"Excuse me, are you Karen Walrond?"
Those are the first words that Nicole Blades ever said to me. It was years ago -- 2010, to be exact -- and we were at the annual BlogHer conference, surrounds by literally thousands of women bloggers from around the world. The scene was chaotic: it was the few moments in between sessions, and the crowd was swirling and shrilling around us. But Nicole's voice and arresting smile instantly calmed me. I had my camera on me, and immediately asked if I could take her photograph. As we spoke, I discovered that we had something in common: while she grew up in North America (Canada), her family is from Barbados, and so, like me, she has strong ties to the West Indies. She's a journalist and an author, and soon after the conference, she mailed me her first book, Earth's Waters, which I devoured. She's such a talented writer.
Although Nicole and I had remained friends online during the past 6 years, I hadn't seen her since that day in New York, so when I got to connect with her again at the Mom 2 Summit a couple of months ago, I was thrilled that she agreed to be a part of my Thrive Portrait Project. As I photographed her, we caught up on each other's lives: since that day in 2010, Nicole earned herself a two-book deal, with the first of them, The Thunder Beneath Us, coming out in the fall (and you can bet your sweet bippy I've already pre-ordered it). She's healthy, happy, and still has that serene demeanor and arresting smile.
She's also one of the wisest women I know. See what she said about what it means to thrive here, and don't miss what the other amazing women in the gallery said.
(Thanks, Nicole, sweet friend, for lending your voice to my project!)
Soundtrack: Earth to Heaven by Esperanza Spalding