TRP Interview: Revealing Stephani Roy McCallum

Stephani Roy- McCallum’s REVEAL YOU Portrait Shoot workshop happened in July last summer. The sun shone brightly and it felt like we would rejoice in yet another glorious Summer day. Everything felt warm and inviting, and I remember that the hues of our surroundings were vibrant and shifting with contrasts that stood out in the environment as pops of pigment and texture seemed to show up in every direction.

Stephani was aligned with the viscosity of the day; her presence not one consistency or the other, but instead a reflection of her multidimensionality. The beauty of her existence was captured in each movement or angle, like a prism whose facets catch a raindrop, refracting one color of a rainbow or all of them, depending on how she caught the light.

Please tell us about you:

I’m a mother of four amazing humans, wife to an incredible man and a daughter, sister and aunt. Getting to be part of the lives of the four humans who are my children is the best thing I’ve ever done. My family keeps me sane, whole and connected to what matters most and I feel privileged to be traveling through my life with this small tribe of people.

I’m a redhead, which every other redhead in the world knows is part of your identity, with all the beautiful and challenging stereotypes that come with that. I’m a witch, vixen, nerdy, freckle-faced carrot-top, kindred spirit to Anne of Green Gables and more.

I’m an entrepreneur and have run my own business full time for 15 years, operating part-time businesses for years before that. I deeply love the uncertainty, constant change and requirement for risk that comes with being an entrepreneur. I run a company called the Courageous Leadership Project.

I am an intense, earnest, thoughtful, irreverent, generous, loving, brave, feisty, adventurous, introverted, uncertain, messy, principled woman. Claiming all those parts of me has taken 50 years!

What are the biggest challenge’s that have faced you as a woman?

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A couple of re-emerging themes, that I guess most women have faced:

  • Being assertive, passionate and committed to something and as a result risking being judged as an intense, aggressive bitch.

  • The deeply ingrained desire to please, accommodate and be liked…even when it costs me parts of my soul. The socialization that if you aren’t “nice” enough that it will cost you friends, respect, relationships. I don’t know any men who worry about this.

  • Situations where men feel they have a right to touch and comment on me without my permission or consent. Or just plain take away my power because they can. The “old boys club” of power, influence and control over so many aspects of our lives. This enrages me, yet I’m not sure I really push back hard enough on it. Sometimes I’m more worried about being seen as a hysterical, emotional woman that I don’t draw the boundary as cleanly and forcefully as I should.

  • The tension between being a mother and being a career woman, and all the judgment, guilt and shame that comes with those dueling roles and expectations.

  • Owning my own anger. Even acknowledging that I have a right to be angry. Have I just been so socialized that my role is to support other people to bring all their emotions to a conversation so we can figure things out, but that its not “nice” for me to be angry myself?

What are some of the issues that you think are important to explore as it relates to being a woman?

  • Equality. Real equality. In terms of income, representation and power. Not just fitting women in to existing systems or power structures but actually changing those structures so that they make space for all humans in ways that are not gender specific.

  • Changing the systems and organizations we work and live in so they integrate a female centered approach, rather than just creating space for women in existing male-oriented structures. For example, wanting women to run for public office is admirable, but I wouldn’t want to run for office in a system that rewards public shame, blame, competition over collaboration, winning and losing as a form of decision-making and a requirement to leave your family and children at home. Things are slowly shifting – look at the New Zealand PM giving birth in office and bringing her babe to legislature! That’s a woman turning a system on its head! Let’s have more of that.

  • This insidious fear that women live with on a daily basis that affects our safety, choices, mindset. For example, I think about all the women I know who hesitate to walk alone at night, but I don’t know any men who worry about that.

  • Giving up this myth that women can “have it all”. No one can have it all. Let’s change the narrative from having it all to one about living our lives from a place of choice where we try to stay whole over the course of the journey.

What can’t you tolerate in the world?

Unfairness, discrimination, polarization and marginalization.

All the things humans do that ostracize and separate us from each other – these things make flames come out of my ears and break my heart at the same time.

When we can’t see the value of another human being and instead choose to judge, blame, shame and marginalize them. It just isn’t a thing I can be with in the world.

The deep divide between us, especially in politics and religion fills me with despair. And also pisses me off like crazy. We need to ask more of each other, dig deeper, be kinder, braver, more open so we can make that divide smaller. We need to own our angry and use it to make change real, rather than burning and slashing our way forward then leaving half the world behind.

What frightens you the most?

Being seen. Fully seen.

Because being seen means I might be found wanting. Not enough. It might prove to the world I don’t have value. And if I don’t have value then I don’t belong.

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Honestly, the brutal truth is that when you are fully seen you will be loved, and you will also not be loved. Not everyone will celebrate you, and some will judge and shame you.

So I’ve been stepping out into this space for the last few years with some success, some heartache, and some lessons that come from my knees knocking together.

I’ve been traveling this journey for 50 years. I’m committed to releasing myself from the story that I am not enough. I’m coming to realize that the opposite of the “not enough story” isn’t a new “now I’m enough story.” Instead, it’s a story of acceptance, embracing that some days and situations I just won’t be enough, and that’s OK. It’s human and its messy and beautiful, rich and full of learning.

What is your calling, what does your heart and soul gravitate towards?

My work is in the space between us – having brave, honest conversations so we can find solutions to the challenges we face in the world, together.

Helping people find their own courage so they can show up brave, and compassionate and have those conversations that matter. Those challenging, emotional, scary conversations are the path to solution – and they are the path to connection, belonging, relationship and trust. When we are there for each other, anything is possible.

How do you keep yourself inspired by life?

It’s a messy, delicate balancing act that I’m not always successful at.

I’ve got clarity on what keeps me whole; time alone, time with family, time spent deep thinking. Having adventures, taking risks, exploring big new ideas, having a positive impact on the world around me. Being physically active, being creative and spending time in nature.

When my life tips over too far in any one direction I can feel myself out of balance. Too long one way I need to pull back into another area. Whether I do that or not in a timely way is another story…

Have you ever hit “Rock Bottom?”
(How did you recover, what helped you, what did it teach you?)

Yes, totally. A couple of times.
One was a caused by a personal crisis, the other a professional one. Both situations resulted in months of years of pain, heartache and reflection.

Both times I went to a pretty deep dark place where those internal stories of not being enough, not being worthy were pretty much the only voices I could hear.

I gained weight, drank too much wine, cried a lot, questioned my relationships, role and place in the world. In retrospect I’m pretty sure I was depressed in one of my crises, and should have sought medication, although I did seek therapy, both times. I think everyone should have therapy at least once in their lives!

All round it was pretty crappy. Both times were deep dark trenches it took a long time to come out of. Having responsibilities like children, family, work were a blessing and a challenge. They kept me distracted so I could keep going, and they kept me distracted so I didn’t look too closely at the pain – which would have led me to the healing road.

About a year and a half after the professional crisis that turned personal I took a sabbatical from work. I had this idea that I would take 3.5 months off over the summer and start writing a book. I was running a company with a bunch of staff, and I was the sole shareholder and I just walked away for a while, believing that if the company was still standing when I came back that would be a bonus. I spent the first two months of that break running in the woods, paddle-boarding and crying. Turns out a book would not be written. Instead I would start down the path of really looking into the mess I had become, questioning my worth, value and credibility. Sometimes it is only when you stop moving that the truth shines through.

I am learning to ask for help. I want to say that I learned to ask for help, but I think that learning how to ask for help is an ongoing challenge. Actually, recognizing that I don’t have it together and I have a right to need help is my first challenge. Asking for help comes after that.

I am learning when and how to put my own needs into the picture. Sometimes its really hard to do, and I struggle with it regularly. I’ve got an over-developed responsibility bone and it gets in the way of taking responsibility for my own needs, because I’m focused on others.

I am learning how to say no and live my life by the values that let me be really true to myself. Some days I’m so good at this, and lots of days I’m a disaster.

I am learning that the path through the mess is to own the fear, shame, pain, guilt of it all and just be in it. The sooner I step into it the mess of it all the deeper I can go into seeing what’s happening. It doesn’t make the path out of the mess any faster but it lets me be in it in an honest way….that hopefully allows me to find my courage.

What is the shadow side of you, that you try to hide, deny, suppress… OR maybe accept, celebrate…? It’s all about perspective! How does it kick your ass? What does it teach you? What is its disguised gift? Is there anything that needs to be forgiven or that you have already forgiven? If so, please share about that.

I know the truth of what I can’t be with is also inside of me.

I can’t abide the harsh, judgmental, polarizing actions that separate us from each other, but I know that when I am afraid, threatened or worried I can be exactly like that. I can be harsh, critical, judgmental, like every other human on the planet.

When I am overwhelmed, too busy or focused on getting things done I can lose touch with my softer, more loving generous side. That’s a gift in that I can be practical, tangible and get things done. However, it also separates me from those around me and has me lead with my head not my heart. I’m learning that my impact is far more powerful and positive when I lead with my loving, generous heart instead of my head. That requires me to be in balance more often than not so I can start from compassion and love.

Courage is easier for me; I don’t have to go looking for it too often. I used to think that I should lead with courage and then lean into compassion. I’m learning that I’ve got fierce and intense down pat – what supports me to lead others into brave, honest conversations is a loving heart.

What in particular made you feel like being part of the Revelation Project was a good idea at this time in your life?

I turned 50 in June of this year. In January I made a list of 50 things for my 50th year, and it included The Revelation Project. I included the project because I thought it might allow me to reconcile my lifelong inner story of “I’m not enough” and let it go.

50 years is long enough to carry this story, and it isn’t serving me.

About the shoot…

What was the conversation you were having with your Self, as you were approaching your photo shoot (before you got there)?

Leading up to the shoot I moved between “what the hell am I doing” and “this is going to be awesome” like a roller coaster. Choosing to do this felt vain, indulgent and also powerful and possible at the same time. It also felt straight up terrifying – what would happen when the pics came out?

I set an intention the day of the shoot that went like this:

“When I truly let go with a wide open heart, the ride shows me where I need to go.”

Was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process?

I treated the whole thing like a solo retreat. I took myself for a hike, went shopping, drank some wine and had a bath the day before. I meditated and journaled and really invested in the gift of time focused on me I had carved out of my schedule.

It made the whole event feel like it was a gift, and that made honoring myself feel right.

I was lucky enough to ride out to the workshop with Kim. She is this beautiful, loving, open hearted, curious woman and being with her for the 45 minute drive was a really great transition.

What was it like to be witnessed by your TRP Team? What was it like to be the center of attention with a group of women? What was it like not to have to fight for attention with a group of women?

This question brings tears to my eyes. It was a deeply beautiful experience and one of the best gifts I’ve ever had. It felt like an induction into a community of sisters.

My work is in brave, honest conversations…and I do this work because when we are connected, belong to each other, really see each other then there is relationship, trust and the possibility we can move forward. This day was a day of my deepest hearts desire: connection, belonging, being seen.

My coach has said to me that I’m really gifted at creating spaces of intimacy and connection so people can have real conversations in their lives…but that in my own life I’ve got very few intimates where I can be fully seen, connect and belong. That is true; my circle is small. So this day felt extra precious because of how connected and loving it was.

What was the edgiest, most uncomfortable part of the shoot for you?

What was coming up for you, and how did you shift yourself out the discomfort?

There were a couple times I had to just choose to ignore the inside narrative, or to turn it off. Not knowing what I looked like in each outfit was freeing and also scary. Its an interesting irony that people tend to really trust me, but I trust very few people. I took a conscious choice to trust the TRP women to hold me and to really sink into that trust.

And seriously, wearing a bathing suit made me catch my breath. And pictures in a bathing suit? I channeled all my courage; picturing meeting rooms full of angry people or having conversations with protesters and thought if I can do that then I can definitely wear a bathing suit in a sprinkler and show up fully in this moment.

What’s the biggest lie you ever believed about your Self?

Do you still believe it, what do you believe now?

That I am not enough. Not pretty enough, not sexy enough, not fun enough, not nice enough, not interesting enough, not a good enough friend, mother, wife….all the not enough’s you can dream up I’ve got them wrapped into 1 story I have played on repeat my whole life. Its meant I’ve got a deep well of self doubt and insecurity. And it also means that no matter what I achieve or accomplish its never enough; there is always another goal to reach for I’ve been working on choosing a different story the last few years. I don’t think the answer (for me anyway) is stepping into a story that says “you are enough”. It feels fake and insincere. What I am claiming is that I am all these things and so much more…beautiful and unattractive, kind and grouchy, light-hearted, fun and intense, serious and without humour, irreverent, provocative and controlled and disciplined, sexy and serene…..I’m all this stuff. And its OK. All of it is OK. It is messy and beautiful and what it means to be human.

Here is the other thing – so what? So what if I’m not enough? I’m committed more to brave, honest conversations, connection, belonging and finding solutions together than I am to the story of not being enough.

I’m going to live a vibrant, full-on life committed to making positive change in the world even if I don’t believe I am enough. Believing in yourself is over-rated. Believing in other people is a gift I can be committed to. It turns out when I walk that path, along the way I find I believe in myself a little more because I’ve given something to others and made a contribution.

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At what point in the shoot did you feel most beautiful and most connected to your Self? Did you claim it?

This happened throughout the shoot, in odd little moments. They looked like this:

  • Wearing my wedding dress connecting to the love of my life while claiming my own beauty

  • Standing solidly in the grass in my bare feet shouting “f%$##^ you” in defiance of those who want to hold me down

  • Wearing that orange dress (my fave colour) feeling deeply grateful for the moment, my life and the TRP women and the gift they were giving me

  • Giving in and letting go in the grass in the bathing suit and claiming my sexy, sensual sel

How did the music impact you during the shoot?

This is interesting. I sent a playlist and the music was on it, plus lots more really great songs. But the music didn’t really seem to connect with the depth of what I was feeling over the course of the shoot. I’m wondering if I need to do some thinking about music that really moves me and takes me to different moments and emotions rather than “favorite” music. It might also be time to start thinking about what music resonates with me at this season in my life.

What “possibilities” that were chosen before your shoot, play out during your shoot?

It always amazes me how the power of putting some wish and possibility into the world manifests in the space. My “possibilities” included: letting go, passion, full self-expression, inner goddess, belonging, magic, raw, ready, able and willing.

All of these things were brought to life with the TRP sisters, in me, through me and into the space. Its like the universe heard what I needed to claim and offered it to me through possibilities. I chose to claim them.

Please describe in three words the way you felt before we began photographing:

Hesitant, vulnerable, excited

Three words for after?

satiated, loved, possible

Three words for when you saw the results:

awestruck, celebratory, shocked.

After you left, but before you saw the results, did you have any thoughts about the experience?

The first two weeks after I was in the haze of feeling powerful, possible and having laid claim to parts of me I’d been hiding, avoiding, denying.

After that the doubt monster started up and I started hoping that the TRP sisters would “forget” about my shoot and not post the pictures. I actually sent a note wondering about when the pics would come out as an act of stepping into the courage to make sure I followed the project through, rather than stepping back into hiding.

I was pretty nervous about the reveal, what it would show and who would see it.

What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?

I was emotionally and mentally exhausted. Not depleted, just with nothing else to put out there or explore. I felt calm, peaceful, loved. It was a really good tired – like after great sex kind of satisfying!

When you saw your images for the very first time what was your initial reaction?

I roller coastered between wanting to throw up, crying and amazement.

Please share about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs: What was important for you to know from others about the impact your images had on them?

The act of being fully seen was so powerful it is hard to put into words. That I was seen in all the different parts of me, that people could see those pics and recognize me was so freeing. It was like saying “here I am” and people saying “I see you”. Since this is my biggest fear, it was terrifying and powerfully freeing at the same time.

What are some words you would use to describe how those comments made you feel?

People used words like beautiful, powerful, mysterious, hot, joyful….they made me feel like its Ok to be me. To be all of those things and more. It makes me laugh with joy and brings tears to my eyes too.

Who was most difficult to have witness your images, and why?

My husband, Ian. He is my biggest supporter and best friend. And there are layers to our relationship that my journey of the last few years have tested for both of us – in really beautiful ways that have strengthened our bonds. He is a man of action rather than of words so asking him for words as witness to the images of me was hard. I was afraid he might see something that was not enough. I needn’t have worried so much. He does like the smiling pictures best though – which is testament to who he is.

Was there anyone you intentionally did NOT reveal your photos to, and if so why?

No, there wasn’t. There were people I was worried would comment though. I was worried that there would be people who would see the TRP as self-indulgent, narcissistic…all those messages women get when they put themselves out there. I was worried I would be judged and found lacking.

I intentionally didn’t censor who saw it, and just accepted that if there were people who thought that of me they were probably thinking things like that anyway, with or without the pics. There was one woman who made only one comment on one photo: “what is this, your high school prom photo?” and I took a deep breath and let it go. I chose not to interpret what she meant by that, or why she said it. Not everyone is going to see you the way you intend, and that’s OK too.

Where in your life do you practice having boundaries, and where do you need to practice boundaries?

I practice boundaries in all parts of my life, with varying degrees of success! I need a few more with my children, and as they become adults its been a revelation to navigate new boundaries in those relationships. I could use a few more with myself. Holding myself to account, practicing self-care, making choices that serve me on an ongoing basis. I’m working on it but I think it’s a life’s work.

Did you learn anything new about yourself from your TRP experience? What has been the lasting impact from your TRP experience? Has it altered the way you view yourself or your surroundings?

I learned the power of full acceptance and celebration. I think I got a glimpse of myself as I really am – freckles, tummy rolls, grey hair and all. I can celebrate that! This is me, me at 50, me at this stage of my journey, me in all the parts of myself.

check out stephani’s program GATHER happening in may by clicking the graphic above and use the code: joiNME for a $50 discount

check out stephani’s program GATHER happening in may by clicking the graphic above and use the code: joiNME for a $50 discount

I feel like I’ve laid claim to being beautiful, sexy, joyful, sad, serious, grounded, irreverent, fierce, grateful, tender, loving, tough….all the parts of me that make me uniquely who I am. I’ve claimed those things without the filter of expectations of how I should be when I am those things, and am claiming the authenticity of what it means to be me when I am beautiful, fierce, tender etc.

I’m less afraid of being seen. Being seen is the path to belonging, connection, relationship and trust, and those things are the foundation for brave, honest conversations. They all go together. My work and my life are richer when I bring my whole self to it.

I’m Ok with not everyone applauding this act of coming out. It isn’t for everyone. It was for me, so I could step forward more fully alive and authentic into this next season of my life. I don’t need everyone to love me or even like me to do that. And its OK for them to be wherever they are, and for me to be here.

I think every woman should participate in the Revelation Project. Imagine a world where women claimed their power, possibility and authentic selves? Get out of our way!

What is your favorite song and why?

As I write this, in this moment I would say Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. With deep gratitude to the sisters of TRP.

If you want to have more Brave, Honest Conversations in your life join Steph at GATHER: 5 days of Brave, Honest Conversations ONLINE from May 13-17.

Use coupon code JOINME to get $50 off your registration as a friend of The Revelation Project.

More info here:

TRP Interview: Revealing Tracey Bea Thomas

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"Tracey Bea" 

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I just kept saying her name, over and over in the days before our photo shoot, and then, like the strange creature I am, I'd even yell her name out in my head like, "YO!" 

"Tracey B!"

I have no real explanation for how I prepare for the women who come through. It's always different, and there's always something going on for me in a spiritual sense as the shoot gets closer like tuning in. Sometimes I go into wardrobe-mode and start feeling out what clothing wants to come with me. In Tracey's case I was feeling the black lace and long lines with denim and and chunky jewelry . I had the instinct that she would be funky, cool, and fun. 

When I arrived at the shoot, Tracey was deep in thought, writing in her journal. She didn't look up, so I didn't interrupt. We all spent the time quietly setting up. Usually if time allows I organize all of my shnizzle-shnazzle, make-up and hair stuff and pretend I'm a real-live makeup artist.  I swear, one of these days I'm going to get myself one of those make-up tool-belts all the real stylists wear so I can feel myself, but I digress. 

When we did finally gather in our opening circle I could see that Tracey was like a reflective pool filled with lotus flowers and coy fish. Her hair was this magnificent teal color and my mind flickered to a familiar Monet painting.  I can't help but notice a woman's form right off the bat, I tend to take in the planes of her face, the lines of her beauty, and in Tracey's case, I became instantly mesmerized by her cheekbones. She had grounded herself with her writing, but I could sense that she was flitting around inside a bit, trying to navigate the three of us, all taking her in.  

I'm not going to lie. I fall in love with everyone who does our project.  Tracey was no exception but the difference is that usually I love from a distance because I don't want to be weird. I'm also not naturally very physically demonstrative (honestly, not at all until Kim and Andrea) but I forgot all that and practically sat in Tracey's lap while doing her make-up and got right up in her grill like we had known each other forever.  She's just the most adorable, quirky, fun-loving, honest versions of .. people I love.  She's precious. You'll see what I mean. 

Please tell us a little bit about you:

I feel like I’m in a reflective stage of my life.  Just loving the peace and calm that seem to be moving in.  Don’t feel the need to be super-active like I was in my 20s, but also don’t feel the need to slow down.  It’s a great spot to be in. 

I am fortunate to be retired, so that allows me to travel.  Travel is good for my soul.  It’s where I dig deep and really see who I am, to see what I’m made of.  I get restless if there isn’t a travel destination on my calendar.

Music is, well, my saving grace.  It fits any mood.  I took a couple of music classes a few years ago, and the professor was wonderful.  SO enthusiastic & compelling in how he taught the classes.  And, we were close in age, so that was fun, in that he and I understood each other….musically!   Sadly, he passed away, not long after there were no more classes in his curriculum that I could take.  How ironic, eh?  Felt like that period in my life happened for a reason.  Anyway, he taught me how to appreciate all kinds of music, which I’m forever grateful for.   Which I think, in turn, helped me to apply that to all aspects of life.  He was a gem,  and I’m a better person for having known him.  Learned a lot from him.

My friends and family are important in my life.  They lift me up, support me and love me.  My existence is richer because of them.

I’m making a film, and that is a big deal, simply because I have no formal film education or training!   But, in the last few years it just kind of happened and it’s exciting and interesting and fun, and I’m doin’ it!   My partner Dennis and I were doing it together, but , sadly he passed away 2 yrs ago.  I’ve only recently felt as if  my head and heart are healed enough to continue moving forward with it.  It will be a challenge, indeed. But, well, time marches on.  I’m up for the experience, of it all.

What are the biggest challenges that have faced you as a woman?

Being brave, being taken seriously, and not being judged…just for being a woman.

What are some of the issues that you think are important to explore as it relates to being a woman?

I'll repeat: Being brave, being taken seriously, and not being judged…just for being a woman.

What can’t you tolerate in the world?

My friends hurting.
Cruelty to animals.
Not being able to share a wonderful moment with someone who’s gone.  Oh, it’s tolerable most of the time, but, there are days where it’s most unbearable.

What frightens you the most?

Frightens might be a strong word. I’m not frightened of much. I’m 63.  What’s there to be afraid of now?
None of the following are frightening: however, I am trepidatious of moving forward with my film without Dennis.  I’m fully aware of how difficult it will be, but put simply, it sucks.  I’m mad that I will miss all the cool stuff in life after I die. That sucks, too.  When people in my life die, I feel sad they they’re gonna miss all of what's to come.

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What is your calling, what does your heart and soul gravitate towards?

I do gravitate towards helping people.  I've been volunteering for many, many years, and it does my heart good to be able to help others and to know that I’ve contributed in some small way to make a difference in someone’s life.

How do you keep yourself inspired by life?

Aaaah, well, life itself is inspiring!  To be alive is inspiring!  People are inspiring! I have wonderful friends who inspire me daily by their selfless acts of generosity, health battles they’ve endured, their creativity.  And, trying new things is definitely inspiring; it can satisfy a curiosity and build a confidence that you may not ever know about if you don’t try it.  Granted, I don’t need to try EVERYthing, but what’ve I got to lose?

Have you ever hit “Rock Bottom , How did you recover, what helped you?    

This one’s easy.  ‘ My’ Rock Bottom came when was divorced 15 years ago.  Divorce changes your life in an instant.  Fear, rage, confusion, deep sadness, helplessness, identity issues…oh my gosh, so much! Not sure how I recovered. I spent 3 months sitting in my house drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, & not eating much.  A new girlfriend, Oprah and Tom Petty are a few of the humans that got me
through it. 

I’m a positive person by nature and I got so sick of my mood and of not feeling like myself. The healing process had to begin and so eventually I had to find the strength deep within myself to begin the process of pulling myself out. I believe that we don’t know how strong we really are until we are faced with something traumatic. Then the strength takes over as if it’s been stored away; it’s a thing of beauty, actually. My divorce has really taught me that I'm one tough cookie, and my inner strength does exist, that I’m smart enough to pay attention to it and use it.  Sometimes ya gotta go down, way down, and stay there for awhile, I get that. You need to give yourself the time to feel the depth of the hurt and pain.  But, then I was ready to begin again, and as hard as it was, I just had to start moving forward. 

What is the shadow side of you, that you try to hide, deny, suppress, OR maybe accept, and celebrate?

The shadow side of me is the part that was a wallflower in high school, that never went to college, that was a loser and a failure because I got divorced, that I felt like I never fit in, low self esteem.  You get the idea.

How does it kick your ass, teach you, or what is the disguised gift in it? 

By me letting it kick my ass.
To ignore it, because it’s silly!
Not disguised really, but the gift is the Shadow itself.  It challenges you to accept it, or to take a good look at it and decide if you want the shadow to still exist. Good or bad.

What in particular made you feel like being part of the Revelation Project was a good idea at this time in your life?

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In the past couple of years I went through some traumatic and sad events. The good news is that  some solid healing occurred, and in turn, made feel more like myself again.  Learning, looking inward, and trying new things. These are all important for me to heal and grow and ultimately to move forward.  Participating in The Revelation Project seemed like a natural progression as part of this healing journey!

About the shoot:

What was the conversation you were having with yourself, as you were approaching your photo shoot ? 

I was actually excited!  A little nervous about the unknowns, but really, I was actually looking forward to the experience.  It seemed like the exact right time to do it.

Was there anything in particular that made you feel more or less relaxed or open to the process?

Again, I think I was just in a good place in my life so I was pretty darn open to it. 

What was it like to be witnessed by your TRP Team?

Hmm, it was interesting.  A bit nervous in spots, but you three women were so open and accepting, that I became quite comfortable in no time. 

What was it like to be the center of attention with a group of women?

Ha, pretty great!  Hahaha.  There’s a time and a place where being the center of attention with a group of women is allowed, and this was one of them.  In other situations, I have just faded into the background and let the light shine on someone else but you all reminded me that this day was my time to be in the center so well, I was takin’ it! 

What was it like not to have to fight for attention with a group of women?

It was refreshing.  Again, you three women, you just made everything so easy breezy. I often wondered, 'Do they even know how remarkable and genuine they are?'

What was the edgiest, most uncomfortable part of the shoot for you?

The last in the series, with Dennis’s sport coat.   Wearing it without any other article of clothing or accessory, it became about me and the jacket.  Which was pretty emotionally heavy.    I really didn’t know what kind of reaction or emotion would appear, so it took me by surprise.  I felt happy with it on.  Wearing it made me feel close to him.  Then, all at once, it made me feel oh so sad. For a whole bunch of reasons. 

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What was coming up for you, and how did you shift yourself out the discomfort?

I think just giving in to the moment was the only way out of the discomfort.  You know, when I'm  in an uncomfortable situation I've just learned to be in it, experience the moment I'm in. Lean into the suck. If you try to avoid it, or go around it….well, you’ll just stay in that ugly/sad/awkward moment and never ever move forward. I'm learning that to get to the good stuff, you've got to first confront the shit you’re in. 

What’s the biggest lie you ever believed about yourself?

That I wasn’t capable of doing anything
That I would never be good at anything. 
That I was too shy.
Not smart enough (which, of course, manifests itself into just that, and creates low self-esteem and, well, then the cycle begins).

Do you still believe it? What do you believe now?

Now?  Good God, NO.  No, I don't still believe that. 
The thing is, I no longer feel that I HAVE to be good at anything.  So, I believe that I can do all kinds of things which is actually very liberating. There’s no pressure to HAVE to do anything

At what point in the shoot did you feel most beautiful and most connected to yourself?  Did you claim it?

The first part of the series, with my jeans and tank top, cuz that’s me. I’m more of myself in that attire. But, truthfully, once the shooting began, I felt beautiful all day.  I think it was the trust I put in all of you, and the chit-chat, and the love and warmth you all put forth the moment you walked in the door.  Maybe when a person is in the presence of all that, they become relaxed and natural, and their true self shines, and who doesn’t feel beautiful when that happens? 

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How did the music impact you during the shoot?

Aaaah, the music made me feel good, energized! 

Please describe in three words the way you felt before we shot:

Excited.  Curious.  Ready.

Three words for after:

Calm.  Confident.  Happy.

Three words for when you saw the results:

Wow.  Wow.  Wow.

After you left, but before you saw the results, did you have any thoughts about the experience?

Lordy, yes. I knew it was going to be a great experience, because I’d heard so many good things about it.  It exceeded those expectations.  The day of the shoot, after you all had left, and I was there in my space, alone, I was feeling SO many things!  Joy, calm, confidence, lonely, brave, on top of the world, grateful, and loved. For the next several days, this calmness and joy was still enveloping me.  This may be how I was feeling before I arrived, but it seems as though this trip, this shoot, brought it more to the forefront and made me even more aware and appreciative of it.  Wow.   

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What were some of the things you thought about on the drive home?

I was staying town for another day or two, so that wonderful inner-peace kind of feeling stayed with me. 

When you saw your images for the very first time what was your initial reaction?

I had just been thinking the day before, “I wonder when my album will be posted?” I was excited and nervous thinking, What if I don’t like the way I look, what about my hair/makeup, close-ups, etc.  Those questions are normal for most women, I think.  When I saw them I picked  them apart with a keen eye.  But, the more I looked at them, I began to see what Kim (the photographer) saw, and what the accompanying quotes said, and what the comments from strangers were which really opened my eyes. 

Please share about the feedback you received from those who saw your photographs:

All of the comments were quite wonderful, actually.

What was important for you to know from others about the impact your images had on them?

Maybe not so much ‘important’, but simply interesting that strangers, without knowing a thing about me, had the most lovely and insightful things to say and noticed certain things in the images or about me. I thought that was remarkable. The comments from people  I do know, well, they were very complimentary, and saying how ‘the real me’ was captured. Both friends and strangers said they were in awe of how much emotion came through the images. 

What are some words you would use to describe how those comments made you feel?

They made me feel so good; loved, confident, happy. I thought : people DO know the real me! I will also add that at times I also felt odd, judged, and unnerved.

Who was most difficult to have witness your images, and why?

    Um, no one.

Who did you intentionally NOT reveal your photos to, and why?

Ha, I’ll show them to anyone who wants to see them!

Did you learn anything new about yourself from your TRP experience?

Not new, but it showed me that I am consistent in my authenticity: that I am strong and brave and real; flaws and all.

What has been the lasting impact from your TRP experience?

Since my divorce, I’ve felt that women need each other in bigger ways. They need to offer each other a hand up and they need to know they are not alone. TRP exists for these reasons, and more. So, the impact, for me, is that there IS a great sisterhood available out there and all we need to keep spreading that message to each other. 

How will you use the photos moving forward: professionally, personally, as gifts?

Professionally, for sure! I’m making a film, and will probably use some for promo materials and/or a website. Personally?  Maybe pick a fave to frame.

What is your favorite song and why?

Well, picking one is impossible, actually. 

Here are a few: 

Nowhere to Run (Martha and the Vandellas). Because, it’s a killer all female group, Martha was super fierce, and basically, I can’t sit still when it’s on. My world is a happier place when I hear it.

Reflections (The Supremes). Again, incredibly talented all female group. The music, the voices, the words. Perfection.

True Colors (Cyndi Lauper). Because, none of us should be afraid to show our true colors.  

I see your true colors and that’s why I love you.

Ooooh, so many more!

What is your #1 Revelation you take away from The Revelation Project?

That it really is necessary to be true to yourself, and to be able to ‘receive’ the truths and love that is thrown in your direction…..

Amen Sister.  We Love you Tracey Bea. You Rocked it. XO

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