Monday, June 27, 2011

Positive(ly) Portugal

There are two huge beaming positives that came from my vacation to Portugal.  The first, I picked my camera back up after what I'd love to say was months, but more accurately is probably years.  For some people who don't know, I originally went to college to study Photography.  It was my major.  It is why I was accepted to The Maryland Institute College of Art (well, mainly).  I fell in love with photography in high school.  I had/have a passion for all things people, and snapping one moment in time of one person, one look, one tiny piece of someone drew me in and I found myself loving all forms of artwork I could use to explore people (always wanted to draw portraits, never landscapes-- same went for my photography for the most part).  When I found video, I realized I could use it to capture moments like photography, but also use it to tell people's stories, and I fell in love with that medium, as well.

For some reason, when I graduated and found myself strapped with more responsibilities, I found less time for exploration and artwork.  I think we all go through that phase where things we love to do find their way to the back burners for us while we spend most of our time and energy as young adults on creating a career path (that we hopefully enjoy) and finding a balance between work and relationships with friends and loves.  Sometimes it takes it's toll on our hobbies and passions, and it takes something big (like a very expensive European vacation) to remind us that there's more to us than work and relationships.  There's more to pad the happiness with, and sometimes I forget them (a small list:  books, poetry, documentaries, photography, painting, drawing, makeup, nail polish, funky fashion, design, cooking, people-watching, singing, etc.)  I've never had a successful vacation, so I didn't realize how important and useful they are in forcing you to rediscover these seemingly obvious joys.

Lagos, Portugal
(aka "Beach Don't Give a Fuck")
The second wonderful experience I walked away from Portugal with was the healing power of European self-image.  Know what I adore about Europeans?  They don't give a fuck about what their bodies look like.  Europeans are far more concerned with their mental health and with simply what makes them happy.  Because many of the things that Europeans find happiness in HAPPEN to be healthy (walking instead of driving everywhere, fresh local ingredients close by to cook with and consume, etc.) they don't have the obesity issues crammed down their throats constantly like we do in the states.  The most beautiful and freeing experience is to go to a European beach.

Dan and I feeling free at the beach.
I remember going to the beach in the Dominican Republic and seeing the visiting Europeans being so free with their bodies (sometimes topless, sometimes just in skimpier suits, sometimes just in regular suits with complete confidence) and thinking it was really shocking and a little gross.  I wasn't used to seeing cellulite, stretch marks or saggy breasts hanging out so freely-- signs of aging.  Signs of enjoying life and good foods and probably wine and beer, too!  These people on the beach weren't unhealthy.  They were simply real and honest.  They weren't photoshopped.  And the strangest part about all of this-- they were smiling.  Laughing, even!

Happy for hours on this beach.
It may be because of the state of mind I was in at that time in the DR, or the people I surrounded myself with, but being on the beach in Portugal was a completely different experience for me.  Not only was I being cheered on to lose my shorts by the company I was in, but the general population of people on the beach were REAL people.  They had physical signs of living life and not spending every day dieting and denying themselves good food or lazy days if they so choose.  It was completely natural and no one-- NOT ONE person looked at anyone else with judgement.  Find me a beach in the US where a gal with extra flab in a bikini isn't ridiculed and/or made fun of (even if it's behind her back).  I mean fuck just a bikini-- in a swimsuit at ALL being more than 120 lbs, you're going to get glances and you're going to feel uncomfortable in your own skin.  It's unfortunate...

Obligatory Vacation Shot.
And while it's with me now, and will probably fade with time, I have that European mentality about my body.  I felt just as good in my bikini on that beach as I ever have about my body.  It probably says a lot about the people I was with as much as it does the culture I was in the center of.  I didn't feel judged, and it was incredibly freeing.

I'm going to try and hold tight to these two positive aspects of this trip and remember them when I'm feeling too American.


For all of my trip's photography, you can visit here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Putting It Out There

After an 11 hour shoot day, I drug myself home to pile on a new coat of under eye makeup, powder and a sweep of blush to try to hide some of the zombie green that was settling into my skin for the evening.  I grabbed the tray of veggies I cut up the previous evening, the tri-flavored hummus platter and two bags of pita chips I snagged from the grocery store Sunday and got right back into my car to head to a stranger's house.

I've gotten a little ballsy since I moved to CT.  I've had to be...  moving at all took some balls, but in order to meet new people at 27, find a new job with no real networking connections, and fill out the rest of my life that needs a little padding, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and do some things that scare you or that you're not incredibly comfortable with.

One thing that was a necessity was finding a new local doctor/specialist to help me deal with my next steps in dealing with my endometriosis.  While sitting in the waiting room, nervous, I scanned the room for pamphlets, magazines, posters of uteri and fliers--anything at all to take my mind off of a new set of doctors, nurses and fellows that would be acquainting themselves with my nether regions.  There was a flyer on the wall--one lone white 8x10 piece of paper with an email address and the words, "Endometriosis Support Group.  If interested, please contact ___".  I took a picture of the flyer and decided to email the address later in the week.  2 months passed and I never heard back.

I had really forgotten about the whole situation until May 27th when an email arrived from a gal named Julie introducing herself and explaining that she was the contact on those fliers and had been swamped with work, but had free time, now, and wanted to devote some of it to finally getting this group together. She explained her own diagnoses and a little about herself and offered to host the first meeting at her house and gave a list of dates and times to choose from.

After a few emails back and forth introducing ourselves to each other, the day was set, and we all brought (way too many) appetizers to share.  There were 4 of us total (a fifth that didn't reply), and we all spent a few hours getting to know one another, sharing tips, stories and concerns with one another.  It was almost scary how quickly we all were bonded by this disease, which, by the way, wasn't the only thing we talked about.

I'm sure that some of these girls will become friends that I hang out with outside of our little group.  It was really a wonderful evening filled with great conversation, food and wine, and I couldn't be happier that I stretched outside of my comfort zone.  I really got to meet some extraordinary women because of it.


Next stop:  Portugal!  I (unapologetically) ripped off Kelle Hampton's new bathing suit and I couldn't be more thrilled with it.  Super retro/pin-up (with a detachable halter strap).  It's yellow with white polka dots, but you can't tell from the shitty pic.  Also, got my first Victoria's Secret swimsuit top (helllooooo, tittays) and a swim skirt from Popina (same place as the one piece) because my least favorite part of my body is right where that swim skirt covers.  Hopefully this will be the most comfortable I've been in beachwear in a while...  I also spent a good amount of money on skirts and sundresses.  I'm looking forward to sun and culture...  Hoping for relaxation and a good amount of time with Dan.

Top: VS, Skirt: Popina
This week has been incredibly stressful work-wise, and I've gotten very little sleep.  Hopefully the next update will be from a far more relaxed gal.  :)


P.S.  I'm totally obsessed with this song "Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer.  Give it a listen on my playlist (turn up your speakers!!).

Monday, June 6, 2011

In the Weeds

I spent all day Saturday at Elizabeth Park which happens to be very close to my house.  It's gorgeous.  I needed some time to myself and ended up spending hours there just laying by the pond, dividing my time between people-watching and reading, while allowing the occasional ant to make its way across my pages.

I'm not a very nature-ey gal, but for some reason this park speaks to me.  There's beautiful trees that create the perfect amount of shade, water that's home to many ducks and geese, and a rose garden that's beyond belief.  It's a nice place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

I really have been feeling in the weeds lately.  I'm trying my best to pull myself out.  Even though I was surrounded by all of that beauty, I couldn't even crack one smile.

I'm lucky to have such a loving partner.  I'm lucky to have good friends, even if they're at a distance (geographically).  Neal, Linsey, Megan and Adina have shown me glimpses of where I used to be and have been solid reminders that I was once strong and can get there again.  My wonderful Dan shows me more and more each day that I'm here to be with him and he is a someone I would walk to the ends of the Earth for.  I want to be better for him in every way that I can.

Home was a nice reminder that I still have warmth and love all in one place, still, even if I don't call it my "home."  Family and old friends are always a nice way to feel back to normal.  Striking up a new-old relationship has also proved to be incredibly valuable.  My good friend, Megan and I have a lot in common.  It's been remarkable to catch back up with her and talk about life, love and everything in between.  I have friends that I talk to back and forth and swap advice with, but there's something different about talking to Megan.  She listens deeply when you talk to her.  She hears everything you say, whether it's about you and something you're dealing with, or if it's advice or an opinion you are giving her.  A week later, she'll come back after having let that conversation settle, and repeat things you said to her verbatim and come back with her insight.  It's incredible.  It's rare.  It's sad that it's so rare, but she's one of the rarest roses, as Em and I say.  I'm lucky to have her back in my life.

I'm hoping this low point quickly fades away, but with these few sweet reminders and a park to visit to clear my head, I'm hoping I'll be back to my old self sooner rather than later.  At the very least, this slump is making take notice of the things and people I have to be grateful for, and I have to try to keep an eye on that silver lining.

Here's to getting out of the weeds.