I must humbly admit, I envy Amber Smith. Her confidence is unlike any I have seen in a long time (or maybe ever). It's not a confidence someone may flaunt because they think they're beautiful--although she is, and she is aware; she's gotta be! But, Amber has a confidence that reflects the appreciation she has for herself; her abilities, talents, heart. She honors that her body helps her to move, sweat, dance, smile and create. She doesn't diss herself for any imperfections, because she's too focused on her blessings.
As we were getting ready for the day, Amber didn't apologize for anything. Maybe her bedroom wasn't in perfect order, but she was okay with her that. If anything, her messy room reflected the busy, fun life she leads, along with the hard work she puts in outside of her home; Amber works her butt off--I know that because I've worked alongside her and always admired her for her ethic, even when she was given the brunt of a task.
I think we can learn a lot from Amber--especially fellow females. We are so critical of ourselves... but why? Why not compliment yourself? Why not thank your strong legs for getting you to and from, rather than wishing they were thinner or longer, or smoother? Why are we never focused on our capabilities but instead what we lack? While I sit and strive for perfection, Amber is a woman who shouts for joy about how her quirks are what make her lovely. Her spunk is infectious. I wish I could keep her in my pocket! Not only does she radiate positivity, but holy moly, will she make you pee your pants with laughter.
Not that I've photographed a long list of people, but the ones I have are not professionals, which is the way I like it. But whether it's a friend or myself, as any of us have gotten in front of the lens for this blog, we have all felt timid, or ask, "Err... so what should I do?" But, Amber needed no direction, unless it was me saying, "Oh my gosh that was amazing. Do it again."
As Amber and I were shooting, I noticed the tattoo on the back of her leg for the first time. While the bluntness of it made me giggle, Amber was quick to tell me the meaning behind it. I then realized it wasn't just ink on her skin for the fun of it, but the phrase was a reminder to herself; a reminder of her strong, feminine disposition that she wishes to turn into a business. I had Amber write a few words for you to explain what "ovary gang for life" is all about:
"Ovary Gang For Life is a feminist driven clothing line! OG4L is for women and the supporters of women rising in power and position in our daily lives. The future depends on women. We have to create and sustain fulfilling and happy lives. My clothes will reflect my aggressive attitude on the respect and admiration I believe everyone should have for women. I hope to inspire my community to love and respect women! Be an activist for your mom, sister, lover, friend. I love my ladies! Shout out to my goddesses around the world."
- Amber C. Smith
Oh, Terry Flanigan, where do I begin?
You are so many things. You are my best friend. You are my encourager, while also being my unbiased, advice-giver--thank God for that. You are so, incredibly smart (no higher education needed). You are always filling me with so much wisdom; the best wisdom, at that--wisdom from God. He speaks to you so clearly, not every day is as clear as the next, but when it is, He gives you such unique teachings to share. It's people like you that allow us to feel that much closer to a God we can't see face to face (not yet, at least). And I know the reason why He does that is because you are so faithful to Him; always reading your Bible and singing praises (no matter how good.. or bad, you sound), to Him.
You make everyone laugh. You have such crazy, good stories--stuff so good, it just can't be made up. I know that many folks have told you this: "You should write a book," and I really hope you do, Momma. It would be a best-seller. Start writing. It'd be an honor for the world to hear your story.
The biggest blessing of all that you've brought to my life is your strength. It brings tears to my eyes as I write this, because I can think on countless crummy/terrible things that have been thrown your way, and when I look at you, such a beautiful soul, you aren't deserving of any of it. But... you persevere. Always. Despite the crap, you are still singing those praises, you are still making us laugh, and you still teach us, love us and lift us up. I love you so much, mom. You've saved my life!
Not only so beautiful on the inside, but incredibly stunning on the outside. Wow. Time has not dwindled your crazy, energetic spirit (you should see her on the dance floor), nor your looks. I hope I am half the woman you are at age 57.
Love ya, hottie,
The cutest and the goofiest: Mom at my college graduation holding my flowers "pageant" style.
A trip just the two of us took to see our amazing cousins who reside in San Francisco. Can't wait to go back!
Awaiting pancakes at IHOP, after church a couple weeks back.
This is a photo of a photo, so it lacks in quality, but is one of my favorites of my mother back in the day. It hangs on my bulletin board in my room. I love that this light in my life is glowing so beautifully in this shot!
Also hanging on my bulletin board, and of course a photo I love to show off: Mom and Dad with matching outfits (suspenders and all) and basically the same hair-do--now that's love. Oh, and of course the coolest car to match. I love this photo and I love that I come from such unique people. Never a dull moment in the life of a Flanigan.
Happy Mother's day to all the hot momma's out there grindin'. Know that you are always appreciated and very much needed.
This right here is Allie Dupont, aka Allie Cat, aka Poison Ivy (i.e. above). I met her working in Over-The-Rhine at A Tavola Trattoria alongside Romer. We had our fun at A Tavola, but our days of smelling like stale pizza have come to an end.
Since leaving the restaurant, I luckily don't have to miss Allie's face too much. Still working across the street from one another, some days Allie stops in the shop before work to say hello and helps me drool over the new clothes in stock. She's a breath of fresh air when she walks in! With the cutest laugh and a comforting soul, you just feel good when you're around this girl.
Do not be fooled by her sweet demeanor... Allie is a tough chick; not just for herself, but for those around her. She had stuck up for me in a tremendous way and may have even changed my life for the better, forever because of that. She stands up for what she knows to be good and just—even if that means things getting a little messy.
There's a good lesson in that; things aren't always going to be pretty when you state your beliefs in a matter. There will be disagreements (ten times out of ten). Others get offended, angry, treat you differently, or maybe decide they don't like you altogether because of what you stand for. But to make everyone happy, to make everyone like us, to keep the "peace," does that mean we keep quiet? Even if we know a situation is wrong? I don't believe that's how it should be, and neither does Allie. She was a friend that spoke when I lacked the ability, despite any repercussions involved. While standing firm isn't always easy, it's something you never regret. Thanks for being that friend for me, Allie.
I don't know about you, but I am truly mesmerized by these photos of Miss Dupont.They are some of my favorites I've ever taken of a human. She is a lover of all things green and living, so I wanted to capture her in her element. Allie took me to her favorite greenhouse in Cincinnati: A.J. Rahn Greenhouses. It's a magical little spot. We giggled as the greenhouse kitty followed us around, Allie educated me on just about every plant in sight, and we took some new ones home with us. Although I ended up torturously killing the plants I purchased at a later date, (no green thumb, here), it was a great day together.
The piece holding the rose is a hand-molded ceramic design made by Allie from her DAAP days. She's a woman of many talents! She gifted one to me and some friends. I love that it can sit in my room as a reminder of her and hold my favorite kind of flower, too. Handmade gifts are the best kind of gifts.
There is so much beauty around us. So much to look at and be thankful for. Yet, why do we have an easier time focusing on the bad than the good? For me, it's a constant battle to redirect my thoughts from negative to positive. Sometimes I forget the tactic of grabbing ahold of that negative thought as it creeps in and immediately tell it to leave, where there are times I let it linger and it can affect my whole day (or days to come).
I was having a moment; a moment where I didn't deal with anything. I let the bad thoughts not only creep in, but build up. And as they built up, I wallowed in them. I didn't deal with them. I just swam in my worries. It got to a point where I really broke down. I broke down alone at first, but finally opened up to my loved ones (which is a must, people!) and it was my dad that actually said a phrase that has been sticking with me since. He brought up the idea of "pressure" that this feeling of pressure I've been putting on myself, (whether it be career, finances, collegiate debt, etc.) can be of good use. He told me to not sit in this pressure and keep it as a bad thought, but to utilize it. This pressure, that in some shape or form dwells in all of us, does not need to tear us down, but it is to be used as fuel. It is fuel that drives us to change our daily patterns from bad to better. It's fuel that pushes us to get off our asses and create that beautiful life we were intended for.
Pressure is a wonderful tool.
While it's still a struggle, I've been trying to get back to my old self--the self that didn't seem to think any of the bad was worth even a millisecond of my brain's time; that self was given the gift of always viewing circumstances with the glass half full. So, I had my moment, but it's time to get back. Back to good thoughts, back to taking action when my life is in need of change.
These photographs are some of "the good stuff"; stuff that helps me see that there's always something lovely to marvel in (like a sweet child's hand holding a teensy chick), and that the pressure of life ain't all that bad.
Little hands, little chick.
Man's coloring, God's coloring.
Sweet, late-night diner moments with Sarah.
The beauty of a Midwest Fall represented in one, majestic building @ Short North Columbus.
City kiddos field trippin'.
Say "hello," again to Sarah. It's been quite some time since we've seen her cute face on the blog. She was first seen here, and you can also check out her photography in my post, "Fresh Paint." The way she wanted to make her next appearance was through her favorite way of easing into the fall season: A sundress and a sweater.
No woman wants to put away her favorite dress, despite even the most frigid of temps. I can recall several times I've worn a dress that offered no amount of warmth in the middle of winter, and I sucked it up because... well, because a red, leather dress is enough of an excuse. While it's not below freezing yet, to extend the life of Sarah's Urban Outfitters day dress (similar here), she threw on my big, Gap sweater and some edgy, heeled boots.
A statement necklace is an essential, and you can always find Sarah's trusty, "world map" watch on her wrist.
What better way to capture Miss Urmston than atop of her new, humble abode? Sarah recently crossed the murky Ohio River and has planted herself in the heart of Covington, Kentucky. Her rooftop view is insanely cool and access to it is easy (with minor awkward crawling involved which makes for a good giggle). Since Sarah has moved in, we've celebrated on this rooftop numerous times; for special occasions (her 23rd birthday) or just because. The rest of her Covington surroundings continue to keep this lady inspired. It's got just the right amount of urban and charm. Every corner you turn has eye-catching appeal; vine-covered buildings, sunflowers as big as your head, and interesting murals scattered throughout.
It seemed Sarah and I had gone too long without seeing each other this past time. The stress of life had been heavy for the both of us and we desperately needed each other's company. Thanks to her new 'hood, we seem to have come up with a routine that helps take the weight off: rooftop hangs, Zola burgers, a good cider, and laughs--lots of those. Although I had an extreme fear of falling off the roof as I'd back up to capture Sarah in her entirety, the night we had and photographs we got were worth it--and thankfully, no one was hurt in the process.
Night Walkers: Sometimes a leash is a gal's best accessory.