Coming out Stronger

As a boudoir photographer, I’m so blessed to get a sneak into the story of how my clients got from point A to current day. The road is not always easy as you’ll hear from my client’s story. Here’s the key…she preserved, rode out the storm and came out stronger.

My early adulthood was a slew of drama. That drama really shaped my path. My mother died when I was 19 and I had just finished my first semester of college. It threw me for a loop. I spent the next few years uncertain of what I wanted to do and trying out different paths. Then there was some personal, family drama that occurred when I thought I was ready to (once again) go back to school. It resulted in me getting into a few thousand dollars worth of debt. Working a minimum wage job, I had little hope of paying it off without acquiring twice as much in interest. On top of that, I wanted to do something worthwhile. I yearned for a job that meant something and where I would do something that made a difference. I figured joining the military would help with all of that: I would be able to pay off the debt while also doing something worthwhile!

My brother and father had both been in the Navy, so I was hesitant to do that. I looked into the other branches and thought maybe Coast Guard could work. However, life forced my hand to the Navy because I was told the CG was closed to new recruits. I was impatient to change my fortunes, so I said, “Navy it is!”

I physically trained hard for several months before boot camp, and I actually thrived there. It was a major confidence boost after the drama of the prior years. For the first time as an adult, I felt like I’d found myself. I was GOOD at something. After boot camp was Sonar Technician A-school (initial job training, basically). I graduated first in my class! Things were clicking! I was seeing that preparation and hard work were the keys to success. Not only that, being in a four year contract was forcing me to actually see something through and not just quit when it got hard or scary. That was probably the biggest lesson. I was so used to running away when things got rough because it was easy. There was something so satisfying in riding out the storms and coming out stronger.

There were times when I definitely felt in over my head and when I couldn’t wait to leave. Looking back, though, I see those experiences for the treasure they are. On top of it all, I got to travel—which I NEVER would have been able to do. Visiting Australia was always a bucket list item, and the Navy took me there TWICE! Singapore, Japan, Dubai…I was blessed to see and experience so many cultures. It opened my eyes to things that I felt maybe needed improved here at home.

What did I learn about myself? That I was more than my depression and anxiety, something I’d battled with since I was 12. I learned that I had it in me to actually persevere. I learned that I was strong. And I also rediscovered my faith and grew closer to God.

All of this, I realized much later, was preparing me for when I left the Navy. Life always has this way of surprising me. Without those lessons and my faith, I never would have made it through my father passing away three months after I returned home. A year later, I was surprised with the pregnancy that gave me my beautiful daughter, Olivia. And let me tell ya: my anxiety had fun with that surprise for a little bit. I had to try THREE times at three separate schools before I was able to get my Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting. (There’s that military perseverance at play!)

Now, I finally have a civilian job that I feel satisfied and fulfilled in! As a medical assistant, I make a difference. And a lot of the training from the military helps me in my job: from keeping a cool head under pressure to how we keep records/chart and right down to the work ethic and understanding of the importance of teamwork! As we used to say in the Navy, ONE TEAM, ONE FIGHT.

Long story aside…One thing I didn’t get from the Navy—or even now as a mom and medical assistant—is a sense of being a woman. So thank you, Karen, for allowing me to see that side of myself with this boudoir session! I finally got to see ME beneath my many titles.

Very Respectfully,

(Former) STG2 Kate Miller (ESWS/EAWS)

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Karen Bartos

My name is Karen Bartos and I’m honored to partner with women just like you to elevate your self-esteem and transform the way you see yourself. Through our collaboration, we'll create a safe and empowering space for you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace your own magnificence. Together, we'll not only produce breathtaking images but also shift the way you see yourself, leaving you with a newfound sense of self-assuredness and pride.

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