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My 2020 Growth Story

Thank you for allowing me to take the stage last night along with so many amazing women.  It was an absolute honor. 

I was overwhelmed with emotions last night as Stacy Cassio announced that my story received the most votes for Pink Mentor Network's 2020 Growth Stories, which also meant that the voters really resonated with my story. 

Honestly, the results caught me off guard.  I really didn't believe it; it didn't sink in until this morning.  I was super nervous and probably rushed so I wouldn't be choked up and cry.  Many of you asked for what I shared afterwards since it was pretty difficult to take notes - if you don't know some of the Ayurvedic terms, it probably didn't help that I talked so fast - which is why I'm writing this blog for you to reference in the upcoming months.  And yes, you can absolutely share with whomever needs to hear my story.

I truly hope what I'm sharing will help you and anyone you know end 2020 with some resilience, joy, patience, and kindness to yourself:


Use one word to describe how 2020 started. * 

Use one word to describe how 2020 ended. * 


I started the year persevering.  2019 was a very tough year for me personally. So I very much looked forward to 2020 in every way possible.  

A little back story for those of you who don’t know me, I launched my company Roses and Azalea in March 2019 after being diagnosed with autoimmune caused hypothyroidism.  My husband and I formulate and handcraft organic personal care and beauty products here in Charlotte.  In 2019, we went to over 50 in person pop up markets traveling all the way to Nashville.  This February, I announced that our company was going national. And within 2 weeks, that’s when the pandemic hit.  I was heartbroken since I thought I had to shut down our company due to the financial losses.  

Like many of you, I have grown a ton this year.  After 30 some years and a pandemic, I've finally started letting go. How many of you are Type A? I know I definitely am and used to try to control everything and expect perfection. Maybe it was because of my upbringing and the culture I was raised in. 

And it hit me during the pandemic that things out of my control will happen no matter how good of a planner I am (and let me tell you I color code my calendars - yes plural, I have 8 schedules I separate out and color code so my brain doesn't have to retain extra information) AND most importantly I have to give myself graceBe accepting of yourself and who you truly are.

Without being able to let go, I don't think I could be where I am today - which is currently running 2 businesses full-time and studying Ayurvedic medicine part-time. (Side note, if you don’t know what Ayurveda is, it’s one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems and a folk medicine originated in India more than 3,000 years ago.

It's very interesting how you can all of a sudden fit everything into your schedule after spending more time for self-care, sleeping, and giving your body what it needs.  I was seriously astounded around October after I had a month to really soak in some of basic Ayurvedic principles and integrate those practices in my daily routine. (I'll refer to some of those practices later, so keep reading!)

For the first time in my life, I'm truly proud of myself and what I've accomplished. Imposter syndrome is real - I've always felt like I'm not good enough. These past few months, I've been forced to pause and really take a step back. I'm starting to see, wow I've expected a whole lot out of myself, and I really am good enough! For any of you who need to hear this, you are good enough!  If you need a reminder, pause and take a look where you started and admire your journey.  You’ll see how much you’ve grown that way.  Trust the process, enjoy the journey, pursue what sparks joy.

Mini story on this (feel free to skip to the next black/gray paragraph):

I started my photography business in 2014/2015 because I had a camera and my husband moved us pretty much every year with his work.  I was a flight risk with a ton of different experiences after graduating with a chemistry degree - analytical chemist, direct care counselor at a youth counselor, Americorps at Habitat for Humanity - then moved to CLT because God and universe.  I had to create my own business around being able to up and move on a whim. 

Okay, starting a business, for me at the time was a photography business, KICKED MY BUTT.  Guys, if you've never owned a small business, I'm telling you it is a LOT of work - you're constantly wearing multiple hats, doing everything, constantly in learning mode, doing things you aren't good at, need a thick skin and flexibility, flying by the seat of your pants - am I right?  I was constantly crying that first year, hitting walls and shutting my business down once a week every month, having to redo my business structure, motivate and pick myself back up.  (Oh I have super funny stories of even my shoes being power washed away at a MLS shoot and learning to always bring several pairs of shoes in case I lose mine.

But I never gave up.  Plus, my husband was amazing and made these laminated motivational cards that said "You're a rockstar photographer! You are amazing!" and tapes it literally everywhere - bathroom mirrors, my desktop, my car sun visor.  (Do this for yourself.  If you don't believe right now, that's okay, get your love ones to do it for you.) Fast forward about three years, I grew my business from ground up to a six figure business with a client portfolio including Ryan Homes and NVR, Marriott International, custom builders, interior designers, and several small businesses that have gone international.

My point in this mini story is that I had to learn to trust the process and stop to give myself credit for my growth as a photographer AND as a small business owner.  No matter what industry you're in, it's really 80% business and 20% skill.  Whenever I'm feeling a bit down or doubting my skills, I pull up my first set of images from a real estate shoot... and I start laughing. 

For some reason, a real estate investor decided to go with an inexperienced photographer charging $50 for that shoot (because honestly I knew NOTHING) instead of the experience photographer with attitude problems.  He told me that he would rather give me the chance.  Looking back, I feel like I should have paid him the $50 to shoot that property the first time because of how the images turned out...  Within 3 months of that shoot, I learned everything I could do improve rapidly, offered him a reshoot with better equipment and skills, and that property sold within a few days with a new set of images!  

Doing your best doesn't mean being perfect. We can definitely be our own worst critic. This year, I read somewhere about resilience, and it resonated with me.  I’m hoping to share this for those of you who need to hear it.  "Resilience" is made up of five pillars: self awareness, mindfulness, self care, positive relationships & purpose.

Self-care can come in many different forms, it’s going to look different for everyone and maybe even change every day. I don't mean extra pampering but actual going back to the basics - what your body specifically needs to function well and be in balance. Be self aware whenever you can, live intentionally, practice mindfulness, and prioritize; it's really hard to have it all completely.  Create a vision board and visualize your purpose and life goals.  This will definitely help you live with intention!

Carving at least 30 minutes to an hour for yourself every day is absolutely a necessity and not something you can compromise on. Try a few different things each week and keep track of how you’re feeling from these activities in a notebook or journal.  If you're interested in Ayurveda, start by taking a Dosha quiz to see if you are Vita, Pitta, or Kapha, or a combination of two.  You can try some of these activities:

  • take a short walk
  • garden
  • any kind of movement, doesn't have to be hardcore kickboxing or crossfit - DO YOU and what makes you feel your best (especially great for Kaphas or those having Kapha imbalances, stagnation)
  • bake something delicious that sparks joy
  • journal
  • leave words of encouragement and motivational says or quotes in places you frequent at like bathroom mirror, car, work desk/computer
  • moon bathe (for all you Pittas to cool down!)
  • warm bath with epsom salts
  • do abhyanga (oil self massage) with the right oils for your body type
  • learn some pranayama breathing techniques from a master to connect your body and mind <-- please make sure the person knows what he/she is doing!!!!
  • declutter both physically and mentally; that can look like cleaning and organizing your office or work place, parts of your home, and your mind by journaling and brain dumping
  • go to bed and wake up on time
  • eat on schedule
  • regulate your schedule (important for all the Vatas or those having Vata imbalances to regulate and ground)
  • try different whole foods and herbs for your body type
  • eat with the season, this can be easier if you have a very small garden which you can absolutely do even in a small area - topic for another time if you're interest in hearing about our suburban food forest
  • give and receive hugs and kisses from your pets and love ones, yes this includes spooning and cuddling 

So I was suffering from insomnia most of this year (my Vata was super imbalanced and I ended up with vertigo around July and then pretty bad ringing of the ears in the Fall season when Vata is already high) until I spent time grounding my body and mind and practicing what I’m learning in Ayurvedic medicine. 

You can start each morning with gratitude when you first open your eyes! Don’t just reach for the phone and jump on social media or check your work email.  How many of us are guilty of that?  I know I am!  You can also practice your faith and pray at this time.  For anyone who is typically cold, drinking warm water and getting some sun in the morning will really help the body.  When I know I’m super busy or need to ground myself, I’ll do the oil self massage with coconut oil (great for Pitta) before showering. 

For anyone who is curious about holistic practices, look up tongue scraping (which will get rid of "ama" or toxic buildup that can show up as a tongue coating), using nasya oil, and using a netti pot.  Those practices will all help most of you with mental clarity.  I'm looking at carrying some of these products on this website in the next few months, so feel free to check back!  Lately, I realized my body tells me to eat oranges whenever I’m upset or need something uplifting. Maybe it’s the vitamin c, maybe it’s just a placebo effect. Doesn’t matter - do you, do whatever makes you happy!

It’s truly mind blowing how much more can accomplish just by going to be on time and regulating your schedule.  You know exactly what you need, so listen to your body!  Before saying, there's no way I can do this or I don't have time for it, thinking about your priorities.

  • What is your ultimate purpose? 
  • What are some of your goals to reach that purpose?
  • What sparks joy?
  • Is everything you're doing lining up with those goals?
  • Are you taking care of your mind, body, and spirit? 

Surround yourself with like-minded people who will lift you up with positivity - like the people in the Pink Mentor Network (and other fantastic networking and mastermind groups)! It really takes a village and community to be successful!  Don’t let COVID prevent you from connecting with others, there’s so many cool ways to surround yourself with people while being safe.  I’ve been inviting one girlfriend over per month to decorate sugar cookies with this CLT cookie subscription box and catch up for a few hours. 

Remember though, to make sure you’re not filling up your time completely and overwhelming yourself.  Sometimes silence and doing nothing is bliss.  (One of my Ayurvedic instructors encouraged us to sit in our nothing box every so often to recharge our bodies and minds, and I totally thought only men are wired this way SO I am still in search of my nothing box ha!) Slow down, relax, recharge. I ended my day snuggling with my husband and pups on the couch by our pencil Christmas tree - playing, laughing, soaking in the joys of the holidays and twinkling lights.

Being mindful on a daily basis will allow you to be resilient.  I really wish you all an amazing holiday season and that you’ll be able to end 2020 with joy.  Much success to everyone in 2021!  

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