Bold Beautiful Perfect: Leslie
Bold Beautiful Perfect: Leslie
“Do I feel beautiful on a daily basis? Not always. But do I feel a sense of beauty, pride, accomplishment, relief, strength, and awesomeness when someone asks, ‘How do you do it all?’ Yes, yes, yes.”
Tell us about yourself, Leslie!
I have been happily married for twelve-and-a-half years to my husband, Paul. We have two sons, Joseph (age 10) and Matthew (age 7) as well as three fur babies. I’ve worked in education for 16 years, and my career path recently took me from the English classroom to an Instructional Literacy Coach (or lead teacher) position at D’Iberville Middle School. I serve teachers by offering them instructional support, standards-based content support, and honestly, just an ear to listen. While the ILC position is different than being in a classroom, I love every second of it.
Most importantly, my family’s faith is our driving force in life. Our faith has been tested in 2020 like never before, but I serve an awesome God who is with me and my family every step of the way.
This project is all about inspiring women to see their beauty. What parts of your story can you share to help women to understand their own beauty?
My life has been relatively “normal” (is there such a thing?); however, January 24, 2020 changed my family’s life forever. My husband Paul was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer (metastases to liver and lungs), and we were told “with no treatment, [he] may have a year. With treatment, [he] will add years to his life, but it’s important to know that it is unlikely [he] will ever go into remission.” That moment in the doctor’s office was beyond traumatic.
On Monday, January 27, 2020, Paul had his chemo port surgically installed, and the next day, he went to the clinic for his first round of chemo. (He just finished round 24 to give perspective.) Paul is physically fighting, but our boys and I are emotionally fighting cancer. My prayer from the start of this journey is that I would be the wife my husband needs, the mom my kids need, and the teacher/ILC my school needs.
To say that I “let myself go” is an understatement. I think my last haircut was in July. The only free time I have is in the shower, and even then, I usually have one of my kids waiting for me when I get out. But here’s what everyone else sees: a working (outside-the-home) mom whose duties have just doubled while she cares for her ailing husband after spending 8+ hours in a school all day. What I saw and felt as exhaustion and sheer craziness, others saw (and continue to see) as strength and perseverance. There is an organic beauty in that. Do I feel beautiful on a daily basis? No, not at all. But do I feel a sense of beauty, pride, accomplishment, relief, strength, and awesomeness when someone asks, “How do you do it all?” Yes, yes, yes. Now let me make this very clear, I do not take credit for my strength. It’s all God. Without Him, I would be a total mess. This year has been nuts, but we have been richly blessed even through the devastation of a cancer diagnosis, so ladies, please know that even in your deepest valleys, you are still beautiful. It’s just nice to see yourself the way others see you sometimes, and as women, wives, mothers (especially as mothers), we rarely give ourselves that gift.
What did the shoot mean to you? What did it feel like to be selected?
Honestly, I was surprised that I was selected, but I am so thankful I was given this opportunity. The shoot gave me a glimpse into what others see when they look at me, and that was refreshing.
The photoshoot was so much fun! Kasper greeted me at the door and helped bring in my outfits and bags. He was friendly and encouraging for the hour we spent in hair and makeup. Our conversation came easily, and there was rarely a quiet moment. The fantastic music helped with that some also! We would both sing along to the classics and talk about how we wished we could “belt it out on stage.” Brandi joined us and walked through the whole photoshoot step-by-step. It was so easy to work with her, and I felt comfortable (even in some weird, uncomfortable poses!) during the entire shoot. Once we were picking out the photos, Brandi made it clear that the images were to make me happy and to make me feel beautiful. I had a great time!
You are beautiful!
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International Award-Winning Portrait Photographer
Brandi Stage is an international award-winning portrait photographer based in Bay St. Louis, MS. She creates an exceptional magazine-style photo shoot and timeless heirloom portraits for women, men, children and pets in her studio or on location.