Launching Linda Baylis to #SOAR!

Me Ra Koh

For the rest of this week, we are going to do something very special as a community. I am so excited and yet a little sad.  Proud and full of joy.  Grieving and celebrating within.   It’s always a mix of emotions when something good has grown beyond it’s walls.  Our three SOAR! Recipients started the year surrounded by walls of doubt, fear, insecurity, unsure about their photography abilities, unsure of their dreams, the list goes on.  But this week, we recognize that they have outgrown many of those walls.

We don’t release them in the sense of losing them, but celebrate them–recognize what they’ve done.  I’m especially excited to have each of them be Sponsors/Mentors to this year’s new recipients.  These three women have become knitted into my very heart, as I know they have touched your life too with every new week of posts on the SOAR! blog.  We have laughed, cried, and cried some more.  But now, this week, it’s time to recognize their GREAT, hard earned accomplishment of completing the SOAR! year.

We are going to collectively launch our three, hardworking, beautiful SOAR! Recipients!  They have worked more hours than you would ever guess, and they deserve to be celebrated.  Will you help me celebrate each of them this week, as I show you where they’ve come from and where they are now?

Let’s start today with Linda Baylis!

Linda’s submission video struck our SOAR! panel of judges last year.  It was witty, funny, creative, heartfelt and showed us courage from the start.  In her application, she also wrote about dealing with chronic illness, and her determination to never give up no matter how tough the battle.

I don’t think any of us knew what battles we would walk through this last year.  Linda ended up needing to go back to New Zealand for a part of the year, and yet somehow, this unexpected part of her life’s journey played into perfect timing of SOAR!’s mission and support for her.  With every challenge that came Linda’s way, she faced it.  There were many times that she felt scared but there was never a time that she opted out.  I hope that she reads this post today, this celebration of all her successes, and feels great pride for herself and all her hard work.  I hope she has a quiet moment to Pause, let a sense of incredible accomplishment sink in.  She has gone from hoping and dreaming of “how to do” photography, and maybe having a small business, to launching a BEAUTIFUL website and blog.

SOAR! Partner, SmugMug,  has been working for months with all three gals on creating websites and blogs that represent each of their personalities.  Check out Linda Baylis’s NEW WEBSITE and her BLOG! They are Amazing with a Capital A!

What does Linda have to say about SOAR! for those of you who are considering the application process?  Let her tell you in this special video.

Linda has even BIGGER dreams than when we first started last January.  And this alone makes me so excited because I know this little New Zealand mama has what it takes to do WHATEVER she sets her heart too.  This year, every blog post she wrote, every assignment she did, every tear she shed, every time she laughed from total exhaustion, this year and all the above are proof that Linda Baylis is capable of all her BIG dreams.  She is capable of what she thought was impossible.  And it is a honor to release her to SOAR!

Will you help me congratulate this beautiful lady!  Will you stand with me and see Linda Baylis SOAR!

I love you Linda.



*In honor of the next few days, celebrating our three SOAR! Recipients, SmugMug is offering a 20% discount on their one year membership!  Copy and paste the special coupon code: MeRaSMUG20.  A very BIG thanks to Smug Mug for all that they gave this last year and continue to give as we prepare together for this next year!  We love you Smug Mug!



  1. Your video is so very TRUE. I can’t wait to see ya SOAR on your own. You have had an incredible year and I wish you much success in 2011.

  2. Linda and Me Ra,
    UGH I that the next posts will leave me in tears! Linda, your touching video is amazing as always! I can’t wait to continue a new journey with you, and watch as others start this insanely incredible process from the beginning.

    Much Love

  3. jeramy says:

    great stuff mera. so awesome that this creation now has a life and breathe all on it’s own. wonderful!

    great job on the site and blog linda! fantastic. 🙂

  4. Linda,
    It’s been an incredible journey! I have enjoyed watching all year long as you take steps to make your dreams come true. Wishing you continued success in 2011 as you continue to SOAR!

    Celebrate Life and Capture It!
    Patricia Knight (aka Patty Reiser #100)

  5. Linda you are SO AMAZING!!

  6. Freida says:

    Oh Linda!!!!
    Where to start?
    Your website/blog are WONDERFUL!!!! Love, love, LOVE what SmugMug did for you!
    And then your video – oh I cried. So touching, and hoenst and inspiring.
    I have enjoyed following along this past year with you SO much – and am SO excited to see down the road your first New Zealand wedding photos!!!!
    Keep Dreaming & Shine On!
    MeRa – your heart is wide open and So, So, SO beautiful – thank you for being YOU – and giving SO much of yourself to others.
    Much love!

  7. natalia says:

    Linda, beautiful as always. Have so enjoyed following your journey … and will continue to do so.

  8. Genie says:

    Really so speechless. Beautifully, real you. You’ve matured (not aged – silly girl!) and your website shows how much confidence and self esteem you’ve gained in such a short time. And I was floored when James said you also ran a (half or full) marathon! Wow.

    If you don’t give yourself a BIG OL’ pat on the back, three cheers, a happy dance, and much, much more, we’ll have to come tickle you silly. You deserve every moment of pride and joy for every insane (thanks Christine – good word) accomplishment you did and didn’t do this year. I remember those first conversations. You’re still you and even more of you. I’m so freakin’ proud of you!

  9. shawna says:

    oh my goodness. i haven’t even read it yet and i’m so excited! i can’t wait to come back when i have a sec. yay linda!

  10. Shelley Hohe says:

    Linda, thank you for sharing in this video…very emotional and beautiful. It has been so wonderful to follow your journey this past year. You are an amazing woman and photographer, i know you will touch so many people by who you are and the work you deliver. I love your website, it is stunning! Congratulations Linda for completeing this SOAR! scholarship with flying colors. I am so excited to see what the future holds for you, i know you will spread your wings and fly…

  11. pamela says:

    so very beautiful. the best of a person, in humility, coming out with the help of some very strategic folks. congratulations on an amazing year of self discovery. blessings on the days to come.

  12. Rhonda says:

    Linda – I am so excited for you and so blessed to have even had a small part of sharing in this journey with you. I’ve already told you how much I love your website and blog. AMAZING!!!! You are gifted in so many ways. And your video – great job girl!
    I know you’re not a religious person, but I still continue to pray for you and your journey, looking forward to what this next year has in store for you.

    MeRa – I have to say, I share your sentiment of being excited for and ready to celebrate Linda, Jennifer and Lindsay, and yet a little sad that the year is almost over. But I feel like next year is going to be full of its own amazing feats and challenges. And I look forward to seeing it unfold.

  13. Linda Baylis says:

    Tears. Laughter. Lost for words. I am trying to work on a few urgent deadlines but keep coming back here to soak it all in, remember, reflect and continue to draw strength and energy from all of your unconditional support and encouragement. To Me Ra and Brian and everyone in this community, there no words left to express how much you have all come to mean to me. I hope you know that already. ?

  14. Jen MacNiven says:

    AWWW…Love it! You rock Linda and I’m so proud of all you have accomplished! Congratulations and I so look forward to seeing what’s to come. Big hugs from me!

  15. Me Ra Koh says:

    Soak every word in Linda. YOU deserve it.


  16. Sue Christianson says:

    Linda!!! FIrst of all I cannot believe it has been a year!! I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to meet you and to spend a little time with you in our home! You are an amazing woman and I am SO proud of you!!! I am so glad I waited to watch this when everyone was out of the office today! You are amazing! Thanks for sharing your heart and life with all of us!

    love and miss you!


  17. Jessica says:

    Congratulations Linda! You are so creative and I’ve enjoyed watching your progress. You’ve made more of an impact that you will probably ever realize and I thank you for your courage and showing us how it’s done! 🙂

  18. shawna says:

    beautiful, heartfelt video (and how fun to see your old one!). everything you say about me ra just hits the nail right on the head. i’m tempted to try to sign up for next year… but what a journey!! so glad you were able to share so so much with us. thank you.

  19. christen says:

    Linda, your heart is beautiful and inspiring. I think a big part of me is like: “wow, where did a year go?” and although I was not a SOAR recipient, I pushed myself to take more steps forward in seeing where it would take me. Although I feel like I am pushing a giant boulder forward, I look forward to seeing what happens when it finally is removed. May you be blessed as you SOAR into a new year where the foundation that has been laid will be built upon. Your images are stunning.

  20. Kasia Mowny says:


    Your photography is absolutely amazing! All I can think of is “this is the kind of photography I wanna be doing”. Bravo! You have arrived!

  21. Delanae says:

    Such a beautiful blog post today! I wasn’t around this blog when you started, but I’m so glad I am here to watch your wings take you on the next chapter of your journey.

    I loved the dream you shared with us back in August. You are well on your way my dear. I am so excited for you!

  22. Lynde says:

    So blessed to meet you, Linda! <3


  23. jen armstrong says:

    oh sweet Linda. are we really at this point?? you are beautiful. i love that i know every piece of this story of you. and i love doing every minute with you. that is such a gift. thank you for letting me in and helping me through so many things. i just can’t say what you mean to me…you and your amazing family!!

  24. Linda, I love, love the front page of your website! Very nice. You are such an inspiration! Congratulations on completing the year! I have loved watching your journey and can’t wait to see you continue to SOAR!

  25. ajira says:

    Good on ya Linda!

  26. Charisse says:

    Loved it all Linda! Beautiful, beautiful entry into a new chapter of your life! It was a pleasure to watch and meet you go through such a powerful metamorphosis. Fly lil butterfly…fly!

  27. Addie says:

    What a beautiful way to put into words what this past year has meant to you as well as those of us who have been watching you, Jennifer, and Lindsay blossom!! (And I loved your original submission video as well….what can I say, my maiden name is Brady!! 😉 I am in awe of the three of you and know what a beautiful and giving mentor you have because my daughter and I have had the great opportunity to attend 2 of Me Ra’s workshops. She truly is an inspiration and now so are you! Thank you for sharing all that you’ve been through and thank you for sharing the wonderful things to come.

  28. Lindsay says:

    How has the time went do stinking fast. Can you believe we are at the Every time I go to your sight I am reminded of how far you have come Momma Linda!! We gave shared a lot of tears and self doubts over this year if knowing eachother, and I can proudly say there is not a stitch of that in what you have done. You are an amazing and beautiful woman, that I am so very proud and blessed to call my lifelong friend. Love you to pieces!!

  29. […] hear from last year’s recipients, click any of their names; Linda, Jennifer and Lindsay! […]

  30. kara says:

    Congratulations, Linda! I love seeing how far you all have come. This is so exciting to us new applicants! I can’t wait to see you all journey on and see what it’s like to SOAR! 🙂