In loving Memory of Her Lovely Memories

My cousin Deb passed away a year ago today. Anyone who knows me well knows that her and I were very close, she was more like a big sister than a cousin. In fact, I’m sure all my other cousins would agree she was that to all of us. She was the oldest cousin and she was very protective of her family and all her wonderful friends.

Those of us who knew her well, know how funny she was, she always had the best stories. Her favourite topic for hilarious stories? Family. The following story is one she always loved to tell, it happened at a big family holiday on a small island in the Hawkesbury River. I would have no clear memory of this day if it weren’t for Deb.

There were lots of us there, I’m not sure of exact numbers but I do know there were, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, parents, grandparents and cousins. I was four years old and my sixteen year old cousin (Deb) and twenty year old aunty were taking me to the beach. I wasn’t interested in swimming at the beach, I can’t remember why but, knowing me, it was probably because the water was too brown. Instead, I chose to write everyone’s names in the sand. I had just discovered writing and I loved it. I was paying no attention to my babysitters, apart from occasionally enquiring about the spelling of the more difficult names, much to their amusement.

Once I had finished my work of art, I turned around to find not my aunt and my cousin but two very dirty girls, covered neck to toe in mud! While I had been doing my best to pretty up the sand, they had been having a mud fight. I was disgusted! I was going to tell my mum on them and she was going to smack their bottoms. Of course I can see the funny side now. A four year old, running ahead of two girls covered in mud, horrified and embarrassed to be seen with such naughty girls and worried they might get me dirty.

When we returned to the holiday house, them looking for hilarity to ensue and me expecting them to get a hiding, my two year old brother had gone missing. No-one noticed us at all. Everyone was frantically looking for my little brother who, as it turned out, had gone off on a little tricycle ride. They eventually found him on the jetty, right near the waters edge, wondering what all the fuss was about.

Once everyone had started breathing again, the girls got the laughs they were looking for and the moment was captured on film. I’m sure there are better photos out there but this is the only one I have.

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This is how I like to remember my cousin, not covered in mud, but telling those hilarious stories with that big grin and contagious laugh. We all told these stories in the hospital when we knew she was leaving us, we told them at her wake and we’ll keep on telling them until they stop being funny. They just won’t ever stop being funny.

Love and miss you always, my beautiful cousin.

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Pastel Sunset

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Snapshot Stories.”

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The beach was in Western Australia. I was there for an R.M. Williams shoot. I live on the east coast of Australia and was keen to see the sunset over the ocean for a change. It was beautiful, though disappointingly devoid of the little orange dot dipping below the horizon. Still, it was nice to get our feet wet after a long day at the ‘office’.

Underdressed- Diary of a Lingerie Model

img009Location lingerie shoot.

We’re shooting at a gorgeous little cottage in Kent, England. It’s beautifully toasty inside. It’s single digits Celsius outside. For the fifth time, the art director announces “one more outside”. I’ve already done seven shots outside and I’m growing weary of this farce. We’re losing the light now, which makes it even colder, but maybe it really will be the last one outside.

I begrudgingly carry my exhausted, lingerie-clad body outside, clutching tightly to the robe that will keep me warm while they set up the lighting. When they’re almost ready, they take the robe and I’m bouncing around the in same way a boxer would when they were dis-robed. When the team is ready I have to be still while the stylists put everything back in place. I’m still shivering but it’s much more controlled now.

“Ready?”

“Yes”

Serenity.

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Much to the amazement (and amusement) of the art director, I immediately transform from a shivering mess to a statuesque, elegant mannequin. I’m focusing on the warm lighting and channelling 1950’s movie stars, my curves are just like theirs. The quicker we get this done, the quicker I get back into that robe and retreat to the gorgeous warmth of the cottage.

No more than five minutes later, I’m back in the cottage, my hands wrapped around a large mug of hot chocolate. Enter the art director.

“Can we do another one outside?”

If looks could kill.

Lucky for both of us he was just kidding.

The Canvas Exposed

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This is one of my favourite shots. It was the first page of my folio for a long time. The image was a collaborative effort, as are all images we see in advertising and in magazines. It was created by an amazing Australian fashion photographer by the name of David Gubert, but I had a production line to get through before David could get his hands on me.

I spent a solid two hours with Brad Mullins (hairstylist extraordinare) adding layers of extra hair section by section before moving down the line to Katrina Raftery, who effortlessly and expertly applied my flawless make-up. I was also lucky enough to be bathed in spectacular lighting before the rest of my flaws were seen to by a few hours of retouching. The girl in that picture isn’t me at all, she’s an artwork produced by a brilliant team of professionals, I was merely the canvas.

This is me after a day at the races. It’s an image I’m much more familiar with.

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I’m happy, relaxed, my long wear hot pink lipstick is nowhere to be seen and my freckles are no match for what’s left of my foundation. The canvas stripped bare. Okay, almost bare, there’s a definite hint of mascara that’s in it for the long haul.

I like both pictures equally, one for the love of art and the other for reality.

Model Diabetic

I have type one diabetes. Not to be confused with type two diabetes, I did not get diabetes because I was overweight, had a poor diet and/or sedentary lifestyle or because it runs in the family. It just happened and it doesn’t discriminate. Only 10% of diabetics are type one and most had it thrust upon them in their childhood. I was 21 when I was diagnosed and, 18 years on, I’m still learning about it…along with the majority of endocrinologists (diabetic specialists).

Type one diabetes (T1D) is a very complicated condition but I’ll try to simplify it to give you an understanding of what it means to live with T1D. Basically, my pancreas doesn’t work. The pancreas is the very important part of the digestive system responsible for producing the insulin we need to break down the carbohydrates we consume. Fortunately for me, I have access to cloned human insulin and I inject myself with it five times a day.

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I know five injections a day sounds excessive and possibly even a little bit scary but it doesn’t mean that my diabetes is “really bad”, it just means I’m on the “carb exchange” program. You see, when any non-diabetic has a meal, their pancreas naturally and easily produces just the right amount of insulin to break down the carbohydrates in that meal. I, on the other hand, have to have an acute awareness of how much carbohydrate I’m consuming and inject exactly the right amount of insulin to deal with it. If I inject too much insulin, my blood sugar level (BSL) will drop too low and I’ll need jelly beans to level it out. If I inject too little insulin, my BSL will get too high and I’ll need another injection. In other words, I need to manually perform a bodily function that most people do automatically.

Most of the time, I’m pretty good at it. I don’t need to control my diabetes with diet so technically, no foods are off limits to me. Still, I like to reserve high sugar products like soft drinks and jelly lollies for dealing with hypos (low BSL). They’re perfect for treating hypos because they bring my sugar level up very rapidly, which is the same reason they need to be otherwise avoided. The insulin I inject simply can’t keep up with such spikes in my BSL but if I’m about to pass out, a spike is just what the doctor ordered.

You may be wondering why I feel that I should educate you on this rare form of diabetes. Well, I’m just trying to answer all the questions I’ve been asked over the years. Actually, if I wasn’t living with T1D, I’d probably be asking very similar questions…

“Do you have the type where you need to eat sugar or the type where you need to avoid sugar?”

“Wow, five needles a day, yours must be really bad.”

“Does it run in the family?”

“Should you be eating that?”

“How can you be diabetic? You’re too slim/healthy/young.”

“Does it hurt?”

No, the needles don’t hurt, they’re very fine and only 6mm long. Sometimes, though very rarely, I manage to hit a nerve and I get a bit of a sting. On other occasions I’ll hit a capillary and bleed a little bit but I don’t feel that.

The most difficult thing about living with diabetes is getting the balance right. When I have access to nutritional information, I can easily administer the right amount of insulin. Dining out is a challenge but I make pretty good educated guesses these days. Buffets are a nightmare.

I’d love to say I’m a model diabetic but in the grand scheme of things I’m actually more of a diabetic model; still learning and occasionally throwing caution to the wind and indulging in buffets.

Earning My Stripes

This is what I looked like when “Heroin Chic” hit the runways in the mid 1990’s…

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I’m pretty sure I adopted this exact stance and expression the moment I laid eyes on Kate Moss. Really? I need to be that thin now? I’m already struggling to be this thin!

It was a battle for me to squeeze in to that size 8 (US size 4) dress and it wasn’t easy waddling up that sand dune but the result was a shot that I’ll always love. A subtle look of annoyance from a teenage model, who couldn’t possibly have known that her curves would one day be embraced by the same fashion industry that thought “Heroin Chic” was a good idea.

I wish I could remember the name of the photographer, I’d love to credit him. I’d also like to thank him for choosing to work with a voluptuous model at a time when stick thin was all that mattered.