Last week I did something completely out of my comfort zone. I modeled a bra in BUST Breast Cancer, a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.
A couple of weeks ago I was tagged in a Facebook post by one of the designers. Her model canceled and she needed a replacement. I happened to be available the night of the event and the night of rehearsal and could fit into the bra she had created. I felt this feeling that I have come to know as sheer terror begin to creep up from my lower belly to my throat. I have also come to know that when I feel that feeling and there is nothing actually attacking me, that is an official invitation to growth. Bambi, the designer, and I exchanged a couple of emails and it was set. I was in.
The next 10 days or so were spent in panic. I literally had to go to therapy to work through the weird emotions that were coming up for me. If you want a crash course in healing emotional crap that's been buried far too long say yes to something that scares you and then pay attention to the thoughts and emotions that arise. (You may need a therapist or life coach;) to help you through!)
Rehearsal day arrived. I had no idea what to expect. I felt incredibly vulnerable. I wished I could move to another country at that moment. Then I met Bambi in person and knew that getting half naked was totally worth it. In the course of the conversation, we discovered that we both have a deaf child with cochlear implants. Bambi designs children's clothes. She is amazing! I cried tears of joy recognizing that a long time prayer of mine was answered, to have someone to share the journey of hearing loss. If I had let fear win I would never have met Bambi.
I also met women that were breast cancer survivors. One was Tippy, 38 years old but looked about 25! She was diagnosed on her 31st birthday. She told me she "had a few years of riding the emotional roller coaster of being a victim and then getting to the steady status of a survivor" that she identifies with now. It would never have occurred to me that she could have battled breast cancer. She fought and she won! Watching the video the next morning tears streamed down my face as I watched her walk, so full of life. I'm sure she was uneasy and nervous but sometimes we have to fight through those uncomfortable feelings to show others what is possible. Walking a stage in a bra was nothing compared to the things she had already shown up for!
I met Patti, whose family has seen the devastation of breast cancer up close and very personal. When asked why it was important for her to participate in this event, this was her response, "In 2003 I lost my 57-year-old mother to breast cancer one month after the birth of my first child. Then, in 2016-2017, I was the primary caregiver to my 43-year-old sister who was diagnosed and treated for advanced breast cancer. Simply put...this disease has had an enormous impact on my family." The genuine smile she wore the entire night is proof that she is woman of resilience and strength. Proof that although cancer has brought devastating loss to her family, she will not let cancer win, she chooses joy even when it's hard.
A few days have passed since the event. The day was filled with so many new things for me. My friend Jessica, makeup artist and hairdresser extraordinaire, came over and made me look more beautiful than I can ever remember looking. So fun at 45 years old! Looking in the mirror isn't quite as fun without 3 hours worth of makeup artistry. Wearing a costume that was so beautiful I wish I lived somewhere that it was acceptable to go out to dinner looking that way and having my husband look at me like I was pure magic. But nothing compares to bearing witness to women baring not only a little skin, a symbol of something much deeper, their souls. Holding heads high to tell all the world..... this is hard, this hurts but I am not afraid, I am brave!
Over 100k was raised at this event. I would love to say that my decision to participate was 100% altruistic, but it wasn't. I was proud to be a tiny part of the event but my deeper purpose is to find more freedom. I have decided to walk to the beat of a drummer that says "come this way, freedom will be found here". I know when I say "yes" to something that scares me I will discover more freedom in my own life. When I discover more freedom I become better equipped for helping others find the same. I have a burning desire to live in community with women that help each other walk through hard, scary things, that celebrate each other, that aren't afraid of each others brokenness nor success. Courage is something that is only acquired through practice. To be brave we must be brave. Some things force us into bravery, such as cancer, others are chosen. Every single one of us have a well of strength within to walk through difficulty but NONE of us can do so alone. We need each other!!!
If you are a woman and are looking for such a community I have created a Facebook group with the hopes of deep connection and vulnerability. A place where we celebrate each other and lift each other up. I would love for you to join us. Let's Journey to Freedom together.