Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.
It was a brisk autumn day in September 2009 when I exited the maternity wing into a sun that was shining way too brightly for the darkness I was feeling inside.
It seemed to be mocking me as I was wheeled in my ceremonial wheelchair to the car. Empty womb, empty hands, empty heart.
Our first daughter, Bella Rose, was stillborn at 20 weeks pregnant.
I immediately fumbled for my sunglasses, the darkness behind them fitting to feed the darkness I felt inside.
Our glass half-full world had been emptied, as our families hopes and plans and dreams shattered into a million tiny pieces.
I wish I would've know then just how valuable that shattered glass would be. That someone would've whispered my future to me and told me I'd learn over time how to pick that light up and reflect it back into my heart.
We arrived home that first day to dozens of colorful miniature roses greeting us on our doorstep, as a tribute to our beautiful flower. I wanted so badly to throw them out. It pained me to look at something so colorful when my world was being viewed in shades gray.
If my body was no longer creating a child, I was going to create beautiful images to inspire me instead. -- Beryl Ayn Young
But, instead I was encouraged by a friend to pick up my camera, her camera. The one that was gifted to us as an early baby gift to celebrate her life, I instead used to preserve her memory and attempt a glimpse at hope, new life, and inspiration.
That moment inspired others just like it. Pretty soon I was looking for any excuse to make magic with camera in hand. If my body was no longer creating a child, I was going to create beautiful images to inspire me instead.
As I reflected light back in through my camera lens, I birthed an entirely new perspective on life. I created my healing as I found beauty in my morning cup of coffee, warmth in the nuzzles from my two cats, and meaning in the light of those brisk autumn days.
As I blogged my feelings and photos, others paid attention. They saw the beauty too and asked if I'd recreate it for them through family portraits. Not knowing anything about running a business, I scrambled to learn a few skills and in an instant, I had found the gift of life after loss.
My business was the outlet that allowed me to interact and trust the universe again. I was reconnecting with people and restoring my faith in life. Preserve memories for other people was fulfilling because at the time the idea of how fleeting life can be was still etched raw on my soul.
After our second daughter was born, healthy and vibrant and beautiful, my thriving photography business took me on a new adventure. I no longer wanted to be away from my own family each weekend preserving the precious memories of others.
Instead I wanted to focus on helping other families preserve beautiful memories themselves.
I longed to work with moms especially. To show them how to achieve the same confidence, healing, and appreciation for life I had discovered through learning technical photography and seeing the world through a different lens.
As an elementary school teacher by day, it seemed only fitting to mesh my two passions together. When I did, it was magic. Teaching + Photography was a winning combination and I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of moms across the globe who are connecting with their cameras and capturing their lives.
This journey has illuminated an entirely new path for my life and I'm excited to journey out of the world of elementary education and into the world of full time creative entrepreneur later this year.
I have a dream of helping as many families as possible reconnect, find confidence, and create a beautiful life through the lens of a camera.
I'm ready to make that dream come true.
Over the years, as I think back to that bright sunlight that mocked me as I left the hospital without our first daughter, I've started to believe that maybe, just maybe, there was actually an angel on my side that day.
That angel was my Bella Rose, guiding me this whole time, out from the darkness and back into the light.
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