Please click and drag the white arrows to see my underwater transformation.
My name is Mia Schaikewitz, I was born in Atlanta, GA.
I became paralyzed from the waist down when I was 15 years old after a Spinal AVM ruptured within my spinal cord. The way I continue to move past the trauma is never letting being paralyzed stop me from doing something I love to do, even if it feels scary or difficult at first, I always try. Trying anything new is freeing.
I wanted to be involved in this project because Marisa Hamamoto, my friend and founder of the dance company Infinite Flow I’m involved with, brought the project idea to me. We wanted to make a statement piece that combined my love for water, art, dance, and challenge—-this had all of it!
I plan to spread the word visually about the power of “diving into life” no matter how scary it can feel at times. Especially when going through trauma. There is always a peaceful moment during tough times where you can connect with yourself. Those are opportunities for pure freedom and self-growth. I believe water and dance can be catalysts for those personal healing moments.
I was excited and curious! I’m very comfortable in water, but on a technical level, I was eager to learn how we would be able to position my legs and body enough to remain under water long enough for some cool shots!
I loved the underwater experience even more than I anticipated. Being able to remain underwater with attached weight gave me a feeling I hadn’t had since before I was paralyzed. As a competitive swimmer, I’m used to focusing on staying above the water as much as possible to move faster. This was a new experience of just being and moving slowly and savouring all the sensations water offers. Especially the stillness and quiet from being under and surrounded completely by water. It’s like a secure peaceful hug! I had forgotten about the beauty of that sensation.
I felt hopeful and grateful to have had the experience. It was a time of reflection for me because when I first became paralyzed I wanted to die at the idea of feeling limited. I could never of dreamed of all the amazing things I’ve been able to do since. I’ve definitely come to realize limitations only come from the mind. The photo shoot was a reminder that if I had chosen to give up at any time from the trauma I especially wouldn’t have been able to have the unique accomplishment of doing an underwater photo shoot! It became another healing moment for life’s journey!
Water is my home. Always has been since I was a little girl. It helps with my anxiety and has given me much needed meditative moments in going through anything tough. Water is great tool to feel weightless when you find yourself carrying difficult emotional weight. I will always continue to find a way to be in water any chance I get for physical and emotional healing.
I slept soundly and woke up feeling really well rested so I guess it was quality sleep, too! I tend to suffer from insomnia so being able to get a good nights sleep is priceless for me.
Erena is an angel! I can see why she connects to water so much because she has a similar disposition as far as being peaceful and calm. She put me at ease from the moment I got there. Just being around her lowers blood pressure! She gave me perfect and clear instructions on what to do and what to expect so I never felt uncomfortable. She gave me ideas and helped guide me through every step!
I already have recommend this underwater transformative photography session and will continue to do so! I truly feel what Erena has created is an experience every person on earth should have. If we all had an opportunity to heal from our personal traumas, I think we’d have a more peaceful world.