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Soleil is an award-winning creative, food and lifestyle photographer based in Austin, TX. 

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To honor.

To be honored

To bring honor.

I’m honored.

What does honor mean?

Honor as a noun: glory, renown, fame earned, honor, dignity, distinction, position; victory, triumph. It also could mean splendor, beauty; excellence.

Honor as a verb: to show respect to, esteem, revere; welcome; present

The act and thought of honor has been a recurring theme these first few weeks of the year and I decided to take a moment to really understand what it is about honoring that feels equally symbolic, confusing, obligatory, and indicative of what I am striving to know more of for the start of 2022.

A New Year

The beginning of a new year, filled with hopes, dreams, promises of newness, and redemption. That theme has always been more so for me on New Year’s Day, which is the day I was adopted. Having spent time in the story of sacrifice that both my biological and adoptive parents have gone through prior to my coming into this life, I’ve always felt so honored to live the life I live. To not necessarily be set apart, but to be placed directly in this space by God.

It’s here where I feel the noun honor, where I feel a sense of gratitude, reverence towards, and a true sense of being welcomed into this specifically destined spot for my growing up, my mess ups, my blossoming, and thing called life on this earth.

I Am My Body

As soon as the new year started, so did the mass sickness of Omicron and other flu/winter-related sickness that I fell victim to. To keep my body from failing, I finished up what now is in my top 5 books, The Wisdom of Your Body by Hillary McBride, that I borrowed from a friend after our discussion of my constant disembodiment and finding ways to be better embodied.

Being sick is one of those times that is not kind to your body, either physically, mentally or psychologically. Physical fatigue, mental weakness, but most importantantly psychological turmoil in the way which we see our bodies, which then floods into the healthy versions of ourselves. I for one, have always hated being sick, not only because of the way my body feels, but because of the inconvenience it brings to being productive, precious and bold time to use, and not being the best version of myself (can you believe I was ever an enneagram 1). The narrative of lies we tell ourselves about our bodies, anything from “why am I not getting better quicker” to “why can’t my body do that right now” is not only frustrating, but an unconscious broken record that perpetuates the unhealthy expectations and disconnection from our actual bodies.

In learning how to honor my body during this time—and truthfully my entire life— I realize that the term “mind over matter” no longer applies or is a truthful action for my journey toward embodiment. How do I respect my body, show esteem for it, revere it even?

My journey to honor my body is one that means welcoming every single part of it. It’s trauma, its strengths, the parts I have yet to find out, the same way I would welcome a friend into my home. Except this is home is my body, and I am my body.

The Year of the Tiger

A new month, another new year, but for a different calendar year. Lunar New Year. In the past years, my celebration of Lunar New Year has been minimal, apart from cooking a yummy meal with friends in college or visiting the Chinatown celebrations at midnight. But as small curiosities into my heritage unravel, I felt this year that I did want to honor my ethnicity and where I came from no matter what that looked like.

The thing is I still know basically nothing about Chinese New Year. *Note: not every Asian country celebrates Lunar New Year. Being influenced by the historical Chinese lunisolar calendar, those that celebrate it more prominently are Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and South Korea.*

One of many things Google taught me is that in the Chinese zodiac, it is the tiger, not the lion, that rules the kingdom. (I’ll honor it except for when it comes to astrology because I love being a Leo). Based on a 12-year cycle of signs, Tiger energy nudges us forward and toward newfangled approaches to life. Restlessness should be regarded as a sign that new horizons are needed and change is clawing at the door. *If the Great Resignation isn’t an obvious sign of the Year of the Tiger, I don’t know what is.*

All things said, my roommates and I ended up ordering takeout, and then a few days later I bought some fun goods from local Asian businesses at the Paper & Craft Pantry Lunar New Year Event (add Cookie Wookie to your Asian-inspired dessert hitlist ya’ll!).

Divulging from the main story, my version of honoring my culture and heritage leaves a lot to be discovered but I find that honoring doesn’t have to be grand and opulent and fireworks shows. Sometimes it’s in buying a cookie or a sticker from your local community that shows one’s respect for and presence towards a people, a community, a culture; and in my case, my people, my community, my culture.

Skating Fever

When I tell you I streamed the Olympics purely for Nathan Chen, I streamed the Olympics purely for Nathan Chen. To Nathan Chen, Chloe Kim, and all the other incredible Asian American athletes that represented the U.S. at these Olympics. Seeming as the Olympics have fallen off many’s radars these last few years, figure skating falls at the top of this. (If you’re interested in some light-hearted tv, I recommend Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness Episode 5- Why Don’t You Love Figure Skating As Much as I Do? for a quick intro into the skating world and its quiet retreat.)

That said, back to figure skating.

I know what it’s like, to be out there on the ice, having worked and given your all, with victory, glory, and triumph so close in reach. You want to bring honor, to your family, friends, fans, and in the Olympics case, your country. That’s a hell of a lot of pressure on one person.

To bring honor, to see results, and present it to the people that have invested in you is something I think we all do in our own way, whether we are Olympians or not. But just like the Olympics, the result of our efforts to bring honor doesn’t always show up or present itself in the way we had intended. Despite this, the valiant effort and character that has us in this position to bring honor make me think that honor itself is our respectability reflected back on us, and what an honor it is to be able to lead others from where we are at.

Honor, honoring, to honor.

© 2022 Soleil Roth, LLC. Soleil Roth Photography.