We were doing our warm up at bjj and I realized that it was hard for me to focus fully on what I was doing. I managed to pay full attention to my body and myself for a very short periods of time, but then always got distracted by something.

And then I figured out that I was afraid. Not afraid of anything in particular at that moment. I was overall afraid all my life. I am living with fear that something will happen to me. It is hard for me to have my back straight because I am afraid. I almost jump every time there is a loud noise next to me, I am easily frightened. All my life I had this fear and all my conscious life I tried to deal with it, I tried to win over it. Combat by always paying attention to what is going on around me, so I am prepared and can strike back; combat by making myself work harder, train harder, lead a tougher life, face uneasy situations. All this to make myself believe that I will never be afraid. And as life shows I am still there… living with fear.

I look back at my childhood and I know I felt undefended. Literally. I had to fight for myself on the streets with other kids, really fight. Before I was twelve at least twice I was attacked by men, and I got to hit back and escape both times. But it does not mean I was not afraid. May be it roots even deeper, to when I was a little baby in Russia and my mom would worry about my survival when I was severely ill at 2 months old. There are lots of episodes through out my life that are linked by fear.

I like living by myself with my kids. I do not need a man next to me. But I desire to meet a man who would be strong, caring and protective. It has been so long since somebody took care of me. I do not mean took care in a big scheme of things, but somebody who would know when I am tired and bring me a tea and a blanket. Just some human touch of caring. Somebody who would be strong and would always stand up for me and also stand up to me.

When new people meet me the usual comment I get after a few minutes is “you are such a strong woman in all ways”. And yes, I made myself be strong to be able to live standing tall, to love myself, to raise my children, to protect others, to have fun in life. I made myself be strong because I had so much fear within me. And I still have it. And it is painful to face it. I have never told myself that I had fear.

Now I know I have a lot of fear in me. And I also know that I am ok to deal with it.

On human bodies & beauty

A real life editorial for a fashion company

A few months ago I got some dresses from the company I work for and gathered a small team to shoot an editorial about how beautiful human bodies are. I am not talking about models. I am taking about real women and men.

I see beauty in people that surround me. There are intense moments that transmit the essence of living. Confidence, purity, strength, ability, observation, silence, worry. Those moments are beautiful. And we are beautiful when we live through those moments. I wanted to be able to show those through one concise and finite episode of a woman observing men training.

A few weeks before I have seen the work of a San Francisco photographer Ted Glenwright. He did amazing editorial shots of Isaac during his boxing fight. I knew right away that he was the photographer I wanted to work with. Luckily Ted liked the idea.

I asked couple of friends from Marin MMA club to shot en editorial while they train and they agreed. I asked another friend to watch the fight. I asked her to wear the dresses as if those were hers. Nothing was staged. The result came out as real life fashion editorial (if such term exists).

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Photographer: Ted Glenwright
Art Director: Masha Kubyshina (IGIGI)
Models: Camille Rose Schmidt, Arnaud Dupuis, Isaac Lappert, Marin Cabac
Dresses: IGIGI, www.igigi.com
Shot at Marin MMA http://www.marinmma.com

Kisses and Baklava


It was dark on the street. We looked for an open coffee place and ended up on a small side street where a cafe was still open. The place was empty inside.

-Let’s sit outside. Are you cold?

-No. I am fine.

We ordered coffee and sat outside. He held my hand and we talked about something. It was Wednesday night in the city. He kissed me at the moment when the waiter brought our coffee. The waiter was a young boy and he looked me directly in the eyes and I knew he recognized me. And I felt uncomfortable. We both remembered that I have been here the week before with somebody else.


The conversation went as smooth as it could have gone. We talked non-stop about a motivational philosophical book on traits and attitudes. One of those best-sellers you find in each book store now. He was fun to talk to and we talked about sports, food, education and business.  The wine bar was getting busy at 6pm. It was a polished and chic place in the downtown. Beautifully dressed people, oak tables, dark comfortable sofas. And the wine was extremely good too. I made a joke and we laughed. And then he said he loved my sense of humor. And I told him another joke. And we both were well dressed and he looked like he belonged to this chic place. We talked about helicopters and airplanes. And then he kissed me. And I looked at the watch on his hand and it was half past six. And I knew that moment that I’d rather be sparring with the guys at the MMA club than sitting here. And I said to myself that it is sad that I preferred sparring rather than kissing. I yawned and suddenly felt extremely bored.


I was walking in downtown Palo Alto looking for a place to eat. I did not feel like going to any nice place. I longed for something simple and unpretentious. A place where simple people go and where nobody would know me. I ended up at the gyros place and I ordered some food and got out my kindle and started reading. I read while I ate too. When I was finishing my food the owner placed a glass of tea and a plate with baklava next to me. I looked at the man.

-Let me invite you for tea and baklava. I want you to have some tea, it is cold outside.

I thanked him.

-If you finish your tea and baklava I will bring you more. It is all on the house, – and he bowed his head to me.

I thanked him again and smiled softly.

I drunk my tea and ate the baklava. I normally do not like sweets but I did not feel like refusing something that was offered from the heart. I looked around and it was a simple place. There were a few arabic looking men eating at the corner table. There was an asian family with a small child on the table next to mine. People were talking. People were nice.


We were sitting on the beach alongside HWY 1. We found this sunny place where nobody else went, because you had to get barefoot and wet your feet to get there. From where we sat I thought that it looked like Italian seashore. One of those small calas. And the wind was very soft and the ocean sounded mildly so close to us. And I fully believed I was in Italy. I leaned on my elbow and looked at the sun. And then I looked at him as he was standing against the sun. He wore an orange t-shirt and I told him that my son’s favorite color was orange. And he said that so was his.

We opened a bottle of wine and poured it into the glasses. We got some fresh baguette out of the paper bag, had a bite and drunk the wine. Everything was very calm. We drunk and talked and tanned under the afternoon sun. And then I heard some music and it sounded familiar. He was playing it on his phone.

-It is your favorite song, right? – he asked

-Is it?

-Come on, this is from Woody Allen movies.

And then I remembered that the day before when we sat on the steps of a restaurant drinking wine I told him that I loved Woody Allen movies and music. The day before the sun was also very bright in the evening and we both had to wear sun glasses because the sun was blinding us.

I looked at the waves. Beautiful moment. Abstractly beautiful. Like taken from the Hemingway’s novels when his characters lived in the Southern France and drunk sparkling wine by the sea.

The music was still playing and then he said something and then I felt his lips on mine. The sun was bright and then he kissed me again.

Once next to my car we said good-bye and he kissed me one last time. I saw him walking to his car. I pulled from the parking lot in silence. Once on the road I felt tears rolling down my face. I did not try to stop crying. I let it be. Twenty minutes later driving north my whole body was still shaking. I was crying. Profoundly. Desperately. The pain of just being with people. Being kissed and not being in love.

And silence. And beauty without happiness…

My tears dried. I saw the dark blue sky in my rearview mirror. I was leaving Santa Cruz behind. The whisper of the tires set peace inside of my car. The ocean was calm. I still had a beautiful 2-hour drive ahead of me.