I had just worked with was not just a family but a friend! How could I tell her her files were missing? I could not bear breaking her heart, that left me paralyzed me in fear and agony of the thought of disappointing them with the horrible reality of something that had gone so wrong. They were kind and understanding in being patient with me in trying to retrieve their wedding memories only to see me fail and come back empty handed. During that time I also now had Kyla living with me and now under my care. Her depression was extremely bad as her eating had taken a dive for the worst, getting her to eat was a struggle, one that left me at times worrying myself to sleep and when at work distracted. To top things off what finalized the tipping of the domino effect was when I was called into the directors office at work and was told that I had been let go from my position as a closing officer. It tall came down at once! Losing my job, losing all my years of work and most recent wedding files and the fear of losing my daughter. The domino effect had begun and it seemed like nothing I could do would stop it from taking full force. This domino effect lead me to a city I would soon fall in love with a city that was enchanting and full of art and hope.
Have you ever gone anywhere you've never been and knew something great was bound to happen? You had full trust that things would eventually work themselves out and the journey with all its twists and turns would eventually lead you in the right direction, my friend Gissell often would remind me on facebook with a simple reminder, "Follow the yellow brick road", everytime I saw her post I would smile and know that I was following that yellow brick road with twists and turns, ups and downs. On my journey to Silver City with Kyla the first thing I did was take a moment to soak in this mountain city in New Mexico. Took a minute to soak in the culture, people, feel and energy of the town. I will never forget walking down the street with my camera in my hand ready to capture what caught my eye. Kyla who's fascination for books in never ending did what interested her by walking into the first bookstore she could find, me on the other hand fascinated by the streets, the textures and people walked the street ready to capture, in that moment it is when I saw a cyclist go up and down the streets a cyclist I just had to capture. I saw him pass me by several times going up and down the street with his cool hot pink shades which caught my attention. I was intrigued! I was taken with his tattoos, fitness, look, style and aura. Then finally on his next time around I just did it without thinking twice, it was almost as easy as a hello, I shouted, "Hi!, What's your name?" He told me David, I really dont know what was going through his mind, all I knew is that I had to capture his portrait. So then I proceeded to ask, "David would you mind if I take your picture?" We are new in town and I love taking pictures of people, I can send you the pics, here is my card, ' I handed him my card and he was so gracious to let me snap a couple of images. I then told him we were going to be in Silver City for a week and he could message me so I could send him his images. I took my shots, thanked him and walked away and that was pretty much it, I had no idea if he would contact me and if he did not sure if the messages would go through because where I was going to be with Kyla reception was spotty, but I left it at that and we then made our way to the first workaway in Ravenswing Farm. I was grateful to have met David who's spirit and energy was one that showed so much life, his smile was contagious and his openness to speak to strangers one that I will appreciate wholeheartedly.
Our drive into Ravenswing Farm left both Kyla and I in awe of the country. When we took the road that lead us to the farm we soon found ourselves on a dirt road with nothing but trees for miles and miles. I could not believe we were in New Mexico, everything was so green! But yes there we were on a our way to our first Workaway. What is Workaway? If you have never heard of it I would recommend you look into it. You can find more info on the website www.workaway.info it can change your life. Workaway is a way for people to travel at low cost in exchange for room and board for 4 to 5 hours a day of your time. This was our first experience and we loved it!
Why is this tour so special to me? First of all some of my family members will be participating in it, family like my sister Susy. Let me tell you something about Susy, Susy is one of my younger sisters as a little girl everyone used to call her "Canita" who got her nickname because as a child she would always roll her dollar bills into a what looked like a sugar cane and she would hold onto it tight! That was my sister a natural business girl and excellent sales person, she was gifted with her words and an avid reader. As a matter of fact she is the one that encouraged me for years to start writing a blog so just recently I started to because I knew she would devour every word and enjoy reading about my travels and adventures. So this is my sister Susy and Fito her husband of 20 years is also quit an awesome brother-in-law. He looks after his family, is an excellent provider and he loves his family especially my sister Susy. Fito is the kind of guy that when he has company over he will offer whatever he has in his kitchen to make sure you are fed and if its a nice warm day and there are some ice cold beers he will hand one over to you and will relax and chat with you and give you his undivided attention. He is polite, hospitable and always ensuring that you feel comfortable and at home. Their oldest son Marqui is over six feet tall at the age of fifteen is quiet and reserved but upon engaging in a conversation with him you can see his interest peak in topics of entrepreneurship, computers and becoming a Youtuber. Gianna has long beautiful flowing black hair but at the age of seven she would love to cut it short, brushing would be easier if it is shorter, she is blessed with such shinny healthy vibrant hair that most would love to have. She is the little prankster, during the shoot I asked if anyone had a joke and Gianna was the first to jump at the opportunity to share her giddy side. She said her joke, made everyone laugh and she was so instrumental so that I could capture that love and light that radiates through each and every family member. Gerardo the youngest of the Zepeda clan is a shy little guy but don't let his shyness fool you, he is a math wiz! Towards the end of our Love & Light Photo Session Fito and Susy expressed how happy and grateful they were to have this photo shoot as this was their first family photo session, ever. Love & Light is a personal journey that I am sharing with others, its a journey of empowerment through photography and preserving images that will remind families why they are together and stay together. May that love continue to grow and that light keep shining bright year after year as the family grows together. Thank you Susy and family for being part of this beautiful tour.
TO BOOK YOUR OWN LOVE & LIGHT SESSION CLICK HERE.
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As a result of what I do people move from having a dream to having a 4, 5 or even 6 figure business doing what they love. I help novice and seasoned entrepreneurs overcome their fears about the complexities of the adminitrative an legal tasks involved in starting a business and create the roadmap to bring forth that desire to reality.
My most recent client is a beautiful being who has had a desire to own her own business but she was too fearful and confused to take action, she thought she needed a formal education to start a business! With my guidance she has successful overcome her fear and is in the process of opening her first physical location and has the road map and on track to open up 5 other locations by year 3. People who use my services include those with big dreams and limited resources either financially or the know how. Others that use my services are existing business owners looking to launch or scale their business.
I could go into details about my processes but no one is interested in that, what I will say is that my process is a holistic approach which other programs lack, I speak to the results I produce, the results speaks for themselves. Also I provide truly individualized services, tailored to my clients' needs, someone to communicate with & not a "frequently asked" document.
I believe and feel this is my dharma in life as it nurtures me and in turn I nurture society, doing this I am fulfilled, I am fulfilling a life's purpose that only I can do as I was created to do so.
I have been passionate about many things in life, as I evolve, so does the tings I am passionate about. Something I am passionate about is standing in my own truth and being kind to myself & others in thoughts and deeds. What I mean by that is even it means being unpopular, I am ok with that, at least at the end of each day I am at peace because I did not cheat myself I was true to me. I am passionate about being your authentic self boldly no matter what stage or phase you are in life.
If you are looking for "easy" don't be an entrepreneur, if you are in it just to make money, look elsewhere. Most of all be the solution to someone's problem and don't believe anyone who tells you it can't be done or discourages you. You have already come up with all the ways it won't work in your head, find & surround yourself with those that will help you find the way in which it will work!
Coach Ayana O
FIND COACH AYAN O AT
FACEBOOK: Coach Ayana O
PHONE: (702) 881-0552
*See website to see which ones start at $59
Not many know my story with how I got to Vegas and why I came to Vegas, I was looking for hope searching for that light at the end of the tunnel. That light came to me in form of an angel by the name of Anna Smith. Back in February 2016 I found myself depressed, living right on Las Vegas Boulevard searching for hope. I was about to give up on working for a company that I loved when I got a phone call from one of my coworkers wondering where I had been and why I was not at work. During that time I was going through the loss of my older sister who lost her battle to cancer, that sadness swallowed me up whole and was taking me into a dark abyss that I had a hard time crawling out of. I was falling deeper and deeper into this darkness to add to the despair one night my friend called me to invite me to dinner, he was desperately trying to help me out, I accepted his invitation and we went out to dinner. He picked me up and off we went. While at dinner he told me that a new position had come up with my company and he knew I was perfect for the job. I was just ready to go back and head back to California, he was kind and talked me through my troubles and told me to give this new position a chance. I agreed and told him the next day I would go give it a shot as a last resort, unbeknownst upon returning back to my apartment I came back to a shocking surprise, I could not find my car! Did someone steal it, did someone take it? I knew in the back of my head what had happened, it had not been stolen it had been what we all fear when we fall behind on our car payments, yes the scary word, REPOED! I just did not know what to do. Depressed and now without a car I felt helpless. My friend encouraged to still give it a go and call the next day for the new position, he told me I know you are perfect for this job so I did hesitantly. When I called I remember hearing this different accent I did not recognize, it was an accent of a beautiful Armenian woman that without me knowing would soon change my life and not just mine but my children's as well, her name was Anna Smith. Anna asked me to come in that day if I could, but how could I right away? I did not have a car, was low on money and was walking everywhere. I told Anna my car was currently at the shop but I could be there the next day. She agreed to my interview for the next day. I remember thinking to myself how in the world was I going to do this without a car? But I soon changed my focus and told myself to give it a chance. So I walked into the deeding department for Westgate, I did not have fancy clothes, did not have fancy nails, did not have fancy hair, did not have fancy shoes but what I did have was hunger. I was hungry to succeed, I was hungry to make that sacrifice I had made to leave my children back in California worth something. There must have been something that Anna saw in me that day, she overlooked my clothes, shoes, nails, hair what she saw was me! She saw something that she found of value, she saw my conviction, dedication, persistence and passion. She gave me chance that changed my life in ways I could never imagine. I will never forget the time she would take out of her day to find out about me and my story to know who I really was and why I was there. Angel's come in many forms and when you least expect them. I will forever be grateful for my angel on earth who changed my life forever and kept my hope alive. So Anna Smith please know that you made a difference in not just one life but four others by the name of Kyla, Silas, Daisy and Rhea and for that I am forever grateful to you and your kindness and ability to see beyond the physical (clothes, shoes, nails, hair) but beyond that a woman who was doing everything within her power to make a difference in the most important people in her life, her children. You are our guardian Angel. My children were proud of what I began to do and the places we were going, I worked had day after day without hesitation or complaint because what was behind was hunger, depression, loneliness, despair but what was ahead of me was hope, living a life to the fullest and the making of dreams come true. So Anna if you ever feel down just remember you have the power to change one persons life and you can do it over and over and the greatest joys come from giving. Thank you for giving me a chance to be who I was meant to be... someone who has hope even during the darkest hours.
Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.
With my gaurdian Angel Anna Smith working for Westgate Resorts 2016