Heidi’s Story | RAW session at Duluth Boudoir Photography

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What single word do you most identify with?

Enough…

Heidi was a applicant that was accepted for a RAW session. She willingly and openly has expressed her story to me and for all of you to read. RESPECT that. All these amazing woman have opened their door to us and trusted us to be their stories keeper. To let them be heard.. to not feel alone. I highly suggest listening to the song while you look through the images.

Why?  Acceptance.  Acceptance of myself.  Acceptance of my journey.  Acceptance of the things I cannot control, courage to act on the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. The serenity prayer is some real shit.

I’ve always been average.  Not the “fit’ girl, not the “big” girl either. 

Here I tell myself again, my story is not significant, not the kind to inspire.  Like most girls through school, I was taught what a woman should look like.  Then look in the mirror and wish my body were different whether it be my waist, my face, my moles, my bent pinky finger, whatever.  I dyed my hair, I got piercings, things part of my body, my image that I could control.  I had the body I had and I wasn’t big into sports or the athletic type.  That wasn’t going to change and I wasn’t about to do that damn “D” word.  So I’d just have to accept that part of what I was. 

Is that really acceptance? Adulthood.  New relationship, marriage, parenthood.  As that is how things often go.  BAM.  Body Changes.  There I was, post 2 babies, 85lbs over what I was before, squishy, saggy, unattractive and I felt that way for years.  Look in the mirror, grab my belly and tell it I hated it.  Sure I could feel good when I put in the effort.  Hours of effort choosing an outfit, doing hair and make up and usually for a night out with my girlfriends.  It was exhausting and it didn’t last but a few hours then you wash it off and wake up the same person you were before the effort.  Plus, a hangover. 

I wanted to feel differently.  To not feel that my body wasn’t good enough, or my mind,  or I wasn’t a good enough wife, mom, yogi.  What if I tried and I failed, then what would I have?  What would I be?  If I just let it be I couldn’t fail.  Is that acceptance?

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DBP entered my life.  I wanted to be the girl in those photos.  One with the courage to be in those photos.  I booked on a whim & that booking was my inspiration to finally take control of my health.  I worked so hard in a fitness program for 16 weeks and dove into my yoga practice more regularly.  Man oh man did it pay off.  I loved looking in the mirror.  My clothes fit or were too big.  I was capable of things in my yoga practice that I couldn’t do before like headstands, arm balances, back bends.  I could do them and it made me feel strong, powerful. It’s an incredible feeling to accomplish goals in your training or practice.  I didn’t get winded walking up a flight of stairs so I was obviously in better health.  Hell yes, I felt fucking amazing, finally.

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A year goes by. I maintain my “new” body pretty well.  Didn’t progress further but kept up with my practice in a committed and sustainable lifestyle.  I bought my first 2 piece bathing suit for the first time since becoming a mom and rocked it all summer.  That fall, last fall, I ran the Minnesota Mile.  Finished in 9 minutes 17 seconds, booyah!  But then, shit, something hurts, I’m limping and my hip fucking hurts.  Set back number one.  What the hell did I do?!?  Okay, step back and heal.  The body is an amazing thing, it can heal.  I couldn’t keep up in the advanced classes so I had to hold myself back and take it easy.  Fine.  I had my second session with DBP just a few weeks later and had wanted to try some yoga poses.  Some that were easy for me before I just couldn’t quite get into again.  I struggled with accepting that.

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I felt myself slipping, weight was coming back on. 

Okay Heidi don’t lose momentum now.  Fit4mom was promoting their 5 week Holiday Body Back Session so I joined in again to give myself the boost to get back on track.  So, I had my HIIT workouts 2/week and 2-3 yoga classes a week.  I had barely gotten started and then set back number two. This time my elbows, both, within just 3 days of each other.  This one was bad, I couldn’t use my arms.  Any physical activity left me crying, icing and cradling my arms against my body.  WTF.  My body broke, this awesome tool I have that has shown me what awesome things I am capable of just won’t let me do those things.  I stopped going to the yoga classes I loved and I couldn’t do most of the exercises in BodyBack that make it such a good program.  I felt defeated and if I’m being honest, I burnt myself out trying to do too much.

December and January roll by.  My body is basically back to where I started before I booked my first session.  My elbows are still healing and the classes I’ve been going to are more nurturing.  Deep stretching in seated postures.  Which is great but they don’t burn fat.  I’ve been to two Vinyasa flows in the last month and today was one of them.  I left in tears.  I hate it.  I can’t even reach around my body to clasp my hands in this pose anymore. Or reach my foot in that one. I want to be back where I was and my God damn fat is in the way.  I dont have the same flexibility anymore and this fucking fat is in the way!  How can I love this body when it cannot do the things I was overjoyed with accomplishing just 6 months ago.  If I can’t get back there can I accept it?

Last summer I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) with Runa Yoga, it is now Feb. 2020 and training has begun!  My elbows are healing, pushing into something as simple as down dog is doable.  Lots of rest during the holidays and heavy snowfalls.  My yoga practice is very important to me.  It’s personal, it’s light, it’s energy or better yet it’s moving energy.  It has provided a space for me to get away from things in my life that are not so positive.  Not being able to practice the way I want has been a huge struggle for me and I have so been looking forward to this training, diving deeper in my practice and my understanding of yoga.  

March 4th, 2020. I was going cc skiing with my mom on a beautiful Wednesday.  Kids were in school.  It was warm in early March and neither of us had to work.  Now normally these things I just mentioned were, well normal.  Okay, super warm in March isn’t normal, weather patterns are changing but kids in school, having a day off work, boy did that one get new meaning.  Ski outing, I’m ready to go, at the top of the trail bouncing my knees.  Mom is behind about to walk up into the trail to get her skis on, if you’ve ever put skis on you might know this takes a minute or two… So here I am getting pumped up, I stand up straight.  Maybe I locked my knees.  In one motion I was falling backwards, my feet slipping forward.  In one quick motion I stood up, lost my balance, put my hands back to brace the fall happening to my bottom and the stretch across the tops of my feet and ankles, I was locked into skis.My left wrist broke the fall. 

Here I am, my 5th week of YTT and I broke my fucking wrist.  There are 12 more weeks of YTT, I will be in a cast for 8 and unable to put weight on my wrist for 12.  Just awesome.  The utter disappointment, are you kidding me?!!  Okay, fine, fuck, life is sending me yet another obstacle.  The yogi in me knows this yogic connection is deeper than the physical practice.  I physically will have to sit in my awareness.  That was hard, hurting my elbows was rough, I missed my asana practice, I was just getting back into it!  Breaking a wrist, for yoga, com’on!  The moment I broke my wrist, I had a huge rush of emotions, anger, no more like rage towards myself and the universe for this happening now.  Why now in YTT.  I may have seemed calm and positive, my fellow yogis were so supportive and expressed what a positive outlook I showed.  I’m just really good at throwing my hands in the air and saying well, what else can you do?  I sobbed for this practice, the asana of course.  That part that I was so comfortable with.  It pumped me up.  I was not so comfortable with the stillness, with meditation.

Within ten days of breaking my wrist the first 2 week stay in place order was issued for Covid-19.  9 days after I broke my wrist my children had their last day of school in school.  What was something so singular, my personal grief, turned into something so much bigger. We were all experiencing something life altering.  Collective grief.  Ekhart Tolle says there are 3 types of adversity, in personal lives, in a collective and in the mind.  Check, check, triple check.  He says to ask yourself, “ Is there something here that is causing my unhappiness or is my mind creating the unhappiness that I am experiencing at this moment?”  I had to think long and hard on that.

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Through all the grief and my personal development in YTT I began to really accept that my marriage was unhealthy and that I was on a path that my relationship no longer served.  My wrist seemed like just a drop in the bucket and after the stay in place orders were extended I focused on creating a space in my home where I could go to practice and log into my classes that were now happening over Zoom.  It, my space, was like a bandaid on a bullet wound.  I went in there to “get away” from it all but I knew what was waiting on the other side of the door and I didn’t like it.  I’ve been in a really negative place.  I want a sense of purpose, belonging, reason for any of this more than ever.  The biggest challenge here is finding a sense of peace and calm in a setting I find very toxic.  I want to shed it away.  

March goes by, April, quarantine is not ending. May is done now.  Black lives matter.  It’s June you guys, 2020 has already weighed so heavy.  YTT has rocked my world and very well may be the only thing that could have helped me “hold it together” during everything that has happened.  Broken bones, home schooling, pandemic, separation, civil unrest and injustices in our country. 

There is a thing in yoga called the veil of illusion, meaning that we view life through a series of distorting veils that prevent us from seeing “actual reality”.  I have been in the veil and thinning the veil on my own seems impossible.  The reality of my body, my marriage, my whiteness, all of it, distorted in one way or another.  I NEED to shed it all.  There are some really disturbing things coming to light and through it all my body will heal and move again but there are things that need greater effort to heal and move again.  It made me look at a bigger picture than being able to do an arm balance.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still ecstatic when the cast came off and after some PT I could press my palms together at heart center again.  There are joys in the small subtle things.  I could even hold an arm balance again when I tried this summer.  I still can’t clasp my hands in this pose anymore or reach my foot in that one but I’m no longer attached to my worth being that I could.  I have taught a yoga class but I don’t practice as often as I once did.  I really don’t like taking classes online, my schedule doesn’t align with the offered outdoor classes and my studio has not re-opened.

Someday, hopefully soon, it will and I will find myself breathless as I move and flow again.  That is okay.  My body is still heavier than I want it to be, squishier than I’d like, not as flexible as it once was.  I know that if I let go of the attachment to an end result I will find more ease.  I know that I don’t have to love my body every day but I can accept it. 

That is acceptance.  What is, is.  How I feel about it is up to me.  

They say your mind will believe what you continuously tell it, my daily mantra is “I am enough”.  

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