Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reflections on the magazine photo shoot

 Good Morning!  Thank You for all the support this week as I prepared for the magazine shoot for FIRST magazine. It really seems silly now to have been so stressed, but honestly I was more anxious over this shot than any of the others; even the TV and Radio features. Very likely, it was because of the crew that was hired to assist me. I’m just not used to the fuss, and the fact that they were strangers…..for a short time…..just added to the nervousness. But…WOW….am I ever glad to have had their help and support. My friend/graphic designer/assistant/photographer,  Marcia Miedzionowski… was at the college when I arrived for work yesterday morning. She took the county transit bus to the school so that she could take care of some college business during the day and would be there for me for the shoot AFTER I got off work and well into the evening. Talk about a wonderful person: to spend ALL DAY at the college to be available for me AFTER work! You may recall me talking about her in previous posts; she took the pictures for two other magazine shoots this summer and accompanied me when I spoke at the Soaring Eagle Casino. We could not really interfere with the hired photographer but Marcia took some photos when she could. Some of her photos are posted here. I likely won’t see any of the Shoot Footage until one or two of the pictures appear in the magazine in mid-September.

When my shift at work ended, it was time to “get down to business” getting all “dolled-up.”  The wardrobe consultant, Jennifer Grace Unger,  got to work sorting through the bin full of heels, box of accessories, and nearly two dozen pieces of clothing. As she was putting some outfits together, ironing dresses, and prepping things, the hair and make-up person, Teresa Balogh (http://www.miamoreeventhairandmakeup.org/), was busy performing her magic. Other than some group demonstrations at a Mary Kay party more than 20 years ago, or one of those “let me do your make-up” sales pitches at a department store many years ago, I don’t recall ever having a full make-over done before. Even when I was on the TODAY Show a few years ago, the make-up crew just touched up my own make-up. Not this time! Teresa had her work cut out for her, but she was AWESOME and reassuring as she transformed this tired, aging small-town girl into someone I didn’t recognize in the mirror…at first!

 So many emotions were going through my mind as I sat there while she primped...NEVER….EVER…would I have imagined an afternoon like I had yesterday before I started this journey.  I couldn’t help but remember the words of the stylist that cut my hair just a week or so before I started this journey….the very day I got “stuck” in the chair of the salon because I was too large to fit in the chair. He said to me, “Theresa….just because you are heavy, ill, sad, etc….doesn’t mean that you are not worth the effort to take care of yourself and look your best.”  Those words changed my life....and kept running through my mind as the make-up artist was covering up the dark circles, expertly placing false eyelashes (FIRST TIME for those) and even AIR-BRUSHING me! WOW…the secrets are all out now…no wonder those we see on TV and in magazines look so flawless….they have the service of the experts who make it all look so easy. The hair came next. Again…what an experience!

The wardrobe stylist found two outfits and it was time to get dressed. The first outfit consisted of jeans and a royal blue top. She worked to make sure everything looked “just right” to her eye and followed the “rules” sent to her by the magazine. We picked a pair of heels and we were ready to go. We headed outside where the photographer, Ryan Collier (http://www.collierstudios.com/) was all set up and waiting to do his thing. He was great; very reassuring and patient. Posing for the pics was a lot more work than I had anticipated, partly because I was in heels, standing in the grass after a heavy rain over the weekend...on the side of a hill. It was challenging to keep from sinking in the ground and tipping over as he directed me to kick this leg behind me; shift to the left; eyes to the left; hand on the hip; big smile. In between shots, the wardrobe person adjusted the clothing, the hair stylist fixed my hair and blotted my make-up, and Marcia took some pictures and shouted words of encouragement. It really was surreal and I just kept silently thanking God. This definitely was a long way from taking “selfies” in the driveway! God is just so incredibly good….not because of this “fuss” and “out of my comfort zone” experience because this journey is NOT about publicity and photo shoots, but because of HIS faithfulness and blessings. If even one person who reads this article or sees the photos when they are published begins to believe that he/she can change his/her life….than all of this will be so worth it. I must trust that there are reasons for all this that go beyond my comprehension.

When the first set of photos were done, it was time for another wardrobe change. This one included a hot pink dress that I purchased this past weekend at Goodwill for less than $5.00; a pair of brand new heels bought at a garage sale downstate last summer, and a bracelet bought off the clearance rack when I was in Dayton last weekend. The entire outfit was less than $12.00….and yet I was feeling like a million bucks! Oh the irony….God must be smiling.  More posing, more kicking, more “attitude” and “work it girl”, and more smiling than I’ve done in a long time, only this time, the smiles were not to cover the pain/depression/sadness/hopeless like a few years ago…but because of deep down, bubbling over joy…a joy that has only a little to do with weight and a lot more to do with a sense of ‘freedom, gratitude, and peacefulness.”  IT WAS….. SO…MUCH….FUN! Certainly a lot more fun than sitting in a bariatric wheeled walker on the sidelines watching other people smile.

Throughout this shoot I kept thinking about what life USED to be like and I remembered a time a few years ago when I attended my cousins wedding (June 2010) and was “all-dolled up” but unable to walk. I’m posting that picture here as well. The wedding was outdoors and after the ceremony, the photographer wanted to take family photos, but I had already worked my way up the hill using my wheeled walker to the place where dinner was to be served. I was summoned back to the ceremony site for photos, but I was unable to go because I was just too worn out…literally exhausted, in severer pain, and it was too much effort to make the 200 yard jaunt  back down to the lake….SO… I was the only family member not in the group photo. I just sat in my walker at the top of the hill……and watched from the sidelines.  THAT…my friends….was the reality, the norm, for me. Sitting and watching….but NOT NOW!  Again…to GOD be the glory!

As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, feeling very sore from yesterday, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my story with others, but mostly, I want to encourage you to keep believing in your miracle. Most of you probably can’t relate to the “getting stuck in the salon chair,” “unable to walk,” or “doing a photo shoot” experiences I’ve shared….but very likely there are many that can understand “being a spectator in life” or “sitting on the sidelines because you are unable to join in” moments in life.  And likely, weight and immobility is some of the reasons why.  Anxiety, depression, poverty, grief, addiction, grief, or abuse does the same thing: It robs us of life and energy and threatens to steal our joy and peace.  It sucks to be there…..but the good news is that YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAY THERE!

What is holding you back?  What is keeping you from enjoying life?  What is weighing you down?    And more important…..What can you do about it?  What steps will you take TODAY to leave that old life behind?  What can I do to help?

You may feel trapped; you may feel hopeless; you may feel discouraged and alone….but I assure you….your story DOES NOT have to be that way. GOD CAN and WILL help you change your life....and HE will give you what you need to do so. But you must first believe it is possible….and then you must be willing to take the first step…and keep taking steps….especially when you want to give up and quit.   No doubt, I have been blessed beyond measure….but YOU, my friends, are blessed too!  Never stop believing that YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE!