Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
Self-portraits are part of my self-care; they're one way that I help myself feel deeply seen in the world. I've been taking them for 10 years now, before we lived in this time where people debated the merits of a "selfie" on CNN.
If you follow me on Instagram, you see the ways I work things out through taking a photo of myself, usually with my arm extended. I look into my phone like it's a mirror and I capture the realness of the moment. From joy to silliness to exhaustion to confusion to hope. My Instagram selfies are like a tiny peek into the pages of a journal that one might hide beneath a mattress. Taking these photos and then reflecting on what I'm feeling and the ways I can hold beauty and grit at the same time become an exercise in seeking evidence of the ways I'm living my life with my heart open.
And sharing the photos invites you into the conversation with me, either literally through a comment or in a quieter way where you perhaps reflect on the beauty and realness in your world.
It's another way I try to remind us both that we're not alone in our corners of the world.
I'm currently taking my friend Vivienne's Be Your Own Beloved ecourse. This is the second or third time I've been in the course, and each time I'm reminded of the power of other people's stories as I read Vivienne's words + see the self-portraits from other participants.
This weekend, she gave us a prompt about claiming space in our lives, in our photos. I read her words and felt deeply moved by the story she shared about her own relationship with claiming space. For a moment I thought about going outside to take a photo but then I let the to-do list pull on me.
Later, when my daughter was napping, I remembered the prompt and pushed myself to stand outside and prop my phone up against the side of the grill on the backporch, set the timer, and take a few photos.
After the first one, I realized I was getting this gorgeous flare from the sun lowering toward the horizon.
Then when I saw this one, I heard one of my favorite phrases inside me: You are standing in your light honey.
Looking at this photo, I felt powerful, open, determined, and even beautiful. One of the words that keeps crossing my path lately is "rise." And this photo felt like a moment of rising. Yes.
Even though I take self-portraits in some form or another almost daily, I seldom take full body shots. I can list so many reasons, from not wanting to take the time to prop the camera and use the timer to not feeling up to it to feeling frumpy to not feeling like my photo will be interesting or unique enough to not wanting anyone to see the mess of my house or the overgrown weeds in the backyard.
All reasons that take me far away from the woman who knows she can claim her space in her world.
I'm so grateful to Vivienne for this prompt and for the ways she shares her stories so others can remember to make the choice to love themselves. Yes yes yes. She has a wonderful on demand class called Be Your Own Light that I recommend you dive into.
This self-portrait experience led me to Hand to Heart's March theme of Standing in Your Light. Hand to Heart is my free private Facebook group for women who want to be in conversation about self-care practices and how we can hold the beauty in one hand and grit in the other. Each month we explore a new theme to add to our current self-care practices, and this month, I'm sharing weekly stories about my own journey of learning to stand in my light. You can read more about the group and request to join right here.