{ back into focus }

April 22, 2012 § 3 Comments

One of my friends is an amazing photographer who recently took a series of pictures of me to put my self image back into focus. Many woman after being sick for a period of time or go through a hysterectomy when they are young can forget that they are still young, sexy woman. That feeling gets lost along the way (I’m pretty sure it’s some where between worrying if you’ll wake up with a beard from the hormones and being surround by the cast of Cocoon every time you go to the doctors office)


My friend did an amazing job and I wish all women could experience having an amazing photographer showcase them in a way they haven’t seen themselves in years. She recently wrote a blog post about our session and I wanted to share it with you:

Watching a young woman struggle, search for answers, and be denied proper health care has to be one of the biggest heartbreaks I’ve encountered as a friend. Watching the emotional and spiritual change in someone because of health issues just compounds the situation.

My dear friend Michelle began feeling ill about 3 years after we became friends. It took two years for her to finally convince a doctor that the radical choice of a hysterectomy at age 29 wasn’t the insanity they thought it was, but was actually a life-saving, life-bettering choice for her. It wasn’t an easy choice to make, and then to have to battle the system for her right to choose – all of this took more strength than Michelle thought she had. It’s been over a year since her surgery, and while her health has been on-track, and her recovery has certainly been better than her illness… those of us who ‘knew her before’ still felt something missing.

Michelle sparkles. She’s spunky, witty, clever and talented. None of that has changed, but it had dimmed, and I watched her fight her way out of a darkness she didn’t realize was there until she began to pull herself out of it. In the last 12 months, I’ve seen her begin to take more risks, to accept less of what she is handed, and start to demand more of what she is due.

When I asked for volunteers to try new posing and portrait techniques, I didn’t expect Michelle to say yes. I’m thrilled that she did, and I’ll allow her to share her experience in her own words:

My testimonial:

Initially when Lani showed me Before & After images of what she wanted to try in her business my reaction was “Well of course they look great they’re all beautiful women in the first place” and “those women must have huge amounts of confidence” both of which I wasn’t really feeling at the time, so when Lani asked me to model for her camera my initial reaction was not an astounding yes. My head was filled with “I can’t pose like that” “I don’t want people seeing me trying to look pretty”  “they’re going to think I look ridiculous” and “It’s a good thing Lani knows Photoshop” But the whole thing got me thinking, When did I become so fearful? I used to be fearless, I used to love posing for pictures, I was a model for The Art Institute’s photography students (where everybody saw your images and had to critique them) and I didn’t blink. Today you couldn’t get me in front of camera unless it was nighttime and I was in full makeup, even then I could undoubtedly see all the flaws in the picture. I am guilty of what so many women are as well: we have a distorted idea of what we look like. We no longer recognize the women looking back at us and can easily find the beauty in others but are convinced we look the monster in Predator.

When did I become full of fear? One day I woke up with a stomach ache… and two years of being on every medication, misdiagnosis, a variety of unpleasant symptoms that made my weight yo-yo and finally led me to full hysterectomy and going through menopause at 29 (You think you had a bad time with thirty? throw in some hot flashes and getting AARP packets in the mail)

These sessions aren’t about the pictures or how you look they hone in on how you FEEL. Lani tries and finds that part of yourself that is buried or that you felt is lost. Within two clicks of the camera you are fearless again and totally at ease. Once you see the images you have a moment of “who is that person?” and then you realize it’s you. She finally takes your self image and puts it into FOCUS.

 I couldn’t have said it better myself. THANK YOU Michelle, for finding your Fearless.

To view the article in the original source: http://www.laniharmon.com/fearless/


{ running a business while recovering }

December 2, 2010 § 1 Comment


along with my full-time job (which i’m so thankful to be having a break from) i run an online business, which i love. i think this is more & more common especially amongst women, so what happens when you have to manage your business but also recover from your surgery?  this can be especially frustrating because there is pressure from ourselves & society to get back to work or the misconception that because you can work from home that it’s easier to get back into the swing of it.

Here are some bits of wisdom I have picked up & hope will help you:

First you have to be willing to repeat the following sentence if not don’t bother reading any further because i can’t help you: “I insert name am recovering from surgery &  healing, my body needs rest and my mind needs calm.  I will not be the same person for weeks or months and i MUST accept this fact, I CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT do this alone & if I do I will fail. I will allow help and allow myself to give myself a BREAK” ………………………………………………………………………………….ok if you agree to these terms we shall continue

1. Working from home is still working– people think well i’m working for home so I can go back to work early. I can do everything from my bed which is true but not necessarily a good thing

2. Give yourself sick time- your finally the boss, so why would you work for someone who wouldn’t give you sick or vacation time? Remember why you left your job in the first place: No time off, no sick leave, no perks well here’s your chance to provide yourself with all of those and hell through in a bonus & a get well basket

3. Tell Clients What’s Going On– especially on Etsy most of your clients are women so why not communicate with them and be honest in telling them whats going on. i received more support from my online work community than i did with my work place. you will be surprised how understanding they can be & how much better you’ll feel. If they aren’t understanding then you DON’T want them as a client anyway they are going to be a pain & more stress than they are worth

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Say NO– If you can’t finish a project in the time frame that is given or if it’s too big of a commitment to make with your limited physical ability say no. I know now I am asking the impossible so to make it easy copy and paste the following statement “thank you so much in your interest in my business, unfortunately due to medical circumstances i will not be able to meet your needs at this time. if you time line can be more flexible perhaps we could come to a solution if not i wish you nothing but the best and hope we can work together in the future” there quick & painless

5. Triple the amount of time– however long you would normally take in completing an order or project triple it and that’s what you should be quoting the client. But this might cause you the sale, it might also cause you your health. it’s better to add more time than not meeting your deadline and possibly getting some bad or negative feedback

6. Ask for HELP– this is a great chance to ask (or guilt) friends & family to help you with your work. you will be surprised how helpful they can be and how they can really lighten the load. some ideas: have them help with shipping & packaging, have them type out your emails while you dictate, assembly and construction or just have a spotter to say “hey you need a break, give me that computer”

7. Rome wasn’t built in a day so why would in fall in one– when i first found out i would be having surgery i thought “well there goes my business, all my clients are going to go elsewhere. when they go to my shop and see it’s on vacation i will loose what took me so long to build.” nothing could be further from the truth i really realized that my brand was special and can endure, this a huge part of creating a successful business. i also have gotten some amazing support and got to hear other womens stories, which really helped me see the positives and want to get back to normal so i can can keep creating

8. Breathe– Finally my last piece of advice. Take it easy and relax, take care of teh most importnat buisness resource, YOU!

I would love to hear your stories or any advice you have, feel free to email me!!

also feel free to visit my shop that inspired this article: littletoad


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