1315 cambodia When I think about my life I can honestly say that if I died today I would have died happy.  I have few regrets and am so very happy at my core because my driving force in life, the thing that makes me most happy, is to see God in my life.  It's not an easy task, and it's not something that comes naturally.  Nor is it something I'm constantly doing, but it is something I strive for. But truly, my aim is to see God in everything in my life.  To become so in tune with Him that I can learn to love as He loves, to feel compassion and forgiveness as He does.  To see beauty through His eyes in the most unlikely places.  That's the kind of God I believe in.

So sometimes when people ask me how I've been doing since my mom passed away, I have a difficult time finding an answer.  On one hand I still feel lost.  Three months have already passed, yet I still can't imagine living the rest of my life without her.  It feels as if the mourning will never end.  I feel myself constantly slipping in and out of dark bouts of deep sadness.  But on the other hand I remember that my mother is no longer suffering.  I remember how much good has come from her life and her passing.  I see how I've become stronger because I've clung to God during this time.  I see the doors God's opened.  I've felt such an overwhelming sense of thanks for the people, encouragement and experiences He's given me since.  I've learned that it is possible, and even okay, to feel such conflicting emotions all the time.  And even when I weigh both sides, the sadness and the hope, I find that my faith in God wins out.  I know that as long as God is my constant and I seek to find God in my experiences I always come out filled with a sense of that true peace that passes all understanding.


(The picture above is from my April 2013 trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia.)

a list and an unrelated picture from cambodia. :D

I haven't done a list in a long time so I shall list away Things about June. 1.

  1. I finished designing the bulk of my packaging goodies until I can have it all professionally done. 
  2. I had to pay for some big purchases. New packaging. Estimated tax. Two plane tickets. One conference (ALT Summit! Yay!!!!). 8 days at two hotels. ugh.  And that's pretty awesome.  I like to pay bills. I like the satisfaction of going back to "zero" every month or pay period. 
  3. This is the last month of "free" weekends. I use that very loosely. Starting in July, I'm shooting a wedding every weekend until September. Yikes. I don't know why I do that to myself.
  4. I'm not traveling at all this month... and it's nice.
  5. I've been pretty productive these first 6 days of June. I'm more productive without deadlines, ironically. I balk under pressure.  I learned that that's due to the fact that I'm a discouraged perfectionist.
  6. 6. I sold my google stock and made lots of money. I'll buy it again when it goes back down. 
  7. My parents celebrate their 40th anniversary this month. I celebrate that I think I can remember what day it is. (My sister got married the day after them and for the past 8 years I've had a hard time remembering which date was my sister's anniversary and which was my parent's anniversary. Finally another sister gave me good way to remember.)
  8. My littlest niece is 6 months old. And I'm happy to say I haven't missed her baby-ness like I have with my other nieces and nephews. I'm capitalizing on this time when I can still cradle her. 
  9. I'm very happy. I'm excited to ride my bike. The weather's been great.
  10. I started reading my first fiction book since who knows how long.  So far. So good.  I started reading it last night.  I'll likely finish it in the next couple of days. (It's good, Karen!)
  11. I keep a list of books I've read.  I'm trying to someday read 52 books in one year.  This year I'm failing miserably.  I was supposed to finish 20 books by now.  Last year I did pretty well. I almost got to 25 by the end of the year. Now I'm aiming for three books by the end of June.
  12. I like that I have stacks of books in my room.  I'm going to try to sort through the ones I've read and the ones I haven't 
  13. I'm doing Ali Edward's One Little Word Class.  My word is "fresh" and this month is "think fresh".  So far this One Little Word class has been awesome.  I love it. 
  14. So far been having really good devotions. Like REALLY good.  I'm looking forward to what else God will teach me this month.  (It all goes real well with "think fresh".) 
  15. I really need to eat some new york style pizza.  I've been also craving a caprese salad. desperately craving one.  It's been less than two months since I've been to New York.  I'm sad it'll be another three before I'm back.  This will be the longest I've been away for a long time.  But... I have an exciting idea for this coming trip.
  16. I'm 100% set on going on a trip for my 30th birthday.  I can't wait to go.  I think I'm going to start planning this month
  17. This month I also started taking a class called "Thrive".  It's been amazing and I can't wait to implement what I learn into my business.  June is my first month, but I have a handful of months of catch up work to do. 
  18. I am schedule to photograph two births this month and the more I think about it the more I think the babies will be born on the same day.  (I think the 14th.  The first 5 births I photographed were born the 14th.  Amazing, no?) 
  19. I'm going to go to the De Young this month.  For fun.  For me.
  20. I also plan on (mostly) catching up on all my project life awesomeness.

My outlook is good.  Bring it on, June.  I'm excited to see what you have for me.  yay.

And because posts are boring without pictures... Here is a picture of a gate at Angkor.  I think it's the victory gate.  I liked the smiling faces.  Enjoy :D

cambodia | ta prohm (the tomb raider temple)

Isn't kind of strange to think Ta Prohm is most known for being the temple used in the Tomb Raider movie?  I think so.  Kind of like the Burj Khalifa might be known as the tall building in Mission Impossible, and not for being the tallest building in the world.  strange. Ta Prohm is one of the temples I visited when I first when to Cambodia back in 2009 with the Raddest Photo Trip Ever.  And it's changed immensely.  In a way it's sad to me that Cambodia is making these temples more "tourist-friendly".  Like other temples, wooden boardwalks have been build around and through the ruins for accessible touring.  For me it takes away from the charm and history of what these temples once were and how what they once represented is literally left in ruins.  But add those tourist-friendly elements and I feel the "renovations" are really doing a disservice to people who come to soak in the history of Angkor Wat.  The boardwalks are also set above ground level to manuver over some of the fallen stones, but you lose the grand feeling of being on ground level looking up at these amazing structures and the ginormous trees growing out of them.  In 2009 you could climb and explore through the temples which gave me a feel for how the ancient people of Angkor used to.  Now with the boardwalks it feels detached like I'm walking through a zoo or something.

I'd highly suggest getting your butt to Cambodia and Angkor as soon as you can.  Who knows what else will be changing in the next years.  Not to mention, when I went in 2009 most of the temples were empty, so we could explore at our leisure.  This past time I visited most of the temples were overcrowded with tour-bus-loads of people.  I wasn't a fan of that.

With all that said, Ta Prohm is amazing. It's one of a few temples of Angkor Wat that is covered in the types of trees with their huge roots that climb up and over the ruins.  On this day I was alone, so it was nice to spend time sitting and soaking it all in.  I really enjoyed going through and capturing the same elements that I did in 2009 and looking back to see how my voice has changed.  This time, too, I brought along a polaroid land camera and an instax mini.  I can't wait to get those prints scanned.

.   .   .   .   .

P.s.  I love looking back at my post from my first Ta Prohm visit.  Oh how my photography changed.  Going on that trip was one of the pivotal moments in my life.  I gained so many girlfriends whom I cherish to this day... one even named Cherish, whom I went with to India.  I also learned a lot about photography, especially Amy <3 who I spent many long tuk tuk rides with.  And Richelle who I went with on this Cambodia trip!  All in all it was wonderful to return to Cambodia.  I felt like I was returning home.  I loved experiencing Ta Prohm for a second time, my eyes wiser and my photography more mature.

Here's a picture from my trip in 2009. The picture is taken of most of the group by Josh Newton.

Below is a picture of the same spot. The left from 2009 and the right from 2013.  The original left picture was a vertical image, but I cropped it to compare the two images.  You can see how they've added modern structural elements to keep the ruins from falling apart.  You can also note a vast difference in how I edit.  Crazy how so much changes in four years.

cambodia | good bye for now.

I've been in Phnom Penh for the past couple of days, and I'm sad to say my Cambodia trip is coming to end.  Cambodia has such a special place in my heart.  I couldn't tell you in words.  Maybe it's because on my first trip I met so many of my dear friends.  Or maybe it's because the people of Cambodia have big hearts.  Or maybe it's because my dear tuk tuk driver, Mr. Sith, bought me and my parents (yes, my parents) gifts.  Cambodia is been good for my soul.  I'm sad I'm heading out tomorrow. But tonight is my last night with Richelle.  So it's on.  Time to eat Chinese food (yes, Chinese food.) lol.  Then tomorrow she and I travel back in time!

(And because posts are more interesting with pictures, the one above is in Angkor Wat. Asian tourists always complete a picture.)

cambodia | beng mealea

By the time I actually arrived in Cambodia, I had been traveling for five days (traveling back from New York, trying to travel but missing my flight and the three days of flights to get to Cambodia).  To arrive in Cambodia I just felt like I was home.  Everything, although foreign, was still somehow familiar.  This is my second time visiting Cambodia, but it's changed so much since three years ago when I last visited.  Cambodia is adjusting to foreign tourists, and somehow it's losing its charm that I first fell in love with three years ago. On my first full day in Cambodia, Richelle and I went to Beng Mealea about two hours northeast by tuk tuk of Siem Reap where we're staying.  I must say, Beng Mealea is freakin awesome.  It's like a juggle gym and the temple in Tomb Raider (Ta Prohm) combined.  You can climb through the ruins or walk on boardwalks through and above the ruins.  I loved it.