Hiding behind a smokescreen.

By definition, to hide behind a smokescreen means to put or keep (oneself or an object) in a secret place; conceal from view or discovery. A smokescreen is a place of concealment, usually disguised to appear as part of the natural environment; primarily used by hunters, birdwatchers, etc. 

But hiding behind a smokescreen isn't exclusive to hunters. Even you and I- regular humans- try to disguise and 'fit in' as to appear part of our "natural environment".  

Fitting in. Familiarity and comfort zones. The unnoticed cozy feelings that keep us from taking chances and having some faith in ourselves for once. And unlike popular belief, focussing on your personal comfort and ability to blend in only keeps you from owning up to the calling that was personally and intentionally given to YOU.

What do we expect God to do with a bunch of minions with no personality and no originality? Isn't the entire concept of free will one that clearly tells us that our belief revolves around personal relationship? For that reason, I believe the plan for your life is bigger than living like a minion. Of course, whether you see the reality or not is entirely up to you. I am just pointing out the fact that there are billions of us who are each unique, so trying to have us all‘fit in’sounds redundant to me. 

When we try to hide behind smokescreens, what we are essentially doing is hiding ourselves (or toning our true selves down a notch) in order to feel like we belong. Putting aside our convictions and giving into peer pressure. Acting in whatever way seems to appease those around us.

I am sure most of us have found ourselves hiding behind a smokescreen at one point. The main (of many) issues I see with that, is the fact that we get stuck in this 'wannabe' version of ourselves, comparing and measuring up and, as a result, we develop enough insecurities to put us on antidepressants. 

The good news is that we don't have to stay there, there is no need to hide. Hiding stems from a lack of self-confidence, and the constant comparison of ourselves to one another that allows their expectations of us define us. Oh, and also for putting too much focus on what you're NOT rather than WHO you ARE.. It stems from not understanding that each of us are one of a kind, deliberately and purposefully made to be the way we are. Intentionally unique

Don't get me wrong, smokescreens are a challenge for us all at some level. The key is recognizing it and reminding yourself to keep discovering who you are and what you stand for. And when you find it- fight for it. God can't bless the person you pretend to be.

Wearing For Love and Lemons sweaters, Camilla bathing suit, Xevana jewelry
Shot by Hannah Burton

Ixiah

Its Tuesday, 6:17am. I got up at 4 something so I could get some work done before Zion woke up, and the first thing I read on my phone was a text from Wendy Strong. Wendy is a mom of 4, a wife (whose husband is currently traveling with my husband) and as strong of a woman as her name would suggest. The text read:

"Just in case your mind is playing tricks on you today: You matter. You're important. You're loved. And your presence on this Earth makes a difference, whether you see it or not."  She continues, "I know when the boys are away and doing really cool things that sometimes it actually sucks being home. Saturday for me was crazy and a day I wish I could forget, so if you're having a crazy sucky day when everything seems to be going wrong and your kids and life are driving you mental, I want you to be encouraged that we actually are playing a major "non glamorous" role and to keep pushing through and know that you matter, you're important and that you got this. Praying that you're all having a great day and that when the kids are in bed tonight, that you find time to rest and chill out and not be overwhelmed with the business of our everyday lives."

So, you might be asking yourself, what does this text have to do with these photos? Well, not much. But this editorial looks especially "glamorous" to me. It is glossy and sunny, we aimed to create a 'bronzed goddess' look, rich in color and contrast. But when these photos were being taken the conditions were not as glam. Hot and sweaty sun, hard to stand on rocks, a 2 year old boy a few steps away who was about to either tackle me to my death or fall down the rocks at any given moment. Any moms reading this would understand the multitasking abilities that it takes to watch your child and keep them safe while trying to focus on something else. I've obviously had much worse days than this one and definitely have dealt with much bigger problems than the simpler day to day struggles. But I still felt like I should mention the not-so-glamorous conditions that produced these glamorous images. Its easy to just show our best, but its the REAL that connects you to people, its the vulnerability that brews compassion. 

The point is not to complain or to compare our difficulties, the point isn't to say that balancing life is tough- we already know that.  The point is to remind you that we are all on the same boat, trying to navigate life without knowing where its taking us. Its easy to look at someone's life and assume they have it easier than we do, that if only we had their lives, then we would be happy. But things are never as glamorous as they look. People never have it as easy as we think. And because of that, we are always better off together, supporting each other and encouraging one another. 

"Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

I hope you enjoy 

X Es

 

Editorial for Ixiah - Shop at http://ixiah.com/eboutique/
Produced by WHOOLAND LLC
Photography: Hannah Burton
MUA: Rachel Julia Artistry
Creative Direction: Me

An explosion of Color.

I love changing things up. There are always so many creative thoughts going through my mind, so many different vibes on my inspiration board. Why not be both classic and silly? Play with both beautifully simple black and whites and explore explosions of color? If we have been given the freedom and capacity to create, the free will to choose love and recognize beauty, why wouldn't we open our minds and hearts to the bigger picture rather than confining ourselves in the "safe"?

Its all abut perspective. Abraham Lincoln once said “we can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” We complain about this generation that has become so promiscuous and irreverent, but what are we actually doing to shape this generation? Are we even relevant and appealing?

When I speak about creativity I don't only speak of art. Creativity, to me, is to have the understanding of how to not necessarily adapt but help SHAPE our culture. Create a new beautiful, define the new "goal", live by the moral standards you say you believe in and present that as the new cool. Figuring out how to align your life with the Word while having an impact  and understanding of the World. Why try to separate and divide what is meant to be united for the same purpose? Isn't our duty to utilize the tools God has graced us with to glorify him in our individual ways? But for whatever reason we still choose to play safe. Culture doesn't define us, we define culture. The closer we get to our creator the more creative we get. The more creative we get, the more we can help shape culture. 
 
“How is it, that for many of us, being a good Christian is nothing more than being a good person? The entire focus of our faith has been the elimination of sin, which is important but inadequate; rather than the unleashing of a unique, original, extraordinary, wonderfully untamed, faith.” 
― Erwin Raphael McManus

Whoever tells the best story shapes the culture. 
 

Shot by Hannah Burton
Art Directed by me