“The soul must be freed, whatever the cost” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Ashlene Nairn by © Camila Gargantini

“Sometimes the world puts people in our lives for a reason. Ashlene is gentle soul with the cutest laugh. We went for a hike in a beautiful area in Metchosin, Vancouver Island. During the hike, I took a variety of portraits of her, in different locations but this one spoke to me. Her love for nature and the outdoors, her tattoos of the West Coast landscape and wildlife… everything came together in this shot. A candid moment in a place that she holds dear in her heart. ” – Camila G

Image by © Camila Gargantini

An Interview with Ashlene

Q. What is the best memory you have from a previous birthday?

A. I can’t think of any specific memory, they all just amalgamate and my best memories are spending time with the people I love. Good food, drinks, laughing, dancing, feeling special.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. If I’m going to get serious here then my worst birthday was my 25th because just a couple of weeks prior I lost my sister in a very tragic accident. To lighten the mood, I’ll also mention that I was a child born with a bad set of teeth. I’m talking braces for 5 years bad. Anyway, I had regular visits to the orthodontist and when booking my next appointment, somehow my dad would never register that Dec. 8th was my birthday, and he’d ALWAYS schedule my appointment on my birthday, and at like 8am to boot. I’d always get so mad at him for it.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that surprised you most?

A. I live in Victoria and have for 11 years now but I grew up in Calgary and my whole family still lives there along with a solid group of friends I’m still in touch with. One year when I was coming back to Calgary (I can’t even remember what for) close to my birthday my sister and my mom had organized a surprise birthday party for me! When I got to my parent’s house and walked in and around the corner to the family room all my friends and family were there! I was so surprised and confused I think I swore and then literally walked right back out of the room.

Q. Is there a food or dish that you insist on eating on your birthday?

A. Not anymore, but growing up my mom would make us whatever we wanted for our birthday dinner and I always wanted her homemade sweet and sour meatballs with Elsie’s potatoes. And of course mud pie from Smuggler’s Inn for dessert!!

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. I think the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday is to acknowledge and celebrate yourself or whoever’s birthday it is! A birthday is the day you freaking came into this world – that’s amazing and a big deal. All of the people in your life are so happy to have you in it and that is cause to celebrate the day you literally became life.

Q. Do you have any traditions or thing you always do to celebrate a birthday? What is it?

A. Not really. Nowadays my approach to my birthday has been pretty mellow. I just like to spend time outside breathing in fresh air and being with the people I love.