don’t judge a girl by her cover.

So, I must admit, after doing the teen group of the women’s project I felt very…well…unsure.
Don’t get me wrong…it was emotional and felt beneficial at the time, but I walked away not knowing if it had really made any sort of impact on any of those girls.  Even my OWN DAUGHTER.  The conversation afterward went something like this…

Me: “So, what did you think?”

Her: “It was cool.”

Me: “Yeah? Did you come away learning anything new? Do you feel any different?”

Her:  “I dunno.  It was cool, though.”

Me:  “Do you think I should keep doing the project with other teen girls?”

Her: “Yeah, fersure.”

I don’t know if you know this, but, teen girls are very good at trivializing things and hiding how they really feel…you know, which is why so many of us women are REALLY good at it.

In any case, I’ve meant to do follow-up interviews with all of the participants in the project so far and have not gotten around to it yet.  I did receive quite a few responses from many of the women from the first group, volunteering how they felt after, so, that’s been awesome and super motivational.  But, nothing from the teen girls.  I’ve been REALLY in the dark as to the effect on that group.

Until today.

Today, my mail made me cry.

Really great happy tears.

Cassandra, who, while job shadowing me had participated in the teen group, sent me a beautiful card and a copy of the article she wrote for her school paper.  The card reads like this:

“Dear Alana,

Thank you once again for letting me job shadow you and participate in your project.  Doing so had played a big part in helping me graduate.  Besides the required job shadow, it also gave me more to talk about in my senior presentation and it made a good story for my newspaper, which I heard quite a few girls liked.  I hope you like the article, there was so much more I wanted to write but it already had taken up so much room.
Also, ever since I job shadowed you, I’ve been slowly getting better with my anxiety and I’m starting to be able to do things that I should have already been able to do years ago.  It might not be a big deal to most people, but, to me, it’s quite an accomplishment.  I hope that I can grow to be a little more strong and brave each day…
You’ve actually helped me a lot more than you know, outside of my graduating high school.  I hope to grow to be a woman similar to you.  I know I’ve only met you once, but I already know so many of your good qualities.  There’s so much more that I want to say, but I’ve already rambled enough.
Thank you again for everything.  I wish you happiness and success.


….Okay, I may be crying again…and if I knew how to put hearts in a blog without them just looking like arrows and 3s, there would be a whole string of them….

Here is Cassie’s article…

(p.s. I think I need to steal her title to use whenever anyone asks me what the project is about…)

(to see the teen version of the project, including Cassie’s story, go here:

ScanScan 3

(55+ version!!!!) women. raw. honest. loved.


“Boy, I SURE WROTE THE TRUTH!” – Louise’s (aka Nana) words, when I handed her the writeup she had sent me of her insecurity, so that she could read it to the group. (The insecurity which she couldn’t remember ever sending me…she was hilarious…I can only hope to be so hilarious when I’m 89!)

I open with her statement because that could be the theme of this evening.

Of this project, really.

This project is about honesty.

Oftentimes, it seems to be about being honest about things that you are terrified of being honest about, and rarely, if ever, share with those around you…let alone strangers both in the room and later on the internet. And yet…the relief, the bonding, and the love that you can feel in the room afterward overwhelms all of the terror that went into sharing these lesser known/shared insecurities and fears we have about ourselves.

I learned so very much with this group. It’s been difficult to write this blog post about this night simply because I’ve come away from it with so many thoughts…so much insight into women as individuals and women as a community. My attempt is going to be to keep it simple. To let these ladies speak for themselves.

Starting out, when there was just the thought of doing this project exclusively with an older age group, I wondered how this one would turn out…there were really no assumptions in my mind.
I was on the fence…couldn’t decide…
My brain seemed to sway back and forth between the negative, “Sure, of course they still have insecurities…this shit never ends!,” to the more positive “They probably have worked through all of that by their age! This could be a super boring group!” (Not really. I didn’t think that last part, but, can you imagine?? Everyone sitting around staring at each other with nothing to share? As if. That would never happen.)

Plainly put, we did not all sit around staring at each other silently.
As we did in the other groups, we shared, we laughed (A LOT…especially with Nana there), we cried, we hugged…

We understood.

We related.

And I can’t speak for everyone else, but I LEARNED.

I learned, more than anything else, the importance of a network. A community.
We spoke about the importance of being part of a strong network of women. That has stuck in my head and will stay there ’til the day I die…hopefully surrounded by my strong network of women.

One of the other most important things I learned, especially from Nana, is to LAUGH. Especially at yourself. Laugh, laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. It makes you radiant. It makes you endearing. It makes you beautiful.

Without further ado, here are the ladies. Let me know what you learn…

(For this project, since these ladies have so much experience, we added a “regret” portion {at the suggestion of one of the first participants…great idea, Mona! Thank you!} I think we can maybe think of it moreso as an “advice” portion.
Also, I do not censor these ladies’ honesty. Ever. Their words are their words.)

paige ~

“To pick one insecurity is a hard task. Do I choose the obvious things like body parts or do I choose something that is more hidden? For someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, just thinking about what I should write brings up an obvious one for me…
I often feel insignificant. I try hard to be a good mom. When I work outside of the home, I do my job well. However, I am constantly walking the line between “no one even notices or cares for me” & “they talk negatively” or even “laugh at me when I’m not around”. It’s hard to explain to people that it’s not that I care what people think of me, because I don’t…fuck‘em if they don’t like me. It’s that even if I don’t “care” what they think, I am constantly thinking about the impression, if any, I leave on people.
In recent years, I feel like it’s gotten a bit better. I’ve really figured out what makes me feel good & I’ve focused on those things. I try not to put myself in situations where I know I’m going to feel judged or too exposed. But thoughts of past interactions, jobs, former friends, etc. haunt me. When it’s quiet, I find myself replaying old conversations to see if what I said sounded stupid. I try to analyze my past friendships that are no longer alive to try to figure out what I did to cause our parting. I think about why a current friend hasn’t called or didn’t invite me to something – did I do/say something wrong?
It’s constant, it’s painful, &, even though I feel like most days it seems better than it once was, it takes away from my life & overshadows everything I do.”
p.s. Paige is not 55+. But, she has been following the project since the beginning, recommended her grandma (Nana) as a participant, came down from Montana, and brought Nana. So, I thought it obvious that she should join us as well. I’m so glad she did.

paige’s friends and family:

“I remember on the first day of second grade being sooooooo excited to see Courtney again after the long summer break. I was terrified she wouldn’t remember me and I was prepared to be crushed when she didn’t want to play with me. I wondered if she would still have eyes that looked like half sunshines and if she still giggled like a chipmunk…and then I saw her! And she did! And she still does 30 years later… and I love her for it. With Courtney, I know she will always remember me, I will always take joy in those half sunshine eyes and her giggle is RIDICULOUS. Seriously. My brilliant friend has grown into such an amazing woman. Kind. Open. Honest. Accepting. Lovely. PATIENT. Court has been through a lot these last few years and the way she has met it all head on is fucking rad and awe-inspiring. She is a perfect mother and wife. Let me be sure you understand what I mean by perfect – I don’t mean her house is always clean and her nails are always done, I mean…the way she lives her life suits the needs of her family perfectly. Making them lucky, loved, doted on and her…well, perfect. I love her. Courtney Paige will be my friend for all of eternity. I can’t wait to see her giggling when she’s 90.” – Jamey

“Loyal, True, Caring, Straight Forward, Intelligent, Beautiful, Fantastic Mother, Fair” – Sherri

“Courtney (aka Paige) is loving, caring, giving, mellow, has a fantastic sense of humor, is super-smart, loyal, trustworthy, an amazing mom and a true friend.” – Amy

“Paige is a caring soul. She is the truest of friends, loyal, forgiving and honest. She loves and cares for her family and is a beautiful mother of three. Paige volunteers for her church and her speeches are lovely.” – Mariah

“Strong; Giving; Forgiving; Compassionate; Understanding; The World’s Best Mom; Fair; Grounded; The World’s Best Wife; Innovative; Creative; Passionate” – Brian

“Generous, hard-working, quick on the uptake, and committed to the people and things that she cares about.
I love Paige.” – Julia

“Paige…how I love her so. She is the first to ask what do you need or how she can help. For me, she is easy to be around. Being with her is like having your fave jammies on. It’s warm, soft and you feel like yourself. She accepts people for who they are, the good and the bad.
Watching her bring up three amazing children is a joy. She has faced some very hard life choices with these little monkeys and she always is looking at the best outcome because for her there is no other. She is stronger than she knows. She is always looking to be a better person. Not for other people but for herself. I admire her willingness to learn about new things.
I am truly blessed to call Paige my friend.” – Lisa

glennains glenna ~

I am a procrastinator.
I fill my days with people, projects, not completing anything very well.
I’m rather unorganized, messy and easily distracted.
I don’t like the feeling of not following through with my commitments.
I don’t say no enough and let too many people drain me emotionally.

My biggest regret has always been the ending of my marriage and the fracture of my family. I was a child of divorce at 5, and one of the strongest beliefs I held growing up was “I will never divorce because it’s too hard on kids”. While I am extremely sorry about this happening, I have come to realize that we both did the best we could for who we were at the time. You must forgive yourself and seize each new day you are given and use it for good, not dwell in angry regret.
Another regret I’ve seen my whole life…I have a problem with doing things I really don’t want to do. I tend to do what others want me to do, not having a voice and saying no. I can remember this as a child, always doing the things my mother suggested. As I look back today I understand how this trait has impacted my whole life, especially the biggest decisions I ever made.”

glenna’s friends and family:

“Intelligent, Compassionate, Supportive, Community-Focused, Dreamer, Survivor, Loyal, Witty, Curator, Collector” – Summer

“I find that over the years, the more that I get to know Glenna, the more I like her. I have always admired her intelligence, forthrightness, candor, her ability to listen without interruption, and her savvy sense of style.
I also have had the opportunity to see her great sense of fun and wonderful sense of humor! She looks for the bright side!
I truly enjoy her company and I look forward to spending more time together in our future. She is a friend, in the true sense.” – Cheryl

“Caring, resilient, giving, warm, funny, beautiful, loyal, supportive, unconditional. Those are a few words that come to mind when I think of Mom.” – Brett

“Why I love my friendship with Glenna – She is: Low-maintenance; strong-willed; intelligent; has amazing social skills; has a huge heart; is amazing; is understanding” – Tina

“Can walk in a room and light it up with her smile. She is giving with her time. She’s a person who can make you feel very loved and appreciated. She makes old men feel young with her funny and flirty conversation. She is more energetic than most women I know! She is willing to help people get a fresh start when most would have given up.” – Nanette

“First of all, she’s super nice and isn’t afraid to share her opinion (which I find really awesome).
She also has a super great sense of style. Every time I walk into her shop, I want pretty much everything in there.
She really does care about people. She wants to go to every performance/recital/talent show you will ever have (which you know she’ll try her best to come to).
She also isn’t afraid to enter into an awkward situation, whereas, if I were to do that I would probably make an awkward situation even more awkward.
Glenna is also able to deal with people who don’t cooperate on a daily basis and still manages to make them love her. Not many people are able to do that.
I’m proud to introduce her as one of my grandmas.” – Ravyn

“My grandma is the most loving and selfless person I know. If you needed a shirt and you came across this wonderful woman, she would give you the shirt off her back. If you needed a place to stay, she would happily open her house to you with open arms. She can be quiet and reserved but is full of some of the best advice. But she can also be quick on her feet and call you a bitch, and it’s awesome – she even catches me off guard sometimes with her comments. ha!
Without her, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had in my life, the number one – being able to go to college. I don’t think I could ever thank her enough for that opportunity. I just hope that one day I will be able to repay her, but I honestly don’t know how I could ever do that. It would take millions and millions of years to equal the amount she has done for me.
My grandma is like my best friend, like one of those friends you can come home to and just bitch and bitch and they’ll listen. Or a friend that seems to have an answer for everything. The people who say their best friend is their mom suck, because grandmothers are much better – sorry, mothers of the world. When I’m stressed about school or pissed off at people, I can go to her and just vent.
And she texts! Oh my god, she texts! She knows technology! Sometimes she has her struggles with computers, but the fact that she texts is just awesome. Have you realized how much I’ve said awesome? Well, it’s because she is.
On a more professional note, have you seen her store? Good god, that woman is a pack rat – sorry, grandma! But your constant search for vintage clothing has sparked a love for vintage clothing in myself! I might not enjoy wearing them, but I love learning about it all, whether it be from you, or the research I’ve had to do for you in your continuous effort to document all the clothing you have…. all the bags and bags and bags and bags…and bags of it. Everyone has their flaws, hers is just one that has sparked a business, how lucky is she? The fact that she loves what she does, even if at times it can be a little much, is inspirational, she absolutely loves what she does! If she can do it, why can’t I?!
It’s really hard for me to say I am myself around my family, but around my grandma I am completely myself – and a few other family members as well on that side, hah. I am so grateful for that, there’s no judgment, no criticism, but also no nonsense.
My grandma is my role model, my inspiration, and one of my closest friends. I love her with all my heart and then some. I could never thank her enough for all she’s done for me, but hope that one day I can give back to her some of what she’s given me. She makes me want to be the best that I can be and more. She has helped me through some of the biggest struggles in my life, whether she knows it not – high school, lame-o crazy ex-boyfriends, and now my experiences in college…
And now a direct note to you, grandma: You are awesome, what you do is awesome; keep doing what you’re doing because people love you for it. I love you so much and hope that I can one day be as caring and selfless as you. I miss you, and miss seeing you almost every day…remember back when I was in high school and got picked up by you pretty much every day? Seems like such a long time ago, I must be getting old. 😉 ” -Kaylee

“There is so much to be said about Glenna.
First of all, she is the best grandma you could hope for. Our little guy brightens up every single time he sees her and gets so excited when we tell him that “Naama” is coming to pick him up. He blathers on and on about her…half of the things we don’t understand (he’s two), but it’s obvious that it’s all good things he’s saying. Haha.
She’s also taken on my daughter (her step-grandchild) as her own grandchild, never making her feel like she’s anything but instantly part of the family…and has made Ravyn so implicitly comfortable with that, that Ravyn quite naturally refers to Glenna as her grandma, too – no matter that she only got this new grandma when she was ten years old…old enough to be stubborn about it, had she wanted to.
Glenna also raised (along with THREE other boys) the super loving, loyal, compassionate, caring, hard-working son that I not only get to call my boyfriend, but I get to watch and admire as a most attentive father, in addition. I will be forever indebted to her for this.
She is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever met…so much so, that those of us close to her sometimes wish she would actually be a little selfish. ☺ I know that seems strange, but, this woman gives so much of herself to others that we worry about how much it can drain her. She is so busy giving, however, that she often doesn’t even seem aware of the effect on her. She has a bigger heart than most.
Glenna is also very quick and witty, which makes conversations with her quite enjoyable. ☺ We seemed to hit it off pretty well when I first met her…I knew we would get along when we were able to banter right away.
Glenna is always doing what she can to support the community here. She always is first to know about what’s happening in local music and the arts, and seems to always be part of the crowd…doing whatever she can to promote Tacoma’s small businesses and arts scene. She volunteers her time (which, after helping everyone she helps, she rarely has much of) at The Grand Cinema downtown, getting to know more of the community that way, as well.
Besides all of that, she owns her own kickass vintage clothing store downtown! She has the largest selection of vintage clothing in one place than I have ever seen! She establishes a great rapport with all of her customers and clients who end up endeared to her and she instantly calls friends. That’s just who she is: lovable, great energy, enthusiastic, informative, endearing, and witty…in a nutshell.
I know she had a hard time agreeing to do this project, as, while she is so busy being there for others, she is more reserved when it comes to her own emotions. I’m incredibly blessed to have her as a part of this, since I know it was super difficult for her to have to sit down and really concentrate on her own feelings and internal struggles that don’t normally get attention brought to them. I definitely can relate. I love you, Glenna, and I’m honored to call you my mother-in-law (especially since liking your own mother-in-law is generally quite a stretch)!!!! Thank you for being you. Now go take a vacation and enjoy yourself! Hahaha” – Alana

peggyrevisedpeggy ~

“My insecurity is my weight. I was always very petite until I hit menopause. I am not comfortable with the weight that I’m carrying. BUT… I LOVE FOOD. I don’t drink or use drugs, but I love to eat. I always said that if I ever have a weight problem, I would have a problem because of my love for food. I have gained and lost 50+ pounds over the last few years. I NEVER thought that I would be a typical YO-YO dieter but I am. I tend to really do well losing the lbs. if I have a special event coming up in the future, but I don’t keep it off for long. It’s weird, because they say that if someone really heavy loses the weight, they still feel like they’re heavy. I’m just the opposite – I’m heavy, but, unless I look in the mirror, I still feel really small like I used to be. No one is really bothered by my weight except me. I don’t feel any less loved because of it.

Regrets… When I was in the process of leaving my marriage to Kt’s dad, I was with another man, for whom I had left the marriage. My marriage was as close to what I imagine hell to be. It was kill-or-be-killed after 16 years of trying to make it work. I was dead inside. I thought about taking my own life many times, the only thing that kept me from that was that I didn’t want my kids to find me or be left with that legacy. At one point early on after I asked for a divorce, my Pastor (my husband’s cousin) and two Elders from my church came to my home and admonished me for my sins. Told me that I could no longer take communion because I would cause others to “fall”, and if I wanted to stay in the church I could choose between leaving my marriage and staying. They asked me if I had been unfaithful in my marriage??? Of course I had, Duh, I made it no secret that I was with someone who made me feel as though I mattered. They also asked Ernie, (KT’s) dad, if he had ever been unfaithful. He said no.
My regret is that I didn’t say… “OH REALLY, SO ALL THE TIMES THAT YOU WENT TO THE DEJA VU FOR LAP DANCES IN THE COURSE OF OUR MARRIAGE, EVERY TIME YOU WATCHED PORNO AND PLEASURED YOURSELF IN OUR MARRIAGE BED, OR WAS IN SOME OTHER LOCATION IN OUR HOME WITH A PORNO MAG. PLEASURING YOURSELF WITHIN A FEW STEPS OF OUR CHILDREN’S BEDROOMS…THOSE DON’T COUNT??? ACCORDING TO MY BIBLE, THEY ARE ALL THE SAME.” I didn’t think about it until much later down the road but that’s one of my deepest regrets, ever. The next one is probably not as hard to share. I regret that I didn’t leave the marriage just for the simple fact that it was intolerable. I never had the courage to leave – instead, I had a man give me the courage to do it. All that that did was take all the ugly things that he had done in our marriage over the years – all the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional abuse – away from him and it made me the “Bad Guy”.”
an additional note on peggy…we are in Tacoma, WA.  She came over from Spokane to do this and I’m eternally grateful that she did.  She is a super inspiring lady that we all can learn from.  

peggy’s friends and family:

“Some positive traits I would say about Peg are that she’s very caring towards everyone! She always looks for the good in people and she’s very friendly and funny. She takes what life gives her, good and bad, and makes the most of it.” – Karly

“A very deep and honorable person.
She tries her hardest for anyone in need. A selfless person. A woman that has dealt with struggles of broken children…myself included! She has become this fun and adventurous person – spending time with her makes you feel you are loved, and being in her presence alone makes you feel wanted (something I now cherish) she drives to help others.
She has a great heart and fills the room with joy and love to be around her. She always is there when you need her for anything!!! From recipes, to car trouble, to kids, to relationships. She is def one of few that is so devoted to her family.” – Valleri

“Sooooo, it’s really hard to sum up my mom. She is like the mom of moms. School volunteer, teacher, compassionate, and a crafty lady. She is a collector of all things rainbow and strawberries. She has been helping me all weekend plan a graduation party, and dove right into it, last minute, and completely: making the cake, special cookies and candy and decorations. She would stay up all night making Halloween costumes and bring a couple extra to our elementary school, in case another kid didn’t have one. My sister and I would always win on crazy hair day, because she would stick like a hundred barrettes in our hair, and go all out, because that’s fun to her and she never does things halfway. It’s really how I want her. No one else is quite as ‘mom’ as her; I’m kind of biased though. When she is gone, there will be an unavoidable hole in every day.” – Jordyn

“There is only one word that I can think of that best describes Peggy and that is – Selfless -…Peggy is the most unselfish and most giving person I know. Words cannot describe how happy she makes me and what a positive influence she has on me. Peggy gives off this aura of genuine, raw kindness. I’ve only known Peggy on a personal level for a little over a year. In that year, I can’t explain how accepting she has been. She’s made me feel like I have her as family and as a friend. She is always welcoming me with open arms, as well as any other person who may be important to me. Peggy always thinks of others before she thinks of herself. There is not a time where I feel like I can’t ask her for advice or for help. She never makes me feel like I’m a burden. Peggy would give anyone her last dollar if it helps them, or her shirt off her back.
Peggy can take anyone by surprise; she is the definition of ‘never judge a book by its cover’. Peggy on the outside looks like this conservative, quiet, very calm woman. She makes it known that she is a good Christian lady, but what most people know is that she can have a mouth like a sailor! haha. She has no filter when it comes to speaking her mind and it makes me happy to say she is my friend. Peggy loves hardcore rock and longhaired rockers! Peggy will take you by surprise and I love knowing she is a part of my life! Peggy has so much love for all the people in her life and it’s just addictive to be around her. I don’t have any family out here and I don’t have many people that I’ve connected with, but Peggy has welcomed me into her family and has made me feel like I’m at home all the time, and that is important to me. I’m sure you can get the picture that Peggy is a great woman and I’m grateful to know that I have her in my life.” – Joddy

“First of all, this lady is my mom… she made me! And I’m awesome, so she’s gotta be super awesome! Like most mothers she has always put her kids, and step kids, and grandkids, and so on before herself. She is very selfless but beyond that she has always been accepting of anyone else that comes along with all these kids. To break it down for you all… she birthed 3 of her own and eventually took on 4 more. On top of that she now has 8 grandkids ranging from 4 months old to a recent High school Graduate! She loves every single one of our friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, and other extended family members as if they were her own. Also she is beyond accepting of all our VERY different personalities, religious beliefs, musical tastes and so on.
Speaking of music… I love music, and when I started developing my own musical tastes, she’s was a bit afraid, understandably. I love hard rock and heavy metal. She loves country and Christian music but chooses to take an interest in my life and personal tastes. The first concert I took her to was Ozzfest… backstage! She loved it and got to meet lots of rock stars! Who would have thought a country loving Christian woman would grow to obsess over the guitarist of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. 666! Hahaha! We now live about 4 hours away from each other and she hates it but we have only grown closer. We have become great friends and she comes to me often for advice. She is always so open and excepting of constructive criticism. I feel that this is one of the most rare human traits and a big reason she is and always will be one of the most amazing people in my life! She’s constantly growing and adapting but will always be my mom… Hi mom look at me!” – Kt

sylvia ~

“The insecurity I have has been with me all my life. As with most insecurities, it stems from my childhood. I was bullied for being the fat kid at home, the fat kid in the neighborhood and the fat kid in school. I was looked at in disgust, teased, and called an assortment of fat names. I learned early on that the stereotypical opinion of a fat person is that they are lazy, stupid, ugly, and smell bad.
To this day, I feel the “need” to prove that opinion wrong. Intellectually, I know I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. But emotionally – and insecurity is an emotion – I feel I must fulfill my “need”. In my quest, I have developed many skills (survival skills in a thin world) to appear self-assured and confident. I know how to dress for success, do my hair and make-up perfectly, I can work circles around most people and I am strong enough to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders! This all seems good enough but there is still this inner voice telling me, “Sylvia, you are fat. People only see you as fat. You will always be remembered as the fat girl”.

*I regret not having had the wisdom at age 25 that I now have at age 65! I know that I have grown from my mistakes and truly feel remorseful that sometimes my growth was at the expense of others.
*I regret not having developed a stronger network of women. It has only been in the last 10 years or so that I have truly come to appreciate the importance of those female bonds.
*I regret not asking for support when I need it the most. I have a difficult time convincing myself that asking for support should be viewed as self-worth rather than as a weakness.

What I don’t regret:
*I don’t regret hugging people. I believe it is through this simple act of kindness that no matter how much we are hurting, feeling insecure or alone, the hug fills that void.
*I don’t regret owning up to the level of compassion that I have for people. I have been a nurse caring for the hardcore male prison inmate population and a nurse caring for Nuns in a convent and have felt the same degree of compassion for both. The Nuns had the greater advantage, however, because I could hug them!”

sylvia’s friends and family:

“Sylvia and I have been friends since her son, Ashley, was the age
of 2. I won’t say I know her because no one really knows all aspects of a
person, but I would say that I am probably one of very few whom enjoys being
with her no matter what her mood or frame of mind. We have a common
background and that makes us comfortable with each other.
Words that come to mind when thinking of Sylvia are: Creative, Beautiful,
Bold, Caring, Considerate, Loving and Stubborn.” – Sally

“Sylvia is one of my best friends, always there when u need her for support, to talk, listen, or physical hard work. She is one-of-a-kind, never judgmental of what you’re doing; always standing by you with whatever decisions your making. She will give you input if asked – take-it-or-leave-it kind. She is one special person, with a great personality and laugh – quirky sometimes, with a sense of humor us girls understand. She can be serious, if needed, and a kind and gentle soul. I could write a book on Sil; we’ve had super good times traveling together and some very sad emotional times when there were deaths within our families. We just see each other through it.
Oh ya, she is both beautiful inside/out. With great genes for her flawless facial skin.” – Debbie

“Sylvia is generous, caring, compassionate, patient, nerdy and down to earth!” – Roz

“Positive traits about Sylvia: *Always puts others before herself *Dedicated and hard-working *Sees the good in everyone *Nurturing caregiver *Loving family member *Open-minded *Infectious sense of humor” – Paul

“Joyful personality. Sees the good in everything. Positive energy, optimistic, compassionate. Accepts people the way they are. Makes others feel good about themselves. Her soul sings.
Very talented and creative.
Wonderful laugh. Crazy-good sense of humor. Even in emails her unique sense of humor comes through. Does not complain no matter how much she has on her plate. Just gets in and does it.
Loves people, especially those in her personal life.
Although she is obviously a beautiful woman, I believe her lovely spirit makes her even more so. When she is very old she will still have that beauty. No plastic surgery needed there.
I read once that a key to a good relationship is how we feel about ourselves in another’s presence. In Sylvia’s presence I always feel good.
Bottom line…Whenever I’m going to her house I always feel really happy.” – Pam

“My Auntie Sylvia has always been one of my Favorite people to be around and to aspire to be like. A role model. She is generous and caring to those in need. A loving mother and wife. I admire her open-mindedness and nonjudgmental approach to people and places. She is also very creative; a talented artist in every media I’ve seen her work with.
Sylvia is my favorite person to go with on a food and shopping adventure! We get a little carried away some times “ooo ahhh! Feel this! Taste this!’” Fun Fun!! So many good times, Laughs, Cries, good talks and brainstorming. I am So blessed to have her as my aunt and my friend. I am very Proud of Sylvia!!! An amazing woman!” – Sunny

“1. She is kind. 2. She would do anything to help anyone in need. 3. Awesome cook! 4. Fun! 5. Full of life. 6. Full of love. 7. Youthful personality.” – Stephanie

“What I find most important and profound about my mom – the fundamental thing that I think everything else great about her stems from – is her refusal to be anyone other than herself, coupled with her acceptance of everyone for who they are. She has provided the most amazing example, my entire life, of what it means to go your own way – to hold fast to what you believe and live outwardly, as well as inwardly, in the truest possible way. For me it’s meant being a weirdo without fear; for her it’s meant loving and accepting the people she knows unconditionally, and allowing herself to be loved and accepted right back. It’s meant always being someone you could trust with even your most fragile of inside stuff without fear of judgment. It’s meant being someone who encourages generosity and kindness in others, through her own actions. And yeah, it’s also meant being a weirdo without fear.” – Ashley

“There isn’t much I can say about Sylvia except that she is fun to be around, supportive, and open-minded. I’m not sure if she knows how much I truly appreciate having her in my life. She looks only half her age, and is extremely active. She’s a great person.” – Elliot

“Sylvia is one of the most amazing and beautiful women I have met. She is more outgoing and fun than most grandmothers out there. She is also one of the most creative ladies I know. Honestly, when I was younger I absolutely worshiped her for her creativity; every piece of art she created at paint-a-plate was absolute perfection. Sylvia is a great mother, grandmother, and friend that I know I can count on to be there for me no matter what.” – Bella

“Sylvia is one of the greatest people I know. She is hilarious and very kind. Even though the music I listen to is not her type she still does a strange dance to it. With Sylvia, you can talk about anything, which includes drama, sports, food, etc.” – Ethan

“Sylvia is an artist and a teacher. She is a beautiful person.
Regardless of the event, Sylvia finds a way make something special. If there is no event, Sylvia can create one just by being herself and letting her personality flow through the audience.
From doll dresses to gardening to hand-drawn artistry, her artist’s eye always finds a way to manifest itself.
She influences people. As a teacher, Sylvia has made me a better dad and husband. She’s the primary reason our son has matured so nicely as a man and a dad. Kids in the family always learn from her.
When you add her obvious characteristics – she’s intelligent, she’s pretty, she’s funny and positive – it’s easy for me to say that marrying Sylvia was the smartest thing I ever did.” – Duane

rosie ~

“What are my insecurities…WOW…I have a few. Body image; Am I smart enough; Am I good enough; and my huge fear is losing my son, Jim, or my husband and my mom. I think they are all connected in a way because when one tape starts in our head the others do seem to find their way in and join the loop. They all feed off one another, and if you are not careful it turns into one big self-bashing party. It’s funny – as you get older some of the same tapes play- just different words find their way in to replace others. Let’s take our boobs…. when we are young it’s, “I wish they were bigger”, and now it’s, “I wish they were firmer.” Or, “I’ve lost 15lbs so why do I look the same?”…. We defeat ourselves before we even get out the door. That’s just to touch the surface.
As for regrets…to be honest, I only really have one and I try not to let that one eat away at me. I wish I had not missed my son Brian’s last show…. because he died that night and for some reason we seem to think ” if I would have been there…” so, with that said…would the outcome have been different? No. I feel like I let him down…but did I? No. Was he sad that I didn’t come? …I really don’t think so, because I never missed a show or very few. But why that show?? …Why did I have to feel too tired to go that night??!!!! We never know when someone is going to pass…be it of natural causes, or, like my son, an accident. Either way, we can’t change the outcome. I would if I could… believe me. I live it everyday…the intense pain.”

rosie’s friends and family:

“Rosie is gentle, loving, and has gumption. She’s many more things than this, but I’ll focus on those three for now. Babies love her and she’s like Snow White when it comes to animals. It’s quite magical, really. Even wild birds love her. She’s loving and gentle to everyone but also doesn’t take shit, which is good. She has been through a lot of pain and heartbreak but it’s never made her hard or jaded. No chips on her shoulders; just love for everyone. She’s always wanted the best for me even though “misery loves company”. We’ve been miserable together and I’ve never felt like she wanted me to be anything but happy and to have joy in my life. She’s super hot and gorgeous too.
I’m blessed to have her in my life for those times when no one else gets what it’s like (she will know what I mean) there are parts of Rosie and I that are frozen in time together. It’s hard to explain, but it’s kinda like I will always be her daughter-in-law. And there are a lot worse things to be. I love her and I’m really glad she’s a part of this project. Besides everything else, like I said before, hot and gorgeous and photographs so beautifully.” – Dana

“Rosie is a fun-loving and nurturing person that provides self-care by her many forms of art. She has an infectious laugh and is very supportive of those around her. To know her is to love her. Luckily she has become close to me as I have mentored her in her photography and she is always a great confidant of my personal secrets and problems, which it’s generally hard to find someone with those qualities without judgment. She is a woman whose presence is known when she is in the room because of the light she radiates.” – Bill

“My mom has the kindest heart of anyone I have ever known. She will go out of her way to make anyone and everyone happy. She is one of the strongest people I know and I am proud to have her as my mom.” – Jim

“It is pretty serendipitous that her name is Rosie because she sees most situations or people through a rose-colored lens. Mama sees the best in people even if they are terrible people. She sees the best in everything. When Brian died, it was one of the darkest places I have ever seen her in and she still found positive things about people whom I was not so sure about. This does not mean that she’s going to let anyone take advantage of her. She has lived three lives already and she has taught me much about people. I truly believe that she is one of the most selfless people –she puts others first before her own needs even it is someone undeserving.
She was the first person to truly teach me the meaning of love. When you truly love someone you love ALL of them including the bad parts, and they can never complete you; We find love in everyone and everything, not just one person. Would I have survived without her in my life? Maybe, but my life is more fulfilled with her support and unconditional love. She is not my blood mother but that never stopped her from loving or supporting me even when Brian and I were at odds. We all know how important he is to her; and to me :)” – Athena

“You know that person in your life who, no matter what your day or month or week has been like, always manages to make it seem better? Rosie is that person. I have always referred to her as my “white shining light; the cool calm center of the universe” in a room full of chaos. She is beyond charming, yet has a calmness and grounding nature about her, like she sees only the best parts of you, and, in turn, you become a better person for having been around her. In the past few years, Rosie has faced more heartbreak and devastation than most could face in their lives, and though I know each and every day is hard, she manages to face it with an infectious smile and a joke or two. She is the strongest person I have ever met.
We became close after her oldest son, Brian, died in a tragic accident. Though it is hard to explain, we have shared experiences regarding him that I think only she could understand, though I felt strangely honored and saddened to have shared them with her. She loves both her sons with a palpable intensity that I wonder if, at times, it must be exhausting. Yet almost effortlessly, Rosie still manages to spread kindness to those around her, patiently listening and offering guidance, advice, and infinite wisdom.
She isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. She’s delicate in a ladylike way, but not fragile. She has a laugh that will light up a room, and in her hugs you find peace. I know I speak for many more than myself when I say that I look forward to the time I get to spend with Rosie, for her love is something that radiates from her and we always have a good time.
Rosie has certain magic about her, an impish charm that is inherent in her sons. She loves to laugh and as I said before, hers is contagious.” – Leah

“Rosie is: Special person with a huge heart. Lots of talent with a lens and with clay! :0)
Beautiful smile, with an intenseness behind her eyes that is sometimes beautifully haunting, relaxing, mysterious and loving.
I’ve only known her for a few years but feel like I’ve known her for hundreds of years.” – Larry


She is a seer.
Where others find flaws and doubts,
She’s a believer.

She is a spirit.
Where others will shy away,
She will not fear it.

She is a mother.
When others have lost their home,
She’ll give them cover.

She is a sunray.
When others live in the night,
She gives them warm day.

She is a feeler.
When others will pain and toil
She is their healer.

She is a shoulder.
Where others are burdened down
She’ll take the boulder.

She is something new to everyone she meets.
She’ll find the beauty underneath the beast.
She never puts her needs before the rest.
Because of that, her damage is repressed.

A fragile line she walks from day to day,
While sorrow is just barely held at bay.
Her strength renewed in pictures she collects,
While insecure emotions genuflect.

I’ve tried to share with words limited to few
All the lovely things my friend can do.
But how is one to possibly explain
All the splendor found within the rain?” – Jessi

“I met Rosie through the Tacoma based record label that was the home for a band I was in called The Jupiter Order. Rosie was photographing a show that we played at and I met her afterwards through Raymond, who played the keyboards in the band and is co-owner of the label.
The following two years of discovering whom this eclectic artist and amazing person is has been a delight, and after seeing recent photographs of her doing a fashion shoot as a model, it was another brilliant revelation. Her persona comes through in the photographs! The photographer even commented on how her warmth and bright soul saturated the shots!
Rosie is an exceptional person, who I have grown to be friends with and admire! She is sensitive, caring, and intuitive to a fault! I’m writing these things to introduce you to her, but in a very short time, you will discover these things for yourself!” – Scott

“I have known Rosie for about 6 years now. We got to know each other better after the passing of her son, Brian. In that time I can honestly say that I have never met anyone with a heart as caring as Rosie. She also has an eye for composition that few have. She sees everything through the viewfinder even on the rare occasion that she leaves her camera at home. I know that she struggles every day with emotional pain and I feel bad that there is nothing I can do to help but I also know that she is stronger than she thinks she is.
Rosie always greets you with a hug and not only asks how you are but is truly interested in your answer.” – Corey

jan ~

“I guess my biggest insecurities have to do with my health and my house. My health is generally good, but I have a progressive type of MS, and I worry about getting around as time passes. Still, if I had a choice, I prefer a failing body over a failing mind. As for my house, my husband is a “collector” (read hoarder). I don’t want to go first, as I want to do something with the mess before I do go. I’m not wishing anything bad for my husband, but it makes me sick to think what my kids will be stuck with if something isn’t done.
As for regrets, I regret not being a stay-at-home mom, and when I was, I thought I had to be a housewife first. I thank God for my job, as I retired with a pension, which we would be lost without. Now my house is worse than ever, and my kids are grown and gone. When I look back, and when I watch the things my kids and others do with their kids, I have a lot of sadness and regrets. I also regret not giving them a better Christian upbringing, and setting a better example when they were most impressionable.”

Besides what Jan shared in writing, she elaborated further that evening…She was a busy mom of four boys when twelve years later she ended up giving birth to twin girls. Surprise! She worked while her husband stayed home with the girls…she says he spent a lot of time with the girls…playing with them, engaging them, enjoying them…he didn’t spend time worrying about the house. She wonders, looking back, had she stayed home: “I wouldn’t have been a bad mother, but would I still have done the things with them that he did??”

jan’s friends and family:

“I LOVE JAN. She is by far, the best friend I have E-V-E-R had.
I have never met anyone else like her; this woman could give Wonder Woman a run for her money just on sheer strength of character alone. She has a gentle heart wrapped in the body of a lioness. Jan was an “old friend”, the moment I met her, we fell into comfortable conversation with our first words. She is the sister I never had, the shoulder I cry on, the support that holds me up, and the foot that kicks me in the ass when I needed to “get over it” and move on.
I LOVE JAN, and she loves me! We haven’t spoken in almost a year, yet I know that statement is still true because, SHE is that good of a friend.” – Pat

“I’ve known Jan from our working days. I had already been at PSESD for four years when Jan came. My husband called us ‘yokemates’ because we often worked together on the same jobs. She had said she was only going to work for 10 years. Thirty years later, we retired a couple of years apart.
Right away I admired her honesty, loyalty, sharing, determination and helpfulness as well as terrific sense of humor. She helped me with computer programs, coping with other employees, giving information on the phone when I spelled her as receptionist so she could eat lunch, and giving me advice on how to run a household when I was married. Mostly, she gave friendship when it was needed. I hope I gave half as much.
I hope our friendship will last much longer than when I saw her everyday at work.” – Diane

“What would you get if you combined: Mother Theresa, Gloria Steinem; Florence Nightingale; Julia Child; Santa Clause and Jane Goodall?
Well, you would get my beautiful mother, Janice.
You may wonder how she can compare to all these famous women (and Santa), but I think it’s all of them who compare to her. I will try to keep this short, but I will break it down for you.
*Mother Theresa: She is a mother of 6, 4 boys and 2 girls. My mother sacrificed all worldly goods to give all she had to her children. She never asked for anything in return, other than for her family to be happy and healthy. While she may not have walked the streets of Calcutta, I think my brothers and I made enough messes in our lives to make a beggar in Calcutta say, “Ewww…. that’s gross”.
*Gloria Steinem: My mom often fought with the powers that be (aka the man, aka my father) for the rights of her children. The majority of the time it was a losing battle, but it was one she fought for us. She did achieve in the workplace, retiring from her job after over 30 years. In today’s workplace with mobile jobs, and people always moving about, it is amazing and impressive for one to stay at the same place for this long.
*Florence Nightingale: 4 boys in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. BB Guns, lawn darts, trees, dogs, football, fights, woods, tools, axes, slingshots, rocks, dirt clods…I could go on and on but I think you get the point. Lots of blood, sweat, and tears.
*Julia Child: I often thought she had a magic wand, because she could whip up anything. How many people make their own maple syrup for pancakes? Everything was homemade…she was magic.
*Santa Clause: She had the ability to make things magical during the holidays. While we didn’t have much, she gave all to make sure we had some. And, like Santa, I have never met a person who knows my mother that does not think she is the greatest person they have ever known.
*Jane Goodall: Do you even need to ask? 4 boys………(get it??????)” – Ty

“Oh, what to say about Janice???
My mother is an amazing, beautiful, loving woman. She is encouraging.
There is nothing she won’t do for her family.
She doesn’t give up.
She is always there for anyone that needs her, whether to dish out advice, help with money troubles, or just sit and be a shoulder to cry on.
She is gentle and kind.
I don’t know anyone more patient than she is.
She is generous; putting everyone’s needs and wants above her own.
She is strong. Maybe not physically, but in every other sense of the word. I know she gets frustrated not being able to function as well as she once could but she has more resolve and determination than any person half her age.
She is the foundation that holds us all together and keeps us sane.
She is our first love, our biggest fan, our loudest cheerleader, our saving grace and our stronghold when everything else seems to be carrying us away.
We don’t tell her enough, I don’t tell her enough, what a fantastic mom, friend, and woman she is. I can only hope to be half the lady she is.
I love you, Mom. More than you’ll ever know.” – Becca

louise (aka nana) ~

“I had a lot of insecurity growing up. I felt I wasn’t good looking enough. When I started school in first grade, I couldn’t read or speak English – only German – and I was humiliated that I didn’t understand. I always had the feeling that the other kids thought I was backward. I felt I would never be able to meet everyone else’s expectations. Because of this, I haven’t trusted people or that they are going to do what they say they are going to do….hence, I ask them and remind them many, many times.
I have no regrets at this point in my life. I did when I was a kid, but at this time I have none.”

Nana added that evening: “I have no regrets. I was married. My husband’s dead. I have a daughter. I have three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. There is nothing to regret.” She elaborated further that being a part of the Lutheran Church has proven the most positive element for her: “You trust your people.” She associated her lack of regret and insecurity into her later years with being a part of that community…staying close to people and sharing and confiding in them.

nana’s friends and family:

“Funny, Loving, Thoughtful, Smart, Giving, Helpful” – Sherri

“*One of my favorite people of all time!
*My feisty redheaded aunt–and even though her hair has turned silver, to me she will always be a redhead.
*Sweet, thoughtful, beautiful.
*Has to be related to the wonderful Betty White–they have the same vivacious personality.
*Loves her family to the “nth” degree (and that includes nieces and nephews).
*Don’t know what I’d do without her–and don’t even want to think about it.
*Wonderful sense of humor–even about herself. She can make fun of herself and her foibles–like no one else.” – Phyllis Schneider

“What to say about my Grandmother…
When I was a kid, we clashed. We are both very strong-willed & opinionated; I’m so thankful now that this is something that I got from her. Since I’ve been a mother myself, we have definitely grown closer. Watching her interact with her great-grandkids is amazing. They adore her & she LOVES them so much, her whole world seems to revolve around them. She is smart & funny & silly, which is everything anyone could want in a Nana.
She had a tough time as a child, which has obviously shaped her interactions with others in her life. She is a hard-worker & a bit of a perfectionist & holds those around her to a high standard. She would give her family anything & everything they need. She has an undeniable faith that has never wavered. She is a wonderful cook & hostess. Her sense of humor, sometimes unexpectedly raunchy, keeps all of us on our toes. She loves to dance & still thinks that Dean Martin is a dreamboat. I love her very much & I am so thankful that over the years I have gained some insight & understanding that has allowed us to become as close as we are today.” – Paige

Group 1, Part 1:
Group 1, Part 2:
Group 2, Teens!:
Group 4:
Group 5:

work? oh, yeah.

I am such a liar.
I said I was going to do another blog post back…well…whenever that was…I don’t feel like looking.

Anyway, I’ve been spending so much of my time on the Women: Raw. Honest. Loved. Project that I keep forgetting about the actual work I do for pay. (Which can be a problem, if you forget about making money for too long…yikes.) In any case, I do still do other shoots! I do!

This one was a bit ago, but I realize I’m so behind on sharing things that I’m here to do that now.
Meet the Deruyter family…I did Melissa’s maternity photos back before their little guy, Dane, was born…including a couple of those first. (Also did nudes of Melissa back while in art school still…not sharing those here, but, she’s been a great client…who now has moved across the country, unfortunately.)

In any case, no more talking. Here are photos.

(okay, just a few more words…the 55+ version of the project is taking place on Sunday!!! WOOOOOOP!!!! Look for the blog post about that, hopefully to come next week! alright, for reals now…back to business…)082512_0160082512_0312

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say what?!

First of all, HELLO!
Second of all, that title has nothing to do with anything I’m about to say.  I just had nothin.

I know.  I’m a total slacker.
This blog stuff is difficult.
I’m no blogger.  I’m a photographer with a blog…who obviously often forgets about said blog.
Well, I’m back.  Sorta.

What I’m here to tell you is that there is something super awesome that is going to be happening soon.
And that is…

The 55+ version of the Women: Raw. Honest. Loved. Project!!!!  
I cannot even tell you how EXCITED I am about this one.  If ever there was a time to pay attention, it will be when this version of the project is released.  Seriously…there are some incredible women about to pour their hearts out for you and you’re going to want to hear what they have to say.
Trust me.

It will be taking place at the end of June, so, be looking around that time for that particular blog entry.  You won’t be sorry.

In other photobloggin news, I will try to get my nonsense together and actually do a legitimate photo-blog entry of a recent shoot.  I have a lot to catch up on here.  The project has sorta become my baby, but I don’t want to forget about the other awesome people that I have been fortunate enough to photograph lately!  So, look for that.  I want to say it will come tomorrow…yeah…that’s what I want to say.  We shall see.  My now TWO-YEAR-old (wherehasthetimegone) sometimes has a different idea.

I will also be photographing a bit at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure tomorrow in Seattle…SUPER excited about that, and will be SUPER excited to share those photos with you at a later date, I’m sure.

For now, I leave you with a few pictures of that adorable two-year-old I was talking about…who likes to climb on my back while I’m working…
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kid and i