This newly empty-nester works from home as she owns a sign/promotional business. She loves being with her husband and when she has the chance, to relax, she enjoys laying on the beach with him, quilting, reading and working out.
I asked Heidi what message she wishes she could give young girls about self image. She said this:
"This is a very difficult topic for me. When I hear "self-image" I think of size. I think obesity is a major problem in society that is overlooked. I think it is important to be healthy. I think you can be healthy at 5'7 and 130 pounds, but I also think you can be healthy at 5'7 and 160 pounds. I do not think you can be healthy at 5'7 and 220 pounds. And I don't think I am currently healthy at 5'7 and 105 pounds. I think we get too wrapped up in..."body size doesn't matter." It does matter. Obesity is passed down from generation to generation. Killing your kids by allowing them to overeat (causing heart issues, diabetes, and a string of problems later in life, including depression and other mental issues) is no different than killing your kids by letting them starve. My point is, it is important to be healthy. You can be many different weights and be healthy. As long as you are eating right, and exercising daily, you shouldn't worry about how you look. Because chances are, if you are actually doing those two things, you are exactly where you should be. I would be a terrible person to mentor young girls about self-image...because I don't fall into that category of adults that will lie to a child in order to spare feelings. I would be straight up honest (which is frowned upon). If a young lady came to me, and she was obese (I am talking obviously obese), and she asked me if I thought she was fat, I would return the question to her. If she said no, I might lead her in the direction of, "Do you think there is more you could do to be more healthy for your heart?" If she is honest, she would say, "Yes." If she isn't, I would encourage her to be honest with herself. I think sugar-coating is EXTREMELY dangerous in this area. This goes both directions (as far as being underweight). Educating children on a healthy lifestyle is SO very important...with that said, it is a fine line to walk. I struggle very much with my weight on a daily basis. I tend to overcompensate for a husband trying to lose weight. It is almost like I take on his struggle, internalizing it making it worse for myself. People look at me and think, "What is she talking about, she knows nothing! She is skinny!" What they don't understand is, I wasn't always thin, and I too struggle daily with trying to be healthy. Under-eating is just as bad for you as overeating. So I too, have work to do. I don't know anyone that doesn't have work to do as far as being healthy. It should be a daily focus in all homes and in all lives (including mine). If we are healthy, we will feel good about ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we have a good self-image. With that comes confidence. With confidence comes leadership. I want nothing more than ALL young girls having confident, healthy women to inspire them."
Heidi's husband gave this session to her as a gift for the hard work she'd been putting in on her body over the years. She has been a surrogate three times and has given birth to two sets of twins and then the last one was an 11 pound baby. She has worked very hard to get her body back in shape. After working for two years, she was left with hanging skin that left her feeling ugly. She felt that she had done so much hard work and didn't get to see the results she expected based on the effort she put in. After talking to a plastic surgeon, she decided to do the Mommy Makeover which included a slightly larger bust size and a tummy tuck. Shortly after the healing process, she was able to see abs for the first time in MANY years she she'd been working so hard to get!! All of her hard work was there, it was just hidden under years of baby-carrying skin.
A few of her favorite things:
Favorite Book: Little Women
Favorite TV Series: Ray Donovan
Favorite Movie: Titanic
Heidi's favorite quote:
"The children don't have to come FROM you, they go THROUGH you"
One of the biggest reasons I admire Heidi so much is her selflessness in sacrificing her body for strangers, not once, not twice, but THREE times to provide a safe and nourishing home to 5 beautiful babies to grow strong until they were ready to meet their parents. Yes - you read that right! Two of those pregnancies were twins and in her third surrogate pregnancy, she birthed an 11lb baby! She also birthed and raised a biological son of her own, as well as welcomed a German foreign exchange student into her home for a year, and her niece for two years.
Heidi's journey through motherhood is so incredibly humbling, it's hard to put into words. There is no ONE way to be a mother, and she is the ULTIMATE example of this.
To commemorate her journey and all of the children that have come from her and/or gone 'through' her, Heidi had a stunning tattoo created along her C-Section line that features the 6 children she birthed and the two that stayed with her for a short time. The bird still on the branch represents her own son who will never truly leave her, while the rest of the birds represent the others who spent a short while in her life, but will forever be in her heart.
I don't like having my picture taken. I don't even like looking in the mirror at my body. I have put my body through years of tanning, years of pregnancies, years of eating all the wrong things. I have put my body through over-exercising in an attempt to be beautiful. My lower arms hold scars when my heart couldn't deal. For years I have thrown my body, soul, and mind in and out of depression like a yo-yo desperately trying to find a permanent place to stop.
My husband gave me the gift of a boudoir session with Sasha Dale for my birthday. I happened to mention once that I thought that would be fun. He remembered. As I stared down at the gift card, panic set in. How would I do this? My body? A camera? No way.
I work from home, and the card sat on my desk undisturbed for four months. One afternoon, my husband pulled a folder off of my desk. That folder caught the edge of the elegant white gift card, sending it to the floor. I picked it up, and reread it. I sat down and emailed Sasha for an appointment. I had a couple weeks to prepare. A couple weeks turned into a couple days, which quickly turned into a couple of hours. To say I was nervous, is an understatement. I was beside myself. The two days before I spent time shopping trying to find something suitable. I walked out of each store burdened with defeat that was spilling down my face. I opened a new email more than three times and typed, "I'm going to need to reschedule..." Three times I closed those emails without saving changes.
...continued below... An hour before my appointment, I carefully blow-dried my hair, reminding myself this is why I don't blow dry my hair. Gray hairs sprouted in all directions screaming their individuality. I covered my face with moisturizer, looking closely at the wrinkles around my eyes...silently cursing myself for ever thinking tanning beds were a good idea. I put on sweats and a sweatshirt, because this is my comfort zone. My go to. Cover it all up.
I drove the quick drive, sat in my car taking slow deep breaths before heading into the studio.
When I walked into the studio, I was quickly greeted by Sasha. I'm not an outgoing person. In reality, I avoid people like the plague. Sasha is one of those down to earth people that immediately makes you feel like family. My heart quickly slowed to a normal pace as my make-up and hair were done by Chelsea. My chair was turned away from the mirror as I chatted with the two of them. When Chelsea was done with me, Sasha said, “Okay, it’s go time!” I hopped up, turning towards the dressing room. She said, “Aren’t you going to look in the mirror?” I turned quickly and looked into the mirror. I saw myself. Me. I wasn’t made up to be some woman I am not. It was me. Wrinkles and years of tanning still there, but turned into something that resembled beauty. Chelsea not only made me feel beautiful, but she did it in a way that let me still be me. She looked at me and she read me. Then, she painted me. I didn’t just look pretty, I felt elegant and beautiful.
I spent the next couple hours in front of Sasha. Thankfully, she guided me on how to sit, stand, pose. She told me when to smile and when to relax. She made me laugh in her attempts to actually try to make me laugh. She fluttered around me like a butterfly sharing it’s beauty. She made me feel comfortable. She made me feel strong. She made me feel empowered.
Her attention to detail is incredible. Every hair, every smile, every pose…was planned. She was in her element and it was apparent. There is something about being around people that know what they want. The confidence…she was professional, but in a way that made her feel more like a sister than a photographer. She strategically helped me feel comfortable in my own skin.
This entire process from the time I opened that card, was empowering. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now looking back, I see it. Empowering means to make someone stronger and more confident in their daily walk of life. When that card fell, I took control of my insecurities, and set the appointment. When I dried my hair and saw the gray, I took control of those negative thoughts by getting in the car. When I looked in the mirror after my makeup and hair were done, I immediately felt confident. Chelsea empowered me to be me. As I changed in and out of clothes over the next two hours, Sasha empowered me to love me. She assured me along the way, showing me quick pictures flipping through them telling me how much she was loving them. After each group of shots, my confidence slowly made its way to the top of the hill…thanks to her assertiveness and passion.
We all have things we don’t like about our bodies. We all have scars, whether they are on the inside or outside. And we are all beautiful. It is hard to feel that way sometimes, but this session, gave me the confidence I needed. It was empowering. Every flaw felt empowering. I felt ravishing in nakedness. And that was okay! Sasha Dale made it okay. She looks through a small hole, and she turns lighting, objects, and an insecure woman into a piece of empowering, exquisite art. That, is a gift. " -Heidi