Saturday, July 25, 2015

I see you.

Those of you that struggle with self-esteem issues and loving yourself, listen up: While we do not want to put our self worth in the hands of others, sometimes it is good to let go and try to see ourselves through other people's eyes.....this goes for myself included. It is what helped me to start loving myself again after all those years of hating myself. I started to see myself through the eyes of others about 2 years ago. When I was going through my divorce I really and truly thought, "no one will ever find me attractive. I am ok with this and I would rather be alone and happy than in this marriage."

I am a photographer. So often I get on shoots where people do not want to be photographed because they do not feel good about themselves. All I see is a beautiful person before me who has lost sight of their true beauty. I try so desperately to capture what I see in you.

I am not perfect in seeing my true beauty....I, too, struggle....it is ok to struggle as long as we are making progress. So, from here on what this is what I propose you do:

1. When someone compliments you, do not fight it! Simply reply with, thank you.
2. Believe what someone is telling you. Do not make excuses or write off what they are saying....just believe. (as long as it is healthy and in alignment with YOU)
3. You do not have to look "perfect" in every photo. We all take bad photos and that is simply ok. It took me years to be good with ALL photographs of myself (bad ones included). My next step is being ok with video.
4. Embrace what you consider imperfections. I cannot express how much I love wrinkles, grey hair and all body types. You have cellulite? So what....so do super models before they are photoshopped. You are flat chested? Who cares....trust me, as a woman who loves boobs - people have fun with flat chested folks too. You are hairy or bald? It is ok! Bald is beautiful and humans have hair....the hair on your head does NOT define you! You have bags under those beautiful eyes? I only see those beautiful eyes. You have acne? So do I....I still see you.  I am not the only one that sees your physical beauty and your light. More people are like me than you realize.....the assholes that want perfection and porn star bodies are not really people you want to attract, right? Yes, I know it feels good to be desired.....but, make sure you are attracting the right people.
5. Your personality trumps everything. Think about it....it is true for you too. You have met people that have become more beautiful in your eyes because of their awesome personalities.....same goes for awful personalities......people that may be physically perfect and have douchey personalities have become "uglier" in your eyes the longer you have known them. Own what you consider to be "imperfections". Walk into that room with confidence....confidence is sexy as hell.

Here's the deal with me: I have a "mom-belly". I was pregnant 2 years in a row and I lost and am still losing weight ( I was 236 lbs at my heaviest and I am only 5'2"). It has created this flap of skin. Sometimes I hate it and want it surgically removed. Other times I am fine with it and rock my sexiness. I am a size 14 and weigh 175 lbs....yup, I am telling you this in hopes you will feel better about yourself. I workout regularly, have PCOS and thyroid issues...I struggle like anyone else, but most days I feel beautiful. I love my full lips, big green eyes, my large ass and my boobs!

But, here is the thing.....physical beauty is only part of it. I have a great personality and I am smart. I am compassionate, loving and incredibly feisty. I am talented. I advocate for so many people and groups. I am complicated. I am a good mom. I am an awesome friend and an even better lover. I have more to offer than a pretty face and great boobs. I find people are drawn to me and I truly believe it is because of my light and my personality.

As a photographer, one of my favorite feelings is capturing a person who has never liked a photo of themselves and they come to me with tears in their eyes telling me this is the first time they have felt beautiful or good about themselves.

You are beautiful. Start telling yourself that. Words are powerful. Do it for two weeks every morning and see how you feel after. XOXO

Thursday, July 16, 2015

From YW Presidency to a kick ass FEMINIST

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1998, I was 18 and getting sealed in the Los Angeles  temple to a man I had known less than 5 months. We wanted to have sex. But, we were believing active Mormons and we did not have sex before marriage. We moved our wedding date up from December to October.

Blake converted at age 19 and later went on a mission to North Carolina. He was raised in La Habra Heights. I was raised by my progressive thinking LDS grandparents, in Orange County California. I give this background because Mormons outside of the state of Utah are much more open-minded and friendly.  I learned after moving here in 2001, there is a much different culture to the LDS faith depending on where you live. We owned a home in Syracuse, Utah and lived there for 5 years. It was in a cookie-cutter neighborhood…..you know the kind….everything looks the same and it is all new and shiny. Only one lady was mean to my face regularly. Everyone else was pleasant and we liked our bishop.  We also owned an older home in Washington Terrace. I loved this neighborhood, it reminded me of California. Later, we relocated to a fancy cookie-cutter neighborhood in Davis County. 

For 10 years, I worked with the Young Women’s, eventually serving in the presidency. Blake worked with the Young Men’s for the same amount of time. We were good at our callings. We loved the youth. To this day, these young women are special to me and I love them dearly.

We were those tithe paying, monthly temple going, garment wearing, no watching rated “R” movies Mormons. We did not really look the part, as we were both artists…..but, we certainly played the part. I wore several layers of shirts and dresses awkwardly to cover up my garments.  I was modest because modest is hottest! I spent my summers at girl’s camp. I spent Wednesday nights with my Young Women. I spent 3 hours at church teaching the youth and a couple more hours on meetings.

I was friendly with the people at church. I even really liked some of them and when I had children, we had fun play dates up in Washington Terrace. The bishop in Washington Terrace was rad. He grew up all over the country and had a good heart.

When we moved to the cookie-cutter fancy pants neighborhood in Davis County, the play dates with the moms changed.  Even though I wasn’t really connected with the ladies, I found them pleasant enough and I knew my kids needed to play with other kids in the neighborhood. 

I would go to the playdates even though these one set of twins were kind of shit heads. That is when the awful talking amongst these women would set in. I would sit and listen before speaking. They would speak hatefully about homosexuals and their agenda. They would talk about how the homosexuals would ruin marriage.  I was shocked. At the time my best friend, sister and cousin were either gay or lesbian. I had a lot of gay friends.  After they gay bashed for 10-15 minutes, I quietly asked each one of them, “how many gay people do you know? How about you, do you have anyone in your family that is gay? What about you, do you have even one gay friend?” The answer was no. Not one of them knew someone who was openly gay. I asked them, “If Jesus came down tomorrow, do you think he would hate gay people? No, he would love them. The cool thing about Jesus is that he died for our sins. He gets that burden of judging others. The best part is, we do not have to judge others…..we just get to love them!” SILENCE

silence.

Awkward silence.

“Yeah, you are right Catherine.” More silence. Eventually someone changed the subject.

I cannot remember what happened at the next playdate, but it was something similar. A topic was brought up, I pointed something out and there was more awkward silence.

I started to realize that the only thing I had in common with these women is that we all had vaginas and we believed in the same religion…..though it seemed to be their understanding of what Jesus taught and my understanding were slightly different. They were never mean to me, for the record. We just did not connect on a soul level.

I have read the Book of Mormon over half a dozen times. I read my scriptures daily. I was a big journal writer.  I felt most PG-13 movies were too vulgar and I even avoided those.

I was married to an angry man for 15 years. 13 years into our marriage I finally had the guts to leave after he stopped hiding it from the children. It was when our oldest (3 at the time) asked me why Daddy was angry all the time that I knew I needed to leave. After he refused to get help for his anger, I filed for divorce 6 months later.  The failing of our marriage was not solely his fault. I became numb and simply stopped caring. The divorce was final in 2013. We are amazing co-parents and he is an excellent father. He has since apologized for being an awful husband and promised to be a better friend to me. I forgave him and we moved on.

Not all 15 years were terrible. In between the yelling and screaming, we had fun. Our sex life was always good, even in times of stress. One day, after we were married a few years he asked me a question. I am not one that can answer questions dishonestly. I admitted that I was attracted to women and I had known since I was 10. I asked him to not bring it up again. I was Mormon and I was married. I wanted that eternal marriage.  Time would go on and I would push it to the back of my mind and try to forget. It got to the point where I could only orgasm while thinking of a woman. This went on for a decade. He would bring it up and it would upset me. I did not want to talk or think about it. I was embarrassed. Somewhere around 2011 or 2012 he said, “Stop pretending. Be who you are and accept it.”  One of the best things he did for me was he supported me and told me to stop pretending to be something I was not.  I was not a straight woman. I now realize I am fluid and I am about 60% gay.

It was then I took my garments off. I was a believing active Mormon. I felt guilty for knowing I was attracted to women while wearing the garments of the Lord. I still went to church, without my garments. Three weeks later, Blake followed suit and removed his garments. That transition was huge for me. I discovered I had boobs!!!!  I had DD boobs hiding under all these layers of clothing. I felt lighter and more at peace. Blake immediately noticed a difference in my confidence. I did not realize that wearing those garments for 12 years had made me feel so masculine. I rediscovered my feminine side.

We had two small children at this time in nursery and sunbeams. Sundays were stressful to say the least. Once we stopped going to church Sundays became lovely.  Without 5 hours dedicated to church and our callings we had more time together as a family. We spent more time with his parents. We spent more time with the kids. We slept in. We went on walks. It was wonderful.  If you are going to go inactive, do it in a wealthier neighborhood…they thankfully do not give a shit and will leave you alone. It is glorious!

It was not until a year later that I found out it was all bull shit. I found out the truth through the church history books, not propaganda. Joseph Smith was an artist, conman and a crook, not a prophet of God. I will not go into all this. All I will say is that I know the church is not true. I know I have become more spiritual since leaving. I am happier, lighter and my inner voice is strong. My entire life I was told the Holy Ghost is only there if you are living in accordance to gospel teachings. The Holy Ghost is my inner voice and it has gotten stronger with the soul work I have done over the years. 

I never associated myself with anti-mormon groups or ex-mormons. For the brief time I was exposed to them, last year, I saw a lot of anger and sickness amongst those groups and I was thankful I had avoided them.  I had briefly dated and lived with the popular podcaster, John Larsen (Mormon Expression podcast) and he was a known critic of the church. He gave me great insight to why my transition was so smooth and I learned some things I hadn’t known. I identified myself as being an artist. My friends were in the arts world as well as my community.  It takes a long time to undo the brainwashing. My transition out of the church was smoother than most because of this. I left with a peaceful feeling in my heart. 

It took me three years to finally tell my grandparents. They have been supportive and have not tried to re-convert me. My Aunt will say and do asshole things from time to time, but I know she loves me in her strange way. I only have one active sister and she has always known me to be weird and loves me anyways. My mother was SO HAPPY when I left and we have since gotten 2 tattoos together in San Francisco. 

I am thankful Blake left after I did because my sons will not be raised in a misogynistic religion. I think the church is incredibly harmful to children and women.  Teaching women to cover up as to not cause men to think impure thoughts is rape culture at its finest.  This religion (as most do) teaches women to be second-class citizens.  People are born gay. People are born transgender. Teaching anything else is harmful and hateful.  I firmly believe there are very few true Christians out there. Most do not follow the teachings of Jesus. They pick and choose what to follow in the Bible. I believe the Bible is the greatest work of fiction

I have Mormon friends.I have Christian friends. I have Muslim friends. I have Jewish friends. I have Buddhist friends. I have atheist friends. As long as they respect who I am and do not try to convert me, I will remain their friend. I think having different beliefs is a beautiful thing.

The body is a beautiful thing. My body is beautiful. I learned to masturbate when I was 32. Yup, thirty fucking two. 

My temple name was Aida. Perhaps I will go into all of this in another blog post. It empowers me to release the power that was held over me for so long.  

I am not ashamed of who I am. I believe in being kind and leaving people better than you found them. I believe in volunteering in my community. I believe in using my platform I have been blessed with to empower women and teach people to love themselves more. I believe in myself.

In the name of the flying spaghetti monster, amen.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fall Mini Sessions

It's that time!!! Fall mini sessions are being announced. A mini session can be up to 8 people. It is approx 15-20 minutes long. You pick the date & location and I will give you the times available to pick from. You get 6 edited images emailed to you or for $20 extra you get an online album of everything sent to you that you can share with family! These spots fill up fast! You can PayPal your $27.70 deposit (catpalmerphoto@gmail.com) or give Cat a call to run a card 801.510.0827

Thursday, January 29, 2015

337

 337 by far is my favorite thing to happen in salt lake city.
 in 2007, 337 happened. 94 artists....42 rooms....installation!
 i took over 300 photos of this building.
 we knew most of the artists and have since become better friends with a lot of them.
 everyone knew that the building would eventually be torn down.
 i kept one of the spray paint cans from an exhibit before the building came down.
 i won the documentary that was made on this art installation and watch it almost every year.
 i kept coming back and finding new discoveries.
 Watch a 4 minute video about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VWc4tzw6Mk






"Rules" I live by.....


1. I apologize only when I am actually sorry. 
2. Treat everyone you encounter with kindness and leave them better than you found them.
3. There's only one me, I am it. BE MYSELF, BE AUTHENTIC & LOVE MYSELF. 
4. Orgasm regularly - it is good for my health!
5. Do random acts of kindness whenever possible.
6. DANCE
7. Forgive easily, but move on from unhealthy people.
8. Compliment people, sincerely.
9. Cherish every moment. It is all a blessing.
10. Say no, only when I need to. Start saying YES! I say YES to myself and my CHILDREN as much as I can!
11. One day you will forget. Write & Capture!
12. Be cautious of anyone that lists "The Notebook" as their favorite movie of all time.
13. If you never speak up or ask, the answer will always be no. When you like someone, tell them.
14. Surround yourself only with those that can see your light. Get close with those that want that light to burn brighter.
15. Don't wait, DO!
16. Worrying is silly. As long as I am living within alignment with myself, it will work out the way it is suppose to.
17. Be unexpected. Cherish those awkward moments......they make me feel alive!
18. Say "why not?" and "fuck it!" more often.
19. Adventure! MORE ADVENTURE!
20. Assume the best in people, never the worst. (also, don't put tones on text messages)
21. BE SILLY! Who cares what others think......
22. When children are involved, do everything you can to get a long with your ex. Be nice, even when they are not. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Leave anger behind and move forward.
23. Write letters and send cards in snail mail, every week. Do not let the art of letter writing die.
24. Trust myself. Listen to myself.
25. Find the silver lining. It is there.....it is all a learning experience. These things have brought me where I am today. They have brought me to the people I know and love.
26. Accept and love people for who they are - not the title or box you have placed them in. Who cares that it is your "exes" new girlfriend? Is she nice? Is she good to him? Is she good with my kids? That's all that matters.
27. People believe different things and that is ok. People grieve differently and that is ok. People celebrate differently and that is ok. People eat different food and that is ok. People have sex differently and that is ok.
28. People cannot read my mind. Do not get upset that people cannot read my mind. SPEAK UP and TALK!
29. People will either meet me at the bridge or they won't. Keep moving, they will either catch up or chose a different path.
30. Do things that make me uncomfortable.
31. Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep trying.
32. Meet new people, everywhere. CONNECT.
33. No body shaming or sex shaming. See beauty where others cannot find it.
34. Be a duck. QUACK! Let the hurtful comments roll off your back like water.
35. Learn the rules, so you can break them.