I want to take a minute and talk about my wonderful Who I Am project girls. I had ten wonderful, unique, and special girls sign up for the Who I Am project. As you recall they didn’t really know what they were signing up for when they were told about the project. They thought it was a “just” a photo shoot. They were all different. Some confident and outgoing, others quiet and reserved. I loved loved loved receiving the questionnaires from all the families and friends. I am not going to lie people I have cried MANY times throughout this project. In fact someone cried at every viewing. My husband says it is such a strange job I have that I know have done well if people cry.
Most of the girls were photographed at home. What this means is I was able to get some pictures in their rooms, and I loved that! I love seeing them in their space. I think it will be so fun for them to look back on these pictures and see this snapshot in time of who they were then.
But this is the important thing I learned: you tell your children you love them all the time, I know you do. But do they see it? Do they hear it? Watching these videos, with these girls is so profound. There it is in black and white. They are loved! They are valued! They have worth! And they are BEAUTIFUL- in so many ways! And now they know that people have noticed. My own daughter said to me after watching her video and looking through her album “This makes me so happy”.
Do you know the quotes that time and again often had the biggest impact? The ones from the teachers and coaches. Time and again the girls were surprised and excited that those people took time out to say nice things about them- me too.
One mom told me it was a little uncomfortable, she felt like she was bragging about her child and didn’t want to do that. I told her this isn’t like you are walking around town saying these things to anyone who will listen, you are telling her and she wants and needs to hear it.
So let me take a moment to show you a little bit about the wonderful girls I met. The very first WIA session was with Miss L. It was a gloomy February day and all of my lights decided not to work, but luckily she was a rock star! She loves riding horses and that is a big part of her life- unfortunately her horse Buddy winters too far away to include him in the shots. But we got some pictures of him in!
Next up was Miss M. Miss M is the oldest of three girls and her little sisters were VERY interested in the whole shoot and much to my delight even did their own shoot after I left- I saw the pictures, I am going to have some stiff competition in a few years! But you could also tell that her little sisters looked up to her a lot, and she was very sweet to them and allowed them to stick around a bit more than many kids would. What was interesting with Miss M’s questionnaires is it became clear her family is very important to her. Every single person that answered the question: What can’t Miss M live without? answered- Her Family, including her. It was a terrifyingly cold day the day of these shoot and yet she was game for going outside to take some pictures- very quickly!
Next up is Miss G! She lives a little further away so we borrowed a studio for these pictures. Miss G is pretty amazing. A few years ago she started an organization to raise funds to put AEDs in athletic facilities. You can learn more about her story here. But she doesn’t want to be known as just the Heart Strong Girl and so we just focused on the awesomeness that is her- and we had so much fun! We laughed and laughed, and it was a true delight getting to know her! She is an avid basketball player, thus the bruises on the her knees in the photo below- I love the juxtaposition of the softness and sweetness of the dress vs the toughness of the bruised knees- perfect!
Next up was Miss D. What was amusing about Miss D was mom didn’t quite read all the directions about only sending the questionnaire to 4-5 people and sent it out to ALL the aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins. So the questionnaires came rolling in and they didn’t stop! When I asked Mom if she could just narrow it down a little- maybe to those Miss D is closest to- it was clear that would be too hard. And when I read Miss D’s questionnaire and she said he favorite memories are when she gets together with her whole extended family- I understood. So they all went into the slideshow. I will tell you at EVERY slideshow there is at least one person that cries- usually the mom, sometimes the girl and yes sometimes it is me. But at this one… not a dry eye was to be had. Mom, Miss D, me and yes her 18 year old brother was seen to swipe a tear away. So lovely!
Miss M loves her horse and luckily we were close enough we could get some pictures of them together. It was fun to see her in her special place. We went back to her house and she showed me her VERY ORGANIZED room. Most of the girls admitted that their rooms were cleaner than normal due to my arrival, but my understanding is that Miss M’s room is always that neat- I have a few projects at my house I am thinking about handing over to her. We had the best time doing the “studio” shots and I will tell you all about her Mom’s skills with a hair dryer anytime- ha ha.
Miss N is quiet and reserved. Her family adores her and wanted her to know, that is why they chose her to participate. She is an amazing artist- it is her passion and her talent and that came up over and over in the questionnaires. We were a little worried it would tough to bring her out of her shell but she was wonderful. We laughed and joked and I loved getting to know her and her sense of humor. I am excited when she makes it big, I can say- I knew her when!
I have known Miss E for years having photographed her family many times. She always seemed a little shy and reserved. But let me tell you- clearly she just wanted her own session! On her own she definitely came out of her shell and we had a great time. I met her guinea pig- that she drew a whole chart and wrote a letter to persuade her parents to allow her to adopt- clearly it worked. We did gymnastics outside (and by we I mean I took the pictures). And unfortunately for mom we did have a really good laugh at her expense- thank you for being such a good sport mom!
Miss G wasn’t sure she wanted to participate and in fact it was touch and go there for awhile. But she succumbed and I am hoping she is glad she did. She is quiet and little shy, but I loved getting to know her a little better. She is the youngest of four and confident in who she is right now. I loved her room- bold colors and a huge musical decoration covering the wall- clearly that is important to her- and she even played the piano for me too. She was trooper on a rather cold March day- and you can’t even tell!
Now Miss A I have known for a few years. She is funny, silly, loving, confident and a joy to be around. She is the only girl with three brothers so she doesn’t take any grief from anyone. Miss A is on the younger end of the range so I told Mom we are going to do this again when she is 13 and she will be SHOCKED at how many changes in these three years- you can still see the little girl, but by 13 the young woman will be emerging- mom may have cried. Miss A is so confident in who she is that she brought the slideshow into her class and played it for everyone! I love that! And it is so her! Watch out world!
Miss R LOVES soccer. I don’t mean she just likes to play it a little I mean she LIVES for soccer. Her room has posters of soccer players, my understanding is it is rare she is not in athletic shorts, she just wants to play all the time. Miss R is the ONLY girl who figured out what the project was about before I arrived. My sense is you cannot keep a secret from her- EVER. That being said she was probably the most nervous/ hesitant to watch the video. Her parents have their handful and world- you will know her name if she wants something I am pretty sure she will get it!