To the person who feels unworthy of love

I know i’ve been a bit MIA on the blog here recently and i honestly don’t have a good excuse. The only thing i can say is that i’ve been living and learning. a lot. 

Recently i got the opportunity to go to Canada to celebrate my best friend getting married and it was so lovely. The entire time i was there, love was on my mind. 

Of course, you’re probably thinking “well duh, you were at a wedding”. But, i wasn’t thinking about it in that way. 

While i was in Canada, i took a step away from things. From everyday life, texting people, and mostly social media. I put my phone down and focused on where i was which also gave my brain room to think(and that can be quite scary).

As i watched my best friend walk around happy as happy can be, surrounded by people with the kindest hearts, i could only think “wow, i am so happy for her. She deserves every bit of this.” But then i had this wave of thought come over my mind that said,

“you are unworthy of love”

“no one will ever love you the way he loves her”

“you’re too dirty to be loved like that”

“your past is going to prevent you from being loved”

“you aren’t attractive enough to be loved”

the list went on and on.

what a lie, hey?

The thoughts caught me a bit off guard at first. Which actually is quite odd because it’s not the first time my mind has gone to that place. But what’s so cool is that i’ve learned how to combat those thoughts and that is why i’m writing this.



So, to everyone who has had those thoughts or questioned their level of worthiness, this is for you. 



Your heart is so beautiful. 

It is so easy to beat yourself up for all of the bumps along the road that might have left a little damage. But a mistake does not make you a failure. A mistake doesn’t strip you of your worthiness.

Being walked away from, doesn’t strip you of your worthiness.

Being lied to doesn’t strip you of your worthiness.

Being rejected, cheated on, led on, and/or played doesn’t mean you are unworthy and it definitely doesn’t make you unworthy.

The fact that you have a soul and a beating heart inside of your body makes you worthy of love. 

People will tear you down but it’s nothing compared to the tearing down we do to ourselves. 

We run circles of doubt and insecurity in our minds until we reach a point of desperation and then we crash and question why our brains are too exhausted to think. But yet it becomes a vicious cycle that we continually throw ourselves into because its comfortable. 

It’s comfortable for us to question our worthiness because if we outwardly express our insecurity then maybe someone will feed our desire to be affirmed. 

That may sound harsh but the truth is, the lie of unworthiness starts in our minds. The best way to exterminate a weed is to go to the root. 

We have to go to the place where the lie started and dig it out by the roots. 

I know it’s easier said than done. And i know it’s easier sometimes to sit and soak in the lies. 

i know. i get it.

Its an every day battle and it is hard.

But let me tell you, it is more exhausting to run the marathon of lies than it is to landscape your mind. 

Eventually it gets easier. Once you start believing the truths, you can flip it around and throw yourself into a cycle of truth and encouragement. 

YOU can start the cycle. And what’s inside will begin to flow outside and will pour into others. It’ll become second nature to you. 

Because your heart was created beautifully, and so was your mind. They weren’t created to be ugly and overgrown with lies. 

You are worthy of love from whoever you are seeking it from but most of all you are worthy of love from God and from yourself.

Simply put, you are worthy of love. 

All my love to you,


ps. here are some ridiculous selfies to remind you not to take life too seriously xo



Good ‘ole comparison

wow wow wow. I have had so many thoughts about this topic recently and somehow as i stare at this blank page, i’m finding it hard to form a complete thought.

The very basis of my thoughts have come to one truthful conclusion: comparison is so real and it is a mess of all the worst feelings.

I personally am convinced that every single individual that is living and breathing has had a comparing thought at least once in their lifetime. And the root of it is an absolute lie.

Comparing yourself to someone else when actually thought about and processed is such a stupid idea. (Pardon me saying stupid, but really.)

Imagine this: Beyonce is walking down the street and she’s having an average day. She sees a girl across the road and she looks at her and thinks “man i wish i had her hair/nose/stomach/clothes/etc.”

———-Now i know, and you know that if any one of us heard those words come out of Beyonce’s mouth we would look at her and say(very loudly) “DUDE, YOU’RE BEYONCE”

It seems silly doesn’t it?

Have you ever heard one of your friends say something like that and you just look at them like…”GIRL SHUTUP YOU’RE PERFECT.” Think about how silly they sounded in that moment.

Every time we compare ourselves to someone else we sound silly because the reality of it all is that we aren’t them.


I know, I know right? crazy thought.

This is what i like to call level 1 comparison.

It is so easy in the world we live in today especially with social media(as much as i love it, i had to throw it under the bus here), to see someone else’s body, style, life and wish we had it. Those thoughts come and go more than me at a Chick-fil-a(if you know, you know.) But there comes a point where it’s unhealthy and we will talk about that in a minute. But first let’s dive into level 2.

Level 2 is where it gets rough. And i am going to be more honest than i would like, but i really want you to hear my heart. Because it breaks my heart knowing that there are other people struggling with it.

Past friendships/relationships- I have had my share of both.

A big struggle of mine for the longest time has been not having a “best friend”. Hear me out, I have had best friends before and i have best friends now.  But i have always been jealous of people who have had a best friend since they were little that has stuck around and been there through it all. Now i’m not saying this for pity or apologies. I don’t need them(because realistically i was a jerk in high school and a lil bit after as well so i get it).

I’m telling you this for the sole purpose of letting you know that- Hey, if you’re dealin’ with this, you’re not alone and i’m strugglin with it too.

The other side of this goes even deeper though. And this is what has been hittin’ me hard recently.

When you see an old friend/boyfriend/girlfriend’s new friend/girlfriend/boyfriend and you start comparing.

First of all, if you see yourself going down this hill- STOP YOURSELF.

But imma speak to the people who are currently deep in the pit of this level of comparison.

First things first- i feel you. I get it.

You feel like you’ve been replaced with a newer, better model. You question what about you was so bad that they didn’t want to know you anymore. Or maybe they told you why and you have been trying to change yourself to not be like that anymore. You compare yourself to everything they do and say. You might see similarities and think that they do it better than you did. You might not want to be in that relationship anymore but for some reason you still want to be what they wanted. So you dissect their life and you become so consumed in what they are doing and you focus so much on their friendship or relationship that you lose sight of yourself.

You become overwhelmed and it cripples you. It tears and rips apart your mind and heart until it’s all you can think about. It steals your joy.

But it ultimately comes down to leaving you feeling like you weren’t enough.

Honey. Let me just tell you, you are more than enough. You are never not enough.

We allow ourselves to interpret a situation in the wrong way. And because of human nature, we always interpret it in a way that leaves us feeling sorry for ourselves when really, it wasn’t even about us not being enough. Maybe God pulled you out of that relationship/ friendship to help you.

wait woahhhhhh how would that help? how does heartbreak help? how does losing a friend/relationship help?

The best advice i can give you is that sometimes we don’t need to know the reason, we just need to trust that it’s for the best. And eventually you will understand the “why” and maybe you even knew it all along. Maybe you had even been feeling like you were supposed to end it but you were too afraid to let go. And in that case, it still might hurt but you have to be thankful. Because sometimes when we refuse to make decisions ourselves, God steps in to protect us.

This doesn’t mean that you wont have moments where you will still wish things could have been right or healthy, or you’ll wonder why it didn’t work out. And unfortunately you’ll even compare yourself to the new person in their life. But you can’t dwell on it.

One of the best quotes i’ve ever heard was this, “Feeling jealous means counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.” and wowwwwww does that hit home.

You were what they needed at that time and now God has placed somebody else in their life to give them what they need. And maybe God took them out of your life because you need something different now. You learned and now it’s time to take those lessons and keep on truckin’. Don’t count their blessings.

Be happy for them.

Be happy for yourself.

Be content with who and where you are because DUDE, you’re beyonce.

Lotsa luv,


ps. here’s some of tha happiest wildflowers I’ve ever seen that i grabbed off the side of the road the other day.


Fav things about Aus

This a list that i actually wrote up while in Australia of things that i loved or little things that i observed about the beautiful city of Sunshine Coast, Australia. Since it’s been a while and i am missing it heaps, i thought i’d share the love.

1) Plants

The plants here are outstanding. The trees, flowers, and bushes. They are absolutely beautiful. Plants are the go-to decoration for homes, businesses, and just about everywhere else. Walking down the streets makes my heart so happy just being able to see God’s creation in one of my all time favorite forms everywhere. (If you don’t know me, i am a plant LOVER. You cant go wrong with a bit of greenery.) Aus is COVERED in greenery and i bloody love it.

2) Airplanes

**This one is a bit more of something that i really just loved about where our house was**

We had the pleasure of living just 10 minutes away from the airport. And i mean that in the most non-sarcastic way. The planes flew over our house and they looked so close it’s almost as if you could reach up and touch it. It was one of the most underrated little joys ever.

3) Lingo

I know this what y’all are waiting for.

“G’day” is a real thing. I can confirm. “Arvo”=Afternoon // “Cuppa”=A cup of coffee/tea // “Mate”=A pal/bro // “rubbish”=trash // “rocked up”= showed up // “chuck it out”=throw it away “holiday”=vacation // “chips”=french fries // “Bikkie”=Biscuit (Which would actually be cookie in America) // “Grommet” = a kid // “Bogan” = (the equivalent to calling someone redneck or hick) // “Servo” = gas station // “She’ll be right” = it’ll be alright // “Togs” = swimsuit // “Ute” = small truck.

There are so many others but these are just a couple of my favorites.

4) Active lifestyle

Everyone around bikes, skateboards, and walks everywhere. It’s a great money saver and work out. When you go out you will always see people walking, biking, and skateboarding. It is honestly one of the coolest things ever. The people of Sunny coast are very active. People still drive cars of course but when compared to ole Virginia, they are wayyyy more active in their lifestyles. Surf culture, i suppose?

5) Sunrises and sunsets

The Sunshine Coast has the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets that i have ever seen. They light up the entire sky with the prettiest colors. Honestly, they are completely breathtaking. There is no way to describe the beauty that they hold. God’s glory is so evident in just the rising and the setting of the sun. After seeing an Australian sunrise and sunset, there is no doubting the beauty of God’s power. One of my all time favorite things was getting to sleep in my hammock in the backyard and wake up to the sunrise, and take a kayak out in the late afternoon to watch the sunset. 10/10 would recommend.

6) Shoes?

In Australia, shoes are optional. Walking through the mall, restaurants, grocery stores, down the street, basically anywhere. It is perfectly normal to just not have shoes on in 90% of places. I don’t know why i enjoyed it so much but i hardly ever wore shoes there. My feet were dirty 100% of the time but i didn’t mind. It was freeing honestly.

7) Community

The Sunny coast community is absolutely insane. It was shocking to me to see kids going anywhere and everywhere by themselves. Whether it was biking, skateboarding, or running and playing in the park. In the states it just wouldn’t be safe but in Sunny coast, its part of their culture. Another part of the community aspect is you can pretty much make friends with anyone and they are very open. Its almost one of those things that you cant really understand unless you are there type things.

8) Coffee

Coffee is its own culture in Australia. There’s not a place you can go (except maybe the outback) where you wouldn’t find a coffee shop. When i wasn’t at home or in class you could almost always find me at my fav joe spot “Stoker” (home to the worlds best chai— no joke).

9) Parks & Bbq’s.

There are parks EVERYWHERE. Like for real, on every corner. I suppose this goes along with the whole “active” lifestyle thing or really just that people in the sunny coast love to be outdoors. and I love that. Along with that, there are “bbq’s” or “flat-tops” along the walkway right next to the beach and its fantastic. Every Thursday, we would go down to the beach and have a bbq and play volleyball.

11) Morning tea

This is a train the US needs to jump on asap. Every day at 10:30am we would stop class and have a lil snack and some tea. Hence “morning tea” and let me tell you, it was grrrrrreat. Just the lil bit of motivation we needed to make it through the rest of our classes. Honestly, i think everyone could use some extra morning motivation and what better way to do that than with food. Am i right?

12) Bush turkeys and the Kookaburra

Oh. Em. Gee. These two animals. Bush turkeys are one of the scariest looking birds, and they are everywhere. And they just like to pop up out of nowhere(or, out of the bushes rather). Running down the driveway, in the parks, down the sidewalks, they reallllllly like to run in front of you when you are biking, i mean they are just everywhere. And they are scary. Then we have the infamous Kookaburra bird. The first morning in Aus i thought there were wild monkeys outside of my windows coming to attack me. But no, just the morning wake up call from the ever so gracious Kookaburra. How lovely.

14) Kmart

God bless Kmart. Now, before you think anything— The Kmart of Aus is much, much different than the Kmart we used to have here in ole VA. The Kmart in Aus is like a better, cheaper American Target. You might ask, how is that possible? Oh, it’s possible my friends and it’s real. It’s just sadly located on the other side of the world.


When you live somewhere for any span of time and make memories to last a life time, that place becomes a home. Whether i plan to go back to Aus at some point or not, i will always consider it a second home. It’d be safe to say that i fancy Australia.

This truly is only a short list and there are many more things that i could add. But i think i’ve covered it for now.

Lots of love,


P. S. If you ever have any questions about my time in Australia, or any of my other travels please don’t hesitate to ask! I love to answer questions 🙂



The valley experience.


During my childhood and teen years, one thing we did as a family was attend summer camp (or “church camp”) every year.

It was something i always looked forward to because i knew God would do something. I mean, how could He not? it was camp after all.  That is where God showed up. i knew everyone would have “mountain top experience”, because that’s just what always happened. And at the end of camp every single year, they always told us to hold on to this mountain top experience and not let it just be a “mountain top experience”. And from what i understood in my tiny little teenage brain was that needed to try to live in that experience.

But that’s just not realistic.

Can i get a “uh huh, honey.” Right? Like, it’s just not.

And honestly, it’s not very appealing to me. Who wants to be stuck on top of a mountain? not me. Sure, its pretty for a time but darling after a while you got to move on.


“What goes up must come down”. The only person to have ever challenged this statement (as far as i know) was Jesus. He came down fist and then went up. But that’s beside the point.

With every mountain, comes a valley.

Growing up i was terrified of the valley. Let’s be real, who wants to get stuck in the valley? No one. Of course now i do feel a bit bad because i don’t think i gave the valley a fair chance.

As i’ve taken a step back and sort of examined my life and all of the mountains and valley’s, I’ve realized something. I can confidently state that “God is and has always been with me.”

However, the one trend I’ve noticed is that it’s often in the valley’s of my life that He really shows up. When my life feels (and probably looks) like an icky pile of dry bones…


And He says, “Behold, i will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”

He breathes life into my dryness.

He breathes life into my sin, my shame, my unworthiness, my brokenness.

He breathes life into me and He calls me His daughter.

 I am no longer afraid of the valleys because I know that He’s going to meet me there. I find it’s times when i feel the least worthy, that He is the most worthy.


*** Disclaimer ***

I am not discounting the power of a mountain top experience.

All i’m saying is that it’s usually when I’m at my lowest, that He’s at his highest.

I tend to find the most freedom in the valley experience.

I’m saying all of this because i want you to know that you’re not alone. If you are stuck in a valley, don’t you start thinking that God can’t do anything with you. Because honey, just like all of your fears— you are dead wrong.

God’s power is not scared of your position.

A lot of times when we are stuck in this ditch (or, valley) we feel exposed and vulnerable to all of the attacks of the enemy. But what we don’t realize is that we are also vulnerable to the wonders of our creator.

He sees your valley as an opportunity to show off His greatness. And i encourage you to see it the same way.

you’re loved,






During my schooling in Australia, part of our homework included a weekly character study.

What that meant was taking a Characteristic of God that you were experiencing, learning about, or growing in and talk about it.

For this article i wanted to do something a bit similar to that.

I want to take a minute or two to talk about the sweetness of our creator.

This is a characteristic that i absolutely adore and it is the biggest characteristic that i have experienced recently from God.

Since being home, things haven’t exactly been easy. Jumping back into my old life with a renewed mind shook me up a bit. It has been very difficult to not slip back into old ways of thinking. Plus, going from a full schedule and constant community 24/7 to no job and nothing to do can be quite difficult. 3 weeks of jet lag and the peak of the holiday’s added in, adds to the craziness.

Now that we are nearly done with the first month of the new year everything is beginning to catch up with me. Having done nothing for the past month and a half, and not being intentional about my quiet time, or getting involved in anything to help other people has now hit me and it makes me so angry at myself.

It causes me to slip into a “i wish i had…” mindset. A mindset of regret. And this is where He has been so sweet to me.

Ive had a really hard time recently not shedding a tear every time i enter the presence of God. Whether it’s through someone speaking, times of worship, or my quiet time. I always get so overjoyed that i tear up and cant help but laugh.

Something that i’ve said over and over in the past— “There’s only two ways to react in any situation and thats to either laugh or cry”

I suppose God has heard me when I’ve said that and every time i’m in His presence i react with both. A bit of His humorous side i suppose.

God holds my heart so tenderly. He sees my regret and the places where i have chosen things over Him and He still meets me.

every time.

When i show up, He’s already there. Waiting for me. Arms wide open. Smile across His face. Welcoming His daughter back into His presence.

He makes Himself so evident every single time.

I just have to show up.

And He’s never angry if i miss a day or even two. Because i still came back.

I always go back.

I was listening to pastor John Gray one time and He said something that has stuck with me…

“Whatever you do at your lowest is who you are.”

This encourages me so much and always gives me hope because I’ve realized that my spirit always takes me to worship when i feel less than acceptable.

And that makes me a worshiper.

I always resort to worshipping. It is my absolute favorite thing to do.

The thing that gives me the greatest joy, calms any nerves, and soothes an aching heart.

The ultimate cure for me is worshipping.

In these moments when i feel unworthy He reminds me so sweetly that it doesn’t matter.

Before i started writing this, i put worship music on in the background. Midway through, i had a moment of feeling like a disappointment. I took a second to just stop. I paused everything and the second i did, this is the line of the song that was playing…

“You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment, and i will worship.” (Heroes, Amanda Cook)

I personally had never heard the song before but it’s definitely a new favorite.

These moments are what i’m talking about.

The moments that God so perfectly orchestrates just so He can speak to us.

During our last week of school before we come home, we did a small project where we listened to hear what God had to say to us and speak into each others lives as well. During that time God spoke so clearly to me that i was entering a very sweet season with Him. “A season of delicate intimacy”.

What a fun season to be in.

I don’t have much else to say, but i wanted to leave you with an encouragement.

If you are struggling with feeling inadequate or useless, or if you feel like a disappointment or you feel unworthy, go back.

Go back and sit and rest in His presence. He’s waiting for you to meet Him there. And He doesn’t care how long it’s taken you, He’s just happy to spend time with you. He wants to soak you in His love.

You are His child and He is a sweet sweet father.

Soak in that.





photo by Nolan Merryweather


Vision and the new year

It’s so common to be in absolute dread of change and new things, but i have grown a love for change. Often, when it gets to this time of the year i hear people talking about being scared, nervous, or even just indifferent about entering the new year.

My feelings about stepping into the new year always change. I’ve had years when i was scared, years when i couldn’t care less, and years of excitement.

This year has been a year of change for me and it hasn’t all been pretty. There were definitely moments of ugliness and moments when my heart ached more than ever. However, every ounce of change that i have gone through has grown me in the best of ways.

One of the biggest things that i have learned through all of the change and growth is how important it is to have vision and to acknowledge God in everything you do.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In all your ways acknowledge Him.

All your ways.

God is good at a lot of things and one of those things is disregarding our flaws. He sees them and chooses to look past them. We get it wrong a lot of the time when we say “He sees the person not the action”. No, He sees the person and the action but He chooses to forgive our actions and love us as people.

When we try to hide our flaws, mess ups, or certain little rooms of our hearts from God we are only hurting ourselves. Because God wants nothing but the best for us and when we hide anything from Him, we are keeping ourselves from our best.

If you had the chance to have the absolute best for yourself, wouldn’t you want that?

If someone said, “all you have to do is build a relationship with me, and i will help you reach your absolute best” wouldn’t you take up that offer?

Good news, that offer IS being presented to you.

I do not fully know how God works, but what i do know is that He is so full of love for us and He works in the simplest yet most thought out ways.

If God knows what’s best for us, and the Bible is full of things that He has said, and it says in the Bible to “acknowledge Him in all of your ways”, doing that is probably what’s best.

God is outside of time, He is our creator. Therefore, He knows. He knows what’s best for us before we even know we need it.

There is a promise in that verse that He will make straight our paths if we acknowledge Him.

The very dreams and visions we have for our lives our planted there by God.

So God plants these dreams and then we say “okay mate, I’ve got it from here”.


That is like trying to build something without the instruction manual.

Some times it might end up looking a little bit like the thing you are trying to build but it might end up falling apart afterwards. And sometimes it ends up looking nothing like what it’s supposed to.

However, whenever we acknowledge God(the ultimate instruction manual) on our dreams and visions we are way more likely to succeed with them.

When we acknowledge God in everything we do, we are more likely to have favor in everything as well.

The reason i can be excited for this new year is because i have vision for what’s coming and I’m excited to acknowledge God in all my dreams for this up coming year.

Last week i started a project that I’m excited to share with you all.

This was inspired by one of my very best friends, Natalie.

This is my vision board.


Created to display all of my ideas for 2018 in plain sight.

I have jobs, purchases, trips, my next big step, and even long term dreams on it.

The idea around this was to be able to spend time in prayer over our dreams and hopes for the new year and ask for God’s guidance in every area of our lives.

Such a fun way to “plan” for next year.

I had such a fun time making my board and writing down ideas and dreams. And it has been even more fun spending time talking to God about it.

So if you’re feeling stressed, scared, indifferent, or excited i encourage you to have vision for what’s next and acknowledge God in everything. It doesn’t have to be something as big as a vision board but even saying good morning to God and asking Him about things you desire is so refreshing.

much love and Merry Christmas,






6 months | 6 continents 

Life at the moment feels a bit like a hot air ballon. All up in the air. 

With “the big adventure” coming to an end in just two weeks, my plans for returning to the 804 have been a hot topic.

With no job, no future plans, and only a small room in my parents house, thinking about the possibilities of what I could do next is a massive question mark. 

Sometimes I wish I had a five or even one year plan but, future planning is not on my list of skills currently. There is no due date or instruction manual for hopes and dreams other than the ones you place for yourself.

The possibilities are truly endless. 
At this point the rest of my life is a blank page that I’m eager to fill with wander-ful things. 

It is empowering to have your life in your own hands and it’s freeing to not be tied down to anything but your own imagination and dreams.
What’s even greater is that often the dreams and desires we have are planted in our hearts and minds by God.
How much greater could life be if we put the tools back into the creators hands and allow Him to paint the rest of the picture for us. 

Once you get a taste of how beautifully reachable this world actually is, everything becomes a bit more attainable. 
Nothing can stop you once you realize that the world is not big and scary, but lovely and full of endless potential. 
The things that you want in life are at your finger tips.
Do you want ice cream? Go get it. 

Do you want to change your hair? Do it. 

Do you want to go on a trip? Just go. 
Go get what you want. 

Do what you dream of doing. 

Move to the U.K. 

Go to Switzerland. 

Be a fitness trainer/nutritionist.

Go to California.

Take that class.

Learn that language.

Say yes to that opportunity. 

Ask the girl out on a date. 

Make the phone call. 

Send the message. 
Do what you need to do. 
Life is what you make it. 


For so long I sat around wishing and hoping that one day I’d be able to travel but I never thought I’d actually do it. 

But then I did it. I took one step and it started the movement to discovering greatness. 

I filled out an application, booked my flights, and went.  

6 months, 6 continents. 
Wild, aye? 

It’s possible. I did it, so can you. 

You’ll never get to where you want to be if you don’t hit the gas. 

If you want to be a go-getter you have to go and get. 

You’ll never regret chasing a dream. 
Sometimes things don’t always turn out the way we want them to. Sometimes it’s a total bust and other times it’s different but in a much better way. 

Regardless, you still did it and there’s something to be learned from that. 

In all of this however you have to remember to always be giving. Give cheerfully. Giving doesn’t always mean money either. You can give money, kindness, a smile, a hug, a laugh, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear. 

Over the past six months I have learned more about myself than I have in my entire lifetime. 

I’ve realized that I want to be a go-getter. A leader, full of kindness and strength. I want to make missions a lifestyle by simply treating others the way I want to be treated and showing God’s love to everyone. I have learned that I have a heart for people. I want to help empower and call out the gold in others. 

Everyone is worthy of knowing the truth about themselves. 

Everyone is worthy of knowing that they can achieve their dreams. 

You can achieve your dreams. 
You can make a difference. 
And it all starts with just one step. 
The first step is always the scariest but it’s worth it friend. 

All my love,


Photo by Nolan Merryweather