I grew up with a beautiful mom, unequivocally gorgeous, with not a drop of “mom” look about her.
Chocolate brown hair down to her waist, olive skin, big gold hoops and even bigger amazing curves in all the right places.
When I was little, I couldn’t wait to get my woman body and be just like her.
And as I grew, well rather – as I got older, I expected with great anticipation that *she* would be showing up any minute.
This curvier, more confident version of myself.
I wore nylons, curled my hair, and waited desperately for the hair on my legs to grow so I could start shaving.
I knew any moment I was going to start to curve and swerve and turn into the swan I couldn’t wait to become.
That’s not quite how it happened.
By the time I was 12, and even 13, I was more often mistaken for a boy than my delicate developing self could handle.
And while I ached for gorgeous long flowing hair I didn’t have the patience to grow it, and some other impulse inside me insisted on keeping it short and black as night, or coppery orange or whatever other color I could get my hands on…
By the time I started high school I had given up on the idea of becoming the swan I had dreamt of and began to surrender to the possibility that my fate was indeed that of an ugly duckling.
I was 80 lbs. yet convinced I was fat, and when I looked in the mirror, I hated what I saw reflected back to me.
The lens through which I viewed myself was distorted, destructive, cruel and oh so very wrong.
Needless to say, I dodged every camera that was ever pointed in my direction.
Sadly, this was so much more than a phase.
I have less than ten photos of me from the ages of 8 – 19.
And the ironic truth is, I look at them now and see so much beauty there.
Time is funny like that.
Photos tend to season.
I look at them now and think of what was lost; the missed opportunity to really enjoy who I was in those precious, fleeting moments. The missed opportunity to be able to tell the story of those important chapters of my life through photographs.
I look at them now and think it’s too bad I didn’t know that if I couldn’t see the beauty right then, if I just took the photos and stuck them in a box, one day I would be able to see myself clearly; one day I would celebrate and enjoy who I was and what I looked like.
Life is funny like that.
We just don’t know what we don’t know.
It’s been more than 20 years since I was a teenager (WHAT?!) and my relationship to photography and my body has evolved and changed, transformed really.
44-year-old me has more information and more wisdom (along with more marks, bumps, and pounds) and so I take photos no matter what and I encourage others to do the same.
It was quite a few years back that I realized that my photos would “season”; that if I took a photo and didn’t love it immediately – inevitably 6 months later I’d look at it and think “I looked pretty good back then, dang it – now look at me” – I mean really, it’s quite comical.
So, while I couldn’t force myself to love every photo I saw, this new awareness freed me up to *take* the photos and give myself time to love them. A gift to my future self if you will.
But lately, I’ve noticed that the gap has begun to close – that even though I am officially 20 lbs. overweight and have more lines and bags and shadows than I’ve ever had – I am able to see myself and love what I see.
Recently, while on a work trip where I brought my family along, I asked my partner to take a photo of my son and me. In this particular photo, I happened to be in a bathing suit, and guess what? I LOVE this photo! I keep going back to it and smiling and I can already feel my 60-year-old-self smiling, too. Even my inner teenager is strengthened by this simple and lovely photo.
If you hang out in my world, you’ve likely heard me say – your life, your story, your work, your SELF is worthy of being seen, documented, and shared with the world.
I don’t say these things because they’re catchy, I say them because I mean them.
Our lives, our work, and our bodies are precious, beautiful, and so valuable – in all of their iterations.
Take the photos.
Say the thing.
Do your work and put it out there.
Be full out – self-expressed – all in.
The world needs you.
Exactly as you are.
Love spending time behind the camera? This March I’ll be teaching alongside world-renowned Tarot Maven, Theresa Reed (the Tarot Lady),I’m so excited to offer you this unique opportunity to practice photography and intuition AND have a blast while doing it. Not to be all rushy, rushy, but if you want a spot (I vote yes!) make sure you grab one right now – click here.