bellypeace

A few weeks ago I took a super quick trip to Portland for the Body Respect (Healthy at Every Size) Workshop.  It was hosted by the wonderful gals at Be Nourished and led by Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor, two prominent thought leaders in the Healthy at Every Size movement.

It was AMAZING.  I went for reasons both personal & professional.  While I’m not a health practitioner, the Healthy at Every Size approach feels so in tune with the approach I take here with Be Your Own Belovedlearning to love & treat our bodies with kindness here and now.

Then there is the personal side.  I’m on a lifelong path, like so many of us are, to untangle stories of self-hate and shift them into self-compassion.

Ever since the workshop, there has been an unexpected body love shift that is asking to be acknowledged.

One that I have known was still a big struggle for me.

But wasn’t ready to deal with yet, until now.

My Belly.

 

My belly & I have a long history of body shame.

It is the place in my body that shifts and changes the most, where I first remember starting to see myself from a place of critique.

It still feels like a place where the most body shame resides in me.

These days I feel like I can see my body as a whole with so much more kindness than I ever could before, largely due to using self-portraits as a tool to rewrite stories of negative self-image and to learn to see myself with love. 

While I have made peace with so much of my body and how I see it (check out this post about making peace with my thighs) by focusing on reducing body shame rather than size and learning to love myself right now.  Yet my belly has been the uncharted territory.

I have a long history of food allergies, with the most visible symptoms being belly bloating.

Whether or not we have food allergies, our bodies ebb and flow.  They shift and change through so many factors (getting enough sleep, water, hormones and on and on)  that are just natural.  So why is it so common to see slight changes in our bodies as something to be critiqued and to see ourselves as ‘failing’ at.

It’s not that I send hate glares to my belly when it is bloated, but I have had this remaining dialogue within myself that sees my bloated days as bad days  and the days when it is not bloated as good body days.

This is the diet mentality still running through me.

Of jumping from a place of self-compassion to self-hate depending on the size of my belly that day.

It is an old story of enough and not enough.

Of praise and shame.

And while it might not feel like it, as it has been our dialogue for so long, my belly & I.

I have learned that it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

My body will continue to ebb and flow like this, right from the belly, because….well, as a human, I eat!

And I want to practice what I preach more fully.

If I want to help you love your body more right here and right now, I need to keep deepening my own journey of doing that myself. Even the parts, like my Belly, that have felt like they might hold shame forever.

So it seems as though the choice is our own. Do I want to keep riding this roller coaster or do I want to get off of it?

It makes me think of how it felt to have a scale (before I broke it). How I don’t miss it. How it felt like I was constantly seeing if I was ‘good enough’.

Living without a scale showed me that there is a place of peacefulness & ease awaiting me as I make that choice not to engage in those praise/shame behaviours anymore.

So while it might seem at first like living without that bad/good relationship with my belly is impossible.  

I don’t believe that any more.  

I think that just like the way we see ourselves in photos, we have a choice.

And I’m choosing to end the war with my belly

I am committed to learning to see it with love in all its ebb and flow.

Thats not to say it won’t be easy, or like anything else on the self-love path…there will be days when I forget I chose peace and will step back into it.

But it is time to choose love.

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  • Aleli

    I feel truly inspired by how you show us to fall back in love with ourselves.ReplyCancel

  • Just found your site. Thank you for this. From my belly to yours, here’s to learning to love.=)ReplyCancel

  • This is so lovely! I am a professional coach and certified in The Daring Way ™ methodology developed by Dr. Brene Brown which helps cultivate shame resiliency. I work with clients who explore many of the same thoughts and feelings, and I love seeing the message you are spreading!ReplyCancel

  • Oh lady. This was beautiful! My belly and I have some making up to do. xoReplyCancel

  • Thank you so much! <3 you are inspiring, amazing and beautiful!!!!ReplyCancel

  • I’m one of those people with stick thin legs and arms. Nobody believes I have body shame issues, but my belly is my battle. It’s where I carry all my weight and I deal with lots of bloating issues, too, and the cause often varies.

    I, too, hold that story of loving my body when I’m not bloated, and feeling gross and unlovable when I am bloated.

    Your words are a shift. Thank you.
    xoReplyCancel

  • Yes. I tagged this post to read later – avoiding it a bit because of my own tense relationship with my belly. But today I am bloated from an accidental gluten encounter and decided to read.

    Thank you. It’s time for me to make peace as well.ReplyCancel

  • […] Making peace with my belly. […]ReplyCancel

pdxphotowalk800

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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photowalkmosaic

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  • It was such a joy to meet you and be a part of this lovely, wonder-filled gathering! I am so very grateful for your bright light in the world, and in my WDS experience!! <3ReplyCancel

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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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shareyourselfies

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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  • […] Feeling Empowered in Sharing our Own Photos – Vivienne McMaster. I do this not just with photos but with posts and just about every aspect of my life. It is enough that I put it out there – I do it first for me. Anyone else who gets a benefit out of it is a bonus. And I need to remember that. […]ReplyCancel

cape800

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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