It's all at your finger tips.

Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
- Jack Canfield

I’d say I’m both fearless and fearful. 

Everyone is, right?  We all battle between fearlessness and fearfulness and figuring out which situations each is most appropriate.  Walking down a dark, shady alley in the middle of the night in the worst part of town? Fearfulness is probably the wise choice. It prevents you from doing something that could potentially harming you.  Talking to strangers at a conference? Fearlessness is the trait to have so you can meet and connect with people. 

A lot of times I’m fearless. Sometimes I chalk it up to youngest child syndrome, growing up with my parents and five older siblings always taking care of me, leaving me with very few worries.  OrI think back to losing my job and the perspective I gained from realizing God’s plans for my life were far better than anything I could dream up myself. Whatever it is that made me fearless, I’m grateful whenever I choose it.

It was fearlessness that propelled me to go to Alt Summit without knowing anyone, then eventually pitching a class idea to them and teaching the following year.  It was fearlessness that compelled me to build up my blog and reach out to brands for collaboration.  I chose fearlessness and so far it hasn’t let me down.  But it’s really not that easy. I can recall just as many instances when I missed opportunities because I let fear get in the way. The time I didn’t talk to the photographer I admired because I was too scared he’d think I was crazy.  Or the time I didn’t submit a wedding to a publication because I was scared it’d be rejected. Fear can be a real enemy to our happiness. 

That’s why I love that quote by Jack Canfield so much, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” We can’t let fear keep us from our dreams. I see a lot of colleagues and friends who are crippled by their fear of the future.  I sit there and watch as they stay stagnant, my own imagination dreaming of all the amazing things they can do.  But then I see something in them, a glimmer of hope and I see them slowly gripping the strength of fearlessness. I see as they choose fearlessness, then they choose it again, and again, and again.  And I see their lives change before my eyes.

See, when you choose fearlessness, you choose to open yourself up. You open yourself up to God’s plans for your life.  You open yourself up to your dreams.  Ultimately you open yourself up to your own happiness.  You must let fearlessness win!

Choose to live a life of fearlessness! Grab hold of your dreams. Charge forward. It’s all at your fingertips. 

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. June 18, 2015 | Canon Rebel XSN + Fuji s-400 processed by Richard Photo Lab

CHATTANOOGA | THE GUIDE

To say we loved Chattanooga is an understatement.  Sure enough, there aren't too many places Lance and I don't like, but Chattanooga has that charming small-town/big-enough-city vibe.  While this isn't a thorough guide at all, here are the basics of what we ate and did on our little Chattanooga Trip. (You can follow our trips on instagram #theHandsonadventure)

EAT

Milk & Honey. Oh man. This was soooo good. I can't wait to go back.  I tried convincing Lance to stop here on our way back from the Smokies, but we didn't have time.  I loved this place. See my post about it here.  135 N Market St, Chattanooga, TN 37405

Beast + Barrel. This place was amazing.  It was a splurge for us, but it was totally worth it.  We ordered bone marrow for an appetizer and two duck burgers.  Everything was mouth-wateringly delicious.  The ambience is hipster/speakeasy in design and the staff was real friendly.  Beast + Barrel was fancier than where we normally eat, but I'd say the price of the food was reasonable for the quality of our food and the service. 16 Frazier Avenue, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37405

Bluegrass Grill.  Lance's friend recommended this to us, and my omelette was amazing. I ordered the "Joan Marie's Special" omelette with herbed cream cheese, spinach, swiss cheese and tomatoes.  Amazing. Soooooo good.  You should definitely eat here when you visit Chattanooga. 55 E Main St, Chattanooga, TN 37408

Big River Grille & Brewing Works.  This was another recommendation, and it didn't disappoint.  I ate the Lobster & Shrimp Enchiladas and the house IPA which were both yummy.  The lobster and shrimp were fresh and cooked really well. 222 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN

Rembrandt Coffee. A bunch of people recommended this coffee shop to me.  I don't drink coffee, but Lance said their coffee was great (even better than Stumptown).  I had a peach italian soda, and it was delicious.  It's in the Arts District and a great place to sit outside, read and enjoy the weather. 204 High St, Chattanooga, TN 37403

Sticky Fingers Smokehouse.  This was yummy as well.  To me, it didn't stand out much compared to other barbecue places I've eaten at, but their wings in their staple carolina sauce was totes yummy.  It's a chain, so check it out if it's in your local city. 2031 Hamilton Place BoulevardChattanooga, TN  37421

Rita's.  I guess this is a chain, but I was excited to try their custard, as I heard it was really yummy, which it was.  Lance had an italian ice with custard which was soooooo much better.  I just discovered there's a Rita back in the Bay Area, so if you get a chance, cool off on one of these summer nights with an italian ice and custard combo. 100 Market St, Chattanooga, TN 37402

DO

Walk the Walnut Street Bridge.  (pictured at the top of the post) Not only is it good exercise, but it connects two lovely parts of Chattanooga.  You'll be able to visit the Hunter Museum on one end and Coolidge Park on the other.  It was a beautiful walk with great views of the Tennessee River.

Visit the Bluff View Art District. We explored the sculpture garden and the little shops in this area. This is a great little area by Walnut Street Bridge.  There's are a bunch of little shops here, even Rembrandt Coffee.

See the Volkswagen USA Cycling National Championships. We were very lucky to see the race throughout Chattanooga.  It's not something we'd actively watch, but we were so excited that it happened to be in Chattanooga the same time as us.  In fact it was pretty thrilling.

Visit Lookout Mountain. Rocky City & Ruby Falls. We loved little touristy gems like this.  Anything including the outdoors and nature, really, we love! Check out my blog post here.

Explore the Renaissance Park.  We stumbled on this park after eating at Beast + Barrel.  It was raining that day, but it would have been a beautiful place for an afternoon picnic and reading.  A small creek ran through the park that you could walk across on a bridge or view on an overlook.

 

Chattanooga, Tenessee. May 23-26, 2015 | Fuji x100s & iPhone 6

Lookout Mountain | Rocky City x Ruby Falls

When Lance and I visited Chattanooga over Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to see Lookout Mountain, a mountain ridge at the southern part of the Smokey Mountains that spans the states of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. At first I just thought it was somewhere we'd hike, but Lance explained to me that within Lookout Mountain were several tourist attractions.  We visited two of the attractions, Rock City and Ruby Falls. Now I have a love/hate relationship with tourist attractions.  You've got to visit touristy places when you travel. They usually are worth the visit. You wouldn't go to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower or San Francisco without seeing the Golden Gate Bridge.  But at the same time, tourist attractions are usually very crowded and some of the attraction is usually lost in its availability to visitors.  So I loved/hated Rock City & Ruby Falls.

Rock City is beautiful.  You follow a paved trail through multiple rock attractions, from narrow rock passages you have squeeze in between to get through, to huge rocks balance precariously on smaller rocks to waterfalls coming out of rocks.... about any kind of rock formation you could imagine from an Appalachian Mountain. I loved experiencing the different views and rock formations.  However, the paths are somewhat narrow, so you're constantly corralled by anxious tourists around you.  For someone who gets anxious in crowds, this place was a nightmare.  I imagine, had we gone on a non-holiday weekend, it would be less busy.

But I definitely think Rock City is worth the visit.  We saw breathtaking views of the area and enjoyed the nice walk through the mountain.

During our walk, we encountered several passages like this where some people would have to turn sideways to walk through.  One passage in particular, I think, was named "Fat Man Squeeze".  (I was waiting for the woman in front of us to have a panic attack.  She was freaking out.)

Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Rock City Lookout Mountain Photography

Ruby Falls was beautiful as well.  Story is Leo Lambert, the man who once owned this section of the mountain, wanted excavate the mountain to reach an existing tunnel that was sealed years before.  While drilling into the mountain, they hit an air pocket and from there Lambert and a crew of men crawled for hours until they happened about a huge cavern with a waterfall in it.  He later named the waterfall Ruby Falls after his wife, Ruby.  That was December 28, 1928 (which is awesome because our wedding was also on December 28.) According to the website, "Located over 1120 feet beneath the surface, Ruby Falls is the nation’s largest and deepest waterfall open to the public."

The Ruby Falls tour takes you through the natural caves within Lookout Mountain, somewhat following the original path Lambert crawled.  It was quite the adventure spelunking through these caves. We loved it. The different stalactites and stalagmites were amazing.  When we finally reached Ruby Falls, we weren't disappointed.  The mouth of the waterfall was located high above our heads.  According to our tour guide they have no idea where the water comes from, but it does tend to flood the caves when it rains.

Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography
Chattanooga Ruby Falls Lookout Mountain Photography

All in all Rock City and Ruby Falls were definitely worth the visit.  We both a double pass that included both attractions at a discounted rate.  There was no wait for Rock City.  For Ruby Falls, we had to wait about an hour even though we already had our tickets.  They do not have separate lines for people with or without tickets.  If you want to visit either of these attractions, just know there's no advantage of buying ahead of time.

Rock City & Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, TN. May 25, 2015 | Fuji x100s & iPhone 6