lightws

We were sitting out on the fire escape high above the street with glasses full of red wine. She was a crone with long black hair and looked like the picturesque witchy woman, which she was. We were talking about the city we lived in and the way it has a strange energy to it.

“Don’t ever let them put a blanket over your light” she said.

I’ve thought about those words so many times over the years. Mostly once I left that city. Because, you know what, I had a blanket over my light.

She was so right. I don’t think it was anyone else who put it over me, or the city, I most definitely put it over myself. It was cozy and safe under there.

That blanket has stayed there for a long time. It was heavy, dark and definitely my safety zone. I walked the world with this blanket of fear, afraid to show my light, afraid that they’d tell me:

“Who are you to try to shine like that?”

“Who do you think you are?”

“Don’t try and show off.  Just accept things as they are.”

“You aren’t good enough.”

I listened to those voices for a long time.

A LONG time.

Mediocrity was a comfortable place for me. Not letting my light shine was safe and not scary. I was protecting myself.

After a while it didn’t work anymore. Mediocrity is not enough. It was suffocating, sad and stagnant.  I wanted more than that.

So I started to believe in myself again, believe that I had something to offer. I didn’t know what it was, especially since I had been hiding my light for so long.

For a long time I had 4 pages ripped out of a magazine taped to my apartment wall which contained these words:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

-Anais Nin

I would read that quote every day. I knew some day it would be worth the risk to blossom. Then the time came and I was wracked with fear.

I gathered up my courage and peeked out from underneath that blanket covering my light.

Hello?  

Hello, hello, hello the world echoed.

Just in case that was just a coincidence, I tried again.

Hello?

Hello, hello, hello the world echoed back at me again.

Okay. It seemed pretty safe out there. Safe enough to stick my head out and see. It wasn’t as scary as I’d feared. I walked around with my head emerged, still having the blanket around me taking special care to keep my heart protected.

Slowly I let the blanket drift lower and let more of myself emerge. Eventually my heart was left exposed. It beat loudly, adrenaline pumping.

“Cover yourself…this is too much”.

“Are you crazy, I’m wildly exposed here” it said.

So my heart and I had a little conversation.

Dear Heart

Having a blanket over your light, suffocating your dreams, is not the love I want to give you. You are worth a better kind of self-love.  

Just because I am letting my dreams emerge, it doesn’t mean that I won’t protect you.

Trust me.

Love,

Vivienne

It calmed to a regular heartbeat. Regulating and surprised itself by actually enjoying the sun shining down on it rather than being hidden in fear.

The blanket fell further until it wasn’t needed anymore.

I didn’t leave it behind though. Sometimes things are so scary to let emerge that they need blankets, they need to ease into existence rather than jump in full force.

Some days I still need to hide under it. To keep in touch with that part of me that is scared. Fear is an important part of the creative process. There have been times when I hide back under there for a while until it is time to emerge with a new idea or new dream.

It feels so intriguing to me that when I really think about it, my work now teaching self-portraiture e-courses is just this. It is about taking a medium that some people perceive as ‘vain’ and turning that on its head. My work is about helping people pull that blanket of fear off of themselves and giving them tools to allow themselves to shine. It is about creating a community that echos back at you ‘you are so wonderful’ loudly and clearly so you know you are not alone.

As well, sometimes people may try and put a blanket over you and so many of us are experts at putting blankets over our own light.

Just promise me that if you are indeed hiding your light like I have been…that some day when you are ready, you will lift up the corner of it and shout out “hello”.  I will promise you that the world will echo back at you. 

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  • Oh, Viv, YES! Your approach just helped me laugh and struggle my way through a selfie shoot . . . where, at first, I felt embarrassed by weight regain and pimples and the cat knocking into my feet and the awkward faces and . . . oh my. I just had to laugh. I had to play. And so I did, and once that laughter came, I remembered: selfies are SELFies . . . who I truly am, underneath all the mess, in spite of the mess, BECAUSE of the mess. You are such an inspiration to me, dear one. xoxoReplyCancel

  • lindy

    Truth. ♡ReplyCancel

  • I love every single word of this post. <3ReplyCancel

chooselove600

It begins with the choice.

To choose compassion over critique.

To choose love over hate.

Waking up and choosing love again and again.

Perhaps even using your camera to create a new lens to see yourself through.

Proclaim it. Say it aloud.

But don’t stop there.

Live it.

Commit to the relationship even after the honeymoon stage. After proclaiming your love gives way to the rest of the relationship. Where you are left with all the work that needs to be done to keep this relationship thriving.

Don’t leave when it starts to feel damn hard and when you can’t imagine it getting any better.

Say yes to yourself the way you would to your life partner.  Through it all.

Know that it’s worth the work. That you are worth the work.

Allow the process of changing this pattern to take as long as it needs to.

Notice the small changes that give way to this slow but sacred change.

Learn that you are and always were worthy of this love.

Don’t give up on yourself.

Show up again and again until you…

Meet your new normal.

Settle into it. Notice the open space where self-critique once lived and the way your shoulders now feel lighter from the heaviness you carried.

Know that there is always going to be ebb and flow, good days and bad ones. Don’t see it as a failure but instead let it deepen your commitment to this lifelong love affair.

Choose Love.

Again and again and again.

Choose Love.

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videoimage800

I wanted to make y’all a video to share a bit about Be Your Own Beloved, what you might expect from a class…and what is super special about this session!

The brand new resource & video library is open to participants as of February 1st so you’ll have a bit of time to explore it before class begins on the 14th!

I also wanted to mention that if taking selfies is outside of your comfort zone…this class is designed for you. You don’t need to have ever taken a selfie before to take part, just an openness to exploring using selfies as a tool to see yourself with compassion!

Come join us!

 

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  • Rachel Krebs

    Hi Vivienne, Your video is incredibly well done – I hope you’re proud! This is definitely a direction you should pursue : ) Best wishes, Rachel K.ReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much Rachel! I really appreciate that! It’s super vulnerable but I also had fun doing it…and making lots more videos for the class!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah

    I am so excited for this class to start, and super excited for the special resource area. February is going to be an awesome month. I have a writing class with Jenna McGuggian and this class with you. Both overwhelming but filled with so many possibilities!ReplyCancel

    • I’m SO glad you are a part of it and I so can’t wait to share the resource space with you…and that is so wonderful you are taking Jenna’s class too. I’ve taken some of her classes before…you’ll LOVE it and I think thats such a wonderful combo of photography and writing you have ahead of you!ReplyCancel

  • I just took the leap and signed up! I love your work Vivienne. Your photos make me happy! I haven’t really liked any photos of myself for about 10 years. I know that it is a sticking point that is holding me back, like walking through the woods and my sweater keeps getting caught on branches. Almost every time I see a photo of myself, I feel brought down. I need a shift. I am ready. I love that this course coincides with Valentine’s Day…a gift of love to myself.ReplyCancel

    • So glad you are joining in Shari! I’m so excited you are reach to step back into your visual story!ReplyCancel

lovenote600

If you were going to write your body a love note today…what would it say?

In Be Your Own Beloved we have a love note activity we do and it’s one I return to regularly as a tool for both connecting and making peace with my body, especially on tough days.

On this day, my love letter to my body went like this:

Dear Belly
I’m so sorry I made you ingest gluten last week and that you’ve been in pain ever since. Even after 20 years of being gluten free in so many ways it is still a day to day process of listening to you and remembering what I know you need (or rather don’t need) in order to feel at peace and not in pain.
But I’m on your side.
Love Vivienne

I posted this photo and the short love note below over on Instagram and asked you guys over on the Beloved Facebook Page what you’d write to your body today and I’m so grateful for the love notes y’all have shared over there. Feel free to add your love note over there and get inspired what others are sharing! Or if you decide to try this as a blog post or an Instagram prompt, share a link to it in the comments (or tag #beyourownbeloved on Instagram) so I can witness your love note and leave you a comment!

Nextbyobeloved

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  • Vivienne, I loved this post so much and it inspired me to write a post on my blog too. But I turned it around a bit and it is from my body to me. You can find it here, http://www.kiraelliott.com/body-speak/,

    thanks again for all the work you do.ReplyCancel

    • Kira! I LOOOOOVE your post! Thank you so much for sharing it with me and I absolutely adore the approach you took with it.ReplyCancel