In my 44 years, this experience was one of the most transformative. I was invited to provide massage therapy for the Finding Your Pure Poise inaugural retreat. Amanda, the amazing photographer behind Pure Poise Boudoir, had this great idea to offer a women’s retreat on a private beach on the shore of Lake Superior in July 2019. I’d been dreaming of massaging near a big lake, with the breeze and waves. Perfect. So I set the date aside. Amanda booked an AirBnB that would accommodate a group of women who came from very diverse backgrounds. There were two hair/makeup pros and I provided lakeside massage. Amanda prepared meals for the group and spent the rest of her time behind the camera lens. The first evening, we sat on the beach and got to know each other in a very fun way. It was like an instant sisterhood. The vibe of the weekend was so uplifting and encouraging.
I had zero intention on posing. Last Thanksgiving, I scheduled a shoot for September 2019 (2 weeks away as I write this!!). My role was to massage the people.
Somehow, I ended up writing my name on the signup for a sunrise shoot on the shore of Lake Superior. Before I knew it, I was trying on lingerie and body chains 🙂
For those of you who don’t know, most of my life I was overweight. I’ve struggled with weight and body image for decades. About 2.5 years ago I had a health scare that prompted me to adopt a plant-based diet. My symptoms cleared up and I dropped 15 pounds easily. I find it joyful and simple to maintain a healthy weight now.
After my third baby, I continued to gain weight. I was out of control with food. I still struggle with food addiction at times (hello, nut butter!). As long as I stick with fruits, veggies and whole grains, I can eat lots and have plenty of energy to work all day, then go play. It’s awesome. This pic was taken in 2000, when I was in my 20’s. Think I was depressed??
Regarding exercise, I do what brings me joy. I do some strength training in my basement a few times per week. I ride my mountain bike a few times per week. I love yoga when I can.
I struggle with chronic pain due to a connective tissue disorder. I don’t remember the last day I didn’t have any tendon pain. But look; I could let that disable me or I could deal and live my life to the fullest. I do what I can, which is quite a lot. I found it wasn’t any better when I was sedentary. I honor my body by listening to it and that has even meant dialing back racing bikes. It’s okay. I’m no longer depressed. I’m healthier now than when I was obsessed with exercise. I do move my body most days, but it’s out of love.
I have held onto some embarrassment over my belly, uneven boobs and saddlebags for years. Seems no matter what I do, there they are. While I will continue to strengthen myself and work on my body, it’s out of love now. That is the difference. I couldn’t hate myself thin. I finally figured out that this girl is worth loving.
When I received my photos, I cried. I’ve been so hard on myself. I let my insecurity about things like my belly and boobs interfere with my self worth for too long.
So I swapped services with the amazingly talented Kassidy Ashbeck. She did my hair and makeup, and a group of us gals went to nearby Bonanza Falls. A friend suggested I go get on that downed tree. Haha. Now mind you, I’m a bit of a tomboy. Most days I’m in a ponytail getting dirt under my nails. My favorite cardio is mountain biking, which leads to sore muscles and bruises. Here I am wearing more makeup than I ever have and trying not to fall off this tree. And look at me! I can see my beauty now. The hair and makeup really just helped boost my confidence to do this. I’m pretending I’m a model.
And then when I feel so amazing and beautiful, I treat myself even better. This body is a gift. I’m a goddess of sorts, so I honor that by what I put in and out. I rise above the muck like the lotus tattooed on my leg. After enduring all of the forms of abuse, I am at peace. I am strong. I am enough. I am a badass woman.
My major takeaways from this experience were:
-I witnessed women absolutely owning their beautiful curves. No matter their weight, they were gorgeous. Sexy. Strong. Amazing. It didn’t even matter. If they can, why not me??
-I like the way that hair curling rod and some makeup look on me 🙂 Hot damn!
-Amanda has a way of making women feel amazing. I can’t even describe it properly. Look up her Pure Poise Intimate page on Facebook and join. So artful. So tasteful. It felt like a celebration of femininity.
-I need more of this in my life. More time with women who are like-minded. More drumming around fires with women. More discussion about the down & dirty things from periods to where to buy sexy undies, to sex and relationships. More openness. More uplifting other women to see their beauty.
-I have arrived at home. In my body. In this body. I. am. home.
Sign me up to do this again. I carry myself differently ever since then. My self-confidence is high. Every day I care for myself because yes, I am something special. So are you.
Ladies, I cannot recommend attending one of Amanda’s retreats or a photo shoot enough. It will change your life.