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  • Mandi Donohue

'Who Am I?' Quarantine Self Portraits

This post is a bit more personal than usual but if I think about photography, there's really nothing 'surface-y' about it. It's not who I am at my core. In my studio, the walls tend to come down. Usually that can be said for my clients but sometimes when I'm soul searching (which is always), my walls are broken down too.

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Back in the day, I once heard a pastor say that who you are when you drive, is who you are as a Christian. As a person that spent 10+ years driving all over Los Angeles awfully pleased with herself, at the time I thought to myself, "Oh... shit." ;)


Riding this insane rollercoaster of emotions called a quarantine, I think the same could be said for a pandemic. Who you are during a pandemic is truly who you are as a person. To me, based on my social media feeds, we've become extreme versions of ourselves, riding a pendulum of the best and worst of humanity throughout our days, weeks and months. Sometimes that ride takes us to opposite ends in the same hour! (If you have a toddler, that time can be reduced down to nanoseconds!) Does anybody relate?


It's made me really want to pay attention to how I'm feeling and to see if there's something I can do about it. As a person that has literally checked out for years of her life, it's important to me to not just 'survive' this time. And if it's even possible, I'd like to... meep... thrive? So rather than check out, I ask:

What am I supposed to learn right now?

Where are these feelings coming from?

How can I thrive during this time?

And for me, the things that resonate very gently are...

Let go of the past, Amanda...

Stop everything and rest...

Self care is more important than anything...

You must move your body every day for the rest of your life...

Get it done, you're stronger than you know...

Dream big but take baby steps...

Don't forget to play...

No more hiding. It's time to shine...

Stay true to your personal beliefs, even if others don't understand...

Follow your intuition, you already know what to do...

It doesn't mean I don't have hard days or still wake up feeling blah. It doesn't mean I don't have a shit ton of feelings right now. This isn't about goal setting or becoming perfect. But to ask ourselves hard questions we didn't have time to ask before. To really see you.

I honestly believe this time is meant for us to go within and challenge everything we know about ourselves. To be present enough to make the changes we always say we'll get to tomorrow. To challenge our truth. To see our shadow selves and make our peace. This time is an opportunity to do life completely different-- an incredibly uncomfortable opportunity.

Because I want to come out of this more thoughtful and present, I've really been paying attention to my feelings. One day I woke up just feeling hopeless and blah. Later that afternoon, I started crying out of nowhere. Thankfully, Ruby was sleeping so I was able to give myself a minute to really hold that space. I've never really done that before, I've just snapped myself out of it in the name of positivity. When I reeeeally let myself go there, it was loneliness from ages ago. It was insaaaaane to know that. And feel that. And let it go.


I've also had crazy dreams-- almost nightly. Some I completely understand as my subconscious making amends with the choices of my past. Some are just all out insane. Ex: Going to a Stephen Colbert taping that just happened to be at a Star Wars Disco. (Puh-shuh!) But I really feel like our subconscious (not to mention our planet) is doing a lot of healing, expunging and cleansing right now.


All that to say... "Get to the pictures, Mandi!"... I've got this whole photography studio sitting around waiting for YOU fine people... But until we're all safe to do so, why not play with this concept of 'Who Am I?' And so I did!


I love to play with make-up and the idea I had was to put a thumbprint on my face. In theory, very cool! In process, hard as HELL. (Seriously, WHAT was I thinking???! Also, I need more eyeliner now, lol). In hindsight, a thumbprint was probably a little too busy for photographs but I played and had a a lot of fun. My poor daughter... every time she wakes up from her nap, she's got some new, crazy-ass lookin' mother. Ha!!


Anyway, if you take anything out of today's blog, I hope you give yourself an opportunity to take a look at who you truly are. Are you happy with yourself? Sad? What needs to change? What resonates in your bones? None of us need to be Tony Robbins on the other side of this... But if we can just take baby steps to making this time worthwhile and meaningful-- whatever that means for you, I think it'll make for a more beautiful planet and peaceful humanity. As Glennon Doyle says, "We can do hard things." We are all stronger than we know...


Now on to some crazy photos... I hope you enjoy!































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Waynesville/Asheville Area, NC

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