Princesses Theresa, Danielle and Olivia

The twists and turns that inevitably bind us up and trap us at portions of our life often have a way of being spun into a beauty that is difficult to forecast.  When stormy skies flood our current situation, the long awaited rainbow often seems an elusive pipe dream that’s available for everyone else, but conspicuously absent in our own situation.   

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Theresa came to me after winning my Unveil your Cinderella session donation at Soni Sunshine’s (Sonia Davis) auction to raise money for her cancer treatment.  She had admired my work for years and she was in the process of a reset in her own life and ready to grab hold of her own rainbow. 

Theresa’s smile is radiant and you’d never know the journey of pain that she’s walked for much of her life.  This smile is something she’s not letting go of after the hard fought battle to secure it.  She’s experienced the release that comes from letting go of the pain in her journey and is passionate about helping others to do so as well.

She is closing a 40 year long chapter of pain in her own life and ready to start taking care of herself.  She vowed that this 2nd chapter was going to be about living and embracing life, instead of just existing in survival mode.  A lifelong pattern of self preservation by means of shutting down to avoid pain and sustaining in strong mode has come to a close for Theresa.

This portrait session was a celebration of a healing journey that has culminated in Theresa embracing the full gamut of life’s emotions and finding them precious.  Theresa is well aware that the survival mode she lived in for years meant that avoiding pain was not possible without also sacrificing the highs of life.  After years in Celebrate Recovery and Al-Anon she decided to attend a conference that John Townsend was speaking at for those who worked with CR.  Ten minutes into his talk and she felt the Lord was nudging (or full on pushing) her to take on a career in counseling.  

The perfect little heart of connection here…be still my heart…

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Her first thought was every reason why this was a terrible idea.  Why start all the work necessary for a completely new career this close to retirement?  But she’d been reading books on boundaries by Townsend and knew this timing was not her own, but what the Lord was calling her to. Four weeks after the conference she started college training for a career in counseling.  Crazily, her much beloved, tender-hearted daughter Danielle was contemplating the same next step for her life.  So the two began their counseling career training simultaneously.   This dynamic duo is going to a powerful force in their care for clients.

Theresa mentioned during her pre-consult planning meeting how much she would love to create these portraits with Danielle and her grand daughter Olivia.  She wanted this to be a celebration of her new lease on life, her ability to embrace all the blessing that surrounded her and the peace that she’s experienced for the first time as an adult.  Danielle and Olivia were thrilled to join their favorite Memere (French Canadian term for grandmother).  Danielle even surprised her mom by bringing Theresa’s mom’s ring to wear in the portraits so 4 generations would be represented.

These three made incredible memories laughing, dancing and embracing one another through the whole day.  Little Ms. Spunky Olivia told my team during her solo portrait time, “I need the fan!’  Yes you do sweet thing, yes you do!  Look at that gorgeous hair!

So often as mothers we photograph our children ad naueum, but we are the missing piece in the story of their life when we see the printed record.  One day our children will go looking for photos of us and the question is, what will they find?  Danielle is no different than most moms, so these portraits of her with her mom and daughter are equally precious to her as well.

I kept envisioning a Greek goddess while creating Danielle’s solo portraits and wanted to bring that vision of her into a reality.  She’s as beautiful in spirit and soul as she is in person and that’s a rare blend.  I wish you all the best Theresa and Danielle in this next bold adventure you are preparing to step into with eyes wide open!  May the precious souls who sit before you find encouragement, grace, and a listening ear that helps them navigate this crazy thing called life!  Clearly you both will be a blessing to those who the Lord entrusts to your care!

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  1. Toni Steigerwald says:

    What a gratifying story, and gorgeous session, of these three ladies. Congratulations in pursuing a calling that will be both rewarding and at times heart wrenching. May you always start the sessions ( counseling and photography) with prayer and end with Thanksgiving. Lovely post, Jennifer! I shed a tear on this one.

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