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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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

"I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!" What I Learned From a 5yr old

One weekend I was back home, hanging out with my sister, bro-in-law, and the kiddos, reveling in some cozy at-home time. The kids must've been razzing my nephew, Joshie, 5yrs old, because all of a sudden he yelled, "I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!!!"  "What's happening?" asked the adults. "She's saying that I don't like yellow and I do!" fumed Joshie. He was TICKED. The anger amplified by the minute. We adults snickered at the ridiculousness of this. They said something parental, which I don't remember, and Joshie moved on.

I thought to myself, wow, how often do I do that too? I'm probably doing it right now. Holding onto things that don't matter at all, really? My situations don't ever FEEL ridiculous, of course, because adults deal with heavier issues, but it still is the same thing when you get down to it. 

"I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!"  Very much like the key phrases:

  • "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"
  • "How important is it?"
  • "How cheaply am I willing to sell my serenity?"

These quotes help when I find myself over-analyzing or obsessing over a situation out of my control and not giving my energy to the present moment, or what really matters. My thoughts can drift to past conversations, situations as unfair as all get out (narcissists are everywhere here in adulthood! You deal with one and ten more come out of the woodwork!), the woulda coulda shouldas...  Resentments, memories that barge in uninvited, caring about what other people think-in any way, other people's words or behavior, a misunderstanding, a complete misconception of me- or my work, or a flat out untruth, etc. How often am I bellowing out “I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!”, deep down, subconsciously, instead of letting go?

At that time, I noticed the correlation with Joshie's anger and some floating feelings of mine, stemming from my boss, company politics, which then expands into a downward black spiral of national politics, and maybe some intrusive unnerving memories of an ex-headcase that comes with random instigators once in a while, trying to get an uprise of mental anguish from me. In such a case, I feel like God is the adult and I am the child, and He’s telling me, “It doesn’t matter. The point is that you are out of that situation. Focus on what’s important- what’s in front of you.”

This correlation is also pertinent to interactions with family members and friends. And again,  politics- any situation out of our control. When you feel like people just don't "get it", or, in Joshie’s case, don’t “get you"-- even if it's your circle, your tribe, the ones who should above all others "get you"--- and you have to defend yourself... You really don't. Ever.

I have a wise old friend that always reminds me, "You know the truth. God knows the truth. That's all that is necessary."  I never thought that I needed those words as much as I do. I've always considered myself one that doesn't care what people think. But that emerges for all of us in a deeper sense everyday. There will always be cases where we have to practice this logic. Detach. There are people we come into contact with daily that will just never "get it".  Their behavior and words could really get me seething... Or I can detach from it completely and cut that string. It doesn’t have to affect me. 

We expect our families to truly know us. But, do you know of anyone who actually feels this way? Me neither. We are human. It can feel comfortless and isolating, but that's all a part of it. It's why we need God so much (or whatever you deem your Higher Power to be), and why it's imperative to strengthen that spiritual relationship continuously.
 
Because I am a sucker for quotes, I will also lay down these well-known gems:

  • "Never waste time on people who are committed to misunderstanding you."
  • "Be a good person, but don't waste time proving it."

Now, when I find myself upset or holding onto something that I need to let go of, when I have this awareness, I hear Joshie screaming "I DO TOO LIKE YELLOW!!!"  And I am aware that I am being silly, and I move on.

Silly Monday to you,
Lisa

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