I was just as nervous meeting Maureen as she seemed to be about meeting us and being photographed for The Revelation Project. I’m not sure why I get so nervous before a shoot- but I feel like the process of “opening up” happens for each of us as the session unfolds. By the end – It feels as if we have known each other all our lives (at least that’s the way I feel).
Robyn and I had a particularly fun time photographing Maureen because her entire demeanor changed from completely quiet and reserved in the beginning to all out belly laughing and goofing off toward the end. One of my favorite things about Maureen is her laugh… it’s AWESOME. Her beauty and personality radiated through to the photographs- and Robyn captured her perfectly. Although each session is very poignant in it’s own way; Maureens seemed even more so when we learned about her “Passion Pact” and that she had given The Revelation Project to herself as a gift for her own birthday. Her story, insight, and vision for herself and for her life is an extraordinary example for women everywhere- treat yourself and follow the blog she contributes to. I feel blessed to know her and to have witnessed her beautiful spirit.
TRP: Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Maureen: I am a mom, a wife, a counselor/expressive therapist, a writer for Tiverton Patch and for a A Mom Know’s Best, director of Women’s Club SWANS and in transition. This year I am re-connecting to the creative side of myself and re-connecting to myself in general. I’m also seeking to increase my support network to include more people who are on the same path.
TRP: What is the biggest challenge that’s ever faced you as a woman?
Maureen: Being a wife and mother! Being a wife means everyday accepting where we are in our relationship and at the same time making the effort to make our relationship work better (that of course sometimes can be a challenge ;)). Being a mom means balancing who I am as a person and who I want to be as a mom.
I understand more now, at this point in my life, that I need to not let my “self” go in the process of being a mom. I need to do this not only for me, but also because I want to be a role model for my girls. I don’t want my girls to ever feel they have to give up their “self” for anyone. We can love others and care for them while still caring for ourselves.
In the same vein of thought, another challenge is the general “mommy guilt”. Whether it’s not cleaning the house well enough, not making enough money for the household, not being a good cook, not playing enough with my kids etc. etc. It’s that general sense of feeling like I “should be” a super mom and not feeling like I’m enough. I think a lot of moms do this mental and physical balancing act. Why do we do this to ourselves? I’m sure it possible to strive to be more while at the same time accept where I am now. Why don’t we do it?!
TRP: What’s your idea of a great “girls night?”
Maureen: Any evening with authentic, insightful, supportive discussion and/or lots of laughter.
TRP: Is there anything in particular that made you feel like being part of the Revelation Project was a good idea?
Maureen: I first became aware of the project when I saw the picture of Bethany Harvey Stewart posted on Facebook (I don’t even know her, but someone else I knew posted her images). I was struck by the luminescence, authenticity and beauty that came through in the photo. Then when I read more about the project, I felt compelled to be involved.
I had a tough year last year for many reasons. I decided this year would be different. Part of that was I promised myself I would stop “settling” and make more choices in my life. Doing The Revelation Project is one of several “choices” I’ve made this year. I am deciding to create opportunities that help me re-connect with who I am and also clarify and move toward who I want to be. Part of that is doing things that challenge me and expand my boundaries of who I “think” I am. Doing this project did just that. Answering these questions is continuing that process.
I also want to increase my support network to include more people that are on the same journey. I figured doing this project would be a great way to attract reflective thinkers like me who are tired of their own status quo and are challenging themselves to be more. I really loved reading the goals of The Revelation Project that you posted on your blog.
The Revelation Project is essentially about starting and supporting a discovery process that helps to create insightful, inspired and reflective conversations and community…which is what I’m all about and what I want more of in my life. I also look forward to at some point meeting the amazing women I’ve seen in the other photos who have had the courage, playfulness and self-awareness to take part in the project!
About the shoot:
TRP: What did you think about the approach of the upcoming photo shoot (before you got there) and what were the results you were expecting?
Maureen: I was excited and nervous but determined to do it even if I had self-doubts.
I wouldn’t say I “expected” certain results but can say there were some results I wanted:
- I wanted to feel empowered
- I wanted to get into my body and into my skin (sometimes I can get so heady I get out of touch with my body)
- I wanted to get in touch with my “self” and at the same time see myself in a new light.
TRP: How did you feel during the shoot and was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process?
Maureen: I was nervous. I was definitely not sure of myself or what was going to be expected of me. But Monica and Robyn are fun and goofy and made me take myself less seriously. Their connection with each other and their playfulness makes the process so fun. I love how they were as excited as I was about the shoot. They were at times like kids in a candy store, excited about each picture and about making the next one even better. It was also very interesting how Robyn tried to help me to let my “self” really show up for the pictures. She was great at times letting me know when the “real” me was coming out and when the guarded me was present. I found that part of the process really eye opening.
TRP: Can you describe in three words the way you felt before we shot?
Maureen: Nervous, excited, determined
TRP: Three words for after?
Maureen: Nervous, excited, proud
TRP: Three words for when you saw the results?
Maureen: Wow, that’s me?
TRP: After you left but before you saw the results – did you have any thoughts about the experience? What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?
Maureen: I can’t believe I just did that! I also can’t believe that they are going to go on Facebook, yikes! What will people think? That I’m narcissistic? That’s so not what this was about. But then I remembered the quote that I love by Dr Seuss,
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
At this point in my life I want to attract people in my life who “get me”. The only way to meet more people with the same values, beliefs and goals is to allow myself to be vulnerable and be “me” even when that “me” may not get accepted. Some people won’t understand and will judge. Some won’t understand but will ask question and then understand. Some will totally get it without even asking. I want to attract in my life more of those people who “get it” and even those who will ask in order to understand. But I will never meet or attract those people unless I let myself be vulnerable enough to be myself.
TRP: When you saw the results can you tell me your first impression?
Maureen: Oh my gosh it’s on Facebook! Oh my gosh that’s me?! Wow.
TRP: Can you talk about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs?
Maureen: Everyone said they were amazing and beautiful (much of that credit goes to Monica and Robyn!). But not just that, several said they captured my essence and inner beauty which is even more of a compliment! Tears (happy ones) came to my eyes as I read some of the comments. I felt unworthy, in awe, and grateful. I’m planning to save those comments so I can review them years from now and on days when I need a pick-me-up!
TRP: Did you learn anything new about yourself from the experience?
Maureen: I’m more aware of the borders I have around my own self-concept that hold me back. I need to break those barriers before I can become the person I want to be. But doing this project was a step closer toward that.
TRP: Did you feel empowered? Why? Why not?
Maureen: During the photo shoot I actually felt more keenly aware of my own restrictedness. I’m sure Monica and Robyn could both attest that I really had trouble “loosening up” during the photo shoot. Ironically, when I signed up for the project I had imagined myself being loose and free during the photo shoot. But I had a lot of trouble getting there. I was keenly aware of my discomfort but at the same time enjoyment of the experience of “being seen”.
So rather, what I can say is as a result of the experience, I am empowered to be more empowered in my life. I titled this year my “Year of Transition”. Doing this project was part of my pact with myself to make more choices in my life in trying to get back to “me”. I’ve thought it would be interesting if I did it again next year, would I be different by then? Would the photos be different?
TRP: Do you think this was an important/valuable experience for yourself? Why?
Maureen: Yes, ultimately I let myself be vulnerable which I often have trouble doing. I even unintentionally let tears come. When Robyn started talking about bringing out the strong woman in myself, I had the opposite feeling…wondering where she was. But really, thinking back, she WAS there. I showed my strength by letting myself be vulnerable. Letting myself be vulnerable takes courage. In reality, it’s my judgment of my vulnerability that holds me back, not my vulnerability. We are all vulnerable in some way or another. But we just pretend with each other that we’re not.
TRP: Do you think it’s relevant for other women? Why?
Maureen: Yes – I think anything that challenges your self-concept and your comfort level is worth doing. But it’s not for everyone. I loved it when Monica said that there was someone who had signed up but got nervous and thought about not doing it. The person’s friend asked Monica to call that person and help her change her mind. Monica said she wouldn’t do that. She realized that the person had to want to do it on her own. Essentially, the person had to want to do it more than her fear of doing it. If she did it because Monica told her to, it wouldn’t have the same meaning or make the same statement to herself. So even before the photo shoot, just making the choice can be an important process.
TRP: How would you use the photos moving forward? Professionally? Personally? As gifts?
Maureen: I decided to do this to remind myself of my inner strength and that I do have the ability to move past things. I wanted to have these photos as reminders for myself the next time I feel down and frustrated by life. I wanted a reminder that there is always some strength inside to reach for. We all have it, we just need to access it
I also was hoping to use some for my bios for the 2 sites that I write for (www.momknowbest.com and http://www.tivertonpatch.com. I just started writing “publically” and did not have any professional pictures of myself. I didn’t want a glamour shot but rather something that would project the real me (ok, maybe the best “real me”)
I want them as a reminder that it’s important to do something just for me. I need to stop feeling guilty about doing things for me. I want my daughters to know that it’s ok to be a mom who cares for her family and still cares for herself. The reality is, as I wrote in several articles on Tivertonpatch.com, a happy mom leads to a happy family.
A reminder that it’s important to let myself be vulnerable and that to be witnessed is healing. We all need times in our lives where we feel “witnessed” or fully seen. Spending several hours with 2 incredibly insightful and fun photographers taking pictures of you definitely makes you feel seen. Of course, posting the pictures on Facebook and getting comments from your friends, also takes the feeling of “being seen” to whole different level.
TRP: What is your favorite song and why?
They asked me that question during the photo shoot and it made me realize I currently don’t have one. Music is one of the many things I haven’t been making choices about in my life. I usually just listen to whatever is on the radio. But after reading this question the only song that popped in to my mind was “the Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Huston. I remember deeply connecting to it as a kid and still see its relevance in my life. Actually, a part of the song I do every day…
“I believe the children are our are future Teach them well and let them lead the way Show them all the beauty they possess inside Give them a sense of pride to make it easier…”
Every day I tell my daughters how beautiful they are inside and out, how proud I am of them and how much I love them. I want them to grow up with a strong sense of themselves and their value. I want them to feel they each can do whatever they put their mind to. I’m still working toward feeling all those things too! The best way I can teach them is to be a role model.
TRP: If you could sum up the experience what would you say?
Maureen: The project’s “revelations” are just that – revelations. You may come to the shoot expecting a certain result. But like most revelations, the results might not be what you intended. But whatever happens, you will have learned something about yourself. If you listen (without judgment) the revelations you receive might just lead to some new, unexpected perspectives or a reconnection with perspectives and a “self” you used to have.
Monica and Robyn aren’t just photographers. They “discovered” this healing process by doing it themselves. So they are there not to just take pictures but are fun adventurers joining you on a journey.
TRP: If someone were on the fence about doing it is there anything you would tell them about the experience or say to encourage them?
If you want to do it but don’t think you “should”, that is all the more reason to do it.