hi there! i'm michelle, southern california based photographer and curator of the coco gallery.

welcome to my blog where i share my life, my latest adventures, photo projects, random nuggets and the occasional stray thoughts.

for clients: to view my portfolio just click on this link - theCOCOgallery.com. to book sessions please send me a message through theCOCOgallery.com or contact me via michelle@thecocogallery.com | 949.734.0604

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

starting again

it's been THAT long.  as in ... over a year since the last entry.  i never anticipated that having the second child would impact my time more than the one kid did.  now that i say that out loud i wanna slap myself.  D U H!

well, it's rather nice that i'm starting back up on my personal blog right after dia turned one.  i like that.  i'm into meaningful time increments.  it's also appropriate since this entry is about getting myself back and it's taken this long to get settled again.

in the notes section of my facebook page you'll find an entry for "25 random things about me".  it was one of those tagging-participation things i used to entertain when i had time (and back when facebook was still new and novel).  the first 2 entries i put into that list looks like this:

  1.  i know people think i'm skinny but my greatest challenge is keeping my belly smaller than my chest. 
  2.  at one point i considered getting a boob job to keep the proportions in check (cheater i know). it was paris hilton and kate moss that convinced me that flat can be sexy. so i'm back to working on flattening the belly. 
clearly, the entry was written before i had children.  after two c-sections the talk of surgical alternatives was back and i wasn't kidding anymore.  every girl in my family is well endowed and somehow the fates ran out of boob supply when i got created.  not sure how that happened but i got jipped.  i've fluctuated between wanting more and being happy with what i had until i breastfed the girls.  to know the potential is to know what i missed out on.  then cruelly life takes that away and then you get even less than what you had to begin with (or you still have more but it's become misshapen).  it's simply mean.  to top it off the c-sections (and 2 pregnancies) really really really messed up the ab area that was less than ideal to begin with.  LORDY!  really?!  that kind of crap just screws with your mental health.  know what i mean?

there's a sentiment i'm trying to convey here and i've rewritten the sentence five times already because i can't tiptoe past the vanity of it and i cower in shame.  forgive my bluntness but truthfully, although motherhood has done wonders for me as a person a part of me shriveled up into a ball when the strains of pregnancy and child birth wrecked certain physical attributes.  i HATE what happened to my middle section and my chest left much to be desired.   the changes really did a number on me and destroyed my tenuous hold on physical confidence.  please know that to admit this openly it's like nails on chalkboard for me.   if only those nuns hadn't pounded humility and the shame for vanity i wouldn't be choking on this right now.  it's so true though.  i would venture to say that a lot of moms feel this way.  i know it when i photograph them for boudoir and glamour shoots.  i know it when we joke about how to pose them and what photoshop can do.  i knew it when  i had to dig into some deep reserves to get my own shoot done.  i knew it when i leaned on photoshop for my own shoot and realizing that editing myself is harder (and harsher) than editing others.   i KNOW that part of my balance was off because i was unhappy with the way i looked and i couldn't get back to the way i was (on my own).  this mental block affects my daily routines because i have to get dressed every day.  i have to look at a closet of clothes i don't enjoy because i wear clothes that hide me.  it leaks into my relationships and how i perceive others viewing me.  it affects my sex life because i don't feel up to it when i feel heavy.  i can keep going but i won't.  suffice it to say that my physicality affects more than i should let it but THERE IT IS. 

last christmas i told curtis that i would start saving up for a mommy makeover (usually this means a breast augmentation and some kind of abdominal surgery).  i had been stewing over it for a while, joked about it even.  i decided it was time to set that project into motion and the first step was to verbalize the plan.  in my culture this is one of those hush-hush things you do, fodder for gossip and things that other girls do but you and your circle don't.  it falls into the category of "i wish" but you really say that dismissively.  so maybe my declaration for this project was a little dismissive as well.  i loosely gave myself a year to save up.  the only thing in my way was a list of new camera equipment and the ability to raise the funds and FEAR.  i lost my mom to a tummy tuck.  

...and then there was curtis.  for my 40th birthday he surprised me with a card and a statement ... "go make your appointment".  REALLY?!?!  ok.  so i did. 

i hunted through my friends to find the right surgeon.  i needed someone that understood what i've been through without having to be walked thru it.  someone that understood me and that i could trust.   i was looking for someone who knew how to shape me the way i knew how use photoshop on my clients (tastefully).  i wanted someone who got it.  once i found her i jumped right in.  there's a lot more to be said here on my mental rebalance and physical reinvention.  i still have an internal battle with vanity=shame.  the path to happiness and confidence will have to be a blog post for another day but the bottom line is I'M HAPPY.  i've reclaimed a part of me that's been missing for a while and i've welcomed her back (just in time for the recent trip to bali).  this feeling i can speak of with no shame and out of the hush.  and now my dear steph is already talking about my next boudoir shoot lol.

you're going to ask me who my surgeon was.. her name is Dr. Tenley Lawton.  i LOVE her and her incredible staff of fantabulous women.    i'll be eternally grateful to them and to my friend that introduced me to them. call her.  meet her.  you'll love her too.  tell her i sent  you. i don't get anything for it.  just sharin ;)  i'm also eternally grateful to my dear dear curtis for giving me this wonderful gift.

i still shy away from getting my picture taken but here are some bali photos taken by my sweet friend chelsea with her iphone