Day 29 – Annmarie

She arrived with 29 yellow roses.  #29 arrived with 29 yellow roses.

How did she know?  Yellow was my mom’s favourite colour and yellow roses are one of my very favourite flowers (just saying, mixed with purple irises, there is nothing more beautiful).

I was reduced to tears on the spot.

And we hadn’t even started shooting!

I know there were people pushing for ME to be #29 but it didn’t feel right in my heart.  Annemarie’s thoughtfulness proved me right.  I hope you can understand.  But I do think that this project requires an Epilogue.  That will be about me:) Stay tuned for that.

But back to #29.  She shared that the thought of being last weighed on her all month.  She knew.  She read the stories each day, like, commented.  She knew each woman before she arrived for her session.  Annmarie fully gets what this project is about.

If you know Annmarie, and are reading this, and wondering why she didn’t tell you she was doing this…..don’t feel so badly.  She.  Didn’t.  Tell.  A.  Soul.  Not even her husband. Not even her sons. Not even her friends and colleagues.  Until the moment I post this, Annmarie, Lindsey and I were the only ones that knew.  How cool is that?

Annmarie is the first person to admit that her life has been blessed.  She is surrounded by love.  But what she brings to #leapfear is that she is witness to so many that have to confront fears that most of us only see in movies.

In this series, we have seen the impact of fear on the lives of people as young as 11 and into their 70’s.  But it is often invisible to the rest of us.  Annmarie represents all of us.  Whether we know it or not, we are all witness to it.  We all have a choice what to do with that knowledge.  Annmarie has chosen to make it an important part of her working life.  The rest of us can do so by being gentle with people. We all have the ability and the responsibility to be kind.

Annmarie is one of those people that you feel like you know instantly. I felt like I had known her for years.  I can fully understand why she has been such a successful guidance counsellor.  She can simultaneously make you feel safe and full of hope.  Her smile lights up the room. And she can laugh. A full, infectious laugh.

She understands that she is her own woman.  Confident, stylish, certain.  Very unlike me;) I was inspired.

Special thanks go to my amazing makeup artist Lindsey from BeYOUtiful Esthetics.  

Annmarie choose to write her story in the form of an essay.

I am number 29. I have been waiting patiently each and every day to see each woman in this project revealed. It is never easy to wait until the end, but I can honestly say that I have learned so much and have spent the entire month of February contemplating and reflecting.2016-02-28_0010.jpg

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We all have a story. We all share so many of the same fears – the fear of judgment, the fear of disapproval, the fear of loss, and the fear of rejection. These fears make us human. I have been incredibly lucky in my life. I have two wonderful parents who worked hard to provide for our family. I married a good man, and I have two sons who make me so proud. I grew up with strong female role models who have always been generous beyond belief. My maternal grandmother is still alive, and I cannot in words express the love I have for her. My mother is my heart and soul. She loves selflessly and fiercely. I am who I am today because of her. I have been shown great love and affection from all of my extended family. My sister is my best friend. Growing up, I was blessed with great friendships that have stood the test of time. My closest friends today are some of the bravest people I know and have leaped fear time and time again. And, in my professional life, many of my female colleagues have been my mentors. For all of this, I am beyond grateful.

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I’ve been thinking nonstop about how to address the issue of fear in my own life in a profound and meaningful way. Each 2016-02-28_0012.jpgday I have waited to see each woman reveal their leap from fear. I have been so inspired by their ability to be candid and to speak their own truth. I have been so inspired by their resilience. The stories we tell connect us and help us to understand one another better, to respect the journey that each of us has taken, and to realize that struggle does empower us.  There is a teacher in each and every one of us, and our stories matter. I cannot help but be reminded that the greatest lessons we learn are the lessons we learn from one another. As a people pleaser- I have often found it difficult to set limits. I generally like to help people. It fuels me. But – too often, I have put so much energy into supporting others and helping them reach their full potential that I have chosen to put myself second. It catches up with you. I think we get so busy building our lives – raising children – earning a living and working on establishing ourselves in our careers – that we sometimes lose sight of ourselves. It is not that we fear losing sight of ourselves; we fear not being there for everyone else. There must be a way of attaining life balance. I yearn to find it. But I do know that I have to choose it. I sometimes forget that putting myself first is not selfish; it is necessary.
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In my professional world, I leap fear each and every day. I work with teenagers who in so many ways are utterly amazing human beings -but they are equally vulnerable and insecure as they try to find their place in the world. There are so many fears in those four short years of high school. And even though high school represents a mere fraction of one’s life – it is still for many of us today so vivid and so significant. I spend time with young people, and I talk to them; but, more importantly, I listen to them. I listen to them without judgment. I listen to their stories and try to understand their fears. There are so many influences on our youth today. Many feel great pressure. They feel that they are not good enough. To them, the future is a scary place. So, together – we leap fear.  Their struggles are painful, and I am there to help. There is no greater reward than seeing your student leap fear; and, in a profession where the rewards often come much later in life, it is so uplifting to know that you have made a difference. Each and every day, I try to “find the good”, and I know that it is there waiting to be uncovered. When you show another human being that s/he has value, you can transform his/her life.

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I am 45. I am confident. I know who I am, and I like myself. I know what I value – and I stand up for what I believe in (always). And if that means standing alone – so be it. As for fear – it lives within us. It hides in each of us and manifests itself in different ways. But – it doesn’t define us. It has the potential to make us better, stronger, and smarter. And when we recognize it – step back from it and see it for what it really is- we leap. We find our wings, and then we fly.

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Is there anything else you would like to share with people on the blog?

Leapfear was an incredible experience.  Anita was exactly how I imagined her to be. She was so alive with the camera in her hand. Each time she captured something magical – she was exhilarated. I was guided by her energy. She and her camera were one. When you love what you do – it lives alongside you. I lived that with Anita.

Thank you Lindsey. Thank you Anita.

I was 29.  29 women. 29 days. 29 leaps. 29 stories. 29 lessons.

I know your mother is smiling.
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