Tiya M. Photography

The Tin Man Has a Heart

I don’t carry too much emotion on my face. People usually have no idea what I’m thinking or how I’m feeling, and honestly, sometimes I don’t really know either. Sometimes. Tiya M. Photography © 2014

Often, I romanticize the idea of having little emotion, which is completely wrong. So why do I do it? Why do I tell my friends that I’m okay, when really, my day was terrible, and I just need someone to listen? I bask in pride and selfishness, as if it is the sun, and when I wake up, I am burned. The cycle repeats itself. It’s unhealthy and damaging, but The Lord has held me through it and beckoned me back to Him each time.

For the past nine months I’ve been living in an apartment with five other girls, all around the same age as I am. It has been quite the emotional roller coaster, but in the best way possible. This is the last week that we’ll all be living together. Through each of them, God has been revealing to me more of His character. Through these girls, God is showing me that it’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to cry, to scream, to not be all on the same page about things. It’s okay to admit that you’re not having the greatest day ever. If none of us experienced pain, then what would be the point of having a Saviour? Admitting that something is wrong with you isn’t “weak”. It isn’t annoying. If anything, it’s a reminder that we cannot fix ourselves. No amount of attention from other people, food, clothes, sleep, etc. can fix us either, because all of those things will someday, perish. Just know that when your heart breaks for someone (my heart is doing this, too!), it is only a minor fraction of how The Lord feels for you.

The beauty in pain is Jesus. To be vulnerable is a sweet thing.



We’re A Long Way Off

I’m going to be honest and tell you that I’ve been staring at this post for about a week now. I had an idea that I liked, yet I somehow couldn’t run with it. The idea was something I knew about very well (because why would I write about something I had no knowledge on?). I’m also not one to write about stuff that happens to me every day. If I did, this blog probably wouldn’t exist. And if it did, no one would read it. If people did read it, then it wouldn’t be enjoyed very much.

This particular post may be somewhat similar to another one I’ve written, but whatever this is has been heavy on my heart for a few weeks now.

Tiya M. Photography © 2014

So, what was I going to write about? Something about home and how home isn’t really home because nowhere on earth is home. Home.

I was raised as a Third Culture Kid . No residence on earth was permanent in my upbringing. I was flying before I could walk, and I’m slow to pick up on some American cultural references. Nobody knows this unless I tell them. Maybe it’s because I “don’t have much of an accent”. Or I just blend in. I don’t know.

I’ve been in Pennsylvania for a little over two years. I do love it here. I don’t mind being asked where I’m from as much as people think (because you should see my face when it happens), but I never give them a straight answer. Truthfully, I’m not sure where home is. I just tell people I carry Canadian citizenship and list off all the places I’ve lived – in under a minute. Sometimes I’ll make one of my friends do it for me, just because they can.

I should let you know that I have gone down a rabbit hole. 

If you are a TCK/MK and you’re reading this, then I want you to know something: You aren’t alone.

Tiya M. Photography © 2014

I think it is so easy for us as TCK’s/MK’s to move to another country and think that we are (alone). In a way it is true – you’ll meet people who don’t have passports (which to us is crazy!), people who have grown up in the same house their entire life. Sometimes we’re not sure if we’re the ones who are different, or if they are.

I think the biggest stumbling block we have is that we are completely convinced that nobody understands or cares. Do you recall these feelings? I do.

It’s okay to grieve.

Leaving a country that has taken up a significant amount of space in your heart, is hard. There really is no other way to put it. I have been there, and so have you. It’s hard to be in a group of people and listen to them talk about things you don’t understand. Sometimes I listen to my friends talk about movies or TV shows, and honestly, I tend not to care about most of what is said. It’s easy to feel like an outsider when you were raised so uniquely.

With all that said, I still want to let you know that your new friends do care about you. “But no one understands!”, you protest. Are you sure? Your new friends may not be globetrotters, but I can assure you that they have experienced the heartache of a friend moving away, or the homesickness of a first semester at college.

Friends, I want you to consider these things. The people around you may not be as far away from their families as you are, but that does not make their pain any less significant than yours. I’m so guilty of thinking like this, and it’s bad. Opening up is a huge part of adjusting to a new place. While you obviously don’t need to do this with everyone, you’d be surprised at how many people might understand your pain. They probably won’t be able to relate to certain situations you’ve been in, but don’t hold that against them. Don’t let the pity scene get in the way of everything. You are here because you are meant to be here.

You are not in this new place by mistake. He is doing great things. 

Tiya M. Photography © 2014

A Whole New World

A week ago today, I was no longer twenty-one – I was five.

Tiya M. Photography © 2014

I walked through the gates of Magic Kingdom, where I saw Disney royalty in the flesh. I dined in the Beast’s ballroom and watched Cinderella’s castle light up on a foggy, Floridian, December night. I cried happy tears during the festival of The Lion King for reasons I’m not entirely sure of.

Tiya M. Photography © 2014

At Disney, I can be in Canada and England at the same time. My hair frizzes in the heat and my makeup begins to warm; I feel nor look nothing like Ariel, yet I am still addressed Princess anyway. Belle is ten feet away from me, and Pooh and Tigger brush past me in the crowd outside. My ears sip melodies from my childhood, which make their way around my heart, and spill out from my eyes.

Tiya M. Photography © 2014

Disney is a happy place. It is a magical place.

It really is the happiest place on earth. Anywhere you are, think of the happiest place on earth. Think of some place, or something you cannot imagine there being anything better.

The real Kingdom is better.


Tiya M. Photography © 2013


Two years ago, I left, and I didn’t know where I was going. For whatever reason, I had made that decision. It sounds funny because I am probably the last person in my family to do that. At the time, I disliked change and unfamiliar places. I was comfortable where I had lived for the past eleven years.

I left the red soil – the material that bled into my first bath upon arriving in Kampala. I left the place where school was cancelled not because of a snow day, but because there were riots in town. I left our rented house. On one side, a lonely cow would graze in a field next to a lonely tree. On the other side, a forest of Papyrus plants rippled in the wind all the way to Lake Victoria. I left walking home from school, using a pipeline as a shortcut with my younger brother. I left thoughts of taking home bunnies from a crocodile farm as an eight year-old. I left friends, who will most likely not be there when or if I go back, because leaving happened for them, too.

Dreaming, Overwhelmed

Tiya M. Photography © 2013

It isn’t often then I enjoy being vulnerable. In fact, I don’t even think “enjoy” would be the right word, because to me, being vulnerable isn’t something I like doing anyway. It’s a scary place to be, vulnerability. Right now, I’m going to share something I dreamt of. This is basically what this post is about, so if you wish, you may click the X on your screen for this tab or window if hearing about someone’s dream is as interesting as watching a hairbrush.

Today, when I woke up, I heard voices coming from down the stairs. There are almost always voices downstairs, almost always muffled noises. But I knew that these weren’t sounds I was familiar with. These were people I did not know, and I was aware of that.

Like any other time when there are people you do not know at the house you live at, you are probably expected to meet them, even if it is just exchanging names and nothing else. I was still in bed when I heard them, so I got out of bed and started to change. Today, I didn’t even look in the mirror.  I didn’t even shake my hair or rub the fairy dust out of my eyes, which is what I always do. I could have been someone else for all I knew.  Then I thought, “It has only been minutes since my feet touched the floor and I’m already assuming whether I don’t or do know something”.

I was still changing when someone decided to open the door to my room. If I were more myself this morning, I would have been awfully flustered and take at least fifteen minutes to calm down inside my head. Today, I didn’t bat an eyelid.

The person at my door was most likely one of the people I did not know, because when I looked at her, I did not recognize her. She was maybe sixteen, for all I know she could have been my age and just had what people would call a “baby face”, like me. Her eyes were pale blue and her hair was platinum, and tied back into a ponytail. Her complexion was flushed and comparable to the shade of her sweater, which I would call crimson.

We looked straight at each other for what was only a second until she shut the door. As I said before, on a regular day, this would bother me to the point of bringing me to tears. Being walked in on whilst getting dressed is not one of those things you will ever get used to, no matter how many times it happens.

When I opened the back door to go outside, things didn’t look the way they did yesterday. I don’t mean that the influx of party decorations made things look different, I mean that the physical sense of the garden outside was different. All of a sudden where I was standing, there was a hill, which led to a bottom garden. We never had a bottom garden. How did it just appear? There were people down below under a white tent, and I didn’t see anyone I knew except for my mom.

Under the tents were tables and on the tables were picture frames with pictures. The pictures were of people I did not know, but these people were under the tent. I said before that it would be expected for me to at least introduce myself to these people, but I didn’t.

The picture frames on the tables were no longer being treated like pictures are supposed to be, for looking. Instead, they were being cut into pieces. These “pictures” were not what they had seemed to be.

Tiya M. Photography © 2013

That actually wasn’t the entire dream, but it was all I could put into words. Nothing else from the depths of my head could be translated into a Word Document. It’s very difficult for me to put emotions into words without them sounding crummy and pathetically…pathetic. When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt crummy, and I felt rather pathetic. Because once I woke up from that particular dream, waterworks started and kept going for a couple of minutes. I surrendered to them and just lay in bed, wet pillows, sniffles and the like. I do and I don’t know why this dream was that upsetting. Usually for me to end up in tears inside and outside the dream, it most likely is a terrifying situation. But thinking about it during the course of the day, I suppose waking up to a host of strangers and the only one you actually know is your mom, is scary. It’s unfamiliar territory. I seldom apply what happens in dreams to my every day life, because a little more than a week ago, I had a dream about BBC’s Merlin and I know for a fact that Merlin and Arthur do not exist in any form of my life unless I’m watching the TV show.

Over the span of the summer so far, I’ve met a lot of people. Some of them I might see again, and then others I’ll probably never come across. I’m probably overwhelmed, since it’s not a surprise to anyone that people, in general can throw me off quite a bit.

Needless to say, it is indeed 3:24 AM, and the bottom line is that dreams can be scary enough to give your heart a squeeze and make your eyes leak, and that’s okay.

Here In the Quiet Place

Tiya M. Photography © 2013I spent the majority of the day in my room. I attempted to play guitar a little (you’d think that after almost five years of playing I’d be any good…nope!) and I did my laundry. I also made my bed, which I am sitting on right now. Pretty productive for spending most of the day in my room, eh? Hmmm..maybe.

So, I took care of my laundry, made my room and bed look nice. Big deal. It is a big deal; I’m usually not this responsible. I have to be in the mood to tidy up after myself if I end up doing it. I have been known to sleep with clothes sprawled all over my bed and the floor for weeks on end. I forget to shut my fan off every once in a while, and I am an accidental plastic bottle hoarder.

I spent the entire day (and many more of these kinds of days) doing things which, in the grand scheme of things, do not matter. During opportunities when I can be with my heavenly father, I am so drawn to the desires of my flesh. The momentary joy of having clean clothes or a made bed does not measure up to the satisfaction being in the word of he who calls me His Beloved. C.S. Lewis couldn’t have said it better:

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Time and time again, I am what C.S. Lewis would call “far too easily pleased”.

Looking Back

Tiya M. Photography © 2013

I have not been able to blog since February. Correction: I have not blogged since February. It wasn’t as though there were distractions, but every time I sat down to write, nothing came out. I am definitely not one of those people who can write every day without an issue, which is as much of a good thing as it is a bad thing. I shouldn’t limit myself to only write when I feel like it. Simply put, I’m learning to not be ruled by the way I feel. 


Does this mean I should completely abandon my emotions? No. I’ve just learned this past year that acting on our heart’s desire in the heat of the moment is an unwise decision. It’s hard to believe that when the world that we live in tells us to “follow your heart”.  I almost don’t want to write about this, because I feel like I don’t know how to put things into words. There I go, again! But really, when I think of all the times (of course, I can’t remember all of them) I acted upon a sudden urge or impulse, the results caused some sort of pain; either to me or somebody else. It’s occurred to me that managing your emotions helps to guard your heart. It’s a way to love people, too. End of thought. I just hope that made sense.

I didn’t know what pictures to post for this, so I went through most of the things that I have taken this past year. They all feel like they happened such a long time ago, which they did. These were all taken in the Fall, probably October. They’re black and white and very raw. I want the people to be the main focus.

Tiya M. Photography © 2013

Tiya M. Photography © 2013

Tiya M. Photography © 2013

Tiya M. Photography © 2013

Details, details.

I’m not bothered by people asking me what type of camera I use.

Tiya M. Photography © 2012

But what does bother me is that some people think that picking up a fancy camera will magically enable them to take gorgeous images. While the quality will be much better, and you’ll be able to change lenses (fun fact: I usually stick with just one lens 99% of the time), there is only so much you can do about the technical side of taking photos. The rest is how you see the picture in your mind before the shot is even taken. Your mind is where the real magic is. The camera doesn’t tell you what light is good or bad, or how colours will look together. It’ll only capture what you see, which is why your vision of things is so important.

Be still, and observe.

Light. Colour. Positive/Negative space. Movement. Texture.

T’was The Week Before Winter Break…

…when all through KU,

Not a student was sleeping, not even a….squirrel?

I’m not finishing that. Squirrels actually sleep about 14 hours a day, making them one of the sleepiest animals on earth.

I have been procrastinating on updating this blog, because I don’t know what to write. I have pictures, just no words to go along with them (which is kind of the point of this).

Alas, remembering finals week in my mind is like driving in a blizzard. I don’t know if I should use that metaphor because I have never actually driven in a blizzard. It goes something like this though: Wake up, wash my face and brush my teeth, get dressed, do my makeup, go outside, attempt to study, come back to my room at midnight, take off the day, and go to bed. Repeat the cycle throughout the entire week. It was so exciting.

Tiya M. Photography

BUT, there is no blog update without pictures. Pictures mean that a photo shoot of some sorts happened. A photo shoot did happen during finals week, which was the highlight of everything. The only thing that bothered me was how freezing it was. Usually, the longer I am outside, the less I feel the cold. That didn’t seem to happen, and it irritated me. I actually felt very miserable trying to warm up inside of a car while there was a crazy sunset outside. Golden hour was brilliant that afternoon. I think you just appreciate it so much more during the winter because it’s usually so downcast. Clouds are great for pictures. I’m not about to complain about an even layer of light to work with, but bright rays of sunlight at the end of the day are needed sometimes, too. It was just unfortunate I didn’t get to stay outside for the whole time.

And what do you know, just as I start to get into writing stuff, I need to go.

Merry (late) Christmas. Happy Boxing Day if you are Canadian or English, and whoever else has that day.

Enjoy the pictures. Enjoy God more. The end.

Tiya M. Photography Tiya M. Photography Tiya M. Photography Tiya M. Photography Tiya M. Photography Tiya M. Photography Tiya M. Photography

Twenty, and The Harbinger.

It was just over two weeks ago that I turned 20. When this happens to some people, I think it takes a while for it to sink in that they will never be a teenager ever again. I don’t feel old. Maybe when I turn 21 and can legally go out and buy a drink, I’ll feel it. Being 20 is like being 19, honestly.

I don’t even know if I’ve grown a lot. Obviously not physically, I’m talking about Spiritually. I do hear it a lot though, and the past year has been a whirlwind that I never really saw coming at such a strong force. It is encouraging, yet somehow I feel like I don’t deserve to be told how much I’ve “grown”. I still feel like a child. I think I’ll always feel a sense of helplessness when I try to grow myself. That’s because I’ll never be able to do anything on my own, which is a good thing. That is why there is so much comfort in giving everything to God.

I have a drawing final that I’m working on and not too thrilled about. It’s a three-part project and it is due this Thursday after class. It has me slightly worried, but why on earth should I be worrying about something so small when the God of the universe has my entire life mapped out for me? I don’t know. I’m still up and the clock will strike 3AM in fifteen minutes. I’m sleepy. This post probably makes you want to sleep (and I apologize if it is and you really shouldn’t be falling asleep right now).

On a side note, I don’t know why or how I am so blessed to have some extremely talented friends. A few of them are in a band, “The Harbinger”, which had its first concert on Friday in a small art gallery known as The Eckhaus. I want you to picture the size of a living room and a half, with maybe 30-50 people packed in like a can of sardines. This is The Eckhaus whenever a concert is put on, which I believe is quite often if there isn’t an art exhibition going on (obviously…). The Harbinger covered a couple of Underoath songs, since the band is breaking up and they’re quite sad about the whole thing. I went in there thinking I would die, because I would be up front taking pictures in front of a guy screaming and really loud instruments. I didn’t die, but I felt the bass through my whole body and I owe it to the earbuds I stuffed in. I was pleasantly surprised because I ened up really enjoying myself. Mainly because I was asked to take pictures, but also because these were my friends performing. I can’t write any more, and my eyelids can’t stay open for much longer. Maybe I’m drained.

Tiya M. Photography © 2012Tiya M. Photography © 2012

Tiya M. Photography © 2012Tiya M. Photography © 2012Tiya M. Photography © 2012