How I Learned to be so Happy it Hurts - Part 1 of 3

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
— Martha Washington
 Featured beauties:  Gemma Marin  and Ari

Featured beauties: Gemma Marin and Ari

This past week, the happiest woman on the planet 

BROKE THE INTERNET.

Unless you're living under a rock (and if you are, that's cool - just keep reading and I'll bring you up to speed real quick), then you know who I'm talking about. Candace Payne is your new best friend. This last week, her Chewbacca mask video became the most watched Facebook Live video ever. Why? Because she's adorable, sweet, and so happy it hurts to watch. 

Yes, it hurts to watch. Like, your cheeks and abs - literally. If you watch her videos, this amazing woman has a laugh that is so contagious you can't help but to share in her joy. Sure, we don't know her backstory and whether she is suffering or has suffered something tragic. But that's OK. You don't need to know her backstory to KNOW: that woman is happy. Really and truly happy.

Because happiness is a state of mind. 

IT IS A CHOICE YOU MAKE IN SPITE OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES.

This post is not meant to discredit the countless incurable psychological issues millions of people around the world suffer from. Instead, this post is for those that, at worst, walk the line between mentally healthy and batshit crazy. I walked that line for most of my teenage and adult life. In fact, I've often crossed that line into batshit crazy.

Although I didn't know it at the time, growing up, I was surrounded by mental illness - depression, bipolar disorder, addiction, you name it. By the time I hit my teens, in addition to the havoc that puberty wreaked on my body and mind, hating myself was all I knew. I was programmed to believe I wasn't good enough, that everything was my fault, that I could have done better, and that I wasn't worthy of being loved. Toss into the mix that I'm an introvert and didn't communicate these feelings to anyone, and it just wasn't pretty.

As a result, I suffered from depression for over a decade. It was a rare day when I didn't take the first opportunity to be alone and to cry. I hated myself and wished I was anyone else but me. Until one day I read one single sentence in a book that turned my world upside down. I don't recall the book or the quote, but it basically said this:

being unhappy is a BAD habit, 

and you have the power to break it.

What?! A HABIT?! That changed everything for me. It made so much sense I wanted to kick myself for not realizing it sooner. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that over the course of ten years, I had created more bad habits than I could count. 

So from that day forward, I set out to undo what I had allowed my mind to do to me. I was going to destroy each and every bad habit, one by one. I was going to be happy. 

And guess what? It was easier than I thought. 

Eventually, I'll put out Part 2 of 3 - what bad habits I set out to break; and Part 3 of 3 - how I broke them. Until then, just think about this: being happy is a good habit you can start developing right now. And don't you dare tell me that's not completely and utterly empowering.

How a Dress I Love Changed Everything

Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of a opportunity and strength.
— Betty Friedan
 To learn more about me, click  here .

To learn more about me, click here.

Hello. My name is Christine, and I am 31 years old. I already have gray hairs and I don't even have any kids yet. That is, if you don't count my pups. My boyfriend calls them silver hairs. Like that X-Men character. Yeah, OK - nice try.

Any way, I recently tried on a dress that I love that I hadn't worn in three years. To my disappointment, it no longer fit. Like, by a lot. In just three years I had gone up several dress sizes. And to be honest, that's OK. Our bodies change as we age. But what I noticed was that the weight was concentrated in my midsection. And for purely health reasons, that's no bueno.

I've always seen myself as a healthy eater. I eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. MOSTLY. That said, I don't make time to exercise. On top of that, as a photographer, most of my time is spent in front of the computer editing, blogging, and responding to e-mails (and...errrr....  snacking on jumbo marshmallows). But as you get older, eating healthy just isn't enough. Being in good shape is a lifestyle, and it requires constant commitment.

But its worth it. Not only for health reasons, but because as women, feeling good about ourselves is part of our sexuality, and that is equally important. Also, as a creative and an entrepreneur, I want my mind to be sharp so that I can think quickly, be resourceful, and dare to make my dreams come true.

So today, I made the very grown up decision to purchase a meal and exercise plan. I have been following Anna Victoria on Instagram for a while (check her out!), and seeing all the wonderful results that her #FBGGirls were getting from her plan. Her Fit Body Guides are only $79.95 if you buy the Meal Plan Guide and the Training Guide together - basically the cost for one month of a gym membership. So buying it was a no-brainer.

I'm really excited! I've already skimmed most of the Meal Plan Guide, and it's so informative, even for someone like me, who has been researching food for most of her life. I'll have a full review in a few weeks once I've started the plan and hopefully seen some results. 

Wish me luck!

The Ups and Downs of Creativity

The creative process is one of surrender, not control.
— Julia Cameron
 Featured model:  Gemma Marin  More from this gallery,  here .

Featured model: Gemma Marin More from this gallery, here.

If there's one thing I know about being a creative, it's that

creativity comes in waves.

Whether you're an inventor, painter, photographer, interior designer, graphic artist, or something else from a number of other creative industries, you know that creativity can hit you in the face out of nowhere during the most unexpected times. For example, I often have visions for shoots that come to me right before falling asleep. So. Inconvenient.

That said, as quickly as the creativity hits me, it's even quicker to flee. For me, the hard part is designing a road map to make that vision come to life. Trying to translate what I see in my mind into something I can actually create can be so difficult. Whether it's because I've convinced my self I can't because I don't have a team (yet), or because I'm limited by my budget (for now), or because I simply don't know the first place to start, I find that I often put my dream shoots on the back burner, waiting for the "perfect" moment to work on them.

But what I've learned is that there is no perfect moment. Instead, you have to make space for creativity. When those waves come, let yourself be taken by them. And while on that ride,

be RESOURCEFUL,

be BOLD, and

dare to FAIL.