I am a yoga virgin! Almost. Six months in. I got addicted on lesson one with Amanda Riley. I know nothing about yoga, but every time I practise I get JOY! I mean what else in our work, goal driven lives does that. Okay, I kind of get it because years ago I went to Buddhist classes for three long years before admitting defeat. I cannot sit still.
So as you probably know I do yoga with adaptations to protect my shoulders (Thank you again Amanda). Once I knew some yoga I thought, “Why not try a random class - see if I still feel like a failure?” I kind of like to push myself. It was cool, I managed my first dancer’s balance / thingy. Stefan say’s, “Do what feels good to you.” Wow, more freedom to enjoy life.
I have spent my life broken (literally- the childhood you know), so to find strength and grace in movement is just too glorious. I have to share this. Say your body is not perfect, you have scars or wobbly bits? Imagine finding something that changes the way you feel about your flaws. I know it’s way easier to book a “photo- therapy portrait or nude shoot with me, but why not spend months at yoga classes instead? Or not.
On Sunday I will attend “I am Woman” a yoga retreat in Manchester. Can you believe my good fortune? More feminine power and grace. The blurb says anyone is welcome if they identify as female, which ticks my diversity box. I am expecting vagina and womb powers, and I will lift and open my heart centre to Andrea!
“I have looked at them many times and they have sent my imagination into overdrive as to what could be.” Karen
Could you choose not to live your authentic life. How would it feel to be 60 years old and to still be trapped in the wrong body, living a lie? Why might someone choose to do that? What if you had a business, a wife, children and grand children and you knew that to live authentically may destroy your family? Would you be brave to protect them or braver to live as you needed to?
Would you spend your life wondering what it would be like to live as a woman, knowing that you are a woman and pretending to be a man? Gender is a performance we act masculine or feminine. It must be very painful to act all day every day.
Karen came to me because she wrestles with these choices. She found my website and read about my work, she got in touch to find out if I was trustworthy and sensitive. Could I provide a make-up artist who would respect her privacy. Could we let her become the woman that she is and photograph Karen so that she could take those images home and think about her life? She asked me to post this blog.
Many transgendered people live this way, many “come out” at the Sparkle weekend in Manchester each July. But if you cannot face hurting your family you can come to me for portraits and to see your authentic self. It may stir your imagination too.
I recently began to work with Samantha Lewis of the charity SAM’S DIAMONDS who believe that, “We create a united front against Cancer, allowing women to feel empowered, moving forward with their lives and making the most out of every day.” My friend Louise has breast cancer, she is not my first friend to face this illness. Who of us has a family untouched by the disease? It seems ironic that her Mother-in-Law, Nydia Testa was a famous Professor and scientist who lead a team at The Christie and has also had cancer.
SAM’S DIAMONDS offers support and a shared understanding from women in the same position. The group gives that all important reassurance and peace of mind that allows women to look forward to the future. They have decided to commission a series of portraits to tell their stories and celebrate their lives. I jumped at the chance to work with them after recently photographing a client who has had a pioneering breast reconstruction by surgeon Siobhan O’ Ceallaigh. I like to tell stories and particularly stories of women who overcome adversity.
So a Calendar Challenge! Firstly I need to meet Sam on Tuesday to listen to some stories. Then work out how to photograph them so that a diverse group of women are represented. Finally through research and pin boards and mind maps I will work out a vision! As I am shortly to complete my series on Trans Women this new project comes at just the right moment.