Instagram is more than just a place for me to share my photos and day to day musings. It's a place where I go to get inspired. It's a space I use to connect with others all across the globe. After writing my blog post about my trip to Colombia, a lovely stranger from Paraguay reached out to me wanting to know more about my experience there. She and her friend were planning a vacation to Colombia and my post was getting them really excited! I have no idea how she even found my post in the first place. But, I was so happy. I was so grateful that she reached out. It was shortly after that interaction that I really realized how important it is to foster a community no matter how small. My goal has been to connect with others and inspire them in the smallest ways possible.
These 5 beautiful people listed below have helped me get inspired. They've taught me, motivated me, encouraged me, and have created an online community I'm so happy I've stumbled upon. Writing this post was so nerve racking for me. I don't think I've done any of them justice. I don't think I ever could. This is a post I've wanted to do for some time now, so here it goes. I've linked both their personal websites and Instagram handles below.
1. Jacqui Saldana // @babyboybakery
I’ve been following Jacqui for years now. I’m not quite sure what made me gravitate towards her posts at the very start of my Instagram days, but what I do recall seeing on her feed was her tiny little Starbucks adventures with her beautiful son Ryan. Although Ryan’s physical presence on Jacqui’s feed has changed, it is amazing to see the love Jacqui continues to carry for Ryan and the way she honours his life. Jacqui’s feed is now covered with her sweet sweet Mila, who is a spitting image of Ryan. What a lucky little sister she is! Jacqui... you and your family move me.
Whenever I wear my red chucks or see a red balloon, I catch myself thinking of Ryan and his wild red hair. When I witness a first grader in my classroom being their authentic little selves, I’m reminded to live loud and wild just like Ryan would. I have always admired Jacqui’s strength. She shares her journey through grief, in hopes that it will help others in a similar situation feel less alone.
I have never met Jacqui, she doesn’t even know I exist, but her victories feel like my victories. Her bad days feel like my bad days. I know it’s crazy that someone I have never met has impacted me in such a way. There are a million reasons to hate social media. But, Jacqui and Baby Boy Bakery are not one of them. Getting back up after life knocks you down is hard enough. Finding a way to give back to others while getting back up is so so admirable. Thanks for letting us walk alongside you Jacqui. You really do make the world a better place. Ryan and Mila are so lucky to have you as their mama! I've never met you, but you make me better. Like Ellen said, you truly are incredible. Don't you ever forget it.
2. Anum // @ahealersheart
Anum, from A Healers Heart, is a med student who openly shares her journey through medical school and her experience with mental health. As someone who suffers from a great deal of test anxiety myself, I appreciate how honest Anum is with her followers; especially since most of her followers consist of other medical students like her. It is no surprise that med students have a great deal of pressure when it comes to preforming their best. There is a lot of stigma when it comes to mental health, but an even bigger stigma in the health care profession. How sad, right? Although I’m not a medical student, I do understand the pressure that society places on those who are responsible for taking care of others.
As a teacher, my job is to put my students first. But, I won’t be able to help them without helping myself first. Talking about your mental health can be scary, especially when others expect you to be the one who has it all together (whatever the hell that even means). Anum reminds me that the dark moments and thoughts that sometimes encompass our days is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental illness is NOT something to be ashamed of. The only way to stop the stigma surrounding mental health is to talk about it openly within our social circles. If people in our social circle know that they are surrounded by people who are open and understanding, they'll be more inclined to share. Big or small, share your thoughts. You are never alone.
Believe it or not, the reason I was so motivated to start this space of mine in the first place was to openly talk about issues that are sometimes too difficult to talk about in the South Asian community. A few months prior to starting my blog, the Sri Lankan community lost one of our own to suicide. There is a great deal of stigma when it comes to mental illness in society. Now, take that amount of stigma and multiply it ten fold, and that is the amount of stigma that lies within the Sri Lankan community. There is a long way for us to go when it comes eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health. But, it’s up to us, the future generation, to start these conversations. Hopefully one day we can talk about our mental health as openly as we talk about our headaches.
3. Nicole Angemi // @mrs_angemi
Okay, this account is definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. As some of you may know, I have always been obsessed with crime shows. The human body, and the changes it goes through even after death has always intrigued me. We all talk about those in the medical profession who help those in need, but we hardly ever talk about the medical experts who work on a person post –mortem to provide their families with some form of closure to determine the cause and manner of death. Nicole Angemi, is a senior pathologists’ assistant. She uses her Instagram account to connect with others and teach those who are interested in the fields of anatomy, pathology, and/or forensics. Every time she posts a new mystery diagnosis, I’m always dying to know the verdict. Nicole reminds me to never stop asking questions. To be curious. To go out and find other like minded people who are equally excited to learn. I know Nicole's page is definitely not for everyone, but some of you may get what I'm talking about. Once you start scrolling through her feed you may find it hard to stop.
4. Deepica Mutyala // @deepicam
When it comes to makeup, I know the bare minimum (ok... maybe even less). People always tell me to learn from Youtube videos, but I’ve always felt that to be an impossible task. When it comes to doing my own makeup, I have two left hands. Contouring and highlighting, what even?
Stumbling upon Deepica’s Instagram has been a game changer for me. I never have to wonder how that specific nude lipstick will look on someone with a tanner skin tone like me. Deepica once shared a post on her Instagram feed, listing some of her favourite nude colours for tanner skin. You can find that post here. Deepica’s recommendations have always worked out for me, and she makes makeup way less scary to work with. As a fellow South Asian female, I appreciate all the tutorials Deepica shares. She really does make it easy to follow along, and she's such an enthusiastic person, I can listen to her all day long. Her colour correcting video, where she uses red lipstick to cover under eye circles was a hit! I recently also learned that she's a TODAY Show contributor! I definitely still need a makeup mentor (hey Vee!), but I do feel a lot less stressed when looking for products all on my own. So, for all my south Asian sisters out there, you need to have a look at Deepica's space. I've linked her website here.
Deepica's latest video on her Turmeric DIY Mask made me smile because I often remember grandma dearest using Turmeric on her skin. It's nice to see how things are passed down from generation to generation. It's like the whole saree trend I've been noticing lately. Simple kanchipuram sarees similar to the ones worn by our elders is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g right now!
5. Jordan Ferney // @ohhappyday
Jordan, from Oh Happy Day shares some of the greatest free printables I have ever seen! From party favor labels, to photo booth accessories, to gift-wraps, to invitations... she has free printables for just about everything!!!! I’m talking about some super cute, super fun, super classy stuff. It's so sweet of Jordan to openly share such helpful resources with others. There’s also an Oh Happy Day party shop that instantly gets me throwing imaginary parties in my head. I guarantee that anyone who finds their way onto the Oh Happy Day blog will find something they can use. If you're looking for some cute DIY inspirations, Jordan's free printables is a great place to start. I'm waiting for the day I have my own apartment so I can go crazy with all this stuff. I'm seriously going to throw a party for every occasion possible.
Pictured above is a little throwback to when we used Oh Happy Day's Giant Stickers Photo Booth Backdrop for Vee's 23rd birthday. Ain't she gorgeous? I'm lucky I get to call her my sister-friend.
I hope this post has gotten you thinking about the people you've never met who've still managed to inspire you in some shape or form. Who are your Instagram favourites? Leave them in the comments below. I love hearing from you.
[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Everything written is my own opinion.]
A 24 year old Canadian living (& teaching) in Shenzhen, China.