The pictures that distract me

My #hardway story behind my hobby

A personal journey

I've debated whether or not to share this particular story, I'm not a natural sharer, and it's pretty personal. But hey, this is what steller is all about from what I can tell. Here goes...When I was 15 I was told I had a significant spine problem, Scoliosis, Kyphosis and Scheuermann's disease. An unfortunate trifecta. These problems caused me a lot of physical pain, limited my physical abilities and I was also made fun of because of the deformity this gave me (hunchback is my least favourite word, ever!) I was given an option to have spinal fusion surgery to correct this and told it would relieve my day to day pain, as well as fix the appearance.

An unexpected turn

Of coarse I wanted to be "fixed" and so I jumped at the chance to be "pain free" and have a "normal looking" back. Lots of quotation marks there, I know. It's because things didn't quite "go as expected." I woke up from my surgery completely unprepared for the feeling of being hit by a truck in the back that I was confronted with. That was just the start really. I don't remember a lot from that first time in hospital clearly because I was in a ton of pain and allergic to the meds I was on. It was a time of delirium. I do remember the odd sensation of trying to walk for the first time after, it felt like I was learning to walk all over again.

After a difficult recovery from something I had no real preparation for, things seemed to get back on track. Back to school I went, feeling like a new person, besides the fact that I had work to catch up on. I had just turned 16, I was full of optimism, and loving my new height advantage (post op, after straightening the kinks out, I had miraculously grown up to the 6ft mark.) About a month later, something crept up on me and took me by surprise.

A long walk from here

One night, while watching a crappy movie and taking bad selfies on my now retro Nokia (the camera was atrocious, defs not instagram quality) I took a break from the vanity and happened to walk past a mirror (ironic, I know) I noticed that the top of my rod (spinal fusions include rods, screws, hooks and lots of fancy titanium) poking out at a sickening angle that definitely WAS NOT NORMAL. In retrospect I'm surprised it didn't pierce my skin. After my specialist was contacted I was told to lie down and not to move. I spent 12 hours in my bed feeling my stomach turn into a thousand knots, knowing if I moved the wrong way, or sneezed, I might not walk again.

I was flown the next day to Sydney, where I would have to go under the knife again, in order to correct the hooks that had come loose, causing the entire top half of the rod to break free of my spine. This was without a doubt the most terrifying time of my life, because this time, I knew what I was in for. The first op, when I woke up, I think I must have pretty much gone into shock, nobody had prepared me for the pain I was experiencing. This time around, I knew, I knew and I was in a state of pure panic.

Round two

After my second operation, and the subsequent pain I went through, I fell into a deep and long lasting depression. Physically, everything looked fine, the rods did their job with that, but emotionally I was not. I was terrified to do any physiotherapy because I was constantly haunted by the fear of something going wrong again. I was no longer optimistic about the future, but rather felt impending doom. I was also dealing with day to day pain that I was not expecting after this operation, my doctors had assured me that I would be better after, but I still suffer from chronic pain and limitations, 10 years later. I was also in a state of denial, where I refused to talk about my operation and problems with people. I shut down, trying to ignore it all. I started using drugs regularly to numb my physical and emotional pain.

What I never realised at the time, but is now very clear, is that I was suffering from post operative PTSD. In fact, it wasn't until I sought help a few years ago that I was properly diagnosed with this, along with my chronic pain. The mere fact that I could put a label on the hurricane of emotions that was happening within me helped instantly. It made me feel a little less crazy. A little less isolated. Over time, and with a balance of therapy and pain medications, I've been able to come to terms with things, even though I still have my bad days/weeks/months the fact that I have different tools to cope is a blessing. And one of my favourite coping tools? ...


For me, when I'm feeling up to it, the best thing is to try and find a new and pretty place to capture. I live in a small town so I have some limitations there, but I love seeking out the unknown. Getting in the car and not exactly knowing where I'll end up, but being excited to find a new location to capture. It's peaceful, it's serene, it's therapeutic. I love variety, so I have two different instagram accounts where I can fully creatively express myself.

After years of holding things back, and not being able to express myself, I found a way to do so, but in a more subtle form. Instagram. I feel like I can choose to radiate positive vibes and express my mood creatively with my colour choices on my @rarabro account, a lot of my edits there are made to lift my mood, because colour always makes me happy. I love the simplicity of minimalist shooting. Or I can broaden my horizons by just shooting things I think are beautiful and posting them over on @ladyrarabra. I enjoy the outlet, and if nothing else, provides a pretty decent distraction sometimes.

Joshua Tree

The following shots are from my @rarabro account

I like to get amongst nature on my @ladyrarabra instagram account

The following are shots from that page

These are the pictures that distract me, and have provided an outlet for me. I'm constantly inspired and happily distracted by what I see of other people's work on Instagram too, and it fuels me to want to seek out the beauty in the world, and to focus on that instead of looking at the negative. #stellerstories #vscocam #stellerminimal #candyminimal

Share This Story
  • Katwesterman

    I am very aware of the level of pain you have had to endure and so admire and respect you... Your photography is beautiful. Have a wonderful day and can't wait to read more of your stories.

  • ladyrarabra

    @martha_swing thanks Marta :)

  • ladyrarabra

    @katwesterman thank you so much for the kind words Kat! Wow, that's a terrible thing to happen at such a young age, you must have had to be very strong throughout all of that too! Thank goodness you came through it! Or we wouldn't get to enjoy all of you're wonderful photography! Hope toy have a great day, and likewise, can't wait for you're next instalment here. It's a great app, so glad I joined :)

  • Matisyahu

    I love your pictures and the colors. Thanks for posting

  • ladyrarabra

    @Matisyahu And thank YOU very much for inspiring me and giving me the courage to post my story! πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

  • jaywilder

    Thank you for sharing your story - it's very inspirin to me. Your photography is really beautiful. I like the two styles on your different accounts.

  • ladyrarabra

    Hi @jaywilder I'm glad I could share it, was hard to contemplate doing as I wasn't sure that's the kind of story people usually put up here, but then I saw the hardway piece @Matisyahu posted up and I thought why not. Thank you for taking the time to read it, and thanks also for the kind words! Have a great day/night! :)

  • jaywilder

    Yeah some stories are harder to share than others, but those ones are also some of the most important. I'm glad you decided to share yours. I look fwd to following more of your stories. Have a great day/night too!

  • mrymelm

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story , I love your shots btw 😘

  • ladyrarabra

    @jaywilder so true! Thanks Jay. Can't wait to make more stories, I am loving this app. Picked up a few DIY tips and recipes already. Also really enjoying browsing everyone's stories :)

  • ladyrarabra

    @mrymelm thanks so much for the kind words! Appreciate you taking the time to pop by and read it. Have a great day :))

  • applewhy

    You have an incredible story that's left me lots to think about. I'm a medical professional. Hearing what photography means to you made it even more special for me. Thanks for sharing :)

  • ladyrarabra

    @applewhy thanks for reading my story! βœ¨πŸ™βœ¨ what field are you in? Yeah, my photography is definitely a form of therapy. Maybe you could suggest it to some of your patients. :)

  • pmd

    great story

  • ladyrarabra

    @pmd thanks for stopping by to read it PΓ©ter βœ¨πŸ™

  • Lananh

    What a story! You are so brave to deal with your health problem & to find a way to share. Thank you.

  • ladyrarabra

    @Lananh thanks for taking the time to read it. I know it's a long one, lol. But thank you for the kind words! πŸ™

  • westcoasteli

    This is so good! Lord bless your heart, you're such a trooper πŸ™

  • ladyrarabra

    @westcoasteli thank you so much Eli.. I do what I can, haha. πŸ˜ŠβœŒοΈπŸ™

  • repras

    @ladyrarabra Please never give up!

  • ladyrarabra

    @repras who me? Never! 😊 thanks πŸ‘‹βœ¨

  • kietrece

    Your story is so intense and full of emotions . You are so brave . Thanks for sharing πŸ™πŸ‘

  • ladyrarabra

    @kietrece thanks for popping by to read it dude! And you are very sweet for saying so, I try to be! πŸ™πŸ˜ŠβœŒοΈ

  • sashiasamira

    Beautiful my dear beautiful!

  • ebrithil_

    Thanks for sharing your great story and awesome photos!! They are very inspiring. Never give up!!! Take care and good luck!! Looking forward to more of your photos :)

  • ladyrarabra

    @sashiasamira thanks lovely! So glad you joined steller, can't wait to see your stories 😘

  • ladyrarabra

    @ebrithil_ thanks so much for dropping by to read it! And for the kind words! πŸ™πŸ˜ŠπŸ™

  • katstewart01

    Photography is a wonderful means of healing. I'm glad you found it.

  • ladyrarabra

    @katstewart01 it really is! And I am sure glad I did too! :) thanks for taking the time to read my story! πŸ™βœŒοΈπŸ˜Š

  • bethkellmer

    I know it couldn't have been easy sharing this Tara ❀️ your words were so sincere and your pain was so raw, I'm actually moved to tears. I am INSPIRED by your changes and the hope you have found, what an amazing way to see the good in the world.

  • ladyrarabra

    @bethkellmer aww! I'm so glad that sharing this has ended in you being inspired by it! It was definitely something I debated even putting up here, but it was, in the end, pretty cathartic to get it out.. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it πŸ™πŸ™πŸ˜ŠβœŒοΈ

  • justaplanekid


  • ladyrarabra

    @justaplanekid thank you Alexander. πŸ™πŸ‘ŠβœŒοΈ

  • justaplanekid

    Yes!! Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story. Inspiring. Keep on going.

  • ladyrarabra

    @justaplanekid it was hard to post, but I'm glad I did. Thanks for taking the time to read it! πŸ™πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘

  • unclebenwild

    Really beautiful Tara! Beautiful photos, of course, and a hard story but one with beauty in it too. Also, very nicely written. I've been a bit inactive on Steller of late. Lots of catching up to do. Looking forward to catching up on your stories.

  • ladyrarabra

    @unclebenwild thanks so much for reading this one Ben, it's probably the most personal I'll get on here. πŸ™πŸΌ looking forward to seeing more from you here too πŸ‘πŸΌ

  • Pastels

    Amazing story. You are very inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • ashleysunshine

    Wow, girl! What a story. Thanks for sharing that! You are so amazing! πŸ’—

  • ladyrarabra

    @Pastels I'm so sorry for the late response to this, but thanks so much for reading this! :)

  • ladyrarabra

    @ashleysunshine hey lovely.. I wasn't sure if it was a good idea to get so personal on here, but it served as a really good way to get it off my chest.. So to speak. Thank you for reading it my dear! YOU are amazing πŸ˜ŠπŸ™πŸ»βœ¨

  • SalomeAlexandra

    Wow! Such beautiful photos and a beautiful story. Your strength is really inspiring. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Skooni

    Hugs to you brave girl! Pain and creativity so often walk the same path. You are doing an amazing job of transforming pain you don't deserve into beauty the world needs. Thank you.

  • dakotalane

    Sharing the fruit and the vital part of your suffering, transformation and tools requires tremendous courage and leaps of faith!! What a triumph And inspiration. Thank you for opening the door to countless others who have travelled this particular path of pain, trauma, isolation and miracles of recovery!!!! Beautiful and healing work.

  • ladyrarabra

    @SalomeAlexandra thanks so much for that dear! I know it's a really late reply but I appreciate that immensely

  • ladyrarabra

    @Skooni thanks Chari! That is so true, maybe one cannot exist without the other. Sorry for the late reply but I really appreciate the kind words dear! πŸ˜˜πŸ™πŸ»

  • ladyrarabra

    @dakotalane that is so very kind of you to say! Honestly that means the world to me! Thank you! I shared it, and afterwards it felt somewhat cathartic as I don't talk about it much to people so really it was selfish but if my story can help even one person then that is amazing!

  • dakotalane

    I understand truly! I feel most free in those times when fear and pain take a backseat to being usefully engaged or willingness to simply be. I may set out to distract myself but more and more discover that those actions of creating., offering and showing up become my actual reality, where at first, they were necessary methods of soothing or distracting. My new story becomes who I actually am. I often hear: just keep going! And

  • ladyrarabra

    @dakotalane yes! Exactly, it offers you a peace of mind in a lot of ways :) I haven't been able to get out and shoot much of late but I'm hoping that situation will change. I also write poetry as an outlet. It's so good to have those types of things as an escape :))

  • legitloco_jay25

    AWWW thats really sad. Its a great story. I hope nothing else bad happens to you! I love all of your creativity in this story and God bless you!


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