It started when I found myself divorced and a young, single mother of two who struggled to just make it work on some days. I would get calls from women who were in similar situations who, for whatever reason, thought I was “making it” back then and they wanted advice, support and someone to just listen and understand. I did understand. I did offer advice. And I listened and I cried with them. I wanted to make them feel whole again. Feel beautiful. Feel worthy.
I wanted to help women be strong, passionate, powerful, and empowered – redefine themselves into who they knew they used to be. I could see it. I could feel it.
But the fear told me that this could not be a reality and so I listened.
And then life happened — I raised two beautiful kids, worked my ass off, cried a lot of my own tears and even remarried. I found a man (or maybe he found me!) who loved my children, accepted me for who I was and over the years has loved me even though I’ve gained weight, lost jobs, gained confidence, lost confidence. He bought me a camera as a gift many years ago and encouraged me to get back into photography – a passion of mine since I was a little girl. That was 10 years ago and when that camera was in my hand, I felt that passion again. Felt a connection. Emotions on film is magical and I felt it again and it felt so good!
At the age of 40, I lost a heavy duty corporate job. Great money. Miserable life. It seemed the ideal time to do what I loved. A photography business was born.
And because fear was still a good friend, I decided to ‘play small’. How dare I be different and want to cater to women over 40? How dare I want to play big. So I didn’t.
Still something was calling me.
This idea of the women I had wanted to work with, how I wanted to make them feel whole again. Confident. Beautiful. And this time I wanted to do it on film.
But this time, it was different.
In 2011, my mom suffered her second stroke and it caused me so much pain to see her get sick again and my time was divided by a million and I felt like I was barely holding on most days. It was this experience that made me know that it was time for me to also be whole again. My mom was my most wonderful teacher and from this experience, I knew it was time.
I was tired of living in fear and playing small.
It was time. My time was now.
I would be around women who would find everything wrong with themselves within minutes of me meeting them. And it made me sad. I so badly wanted to show them that they weren’t what they thought they saw or felt in the mirror. They were so much more.
I knew that with a photograph, I could make a woman feel.
The same woman who found flaws would look at her photo and say, “Wow, I’m actually pretty…NO…I am gorgeous!!!”
The mom being photographed with her daughter would feel that beautiful memory of the day her daughter was born. The day she held in her baby girl in her arms for the first time.
A friendship would show its secrets. Girlfriends who cried together, laughed together, and told each other things they’d never even told their husbands or boyfriends. Memories of the joy of sisterhood.
A woman would feel like a goddess, a diva who deserved this time to feel beautiful. She would feel confident. Whole. Amazing.
The next day, I woke up early, poured a coffee, and while the dogs played in the back yard, I wrote in my journal. I wrote my “Why”.
And in less than 10 minutes, I’d written it all because I knew and I was certain. I re-read it and named the line Woman Redefined. Within minutes, I went and bought the URL and for some reason, I knew it was going to be available.
I knew this was it. I felt whole again.
Welcome to Woman Redefined. Get ready for a wonderful ride!
Almost 2 years after my mom’s stroke, here’s me, my mom and my daughter, Shivani!