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I am blessed to know some of the strongest women on this Earth. They are my Mother's, Aunts, Friends and Sisters; Blood and Water. They also occasionally fall into my life like a much needed sun shower. They stick with me, through my weakness, and remind me of my strengths. I am lucky to have women, like Melissa, seek me out to share their story, and their strength with me.

In February I received a message from Melissa via Facebook:

"I'm not sure if you are going to remember me but I met you at the yoga studio last year. I've never had the time or money to have pictures taken of me. Any ways ...I'm 32 year old and just spent 3 months in the hospital. I'll have open heart surgery in about 7-8 weeks. I wanted to see if you could do anything for me to show what I've been through in the past year... Right now after 3 months I've just started eating, I can't talk, and I'm learning how to walk with a walker. Please let me know a keep in touch as I will. Thank you so much!"

Seeing as I received Melissa's message three days before I'd be moving across the country, I wrapped up my emotions and responded delightfully that I would be honored to help her share her story and document her confidence, as soon as I was able to make a trip back in town. It wasn't for another 4 months that I would make it back and work with Melissa but I think we'd mutually agree that it was worth the wait, the rain and mud we faced, and the anticipation of uniting.

We chatted on and off throughout the days leading up to our session, we talked wardrobe, she sent me images of her hair and makeup, she told me over and over how excited she was, but terrified because she'd never done anything like this before. I always do my best to prepare my clients, and coach them throughout the session - but being in front of the camera isn't for everyone. The important part is to have fun, feel confident, and realize that making the decision to be so vulnerable, having zero experience, shows more strength and beauty than any Kardashian can fake in front of the camera.

Although she doesn't look it in the images, Melissa was extremely nervous throughout probably 75% of our session. But her dedication to capturing her journey, her growth, and her strength, broke through every layer of doubt, and she was radiant! We had fun, giggled, got a little dirty, and at the end of it all she received some beautiful images to retain this moment and memory forever, and I received another strong and beautiful friend.

I challenge you, today, to break out of your comfort zone. Do something that you've always wanted to do, but have always had more excuses for than reasons. Pretend that you're as lucky as Melissa and have been given a second chance at life. Do something that makes you feel beautiful, and confident.

Love yourself.

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