This is me and I am enough!
I am Kylee Sharples, 45 year old Photographer, Partner, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt and Friend. And I am enough.
I first wrote those lines in a blog post just after the launch of my 40 over 40 project on the 3rd August 2015.
When I set this challenge, my goal was to highlight to women that no matter where we are in life and no matter how we feel about ourselves, the truth is often far from our own inner beliefs. So many women (including myself) feel we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not giving enough and certainly not worthy enough of any praise or accolades. This could be in your home life, your work life or just a deep down feeling that subconsciously we are lacking.
I was overwhelmed by the response to the initial blog post on the 40 over 40 project back in 2015, with more than 100 people submitting the online questionnaire to be involved. Everyone had a story to tell, good or bad, and it was heart wrenching for me to not be able to pick all the ladies that took the time to write their story. Everyone was so deserving. My hope was that through all of us sharing our stories, we could not only help ourselves to grow past those blocks that hold us back but to help other ladies to identify with your stories and in doing so, make them see that they aren't alone and that a mind shift can make all the difference to our feeling of self worth.
This was me in July 2015. When I conceived the 40 over 40 project, my good friend Katrina (an amazing newborn photographer) challenged me that I should be the first story to be told. To say I was terrified was an understatement but I also took that challenge because how could I ask women to be open and vulnerable with me if I couldn't do it myself. Being a newborn photographer I half expected her to wrap me in a blanket and pose me in a basket lol.
This had been quite a cathartic journey for me already. As I spoke about in my last blog, I hadn't been feeling very good about myself for years. I'd been battling crippling migraines that saw me forced to leave my job as a dental hygienist and not be able to work for nearly 2 years. At the height of my migraines, I was getting 25+ per month and I can honestly say there was not a day that went by that I didn't have either a full blown migraine or a severe headache. Through trial and error with medications, dietary changes, botox injections, physio and all sorts of "magic" potions, I'd been managing my migraines pretty well to the point I was down to around 1 a fortnight. So that is awesome!!!! BUT...I was left with a body that let me down all the time. The weight gain was hard to adjust to and so was the lack of physical activity that I used to enjoy, but I could function on most days so on the whole, life was good.
Why did I call this post "This is me and I'm enough"?
I, like a lot of women that I have visit me for a session, do so much for so many people and I am as guilty as anyone of feeling that I have failed someone in some way. I'm a 45 year old mum, a partner, a photographer, I work in my business full time, I volunteered for the Dental Hygiene Association of Australia (even though I no longer practice as a hygienist), I volunteer as the official photographer for Business in Heels, I volunteered as a photographer for TranzAustralia (a group that help people of feminine, masculine, gender non-conforming live the life they should be living), I volunteered for the AIPP WWII Reflections project, I try and be a good mother, sister, daughter, aunt and friend. At the end of the day I still don't feel like I'm enough, isn't that just crazy?
Over the last few months of 2015 I had a real shift in my thinking. Yes, I do a lot for other people, and I really enjoy that but instead of feeling like a failure because I can't do more, I am filled with pride at what I do manage to achieve and slowly but surely my negative self talk is being silenced.
Because of all the amazing women I photographed throughout 2015 and into 2016, I had a real and palpable shift in my thinking. Instead of focusing on what I'm not, I focused on what I was.I focused on my health, I ate better, I walked daily and slowly I began to lose weight. I didn't do it to look better, I did it to feel better. I ended up dropping 33kgs and as a result was the fittest and happiest I had been in years. To celebrate I had another good friend and amazing photographer Lori Cicchini photograph me to celebrate all that I had achieved in 2016. My business was growing steadily but more importantly I started to value myself and what I did.
Unfortunately, towards the end of 2016 I have again come up against some challenges. I have crippling back pain and I'm back on the roundabout of inactivity, medications and occasional self doubt. As a result I've started to gain weight again BUT thats ok. I'm comfortable enough in myself now that I know how I look doesn't define me. How I am valued by myself, my friends and family....that is the true measure of success in my eyes. I can always lose weight again, but I will never lose sight of who I am again.
Will I be better tomorrow...absolutely, but for today.....I am enough!