It Was Better Than The Beach, CI#56

Yes, these are out-of-order and that is okay.  I did not have computer access Saturday night through Sunday (technically the wee hours of Monday) and the break-neck schedule beat me up, to be honest.  I also needed a few days to find my words and vanquish some pain.  I am not pain-free but I am pain-lowered enough to finally write about Sunday and I say that with my TENS unit firmly affixed in an attempt to bust the stragglers.

So on to Sunday…

My daughter, who also happens to have fibromyalgia, had a photo shoot in Anaheim, CA at Wonderland Studios.  She was more than a little trashed from moving back to Utah to accept a teaching position at her former school and her car was still in the shop and the rental company needed someone over 25-years old as the driver so I jumped at the chance to go home to CA.

The plan was to drop her off at Wonderland and head to Newport Beach for a blissful day at the beach.

It was a lovely plan until we only managed three hours of sleep the night before.  Besides to say we were on a shoestring budget would have been an exaggeration of how much money we actually had.  Money worries and tubs of free beverages were luring me into staying inside on a crystal clear Southern California day.

I did not want to hang around the studio.

Emily is a big girl now and certainly does not need her mommy.  This is also a professional experience for her so I did not want to give off the impression I did not trust her or she is in need of a chaperone because neither are true.  And, I really wanted to go to the beach.

When we removed her dress from the bag and the pile of wrinkles told me I would need to work on the dress while she was in hair and makeup.

No problem, I can still make the beach.

I have never been behind the scenes at a shoot of this magnitude–a half-dozen photographers on set for a clinic taught by world-renowned photographer Fred Blood with full hair and makeup teams for the half-dozen models.

The energy was electric.

The stage–Wonderland Studios–was a vision.

I was so overwhelmed I kept closing my eyes just to be able to “see” new things.  Part of the studio is a working costume and corset shop so there are miles, no acres of raw materials draped everywhere with rows and rows of completed creations just waiting for their turn under the lights.

Wonderland, oh yeah!

“Mom, I need a big Red Bull and a straw, please,” and off I went.

After I finished her dress, I steamed and spot cleaned one of the other gowns.  Then it was time to help her get dress so the makeup team could finish her hair.

IMG_4781It is an odd moment seeing your child in a wedding gown and I am sure it is even odder were she actually getting married.

I found myself grateful she was only playing dress-up.  When the real day comes, I can look back on the weekend and remember it was no big deal the first time.  That is the plan anyway.  You and I both know I will be a ball o’ tears.

As time went on, my own exhaustion rose.

The beach did not sound like fun.

All that sun would have zapped me even more.

The studio was cool and funky-fun and the energy sustaining.

So, I stayed.


Eventually, I pulled out my camera–I had wanted to from the moment I crossed the threshold–and started shooting behind-the-scenes photos.  No seemed to mind so I kept shooting in between handfuls of trail mix and glugs of Lipton Iced Tea with Lemon.

What no one in that room knew, is I started my adult life as a professional photographer.  I worked for two different traveling studios; the type you might see in a big box store.  I have taken thousands of portraits in my career so I do know a few things about staged shoots.  Then when I went back to college and started working at the newspaper I called on those skills to help me become a decent photojournalist.  I was reliving a past heaven.

This is purposely UNcropped.  I love the whole behind the scenes, not perfectly lit or positioned vibe.  And her look is just adorable but I may be biased.

This is purposely UNcropped. I love the whole behind the scenes, not perfectly lit or positioned vibe. And her look is just adorable but I may be biased.

I absorbed everything I was seeing through those old eyes and it sure helped me forget being emotional about watching my girl work.  But it is like I always say, “Put a camera in my hand and pain just melts.”

This was a mostly good pain though.  My baby is not a baby anymore and I was proud to watch her from behind the lights.

The bad pain was knowing her exhaustion level matched mine while having to be “on” for the thousands of clicks.

It took me about a half an hour or so to realize staying in that space was actually the better experience.  You all know me well enough to know I am all about living my fibro through experiencing life.  That beach is probably going to stay exactly where it is but I may never be in Wonderland Studios again.  The thought was a shot of adrenaline.  This–being in this space–was better than the beach.

At some point Fred asked Emily if she would stay after for an extra shoot with just him.  All the other photographers made a point of telling Emily he never does that.  He wanted to take her proper bridal hair and makeup and destroy it and then shop the photos for publication.

Like she’s going to turn that down, right.

She looked tired but I do not think she minded one bit.  In this business, these types of experiences are golden moments which can make a career.

And, I kept shooting…sitting right next to Fred, the totally awesome photographer, the whole time.

From formal to fantasy

From formal to fantasy

L to R Rayma, Emily's friend/boss/stylist; Emily, Fred...because it really does take a full team to make these things happen

L to R Rayma, Emily’s friend/boss/stylist; Emily, Fred…because it really does take a full team to make these things happen

Emily said she thought she looked like the Joker's love child but I think she's got some chops.

Emily said she thought she looked like the Joker’s love child but I think she’s got some chops.

Of course, the thought, “But wait…this is not what fibro girls do,” thought crossed my mind.  No sooner, the “Oh hell yes this is how THRIVER girls do it,” joined in because the truth is at that very moment 50-percent of the people in that studio had, and were THRIVING, fibromyalgia.

I almost let this day slip through my fingers like the sand at the beach I never touched.

I blame exhaustion for the delay in recognizing the unique moment before me because I was focusing too closely on how things should be and what I should be doing.

But isn’t that one of the traps of fibro in the first place.  We can should be ourselves into a pile of pain instead of enjoying what is.

It is four days later and I am just barely starting to feel normal…err, my normal…again.

Am I complaining?  Oh hell no!!!!!

That day beat my body up worse than the roughest road my husband has bounced me on in search of firewood but I enjoyed an uncommon experience.

Yes, pain was my reward.

And I can either look at that reward as hell or happiness.  My choices are to either sit here fussing about hurting over doing something I shouldn’t or smiling while rejoicing at being blessed with such an amazing moment.

I’m a smiler.

But, you already knew that.

As for the food, fitness, and weight loss aspect, all I have to say is thank goodness it was a Reward Day.  Carbs everywhere all over the snack table.  Chips, popcorn, and soda…Oh my. But, I can, rather proudly say, I did not go nutso.

No wonder models come off as “too good for carbs” because no sane human, concerned about health and fitness is going to inhale that crap all day.

Had it not been Reward Day I might have felt guilty over being so far off plan but in the context of the situation I am sure I would have told myself, “Shut up and shoot” because that is how I live my pain…THRIVER style.


PS….I know on Sundays I usually update you on my progress but I did not even think to pack my tape measure.  I was a bloated mess anyway.  As of today, I am still up a couple of pounds but I am also still retaining water from the weekend.  I’m honestly scared for Sunday’s result post because I am afraid it’s not going to look pretty at all.  I guess if I have to be honest, my one regret about the weekend is I have essentially lost this week as a “losing” week.  I dearly wish my body was not this way but this is just my normal even though I know it is not normal.  I would love to find someone to explain to me why just one big day like this throws my body into such a tailspin.  BUT…I would do it again this weekend if my girl needed me to.  I would go back to Wonderland Studios in a heartbeat.  I would hangout with Fred and Rayma any day.  And, c’mon…California…like I have to even think about it.  As much as I love my red rocks it will always be home.




5 thoughts on “It Was Better Than The Beach, CI#56

  1. Sometimes, you have to break the rules. This day was more important than any one single day of being a “losing” day. In my book, this was a winning day in the most memorable of ways. By the way, Emily is absolutely stunning and I was mesmerized at the transformation from bride to scary bride. She was so classic, regal and virginal in the first series of pictures, but she was so raw, so real in the last few that it reminded me of Tim Burton and especially the last pic reminded me of Helena Bonham Carter whom I absolutely adore. You will never ever forget your day at Wonderland studios and what a perfectly named place to spend your Saturday with your girl.

    • I know. My life has been full of rule-breaking moments lately. All worthy so I know it’s not just me looking for reasons to jump ship. If anything I am looking for ways to make them stop…lol…at least for a little while. About Emily, girl you should see some of the truly creepy ones. This one I posted wasn’t my best shot and I know Fred’s were even better because his camera was synced to the lights. It was really weird to be “the mom” and have the detachment holding a camera affords. You’re right…I will never forget it.

  2. I count this as a win no matter how you look at it. You spent the entire with your gorgeous daughter and not only watched her work as the grown woman that your little girl has become but you also got to see your little Thriver girl push through her pain and carry on just as her Mama taught her.
    You’re right, the beach will always be there but you have to seize those special moments because they don’t come around again.
    You must have been bursting with pride. What a unique experience! I know it has taken a few days to recover but, totally worth it. You’re a great photographer, by the way.

    • Thanks sweetie. The caption is missing off the first photo but in the background is not even half of the corsets and costumes in the room. You would have died. I asked Cherie how she avoids being overwhelmed and she said, “It’s why I only make one…that way I can put it away and move on to something else.” Bright, shiny objects EVERY. WHERE.

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