When Louise signed up to do The Revelation Project I did a completely blonde thing. Somehow as we were emailing back and forth I mistakenly must have conjoined an email that made the signature in her email come up as Rev.( for The REVelation Project) and then her name so it looked like this:
Rev.Louise Cady-Fernandes….from there I must have made up that we had a Reverend coming to do the project!! ( OMG!)
If that was not funny enough- when it came time to say a little meditation before the shoot we thought we’d allow her to do the honors… because it seemed fitting: we said… “you are the Reverend” only to find out that in fact she is: not. and so we howled and laughed for nearly 30 minutes before we could get on with the show. I came to find, that her heart and mind is blessed just the same. After making her dive into a bowl of water, swim across the floor and hold a parasol in her bathing goggles- trust me… it was one of the most blessed experiences ever, AMEN! Filled with belly laughs, vulnerability, and joy.
Enjoy the images and interview of a truly extraordinary woman I will forever adore and who will forever affectionately be known as: The Rev.
TRP: Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
LCF: My husband Tom and I have two daughters. Our eldest is a sophomore in college and our youngest is a senior in high school. This makes us almost empty nesters, which is very sad for me. Until ’07 I worked for Susan Bristol Inc. in knitwear design for almost seventeen years. Since then I’ve been doing my own knitwear line called The Hole Thing, which has been only marginally successful in this hard economy. Currently, I am working towards bringing a food product to market. I am entrepreneur at heart. I also write about embracing aging, instead of dreading it on my blog called Lines of Beauty. I encourage women to age naturally and enjoy the process. http://www.linesofbeauty.com I am also swimming competitively again after getting back in the pool for the first time in 30 years for my 50th birthday in 2010.
TRP: What is the biggest challenge that’s ever faced you as a woman?
LCF: Infertility. I very luckily have two wonderful children but was never able to have any more after they were born. I know this probably sounds ridiculous to some but infertility is difficult no matter what the circumstances are. My heart goes out especially to women who aren’t able to conceive at all. I was able to heal myself finally by realizing that I wasn’t suppose to have a big family-that perhaps there was something else in the plan for me- but it was a long painful road for five years until I came to this.
TRP: What are some of the issues that you think are important to explore as it relates to the female gender?
LCF: There are so many but if I had to pick one right now it would have to be how women are depicted as sexual objects far too often in the media. Would we ever see an advertisement of a male with pouty lips, hiking his ass up in the air, on the back of a motorcycle? This is the kind of thing that kids are exposed to every day, day after day, like it is normal. The innocence of sexuality is so buried now in our culture and that to me is very sad. What I mean by this is that kids grow into their sexuality with way too many visions in their heads about how it is suppose to be instead of discovering naturally for themselves what it is like to be intimate with someone.
TRP: What scares you the most?
LCF: Besides losing a child? Gosh… well I will say this-fewer things scare me the older I grow, which is one of the many great things about aging I think. I am not nearly as fear based as I used to be thankfully. It use to be public speaking but now I think it’s airplanes. Not to the point that I won’t get on them, but they made me uncomfortable.
TRP: Three things about yourself you LOVE:
LCF: That I think outside of the box. That I am strong inside and out. And that I love love.
TRP: Is there anything in particular that made you feel like being part of the Revelation Project was a good idea right now?
LCF: I had asked Medelise- one of the first women to do the project- to be a beauty of the week on my blog Lines of Beauty. At first she was hesitant, but after doing the project she said yes. The change in her made me very curious about doing it myself.
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?
LCF: I knew that it was probably going to be fun but it was completely outside my comfort zone and that is half the reason I did it- because it scared me. I remember pulling into Wakefield in the morning on a glorious day. I remember the light especially. I felt kind of like I have when going into a job interview- a little nervous but curious to find out more-plus I knew that it was probably going to be a lot more fun and it was.
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?
LCF: Monica, Robyn and Terry Lee made me feel calm and the longer they snapped away with their cameras, like two little monkeys hoping around, the more relaxed I became. They were amazing. When I walked in the door I pretty much gave myself over to them. I innately trusted them and this allowed me to go with the flow and relax into the incredible experience that it was.
TRP: Can you describe in three words the way you felt before we shot?
LCF: Kind of like it was the first day of kindergarten (oops that’s ten words!)
TRP: Three words for after?
LCF: Proud of myself.
TRP: Three words for when you saw the results?
LCF: Oh. My. Gosh!
TRP: After you left but before you saw the results – did you have any thoughts about the experience?
LCF: I was a little nervous about what the photos would look like, as I am not known to be photogenic, but either way I was very happy to have had the experience of putting myself in such a vulnerable situation. I am also not comfortable being the center of attention, especially for two hours, so I felt like I conquered this through the experience. I actually felt quite radiant.
TRP: What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?
LCF: I kept looking at myself in the mirror with all the make-up on and saying- is this really me? I was basically very grateful for the experience on so many levels. I had also felt like I had just met some very amazing women.
TRP: When you saw the results can you tell me your first impression?
LCF: I loved so many of the photos. With a few of them I was, of course, overly critical of myself- but on the whole I saw a side of myself I had never ever seen before. Never tapped into. Doing the project was a real gift. Probably the biggest ones I have ever given to myself.
TRP: Can you talk about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs?
LCF: It was all really, really positive. I think how I felt during the shoot was reflected in the photographs beautifully. The photos captured my essence on such a raw level. It was like being naked but with my clothes on. My sister said that she has never seen me smile so much. Seeing the photos made me want everyone to have the opportunity to do the project and honestly, I wanted everyone to do it even before I saw them.
TRP: Were there people who did not understand or responded less than favorably?
LCF: I think for my mom the number of photos was overwhelming. She is 90 years old and is from a generation where women were not taught to honor themselves let along pay so much attention to oneself. My sister showed her the photos but she never mentioned them to me. She is a very loving person but from a totally different generation. Years ago it would have hurt me that she didn’t say anything- but I understand why she didn’t. I think the whole idea was too outside her personal comfort zone.
TRP: What are some words you would use to describe how you were feeling throughout the shoot?
LCF: Happy. Honored. A little jittery. A little antsy. Joyful. Beautiful. It felt like it was my birthday but it wasn’t.
TRP: Did you learn anything new about yourself from the experience?
LCF: I learned that I can get over my uncomfortableness a lot more easily than I ever imagined. I learned that imperfection can sometimes be one of the most beautiful things and that I am very grateful for the whole package-inside and out. I am far from being classically beautiful and have some very quirky things about my features- deep, close-set eyes, a very prominent nose with a deviated septum and thin lips. Not to mention varicose veins and small boobs….
TRP: Did you feel empowered? Why? Why not?
LCF: Absolutely. The shoot will forever be one of the highlights of my life because it got me to see a different version of myself. It made me more grateful.
TRP: Since the shoot happened -can you talk about the lasting impact of the experience?
LCF: I absolutely feel more confident. I saw things about myself in the photos that I didn’t know existed.
TRP: Has it altered the way you view yourself or your surroundings?
LCF: For certain. In countless ways.
TRP: Do you think this was an important/valuable experience for yourself?
LCF: Because it made me appreciate myself and that just naturally overflows into appreciating other people, which is what humans want more than anything.
TRP: Do you think it’s relevant for other women?
LCF: For sure.
LCF: Do it and find out. I promise that you will learn many things about yourself and that it will be a wonderful experience. Even if you are scared.
TRP: How would you use the photos moving forward? Professionally? Personally? As gifts?
LCF: Two of the photos have already been used in the current issue of Women Magazine for an article I was in about competitive swimming and about my blog on aging gracefully.
TRP: What is your favorite song and why?
LCF: You’ve Got A Friend by Carol King. It reminds me of a time in life when I was young and life was way less complicated. Close friendships have always been very important to me and because of this the song to this day still rings true.
TRP: If you could sum up the experience what would you say?
LCF: I would say that it was valuable in so, so many ways- emotionally, spiritually and physically.
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?
LCF: Do what you are afraid to do. Nothing makes us feel better than doing what scares us and getting on the other side of it. If I can do it- so can you.
TRP: Any Revelations to share?
LCF: I am forever changed because of the experience of putting myself in front of the camera and being vulnerable. I feel like a flower that has finally fully bloomed. There is beauty in absolutely everyone.
Photo Credits: Robyn Ivy Photography