December 18, 2011

I am so glad, fortunate, and thankful I am not alone this Christmas!

This time last year, I remember I was sitting in my New York apartment....  and I was hating it.  My career was in full forward momentum and I needed to be in the city right up until Christmas. I had everything I needed except for one big problem.  I was REALLY lonely. New York City can be a really lonely place despite how many people live there-especially around the holidays. Seeing all the happy couples at the Rockefeller Center ice skating and buying Christmas trees together made me feel worse.  The earliest I could get home to Minnesota was Christmas morning.  My best friend Aimee flew out and stayed with me for a few days the week before Christmas which helped me feel better for the time she was there.  The day she left, I felt even more depressed and alone than before.  I spent Christmas Eve at a church in Union Square all by myself and just wanted it to be over.  I cried. I missed my father. That was not fun.  I was the Scrooge- depressed and angry.

This wasn't the only time I have felt lonely.  I would say that one of the hardest parts of my job (and most models will agree) is feeling lonely. When you're moving around so much, it's hard to even know what a stable home feels like.  I call hotels my "home".  And just as fast as I make new and close friends, I know I have to say good-bye to them for an indefinite amount of time.  While it is a fantastic job to get paid to travel  and stay at some of the most beautiful places on earth, the beauty of those places is slightly diminished without someone to share those memories with.  Lets face it, having a glass of wine and watching a spectacular sunset isn't the same when you're doing it all by yourself repeatedly! Sharing it on Facebook helps, sure.  But still, at the end of the day, I know I am lucky to have a fun and amazing job and I am in no way complaining about my sacrifices I  make for it. I wouldn't do this if I didn't think the rewards would outweigh the sacrifices.

Even though I was lonely on Christmas Eve last year, a situation occurred that morning which suddenly made me stop feeling so bad for myself.  There was a homeless man sitting on the cold sidewalk outside my NY apartment who was holding a sign that said "Alone and have no family. Cold and hungry." It was almost like a sign (no pun intended) meant for me to see.  It was a humbling moment for me.  I was fully experiencing the alone part , but at least I did have a family and I definitely wasn't cold and hungry! I couldn't fix the "alone" part for him, but could help with the "cold and hungry" part and bought him hot breakfast and coffee immediately. Then I thought of the hundreds of other homeless people that were like him.  That very moment I stopped feeling bad for myself.  This was when I realized I should spend my Christmas Eve helping the less fortunate.

I am humbled by many others who have felt a greater amount of loneliness and sacrifice around the holidays- specifically those who have served our country and couldn't be home with their families.  Some people don't even have a family to go home to.   The fact that I do have a family, a warm place to sleep, safety and people who love me makes me a lucky girl.  There is nothing more I need this Christmas.

I hope everyone reading this takes a moment to appreciate their family and friends and the simple things that we sometimes take for granted.  It's important.  Be appreciative of your job, your health, friends and (if you're like me) it could simply be a warm cup of coffee that some people won't have this Christmas. That's the overall message I hope to send to you today.

This year I'm being sure to spend Christmas with everyone I love! I am in Minneapolis for Christmas Eve and Ohio Christmas Day.  Safe travels to anyone else flying and have a wonderful holiday!

December 8, 2011

Art Basel in Miami and how I got seriously inspired for my own show!

I am waking up in Miami this morning with the usual cup of coffee, but something is different. I have a whole new outlook on my career as a model and artist. I am reflecting on the important personal growth I have gained from working and traveling as a model and the great people who challenge and encourage me each day. But after last weekend, the creative side of my brain has been "switched on" (as Ryan Estis would say). Last weekend kick started something I never imagined would happen... let me explain.

Last weekend was Art Basel in Miami. For those of you who aren't familiar with what Art Basel is, it's one of the biggest global art fairs featuring top galleries, artists and serious art collectors.  People who come here come to buy art and be a part of a week long cultural experience... For me, it wasn't just being around the artwork and artists that made the experience what it was... it's the people I was spending time with at Art Basel. I draw serious inspiration from others who are motivated and are making their ideas happen.  One person's idea feeds another person's idea and it's like a chain reaction... and when you get a solid team of people with their own unique ideas to bring together, anything is totally possible!  
Inside the convention center at Art Basel... a very small sampling.

Artists generally are not good business people (myself included).  This weekend, however, I met an artist at Basel named Peter Tunney who didn't fit that mold.  Peter is a master at self promotion, story telling and making you believe you HAD to own a piece of his art... for $100,000.  When you bought one of his paintings, you were essentially paying for the "experience" of being around him and his fabulous stories. Once you bought a painting, he could sell you matching book for only $1,000 more (what's $1,000 when you've already spend $100,000 anyways!)  Peter then personalizes that book to make it part of your "experience" with him and then you go home talking about him to all your friends. This is what separates a nobody artist from a somebody artist. Peter is genius...Not only did he give me one of his books, he signed it, took polaroids of me that he rubber cemented into it, drew all over it and made me have a personal attachment to it... now I am a lifelong fan, I will blog about it, tell my friends about him and so on... 
The "Peter Tunney Experience" I was talking about.  How can I NOT love a book when my polaroid is collaged into it?

I can make art, but I have always been lacking a team of people to truly help me launch it into the world.  I truly do need the help of others to help me promote my artwork and handle the details.  Unless I have a deadline I am held accountable to, I don't finish things. These are places I need a solid team to help me in the area I know I hate to admit, but I lack.  Plus, in the past three years, I have been so happily busy modeling I haven't had time to focus on an art show.  But this past weekend, that all changed. I found my "team" and they have committed me to an art show that I could never dreamed I could do myself.  Spring 2012,  it's on. My biggest show will be launched in NYC.  Wait... what?!  I can hardly believe the words myself.  I've never felt more motivated to make this an incredible experience for everyone who comes.  I can't wait to get back to Minnesota this weekend and start working on my new pieces!

It's amazing how meeting just the right people can change your life in a weekend. 
My team- I couldn't do this art show in NYC without them! Two highly motivated people I'm lucky to have in my life. 

December 5, 2011

Kardashian Kollection for Sears...

In the last few days, I have been noticing Kardashian Kollection ads with my friend Megan and popping up all over!  I was half asleep on a plane the other morning when the man sitting next to me was looking at a two-page spread in the New York Times (below).  That woke me up! A part of me wanted to ask him if I could buy his paper off of him right then and there, but I opted to say nothing and go buy my own copy at the nearest Hudson News when I landed.  I have a feeling he was most interested in the lingerie shot of Megan in the bottom right corner though.

New York Times
LA Times
In Touch too? I guess this is the best way to be involved in a tabloid magazine.
It's not just me who enjoys blogging about this... Kim K is on top of it too.  

The best part of all this? I just got confirmation today that I will be back in Chicago next week shooting the Kardashian sisters line for Sears!  I'm super excited about this since the KK has become one of my absolute favorite brands to shoot for.  The line is doing so well and I am so proud to be a part of it!  Plus, I love when Preston and Fatima make me over as the blonde Kardashian.  Can't wait to be back with my photo team!

The Kim K inspired dress which I love... Photo courtesy of

October 23, 2011

Why Blog?

I get really passionate when explaining to people how social media such as blogging, Twitter and Facebook (just to name a few) is a really, REALLY powerful tool. Participating in these spaces not just relevant to our time but the real magic happens when you post content that moves people, has good intent and reveals who you REALLY are. For the first time in history, we have this amazing opportunity to have our voice heard, to inspire others and change the world- and it doesn't cost a penny. My post today is about just that... realizing the power in creating content and putting it out there!

People who resist having a Facebook profile often say it's because they don't want the world to "know everything" about them (or they are my grandparents). My answer to that is that if you don't want people to know something, then don't post it! You have control over what you post, it's not like Facebook or blogging ties you down and forces you to share all of your personal info (a Google search of your name probably already publicly discloses more than you know anyways). So why not use social media to your advantage and generate the content you want people to know about you?

My blog and Facebook has, without a doubt, changed my life and relationships. They have enabled me to create meaningful relationships with people that I otherwise would never met.  I feel I am able to "know" people better through the content they choose post.  Similarly, I want people to truly know me through what I put out there and that's why I post content in so many places.  

When you post something on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, your blog, whatever it is, you are creating a digital footprint for yourself- the individual brand that is you.  You are open to the idea of connecting with like-minded people. You can show the world who you really are (or if you want, you can even pretend to be someone you are not!). When you think about it, your computer generated and maintained relationships are actually very... human!  Your relationships can be nurtured and grow through social media, just the same as snail-mail and  telephone calls used to do... The bigger idea behind social media is that depending on how and what you put out there to the world, anyone can find you based upon a common interest or big idea. Sharing those ideas can make change happen, bring people from opposite sides of the world together, inspire others, get you hired for a job, fired from a job, you could even meet the person you fall in love with... who knows. That's really cool.

So what and how much info should you post? I've self-experimented with my blog, Facebook and Twitter and I've found that people relate to me more when I talk in my own voice, as if I am having a conversation with them in person. It doesn't work when I overly-filter what I am thinking for fear that someone won't agree with me.  There's a line I am careful to try not to cross when I am posting content as I don't want to appear like I want attention or approval on every detail of my "fabulous life as a model".  
 Facebook braggers are just obnoxious.   I think it's important to share my accomplishments I've worked hard for though... there's a difference.  Whatever the topic, the best content is  relatable, vulnerable and human.   I like that the world can easily connect with me and I would rather put it all out there myself than allow the content to be created elsewhere. Social media allows me to bring everyone into my adventures, holds me accountable to my ambitions and lets me share the lessons I learn along the way (writing publicly is kind of like therapy of some sort).

Facebook. Twitter. Flickr. YouTube. Linked In.  Etsy. Yelp. Blogger. Tumblr. Daily Mugshot.  Especially dating sites! There are a million places to connect with similar people. Get with it, or get left behind. Have a voice. Invite opportunity. Start somewhere and evolve. Post stuff, have a blog, take a chance and see what it brings into your life.  Don't fight it because social media isn't going anywhere. It's a part of our daily lives.  Embrace it.  

Check it out! Exclusive behind the scenes video from the Kardashian Kollection for Sears shoot last week...

I posted a video last week from the Kardashian shoot, but I had to take it down for a bit... it will be back soon!

Fun doesn't even begin to describe our shoot last week.  This is the reason I truly love my job...

September 26, 2011

Her Life Magazine- October 2011 Issue

Check out my latest editorial, shot by photographer Spencer Combs, clothing by Pink Door Boutique.  These clothes were amazing, so comfy and fall appropriate.  The boots were mine though, they pretty much go with everything!

September 20, 2011

Kardashian Kollection for Sears

I forgot to post the pics from the Kardashian Kollection for Sears, which launched last month.  I've been meaning to share this for a few weeks now, but I guess I have been a little pre-occupied lately!  I remembered to take some behind the scenes pics from this shoot, so I'll post them too!

Shooting the KKwas such a fun shoot, the hair and makeup team made me look like a blonde version of Kim Kardashian- requiring ten pounds of hair extensions and massive eyelashes.  I met the designers who work directly with the sisters who are highly involved in the design of their clothing pieces.   The week the line launched Khloe, Kim and Kourtney had my picture on their blog, which made me feel semi-famous in my own world. The clothes are really cute,  the dresses fit like a glove and the one-piece jumpsuits are to die for!  Super move for Sears, the KK brings a little luxury where you least expect it. 
Preston Nesbit starting my hair at 6:30am.
Shoe decisions.  
Overly excited after drinking lots of coffee.
Photographer Emil Sinanagic who brought the magic behind the camera.
All dolled up.
Sold out?  This is a good thing!

One of Kim's favorite dresses.
Khloe's blog, and that jumpsuit I LOVE.

Oh and if you go into Sears and you're really wondering whose legs are on the packaging for the KK tights, yup, those are mine... I swear.

NEW SHOTS! September 2011

Here are a few shots from last week... they remind me of Guess ads- which I've always loved. Click them to view a full sized slide show.


September 6, 2011

Never in a million years did I think this would happen!

Can I just say this right now??? OMGSH.  I am in the middle of Times Square NYC. Someone pinch me, please.

I shot for Bud Light back in Feb of this year, and since then my friends have been sending me camera phone shots of my life-sized cardboard cutouts from bars all across the US. That's been pretty cool I must say.   I guess I am hanging from banners in grocery stores, liquor stores and I have seen one of the full page magazine print ads... I think that is a pretty good run for me as far as the modeling world goes.  But never, ever did I imagine this... I am in the middle of Times Square in NYC this week!   A few of my friends in NY were the first to notice, and I was so happy they could take these photos for me.

I think I will need to be taking a trip out to NY to see this in person. It's not every day this sort of thing happens!

Special thank you to my Kenny Roche, my booker for this job from Wilhelmina.  You rock.

New Art- Cramming to put together a show!

So, I'm in Minnesota for the next month working away like mad trying to get together an art show.  I honestly have no idea how I am going to do it, but I like the pressure!   Here is the direction of my new art pieces, they are more raw and emotional, they face the issues (good and bad) that we have all felt.  I am incorporating text and texture along with pretty faces and a little bit of mystery.  The paintings have double meanings... one that is obvious, and one that is deeper that not everyone will ever know.  Here is what I am working on now... halfway done.

June 11, 2011

The Facebook You, and the REAL YOU.

Like many of us, I am connected using various social media outlets which I update daily (sometimes more) with photos and everything I do.   I have a personal Facebook page for friends and family only, a facebook fan page for my art, I tweet about everything I do, I sometimes remember to check my Linked In and I know there's been more.  I like these tools because they are content generated by me and I feel like I have some control over the online presence... you know... the "brand that is me".  But, I've caught myself asking this question lately:  Am I connecting with people in the right ways knowing what I know about social media? Do people think I am being "me" or a better alter ego?

For example, some of the best advice is "always stay true to yourself".  It's easy to use social media as a way to set up a virtual "you" and make your life seem more spectacular or amazing than it really is- we all have friends on Facebok who do this.  Ever heard Brad Paisley's song "I'm so much cooler online"?  (If not, you have to hear it). My true self is a nerdy artist who has had a life long obsession with horses and I secretly listen to country music when no one else is around.  I have no shame in that and I really do want it to be known... but for some reason, I do find myself posting pictures of myself all made-up and at a photo shoot... the much cooler "Model Valerie".  I have two very different realities... so how do I connect both worlds?  I certainly wouldn't want my Facebook friends to think I am trying to be cooler than I really am.

Riding with perfect posture.
Often I find myself asking after I have posted something... should I have posted that?  I make most of my decisions based upon A) Is it going to be ok if my mom or little cousins see it B) Is it going to be ok if a client, photographer or other industry person sees it and C) do I look good in the picture?  (kidding but who doesn't do that).  But one thing I don't want to do is ever come across like I am bragging or more special than anyone else.  My generation already has a bad rap for this sense of entitlement thing... and me being a "model" already gives me strike one.

I've concluded that there is just no hiding anything about yourself anymore, and why not put it out there before someone else does? This post was meant to show you a very real-deal side of me that I've realized I  don't usually post enough of, and people probably enjoy just as much, if not more than any of my adventures in the world as Zoolander.  I am reminded that the whole reason social media connects us so well in the first place is because of that personal, relatable and human element.  So, I'm going to leave you with the nerdiest picture I could find of myself with no shame.  I swear, my job makes me seem way cooler than I really am.  Now you see.

My Quarter Horse, Glows Skipper at the 2008 WSCA State Championships.  There is nothing cool about this photo, but I have nothing to hide.  This was one of the best days of my life.