Chandra: The Warrior

I don't know what it is about 2016, but this year hasn't been easy. Personally, I started the year grief stricken by the loss one of my absolute favorite humans and existed in a fog I thought would never leave.

Since then, I've witnessed so many of my friends trudging through some really, really dark hours. From friends being diagnosed with cancer, to the unexpected and untimely loss of lovers, friends, parents, and babies, this year has tested the people around me time and time again.  It seems unrelenting and consistent, to say the least.

More often than not, I find myself just wanting to curl up under the covers and stay there.  But I can't.  It wouldn't keep the bad stuff from happening anyway. I'd just be that weirdo who won't leave the house and would eventually be classified agoraphobic, I'm sure.

But what I've learned from fumbling through the dark is this: When the world expects us to be weak, we are somehow resilient.  When we are afraid, we still find the audacity to rise.  And as soon as we feel as though there's no way we could possibly carry on, we are intrepid.

My friend Chandra has walked through mountains of grief with grace and strength like I've rarely seen.  I am truly in awe of her and watching her navigate through the her grief has been, while heartbreaking, beautiful and inspiring.

She reached out to me about an idea she had for a photoshoot.  I don't remember at all what she said to me.  I just remember her saying "Warrior...Photoshoot...Healing."  And I was in.  Honestly, she could have said, "Bippity Boppity Boo" and I would have jumped at the chance to do it because who doesn't want to work with their extremely talented, fun and inspiring friends?

Since I'm clearly really good at paraphrasing, I'm going to use Chandra's words to explain this shoot a tad more eloquently.  Here's the heart behind it:

"These last few months have been some of the hardest I've ever lived through. There were multiple times that I felt overwhelmed from all sides, that I wasn't sure when i would feel normal again, or what my new normal would look like. From loss, to loss, to loss, it kept building until I was forced to just allow myself to be whatever I was and just believe I wouldn't drown. 

Then one morning, the loss started to feel less. Then the next. Then the next. Every time anxiety crept at me, I knew that I was on my way out of the worst. Strangely, I started feeling small amounts of gratitude for the opportunity to grow through loss. For the opportunity to become a better version of myself, for myself and also for other people. I started to realize your outlook on life, is how you handle grief. Every day has become brighter, the colors of trees more vibrant, the shapes in clouds, more prominent, the sunsets, more beautiful than I've ever seen. My gratefulness turned into empowerment and empowerment turned to a stronger sense of self than I could have ever imagined. And with a stronger sense of self became a sense of being proud. Proud of myself for not being afraid of coming out of the dark and seeing so much light. Sometimes knowing that it all hurts is more comfortable than accepting that it takes work to grow through the pain. 

I felt like a warrior.
When I realized this, I contacted Emily and Hayley and asked them if they would help me bring this feeling to life trough a photoshoot. This warrior feeling of having to fight through the mess and in the end, prevail." - Chandra

Hair/Style: Chandra

Makeup: Hayley

Photography: Emily (That's me!)