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Cassie’s Story

 

As a parent, you try to protect your children from anything that might harm them.  When they are young, you try to protect them from falls, when they start school, you try to protect them from bullies and as they grow into young adults, you try to help them become strong individuals who will help others.  This is a story about a little girl who’s earliest memory was getting called “fat” at a sleepover when she was six.  Her excitement quickly turned into sadness when she overheard her two “friends” whispering that she was “too fat” to fit in the bed with them.  This was the start of a childhood of uncertainty in regards to her body image.  Most people brush off bullying at a young age as just “something kids do”.  However, they don’t realize the impact it can have on someone’s life.  As she started growing older, other “friends” would try to help her lose weight even though she didn’t ask.  It was all meant as an innocent gesture, but it just made her feel worse about herself.  But through it all, her bubbly personality and sunny disposition never let on what she was feeling inside.  At the age of 7, she started cheer leading, a sport that she truly loved and excelled at.  She was a true cheerleader in every aspect of her life.  Elementary school can be tough on kids, but middle school can be brutal.  She went out for the middle school cheer team and found out just how terrible the kids in middle school could be.  She was called the “fat cheerleader”.  When she made tri-captain of the cheer team in 8th grade, “friends” started rumors that they had to sew two skirts together, just so she could fit in it.  This deeply devastated her.  Understand that she wasn’t actually obese, there were other kids bigger than her.  But she was always kind to people and always went out of her way to compliment others and make them feel good, possibly because she was so sad inside, that this made her a target for the “bullies”.

The summer between 8th grade and 9th grade was when she started to “watch what she was eating” and started to exercise every day.  People just thought that she was being healthy and weight conscious, but it was the beginning of a serious problem.  By the beginning of 9th grade she had lost 40 lbs in two and half months.  She started cheering on the high school team and one day in a bathroom at the school, mean girls still made comments. “Your a cheerleader? Wow! They must have lowered their standards a lot.”  Another comment was “That uniform looks terrible on you, you need something bigger, take my advice”.  The boys were no better.  A friend told her that two boys on the football team said “They hate you because they think you’re too fat to be a cheerleader and so does half the freshman football team”.  Well, with friends like that, who needs enemies?  Imagine that she had already lost 40 pounds and even that wasn’t enough.  Who do these kids think they are?  How did their parents raise them?  All she wanted was to be happy and make others happy.  She wanted to have the high school experience that all kids dream of.  Then she was asked out by a boy who after a week broke up with her because his friend told him that she was “too big for him”.  She was devastated but she continued to hide her feelings from everyone.  She only confided in her journal.  A place that helped her unload all the negativity that others kept feeling the need to throw her way.  As the next few years went on, her image of herself continued to become distorted.  She looked in the mirror and saw someone extremely obese even though she wasn’t.  It didn’t matter what people told her.  She was fat, she wasn’t good at anything, she wasn’t someone that people should be friends with.  This was not true of course, but from years of being picked on it was all she could believe.

Just a few months ago, after struggling for years with her body image, she started to restrict her food again.  After having a minor surgery which served as the trigger, she began to eat smaller portions of food and would eat foods that had no nutritional value.  This lasted from the end of September until we finally had the courage to ask her what was going on in December.  She struggled to explain what was going on with her, convinced that no one could understand.  She had lost over 50 lbs in a small amount of time and still didn’t think that was enough weight to lose.  Every time someone complimented her, she smiled and thanked them, but truly didn’t believe that she looked good.  We found her a therapist that specialized in eating disorders and body image issues, and after one visit, the therapist was convinced that she needed more extensive care.  She was enrolled in an intensive outpatient eating disorder program that lasted a few weeks.  Through this program, she still struggled to find a reason to eat, but slowly began to understand that she wasn’t alone.  There were other girls in the program, who struggled as well and all had different stories.  After she was discharged, the struggles still continued at home.  This has been a hard thing for us as a family to understand.  We have never seen her as she sees herself.  To us she has always been a beautiful and wonderfully caring person, who always looks out for others.  She continues to struggle with this and our hope is that one day she will be able to love herself just as we love her.

Wanting to help others understand what an eating disorder is, she started researching ways that she could help others and in essence help herself.  She wants people to understand that “Sticks and Stones may break your bones, but words CAN HURT YOU!”

An Eating Disorder is something that people don’t talk about.  It’s a disorder that people don’t recognize publicly because they think that the individual is “just dieting”.  People need to know that this is real.  There are many components to these disorders not just physical, but mental as well.  These disorders can be life threatening if not treated in time.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this story is about my daughter, Cassie.  After learning about the National Eating Disorder Association Walk, Cassie formed a team called “Free Yourself” and this team will be walking in the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Walk in Kingston, RI.  Her friends and family will walk beside her as she strives to make a difference not only in her life but in the lives of others.  To bring awareness to these disorders which affect so many people, but who are afraid to talk about what they are feeling.

If you would like to make a difference too, please support Cassie in her efforts to raise money for this cause.  Please click on the attached link to make a donation to Cassie’s team.  http://www.nedawalk.org/donate Click on donate to a team and select the Kingston, RI walk and type in her team name “Team Free Yourself”.  Click on the team and click on the donate button.  These donations will help fund programs to help raise awareness and also help treatment for individuals with these disorders.

I appreciate everyone who took the time to read her story.  Please help us to spread the word about eating disorders and maybe one person at a time we can end the stigma of eating disorders forever.

 

Opening Night SWBL

It’s Lacrosse Time in South Windsor!

So as we wait for spring to arrive, and we all know that it’s taking it’s sweet time here in New England, the kids start getting ready for spring sports.  One of the popular spring sports in South Windsor is Lacrosse.  When I was at South Windsor High School in the 80’s, Lacrosse didn’t exist.  When my son came home from 3rd grade and said he wanted to play Lacrosse, I was excited that we would be introduced to a new sport.  My older daughter had a bunch of friends who played Lacrosse and really wanted her brother to be a LAX bro!!  Jesse is in his third year of Lacrosse with the South Windsor Boys Lacrosse league and we couldn’t be happier with the group of kids, parents, coaches and league volunteers.  This group works hard to not only teach the kids the sport of Lacrosse, but good sportsmanship and safety in sports.

I was asked to photograph the opening night celebrations and it was a great night.  You know how at the end of a sport you end up missing those great people that you bonded with all season long?  Well, when I walked into the gym, those faces were all threre, smiling, laughing, waving and shouting hello’s to people that they may simply be their neighbors or they haven’t seen since last spring season.  Lacrosse in South Windsor in a good place to be, a great place to learn and a wonderful place to make long lasting friendships, whether you are a parent or a kid!  You can find more information on South Windsor Lacrosse at http://swboyslax.org/ Come on down and watch a game…You’ll be hooked!!!

opening night

Taking Some Time….

Ahhhhh Memorial Day!  Makes you think of Family, Friends, Fun and of course Being Thankful!  No it’s not Thanksgiving kind of thankful, but a more important thanks to those people who put their lives on the line everyday to keep us safe, keep us sheltered, keep us alive!  Each Memorial Day we take the time to go to (or participate in) the South Windsor Memorial Day Parade.  For seven or more years, I myself walked in this parade as a girl scout leader.  Now, I sit on the side and do what I do best….document!  Now, my son Jesse, and my husband Bob march with the cub scouts.  But I love to sit on the side and wave to all these townspeople who volunteer their morning to march for what is important!  I also love to get there early so that I can visit with people in town that I just don’t see enough of, including some of my neighbors!  My kids always tell me that I talk to much, but…..so here’s a look through my eyes at what fun the parade was yesterday!  Hope to see you there next year!

Marietta

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So, It’s Only Been A Year!

Now I really, really promise that I am going to blog once a week to prove to myself that I do so many things that are really interesting and that I am not just a taxicab to bring my kids back and forth to events!  Some of you may know that I am lucky enough to be a part of a really great association the Connecticut Professional Photographers Association (CTPPA).  I am the VP of Programs and have the really cool job of hiring the talent for our membership to learn from.  I also have the job of coming up with really cool events to bring the membership together!  I just dropped off our Fall All Day Speaker, the talented and wonderful Sam Gardner from Oxnard, CA.  He has been in Connecticut since Saturday and was headed home today to his lovely new wife, Patricia.  Before going to the airport, I had the pleasure of taking Sam on a little photo safari so he could photograph the fall colors.  To my surprise, he photographed me too!!  We took a walk through Northwest Park in Windsor, CT.  It’s been a long time since I walked through a park without a camera in my hand and truly looked at everything around me.  It was a real cool treat to be photographed through his eyes, as I truly hate to have my picture taken.  But watching him work and seeing him look at a place that sits right under my nose, gave me inspiration!    When he sends me my picture I will post it up so everyone can see what a great place New England is to be in the fall!  Until next week….

Chef Jeremy wins national contest!

 Chef Jeremy has been a longtime client of the studio and we have been photographing him since he was born!  When it came time for his 18 month pictures, I knew I wanted to do something different for him and since Jeremy’s uncle is a chef and bought him this great chef’s outfit for him.  Since I knew how expressive Jeremy is I decided to go all out and set the stage with real spaghetti, real tomatoes, real garlic and let him go to town! 

We were also lucky that Sandy Puc’, a nationally known speaker and professional photographer from Colorado was coming through Hartford on her tour “Creative Edge Kids” and was sponsoring a photography contest.  We entered Jeremy’s picture in the contest and I was absolutely thrilled that Jeremy’s image won.   This past Wednesday, one of Jeremy’s prizes was that he got to model live for the seminar and he did great! 

Congratulations to Jeremy and his parents Christie and Jeff!  Thanks so much for letting me capture the best memories of Jeremy! 

Back in the Swing of Things!

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Every day I wake up and say “I have to work on my Blog”! But enter life and all the things that come with it. On March 23, 2008 (which happened to be easter) I lost my Mom after her courageous battle with diabetes and all the debilitating diseases that go along with it. I always said to myself, I wonder what would be worse….the physical illnesses or the mental illnesses. I never thought that less than 6 months after my mother passed that I would find out. My father, a graduate level professor, and alumni of RPI in Troy NY would show signs of vascular dementia. He taught Mechanical Engineering at Rensaleer at Hartford, a school that he help start from the ground up in the 1960’s right here in South Windsor, CT. He started showing signs of forgetfulness and wanting to sleep all the time. He also would forget to eat, but we were lucky that he never forgot his family. So at this time, I have now become an orphan,(Dad passed away on September 3,2010..Labor Day Weekend) but have been very lucky that both my parents instilled a strong sense of right and wrong, confidence and faith in me, so that I could carry on the tradition for my children. Now you probably are wondering….what the heck does that have to do with photography….isn’t this woman a professional photographer? Well, because of the time that I had to take away from my business to care for my parents, instead of moping around and grieving for them, I feel as though they are now pushing me to do my best. I have been photographing kids, events and people the last month and the images are amazing. Before, when they were sick, I had no confidence and worried all the time what people would think of my work, but now, knowing the “mom and dad” are up there, guiding me, I love the images that I have started creating!! I can wait to make more!!