What's your story?
As you pointed out to me, up until this project, for the past 6.5 years, my story has been "Cancer Survivor". This was literally the first time that I was looking at myself and not immediately identifying as that. Instead, I was identifying as a proud and happy female business owner, and a beautiful, witchy, spiritual lady who is graying gracefully and finally learning to love the parts of ME that I previously considered flaws. My story is full of trauma, health bullshit and financial difficulties. But recently, it's been filled with so much good. I've found a way to turn doing something I love into what seems to be a sustainable career. I'm figuring out how to never stop helping the people who are most important to me while remembering to put on my air mask first - not allowing the struggles of those I love to drag me under. I'm beginning to truly love myself and my body again. To feel beautiful, desirable, sensual, spiritual and downright Goddess-y despite the fact that my extensive medical history has essentially left me incapable of being a sexual being anymore. I don't really know exactly what my story is. But whatever it is, I will always be open to sharing every beautiful or shitty detail. Because if sharing any little thing I've gone through, come to understand, experienced or learned can help a single person out there, then it was worth putting out there.
What makes you nervous about having your portrait taken?
Honestly, I was not terribly nervous. Maybe because you make me so comfortable - because you look, as you said while we were chatting, like a cherub... who giggles a lot. I've been at ease in your presence since we met, which is rare for me. I typically connect much more readily to men, even on a friendship level. So this THING that we have - it made this nothing but exciting for me. I think the only thing I was really even remotely weird about (and I'd much more call it "weird" than "nervous") is that I feel like I make derpy faces when I know I'm being photographed. And I didn't want to do that with/for you. But when I looked at the proofs you send, there were really only a few derp faces. So I didn't share those. Hahaha.
Can I share some of your images?
Of course. You can share any of them - even the derps. Even the ones where my neck looks old and wrinkly that *I* hate. (That's a funny thing, too, honestly. My Grandma Mary, whom I think of as one of the most beautiful women I have ever see, hated the neck we ended up with genetically so much so that she has plastic surgery in her 60s to deal with it. My mum also hates that neck. And I always think she's crazy because she is beautiful and adorable no matter what. And yet, here I am. 43 years old with that same family neck and I fucking HAAAAATE it. Of course!!!)
What do you love doing that makes you feel kick ass?
Lately it's been taking pictures for my shop. I run a small online resale shop on eBay. I have found that modeling the clothing that I sell on my actual body when possible (instead of just flat photos or even dressing up mannequins) really helps to get across the feel of a garment and what it can do for someone! Standing in front of my camera, snapping shots of myself as I try to project the things I want my buyer to feel when THEY put on these amazing vintage dresses and lingerie or high end couture pieces... I feel that stuff myself. I feel pretty, cute, sexy, snazzy, interesting, whatever! It's kind of amazing how it works. I think it's got a lot to do with why I wasn't super nervous to pose for you. I spend my days posing for all of eBay (and Instagram and Pinterest).
I think I also feel kick-ass when I am "being there" for the people I love. When I can help someone that means something to me - there's just nothing better I could do with my time. My friends are my family. And so is my family!! I am lucky to have so many incredible people in my... what did Vonnegut call it... my karass? I would do anything for the ones I love and respect. Anything.
What inspired your portraits?
I mean... you did! I would never have thought to do something like this without your amazing idea. But if you mean the specific outfits/settings, well ok...
The outdoor ones - in the most magical paisley dress ever made - I think they were inspired by the idea of my ideal self. Of the person I want to always be. A magical, spiritual, earthy, witchy woman. A cross between Stevie Nicks and the casts of "Witches of Eastwick" and "Practical Magic" with a little bit of the bad ass personality of musician Terra Lightfoot, whom I had just met 2 days before, thrown in. And then, once we were out there, in NATURE (where I rarely go and am never comfortable)... I was overwhelmed by the feeling of a connection to the world of Spirit. It was like the powerful ladies (and a few dudes, too) in my life who have crossed over were there. So many grandmothers. Grandfathers. My father. My cousin. Aunts. Uncles. And too many young friends. They were there in the breeze. In the overgrown grass and in the trees. I was a part of everything out there. It was magic.
The indoor ones I think were more where the idea began - and I feel like they didn't work nearly as well as the outdoor ones that happened so organically. But if we're talking inspiration, they were just about my utter JOY in what I do for a living now. And how magically and organically THAT whole thing happened for me. About how for the first time EVER... I LOVE my job and how I spend every day of my life.
What bad ass women inspire you?
If I had to make a list of the actual women in my life who inspire me, it would take me all week. I see magic in literally EVERY lady I know and everything they do. From my mum to my besties to the women I've been lucky enough to connect with in the myriad places I've lived... There's just no time.
Instead, what I'd rather do is share the lyrics of one of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite women. "In My Mind" by Amanda Palmer is, for me, about figuring out how to find inspiration in myself and who I am and loving the person I've become NOW instead of waiting and searching forever. In my mind - In a future five years from now - I'm one hundred and twenty pounds - And I never get hung over - Because I will be the picture of discipline - Never minding what state I'm in - And I will be someone I admire - And it's funny how I imagined - That I would be that person now - But it does not seem to have happened - Maybe I've just forgotten how to see - That I am not exactly the person that I thought I'd be
And in my mind - In the faraway here and now - I've become in control somehow - And I never lose my wallet - Because I will be the picture of discipline - Never fucking up anything - And I'll be a good defensive driver - And it's funny how I imagined - That I would be that person now - But it does not seem to have happened - Maybe I've just forgotten how to see - That I'll never be the person that I thought I'd be
And in my mind - When I'm old I am beautiful - Planting tulips and vegetables - Which I will mindfully watch over - Not like me now - I'm so busy with everything - That I don't look at anything - But I'm sure I'll look when I am older - And it's funny how I imagined - That I could be that person now - But that's not what I want - But that's what I wanted - And I'd be giving up somehow - How strange to see - That I don't wanna be the person that I want to be
And in my mind - I imagine so many things - Things that aren't really happening - And when they put me in the ground - I'll start pounding the lid - Saying I haven't finished yet - I still have a tattoo to get - That says I'm living in the moment - And it's funny how I imagined - That I could win this, win this fight - But maybe it isn't all that funny - That I've been fighting all my life - But maybe I have to think it's funny - If I wanna live before I die - And maybe it's funniest of all - To think I'll die before I actually see - That I am exactly the person that I want to be Fuck yes
I am exactly the person that I want to be
Any Other Comments?
I love this project, and I am SO honored to be a part of it. Bad. Ass.