Making Your Passion Happen

This post was sponsored by Astellas as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Do you have a dream or passion too, that you have pursued? Tell me your story, and enter the Dancing With the Stars Sweepstakes today! KeepOnDancing #IC #ad

I have been a big believer in nurturing your passions for as long as I can remember.

I think it’s because I’ve seen my own parents rediscover passions, and pursue them. This includes travel, career, and personal dreams and passions. When you see your own parents rediscover old-rooted passions and hobbies, and then pursue them into lifestyles or careers, I think you have no choice but to follow suit! For me, it’s always been photography, and learning where I wanted to go with that. In fact, I’m still learning and I think I always will be perpetually discovering.

I figured out I wanted to be a photographer when I was on the school bus. I was in 6th grade, huddled against the cool window pane as the bus went up the winding mountain road. I was a mountain kid. We got the BEST snow and we were safe from flooding, but the school and pretty much anywhere else we wanted to go was in the valley. Down a winding mountain road. My neighbor’s stop was coming up and he was standing in the aisle, facing the back of the bus. The sun was peeking through the window and lighting his blond eyelashes. I thought I had never seen something so beautiful. I thought, “I could write about this moment but is that enough to take with me? Is that enough to show other people what I saw?” It wasn’t.

When my parents first placed a neon pink Vivitar LA Brites camera in my outstretched hands at age seven, my photography fever began, and never ended. I amassed quite a collection of odds and ends, cameras and films. I even “borrowed” my older sister’s neon yellow Vivitar LA Brites camera to see if it took the same pictures as my pink one. (It did) My collection grew over the years, as well as my knowledge of photography. I had a giant Polaroid camera, a mini Polaroid i-Zone camera, several small point-and-shoots, my father’s old Retina and my grandfather’s old video camera. I needed to see how they all saw the world – or how I saw the world through them. Then, I studied darkroom photography in high school and in college.

My years of camera and film accumulation and photography experience brought forth a passion to capture joy, strength, character, sadness and more – humanity and spirit at its most descriptive, raw and real. It was all a big dream for so long.

I remember my apprenticeship after college, and how nervous I was before my first professional shoot. In fact, I still get nervous and I realize it’s a part of who I am and always will be. It’s because I care. I always thought I’d do something else with my life – and I’ve found myself waffling a lot in life. I remember the day I talked to a career coach who said there was really only one answer, and I should stop looking for jobs that include working for other people. She’s right! I was born to be a writer and photographer. I started my business with a three-month-old and a toddler. I did head shots for a local author with baby Des strapped to my stomach. Her point of view must have been hilarious. All I could see at the time was mine:

And now it’s a dream come true, which never feels like you think it will feel. It’s complex and layered. It’s achy – physically and emotionally. It’s a lot of give without as much take, at least in the beginning. It’s a gift to be able to dream, though.

And I hope for everyone to receive and/or pursue that very gift.

For years now, I have watched “Dancing with the Stars.” This show aligns deeply with my values, and since my sisters have a heavy dance background, I have vicariously lived that life. I have my own dreams, but I have always dreamed of being able to dance and soar. I love the dancers’ individual stories. It proves that it’s never easy to pursue your passions. Often, we are fighting against both internal and external obstacles. It’s a wonder that so many of these dancers achieve their dreams to dance in front of so many people, and then keep moving forward. Life often gets in the way of our true passions.

For some people, like on “Dancing with the Stars,” that’s dancing. And yet, it’s different things for different people. Right now, there’s a “Keep on Dancing” Sweepstakes – sponsored by Myrbetriq® (mirabegron) – and it’s a reminder to never give up on the things you love. You can rediscover your passion and enter for a chance to win a trip to a 2018 taping of “Dancing with the Stars.” There you will see these amazing people pursue their passions, and think about your own.

Rediscover YOUR passion and enter for a chance to win a trip to a 2018 taping of “Dancing with the Stars” here.

What’s your passion?

Our Holiday Traditions With Coke®

This post has been sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

There's a moment you know it's the holiday season. Here's our favorite holiday traditions. Plus, enter to win a trip to LA #sweepstakes #ad #CocaColaHoliday

My mom and I always say that there’s an exact moment the holiday season hits you, right in the heart.

Maybe you’re snuggled up with your five-year-old watching a holiday movie. Maybe you’re on your town’s version of the Santa Train, and the conductor is belting out “Jingle Bells.” Perhaps it’s the first time you’re seeing Santa Claus for the season, or the first time your child is. Maybe it’s a snowflake on your tongue, a just-right gingerbread cookie, or the sound of sleigh bells ringing. Whatever it is, it heavily involves your five senses. For me, it’s always smell. The smell of baking!

Believe it or not, the holidays are SO CLOSE! This is our time for family togetherness – where we honor traditions and food and drinks. Every year I look forward to Christmas Eve, where we bake cookies for Santa (and for loved ones, of course) and we stay up late watching movies and making a mess too! These are some of the memories I want my kids to remember forever. While they never stay up as late as we do, some of the best times are just us adults. My dad takes out a bunch of drinks and snacks and we get to work – talking, laughing, baking, and cleaning. It’s always a bit magical. A LOT magical.

Want to know the best part? Not only can you share your own holiday traditions, but you can win a trip to LA to see a private screening of The Greatest Spokesman! Do you shop at Sam’s Club too? Awesome. This holiday season, include Coca-Cola® as part of your tradition. Pick up Sprite® 4 pack 2 Liter, Diet Coke® 4 Pack 2 Liter, Coca-Cola® 35 pack cans, or Coca-Cola® 30 pack Mini Cans beverages from Sam’s Club, then upload your receipt for a chance to WIN a trip for two to Los Angeles featuring:

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3 – Two 20th Centry Fox goodie bags
4 – Three nights’ luxury accommodations in a Hollywood hotel
5 – VIP backstage tour of Fox Studios, with lunch at the on-site restaurant
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There's a moment you know it's the holiday season. Here's our favorite holiday traditions. Plus, enter to win a trip to LA #sweepstakes #ad #CocaColaHoliday

What are you waiting for? Get to Sam’s Club for your chance to win these amazing prizes! As a kid, we’d always go to a movie on Christmas Day. These days it’s harder because we have Christmas at my parent’s horse farm and they have seven grandkids, with two on the way. The kids range from newborn to age eight. There’s not an easy way for ALL of us to go to the movies, but that used to be our tradition. Who knows? Maybe we’ll start it as a new tradition! It’s always such a special time together.

These days there are so many parts to the wonder and magic of the holiday. There’s Christmas Eve with making all the magic for the kids. Then there’s that time where we’re all together but the kids are in bed. That’s when we kick back more.

We make a mess, and my parents put out the best snacks and drinks, with special straws while we get to work. I always joke that I could have just eaten a five-course meal, but the second I walk into my parent’s house, I’m looking through their fridge within the first five minutes! They never disappoint year-round, but there’s something about the holidays.

They always have a ton of snacks and Coca-Cola®!

There's a moment you know it's the holiday season. Here's our favorite holiday traditions. Plus, enter to win a trip to LA #sweepstakes #ad #CocaColaHoliday

And that’s one of the many things that makes the holiday season so special. It’s tradition and family. It’s special occasion food and drinks. And it’s making the magic with the kids, and then having our own little party after they go to bed!

So get to Sam’s Club and get your Coca-Cola® products for your opportunity to win this chance of a lifetime grand prize! And tell me – what are your holiday traditions? Are they anything like mine? I love how ours change every year, but some things always stay the same.

So, what are your best holiday traditions?

“Coca-Cola” is a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company.

There's a moment you know it's the holiday season. Here's our favorite holiday traditions. Plus, enter to win a trip to LA #sweepstakes #ad #CocaColaHoliday