My O-town.

Necklace - Ume Boutique, red dress - Deseret Industries, skirt - Chic Style Box
Chez Ray has been a teeny bit chaotic since last we chatted. The time has come, after much prayer and tears and more prayer and immense peace, to bid farewell to my O-town.  I didn't think I would ever say it, but the chain of events that have led up to it are nothing short of obvious that it's time.  The show must go on and I'm stoked for new adventures and new friends.  A lady can never have too many friends, now can she?
As I reflected back on my time in Ogden I was reminded of the immense blessing it was to be sent here.  I still remember the utter shock that people voiced when I told them I was moving to the 'hood. From the minute I parked my car in front of my new home, I knew it was home and for that I was grateful.  Kelsey and I set out to find urban art in Ogden for our last photo shoot.  The charm that Ogden has because of the incredible urban art is never-ending.  There is some serious talent in this awesome town.  My favorite is a mural that is located on the wall of a local eatery called The Pizza Runner.  It is a joint collaboration of two artists: Chris Kiernan and Rich Ramos. Chris' work can be seen in the Ogden location of Lucky Slice Pizza and I LOVE his style.  I swoon over his fonts.  Like for reaslies.  I mean check this out:
I asked Chris to share some of the backstory on his portion of the mural and this is what he said, "I was asked by my friend Rich Ramos to paint part of the Pizza Runner wall, he had painted the previous mural and this time he wanted to share the space. The beautiful female face on the wall at this time is his work. Dayton is the skater featured on my portion of the wall, he has grown up skateboarding in front of my camera so I decided to base part of my mural on a photo of him doing a crooked grind in downtown Ogden as a thanks for all the good times out skating. The previous mural also featured some Otown lettering and Rich always got good feedback on it so he wanted the new mural to carry on that theme. The lettering is my classic style that goes back more than 20 years, simple enough for everyone to read but still graffiti."
This location was insanely fun to shoot with as a backdrop.  LOTS of color and contrast, but also a bit of random matchy matchy.  Who hearts my nails and jewelry?  ALL handmade by amazing artisans.  As we shot this outfit, I had a chance to look at the lovely lady up close.  She is GORGEOUS.  Red lips and a look of peace on her face.  My kinda chick.  I may have said to her, "it's you and me against the world, lady!"
I found many treasures while I lived in the 'hood.  But, most of all I found me. I found the Ray that is supposed to be where she is meant to be.  I found a woman who loves deeply with all her heart, wants the small business owner to succeed even in the crappy times, wants the at-risk kids to be safe and wants every single female on the planet (and the men in their life) to know that they are of great worth and value no matter their size, financial status, skin color, mental health state, religion and sexual orientation.  "Let It Be and Celebrate" became my life.  Celebrate on the shitty days.  Celebrate when you really just want to cry yourself to sleep or punch the stupid boy in the face or simply give up.  Keep. Going.  Keep. Loving. Let. It. Be.  
Top & skirt - Macy*s, shoes - Endless Indulgence Retro Wear, location - Ogden Union Station
In Ogden I learned how to face my own shadow and look forward with faith.  I learned that some of the greatest adventures come to us in the midst of what we think is our greatest storm.  I lost TWO jobs in 2015 and not because of anything I did. Taking chances failed TWICE for me in a year. That meant I had to look at myself in the mirror every day for more than half of the year and say, "you did what you could and God will bless you during all of this."  That is NOT easy, my lovelies. Just ask my empty savings account. My shadow was my constant companion and I had to set the guilt aside and trust in God's timing and BREATHE
 This quirky railroad town stole my heart because it was FULL of history that included my family.  Ogden was home sweet home for many of my ancestors and I got to learn about them first hand and see their homes and visit their graves and gain courage from their struggles while living here.  I also learned that in the early days of Ogden you had to come here before you could go anywhere on the train.  I feel like that.  I know that I had to come here before I left Utah so that I could learn to love again and bust out of my shell for real.  I had to live post-therapy like a boss and learn some critical life lessons while I was at it.
One of the number one lessons I learned from Ogden is that good people who believe in a community can change the world.  This town is renowned for it's view and it's snow, but did you know that it is also known for the non-profit work that goes on?  We have one of the BEST homeless shelters in the country and my view of emergency housing drastically changed when I got to know the director.  We have NO idea the struggles that people face and why they are homeless. I learned to have compassion and look out for others who have it way worse than I do. 
 Ogden taught me that it's not always black and white. Sometimes we have to go against the grain because it is the right thing to do.  A seemingly wrong choice still has a lesson, thereby it is still a good choice because it has taught us that valuable lesson.  I learned to give people a chance, but to stand my ground when I had reached my limit.  
O-town was a good town for this lady and I will forever be grateful for the stones that were turned over because I took a chance on moving to the 'hood of Utah. Everything happens for a reason and I know that this next chapter will be just as amazing.  In the meantime, pray I don't go batty while packing up my house or send it all to Goodwill because I've had it with packing boxes. Pray that Mother Nature plays nice while I'm trying to drive a moving van with my life in it in the dead of winter. The struggle is real, believe me. Which reminds me, I should be sleeping...it's only 1 am.  Sigh.....
So now as I start my last week in Ogden and wait for the next chapter to begin, I thank my lucky stars that I have found my flair, my sass and affinity for red lipstick (and shoes) in this hippie, snowy, GORGEOUS, sometimes dog-food-smelly, quirky railroad town.  I'm a changed woman because I took a chance and followed my heart.  2016 is going to be amazing.  I know it.  How could it not be after this wackadoodle year???

The moral of the story: faith changes everything and in 2015 it did just that for me.  

Until next time, my lovelies!

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