As some of you know, last Monday Momma Strong had a big ol' photo shoot, in part because we need new photos for the website and for media stuff in general now that I've got Barbie Atkinson on my team, but also because we have some upcoming features in national publications. We needed to look professional. It was time. And, yes, I have avoided this for a while. One, I resist taking pictures and
being on film (I know, irony irony - my daily gig is filming myself for you all).
Two, I'm really a very private person in general. I don't like the
attention that a photo shoot brings about - people dressing you up, fixing you up, being all up in my personal space, being on camera, having documentation, and people looking at the pictures afterwards. Oy. I know you get it.
But, in the midst of those normal hesitations, something pretty hefty happened during that shoot. Well, actually before, during, and after. I discovered I was ready.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like I had my shit together entirely. The whole thing got put together 4 days before the shoot. I found out about an important opportunity with an impossible deadline and Barbie and I decided that it had to happen, no matter what. But, it meant I had to gather together a professional, magazine quality shoot team. In 4 days. And, let's not forget that my current standing means that the budget for this professional shoot was, um, zero. So, I had to gather a professional team, from hair to makeup to styling to location to photographer in 4 days. Oh, and because of being a momma with a crazed summer schedule, it also meant that the shoot had to happen on a Monday morning at 8:00 and be done by noon. I know.
I started with Teya Sparks, the incredible (incredible) mastermind behind Houston's own Sharespace, who has a deliciously creative and perfectly suited space called Sparks Studio downtown. She was in. (She always is)
After that, I lined up the photographer, the uber talented Trish Badger, whose only question was when and where.
Next up was hair, because let's just say I have probably blown my hair dry twice in the last decade. I called the genius artist (in many ways) hair savant, Brandan Licatino, who owns Roots Hair Salon in Montrose and is about to open a badass barber shop on Washington Ave.
And then I had to face the reality of my sparse closet. Let's just say it's a mix up of casual whateverness and Forever 21 and hand me downs and like two key pieces that actuall cost more than $19.99. I called the stylist (and dear friend) Emily Moore and she was not only in, she started organizing with a professionalism I envy a closet reconnaissance the very next day.
The last piece was makeup, and as my closet and hair may dictate, um, let's just say I'm a minimalist in that department too. I considered just doing my own, years of former bunhead stage makeup skills seemingly "enough." But, I thought, you know what? There are people that can do this better and certainly people who will not think looking like a drag queen is at all a good idea. And, sure enough, after some facebooking and reaching out, I stumbled across the absolute perfectly badass person for the job: Ginny Lee of Do or Dye Texas.
All of these people said yes. Not out of charity either. But with gusto and support and 100% professionalism.
Let's take a pause here to be like, holy fuck, these people said yes. I'm surrounded by talent and generosity. (gratitude)
And now let me also take a pause to say something else: I believe in my heart that if I had walked into this less "ready" (and I'll define that more in a minute), then I'm not sure I would have A) reached out with such determination and clarity; and B) been received so enthusiastically by these extremely professional, hard-working, and busy folks.
Now let's talk about readiness. Readiness starts not with being ready. Ha. It starts, at its very seed, with simply be willing and - at times - with a giant leap of faith often coming from a desperate "what the hell do I have to lose" moment. After that leap, you get thrown into a rather dark forest, I'll be honest. Not everyone around you will think what you are doing is wise, you will probably not feel secure financially or in any other way, and you will certainly doubt your sanity and rational thinking. But, something happens in the forest if you choose to hang around AND if you choose to not only hang around, but to keep on walking every single day. I'm talking consistent movement even on days when you're out of survival gear. This is the piece that involves you showing up when it makes absolutely no sense. And it is from showing up that something fantastic starts to happen: You gain traction. Sure, your feet might be in the mud, but you're learning how to walk through it. And you're also learning how to get to more solid ground the more you trudge around. Things start lining up - the forest starts to become dusted with people you need/love, your work gets noticed, and that forest suddenly takes a new form of the familiar. All of this not because you are any more special than anyone else, but simply because you kept moving in the dark forest.
This is readiness. And readiness is contagious. People want to be involved with readiness.
I have never before participated in something like that photo shoot last week in which I felt more ready and more authentic. I wasn't up there in front of a freakishly bright light and scary as hell camera hoping I looked good or if my fupa was hanging out during an exercise. No. I was simply intending that the tone of Momma Strong came through and that I could show the exercises in a way that could spark people to start their own journey to strength. Period. That wasn't a conscious mentality, though. It just was. I've been showing up in my own life every single day with Momma Strong and I feel stronger than I ever have in my entire life, physically and mentally. I'm not afraid to be seen, I'm simply ready to visible in my own potential and visible in my service to my community.
So, as Barbie and I and the rest of the team digested the day's events, I had a huge realization. I think so often we all get lost in learning to simply believe in our potential. We feel the burden of it. We watch people roll around in angst for ways that they can realize their potential. We know the pain of knowing we have other brilliant shit to do, but we either don't know what it is or we don't know how to take the first steps. But, what I realized after last Monday is that believing in your potential is not enough. In fact, it is kind of torture. You have to be ready for your potential.
And readiness requires action. You have to show up every day, even in the dark forest, even in the mud. You have to make room for that potential. You have to gain traction. You have to get your hands and feet dirty and stop sitting around waiting for the potential fairy to tell you its time.
For me, being ready for my potential involved embodying Momma Strong from the inside out, which has not been easy. But, I'm ready now.
How are you getting ready for your potential?