Joy | Raleigh, NC Photographer

To say that this year has been a whirlwind would be a COMPLETE understatement.  Stressful, emotional, trying. . . but self-empowering and pretty life-changing.  There are some circumstances that have caused myself to reflect and really ask the question: Am I happy? Am I happy with my life?  My job?  What am I doing that brings me joy?  Will I look back on this time of my life and have memories of being young and (generally) carefree, or will I only remember being being discontent and still wanting more?

For those of you who know me, discontent is NOT a word I use in my vocabulary!  I have always been a light-hearted, peppy, cheerful, excitable person.  Of course, I’ve toned down a bit since I graduated college and joined the real world/Corporate America.  I think I’ve toned down a bit more than I’d have liked.

I have the need to be creative, inspired, and challenged.


For those of you who know me personally, I announced to the world (through phone calls and Facebook) that my sister passed away last month.  This year has really hurt, because she was just diagnosed with cancer in February.  (See this post here about a fundraiser I ran in April for her)  After only 5 months of fighting this horrible cancer, she was sent home to be with the Lord.

Baby D, Lisa, Mom, and I, 2010

I knew when Lisa was diagnosed, that it would be a tough road, we just thought we had more time with her.


Lisa was such a creative person.  Naturally, I always wanted to be just like her.  We would think up lofty ideas of things to make, create, and reinvent.  We loved shopping at local thrift stores, industrial refuse centers, etc., to see what kind of deals we could strike up and how we could repurpose things to create art or even something useful.  I have always had this creative nerve in me, that I think was mostly because of Lisa.  I knew when she was diagnosed in February, that I needed to come home to be with her, because we had no idea what was to come up ahead, but also because I had been away for 6 years – attending college and starting my career.


Lisa and I, 2010


Have you ever had to choose between a career and family?  It’s SO not easy!  Having just gotten married last year, my husband and I are trying to get our feet on the ground, get steady jobs, so we can save up and one day buy a home and start a family – dreams we’ve both had for years.  By moving back to Raleigh, this was a huge decision to make – I would lose my job – which was a great job to have out of college – lose all that was familiar to me in my adult life (friends, connections, photography contacts, pride in my town) and start over again in an unfamiliar city that grew up immensely since I was last a permanent resident.  Oh yeah, and I still have car payments, insurance, and a phone bill to pay..
This was not an easy decision but I knew this wasn’t something to “think” about or “consider”.. It was the right thing to do and my heart is here in Raleigh.  I love my family and my sister is my best friend.  So we did what we needed to do – I put in my notice at my job the last week of June and we made preparations to move in July.

A week later, Lisa passed away.


Lisa and her husband, 2010


July 2, 2012 rocked my world.  I was not ready for this – we had been trying to get back to Raleigh for months, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  Events finally turned into our favor, and it seemed as soon as things fell into place, she was gone.  I believe that was exactly what she meant to do.. she didn’t want her baby sister to be around for the worst of things, and since I was finally able to come home, she left this place so I could be there to support my parents and my family.


Our last family picture – Christmas 2011 – Before Lisa’s diagnosis in February 2012



Among everything I learned from my sister, the most important rings true –  Do something that brings you joy.

Maybe it’s a hobby, a sport, a craft.. Maybe it’s home renovation or baking cupcakes or playing an instrument.  Whatever it is, don’t let it fall by the wayside when all of life’s “little things” come your way.  Take time to do something for yourself and bring some happiness into your life.  Right until the end, Lisa and I talked about projects we wanted to do and places we wanted to go.  The 3 most important things in her life were crafting, her family, and God.

My joy is photography.  I love the feeling of interacting with someone and taking on a project, completing it, and bringing happiness to someone on the other end by having something tangible that they can treasure for years to come.




That being said, as of August 1 (today!) I am no longer a resident of Greenville, NC.. but now of Raleigh, North Carolina!  I’m nervous and excited for what this brings.  Of course, I’m still happy to travel to the eastern side of the state, but will now be booking photography sessions in the Raleigh area.  I am living my sister’s legacy by pursuing the JOY in my life, and have no idea where this will take me.. but for now, this is what makes me happy and excited, and gives me a reason to remain positive and cheerful in a time where others without passion may fall.


What brings you joy, and do you follow it?


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