It’s not about them

Whenever I have a new prop or something cool I’ve changed int he studio, I get really excited to share that with my clients. Often, I will use it as an opportunity to take some self-portraits to share. Almost immediately after posting those images, I get messages in my inbox from men trying to hit on me. And I know this happens to my clients when they post images as well. This happens because they misunderstand WHY those images were posted.

When myself, or one of my clients posts a boudoir image out into the world, we aren’t doing it for the viewer. (Okay, sometimes in my case it is for my clients, when I want them to see that new awesome prop or background.) Women don’t post those images so people will tell them their beautiful or sexy. They already know that. She has eyes too. She saw the image before she posted it. It’s not about getting validation. It’s a DECLARATION.

A declaration she that she is brave and bold and fierce. It’s a declaration that she knows she is amazing. It’s an affirmation for herself, a reminder for herself to remember who she is. She isn’t looking for compliments or to be hit on. This is about her, it’s not about anyone else.

And frankly, even if she planned to gift the images from that session to someone, having it done wasn’t about that person either. The true gift was to herself. The true gift happened in the hour she was in front of that camera with a photographer who understands her and what she was feeling while in that studio.

So the next time you see a woman take the extra step in vulnerability and post an image of herself, don’t tell her she looks beautiful. Tell her she is amazing. Tell her what you value about her. Remind her that you know who she is too.

Happy Valentine’s Day – Love

Love is such a tricky thing. How we love and what makes us feel loved is formed from our first days on this earth. Today is a day to celebrate love.

Being a single woman on Valentine’s day, I often find myself kind of rolling my eyes at this day, and I know I’m not alone in that. But this year I choose to make today a celebration of all love, not just romantic love between partners. Today I’m celebrating the love I share with my children, my friends and for myself.

Romantic love can be an amazing, beautiful thing. It can also be destructive, cold and callous. How we learn to love others, and how we feel loved is the result of our life experiences. Because the first ways we learn about love is through the people we grow up with, those experiences are deeply rooted in our psyche. We are the result of the cumulative experiences of our extended families, and what they believed about what love is, and how to show it to another human being. In short, we are all flawed, imperfect and many times broken. This is what makes romantic love so hard, and yet, we crave it. So much so that it becomes part of our identity. Our social status is tied to our identification as single or married. For hundreds of years, a woman’s worth was determined solely by her marital status.

Our society deems romantic love as the most important kind of love, but I’d like to challenge that idea. I believe that platonic love (love between parents and children, friends, relatives and others) is far more important, and therefore worthy of being celebrated today. This kind of love is so much more forgiving, because it’s not bound up in the social constructs of romantic love. It isn’t used to for financial gain or a change in social status. It’s free to be given at will. It’s a complete choice. The only thing to be lost or gained from it, is love in return.

The best life, is a life full of love. ANY love. Celebrate all the love you find in your life today. Don’t allow the presence or absence or a romantic partner determine how you feel today. Your worth is not determined by your status as single or attached. Your worth comes from inside, from the love you freely give to others and too yourself. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Four ways our self-worth is impacted

Self-worth. We tend to think of it in terms of self-esteem, but self-worth is much more than how we feel about ourselves. I think self-worth is an action. It’s how we treat ourselves, how we speak to ourselves and how we allow others to treat and speak to us.

I have struggled with this A LOT. I stayed in a marriage where the things that were said to me were extremely unkind, to the point that they colored what I said to myself. I have said unthinkable things to myself, I have devalued myself in what I believe I’m worth to world and I have allowed others to devalue me.

I think self-worth is a hard one because it requires us to stand up for ourselves, against our own demons and against the actions of others. Sometimes we have allowed ourselves to feel so devalued that standing up is a monumental task. And the ways that others devalue us can be small, and it’s easy to “let them slide” initially. But the problem with letting it slide, even once, is that it quickly becomes a habit, until we have allowed that person to have no value of us. And when others stop valuing us, we stop valuing ourselves.

I challenge you to value yourself, to yourself and to others. But to do that, we first have to consider the ways in which we are devalued. So let’s talk about some of the most common ways.

1. We don’t honor commitments we make to ourselves. (Guilty!) I promised myself I would make a point of meditating for at least 10 minutes every single day. I made this promise to myself because I know how good it is for my soul to take some time to quiet my mind. Have I been doing it lately? No. Not honoring that commitment diminishes my self-worth.

2. We say terrible things to ourselves. Why? Of all the horrible things strangers on the internet are willing to say to each other, why on earth would we do that to ourselves? (I’m not smart enough, pretty enough, I’m fat, I’m not worthy, not enough, not…) PLEASE, just stop already. Stop beating yourself up.

3. We allow other people to say terrible things to us. If you find yourself spending time with someone who is constantly telling you everything that is wrong with you, cut that person out of your life. Seriously, no one needs that.

4. We don’t respect our own time, and we allow others not to respect our time. That one friend who always forces you to wait on them? Maybe you should spend less time with them. Maybe they don’t deserve your time if they aren’t willing to be respectful of it. This goes for clients too. Appointments are made for specific times. Emergencies happen, but if a particular client has lots of emergencies, well, they don’t really have emergencies, they just don’t respect you.

There are more, but these first four are the biggies. Concentrate on these, and your self-worth is bound to see a positive impact.

When were you last scared?

When is the last time you did something that scared you? I don’t mean scared you a little, but really put yourself out there, lots of people are gonna see this, scared the crap out of you? I did that very thing today.

You see, I’m working on a new project. A project that requires me to use myself as a model. A project that will be available world-wide once it’s complete. Now, I get in front of the camera occasionally for this blog so I can show my clients that anyone can do this boudoir thing. While my website is technically available for the whole world, the whole world doesn’t see it. In fact, it only gets seen by a very small percent of people because what I do is location specific and pretty damn targeted. Unless your looking for what I do, you likely won’t just stumble onto my page.

This project is different. This project, when complete, will be available on a highly used, world wide education platform. Yikes! So, I’m a tad bit nervous about the whole thing. But here’s the thing, this project will help enable my dreams. And the truth is, the things that will take us to the next level are almost always terrifying. This is why most people never level up in real life. Because fear holds them back. Fear controls the next move.

What do you really want to do that fear is stopping you from you doing? What is that thing that will change you? What is the thing that will change your situation? What part of that thing is scaring you? And what will happen if you swallow your fear and do that thing anyway? What will you gain?

Whatever that thing is, I want to encourage you to push through the fear and make it happen. I’m learning that a big part of taking care of myself is pushing myself to get out there are really chase down my dreams. I don’t want to leave this world with regrets, and letting fear dictate my path would be a huge regret for me.

Do the damn thing

It’s a new year which can mean new beginnings.  Often it doesn’t.  Change is hard and we often have the desire to do it, but don’t take the action required to follow through on that desire.  I know I’ve been guilty of exactly that many times over.  It seems like we need to be just totally over something before we take the necessary steps to change it.  Not a little done, not just tired of it.  We have to be absolutely, over the top, beyond finished with living a certain way before we will make real change in our lives.

Do you know why that is?  I do.

It’s a combination of fear and complacency.  We don’t really want to do to do the work that it’ll take to make whatever change it is, and we’re terrified of what will happen if we actually succeed.  What if lose the weight?  Will my friends still be my friends?  What if I start that dream job?  Will I find out it isn’t really my dream?  Or worse yet, what if I make the money I want to make?  Will it make me a bad person?

Fear and complacency.

I personally am a little bit of a perfectionist.  I tend to feel like I need to plan things out fully before I begin them, and they can’t be shown to the world until they are perfect.  Do you know what that results in?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I let all those little details get in the way of actually accomplishing the thing I wanted to accomplish.  If I don’t have it all planned out, I never start it.  If I start it, I don’t finish it because it’s not good enough.  This year, I’m not letting perfection get in the way anymore.

What does that mean exactly?

It means more blog posts with typos.  It means an education series I’ve been sitting on for at least the last year will finally see that light of day.  It means putting myself out there with all my imperfect-ness.  It means showing up more, and spending less time on getting there.  It means doing the damn thing, whatever that thing is.

I challenge you to join me in this, to call me out if you see me failing to show up. I challenge you to show up more for yourself, and whatever thing you’ve been putting off doing because you think you’re not ready, to do the damn thing anyway.

I’ve been doing this mom thing as a single mom for almost three years now, and you know what the number one thing I’ve learned is?  That showing up with passion means more than having it be perfect; every. single. time.  That fast food on the way to an awesome experience is enough, because the experience matters more than what we eat for that one meal.  Running a few minutes late to the Christmas pageant is okay, because I still made it to see my baby do their part.  Showing up, and being fully present in the moment, is the most important part.

I show up for my kids, and I show up for others everyday and this year I’m gonna do a whole lot more showing up for myself.  Will you join me? Will you do the damn thing already?

The ice crystal of life

It is so easy to get caught up in the negativity of this world.  The news these days is designed to keep us angry and up in arms about the world around us.  Now, there are plenty of injustices in this world (seriously, I could go on and on here!) but to focus on the ugly, the terrible, the scary, all the time takes away our own personal sense of joy.  I’m not saying you should put your head in the sand, because that isn’t the answer.  I am saying that sometimes we have to slow down, stop and take stock of what we’re focusing on, and how that’s affecting us and the people the we love.

I know that I am a sensitive soul, always have been.  When I focus on the bad of this world, it changes my entire outlook.  I get depressed and find myself being very negative too.  That isn’t good for me, or for those around me.  In honor of the season, I want to look for the good in the world.  I want to focus on beauty and positive things for awhile.  This time of year I think it’s especially easy to get caught up in the negative, simply because the holidays bring added stress to our plates.  Especially if you’re a mom.  (Did i pick the right gifts for the kids, how will I pay for all these expensive things, are we spending enough  time together, etc..)

So I challenge you to join me in celebrating the small things.  Like this ice crystal.  Now, I don’t like to be cold and winter is not my favorite time of year, but you have to admire a simple ice crystal.  It’s beautiful and fragile, yet a bunch of them together are incredibly strong.  It’s amazing really, how it mimics the very structure that life is based on.  Atoms, molecules, ice crystals, neurons, trees, streams, mountain ranges, the cosmos, it all forms with a specificity that we can only begin to understand.

I really believe life is meant to be like that ice crystal.  Alone we are beautiful and fragile, but together we build something that is so much more.  Together we support one another, we form a strength that is much harder, but still breathtakingly beautiful.

The word “tribe” has become kind of a buzz word these days, but I believe that is because we’ve been lacking it for so long.  We live our lives like islands, trying to be strong and unyielding against life’s storms.  But even islands are usually found in clusters, so they can ride out the storms together in a chain of strength.  This is one lesson that life has been teaching me over and over again, because apparently I’m just now starting to listen to it.

I am that ice crystal.  Alone I am fragile.  I can be easily brushed aside.  But with my tribe I am unstoppable.  I am strong, I am unyielding, but I am still just as beautiful.  Sharing my gifts doesn’t make me less, it makes me more.  Asking for the help of others doesn’t make we weak, it makes me stronger, just as helping others doesn’t take away from me or my family, it gives us purpose and greater understanding and compassion.

So I guess I’m not celebrating a small thing after all.  Perhaps I’m celebrating all that makes us human.  If you’re reading this and you connect with it, you are part of my tribe.  If you find it crazy, you probably belong to someone else’s tribe and that’s okay too.  Either way, find your tribe baby, because it will only enhance your life.

I know you

I know you.  You are the woman who puts everyone else before yourself.  You devote yourself to the people you love.  You put your kids and your significant other’s needs above your own, and you do it happily.  You love completely.

You are strong, smart and independent.  You know this about yourself, and yet you still sell yourself short sometimes.  Other people in your life describe you as fierce, amazing and resilient.  They are in awe of your power and your perseverance.  You think of it as just doing what needs to be done and never considered giving up as an option.  But the people around you know that many before you have given up.  That many before you have put down their figurative sword and stopped fighting.  Stopped fighting for their kids and their families and themselves.  The truth is, quitting is an option, it’s just never been one in your mind.  But that’s what makes you special.  That’s what makes you amazing.  Not everyone has that strength.

You forget sometimes that this is who you are.  You know you like who you’ve become over the years, but you don’t give yourself the full credit you deserve.  I know this about you because I am you.  I built this business for YOU.  I see you.

I know you because I too have sold myself short.  I too have bought the story that I’m just doing what needs to be done.  I have believed the words of others who wished to control me by diminishing my power and my fierceness.  I have felt worthless, unattractive, unnecessary, powerless.  But I am not those things.  I am amazing, and so are you.

I built this business to remind you who you are. To allow you to unleash a side of yourself you don’t see on a daily basis.  I built this for me as well.  I built it to remind me who I am and what I want to give to other women.  In truth, I’m just the mirror, reflecting yourself back to you.  Sometimes you need someone else to hold that mirror in order the see the reflection.  Come and let me hold the mirror for you.

 

Duct tape, miracles and tears

I am one of those women who cries when I’m mad.  It’s one of the things I want to change about myself.  For a long time that was because I thought it made me look weak, but now it’s because those tears give a false sense of what I’m feeling.

I am at a place in life where I know that tears aren’t weakness.  In fact, they are brave in many ways.  Allowing someone else to see your pain is hard.  Sharing your pain with another human being is incredibly vulnerable, but it’s also incredibly liberating.  It allows us to connect on a very visceral level, something we lack most days.  So many of our interactions just barely scratch the surface of emotion that our connection to one another has become very weak.

I’m a single mom, business owner, friend and attempted super woman.  I say attempted because it’s simply not possible to be all things to all people.  I used to try so hard to look as though I had it all together, but the truth is that some days I feel like my life is held together by duct tape and miracles.  The last few years since my divorce I have learned just how powerful honesty and vulnerability can be.  I’ve grown as a person from allowing myself to be vulnerable, but so have my relationships with other people.  I’ve found support and kindness in places I never expected, all because I allowed people to see inside the mask I used to hide behind.

I am far from weak.  In fact, I’m stronger than most of the people I know.  I truly believe vulnerability is the reason why.  More than anything, I strive to be authentic, which is exactly why those angry tears bother me so much.  Those tears lead people to believe I’m sad, when in fact I’m furious beyond reason.  It feels like a fraudulent act, like a child pretending to be upset so they’ll get their way.  I want to convey exactly how I’m feeling, not muddy the waters with unintended tears that I can’t control.

What about you, do you sometimes react to situations in an unintended way?  Does it make you feel inauthentic?

The Happiness Myth – make your choice

Marketing is this world is designed to always have us searching for the next thing that will provide us happiness.  We are told that we “need” those new shoes, that shade of lipstick, this perfect dress, that juicy hamburger, this scrumptious looking piece of cheesecake, all the while telling us that it’s the consumption of things that will bring up happiness.  Now, we’re all smart enough to know that things don’t bring happiness.  But the underlying subtle message is that happiness is found outside of ourselves…

We buy into that idea much of time.  Look at romantic comedies in which the boy gets the girl.  “She makes me happy,” is a phrase we hear all the time.  And while relationships with others contribute to our happiness, they aren’t the true source of it.  It lies within us.  At our core, we choose if we are happy or not.  Outside factors may influence our feelings (sometimes far more than they should) but happiness is a choice.  We make that choice every single day.  We choose who we surround ourselves with, be they people who add to our joy, or detract from it.  We choose to embrace a new day, or to disdain it.  We choose to feel good in our own skin, or be miserable there.

Now, we all have bad days.  Sometimes everything just seems to be going wrong, and that’s OK.  It’s okay to temporarily lose your sense of joy.  But don’t bring the stakes and set up camp in that place.  When we do that, we rob of ourselves of a full life, and we rob those we love.  I think the greatest gift we can give to someone we care about is our sense of happiness and joy.  Happiness is infectious, but so is despair.  Do you want to lift others up, or pull them down?  Do you want to be the catapult for your children, or the anchor?

Sometimes happiness means making hard choices.  Sometimes it means cutting people and places from your life.  Sometimes it means changing part of who you are, by taking a deep, hard look at the person you’ve become and the choices you’ve made.  This is something I’ve spent a lot of time doing the last few years, and a big part of why this blog has been so quiet.  Sometimes we have to find ourselves, and re-define ourselves to fully be us.  After a lot of soul-searching and major life changes, I know exactly who am, why I am here, and what I want to accomplish in this life.  I choose happiness, today and everyday.  I choose to make the tough decisions to protect and amplify my happiness, and I choose to be a catapult for my children to find their happiness.

Creation is a huge part of me, and in keeping my happiness in balance.  This work (boudoir) is the creation that most feeds my soul, because I get to watch how it feeds yours.  I get to watch as you see yourself through my lens, for the beautiful, sexy, fierce, amazing person that you are.  I love watching you blossom and I’m looking forward to serving you in that endeavor for a long time to come.  Thanks for being here. 🙂

 

Self-love: the post-Valentine’s day edition

It’s been far too long since I shared a post here, so in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a little bit about the most over looked type of love, self-love.

Now, I am not going to tell you that I have this down.  In fact, I’m no where close.  This is a constant work in progress for me.  It’s funny really, because people tell me all the time that I come across as being super self-confident, when in reality, I’m the furthest thing from it.  Maybe I fake it well, or maybe it’s simply that we are all perceived by others in a completely different way than we perceive ourselves.  I have found that other people’s perceptions of me are much kinder than my own perceptions of myself (for the most part anyway), and this is exactly why we need to do a better job of loving ourselves.

Like I said, I’m no expert at this.  I struggle most days to be kind to myself.  I am definitely my own worst critic and I take that job far too seriously.  But in the end, the only person I can really count on to be kind to me, is me.  So how can we do a better job of that?

I have taken to keeping a journal.  I try to start out every morning by writing down who I am, who I want to be, and what I love about myself.  What I have to offer to this world is also on the list, as well as what I want accomplish in my life.  It reminds me why I get up in the morning.  And mostly, it reminds me to cut myself some slack and to love myself even when I’m having a bad day.  It also reminds me where I strive to go from one day to the next.  That direction helps me to stay focused on my goals; the big ones, not the small day to day stuff.  I’m talking about the big life affirming, feel good goals that drive our actions.  Goals like; raising two humans to be confident, kind, loving beings.  You know, the stuff that really counts.

This journaling has helped.  Of course, it doesn’t happen every single day because I’m human, and some days I’m just getting by.  This too could be something I beat myself up about, but why?  I don’t have to look for reasons to beat myself up.  Those reasons have a way of jumping out at me all on their own.  This is something I’m doing FOR ME, so I have to remind myself to forgive me when I screw it up.

Perhaps the sad part of this is that it’s much easier to forgive myself when I let ME down, but so much harder to forgive myself when I let someone else down.  Do you find that to be true for yourself as well?

So, how else can we practice self-love?  There are literally so many ways, but I want to focus on the ones that I think are most powerful.

  1. Saying no to something you don’t have time for, or don’t want to do.  How simple is that?  Just say no.  Not taking something on that you aren’t excited to take on is a very powerful form of self-love.
  2. Walking away from an unhealthy relationship.  Yeah, I said it.  If it’s not good for you, it’s hurting you.  To leave behind something that doesn’t serve you anymore isn’t selfish, it’s self-love.
  3. Allowing yourself time and space to think.  When my kids were little and I was a full-time stay at home mom, I would sometimes put them down for a nap early so I could have some quiet.  I felt tremendously guilty about it back then, but now I know it was self-love.  They were safe and I got the space I needed.  That was good for everyone.

So, how do you practice self-love?  How do you remind yourself to let the small things go?

Bitnami