be your own beautiful

the secret that i knew, in miss america's top ten...

yes, there was a hidden secret in the miss america top ten last night.  

it's a secret that i'm sure many others from around our area know, in their own ways, but to me and my family, i will reveal our part.


Mackenzie Victoria Bart, formerly of brockway, pa, landed herself in the top ten, at the miss america pageant last night, as miss ohio.  I know members of my family, and so many people in our area were excited to watch this great accomplishment.  

but for me, as i watched mackenzie (Miss Ohio), make it to the next round, to the next round, to the next round, the secret I refer to began to unfold in my head. 

i met mackenzie years ago. 

her mom, worked with my brother in law at the pa state police barracks.  i remember him talking about her (mackenzie and her sister, gabrielle), and the talented girls that they were.  my mother in law and he, would go to the different places that she was performing and would come home raving about this special girl. 

some years later, as my own sisters were getting older, they ended up in a few pageants.  my sister shannon landed herself a spot in the miss pennsylvania pageant.

the road to miss pennsylvania was certainly not a cheap one.  and most of the girls there had years of experience, training, and preparation for a competition such as this.  

the beginning of the miss pennsylvania road for shannon, actually started in brockway, pa.  

the pageant held there was organized by mackenzie's mom, janice.  

mackenzie was a preteen at the time, and janice saw potential in my sister shannon.

janice took shannon completely under wing…helping to purchase her dresses, finding her the pageant swim suits that she needed…prepping her, (janice was learning the ropes herself), and literally holding her hand and walking her through the whole way.

it was a gracious, beautiful act on janice's part.

however, that is not the secret.  

the secret is, that at this same time, janice and mackenzie started their own journey that ultimately landed them to where mackenzie stood last night.

(this is mackenzie and shannon at one of the pa pageant evenings).

(this is mackenzie and shannon at one of the pa pageant evenings).


and this night, was the beginning of where my family began to see the goals and dreams that janice and her mom would work tirelessly to fulfill. 

the secret that time, rejection, hard work and a never ending vision of attaining a goal, would be lived out for all those around them to see. 

i speak from experience, and as an adult:

it is not easy to keep focused on a goal. 

it is not easy to not be caught up in life itself and the responsibilities it brings. 

it is not easy to be a GREAT mother to all of your children.

it is not easy to keep your head up when your goal takes YEARS to attain.

but  the secret in that miss america's top ten last night, is that you CAN DO IT.  

if you remain focused on the goal that you KNOW you are being called to, it can happen - it does happen.  

mackenzie and her mom showed us all.  

maybe never even knowing they were revealing this secret in so many ways.  

but those that have watched this journey…those that know janice…those that know their family…we are privileged and honored to have watched this often great life mystery, unfold and be revealed.

so from a dreamer…a parent…a sister...

congratulations mackenzie, and the entire bart family.  

the crown you wear is one that you have shared with us all.  

and the sparkle of it has and will reach more than you may ever know. 

you are truly a beauty darling!



sweet carlee all grown up / lakeshore country club erie, pa / joelle watt studios

i met the constable family…hmmmm….i'm not even sure how. :)  (way to finish a thought joelle!)

it doesn't matter anyway….all i know is that this family became not only one of my biggest promoters (josh would put my blog up on the "big screen" in the operating room at drmc!), and more importantly-great friends.  

carlee was their little girl, and years ago, when the majority of my business was wedding photography, i decided that i would like to branch out more into kids portraits, carlee was my model to do just that.  i had tons of promotional material printed with her sweet face, and her parents equally used her images at home to remember that special time in her life.  

eventually, the constables moved to erie, pa. 

last fall, i had the honor of shooting josh's sister, brianne's wedding, and just weeks ago, i revisited erie to shoot a handful of families.  carlee's mom, stacey, and i had spoken and she had thought that it would be a great time for carlee to have her portraits taken again.  carlee will soon turn 16!  she is an accomplished runner, an excellent student, and a beautiful girl…both inside and out.  

it's hard to believe this sweet little girl has blossomed into this stunning young lady - and it goes to show how fleeting time really is!  that our children grow up right before our eyes, and that today is the day to capture your child at whatever age they show them the beauty that you see in them everyday, and to hold on to a time that we can never get back.

carlee, what a beautiful, strong, intelligent lady you have grown to be!  it has been such an honor to capture your beauty and your spirit through my lens.  much love to you sweet girl-

you are beautiful darling!

i have no idea what year we did these!  maybe 2007 or 2008?

look who grew up!

i just MAY see a family resemblance!  it's car lee's aunt brianne…and hey!  the bridge looks familiar too :)))

bailey's story…in honor of ichthyosis awareness month

the month of may is ichthyosis awareness month.  my friend bailey lives with this condition.  

bailey is one of the most beautiful women i have ever known.  she took her struggle and turned it into her blessing.  this woman is a rare jewel, and i am so honored to call her my friend.  

last year, my daughters and i had the opportunity to chronicle bailey's journey, in her own words "from insecurity to confidence."

bailey is truly her very own beautiful.  

i've shared this before, but invite you to open your heart once more to bailey's story.



NYC…Mother Teresa and Me…Be Your Own Beautiful

it started out as the most exciting opportunity...

my new Be Your Own Beautiful…girls, teens and women's seminars, are doing just lovely….actually, they are doing more than that.  they are nearly exploding in my hands…the response has been unreal!  

and an invitation to go to NYC and present at this wonderful national event….

i couldn't help but be excited, and all "WOW" about it :))).


but leading up to the event, things were far from lovely.

i got really sick….i mean really, really sick.

i was thankful that i was getting it when it came on, instead of when i was scheduled to arrive in NYC, but i was anxious about getting over it in time to leave for the trip.

then 2 of my kids got it.  chaz came down with it.

and have i mentioned the weather?

if you are from this area, you know EXACTLY what i'm talking about…if you aren't, this is what it looked outside our house… (excuse my poor iPhone photos)



the snow was unreal…more was on it's way…we wondered if we could even get to the city….

but i was on a mission...

the mission that God had placed on my heart….

i needed to go to NYC and everywhere else to shout from the mountaintops this message:

Psalm 139:13-16  (MSG)
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out...
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!


Psalm 138:8 
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; 
your love,  O LORD, endures forever...

i had a total of 9 people leaving for NYC from DUBOIS to attend this event.  

I was honored, humbled, excited...

i hitched a ride with my great friends, buffy and ang..


buffy and ang each brought their teen daughters to attend the seminar. 

we arrived…we shopped, we lost our car (ALWAYS take selfies where you park your car so you can go back and put together where you parked your car!)…and just took tourist photos :)

is this a people bakery or a kitty bakery???

is this a people bakery or a kitty bakery???


i met up with my pal krissy later, and we grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to her brooklyn apt.


and before you ask, yes…we ate the whole pizza…it was very thin (he he he) and we were FAMISHED!

and before you ask, yes…we ate the whole pizza…it was very thin (he he he) and we were FAMISHED!

heading to bed that night, i was thinking of the conference the next day. 

there were a lot of changes made at the last minute...

and as much as i have done public speaking and performing (singing, acting or a live photoshoot), i started to find myself nervous and insecure….

krissy and i had a long talk about striving for our dreams and accomplishing our missions in life.  

how could i start to feel that i was beginning to sink?  wasn't i at the beginning?   wasn't this supposed to be exciting and easy now that i had a direction??

krissy reminded me that the closer i get to what i am called (and what God is calling me) to do, the more resistance i will get.  it all made so much sense.  

and the next morning, with ample amount of time to spare, we headed to the conference.

from brooklyn, we took the subway to wall street...

well, we tried to take the subway...


the trains were all running on a crazy, insane, frustrating holiday schedule since it was President's day.

we kept switching trains to catch the right one…and each time we switched, we hauled all of my camera equipment and computers…. went downhill quickly.

20 minutes before the conference was to start, we gave up and grabbed a cab. 

we arrived (whew), and i ran inside to greet my new friends, and to get set up as quickly as possible.  

from here, things were far from what i had planned in my mind and on paper. 

in my head, things were out of my realm of control. 

in my mind, my mission got fuzzy and my "performance" felt strained. 

and i looked at my dear friends (krissy & buffy ) and they reminded me to look back to my mission.  

and what is that?  my mission…my goal…my message?

it is to reach hearts and souls...

it is to show throughout the tangible evidence of a photograph that YOUR MIRROR LIES…that there are traits inside each and everyone of us that are miraculously, and beautifully and uniquely made, and that they are EXQUISITE.

it is to show girls, teens, and women alike that their value and their worth come from the very place in their souls that was created by their loving heavenly father who created this breathtaking world that we live in, and if HE could create a universe that looks like this, how much greater is the beauty that He planted in each and every one of His children???

it is to show women of every age that the perspective that they see themselves from is FALSE…that if we can learn to change our perspective, (just as a photographer grows in their craft by changing their perspective), that our view of ourselves will be more magnificent than we could have ever imagined.  

and that the view and the perspective i am striving to show them is TRUTH.

that is my mission.

not how eloquently the words flow from my mouth...

not how many people think i am cool, or interesting, or even how recognized my photographs or my name becomes.  it is leading girls…it is teaching teens…it is revealing truth to women.  

my mission, i accomplished.

and not to my glory, but His.

no, not for me...

but for Sarah…for Delfine…for Marieanna and for Alexis…for Sunni and Alliyah and Kassandra...

and for each of those girls that heard and saw.

and maybe the best way to conclude is through the words of Mother Teresa:
"I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that He will guide me to do whatever I'm supposed to do.  I used to pray for answers, but now I'm praying for strength.  I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things." 

thank you Carin Rockrind…Purpose Girl

thank you Carin Rockrind…Purpose Girl

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for more information, you can follow these links:
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i am overflowing...

i have shared with those closest to me, how i have felt my life being called into a specific direction the past few years.  i have KNOWN in my heart and soul that there was a purpose for me, above and beyond what i have been living.

this is a  part of what of where i am going, who i am becoming, how i am living, and how i am overflowing. 

stay tuned….there is much more to tell!



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Teen Be Yoor Own Beautiful!

teen be your own beautiful...

oh yes!

we are heading to the big apple to take part in the "teen madly in love with me" event, by purpose girl!

we will present our teen be your own beautiful program, including a live mini photo shoot!

wouldn't that make a great mother/daughter road trip? :)


to reserve tickets, head to :To Reserve Tickets:

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Read more about our complete Be Your Own Beautiful Program for Teens!

As well as our Be Your Own Beautiful for Girls!

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