I have never done a series on my blog before. I think I tried to do one with my old tumblr, but the need to consistently maintain a specific theme in a series threw me off and I quickly disregarded it. But for the past month, there seems to have been one recurring thing in my heart/mind: Inspiring Women. There are tons of women in both my ideal career industry and also outside of my own interests that daily inspire me and encourage me in my own journey. And I decided, why not blog about them?! This blog is a little window to the inside of my mind and heart, and I want to include inspirations on here.
So wahh-lahh! Here it is. The first in my new series entitled, "Awesome Women You Should Know." Enjoy!
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Jasmine Star & Bianca Olthoff
Y'all, I can't even tell you how much these twin sisters have been such a source of inspiration for me over the past year. I first discovered Jasmine Star through my love of wedding photography blogs. I KNOW, I KNOW! I'm a 22 year old single Christian girl, wedding photography blogs are like, DANGEROUS. But will anyone believe me if I say I genuinely love them for the photos and the representation of love they exhibit? It's true! They're great. And what's SUPER great about Jasmine's blog is it's more than just about the weddings she shoots. It's about her life and her passion for her work and it is FUNNY. Anyway, I came upon her blog through another wedding photography blog I follow, and I soon discovered she is one of the most well-respected and well-known wedding photographers in the world! Through becoming a huge fan of her blog and following her on twitter, I also then discovered she has a twin sister who is equally as funny, smart AND inspiring! Bianca's blog is incredible. Each post raises difficult and important questions, while still managing to be funny and easily relatable. Bianca also works for the A21 Campaign, an organization dedicated to stopping human trafficking. PLEASE check out their site here: The A21 Campaign.
These sisters are superstars. AND they're Puerto Rican! I know, that is probably a small detail to some people, but for me it was so encouraging. As a Puerto Rican woman myself, I can't help but be so excited about this. Here are two gorgeous, funny, intelligent, and talented Puerto Rican women have aren't afraid to use the voices God gave them. Y'all, I could go on and on about why I love them. The list is endless. But I'll try to keep it concise. For so much of my life, I always felt like the opposite of what society told me to be as a woman. You know those gentle, delicate, ingenue types that are just super good at all things womanly? That is not me. And for awhile, I thought something was wrong with me. But seeing these sisters who are so REAL - that's what I love and admire about them most. They keep it real. They are open. And they showed me you CAN love God, be beautiful, go after your dreams, be funny and you don't HAVE to be perfect. No one is perfect. But celebrating who you are in this life, the life God has given you and you only - that is true beauty.
My two favorite quotes from Jasmine's promotional video:
"If I've learned one thing, it's to take who I am and embrace it, all of it, and celebrate it."
"I've failed a lot more than I've ever succeeded. I think that's the way life works. You fail a lot more. And the more you fail, the more you'll succeed. So here's to many more failures."
OOOOH girl, PREACH!!!
And from Bianca's video:
"In moments when things seemed impossible, things were always possible through God."
"I realized that everything I have done and everything that has been done to me, for me or against me has been for a purpose. God has done everything in my life for a purpose."
Chills. Beautiful. SO. REAL.
I'm not a photographer and I'm not an amazing speaker. I'm in a completely different phase of life than both Bianca and Jasmine, and yet I relate SO much to what they share. Maybe it's this unspoken connection between really loud, crazy, emotional Puerto Rican women? But seriously, I think their transparency is really admirable. Especially about the issue of struggling with their weight growing up - this is one of the things I relate most to. Weight has been a struggle of mine my whole life and is a huge part of my testimony. I know I've blogged about it before, but anyone who struggles with weight will tell you how encouraging it is to hear other people's stories. For so long my weight DEFINED me. I would look in the mirror and I wouldn't see a person and I wouldn't find my identity in Christ - I would see WEIGHT. And it glared at me and made me feel worthless. Overcoming these lies has changed my life, and seeing two other women go through something similar and overcome it and still think about it and TALK about it honestly? It's amazing and I feel like more women should be honest. You know those blogs out there that only show the glossy parts of someone's life and actually just make you feel really crappy about your own because you're like, DANG! how come MY hair doesn't look that good when I'm crafting paper lanterns and also, WHY DO I NEVER CRAFT PAPER LANTERNS OR HAVE THE DESIRE TO? When I read Jasmine's or Bianca's blog, it's pretty much the exact opposite effect. I see real life. I see two successful, beautiful women who make it WORK. Who have taken life and decided to get the most out of it. Who celebrate their own journey. Who don't find their identity in shallow things.
Which brings me to another point I love about them- they are both married but don't find their identity in their husband. I LOVE this! They both have careers and are so, SO passionate about their work and God! I feel like so often, even though I'm only 22, I feel a distinct pressure in the Christian community to become a wife and homemaker SOON and spend all day finding recipes on Pinterest. But that's not the story God is writing for me right now. It is okay that I packed up a suitcase and moved to Los Angeles a few months ago with literally nothing but my faith in God and my dreams. It is okay that I am PURSUING those dreams of writing and performing, and that I want to have a career and that I want to go to graduate school. And it is even MORE okay to want all of this and to want to be married one day and that I shouldn't find my identity in anything earthly. They also both love their families so much and I can relate to that--I love my family more than anything. The way my sisters and I can make each other literally laugh until we cry, the outbursts of crazy dancing, the way it's hard to get a word in over one another, but I wouldn't trade it for anything--family is so important and I love how they both share this on their blogs.
Listen, it's no secret that I am a lover of words. Ever since I was a little girl, I have read words and been in love with stories. Words mean so much to me. And women like Jasmine and Bianca who use the words God put inside of them? It's freaking awesome, y'all. I believe so strongly we can't waste these words! We each have our own distinct, wonderfully unique, powerful voice that is a gift from God. We need to learn to use them and to not be afraid.
So thank you Jasmine and Bianca. For being examples of the kind of woman I hope to be. A woman who is strong and fearless and real. Because that is inspiring.