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Last week I headed to Portland for WDS and I had put up an open invitation to join me for a Be Your Own Beloved photo walk.  Oh my…it was such an honour to have all these incredible women show up for the walk!

We strolled slowly in the beautiful shade of the Park blocks of downtown Portland (vital, as it was super hot out) and I shared the first activity in the Summer of Selfie Love class (by the way…its not too late to join in for the class) and it made me so happy to see us all unabashedly taking selfies and seeing all of their favourites as the afternoon progresses.

Getting to meet folks in person who have taken Be Your Own Beloved and have been affected by this work is truly an honour and makes it feel even more important than ever to keep putting these posts, these classes, this work out there.

It truly was a highlight of the weekend for me.

One thing that felt extra cool was that the ladies who are a part of my mastermind group were there for the walk and while they are my primary support system for the behind the scenes aspects of Be Your Own Beloved, a few of them shared after the walk that they realized that they had never actually seen me teach/talk live and it filled my heart right up to get their support in that moment.  To let people say “Hey…I see you doing what you love the most and I’m proud of you”.  So grateful.

I confess at events in the past (especially locally) my sensitive heart ends up focusing on who doesn’t come to events even though I ask for their support but it made me SO happy at this photo walk that I didn’t let those old stories into my heart.  I felt so present with everyone who chose to come and so grateful that they wanted to dig into taking selfies with love on that sunny day!

Here are a few snapshots of the day!

I hope to do some more Be Your Own Beloved photo walks in both Vancouver & Victoria so if you live there and would be interested in joining me in either of these cities…please do leave a comment and let me know!

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Oh my gosh.

A whole new world of selfie & self-love fun has just opened up.

I was out for a short little photo walk today as I’m trying to make space for even a little one as part of the experience of the #summerofselfielove class (not too late to join in on the fun by the way).

I was about to head home when I realized I had downloaded a new App yesterday called Party Party, created by the amazing gals from the A Beautiful Mess blog and had yet to open it up and try it.

OMG

Instant love. 

I opened it up and there it was, ready to go. Simple to use…it let me chose if I wanted to do 1, 4, 9 or 16 photos for the stop motion.  I picked 9 (which I think will remain my favourite combo) and pressed go.  A 3 second countdown had me bolting for my spot and I just went for it, but then enough photos to get me into the groove of my happy selfie moves that help me feel at home in my body.

There is a great click to the photos (so you know when it is being taken) and you can also change the amount of time in between photos too.

Then they let you choose a filter (or not) and save it as a video or a GIF file.  The GIF files are what you are seeing here.  They are essentially collection of image files put together that is easier to share than a video file.  The App automatically saves the video file and you can just click YES to save the GIF too. Amazing. Really…what more do we need?

I tried the 4 and 16 but the 9 feels just right to me…having enough time to get into the groove.

 

One tip I have for you when using this App for selfies is to have your phone (and whatever you are propping it up against) ready to go.    I propped it up against my bag and ran for my spot as soon as the 3 second countdown began.  At first I literally ran for it, but realized after a few that if I just backed into the spot it looked much more casual as the first shot is mighty likely going to be you…getting into place!

I was so entranced by how fun that was that I didn’t even realize that there were more options to the App until just now.  You can also make photo booth images with this App too.  It is only 99 cents right now and worth every single penny (and more). It looks like it will only be available for iPhones for now (Android folks…read their post as they explain why).

If you give it a try…please do share links to your videos in the comments or connect with me on social media.  I’d love to see your Stop Motion Selfies!!!

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The other day I found myself posting an iPhone version of this image on Instagram after having such a fun time getting playful by this graffiti wall as I took it.

One minute later I checked if anyone had liked or commented.

Then a minute later.

Then a minute later.

And yes, a minute (or even a few seconds) later.

Each time I checked I could feel myself stepping further and further away from myself and feeling drained.

Why did I care so much if people liked that photo?

What did I really want out of the sharing of it?  A certain number of likes?  Or was I craving to get comments?

What kind of comment did I really yearn for?  Who did I crave to get comments from?  What in the world did I really want in this moment?

That whirlwind of questions left me even more drained.

 

But really, why was it that in this moment I craved outside support more than my own?

That is the question that I really needed to ask myself.

While I love comments and likes, I have a practice that I use that helps me not have these experiences of self-doubt be the norm and I wanted to share that with you today.

It is pretty simple, but whenever I remember to do it, it feels so different than without it.

 

And it is this:

Ground yourself in how you feel about your own photo first, before sharing it.

What I mean by this is to connect with what you value about the photo, why you like it and what you see with kindness in yourself in it first.  Before ever letting anyone see it.

Connect with yourself first.

Say it out loud.

Write it down.  

Feel it. 

Tell it to the woman in the photo. 

Why? Because then no matter what happens if we choose to share it via social media or not, we know how we feel about it.

 

So, back to the photo that brought up this self-doubt for me, the kind in which I forgot to ground myself in how I felt first.  It was a dancing photo, one that I’ve needed to replenish valuing my own perception of lately.

I take them (and lots of them) because truthfully they are the ones that heal me the most, that are the ongoing source of healing my relationship to my self image.  They help me daily and weekly to feel connected to my body.  BUT…if I tell you the truth, there is a part of me that worries that they are seen as showing off or that they are received as ‘Not another dancing viv photo’ even though no one has ever said that to me (not even remotely).

Oh the stories we tell ourselves!

That first part I shared with you…that they are the kind of photo that most helps me feel at home in my body, in which I move in a way that feels so free to me and that I’m actually probably going to keep taking that photo for the rest of my life because in it I see a woman who has gone from a place of feeling like a turtle in its shell to dancing freely.

Why am I not valuing that over my totally perceived (and not based in reality) story that people are tired of seeing that kind of photo from me?

Why do we value some made up story of how we think people see us (or that one person has expressed to us that we take as the perception of the whole) and write it into reality in our bones?  

 

Of course, feeling supported ROCKS and community can be deeply healing, but when we don’t ground ourselves in how we see ourselves, in our own value it it is so easy to feel lost when that support is absent, and take it personally.  What if, in reality, our support system might be having tough days of their own, or their phone might be broken or they might be engaging in self-care by being offline….yet its so easy to take a lack of support personally, even if it really isn’t about us.  By grounding ourself in self-compassion, support becomes a bonus, not the complete definition of our value.

We get to define how we see ourselves and we get to choose where we place that value: in our own hands or in the hands of the number of ‘likes’ and comments we get on social media.

 

When we put it that way, its easy to choose LOVE but I also know how easy it is to slip into moments of forgetting this new truth.

So these questions arise for me regularly, especially over on Instagram where we can write stories of our value into how many likes or comments we get.

The clearer we get on why and how we are putting each image out there, the more value we are placing in the way we see ourselves, not just focusing our worthiness on how other people are seeing us.

We get to choose ourselves first, with each photo we share.

And guess what, the world often responds to that energy & helps us feel more seen in that way too.

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This past weekend I was in Portland at the World Domination Summit.  I’ve been going for the last few years and its always fun to spend 2 days listening to wildly inspiring speakers & get to connect with lots of my online peers.

This year I challenged myself to set up a Be Your Own Beloved photo walk meet-up which was absolutely the highlight of my weekend (but I’ll be giving that a post unto itself…coming soon).

The speakers are always a wide variety, and this year there was one that stood out as my absolute favourite.  Her name is Dee Williams and she runs a company called Portland Alternative Dwellings (helping & inspiring people to build Tiny Houses), and author of the book The Big Tiny.

She was an incredible speaker in the most authentic way and shared a deeply personal story of what brought her to the place in her life where she moved into a little house and invited others to join in and build their own.

Check out the videos on her website to get a sense of the awesomeness of Dee!

As she walked out onto the stage, she held a red blanket in her hands.  Soon into the presentation she shared that as she had been writing this speech, she had been putting on her red cape (which was actually an airline blanket).  From that moment, I was hooked.

She ended her presentation by asking us to stand up, reach into our pockets and pull out our cape (the invisible sort) and put it on.  2500 people adorning themselves with invisible capes and taking on a superhero pose made me smile so big and left us all feeling more courageous in our paths than before.

Jump to a day later at the final party for WDS.  Other than Dee and the photo walk, this was the biggest highlight of the weekend.  I had been waiting in the line-up for hot air balloon rides (yes, you read that right) when I felt drawn to just wander on my own for a few minutes to see what else was around the event (as I had bee lined it for the hot air balloon line-up out of sheer unabashed joy).

As I found myself near the stage, I saw that folks were crowding around big boxes and something was being handed out.

They were capes.

Okay, maybe they were supposed to be blankets, but to us, they were capes.

For the next couple hours, we got to be like Dee when she was on stage and wear our capes visibly.

As each person grabbed one, they unfolded it lengthwise and tied the top around their neck, double knotting it to keep it on.

People started coming towards the boxes in droves, saying ‘Where did you get the capes?’

It was in that moment that I realized why I love this event so much.

Because it is downright awesome to be amongst 2500 people who aren’t afraid to wear a cape.

I looooved that we all decided, inspired by Dee, to see the blankets in a different light.  Maybe to help us be a bit braver in the moment in a way that would carry on inspiration as we left the event and went back to our own lives.

Back home, I knew I needed to put on my cape and take a self-portrait (cause thats what I do) but also to mark the fact that there is a cape wearer in me too.  One that found herself emerging into bravery this weekend.

Did it feel a bit extra vulnerable to be out in public taking selfies wearing a cape?  Indeed it was, but thats the kind of bravery I want to invite more of into my work.  To keep pushing my limits and getting out of my comfort zone as I’m inviting you to get out of yours too by seeing yourself with kindness through your camera!

So next time I’m in the situation where I have some fear coming up when I’m working on something out of my comfort zone.

I know exactly what I’ll be reaching for to get that little bit braver.

My cape.

P.S.  Wanna give it a try next time you feel yourself coming up against a moment where bravery is needed?  I highly suspect a tutu or boa might be equally useful in giving us that extra dose of bravery needed!

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Lately at in-person workshops I’m getting this question more and more often: “But Vivienne…how to I take a more flattering photo?”

I confess.  I have found it a hard one to answer.

Now, its not that I don’t have tricks to tell you to help you take a more flattering photo.

Because indeed I do.

It’s the idea of flattering itself.   It’s just not so simple in the context of doing this work around healing body-image and seeing ourselves with kindness through our cameras.

In fact, if you asked me whats on my mind lately, I’d tell you I’m ‘deconstructing flattering’.

With thoughts like:

What are we looking for in a flattering photo?

Are we wanting to fit into a certain perception of beauty?

Are we wanting to hide parts of ourselves?  Is there anything wrong with that?

What about the reality that what is an unflattering photo to one person might actually be an empowering photo to someone else.

When we start thinking in terms of ‘flattery’ too, I feel like we bring in the good or bad perspective and along with it, potential for negative self-talk.

But at the same time, do I not take a whole bunch of photos myself and then most often pick the one that is, well…the most flattering?  It might not have been the primary goal but it is most definitely an element of the process.  And the fact that it isn’t the primary goal has been a really conscious choice, to value the experience & the healing process of taking photos over whether or not I get a photo that is ‘good enough’.

So you see, it isn’t all that simple!

Taking a flattering photo has never been the sole goal of Be Your Own Beloved, in fact you won’t have even seen those words in any of the copy here on the website.  Because what happens when we start to dig into the process I’m teaching here is that we realize that we are indeed so much more than what can be packaged into a flattering photo and that we have more to say in our photos than just that.  We realize how self-portraits can be so much more than just an arms length photo of our face and that we can actually find healing on our way to take photos we love.

Do we happen to take flattering photos in the process?  Absolutely.  But it hasn’t been a way I have wanted to market this work.

Do I have tips for taking a more flattering photo?  You bet.

Still, its a question that is coming up more and more and one that I want to be better prepared to answer in a way that is really accessible (rather than diving into all the theorizing behind why ‘flattering’ doesn’t need to be the goal).

Getting this question lately has me wanting to be able to say “You bet, here’s how” but in a way that embodies the Beloved energy that I feel so clear on in these classes.

Here’s what I’m coming to.  When I say ‘See Ourselves with Compassion’ we have the potential to mean the same thing.  The outcome of both is that we want to see a photo that makes us say YES.  That makes us proud of what we see reflected back.  That makes us want to share it.

This theorizing actually ended up inspired one of the weekly photo walk activities in the Summer of Selfie Love class that starts next week…so I will most definitely be sharing those ‘Tips for Taking Flattering Selfies’ (in a Be Your Own Beloved way) I’ll be sharing it with you early in our summer of self(ie) love!

I kept this class mighty affordable too (its only $39) so I hope you can join us!

I’ll also be adding these tips into some of the upcoming in person workshops I’ll be doing throughout the year as I know ya’ll are hungry for me to answer that question!

You may not hear me call it ‘flattering’ but indeed…we’ll end up with the same result!

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  • Alanna Jane

    BRAVO!! Your work is so important. And, as always, you sharing the behind-the-scenes thought process that results in your finished product is so helpful.

    In taking a couple of your courses, and continuing the work (albeit off-and-on), I find that I often choose to share the photos that help me love myself more. After all, that’s why I am showing up. Sometimes these are flattering, and sometimes they are out-of-my-comfort-zone and the simple act of sharing and getting feedback on them allows me to look at my body in a whole new way. Yes, some (or even many) might be flattering — but it’s the motivation behind choosing the photo that matters.ReplyCancel