Saying Goodbye to 2017 and Elopement Photography…

functional nutrition practitioner rayna mcginnis
health coach rayna mcginnis posing for fitness shoot with studio at cluster studios in denver

2017 was one wild ride. I hardly even recognize the girl I was a year ago and that girl would never believe who I am today could ever exist.

Life happened. And by happened I mean it fucking rocked my world and almost everything I knew to be true.

My word for 2017 was simplify and when I decided on that word I had dreams of decluttering my house, streamlining my elopement photography business and moving into an RV. I meticulously planned out every detail using weekly and monthly goals, and I checked them off one by one.

By July I was declared healthy by my doctor, I was set to almost triple my income from 2016 and we had purchased a full size van to tow an airstream come March 2018.

And then my body said enough is enough. Stop trying to control every aspect of your life, stop trying to compete with the fictional idea of perfect you have in your head, slow down and enjoy life and for fuck sake, stop drinking so much wine.

And as I found myself looking up into the eyes of five paramedics at what would be the last wedding I would every photograph, I surrendered.

For the first two months after that I struggled to get out of bed. No one knew what was wrong with me. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, I was chronically fatigued and I had major anxiety. I mostly cried and felt sorry for myself, wishing that I would fall asleep and never wake up again. It wasn’t until I thought to myself that the only thing that could make this worse was if I was allergic to the sun and then boom. Hello heat intolerance and sun rash! The revelation hit me like a ton of bricks…It was ME.

That day I reached out to a few functional doctors and cognitive therapists, and picked out who to work with based on my intuition. In that moment I knew I could get better but I also knew in my heart that in order to get better I was going to need to change the way I related with the world, and I needed help with that.

In the last four months I’ve learned about POTS, Celiac Disease, and the many, many ways hormonal birth control screwed up my body. I’ve learned about how the vagus nerve effects your brain and your gut, the effects of constant stress on your body and how a number of other random imbalances I had effected mine.

I’ve also learned how important taking care of yourself is, how intuition is one of the best tools you have and how mindfulness can change your life. I’ve learned how to lean on others for support, how to quiet the nagging voice in my head and how to use negative experiences to motivate me to move forward.

And through this experience I’ve learned that life is too short to settle, for anyone or anything, that being your authentic self is the only way to live and that regardless of your circumstances, you can choose to be happy.

And I am still learning a lot. I still struggle with trusting my body, as well as the world around me. With committing to decisions based on intuition and not holding back because of fear. With being independent and confident, while still being able to lean on others for support. But these things take time, and are a process, not just an item to check off of my list.

I am so, so grateful to those who have stood beside me and who have lifted me up through all of this, and to my therapist and doctor who have both supported and inspired me. They have helped me to create a solid foundation that I am excited to start building on.

I am also grateful for all of my late summer and fall couples, who all were more than understanding about the situation. Never in a million years would I imagine that I’d have to find replacement photographers for so many of my dream elopements. I can’t put into words how much your kindness meant to me throughout this process.

In 2017 I said goodbye to the girl I’ve been trying to be for most of my life and had the pleasure of getting to know my authentic self. She’s pretty bad ass. I think we’re going to get along well.

I closed down a business that I spent seven years busting my ass to build in exchange for a rewarding functional nutrition career that will allow me to help people with similar experiences. It was a very hard decision for me, but I know in my heart it’s the right one.

I closed the book on my 2017 objectives that focused on SMART goals, detailed step by step checklists included, and exchanged them for intentions that focus specifically on building a life around how I want to FEEL. My intentions for 2018 are to feel independent, courageous and mindful.

I may have taken the long way to get there, but 2017 was a success. My life has been simplified and I am better for it.

I am looking forward to the year ahead of me with excitement and anticipation. I know there will be bumps in the road, pain and suffering, happiness and love. Many things will change, many will stay the same, but I look forward to embracing each day with wonder, love and gratitude. And a glass of wine or two. 


Happy New Year, Friends!


P.S. I’ll still be photographing dogs on the side, so make sure to follow my Hound Dog Studios facebook page and check out the website!