When I met Meghan, I literally said, “when you’re a senior and ready for senior portraits, CALL ME.” Maaaaybe a little too direct but, hey (!), she did! And man, did she kill it or what!? Also, I’m now obsessed with the Herrick Conservatory at Kent State University. It’s a hidden oasis in a concrete jungle, I LOVE IT!
STOP. Just for a minute. I know most folks head to blog posts for the sake of picture-viewing and often bypass the story. -guilty- This one needs to be different. This story is too important to miss. Ashadee is a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, and so much more but she is also a breast cancer-fighter. Rather than trying to describe her journey, I’d like her words to speak for themselves. Here’s what she wrote:
“There were parts of me I tried to hide.
Parts of me that I may not find “loveable”,
or that I thought people may not find loveable.
Then, on October 10, 2017 something clicked.
594 days ago.
I stood in front of Adrienne Gerber just 12 days after those 3 dreaded words, “you have cancer”, and she allowed me to feel so brave in front of her camera. .
I puffed out my chest, slapped on war paint, and stripped down to almost nothing,
baring my own skin,
my own breasts,
my own body,
stretch marks, wrinkles,
powerfully defined muscles,
the softness of my skin,
and the fierceness of my soul.
594 days later, I’m standing in front of her camera again,
new stretch marks, scars, & wrinkles,
Renewed muscles, a little less fierceness, & with new news of new cancer growth and feeling a tiredness that people outside the chronic illness world struggle to understand. .
I’m still strong.
I’m still brave.
But, this strength isn’t one framed in bravado,
warrior paint, and stands against cancer.
This strength speaks in a whisper.
It carries scars upon scars under one arm,
and the terror of fighting this incredulous disease all over again under the other arm.
This strength is both soft and feminine,
and powerful and fierce & I’m in love with how Adrienne captures that in this photo shoot. .
This strength is one that has me laughing and chatting with beautifully talented souls at the photo shoot today,
and hanging with my Husbandman & babies one minute,
and then curled up sobbing in my chair tonight as I think of taking another injection,
or supplement, & just weak from utter exhaustion.
Don’t hide your “unloveable” parts.
Those are the most beautiful parts of you.
They’re the ones that are shattered,
and allows the Light to pour through you,
Your strength is breathtaking, Beloved,
in all it’s messed up glory.
You are loved.
Your strength IS your brokenness,
594 days ago,
3 months ago,
4 days ago,
and it is again today.”
For just a quick sec, I’d like to explain how this shoot came to be. I’ve been following an incredible color series collaboration called The Opalescent Series with Grace Jones and Bear Roots Floral. They recently completed their pink series. I saw their first posted image and IMMEDIATELY thought, “I HAVE to do this for Ashadee.” It felt bigger than me. Ashadee is a fierce, beautiful woman who is not afraid to admit her vulnerability, especially in this part of her journey. The parallels between that and the florals and the color pink were just slapping me in the face. This had to be done.
Friends, go follow her story here: https://www.instagram.com/dearcancer_itsme/ She is a hero to many and rightly so.
Italian Vogue anyone? That’s apparently been referenced in terms of the vibe of this engagement session. (!!) Mostly because Molly and Zach are incredible and totally went with it. This was not a space for laughing and frolicking and they OWNED IT. You guys. Can you use the word delicious to describe something like this? Maybe not, but you get the gist. SO COOL! The Massillon Woman’s Club has the raddest building, EVER. It was a dream.