Story Bout A Girl – Larissa

post by matt

Last May we were in Orange County for the Escalate Live conference. It was very encouraging, challenging and inspiring. While we were there I got a few ideas and I’ve finally had the time to pursue one that I am very excited about.

In our New Years Wish List post I mentioned that I want to be inspired this year. Especially by the people around me. A seemingly ordinary life can be quite extraordinary when you take the time to look a little deeper. I often ponder the fact that each person is unique from the next. That we all have something to share and give to each other and that without one another life, well….sucks.

So, I want to share with you these people. I want to tell their stories, through photography and my limited writing skills, but I want you to see who they are. And my hope in all of this is for you to appreciate those things about yourself that others may not always see. Because these are just ordinary people, with ordinary lives and jobs, but when you look deeper there is something extraordinary about them…


Now it just so happens that she is my sister. And so maybe you’re thinking I chose an easy subject for my first go at this. But I really didn’t, because it’s been a long time since we have actually known each other. She is five years younger than me, so we knew each other when we were very young and then I moved away……far away. The other side of the world away! It’s been close to 11 years since I have lived at home. I missed all of her teenage years, her growing up, her becoming who she is. This past year she got married and went through some very difficult circumstances. We have had very limited communication and have missed being there for each other or even seeing each other. So, fast forward a few months and we get an opportunity to spend a weekend together just the two of us. This is what I learned about my sister….

Larissa is gorgeous, which I have always known, but I saw her beauty in a much different way while we were together this time. Her presence was different than I have seen before. When asked one of the biggest things she has learned from mistakes made, her answer was humility. Learning to be humble, to learn from your mistakes and not to be so hard on yourself for not figuring it out sooner. And the confidence I see in her now, it’s stunning! Freedom brings more beauty to a person than any clothes, makeup or personality trait ever will.

Larissa values relationships. Friendships and family are at the top of her list. She sees the best in people, even when others can’t.

Larissa is a Travel Agent. Now, I am thankful for this because it has benefits for her family members :) But more than that, she loves being busy, she loves being able to send people on their dream vacation or get them to their destination hassle free. She loves to travel herself, experiencing different cultures and seeing the world. So, she chose a path that she had a passion for and had already had some experience. Fun fact, she actually came to visit me in Australia by herself at 15. She gets to make people happy on a daily basis and actually loves the stress of doing so!

Her secret dream….to be a dancer in a theatrical production…..and honestly she could do it. This is a girl who was tap dancing with the teen class when she was still in the single digits. Yes, she was a tap dancer and yes, I have pictures!


Her biggest fear is to be let down by others, by herself, by the world.

One of the people Larissa looks up to is our Grandma Zatkovich. A woman who lived to be just months shy of 100 years old! A woman who went through both world wars, the first being in an Eastern European nation. A woman who watched her husband leave and had to wait 5 years for him to make enough money in Canada to pay for her passage over. A woman who raised a family in a foreign land, with a language she didn’t know. A woman who laughed, truly laughed. A survivor. Larissa is so grateful for the relationship she had with Grandma and the things she learned from her.

This is Grandma and her sister. They had not seen each other in 57 years. Grandma’s sister was just 3 years old when Grandma left for Canada. This picture was taken during a trip with my aunt to see the Slovakian family in 1988.


This is her life so far. But there is so much more to come. She wants to be full of life, to do the best with what she has been given. She wants to be known for her love of people and her relationship with God. She has many years to work on her legacy, but I’d say she’s headed in the right direction.

This is the story of a girl, a girl named Larissa.

Shoot Location: The Neon Museum Boneyard, Las Vegas Nevada

Makeup: Sephora

Hair and Wardrobe: (mattnnat) and Larissa

PS. If you’d like to see Larissa’s February Wedding click here

5 people commented on this post

    1. Eileen says:

      AWESOME :) Looking foward to seeing more of these, Nat :)

    2. alissa smith :-) says:

      inspiring, and beautiful!! wow. i’m impressed.

    3. Yvonne says:

      Fabulous pictures of one fabulous lady!! Beautiful on the inside and the outside! Great job Natalie! You had an amazingly beautiful subject and you captured her beauty! Great to see the genuine smiles:)

    4. Shaun Bennett says:

      Awesome pictures and story Nat. So nice to see so many wonderful pictures of Larrisa with a smile on her face. I am hoping that 2011 will be a great year for both Larissa and you and Matt. All the best.

    5. Bobbi Barkman says:

      Nat these pics of Larissa are great! I was so excited for you guys when she told me you two got to have a weekend getaway in Vegas! I’m glad to hear you had a such a good time and I know it meant a lot to her. I think it’s really cool you told some of her story through the photo shoot, it was all true. Larissa is a beautiful and strong lady, someone who I consider it a privilege to call one of my dearest and closest friends.

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