A couple months ago, I found myself traveling south to San Diego. I had a beautiful experience visiting Coronado Island for the first time. I finished my trip at the amazing, Britt Scrips Inn. It is a restored home from 1887. As soon as I stepped into the bedroom, I thought I have to photograph here. For those of you that don't know the word boudoir derives from the french verb bouder, meaning to sulk. Boudoir became a room for a woman to retreat to and eventually came to mean her bedroom. If I've ever slept anywhere that made me feel like I was transported back in time to a boudoir, this room would be it. As I looked at myself through the mirror of the vanity, I posed and posed to see what photographs would look like. I've never stayed in a home so old and beautiful. I told myself repeatedly, I will be shooting in this room.
Fast forward a few weeks later and a photographer that I followed online, Teri of Teri Hofford Photography posted that she was traveling and wanted to shoot while she was in San Diego. Mind you, I already knew of Teri and admired her vision and work. I jumped at the opportunity to shoot with her. I thought not only will I have the amazing experience of being in front of the lens but I'll be able to learn from her as well, from a photographer point of view. Now we didn't end up shooting at Britt Scrips but we were shooting in San Diego, which I definitely know I attracted.
The experience was interesting for me. I've been in front of the camera years ago, on stage, and in film so I'm fairly use to it. But as I said, that was many years ago. I felt fairly confident in my wardrobe but as we began to shoot, Teri told me to deep breathe with my mouth open. I could feel my lips tremble. My knee jerk reaction was to focus on being sexy but the experienced will tell you, that is exactly what you should not do. I kept telling myself to focus on my breath and the trembling eventually stopped. For the remainder of the shoot, I focused on my breath and feeling my body. I stayed with my body and really felt the softness of my skin.
It turns out for me, the most difficult part of the entire experience was not shooting but in fact, viewing my images. There were definitely ones that I loved and ones that I did not like at all. The few where I looked heavier were the ones I didn't like. But it was weird because after a few minutes I had the overwhelming urge to post the ones I didn't like. I emailed Teri and told her what I was feeling and she said that I needed to really sit with the ones that I didn't care for. I needed to fall in love with them. She was so right! I needed to love all of me, not just the parts of me that fit society's standard of beauty.
I've never had an experience like this with my photographs. Normally, I see images mostly where I look bigger and they will never see the light of day. I've never thought twice about them. But not that day. That day I sat with them. Looking at them and eventually smiling with them, embracing every bit of me.
Did I post them? You bet your ass I did and I've posted them here as well. The first image you see below is the one I disliked the most. It is not a coincidence that you can read my ink that says, I love you. I got that ink during a difficult time and I wanted it as a reminder of self love to myself. I ended up, unknowingly putting it in a location where everyone can see it when I'm walking towards them. I always tell people if they can see it, I'm telling them I love them too. The universe is so utterly beautiful. It's always speaking to us, sometimes it shouts.
There was a freedom in posting the images I disliked. I realized that since I've gained weight over the past couple of years, I've tried to create this online persona where I had not gained weight. It wasn't something I was thinking about. Instead, it was something that was on autodrive. So many of us are on autodrive. It's time we stop and think, put a pause on things and slow down. Something else I realized months ago and I have not told one soul. I hold my stomach in. I don't know how long I've been subconsciously doing it. Years, I assume, shit, maybe my whole adult life. Isn't that mind boggling? At what point did I feel like I had to do that, so much that I did it on a subconscious level. I still do it now but I notice I catch myself doing it and I'll deep breathe and push my belly out to stop. That's just one way I was disliking myself everyday. How many of these am I doing?
It never crossed my mind that my real growth would be in the aftermath of my shoot. My experience with boudoir prompted me to discover more parts of me that needed healing and that's what self love is. It's continuing to discover all of these parts of you that have been hidden, waiting for the right moment to be brought into the light. Does it mean that I all of a sudden love myself fully, no it does not. But it does mean that I love more of me today than I did yesterday and that's the goal. I am grateful for that and for Teri.
Moral of the story, self love is an ongoing process. In every moment you are either moving in love or in fear and it all begins inside of you. You choose what you want to see in the world and that depends on what you choose to see within yourself. I'm just like you, on the same journey of self love. Some are still trying to find themselves, some are trying to find their career, a love, a meaning to life, and some are just trying to survive. But underneath all of that is the discovery of self love. We're all together in this. So stop judging yourself and stop judging others. Stop pulling yourself down and pulling down others. We're all the same, just all in different spaces and sometimes, sometimes we meet in the very same spot. And in that moment we have the opportunity to meet in love or in fear. I choose love. What do you choose?
These two images are my favorites and will be purchasing these as my Soulnaked Wall Art. I can't wait to come home to these beauties. I can't wait to come home to myself.
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