This Women’s Empowerment Photo Session affirmed the journey Janel embarked to build her new life when everything changed in an instant.
There was a day in June of 2014 when Janel woke and addressed as any other day, like we all do. Because “Live every day like it’s your last.” is great in theory, but is sometimes lacking in its practical implications. Sure. Live everyday like it’s going to be your last. Yet, also, the laundry needs to be folded and you should probably brush your teeth and don’t forget to submit that report to your boss. So, most days start like that one in June of 2014 started for Janel.
There’s no official bearer of bad news. No one knocked at her door and announce that today was the day that everything would change. Therefore, she brushed her teeth and did all of the other normal, boring things we do in a day to keep ourselves together. Then, she grabbed her keys and headed down 76 with the thousands of other people commuting every day. All bridging the gap between one facet of life and another, along one stretch of congested highway.
She was launched in a chasm between what her life was moments before and what it would be from now on.
She did not know that soon she would be unconscious on the pavement, ejected from her motor cycle. She was launched in a chasm between what her life was moments before and what it would be from now on. Along with the blood and skin left on that stretch of road, there was a birth of vulnerability, strength and empathy that could only be realized on the long climb out of the chasm.
“Let me just own who I am and who I am is this woman with scars on her head that shows that whatever tried to kill me didn’t.”Janel Smith
The following six years have been the semblance of clawing out of the chasm. Clawing through the trauma, both physical and emotional of living over a month in the hospital, several painful surgeries (including skin grafting), being told she’d never walk again and so much more.
Unrelenting gratitude acknowledges all of the goodness and doesn’t need to discount the suffering that is unavoidably part of the human experience.
Janel’s been healing inside and out ever since. She learned to walk again and with that see the abundance of possibilities her life holds. She learned to embrace her scars and cultivated self-compassion in a world that harshly judges women according to their appearance. Though she’d never grow a full head of hair again, she created a space within herself to hold her truth, “Let me just own who I am and who I am is this woman with scars on her head that shows that whatever tried to kill me didn’t.”
Janel’s story reminds me that perhaps the spirit of “Live each day as if it were your last.” is rooted in gratitude. It is not about doing every extraordinary thing possible, but about opening up. It’s about fully leaning into what is present and possible. Unrelenting gratitude acknowledges all of the goodness and doesn’t need to discount the suffering that is unavoidably part of the human experience. Gratitude does not proselytize suffering with a “…but you should be grateful.” Rather, gratitude that resonates with a “Yes. And.”. “YES. This is painful. I am hurting AND I have much goodness to give this world and much to receive.”
Janel recently participated in Everybody Beach Body Campaign by Kristen Kidd Photography. The 2020 Beach Body Everybody Calendar is benefiting ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders). It works to change the conversation about defining beauty by celebrating body and soul diversity through our very own calendar featuring women of all shapes and sizes, ages and backgrounds. Each woman is beautiful in body and spirit. You can change the conversation and stand with this bold women by securing your copy of the 2020 calendar here.
Kristen Kidd Photography is an individual & family portrait photography studio in the North Wales suburb of Philadelphia, Pa. We specializes in helping individuals and two-legged & four-legged families stop and reconnect with the love in their lives through fun and unique photo experiences and custom designed wall art collections.