Rolling in the Deep
Plug in your headsets, put on some music so it fills your ears. Whatever soundtrack stirs you. Come with me.
Brutal Honesty. Rip. Open. Exhale.
Of this I am certain: I am the sum total of the experiences of my life. the good. the bad. the ugly. and the really ugly.
I am my childhood. I am my mother’s daughter. I am my father’s daughter, too, despite my protests. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I’m emotional. I’m optimistic. I’m youthful, and I’m getting older too. I’m wrinkly in some places. I’ve got loose skin in others. I’m at my heaviest. I live with neck and back pain. I’m the most free I’ve ever been. I’ve manifested the exact family I’ve always dreamed of. I’ve created the life I’ve always wanted. I’m striving for more. I have so many unrequited dreams. I have so much gray hair. I remember everything. I think about everything. I’m obsessed with doing a good job. I suck at having boundaries with my time. I genuinely and wholeheartedly love. I am loved.
I’ve always wanted to live inside of a book or inside a song or a drum beat or submerged underwater or in a glass of whiskey.
I want it to be said that I’ve lived my life honestly, lovingly, passionately, and in the service of others.
Over the past summer, I went to Canada for a boudoir photographer’s retreat in the deep woods of Canada. While there, I hooked up with an amazing photographer, Beth Olsen of Alchemy Portraits (www.alchemyportraits.com), and we did my boudoir shoot.
I always say that I take pictures of how my clients feel and not necessarily how they look. I wanted someone to do that for me. Beth and I didn’t get to do much prep work before the shoot since we were both hustling to get to camp, so we sat and chatted for a bit before the session. What we did establish in that brief conversation was that I would be honest in how I showed up and she would be honest in how she captured me.
This session had no makeup artist (I think I smudged some eyeliner, mascara and maaayyyybe some lip gloss), clearly no hairstylist (I had even let my gray go) and very little in terms of styling. I was also bathed in Deep Woods Off - Canadian mosquitoes don’t play around. I just brought a few things that I felt were “me”. Some vintage books - Dickenson from 1929, Lord Byron from 1936 and a tattered copy of L’Amant de Lady Chatterly from 1932. My flannel that makes me feel cozy and secure; my Harley riding boots that make me feel powerful, and my go-to jeans that make me feel myself. I managed to match my bra and underwear, which was a last minute Target miracle.
The first photo is one of me crying - OF COURSE IT IS! The second Beth asked me to tell her about myself, I started crying. Its just who I am and I’m ok with that. I had a bottle of red wine with me. I laughed. I morphed into various stages of undress. I felt free. I felt powerful. Letting the cool breeze off the lake wash over me was glorious.
It was a marvelous experience. It exactly what I create for my clients - I can see it on their faces when they leave - strong, free and happy.
Some time later, it was time to see the images. Woah. A totally separate experience! Simultaneously, I felt excited, scared, proud, and even a bit surprised.
I hadn’t realized what all that gray hair looked like; or how I look when I cry; or how stringy my hair can look, or just how thick I am; or just how wrinkly my baby belly is.
But then I stared at them. And then again. And then AGAIN.
And I realized - I love my hair of many moods. I love my smile. I love to laugh. my gray hair is my crown; my face is an honest one; my curves contain this body that serves me well, pain and all; my wrinkly belly is the evidence of my having created life, an experience unlike any other I’ve had. The wrinkles on my neck are my mom’s - what better reminder to be passionately loving and compassionately kind? My nose and cheekbones are my maternal grandmother’s - what better reminder to be a bold fighter? My eyebrows are my paternal grandmother’s - what a better reminder to be gracious?
I love this anti-boudoir, Boudoir shoot. I love that we did it in the woods. I love that I was free. I love that my man loves these images, and me. I love this crazy, tired, meaty, farmer-tanned, baby-making body of mine. I love my heart. I love that I cry so much. I love that I love so much.