healing sessions*

deb schwedhelm
deb schwedhelm, canon 50d

The last few days my heart has been so full of gratefulness and wonder for having met Deb in person this past weekend. Months ago we had been in touch about trading photo sessions (she is a rad photographer here in Southern Cali). But both of our lives took a turn for the busy. Her darling husband went to Iraq for 7 months which left her tending to her three children alone and my darling baby was born. When I most recently found out she was up and moving to Kansas with her family, my heart sank. Not only because I was looking forward to photographing her but also because I had a feeling, from reading her blog, that her and I would connect and she only lives a few minutes from me! I am so used to long distance friendships, that having a buddy around the corner these days just feels like something I need due to the changes in my life. Its no longer feasible for me to hop on a plane to hang with one of my sweeties, nor have long phone conversations. Thank goodness my tribe is still wrapping me up in flexible heart-ness and I still feel close to them but I ache for those connections in body. I am grateful to be nurturing a new friendship with a beauty of an artist named Angela here in town (and my...is she flexible with my crazy schedule). I have never been one to force connections and sometimes this would mean long periods of time the past few years when I would be alone. Having a blog and nurturing those blog connections from afar suited my way of being but I am now opening myself up to other types of connections as well.

Even though Deb was leaving, I still felt a stirring within that her and I just had to meet. It was more than just the fact that her and I both needed photographs of ourselves...me for my book, website and some future projects and her for her website and future projects. There was a heart pull there that we both felt and that's why we decided to just take a leap and schedule our sessions last weekend, in the wee hours of the morning both Saturday and Sunday...a few days before her family leaves.

I don't know what I expected but seeing her for the first time was a pleasant surprise. I knew she was an airforce nurse for 10 years before being a photographer and that her husband is an officer in the navy...so to see a blond surfer boho-type come walking over to me from her car in the parking lot took me aback. She had three piercings on her face and tattoos peeking out from her clothes and I thought to myself...oh my...this darling funky woman has stories to tell. Hello...I love her!

In the two early mornings we spent together so much was spilled and we both found a way to provide some gentle healing to one another about some tough parts currently going on in our life. When two women get together as the sun is rising and the ocean breeze is tickling the skin and birds are singing and flowers and weeds are tall around them, magic happens. We were both vulnerable about the parts of our bodies we struggle with and how as much as we are truly comfy behind the lens, being in front of the lens brings up so much stuff. As much as I am a new mom that feels tired, worn and not as pretty as normal...she is a mom of growing children, always moving and giving to them, sometimes alone for long periods and because of this, our identities have been pushed aside. What we did was remind one another of those boho, free-spirited girlies that have so much life, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, truths, ideas inside of them waiting for a place to land and unfold.

As mothers, Deb and I realized it is so important for us to not lose those parts of ourselves. Those parts that have helped create the artists we are today. For me personally, having all those years going through (in)fertility, it gave me that much more time to nurture my creative side. So, while I was waiting for baby, I was creating a life for myself that felt true to who I was. So, now that beautiful baby is in my arms, I still have those creative inspiration parts of me that long to be nurtured. This is why even though I have a new babes, I am stealing away moments for my book, for my art and for a few other things in the making. It is important to me but also to Cedar that he sees that his mommy is pursuing her dreams. I want him to know about all of the possibilities for his own dreams. With this process, I am learning to be gentle. I am learning to not put too much pressure on or expect too much of myself. I am learning it is okay to go a few days with doing nothing and just focusing fully on my child and husband. It is a challenge and sometimes there are meltdowns but that is all part of it.

Photographing Deb and being photographed by her was part of this process, for both of us. This week, as we are processing the photos and emailing them back and forth to one another, even more feelings are pouring out. We are both amazed at how we truly captured one another. The kind of captures you dream of someone seeing in you. I see myself a particular way in my mind, how I would want to be photographed or how I just feel but then I look in the mirror and that person is not always there. Well, Deb found that person within me and pulled her out and I am so happy I did the same for her.

I would so encourage you to find a friend, whether you are a photographer or not, and do this exercise. Sit and talk about how you see yourselves or want to see yourselves and play with that trusted friend capturing those parts of you. Whether it is a professional camera or a disposable. It is so very healing.

Here are a few photos from my session of her...

deb schwedhelm

deb schwedhelm

deb schwedhelm

deb schwedhelm
{more of deb here}

and a few she photographed of me the morning before...

{click for larger view. photos of me in blog banner also by deb}