Thank you for joining me your host Liz Clifton and my wonderful take34u Self Care Series: Creating Calm Confidence Guest Gina Sierra as we share selfcare secrets, top tips and stories of our experiences.

It's an absolute pleasure to support you with your own self-care journey as you take34u and enjoy our chat below

Gina Sierra & Liz Clifton Interview

Gina Sierra
Is a Family Portrait Photographer who uses a variety of techniques to capture a mix of candid, lifestyle images as well as traditional portraiture. By switching between a natural, documentary approach and one that focuses on formal images, children are able to relax in between those posed moments. This ensures that they stay comfortable and happy, and allows her to capture them at their best. Her goal is always to achieve timeless, heirloom quality portraits that are worthy of being passed down the generations.

Gina Sierra & Liz Clifton Interview Transcription:

Gina Sierra: Got it!  

Liz Clifton: And welcome to the absolutely amazing Gina Sierra. Fantastic super star family portrait photographer. It is an honor and a pleasure to have you here today.  

Gina Sierra: Thank you. It is a pleasure and honor to be here.  

Liz Clifton: Ok. So let's kick off, self care. What does it mean to you?  

Gina Sierra: Starting off with, I feel like a big question already. Self care is holistic. Self care is not only rest and recharging, but it's everything. Mind, body, spirit, soul, all of it, emotion. Making sure that I have a moment to pause and check in to even question how those things are going. Because I think a lot of time I wait until it, you know, there's an alarm blaring in some area of my life. But I think for me, self care is being able to have the presence of mind and the time and ability to pause and do a self check and say, what is it that I need. And then addressing those things before it gets to that point.  

Liz Clifton: Beautiful. And so on a daily basis, do you kind of systematically go through and check off each of those things or does it change day to day?  

Gina Sierra: I think it definitely changes day to day for me. I certainly attempt to do it daily basis and, and make it part of my routine, which, you know, can sometimes happen and sometimes not. But I think, one of the greatest things that's helped me is getting to a point where I start to feel overwhelm, on some level long before that alarm is blaring. But just, just on a some level where I'm, I noticed myself in the busy-ness of life. And it's in those moments being able to stop and just take an extra second to say, oh, okay, what is it that I need and, and stop and do that. So it kind of depends on how my day is going. I don't have a regular schedule because of my job. So each day is very different. Each moment is very different, so, there's not a lot of routine. But, as a result, I've, I, you know, had to get used to doing those checks as they come up and not necessarily as part of a schedule.  

Liz Clifton: Oooh I like it, so flexibility.  

Gina Sierra: Yes.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. Very handy. So thinking about your experience of self-care over kind of the whole time, do you remember your first kind of occurrence of self-care what's the earliest memory of it that you have? 

Gina Sierra: An interesting question. I'm certain that I was doing self care before this moment. But the first thing that popped into my mind when you asked is there is a time when I had just started my business. It was still very new and I had my own apartment, which I just decided to leap and go for. And it was a very uncertain time of my life. There was a lot of excitement and a lot of adventure and new things and hard work. But it was uncertain in the sense that I didn't know how anything was going to turn out, or where exactly any of these paths were leading me. So as a result, I think self care was extra important. And because I was living alone in my own apartment at the time was my first place by myself. I began to make a habit of self care at home and I would light candles.  

Gina Sierra: I'm a big like candle and glowy things like the Hooga life. So I would like candles and I would put my plants everywhere and just make the space so beautiful and calming and like a little spa. And I had that apartment had this great, tub. It was, it was small, but it wide. And so it was like this big basin that you could just sit in and I would take baths and just, you know, treat myself to my candles and my plants and my baths and my water and my music. And just be there and take those moments, which were so crucial in those days. Because I was so busy and, you know, nervous that it wasn't gonna work out or, you know, like what if I, what if I fail? What if this, you know, what if I never get another client again, anytime, you know, in the beginning that I didn't have a steady client base. Anytime I'd finished with one client and I was waiting for the next one book. I was like, that's it, I'm finished. Being able to take those self care moments to bring me back to that place of peace.  

Gina Sierra: At that time in my life was really what kept me going from one thing to the next, until it became more regular. 

Liz Clifton: That's  beautiful. And say, now bringing you to today, how has your self care changed? 

Gina Sierra: My self care, I think has changed because I have changed. So I do still love baths, but, I think it makes more sense with my lifestyle now to do, self care kind of as it comes up. So, and those days I didn't really have anything else going on besides work. I didn't really, you know, I didn't have a partner. I wasn't really, you know, my brothers were obviously out of the house as well, so it was just like my, I didn't have much of a family unit. My social life is pretty limited because of work. So it was easy for me to be like plan this day and time to do this thing for myself because there's nothing else going on. So in these days, you know, we're very close with our family. We're constantly going from one thing to another, seeing friends doing this, doing that, gardening, doing these like little tasks, through work and household chores and whatever.  

Gina Sierra: And so for me, I think self-care now has become less about a big production that has to look like self care. And more about those little pieces that I can just drop into any day at any time. Whenever it is that I have that time to bring me back to that place. So that might look like meditation, or that might look like an episode of Downton Abbey, which I just started watching and I'm addicted to. Or it just might look like, you know, cuddling up on the couch with my dogs and a book. And however much time I have is if it's 10 minutes or 20 minutes or two hours. That's going to vary depending on what's going on in my life and what day it is and what's happening, but being able to sort of customize it in different ways, depending on what the circumstances call for when I'm in need of, and you know, how much time I have that has really helped to maintain the self-care. Even though my life is really different. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: I love that. And that's yeah, a beautiful journey say for now, what's your favorite self-care that you get to do these days?  

Gina Sierra: So hard to say, because I just mentioned I'm now addicted to Downton Abbey, so that's all I want to do at any moment. I, until I binged through the whole thing, it's like, when can I next watch that's where I'm at. But, but I wouldn't say it's probably my favorite self care watching TV. I love, I love doing that, but it's probably not my favorite. Overall, it's just, what's on my mind most right now. But I think my favorite out of everything. If I could only have one type of self care for the rest of my life, it would be meditation. It would be taking myself to that calm place where I focus on my breath and I just exist in this moment. If I could do nothing else, if I could just do that, that's all I need.  

Liz Clifton: I love that very Zen.  

Gina Sierra: It  is, and it, and it's very grounding and it's very refreshing and taking that pause counter-intuitively, makes everything else flow so much more smoothly. and it's the easiest thing to procrastinate. Like I, I can't just, I can just take time to sit there and do that. I'll, here's what I'll do. I'll do this while I'm doing this other, they multitask my care and that's what all, you know. It's so easy to put it off, but it's so rewarding to prioritize it and just take that time. And again, it doesn't matter how much time I have, or how much time I need any amount of time is so incredibly valuable to get into that calm zen place.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah, I really enjoy that. And so you thinking of your experience of meditation, how has your experience of that changed over time?  

Gina Sierra: It's changed dramatically over time. I grew up meditating. I was taught to meditate by my dad and he had taken me when I was a little girl to different, like Buddhist temples or, you know, sort of spiritual centers. Where they would do guided meditations or different, different versions of meditation. So to sort of get an experience of everything and just sort of see what, you know, sticks, what's enjoyable, what works. so I was exposed to it a lot growing up, so I'd always had a little bit of a foundation there. And then I think in my young adult years, meditation typically looks like 15 minutes of breathing and always listening to music that's calming, which was helpful, but it was kind of like white noise to sort of suppress things. And I had always listened to music while meditating, and there's nothing wrong with that.  

Gina Sierra: And it's a great method. And I went to sort of like a workshop in my mid twenties, mid, late twenties. And it was suggested to us that we meditate for an hour, which was something I'd never done and to not use music or anything. And I thought to myself, I remember thinking that's like a guru level, like way above the level I'm at. Like, I'm not like there's definitely tiers and I'm here and that's here. I just remember I had like all these preconceptions about skill with regard to meditation. About, you know, like, I don't know how to do that, or I don't have the ability to do that. And the advice that was given to me was just show up and stay in the room and that was it. And so I thought, okay, so I'm just going to make a commitment to stay there and continue my quiet meditation until that alarm goes off.  

Gina Sierra: Even when I think, has it been an hour, is my alarm not going to go off like, you know, when you'd have those thoughts. So I thought, all right, I'm going to commit to it. And I'm just going to sit there until the alarm goes off. And I was shocked by the experience because not only was it as simple as that, but the amount of calm and peace. And I don't know, the spiritual, physical, emotional impact of being there for that hour was so much greater than I expected. And it was something that I never would have attempted because I thought I couldn't do it. And so that experience really revolutionized my understanding of meditation. And that it's not something that you need any kind of skill to do. It's literally just a matter of committing to sitting there, for any length of time that you want. And since then I've experimented with a lot of different, you know, lengths of time, a lot of different sitting positions, a lot of different, meditation styles. Whether it's, like I said, guided or personal or, you know, whatever it is. and they've all just been great. But I think that that was the moment that really unlocked it for me, that there's nothing you need to learn or do or have in order to make that work. It can be whatever you want.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. That's beautiful. And what an amazing experience.  

Gina Sierra: It really was. It was something that I, I was not expecting at all. Cause I thought, you know, I've, I know about meditation, I've been doing this my whole life, you know. But it was, it was really a perspective shift for me that really affected everything after that.  

Liz Clifton: For someone who's coming at meditation for the very first time, how would you suggest that they begin?  

Gina Sierra: First,  Gina Sierra: Don't judge yourself. And when you judge yourself, inevitably, just be okay with judging yourself. So the way that I like to give people advice, because sometimes people have asked me that question. Of like, you know, how do you meditate I can't clear the thoughts in my mind. It's not about clearing the thoughts in your mind. It's simply about recognizing that a thought is there and then saying, oh, there's that thought. Not judging it or whatever, just saying, oh, there's that thought. You know, what I make my kitchen is so messy. I really need to do the dishes today. There's that thought Not saying I do or I don't, or that it's bad that I thought that or that it's good that I thought that. It's just, there it is. Oh, well, you know, I forgot to send that client, that information. I should've sent that to her.  

Gina Sierra: Well, there it is. There it is. There it goes, you know. and just repeating this over and over again. And, and when you do judge yourself, and then I'm thinking about that again, and I should be meditating. I should be meditating I shouldn't be positive or I shouldn't be judging myself in this way. And I keep judging myself. Now you're judging yourself for judging yourself. But even that is a thought. So just see that and just be like, oh, there I am judging myself for judging myself. Okay. And slowly, the more that this happens, you notice over time within the meditation and also over time, the more often you meditate. I think those, it becomes easier to just notice without that judgment. And then it becomes easier to not have those rushing, you know, frantic thoughts to begin with. And it becomes easier over time to then bring that into your day when you're not meditating.  

Gina Sierra: And you have that thought in your day and you're like, oh, okay, there's that thought. And then all of a sudden that becomes a regular practice for you that you're able to just do that. So, obviously I'm not saying I don't have those thoughts. Those are all real thoughts that I have, whether I'm meditating or not. So they still come up, but it's so much easier for me now to recognize them for what they are and let them pass. And not be, not be taken down by them in the way that, you know, one other rise might.  

Liz Clifton: That's beautiful. Taking control. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that reminds me of, there's like a Buddhist quote, I think. And it's about the mind, likening it to like a wild steed and we can harness that, but it takes time and it takes practice. And each of these little thoughts that come in every time we let them go, we're practicing.  

Gina Sierra: Exactly. And it, it just happens a little at a time and you don't even really notice it happening at first. You know, you almost feel like this was a waste when you first start, you know, this was a waste of my time, that's it. That's what my husband used to say to you about meditating that he would just be like, well, I just spent the last 20 minutes just worrying about stuff. But, but that's how it can start. And then over time you don't really realize it starts to snowball. And all of a sudden that wild steed, you actually do have control over it and you can bring it to a stop if you want, or you can just, you know, lightly trot along. And that's something that becomes easier with time. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Ooh, amazing. I'm so grateful for your sharing.  

Gina Sierra: Thank you.  

Liz Clifton: Your welcome. Well, say we speak about meditation. Have you had much experience with journaling?  

Gina Sierra: Oh, I'm a huge journaler. I'm a huge journaler. So I have kept one fluid digital journal since I was 15 and I am now 35. So for 20 years I have journaled everything. It started when I was in high school and I was having high school drama. And I was, you know, I like to boy who didn't like me back and you know, what was happening with my friends and I would just write it out. And I just found so much comfort and, catharsis in that process and then just continued it forever. And it was not for me, journaling was most successful when I wasn't scheduling it. And it wasn't anything, you know, rigid. It was just, you know what, this is on my mind in the same way that you might confide in a friend, this is on my mind, or sometimes something would happen. And I was like, this is a big life moment. And I'm aware of that, you know, like, wow, this is really, I'm going to want to remember this, you know, or whatever it is. And then in those moments, then I find some time to sit down and just write and write and write and write and write until it's all come out. And, and yeah, it's amazing. I it's my it's my go-to, I didn't mention that in self care, but that's, that's a great one. Journaling is huge for self-care.  

Liz Clifton: I'm glad I asked.  

Gina Sierra: Yeah. And it's just, you know, and whether, whether it's good things or bad things going on in my life. You know, whether it's a challenge that I'm, you know, gonna have to struggle through. Or it's maybe something that's, you know, just a really great achievement or a great moment that I'm going to want to remember forever. There's always some kind of nerves or emotional response or mental overthink or, or the spiritual question of like. How does this fit into my, who I am and my place in the universe, you know, and my, and God's path for me? And, and once I'm able to write all that down, all those things become so clear and how I feel about it becomes so clear and those nerves settled down. And I just am able to be in that moment and be like, yes, I can face this challenge. And it is something that I can handle. Yes, this is a big moment and I'm excited and so grateful to be in this blessing right now, you know, whatever it is. It brings me to that place where there's less of that frantic mind and more of that, just present awareness.  

Liz Clifton: It's so lovely listening to you, speak about it because obviously your experience has changed over the time. And you're calmness really comes out in your passion for each of your self care activity. Thank you. Thank you. So my final question for you is how do you celebrate yourself?  

Gina Sierra: What a great question. Ooh Liz, give me a minute. Ooh. How do I celebrate myself I think first, first and foremost, not often enough celebrate ourselves more often. Hmm. I think I often I'm good at treating myself to things. Any time, a lot of, I think a lot of times it comes in the form of food. Not in like a coping way, but just in a, like, I just love food way. I'm a foodie. So, so we get really excited about going to special places and ordering our special things. So, so a lot of times, I will celebrate myself with treating myself to something that's really special. Or, you know, just gifts in the form of things that make me really happy and bring me joy. So I don't want to say gifts in the sense, like, eh, retail therapy. Like not gifts, but gifts in the sense that like, you know what my heart really wants right now, I'm going to go do that.  

Gina Sierra: I'm going to go drive to the ocean. I'm going to go, you know, whatever it is, lay out in the sun. You know, visit my family, do whatever it is. Sometimes it is gifts. Sometimes it's like, you know what I really want so badly is this huge. One of those giant wind chimes that when the wind blows it, it's not a light noise. It's like a goooong, you know, like a low, I was just thinking that the other day. And I was like, I'm going to get one of those because it just is so beautiful. And it kind of, you know, draws your attention in such a such a joyful way. And so, you know, recognizing those little things. So whatever it is that brings your heart, that joy and doing those things, I think that's, those are the ways in which I celebrate myself.  

Liz Clifton: Amazing. And yes, do more, more, more, more it's not often enough.  

Gina Sierra: And you know what,  I want to say too It's not that I don't celebrate myself. I think, I think I do often, but I think, I think when I celebrate myself, it's because of something I feel, oh, I've earned this. I achieved this, you know, milestone, or I did this thing, or I'm proud of myself for that. So I'm, so I'm going to celebrate myself and if nothing's really happened, then, then I feel like, I can't. That's not true. It's not true. You know, we all deserve to be celebrated just for being who we are in every moment. And you don't necessarily need to earn that. You deserve that as a gift to yourself. Not it's not something that you need to earn. It's a gift. And so, yeah, I think celebrating, not that I don't celebrate myself. But celebrating more often for no reason, except that I am who I am. And that's a beautiful person and that's a person that deserves to be celebrated, especially by myself. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: I love it. And it's so true. And I think for ourselves, that's some of the biggest self-care we can do and it's self love. Just being grateful for ourselves. You know, we each are amazing unique individuals and we completely where they have celebrating ourselves every single day.  

Gina Sierra: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn't have said it better.  

Liz Clifton: Amazing. Well, thank you so, so much for sharing your expertise and wisdom. I appreciate that.  

Gina Sierra: Thank you. Is I I'm so, so grateful, not only to be in this interview with you, but just to be working with you on, in any capacity, because what you have to offer the world and all of us and me in particular is just so phenomenal and I'm just very grateful to know you.  

Liz Clifton: Awww, and I'm grateful for you too. I believe we all cross our paths for a reason.  

Gina Sierra: Yes.  

Liz Clifton: So yes, anyone that sees this and hears you here now that's the perfect time, perfect place. And they will pick up support and tips from it. Thank you.