Conquering Limits with Self Love
I am Veera, and I have been afraid of water pretty much all my life, that is, being in the deep end. As a child I did not have the opportunity to learn how to swim, and to make matters worse, when I was a little girl a woman told me to stay away from water because I will die in water. So, I took it to heart and built this fear that grew with age. The strange thing is that I love watching water. Somehow I am most peaceful when I can see water. That is the reason I bought a house with the ocean view.
With all my new friends in Malibu, most of whom are always either swimming, paddle boarding, or surfing in the ocean, I started feeling bad about sitting on the shore and not enjoying experiencing the vastness of the waters right in front of me. When my friends said, “ The Ocean calls me,” I could almost understand. The ocean did call me, all the way from Michigan to Malibu. I started feeling the pull more and more. So I gave in to my friend Tony Sterns’ (Radfish) offer to teach me paddle boarding. Of course he had to teach me to swim first. So, now I am learning how to swim and stand-up paddle boarding with him. I am excited that I am finally letting go of my fear and have started honoring and loving myself.
As soon as I decided to conquer my fears with self-love, something amazing happened. I met Gisele Lubsen. Gisele is an underwater photographer.
Gisele is an artist and her commercial work has a conceptual art-like quality. She loves the timelessness of beauty and likes to create whimsical dreamlike art that brings out emotions in everyone who sees it. Her fascination with the power of performance led her to her first underwater shoot in 2006 while she was working on her Masters Degree in Fine Arts & Photography at Otis College of Art and Design. She photographed eight women underwater. Her objective was to show the courage of women, redefining reality, dreams, fears, hopes and the past. Her figures, submerged in a frozen, dreamlike state, were the result of her sensitivity to the feeling of life. She works with models and celebrities, with fashion lines and companies, with children and even horses. She loves to work with big productions just as much as she loves working on a one to one level.
Gisele told me that about a month ago, when she came to Malibu, the only magazine that caught her eye was Malibu Chronicle. She liked the quality of the magazine and the fact that, it said ALL GOOD NEWS. She says she found it very unusual to be so inspired that she wanted to learn more about the magazine and its publisher. She checked us online, and our Facebook page. As she read my blogs and saw my photos on a stand-up paddleboard she realized that I was in the process of overcoming my fear of water.
She felt a strange connection and liked my FB page. I happened to be online at the time and saw her site and could not help but be fascinated by an underwater photographer. So I liked her page. Like two curious cats sitting on our computers we started sending short messages back and forth and within a week I was at her house falling in love with the underwater portraits displayed everywhere! Gisèle is able to humanize her subject, creating an alternate reality within the light and dark, creating a surreal world of the aquatic environment.
Both of us felt an instant connection and mutual admiration. We have both lived in and overcome some similar life situations. As scared as I was of water, we talked about the faraway crazy possibility of someday doing an underwater shoot with me. Gisele’s calm, confidence and preparedness gave me faith that I will be safe with her. She believes that water is healing, but one has to be courageous!
Two weeks later, we were at the pool at Tivoli Cove Condos in Malibu ready to do the shoot.
I walked in the water trusting her and myself. I was ready to let go of my fears. I love myself enough to not live with limitations. We were in the water, mostly underwater, for three and a half hours. Gisele made me feel comfortable. She was underwater holding her breath with me. She came up with me. I felt a sense of sisterhood and loyalty. Credit it to Gisele and her team that I sometimes forgot I was underwater. I never knew that I could be so free underwater. She and her team told me later that sometimes they ran out of breath before I did. I guess I won’t say I am afraid of water anymore.
Gisele has lived in Holland, Switzerland, Greece, Cyprus and France. She exhibits her conceptual underwater photographs internationally three to four times a year and travels around the world. She is the founder of GAL Photography, based in Santa Monica, CA.
Her amazing team that helped at my photo shoot: Laurence Bergel, Lighting assistant; Ben Genaro Raimo, safety coordinator & video assistant; Pa Kou Xlong, makeup artist.