Welcome to day #14 of the 30 Day “One Question” Series. If you want to learn more about the series, be sure to check out the first interview.
Although I’m only about half way through the 30 days that I challenged myself to, the “One Question” series is winding down. Spending the last two weeks waiting for my aunt to pass was difficult; as usual, I tried very hard to be stoic and to carry on as though I didn’t feel like my insides were being torn apart. I thought I’d keep focusing on the series, on work, on everything and anything but feeling grief and that would be the magic balm to prevent me from feeling anything.
Unfortunately grief doesn’t work like that.
So today, as I made arrangements to travel to my aunt’s funeral in her home town this weekend, I decided that there were worse things than giving myself time to grieve. That maybe it was time to remember the trust tending lessons I’ve learned from Kristen and be gentle with myself.
What that means to you is this will be the last week of “One Question” interviews. I am REALLY proud of this series and the guests that I’ve featured. I also think that these last guests are some of the most amazing in the series… specifically because they are reminders to me that sometimes our pain, grief, and struggle can be transformed through our creative gifts into blessings that benefit others.
No one is a better example of that than today’s guest, writer, photographer, and speaker, Angela Giles Klocke.
If you met Angela out and about, what you’d probably notice first is her beautiful smile. Admittedly, I’ve only “met” Angela virtually, but I’ve known her through our shared online writing group for around five years now and the great smile that you see in her pictures comes through in her writing as well. Angela radiates exuberance and a positive, thoughtful spirit. Under any circumstance her exuberance would be engaging… it becomes completely remarkable when you learn about the horror that Angela experienced as a child and young adult, suffering physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse.
For some people, just overcoming that horror would have been the whole of their story, but Angela has gone beyond that, using the power of her camera, her words, and her experience to create “The Tiara Project.“ Through the Tiara Project Angela works to help other women who have suffered through similar painful experiences understand and reclaim their self-worth and beauty. In her own words:
This project is dedicated to every woman who has ever been hurt by words, by hands, by any means of control. For every woman who never made it out. And for every woman who physically got away but still battles the chains around her mind. This project is for all those who can’t yet speak out for themselves, and for those who can. It is also for me, to continue on my own journey of reclamation of self.
I sifted through a number of questions to ask Angela before finally settling on this one:
How has combining your creative work as a writer and photographer with your desire to be an advocate for positively inspiring and encouraging abused women influenced your creative work and what suggestions or advice would you offer to other creatives who would like to find authentic ways to use their creative talents as a force for positive change in the world?
I’ve always known I want to create change with my words and photography.
The first time I made someone cry with my writing, I was hooked. One photo client cries every time I give her new photos, which fills my heart with joy. To move people like this through regular, everyday creative work is what drives me toward ideas and projects that raise awareness and advocate for those who might not be able to.
In both my creative endeavors, I began merely for the sake of creating and enjoying the process. With time, however, I came to realize that every exciting idea I had – the ones that grabbed hold and wouldn’t let me sleep at night – were bits of my own story that I could use and grow into projects to grow positive change. With a background of abuse (physical, sexual, mental, and psychological) and having been a teen mom, I knew I wanted my work to grow into something more valuable – something that money couldn’t buy but was priceless all the same.
The Tiara Project was born out of the idea of reclaiming my self from the ugliness of my past. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was ugly. I couldn’t understand why family and friends would call me beautiful. I didn’t see beauty. I saw scars and pain, and I heard whispers that I was nothing, a waste of space. As I began to reclaim myself, I found beauty in my smile, in my eyes, in my whole face. I stopped hating myself, and nothing on the outside had actually changed. It was all a healing of my heart that finally revealed the princess I am inside. And a good part of this took place as The Tiara Project idea was forming.
I knew that I had been given gifts of writing and photography coupled with strength and determination to DO SOMETHING, not just make money or receive applause for making art. I didn’t know how to do anything more than pick up my camera and put words on the page, but I believed having my heart mixed into it all would lead me to and through.
It’s not about being famous or making money. It’s about reaching people, touching their hearts, helping them to heal or prompting them to act. Sometimes I reach hundreds, sometimes just one. But I don’t believe in “just” one. I believe every one person is important enough, and if I spend an hour on an essay and photos and only one person sees it but is changed, that is ALL that matters.
Anyone can step out in faith with their creative works and start a chain reaction of positive change.
Big chains, little chains, it doesn’t matter as long as we act.
Angela Giles Klocke is a Colorado based lifestyle photographer, writer, and speaker who helps women reclaim their beautiful selves after a painful past through the Tiara Project. Connect with Angela on Facebook and Twitter or her blog.