Boudie Call

Back to the business of silliness. I took a bit of a break (if you read Happy Turtle, you get it).

So, I didn't expect to intertwine this blog with my business. This goes against my own rules. But, they're MY rules, so... I do what I want!  My photography newsletter subscribers may have read about this, but this blog is where I can elaborate and get personal.

During my break, I went to an adult  camp in Canada. I know! It was not the typical conventional photography conference/workshop experience. Combine a community of amazing photographers, world renown speakers, shoot-outs, talent shows, dance parties, and campfires.  This was only for members of the Do More boudoir community. It was such an amazing experience.

One of the biggest reasons for shooting boudoir, for me, is to empower women. To switch the default mode in our heads, our own body shaming that we do to ourselves. It's about freedom, finding your strength, confidence, and loving yourself- just as you are now. Radical self love and acceptance in every stage of life.

It was really interesting to see how many of us photographers- who empower others and truly believe that all body types are beautiful-- have a hard time doing this for ourselves when getting in front of the camera. We all need a little help sometimes. I wasn't planning on getting photographed. We had to give permission for all online use and that scared me a bit, even if it was hypocritical of me, because I desperately want people to let me use their images on my website and really struggle with it. But I'm beyond grateful that I just went for it. I let go. I trusted. Strength in vulnerability. That experience I cannot put into words. I haven't even seen any photos yet. I truly feel empowered just by the experience. It's funny how it even reaches the fears in life that have nothing to do with body image. Strength. Confidence. It's been different since I've been back. I've been different.

What stood out as "silly" to me, was that I've been in Al-Anon for about three years. (Al-Anon is for friends and family members of alcoholics).  The program is a life-saver and I wish everyone had this program inside of them. It's the best therapy anyone will get for $1. My past experience goes beyond this into other difficult realms. I agree with Elizabeth Gilbert in the fact that I've learned not to sentimentalize mental illness (page 480 of Big Magic: "I’ve also been around enough mentally ill people to know better than to sentimentalize madness"). It was difficult for me as a woman, nurturers and empaths that we are, and a Catholic in addition to that... Lots of off-balanced ideas about love and empathy. So, this part of my psychological onion left me with feelings of fear, mostly. I could write a book on that, as it is unfounded, but needs to be dealt with none-the-less, so I'll just spare you and leave it there. I also had someone else's words still stuck in my head. These were never my thoughts. I needed to get that girl back.

Working through so many issues and layers, I just found it funny that after all this time, and all this work, you throw me in some pretty underoos in front of a group of photographers and I'm all good. My head changed there. Since I've been back, fear isn't a companion anymore. It's funny to me. Silly. And yet, not silly at all. Many women shared past experiences and grievances that they've been working through for YEARS, and how boudoir has pushed past all that. It's kind of funny what reaches you to really drive the message home.  

We all have our own backgrounds and experiences that shape how we see ourselves, in addition to what society forces onto us. The girl I needed to get back to always had a higher vision, even in my youth, in which outside physique was in there somewhere, but very low on the totem pole. I was too busy with things that really mattered. I was more concerned with what I was DOING. I wanted to do everything, make a difference, even as young as I was, and I still have that mindset. "Imagine if people stopped trying so damn hard to change their bodies. They could use that energy to change the world." - Teri Hofford, Do More photographer and educator, "Babes Against Bullshit" promoter

Also, it's all just temporary. I've fluctuated with size all my life, since I was a little kid. It never once changed the way I viewed myself. I've been skinny, bigger, all the in-betweens. In high school, I had a medical condition and was on steroids that made me swell up a few sizes. My face was huge. That's senior pictures and prom, y'all. Look at the bigger picture. It's just temporary. I was more concerned about my health and that I could keep playing sports and doing theatre and art. I knew that my mom's fears and tears had nothing to do with my weight. I was more pissed that I couldn't travel. I missed a trip to Paris.

Yes, there were douchebags. One of them said something right in front of the whole class. That threw me off, sure. In the midst of my reaction, I remember thinking that my situation was temporary (even in the HIGHEST of meanings, as I am a spiritual person), but people like that will always be assholes. Fast forward to present day. As adults, we still deal with bullies and ignorant simpletons. Their judgement says more about them than it does about you. Many women and I have shared experiences  about narcissists, alcoholics, the mentally ill, abusive loved ones- be it verbal, mental, or physical... or even just the judgment that people dole out onto other human beings automatically, without much thought. The emotional sickness can take root if you let it. That onion has many layers, no matter what your story, and boudoir has been tremendous therapy for thousands of women. The effect of an intimate lifestyle shoot is strong, with themes that also include individuality, independence, sensuality, and intimacy. It's kind of a big deal.

MY ADVICE ON BODY IMAGE THAT I HAVE BEEN GIVING TO MY FRIENDS FOR DECADES:

Last week one of my friends who has been battling with weight for a while had a hard day because someone made a horrible comment specifically about her weight. She is a fitness instructor and I was just telling her a week before what a role model she was for me and she actually helped me stop smoking years ago. This was my response to her day, which I've been saying to all of my friends for decades:

"The reason you were a role model to me had nothing to do with your outside package. I've always believed that OUR WORTH IS NOT IN OUR WAISTLINE. I get what you're feeling, because we are human and that's just a default mode we need to adjust. It was your sass, your feistiness, your positivity and confidence, and you made me feel good about myself! That's a big deal in this world.
I feel sorry for people who don't get it about weight. They don't get anything, really. PRIORITIES off much? Excuse me, miss, you dropped your VALUES. We all have SO MUCH MORE TO US than that one stupid thing. It's temporary too! What are they going to do when they're boobs are down to their knees? What about when they get old? What happens if they lose a limb? A bit SHALLOW, am I right? They'll never get it. FEEL SORRY FOR THEM AND MOVE ON.
I love you for YOU. Even when your boobs will be at your knees.
And yes, you will still be gorgeous at that time."

Another friend has done the battle with weight for years and necessary medication is a factor. She didn't want to go to her reunion. She didn't want to put on a bathing suit on her vacation.  It was heart wrenching the way she was speaking about someone I loved- her!

I told her these same things, essentially, but also that she needs to talk to herself like her daughter was listening. She is the ROLE MODEL that girl has, and her daughter's vision will be shaped by that, whether she likes it or not. So PAY ATTENTION. How you view yourself, how you talk to yourself... maybe you need to put yourself in timeout for a bit.

I wrote a while ago in a photo newsletter,  Wake Up Call , that some moms won't even get in the family photos because of their body image issues. I've had too many people ask if I had something-anything more of so and so, could I look again... Always needing as much as they possibly could hold onto after a loved one passes. I had a daughter ask for photos of her mom, when sadly, mom had done what way too many moms do and decided she only wanted photos of the kids. She hated getting her picture taken. That always breaks my heart. The kids don't see a double chin, they see their hero. (And a professional knows how to work with angles so that wouldn't even be the case. It's not like Aunt Betty taking a photo with her phone.)

I would like to add a little note, as I'm writing this for women because they are my usual clients, this applies to men as well. In my experience, they have the same damn default mode too. So, keep that in mind and lift them up as well. 

It's time to change the distorted perception of beauty that has been driven into us for far too long. It's time to stop the judgment. When I think of beautiful women, the first that come to mind are of all shapes and sizes, most are "bigger (curvy) ladies" by society's standards, and three of the top ones are over 45yrs old.

Helen Mirren is amazing for crying out loud.

Embrace who you are right now. Celebrate it.

XO,
Lisa

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THE Happy Turtle

More lessons learned from the littles in my life. I get pointed messages from my nephews and niece all the time. My teachers have gotten smaller. When I lived in Maui, I had a kumu- teacher- named Uncle Sonny, who was about 70-ish and took me under his wing. So, that one's obvious, but teachers came in all sorts of ways. They were often strangers. People at the bar stool next to me while I was waiting for my friend to get off work. Some lady next to me waiting in line. Some random person I interviewed for the paper. A hoity toity at the gallery says something that she doesn't even know is profound. Sometimes, now, it is in the form of nature, a billboard, or the radio... It's so funny who your teachers are, if you only listen, remain open, and have the ability for introspection. 

We were at Joshie's skating/hockey practice a few weeks back. He just turned 6yrs old. He was in his poofy winter down jacket, with the sewing making horizontal lines across his body, and a bike helmet as the protective shell. He was smiling and just so happy out there on the ice. He reminded me of a cartoon character, or the main character of a children's book. "He looks like a happy turtle," I told my sister. "He does!" She confirmed. Later, when they were trying to skate backwards, all the older kids were flying past him, he was barely moving. He did not care one bit and kept on smiling, excited as all get out, concentrating and laughing in intervals.

                                   THE HAPPY TURTLE

                                  THE HAPPY TURTLE

Fast forward a few weeks. I'd been having a rough time. Projecting into the future for my business, how the field was changing, I was contemplating going in a different direction with it. I called an old mentor whom I admire and received an extremely negativite outlook instead of hope for this field that I have chosen. 

Not only that, but that deep dark spiral had already set in. When I go down this road of trying to get a clear path in my head, I tend to analyze every area of my life, and at that moment it was not shaping up as I imagined it would by this point. The day job, personal endeavors, artistic endeavors, goals, aspirations, wanderlust, even relationships (which I always forget about until my extended family asks me. "Oh yeah, I have to put that on the list too"... I am still fighting that battle of yearning for freedom, adventures, my own dreams and ambitions, and the other side- intimacy, comfort, and family. This struggle gets dusted off, then sits on the shelf again, then drops in my face again, in a viscious distorted cycle. Most people know for sure one way or the other. I just wish I had about twenty more years on this bastard of a clock). It was just one of those times. They happen. I can look back on how far I have come, what I have accomplished, the crazy, amazing adventures I've had, all the wonderful people in all the chapters of my life, even old passions that I've pursued in the past that I don't currently that made me ME... Even though I can see all of this and be truly grateful, and proud, still, those days, the dark spriral, they will still happen. I know this. Sneaky bastards.

After that phone call, I leaned my head back and just thought to myself, "Why did I pick this field"? Why am I doing all of this, spending so much energy, and putting so much into all of this? Even things like just writing this blog... Images of my high school counselors warning me to go for something else popped in my head. I opened my eyes and saw the shimmering leaves above my head in my backyard, with the prettiest golden sunset backlighting them. And I thought, "because I see the beauty in the world. I see things that others don't. And I want to share that. That is all." I smiled. 

The Happy Turtle came to mind just then. Why can't I be The Happy Turtle? Who cares how slowly I'm going? At least I'm doing it. All the things. I'm still doing them... I complained to my mother once that having too many passions is a curse and I have a hard time seeing it as a blessing. There's never enough time to actually DO all of the things. You can't really excel or find "success" at any one of them when you are so spread out. What if I never get anywhere "REAL" with any of these things? "When you’re doing them, do they make you happy?" "Yeah." Point taken. Why can't that be enough? It should be enough, right?

Once you hit a goal, there will always be more. Always more striving. Where I am now in my own business- I longed for this a few years back. Mark Manson says the striving is where happiness lies. I can see that. The process is the thing, not the result. The motivation, the inspiration, the expression, the action. I also love his words on "mediocrity". Creatives put so much damn pressure on ourselves. Meaning, purpose, worldy change!, leaving your mark, helping others, making a difference...  It's all so fucking heavy. Having this conversation with a friend who is left-brained, an engineer, I asked her if she does this to herself. "No. I work to pay bills. I do that to love up on my kids and enjoy the lake on the weekends." Period. Wow. I was so jealous for that simplicity. I am a different breed, and it's inevitable to feel low when you have more and more goals than you could possibly ever achieve. (And on another level, when you have kids, BAM! You automatically have purpose, meaning; you are making a difference. So, that definitely is part of the psychological onion for me.) But Manson made me think when he talked about the idea that most people in the world are "mediocre," by our crazy ass standards, when you think about it. He asks if that means that for MOST of the people who have ever lived-- that their lives didn't matter? Huh. Is Mark Manson giving me permission to calm the fuck down? I'll take that.   

So, this post is automatically scheduled to come out on my birthday. I never work on my birthday. I will be at the beach before any evening plans take way. On my birthday, every year, I immerse myself in nature. Water, green luscious scenery, and I get lost in just being a human, grateful for the beauty. "Just be". For a short amount of time, I am no one’s daughter, sister, aunt, friend, girlfriend, coworker, boss lady... I’m just me. Feeling the wind, smelling the smells, taking in the wonder and awe of it all. I don't give a shit about accomplishments or how productive I'm being. I try to turn the creative brain off. It's tough. (Even when I take vacations, I am now thinking about how I could turn it into a travel article, with photos.. So, how is that time off, really?)

I used to do this so easily in Maui. I mean, how could you not? The simplicity of happiness. I was so relieved to find folks who also did not agree with "You are what you do". No one buys that shit there. They don't even buy that you are a "mother", "wife", "girlfriend", whatever, as your identity. Such a different, wonderful, peaceful mindset over there. I told myself that I would keep this mindset when I moved back. "Across the Universe," by The Beatles, was playing as I made this vow. "Nothing's gonna change my world"... Being back in the midwest, I can't help but feel that while my heart fully resonates with "You are NOT what you do", my ambitions are contradictory and will take on society's logic- that I don't even agree with! But, then again, I actually WANT to do all of the things. I loaded my plate because I want them all. I am the crazy hoarder at the buffet, where my eyes are bigger than my stomach, because I am a mere human. I cannot have it all. I have to choose. The Choosing, I would say, is my nemesis.

So many articles tell us to schedule time to do nothing. We get a few hours a week (if you're lucky)? We wait for vacations and are happy with a couple weeks a year? Even two days, out of seven, a week (which we have personal chores and domestic duties)..? That's some bullshit. Who made these shitty ass rules? That is just not humane. That's not going to be good enough for me this year. I don't want to have to REMIND myself to JUST BE. I don't need permission. I will not feel guilty. I give myself full permission to JUST BE, for a fair amount, every day. I already go radio silent for days at a time. No social media. No more consuming. No more information. No more classes on this, that, and the other. No more podcasts or self-improvement. Take a mental break. I started meditating on my lunch break, which to me, at the beginning stage, means shutting everything down in my brain and listening to the birds, feeling the grass, the wind...

A while back, I heard an older man talking about his walks around his neighborhood in the fall, how beautiful it was and how much he loved it. He was pondering about how many more autumns he thinks he has left. He decided it had to be around seven. Holy shit, that gave me some perspective.

I will make more time to just enjoy. That's a damn good purpose too. Not everyone can do it, either. What if that is The Meaning? And by example, you show others how to do the same? That is the difference that you can make. 

This Happy Turtle is loving life.

Keep It Simple,

Lisa
 

Lisasophy

There’s a lot to say about silence.

INAPPROPRIATE and Ill-timed Prayer

I'm wondering if other people do this too... but before I get to it, some backstory--

So, I used to be that person that wouldn't bother God with my trivial stuff. I always felt like He had too much on his plate already. It was weird to me, in my true softball days, that some teams would pray beforehand. You know, He's got the homeless, dying kids, wars, etc., to deal with. I just didn't see it.

After hitting a pretty huge plot twist in my life a few years ago, I was reminded that God could take that load off my shoulders. "Oh yeah!" I almost FORGOT about talking to Him, aside from the usual "Please watch over my family, etc." that I do everyday. I immediately felt lighter. Holy... I don't have to do this myself. Sometimes we forget that.

Isn't it crazy? I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic private school for eight years, church... all the stuff. And I had to be reminded.  I had to be told that God wants in on EVERYTHING. Even the silly stuff. He wants to be my best friend and have that continuous conversation. And only then, when it becomes a part of you, when it's habitual, will you never "forget" again. And you will never be alone, either.

This is my issue---
I've grown accustomed to praying so much- especially in the beginning when that plot twist was too strong for me, it was like every five minutes when I felt I had no control over my thoughts. There was obsessive worry about a loved one, and I couldn't get a hold on mindfulness just yet.  Everything has calmed down since, with a lot of work, but I pray so much now- just shooting up a quick sentence here and there- that I have to remind myself not to pray when I'm on the toilet (especially #2, am I right?). It's always when I'm peeing. Potty Prayer. I don't know what it is. Is it because I have a few minutes of quiet? When I'm not multitasking a million things? My mind drifts, does it's wandering, and I catch myself shooting up a prayer over whatever it drifts to. I have to tell myself, "Do not pray when you're peeing." I apologize then. This can wait.

By the way, I still play softball. And I do pray. Not to win or anything ridiculous like that, but to not get hurt, basically. Every 300 pound man that gets up while I'm playing 3rd or 2nd-- you bet your ass I'm praying that a line drive doesn't hit a rock and hit my temple or something. (That movie Simon Birch comes to mind a lot). I'm not as fearless as I once was. I try to grow into the youth that I once was. It doesn't always work. Things are different when you get older. I have to work tomorrow. This is a beer league. So, yeah, I pray on the field now.

Better than on the toilet.

Have a Silly Monday,

Lisa

Big Sisters Are Jerks

My big sis is turning 40.  No idea how we got to this point. Our parents were having "Over the Hill" parties at Camp Dearborn, like, yesterday. How are we are there already?

So, upon wrapping her gift, I started reminiscing. By the way, I am so proud of this gift! It had to be good for the big 40. I got her something for every decade that had a part in her big 40 years.
--70's- cool sunglasses that are the size of my face.
--80's- We used to fight over this one mixed cassette tape. I ended up with it somehow, and her old tape player. 
-- 90's- some of her favorite movies from that era. (Side note: "She's All That" is still a bunch of bullhonkey. You put glasses on a beautiful girl and she's supposed to be the ugly duckling. Cray-cray. We always teased her about that one, but she loves it.)
--2000's- a Life photo book on how that decade changed the world.
--2010's - leggings (because I honestly believe that they are the best thing from this decade).

So, going through all those cassette tapes, I remembered when we were moody teenagers escaping into our deep dark selves just listening to music with candles and shit. (Remember Shakespeare's Sister's "Stay"?) Oh my, memory lane. 

So much time spent on feelings feelings feelings! At times, pining over someone stupid, yes. Big sisters are jerks. You are figuring out your newly growing interests in the opposite sex- more so than the previous Kirk Cameron or New Kid- and a big sis is your biggest bully. You then realize that's never going to change. Your biggest bully is going to be with you your whole life. The only bad thing about someone knowing every single thing about you is that there is someone that knows Every Single Thing About You. (And that Kirk Cameron poster would always fall in the middle of the night and scare the shit outta me. Do you remember his best friend was "Boner"? I feel like that wouldn't fly today). The pre-teen years came with some real winners for me. "I'll never find someone like William Baldwin from Backdraft!" Then came Ross, from Friends. She'll remind me of it for the rest of my life. Then came the serious real-person crushes in high school that were an advanced heartbreak. One dude that I crushed on had this model girlfriend the entire four years. I remember her laughing at my pain. What an asshole. ;)

female memoir writer.jpg
  I call this her "Ronald McDonald Hair Phase"

I call this her "Ronald McDonald Hair Phase"

However, if someone were to really hurt me, I do believe she would cut a bitch. She always has my back. That's the thing about big sisters. That love-hate contradiction starts when you're toddlers and carries through well into adulthood. I believe older siblings teach us humility, resilience, how to laugh at ourselves (because they already are laughing at us anyway), and how to stick up for yourself when it really comes to that. They designed the crazy line- when people finally cross it and you get to go haywire. They teach you to toughen up-- 'cause it gets a lot worse! Ha! There will be bigger, darker difficulties to overcome. We are better equipped to  deal with those difficulties because of these bullies. (Note: I am not advocating for bullying here. I am very anti-bully. I do believe it’s a different matter in reference to siblings.)

My sister and I have this thing with ninjas. We started this when we were each going through arduous hardships with other people, realizing that our circles needed to be a bit pruned. They remind us that no matter what, we have each other's backs. We don't live super close to each other, so it's a symbol for cutting negativity out of your mind, out of your life. I keep a tiny ninja figurine in my purse. Just seeing it when I'm dealing with an idiot, makes me smile and  helps in detaching from that person's behavior. I also imagine us drop-kicking the doof. 

(Speaking of toys in my purse, my nephew gave me a figurine too, and so did my friend's little boy. Some dude saw these in my purse the other day and asked if I have kids. "No." From the stink-eye he gave me, he totally thought I was a creeper. Looking back, I probably should've explained. I'm a fricking busy woman. Oh well.)

I still have celebrity crushes. Lately, it's been Phil Dunphy. I don't care what you people say. That guy's awesome.

Happy Birthday, sis. You're still my favorite person to tell stupid Lisa stories to...

Have a Silly Monday,
Lisa