Chronically Beautiful - Crissy

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“Hello my name is Crystal Marie Cantu, friends call me Crissy. I am 30 years old woman who lives with a disability. I was diagnosed at 7 years old, with Muscular Dystrophy which is a progressive weakness in the muscles. I have had this disease for most of my life. There are different types of Muscular Dystrophy but recently my doctor tested me and the results came out that my new diagnosis is Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, which affects the center of my body or the hips, quads and shoulders: the main areas that give ability to move your legs and arms. However, there are other areas that are weak in my body as well. So my diagnosis is a bit more rare than others and is still being tested. Although I was diagnosed with MD, I didn't start using a wheelchair until I was about 19 or 20, so before that I was still walking but you could tell it was getting more difficult for me to move at a normal pace. The reason as to why I started using my wheelchair was because I had a bad fall that caused me to bust my head open and need stitches. So for safety reasons, it was a must to use a wheelchair.

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Sounds intense huh? Well at times it is but it doesn't overpower my life. I still try to do my best to just live my life as best as I can. I tell everyone that now my life is like a bucket list these days. There is so much I want to do before I can't anymore. I don't want to miss out on the things I thought I might not be able to do. Now I just do it! It's so easy to dwell on your disability, limitations are just screaming at you and you just don't even want to try.Trust me, I've been there and I still have those moments; no one is perfect. But most of the time I just try and experience anything that I can. With the help of my close family and friends, I have been able to take a road-trip to Los Angeles California, fly on in airplane to Las Vegas, go water skiing, finish college with an Associates Degree and so much more.

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Anything is possible and sometimes you have to ask for help, so don't feel ashamed about that. I know it's difficult because all of us want to be a 100% independent but sometimes that not the case. But if you have people there with you to support you and be there for you, take the help. Not because you need it but because they are willing to help you.

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Disability can be a struggle but it does NOT define your life and who you are as a person. So live your life for YOU.

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The boudoir session was honestly the most amazing experience I've EVER had. I've had other photo-shoot sessions but this one was so easy and calm for me. Sometimes it's difficult for me to be in front of the camera. It's like an awkward feeling of not knowing how to pose, especially since I am disabled. So my poses are a bit different than an able-body person. So when I got there I was a bit nervous but once we started, Angela said for me not to worry that she would guide me through it and she did! She made me feel so much confidence in myself and comfortable. She knew what would work for me and my body. Every time she would take a shot of me, she would always have something positive to say which made my experience easier. Throughout the session, I did need help but it felt smooth and had such good vibes in the studio setting. I don't think I have ever had that experience before and I feel like that's why she was able to capture beautiful photos of me! I wasn't in my head thinking too much about how I looked, I was in the moment and just felt sexy, confident, content and ravishing.”

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Chronically Beautiful is a project I started in 2018 as I battled my own illnesses. It is my hope that this project shed light on the diseases that change our lives and that it will help change misconceptions about being chronically ill and or living with disabilities . Additionally I hope to inspire those facing health challenges to live their best life.

If you would like to participate in this project please submit your story to me first by emailing me at with a subject line "Chronically Beautiful".

Note... You do not need to have a visible illness or disability to participate. I want to share people's stories with all illnesses and disabilities.

-Angela Michelle

Back and Booking

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After months and months of being on hiatus (see previous post) I’m BACK! That’s right! Back and booking for 2019. I can’t wait!!! There are some new collections and products I can’t wait for you to see. And to kick it off I have a Special Offer or TWO. There are a limited number available and they are first come first serve. Keep Scrolling for more info and enjoy this beauty I recently photographed. If you have any questions or are ready to snatch up one of these deals just fill out the contact form.

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Two ways to save on 2019 bookings

Pay 99  booking fee (regularly 325)  now and schedule your Photoshoot between Jan- June
Does not include prints, digitals or products
Receive 10% off your order at your Reveal Ordering Appointment 
**ONLY 10 Spots available **


Receive a FREE session when you book your 2019 session!
Pay the 325 deposit now and get that amount credited back to you at your ordering session which means your session was FREE! Additionally you will receive 20% off your order after your credit has been applied. Session fee does not typically include prints, digitals or products.
**ONLY 5 Spots available **

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Forever Altered

Self Portrait 2 months post PTE Surgery

Self Portrait 2 months post PTE Surgery

Ok, so I have been sitting on this post for some time. If you follow me on social media you know my story and if not here is the crash course. For years I was suffering, slowly dying as my body struggled to get the oxygen required to live. In January after years of struggling and searching for answers I was diagnosed with a rare lung disease, CTEPH. November is Pulmonary Hypertension month so I do want to use this opportunity to raise awareness.

Self Portraits 2 months post PTE Surgery

Self Portraits 2 months post PTE Surgery

Pulmonary Hypertension is a rare disease itself and often misdiagnosed. CTEPH (Chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension) is one of several forms of PH. It is rare, so rare that I struggled and fought for the diagnosis. Many doctors I encountered knew little to nothing of this disease. It is caused by blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, in the lungs. For most people the clots will dissipate on their own but for about 3-5% of the people that get pulmonary embolisms it will turn in the CTEPH. This was my case.

Me at University Hospital in Jan 2018 right after my right heart cath which confirmed I had Pulmonary Hypertension

Me at University Hospital in Jan 2018 right after my right heart cath which confirmed I had Pulmonary Hypertension

For years I was misdiagnosed and by the time I was diagnosed correctly I was on oxygen 24/7. If you have followed me for some time you know I have a rare clotting disorder, Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS) which caused my stroke in 2016 leaving me permanently blind in one eye. I was so very lucky to have an old friend who had become a heart surgeon and had followed my health journey on social media. He knew I had this clotting disease and when he saw me on oxygen he was the one to suggest CTEPH be considered as the cause. I took this information to my doctors and over the next six months I would go through a battery of tests to reach the CTEPH diagnosis. Again, there needs to be more awareness about these diseases and it’s become my personal mission to be a part of the awareness campaign.

Self Portraits 2 months post PTE Surgery

Self Portraits 2 months post PTE Surgery

Throughout this time I did my best to carry on my business partly because it is my livelihood but mostly because of how much I love the work I do. But in May of 2018 I shut it all down. I wrapped up all the clients I had and went on hiatus. I was being sent to San Diego to hopefully have a life saving open heart surgery called pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE).

Self portraits 3 months post PTE Surgery

Self portraits 3 months post PTE Surgery

The best place to have PTE Surgery

The best place to have PTE Surgery

This condition is so rare that few hospitals even do this surgery. San Diego it turns out has the most experience in the world with this surgery. They are the hospital that pioneered this particular procedure. My doctor here in San Antonio and my dear friend were both adamant I go there because I was considered high risk having had a stroke once already. I had to go in blindly not knowing if I would be a candidate.

La Jolla at Sunset

La Jolla at Sunset

Only after team in San Diego ran their own tests would then tell me if they would do the surgery. So I went in July of this year. I went and hoped beyond hope that whatever the universe had in store for me would be my course for the greater good. I was lucky to be in such a beautiful place and every day after tests at the hospital I would go to the beach to watch the sunset meditating as I asked the universe to guide me on my path. I sat at the top of the cliff unable to walk down to the shore and I watched as I saw people doing the things I love. All I could hope was that I could one day do those things too.

Surrender can have a negative connotation but to me it’s positive. I surrender to me means I willingly give myself to the moment and trust. And that’s what I did… I surrendered myself to the universe, to these doctors, to the moment. Today is my three month PTE surgery anniversary. The surgery that saved my life and I can’t help but reflect on all that has transpired and how far I have come. The human body truly is an incredible beast. What it can endure and come back from is phenomenal. 

Self Portrait 3 months post PTE surgery

Self Portrait 3 months post PTE surgery

The clots removed from my lungs on Aug 7, 2018.

The clots removed from my lungs on Aug 7, 2018.

Three months ago my life would be forever altered by the hands of a man I had just met. I think of him and his team often as I’m sure so many who have been in my shoes do. He held my life in his hands that day. The responsibility he takes on is not to be diminished. The courage and trust he has in himself and the team he surrounds himself with is something I can only be forever grateful for. Three months ago I surrendered my body to his hands with complete trust. 

Me just hours after being woken up from PTE surgery.

Me just hours after being woken up from PTE surgery.

On August 7th of 2018 I was the 3916th patient to undergo PTE surgery at UCSD. It was hard and painful but so worth it because now I can breathe again. I now have my life back full of possibilities I couldn’t fathom before. To Dr Pretorius, the man who has saved so many of us with CTEPH, thank you. Thank you!!

So this brings me to today, where am I now? I am alive and feeling better than I have in years because I can breathe!!! I’m not 100% and my body is still healing from the surgery and from the years of struggling to get oxygen. I will forever have the disease APS that caused all this to begin with and I will be under strict supervision by my team of doctors but I will live and I plan to live it up. I feel like I have been given yet another chance at this thing called life and I plan to use it for all the good I can. I have big plans and photography is just one of the passions I intend to pursue. This experience has only made me more passionate about helping people to accept, appreciate and love their body. My mission remains to help people live their best life with purpose and passion and to never hold back from being their authentic self.

Self Portraits 3 months post PTE surgery

Self Portraits 3 months post PTE surgery

I will be coming back to my business soon, very soon! Stay tuned for that announcement and subscribe to the mailing list to get notified when bookings for 2019 officially open. And for everyone that has been a part of my journey a HUGE thank you. You all mean so much to me.

All my love.


Self Portrait 3 months post PTE surgery.

Self Portrait 3 months post PTE surgery.

**Side note....I noticed I started doing portraits every month around the anniversary of my surgery so my plan is to do this over the next year. My way of honoring my body and appreciating it for all it does and how it lets me live.

Southtown Yoga Loft... my first yoga home (Vendor Feature)


Can you believe we are already in February??? Seriously where does time go. If you aren't in my private VIP group you should be. There are monthly giveaways and this month's giveaway is a 5 card class pass to one of my favorite yoga studios in town, Southtown Yoga Loft.  They have two locations. One downtown and one in Helotes. Both are beautiful studios each with their own vibe. I have been going to their downtown studio for years and fell in love from the moment I first stepped foot in the door. The space is GORGEOUS and the instructors are always so welcoming and encouraging. They have a variety of classes ranging from beginners classes to strong flows... they even have kids yoga and prenatal yoga. They also do workshops which I am looking forward to taking a few myself.  This beautiful studio will forever by in my heart and it's where I did my RYT 200 hour yoga training. I still go there because I love it that much.  Whether you are a seasoned yogi or just curious to try yoga I encourage you to check out this San Antonio gem. 




Raven Red VIP Group



Mel Marie Yoga and Self Care Shala - Vendor Feature

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Ok, so if you don't know already I am pretty obsessed with yoga (check out my yoga website  here). So at the beginning of 2017 I embarked on my journey to become a certified yoga instructor. After completing my RYT 200  I came across Mel Marie's RYT 300 training program. I instantly knew this was my path. It was a Adaptive and Therapeutic Yoga Training Program and if you know my story you know how yoga saved and continues to save me in my journey through chronic illness. I wanted to be a yoga teacher for others struggling with their health and I knew this program could help guide me on my course.

I called her up immediately to learn more. I was timid having just graduated from my Teacher Training and not feeling prepared for advanced training but the steady and beautiful voice on the other end calmed my nerves and I knew this was indeed my dharma. I completed my RYT 300 with her this past December and let me tell you the journey was incredible. Mel Marie and the women I met through her training touched my soul.  We laughed, we cried, we learned together and supported each other on our course. Seriously if you are considering a yoga training program I encourage  you to look into hers. You won't be disappointed.

At the end of the program she told us the wonderful news that she was opening her Self Care Shala which would be a sanctuary for all things self-care. I was thrilled for her and even more thrilled that she has asked me to teach here in 2018... more on that later. Since she literally just opened in this past week I asked her if she would like to be our featured vendor for January and she graciously accepted. I stopped in the other day to chat with her and take some photos for this blog and the place is a gem!!  I have lots of wonderful collaborations coming up with this beauty but for now I will let her share her business with you. Enjoy... and remember self-care is self-love! 

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MelMarie Yoga is committed to serving our communities by illuminating the importance of self care through the effort to make therapeutic yoga more accessible, available, and person-centered.

This effort is to offer our community an integrative approach to compliment health recovery through methods of mindfulness, meaning, and movement.  MelMarie Yoga Academy is committed to serving and nourishing San Antonio in adaptive yoga by creating teaching opportunities, classes, and workshops that enhance the way we show up, serve, and absorb quality of life. 

Founder, Melissa Aguirre facilitates 200 hour and 300 hour Adaptive Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Trainings through San Antonio to Boerne. Mention you heard about her from Raven Red and receive a 10% off discount on her training programs beginning in February. These programs can serve as a compassion retreat for your wellbeing, clarity for career paving and innovation, connection to community and a vehicle to deepen your yoga and mindfulness practices. 

It is the heart of MelMarie to celebrate our Self Care Shala opening January at 11844 Wurzbach Rd. Our services include a Self Care Menu of options to establish your wellness regimen while connecting with a community passionate about mindful integrative care. With "Give What You Can" classes, topic specific series that offer both experience and education, private health consulting and an abundance of workshops- connect with us to learn more about how we can serve you.

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Mel Marie donated this month's prize which you can win.... More details in the VIP Group

The prize includes:

MelMarie Live Your Bliss Tank

MelMarie Balance Me Stack 

1 hour Yoga Therapy Session 


A Creative Session with a Contest Winner

Since I just hosted a contest in my VIP client group I thought I would finally share all the images from the last contest winner. This was a creative session and what I love about it is it shows that simplicity can go a long way.  This was one look yet we got a variety of images playing with lighting, motion and emotion.  My muse for the day did an incredible job and  I'm thrilled with what we created. I can't wait to see who the next contest winner is and creating some beautiful art with her.  

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She felt like a Bad ass cause.... She is a Bad ass!!

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Photographing this beauty was a bit of a dream. She is strong, sensual, gorgeous and confident. I was thrilled when she said not only could I share these images but that she would write blog post. She is  a mom, a successful entrepreneur and one of the hardest working and most passionate women you will meet. She inspires other women to nurture their body with her passion for fitness. She is the woman that proves with hard work, determination and self love you can achieve what your heart desires. I loved her story and I hope it inspires others as much as it inspired me. 

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"I've never been the skinniest girl, but I've often been the strongest. As a former nationally ranked athlete who morphed into an adult that became a gym rat, I've always pushed myself physically to achieve. However, a difficult pregnancy with my first child, a directive from the doctor not to work out and a rather generous understanding of what it meant to 'eat for two' meant that I gained a lot of weight. In addition, my husband is active duty military, and at 32 weeks pregnant, we moved to a state where I had neither family nor friends, and the below freezing temperatures nine months out of the year meant that I couldn't even go for walks with my newborn son. I was heavier than I had ever been in my life and miserable. 

During my pregnancy, I had taken prenatal yoga classes and on a whim, I decided to enroll in yoga teacher training. That decision brought me back both physically and emotionally. I started to lose weight, but then became pregnant with our second child. Two children in two years is tough on a body, but I continued with my yoga teacher training, completed it, and then moved on to other fitness pursuits. I became Barre certified, prenatal yoga certified and group fitness certified. Throughout my second pregnancy, I remained healthy and strong. After my daughter was born, I fully invested in a hardcore exercise regime and made changes in my eating habits.

When my daughter was seven months old, my husband deployed, and I decided to take that time to get back to the weight that I was when we had first started dating. I decided to do the boudoir photo shoot with Angela as a 'welcome home' gift to my husband and a 'well done' gift to myself. I am the fittest, healthiest and happiest that I have ever been. I'm still not the skinniest chick out there, but dammit, I think I'm a bit of a bad ass and for the first time in my life, I'm owning that I'm perfect in all my lovely imperfections. It was an incredible, validating experience to work with Angela. If you had asked me two years ago if I would feel comfortable publicly sharing photos of myself in lingerie, I would have empathetically told you no, but today, I'm proud of this strong body that gave birth to two beautiful children. And my husband liked them too. :-) Thank you, Angela."

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Getting Back in The Groove.

As most of you know I am chronically ill thanks to an autoimmune disease that was discovered last year after my Stroke. Well, this year complications from that disease landed me back in the hospital for a total of three weeks. Then after getting out I had to be on bed rest as I recovered from surgery.

Not shooting for that long is always hard on my spirit cause this is seriously what I live for. The long hiatus had also taken a toll on my body and even though my heart and mind wanted to get back in the game my body was weak an on top of that now needed oxygen. Photography is not only my passion but it's how I make a living so it was imperative I get get back to work asap.

But before I took on a client I wanted on test shoot to test my body, learn my limits, see what it was like to shoot with an extra ten pounds from the oxygen machine on my back. So I reached out to this beauty. She was a client I had last year and we had a great shoot then so I contacted her to see if she could come and help me out. She agreed and with very little planning we came together to create these images. It was a short shoot and even so I was worn out after.

I discovered that extra ten pounds on my back was tough and the following day I was sore all over. I always worry when I go weeks without shooting... "Will I lose it? Will I lose my ability to see and create compelling images?"  Thankfully after seeing what we created this day I don't think I lost anything. And this shoot helped me to prepare for future shoots. I learned that rather than carrying the O2 machine the whole time I can prop it up against the wall and use a long hose to move around the studio.

I also learned that having a assistant is invaluable for me especially when my body is still compromised and weak, I can have my assistant move lights, reflectors  and demonstrate poses which allows me to conserve energy and focus on staying behind the camera and creating beautiful images.

So from now on it is my goal to have my assistant at every shoot I possibly can. Some of you have already met my assistant. Her name is Elisha and she has been truly incredible these last few weeks. She is finishing out her internship with me for September then she is coming on board as a regular Raven Red associate as a assistant and photographer. She is one of a few associate photographers I have coming on board. Each brings their own talents and personalities and were hand picked by me for those reasons.... more on them to come.  In the meantime just enjoy this beauty, Lexi. 

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