I was about 7 years old the first time I actually remember someone asking the age-old question, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ – The funny thing is, I didn’t even know the person who asked; it was a random elderly woman who kinda asked me the question out of nowhere…

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Without missing a beat, and with incredible conviction and pride from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, I joyfully proclaimed, ‘A MOM!’

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I remember smiling so big that I could almost feel the joy radiating from my chest.

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Much to my dismay, she glanced down and with a light chuckle and said, ‘well silly girl, sure, but what do you REALLY want to be?’ … 

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My heart sank. My eyes dropped. The thumping in my chest grew louder and faster. I didn’t understand what she was asking.  What did she mean ‘what I REALLY wanted to be?’ I REALLY wanted to be a mother. Confused, I glanced back up and replied nervously, “What?” 

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“Well, what do you REALLY want to be, like, what is your JOB going to be?” she snapped.  

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 In that moment, I learned to doubt my own desires and began a pattern of looking for others for validation as to what I ‘should or shouldn’t be’ doing – what ‘would or wouldn’t make me happy’ in life instead of trusting myself.

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Fast forward a few more years and I found myself in high school facing the same question.  My guidance counselor sat me down in a corner office and said, ‘Well, what do you want to do with your life, Keri?’ 

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… in a moment, the flash of that elderly woman staring down at my 7 year old self came rushing back as if it were a movie scene..  I felt so ridiculous when she laughed at my answer. I felt so ashamed when my answer wasn’t ‘good enough.’ I was so afraid to be faced with that judgement feeling again I found myself fidgeting and my heart pounding as those thoughts came racing back. 

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“I knew I couldn’t say MOM again so I went with my safe backup – the one I convinced myself was more acceptable… “A teacher” I said.”

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A teacher. 

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Right. Perfect, I thought. It’s like being a Mom to 26 kids! My guidance counselor glanced across the table and nodded enthusiastically.

 
‘Yes! That’s a perfect fit for you,’ she said. ‘You have such a loving, joyful, patient air about you. But in order to do that you need much more schooling,’  and she busily began putting a life plan together for me.  

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I felt like I needed an oxygen mask.
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Even though I initially felt a strong sense of confusion, a loss of control and a feeling of betraying myself, I eventually grew to like the idea of being a teacher. I rationalized that being teacher would be like being a Mom to 26 kids, but the truth was that I didn’t WANT 26 kids; I just wanted 2 or 3  – maybe a puppy too.
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So, I went to college to get a degree (that I didn’t even really want.  😬) and THEN became the first in my family to get a Masters Degree (that I definitely didn’t need. 🙈)

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Have you ever had the feeling of going through the motions because you think you’re ‘supposed’ to?  Have you ever had the experience that something in your heart and in your soul, is screaming for something different but all the circumstances, people or situations in your life were telling you that it wasn’t possible?

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Trust me, I get it. 

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Even though I was moving down the socially acceptable ‘life path,’ something always felt off.  

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I knew I wanted a life that I was really excited about.  I wanted a life full of purpose and meaning. I wanted a life that made me feel happy.  A life made me feel like it was worth living. I wanted a life of adventure and fun!

….and yet I never felt like I had the COURAGE to really go for it. 

Deep down I knew I had been settling for lukewarm living.

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And then came the siren call at 2am in 2006.  

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I had just finished my Masters degree and was teaching 1st grade.  My son was born just 1 week before, and as I sat in the rocking chair holding this sweet newborn baby in my arms, my eyes welled up with tears and my desire was so clear.
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I didn’t want to miss any of this adventure of being a Mom — I had dreamed about it my WHOLE life. I wanted to remember it ALL. 

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I sat in that rocking chair holding my sweet boy when all of a sudden this wave of clarity came over me.  I had always loved photography and the way it paused a moment in time. It had been a hobby of mine ever since I could remember.  

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As I stared at my son’s sweet face, it all came into focus.  I could start a photography business! I could create a business AND be with my family! 

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With the newfound flash of clarity of how I could have the EXACT life I wanted, I forged confidently on my path and built the photography business of my dreams…

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Ha. Just kidding. 😂

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Instead, I went DIRECTLY back to what I had ALWAYS done! I ignored my heart’s calling and started asking other people––who I assumed knew better about what was right for me––to see what THEY thought about the idea… And almost unanimously, they all said ”It’s not a good idea.”

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🗣Some of them were worried that I wouldn’t make any money; wondering how I get clients? 

🗣Some of them were worried that I wouldn’t be able to support my family with a Creative business. 

🗣Others thought I had just invested so much in my graduate degree and now I was ‘throwing it all away.’  

🗣And a few of them thought it wasn’t ‘serious enough for a full time business.’ 

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After few days worth of hearing all their doubts,  I started to wonder myself…
Could I really do this? Was I being unrealistic or irresponsible?
There I was, once again, swirling in self-doubt. 😩

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And then, that same week, a friend called me in tears.  She told me her son had finally taken his first steps … with their nanny. 😳
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That was it for me. Instantly, I started imaging ALL of the precious moments I would miss with my son if I returned to my full-time teaching job. His first smile, his first ‘word’, rolling over, crawling, and of course his first steps.

Hearing my friend sobbing I knew I couldn’t go back to my teaching career. As uncertain as a future in business ownership seemed, it was a risk I had to take. 

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Whatever fears I had around not being able to find clients, that I wouldn’t be able to make a living at a Creative business, that I wouldn’t be taken seriously — None of those outweigh my biggest fear: missing being present for my own children’s childhood memories. 

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And so I did what 7 year old me hadn’t had the confidence to do. I chose to ignore everyone else’s opinions and decided to go my own way.
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And that’s exactly what I did for 14 years… (and continue to do today.) 

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Which isn’t to say that it was easy. 


❌There were 1001 reasons why starting my own business (with a newborn!) was a ‘bad idea.’ 

😳It was 100% dependent upon me and my creativity, (what if I ran out of creativity?)

💸There was no ‘guaranteed weekly check in the bank, (where would I find clients?) 

📈There was no 401K, (how do you even plan for that?)  

💵I didn’t even remotely know how to ‘run a business.’  (whatever that even means!?)

🤷🏼‍♀️There was so much uncertainty, so many unknowns, SO.MUCH.FEAR

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And yet… in the midst of all of that fear, there was also SO.MUCH.POSSIBILITY.

I’m not going to say that what they were saying didn’t set of a little bit of an alarm in my head that maybe they were right, but for the first time in my life, I decided to listen more to MY heart than other peoples heads. 

So I did the things that moved me in the direction of what I desired.

🗣It looked like telling people about my work with conviction.  

👩🏼‍💻It looked like creating a website and taking my business online.  

💁🏼‍♀It looked like strengthening my self-confidence and self care. 

🙃It looked like educating myself on doing things differently.

👭It looked like surrounding myself with people who were doing what I wanted to do.

It looked like taking action even when the path was unclear and the outcome was uncertain. 

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I spent many nights late night reading online (baby in my arms), I invested in programs and courses, I hired mentors and went to workshops.  I tested and tweaked things. 

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And while all of that was important for both my craft and the business operations, the most important thing I did was BELIEVE it was possible.  I gave myself PERMISSION to listen to MYSELF above anyone else. 

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It was the first time in a long time I decided to trust myself, to trust my courage, to trust my heart, above all other things. 
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And it worked. 

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By tuning into my own desires, priorities and dreams, I launched a successful 14 year photography career that allowed me to not only provide for my family but to also be present for them every step of the way. 

Suddenly all of the people that had told me it was a “bad idea” were celebrating my success, but the voices that really mattered to me most were the ones from people looking for guidance on how to make their own dreams a reality too. 

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Somehow the scared 7-year old that was afraid of trusting herself had become the poster child for “following your dreams!”  #smalltownlife 

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As it turns out, the part of me that loved helping people create memories with my photography business also loves helping people create memories in their everyday living by activating the courage to go after what they really desire, cheering them on and helping them compound their confidence, despite the fears.
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It was the practice of asking MYSELF what was most important to ME rather than asking for everyone else’s advice and approval that changed everything.
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The 7-year old version of me who wanted to be a MOM knew this, and though she may have forgotten about it over time, it is never too late to re-remember the TRUTH.
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Strengthening my self trust practice has created so many ripple effects in all areas of my life.
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It’s the thing that led me through a divorce with 2 kids under the age of 5.
It’s the thing that lead me through creating a successful Creative business completely by my own rules.

It’s the thing that has allowed me to be a lighthouse for others who desire more courage too.
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By telling myself the truth and launching myself into a voyage of self discovery and wonder, I have created more adventure, happiness and fulfilment than I ever knew was possible. 


By giving myself permission to go my own way, I have created a life that is truly by my design. 
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Now when people have an opinion about what it is I do, I lean into my own courage, my confidence and my self permission.  

Now when I get super overwhelmed when people tell me there’s something that I ‘should’ be doing,  I am able to feel more peace and more certainty in the things that I am choosing to do.
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And the best part is, these days when someone asks me what I am, I proudly say, a Mom and a Mentor. 

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Because I believe that we must foster the creativity of our hearts and put our souls work in the world, I am on a mission to help other women activate the courage to follow their own hearts desires too. 

I am here to empower, activate, and evoke confidence and courage in Creative women so that we can live in a way that aligns with what matters most to our hearts and to our desires.  

So if you’re like me, and you’re excited to live in a world where people are EN-Couraged to focus more on passion over predictable, choosing joy over judgement, and living into possibility over fear, write COURAGE in the comments below!  

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