At the age of 28, my mind and body have been through a lot. It has been through 6 years of service to my country in the United States Army. It’s been through a sexual assault and a resulting pregnancy, leading to being a teen mom. It’s been through PTSD, anxiety, depression, postpartum and suicidal ideation. It’s been through finding love and getting married and having healthy baby girls. It’s been through giving birth to my stillbirth son and it’s also been through the waves of needing a fifth of vodka to fall asleep at night. During those nights, all I wanted to do was hold my still baby. It’s been through a failing marriage and subsequent divorce. It’s been through a custody battle, twice. It’s been through the ebbs and flows of being a 911 dispatcher and dealing with the weight of the worlds problems on it's shoulders (while barely being able to cope with my own).
I’ve known what it’s like to wake up every single day and not even recognize the woman in the mirror. I’ve known what it’s like to scrub the feeling of someone from my skin to the point that I’ve bled. I’ve struggled to love myself and accept my body, especially after becoming a mother. I’ve been told that I need to be quiet one too many times because my opinions and thoughts should be kept to myself.
I’ve struggled with trying to fit the mold of a “perfect woman”. Particularly since the first time I picked up CosmoGirl at the age of 12 and read their secret formula on how to make that happen.
I realized in the wake of my divorce that I did not love myself. How could someone else love me if I didn’t even love me? So, the self-care journey began. Some nights I would eat a salad while other nights I would order a pepperoni stuffed crust pizza. Some nights I would go to Zumba while other nights I would binge-watch Netflix in bed. Some nights I would drink a tall glass of ice cold water before bed while other nights I would enjoy a glass (or two) of wine in a bubble bath.
I quit a job that I loved but annihilated my mental health. I went back to school to better myself. I devoted my time to healing my children from their parent’s divorce. I became a better girlfriend, woman, mom, friend, daughter, sister, ex-wife, coparent and employee ... all because I chose to love myself first. The moment that realization came full circle, other parts of my life just fell into place.
Even though I had made leaps and bounds of progress with my mind and soul, the love for my physical self was still lacking. So I decided to do a photo shoot with Sugar and Spice.
I had been considering it for awhile and finally took the plunge. If you want the honest truth, I sipped a shooter of Fireball walking to the studio because I was that nervous. Even more truth, I didn’t need it... because I felt at home the moment I walked in. I worked with Lyndsay and Katya and to say they are amazing is an understatement.
Not only are they both super talented in their craft, but it was like spending an afternoon with “the girls”. We talked about our pasts, present and hopes for the future. We bonded over stories of our children and related to common struggles of motherhood. We laughed, and at one point I even cried. It felt like me and my closest middle friends were spending the afternoon taking pictures for my MySpace profile.... except I had just met these women and these pictures were not MySpace appropriate. I will also say that having some Dave Matthews Band playing throughout the studio also contributed to the laid back, carefree vibe I found myself in that afternoon.
The photographs I received back were simply stunning.
Very sexy, yet still tasteful. My 56 year old mother even likes them! I have decided that this will be an annual self-care day for me. I will leave the kids at home, change out of my leggings and oversized shirt, have some girl time.
I will remind myself that my mind and body have been through hell and back and that every woman deserves a day to be the most beautiful woman in the room.
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