Soul Food Series: Monday Nights in June

MONDAY JUNE 4TH, 11TH, 18TH AND 25TH 6:30-8:30PM

THE WEBB SCHOOLHOUSE STUDIO, UXBRIDGE

 

Hi friends!

Anna Maria and I are collaborating to host an expansive dinner series for the 4 Monday evenings of June that will get us digging deep into our hearts and minds, altering our thoughts and manifesting the dreams we have for ourselves. We’ll come together at our schoolhouse studio in Uxbridge, have a healthy dinner and tea and share four weeks of mind-altering ideas with practical applications to our daily lives that can truly transform us and everything around us too!

Our Vision for a Sustainable Life

Our Vision for a Sustainable Life

We’re embarking on a mission to get our family and our century-old-schoolhouse off the grid and back to our selves! We’re just regular people trying to learn from living and from nature in our creation of a sustainable life that is balanced, flowing. This is the vision. It’s up from here!

How we turned a run-down old gym into our dream studio!

In 1963 this group of students stood in the brand new gymnasium of their rural school and smiled for a photographer and for posterity. That year, enrolment at the Webb School was fifty-seven students and two teachers. If you're from the Stouffville/Uxbridge area, you will recognize some of the family names in this class! 

2H1A9673.JPG

When the school was decommissioned in 1980, it was rezoned as a rural dwelling and for the next 35 years owners tried to make the building their own. It went through major growing pains and wasn't always loved and I will admit (having grown up down the road from the schoolhouse), it was a scary and tired building on our long stretch of country road. 

SLAI1590.JPG

 

Mission #1: Own the Schoolhouse 

When the schoolhouse went up for sale in the fall of 2016, the gymnasium wasn't even shown in the listing and I understand why! It was a mess. It was taking in water, the flat roof was leaking, the electrical was a colossal hazard - the gym needed complete gutting and it likely scared a few people away!! But as soon as we saw it, we were in love and within days, the battered old gem was OURS! Then the REAL work began!

2H1A1043.jpg
IMG_8611.JPG
2H1A1044.jpg

Mission #2: Show me what you're working with! 

In an old building, you really need to know what you're working with - for better or for worse. So, we started by hiring the experts to peal away the layers. Ryan Pickering and his crew at Custom & Quality came in and expertly uncovered the gym and other parts of the schoolhouse! They were brave, very, very brave! 

Custom and Quality

Mission #3: Let the energy flow!

With no more layers and the power cut, the gymnasium went into a period of dormancy. Like every deep transformation, we had to deal with the deeper issues that we often would prefer to ignore. Our schoolhouse needed a new flat roof to stop the water dripping into the master bedroom above and the studio below and the doorway needed serious structural love. So we got a crew up on the roof and called Kevin Rainbow & Jeremy Brown from Rock Solid Services to give the studio entranceway an overhaul. They worked all hours with no power and all heart!

2H1A1036.jpg
EPBK9469.JPEG

Then it was time to let it settle into it's new self - fresh, unencombered and ready to be something special!

IMG_8751.JPG

Mission #4: Listen & Leap

Despite the state of the gymnasium, clients who came to the studio were often eager to check out our future studio and were divinely positive and encouraging. It was hard at first, but as I listened, I realized that the space was picking up momentum. Even in it's state, I began to use the space with my adventurous clients. 

Musical Conductor, John Kraus was open and kind...

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 7.37.31 PM.png

Industrial Trainer, Marley Hurtado was enthusiastic and encouraging...

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 7.41.58 PM.png

...and dozens of friends and family visited to help us build the momentum to take the next step. It was time to get serious. 

Mission #5: Let there be Light

Electrifying the studio was a project that could only go to a team of passionate electricians, because an old building like this has lots of secrets and demands creativity. We called Karl at KHB Electric Inc. and they knocked it out of the park!

IMG_3541.JPG

The day after they were done, Becky Morrissey from One Step Ahead came in to help me organize, sort, clean and turn a construction site into a working studio space. (She's a machine and a magician!) Just in time for the bright and electric energy of actor, Keegan Comar who loved the industrial vibe!

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 8.21.30 PM.png

Mission #5: Decide and it is Yours

The studio project has been evolving alongside a number of other projects here at the schoolhouse so while we have the pros working some jobs, we have been knee deep in the rest ourselves. But one day we decided, without being fully prepared and without having worked out many of the kinks, to launch a workshop series and open up the studio - WHY NOT!!? We knew that if we put our heads down and focused on the vision that we'd get there. It was time to get our hands dirty and we were happy to do it! A month until opening. Here we go!

Floors, walls, electrical, plumbing, carpentry - there was nothing we didn't do in the four weeks leading up to the opening of the first workshop!

Mission #6: Know when to Stop

IMG_4895.JPG

Because he doesn't read my blog I don't mind saying that my husband is an angel and my creative soul mate! He thought it wise to get me away for a few days of rest after the feat that we had managed to pulled off. 2 days until opening. Breath deep mama. All is well.

Mission #7: Enjoy every Minute!

Yesterday we opened for our first workshop which, for me, was a dream come true! From the day we first moved in, I have felt the ring from every corner of the building to give it love, with the promise that it would give back ten-fold. It has already done that. I'm about as happy as I can be in a creative space I get to share with energized people like this, who bring me joy and challenge and creative blocks that we happily help to bust through, so that the artful energy can flow as it should!  

Welcome to the NEW Dukát Studios! It's UP, UP, UP baby!

Won't you join us?

Sunday, March 25, 2-5pm: Take Radder Pictures of your Life with your Phone

Sunday, April 8, 2-5pm: Learn your Camera and Be Happier

 

Forever yours in love and light,

Angela

Workshop Time at the Studio

WHAT a year!

This week last year we were just settling into our century-old schoolhouse and coming to terms with it's eerie late-night thuds, 13 degree morning wake-ups and how to divert the leaking roof in the future bedroom! From the outside it may have looked like we were way in over our heads. One short year later we are a good deal closer to our environmentally sustainable, creative schoolhouse and we're ready to invite friends in to feel her creative warmth and experience the #schoolhouserevival in it's perfectly imperfect transformation.

Registration is open for our spring workshop series for newbie photographers!

We're keeping it small so that you get a great experience and walk away feeling in love with your camera and inspired to create! 

 
 WORKSHOP |Sun, Mar 16, 2018 2-5pm|: How to take your own product photographs: Basic Photography For Creatives & Makers

WORKSHOP |Sun, Mar 16, 2018 2-5pm|: How to take your own product photographs: Basic Photography For Creatives & Makers


 WORKSHOP |Sun, March 25, 2018 2-5pm|: Take Radder Pictures of your Life with your Phone

WORKSHOP |Sun, March 25, 2018 2-5pm|: Take Radder Pictures of your Life with your Phone


 WORKSHOP |Sun, Apr 8, 2018: 2-5pm| Learn your DSLR Camera & Be Happier

WORKSHOP |Sun, Apr 8, 2018: 2-5pm| Learn your DSLR Camera & Be Happier


 
26910126_10155971489357296_8003315821198746516_o.jpg

Hi, friends! I'm Angela :) I'll be teaching these workshops out of our schoolhouse studio using natural light and your own camera so that you can keep your creative momentum going long after the workshop.

I HOPE YOU CAN JOIN US! 

Letting Go in the Mud

OH glorious bliss!

HOW I WISHED IT WAS ME.

On a mission, to make the biggest mess, the tallest splash, the muckiest toes. Freedom!  

I shot this series of portraits of Meredith's daughter B out in schoolyard this past summer as part of the PORTRAIT OF A LADY exhibit. B had been tugging at her mother's jeans all morning, asking if it was time yet to go play in the mud. "Just after we get this indoor portrait just right," we promised.  Yes. We bribed the kids with a mud bath. High five!

I'm in love with the wild, self-actualizing, radiant B,

 all too happy to get lost in the squishy trench and shed all those stuffy rules about

lady-likeness, keeping clean & sitting pretty.

And instead adopt new ideas about

self-expression, stretching upward & being in the moment.

And as her mom sprayed water like rain from the garden hose, she grinned from ear to ear and shouted to her daughter in mid-flight, "get as muddy as you want baby!" 

Permission to let go!

It all comes down to this for so many of us. How much more abundance could we welcome? How much more good could we do? How much more could we create if we gave ourselves more permission.  

That's what I'm working on friends! I hope you enjoy these.

Angela

  

If you'd like to see the image we chose for the exhibit or to see the rest of the exhibit, click here 

9-YEAR-OLD (2017)
Sitter: B
Photo: Angela Durante Dukát

 

Matt & Melissa's New Moon Wedding

Keeping it real and having a good time were key when Matt and Melissa planned their wedding weekend at Camp New Moon. The drive up to Baysville was all Canadian shield and pine trees and it didn't take long to see that Matt and Melissa were going to do this Canadian style - laid back, fun and surrounded by nature! Family and friends arrived to the smiling faces of wedding party camp counsellors who, in addition to being the engine of the party, took care of everyone around them  like family. It was warm, funny and never EVER dull!  

Since we like our images to tell the story I'll leave you hear to indulge in the gorgeously heartfelt wedding of Matt and Melissa... and one particularly hairy guest!

Renata & Cameron's Outdoor Love Session

I love asking couples about their history. It always brings out inspiring stories about how and where they met and a it's a reminder of the serendipity of it all. How on earth we end up where we end up could be so wildly different if we had only made one choice per day differently. For Renata and Cameron, a series of choices and challenges define the 25 year road they've travelled together. They began as two young babes, on September 15th, 1990. 

When I asked Renata her story, she began like this:

"I was 16 years old living in São Paulo. One night I went to a party with school friends which was to be a blind date with my friend's brother-in-law. I remember thinking, "He better be nice, because I'm going to marry him." He was 20 and was in university. He thought I was 18. When he realized how young I was, I guess it was too late.
We dated for four years before moving in together and lived together for four more years before deciding, on a whim, to get married. We began thinking about moving to Canada, and thought it would be easier to stay together if we were legally married, so four months after his proposal, we eloped. We had decided to sell our car to buy our tickets to Canada, but our car got stolen, so the Canada dream had to wait another two years. One day we decided it was time to move, so we quit our jobs, packed two suitcases each, closed the apartment and moved to Toronto, Canada."
"Oh, those first years! You know those wedding vows...  for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part? We started off with with the bad... the 'worse', 'poorer', 'sickness' part. The first 19 years were a rollercoaster. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. At the time it seemend like a never endingbad luck streak, but it's so nice to look back after all these years and see how far we have come... Yes, we made it! We also probably hold the world record of longest time together before having a child. Our son celebrated his first birthday just after our twenty year anniversary of being together!
Because of that "poorer" part, we never got to have decent pictures of our elopment. A cousin was nice enough to take pictures for us, but then I destroyed the kiss photo by opening the camera thinking the film had been unwinded, when it hadn't. So, when we celebrated 25 years together, all I wanted was some great pictures. We are a bit heavier, there's less hair, but oh, how I treasure these images!"

 

The MacCormacks: an audio story

There are so many ways to tell a story. Today I want to share a different way than usual. The MacCormacks, always up for something new, agreed to sit in the studio after their family session, and without preparation or direction, shared the story of their joint life together. It's a tale of love and commitment and following your path that reminds us that no life experience goes without challenges and that anything worth doing requires some grit. 


The Story

We recorded this story in our studio recently. It's the first I've done and although it may lack finesse, it really satisfies the historian in me that believes strongly in recording our stories for others to hear. The digital whimsy is all Jeffrey's work. They are pieces he's created in recent months that we thought added another layer of awesomeness to the story of these very cool people! Hope you enjoy their story :)

The Adventure Bells

If you know them, then you already know. Averill and her husband Brendan are adventurous hearts - it's what brought them together (meeting while employed on a cruise ship) and it's what underlies the way they raise their kids and live their lives. Most people don't come to the realization that life is short until later on, but Averill and Brendan are teaching their kids in a not-so-subtle way that life is for living. They've sold off the contents of their home and packed up a suitcase each to move their family to Australia! Granted, Brendan is from Australia, but they don't have a place to live, jobs or even a plan. They're going where the wind takes them. It's going to be an amazing lesson for their kids to watch, because no doubt, they'll land on their feet, problems-solve through challenges and love their way into new circles of friends and neighbours. Don't we all want our kids to be a able to do these things? Someday, without us to guide them.

Today is a special day in Averill and Brendan's history - it's their 10th Anniversary! A significant day from which they have no photographs because they "sort of eloped" in Averill's own words. With Averill being a photographer, I thought this was sacrilege of the nth degree and so when they asked me to photograph their family before their big adventure, I enthusiastically accepted and vowed to capture something worthy of a tenth anniversary! 

Dear Beautiful Bell Family,

We are so proud to know you! Aspire widely. 

Angela

 

 

 

Artist Meredith Blunt on Fear & Following your Path

 

 Life as a working artist, mother-partner and household juggler is tricky enough that staving off the social pressure of taking a job outside of our craft is sometimes unbearable. When an artist realizes that their art is not a calling, but a chronic insistence of the soul, something clicks. And then - the leap! Artist Meredith Blunt takes us through her journey of fear, viability and the art of happiness. Meredith's fearless work and artistic adventures can be followed here on her Facebook page. 

 

Today, I am glad to be seen as a fearless artist in my home with a tiny kitchen studio full of my paintings and my family bouncing around me.  It all gives me such confidence, insight and joy in my journey.

I am glad as it has not always been this way.

For years, my fear told me I would fail, not to waste time. My perception of the world told me that denying my art was the correct choice to make. I  lost something to expectation, obligation, and responsibility. Those big, grown up, weighty words that I could not apply to my passion but could apply to everything else like the laundry. I lay down my brushes and put away my box of paints and built a career that brought in a salary, benefits, normalcy, security.  In the midst of a happy, normal life I felt lost and unhappy, despite my best attempts to be who I thought I needed to be. I had become useful and viable.

I had vanished.

A long time passed.

Then, one day, not that long ago, that passion which comes from a hardwired mysterious core that is as unique as our fingerprints, became utterly impossible to ignore any longer. Simple, basic pleasure had me put my hand to my still-wet canvas. I savoured the feel, the smell, the touch of the paint. My fear would no longer be the loudest voice. I would no longer be unkind to my honest self.

I learned that living your creative passion does not take away from your viability - it contributes to your life! I am so much more in tune with my family, so much more alive, so much more ME. Much like how relationships found within friendship, marriage, children, family can add intrinsic loving elements to complete the portrait we build of ourselves, Art is filling in the spaces that had been emptied by my own harsh choices. Without painting in my day-to-day, I was absent from my own life.

The price of avoiding failure is worse than the stumble. Failures will come and they can change fears into experience, pain into expressive beauty, change loss into a gain of what you didn’t know before you tried. Embrace them as a greater measure of your quality. They are fuel for passion and big or small, over the course of a life, they contribute to that honest portrait.

Don’t be afraid.


meredith's note to self

I see you.

I know it when I see a kid who sees unicorns in the snow. I know it when I see a kid who hears music and stories in colours. And, I know it when I see a kid, a person, who diminishes themselves because they want to please, they want to fit in, and they're afraid of failing, because they are afraid.

Failing at what?

Afraid of what?

When you get a little older, when you learn a little more, you'll come across the paintings of a woman called Georgia O'Keeffe. What you'll see is colour, bright, strange, interpretative, dissonant, and wonderful. What you'll keep of her is this:

"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."

It is okay to be scared. We all feel it at times. You are bigger and louder than that fear.

Remember that and always conquer it with your colours flying. They are something to be seen. Don't be afraid.

Daniela & Edvard's Atlantis Wedding {Paradise Island, Bahamas}

This time last year we were waiting for a barefoot bride to walk down a sandy beach aisle to her longtime love and I thought, it just doesn't get better than this! Love, family, a stunning backdrop, the smell of salt and the sound of crashing waves - it's a shame that a camera can only record the equivalent of one of ours senses. For non-traditional, outdoor-lovers Daniela and Edvard, a beach wedding with some of their favourite people seemed like the only way to go. It was a vision Daniela had locked away in her head when she had visited Paradise beach nine years earlier and true to the power of imagining what you want, here she was, walking toward a draped pergola and her husband-to-be standing beneath it. In a gorgeous place like this there are a lot of wedding formalities that can go by the wayside - décor, stuffy shoes and one formality that Edvard was all too glad to dispense of - a suit! One thing they did not do away with was dancing! With their family around them they danced about as hard as anyone could... and if you look closely, you might even see Daniela dancing her way to getting married! This month, Daniela and Edvard celebrate ten years together and their first wedding anniversary and we raise a glass to them - cin-cin e cent'anni! Cheers to 100 years!

 

 

 

We were so happy to be part of your love and light.

Angela & László

 

 

Award Winning Wines for a Wonderful Winter

Dukat_Photos_Marys-Birthday-1003.jpg

As we inch our way toward winter our palette in the Dukát Household tunes to wine. We find wines to be so cozy, unique and creative that anytime we get a chance to enjoy a bottle of something beautifully made, we are IN! We love wines so much that on our wedding day we had a skilled sommelier teach us and our guests about the six different wines we had chosen to pair with our wedding day feast!

So, we were thrilled to be invited to Queen's Park to cover the Lieutenant Governor's Awards Reception for excellence in Ontario Wines. To be surrounded by some of the best wine-makers in the country was a lesson in persistence, perfectionism and passion! We wanted to share these with you, because, if you love wine too - or if you're simply vino-curious - this is an excellent place to start. A stipulation of wine nominations was that they be commercially available for purchase so pick something to celebrate tonight with someone you love and bring home a bottle of excellence! Salut!

Angela & László

Riddled Sparkling, 2009, Flat Rock Cellars

Riesling, 2010, Hernder Estate Wines

Riesling Icewine Reserve, 2013, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate

Sauvignon Blanc Signature Series, 2013, Peller Estates Winery

Small Lot Riesling “Wild Cask”, 2013, Thirty Bench Wine Makers

Gravity Pinot Noir, 2012, Flat Rock Cellars

Riesling, 2014, Creekside Estate Winery

Chardonnay, 2013, Ravine Vineyard

Gamay Noir Private Reserve, 2013, Peller Estates Winery

Small Lot Block 12-140 Syrah, 2012, Rockway Vineyards

Sandy Clark on Fabulousness and Authenticity

 

I'm so thrilled to introduce you to Sandy! A Career Management Professional and certified coach, Sandy is a firm believer that our lives evolve most when we are open to opportunities.   She lives by the motto, 'Dwell in Possibility' because she's learned that anything can happen. When you meet Sandy you feel a profound sense of calm and positivity. She's climbed Kilimanjaro, navigated her unique patch to professional success and remained a humble giver and all around beautiful energy to be around.  Sandy agreed to share a few thoughts on fabulousness and authenticity, which, in my opinion, this woman has nailed in spades!

 

 How to Look and Feel Fabulous or Why I’m Tickled Pink

 

With a sigh, I hung my beautiful wedding dress back in my closet. A single occasion gown. I knew I wouldn’t wear it again. With an uncharacteristic lack of sentimentality and show of fiscal responsibility, I had decided to sell my gown, and so I took it to be cleaned in preparation. To my dismay the cleaner declined to risk treating the hand dyed fabric. So, back into the closet it went, and stayed, amongst other precious but seldom worn garments like my mother in law’s fur coat and my husband’s leather university jacket. I need to tell you about this dress. It’s a soft ballerina pink. The full silk skirt is covered by a heavenly swath of pink tulle. The back is sheer, adorned only with a single row of covered buttons from neckline to waist. All of it envisioned by me and skillfully created by a movie costumer designer with nimble fingers and a creative love. I’d never felt so special or feminine as on my big day and my dress played a huge part in that. So it’s very sad to me that my wedding photo album is missing but one shot - a photograph of me, by myself - rapturously enjoying my gown.When I asked Angela what I should wear to my “Notes to Self” shoot, she suggested that I wear a dress, something that made me feel fabulous. This was after she looked at my Facebook page, showcasing me mostly in athletic gear. Hmm, I wasn’t sure where she got the dress idea. I only own three and none would qualify as making me feel fabulous. I couldn’t imagine wearing any of them for a shoot, let alone a pose I could strike!

. Late on the night before the shoot, I remembered my pink wedding dress - the only dress I have ever loved. I sent Angela a note about my dress and a photo of it. “YES”, she exclaimed, “You have to wear it! It is fabulous!”The next night, she and I jumped into my VW beetle, me at the wheel with tulle up to my ears. We hurried to the location, knowing we had limited time to catch that elusive magic hour light. And we did have magic. I had fun. We both laughed. I was wearing my ‘Sandy’ dress. No heels, just barefoot in the grass. I didn’t pull out the hairspray or comb that I had brought along, just in case. I was able to be myself and there isn’t anything easier to be….if only we could allow ourselves the luxury of just that - Being ourselves….that’s when we look and feel fabulous, both inside and out.

Averill Bell on the Importance of Being Photographed

 

Averill Bell is an artist, manifestor and magnificent mother of three. She's fearless in her pursuits and relies (with a great deal of success) on her free spirit and kindheartedness to overcome challenges.  Averill aspires to enjoy life no matter what comes her way,  to laugh, smile, drink wine and always be grateful for what she has been given.  No matter what, "Life is Good!"

 

As a photographer, being on the other side of the camera is very different for me. It is not a place where I’m used to being or at all comfortable, but it’s important from time to time, to get out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves in ways we normally wouldn’t.

There is something to be said for having courage and allowing yourself to be seen. I’m not as skinny or as fit as I used to be, I have plenty of wrinkles and grey hair. My body after three babies has taken a beating and I’m not as young as I once was. So is this why so many of us are afraid to have our picture taken? To have a moment where the focus in on us? Why do we hesitate to give historical and photographic proof of who we are, especially as we grow older?

As women, and mothers in particular, we typically don’t like to be seen. But our existence needs to be captured and we must take the opportunity to be remembered for who we are, wrinkles and all! We have to jump in, both feet, and embrace the moments we are given and not shy away from them. Too often we run away from the camera, feeling we aren’t in our ideal state – our hair is a mess, we are carrying a few extra pounds or have no make-up on. Sometimes we are missing from photos altogether because we’re just too busy doing other important things.

But it’s important that when our children are older, they have photos where they see us for the women we were – not for the outfits we were wearing or if we sucked it in enough. They don’t look at us that way. All they see is “mom” - how beautiful we are, the love we carry for them and hopefully, a warm and wonderful memory to go alongside the image. When I look at older photos of my own mother – all I see is how beautiful she is, her warm and tender smile, and how much she loved us. Nothing else! It’s vital that we start to see our beauty through our children’s eyes.

As nervous as I was to take this leap, I am so grateful to have had the courage to let myself be seen through the lense, to be captured in the moment, to let the world see who I am, to have an image of myself for my children to always remember, and above all – to allow myself the opportunity to embrace my own beauty and who I am.

Be courageous, smile and be seen!

~averill bell~

 

Holly West on Self Love as a Journey

 

If you don't already know this writer, I'm stoked to introduce you to her! Holly West is a Toronto-based writer, who is working on not being a lady of leisure. She likes fanfiction, documentaries, Dolly Parton, and cool and tart glasses of lemonade. Check her out at westerlywinds.tumblr.com where her refreshing and witty style will have you wondering where the afternoon went.

 

“Here comes the sun and I say, it’s all right.”  ~ The Beatles

For me being seen has long been an issue – I stand a staggering 4’11” and have always been easy to miss in a crowd. I’ll admit blending into the tapestry was by design, but as the years and decades have marched merrily along I’ve made inroads into not only being seen but also being seen in the way that I want.

The day of this photo shoot I was on the tail end of some bleak mental health days and the further along I got in the long trek the more I felt myself unfurl – was it the literal physical forward motion? Was it the coy and interested looks some of the fairer sex were casting my way? Was it the landscape as it chased its way from pot-holed and industrial, to sprawling farms and smooth roads? Who can say, but by the time I hopped off the bus I was ready to lay bare all normally left shuttered away.

With the afternoon sun warming my freshly shorn head I sat on the parallel lines of train track and thought about all that came before and what is yet to be.

My last name may be a direction but I was directionless. Years of internal struggle left me adrift. But as my grandfather used to say, “hurry up slowly.” I was and am going to get ‘there’ someday. I now dress, cut my hair, and write so that I am presenting exactly who I am. You won’t have to squint to see me.

As the sunset and I headed home with my grass stained butt I felt that thing. You know that feeling? It feels a little like hope, a little like loving myself again. That love is helping me to have better days and a future that looks just as crystal clear as the sunlight highlighting the blue of my eyes.

Guest Blogger: Holly West

Find Her: westerlywinds.tumblr.com

Photographer: Angela Durante, Dukát Photos

#Notetoselfproject

Magnificent Mothers

One day an email came from a friend. She asked me to photograph her beautifully wrinkled belly with her kids to celebrate the work her body had done to bring two lives into the world. As I spoke to others about it, one mother turned into two, two into four. Before long, we were arranging a weekend-long shoot with a circle of women who wanted to celebrate their bodies and honour the magic of motherhood. Each mother also contributed a piece of writing - some wrote letters, some, words of wisdom and others declarations - and the following year we published the images and women's written pieces in a book called Conversations With my Body: Mothers. For a year it sat on my desk. I loved it. I showed it. When I asked the mothers in this project if they wanted to share it with you, the response was and overwhelmingly fearless, Yes! Today, we're sharing our magnificent mothers in the hopes that they join the quickening current of self-love and unique expression.  

Pablo Neruda is a famous Literature Nobel Prize winner whose memoirs are titled, Confieso que he vivido.  “I confess that I have lived”. This phrase is precisely the one that one day suddenly came to my mind one spring morning after having my second baby and spending endless hours in front of the mirror - Many hours or may be just many minutes that seemed like hours trying to find the “old" me within my “new” I. And just like that, this was the phrase that brought me peace - and still does when looking at my body on the mirror. The one that helped me to come to terms with my deep stretch marks, my c-section scar, my tired eyes. That is it, that is all. Since then on and in a revolutionary and rebellious latin tone- just as I imagine Pablo Neruda saying it when he came up with the name of his book, I think- sometimes aloud before turning my back to that implacable mirror… “ who cares.. I do indeed, confess I HAVE LIVED!”

~ Olga


I am a mother.  It's quite possibly the most important role I will ever play in my life.  And when I look at my daughter I am consumed with the idea that I need to be the best role model I could possibly be and it starts with loving myself.  Sure things hang a little more than they used to - gravity has a whole new meaning.  But to be perfect is to be imperfect.  This is me - fearless and standing strong embracing what nature has given me.

~Drea


As a Yoga teacher and counsellor at a women’s shelter, I talk to a lot of people, mostly women, about self-care. As a mom, I understand the need to take time for myself every day and crocheting allows me that.

I started crocheting 5 years ago as a hobby and quickly realized that it was an outlet for me. I am always amazed at what I can produce in a short period of time and the relief it provides me. My hands are always busy, always moving, and when I have yarn and hook in them I can make beautiful things for the people I love.

I knew my body would change when I had my son, and it has. My breast hang low after 2.5 years of breast feeding, my stomach is rounder, and I never sleep well because I’m up in the middle of the night wondering if I’m living my life right! I realize now that crocheting makes me a better mother, partner and friend.

I am so grateful to have found this gift and to be able to share it with the people I love.

~Melissa


Motocross is cool. Motherhood is cool. I am still cool. My passions and love for what defines me have only been empowered more by becoming a mother. Do not be quick to judge this book by its cover, as the cover has been reshaped, made more beautiful, and redefined by motherhood. This is my conversation with my body. Join the conversation.

~Mandy

-


Growing up, I never dreamt of marriage or envisioned a house full of kids. I had a few different reasons for “going against the grain” – or so I thought – but mainly though, I just wasn’t ready. I enjoyed sleeping in, staying out late, hanging out with friends, focusing on my career, on myself. And that’s exactly what I did for a very long time. And then of course that all changed when I met my husband. Just like that, I knew I wanted to become a family and instead of feeling panicky I felt excited about a new future. Women have been granted the gift of creating and carrying a life within us, such a beautiful and wondrous experience. How best to express how it feels to have a baby and to be a mother? It’s amazing and humbling, exhilarating and exhausting, peaceful and chaotic, imperfect, inconvenient and without question the most monumental occurrence of my entire life. Through all of this change I have emerged as a different version of myself and my body is the physical representation of all these things. I love my life and what I have become. I love caring for my little boy every day and watching him grow and change. I love being a mother, and the body that goes along with it.

~Dawn


Having children brought about a new found love and appreciation for my body (surprisingly). Prior to children the measure of my body was competitive and comparative. My involvement in sport measured by body's ability, or in my mind, its inability. Family, friends, magazines and a slew of influences charted where I compared to the rest of the world.

I am now most importantly a measure of my children, as they are a measure of me, physically or otherwise. My body's purpose extends well beyond the physical, thankfully leaving it's shape and size of distant importance.

~Becky

My essential survival kit to motherhood:

Gratitude for my gifts,

a flow of reminders to live in the moment

and a sense of humour.

Lessons learned from my children. Thank you babies!

~Angela


I always wanted to be a mother. Embraced my body changes for the rewarding experience of knowing that part of me is in each of my 4 beautiful children.

I would do it all over again....and maybe better knowing what I now know!

Life and motherhood (body and all) is beautiful!

~Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

 


Joy, new love, beautiful, gentle, speechless,

Overwhelmed, emotional, tired, exhausted, frustrated, grumpy,

Wide-eyed, Cooing, crying, laughing,

Silly, playful, spontaneous,

Chubby, healthy, exercise, food, cooking,

Confident, strong, happy, thankful, cherish.

~Cristina


I thank our Creator My Lord for blessing me with the gift of motherhood and giving me two beautiful daughters.

I dedicate this image to my daughters as a symbol of strength and Love, for it is their love that makes me strong. It is my children who give me the reason to fight, no matter what life throws my way.

To my girls, I love you with all my heart.

~Rosa

 


Undecided Mom.

Deciding on having a child is momentous!  A hard decision to make for those who are undecided like I was. In a world where the new generation can be a little selfish one of my biggest worries was that a child would take away from all the fun I was having and some of my natural beauty.

In fact, I'm so happy that I decided to take the leap, listened to my inner gut as I wouldn't change a thing. I'm having the best time of my life, exploring, learning as I go and watching my boy grow stronger everyday. The fun has just begun and I can't wait for tomorrow.

For those in the know - know that it comes with a little hard work and for those who are thinking twice do take the plunge, have no regrets, trust me you will have fun getting to know your new bundle of joy, to share your new found love and you're going to love it.

Today I celebrate the beauty found in real people - real mothers and real woman.

I'm a kid. Always been a kid. Having a child allows me to be a kid, to have fun and be me.

~Lynn


After having my second child, I became very self-conscious of my body. I knew my body would change but I wasn’t prepared for the stretch marks. It took me some time to come to terms with the fact that I would never have my flat, smooth belly back.

I am so grateful for my wonderful children and I wouldn’t change a thing! They look to me for strength and guidance and with unconditional love they inspire me to become a better mother. Each day I become more confident in myself and my body. This is me, this is my body and I am proud of what and who I am.

My husband says that “he sees the smiles of our sons” in my belly. What an amazing feeling!

~Lilia

Without a doubt, motherhood has been the most physical and emotional challenge for me. My prenatal and postnatal moments have shaped and tested my body in ways I could not even imagine. My two amazingly energetic children are continuously giving me the opportunities to learn life lessons in humility, patience, empathy, and love. I will teach them to be good to others, to care for the planet, and to be the best version of themselves. Because of them, I am strong and will always be their rock and safe haven when they need me.

~Julie

-


Piccola Amore ... My Thoughts of You

Like a mamma lioness to her baby cub, fierce motherly instincts have kicked in and I will protect you with all my being.

You are my precious gift, my joy, my sunshine each morning.  Miracle of life, I will nourish, nurture and love you with all my heart.  There are no words to express the bond between a mother and child and the tremendous amount of love you feel instantly.

Little one, I will be strong for you, a mother you will be proud of and a role model worthy for you to look up to ... because ...

I CAN, I WILL and I AM ... a woman and mother totally in love with you.

This is my expression of strength and dedication to my baby girl.

~Teresa


Nothing can ever be the same. It has been a year, the most life-altering year, and my truth is that life, for me, can never be the same. You are self-sufficient, confident and adventurous, all that I aspire to be. Oh the things we will teach each other.

Dear Daughter,

I write to commemorate our first year together, mother and daughter. You hear about this type of love, and it’s unimaginable, but I now know just how true it is. You are confident, self-sufficient and effervescent; all that I strive to be. Oh the things we will teach each other. There was a time when my life’s focus was work. I remember sitting at my desk, looking down at my ever-growing belly and thinking “I need to find balance in my life, perhaps this little lady bug is the ticket”. I loved every minute of spending your first year together; we made memories that will forever stay in that little corner of a mom’s heart. I had trouble adjusting, life was just so different, this wasn’t so black and white for me, there was a gray area, and something was missing. The year flew by, and returning to work loomed, I was nervous and wracked with guilt. One week in, everyone asked with their scrunched faces, “how is it going? Has it been as terrible as I hear it is?” No, it wasn’t at all! I felt alive, there was a new found pep in my step, in one word; it was awesome! Now a new guilt, where were my tears? Where was this horrible feeling of abandon? It took my first four days at work to realize, the gray was work, I had missed it terribly, and I was damn happy to be back. I want you to know that it’s OK to want it all. You CAN work and be a mom, a great mom at that. I know in my heart I am giving you the very best of me every minute we spend together, by fulfilling my dreams outside of being a mom.

~Melissa


A journey to learn so much more about Me.

I took in endless amounts of advice while pregnant. I read as much as I could. I improved my lifestyle to improve quality of life for the being inside my body. I devoted myself to my unborn child.

I was praised. Told I would make a great Mother. Listened to compliments and encouragements. Made note of the hardships of others. Compiled a strong birth plan. Pumped myself up to go drug-free for the sake of my baby.

Kept my body fit and ready. Did all the proper exercises. Even took up Yoga. Meditation. Faith.

Nothing prepared me for the mental stretch marks that becoming a Mother would bring. The scars of Motherhood that nobody else will ever see. The ones that will forever bring a heavy feeling in my heart and a tear to my eye.

Yet I carry those emotional scars just like the women who bear them on their skin. With pride. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I can do this. I did do this. Bring it on, one day I will do it again.

~Colette


Thank you to all the mothers who brought their creativity and wisdom to the project, especially Becky and Anna who are the bones of the Conversations with My Body group, and to a fabulous father, László, who helped to capture each mother in her best light. No photoshop was used in the production of these images - just love, light and a circle of creative mothers. All images were taken in the fall of 2013 near Toronto, Canada.