2015 In Review: Where Have I Been, Where Am I Going

I greeted 2015 in Chicago and I am going to bid farewell to it in San Francisco. It’s been an incredible year, full of traveling, adventures, many images and photo shoots, along with coffee breaks, cuddles with Tiggy (my cat), great talks with good friends, and alone time for day dreaming and book reading.

Having just finished watching the profound documentary “Human,” I cannot help but feel so very grateful for having a roof over my head, a warm bed, fresh food to eat, clean water to drink and shower with, electricity in my home, a healthy body and mind, and a wonderful community of family and friends to nourish my soul. Every day there is so much to be thankful for, and I have noticed that whatever I focus on grows. 2016 will be a good year to start writing in my gratitude journal again, recording all daily occurrences that make me feel good {feel free to copy cat that}. 😉

On that note, here are some of the things I am grateful for in 2015.


Looking back, 2015 has been an incredible year of going in the direction of my dreams and focusing on the things that are important for me.

  1. Work

This past year I decided to focus solely on photography, slowly releasing all of the volunteer projects and organizations I was involved in. It was not an easy decision to take, since I loved doing it all, but looking back I realize it was the right thing to do at the right time. In order to allow things to happen, we need to make room for them in our lives and give them time to grow. I love working with my clients and fulfilling their vision through the lens. Whether it is a family/senior/boudoir photo shoot, a custom wall art design, or making an eco generator look good, I enjoy serving my customers and producing images they can use and love. Taking pictures, editing them and delivering them does not feel like work; rather, it’s a magical creative flow and the smile on people’s faces when they see the finished product makes me believe the feeling is mutual. I am so very grateful for that.

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” ― Alan W. Watts

In 2015 I also had the pleasure of working on my first ever artistic collaborations with two dear friends and amazing models. I blogged about them here and here.

Last, but not least, I’ve taken the camera on plenty of photo walks, which brings us to…


When work feels like play.

2. Travel

I must admit that I have wanderlust. No matter how far I go, I always want to keep going and to discover what is behind the next corner. Having made room for adventures by putting some volunteer responsibilities aside and having a career that allows me a lot of flexibility, my other focus in 2015 was seeing new places.  In search of a different way of traveling – more budget-friendly and less touristy – I stumbled upon an awesome website called TrustedHousesitters.   It sounded too good to be true – to watch somebody’s place and/or pets while they were away, and after giving it a try in Chicago last year, it proved to be amazing. What I love the most about it, is the fact that it is based on trust and no money is being exchanged. Also, I get to meet new cats and cuddle them while their owners are away!


Thanks to Trusted Housesitters my 2015 itinerary looked something like this: Chicago – Santa Fe – Grand Canyon- Prescott Valley – Watson Lake – Prescott – Sedona – Jerome – Lost Dutchman State Park – Natural Bridge Park – Virginia Beach – Charleston – Savannah – Pensacola – Fort Pickens – New Orleans – Memphis – Barcelona – Niagara Falls – New York state – Vermont – Maine – New Orleans again – San Francisco (at present). For a girl who does not drive, I do get around! 😉


House sitting around the USA would not have been possible (and as much fun) without my good friend, talented musician, amazing model and partner in crime Johnnie David. He drives, I take pictures, we enjoy the journey.

House sitting is becoming a more and more popular way of connecting travelers and animal lovers, saving people accommodation and boarding costs while allowing them to discover exciting destinations with all the comforts of home. It’s a lovely way to get to walk a dog in the park without having to own one, and to experience a new place more like the locals do. I’ve been taking my time going though all the pictures from this year’s travels, and I managed to put together a sweet calendar for my grandma for Christmas 😉 More pictures to come soon on the blog, I promise! {If you are interested in house sitting, feel free to e-mail me and I will send you a link with membership discount – joining the website is totally worth it if you have the flexibility to travel and love pets}.


My mom and I had a wonderful time house sitting in Barcelona this summer.

What is more, I also got to do some traveling with my family. My mom, dad and brother came to visit in spiring and we spent 4 days in New York City together (where I also reunited with my best friend from school). In summer, I was in Bulgaria for a whole month, celebrating my birthday with my family and visiting the seaside and the mountains.


New York City with my family.

I love exploring, seeing new places, tasting new food, watching the people and their ways, admiring nature and its stunning beauty. 2015 allowed me to do a lot of that, which makes me immensely grateful.

Traveling means a lot of packing and unpacking, which brings us to…

photo 2

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.” – Mahatma Gandi

3. Life with less stuff

This past year I have been going through my possessions and selling/donating/giving away anything I no longer need/use. Donating 31 outfits from my closet felt so liberating and made packing for my trip to Bulgaria so much easier! The more I travel, the less I want to own. Inspired by Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home and Rob Greenfrield‘s planet-friendly lifestyle, I’ve been refusing, reducing, reusing, recycling and rotting (I love my composting bin!) along with doing much less shopping. Less stuff translates into more free time for walks in nature, conversations with friends, tending to my small garden, cooking delicious meals, reading a book, or soaking up the sunshine with Tiggy.

photo 5

“Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires.” ― Lao Tzu

I still have more clothes than I need and I’ve been holding on to my vintage boudoir props, but owning less has definitely made packing and unpacking an easier task. What is more, I hardly generate any trash! Human advancement and technology are leaving a huge imprint on the planet and if we keep depleting the natural resources there won’t be any left to sustain our lives too much longer. The Earth will recover, but our race may very possibly join the rest of the lost civilizations if we do not take responsibility for our actions and bring about a radical change. My Bulgarian roots and not owning a TV set have made it easier for me to go back to a simpler lifestyle not driven by the pervading consumerist culture. However, every small step counts and the best time to start is always NOW.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
― Jane Goodall


Who needs expensive beauty products when you can use the healing powers of mud? My mom and I on the beach in Bulgaria – mud baths are so much fun!

It’s love to the planet Earth and all the living systems it sustains, that inspires me to stay mindful and continue to reduce my consumption based on need versus want/greed. After all, all we need is indeed..

photo 4

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ― Dalai Lama XIVThe Art of Happiness

4. Love and Kindness

I believe that human beings are innately loving and kind. Everywhere I go, I meet friendly and sweet people willing to lend a helping hand. Through travel I had a chance to experience Couchsurfing.com and Airbnb (two other wonderful websites offering affordable and more personable accommodation), and all of our hosts have been amazing individuals who welcomed us into their homes and shared with us the highlights of their community. I believe magic happens whenever we choose to act out of love versus fear. That includes not only our attitude towards others, but also being loving and kind to ourselves. Only when we accept ourselves fully with all of our imperfections and limitations, we are capable of fully accepting others and the world the way they are without trying to change them. There are so many people in this world and each of us has our unique story and set of characteristics and talents that make us who we are. The transformative power of love keeps astounding me: when we choose to love ourselves and others and trust the flow of life the days become effortless celebration of being.

photo 3

Animals are such great teachers of love.

2015 has been an amazing year, and I am sure that 2016 will present me with even more opportunities to learn, grow, expand and love. I believe that what we focus on grows and if we keep our dreams on the forefront we are capable of achieving them. Our potential as human beings is limitless and if we pay attention to all the wonders that surround us, life on Earth will flourish and unfold in beauty and abundance.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi


There is so much joy to be found in life when we surrender to its flow.

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― Dalai Lama XIV


Looking forward to what 2016 has in store for me and wishing you a wonderful year ahead full of health, happiness, harmony and love! Thank you for following my work and encouraging my passion! Much love, Slava ❤







This entry was published on December 31, 2015 at 8:15 pm. It’s filed under This and That, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “2015 In Review: Where Have I Been, Where Am I Going

  1. One of the best blog posts I’ve read for ages!
    Wishing you a very happy New Year 😄
    Paul and Kate Johnson-Rogers
    New Haven, MO

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  3. Bill Dodsworth on said:

    Wonderful year! Loved hearing about your life and adventures!! Like a birding big year, you had a travel big year!!

    • Slava on said:

      Thank you so much, Bill!! It’s so nice to hear from you! Yes, traveling has been amazing! Thank you for following my blog! 🙂

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