Charisse Rhodes

Launching Charisse Rhodes to SOAR!

Charisse…where do I start with Charisse?  So many memories come to mind.  The first time I saw Charisse’s beautiful smile was when she applied for the SOAR! Scholarship in 2009.  She did not win that year, but she didn’t give up.  Months later, she attended our San Fransisco CONFIDENCE Workshop.  I still remember her raising her hand and asking how it was possible to pursue your own dreams without taking from your family’s needs.  What a beautiful, authentic, heartfelt question.  Charisse is a kindred homeschooling mom.  With how much time homeschool and regular family life takes, it’s easy to wonder how more time can be carved out for other pursuits…especially your own dream building pursuits. But when the second year of SOAR! started, Charisse applied again.

This was her submission video.

Fast forward to September 2011.  I’m in Sacramento for our CONFIDENCE Workshop, and I invite Charisse to second shoot my Minis the day before.  She has been working hard every week at the SOAR! Scholarship Program for nine months.  She has faced some of her deepest fears in the business coaching calls.  And she has dared to look beyond her assumed limitations.  Charisse has done the “heavy lifting” work of building a dream all year long.  I’m eager to sit face to face with her and ask where she finds herself.

What she said brought me to tears.  She told me, with firm conviction in her eyes, that she now believes she can build her dreams…she really believes it.  Her dreams are hers for the taking.  She knows she has what it takes and this doesn’t take from her family, it gives to her family.  When mama follows her dreams, everyone learns how to dream along with her.  Spending the year following her dreams, working hard at it every week, has not only transformed her but the whole family.  wow…

What Charisse said is the heart of SOAR!.  Whether our SOAR! Recipients have a photography business in ten years is not the issue.  My vision was that SOAR! would empower women to know they were capable and worthy of all they desire.  When a woman knows she is worthy of her dreams and takes action, not only is she lifted up but also the world around her.  Charisse is a living testimony of this.

Here are a few words from Charisse…

Whew, what a year. It is hard to believe that it is already over. It has been a full one at that! A year ago, Linda Baylis & Genie Ohashi were walking up to my doorstep with a pink box and a video camera. What a surprise it was. I have met so amazing people during this year. I have made and fulfilled many goals. I have learned a lot about myself that I had not realized before. And yes, during this process, I have also fallen short of my mark on occasion. However, this year was not about perfection, but about growth. Growth as a person, growth as a business woman, growth in my artistic pursuits and growth in my role of a mom who can also pursue her dreams without fear. Okay…maybe not without fear, but definitely having a better vehicle with which to circumvent those fears and not let them get in my way.

Along the way, my creative eye has grown along with new desires of accomplishments yet to be made and challenges still to be taken on. However, during the process of this last year, I have participated in some art shows, hung my images in a public venue and got paid for my work along the way. While this fantastic year with the SOAR! Scholarship has come to a close, many new doors are opening as we speak. The biggest door that has opened is the door to my personal dreams. I want to thank SOAR for not only enhancing my photographic toolbox, but for helping this homeschool mama see that it’s okay to color outside the lines again.

If there is anything that I would encourage you to do after having this year with SOAR, it would be to set your own expectations and strive to meet only that. Others will often have an opinion of who you are, where you should be in your business, or what you are capable of. In reality, only you really know. Live and dream authentically. Stay true to yourself and give generously. It will come back to you in more ways than you know. I hope we meet again either in the SOAR forum, Soarority on Facebook or on my blog. It has been a pleasure taking this journey with you all.

Dream it … Own it.


With incredible pride and joy, on behalf of all the SOAR! Partners and community, I launch Charisse Rhodes to SOAR! with her dreams!

Check out Charrise’s new website and blog!  Leave her some love!

Charisse, it is a honor to call you friend and be a witness to your inspiring journey.  We celebrate you today!

Your Cheerleaders Forever!

Me Ra, Brian, Wendy and this awesome community!

*I invite all of you to leave a comment of encouragement, love, celebration, wisdom…or all the above, in celebration of Charisse today!

New Beginnings…

Chose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. ~Confucius

This was always one of my favorite quotes growing up. Maybe I am a dreamer, but I believed this. As each year passes, I realize the true importance of living life to it’s fullest. That means waking up every day, if at all possible, doing what you love.

This past year, as a SOAR recipient, I was able to more fully explore what that looked like for me. I knew that I loved taking care of my family yet I loved capturing images, freezing the evidence of “that moment” into artwork, and longed to allow that creative process that I was subduing to be free. Me Ra, through SOAR, and it’s amazing partnerships helped me to bridge that divide this year.

AZ Confidence Workshop (before color correction class)

In someways, it seems like it was just yesterday that I prayed and opened myself up to whatever next step I was to make at this time in my life. I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen when I hit “send” on that video submission. I just knew that I was supposed to ask, seek, & knock on doors and the right one would open. So I find myself a year later writing this, my final post on this blog, and I am at a loss for words. How do I adequately express how blessed I have been? My goal this year when I began this journey was to “live out loud”. In other words, I wanted to finally live that quote at the top of this post in a manner that encompassed the other passions that I had, outside of mothering, in a way that would be fulfilling for me. I knew how to use my camera but I had forgotten how to get off the sidelines and cheer for myself as loudly as I did for others. I did not know how to run a business or even if I wanted to. To be able to find these answers in a community of supporters as loving as this group of women are was a blessing. Add to that the unbelievable gift of being able to do this with two amazing women, Rachel & Ali, who I know were sent to not only be friends but blessings in my life and maybe you can understand why I am at a loss for words.


While at the time I may have been squirming, I am so grateful to our business coaches at the Wisdom Connection. Karen asked the hard questions that I sometimes struggled to answer and Genie who was always able to offer me another prospective to consider. I love the glasses that you to look through. Thanks for helping me to clean mine. I now not only know how to use my camera, but I am also better prepared to handle the steps that must be taken to keep moving forward in the direction that I want to go. My fear of the unknown has been wrangled. It is never to late to move in the direction of your dreams. I hope that through photography, I can help other women not be afraid to let their “roar” out. I also hope to encourage young men & women moving into the different stages of their lives, to dare to be different and don’t stop believing in their dreams.

New Beginnings

I love the camera, both sides of it. It’s amazing that something so little can have so much power. I love photography. I love freezing moments. I love seeing people feel & look beautiful. I love that I can now do what I love and truly never work a day in my life. Confucius seemed to know a thing or two.

I thank you all for riding with us on this journey. You all really kept us encouraged during some of the tougher weeks. I would love to hear what nugget you all grabbed from this year. Please let me know in the comments or over on the forum.

Dream it & Own It!

A year in review

It seems the time has come for another season of change. Two thousand eleven is almost gone as quickly as it arrived. Fortunately, it is not leaving without a lot of growth and some wonderful changes in my life for sure as well as many others. It seems like yesterday Genie was knocking on my door with this amazing gift from SOAR and Me Ra Koh to be one of this past years recipients. And now it is time for this little bird to leave the nest. The beauty of this is I am leaving with a set of wings that have been nurtured and nudged, ruffled and brushed, and prepared to take this flight. Not surprisingly, I felt this post of Karen’s was so fitting for our last business coaching exercise going into the next year. So without further delay, here is my assessment of my journey this year. It was somewhat like pregnancy with all of it’s amazingness, beauty, aches & pains to spring forth new life.

There were several goals that were important to me this year. Coming into this as a mom, like many, who had stumbled into my passion of creating images through photography as well as finding a new sense of self, I was not quite sure how to bridge the gap between the old way of doing things and the new “photography business” way. It was important for me to figure out how to merge these two worlds which up until then, only appeared to be colliding. Of course, making some additional income that I generated with this baby was also a definite goal. I also wanted to push myself to become more visible as a “photographer” and get my images hanging somewhere public. As of today, I can say that I have done those things. I am also extremely proud of myself now that when life throws me curve balls, as this year has done several times already, my method for handling them has changed. I have learned to “flow”. I am happy about meeting my financial goal for sure, but the life & business lessons have proven to be things that I can and do use daily regardless of what follows next. It will also be helpful if I could get a handle on using social media more effectively along with being more consistent blogging on my own blog.

The milestone for me was taking myself out of my self imposed box and setting my own expectations. In other words, keeping with the integrity of shooting what I love because I love it and for no other reason, trusting that from that, everything else will flow. It was a big moment for me hearing people inquire about me doing sessions for them simply because they appreciated my work that they had seen. It felt nice and right, kinda like your favorite pair of nicely worn leather shoes.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that taking my memory cards out of my camera and putting them into my computer would be prefaced with tons of praying, a piece of chocolate, a glass of wine, some finger crossing and a great deal of hope only to be pleasantly surprised with the results. Doing this time and time again really aided my confidence in being able to capture what I had set out to do. Did I mention that I loved business coaching? The insight of these women was amazing. It was definitely what I needed.

The change that I made this year was to focus on who I was in relation to this business and what I wanted it to be in relationship to me. I learned to put things into order without guilt. I also learned that my lens and my business are simply an extension of me. Because of that, I am the only one who can dictate what that looks like or the timelines that I choose to set for future goals.

As for my biggest, boldest dream for 2012, I want to continue to create images that I am proud of and others love which reflect the beauty of life in all is imperfect moments. I plan to continue to grow this business that I have begun to be wildly successful. Maybe my children might want to be a part of it one day. This will take time, but it’s a part of the dream. I want to encourage young people to dream and look for the intricacies in life. I would love to have a show in a gallery. There are a few issues that are dear to my heart and I hope to create a few personal projects that are worthy of a showing. After this year, the road only goes one way…forward. Follow me on my blog to see where this journey leads me.

The great pumpkin patch

Halloween is an interesting time of year. All of the excitement and anticipation for all of the dressing up and candy that are awaiting to be consumed by the kids still amazes me. The last time we went to a pumpkin patch we got lost in one of the corn mazes. It was funny and scary at the same time. This time we chose to leave the mazes to the experts and go to a local patch which has a small petting zoo. While enjoying the time with my children was my primary goal, I also found myself trying to figure out when the crowds would be the lowest, but still be able to have the best possible lighting situation. We ended up going around 4pm in the afternoon. It was a blast watching my children mull over the pumpkins, estimate their approximate size and determine which ones they could carry. The rule was you can only get it if you can carry it. We went on to pet the animals and discuss the fairness of animals living in captivity, contained in cages and used for people to pet and observe. It did not expect that much out of a trip to the patch.

The field was open with very little areas of shade so it was interesting maneuvering the kids into optimal picture areas without interfering in their fun. Here are a few images that I was able to get from that day.

The trip was definitely more fun than I realized it would be. It was an eye opener to me to remember that children are never to old to play and be children. Fun was had by all. Did your family do the “pumpkin patch” trip? How did your images turn out and what tips and tricks did you find to get great images while keeping it stress free?

I would love to know.

The Verdict is in.

The gavel bangs. The court is silenced and the judge speaks to the jury. “Mr. Foreman, have we reached a verdict?” he asks. “We have Your Honor.” “What have you?” says the Judge. The Foreman proceeds.” On the count of calling the defendant lazy for the inability to create as one desired, guilty. On the count of wasting energy being frustrated for not being a rockstar overnight sensation, guilty. Count three unexpected U-turns from which we unwittingly sabotage our progressive success, guilty.” This went on for count after count. Guilty….guilty…guilty. However, of all these crimes, the biggest and most devastating was the lack of compassion for the wounded blocked artist whose “inner child” sat in helpless in the defendants chair. Likewise, that I was my own judge and jury, which could never result in a fair trial. Not until reading the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron did I, her caretaker, realize that only with love, compassion and nurturing could this beautiful child blossom into the amazing artist that God had intended her to be. According to Mrs. Cameron, it is fear that blocks an artist and it is love that cures the fear.

Ahh…now the purpose of the Artist’s dates are really starting to make sense. She says, “…being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline.Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us.” “Enthusiasm is grounded in play, not work.”

As we approach the end of this year, it seems that not one of the chapters in this book has left any stones unturned. With the rediscovery of our inner artist, and the process of restoring love to that child through self assessment, admittance, discovery, nurturing, strength and now compassion we are better positioned for success in whatever artistic endeavor that we seek. As we approach the things we do with joy, realizing that fear may come along for the ride, we will continue to move forward even when u-turns occur, and they will, we will not be broken by them but use them as a footstep for empowerment. For me, I realize that fear may be my constant companion. However, the way I harness it will catapult me much further along in my journey than if I allow it to overtake me. Ultimately if we enjoy the journey, stay on course, and show ourselves compassion along the way we will get to the fulfillment of our goals.

This year has brought much awareness to the many creative U-Turns I have experienced. The fears are still near by. Life is …life and things will always be there to steal my attention away from moving towards my dreams. Some of these things have been holdbacks even recently. Questions remain. Doubts arise. Challenges beckon. Family awaits. As my portfolio building comes to a close and some the SOAR Support hands are letting go others have grown in their place. Relationships like the beautiful community of SOAR sisters who have created a network from which to strengthen, empower, educate and virtually uplift one another through a common goal. It is time to move into the next phase of building. Sometimes we just have to jump!

Adrenaline overtakes fear everytime.

And before you know it, the view is breathtaking.

Dream it … Own it.

Pixels on the Wall

Two of my very favorite things in the world to do include pictures and interior design. A favorite Saturday pastime of my husband’s and mine was to go on model home tours. I could get lost for hours with my camera, photoshop, and store selling home goods. However, what I really like is when things are done with style and uniqueness. Now, how does that all apply to this weeks post about photography, you may wonder. Three words will sum it up…Pixel2Canvas and Roxanne Benton ie, CanvasRox. Let me just tell you, there is a plethra of photographic material out there folks. There are images being placed on everything. However, when we have a woman with the knowledge, authenticity and reputation of Roxanne running a company with some really cool, fine quality items, we must take notice. I definitely have been a little overwhelmed with all of the choices out there. What do I order? Who does what? What is it’s true value? How many samples will I have to buy to get the quality merchandise that I can feel comfortable referring to those who choose to trust me? Tons of questions rolling around this noggin I will admit.

We, Rachel, Ali & I had the benefit of speaking with Roxanne in depth last week and what an awesome conversation we had. Her willingness to educate us on the differences in merchandise and the things we should be looking for was so comforting. The authenticity that poured through that phone from this woman who clearly loved her business and the customers who trusted them with their memories and livelihoods was quickly apparent. Add to this some of their wonderful products that I cannot wait to get my hands on.

This past week, my son blessed me with a rare session in front of the camera that did not require a bribe for his thirteenth birthday. The first one that I will be ordering very soon will be a wallrider! These are awesome for seniors or boys who really don’t think it’s cool to have a canvas of them in their rooms. But my son is definitely looking forward to this. They look like a skateboard without the wheels. No one else has them! This image will look great on this wallrider in his room.

Another item that I am looking forward to receiving is a Metal Print. Oh my goodness, they look so beautiful. They are classy, yet modern and I love the iridescent sheen! I am all about shimmer. It seems that I have just put my hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Beautiful quality products that won’t break the bank to showcase some important people .Roxanne and Pixel2Canvas have started something. Seriously, thank you Roxanne for taking the time to educate us and answer our questions. It seems I finally know where to obtain some of the products that I am sure to be proud of.

It starts with a dream…

Join me for an episode of what happens when plans get changed and improvisation is required! Our assignment this week was to capture an engaged couple. I had several engagement sessions over the last few months, unfortunately not of them included a video camera. After putting a few requests out there and even asking a few couples down at my local city hall (all whom declined) justice of the piece, it was obvious that Plan B was necessary.

The images are of my wonderful friends Marques & Tiana. They were so amazing to work with. We had so much fun! Their love was so strong and their personalities so sweet that it I almost forgot I was working. When work feels like play, you know you are on to something good. Tiana & Marques have also given me the honor of capturing their special day next summer! Obviously I am beyond excited. Also, Tiana is an extremely talented graphic designer who makes residence over at Cat Lady Designs Online. If you are in need of a logo, website or graphic design project check her out and tell her I sent you! Tiana & Marques, thank you for giving me the opportunity to document the prelude to your special day! You guys rock!

It is fun seeing the interaction between people in love. Looking at the obvious yet, finding that different perspective is also very enjoyable to me. The intensity of real love, real emotions & real joy that people are able to see in their images excite me.

Have you nailed down your favorite subjects point your cameras at yet or new ways to work within the standard venues?

The Client Express…

Imagine being in one of those old western movies where the train is pulling out of the station as you roll in and before you can get to the car that your assigned seat was in it starts to pick up momentum. You stop and scream hoping that the conductor hears you because if he does, surely he is going to stop the train so you can board settle into your seat and roll off into the sunset. Instead, the wheels keep rolling all the while you notice them going faster and faster. At that moment you must make a decision to turn and walk away sighing in defeat or run like you’re being chased by pitbull and jump into the closet car you can land in hoping to do so on your feet but willing to get in by whatever means necessary. This run feels like you are running for your life. But little do you know, you land up in the dinner car where there is an empty seat with a glass of wine with a hot meal waiting just for you to sip and inhale the reward of your persistence.

This is what I equate this weeks business coaching topic by Karen Buckley to. Karen shares with us tips on Finding, Securing and Maintaining Clients in this post and boy is it chock full o nuts. For may of us, the creative process is the easy part. The “shameless pimping & self promotion” well that is a different animal. When teaching my kids I always talk about the basics. Karen reminds us of the very same thing. As I continue to grab hold of the fact that there is no shame in “self promotion” talking up my business will just continue to get easier and easier.

“Use a rating continuum: Ready, Almost Ready, Someday, and Not Likely. Focus 80% of your attention on the Ready and Almost Ready.” Karen Buckley. This was great easy, simple and to the point. I can do that. Don’t make “no” into a never and use social media. Check, check & check. Marketing ramp up in full force. Move…move…move because action creates reaction and stillness results in stagnancy or death of any business. During this process however, as I have recently found, know matter how much you plan sometimes unplanned things in life arise and you simply must give yourself the freedom to re access, refocus, and regroup. Finally, seeking wise council can never hurt in any planning an implementation process.

So I have an idea of the direction that I want to go. As I proceed fine tuning and seeking my ideal target market, a bit of overspray can’t hurt. Along with the marketing ideas I am currently working on after reading this article I am challenging myself to fill my book with ideas, set some dates and implement them at a reqular schedule that feels uncomfortable. Yes, I did say uncomfortable. I have been sitting in “perceived comfort” way to long.

Finally I will try to always make it a point to use “the power of Ask” as my kids call it. Who knows, the responses may surprise me. Here are a few images from past sessions because a photoblog just wouldn’t be right without some photos.

Click on over to the forum and chat with us. How are you doing with this step?

Shifting perspectives…

It seems a common requirement for those who are able to be successful is Vision. Not only the vision that foretells us what direction we should be going in, but the vision which allows us to see each and every circumstance we encounter as positive or negative. Are you a glass half fuller or half emptier? How do we see our shortcomings? How do we see our failures? Are they really failures at all or do we acknowledge them as foundational stepping stones required to reinforce the structure of what we are building? Is there really a loss of time, or a gaining of experience?

Julia Cameron reminds us ” Every loss must always be viewed as a potential gain; it’s all in the framing.” “Gain disguised as loss ” is a potential artist’s tool. She adds. We simply must change the questions that we ask ourselves in relation to it. Success in life and in art seems to come when we are able to metabolize our pain as energy. A poet friend of mine claims to be an emotional writer. However, some of her most dynamic pieces come at the heels of passion driven raw emotion. Where is the negative in that? The saying goes what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Likewise, if what you create the first time is not your masterpiece, then when looked at with proper vision, it should lead you to refocus, readjust and redirect yourself towards those pieces that you will be proud of.

One of the things we were asked to do this week was to plan our Ideal Day without any restrictions or limitations, then live it.

One day I will have a house on a beach. Until then, I will go watch my children frolic in the sand each and every opportunity I get.

How about you? What is your ideal day? Tell us about it on the forum.

Branding…The Final Frontier

Well, we are coming up on the homestretch of this 2010 SOAR year and it has been quite a journey! The support, guidance and resources that Rachel, Ali & I have been provided have been nothing less than a God Send. It has helped me move out of the safe places or “shadows” where I formerly resided to being able to share my hopes, fears & dreams out loud among a community of women who have been nothing less than supportive.

Today as we are into the website and branding process of this journey with the amazing guys from Fastline Media who has generously donated their support to us, I tried to put into this video a little of what I have learned. When you are done, hop on over to the website of Fastline Media. They have so many sites for you to take a look at and marvel at what they can do for you too.

If any of you would like some more details on our experiences creating our websites or working with Fast Line, hope on over to the forum and let us know. We would be happy to share more.

PS…Please forgive the lighting on my face. We did not have good light and I had to get my videographer when he could fit me into his schedule. He is quite busy, or so he thinks. (smile)