What Message Do You Think Every Woman Should Hear ?

With Lauren Merrell

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
My name is Lauren and I am a travel photographer and to be blogger

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I am not your typical 25 year old travel blogger. I’m 33. I work full time in a regular job, and have 6 beautiful children and a husband. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
If you believe that this is what you were meant to do, then go for it. Don’t stop until your living the life you want. 

What would you say to 16 year old you?
It’s all going to change. Your life is never what you think it’s going to be when your 16 and that’s okay. Every experience is a step to a more beautiful you. Everything you will go through will have an impact on who you will be. You will grow through experience and you will be better for it. 

What is your greatest fear?
Heights. But I’m determined to never let anything hold me back. I have been on some of the highest mountains and took a deep breath and just stepped out onto the edge. Overcoming fear is so important. You cannot allow fear to set limitations for you. 

Have you ever had anyone doubt you?
Oh yes, of course. I still get the “that’s a great hobby to have” from my mom. Or the smile from my co-workers when I say I’m off to a new place – the one that hints to you that they are to nice to tell you that your wasting your time.  How did that make you feel? I just use it as fuel for my fire. I believe in me and I will prove to them that they should have believed in me too. 

What message do you think every woman should hear?
Never give up on your dreams. It’s never to late to live the life you’ve always wanted. You are your only limitation. It’s not your parents, or your boyfriend, or you husband or your kids. You allow those things to be your excuses. If you truly want something, you can find a way to make it happen. 

What is your favorite thing about where you live?
I live in New Hampshire, in the US. I love the mountains and hiking. NH is full of Gorgeous mountains. There is always something to do outside.

What do you love most about yourself?
Such a tough question. I love that I have grown to be able to recognize when I am making excuses for myself. Everyone has that little voice in their head that tells them it’s okay…you can do that another day. I’m so glad that I’ve grown to recognize when I do this.

Do you remember a specific time you have been through adversity?
I had just gotten divorced, and I was a single mom with two kids. I had a general checkup with my doctor and complained to her that I’d had a lot of discomfort in my abdominal area. She took a bunch of X-rays and blood, and after about a week called me back into her office. I had Cancer. I was only 23, and I had ovarian cancer. I remember sitting there with my 6 month old daughter in my arms thinking I was all alone and I had no idea what was going to happen to my children. It was the scariest moment of my life. At the time I was waitressing, in danger of foreclosing on my house, my husband had no family close by or friends that were close enough to trust with raising my children if something happened to me. I was, in that moment, completely vulnerable and lost. That was the turning point of my life. That was when my outlook on life completely changed. I had to succeed. I had to kick cancers butt and be here for my children. I couldn’t keep living the way I was and expect that everything was just going to be alright. I got up, looked at the doctor and told her “Cancer is not an option, what do we do next?”

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned along the way?
You have to make your own way in this world. Everything outside of yourself could be temporary. Jobs, friends, husbands, boyfriends. But you can always rely on you and what you are willing to do. Never rely on the success of others. Always forge your own way and your own path. 

What motivates you most?
Tomorrow could go away, you only have today. It sounds so cliche, but you have to appreciate every moment you have and experience everything life can provide. 

How do you manage your work-life balance?
This is definitely an area of improvement for me. I make sure I schedule time for work and time for family and time for me. It’s important to have time for all of these things and unfortunately life gets in the way sometimes. But make it happen.

What is your favorite meal?
Oh god. Probably a good Italian pasta dish with a glass of pinot noir. 

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I set goals. Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. I find that setting goals and intentions keeps me on track and in line with my vision of where I want to be and what I want to accomplish. 

What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
People are always surprised at my interests. I love opera, the ballet and art galleries. I also like white water rafting, hiking and motorcycles. I don’t believe in limiting yourself to experiences and I try to find joy in everything. People can’t put me in a box and that confuses them. 

If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
I would definitely be traveling and taking photos full time. Creating beautiful pictures and telling my stories to others is my life’s passion. 

What is something on your bucket list?
I really want to go to South Africa and volunteer on a animal conservation project. That’s at the top of my list right now. 

Have you ever had an extraordinary experience? Describe it!
It’s so hard to name just one. When I was 17 a friend invited me on a kayaking trip through Canada that her church organization was running. I went more to get away from my parents , and less because I liked to Kayak. That trip opened my eyes to the world. It ended up being the thing that made me fall in love with starry sky’s and bonfires on the beach. We saw so many Gorgeous mountainscapes and I met so many travelers and nomads along the way. It was the start of my romance with travel. 

Where do you find inspiration?
In so many places. In friends that I’ve met over the years. Blogs, Instagram, by reading books and doing online general searches. But mostly in the places I visit and the people I meet while I’m there. It’s so interesting to see how different everyone truly is. 

What are your biggest passions?
Family, travel, photography, and philanthropy and humanitarian work.

More About Lauren

Lauren Merrell is a travel photographer and to be blogger. She loves spending her time traveling the country, and soon to be world, with her children & husband.

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