This gift.

Sometimes we have these experiences as artists and life wanderers that leaves us a little breathless, a little entranced. I had one of those nights last night.

One of my most treasured aspects of being a photographer is being allowed the opportunity to not only embrace another’s world, but to capture it.

When I was asked to shoot a little girl’s birthday party, I really had no idea what I was embarking on.

As I walked up the drive way I saw a face painter, a bounce house, tables, a DJ, and traditional Indian food being prepared.

It seemed like a somewhat “typical” kid party – until I spoke with the mom while she was getting her arm painted in celebration.

She spoke about how she never had a birthday party growing up in India. She told me so openly how un-appreciated women are in India and how many people will abort fetuses when they find it’ll be a girl.

Women are cast aside. Women are shamed.

While she’s telling me this the face painter asks “do you want glitter?” and she says “of course!” almost as if it’s more exciting for her to be having this done than the kids.

So many women that attended this party ended up with their arms and legs painted. When the sun went down and the porch became a dance floor, the party came alive. Consequently, so did my soul.

Watching these women surrounding little girls dancing felt like dreams unfolding.

These women brought their families here so they could dance to their music while raising strong, independent, and appreciated women. America offers so much more than we realize.

In these moments of turmoil and injustice to races around, I can’t help but to feel a little ashamed of people here taking all we have for granted. I understand the racism issues, I understand the violence. I understand why we need to stand our ground on allowing freedom to ring through and through.

What I don’t understand is how people don’t realize it is so much worse elsewhere.

I lived in South Africa, I saw the crime. I felt the segregation. We are allowing it to slowly happen here. Do we have problems? Of course we do. Do these problems need fixing? Of course they do.

I fear though, that we are going about it in all the wrong ways. I don’t believe in what happened centuries ago defining us.

I don’t believe some races need to cling to an ugly past that their ancestors fought so hard to rid our lives of. We made mistakes, we did dirty and awful things, but do we continue to rehash and relive them? No. We admit to them and move on in effort to build a stronger, united community. We don’t shoot black men because they’re full of rage. We don’t shoot police officers because they’re equally full of rage.

We don’t shoot people because of a past we can’t escape.

We move on.

We let go of the power play and accept that the only person you’re in control of is yourself.

We embrace cultural differences, we empower the under-educated and underfunded communities, we dance to everyone’s freedom song because we are America and that’s how we became so diverse and free.

If you’re angry in America & you feel as if you don’t have the life here that you want, then I encourage you to go live elsewhere because as someone who’s well-traveled and fairly cultured, I promise it doesn’t get easier elsewhere.

The crime in Africa is horrific, the crime in Tibet, Pakistan, Mexico, India – horrific.

Do we have some of the highest reported crime? Yes. But we also have a system (albeit a sometimes faulty system) in place to handle reports.

In other parts of the world, crime goes unreported because of dictatorship, religion (google honor killings, watch the documentary “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness), and lack of systems in place.

It is beyond me how ungrateful people living in America have become.

Sure Hilary and Trump are a shit-show, sure we have our fair share of problems, but I promise it won’t get better by scrolling through facebook and sharing every one-sided liberal/republican article you read.

Go outside. Go meet your neighbor. Go to the ugliest parts of your city and learn from it. Go get your hands dirty in forgiveness and let go of the blame.

Remember that we can’t change another cultures history of wrong doings just by letting them through our doors, that’s an internal battle we just can’t fight – an ideology that runs so deep that we have no business soaking our hands into it.

I am only speaking on this as I am angry too, I am hurt by the world’s pain – I feel it deep in my core.

I only know that some things I can only fix by loving more, learning more, opening my arms more, and also recognizing when it’s not my battle to fight.

I am a photographer and I don’t accept every job I’m offered, I am also human and don’t accept every battle I’m invited to.

I’ve seen the ugly and I’ve seen the beautiful.

I know there is more beauty than we are allowing ourselves to see right now – last night I photographed it and I feel empowered. Go find what empowers you.

We can have magic. I promise.