2014 was rocky for me. I was sick very often, which has never happened before. I felt complacent in my work –measured its quality by the reactions of others instead of its own merit. I also went nowhere, which my wanderlust heart cringed at. So when 2015 rolled around, I made myself a promise: do more. I was going to break out of my box both personally and professionally.

And as 2015 draws to a close, I like to think that I did just that.

Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, and Kyoto. I got a plane every chance I could. Sometimes alone, oftentimes with friends. When my best friend of twenty years told me she was eloping with her boyfriend and could I get on a last minute flight to Vegas, I said yes. When my other best friend asked if I wanted to accompany her to a grad school interview in New York, I said yes. When my coworker asked whether I wanted to spend my birthday outside of LA, I said yes. And we flew into her hometown of Chicago together. When a group of friends I recently met invited me along on their Japan trip, I said yes.

Because why not?

If it’s not obvious by now, I prefer taking my own photo rather than having someone else take it for me. But in 2015, I relented and collaborated with one of most talented people I’ve ever met. I met Lauren through Instagram and found not only someone I respect as an artist, but someone I could count as a friend. 

An ex of mine told me that I was the most guarded person he had ever met and he hopes one day I would be able to let someone in. In 2015, I let thousands in. It was through Instagram that I allowed my walls to be lowered. In 2013, fresh off a breakup, I had begun a 365 project to reflect upon my past relationships. The entirety of the series is posted exclusively on IG (with a select few on my website); but in 2015 I kicked it up a notch – pairing imagery with words to create true, visual stories. I didn’t really expect anyone to listen or even like, but the response was overwhelming. People not only responded positively to my story, but came to me with stories of their own – their own tales of love, loss, and growth.  

And it was through Instagram that I received one of my coolest inquiries to date – the opportunity to shoot Ashley Tisdale. A few other notable names in my book this year include: actress Kelli Berglund (of Lab Rats), singer Cailee Rae, actress Katherine McNamara (of The Maze Runner series), and actress Lana Condor (Jubilee in the upcoming X-Men movie). 

And as 2015 draws to an end, I can only say: box? what box? 2015 has been incredible. 2016 won’t know what hit it. 

photo by Lauren Naylor.


Date: October 3, 2015.

Time: 10:26PM PST

Status: Unable to sleep, so I write.

I am very pleased to find that I have less than 50 images left in this project. If you’ve been following along since the beginning (2013), you’ll know that this has been a long journey. Granted, a lot of it was pre-written before hand (as early as 2008); but shooting it, curating it, and rolling it out as been an emotionally arduous process. And today, to find myself so close to end, I feel relieved.

These are chapters that need a close – a book that needs to be returned to the shelf. The past is an easy place to visit. A carefree stroll down memory lane is intoxicating because your mind has already eradicated all the bad memories that have once littered the sidewalks of these streets. But that is not the whole truth nor is it the honest truth. It’s a fabrication composed by the thread and needle of time. 

It’s easy to let the what-if’s and the the would-have-been’s haunt you, but don’t. Because if you’re too busy being blinded by that, you’ll never see the what-will-be. There is no doubt that your past makes you who you are, but it does not dictate who you will be. I have no regrets because I’ve written them all and tossed them to the wind. My past may have defined this project, it may have defined my work, but it does not define me.

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