Julie, 45

“I’m married, mom of 5 kids ages 18-7, stepmom to 2 adult children and grandma to 4. (I know, right!! No one ever believes I am a grandma ?). I currently work for Dow Chemical in Finance- not exactly a glamorous position!  On my off time I love to sing, volunteer with Girl Scouts (Troop Leader and Midland Area Manager), and travel. The last time I was professionally photographed happened to be family photos on my youngest daughter’s 1st birthday in 2012. My last photography session on my own was senior pics back in 1990/91….YIKES! LOL. Going from senior pics where I was a skinny fresh-faced teenager to family photos as a tired and dumpy mom made it hard to want to have professional shots of just me.

I wanted to do this shoot because it was time to do something just for me! I have been working really hard to accept myself for who I am and how I look now instead of hanging on to who I used to be even 12/13 years ago. My husband and kids were excited when they found out I was chosen for the shoot. They all think I am beautiful just the way I am so this was the ultimate test for me.

I very rarely wear makeup so I am completely comfortable without wearing it for pictures.  When I go out I usually only put on mascara and lipstick anyway. Plus the hubby thinks I look better without it! (Yeah, he’s a keeper).

Between the beautiful setting, the wonderful hair stylist and Trish’s sense of humor, I was very comfortable during the shoot. I have been working on being more comfortable in my own skin.  As a Girl Scout Troop leader with 2 troops and a total of 30 girls, if I am teaching them to love who they are no matter what I should too, right?  I am getting there and this shoot was one of the “big” steps in that process.

Seeing myself in pictures with no makeup on doesn’t freak me out as much as my weight does. I am really hard on myself and have only been this size for the past 10 years (the majority of my life I have been a size 10/12 – 80 pounds lighter). I never feel like I am the woman in the pictures. These pictures were the first time I have felt beautiful at this size. I had a “mini reveal party” at my house that night and broke down and cried after everyone left. It was a very emotional experience to see myself as beautiful and have everyone gush about it! Thank you so much Trish for finding that and capturing it for the world to see!

Right after the shoot I found out I had cancer and had surgery that left a scar in a very visible area. Even though my prognosis is good, you never know what will happen when you get a cancer diagnosis so I feel very blessed I had this opportunity when I did.  You also never know where life will take you or when your journey will end.  My story for now is not over but it could have been. I loved every minute of my photo experience from the prep to the pics and have shared my experience with my friends and family.  I hope to do either a girlfriend shoot or something with my younger sister who is also a cancer survivor!”