Young girl filled with big dreams it’s fine to carry on, all grown even when you cannot do it alone.
There will be others just like you who’ve survived the awkward teenager years, pimples, bruises and broken hearts.
They’ll care enough to remind you how perfectly precious you are.
It’s okay to fall or fuck up; when you’re doing your best.
Life will get harder than you can manage, but none of us carries the burden or heavy lifting alone.
I’ll be right here to remind you to soar.
I’ll be your gravity when you’re down in the dumps, spiraling out of your comfort zone.
Silly girl, your dreams will become quieter with age but never less full.
All the colors are yours to suit your mood.
I love you colorblind, and the blackest of Neptune’s blues.
You are prettier than the atmosphere three billion light years forgotten from here.
I will whisper in your ear when you’re fast asleep to always, always care.
To emote, to feel, to share.
To gift away love.
I hope you always, always care more.
Never, ever less.
No matter the cost.
Or the climate.
There are no grand secrets to surviving tragedy; it’s okay to experience pain and fear.
I will be here to keep your feet planted and your arms outstretched towards the stars, while tears cascade down your cheeks.
There will be many joyful, magic moments to sustain you.
Living is pretty even when it hurts.
You are loved because of your flaws; more than rainbows, puppies, unicorns and silly human things.
I am gravity and I am here to help you stay grounded to the earth.
You are the cosmic miracle of constellations and suns and moons colliding and exploding in the stratosphere.
You are the happy accidental human, dying since way before birth.
There is a lack of elegance, sexiness and mystery missing in photographs of women today, especially celebrities and the overexposed, blasé way they brand themselves and how they are portrayed through the lens.
Social media and fashion have made women seem like untouchable objects, loud, fake and even desperate at times.
The “look at me” culture screaming for more and more attention.
I have always had a more hate than love relationship with modeling and fame.
Yes, I realize that sounds trite.
I was a model, white and privileged.
But I was a young, impressionable girl, who today is a woman with decades away from the spotlight by choice and a fresh perspective.
I wonder when future generations look back at images of women will they be curious, or exhausted by the sheer volume?
I can only appreciate now the mystique of a three am shoot in Milan,
a lost era and the simple gesture of adjusting a dress, caught and frozen in time by the keen eye of a sharp photographer.
Women are magical creatures, real and raw and the most beautiful when unaware of themselves.
They do not need a movement to define their power; they have been beautiful, raw, strong, passionate warriors for centuries and centuries birthing ideals, children, and nurturing souls.
Less is more, so do not ever undervalue or compare yourself to someone else’s million followers.
Find your own unique way, and remember true beauty is forever more.
All I ever wanted was for you to be happy.
Without the clothes, the bling, the boys, all the heavy stuff.
To be deliriously happy without watching the tick-tock of the clock, afraid that your time for bliss had past.
It has not.
You deserve to feel joy, wonder, love and laughter until your heart beat’s quiet.
All I ever wanted was to see you smile wide and large, for you to feel the beats of your most favorite, carefree, wild and meaningful dance songs.
All I ever wanted was to make you a joyful and triumphant playlist to drown out the bullshit, the chatter and the background noise.
All I ever wanted was for you to forget about the world and her woes for a minute, and dance around in your big girl briefs out of the shadows and away from the dark.
Alone, and A-ok on your own, little darlin.’
Happiness is allowed and encouraged, it’s alright to wear your pain on the inside out, like an armor of loud love.
The gospel choir sings and claps jubilee come Sunday afternoon.
You can’t help yourself, you join in, a little lighter than yesterday.
There’s collective faith vibrating in the room.
You and you and you and me, right here and now, feeling free and a hint of happy, touching your fingers while tapping your toes.
Don’t ever let go of the soundtrack of a kind life that fills your heart and replenishes the soul.
Someone recently said to me, “you’re vain,” and I was shocked. I never, ever thought of myself in that way. When I wrote an essay, “You’re Skinny You Don’t Have Any Problems” with Feminine Collective which was taken out of context about how challenging and horrific my life would become, I was criticized and blasted for the title. Duh, did the troll read the piece?
I mulled it over in my head, and guess what I am vain, women need to be more vain. When I was younger I should’ve been proud and more confident with my skinny body and face instead of constantly apologizing for the way I looked. Just the other day, a woman (of course), made a snide comment when I joked about ‘getting older and fat.’ Fat was a poor choice of words, I work hard in the gym and always have. I eat healthy, don’t drink, and don’t smoke. I live clean and quiet.
So, fuck-off I’m done apologizing. And to my twenty-year-old self, I’m sorry I didn’t appreciate your privileged supermodel beauty and all the chaos to come. I wish I’d been happier and grateful with the woman I was trying to keep up with, a fantastical, unrealistic image I suppose.
Today, I’m shooting for vainglorious, and not apologizing for taking care of the fifty-year-old me, free from the critics, naysayers and judges. To be proud of sane mind and body.
I must not forget, never ever forgo this one shot at an honest life. A well-played beginning, the hold on tight middle, and a serene, admired, beloved end. I have been given this offset jewel of a life for a reason.
Loosening my grip on the serrated edge, I grab tight to the rafters overhead.
Women Who Shape Us
She won’t hesitate to call out a bully, misanthrope or liar
She will stand tall, pull her shoulders back while sobbing, heaving hysterical for the plight of another
She’ll dance crazed and belt out a tune just to hear the stereo beat and guitar riffs and drum solo
She will love a man or a woman on a whim from a sweet smile and soft whispers
She’s unafraid to get broken
Her brokenness owned by the cracks she boldly dared step upon walking chin up towards the sun
Pride, she’ll swallow it every time for a cause
And a saving grace melody
She wears leather or lace
And loves to play dress up
She needs to look pretty not for others
For her glorious, unique, mysterious self
Because she is all woman, all day
And one of a kind
Clever, neat, messy and soulful
She’s not a feminist
She’s a humanist who happens to be a girl
In love even when it hurts with this one life – Jacqueline Cioffa
This body of mine carried me through days of sophisticated lies and ambition. This body of mine has been home to shame, trials and tribulations. This body of mine has known love and felt all woman. But, this body of mine cannot and does not coexist without the messy, chaotic, beautiful, strong mind pushing forward walking her through a new, more experienced chapter. Onward in these bizarre times, and an overtly strange millennium.
This body of mine carries the weight of an old soul whose mind and body are held high. – Jacqueline Cioffa
Gypsies and Pixie Dust
I exist therefore I am, mistakes and imperfections one and all. I don’t want to be considered an artist. I want to be thought of as a student of art. I want to ingest the human condition, live and breathe it. I want to eradicate all traces of ego and relate.
I want to roam the globe and hear the stories, while not missing out on the neighborhood tales right next door. I am a traveler and connoisseur of fortune and mishap. I am a believer in fate and love and a hopeless romantic at heart. I have fallen in love many times over; sometimes reciprocated while others not. I am a gypsy leaping joyously headfirst into the new and unknown forever anxious for a fresh start.
So much of our lives are spent in the world of what if, instead of the place that is right now. I am present, I am now and I am looking up towards the sky and watching as the pixie dust falls. For today I will repeat that statement over and over, every time my mind starts to wander to a different road. I am present, I am now and I am looking up to the sky. Watch for it, you might miss it if you’re not looking up towards the heavens as the pixie dust falls.
Sooner or later, I’m going to want to play the parts. I’ll be mother, daughter, sister, friend, lover, and feminist right on time. I’ll want to write the appropriate words that answer the meaningful questions. I’ll get the joke. I’ll laugh out loud without bringing my hands up to cover my face. I am timeless, ageless and the perfect temperature. I will not grimace at the sight of a beautiful young woman. I will nod and offer her a secret, knowing smile and familiar glance. I will put away the minis, the boots, and the crazy forms of self-expression and store them deep in the back of my closet. I’ll hold onto them for a younger version of myself. I’ll walk the walk with conviction. I’ll talk the talk and hear the discussion. I will listen, with a mind that is open. I will wait ten seconds to answer. I’ll have a well-thought out appropriate response. I’ll take an interest in the world around me. I’ll be empowered, insightful, bright and impulsive in an instant. I will mellow out and leave fear, jealousy and rage behind. I’ll do all the things that a grown up does. I will act like a curvy, sophisticated, well groomed woman. – Jacqueline Cioffa
Image Jacqueline Cioffa © Chris Fanning Photography
If I only show you the photoshopped, concealed, makeup pretty me
You’d never understand the underbelly
The crunchy grit, rawness hidden beneath
The really good stuff, the honest kind that matters
This face is not the who, how, or where
This face is not the who, how, where, or when
This face is not the who, how, where, when or why parts of me
It’s cellular skin alive, hazel eyes, pointy nose, scarred forehead, potty mouth lips and cheeky cheekbones
This face cannot carry the weight of a life nor mask the beauty
It’s just a face like all others
It’s mine though
Authentic, snotty nose
From the off-key tears I have cried
This face is at the highway, halfway mark
Raw and unfiltered
Scribbling notes between the lines
It gives a fuck less about herself
And more about the Bluegrass roots beauty
The lyrical tones
Of other faces poetically similar and ugly foreign at times
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ―Ansel Adams