Being Vulnerable, the truth, the story, the journey

Most people know me as a happy-go-lucky woman with a lot to say but also very kind hearted, “too-nice” and always thinking of other people first. Truth is that under that happy-go-lucky layer I can be quite complicated at times.
I am very positive and vulnerable with people on a daily basis, it’s part of what makes me …well me. But I also have intense emotions and struggles that I face often, I struggle, I “fail”, I make mistakes, and I’m not perfect on this human journey.

It always happens around my period as prime time to show me how far I have come and how far I have yet to go. In case you aren’t aware, around your period you will have the harshest day or 2 body and self image wise. That strung along with having to face some difficult times has left me feeling really low this past month or 2. Struggling to focus, struggling to work through emotions - very strong ones that do not have words attached to them, struggling to get through day to day without consuming thoughts and fears taking over. Add onto that the period’s inner critic coming out in full force “you’re not good enough”, “no one likes you”, “you’ll never measure up” and so on and so forth. I”m fortunate now that instead of this inner talk lasting month upon month and year upon year, it comes for a day or 2 or maybe a week, then once my period is gone I’m like oh yes that explains it! And I’m back to my ol’ positive self in no time! So this layered with the feelings of the past 2 months was hard. But here I am, dealing with all these emotions and truths and letting them free into the universe so that I can make room now for new emotions, new truths and a new chapter in my current journey.

I mentioned I’ve been going through a lot of feelings over the past couple months, maybe I should rollback and explain that a bit further for those who don’t know me. See my mom is fighting for her life with Stage 4 Breast Cancer. This is her 3rd diagnosis with the damn thing, and one that will inevitably take her life one day as the mass is beside her jugular and inoperable. It is paralyzing her arm and half her face. It has a load of complications that’s for sure. Though this sounds heartbreaking and terrible (and trust me it is, cancer is no damn joke) this woman, my mother, is one of the strongest women I know. She has endured so much during her first 2 battles of cancer and now this one. I saw my mom for the first time in a year this past January as it ended up that every time I tried to go see her (getting as close as 20 min away from her) we were too sick to actually see her. Being on chemo leaves her very susceptible to illness which could be deadly, and having a toddler in daycare just doesn’t leave a lot of time without germs around, so instead we spend a lot of time on facetime. Well as I said, January arrived, we were well and we got to go see her. My mom is my best friend, I am whole around her. My parents are my safe place, one in which I know pure unconditional love, so I was very excited to see her and my stepdad. Well as I walked in I was completely taken back, I immediately could see how unwell she was which I truly didn’t know or grasp beforehand.

While we were there she also got pneumonia, I watched her go downhill quite fast. Forcing her to go to the dr in the city during -40 was a task, but she got the care she needed. It hit me how close I was to losing my mom while I was there. No longer in denial of the “eventual” fate of her life, it was very much in my face and strong and having to be dealt with. I called my aunt, I cried, I yelled, I was mad. She listened to me for a long time, one of the first times someone had listened to me. I get it, it’s hard to talk about these things, no one wants to, but I needed to finally open up after 3 years of stuffing it all inside. I am grateful for my aunt taking all the time in the world that night to talk to me until I was calm and happy once again.

I left to go back home, and instead of dealing with my feelings and thoughts I threw myself into my work, barely keeping it together at times. Sometimes to the point I couldn’t keep up in my mind, not because I couldn’t handle the workload, but because I had too much going inside that I wasn’t dealing with.
I had a few friends over one day for some sessions and I broke down after a question, I was angry and bawled and they just held me. The compassion I was shown was something that I needed that day, need often to be honest, we all do. And I’m so grateful they were there for me.


I was avoiding going to my mom’s again, I wanted to and needed to but I was scared. The universe made it happen though, showed me it HAD to happen. An incredibly kind client gifted my mom some medical items and I had a week off work due to a trip falling through and it was all things that rolled into one to say now is your chance, go see your mom. A few days before leaving I was having a flood of emotions and feelings happen, not any that I can express in words to their truest extent, the only thing I can come close to is “anger", “confusion”, “sadness” but that really doesn’t hit what I feel..because it’s this tenfold… to the highest degree, and I think these words can’t express that. Some of you may know how I feel, in fact I’ve had a few people reach out to me after releasing what I am about to share with the world here and said they lost their mom or parent to cancer and could feel the emotions they felt as well. I left many in tears.

I’m thankful I got to see my mom again, under different circumstances while she was not dealing with pneumonia. While still not well obviously and seeing many changes, her future to me seems a bit longer than I was thinking when I left in January. I got to see her laugh a bit more this time and interact with my son further, creating those memories that will last a lifetime. I got to hug her and sit by her and really take her in. She told me, you know this is my 29th round of chemo I am starting today.. not many people make it to 29 rounds ya know. While I know she’s preparing me for the worst possible outcome that could happen at anytime, when I hear that I think of is, “wow my mom is one hell of a strong woman, one in which I’m not sure I am or could be. She has sacrificed so much to have extra days with us, which I am grateful for.” 29 rounds and counting, this is a symbol of your strength mom, but certainly not the label of who you are, you are so much more.


One thing I am grateful for is knowing my mom is proud of me. Knowing that I’ve made her proud. That she thinks I am talented, believes in me and what I am doing. She sees the change I am making in so many women’s lives and told me she’s proud of me for that. She told me one day I’ll be on a stage talking to many more women, spreading my message and sharing all that is inside of me to share. I know I will mom, and even when you are gone, I’ll continue to make you proud. She tells me often I am a good mom, a good wife, and daughter. She is proud of me and the person I have become. My strong values and beliefs to treat all humans with kindness, love and understanding. I got this from my mom, she raised me to be this way, and for that I am equally grateful and proud of her as well. As proud as my mom is of me, I am so proud of her and that she is MY mom because I am insanely fortunate for this. She was the funniest mom growing up, everyone loved being around and talking with. She is incredibly crafty and talented and I’m so thankful I have so many of her creations to pass on to my son. She has taught me a lot about life, the good and the bad. She has taught me strength, optimism, the power of your mind and will, and how you can do anything you choose to do.
Thank you for being you mom.

I sat down on this particular afternoon before we left to visit her to take a few new headshots after getting a nice haircut. I was feeling like myself, I was feeling happy and it feeling the spring’s sunshine. Well quickly my “headshot” turned into a journal of emotions. Ones of capturing emotions I can’t put words to. A raw and genuine aspect to my life that not many people get to see. For truly I AM the positive person you have come to know and hopefully love, but like I mentioned earlier, I struggle too at times, for this is my own human journey.
I share with you my feelings and my emotions. I share with you the thoughts of a girl losing her mom slowly and one day to cancer. I share with you the grief while a person is still alive. I share with you … me.

I am thankful to say that the foreseeable future looks happier, and since I have returned from my parents I have been focusing more, completing work in record time again, and having quality time with my family. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to deal with my emotions, face hard things head on, and to move through them willingly and in a healthy manner. I am thankful I was given this chance. I am also thankful for my amazing clients, who may not even have known anything was going on, who may not have felt anything different in my service, but to know that I have the best clientele base there is out there, makes me incredibly grateful always. <3

Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer
Artist Shannon Smith, Emotions, Calgary Photographer