Be Seen: Part 2

Though this post is triggered by and centered around my second photo (therapy, more like) session with Larry, it really isn’t about the pictures. Though I will talk about modeling, it really isn’t about that either.

It is about the deep, overwhelming, low, ugly rollercoaster that has slowly swallowed my internal life the past couple weeks in the wake of their reveal.

“Once again, you make the dumbest, worst timed mistakes.” (more on that in a few)

“Why did you ever think you had a pretty face?”

“Geez girl, you are getting old. I can’t even look at you.”

Mostly, deep down the rumble would swell in growing, then receding, then again, growing waves, brooding dark familiar momentum, “What the hell do you think you are doing pursuing being in front of the camera? They won’t and don’t want you. Time’s up.”

***{PAUSE} Yikes, right? I was in a real shit storm here. I have a feeling you know this dialog. Well, how about we choke the life out of this old boring script, and get to the positive, bright, promising truth?***

But first, here’s the story – the short(er) version:

I had my second photography session with Larry a couple Saturdays ago. If you haven’t read my first “Be Seen” blog post, go back and check it out.

I was nooootttt feeling it. I was exhausted beyond words from my work week, and I had recently made a hair-brained lapse in judgment and hyper-pigmented my face, especially patching my eyes like a raccoon (long story) and setting myself back in the progress I have painstakingly made with my skin.

Right before I could cancel with Larry – no really, I was picking up my phone to do so – he texted me a proposed gameplan for the morning.

“Hi! Hows about we meet at Crow’s Coffee next to Whole Foods? We can sit outside. How do you feel about literally crawling out of bed, throwing some random clothes on and come down? No planning what to wear, etc. Just come as you are. 7am?”

I’m a sucker for random clothes and early morning coffee chats. Ok, sure, fine.

If I was being honest, “come as you are” to an early morning coffee chat meant no makeup. I also made the (ridiculous) decision to exfoliate my face 30 minutes before our shoot.

To sum up: I showed up exhausted, hyper-pigmented, makeup-less and freshly red-faced.

But wait, there’s more.

Larry proposed to be the one to pick my pictures for the blog post this time, since I picked the last session’s. When he sent me two albums later that day, he specified that the “Selected” album could not be looked at until I was ready to write. I called him the next morning on the way to the Filling Station on Gillham, and he relayed the terms. I could pick 7 pictures out of the 20(ish) that I did not want to use, then after making my selections I had to text him one last time to tell him which ones I chose.

Can you feel the uh-oh?

His response: “Ok. So. The other 7 must be shared. Blah, blah, blah.”

I couldn’t breathe. In the rest of the text he told me I could sprinkle in some of the others, but all I read was that first full sentence, and the rest sounded like the teacher from Charlie Brown.

Now in case you feel tempted to think ill of my friend Larry here, know that this is a challenge I need, and in the end the gunk that was unearthed by those seven was hashed out within the safety of my every day life, ie. the kitchen, my car and sometimes my desk at work. It is important to have safe people in our lives that rock our comfy little boats and knock on the walls of our fear boxes. I was being provoked to find gold in what I only saw as disgusting, shameful and past her prime.

Let’s take a deep breath, and step back. Here is where the rubber meets the road:

Do you ever feel like you missed the boat on your life? That, if only? If only you had a well-connected mentor enthusiastically *gasp* and point you out in the middle of a crowded room as their next protege and heave-ho you out of your dark internal self-hatred, or if you hadn’t limped into your twenties with so much damn baggage, or hadn’t had scars on your face, you’d be walking for New York Fashion Week at 22 when your face (and neck, geez) is all fresh and collageny and your body hadn’t gone through weird hormone changes.

{You haven’t been left behind; get ready to set sail for a bright new world.}

Do you ever feel the disappointment of time lost? It almost feels like we are conditioned to believe that the window to live our best, fullest, sexiest, healthiest, most luxurious lives is small. Then the last 6-7 decades of our lives are to be spent lining shelves with jars of our tears, lamenting faded beauty, missed opportunities, and failed ability to carpe diem while slowly fading into a forgettable life.

{I don’t believe that’s the way your story is going to end.}

I think sometimes we need to sit down with our current bad mouthing, finger pointing selves and have a come to Jesus moment, defending our traumatized and scared younger versions to our uppity, how-could-you-do-this-to-me older and so much wiser versions. Remember that hindsight is 20/20. It wouldn’t be fair to hold the “you / me then” to the same wisdom and knowledge possessed by the “you / me now.

Fact is, I was told all of my 20s that I should model, but not one iota of that ever penetrated the thick webbed wall of unwantedness I have had since, well, always. The very thought of being in front of a camera filled me with complete panic and would bring me to tears within seconds.

I won’t nit-pick all the reasons why the thought of sharing these pictures made me cry crocodile tears for 30 minutes in Filling Station that Sunday morning. You may be able to figure out a few on your own. That’s not the point. The point is the perspective on my life and worth absolutely need / needed / needs to change, because this crap ain’t working.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin, poet

The thief of a full life is fear.

So, here we are. It’s a crossroads, y’all. Do you see it? Two paths laid out before us. One that is smooth, familiar and the way things have always been, looping back around the same mountain you have been walking around for way too long. The path is well worn and predictable. The other however is hidden and unknown. Are you about to go off a cliff, or begin a long grueling climb up? And where exactly are we going here? But wow, do you feel that draw? It whispers low and confidently of promise, longings fulfilled, and abundant bold life. We were made for this path.

“You’ll probably have to do things you never imagined you’d do because if your friends saw you doing it, you’d never live it down. Or they’d be concerned about you. Or they’d stop being friends with you because now you are all weird and different. You’ll have to believe in things you can’t see as well as some things that you have full-on proof are impossible. You’re gonna have to push past your fears, fail over and over again and make a habit of doing things you’re not so comfy doing. You’re gonna have to let go of old, limiting beliefs and cling to your decision to create the life you desire like your life depends on it.”

Because guess what? Your life does depend on it.

– Jen Sincero, author of that yellow book you are seeing everywhere: You Are A Badass, How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living An Awesome Life

If I am honest with myself in these pictures, I came as I am, and what is actually beautiful is what I feel like came through: laughter, depth, empathy, expressiveness, sweetness. (And I looooove color and mis-matchy clothes. If I ever had my own clothing line… šŸ™‚ )

As I soaked in my bathtub last night listening to the tradeoff between eruptions of fireworks and downpours of rain, I got to the end of the tumult of the past couple weeks and found myself speaking out my own Declaration of Independence (yes, I know, the cheesiness is not lost on me), which felt oddly and ironically right. Not rehearsed, it just happened:

“I declare my independence from the way things have always been. I declare my independence from the opinions and expectations of others. I declare my independence from the societal restrictions of my age. I declare my independence from the fear that has robbed my life, etc…”

If I could sit down in front of you, hold your hand, and say anything, it’d be this: “Freaking YOLO.”

Yes, I am scared too.

Maybe you are already out there killing it with the best with ’em – good for you! Keep it up, and most importantly, keep encouraging others. If you are not or anywhere in-between, then you have probably heard all of this before. But maybe this is the time where it all clicks, and baby, things start cooking up real good for you. You get the final word on how this goes (no, really, you do). This ain’t over.

It is not too late.

You are not too old.

You are not too damaged.

You have not missed it.

Let that rumble through down to your bones, and visualize it making its way all. the. way. down to your cells, rewriting your DNA, and as a very wise woman has told me many times, visualize these phrases as good news messengers, “Good news, guys! Everything is about to change.”

Nothing worth having is had without being brave. #bravenewworld

“<<< LET FREEDOM RING. >>>”

New Beginning

A spotlight shines quietly over an empty stage where a lone microphone waits.

It’s time.

It’s taken blood, sweat and a lot of tears to get to this moment – this very uncertain, unknown, exhilarating moment.

My moment.

Our moment.

I peak through the curtains stage right, palms sweating and surveying the dimly lit gymnasium, thankful for the natural light streaming in. Chairs are lined in mostly straight lines, and a few friendly faces fill those seats. Some family and friends who know and love me. I smile. I am not just doing this for me; I am doing this for them. But it is also because of them I can find the courage to even be here.

I wonder who will fill the remaining seats. What new faces will come. I get a little nervous.

I read a quote recently – one that I have been encouraged to adopt as daily reading. It reads:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

One of the first real pictures I took of myself after working
KC Fashion Week’s Fall Show 2018.
This was a significant moment.

I believe in the power of story. So, this is mine.

How do I possibly begin to summarize the roller coaster that has been the past 7-8 years? Not to mention, the last 2 1/2 of those years. Phrases like peaks but mostly valleys, hopeless disappointment, crippling exhaustion, and “at the end of my rope” are a start. And my goodness, the waiting. #canigetanamen

This took a noticeable toll on my body too. Oh, and let’s not forget the ever-popular aging process. I spent an entire year hiding from cameras. And crying a lot.

Then one day this past fall, while I was volunteering for the first time ever for Kansas City Fashion Week’s fall show, I looked at the models walking the runway, and realized, “I can do that.”

I had been told in my 20s that I should model. But I did not see what they saw, and I imagined only mockery, heckling, and pointing and laughing in my direction. I imagined my worst nightmare. My answer was always no.

“Who the hell does this girl think she is?”

“She looks just like my sister, random acquaintance, that one girl on that one TV show, the cashier at the grocery store, every other girl I have ever known in my life. She is not unique looking.”

“She’s not that pretty. Or in shape. Or talented.”

“I thought she was a good girl. Good girls don’t ever do, say, experience that or this or god-forbid THAT (whatever “that” may be to someone).”

Armed with the hard work of therapy and inner healing, I am embarking on arguably the worst and best timed modeling career (or whatever this turns out to be). I started trying out for shows, and walked my first ever show a couple weeks ago!

But this isn’t just about modeling (again, or whatever this is).

This is about the next chapter of my life. This is about me becoming me.

I’ll chat about modeling, networking (because I love showing off the amazing people in my life), vulnerable moments, health and wellness, beliefs, business ventures and advocacy (I sell Beauty Counter, so it’s bound to make an appearance every once in a while), probably a smidge of controversy, as much laughter as possible, maybe a man. Whatever, and come what may.

I believe it is time to share my story, because I also believe this is many of yours – this journey of shedding the old and walking into the new.

It’ll be messy and imperfect, but it’ll be worth it. You may love me now and not like me later, or vice versa. You may question my morals, judge my version of beauty, be brought to tears, or walk away feeling refreshed and empowered to finally be you. One thing this won’t be is squeaky clean. Consider this your friendly warning.

As dramatic as this may sound, I believe it is time to be seen. I feel like many of you can relate. I mostly hope this may (possibly, hopefully, definitely) serve, empower and compel you to flex your you-muscles to a waiting world. For me, there is no glory to settling for the sidelines or sitting in the cheap seats. #brenebrown I am drawing a line in the sand. And I am asking you to cross it with me.

Please cross it with me.

Is this audacious? Possibly.

Necessary? Absolutely.

Scary? Hell yeah.

Encouraging, uplifting, empowering? My greatest hope and reward.

Happy Blog Launch Day.
– Filling Station on Gillham –

As I begin my walk onto that creaky wooden stage leaving my veiled existence behind, I think about how everything up unto this point matters. I know I don’t have it all figured out, and I fear the criticisms and the misunderstandings. I left my speech notes backstage, and I’m excited where this may go. I know Marianne is right – playing small does not serve the world. I smile to myself knowingly – I am right where I am meant to be.

I reach the microphone, adjust the stand, tap it to make sure it’s on…

And open my mouth to speak.