Beauty in Imperfection

There is no such thing as perfect, but we live in a culture that claims that it exists. Currently, this is the second time I’ve tried to write this post. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it just “magically” dissapeared for no reason. So eff off inter-webs, I’m going to write my Goddamn piece whether you like it or not. I’m going to tell people, everyone, that they don’t have to be perfect to be good people, or be attractive. I’m going to let women know that they don’t have to look sixteen forever to be beautiful. I’m going to tell men that that they don’t have to look like a juiced up Ken doll to look attractive. People need to know that they can be beautiful without an insane amount of plastic surgery. So your shitty industry can kiss our cute asses. Asses that haven’t been injected with chemical-laden junk produced in your sterile lab. ANYWAY.

Beauty is found in imperfection. The only thing we can rely on is change, and move with it instead of fighting against it. It’s a far cry from 17, and sometimes I tear up going through photos, but we need to stay out of our “it’s just gone” mentality. You are not gone. You are still here. You are a little different, but you’re here.

My journey with health began when I was about 15. My mom put us on a no-sugar diet for a plethora of health reasons (all legit, really, just super hard to follow!) and went through the kitchen one day and threw out ALL products that had sugar in them. I’m talking salad dressing, ketchup, macaroni sauce…you name it. If it had sugar in it, in the bin it went.

For a while it was fine. We had tofu for dinner, fine. The new soy milk kind of tasted oatmeal-ish, which I liked, fine. But the sugar thing? I didn’t realize how bad I was addicted until I was rummaging through the cabinet one night and found a small jar of jelly my mom had overlooked. I ate the whole damn thing with a spoon. A SPOON. Not even thinking to make a piece of damn toast. YOU TELL ME that’s healthy and in balance.

I didn’t want to admit it, but I was going through sugar withdrawal. After the sugar high, the sugar crash, and the two pimples that showed up on my nose the very next day, I could finally admit that my body craved sugar much more than it actually should. I would binge on pop-tarts and penny candy when I could sneak them, and ignore everything they gave me to deal with. I knew better. I tried to balance our new juicing habit with healthier chocolate and home-made desserts, which I tried to convince myself were better for you. Not true…

These candies and desserts and little treats that are shoved in our faces every day are sabotaging even the best health efforts. It is incredibly hard to say no to something tempting that’s pushed in your face everywhere you go fifty times a day. How is that even reasonable? You can’t even go to get construction materials without being tempted for candy, snackies, and sugar laden energy drinks.

It is everywhere and it’s killing us slowly. It’s killing your metabolism and your drive. It’s killing your long-streak of healthy eating. It’s killing your resistance to unhealthy food choices. It’s killing your ability to say no. It wears on you. You know what is waiting for you wherever you are. In short, you can totally have a healthy diet and achieve many fitness/health goals VERY easily! The answer? Don’t leave your house! EVAR.

Of course, this is totally unreasonable and not suggestible by a long shot! I can’t not leave the house for more than one day, and I don’t think a lot of people can function like that either.

But we can do our best. We can fight our personal best. We can achieve something reasonable that is beyond our sixteen year old self. Before true puberty hit. Before we had children. Before we had a real-live job, or college, or started a business, or decided to support spouses and family members through huge undertakings. My body has rollercoastered beyond belief, and I’m finally (long time coming!) close to being happy with what I’ve achieved over the years.

True, starting out at 21 I clocked in at a slim 104. After getting married and going on birth control pills, I gained weight to 115. No big deal, until our first pregnancy saw me gain about 60 pounds. I lost almost all of it only to go through 2 miscarriages and a pregnancy. After having baby #2, I got down to 113 by the time he was 1. Add in a hellacious deployments and working my own business and helping with construction and no time for the gym , my weight fluctuated back up to 127. I’m not kidding when I say that two shitty men asked my husband if I was pregnant, as IF they are fucking perfect. A nervous breakdown led to me dropping 16 pounds in one month, and my brother bringing over pizza and telling me he wasn’t leaving until I ate at least two slices. Cue in a revamp of my life, a new gym membership, and new dieting techniques. I’m not where I want to be but damn, I’m not stuck in my old rut. I’m on my way. I’m healthy, I have energy, I can keep up with my kids, and I know I’m healthy on the INSIDE, which is the most important.

You have a little to pinch? Stop stressing or your body will hold onto it. This didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t come off overnight. You have thin lips? Well, you have awesome hair, and that’s way better! You have freckles? They are freaking adorable, please stop bleaching them! We all have things about ourselves that we don’t like, but we tend to magnify them to a proportion that isn’t realistic. Our imperfections make us what we are, who we are. If I didn’t have this extra few pounds with stretch marks, my kids wouldn’t be here. If I didn’t have unkempt hair and undone fingernails, I wouldn’t have as many projects done.

You can pop pills. You can drink energy drinks all damn day. You can live on fitness shakes and dream about real food to eat. You can eat a meal replacement bar when you could have an organic chocolate bar that will fulfill you instead. You can be as skinny as a rail, and look good on the outside. But on the inside–what do you have? You have an unhealthy body and a frazzled mind. You have a body that has no muscle, no sustainability, and no endurance. What is it worth to you?

Do not ever sell yourself short on the unstable and unrealistic platform of perfection, you have loved, helped, and changed so much more than you know.

val3

Back to Basics

The Basics. Why I started this blog in the first place.

To share my photos. To share my work, and hopefully create some art along the way.
I didn’t think that art was something that was created until it was finished, and then you realized it was art–you didn’t set out to create a meaningful piece, it just came about as you worked at it consistently.

As with most things, it morphed, and changed, and grew into…something that I wasn’t even sure of. A short six years ago, we were told to “brand” ourselves, to give people something more to come back to other than photos, to put ourselves out there and dig deep into our psyche to write informative but personal but not too crazy but eclectic but funny but general but interesting posts. Every week. So I did partake.

Ugh, boy, did that make a trap for me.

I started in with the writing, and then the photos I took during the week, and then trying to coordinate it all together, all while showing somewhat of a portfolio…it all became consuming and overwhelming and…blogging is supposed to be fun, right?

I’m supposed to be writing and showcasing my personality and growing my photography business, where did I go wrong? I’ve got a few ideas:
* I couldn’t pick a niche
* I tried to tie everything in with photography
* I let the process become too detailed
* I felt the need to address every detail
* I felt the need to share, share, and share some more
* I followed business models that weren’t a good fit for me
* I let others make me feel badly about my work
* I let others make me feel that I wasn’t doing enough
* I let others make me feel that I hadn’t accomplished enough
* I became consumed and in turn, frustrated
* I constantly compared myself to other photographers/bloggers who had completely different lifestyles from me (could write like 8 posts on this…)

So what are you supposed to do when you are caught in this spider web (gross) of all consuming fire of needs to fulfil and you’re drowning in your unfulfilled dreams, your bullying industry peers, your relationship, your tiny children and their education and needs, your self care, your extra baby weight, your midnight ice cream cravings, your household tasks, and your proofs that are due in one week? DUH! You have a nervous breakdown. A nervous breakdown is like a pack of wild animals who haven’t been fed in a month, in a tornado of saurkraut vomit, taking place in a bayou, on the top of the Empire State, without even a blade of grass to cling to.

You don’t want to go through one without a best friend who will keep you alive for a week while you are having problems doing basic things like breathing. She’ll aslo try to cheer you up by taking you to Hershey Park and getting you chocolate and wine. She’s awesome. She is super hard to live without.

In short, if you’re good with dates and like math [12/13, 1/14] you can deduce that I dropped blogging from my to-do-list. And when I say dropped it, I mean dropped it like a hot fucking potato. What did my portfolio or my online presence matter if my personal life was on the back burner like it was? I had this thing completely backwards.

Without going into an insane amount of details (privacy, time, my fingers would fall off from typing so much, ect!) it’s taken me a long yet steady road to get back on my feet. I’m happily on my feet, and back to doing something I once loved, but I will be more careful now. You will not see weekly posts. You will not see something written on set days, on the hour. This will be random. Not because it’s good for business, because I know statistically “it’s not” but, because it’s good for my mental state, my life, and my family, and that is the most important aspect to regard.

I have, since these life-changing events happened, accumulated a few posts I want to share. I’ve shot some sweet weddings that I’d love to show off, and I really enjoyed spending the day with these awesome couples. These will be coming up as I dip my toes back into the water of blogging, carefully keeping an eye out for the undertoe of consuming waves.

More updates to come! More study posts, prayer posts, weddings, more photos, but…all at random with no planning and no pressure.

macarons

Cast Your Care

Lost in everything and nothing, this time blends together like a Delaware gradient sunset and I’m left turning the calendar pages and wondering how we got here so quickly. How disappointing to live to impress others, when the ones you really want to impress have loved you all along.
This afternoon I was talking with two of my girlfriends…we were discussing the role of makeup in our lives, and their daughter’s lives. Their daughters are both only 11, and seem to be wise beyond their years (homeschool, thanks…) and eager and ready to grow up and look more feminine like their own moms. But why? What does wearing makeup actually DO for us? Does it serve us? Or are we trying to impress people we don’t even know, or trying to impress people we don’t even like? It’s a scary thought, especially in today’s haphazard, unpredictable world. I related it back to myself, hoping to help these girls see that proving your worth is difficult as well as confusing, and in the end, not worth it to “need ” to prove yourself.
I started thinking about it one day after I was applying a full-face of makeup. I’m talking under-eye concealer, foundation, eyeliner, shadows, the works. As in, all of it. War paint. A mask. Is this usual for me? Um, no. You’d actually be hard-pressed to find me in anything more than liquid eyeliner and two swipes of mascara. I don’t like wearing makeup. I prefer myself with a tan, oil on my eyes and lips and…that’s it. Seriously.
I know, I’m Italian and I’m supposed to look like I’m going to the opera (or IN the opera) at all times, but I’m not. Don’t even get me started on the chemicals that are lurking into all the things that you’re slathering on your face…that is a whole ‘nother story. Ugh, anyway.
I was trying to illustrate a point where there was an event we were going to, and I put on my “war paint” and spent quite a bit of time plastering my face with skin-tinted mastic, trying to hide every blemish, trying to make myself look the part.
I thought to myself–what if I just showed up looking like I do every other day of the week? I could do that but then I tried to rationalize the makeup frenzy of:
* I never see these people so I have to look good
* I need to make a good impression on the people I haven’t met yet
* I need to look good so that it will reflect that my husband has a pretty wife
* I want to distract him from looking at other cute girls (duh)
* I want to (try) to be the most put-together-looking girl there (false)
* I want my husband to show me off because I’m so GD cute
* I want to feel “ready” and not intimidated by anyone (read: left alone)

What if I left this alone for a day. Or even a month. What if I showed up to any event, big or small, family or professional, with just my real-live face? No hiding, no wishing, just real authentic me, with a new outlook on how I’m to be perceived. Not proving. Not showing off, not giving you a visual resume.
For someone that has been wearing makeup alllll her life, and has enjoyed the ease of genetically applicable liquid eyeliner, this might be challenging.
I’m not saying that anyone shouldn’t wear makeup, especially if it’s her fun thing, or if she loves doing it, especially if it’s something they’re talented at. I know quite a few girls (and dudes!) who have made a lucrative career from applying makeup. That’s not what I’m getting at here.
I’m having my own issue with authenticity. If I don’t wear this every day…why should I on certain occasions? Is this another all-or-nothing deal? Is it real and authentic if I wear makeup say…seven days out of an entire year? Or am I fooling myself? What exactly am I trying to prove? Why can’t I just present myself the way I am every day of the year? What am I afraid of? What more can I bring to the table that people will like other than blemish free skin with smoky eyes? It’s just not me.
It’s not my fun thing, my hobby, or even a remote talent that I’m good at. I have to admit, my smoky eyes make me look tired, and I can’t apply blush to save my life. Contouring? No thanks dude…I cannot handle all the blending. Bronzer? My lucky Guida skin can sit in the sun for one hour and get a bronze. I cannot, however, live without chapstick.
I’ve made more steps to live more minimally and authentically. I’ve given away almost all my makeup to my girlfriends simply because it wasn’t being used. You know that stuff has a shelf life. It was also taking up precious space in my bathroom that I need for my 10 bottles of Infusium 23. I want to be done, but I know this process won’t happen overnight. I only want to prove myself to me, but that’s not an easy thing to own. I want to stop wasting my time.
If you have to try hard to prove your worth and show someone what you offer, you don’t need them in your life. What do you bring to the table? You ARE the table. You are a human, with life, with value, in and of itself. Otherwise, God wouldn’t have put you here.

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