Seven Canadians walked into my studio one day.... no, this isn't the beginning of a joke. They wandered in because the door was open. My studio isn't just where I work, it doubles as a photography studio and an art gallery. I offered them coffee and cookies while the mom of the group discovered my book, which I sell on a little table near the door.
"Is this a true story?" she asked. "Yes, it is. Let me tell you about it." From there, I told them about my life. I had a captive audience in my studio, and soon we became friends. They spent an hour with me, when the dad said "are you a motivational speaker?"
"No, but that's a good idea." I quickly wrote it on the blackboard on the wall behind my desk.
I was inspired, my adrenaline was running. I contacted my editor who put me in contact with someone who organizes community talks at a local church. I had a title and an idea. But then something miraculous happened.
My recovery took an unexpected turn when a model named Abby asked me to do a photo shoot with her. Everything I thought I was going to say at the talk changed after that shoot.
I invite you to watch the video and see what I mean. This is the beginning of something big for me. I'm preparing and practicing for a TEDx Talk coming up at the end of the year.
Video courtesy of Mark Short of fotographfx.com
"I wasn't supposed to be here," Zushka said, as we sat at a little table in the corner of Macy's Coffee Shop in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. "There's literally no reason why I should be alive."
Zushka Biros is a recovered anorexic, a survivor of rape and abuse, but her story doesn't end there.
"Trauma comes in all different flavors," she goes on to tell us. "It isn't immune to economic status, your ethnic or religious background. It doesn't care what type of family you come from or how rich or poor you are."
She goes deep into exposing her demons, her blunt honesty is impressive. She doesn't sugarcoat anything. What is surprising is that Zushka has processed her tragedies in a unique sort of way - through photography.
"I picked up a camera 6 months ago. After modeling for a few years, I decided I wanted to be on the other side of the lens. Starting with landscapes and posed models, my addiction for photography began. But then, something unexpected happened."
I listened as she told the story of a model who approached her, asking for a photo shoot. "Her name is Abby and she has a studio across the hall from mine in Jerome. She asked me to do a shoot with her and I said 'Would you like to go down to the basement?' She didn't even bat an eye - 'yes!' she said. Then it got interesting."
Through the character of Abby, Zushka was allowed to express her personal distress and pain. "What better place than a dark basement to face the crippling effects that grief and suffering had on my life."
Not only was the photo shoot cathartic for Zushka, but for Abby as well. "To share a space with a woman, to share a space with a woman artist, to share so many similarities despite age and conditions, to be made to feel beautiful and safe, to wake up to images of myself that made me feel like my life is worth living... You are a gift. This is a gift. I hope this is just the beginning." - Abby
The Naked Truth - Triumph Over Trauma will begin at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 7th, at The Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona, Arizona, followed by a short Q&A with Zushka.
I am living the dream, one day at a time, and sharing my experiences with you.
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© 2016 ZUSHKA BIROS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.