The Beginning

· Why this blog is even a thing. ·

Here’s why I got off my ass, got over my fears and started “YokoCoco”.

1) I love travel.

2) I love photography.

3) I love challenges.

4) Trump is POTUS

5) I’m single by government paper standards and have no chirren of my own.

So, for all intents and purposes, I’m free-ish. America, not so much.

For the past decade, I’ve had a stable life as a photographer in Los Angeles. I’ve shot a ridiculous amount beautiful people and watched 5’10, 120 lb. women down donuts during photo shoots. The agony. Even as my confidence in my career grew, my self-esteem dwindled. Behind the camera, I flourished.  But being on the other side felt like the worst form of torture. Over the years, I developed an insecurity from constant comparison, which is still something that I struggle with every day. Outside of work, though? I love my curves. I don’t even know where they came from, genetically speaking, so I figure they must be a blessing from God. Amen.

Ironically, in most other situations I’m extremely outgoing, self-assured and fearless. I am woman, hear me ROAR. However, let a camera point at me — I shrivel up into a mouse of a person. It’s an odd complex that I can’t understand.

Time to get rid of this gross insecurity. The flight to happiness is free and baggage costs too much.

When I get old and grey and Instagram 9.0 is here, I don’t want to reflect on my life of selfies, quotes and photographs that I’ve done for everyone else. Instead, I want to set the foundation for remembering when I riverdanced on my fears and got over myself, to live my best life. I want to show my grandchildren travel pictures of me and my friends in our prime accompanied by stories of self-acceptance, self-discovery and the beautiful places and people we encountered in hopes that they will always pursue the same.

“See grandbaby, this is when Grannie Ash stopped giving a damn and went for it.“

In addition, I’ve noticed that there aren’t a lot of people like me who travel-blog. Yes, most talk about going for the gusto, letting go and letting God. But there comes a time when one gets tired of seeing the same images and stories pinned, shared and blogged over and over. You know – the ones. The pages are filled with the beautiful moments accompanied by a few choice words about how perfect life is. Tiny silhouettes float on clouds, atop a mountain, flashing peace signs with their blonde hair blowing in the breeze (which I totally intend to do). Sirens and water trickery. Wizards and wanderlusts that combust into some fairy tale of what life is, with one word captions that have nothing to do with anything. There is a loss of realism when it comes to the social media we feed each other. I’m ready for a diet (pun intended).

Now, I’m no writer. I’ll probably have one of my brilliant friends edit this post. (shoutout to you Carla.)

But, I’m honest. There will be beauty, of course. But there will be a beautiful mess sometimes, too. No one talks about the nasty realities that happen when traveling. Or what they are going through after they have gotten to a destination to get passed their divorce.

I don’t intend to paint myself as a bougie blogger, but rather a premature Picasso of sorts. Traveling is beautiful if you look at it from far away on a box for perfect squares. But what about the real? That’s beautiful. A beautiful mess.

This is the beginning of chapter 30 of MY story.

If this inspires others to do the same… awesome. If not… awesome. I’m an advocate of finding yourself in any way you can. Getting lost is usually where I find myself.

This year, I dare you to DO in the direction of your dreams.

Ashley Nguyen