Over the past few years, I’ve wanted to do a photo series focusing on the beauty of women. What began as an idea to celebrate the characteristics of the divine feminine has become something more dedicated to the beauty of the lives we live. As I began to share my own story with others, I realize that each of us has our own story to tell. It seems to me that we all have a lesson that stays with us throughout our lifetime. That got me thinking, as we trudge the road to happy destiny, what is the legacy we want to leave behind? I’m still trying to figure that out for myself, so I thought it would be cool to ask other women as well. This is a series dedicated to women who have inspired me in my life. Some I met on the internet, some I know in real life, all have something unique and special about them. I am grateful for the models who allowed me to capture this piece of them and who allowed me to dig into a vulnerable space.
Misty – Resurrection
Though Misty is younger than me, a ripe old age of 31, she’s already lived a lifetime. What initially inspired me about her was her vulnerability on Instagram. She shared the experience of her brother, a loving person who fell victim to the disease of addiction. When I read her post about the death of her brother, it hit home. As a person in long term recovery, I felt for her, understanding the pain that both her and her brother felt. Addiction is an issue that carries a moral stigma in our society, and for Misty to openly share her story as a family member of an addict was impactful in many ways. Each time we hear a personal story, we can understand that it’s so much more than just a moral dilemma. When Misty arrived at my house, we had a conversation about this transformation she’s had since that time. She went through a series of events that essentially brought her to a place of surrender. She knew that she didn’t have to suffer anymore. Her brother’s death was a catalyst to this change and her discovery of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was the strengthening force that carried her through. As literal as it sounds, she knew that if she could build strength and fight in these controlled settings, she could do it in her daily life as well. And that was the beginning of her resurrection.
This idea of suffering and rebirth is a story present in so many religious traditions. The story of Jesus is one everyone obviously knows. Buddha didn’t reach enlightenment until he learned to invite pain and suffering in. He knew that had the same relevance in our lives that joy and happiness did. Death and rebirth exist within nature and so on. Brenè Brown wrote an entire book on it. In Rising Strong, she says
“There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise with skinned knees and bruised hearts; We choose owning our stories of struggle over hiding, over hustling, over pretending. When we deny our stories, they define us. When we run from struggle, we are never free. So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye. We will not be characters in our stories. Not villains, not victims, not even heroes. We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings. We craft love from heartbreak, Compassion from shame, Grace from disappointment, Courage from failure. Showing up is our power. Story is our way home. Truth is our song. We are the brave and brokenhearted. We are rising strong.”
When hearing Misty’s story, it feels like Jiu Jitsu is the literal interpretation of this sentiment. When she steps to the mat, she is literally putting herself in a place that is unguarded, stepping into the danger with courage, and rising with skinned knees. The strength she gained in the literal sense helped her to apply strength in her life. She rose from the ashes with a new purpose and a new love for herself.
What can be more inspiring than that? Though everyone’s struggle is a little big different, they all exist. And for me, once I understood that it’s part of my growth as a human, that it’s part of my growth in this lifetime, I began to let go of fear. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I want to go through difficult things in life because it’s VERY uncomfortable. What I am saying is that once I understood that each time I tackle something difficult, it’s to my betterment as a human and that it WILL all be okay. Because I am strong. Because I am open and willing. And because I trust in the process. And every time someone like Misty shares their story with me, shares their story online, becoming vulnerable, it inspires me to do the same. And through THAT, we all heal. Thank you Misty. You are truly amazing.
“There is a light, that can overcome the darkness. There is no darkness, that will overcome the light” ~Father Pat (it’s a hymn)