Sassenach

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Last year was such a difficult year for me in so many ways, and I have decided that the best way to move forward is to make sure that I put more of my authentic self out into the world. So I am going to share a bit of personal background with this post. :)

Many years ago (back when I was in college), I met a young man at a party who had the same last name as me (Fraser), and we realized we both descended from the same tribe in Scotland (Fraser of Lovat). That young man told me to remember that I descended from some of the strongest warriors in history. Almost our entire blood line was wiped out in the Battle of Culloden. Those of us who are here today are descendants of the few survivors from that battle. That stuck with me for a long time, and it really resonated with me even more deeply once I started watching the show Outlander (where the main characters are Jamie and Claire Fraser).

For most of my life, I have always felt like the eternal outsider. I am proud of my diverse ethnic background, but I always secretly wished that I looked a little less “mixed”. I have often felt like I am both from everywhere and nowhere. After my last self-portrait that was Frida themed (seen here), so many people told me that they had no idea I was part Mexican, which isn’t a huge surprise since I don’t really present as any particular one ethnic background. My hair is a crazy wild mix of three different textures, the smooth and shiny Scottish curls that are usually hidden in the bottom layer of my hair, the Mexican curls that closely resemble my grandfather’s hair make up the majority, and then there are a couple of areas of super wiry Sicilian curls. I have traced my eye shape back to my Syrian great-great-grandmother’s side. I have a very distinctly Italian/Sicilian nose (although it has changed shape slightly after my sinuses collapsed from my severe indoor allergies). My skin ranges from light to medium-olive depending on how diligent I’ve been with sunscreen and varies based on the time of year. When I was younger, I used to get embarrassed by a lot of that, mostly because my grandmother on my dad’s side was horribly racist and made me feel like I didn’t belong in the family. Now, I fully embrace all of my uniqueness, and I’m proud of my crazy wild hair. The turning point for me happened recently when I was complaining about my hair to a friend of mine (who is also a fan of Outlander) and she told me to be proud of it, because I have sassenach hair. <3 My hair can’t be tamed and neither can I!

If you don’t watch Outlander, sassenach is traditionally a derogatory Gaelic word meaning foreigner or outsider. It started being used as a term of endearment for the main character Claire Fraser (who has very curly hair), and I love that it helped me finally start to love my own wild hair. My hair is naturally dark brown, but I’ve been having fun adding a bit of red to my hair lately to bring out my inner fire and that Scottish warrior spirit in me. The cowl neck on the dress I’m wearing in the photo above is the traditional Fraser plaid remade into a modern style dress from the limited edition Outlander collection from Hot Topic, which I was very excited to find!

Much like the character Claire Fraser on the show, I feel very strongly about injustice in the world and want to do anything in my power to stop discrimination. I have a tremendous desire to try to bring healing and peace to those around me. I could see from a young age that so many people on my mom’s side of the family have that same inherited passion for medicine and healing. There have been several doctors and nurses in our family. When I was younger, I was absolutely sure that I would become a doctor once I was an adult, and I was upset for years that trauma and health problems re-routed my path in life. I felt like I had been robbed of my destiny. Then I watched in Outlander how Claire Fraser adapted to being transported back into an era where it was not possible for women to become doctors. Instead of being angry about it, the character fully embraced her love of healing through plants and herbal medicine. That resonated so deeply with me because of my deep love of gardening. My Mexican grandpa had developed a love and appreciation of plants because of his work as a doctor (he had degrees in both traditional medicine and eastern medicine). He would always insist that despite his beautifully maintained garden, he claimed he didn’t have the same gift of a green thumb that I have.

When I was a child, my grandpa told me all about my family history. He did a lot of research into his own family tree, but also into the rest of my family too. He would always tell me that I had a special gift with plants, and that I inherited that trait from my ancestors on the Scottish side. I used to think that he was making it up just in an effort to get me to help him pull weeds in his garden! Then as an adult, I did my own research and I realized he was telling me the truth! Apparently a special talent with plants is something that does seem to be handed down in that side of my family, and I can see my younger son has the same instinctual talent with plants. We actually originally were named “Fraser” because the king of France deemed the strawberries grown by my ancestors to be the best he had ever tried (fraise is the French word for strawberry).

I often joke that my garden is my first baby. I have spent 7 years working on designing, planting, and maintaining my garden. I planned the garden originally to use for photo sessions, and in the process, I have found so much healing through my love of plants. Gardening is equal parts science experiment and art, and that helps fulfill my inner science geek desire to study and observe biology and the beauty and intricacies of our world in a way that brings me so much joy. I learned so much from my grandpa about holistic healing, so I’m passionate about herbal remedies as a supplement to modern medicine. I’ve worked hard over the past few months to evolve the garden into a place of peace and healing. I hope that it reflects that feeling to all who visit.

If you come for a baby milestone photo session with me, you will likely meet my older son, who is six years old now. I am a quiet, reserved introvert and my own sense of humor is not exactly super funny to babies, but babies find my extroverted bubbly son hilarious! I’ve trained him to move with me while I’m shooting, and he does an amazing job helping out. He has a tendency to blurt out random crazy sounding stories about me when he meets new people, such as “My mommy is Robo-mommy! She has almost died so many times and then she reboots and she’s better! She even had a robot inside her last year to help take out all of the bad rotten stuff inside her!” (all true lol…thankfully all of the health problems that were making me “reboot” are now resolved or better handled lol). He may also tell you “Mommy is also married to the garden! When she started digging, the garden gave her a magic ruby ring and proposed to her!” Which is basically true lol…I always wear a ruby and gold antique ring that we found buried in the dirt on our property when I first started creating the garden. And he’s totally right…it is a pretty magical story! The ring reminds me “there’s no place like home” on a daily basis.

My grandpa used to tell me about this woman that his father knew…a woman who transformed San Diego with her love of trees and plants. My grandpa used to try to plant the seed in my brain that maybe one day I could do great things in my community with my love of plants. I recently found an amazing children’s book called “The Tree Lady” about a woman named Kate Sessions, and I realized that was exactly who my grandpa was talking about all of those years ago. My garden is almost “finished” and I’m already working on plans on how I can utilize my green thumb within my community. Who knows, maybe one day someone will write a children’s book about me. 😉

I’m sharing all of this story in an attempt to better explain who I am and what I am passionate about in life. It all relates back to how I run my business. I am going to start being more clear about boundaries and policies in my pre-session communication with clients. All are welcome in my garden, but I do have some very firm boundaries. This is a hate-free zone. Derogatory or bigoted comments are not tolerated on our property. This is a place of peace, so please do your best to refrain from yelling or fighting while you are here. The garden is a living entity, so please treat it with respect. I grow everything organically, so there may occasionally be bugs present. I do my best to scare away any harmful or dangerous bugs, and I welcome bugs that are helpful and beneficial. Clients are not permitted to dig in the garden, or wander unattended (I’ve had some horror stories from sessions in the past!). I ask that clients be respectful since our house is also on the property and please respect the privacy that goes along with that. I have literally put my blood, sweat and tears into this garden so I am the only photographer permitted to take photos here. The garden will never be available to rent, so if you are a photographer, please don’t bother asking if you can shoot here lol.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy your visit to my own version of Wonderland when you come here. <3

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