An unexpected third installment, to introduce you to Karen. By far, my bravest participant and just a beautiful human being. An HR specialist, pool player and breast cancer survivor, I was both honored and touched when she agreed to let me photograph her. Her session was filled with great candor, emotion, laughter, and courage.
I adore everyone I shoot (not just for this project) - but my session with Karen was the most inspiring.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself.
A: I'm a 45 year old single woman. I currently work at a major corporation as an HR Generalist & Recruiter. A recent victory over breast cancer made me realize I was just existing & not living so I just recently returned to school to study Heath & Nutrition which is something I've always wanted to do. So how I answer these questions now is definitely different than how I would have answered 3 years ago. My priorities have changed.
Q: As a little girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: That's easy - a famous singer. I used to envision accepting a Grammy 😃
Q: Where/when do you feel most comfortable in your own skin?
A: The only time I could identify was right after a really good yoga class when I'm feeling calm & relaxed, yet strong.
Q: Where/when do you feel safest?
A: Hiding out in my apartment. I can go the weekend without speaking to another person without minding it a bit.
Q: Where/when do you feel most self-identified?
A: This may not be what you're looking for but, I had an experience at a destination spa I went to (2013). I had been there about 3 days and I had just come out of a really great treatment (Thai massage). The therapist & I were really in sync and when I finished I felt like a mask had been removed and I suddenly remembered who I was. It was very strange and really wonderful. The epiphany was that most things I do on a day to day basis don't mean a thing. Going to work, getting aggravated on the commute, mopping the floors or trying to be perfect mean nothing. Of course I can't really articulate what I felt/feel is important. But it was a very spiritual experience.
Q: Have you ever been a victim of or witness to gender discrimination?
A: Any woman who has ever owned a car and had to deal with a mechanic will say yes. I am 5'1" 120 pounds - any time I need to deal with a serviceman like that I feel like I need to prepare for battle. A few years back I remodeled my bathroom and discovered that they were using the wrong/cheaper material behind the tiles than what was agreed upon. The manager tried to tell me that it was just as good, but I knew better. I ripped into him, got them to rip down 3 days worth of work and start over. The project took twice as long. They offered me $1000 off the price. I settled for half the originally agreed upon total.
Q: Define courage.
A: The ability to move forward despite whatever it is that is scaring the shit out of you.
Q: What scares you and/or holds you back?
A: Change gives me pause. It takes me a long time to get used to new ideas. But I am very good at compartmentalizing so even when I am fearful I am able to take small forward moving steps. But I get very uncomfortable with the idea of looking stupid or foolish.
Q: Describe what it means (to you) to be a woman in 2015.
A: For me, being a woman in 2015 means I can be exactly who I want to be. I don't have to buy into anyone's else's ideas or ideals. I am only as limited as my imagination.
Q: Finish this sentence: "I am woman, hear me - "
A: I am woman, hear me when I say, I may be little, but I am fierce. I'm not a fighter, but I will knock your lights out.