#leapfear Day 7 – Carleana

She was obviously nervous as she stepped in front of my camera. This was a huge step for her. To look and see if her inner beauty would translate into a photograph. She had told me that she had been avoiding the camera for years and that when she looked in the mirror, who she felt like on the inside did not match the person she saw looking back at her. And that takes its toll. I have felt the exact same thing. We are so hard on ourselves. I had a male friend of mine message me to congratulate me on this project. He bemoaned that fact that all these gorgeous women in his life refused or were unable to see their own beauty. The loved ones in their lives do not agree. So what is going on?

It is only Day 7, but I have already had a pivotal moment. I have been looking at all the people I come across in my daily life and imagining how I would be photographing them. And each and everyone one of them is beautiful when I look at them. Even when they are tired in a lineup, or frowning at a phone screen. It doesn’t matter because I am seeing the beauty shine through.

And then yesterday, I saw my reflection in the mirror. And for the first time in a very long time, I caught a glimpse of my own beauty. I can’t even express what that moment meant to me.

Carleana chose to share her story as an essay. I am so inspired by her strength and courage. And her absolutely beautiful family. The girls gave me permission to share the silly one:) I think Carleana is a stunning woman. And I could tell that as the session went on, she started to feel it as well. You could see it in her eyes.

My favourite photo is the one of Carleana with her girls (the large one below). If you look carefully, you can see the glisten of a tear in her eyes as she is surrounded by her loving, proud, kind, and beautiful daughters. She has created a legacy for herself in these young women. And that knowledge is in her eyes. I think you will be as moved by her story as I am.

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

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This project was designed to honour special a woman in Anita’s life – her mother; and to celebrate women who have overcome fear in their own lives.

I am honoured to be a part of this project. I would like to send a special thank you to my friend Heather for nominating me.

Part of this experience was to share with you, how I leaped fear. As long as I live, I hope fear is a part of my life. Having said that; fear will not hold me back in my life again. In fact, participating in this event is me leaping my fear of having my photo taken and then published. The reflection I see in my photos, in no way reflects the spirit of the woman who lives within me.

As a child, I was always confident with whom I was, and I liked me. My childhood was truly simple. I never doubted I’d be successful, nor do I have many memories of being really afraid of anything. That changed, the summer I turned 15.

I was raped and sexually abused. While my body recovered from the physical injuries relatively quickly, the emotional and mental injuries I had suffered would take much longer. Not only had I lost my innocence, but I had also lost the spirit of me; and my hopes and dreams.

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For years I struggled with self worth and self confidence. In my early 20’s I met a man I came to cherish and ultimately married. I had finally found employment with an organization I enjoyed working for. By my early 30’s I had three children. All is perfect right? Wrong.
One night after bath time, I looked at each of my daughters and became overwhelmed. I asked God, “Why did you give me girls?” I think that is when I first realized I had been living in fear for a very long time. I was living life as a surface dweller. It was then I really felt the terror of being a woman. I was angry that God gave ME girls?! How fair was that to these precious babies.

Then I remembered I wanted these children so much that I endured two failed rounds of in-vitro fertilization. Several years later I surrendered my dream of being a mom. Almost a year later, I learned we were expecting. I looked down on my babies again and thought, if God trusts me with these souls, then why should I doubt myself? That was likely the first real leap from fear I took.

 

At that moment I looked at each of my daughters and said, “I’ve no idea what kind of mother I’ll be, but I promise to do my best; and I promise to do my best to help you be your best.” I had a very different perspective on parenting. Socially my role may be their mother, but for me, it was so much more than that. I was a spiritual journey we would share. Barbara Coloroso’s book “Kids are Worth it” gave me the permission I thought I needed to be the mom I wanted to be. I love each of my children unconditionally and have always taken pleasure in being able to share my journey with theirs. I love being a mom! At 49, I felt good about where I was in my life and where it was going.

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On a beautiful summer morning in 2012, my life as I knew it came to a screeching halt when my husband of 23 years literally said to me, “I don’t love you anymore. The sight of you repulses me. I don’t want to be married and I’m tired of being responsible” as he walked out the door and went to work. My marriage was over. I think I could have bounced back from that quickly, IF he didn’t mean he didn’t want to be responsible.
At 49, unemployed, uneducated, unprepared to be abandoned; and a mother of three teen daughters whose lives had also just been turned upside down, I was lost. I tried so hard to ‘push’ through. A few months earlier I had retired from a 20 year career to start a non-profit organization helping families impacted by bullying. I travelled to California to get become an Int’l Certified Soul and Past Life Coach®; and I made my pilgrimage ~ the Camino de Santiago in Spain, none of that frightened me but I quickly became paralyzed by fear when my estranged husband refused to provide adequate financial support and repeatedly threaten to have us out on the street. For years I lived with that terror. There were times we didn’t have food. We went through two horrible winters without a furnace and every night I went to bed not knowing if my children and I would be able to live in our home.

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January 1, 2015. A new year, new hopes and new dreams. By mid afternoon we had lost two loved ones and learned three others were terminally ill. Happy New Year. My bestest friend, Cindy, was one of the loved ones we learned was terminally ill. A few days before Mother’s day, she passed away. My biggest supporter was gone. I felt so alone; and scar2016-02-07_0006.jpged. Losing her was a pivotal event in my life. After the funeral I decided I was not going to fight anymore. My focus would be on my children and me. I chose to rediscover me, go back to feeling good about my life and celebrate who I am.

A few short weeks later, at a great cost to me, I had won a long battle and finally was able to secure our home in my name solely. My daughters and I have a home. As I compose my story, and I look back over the past twelve months, I am overwhelmed by the changes that transpired in my life when I finally said “enough is enough”. I will always self advocate and stand up for what is just. I may get bruised in the process and that’s ok. What isn’t ok is me believing I’m not worthy, just because someone else says so. I wouldn’t grab a stick and beat myself with it, so why beat myself with someone else’s opinion, especially when they aren’t a part of my life or who I am?

 

I don’t have a lot, but I do have what I value most; the love and friendship of my daughters and my self worth. My heart is light. My soul and spirit are at peace; and I’m pleased to say, I don’t have any regrets or ill feelings. A new path has presented itself to me and I’m looking forward to discovering what it has in store. I’m sure there will be times I’ll be afraid but….there most certainly will be times of joy too. For example, in the fall of 2015, I started school. Talk about fear!!!!!

What the future holds is anyone’s guess, but what I do know is that I am a survivor; I am a healer; and life is an amazing journey. With each fear or challenge I’m faced with, I learn something new about me and every time, I like what I learn.

I’d like to close with a few things I’ve come to rely on personally when I’m worried or in fear: Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, “The Four Agreements”. Marianne William’s poem, “Who am I to be Brilliant’. Maria’s song “I have Confidence in Me”, from the Sound of Music; and of course my faith. ~Carleana

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