She told me she almost called to cancel the session, multiple times. I asked why she agreed in the first place. Her reply, "A moment of insanity!"
Oh I'm so thankful for that moment. Julie is one of the kindest people I've ever met. She is more generous with her time and support than almost anyone else I've ever met. She has supported both of my kids in their outside endeavors, showing up at rock climbing competitions, ninja comps, school showcases and theater performances - both for my kids AND my mom. I'm always blown away when we see her, especially since she and her husband have 2 boys of their own. Our paths originally crossed when she was a teacher assistant at the middle school my kids attended. When my kids moved on to high school, Julie's career took her to the high school right at the same time, which was such a welcome surprise. There is so much positivity and happy energy that radiates from her.
When I asked Julie where she wanted to have her session, she told me she had something special to do that morning and could arrange it around the timing that worked for me. Turns out that special thing was walking "Attie", a sweet greyhound who lives a couple of blocks down the street. Attie (formerly known as Atta Girl in her racing days) was rescued by Julie's neighbors. Julie keeps a cookie jar on her front porch with dog biscuits in it for those furballs that come past her house on their neighborhood jaunts. Soon enough Attie knew where the special house was with the yummy treats and a friendship blossomed. If Attie's parents go out of town, she'll end up at a sleepover at Julie's house from time to time. That made my heart happy.
The morning was brisk, maybe 30 degrees, as we headed out with Attie to take a lovely walk through the woods and around the neighborhood. We talked about her job, her youngest son heading off to college soon, the writing she wants to do, the two instruments she plays at the high school and the travel her husband has to do for work. She shared that he is a sports writer for a Japanese company. That reminded me that he was Japanese and I asked how they met. She told me they met when she was living in Japan. I asked what brought her to Japan and she said she'd wanted to travel the world. That was right after she mentioned wanting to write books and take improv classes and explore acting. I laughed and said that if one thing was crystal clear, it was that she didn't let fear stop her from living her life and finding new adventures. That little voice inside your head that says you probably shouldn't do something and ratchets up your fear? She hears it and then knows better than to listen to it. I love that. And it's very apparent in all that she does in life.
As we continued walking and talking, Julie said it was her turn to ask me a question. She wanted to know why I was doing these sessions. I didn't have a clear and quick answer for her but it's all there in my heart. My words were a bit clumsy but ultimately I got out that I really believe every woman is beautiful and the more diversity there is in the world, the more beautiful it gets, in all aspects. We aren't 20 years old any longer, nor are we supposed to look like we are. I'm pretty sure I said that I wouldn't want to be a teenager for anything in the world. I'd never want to lose the hard earned wisdom I'd gained or go back to being oh so concerned about what everyone ELSE thinks. I talked about some of the points I mentioned in my original You are beautiful blog post. We all need to be kinder to ourselves, as kind and loving as we are to all of the other girls/women in our lives. We say things to ourselves we would NEVER say to each other or our daughters or friends or moms. I'm doing these sessions to put action behind my words and feelings. It's truly a gift for me when someone trusts me enough to show me who they really are, especially with my camera there joining us!
When I saw Julie's submission come through I was thrilled. She was the exact kind of person I had hoped would be willing to get in front of my lens! She's such a beautiful soul, both inside and out and I'm thankful for the opportunity to get to show her what everyone else sees.
I can think of no better way to have spent the morning on the Saturday we got together. Our family is better for knowing you, Julie.
Thank you for your trust and allowing me to capture your beautiful self and spirit.