Coffee Talk - Living far Away

A little bit more than 6 years ago, Juliette and I took the decision to leave France to move to another country. Canada was not the first choice but you guys know that already (if you don't, you can find the story on how we met, here for part one and here for part two). Even though living away from your home country can be difficult sometimes, it was the best decision we ever took!

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Why did we decide to change country?

We both knew for a long time we will not do our life in France as it never really felt like Home. Don't get us wrong, France is a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage and a delicious cuisine. But the mentality is not the best. It is not in our culture to be welcoming or supportive with each others, especially in the business industry or between women. There are a lot of competition and jealousy.

Since our goal was to open a photography business, we also knew how difficult it was to do it in France as there are a lot of rules to follow for administration and the market for photography is really competitive. Launching Scandaleuse in Toronto was a piece of cake!

What did we learn since we moved away?

  • Living far away make you realize how much your family is important

The most difficult part is being far away from our families. We made the “selfish” choice to chase the life we want at the expense of not spending time with our loved ones and missing out precious moments. We all know the quote that says: “We don’t choose our family… blablabla” but we have the tendency to forget that family is important. It is really easy to forget because of the drama and tension present in every family… Sometimes you just need to walk away to realize how much you care and love them.

Every choices we make in life have consequences. Be aware of it but stick to your desires, trust your guts, make the choices for yourself and do not have regrets because at the end your family just wants you to be happy!

(What if they are not happy and don't understand?… Well this gives you an other good reason to be selfish)

 
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  • Living far away opens your mind

Being photographers give us the freedom to work and travel everywhere in the world. We believe travels feed your soul and warm up your heart but it is when you live in another country that your mind truly opens. You see the world with new eyes and don’t have other choice than getting out of your comfort zone if you want to adapt to that new culture. And since you are building new routines and put yourself out, you are more open to meet new people and extend your list of friends.

  • It takes a lot of courage

It might not seem like it but taking the action to live in another country is BALLZY! Moving away usually means starting from zero and learning a new language, new skills and a new culture. Not everyone has the luxury or the will to start over, so If you ever did it you should be very proud of yourself. If this is on your bucket list or you get the opportunity to try this experience then don't think twice, even if it is scary. Sometimes this is the little push you need to become the best version of yourself and live the life you want.

Now go live your life, whatever that means to you. For us, it was switching countries: Is Canada our Home? Yes. Do we regrets leaving France? No. So thank you Canadians for being so welcoming and humans, you make us wanna stay here a little bit longer ❤️

 
 



The Day I Said "F*** IT"

Not too long ago, I found an old diary of 13-year-old Juliette. Diary in which I wrote a table with my physical qualities and flaws. My flaws list was off the charts, ridiculously detailed and my quality one had one random item that I put just to write a little something there.

I used to dodge my reflection in the mirror. Maybe it sounds odd to you, after all, you have seen us pretty much half naked on our ads shamelessly and we say loud and clear how you should love and be proud of yourself.

But yeah, I used to dodge mirrors on a daily basis and I don't anymore. And you shouldn't either.

 
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Never good enough: The teenaged years b*llshit

I feel like everyone's complexes started when they were teenagers. Fanny's did too. Probably because kids can be total jerks with each other. I had never noticed that I had a bit of a belly, or that my chest was absolutely flat until some girls told me. Then, it just echoed and became a part of me.

So, of course, teenaged Juliette started random diets while feeling like crap. Did I lose weight? Yes I did. But I saw myself huge every single day for years. I hated my face as well , and had stupid side bangs trying to hide at least half of it. Which is ridiculous now I am thinking about it, seriously, if I could have looked like Cousin It, I would have.

I am very lucky that I am surrounded by a loving family and I felt confident talking to my parents about anything. Could have been much much darker.

Pretty much when I started being called "Fat".

Pretty much when I started being called "Fat".

The years went by, I was still feeling enormous. When I look at pictures at myself back then and I want to go back in time to shake younger me and tell her "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?".

When I was finally out for high school and went to Paris to study Photography (when I met Fanny!), it hit me: why am I making myself feel like that over some stupid comments from people I didn't even admire from years ago?

So I just decided to say "F*** It" and I gave myself a chance.

I gave myself a chance to first be okay with how I looked. Bit by bit. You can't just wake up one day and feel gorgeous after feeling the opposite for so long.

Then, instead of comparing myself to others and thinking they were a little evil because they looked so good, I started looking for inspiration in them. For fashion, makeup, attitude. I stopped thinking pretty girls were only a certain way and were part of a private secret group for beautiful girls only. I experimented different looks until I felt comfortable.

I also stopped focusing only on negative comments from a minority of people and realized that I was actually getting a lot of positive ones that I was thoroughly ignoring.

I took self-portraits. My face, my body. Just for myself at the beginning. Then it made me so proud that I showed them to others too. And even better, I started doing it for other people.

I have kept all of them to this day as a reminder for my dark times because, hey, I look freaking great and I should high five myself.

 
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Meanwhile, Fanny was doing it too. That's probably why when we sat down a few years ago to talk about what we could build together, we naturally went towards boudoir. To show you how good you look when you feel vulnerable. To show you how beautiful we see you. Yes you.

And Now?

Honesty time, I only started removing hair from my face only a couple of years ago. Old habits die hard. I am now fine with not wearing makeup outside, and I only put some when it makes me happy and not because "Ugh I have to, the people who are going to see me at Shoppers buying my toilet paper are gonna think I am ugly." Hell, I even stopped wearing those awful bras which make your boobs look bigger but are seriously so uncomfortable (side note: it actually helped me A LOT to cherish those boobies)

I noticed that I can see myself fat one day for whatever reason and not the next day, which just doesn't make sense. So I give myself slack when I don't feel good. It allows me to not hold on to it, and just let those bad thoughts leave as fast as they came. It's okay not to feel okay, you'll feel better tomorrow.

So if you feel crappy about yourself, I am giving you a virtual hug and I am telling you that everything is going to be okay. Don't let that win. Try Fanny's little exercise here and do not stay in the dark if it gets worse and worse. Seeking help is not something to be ashamed of.

And seriously, just book a boudoir session already, you'll see they are a great cure to throw your insecurities down the drain, where they belong.

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How shifting your mindset can change your life

We are strong believers that a positive mindset is the key to happiness, whatever that word means to you. You might not realize it but the way you think impact any decisions you make in your life. Our fears, hopes, beliefs, any emotions we feel, positive or negative, change drastically our perspectives.

It is in the human nature to look for happiness, but we often don’t know how to reach it. This results in feeling lost or stuck in our own life. But what if we were telling you that any of us can live a successful and fulfilled life?

Would you believe us if we were to tell you that you are the only one who can decide to be happy?

 
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Get it right from the get-go

We are not saying it is an easy process, no one have their sh*t together and we are all faking it until we make it. But all you need are the good tools and practice.

  • Have goals, big or small.

Having concrete goals will give you the motivation to move forward in your future, and make you feel excited about taking decisions while pushing you to adapt your routine.

Once you've lined up these ideas, you need to learn to identify non-toxic from toxic goals. How? Ask yourself "why" you are aiming for that specific goal. Is it for yourself? Others? Is it too intense? Unachievable ? Is it compromising your health? Always remember to be your own measurement system instead of comparing yourself to others.

  • Implement positive thinking and statements:

Every time you catch yourself having a negative thought, acknowledge them by asking yourself WHY you are having negative thoughts and WHERE do they come from. Then, as trivial as it may sound, smile and twist it positively instead of making yourself feel worse:

"I am stupid… NO: I am smart!”

“I hate my acne… NO: I am beautiful!"

“I cannot do it… NO: I have been through worse than that, I am strong!"

The more you start making these statements, the more you will believe and see them. This is the power of manifestation, if you repeatedly keep saying negative things then those things are what will come to light. It works the same way for positive statements.

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Make it a habit while looking at yourself in the mirror (because it feels good to look at yourself right in the eyes):

I radiate beauty.  I radiate power. I radiate prosperity. I radiate love. I radiate light.

I am strong. I am confident. I will be successful.

I am beautiful. I have a great body. I love the way I look.

  • Learn to not be afraid to fail:

We all failed when we were kids, from the first step we took to all of the times we fell, it was part of our learning process. So failing as an adult is just as normal.

Failure means you keep learning, experimenting, progressing towards the life you are building, so instead of feeling ashamed we have to embrace it!

Grow, unlock other possibilities and achieve more than you could think!

  • Feel inspired not jealous:

Step away from negativity and jealousy by opening your mind, feeding your soul and surrounding yourself with like-minded people and people who are a few steps ahead of you too.

Keep learning, think about your goals, listen to yourself, learn to eliminate what doesn't work for you.

Just remember, you cannot compare yourself to others since you do not have the same life and aspirations.

There will always be parts of yourself that you are working on and you often think that "it will be better over there, and I will only be happy when…” but guess what?! Once you get over there, chances are you will face similar feelings of obstacles. Unless you break the cycle with everything we just told you.

Forgive yourself for making mistakes and take the pressure away by acknowledging that you are doing your best in every moment with the tools you have. That's how You will see a significant impact and change into your life.

Thank you @lianalewis and @edenalexwine for bringing your beautiful minds to this blog.

 
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First it hurts, then it changes you.

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion. Read more on the blog!

If I had listened to the thoughts of doubt and negativity in my head, I would have never had the courage to reinvent my life.

There’s something to be said about being forced to move on from a relationship that I knew wasn’t working and gaining the courage to start a whole new life that wasn’t in my plans.   

 
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I started the journey of self reinvention at the age of 39 shortly after I received my walking papers from my ex wife. I didn’t move on gracefully.  The relationship hadn’t been working for a long time really so it shouldn’t have been a surprise.  On the outside it looked like I had it all; the great career, a large home, fancy car - the works. But, inside I was empty and unfulfilled. The scariest part was leaving behind this comfortable life that I had built. Would I ever find love again at my age? How was I going to start over as I approached midlife?

A few months into my newly single life I left the pitty party behind and began to refocus on myself. I now had the chance to  live a more authentic existence and I vowed that I would get it right this time around.

What did this mean? Happiness. I was no longer going to do things or be with anyone that would make me unhappy. It was time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

 
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At the age of 40 I left my high paying corporate job to do something that filled my heart rather than my pockets. I tried new things. I took better care of myself mentally and physically. I travelled on my own. I met the love of my life while on vacation and moved to another province to be with her. I went back to school to learn new skills and another language. A baby soon followed at the age of 42.

I now have a supportive partner who is in love with me and is proud to be by my side. I have my own business doing something that I love. I speak another language and I'm a proud mom of a 2.5 year old daughter that dances like nobody's watching. She's magic. My life is magic. Midlife is magic.

There is this saying that I love and it says “First it hurts, then it changes you.” It’s amazing how allowing yourself to feel and own the pain of hurt or disappointment can change your life for the better.

I’m now a 45 year old sex positive, body positive, queer woman who is living her best life. I celebrate my perfectly imperfect body because it can move and I’m healthy. I nurtured and birthed another human being with 42 year old eggs. How magical and awesome is that? 

Because the process of life reinvention has made me a more courageous and confident person, I decided to start a blog. The goal of this blog is to empower and inspire other midlife moms who feel like they’re undesirable, lost and losing time to rediscover and reinvent themselves. Just like I did.

I once thought that I was too old to start over. I soon realized that even if I had only one day left on this earth, I’d rather spend it happy than with sadness and regret.

People like to say that life is short. It’s really not. Life is long and at midlife you have so much life to live. Why live the rest of your life unhappy when you can live everyday celebrating it?

If I had listened to the negative thoughts in my head that told me I was too old to start over again, I would have never had the courage to reinvent my life for the better. Tackling the fear of the uncomfortable is what lead me to the bliss.

 
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I was consumed by an inner dialogue that incessantly told me I was a “waste of space”.

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion.

We met Eden a few months ago and she was one of the first participants for this project. We are happy to let you know now that she is also about to tag along in the Scandaleuse journey, as we will be combining services very soon. Read her story below!

If I had listened, then… I wouldn’t be here today

Before I embraced myself in all of my authentic glory (weirdness, flaws, and all), I was consumed by an inner dialogue that incessantly told me I was a “waste of space”.

If I listened to this inner dialogue, then I wouldn’t be alive.

 
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My journey towards embracing who I am is a colourful one, but its colourful spectrum is not limited to the pastels and vibrant colours of a beautiful life.

Instead, the spectrum of my life includes dark and shadowy aspects that painted my imbedded need to conform to someone proper, petite, and poised. Someone who “should” fit perfectly into a designated box.

Well, the “rule follower” in me cared what the “rules” were. The rule follower in me cared how I was being perceived by others. The rule follower in me allowed my uniqueness to be dimmed by the rigid regulations of the external reality I faced.

The attempt to conform my wild and extraordinary imagination caused me to feel weird, othered, rejected, and unlovable. My thirst for knowledge and inclination to pursue academics caused me to be made fun of and labeled as a “know it all”. The comparison of myself against bodies that were slender and airbrushed caused me to look at my body with disgust and hatred.

On an ongoing basis, I would find myself tightly constricting my stomach with a tensor bandage with the desperate need to morph my body into someone “beautiful”.

I was trying to conceal myself, which was perpetuated by a deeply ingrained desire to be someone “different”, someone “acceptable”.

It truly felt like the parts of my existence were being pulled by its threads, ripped apart, and shattered.  Looking into these tattered fragments of myself, all I could see was someone who was broken, someone who didn’t belong, and (like broken things) someone who should be tossed away.  

 
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The journey towards the reclamation of who I am was not an easy one. My desire to ignore and disobey the toxic negativity that filled my head required me to care just enough about myself in order to step in and survive. I’ll never forget the moment that I decided not to listen, the moment I decided to survive.

One step at a time, I learned to appreciate the beauty of my uniqueness, the importance of my sentiment, and the perfection of my flaws.

I am here, having a human experience and contributing to the world in a way that no one else can because no one else is me. Step by step, moment by moment, I allowed myself to re-invigorate my imagination. Yes, I do believe in unicorns, mermaids, goodness, peace, and love. Allowing myself to indulge in the pleasures of learning new things and expanding my mind has sufficiently equipped me with a unique skillset that helps my clients do the same. Most recently (partly with the help of Scandaleuse Photography), I have decided to love my body the way it is and find beauty in the way that it twists and turns, whilst simultaneously finding deep appreciation for the adventures my body brings me on.

I am so grateful that I didn’t listen. I am so grateful because I am here shining bright like a beacon for others who feel like I once did.

Policing Black women’s hair has been a constant battle many of us have faced.

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion.

If I had listened, I wouldn’t have cut my hair.

I have always played it safe.
Always.

 
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As women, we have been conditioned to believe that long hair is a sign of our femininity. Especially as a Black woman, our hair is sacred. There are so many stories and beautiful memories we have of our individual hair journeys. Unfortunately, there are moments in our stories that aren’t pleasant.

Policing Black women’s hair has been a constant battle many of us have faced.

I remember feeling so excited to get my hair done but then secretly worrying about getting asked questions like “Is your hair real? Why do you change it so often? Can you wash it like normal hair?” Once someone told me, “you can't keep changing your hair like that. It makes you look unprofessional.”

For far too long, I listened. I played it safe. And because I was listening, I was holding myself back from being the sexiest, happiest, and most confident version of myself. 

I never cared much about Rihanna, but I loved how she rocked her hair. At one point she cut it short and I remember my eyes felt like they were falling out of my head because I SO wanted to do that. But I didn’t. Why? For starters, my mom didn’t think it was a good idea. Like I mentioned before, long hair is a sign of being a sensual woman and short hair to some means your edgy, reckless, wild, etc.

3 years later I moved out with my boyfriend. I posted a picture on Instagram of my hair pinned back and I got so many compliments. The one that stood out, encouraged me to make the biggest hair decision ever. “OMG! Did you cut your hair? It looks amazing!”

 
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I remember that moment so clearly. I instantly started scrolling through Instagram for some hair inspiration and came across ‘The Cutlife’. I was freaking out!

I saw so many beautiful Black women with short hair. Fades, bobs, bald...these were my people! Without hesitation, I found the first stylist available and booked an appointment to cut my hair.

There was something so incredibly liberating about feeling my hair fall on my cape. I felt like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon.

Unfortunately, she totally botched it but when I did find the right stylist to fix it, I saw a woman in the mirror I fell so in love with.

My hair has become a signature component of my brand. I feel free, fun, confident, and powerful. To maintain its freshness, it must be cut every week!

If I had listened to what others had to say about women with short hair, I truly don’t believe I would be the version of myself I am today. If you’re reading this and have been debating to try a new look but question if it’s professional enough or to society’s standards, listen to me when I say FORGET WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY! DO YOU! BE YOU! AND LOVE YOU!

You’ll thank yourself later.

You do you & I do Me!

Disclaimer: This blog contains sarcasm from a community of Scandals who doesn't give a damn when people try to bring them down. We will live our life the way we want it!

As you may know, we created a new project called "If I Had Listened” where women talk about a time they decided to trust their guts rather than listening to others. We realized too many of our Scandals were having (or have) a hard time starting new projects because of all the negative feedbacks they were getting from people around them.

Those behaviours will always happen because some people believe they know you better than you know yourself and will not hesitate to tell you the choices you have to make and how to live your life.

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Decide to not give a damn!

A few weeks ago, a classmate from trade school in France commented on one of my Instagram stories in which I was pole dancing, with a very thoughtful question:

“But why are you doing this? Showing your butts and everything? Really I don't understand…"

What a deep question and great way to develop a new conversation. I have to thanks this type of people because they make it really easy for me to use my french sarcasm!

So here I am, in my underwear, upside down on the pole, practicing one of the move we learnt. Then I got this message which blew my mind and reminded me of those school topics about philosophy and existential questions: Who are WE and why are we ALIVE?… So I asked myself, why am I doing what?

  • Why am I upside down on a pole?

  • Why am I half naked in my apartment?

  • Why am I living in Canada?

  • Why do I define myself as a woman?

My brain started to think, too many interrogations, not that much time to answer… My mind couldn’t take it anymore. I finally replied to him with the answer that was the most appropriate to that question: "For the pain!”. I guess not everyone understand sarcasm:

"Pain?? What are you talking about? I am talking about this way you have to show your butt to everyone… What is the point? I just want to understand why you are doing this… Or the same with the videos where you film yourself and other things… Honestly I don't understand!”

 
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"… the way you show your butt to everyone…” I am not gonna lie, I had to take a deep breath to stay calm. I had three options: I could have let my anger out and tackled him with my words. I could have wasted my time by starting a debate on how we live in a sexist society where it is inappropriate for women to show their body but normal for men and how it is important to change mentality around that topic. Or just ignored him, which I did, because I knew that guy was only criticising instead of trying to really understand and change his way of thinking and beliefs. So I kept my cool, told him I would not go into details and wished him a good night.

What we learnt since we opened Scandaleuse is that if people refuse to understand, you will not make them change their mind, so what even bother. It will only create frustration on your side and a big waste of your time!

Deciding of your own life doesn't make you selfish

There is a big difference between not caring about others and not caring about what people think of your way of living, it does not make you selfish or pretentious if you decide to not give a damn. You know you cannot please everybody, you can LISTEN to what people have to say and acknowledge their thoughts and ideas but at the end YOU decide if you want to apply them. You want to wear only blue clothes, go for it. You don't want kids, nothing wrong with that. You want to work in the sex industry, you do you my friend (no pun intended - or maybe a little!).

To quote one of the biggest poet of all time (love ya Hi Fashion!):

I don't care if you don't like my hair
Because I know it's amazing
And I don't give a damn if you don't like my tan
Because I know it's amazing
I don't give two hoots if you don't like my boots
Because I know they're amazing
And I don't give a sh*t if you don't like my tits
Because I know they're amazing

What you do with your butt, how you dress, the way you live your life and who you decide to be concerns you and only you. Don't let others dictate who you are just because they believe it is the only and right way to be in our society.

 
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I was my own worst enemy until I decided to no longer be a victim

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion.

If I had listened, I wouldn’t have bloomed.

If I had listened to the voices telling me “you’re not strong enough, popular enough, skinny enough, worthy enough, relatable enough”, I wouldn’t be where I am today - powerful.

 
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Over the past 2 years, I have struggled with depression and anxiety. I battled them until I couldn’t bare it anymore. I reached for help, went to therapy, am medicated and try my best everyday to work towards healing. It seems simple to say out loud now but the path was not easy.

I was my own worst enemy until I decided to no longer be a victim. As a victim we listen to the voices in our head that trap us, suffocate us and if we allow them, they can also drown us.

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On my way out of the depths of sadness, my business has become a platform for women. A platform to allow women, like myself, to have a place to share, to know that they aren’t alone, to feel empowered and be surrounded by a safe community. For years, my business was creating and selling jewelry until I found it was no longer my passion. I found myself disconnected and that is when my success dipped. I searched for a creative muse but it just wasn’t there.

My business slowly shifted and this shift happened when I started to share my struggles. The more I dug deeper into healing, the more answers came and the more I felt connected to what I was creating - an expression of growth through a line of t-shirts. Though I do sell a physical item, it is so much more than a product - it is body positivity, a community of strong women and a place for us to heal and grow.

The hard truth is, I am MORE than enough, WE are all more than enough. I am more than a body, more than a mother, more than a wife. I am a mentor, teacher and role model. I am everything I wanted to be because I believed, because I stepped into my power and because I did not listen.

I had this constant fear preventing me from actually living. If I died tomorrow, what would be my regrets?

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion. Read them all!

If I had listened, I would never have become the woman I am today.

I am a stubborn person who has the unfortunate habit of listening to her intuition and taking risks. That's why I decided to write three situations when I chose to listen to myself rather than follow a logical path. Those ended up being the most decisive moments in my life.

 
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When I left the family home

I come from a family where work is more important than anything else. My mother found me my first job as a maid in a hotel at 15 years old and I stayed there for over 8 years.

All family discussions revolved around this hotel. I was so unhappy for so long, my life became more unbearable every day.

I was too afraid of my parents’ reaction if I were to leave that I had to find a way to avoid justifying myself. I had to leave my home.

I didn’t have much money or furniture other than what was in my room. In order to quickly raise funds for my project, I sold my car and shared a place with a friend. I moved out in February 1999 and in April 2000 I left my job. The year following this decision was even more difficult. I was working part-time in a clothing store, but, I was "FREE".

Free from the pressure of my parents, free from work that made me sick, but most importantly, free to do what I wanted to do and free to become everything I wanted. I never regretted this decision and my parents finally understood that I wanted other things in my life.

When I got my heart broken and lost a friend

Around the same time, I got my heart broken. I am aware now that it was mostly because of my fear, my low self-esteem and lack of experience. He didn’t only break my heart into a million pieces, but it also made me physically sick.

Fear was my biggest enemy. It prevented me from having a beautiful story to share and fulfilling this dream of having someone close to me, even for a moment.

To top it all off, I also lost a dear friend. A man who, the first night of his retirement, died of an aneurysm. He had worked all his life to support his family, whom he didn’t see very often because he was so dedicated to his job. The days before his death, he told me how eager he was to rest, to "cut wood" at his cottage, take time for his family, and so on. He didn’t even have the chance to live one of those moments because he died just before. It was a wake-up call.

I was Working non-stop, doing exactly what was expected of me and I had this constant fear preventing me from actually living. If I died tomorrow, what would be my regrets?

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I had way too many dreams to be yet fulfilled so I decided to take care of myself. I moved alone in my own apartment and I found a job that would allow me to achieve two of my three greatest dreams, sing and travel.

The third, finding my life partner is still a dream. The lifestyle choices I made so far haven't led me there yet, I hope to get there someday.

When I Left my roots, my family and my friends.

In my mid-30s, I felt like I was going around in circles. Even though I had been told that I had everything I needed to be happy, I felt the thirst for life

The anger that often gave me the boost I needed to move forward was getting stronger on a daily basis. It was time to make a decision and I decided to leave everything behind.

I left my family, my friends and my job aka financial safety net, just because I needed to see what was on the other side of the fence. It was tough, especially on the social aspect: at 35, you can’t create a social network as easily as in your 20's but, I didn’t give up and worked hard to build a life for myself. It's been 8 years since I left my roots and I have never regretted it.

Life challenges us every day but I like to create mine. It's weird isn’t it? It’s as if the events of everyday life were not enough for me.

People often think and plan their major life events such as their wedding or the birth of their child with a good idea of what they want. Me, I only know two things. The song at my funeral is going to be Franck Sinatra's "My Way" and my funeral epitaph will look like "Thanks my God, it's finally over, thank you for not waking me up."

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All the "no’s" have simply been guiding me to bigger "Yes’s"

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion.

If I had listened to all the "no’s" I wouldn’t have received all the "yes’s".

The amount of "no’s" that I have faced in my career have been endless, and have truly made me doubt my self worth and purpose.

 
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But what I have grown to understand is that all the "no’s" have simply been guiding me to bigger "Yes’s".

My dance journey began at an older age than most, so for me I was always the underdog, always one step behind those of my peers. It used to frustrate me, because it seemed like no matter how hard I worked I wasn’t reaching the level of those around me. Little did I know this struggle was developing me & prepping me to receive all the blessings that lied ahead.

I began to build a humble foundation, understanding that nothing great would come easy, and that hard work, sacrifices and pain would make receiving the reward that much more valuable.

With time & continued dedication my training lead me to become a dance student at Ryerson University’s Dance program. Accepting my offer was an absolute dream come true. I was a small town girl moving to the big city to pursue her dance dreams. I felt like Jody Sawyer from "Centre Stage", the ballerina with the non stereotypical ballet body, and average ballet technique that Ryerson was taking a chance on, and funny enough that was exactly how my story unfolded.

I was in a program that was stripping everything beautiful about me away, and trying to squeeze me into a box that I would never fit into.

It was so damaging and so heartbreaking because I wanted nothing more than to meet their unrealistic and unattainable requirements so badly, but the truth was, I never would. The program beat me down, and stole my love for dance completely away from me. I was told that I would never be enough, that there was no place for me in the industry and that it was best if I looked at other career options. Ouufff, at the age of 19, those words were so damaging, because I admired and respected my teachers so much. My dreams of pursuing dance professionally, slowly seemed unattainable & unrealistic.

Now this was a defining moment for me, because I faced a crucial "No" at such an influential time in my life. I was young, impressionable, and easily influenced by my mentors, but something deep inside wasn’t allowing that "No" to define who I was.

I knew that there was a place for me in this industry and if there wasn’t I needed to create a place, and that is exactly what I did.

I used all those “no’s” to drive me to so many successful “yes's”, one very important "yes" being my heels company Sensual Heeling Inc.

 
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Many times I’ve been asked “how did you know you wanted to be a dancer/choreographer and found your own heels company Sensual Heeling?” and the answer is I didn’t know, I didn’t know that any of this was achievable, let alone successful. I think the most beautiful part of it all is that I just didn’t give up, even at my lowest of lows, I kept on striving to be the best version of myself, despite what that looked like to others.

Many laughed at me, judged me, and doubted that my talent wasn’t enough to turn my passion into a success story, but here I am still standing strong, inspiring so many women each and every single day through my heels company Sensual Heeling. It truly comes down to your own personal happiness. Dance makes me happy, despite all the "no’s" I’ve received and continue to receive, dance always brings me back to a place of joy. Just as much as it has brought me joy, it has also brought me heartache. But nothing worth fighting for comes easy, and I’d rather have moments of unhappiness building a career that continually brings me back to a place of pride & joy then a career that is just sufficient.

My biggest piece of advice is stop waiting for approval, stop allowing all the "no’s" to define you. We as humans wait and we yearn for the approval of others when in the big picture the only approval that matters, is your own. You need to ensure you are living life for yourself and no one else, because if you aren’t happy than what is the value in living?

We don't have a studio.

We have several.

You would think that, when you are a boudoir photographer (or any portrait photographer), there is one thing you would need to establish yourself: a studio. Well Scandals, there is something you need to know about us (drumroll please): we don't have a studio. We actually have about 10 of them.

 
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Because, yes, my butt is comfortably sitting on my office chair in my apartment as we speak, on a Wednesday afternoon. Don't get me wrong, we did think about getting a studio, and to be honest, it is the ultimate goal when we find the perfect spot that would not ask for 5 kidneys as a down payment (welcome to Toronto baby!). But for now, we decided to focus on something much more important to us: how to make your boudoir experience different from everyone else's.

Your boudoir session is about you (yes mam!)

This is the core of our business. We were soooo tired of seeing the same kind of boudoir photos non-stop online when we knew we can do so much more. Not all of you belong in those cutesy bed shots. If you are a Scandal like us, you can also belong on a rooftop during a busy night, overlooking the CN tower, or right in the middle of the woods in the early morning light with the sun kissing your skin.

Obviously, we can't only shoot outdoors. But instead of dealing with the same background over and over again, we decided to go the extra mile and make a list of awesome locations all around the city with complete different decor. You are a minimalist with scandinavian vibe? Boom, meet our all white modern loft just for you. You thrive through your rock'n'roll looks? Warmer and darker tones will likely suit you better.

Does it take time and patience? Ooooooh yes. Finding the good spots, visiting them, figuring out the fees involved with each, dealing with the landlords and availability… Trust me, it makes us sweat. But at the end of the day, we are here to build an experience around you.

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We are artists (no joke.)

Like many creative people, we need to renew ourselves all the time. Otherwise, we get bored and it kills our souls bit by bit. Seriously, put a good photographer is the same room for every single shoot and by the 5th one, she/he will be crawling on the floor asking for mercy. Having multiple options keeps us passionate and creative. And if we stay passionate and creative, you get an awesome shoot. Two birds one stone.

And who wouldn't want to change her/his office on a daily basis? We have seen so many amazing places that belong on a Pinterest board and we are over the moon to be able to bring them to you.

We are not doing boudoir just so you feel good for one day. We are doing it so it impacts you, gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when you think about it and so you remember it for the rest of your life.

Now... what are you waiting for?

I am my biggest cheerleader but I am also my worst enemy.

This post is a part of our series “If I Had Listened", in which we're reached out to strong-minded women we admire to tell us about a moment they chose to trust their gut and follow a different path despite other people's opinion. Read the first post here

If I had listened I wouldn’t have been able to find happiness and confidence within myself to truly love who I am.

I am my biggest cheerleader but I am also my worst enemy.

 
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There are so many factors in society that contribute to my marginalization. I am a woman, I am from Jamaica, I am of mixed race.

Throughout my life, I have faced discrimination for all the above characteristics, all of which have thrown me off kilter, beat down my confidence, made me questions my identity and made me seriously doubt who I am.

I had times that were so dark and lonely that, unfortunately, only my damaged mind and broken heart were there to keep me company.

It wasn’t until I was able to work on myself, with help, that I was able to realize that it was the constant negative self-talk festering in my mind that was making me crumble into nothingness.

It took a really long time for me to accept that I had the power to be my biggest fan even if I were being my biggest roadblock.

I used to resent the people closest to me for not meeting my expectations and not being there to save me from my mind. But choosing to be in charge of my own outcomes and happiness as opposed to relying on others was the biggest contributing factor to reaching the self-acceptance and happiness that I am working towards today.

 
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I know that I will always be a work in progress and I totally accept that. However, I have now found beauty in my flaws and in my growth. I have stopped listening to the side of myself that constantly wants to hold me back from evolving as the beautiful human I am and I now place the ride or die version of Nathanielle at the forefront.

5 Things you can do to be more French

It’s Bastille day aka the Revolution day in France! Everyone is off work to go celebrate around fireworks, good food and good company. As you probably know already, we are both French from Paris (hi to our cousins for Québec!) and to celebrate our national holiday, we thought you could join us by developing a new French twist!

 
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Practice saying “APEROOOO!"

On a beautiful summer (or not) nights,it is not rare that we gather with our family and friends around some drinks and hors d’œuvres (this is how you spell it by the way) for a couple of hours before dinner. We called them “Apéro” and they are always filled with laughter and good vibes. It's about damn time we incorporate more of these in Canada!

Master the art of sarcasm

Not to brag, but we are pretty good at sarcasm and it makes us laugh a lot. It's also a powerful tool for a passive-aggressive comment you need to tell your foreign Aunt Jemma who asked to put sparkling water in her white wine. (don't do that.)

Ditch your top on the beach, it's summer.

Let your nipples see the world and enjoy the warmth of the sun.

After you put some serious sunscreen on them though, you only have two, you gotta cherish them. It's such a great feeling to swim (almost or totally) naked. Remember?

Don't “pardon your French”

It's very freeing to swear here and there.

Really, try it. I mean, don't do it in front of your 6-year old nephew, pick your audience, but still. Don't bottle up those feelings that want to make you swear, embrace and express the, you’ll feel much better!

Start thinking that you know slightly better than everybody else.

Because… don’t you?! Yeah that's what we thought.

Now, you are all set to grab your glass of wine - the real glass please, put down that plastic cup - put your brie on the barbecue and dance on this! You're welcome!

 
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