I have always been super inspired by seeing women (actually, anyone) turn their passion into their “job”. It seems we often get so caught up wondering how we’ll make end’s meat that we fear fulfilling our dreams and settle for the boring norm. If you’re one of us that wants to take the leap, but are too afraid, today’s interview with Shannon Kalahar is a must read. She is living each day to it’s fullest potential and gives an all new meaning to the term “laughter is the best medicine”. I just want to hug her!
Q: So, you’re probably one of the happiest, most “live for the moment” and inspiring people we know. Can you tell us all of your secrets?
A: Man, that’s the biggest compliment!
I always try to remember that we create our own reality. You can choose to be a happy person by focusing on the positives in your life and being thankful for every minute. Hard to stay mad or sad when you keep your body full of gratitude! And when you are grumpy you can make the decision to either let it roll off your back, or to hold it inside. Ultimately, life is too short to waste a minute of it feeling upset. You deserve to be happy!!!
I have cystic fibrosis and sometimes my body wears out before my ambition. I just want to go-go-go!!! Learning to respect my body’s limits has been difficult, humbling, and ultimately- extremely gratifying. I’ve learned to love and accept my imperfections. My doctors suggest that I do a full body scan in my head every morning- checking for even the slightest changes in cough, or shortness of breath to stay on top of my disease. When you become self aware, it transcends into other areas of your life. It became second nature to take a moment to really feel things: the sun on my skin, the texture of bark, the smell of fresh basil in my garden, rubbing my hands through dirt, watching how light wraps around, and passes through things. Life is fragile, complex and so incredibly beautiful. I used to get frustrated when my body said “slow down”. Mindfulness makes it feel like a gift.
When you love yourself, it’s easy to love other people, and to respect their imperfections too. Suddenly, that angry SUV tailing you on the interstate is no longer a hunk of metal bent on your destruction, but a beating heart, a human that is just as fragile and prone to bad days as the rest of us.
Change your attitude, change your life. Exude love. Approach the everyone you meet seeing the best in them. Forgive quickly. Believe in the capacity for growth and change. Surround yourself with positive, creative people. Live with intention. Give hugs instead of handshakes. Laugh at least 30 minutes a day.
A: Nudists. They aren’t afraid to let it all hang out. Hahaha- people who laugh at my dumb jokes and have a thirst for adventure. Good cooks. People who follow their dreams. Community builders. Doers. Thing makers. Pie bakers. Teachers. Volunteers. Artists. Scientists. I have the utmost respect for math people. Hardworkin mama’s and papa’s and partners and friends and any person who allows themselves the freedom to fall head over heels in love with life. So pretty much all you guys at Vegan Housewives. And the light I see in everyone I meet.
A: I’ve always wanted to be just like my Dad. 3rd grade career day I came in wearing a red State Farm shirt that was down to my knees, and a hat that covered my eye balls and crooked bangs. If I knew such a thing as a fake mustache existed, I would have rocked that too. My Dad changed his major about 8 times in college. Everything from classical guitar, to photography. He ended up graduating with a Liberal Arts degree with an emphasis on solar energy. He is pretty much the man. Anyways, when I enrolled in my high school photography class, he gave me his Pentax ME Super 35mm camera, and an aged leather bag stuffed with lenses. As soon as I got in the darkroom I was hooked.
There is something magical in watching a blank piece of paper transform into a little sliver of time before your eyes. Poof! Tangible memories! From there it was a simple matter of finishing all the work in my other classes as quickly as possible to get back in that dark, stinky room with a red glow.
I followed my Daddy’s footsteps in college and graduated from UF with a BFA in Creative Photography this past Spring. Portraits were always my favorite thing to make, so marrying my love for people with visual storytelling just clicked. (<— bahaha!)
A: I just can’t get enough!!! Every single shoot is a learning opportunity, and a new set of challenges. I get to work outside in the sunshine, I get to move my body and climb things, and squat, and slide across questionable surfaces to make sure you have a clean place to sit. I get to meet amazing people and share in their love fiestas! I get to hear stories of weird personal things that in normal situations you would only tell your diary or best friend. My job dissolves boundaries because that is the only way to make authentic images. I have this crazy opportunity to try and share the beauty I see everywhere. My job is to write visual love notes to the world! I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet because my passion sustains my material needs, and fulfills my spirit!
A: Absolutely any situation in which there is wedding cake. Just kidding. But not really. I love cake. Weddings, (or Love Fiesta’s, as I call them) are some of my favorites. They are fast paced and rich with details to craft a story. Plus I get to spent up to 8 hours celebrating with people who are literally exploding with happiness. Imagine all your co-workers are family and friends with sick dance moves, who are ready to embrace you and make silly faces at you because your bosses are madly in love. Epic. Win.
I’m also obsessed with spending time with anyone who is up for an adventure and ready to have fun. This includes small children, adult sized children, and furry friends.
A: Art school showed me the whole world is a tool box! I’m handy in the wood shop, love painting, drawing, performance art. I ran in place for 3 hours on a pedastool for my thesis, and I’ve spent 4 hours on a winter day making dozens of hourglasses from tiny individual leaves. I also get down with my friends- little jam sessions are the jam. I play piano, am picking up the ukelele and play a mean shaker. Rachacha!
A: Teaching at Metro Community Wellness Center is one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had! We cover the science behind seeing, and how a camera mimics our eyes. We got our cameras off auto, learned about exposure, refraction, reflection, composition, and how to use natural light. I gave my class hands on experience with strobes, and taught them tips for visual story telling. We’ll be tying things up with a lesson on post production in Lightroom and Photoshop. 6 weeks of PURE AWESOME! You may have missed me this winter but I’ll be talking with the events coordinator to see if my schedule allows another round of classes in the Spring. Sign up for their newsletter to stay in the loop! In the mean time Metro is a wonderful resource for the community here in St. Pete. They offer AIDS awareness, LGBT support groups, and wonderful free classes open to everyone, gay or straight, including boot camp, arts, and yoga. If you go and love it, give them what you can! They live off of donations.
A: That is pretty hard! Is it OK if I just tell you what else you can find in my hands when they aren’t attached to a camera? Tree branches, bicycle handle bars, spatulas, cutlery, sweet potato and apple chipotle burritos, dirt and homegrown things, my roommate’s wonderful cat, skim boards, a tent, secret notes, pens and pencils, watercolors, good books like “Be Here Now”, “Death With Interruptions”, “Sum”, coffee mugs, lots of food items, high-fiving hands, swings, and Hunter’s hands. <–He’s a sunshine when I’m a thundercloud, my partner in crime, my best friend, my second shooter, brain behind Huntermadeit.com, and the love of my life. Take a peek at his site to get a glimpse of his contagious energy, wondrous positivity, and crazy hair.
I’d also love to introduce you to the following: Elle Grey, soul sister, and incredible artist. Reuben Pressman, who is addicted to starting amazing companies and making the world a better place (the Awesome Project, my website, he doesn’t have enough fingers for all the pies he’s in, he and Hunter co-founded Swings Tampa Bay.) and my roommate and beautiful friend Jami Compton, who has made our little bungalow a home, loves deeply, laughs easily, and writes like no tomorrow!
A: I could eat mashed potatoes every day, and I’ll laugh like a seagull if you really get me going…
Okay, so can you see why I wish I could hug Shannon EVERY day? She is by far the happiest person I’ve ever encountered and one of my role models for certain! Be sure to check out her amazingly adorable website, ThreeFishFiesta.com, and like her on facebook for peeks at all of her photo adventures! And if you’re as in love with Shannon’s website as we are, be sure to check out ReubenandHunter.com! Oh, and be sure to check back soon for some of the photos Shannon took of baby Judah when he was just a few weeks old!
Do you know some inspiring ladies that have turned their passion into a job? If so, I’d love to feature you on Vegan Housewives – just leave a comment below!
All photos in this post courtesy of Shannon Kalahar & Three Fish Fiesta.