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That Photo Shoot

Posted Mar 27 2013 12:00am

So, I didn't talk about it too much on this here blog - hold on, let me check the past couple of posts - yup, I only mentioned it once - but after the conference, I spent some time with my dad, my stepmom and my half sister. They live a couple of hours away from Dallas, where the Blissdom conference was held, and so Sunday at noon, they came to get me.

I had a ball.

There's a lot of stuff going on in my life right now, and the vast majority of it doesn't make an appearance here. It's not my story directly, but it affects me. It's been a really stressful couple of months. As soon as one thing settles down, another pops up. And then the first reappears, and then a third comes in to play - and, y'all, I was wiped out.

Tapped out. Used up. Empty.

And as much as I love blog conferences, and I really do - there's no rest at a conference. I roomed with one of my best friends , stayed up way too late, ate a great dinner out with another friend , talked and talked and talked and tried to listen over myself, drank too much at the cocktail parties, and danced like a crazy fool at the evening parties. If it wasn't for the fact that both breakfasts were sponsored by coffee - Gevalia and Seattle's Best - I probably would not have made it. I take conference attendace SERIOUSLY. It's my job.

I learned a ton. I discovered things about myself that I had long suspected and realized facts about other people in my life that I'd imagined but not realized, if that makes any sense. I made notes, thought thoughts, and made decisions. 

Because my dad lives far from me, I don't see him that often. So knowing that I was in the same state, I was determined to spend time together. It was AWESOME. We went to the gun range, where I shot for the first time in my adult life - more on that in another post - and spent lots and lots of time talking. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time.

There's never enough time for the good stuff.

While I was there, my stepmom offered to do a photo shoot for me. I jumped at the chance.

No, I BEGGED for the chance. She is an excellent photographer - if any of you live in Texas and need work done, tell me. I never like pictures of myself - I'm super hyper critical and most people are not as good at the picture taking as they think they are.

Including me. I am decent, and have been super lucky with some of the shots I've gotten, but I don't know what I'm doing half the time - but I'm learning.

Carmen-1

I don't really have pictures of me. I have pictures of my kids, pictures of my husband - but not any of me that I love. Somehow, and I don't know how she did it - she took pictures of me that I LOVE.

Carmen-2

We went to four different locations and spent an awful long time focused on me. Me. That never happens in my real life.
Carmen-3

I don't like what I see in the mirror half the time. I focus on my squinty eye, the longer side of my face, my heavy arms, my chunky legs. My cheeks are round and full. My chin is slightly off center. Even when I lost weight, I still wasn't happy with what I saw. Now that I've gained some weight back, I'm even less happy with what I see in the mirror or on film. Ergo - I avoid.

I think most of us are that way. We focus on the negative and ignore the positive. As a result, we avoid the camera. We chronicle our kids lives, the holidays and the drama - and we never appear.

There was a post circulating online in which the writer lamented the fact that she never appeared in any family photos because she was heavy and felt awkward. She encouraged all of us to get in front of the camera, to be in the pictures, to create the memories. 

If I never appear in another photo, I am a-ok with that. These pictures - I have more, but these are some of my favorites - went a long way towards soothing the inner savage, angry critic that I spend far too much time feeding. The one that tells me "You are ugly. No one wants to look at you. You are disgusting and there's so much wrong with you - just don't even try. No one cares."

Yeah, that inner voice - it's a cruel one, for sure. But it's the one that speaks the loudest, the longest, with the most passion and the most drive. It's the one that says to me, "Why would anyone want to be your friend? Why would you believe that someone actually thinks you are pretty and interesting and worth spending time with? Who cares what you think? Why would anyone want to look at you?"

That voice drowns out the other, the timid, shy voice that tells me I am worthy, am attractive (do you know how HARD it was to type that - I did so and backspaced and erased and stared into space and finally committed, because it's the height of conceit and arrogance to say you might actually look halfway to passable), am a good person, a good friend, a worthy employee and a good wife, mother and daughter. We all have those dueling voices, and for most of us, the cruel one speaks to us all the more loudly and with greater emphasis. Why is that? How can we change it?

For me, these pictures help.

I don't actually believe all of it, but seeing pictures like this go a long way towards helping.

Carmen-7

I get wrapped up in what I see, and how it's not right. How, if I just did this, and maybe some of that, combined with a bit more lalalalala - I would be perfect.

Perfect is a myth.

Carmen-9

Jazz Hands are where it's at.

You can never go wrong with a Jazz Hands insertion.

Carmen-5

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