What If My Aunt Had Balls

It’s all about Michelle Montero from Callias Corner today! And in her honor, dirty spicy martinis, wine, and chocolate are all on the menu.  There might be some irony in what I’m serving today as a hostess, given I met Michelle while we were both during a green smoothie challenge last summer. And while my cleaning eating diet didn’t last very long past August, I’m so grateful that my friendship with Michelle did.

For the past several months, I have had the pleasure of tracking Michelle’s photography career and the start of her business.  In addition to being phenomenally talented behind the camera, Michelle is a huge inspiration for me in that she not only has a dream, but she’s pursuing it before our eyes.  


Status quo…that’s my gig.

Keep everything as is…that’s my gig.

No major changes.  Don’t interrupt the flow…that’s my gig.

Lay low.  Mouth shut…that’s my gig.

Family girl…that’s my gig.

Safety…that’s my gig.

Leave the past in the past…that’s my gig.

Childhood dreams over…that’s my gig.

I’ll admit it.  I’m scared.  I’m frightened.  I’m sh!tting my pants.  I don’t know if I can do this.  I want to do this, but I’m scared.  What if I fail?  Scarier still, what if I succeed?  What if?  What if?  What if?

What if my Aunt had balls, Michelle?  Then she’d be my Uncle!  But my Aunt doesn’t have balls, Michelle.  That makes her my Aunt.”

These are the ever famous words of my husband.  These are the words he speaks to me when I doubt my ability to succeed.  He spoke these words before we moved to LA.  He spoke these words before we moved to Maryland.  He speaks these words to me now.

“We can’t what if ourselves to death, Michelle.  If we did, no one would be anywhere.”  

 He’s simple and very to the point.  Very, very to the point.  And, he’s right.

I grew up in a dance world.  I received my BFA in Dance.  I lived and danced in NYC.  It was fun, it was stressful, it was a time of my life when I thought fame and fortune should be handed to me just based on want alone.  In my eyes, I worked hard and I should have been rewarded. But, instead of a reward, I was handed failure.

As a dancer I had to find time to work to pay rent, find money to pay for classes and find time to audition, audition, audition.  With burnout approaching, a new boyfriend and just a heap of plain old bitterness, I left dance…defeated.

I’ve been bitter for a long time.  My dreams were shattered.  I had a degree that has done little for me by way of jobs.  I leave a childhood full of missed football games, nights out with friends and a lonely graduation.  Dance was my life!  I sacrificed a lot to become a professional dancer.

Because of this failure, I never thought that success for me would ever be an option.  Introduce a new husband (my then boyfriend) and two kids and, well, any dream of becoming the woman I wanted to become (successful, dedicated, driven) fell by the wayside.  I don’t have time for success.  I’m not good at success.  I don’t know how to succeed.  I’m complacent.  I only know how to fail, how to give up.  Then…I grew up.

There is something to be said about adulthood, about maturity.  I now look back at my attitude in my 20s and I am not surprised that I didn’t succeed.  To be honest, I don’t think that I wanted to succeed back then.  I was afraid of success.  I was afraid of the impact it would have on my status quo.  I was irresponsible for a reason.  I wanted to fail.  Failure was easy.  I didn’t have to work hard to fail.  Failure I could do.

It’s been about 7 months since I started my photography business and all I can tell you is…I want to succeed.  Photography, for me, is what my dance career was all about.  Photography has given my degree, my dance training, new meaning.  I see things differently now.  I can see success in my life.  I can see a future for my dreams.

I truly believe that individuals bloom at different stages in their lives.  We don’t have to find success right away.  We can find it in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and hell, if you live this long, into your 100s!  There is a reason I didn’t succeed in dance.  I did not fail in dance, however.  My dance past helped shape my photography future.  Those failures are my greatest successes.

I still have a long way to go with my business, but I have this new found optimism in my life.  So, what if I fail?  Then I’m blessed with the knowledge that I learned something new.  What if I succeed?  Then I fasten my seat belt and enjoy the ride…because it’s going to be a long one!!

And, what if I had balls?  Well, I do have balls baby, and “no” you can’t call me Uncle!

A special thank you to my beautiful blog friend, Ilene, for asking me to guest post on her amazing blog.  Ilene has been one of my biggest supporters and I love and respect her dearly.  Namaste.   

About me:

I’m a photography obsessed mother to two little ones (ages 2 and 6)! When I’m not taking pictures of life, I’m hanging with my husband, family and friends. And I love martinis. Dirty, spicy martinis. And, wine. And, chocolate. And, really, really short hair.

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What If My Aunt Had Balls — 38 Comments

  1. My kids are heavily into ballet right now, and I see professional dancers having to work two jobs just to support their dancing. It’s a hard hard life, and I agree – just because you did’t find your ultimate success there, that doesn’t mean you failed.

  2. Ha! I’m going to remember your husband’s saying next time I what if myself. Michelle, I’ve truly enjoyed watching your journey. And your dance background is evident in your photography. In fact, when I saw the photo in this post without any other context, I knew immediately it was yours! I still want you to come up to Maine to photograph my family. Maybe someday!

  3. LOVE LOVE LOOOOOOVE this post!! Ilene, you’ve featured an amazing guest list of writers recently, and each has resonated with me in so many different ways. But Michelle’s post takes the cake. I’d touched on this idea that we fear success more than we do failure because of the great unknown that it opens for us. I hadn’t thought of it much beyond that, but this post brought all of those feelings of insecurity and fear back. Only now I have hindsight and a bit of what I can hopefully call wisdom, to help me see that period of my life more clearly. I suppose you need to go through that sort of test to be able to let go and embrace the possibilities of your future with an open heart and optimism. Thank you for sharing this Ilene! <3

  4. I can already hear myself saying, “What if my Aunt had balls?” when I start doubting myself. I love the line about some of your failures have become your greatest successes. I also know a lot about wanting to succeed and being afraid at the same time. I think I am my own worst enemy when it comes to that. Great post. I’m a status quo girl as well. 🙂

  5. I love the message here that wins can still come from perceived ‘failures.’ They change us, somehow, before we have those opportunities to succeed. Maybe they prepare us. This was a wonderful post, and gives us all hope that we must have that something inside us – it just needs the outlet!

  6. LOL! And keep in mind he’s from Brooklyn! That saying + a Brooklyn accent = priceless! And, yes! I will so come up to Maine some day to photograph your family. Thank you so much for your continued support. You know that your blog is one of my first stops every morning!

  7. “I suppose you need to go through that sort of test to be able to let go and embrace the possibilities of your future with an open heart and optimism!” Yes, yes and yes! I was so bitter for so long and walked with a heavy heart. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s motherhood, maybe I’m just finally ready to take this step, but it’s my past experiences that lead me to where I am today (physically and mentally). Best to you and all of YOUR future successes!

  8. Such an insightful post! I really believe that our past experiences play a part in our future…and that success can come at any stage as well. I think a lot of times when we are younger we do have a “fear of failure”…I know I am much stronger now than I was in my 20s!

  9. “I love the thought that we take pieces of our journey to shape our future.” 100% yes! Ironically, the tiny pieces of my journey that I tried so desperately to forget have made the greatest impact on my future.

  10. I remember when my friend turned 30 she said that she felt liberated. She said it was like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She was happy to be out of her 20s. I couldn’t agree more. A failure in my 20s is my greatest success in my 30’s (um…very late 30s).

  11. I LOVE THIS! I have also been a “what if” girl, and I think I fall into these head games still. I’m a worrier, but I’m also a dreamer. I’m a planner, but I want new adventures. I hope your new photography journey is fabulous. It sounds like you have the right attitude, and if he picture with this post is any indication, you’re extremely talented as well.

  12. Ohh, this hit me hard. I’ve had some failures in my life – some quits – and once in awhile, something great sticks. I’m about six months into my photography business journey. It’s hard and I’m pretty much petrified a lot of the time.

  13. My daughter is a dancer, she is 14 years old and I wonder if some day she will look back and regret the hours & hours she spends at the dance studio working on her passion but then I think, she has a passion let her work on it! Only time will tell if I am right. Thanks for sharing!

  14. First off, I love love love love seeing Michelle here. I mean, I’ve been looking forward to this post all week!! Michelle, I totally get this and it totally and completely resonates with me. I had big dreams and expectations and aspirations when I was younger. And now? I am complacent. I love how you are chasing after your dream now and putting your all into your photography. You inspire me so so much and encourage me to take chances.

  15. I love that line that your husband uses! I’m going to use that on myself the next time I start questioning my potential too. I think I am my own worst critic. If I believed in myself a bit I would see that my failures really have become my greatest successes.

  16. Your husband sounds like a gem. I applaud you for taking risks. I’m not in a place where I can right now, but I hope that in a year or two, when things are more settled for us, I, too, can take the proverbial bull by the horns.

  17. I love these words so much I want to print them out and hang them up. I relate so much to your path and I’m also, this year, striving to succeed at dreams that I’ve left by the wayside for so long. That optimism is so important.
    Lovely post – so glad to have found you here!

  18. Your husband rocks! Can you imagine what the world would be like if more women had husbands that supported them this way?
    I’m glad to see your pushing past your fears and finding a new dream to pursue. Your photography is amazing and I loved the way you packaged your first client orders. I saw them on Twitter.
    Keep believing in yourself!

  19. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I did love every minute of my dance life. I danced with the very same group of girls for about 12 years before leaving for college. We are all still very good friends to this day. It was difficult balancing dance and school and being a teenager, but I chose dance and I own that choice. You never know where her dancing will lead her. Best to you and your daughter!

  20. Christine, you sure know how to make a girl feel good! I still love that we got to meet in person in Baltimore and I always appreciate every comment you leave on my little old blog! I’m so looking forward to seeing you again!

  21. I have always been so afraid of success. With success brings more responsibility, and that’s scary. I think that’s why I always “failed”, never saw anything through. I’m determined to see this thing through, however. We’ll where I end up!

  22. I am so with you there! We moved a lot. We lived in Brooklyn then LA and now Baltimore area. We were never settled (financially and otherwise) enough for me to take this step. Now that we’re a little more comfortable, we feel like I can work on this little old dream of mine.

  23. So do I! I always thought that success was for someone else, not me. But, I have to be honest, I don’t think I ever resigned myself to the fact that I’d be working a desk job for 20-30 years. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but my propensity to change jobs every 3-5 years is a good indicator that my current situation is not “me”. Best of luck to you!!

  24. I just told my husband that you said this, He said, “Finally, I’m getting some credit!”
    Thank you so much. It hasn’t been easy, but I have to admit, without his support I probably wouldn’t be doing this at all. He’s been a great supporter!

  25. Is it such an easy trap to fall into and we do it all the time. Some people don’t travel because, well, “What if we get into an accident?”. It stunts our growth and our fun! You’re right, finding that optimism is the very best way to play the game!

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