I love how Susannah Conway’s August Break prompts tend to push me a little out of my comfort zone. Today’s prompt is Black and White. In her daily inspirational note, she reminds us this morning to be brave and bold. Brave and bold…. photographically and for me, in life.
I wanted to write about this experience but there are so many layers and it feels like its been going on so long, it’s hard to know where to start. A very insightful friend told me to “start where I am”… so here goes.
Today, I made a very big decision to do what was right for me and my body. It’s been a long road of insurance issues, promises made by surgeons that they couldn’t keep, and unexpected results around surgery. But a few days ago, in the aftermath of one breast surgery, I was told some information that made me dig deep. Information that my female surgeon thought might “lessen the blow” to the news that I needed more surgery. That, based on the results of my surgery last week, being that I needed more surgery to remove the cancerous area of my breast to get “clear margins,” a breast reduction could/most likely would, be covered by my insurance.
I will say, I love my breast surgeon. She is young, brilliant, beautiful and she hugs me whenever I see her. So when she said, “I will just mention it, Nanette, that if you choose to, you would be approved by insurance for a breast reduction. Meaning, you could choose the size breasts you would like and they would be “nice and perky.” (She knows my current solo status situation and she gives me a big smile).
I had several things to consider. You know, the pros and cons, the positives and negatives;
1. Firstly, from about 15-25 years old, I thought “if I ever have an extra $5,000.00 (in the 70’s), I’m going to have a breast reduction.” Hell, they were bigger than most of my friends, I was teased about how I must get a black eye when I run track, and hardest of all, I questioned whether or not the opposite sex liked me for me or my boobs! (true confessions here, guys)
2. On the heels of a divorce, a little smaller, “perkier” breasts might be just what the doctor ordered.
3. The recovery from my surgery a week or so ago was not easy as I don’t handle anesthesia well. If I choose to have a reduction on top of this next surgery, the recovery time will be that much more difficult and long.
4. I am self-employed. Not being able to manuever a large, heavy camera for a few weeks = no work, no pay.
5. If they remove an area from the breast that does not currently appear to have an issue, the tissue can be tested to make sure nothing is going on in that breast too. That could be very reassuring.
6. Who will be here to help take care of me for a few days after my surgery. My sweet sister came for my first surgery, and close friends helped but if I choose the reduction, this time it could be a lot longer.
And many other positives and negative….
I pondered this for a few days and my patient friends listened to me. “Well, on the positive side…well, on the negative side….” I felt like I was being given the gift of a brand new expensive car for $100.00 bucks. What crazy, newly divorced, 54-year-old woman in her right mind would pass up the possibility for beautiful and “perky” new boobs at this age? What a gift, right?
But something was not settling well with me… I couldn’t see clear the path from here to there. How was it all going to transpire, and what about not working for so long during the recovery time. I felt like in the long run it would most likely be a great decision for me, but in the short-term, it would be difficult. I slept on it for a few more days, not knowing where I would go with it all.
Then this morning I woke up and knew, and it had nothing to do with anything on my list of positives on one side and negatives on the other. It was a totally different train of thought. It went something like this…..my body is pretty darn nice just the way it is. Sure, if I exercised a little more and drank a little less cheap beer, I would have a slimmer, more fit body but all-in-all, it ain’t too bad. I am proud of the fact that these breasts, large and “not so perky” as they are, nursed two precious babies for longer than most would want to hear about. I don’t have any medical issues that many women with large breasts have (thank goodness) and therefore, health wise I may or may not be better off if they were smaller.
But the big revelation for me is…. I truly think every body is beautiful, every person is beautiful. Just the way they are. If my 20-something year old daughters ask me how I would feel if they wanted Botox or a reduction/enlargement, I tell them they are beautiful just the way they are. And I mean it!! When women sit in front of me for a portrait session and they ask if I can make them slimmer, fitter, taller (and they do!)…..I tell them, yes, I could do that but I won’t because you are beautiful JUST the way you are! This body of mine is a temple. It’s not perfect but it’s the only one I have. I don’t feel that to do a breast reduction for aesthetic purposes would honor my body and all its done for me. I am strong, capable and my breasts are just fine the way they are. And my sweet, gorgeous, female breast surgeon? I think she completely had me and my best interest in mind when she made the suggestion. Am I opposed to others getting plastic surgery? Hell no, especially if it’s an issue that makes you feel bad about yourself, you can afford it, and it would improve your life. Go for it. But in this case, for me, it’s not the right answer.
So, in a week or so, I will have the next surgery to remove the rest of the cancerous area, and to get “clear margins.” And I will thank my body for giving me an indication that there was a problem when I had no idea there was one, one month after a mammogram that showed nothing. And maybe, when all is said and done, I might exercise a little more and drink a little less beer, and then my breasts might naturally be a little smaller but no more “perky.”
But then, I am 54 years old, and that is ok with me.
My photography Facebook page if you would like to follow along.
Over the years, it’s been suggested that journaling could be good for my soul. Today, this is my kind of journaling…with photos.
I look at the photos and remember exactly where I was, who I was with and how I felt! It works for me….today. But I have to say, I am very excited about our women’s retreat coming in May where I will learn, along with the other retreaters, from the very best about travel journaling. I am open to new ideas and new ways of documenting my life. I can’t wait to see where this new kind of journaling will take my creativity…
Enjoy your weekend, friends!
I am over the top excited about this but have been a bit hesitant to share the news..
I have been dreaming for many years about doing this, and thanks to the support, love, and a little (ok big) push from sweet friends, it’s becoming a reality! Yay!! To be able to combine my love of photography, sharing with other women, exploring the Maine coast, creativity, and inspiration into one weekend, makes me extremely happy!
The first weekend in May, I will be guiding my first women’s retreat weekend. It’s aptly called, “Journey through the Creative Lens.” This will be a weekend on the Maine coast of taking photos, sharing creative and inspiring ideas and projects, journaling, laughing, dining in Portland’s Old Port, photographing a Maine lighthouse at sunrise, and just relaxing and enjoying the company of kindred spirits! Wow! Have I mentioned that I am kind of excited! :)
I will be collaborating with two dear, lovely and talented friends who will be co-hosting the retreat with me, Amy Webster and Amber White. Amy and Amber will be leading a workshop on Saturday on “Creative Personal/Travel Journaling.” Amy is a creative soul that searches for inspiration in the everyday world usually within found treasures. She is an avid mixed media “travel” art journaler and believes that even 5 minutes a day of journaling or an artistic outlet revives the soul. Amber is an avid lover of mixed-media arts from altering old tattered suitcases to creating art journal spreads. She believes everyone is an artist and the most powerful tool is learning to tap into your own intuition, let go, and create organically. They each write blogs on creative journaling, and together have been “sharing” travel journaling for over 4 years. Their journals are true pieces of art. Our retreaters are in for a treat to be able to be inspired by these two women about how to create and write their own journal. Retreaters will leave with a great start to their own journals, and lots of ideas to keep them rolling along!
My offering will be, or course, in photographing. Sharing places I love to photograph, tips on how to get a great image, and how I stay inspired to shoot. Retreaters can shoot with whatever they like; iPhone, Point and Shoot, SLR, iPad…and then we’ll go over more practical things like how to go from shooting inspired photos to holding the print of that image in your hands. I’ll share my favorite apps for shooting and processing on the iPhone and iPad. We’ll have loads of fun, and hopefully everyone will leave feeling inspired, and with lots of “tools” to keep shooting when they return home!
The three of us are buzzing with excitement with the opportunity to share our passions with other women!
Where: Sweet beach house near Willard Beach, South Portland, Maine
When: May 3rd, 4th and 5th. Friday evening till Sunday noon
What: A gathering of kindred spirits…
Why: To be encouraged and supported to create and live a more inspired life. To view the World through a Creative Lens. To share, laugh, eat, journal, photograph, and commune with other like-minded women. To enjoy the beauty and peace of the Maine coast.
What you Need: An open heart and mind! No previous experience in photography and/or journaling is required. We are not here to create brilliant art or photographs. This retreat is about opening ourselves to the creative journey that lives inside each of us, and which, when we tune into it, allows us to hear the sound of our own hearts, find our authentic words and ultimately be free to live with more creativity, intuition and joy.
And now the reason why I have been hesitant to share this news….. The May retreat is already filled!! Seriously, it seems like a mean trick to tell you about it, and not have any openings left but it’s true! Word of mouth traveled very quickly when folks heard this retreat was becoming a reality. If you will be joining us, we can’t wait to have you along for the ride. But if you are not, but would like to be, please don’t be too upset with me…. Amy, Amber and I are in the process of planning another, equally inspiring, weekend retreat for the fall! If you would like to stay in the loop about the fall retreat and/or be added to the waiting list for a spot, please leave your email in the “Comments” section below. You can also add your email address up there on the right to receive notice of new blog posts where I will be sure to share any and all new information about future retreats!
Until next time….here’s to enjoying an inspiring weekend despite the still snow-covered ground!
Love to you all,
When I am in the midst of change, I have noticed a pattern of plateauing with my creativity. Sometimes not the creativity in my head, more so the energy I have to offer to creativity. I think it’s a natural progression of things, and I try hard to be kind to myself when this is occurring, knowing it will pass with time. I just remembered that I wrote about it here last year when I had recently moved. And now, I have recently moved again….yes, I am officially a gypsy.
In the past month, I have only picked up my “big girl” a couple of times. Some wonderful commercial work came my way and the “big girl” happily came out for that. And a couple of days when the urge struck, I pulled her out to capture sunrise and/or sunset on one of the nearby beaches. Besides that, I have mostly only been shooting with my iPhone, some with Instagram and some with a few other fun apps . It’s ok though.. I am doing what I can to keep the creative spirit alive and well, and also, I am continuing to document my journey along the way.
So here, my friends, are some of my iPhone shots over the past month. Maybe nothing spectacular but again, that is ok. It’s a reminder of where I am today, this month, this year. As you can see, they are mostly images from around the beach but there are a few city adventures tucked in here and there.
I hope this finds you all well, and surviving this wintry weather knowing that Spring is just around the corner.
Until next time…
Lots of love,
As life takes its twists and turns, I again find myself in a new environment, a new “home” for awhile, and I search for a beacon of sameness…of stableness…of consistency. In this new home, I have found this sweet little shack by the sea to visit on daily basis.
To me, it appears to shine as a beacon just beautifully in every light.