Dear Mara,

Earlier this year we visited our family in Hawaii.  It was your first visit EVER. You can see some of our days on vacation here.  

One of the topics that occasionally surfaced was my decision to pursue photography full-time.  Some people were over-the-moon excited for this new chapter in my life, while others commented (some, directly to my parents) on the years and tuition spent (implied: wasted) at a private preparatory high school and then USC, not to mention my CPA license.   You'll hear me say this time and again: Don't listen to crowd and you define you.  Three things I struggled with and realized over time:

(1) The past does not define the person you are today.  It can influence your behaviors and how you see the world but you ultimately CHOOSE how to act and how you want to view the world.  Not only that, but you can choose to change your views and behavior at anytime.  I won't say it's easy but with discipline and determination, you can do anything and be whoever you want to be.

(2) Money and Time invested in my graduate degree, in something other than the Arts, is not money or time wasted.   I sometimes wish I had found my passion sooner and gotten a BFA and I have even looked to apply to more schooling now that I am in my 30s.  But if I had not taken the path I did, I would never have met your Father, and my degrees in Accounting and Psychology has helped immensely in starting up this business!  Your degree/formal training or lack thereof does not define who you are, it just represents some of the many tools you have in your arsenal to apply when necessary!  Develop/obtain good tools and apply effectively!

(3) There is no set path in life.  Studying to go to medical school, then changing to accounting then switching to photography has been my path.  It reflects the direction of one person who is nurturing and cares for others, who wants to understand how to run an efficient and effective business and who respects and loves to document memories, honor history and contribute to the arts.  To me, these experiences allow me to provide my clients the ultimate service in the form of my brand while also giving me the satisfaction in the business I am building.

So imagine great things for yourself , cultivate your desires, believe in yourself (and when you've lost faith in yourself or anything else call upon those who do and they will help you get there) and ACT.  The first three things won't change your life unless you DO.  You'll fail, I can guarantee it, but nothing feels better than to rise from the ashes and outdo yourself.  So I'll leave you with this quote, which I saw on Sue Bryce's page some time ago:

Whatever you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon... must inevitably come to pass!  - Paul J. Meyer