I have so many great things to share with you all about my travels the last 6 weeks. Great classes taken and given. Wonderful memories of making art with inspiring people but before I get to those posts I have a deep need to share my views on photos of yourself.
In my travels the last 6 weeks I have had 3 important encounters involving women and photos of themselves. Two hated having their picture taken and one boldly showed her swimming suit clad, approaching 70 year old body, declaring the joy of being at the beach she loves.
The two women who said keep me out of the photo because I hate photos of myself could not have been different! The first a plump middle aged nurse who gives her heart and energy to her patients. The second a young mom perhaps a bit too thin who shares her love of creating with others and encourages them to live richer lives through art.
I am sorry to say that I jumped on both of these two ladies rather vehemently. Not sorry that I shared my views but maybe I was a little tough on them. You see, I used to be like them and I have learned that it truly doesn't matter what you look like. To borrow a phrase from motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols: It doesn't matter what your package looks like!
What matters is the shine from your eyes and the smile of grace and beauty that lights up your face.
We have this media fed myth of physical perfection that is such a lie. It keeps us down and unable to be the powerful force of creation we are meant to be. It makes us sick and lonely, unable to love ourselves or even be kind to ourselves.
I too hid from photos for years...always offering to be the photographer rather than the photographee. I hated the 40 pounds I couldn't lose after having kids. I hated the 6 inch scar that splits my belly so it will never be flat even if I ever manage to lose that last 15lbs. I hated my big man-sized hands with nails that are soft and broken all the time. I hated my big wide feet with the short stubby toes deformed from too many years of living barefoot. The stretch marks, the scars and the bumpy bits all made me want to hide. And I did.
It took a lot of work and kindness towards myself to change my perspective. I am still a work in progress but I started with my hands. I realized that if I had been born with sweet dainty hands with slim fingers and beautifully shaped nails that they wouldn't be as strong as the hands I have. My hands are perfect for working and making art. I am not slowed down by worries that I might chip my polish or break a nail as I dig in the garden or create art. My hands are perfect for me.
If I still shied away from having my photo taken, I would have missed the opportunity to capture the photo above of me and my dearest friend Judy Gula. This was in the last few minutes before we closed down her on-site store at the Art and Soul retreat in Va Beach. We were both exhausted beyond measure, not well groomed, hot and sweaty. But, we were happy to be there together surrounded by people we love and basking in the energy of hundreds of creative people making art. A priceless photo in my opinion.
The third lady I wrote about? She was using that beautiful photo of herself in a collage book she started in my class. All her friends and family will see it. She told me that while it isn't the most attractive photo of herself with all her lumps, bumps and saggy skin in plain view, the photo perfectly summed up the joy and deep happiness she feels when she is at the beach. We can all take a lesson from her.
I challenge each of you to begin with one part of your body that you don't like and find the reasons to love it. Take time to create a journal page or small art piece about it. Repeat until you love each part of you.
Write this down and paste it on your mirror, your computer monitor, your car! Breathe it in every day.
It doesn't matter what package you got.
What matters is your heart and soul.
You are beautiful just as you are.