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40 things I’ve learned in 40 years

June 16, 2020

Hi, I'm cilla!
I am a loved, incredibly imperfect, storyteller of life, love, and joy. Photographer to some of the most genuine and beauty-filled people in KY.
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Let’s make family photo sessions a little bit easier. Just a small portion of the Lifestyle Session Guide all of my family’s receive.


40 things I’ve learned in my 40 years

  1. 40 is just the beginning…

  2. Each of us were made of love and for love by the divine who is love.

  3. The same God who put into motion and created sunsets, the ocean, snow topped mountains, swaying fields of tall grass, the rolling hills of Tuscany…and the Bluegrass, big full body laughs, sunflowers, the feeling of a hot summer day just cooled off by a storm rolling in, the smell of honeysuckle and peaches, seashells, the excitement of falling in love, and the comfort of staying in love…also created you…and me…and your neighbor…and the stranger…and the “other”…and the people in our lives who may feel like the enemy.

  4. God doesn’t make mistakes.

  5. Do not apologize or feel less than for having big feelings or being “too” sensitive. You are not too sensitive. You are just the right amount of sensitive. The world needs us and our feelings.

  6. We are all human beings managing a beautiful, scary world with the same desires…to be loved…to be safe…and for those we love to be safe. Some of us find safety and love in power. Some of us find safety and love in a soft embrace. We all find safety and love in different ways, but we are all the same in our deepest desires for it. Remember that when you walk into a room and feel different and alone.

  7. Be quick to forgive…especially for people loving you imperfectly.

  8. We are all also the same in that we will experience pain in some way. Pain is relative. Everyone’s pain is different. We can’t judge, measure, or compare another person’s pain.

  9. We are all doing the best we can…with the information we have, the life experiences we have, the love we have, the pain we have, the fear we have, the traumas we have. Even if we aren’t, it serves me and our world well to assume that about each person we meet.

  10. Dancing it out…running it out…yoga-ing it out…works.

  11. I don’t believe God makes bad things happen. I believe God is the good and the beauty and the love we see in the midst of bad things happening. God is in the helpers. Bad things happen because we live in an ever changing natural world filled with imperfect humans. And He weeps right along with us.

  12. Safety…for me…is snuggling in the bed with my son and my husband. All feels right in the world when I’m snuggled up along side them.

  13. Hate = fear and pain.

  14. I will never trust another person’s interpretation of the Bible more than I trust the relationship with God I’ve been given.

  15. Be kind. Always.

  16. We belong to each other. (Thank you Glennon Doyle for always reminding us fo this.)

  17. Listen and know. When you don’t know what to do…get quiet…really quiet. Listen to the good…the light…the love inside (clear the clutter). We’ve usually been given the answer, we just try to make the answer into something different. We complicate things. Now…just listen…know…and do the next right thing.

  18. Love big. Love out loud. Even if it’s scary. Even if you’re afraid of losing it. Love is always worth it.

  19. Listen when someone says they are in pain. Don’t say “but…but…but” or try to push the pain to the side…listen and love.

  20. Love is not just a feeling. It’s a doing. It’s a responsibility. Choose to love others because you have been loved. Love yourself because you are loved. Choose love…be kind to yourself. Choose love…be kind to others.

  21. God will give you exactly what you need to do that which you are called to do.

  22. Gratitude = Joy. Joy is greater than happiness. Happiness can be fleeting, but joy is deep down inside of us and can withstand all that life brings it.

  23. Kitchens are for dancing…and cooking…but mostly dancing.

  24. All major religions point to one thing…”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” God has been trying to tell us this one thing over and over again. Don’t be a jerk. Love people. Don’t complicate it.

  25. Make a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. Use an ice-cream scoop to measure out individual cookies and place them on a cookie sheet close together (or you can roll all of the dough into a log and cut 1/2 inch servings). Now put that cookie sheet into the freezer. Once frozen, put into a ziplock bag and store in the freezer. Bake at 350 until lightly golden. Fresh baked cookies any…time…you…want. Trust me on this. Go to my instagram story for the best recipe (https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17876879530231486/).

  26. There are times in life we just have to buckle down and make it through. During those times in life, it’s all about survival. Be gentle with yourself during these times. Take two minutes to sit and breathe. Ask for help. This is not meant to last a life time. If you find that years are going by in survival mode…it may be time to change something. You only have this one life.

  27. Each of us were given a certain set of skills and gifts. Some were inherited. Some were given from life. We were meant to use those gifts. Not hide them away. No one benefits when we hide our gifts. Find your gifts. Use them.

  28. We are ALWAYS becoming.

  29. We were made to be together…to be part of a tribe. To do life together. To lift up and help and be helped. Find your tribe and love them fiercely and let them love you back. But don’t close off your tribe to others. Someone may be meant for your tribe and you not even know it.

  30. This too shall pass. This applies to our struggles and our joys.

  31. There is no one better than you, but you are no better than any one else.

  32. Failure is not a bad thing. Failure produces discomfort and none of us like that feeling. But this is where growth happens…where lessons can be learned. If we listen. Grieve the loss…the dream. Take a deep breath. Rise. Dust yourself off. Move forward.

  33. Finding joy and beauty in the little things can get you through the darkest of days.

  34. Your people love you more than you will ever know.

  35. Our stories were meant to be shared and seen by those who we trust.

  36. There is no place for shame. There is a time and place for guilt. Guilt says “I made a bad decision”. Shame says “I am a bad person”.

  37. Take up for the “little guy”. Note…everyone can be the little guy at one time or another. Watch out for the voiceless…lend your voice and/or lift up theirs.

  38. “Bullies” are operating out of pain. It’s not about you. It’s about them. We must stand up to bullies and then be the bigger person and show them love and empathy. This does not mean you need to keep them in your life.

  39. Setting loving boundaries may be the trickiest thing to learn and one of the most important.

  40. Everything is a miracle.

What I mostly want to say though…thank you…I love you.

Love always,


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I'm Cilla and I'm so happy you're here! You'll find bits of writing about this beautiful, messy, joyful, love-filled life...both mine and the families I get to photograph year after year. 

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Let’s make family photo sessions a little bit easier. Just a small portion of the Lifestyle Session Guide all of my family’s receive.


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