Natural and Wild

by Liz

Defined by no man, you are your own story, blazing through the world, turning history into herstory.

And when they dare to tell you about all the things you cannot be, you smile and tell them, “I am both war and woman and you cannot stop me.”

An Ode to Fearless Women by Nikita Gill

When I’m afraid of something, I watch it. Once I’m almost ready, I go straight for it. I don’t wait for ready. I know I won’t ever be ready until I’ve already begun. Sometimes I’m not ready until well after beginning. I like to face head-on things that are scary but safe. Low-risk factor, high fear-factor. Maybe I’m an adrenaline junky. There’s probably some support for that argument. Ultimately, I like feeling in control. I know that’s not sexy to admit, but it’s completely true. Feeling out of control is one of my biggest fears. Whenever I’m faced with a big problem or difficulty, I immediately look for where I have control, and how I can act to make things better.

Fear gets in the way of that thought process. I don’t know when I formally started doing this, but sometime over the past years, I developed an approach to life of intentionally facing my small fears. Trying to build up courage like a muscle, and have a little fun on the way, I’m reframing my fears as adventures. I’m not afraid of many little things, but I’m an overthinker. Anxiety and I seem to be keeping company more and more as I age, which I find unexpected. Substitute fears for worries and discomforts and the process evolved. Is it something I avoid for no real good reason? Is it harder for me than I want to be? Will there be anything valuable to gain by getting over it? I’m in.

I can’t tell you the number of times someone in a light jacket has asked me, “You’re that cold?” while I nod and shiver, bundled up in something much thicker. Being cold sucks. Unfortunately, I’m often cold. It hasn’t been a real problem, but it hasn’t been convenient either, especially since I quit my gym with the pandemic and I want to keep running outdoors through the winter season.

Somewhere in simmering mental soup that is continuously cooking down on the back burner of my brain I decided on this photoshoot. I wanted to put on my fancy dress, only mascara for makeup, and go take pictures in the nature I love so much. Granted, in January, nature in my neighborhood is really cold. The impulse and desire to equate beauty with nature and that which is wild, untamed, or not made up didn’t want to wait for warmer temperatures. Why not embrace the cold head-on then? Scary, but safe.

This photoshoot was the first idea of a quick succession of ideas that became a conceptual photography series before the first shot was even snapped. My exploration of nature, wild, free, strong, resilient all being enshrined over the traditional notion of beauty is woven throughout the series. My husband, Bryan Christensen, took these photos. He’s not a professional photographer. I’m not a professional model. Most of the photos didn’t work out. But for the quick impulse to play in my favorite outdoor playground, on my own terms, taking my first steps into meeting my discomfort with the cold, I ended up with some very treasured shots. Even better, I defined myself a little more clearly in my own story, and felt a little more unstoppable.

getting warm and dry immediately after the river walk

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