Please click and drag the white arrows to see my underwater transformation.
I’m Cristina M Calderon, born in East Los Angeles, Ca and currently in Long Beach, since the ocean and it’s beaches are my preferred nature spots. Being able to walk to the beach, I am able to meditate away, the immense stress of urban sprawl.
In Spring of 2014 I began my journey, into the world of scuba. Through the disabled scuba project, I was able to learn a skill, that I had thought was for the rich and affluent, only. My adopted Mom, a fellow veteran who took me under her wing, when I lost my Mom, introduced to it, when she saw that I was struggling with self-esteem and also, she needed a solid dive buddy, able to accomodate a wheelchair, in the mix.
After military service, I endured the hardships of PTSD and chronic pain, with nasty pharmaceutical side effects. After 6 years of no pharmaceuticals, I felt ready to take on the world, again and the scuba training was easy, once I removed the fog from all the chemicals. My knee pain is only strengthened by scuba. I swim and it develops my muscles, to support my injuries and they are less painful, the more i swim and float. The PTSD is nearly gone!!! I am now able to walk at night, confidently through the bad areas, on my commute home from the train. I even jog, short distances, and compete in Reverse triathlons, every year SINCE STARTING SCUBA. It means so much to me, that Ive put myself on the standby SCUBA BOAT crew, so Im able to get out, on the water, any time they could use an extra hand. That simple action, of being strong minded enough, to reenter the workforce, is the best thing Ive received, from scuba.
Confidently, I returned to school and finished my music training, two years ago, to pursue my lifelong dream, of giving music therapy to veterans and other marginalized folk, in need of some soothing activities. Scuba and music LITERALLY saved me, from dying of a broken heart. I was struggling to breathe, to live, to cope, until I found the water, again. I have loved the water and have been dreaming of the ocean for the past 34 years. It is what I consider the ultimate paradise, like stepping into a heavenly dimension, away from any discomfort or fears.
Five years ago, my shoulders barely held an instrument, for too long without pain. True Evidence, Im now playing bass and running the sound board, at church, every Sunday.
Prior to the photo session, my hopes were high, that I’d be able to project happiness and peace, through my smile. After a plethora of traumas, it’s been difficult to smile and pose for a photo, without feeling my emotions worn, blatantly, on my face. Ive not been one to wear masks, so I strive to be genuine and have an attentive facial expression. I love being under water, so this was exciting and fun for me, even stirring fond memories, when I was a small swimmer, and tried swimming from one end of the pool, to the other. I even played water polo and swim for a couple years, during high school.
At first, I felt slight frustration, as I couldnt hold my breath as often as Id have thought I could. The overall planning and prep was perfect and flowed, smoothly. This is a concept, that really helps one work through emotions, that are not so flowy. I was feeling like a Young kid, again, pushing myself to be ‘in the moment’ and do what was expected of me, for the shoot. The sounds were incredibly subtle and soothing. I was a blank canvas, focusing on the present and the joy, the future holds.
My mood was ecstatic. My heart felt release and such ease, that I screamed like a lil schoolgirl, a few moments after I drove off. My self esteem has been pretty low, lately, so this really boosted my confidence.
Water means life. Our earth AND our bodies are composed of similar percentages of water, so I feel that there is a solid connection to water and its mysteries of sustaining life. Ive always loved the water, and have plenty of memories, throughout my youth of being on some random body of watet, whether it was a creek, a lake or the ocean. We tended to camp near a water a
Feature, and were taught proper ettiquette on respecting the water, and all its components. I pictured my trauma floating away, as I worked on my form, underwater. Flow, like water, is something that works best, when it is allowed, versus forced. It has helped me overcome anxiety, regarding a domestic dispute, with an ex, that used to bog me down. I would love to go back to the water, for another shoot, anytime!
I slept so soundly, I didnt hear my alarm, which was only set for a guideline. It was restful and deep, as I worked a lot of muscles that dont get much action, unless Im getting my swim on! Compared to other days, I did slrep better and rested fully, awakening refreshed.
Erena exceeded my expectations in every way. It went beautifully and smoothly as can be. She is such a delight and breath of fresh air, to work with. I love her. Great times, as always. She coached me along, guiding my moves, so they would be purveyed, on camera. Her warm demeanor and bright attitude warmed my heart.
Yes, I recommend this to other survivors. This is vital to accepting oneself and embracing the good things in life, such as this glam (artisticly edgy) photo shoot. Anyone who could use a pickmeup should benefit from a session, Id say. It really lightened my heart and soothed my soul.