My friend. My hero – How Jiu-Jitsu gave her new life.

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Mirella (right)

Today I couldn’t be prouder to bring you the story of one of my personal heroes:

Mirella Atallah.

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Myself (left) and Mirella (right)

I met Mirella back in 2007 when I first moved to Kuwait, we worked together. A kind, sweet, funny, spirited young lady who had already, even at that time, overcome so many challenges in life, with ultimate grace. I was always so impressed with the fighting spirit that lived inside her, clear to those who truly knew her, perhaps not even clear to her at the time.

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The first (and only) time I ever saw snow was in Lebanon with Mirella (left).
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Mirella (right), myself (middle), and our dear friend Jihane (left).

About 3 years into our friendship, Mirella moved to Canada and within a few short years, her life was turned inside out, and up side down and somewhere between Canada and Lebanon she has managed to land strongly on her feet, and in a way that very few people would be able to replicate.

Today she is but a shadow of her former self and for all the right reasons. I am so incredibly proud of this woman and I will be telling the story of her to my daughters in the years to come.

Below is a Q&A from Mirella in her own words, sharing her story with me in more detail and with our readers. Enjoy!

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Q&A

Tell our readers a little bit about you? My name is Mirella Atallah I’m Lebanese, I immigrated to Canada a few years ago. I work at an IT company as an Internal Senior Designer and I am currently studying digital marketing and social media.

I am a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. This is a huge part of my life and an integral part of my journey to a good and healthy lifestyle.

Life has been hard, I’ve moved many countries, had to come face to face with a bad long term relationship and dealt with many health issues along the way.

What was your lowest moment and what was your highest? Lowest – 40 years old, broke, divorced, no kids and no clue what comes next. Highest – I would say the same moment because this was when I realised that I was free and the sky was my only limit, I packed my bags and left chasing my dreams.

Where do you think your fighting spirit has come from? Many people in your situation would have just given up on themselves and accepted that life has simply handed them a raw deal. I’m not sure were this spirit came from! I think of myself as a very stubborn person and I never accept failure as an outcome! I always manage to lift myself up after each fall! I’m not perfect, so many tears I’ve cried and felt like life is just closing its doors on me but something deep inside always says: no you have to try again, if you don’t try you won’t know! After each fall I stand up, dust off the dirt and keep going!

How has your past shaped you? It has made me tougher, definitely, but not angrier. I feel I still trust people and the world and feel there should be good out there, I just have to believe! Some people may think I’m silly but like I said I’m stubborn and I’m sure something good is hidden out there for me, I just have to keep digging.

What motivates you? Being able to inspire people! My main goal is to be a role model to my nieces and let them believe that they can be what ever they want to or go where ever they want they to go, they just have to work hard for it.

10 year challenge – what has been your biggest change in yourself within the last 10 years? I’m happy again.

What advice could you give someone going through similar struggles? Keep dreaming and believing, there are no age restrictions, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, NOW is the perfect time to start!

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How did you get into Jiu-Jitsu? I was a kick-boxer for around 4 years and got bored a bit and felt it was dangerous to compete not a fan of getting hit in the face and getting a concussion! I have always been curious about Jiu-Jitsu specially after I started watching UFC and watching JSP (he is Canadian) and he trains at the same gym where I did! I hesitated a lot for 4years because I was overweight and one day I decided to try it and I got hooked! Went through a lot of emotional and physical challenges but never stopped!

How has Jiu-Jitsu helped you? Jiu-Jitsu is my meditation, the only way I can find calm and clear my head believe it or not! It made me stronger! I Learned to be a problem solver and to think fast! Physically it made me ageless along with strong! I lost so much weight since that first class! I have never felt better.

What is your favourite thing about the sport? I love everything about it! I cant pick one thing! Even with my lowest moments and I think that I’m not improving and having a bad game day,  I still feel that I love everything about it! If I go on vacation the first thing I look for is a place to train! Jiu-Jitsu has a great community, you are always supported everywhere you go! We are a big family!

What are your goals for the future? My dream is to get my black belt in Jiu-Jitsu in 4years from now! And get to a stage in my life were Im able to work and teach, specifically to women in the Middle East! I would like to create camps and teach self defence to women and kids.

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If you find Mirella as inspiring as I do, follow her journey on Instagram at:

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Thank you for sharing your story friend.

Cheers,

la

Derailed and Desaturated.

Forgive my absence.

5 months ago, as if a switch had been flipped, the narrative of my life changed forever. And absolutely NOTHING I did could flip it back. No amount of ugly crying and desperate prayers could take back time. No, this is it, a new turn, a new chapter, forward we go, step by step, reading a part of a story I want nothing to do with but as I am not The Great Author, I am simply left to make the most of the cards I have been I have been given.

I am angry, I am frustrated beyond words, I am deeply hurt everyday, I am sad. And through it all I am trying to continue to hold on to a Faith of a grand design, a bigger picture, one I am not able to see. I guess that’s why they call it Faith. And to be honest, it is also the only thing holding me together. Giving me the strength to ‘mom’ and ‘wife’.

I lost my beautiful grandmother in May, my mom’s 9th ‘death-aversary’ was on Monday June 25. But on June 24, one of my closest family members was in a bicycle accident which turned my world upside down. And for the cherry on top, my poor sweet little dog of 9 years, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Admittedly, for the past few months, I’ve struggled to find the colour in the world. My amazing children, husband, family and friends have made it somewhat easier but the sting of this new chapter has been a painful. And while we’re still in the middle of this turbulent time, I find myself once again starting to look for the colour around me.

This made me think and feel as if I was living in a desaturated world.

And this has lead me to today’s post on desaturation.

Desaturation is defined by the loss of colour in an image. So why would we want to take colour out of an image? Well, by reducing saturation i.e.: desaturating an image, we can create a more dramatic visual effect. You need to use this technique mindfully as it makes a strong comment on its subject. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily want to photograph a child’s party and then take out the colour perhaps, unless you have done so with a specific desired effect in mind, which may contribute to your style as an artist. Art says a great deal about the artist not just the subject. I have been told by Katie that my style can be quite moody and I certainly use desaturation almost all the time when editing so I would say she is right and it is now apart of my style. It will make an otherwise normal shot, quite moody, which can work beautifully when used with intention. However, if you use this technique to create drama that just isn’t there, you risk falling into the category of ‘forced’ and ‘faked’. So this technique is worth playing with and experimenting with while figuring out your own individual style. Be sure to master your visual grading technique first and with confidence before you decide it is apart of you.

Hopefully the screenshots below will encourage you to play more with desaturation in Photoshop.

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Above all, enjoy the process!

Cheers

la

Color Study: Cool vibes

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As a photographer you tend to have your favorite times of day and seasons to take pictures. For me it’s morning light and the Fall. What do they have in common? Cool light. Seriously, I love the freshness of morning light with all it’s possibility and optimism, it may be one reasons I’m morning person – but I digress.

Cool light, as well as colors tones, can be associated with tranquility and nature or when dark and contrasty, they can be moody and gritty. It all depends on style and what the artist is trying to convey.

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I will throw a little science in just for fun: As we discovered in my post on the color blue, we perceive these cool tones through an optical illusion called Raleigh Scattering. These shorter wavelengths have a temperature and that is measured on the Kelvin scale, rather than degrees of Fahrenheit or Celsius. On the scale the higher the temperature number the bluer it will be and the lower the number the warmer or more yellow it will be. (wikipedia Kelvin may sound familiar from your high school science class OR depending on your camera model, you may have Kelvin (K) as an option as a White Balance setting along with sun, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, etc.

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Side Note: White Balance (WB) is a whole blog post of it’s own, but if you are feeling creative and adventurous we recommend you play around with your WB settings and see what happens to your images.

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As the weather is heating up, we thought it would be fun to do a study of all things cool! For the next few weeks we will be capturing cool light and cool tones, if you would like to join us on this color adventure post your photos on our FB page or use the hashtag #IACWcoolvibes on Instagram. We will be sharing all the pics here on the blog. Can’t wait to see your cool world through your lens!

Stay cool,

kdg

 

Facing FaceBook

Facebook! What a wonderful tool! No one can argue what a remarkable social media and marketing site it is. How it brings people together, keeps us informed and even entertained. I am a user and a fan of Facebook.

I also believe that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. This week I did a little experiment! I took Facebook off my phone. I did not disconnect, I still have it on my computer, and since I do not have a desk job and only work from my computer about 3 times a week, I now check Facebook about 3 times a week and not 3 times before 10am.

My goal with this step is to get more intentional with my relationships. If I want to see how someone’s sick child is doing, rather than have Facebook tell me, I am reaching out on a personal level and finding out for myself. And what about my friends latest beach holiday, let me call them up! This little experiment has already freed up a lot of space in my mind, my thoughts are no longer consumed with what other people are doing.

Facebook is a fantastic tool in helping people stay connected and I’ve taken advantage of it’s marketing reach time and time again, but it can most certainly cross over into an unhealthy obsession with what thy neighbour is up to, if we let it. So let’s take Facebook back to being a tool shall we?! I wouldn’t carry a screwdriver around with me everywhere and look at it every 30 mins would I? Nope, but I would grab it and make full use of it when I need to. So why not do the same with Facebook, and many other time consuming social media apps. Time we can never get back, time we could be spending investing in relationships face to face. Time spent playing with our children.

I still keep up to date with news and groups that I follow through twitter and Instagram. And again I must stress, I really appreciate how Facebook keeps me tied to my family and friends around the world. This is by no means an anti-Facebook post, this is more of a post encouraging a healthy relationship with Facebook and even more so, healthy relationships with the people who mean the most. And yes, I will still post this onto our Facebook group, why? Because I like and appreciate Facebook, and I’m learning better ways to use it as the tool it was designed to be.

Cheers

Spring update from Katie

Hi everybody! I know it’s been awhile since you heard from me, so I decided to to do a short vlog updating you on what’s been going on. Now that I’m getting back into the swing of things I look forward to sharing more travel adventures, creative inspiration, and life with you!

Thank you again to my beloved partner, Lindy-Ann, for picking up my slack you are true gem!

 

Cheers,

kdg

From pink screwdriver to power drill!

When I moved to Kuwait at the tender age of 25, my only ever experience with the IKEA brand had been from an advertising perspective. As in, admiring their advertising and strategy from a distance since there is no Ikea in South Africa.

When I moved into my first unfurnished apartment here, I headed over to the great IKEA and stocked up on the absolute bare minimum that I could afford at the time. With a very small budget I needed to get smart with my purchases. And of course I couldn’t afford the extra delivery service so I loaded my car with whatever I bought and headed home.

When I opened the wardrobe box and opened the little illustrated booklet of instructions it called for me to have a screwdriver handy. So off I walked to the local grocery store and bought myself my very first tool. A pink screwdriver! And with this little beast I built all my furniture for my first place by myself. After a few blisters and meltdowns I had done it!

Fast forward 11 years and now I’m in my new place, husband took the kids out for the day so I could build a few new storage pieces for the kids rooms. This time I was armed with a lot more building experience and a power drill (if that’s what you even call it!) Anyone else feel like IKEA is LEGO for adults?! #builditlikeaboss

Somehow this feels like a metaphor for how far my Kuwait journey has taken me. I will always keep my little pink screwdriver as a fond reminder of my early days here, a reminder to not give up, to tackle problems head on, and always know that even if you don’t see it at the time – hard work pays off.

Cheers

Go Slow!

To our dear readers, this is the reason for my current go slow. I’m currently moving house. Tomorrow is the big day! With any luck we’ll do it all in one day and not two!

My husband is in South Africa with my middle child, another post for another day, so I will be moving without him. Note I said ‘without him’ but not ‘alone’. My amazing helper has been an angel in the pre-pack department and I have no doubt that she, along with her army of friends, will help me unpack in the new house in a matter of days.

Once I’m settled, and my office is once again set up, my posts will be back with wonderful thick content like before.

Thank you all for your love and patience.

Cheers

WINNER! – 2017 Christmas Photo Challenge.

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Cheers to Keturah Maraska for being the winner to our 2017 Christmas Photo Challenge.

Your gift voucher is on it’s way.

What we liked about your image: 

  • Your composition was spot on in our books. Clear subject, hero and direction.
  • Your colours here are contrasting, warm and joyful.
  • My favourite quality of all has to be the contrast in texture from the prickled background to the smooth wooden ornament so carefully carved out.

Well done you!

With love-

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Note: Keep an eye out for our Valentine’s challenge around the corner.