A New Year, A New City, and Many Firsts

I am up late tonight managing to stumble across my blog that that is carrying many cobwebs. As I wipe them away, I unearth many beautiful images I was honored to be a part of creating last year for my clients. For my followers, my future self, and my family, I owe this blog some attention and discussion of the last 7 months of my life that have quite literally flown by. It feels so strange to me that just in March of this year, my life took a complete 180. It was a step in the right direction for what I want to do with my life but also it took me into a place I had no conceptualization of ever before.

At the end of December last year, I was in an extremely severe episode of my depression I have had since I was 10 years old. There was a trigger for it to say the least but not a lot of people had even realized what was going on. At the time, I was living with my parents and I didn't even tell them. I kept very quiet to myself in my room, sleeping for 15-20 hours each day (I was unemployed then) trying to pass the time as I didn't want to adjust to my new problem that arose out of nowhere. The problem was a health issue that I have yet to discuss with to the public, but it put me in a very self-hating place with nowhere to go but deep inside myself into isolation and complete solitude. My depressive episode caused my body to become so weak that it was painful to even move. I was crying every day in the few hours that I was awake. I didn't know who to talk to or what to do. I knew what was happening to me was very, very bad. My state of mind was dark and only time would be able to lift the weight of it all. This went on for just over 30 days before my world started to get back to normal.

Near the end of January, I began slowly starting to talking to some old friends that I knew through an ex-boyfriend. They were starting their own business (they bought into a franchise) and they were just about to sign the paperwork to take ownership of a building in the town of Norman, OK (about two hours away from where I lived in Enid, OK). I had jokingly made a comment on one of their photos saying I should come work for them. And then shortly after, we were on the phone for the first time in several years. Many laughs were had but the most important thing is that a seed was planted into my mind that maybe my life could change... if I so wanted it to. Maybe I could move to a different place and start a new adventure. And I would have never known unless I went to find out for myself.

I made arrangements for an apartment in Norman and signed the lease on February 11, 2015. I had drove to Norman with my good friend Shelby. The same day, I left with a new car as well.

My intention of gaining the new vehicle was solely because I knew I was going to need something more reliable than what I was driving previously. Being in and around Oklahoma City on highways and wanting to travel back and forth between my new home and my old hometown of Enid was going to prove quite difficult otherwise. For those wondering, it's a 2014 Dodge Avenger with 35K miles.

On March 7, 2015, my family (mother, step-dad, sister-in-law, brother, and myself) packed up my belongings into a truck, my car, and a trailer and we made the 2 hour trek down to Norman. We unloaded my things and I've been here ever since!

I can't tell you enough how happy I was to finally be alone in my own place. In some odd way, I feel very happy when I am alone. Maybe it's the privacy... Could be that I wasn't in my parents' home any more. But one thing is for sure: I miss my dog Jill.

The day before I made the move, I was able to see my grandmother Elaine who was in the hospital for brain and lung cancer. She was dying. Her husband passed away a couple years ago from complete organ failure. My grandmother and I discussed my future plans, all the amazing things I was going to be able to do in Norman, working for myself, working for awesome people, and starting my life fresh where I would be ultimately happy. She seemed so proud of me in those moments. But she was also in a lot of pain and it was very hard to watch. I stayed there with her for a few hours watching as the nurse would try to re-stick her fluids and tried six different times without success. Grandma's arms were covered in bruises from all the pricks. She would cringe as the nurses tried... over and over again, moaning and crying out in pain. I cried for her. I let all my tears flow out of me because I just wanted to take her place and make it stop for her. I couldn't bear to watch it.

Five days later, I was laying in bed and just after midnight, my father called to tell me that my Grandmother Elaine passed.

Around this time and in mid-March, I made my announcement to my family and friends what I was moving to do. I became employed at the Adam & Eve independently owner and operated franchise. My friends Andrew & Lennox were now proud owners. These two are the kinds of people you wish you had in your life who you know you can rely on, trust, have complete confidence in. They are professionals and very serious about their work. They are the kind of people I knew I wanted to emulate. The power their minds, bodies, and talents have brought together into one beautiful space was more than I could have asked for in a job. I want to surround myself with intelligent and motivated beings. This is where I need to be.

On March 27, 2015 the store officially opened and my new job as a sales associate began.

I was to first and foremost break down the stereotyped ideas and preconceived notions that people often have for these types of stores. Our store is not simply a "Sex Shop." We are a high class boutique; a bright and inviting safe place to ask your questions and find the right thing for you. We approach our customers and provide them the best customer service you will find anywhere. We help you decide what is going to work best for you and answer any questions that we possibly can. My goal is to always make sure people walk away with information if nothing else. I don't care if someone wants to come in and buy products or not. Everyone is welcome here.

It took me a couple weeks becoming familiar with the products and the general knowledge of the store since prior to working here, I had never been into a "sex store" my entire life, let alone touched an adult novelty.

Three months later, I was very very confident and well situated at my job.

L to R: Lennox, Myself, and Andrew

L to R: Lennox, Myself, and Andrew

Before and After of the store. The top photo is the first (or second) day they started construction. The bottom photo is after a week into the store being open.

Before and After of the store. The top photo is the first (or second) day they started construction. The bottom photo is after a week into the store being open.

On April 26, 2015 I went skydiving after having a dream that I was skydiving. I had the dream on a Friday, called the Oklahoma Skydive Center and went skydiving on Sunday. You can watch my entire experience here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlBe6O6CEe8

I don't want to go into complete detail about what it felt like or how amazing it was. I will just say that it taught me a lot about how much time I have wasted overthinking and giving my fear so much power over me. When you take all that time to worry and stress over the things you want to do, you could have went and accomplished all of those desires 10 times over. Having experienced skydiving, it taught me to stop asking myself "What if" and simply go out and doing what I want. With that said, I believe every human being needs to skydive at least once.

Mega RedTail Hawk mural by Mothman Studios in Downtown Norman, Oklahoma

Mega RedTail Hawk mural by Mothman Studios in Downtown Norman, Oklahoma

During all of these adventures in the past 7 months, I have continued trying to build my creative career. Since I had moved, I essentially had to build my clientele from the ground up again. It is proving to be very taxing but I know in time, the work and dedication with pay off. Every time I get to sit down at my computer to edit photographs from a new session, I am reliving why I love taking portraits so so much: the creative process, seeing peoples' faces light up in front of the camera, the gratification of having gorgeous moments immortalized in front of you. It's all so amazing to me and makes me want to take even more.

 

If someone a year ago would have told me where I would be here a year in the future, I would never have believed them. This time last year I was working on ending an abusive relationship and moving back into my parents house. Moving away to a new town and not knowing a single soul was not easy. I don't have my family here and learning the layout of a new town has proving confusing as well. Finances haven't been the best either but that hasn't stopped me from trying to make the most out of what I have in these precious moments of my life. I am only 22 years old for two more months (sounds weird thinking that in my head and making the realization just now!). I truly wish I could slow everything down a little bit. It's sometimes like days get mushed together. Where's the pause button?!

I feel much happier as a person where I am. I believe that moving, for me, was the right decision. Although I am alone in my two bedroom apartment and I miss my dog, I know that this is a step into the right direction for my career, wherever that might take me. I am living with an open mind at this point, learning much in the process. I've learned about the dynamics of people, taking on a leadership role, juggling two jobs (my creative one and my boutique one), and so much more...

I don't know where I'll be six months from now. I don't know where I'll be two years from now. But I just hope that this journey takes me to an even happier and even more empowering place as time goes on. I am constantly growing and that's what I love most about being alive. You can never stop improving yourself. Life is one big learning experience for us all. Mistakes are always going to be made but that won't stop you from taking a step in the right direction and making good decisions for yourself... if you so choose.

I'm signing off for now. And I'm probably forgetting to include something but farewell for now friends!
Have a lovely week.

 
 

Kayla Joy Smith

Kayla Joy Photography, 218 East Main Street, Norman, OK, United States