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My Blog

The Courage to be a Calendar Girls

Good morning to all you wonderful readers of mine.  Thank you to all my return readers and welcome to all the new readers that may be here for the first time today.  As I have been blogging for some time now, I would like to reiterate, that I would love to hear your comments and feedback.  I helps me to learn from you as well.  I especially am grateful for the comments on whether something has touched you in one way or another.  So, to those who have commented, and if you haven't gone back and read my responses to you, perhaps you will have the time to do so. 
Now, On to today's story, The Calendar Girls.  I am sure most of you have seen the movie the Calendar Girls, and if you haven't, it would be a good one to rent and see.  That movie was what inspired me to do a Calendar with my Red Hatters. 
For those of you who are unaware of what a Red Hatter is..well, we are all girls who are 50 years and older who want to have fun.  It is basically a social club.  We wear purple clothes and a Red Hat when we are together.  Why red and purple?  Well, they are colors that make people stand up and take notice.  We also accept ladies under 50 and they wear pink and lavender...the diluted colors.  We refer to them as our ladies in waiting. 
Now you may wonder about why those particular colors.  Well, they are regal to begin with and they automatically attract attention.  It seems that for most women, especially those born in the 1930's till the 1960's came from a time when women just became someone else's identity.  And perhaps many today are in the same position.  They are someone's child, someone's wife, someone's mother, someone's grandmother.  They seem, in their lives to have put themselves on the back burners, doing for everyone else.  They become tired and lonely at times, they are women and seek the socialization that is more focused on themselves instead of a family member in need. 
Well, red hatting seemed to come at a time that truly fit that bill.  Now there are red hatters everywhere and each chapter or group does different things.  If you have read any of my previous blogs on my site, you will begin to understand that I am nothing bland or usual.  It is the unusual and exciting things that bring out the best in me. 
Well, our group is very eclectic, I am the queen of the group...so I do all the organizing of events, and as the years progressed, I noticed a similar thread amongst all the women.  They often times needed a lift in spirits, an ego building experience.  Something that said...YOU are beautiful, inside and out.  I wanted to take the best of them and capture it on film.  I wanted them to see their selves as the beautiful person that they are.  So I decided to do a Calendar just like in the movies.  There was LOTS of hesitation, let me tell you.  First and foremost, the calendar would be done in good taste, and no tata's would be exposed...just the illusions.  One girl in particular absolutely did not want to do this...I asked her to at least let me do the photo shoot, and if when she saw the pictures, she didn't want them included, I would honor her wishes....I have to disclose...she is in the calendar. 
Each girl came to my home separately, and I had the room set up for the shoot with all sorts of props.  Each girl had a month to represent and each month was represented with whatever the girl loved the most.  One was Chocolate, one was nature, one was flowers, one was casino, another was western, there was water, the color pink, hearts, Cinderella, new years and metaphysics.  That gave me 11 months...and the final month was a collection of all the girls in a shoot with red hat feathers and a fake red hat tattoos. 
The cover of the Calendar had a collage of all of us in many of our red hat events.  And in the center of the calendar was a poem written by one of our girls about what red hatting had meant to her.  I photo shopped in the backdrops for the themes.  We held a party to view the photos. I had picked the top three in my opinion.  I had each picture displayed on foam core on easels and the girls got to choose their favorite one.  The girl herself though, got to hear the final members count and had the last say so as to which one would appear in the calendar. 
Now we all ordered a few.  Of course one was for ourselves.  Others were for gifts to our children and perhaps someone special.  Most of the kids couldn't handle their mothers in a somewhat provocative picture.  They don't see MOM as that kind of person...makes you wonder where they think they all came from...doesn't it?  The whole purpose was to make ourselves feel Beautiful even though the bodies have changed, the greys have crept in and the character wrinkles have appeared.  The purpose was to celebrate those changes and know how beautiful we really still are.  Believe you me...It showed in the pictures.  We were all so proud of who we were there. 
Now many years later, one of our members passed away.  At her Shiva, I was talking with her daughter one night and she told me how sorry she was about her reaction to the calendar.  She said as her mother was failing and her desire was for us to be there with her   she saw the difference in her mom when we would walk in the room.  The look on her face, the laughter that occurred when we discussed the things we had done, the places we had been....her daughter began to finally understand why the calendar.  She told me that she began to see a part of her mother she had never seen before.  She was this vibrant, exciting new person that she had no idea existed.  She expressed that she was now sorry that she couldn't tell her mother how proud she was to have had the courage to do the photo shoot.   She finally understood what the Red Hats were all about.  It wasn't about the colors or the clothes.  It was about being the real person we had shoved under the covers for so long. 
Whenever I look at the calendar these days, I just smile!  There is something special in each and every one of the girls there.  Each one had been afraid to do it....but once it was done, they admitted it was an experience to remember forever.  Life is short.  We made sure we did the unthinkable, the unimaginable.  And we have something special to prove it. 

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