you are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
and whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
~ Max Ehrman
This week I began a new class… on self-portraiture. Aaarhgh. Coindidentally, Chapter 5 of Inner Excavation (“I look closer”) is also about self-portraits and “a personal journey of discovering new ways to see yourself.”
The new class, NOW YOU, is 6 weeks of lessons with Kristin Zecchinelli and Meredith Winn (Shutter Sisters and all around awesome women and photographers). Each week we will be exploring a different way of seeing ourselves through our viewfinders. Their “ultimate hope is that you gather tools along the way that will have you loving YOU right NOW.”
I highly recommend reading this post by Liz about how powerful the gift of letting yourself deeply see yourself can be. She says, “This is the practice of finding and using creative self-care every day so that when the hard stuff stacks up, you can lean into those tools and feel supported.” How we think of our bodies is powerful stuff… check out this post from Sunni Chapman on Roots of She.
OK so the poetry aspect in Inner Excavation is getting easier, thank goodness! That one only took a few minutes.
Self-portraiture, at least on day 1, feels selfish and full of self-judgement. I am far from the self-aware point that Kristin and Meredith (and Liz) describe to be self-care: “a form of therapy, an artistic expression, a long deep look at what makes us who we are.” The promise of all these things is keeping me going. I also guess that some day I will want to remember the smoothness of my hands without wrinkles or the brown of my hair without the grey. I want to appreciate and love my body for what it is now.
- Quiet your inner critic as much as you can. When you look at the photos, let go of how you feel about them and try not to make any judgements about yourself. (I know…)
- Crop out any distractions in the photos, like a red cup on the table behind you, so that the eye is drawn to you and the background disappears.
- Try other fun ways to capture yourself besides looking directly at yourself… perhaps your shadow or reflection, part of your face, your hands, or your closed eyes.
- Keep in mind that while you may not like how you look today, you may be glad to have these pictures 10 years from now. It may be a privilege to look back at your younger self.