Beneath Your Beautiful Magazine SUMMER 2024

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Hara Allison PUBLISHER | DESIGNER | EDITOR All rights reserved. Contents of Beneath Your Beautiful, including articles and artwork/photography may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the express consent of Beneath Your Beautiful At Beneath Your Beautiful, we are committed to spreading positivity and hope and improving lives through raw and compassionate storytelling. If you, or someone you know, has a story to share, please reach out to CONTRIBUTORS Stacia Aashna COLUMNIST PAGE 24 Elin Adcock EDITOR Kristina Strong COLUMNIST PAGE 32 Kristi Leavitt COLUMNIST PAGE 80 SUMMER 2024 ISSUE 15 Cindy Legare COLUMNIST PAGE 62
6 34 66 104 116 124 12 40 70 105 117 126 64 115 123 24 54 110 120 Beneath Your Beautiful | 3 FRONT COVER PHOTOGRAPHER JR McCurdie BACK COVER PHOTOGRAPHER Hara Allison MODEL Bailey Bowerman 26 62 114 122 16 44 80 106 118 96 128 84


I have been diagnosed with cancer - extranodal marginal zone lymphoma - and have created a private Facebook group, not to be shared on other social media, about this unfurling of my life. It’s called The World According to Hara Are you facing a health struggle yourself and see this as relevant? Do you want to be a cheerleader?

I hope you’ll want to peek over my shoulder, into my heart, as I undertake this journey into the unknown.

Besides giving me a purpose, and a welcome distraction, I hope to find meaning, beyond myself, during this time.

By joining, you’ll help support me emotionally, as well as financially. I’ll, of course, bring you heartfelt content, raw and, hopefully, meaningful. If nothing else, it’ll be raw.

My cancer treatment began in May and I’ll have a new PET scan after 3 months to see if there’s any improvement. The group will be active for at least that amount of time – probably concluding around August, 2024.

If you’d like to be part of my journey, please send me an email and I'll provide more information:

If you’ve read this far and plan on signing up for this private narrative, thank you. And, as always, thanks for encouraging me and allowing me to shine.

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JR McCurdie first picked up a camera at age 7, and never put it down. Since that time, where he saved his allowance for film and developing costs, he has become an award-winning member of the Professional Photographers of Washington. Some recent projects include a photo book about his hometown in Montana, bespoke wine labels for a Spokane winery, and

publication in several magazines. Represented by the Art Spirit Gallery in Coeur d’Alene, ID, JR’s current focus is a project titled “The Traveler,” an existential being that haunts many of his images. The Traveler can be anyone, any being that can draw others into the image, telling the story through a presence that is sometimes behind the camera, sometimes in front of it.

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From Tragedy to Transformation

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To learn more about Michael’s inspiring journey, tune in to Episode 160 of the Beneath Your Beautiful podcast.

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It was 1986 when Michael Cinicollo, then 23, and Gia Gangemi, 18, found themselves at the Ft. Lauderdale, FL airport, eagerly anticipating their exciting second date – an outing that would alter their lives forever.

Their destination was up for debate: Michael and Gia desired New York, while the friends they were traveling with wanted to go to Jamaica. To resolve the impasse, Michael played a fateful card game called Casino with his friend Andre. Unfortunately for Michael, Jamaica emerged triumphant.

Upon arrival, Michael and his friend rented motorcycles. On that first day, Michael’s bike slipped on a rain-slicked road, leading to minor scrapes. It was the subsequent day, however, that proved catastrophic – Michael was involved in a severe accident, the details of which remain lost to his memory. He and the motorcycle careened over a cliff, resulting in severe damage to both arms as he held them up to protect his head. In all, Michael suffered a compound fracture on one arm, a shattered wrist on the other, a compressed neck fracture, and a skull fracture.

Rescued by bystanders, he was transported to a nearby hospital before being airlifted to a trauma center. There, facing a grim prognosis, Gia intervened, halting proposed brain surgery and the potential amputation of Michael’s arm.

With the help of family, they bribed a doctor to state Michael was stable enough to charter an air ambulance, whic took him to Broward General Hospital in South Florida.

Surgery was performed to repair Michael’s skull and both arms were re-broken and set. It was a miracle that he survived the accident, transport, and surgeries. His lengthy stay in the hospital lasted three months, followed by three years of physical therapy.

Yet, despite this arduous journey, Michael’s commitment to his recovery waned, leading to a sedentary lifestyle from 1990 to 2020.

It was a pivotal doctor’s appointment in 2020 that served as a wake-up call. Recognizing the disparity between his physical condition and the gravity of his past injuries, Michael faced a crucial moment of reckoning. This, coupled with Gia’s declaration, “I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I’m not planning on pushing you around in a wheelchair for the rest of our lives,” Michael was inspired on to embark on a journey of wellness.

In a spur-of-the-moment decision, Michael decided that he would, alongside Gia, pursue yoga teacher training. Despite not having practiced yoga much in the past, he committed to the practice.

Now 61, Michael has spent the past four years immersed in the practice of yoga, achieving certification as a teacher. Through his dedication to the excercises, he has experienced a remarkable transformation: shedding fifty pounds, ceasing reliance on pain medication, and regaining strength and mobility.

Before yoga, if Michael fell, he couldn’t get up without assistance. Even walking had been a challenge. Now, he can walk without a noticeable limp. He can do pushups without his wrist or elbow hurting and his back feels much better. Everything has come back to center. His body is repairing itself.

Michael believes that stagnation equals death and movement equals life.

Today, Michael passionately advocates for the practice of yoga as a means of fostering physical and emotional wellbeing, emphasizing its inclusivity and adaptability to all levels and abilities.

“No matter how I feel going into a class, I always feel better coming out. I feel more relaxed. It’s just the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.” 

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Celebrating Salish Conference brings together speakers and learners of all Interior Salish languages in the Inland Northwest: Kalispel, Spokane, Colville-Okanagan, Coeur d’Alene, Wenatchee-Columbian, and Montana Salish.

The goal of the conference is to promote new speakers of their native language, collaborate with neighboring tribal communities, and build ongoing relationships with each another.

The Celebrating Salish Conference is the largest language gathering of native speakers in the entire Northwest.

Every spring they come together to share all the good things that are happening in their communities and to get re-energized about their language efforts. Every year they continue to grow.

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Ta kʷ qes pƛ̓ečstmtxʷ ɫu qe sqelixʷ nqʷlqʷeltn!
Don’t ever let go of our language! Stipn Smallsalmon
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Stacia Aashna is an embodiment coach, certified in internal family systems for individuals and couples. She is also a somatic experiencing practitioner, licensed clinical hypnotherapist and meditation teacher. Stacia’s childhood challenges inspired her to seek a more meaningful life and now she helps others to do the same.

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Follow your heart!

is such a common sentiment, but is it always good advice?

Personally, as I’ve delved into understanding the nuanced origins of our body’s messages, I’ve come to believe that we must look deeper than just following our hearts. It may be disappointing to face that this age-old adage doesn’t always ring true, but I promise, looking deeper at the impulses that drive what feel like our heart’s calls will save us a lot of time and heartache. You see, our brains have these things called “pleasure receptors,” and these fascinating wirings tell us what feels good and what doesn’t. These receptors are part of a complex network in the brain, primarily involving the mesolimbic dopamine system, which includes areas such as the nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmental area (VTA). When we experience something pleasurable, dopamine is released in these regions, reinforcing the behavior and making us want to repeat it.

For some of us, these wirings become a little screwy. Take, for instance, me!

I grew up in a home with a violent, alcoholic father. My parents had the codependent dance down cold! My mom endured my father’s violent tantrums and she would give him chance after chance, all

the while he lost jobs, cheated on her with prostitutes, destroyed the house, and his sickness took a massive toll on him and on all of us. Those of you who grew up in an alcoholic home know this hell.

Since the time I came into this world (even before, if you consider the very sensitive prenatal experience), my poor little nervous system was coded with fear.

I had to find some ways to deal with my environment. I began cultivating an identity as the appeaser and the fixer. Dad was scary as hell and mostly inaccessible, so I would help my mom as much as I could. I became the best of my siblings at cleaning out the fridge, dusting the furniture, and helping out in the garden. I also became an emotional support system for my mother, helping her with her marital issues with my father and her second husband.

I was rewarded for my talents at being so responsible, mature, and sensitive emotionally. My brain, however, was learning to associate these roles with survival and even pleasure. This is because, in stressful situations, the brain releases endorphins and other neurochemicals that can create a paradoxical sense of relief or even pleasure from stressful and high-stakes environments. This process is known as “conditioning.” Just as Pavlov’s dogs learned to associate a bell with food, my brain learned to associate helping and

appeasing with relief from anxiety and a sense of reward. Over time, the neural pathways that reinforced these behaviors became more entrenched.

In the context of trauma, the brain’s reward system can become maladaptive. Instead of finding pleasure in healthy and nurturing activities, a person might seek out or feel most comfortable in situations that mirror their traumatic experiences. This is partly due to the brain’s tendency to seek familiarity, even if that familiarity is painful.

Some good news: the brain is neuroplastic! Meaning, it can rewire itself, so for those of you who have struggled like me, there is hope.

Understanding this neurobiological basis can help us be more compassionate with ourselves and others. It’s not just about “following your heart” blindly but understanding why our hearts might be drawn to certain patterns and behaviors. By recognizing the way trauma and pleasure are coded into our brains, we can start to untangle these wires and rewire our brains towards healthier, more fulfilling experiences.

It’s been quite the journey to understand what my heart and soul authentically call out for, but I can confidently say that I have absolutely rewired myself. Where I was once drawn to being the constant fixer of chaos, I am now drawn to living a life of balanced relationships, healthy boundaries, self-respect and peace. 

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Tales of A CITY London

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Seigar is a passionate visual artist based in Tenerife, Spain. Specializing in travel and street photography, social documentary, conceptual and pop art, Seigar has a deep fascination with pop culture. Professionally, he is a philologist and a secondary school teacher, yet he is a self-taught visual artist who has completed courses in advanced photography, cinema, and television. His artistic mission is to narrate tales through his camera, creating a continuous storyline from his travels and encounters.

Seigar has taken part in various international exhibitions, festivals, and cultural events, and his works have been featured by numerous publications worldwide. Recently, he has focused on documenting identity and spreading the message of the Latin phrase carpe diem

In 2020, Seigar was awarded for his work “Afternoon in the Lake” at the Rafael Ramos Garcia Photography exhibition, sponsored by the University of La Laguna in Laguna, Spain.

He shares his insights into art and culture on his blog, Pop Sonality.


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Dr. Kristina Strong is a woman who embraces life’s imperfections with grace and resilience. As a single mother and widow, Kristina has faced her own significant life challenges, allowing her to deeply understand the complexities of the human experience. Join her on a transformative path toward self-discovery and empowerment, where imperfections are embraced and authenticity reigns supreme. Welcome to a space

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Between stimulus and response

The day after I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog, I saw this quote by Dr. Rebecca Ray: “Sit with it, sit with it, sit with it, sit with it. Even though you want to run. Even when it’s heavy and difficult. Even though you’re not quite sure of the way through. Healing happens by feeling.”

Days prior, I knew the end was coming. Within my body, my heart, and my mind, I felt anxiety, fear, sadness, and anticipatory grief; I recognized the stories I was telling myself of worry and the past and felt a wrenching grief that takes my breath away.

I reminded myself that past griefs were surfacing and wanted to be acknowledged and honored. I reminded myself to breathe and to be patient with myself. I said, “You are hurting, my dear.”

Throughout the day, I was aware of my body’s heaviness and tension. I was on edge, ready to explode at the slightest provocation. Every red light, every irritating word, every responsibility felt like a burden I couldn’t handle during this difficult time. It’s tough when life goes on and I still must keep up with everything, despite my pain.

barreling through the dog door running from his little buddy, or greeting me with his wiggle butt when I get home. My home is quiet.

I breathe, allow space for sadness, and with my hand on my heart, I whisper, “I know you are hurting; you are going to be okay.”

Grounding in the present moment allows me to unhook from the stories that cause or add to suffering.

Again, I reminded myself to breathe and be patient. “You are going to be okay.”

Being mindful of my breath, body, thoughts, and emotions helps me avoid saying or doing something I may regret. It allows me to pause and respond with wisdom rather than react on autopilot. Viktor Frankl aptly says, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Practicing self-compassion during times of suffering helps me soften around my pain. Taking moments to cry, journal, talk with friends or family, and allow my grief to be heard and honored by others supports my healing process.

Today, I am very aware of the absence of my beloved dog. I feel sadness when he isn’t looking back at me, waiting for his morning breakfast,

Sitting with pain is a skill that takes practice.

When I become mindful of my body and pay attention to how it communicates with me, my nervous system becomes activated, my heartbeat increases, my breathing becomes shallow, and tension arises throughout my body. It takes practice to listen to what my body is telling me and the intention to give it what it needs—breath, rest, movement, sunshine, hydration, and so on.

Becoming mindful of my thoughts helps me pay attention to the thoughts and stories that automatically come up. Am I in judgment? Am I thinking thoughts of the future, the what-ifs that cause anxiety? Am I thinking about the past, ruminating on previous pains, the shoulda-coulda-woulda’s that cause sadness or depression? Naming my thoughts and emotions enables me to acknowledge and create space for them.

A simple way to start a mindfulness practice is to check in with my five senses. Connect with my breath. Be the observer and take note of what I see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Grounding in the present moment allows me to unhook from the stories that cause or add to suffering.

This practice may not take the pain away; however, it may soften it and enable me to hold space for my difficult emotions with compassion instead of resisting, numbing, or running from them. 

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Kennedy Ynclan of Soylent Green Photography was born in California, raised in California, and is now living in Spokane, WA. His specialty is creative expression photography, where he has a gift of catching the authenticity of his clients at their core. Kennedy is easy-going and patient with an amazing sense of humor. He continues to hone his craft in this field.

PHOTOGRAPHER Soylent Green Photography Kennedy Ynclan

MODEL Lizzie Beckford

MODEL Loveina Jean

MODEL Hailey Smith

MODEL Olivia Petruski

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With a BA from Towson University, Philip Russell ’s foray into photography didn’t follow a traditional pathway. An IT professional by trade, Philip has developed a passion for photography, and loves to highlight moments that people can relive multiple times, almost as if they are the original experience. He excels in portraits, landscapes, concert events and product imagery.


K’dian Levy has been working as a model for almost 2 years and considers modeling an extension of her art form as a cosplayer and dancer. She enthusiastically utilizes both art forms in her modeling work whenever she can. Throughout her journey on and off the runway, she has enjoyed switching up her look and telling different stories. K’dian enjoys trying new things.

MODEL K’dian Levy

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Dominique Medici is a figurative oil painter based in Seattle . She studied in London and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Medici has received awards from The Portrait Society of America, Art Renewal Center, Oil Painters of America, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club among others. Medici has undertaken numerous portrait commissions and her work is displayed in many private collections throughout the US and Europe. Her passion for teaching has inspired her to lead workshops and online painting classes.

ARTIST Dominique Medici

“ I think of a work of art, any object or a life as a vessel. Everything is part of a whole and yet unique. If a rock contains the geological history of millions of years and can tell the story of Earth’s evolution, how much more can we, as sentient humans infused with countless memories, tell a story and bring forth messages from that deep, unending well of being. This not only gives life meaning but also is the foundation for the creative imagination that the unknowable mystery deserves.

At the most basic level, I hope that my work delights and inspires others. Closer to my artistic values, I hope it speaks to the mind and heart of the one looking at it. And at its core, I hope that it echoes the infinite.”

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This photojournalistic series was Rudransh Nagi’s second school assignment in Belleville

Pari s

and documents Existrans –an annual march of trans people, intersex, and those who support them.

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An accidental photographer, Rudransh Nagi was born in New Delhi, India. After attaining his political science and sociological degrees, Nagi went to Paris, where he studied photography at Spéos. He later attended his two years of MFA in Photography in Florence, Italy (2019-2021). His goal is to use the photographic documentary language to witness and create a record of sociologically and anthropologically relevant situations. He is also interested in conceptual/diaristic uses of photography as a way to represent his own psychological life.

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62 | Beneath Your Beautiful Cindy Legare is a revered MindSh*t to Powerful MindSHIFT specialist, who empowers individuals to transcend their limitations, guiding them towards a deeper understanding of self and a renewed sense of purpose. With every client she guides and every life she touches, Cindy exemplifies the boundless potential of the human spirit, proving that within every struggle lies the seed of transformation, waiting to blossom into the fullness of one’s true potential.
…true health and happiness stem from within, requiring a commitment to self-care and introspection

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by Cindy Legare
Did you know that we have 65,000 thoughts in a day, and most of them are negative? Day after day, we operate on autopilot, repeating the same negative thought patterns. But did you also know that despite thinking we’re in control of our lives, we’re often not?

From the moment we’re in utero until about seven years old, we operate in what’s known as the theta brain wave state, the same state that allows us to be hypnotized. In this state, we lack critical thinking skills, accepting our experiences without judgment, good or bad, essentially programming ourselves without conscious awareness.

The longer we remain unaware of our programmed state, the more our lives become a series of simple data collection. For some, like me, coming from a family with its own brand of dysfunction, this data collection can be particularly challenging. Growing up in a lineage marked by instability, I’ve had my share of crazy experiences.

It wasn’t the kind of crazy that lands you in a strait jacket - though looking back, maybe it should have. It was the kind of crazy that falls under the label of dysfunction, a label we like to assign when trying to make sense of things. But assigning meaning to our experiences can be both a curse and a blessing.

Throughout my 54 years of life, I’ve collected a myriad of experiences - some inspiring, some harrowing, all shaping who I am today. I share them, not to dwell on the past, but to show no matter your circumstances or the programming you’ve received, you have the power to shape your destiny.

I believe our greatest power lies in our ability to choose. My journey of self-discovery began at a tender age, marked by instances that questioned my sense of safety and belonging. At four, I witnessed venomous exchanges between my grandparents, wondering if I, too, was at risk.

By age eight, I found myself caught in the emotional turmoil of my parents’ tumultuous

relationship, and at ten, I faced my grandfather’s violent outburst, armed with nothing but a steak knife and a determination to survive.

These early experiences laid the groundwork for a lifetime of navigating trauma and uncertainty, each event adding another layer to the complex tapestry of my existence. But amidst the chaos, I discovered a source of solace and strength: physical fitness.

Introduced to the world of bodybuilding, I found sanctuary in the gym, sculpting my body as a means of reclaiming control. But as I learned, true power comes not from physical prowess, but from the courage to confront our inner demons.

Despite outward appearances, I realized that true health and happiness stem from within, requiring a commitment to self-care and introspection. It’s a journey I continue to this day, guiding others on their path to self-discovery as a transformation coach.

My road to healing was not without its obstacles. At 39, I faced the devastating loss of my younger brother, a tragedy that shattered my world and forced me to confront the fragility of life. His untimely death sparked a quest for answers, driving me to seek truth and justice in the face of overwhelming grief. But amidst the chaos and heartache, I discovered that true healing begins with acceptance and forgiveness. In the wake of tragedy, I found redemption, transforming my pain into a source of strength and resilience.

I am a testament to the power of resilience –to rise above adversity and embrace life’s challenges with courage and grace. The road ahead may be uncertain, but I face it with a sense of purpose and determination. With each step forward, I become a better version of myself. 

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64 | Beneath Your Beautiful PHOTOGRAPHER Irina Manikova
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Iquitos, located in the Amazon rainforest in northern Peru, is a vibrant city known for its unique culture, rich history, and stunning natural surroundings. As the largest city in the world inaccessible by road, it serves as a gateway to the Amazon basin and offers a diverse range of experiences for visitors, including ecotourism, exploration of indigenous communities, and encounters with the region’s biodiversity. Despite its historical significance during the rubber boom, Iquitos faces environmental challenges today, highlighting the need for sustainable development and conservation efforts in this remarkable city.

Based in the New York City area, Maria Suarez is a family portrait photographer originally from Peru. She recently earned her master’s degree in Digital photography from New York’s prestigious School of Visual Arts. Suarez’s audiovisual communication background includes studio portraits, social events and social media management, all experiences that reinforce the sensibilities of her work. Her most recent project explores the relationship between mothers and children through a combination of studio portraits and a short film.


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Alexis Butler is a second generation master pilates teacher and educator, somatic energy practitioner, attuned reiki master, wellness coach and selfdevelopment leader.

She spent her childhood in and around the pilates world, but officially studied first under Amber Butler; completing her Lolita’s Legacy Teacher Training in early 2016, continuing her studies with Pilates Elder Lolita San Miguel, and completing her Pilates Master Mentor Program in 2020. She finalized her Legacy Educator intensive in 2021.

Alexis is committed to holistic mind, body and spirit wellness for all. This mission drove her to earn her Health & Wellness Coaching Certification in 2020 and she is now studying reiki energy healing through mastership attunement with Hannah Talbot at Anam Cara Healing Center, as well as continuing to work on her Somatic Energetic Practitioner Training for further education and healing.

For over a decade Alexis has been consumed with selfdevelopment to heal from the inside out. Through trainings, wellness coaching certifications and a nearly obsessive self-study, Alexis is a seasoned professional in supporting your wellness journey with a holistic approach.

Amber Tice is a native of Coeur d’Alene, ID, getting her bachelor’s degree in communication arts from Lewis-Clark State CdA.

Before graduation Amber attended cosmetology school at The Burton Academy of Beauty Culture and Hair Design, where she was awarded the very first Great Clips Scholarship awarded in Idaho through the American Association of Cosmetology.

Amber chases after a very spunky five year old while running two businesses. As a web designer and a hair designer, she never has a dull moment. Her son Henry is her inspiration and her “why.” Showing him that chasing your dreams and hard work are worth it as long as you’re going after your OWN dream and not a path someone else lays out for you is her life’s mission.

As skilled hair designer, Amber stumbled into web design after meeting her mentor and coach, who taught her all of the in’s and out’s of design layout, SEO, Google Analytics, and business development. Now she runs Hello Henry Design Co. creating templates and custom web design for adventurous women with a passion for their families, their businesses, the great outdoors, travel, and exploration.

Amy Dawns is a soul emerging as a creative entrepreneur, driven by a profound journey of selfdiscovery and transformation. With an extensive background in energy medicine, Amy has embarked on a quest to become the fullest, most authentic expression of herself. Her muse is her life, and her inspiration comes from the unknown possibilities that poetically draw her in, a result of the inner work she has dedicated herself to throughout her life.

Amy’s deep desire and passion for transforming from the inside out led her to uncover the artist, author, mentor, coach, speaker, and podcast host within. Each of these roles allows her to channel her experiences and insights into helping others on their paths of personal and creative growth. As a mentor and coach, Amy empowers individuals to embrace their true selves, drawing from her own journey to inspire and guide them. Through her speaking engagements and podcast, she reaches a broader audience, sharing her wisdom and fostering a community of like-minded individuals. Her creative ventures reflect her belief in the power of inner transformation, making her a beacon for those seeking to live authentically and fully.






Angela Schneider is the eye behind Big White Dog Photography in Spokane, Washington, an endeavor to help humans see the world through their dogs’ eyes. Dogs help us to live more in the moment, to shake off our troubles and to be more at one with the natural world. Angela’s current project leads women on an adventure to see how their dogs have changed their world and shown them ways to be more confident and more powerful. She looks forward to contributing to Beyond Your Beautiful with the mindset of a dog — forever curious.


Barbie Haven is the founder of Desired Lives Wellness where she empowers women through personal growth and holistic wellbeing coaching. She specializes in helping women impacted by addiction to navigate codependency recovery, set boundaries, and reclaim their personal power using fitness and the Core Energy™ coaching model to fast track their self-awareness and confidence.

As empty-nesters, Barbie and her husband, Matt, moved to Spokane in 2021. They enjoy exploring the outdoors with their dogs, Toby and Gracie, and discovering new restaurants. When she’s not coaching, you’ll find Barbie participating in running events, practicing hot yoga, or making the drive back to the westside to snuggle her new granddaughter, Aviya.

Brittney Gossmeyer is a California native who moved to Spokane, WA in July 2020, and began to rebuild her business, Black Label Boudoir, in the middle of the Covid pandemic. After almost four years, Black Label Boudoir has bloomed into a safe space for over a hundred women of all different backgrounds to explore, challenge and discover themselves right where they are today.

Brittney wanted to help with Beneath Your Beautiful because the messages are well aligned with the message and culture she strives for in her own business: to help show people their beauty within and bring it out to take center stage.

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Cathy Domoney excels in helping high-performance leaders and business owners overcome triggers, blocks, and trauma in just three sessions. Her transformative work impacts their personal and professional lives in extraordinary ways, unlocking their full potential for greater impact, success, wealth, and legacy.

Cathy is thrilled and enthusiastic about contributing to the Beneath Your Beautiful movement and magazine, aligned with their mission to influence humanity and empower change towards a brighter future positively. Cathy believes that together, we are the agents of transformation.

Cindy Legare and her partner call the picturesque town of Lytton, BC home, where they enjoy their menagerie of four dogs, two cats and nine chickens. A beacon of resilience and transformation, Cindy’s life journey is a testament to the power within, exemplified by her ability to transmute pain into purpose.

From a tender age, Cindy faced adversity head-on, witnessing domestic turmoil and grappling with the tragic loss of loved ones. Each experience became a catalyst for her transformation, guiding her towards a path of self empowerment and enlightenment. Embracing the healing power of physical fitness, Cindy found solace in sculpting her body and strengthening her mind. Through the crucible of the gym, she confronted her inner demons, emerging victorious with newfound strength and resolve.

As a MindSh*t to Powerful Mindshift Coach, Cindy helps people release the weight of whatever is weighing them down, improving one bite and one belief at a time.

With an unwavering commitment to personal growth, she delves deep into the intricate workings of the human mind, driven by a profound understanding of the subconscious programming that shapes our lives.

Darla Miller Forsnes turned her life-long passion of travel into her business, 5 Charms Travel, which thrives because of her focus on personable and excellent customer service. With a desire to create empowering and healing journeys, Darla curates travel for those who are looking to experience the world and reconnect with themselves. Because she knows firsthand how restorative travel can be, she works diligently to create meaningful experiences for her customers.

Darla works with all demographics, but her specialty is working with women who travel solo or in groups. She believes that when we travel, we learn to see ourselves in those around us: We learn more empathy, educate ourselves about cultures that are foreign to us, learn to cope with uncertainties, have more space for grace, and learn how to be flexible.

Some of Darla’s best travel companions are her four children. She often takes them on her adventures. When not working, she can often be found putting Legos or puzzles together, dancing, singing, or walking her dog, Ellie.

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Ed.Renouard is a Gonzaga University graduate and has worked as a copywriter, creative director, consultant, agency owner, and corporate director of marketing. Throughout the course of his career, he’s created and contributed to advertising and marketing campaigns for local, regional, national, and global brands in fields ranging from financial services, to healthcare, technology, hospitality, aerospace, education, and more.

Ed is hoping that his experience will bring value to this advisory group. His work has taught him that every human being is shaped not only by experience, but by how that experience is processed and acted upon. Our outlooks, personalities, and aspirations are informed by the stories that shape us and the ones we tell ourselves. Understanding those stories and creating new ones can help form a foundation for new possibilities, experiences, and growth.



Elizabeth Merry was born and raised in Spokane, Washington to two North Idaho pioneer families. She continues to keep these 125 year old family roots firmly planted as the Vice President of the Davis Lake Grange. A Beyond Pink board member and Rotary Club of Spokane #21 member, she enjoys volunteering her time to support local communities.

A Washington State University graduate, with a BA in psychology, Elizabeth spent 15 years as a Behavioral Therapist and now works in Real Estate and Property Management in the Inland NW. Her love of helping people is the backbone of her business.

In addition to spending time with her husband, Michael, and their three dogs, Charlize, Gracie Lou and Vader, Elizabeth’s interests include researching Inland NW history and architecture and she is a car aficionado. She also enjoys fishing, boating, and enjoying local restaurants with family and friends.

Emma Woolley owns a branch office for Primerica Advisors, a financial advisory firm in Liberty Lake, WA and has called Spokane, WA her home since 2004.

After 8 years of battling unexplained infertility, she and her husband Drew did in vitro fertilization and had a beautiful baby girl named Eleanor Rose in February 2024.

Emma brings a diverse background of life experience to Beneath Your Beautiful. She served with MercyShips, the largest civilian hospital ship in 2012. She has also served on various non profit boards including Beyond Pink (board member) and Spokane Interstate Livestock Boosters (president). In the summers she spends time at her family property in Montana, trail running and participating in athletic events as an athlete, organizer and volunteer. One of her favorite quotes is “All you can do is all you can do, but all you can do is enough.”

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Francie Nordin, an advocate at heart, has overcome her childhood wounds, domestic violence, cancer and chronic disease to share HOPE with everyone she meets. HOPE =heart, overcoming, past, experiences.

She is currently an independent healthcare consultant that focuses on provider and patient advocacy.

She is also a highly requested speaker, teacher, and trainer in healthcare. Her life motto is: “We all have a story we are writing, let’s make it a bestseller.”

She has helped launch several women-owned businesses creating business plans and marketing strategies.

She was the founder and first president of “Boy’s & Girl’s Club of Kootenai County.”

She’s is the founder and president of “Battle Ready Health & Fitness Program.”

Her fiancé, Michael, and her are visionaries for New Mexico, benefactors for the Ann Parish Elementary School. Health, education and self-value is their goal in encountering everyone they serve.

Gaëlle Berruel is an award-winning visibility coach, a motivational speaker and a wellness expert.

She’s also a UK Ambassador for Psychologies magazine, inspiring and motivating readers to create a life they love through the online Life Labs platform.

After thirteen years working in the banking industry, she created her visibility consultancy, A Rockstar Mindset, to help women leaders (specifically successful business owners and senior/executive women) become the Rockstars of their lives: bold, visible and confident unapologetically.

What separates Gaëlle from other coaches is her infectious positive energy, rockstar mindset and firm belief that every woman deserves to be the fullest expression of who they are (authentic, unapologetic and aligned) and financially free. Because of this, clients feel supported, take inspired actions and achieve their professional dreams.

Gaëlle won the Exceptional Woman of Excellence Award at the Women Economic Forum 2023 in London. She’s also the Bronze winner of the Innovation Award of the Women Changing The World Awards 2023.

Gerri Newell grew up in Spokane, WA, and is the proud parent to three children, James, Joey and Jessica. She loves her role as grandmother to Jessey, Irvin and Ford, and enjoys visiting and spending time with them as often as possible.

She is a comedian, storyteller, speaker, mediator, artist (Funky Reboots), photographer (A Closer Look Photography) and writer among many other things when she isn’t caring for her mother.

Gerri is a Stephen’s Minister at her church walking beside others in their time of need. Her life motto is to take the time to STOP (Savor The Opportunity to Pause) and listen, reflect and be grateful.

Gerri connects with Beyond your Beautiful in looking deeper to find the beauty that exists inside everyone. As a photographer she finds beauty in the old, obscure, discarded, overlooked and misunderstood by taking time to zoom in and find the beauty that exists in everything and everyone.

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Hara Allison is the founder of Beneath Your Beautiful magazine and podcast, as well as an award-winning graphic designer at STUDIO H creative and an award-winning photographer at Hara Allison Photography.

In addition to volunteering with Soulumination, an organization that gifts photography sessions and keepsakes to families facing lifethreatening conditions, Hara also served on the board of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and most recently was a Spokane Women of Achievement nominee for the Arts and a finalist for The Women Changing the World Awards in three categories including Journalism and Media, Micro Business and People’s Choice in Health & Wellbeing.

Over the years, Hara has volunteered her design services for many nonprofits including Beyond Pink, Cancer Can’t, Childhood Cancer Coalition (formerly ACCOIN), Meals on Wheels, Project Beauty Share, SCAARS (Stop Child Abuse -Advocates for Reform and Safety), United Way and countless others.

Hara believes that no matter what we look like, or what challenges life presents us, we are inherently worthy and most of all, worthy of our own love.

Heather Latta can often be found in coffee shops mentoring other leaders about how to change the world in under an hour. Her motto is “Going from handshakes to hugs” – an effort to make everyone she meets professionally or personally feel embraced into her life.

With her background in marketing coordination, entrepreneurship, and volunteerism, Heather brings a unique skillset to Beneath Your Beautiful

She volunteers with Free Rein Therapeutic Horse Center, Spokane HOPE (Steering Committee Member), and minor miscellaneous area clean-up projects when she’s available. She serves on the board for Pet Savers (Vice President), with aspirations of joining other committees and boards in the future, as she grows in service of her community. She has also just started her second business, Solstice Marketing, which aims to serve the community of small business and nonprofits with affordable marketing, social media, and event consulting services.

While her first passion is animals, her second passion has remained serving her community as a whole, creating a better world from within. Her favorite quote comes from the movie Robots (2005): “See a need, fill a need.”

“We all become better when we work together.”

Jamie Velandra is a seasoned professional photographer with over two decades of experience. Along with her passion for capturing moments through her lens, she also cultivated a successful career in specialty retail management within the vibrant landscape of Greater Seattle.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Jamie is deeply committed to giving back to her community through active volunteerism. Her guiding principle is to infuse every interaction with kindness, striving to make a positive impact wherever she goes.

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Jessica Burke combines her passion for nonprofit work with her expertise in management and leadership. She holds a master’s degree in Management and Leadership and a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, both from Western Governors University (WGU). As the Development Director at Transitions, she is committed to supporting women and children experiencing poverty and homelessness through donor relationships, corporate relations, marketing and PR, and fundraising initiatives.



Kasey Bergh is a multifaceted woman whose life journey has provided her with diverse experiences and profound insights, shared through her Lighthouse Listening coaching and blog, “Insights from an Unconventional Life.”

Before retiring from her executive role at Purina in 2017, Kasey led their corporate giving programs, collaborating closely with the CEO of the multinational company, employees, and nonprofits.

Jessica’s dedication to community service extends beyond her professional responsibilities. She volunteers at Teen and Kid Closet and the Spokane Aids Network, where she contributes her skills to help those in need.

A lover of reading, animals, and coffee, Jessica finds balance in life through these simple pleasures, enriching her community involvement with personal passions.

Kasey’s personal journey between the ages of 34-63 has been marked by profound challenges which fortified her spirit. Experiencing a devastating divorce, the miracle of two kidney transplants, as well as the recent, successful removal of colon cancer, she’s emerged as a beacon of hope and resilience for health and emotional well-being, coaching and inspiring women facing similar trials.

In 2012 Kasey found unexpected love at 52 in a serendipitous encounter when a text she sent was received by a wrong number. Despite the 29-year age gap, she and Henry met, fell in love, and he gave her his kidney in 2019 in a one-in-a-billion match.

Currently, Kasey and Henry reside in the enchanting, wooded surroundings of her childhood home outside of St. Louis, MO.

Krista Crotty owns Brain Based Therapy NW - a new eating disorder treatment programming offering a new and novel form of treatment for those suffering from eating disorders. She teaches Psychology at Gonzaga University, and is a therapist locally for all people, but loves working with adolescents and young adults. She holds a doctorate and a master’s in clinically related psychology (MFT and Clinical Psychology). She’s a mom to three boys, partner to Jeff Crotty, and friend to many. Loves the outside, loves being with people and sharing stories and life with many.

Krista loves the mission of Beneath Your Beautiful. As a professional who works with women who are relearning a new relationship with food and their body, have battled life threatening eating disorders, and often trauma of many varieties - this work that promotes we are all beautiful and perfect is a wonderful thing and she wants to celebrate, support, and promote the same. According to Krista, authenticity creates connection, can promote and create healing, and shouldn’t be an exception, but a rule in living. Krista wants to surround herself with people who truly believe this and to help promote it in the world.

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Dr. Kristina Strong is a woman who embraces life’s imperfections with grace and resilience. As a single mother and widow, Kristina has faced her own significant life challenges, allowing her to deeply understand the complexities of the human experience.

Drawing from her personal journey, Kristina infuses her coaching practice, Kristina Strong Coaching, with mindfulness and compassionbased strategies, guiding women to navigate their own paths with authenticity and courage. Her warmth and empathy create a welcoming space where clients feel seen, heard, and supported every step of the way.

With a PhD in Human Services and over a decade of experience in private practice counseling, Kristina brings both professional expertise and personal insight to her work as a coach. She specializes in empowering women to overcome obstacles, prioritize self-care, and unlock their inner resilience.


Leticia Andrade is a portrait and personal branding photographer based in Peachtree City, Georgia. Born and raised in the mountains outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she moved to the United States in the early ’90s and earned a BFA from Syracuse University. Her career initially flourished in the fashion design industry, where she worked for over a decade.

When Leticia’s first child was born in 2003, she chose to stay home and care for her family. After dedicating more than ten years, she felt it was time to reignite her passion for the arts and creativity. In 2016, she founded Leticia Andrade Photography.

Today, her studio welcomes women of all ages and backgrounds, celebrating their power and beauty through the portrait experience. Her purpose is to help women enhance their confidence and selfworth. She strives to create a safe, judgment-free space where she can connect with her subjects, allowing them to be their authentic selves and transforming the way they see themselves.

Additionally, Leticia is the creator of the “Beauty is a Feeling” campaign, a project that features 40 women between the ages of 40 and 78, celebrating their unique beauty and stories.

Lindsey Barry is the owner of Barry Fresh Designs. She comes with a background in graphic design, and marketing, as well as a passion for art. She is also a wife and mother to two wonderful kiddos, plus has a fun and loving dog named Brutus - they all share a love for hiking. Her business was created to help businesses stand out and look their best, through customized branding, promotional products and marketing solutions that are tailored to best fit their needs. They specialize in custom graphics, signage, various print material, engravings, websites, apparel & more. She loves getting to connect with those in her local community and helping businesses grow in any way she can.

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Lisa Schmitz is the Director of Marketing and Creative Development for the Drew Shoe Corporation, where she combines her experience in team leadership, creative thought processes and strategic marketing with her love for shoes! Lisa has a Micro Masters from Curtin University in Digital Marketing, which she obtained after accepting a position where social media, email and SMS marketing were introduced, and realizing that her traditional training needed an update. She also has a Master’s Degree in Visual Communications and Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Fashion Marketing and minoring in Fine Art.

Always a high-energy human, Lisa loves being involved in many other groups, organizations and activities. She is on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Shoe Market, volunteer and team manager for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, and has previously served on the planning committees of multiple charitable organizations for fundraising events, including the National Kidney Foundation, Lydia’s House, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. She has been a guest speaker and writer for multiple publications and podcasts, and has emceed many fashion shows.

Lisa and her husband, Craig live in St. Louis, MO. They are the proud parents of five grown children and are thoroughly enjoying their two young grandchildren.

Martie McNabb sold her apartment in Brooklyn 6+ years ago and hit the road in her 21-foot campervan (named Brooklyn) to host story-sharing gatherings and interactive art/history exhibitions for individuals, families and organizations all over the country. She’s a legacy artist on a mission to build deeper connections, community and legacy through the stories of the “Things that Matter.”

She’s been written about in the Wall Street Journal and featured in three books. She splits her time between her wife and mom-in-law in Albuquerque and her mom in Vermont. And when she can, she meets her wife, a marriage 30+ years in the making, on the dance floor where they met a lifetime ago. She’s launching a series of multiauthor books all about the things that matter in 2024.

At 65, Martie is finally more fully embracing the divine timing of her life. While on LinkedIn, a post about joining Beneath Your Beautiful advisory board stopped her scrolling. Something about the message spoke to her deeply. Perhaps it’s that she’s always looking beneath and/or having a different take on beauty then mainstream media presents, but she knew she needed to look deeper and when she did, it stunned her. She feels it is an honor to be on the board.

Melisa Nemangwe is an advocate for the empowerment of girls, encompassing their rights, health, and overall well-being. She moves with the motto, “Assisting you in perceiving beyond the bounds of your imagination.” This motto conveys her commitment to unlocking the untapped potential of the girl child and inspiring her to surpass all limits and flourish exponentially. She is an awarded Behavioural Change Marker and Women Changing the World 2024 People’s Choice Gender Equality Award winner. Melisa is currently coordinating a female students and young women Advocacy movement by the name Web for Life Network and she is the Global Shapers Chitungwiza Hub Vice Curator.

The mission of Beneath Your Beautiful, to spread hope, aligns with her aim to uplift and empower girls by sharing transformative stories that foster trust and authenticity. The vision reflects Melisa’s belief in the inherent worth and potential of every girl, affirming that they are perfect as they are and that their beauty and strength can be found in every circumstance. The values mirror some of the qualities that she instills in the girls in Zimbabwe, encouraging them to be true to themselves, open to learning, and to strive for the highest standards in all they do.

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Robin Milligan is an artist, writer, and designer with a diverse academic background including philosophy, history, geology, and fine arts. She curates art for several local venues and teaches hands-on workshops as well.

Robin is passionate about personal freedom and environmental science, rockhounding, and sustainable ecoconscious design.

In her home studio in Spokane Robin creates in ceramic, glass, plaster, photography, and whatever materials speak to her. She loves to explore, create, swim, the outdoors, and playing with her children. She is most well known for her expressive and abstract acrylic paintings. Stunning dreamscapes so alive you can almost feel the wind. These meditations in paint give familiar forms to emotionally charged material and are sometimes presented through a lens of fantasy. You’ll find yourself transported to worlds where your perception is questionable and reality is dull in comparison. Futuristic cities, air balloons, ethereal mountains, and mysterious forests full of flowers and waterfalls where colors are vibrant and dragons might thrive. The kinds of places where dreams take place. They are autobiographical and introspective communications of emotion, passion, and whimsy. These are the worlds from inside of her mind.


Sammi Sadicario, known as “The Voice Expert” is a classically trained singer, voice teacher, business babe, music producer, writer, thought leader, spiritual lecturer, and keynote teaching artist. She teaches that strong voices create strong minds, which creates strong societies, and she is passionate about instilling this belief in others.

Sammi left her New York City Musical Theatre career behind when she chose medical freedom in 2020. Before COVID, she was a performer in the theatre industry for twenty years with credits on National Tours, Off-Broadway, and a Barbra Streisand impersonation show on cruises. She also worked as a production assistant in film such as “The Irishman” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

She is now passionate about authenticity in all-things business, spiritual, health and media. She is currently working on projects to overturn propaganda with censorship-free programming. Sammi is your go-to gal if you want to be entertained and empowered to live boldly or find your authentic voice and story in song, speech, onstage, or in your business brand.

Sara Conybeer is a multidisciplinary artist known for her bold use of color, dynamic composition, and the energy in her imagery. She was born in rural, central British Columbia, Canada, to a family of artists, and has lived all over Western Canada and even the Yukon.

As a warrior for social justice, Sara is committed to giving back to the community and supporting causes close to her heart. She regularly donates to charitable organizations that work towards building a more equitable and sustainable future for all. Sara is dedicated to making a tangible difference in the world through her art.

In addition to her practice, Sara is deeply committed to fostering creativity and artistic expression in women and children. She volunteers her time mentoring aspiring artists, leading workshops for kids and community art projects that empower others to find their own creative voices.

Sara is skilled in using a variety of mediums to create captivating multifaceted pieces that have been purchased by international collectors as well as for public installations in the US and Canada. She now resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband and three kids.

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Sheela Krishna is a whole human leadership coach, transcendental singer-songwriter, community builder and social entrepreneur. She has helped hundreds of people around the world transcend their perceived limitations to create the life they’ve always desired, in addition to creating powerful communities of impact and meaningful connection. Currently, Sheela runs her own coaching practice, music brand and is the Community & Program Director for GBLOC (an international community of forward thinking business professionals who care about creating social impact).

Sheela wants to join Beneath Your Beautiful because she absolutely loves the energy and essence of care and depth Hara brings to her interviews and photography: Hara shares uncommon stories and truly lives in alignment with her mission.

In addition, Sheela believes our world needs more empathy, compassion and authenticity which is what Beneath Your Beautiful stands for, creates and encourages in the world.

Sheela says she feels relief in reading the stories and interviews as it helps her feel less alone and gives her courage to be authentically herself.

Stacia Zadra is the founder and director of Compass Rose Healing Arts in Spokane Valley, WA. Perseverance and passion kept Stacia focused on her destiny as healer, mentor, and spiritual teacher.

In 2010 Compass Rose Healing Arts incorporated and soon grew to serve clients and students locally and throughout the United States. From career to vocation, Stacia navigated her way through traditional medicine and into the field of holistic healing, empowering her clients to discover their life purpose.

An intuitive empath, Stacia sees and hears her clients with compassion and encouragement. Life is meant to be exciting with twists and turns, challenges and victories that take us towards our highest potential; that which our Soul Contract is guiding us towards. With Stacia’s guidance, her clients can gain the clarity to release blocks to their healing and establish solid footing to progress with power and grace.

Stacia’s resume is long and rich in experience. Compass Rose represents her passion and purpose for serving individuals seeking wholeness mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

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It was six months of struggles, challenges, achievements and a lot of dedication for this grand project!


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The house of Mr. Amilton de Jesus
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A commercial model based in City of Tshwane, Gauteng, South Africa, Alicia Nukuri is represented by Invade Models, a leading agency in the fashion industry. Her versatile and expressive style showcases her natural beauty and charisma.

PHOTOGRAPHER Mahlatse Malepo

MODEL Alicia Nukuri

MAKEUP ARTIST Mbalie Bambeni

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MODEL Christine Stewart

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PHOTOGRAPHER Tito Borsa MODEL Aurora Valentini

Creative, thoughtful and effective designs that get you noticed.

STUDIO H creative is an award-winning design f irm with 30+ years experience.

Annual reports, event collateral, video production, branding, packaging, photography, brochures, trade show booths, web and editorial design – including Beneath Your Beautiful magazine.

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Self portraits

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Beneath Vasilisa Moruga

Vasilisa Moruga is a multidisciplinary artist based in Woodinville, WA. Her passion lies in photography, particularly in the realm of selfie photography. Through her self-portraits, she aims to explore and express the various facets of her personality, using the medium as a tool for both personal introspection and as a means of showcasing the transformative power of self-expression.


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PHOTOGRAPHER Eleanor Jenkins

MODEL Sohan Pague

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MODEL Ahmed ben Nawes



Born in Moscow, Russia in 1979, Ira Wind is a portrait photographer who focuses on person, vital energy, beauty and versatility. Her portraits can reflect both familiar reality and the fictitious, distorted and surreal. An important aspect of her photography is her experimentation with light, color and shape. Ira lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia.


MODEL Olivia Vino

MODEL Alexey Ostrovsky

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MODEL Irina Graphix

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Ryan Davis is a passionate independent photographer from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has had the privilege of photographing exhilarating races hosted by renowned organizations such as NASCAR and the World Racing League, held at iconic tracks like Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Additionally, he has successfully encapsulated the essence of unforgettable events like the Chattanooga Motorcar Festival and Chattanooga’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb & 3.43 Mile Walk.


MODEL Nick Porter

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MODEL Adam Omari

A photography hobbyist, Amy Lewis specializes in emotive portrait photography, using light and props to lead the viewer to bring a story into their own mind. In her latest series of photos titled Broken, works with Adam, one of her favourite models to work with. This image shows something truly beautiful in the way that, although we may appear to be ok, we can at times be falling apart and shattered inside.

Oxana Kirikidi lives in the Netherlands and has always been attracted to the style of creativity that interacts with the audience through feeling, limitless in how ideas are brought to life. A focus on composition and detail allows the photos to evoke the feeling of a piece of fine art, using color to evoke emotions, and sparking infinite reflections of the imagination.


MODEL Agata Francis

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I was born with spinal muscular atrophy: a genetic disorder that led to quadriplegia from the time I was an infant. My life expectancy was less than 11 years yet, just last year, over 125 people gathered to help me celebrate my 40th birthday!

It unfolded perfectly. I was able to give back to folks who have supported me my whole life in the form of catered food, free beer, and music. It is a day that will be remembered well by those in attendance for a very long time.

Some very talented musician friends of mine performed at the party. The electricity of that day sparked within me an idea.

One of the performers at my birthday party was someone I had previously co-written a song with. We performed it at the 2018 Get Lit Festival in Spokane, WA, in front of a raucous crowd who cheered us on in approval.

I figured that was my crowning achievement in music.

Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn’t.

The future has been muddied with the creation of Songwriter’s Resumé; the 10song offering I recorded with the help of several sound magicians.

“I’ve got words, but no rhythm.” That’s what I told every musician I asked to collaborate with me. The alchemical process of crafting sound out of instruments has always confounded me. Part of that is because I am physically unable to play an instrument. However, I don’t believe that is the majority of the problem. I read books without touching pages. I perfectly visualize how to perform a solid crossover or reverse layup on the basketball court. I catch fish without ever touching my pole. But when it comes to crafting a song, my mind is blank –other than the message I want the lyrics to convey.

My favorite story from the early creation of Songwriter’s Resumé came from my time with Russell Kolts. He was skeptical about his own ability to work this magic. He looked at the lyrics to “Where I’m Going” and breathed a long sigh before saying, “That’s a lot of words.”

Over the next two hours, he proceeded to provide the skeleton for what became a punk rock inspired song about desire to take advantage of every waking day before dying. General life busyness kept him from finishing the musical work on that piece, but thankfully my friend Olivia Brownlee stepped in and it came together splendidly.

Olivia Brownlee co-wrote roughly half the album. The lyrics are all mine. The stories of heartache and longing, hope and despair, memories and dreams… those all came from me. The sonic framework was largely built by her. It was a true collaboration. We would sit in quiet rooms for two hours spells and I would watch her catch melodies out of thin air. I was

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moved to tears on several occasions during this creative process.

She recognized one of these emotional moments on the third day in studio. She allowed me space to feel deeply the well that was bubbling over. She offered safety to feel those things without admonition. I am grateful beyond words for her.

There are upbeat numbers that she helped with, including “Steal My Heart,” all the way down to the slow, pathos filled “Hold Me Back.” I am in awe of the breadth of her ability.  Her husband, Andy Bennett, provided percussion and engineering professionalism beyond my wildest dreams. The recording session was scheduled to last three 12-hour days at some of my friends’ house. Andy’s ability to lead us through a daily graph of things that needed to be done kept us ahead of schedule. We completed 10 tracks with three hours to spare . There is more songwriting in my future and I know he will maximize its potential if I’m lucky enough to work with him again.

Nate Stratte was the other key cog in the recording of Songwriter’s Resumé. Nate comes from one of the most musically talented families in the Spokane, WA region. He has traveled the world recording. His ear is better than any human’s I have ever met. I swear he sees notes in the air and they obey his every command.

The first time I approached him about collaborating on a song was during one of his gigs in late summer 2023. He and his wife perform under the moniker Hunny Soup. At intermission during one of their gigs, I handed him a lyric sheet. After looking at it for 18 seconds, or less, he said “Do you mind if I go on stage and play this right now?”

That is the origin story of the song “Give and Take,” in which I explore my struggles living with strength through my physical disability.

Other musicians who assisted me in adding sound to words were Tonya Ballman, Liz Rognes, and Katherine Van Zanten. Each of them put their touches on this album. Katherine has known me since birth, and our closeness rings through on the track “Forlorn.” I presented her with a poem for which I thought she might be able to make some recommendations. A couple of days later, I heard a haunting rhythm coming from her guitar. Thankfully she was able to carve out time during the recording session to join us.

Songwriter’s Resumé tells my story in a fashion I hope most will find entertaining. It presents the universality of emotions through the lens of a middle-aged, disabled man. There are joys, tears, and catchy rhythms throughout. A pipe dream would be for a filmmaker to select one of the songs for a movie soundtrack. A more realistic dream is to hope someone is inspired while listening and commits themselves to a similar journey of creation.

We all have a beautiful story within us. I am looking forward to people connecting with this part of mine. 

AUTHOR Travis Laurence Naught is a quadriplegic wheelchair user. His poetry, fiction, and nonfiction has been published widely. Songwriter’s Resumé marks his entrance into music. When not writing, he can be found selling comic books at conventions around the Northwest.


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associated with coming to terms with my own mortality. Optimist that I am, I waded deep into my personal murky mental waters. I remained anchored to being a husband and father - that was still my purpose, even with a body that was betraying me daily. I still had a purpose.


our advocacy work. Smart and doggedly persistent, she has taught me that “no” is not an acceptable answer in relation to ALS care, services and support. Additionally, I learned from her that helping others is extremely fulfilling. I’ve come to realize how much joy it gives me.

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Meg and I have encountered these and so many inspiring individuals over the last eight years, both during our advocacy efforts and during our travels in Big Blue, our RV. Before ALS, I would never voluntarily speak in public – I was, yes ME, a consummate introvert. I now speak in front of hundreds of people regularly. I have, in fact, re-purposed my life in drastic ways.

ALS did not do this for me, I chose my new purpose, but ALS contributed to this greatly. In essence, ALS stripped me of many fears I imposed on myself. ALS woke a need to share my life through writing. This has led to experiencing profound revelations about myself and the ALS community. As I shared my writing through social media outlets, the feedback I received reflected a community desperate to be understood. Not just an understanding of the disease, but also of the suffering and the sacrifice of the family.

I recall a comment from a former colleague: “My mother passed of ALS, and what you write has given me a glimpse into what she experienced. I had no idea what she went through.”

First, I never knew his mother had ALS; this revelation has happened time and time again. Second, it made me sad to know how lonely it must have been for his mother, and how painful for him. This knowledge has compelled me to continue writing.

Not being a trained writer, I commit many misspellings and grammatical errors in the process. At one point I considered publishing my

writing and titling it (SIC, a play on words, a way to excuse my errors, but also meaning “sick” as in dying. I eventually decided it stank of being lazy and amateurish, and so scratched it.

Writing has given me an outlet for the energy I can’t physically expend, due to my progressive loss of function. In my writing I find balance in my life with ALS. This balance gives me hope, and in some small part I think it provides a bit of hope for others. ALS is extremely challenging in countless ways, devastating to everyone that it touches. It is considered one of the most hopeless diseases in the world, with no viable treatments and no cure, at least not yet. So, how is it that I can find hope in the hopeless, purpose with a terminal condition?

I don’t have the answer, or at least an answer for you. I do know what has helped me, though. Taking the time to allow myself and my family the freedom to feel everything. Every emotion, fear and soul-crushing thought is valid. I have found that by doing this you, your family, friends, and acquaintances can move past the pain and enjoy life. With ALS, the phrase, “easier said than done,” is a concrete obstacle, one that requires chipping away daily, a steely attitude and outlook. Every strike at the concrete allows hope to seep through the cracks. Any amount of hope has the potential to warm your soul.

A warm soul, touched by hope has the capacity to warm others; all it takes is a brief touch. Our hearts are connected by this brief touch, and shared hearts can carry great burdens. 

Juan A. Reyes , is an ardent advocate for those suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), having been diagnosed Oct. of 2015. Juan served 21 years in the United States Air Force as an Independent Duty Medical Technician and Clinic Superintendent.

Post retirement Juan held a position with Battelle Memorial Institute as a defense contractor. As an Emergency Medical Disaster Response Manager, for 13 Air Force Hospitals and Clinics. This was followed by serving as the Executive Director for the San Antonio Texas Salvation Army Area Command; responsible for execution of all services delivered to the entire community of San Antonio and surrounding area.

Currently Juan serves on the board of directors: I Am ALS (IAA), Texas Chapter of The Paralyzed Veterans

of America (PVA). Focused on improving services, research and quality of life for ALS patients/veterans. Juan has shared insights with medical students and other healthcare professionals, en-hancing understanding of ALS patient needs. His efforts have also taken him to our nation’s capital engaging elected officials on behalf of patients.

As a Patient Mentor Juan aids newly diagnosed patients navigate this devastating diagnosis. Juan actively serves on committees locally and nationally to include: I Am ALS, NEALS Consortium and the ALS/MND International Alliance.

Juan resides with his wife Meg and their four children, in Castroville, TX.

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ALS can affect anyone, any time, at any age. I AM ALS is revolutionizing how we cure ALS by empowering
patients, engaging
vital resources for people impacted by ALS.
and mobilizing
and offering
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Cancer is so limited, yet cancer can’t… cripple love, shatter hope, corrode faith, destroy peace, kill friendship, suppress memories, silence courage, invade the soul, steal eternal life, conquer the spirit.

Cancer Can’t is 501c(3) nonprofit organization located in Spokane, WA. Our mission is to provide support for the daily needs of adult cancer patients receiving treatment at local hospitals and oncology treatment facilities through housing, emergency funds and transportation.

We need your support.

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Be a LIGHT in the fight

134 | Beneath Your Beautiful

VISION To show that we are inherently worthy, perfect as is, and that beauty can be found everywhere.

MISSION To spread hope by sharing raw, compassionate stories, through print and audio, in a safe space that inspires trust and authenticity.

VALUES Authenticity, vulnerability, respect, curiosity, collaboration and excellence

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