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Untitled by Whitney Justesen
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This was one of those moments where you stop what you’re doing, look around you and think, “Is this real life?” Wailua Falls, Kauai

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Sister Winter by Whitney Justesen
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Merry (Almost) Christmas, friends! This year I’m participating in a creative advent calendar with some of my favorite photographers and artists on Flickr, where we each release a Christmas/winter-themed photo for every day of December! You can view all of the amazing photos submitted so far in this group here: www.flickr.com/groups/photoadventcalendar/pool/

Five points of advice from a tired mind at 10:57PM:

1. Do not delete or destroy the things that make you happy. If it made you happy then, keep it. It may hurt to look at or even think about now, but someday, when the hurt has passed, it will be a treasure to you. Maybe you will even look back at it and laugh. What is precious now will be precious again someday. Words written in the heat of emotion, gifts made with love, photos of your smiling face with the ones you love…keep it. Put it on a hard drive; put it in a box under your bed; stow it in the attic. But keep it. Just trust me on this.

2. Regret nothing. I have taken enough ‘wrong turns’ in my life to know that nothing ever goes as planned, but that does not mean it was not significant. So you dated someone who wasn’t good for you; it taught you that you deserve better. So you spent a hundred dollars on a plane ticket to visit a friend you no longer speak to; what does it matter? You took a chance on someone you cared about. You invested your money and your heart into something. Good for you. We learn from everything, even the bad things, so stop saying “I wish I hadn’t…” Just appreciate the fact that every experience has added color to your life. Regret is a disease and it will spread, so stop it.

3. Always be open to new ideas. Talk to Buddhists and Atheists and Scientologists and Catholics and Mormons and Lutherans and Baptists. Everybody has different ideas and beliefs, and you can learn so much from someone who thinks differently than you do. You will grow. Your mind will expand. Your heart will open. Stop this idea that every opposing view you encounter is going to sway your beliefs; if you think that, then your beliefs aren’t that strong to begin with. You might learn a thing or two along the way.

4. Stop telling yourself “I can’t”. Take a look at whatever your situation is and ask yourself, “what is really holding me back?” If you truly, genuinely want to do something, then do it. Stop making excuses. Make the time, spend the money, get on the plane, move across the country. Whatever it is, if it means that much to you, you’ll do it, or else you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what could have been. And trust me when I say that is the scariest thing in the world. Look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that there is nothing you can’t do.

5. It’s okay if no one is holding you right now. It’s okay if you go to sleep night after night alone in your bed, and it’s okay if your pillow tastes like tears. You will not be alone forever. But just remember that you are meant to be complete on your own; you are not broken because you feel so lonely. You are not half of a whole. The right person will come into your life at just the right time, though it might be later than you were expecting, or maybe it hasn’t happened yet. I am waiting too. I am still lonely, but I have learned that am not alone. I am whole on my own. Maybe you don’t even want anyone in your life right now and that’s okay too. Take advantage of your singleness; do things you want to do, because there is nothing stopping you. Kiss strangers. Dance naked in your room. Read books in quiet libraries. Listen to your favorite music on blast. Be whole. Be you, completely. You must be your own before you can be anyone else’s.

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New home. by Whitney Justesen
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Brad & Haleigh by Whitney Justesen on Vimeo