Hope Ahlers | Bernheim Forest, Kentucky

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Hope has such a beautiful soul. I’m so grateful to be able to call her a friend of mine. She recently released a song titled “Dear Sparrow” . . . it’s out on spotify, Apple music and soundcloud so you should definitely give it a listen while you look through this post! Annd I’ve included it in the soundcloud link above, so there’s really no excuse.

The vision for this shoot was to portray the beauty & strength that is found while being in chaos. Maybe that chaos is a major shift in your life or too many dramatic things happening at once or maybe you just don’t feel like yourself. I’ve been learning to sit in the chaos, in the mess. I’ve always strived to control or change situations instead of accepting them for how they are. I wanted this shoot to represent the peace you can find even while a fire is raving. Hope understood my vision SO well.

Ironically, the day we did this shoot I was struggling with a lot of anxiety driving to and from the shoot. When we arrived at Bernheim (one of my favorite places!) we were told they were closing earlier than normal and we had less than 30 minutes to complete the shoot. And every ten minutes, security came driving by to remind us with a siren & megaphone that we had x amount of minutes before the park closed. That sent my anxiety to another level, especially when they started honking at us to leave as honking is a big trigger for me from being in a car accident. (Yeah, bernheim is great, but the security guard REALLY want to have everyone leave that night even before the park was actually closed lol.) I tried to just be okay with how I was feeling instead of trying to change it for the idea that I had in my head of how I was going to feel for this shoot. I told Hope that I was anxious and not okay and she was very comforting . . . even just admitting out-loud that I was struggling was comforting. It’s weird how that works. The meaning of the shoot was exactly how I was feeling: finding beauty among the chaos. Because even though I was stressed as heck, all around us there were gorgeous trees that were lit with color and beauty.

Even more ironically, Hope’s new song goes along with what I’ve been learning and what Trent has been telling me for the past year. I have had injuries to work through, physically and mentally, from last year and I have been constantly trying to attack them to try to get myself back to the “old me”. I want to be myself again, I want to be free and beautiful without the pain or PTSD from the car accident. But the thing is, I still am Kendra. I’m free, I’m beautiful. Beautiful even with anxiety, even though sometimes I’m absolutely terrified to get into a car. I can’t rush healing. Traveling all the time, being able to hang out with people all the time and being able to get a lot of work done were things I used to really associate with my identity. All that was stripped from me in 2018. I was/am terrified of driving. I get waves of anxiety that hit me when I walk into a room of crowded people and feel like I’m going pass out if it’s loud. (Even the grocery store — it’s weird.) I have needed Trent SO much for helping me with my business as I just haven’t been able to work as hard with the physical injuries. Al things and more make me feel like I’m no longer Kendra and no longer worth anything.

Thing is, we can’t earn our worth. Me and you are already beautiful as we are. Your soul is already whole, you are already a whole human being. This post ended up being longer than I planned but if you’re reading this, please know that you are valuable and needed and loved. You’re already whole as you are.

please don’t forget that and enjoy the photos xoxo