Thursday, 31 July 2014

Revealing Ja'net: How A Busy Mom Remembered Her True Beauty

As described by her husband:

"Ja'net is a vibrant, talented young woman making her mark in the world in a unique and wonderful way. Mother, Daughter, Wife, Sister, Yogi, Beauty"

Ja'net is a wonderful laid back lady who generously gives all her time to others. You can feel the softness of her soul in her voice, a voice that puts you at ease and relaxes you. She is a full time Stay-at-home mom of two boys (4 & 2 years old), teaching yoga therapy and yoga part time which I believe is the perfect career for her; her personality and whole being exudes it. 

In fact, as humble as Ja'net is (she doesn't boast about anything), she's such a good yoga instructor that I have seen other instructors recognize her in photos and by name and saying great things about her (she has even been featured in yoga magazines). You can check her website here.

Hair and Makeup by Kada from Bombay Beauty Loft. Styling by Chantal from Studio Intent Boutique

But I'm going to let her say with her own words how the RYTB (read as "Reveal Your True Beauty") experience was for her:

"The day I went for my session,  it had been a busy day at home and I rushed out the door to get there. I've always been a wash and go type of girl, wear little make-up and when I look at my before picture I see a tired and rushed me. Once I was at our session it was easy to relax and enjoy just being there. There was no where else I had to be, I had no expectation of how it would go, I was just in the moment. It was so nice to put on the beautiful clothes from Studio Intent and then to have my make-up and hair done in a glamorous way. The photo shoot was completely relaxed for me. Fela guided me clearly on what to expect and kept it light-hearted. It wasn't something I felt I had to be good at, I just wanted to enjoy the experience. When I got to see the pictures at the reveal, I was amazed. They were beautiful, I looked beautiful. Where my role is often to take care of others, it was wonderful to have done the shoot with Fela and feel like I had done something for myself that honours a part of me that I don't often take the time to connect to in my busy days: my beauty. I feel that what Fela facilitates is allowing someone's inner beauty to shine through in her pictures. Thank you for that Fela and for sharing you gift."

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

I'm Not Ugly Betty, Now What? The Beginning of a Journey

"It's not easy to put our hearts out there. We worry about their vulnerability and we are afraid of what may cause them harm; we don't like feeling broken. The thing is, only when we learn to love our true selves, flawed and all, the same way God loves us, we'll be able to bring our hearts out of their hiding because only then, they'll be clothed in a powerful protective armour which is Love. Love feeds love and love cannot grow from where there's hate. Therefore, start with loving yourself so that you may love others as flawed as you are. "Flaw" doesn't have to be a negative word but an encouraging word to step on; to rise to our better selves". 

This are the words I posted yesterday on my social media. I have been thinking a lot about this topic for a while, mainly because of the Reveal Your True Beauty sessions we've been doing with the team lately and the blog post "The Ugly Betty Story and Why I Want To Show Your True Beauty To The World" that I wrote a while back.

As we put it on the website:

"Reveal Your True Beauty is the ignition, the much needed spark, the beginning of a journey to get you moving into embracing who you really are with what you already have. It's the opportunity to have the best of you, your inner beauty (your REAL beauty), portrayed in an image that you can go back to anytime you need; it's a reminder of how truly beautiful you are".

But what happens next? 
Embracing our true beauty is a process we have to go through. Everybody's process is different; faster for some, slower for others. Realistically, we cannot expect the "metamorphosis" to happen in a week and we can't expect it to happen on it's own. 
I believe example is the best way to explain it, so I'll share with you how it was for me:

This is me were I left you on the Ugly Betty post: Finding out I had beauty in me: This was the spark I needed.Working on portraying it out of my inner self: That was the hardest and longest part because I'm broken. Because I have daddy issues, because I was told I would end up living a lonely life, because I had to stop believing the lies I heard and believed about myself.

I found my true inner beauty but was still so insecure that at the beginning I took the wrong approach, just like when you take the wrong turn when you're driving and you have to do a huge loop to be able to get back to the same spot to take the other turn instead. Under poor advice (not ill intended though; they actually believed this to be true) I was taught that showing my true beauty was about looking sexy all the time; wearing cleavage and tight clothes, masking my face with a lot of makeup and keeping my hair straight because my curls were ugly. I was so obsessed with leaving the ugly Betty behind that I fell for the beauty standards trap. It's impossible for someone who begins this type of journey to know the real truth when everything around you points the opposite direction with false "truth" signs.

What was the consequence of my detour? I started attracting guys (finally, woohoo!) but, for the wrong reasons. The ones that actually liked me for me wouldn't approach me (this still puzzles me. I know from mutual friends of a couple of guys who had a crush on me and I had no idea! I still wonder how would my life had been if they would have stepped forward? How would that have changed me or my life? But that's another topic). And my insecurities and daddy issues made me automatically try to fit in what was expected of me by them; basically grabbing crumbs of love because it would prove that I was beautiful and I wouldn't end up alone. I felt like I was cool and belonged many times, but just at the beginning. Afterwards I noticed a pattern of lack of respect that was diminishing me instead of helping me grow and flourish. Lack of respect from them and from me. Which made me fall in the thought of "I'm not pretty enough", which made me come back to more cleavage, more tight clothes, more makeup and so forth... a cycle. And a destructive bad one. If you're not respecting yourself, that's what you'll saw. It was when an ex-boyfriend made me promise him when we broke up that I was going to start respecting myself and find someone that would respect me as well what hit me.
I started to analyze my processing. Was it aligned with God? was it aligned with myself? With what I believed to be the right thing? I'm a smart person, how could I fall for all this so easily? 

I believe everything happens for a reason; there's blessings in disguise everywhere, happening all the time. We don't see them as we are struggling but once we come out of our struggle, we can see the whole picture. 

My current and true no makeup self on a work break. Finally loving my curls!

These experiences were my blessings in disguise. Why? Because I learned to "beautify" myself because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to.
Because I learned from them what I want and don't want for my life. 
Because sometimes we have to hit the ground to stand up again with head held high and move forward. Because I was placed face to face with my insecurities so I could fight them and come out victorious. Because they were the tools through which I learned to love myself. Truly love myself.Because when you truly love yourself, your respect yourself, you are confident of who you are and what you want.Because when you truly love yourself it's easier to truly love others in their imperfection.Because these experiences helped shape me into the person I am now; the person with imperfections that my husband fell in love with 5 years ago and married 3 years ago. The person who couldn't be more in love and grateful for the little child that came out of that love. Because I'm here writing this for you in the hopes that what I went through might help you in your journey. Because when I say I'm here for you, I mean it.

"My "embracing my true beauty" process was slow. It's not easy to change the line of thought we have about who we think we are and replace it with who we really are and finding our true potential. It took me years to get to where I am now and I still have insecurities that want to take over; I just work on not letting them take control of my head. Just like driving a car, we are very conscious and thoughtful about our actions when we just learn how to drive but eventually they become second nature and you are able to focus better on the road ahead. The key is practice and the key to success is how often you practice".

With the Reveal Your True Beauty Team, we don't want to stop at giving you the push; we want to walk with you on your journey. We are working on some ideas and tools to help you so that you don't get lost on the way like I did. But even if you do, remember that everything happens for a reason. Life is full of blessings in disguise. Just get up and keep on walking. You are not alone.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Mr. & Mrs. Smith: A Wedding Reception Adventure

I received the news about my friend Matt's engagement through a text message from my husband during the intermission of The Nutcracker. My mom and I were getting back to our chairs when the phone vibrated. When I read the message I let out a big scream with a jump off my seat, forgetting for  less than a second where I was but it was too late to stop; I was in the middle of a 2 seconds celebration (and carefully with grace sitting back down as if everything was calculated; yes, it was a bit embarrassing hahaha!).

You see, Matt is my "brotha from anotha motha"; like my young sibling, the one you would think this day would never come to, despite how awesome he is. But the day had come and I HAD to be part of it.

I liked Sandra from the first time I met her. She is so sweet and kind. One of those people that you feel immediately at ease with, the ones you feel safe around because you know she has your back, even if you just met. That is the bright sweet energy that emanates from her. 

Matt and Sandra being their awesome selves, didn't want any of their photographer friends to work during their wedding; they wanted us to enjoy ourselves (though for me photography IS my joy, but I understood where they came from) so we split it between Stephanie Jager (ceremony) and myself (reception). I was very happy with this arrangement because it meant to me the opportunity to make something special for them while doing something useful instead of just sitting and listening through the reception; this made a huge difference to me. I had a blast!

I used a Canon EF70-200/2.8 II so I could capture a lot of candid moments from very far without people noticing I was doing that (Sneaky, eh?). From "paparazzi" portraits to groups and panoramic, I enjoyed playing during the wedding and I was able to make something special for my friends that will last a lifetime.

"All blessings be poured over the amazing newlyweds. May God be the head of your journey together, now and always. Love you!"