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If you’ve been hanging out here with me for a while or join me on Instagram you’ve probably seen dozens of photos over the years where I’ve done this exact move.

When I find a quiet space to take a self-portrait it’s my go-to move, and while it’s ridiculously fun (as I’m sure you can tell by the fact I’m smiling in these shots) there’s a deeper meaning behind it for me.

When I started on my own personal self-portrait journey 10 years ago, I was just emerging from a depression. I had some realizations of the ways I was existing in my life that were keeping me small and deeply draining me. I was burning out and had to learn how to stop putting everyone else before myself.

During this low time one thing that happened was I started to notice the way people took up space. Now, by no means do I mean physically. It was about how we energetically claimed space. I felt like it became my own personal research project for quite a while, observing on the bus, in the city, gardeners at the local community garden, people at events.

Up to this point, I had tried to keep myself small energetically. To not try and annoy the people around me. But it wasn’t in my nature, just circumstance. I move my hands a lot when I talk, I can’t sit still.

I don’t know if anyone’s nature is the definition of ‘perfect’. I think we’re all trying to fit ourselves into a really small box.

But I had done it for a long time and I was exhausted.

I wanted to find out how I moved again, what my ‘nature’ was.

So I started asking myself questions inspired by what I had noticed about people claiming space. Sometimes it seemed like it was something learned or assumed, other times something reclaimed, a confidence, an empowered state of being.

I wanted to find my way to the later. Where I lived more unapologetically (rather than profusely apologetically). Where I didn’t come home after a day with people and question every word I said and have a constant vulnerability hangover. Where I didn’t question my right to space.

But I didn’t want to fit myself into another box either. For me this wasn’t about ‘perfection’. It was about connection. To be centred in myself again and in some ways for the first time.

These questions seemed like the answer and continue to be:

How would I move if for a moment, I forgot how one is ‘supposed’ to be?

What would happen if I didn’t contain my joy, myself?

What does confidence mean to me?

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Of course, my claiming space didn’t start like this, it really began with the tips of my toes and hands into the frame, claiming space with each photo. But when I started using the timer and stepping into the frame of a photo, especially when I’d find those quiet moments where it felt like no one could see me, where I could really dance like no one was watching, this is what I did.

And from the first time I did it, it felt invigorating and also like I’d found something that felt like me. That felt like the way that I’m supposed to move.

It felt expansive and at times was literally me claiming as much space as physically possible.

I’m also claiming space for joy.

For choosing how my body gets to move.

For choosing how I want to see and communicate with my body (and choosing a compassionate voice).

It is also a reclaiming. After feeling like a turtle hiding in her shell for a long time, finally finding her confidence to shed that hiding place and exist in the world without apology, I needed to remind myself of that right to claim space. So that’s why you see this pose so often, even all these years later.

It might look like a fun whimsical pose to do in a photo, but like with all of my whimsical photos, there is a deeper meaning behind it. It’s boldness is in response to feeling the opposite way. It’s playfulness is in response to how incredibly un-playful it is to try and exist for other people’s expectations.

There is another element to this claiming space too. It’s not just the photo itself but the act of taking it. Experiencing the fear or nervousness that comes and doing it anyways. That is the act of claiming space whether it’s your feet in the frame or your whole body.

That’s what changed me, that act of cultivating resilience. The more I pushed through that fear though the camera, the more I rooted back into my own personal power.

And that is what we’re digging into in the upcoming Claiming Space class. We’re going to get brave in our photos but not just to get bold images, but to cultivate that personal resilience, to get to walk away with photos that remind you of that “Wow…I did something I hadn’t believed I could” moment.

Come join me for Claiming Space. We get started oh so soon!postfooterclaimingspace

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How would you show up in front of the camera if you had never been told what was ‘flattering’?

If you didn’t have any specific perception of what a ‘selfie’ should be?

What would you do the next time you take a selfie if you suddenly forgot what you’d been told you should hide or how to pose? How would you move or stand?

How would you take photos if you’d grown up seeing a representation of your body in the visual media around you (and if you have, how does that play a role in the privilege of how you relate to photos)?

If you knew that you couldn’t do it wrong, that you are enough no matter what?

How would you look into the camera if you hadn’t been told you need to ‘smile for the camera’?

How would you be in a photo if truly no one was watching, if likes or comments had no bearing on your relationship to yourself?

These things that get in the way of seeing ourselves without judgement have been taught to us. So how can we invite ourselves to unlearn them?

We’re claiming space to ask these questions

And to answer them not intellectually but experientially.

Not just with our heads but with our hearts.

Not just with past proof or experience but with the potential of what we have yet to discover.

Not just the answers we think we know but the ones we have yet to uncover.

To create images where we see ourselves represented, our body, here and now.

We’re claiming the space in front of the lens to listen.

To reclaim our self-image and how we choose to see ourselves through the lens.

Claiming ourselves back.

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Join me for the Claiming Space E-Course where we’ll dig into these questions through the camera…we get started soon!

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Your selfie is a claiming of space

Whether it’s the tips of your toes or your whole body

Whether it’s unfiltered or wildly creatively processed

Whether it’s your first one or your 5000th

Whether you took 1 in the moment or 50

Whether you share it or keep it to yourself

Whether it’s with a phone or a fancy camera

Whether you went out of your comfort zone or not

Whether you get likes or comments or not.

Even whether you like it or not.

 

Because the more we choose to be the narrator of our own story.

The more we choose to take back the reigns of the stories we let define us.

The more we open our hearts to the person awaiting us in the photo.

The more we show up.

The more control we feel over the camera.

The more we are able to stand in our power.

 

Every selfie, your selfie, is an act of claiming space.

It is a moment you choose to create where you are in charge of how you see yourself.

Where you choose self-connection over the worry about people thinking you are ‘self-centred’.

Because it’s not self-centred to choose to see ourselves with compassion.

It’s a choice to hear our own voice again outside of our inner critics voice.

To see and hear our own voice of inherent worthiness again.

Photo by photo, we are claiming our voice again.

Claiming ourselves back from unrealistic standards of beauty.

Claiming space for ourselves to be heard.

Claiming compassion.

Reclaiming.

 

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claimingspacebeachcoverYesterday afternoon and evening my lovely friend Sylvia and I headed to her favourite beach outside of the city, one I’d been excited to check out ever since I heard of it. The tide was high so we sat in beautiful (and surprisingly warm) waist deep ocean water blissed out at the fact that we can do this in April in Vancouver!

After a swim we chilled on the beach in the fading sun and like I do pretty much everyday, I pulled out my camera to take some self-portraits in this wildly inspiring setting.

Just like any other day except this time…I was in my swim suit!

And not just any swim suit, a 2 piece…the kind I had a story around, that I’d never been able to adorn my body with. I’ve worn a 2 piece once before but to a quiet lake…and that time I invited myself into the frame too and had a really vulnerable experience with it, as photos indeed can bring up those old body stories that might be trying to follow us around, defining our worth.

You can check out that post here: Making Peace with My Body…In a Bikini

On that day, I could feel that experience of shame rising up but instead, got resilient and chose to seek out the photo that felt like it really captured the energy of the joy of the day, rather than get lost in the shame spiral I could feel myself nearing. It takes practice to pull ourselves out of those moments of self-critique, but it is indeed possible.

Because our outtakes get to be our teachers.

The healing doesn’t just happen in the ‘good’ photos.

It happens in the ones that we struggle with too.

For a long time now, my personal goal (and what we’re exploring in the Body Peace Program too) has been to find body neutrality. To be able to take photos and see my body not as bad, or good…but just me. Just my body without those value judgements. 

So…at the beach yesterday, I took some photos while we chilled after the swim and the beach was fairly quiet.

And there she was, me…in the lens. And I looked at these photos without judgement.

Maybe it was the light which was SO dreamy.

Maybe it was because I love this bathing suit and it’s SO comfy and fits well (something that we plus size folks don’t always have in our clothing).

Maybe it was the nourishing energy of sitting in the ocean for an hour that swept away worry of how the suit looked on me.

Or maybe it was that the work I’ve been putting so much thought and practice into was paying off.

Because for the first time ever in a bikini in photos, I didn’t go into a shame spiral.

front800If someone else had taken the photo at the same moment…I quite possibly would have. If I had tried to take a ‘fashion-blogger’ style photo…I probably would have (cause that’s just not me).

But that’s the power of taking a self-portrait.

We are in charge.  We are in control…of how it is taken and how we react to it. How we move in it, when we take it and yes…we are in charge of how we feel about it too. 

It’s about standing our own power.

Claiming space.

So, I dared myself to go even further outside my comfort zone and then this next photo happened:

back800Because if I could see my front body with neutrality on this day (it’s not like it’s forever thing that we achieve…it’s something to savour when we experience and build emotional memory around it…increasing our chances of having it happen again)!

Now, my back body (my back and butt in particular) are parts of me I’m most definitely not at peace with yet, but we’re working on it. And by ‘at peace’ I mean this sense of neutrality. I don’t need to LOVE that part of myself but I’m sure as heck tired of hating it.

The sun wasn’t quite as glowing by this time.

But still…when I see these photos, that second one. I just see my body, not as something good or bad, yes, even those parts (like rolls) that we are told are ‘bad’ by societal standards. They don’t trigger me here. 

Both photos are totally unedited and unretouched.

I share this not to try to show off, by any means or try to prove how much I LOVE my body…because that’s not what it’s about. But I did want to share it because I don’t think we talk enough about body neutrality as a possibility. We may think that the goal of body-accpetance is to LOVE our bodies and then shame ourselves on our tough days if we don’t always feel that way.

But body neutrality is settling into that non-judgemental place, where we are neither good or bad, neither hated nor wildly loved. Really, where we just get to…be.

And that’s what these photos taught me, and I hope that you’ll get photos someday where you can see yourself in that way too, as though we just cleared off an old lens and now I can see clearly again.

Now, there’s another piece…that YOU will see the photo if I share it.

That’s another element to this puzzle of accepting our bodies. How will we deal with how other people view us. But here’s the thing. The more work we do on making peace with our own body and finding our voice outside of our inner critics, the more we realize that other people’s opinions of our body are…theirs. Not ours.

If you see these photos with judgement, I can’t help that. Nor should it define how I feel about them.

You might see my body as something disgusting or beautiful.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is how we define our own worth.

And the more non-judgemental my own voice has become, the more I don’t even think about how others might be judging me. 

And it’s not something we achieve, even days like this when we get these peaceful moments.

It’s a practice of claiming space, defining and redefining how we see ourselves, and inviting in resiliency on the tough days.

I starting my own body-image healing journey using photography over 8 years ago now, not sure where it would lead and am so grateful it has led to helping other people help themselves in this way. I’m not here to heal you…I’m here to help you heal yourself.

In terms of my own body image healing, I’m not sure where it will lead from here, but I’m in for the journey.

Cause the more we can let go of worrying how other people see us, the more room there is for us to just enjoy days like this with the sun shining and the ocean warm enough to swim in…in April.

Because there is life to be lived and more time to live it when we’re not focusing our energy on critiquing our body!

claimingspace300If you’d like to join me in a journey to claim space and exploring standing in your own power in your photos, join me for the Claiming Space class starting May 1st! And if you’re seeing this April 19th or 20th, I’m giving away 2 spots to the class over here on Instagram.

Find out more about the Claiming Space class here!

Beloved400The original Be Your Own Beloved class is also open for registration if you’d like to start your journey to see yourself with compassion through your camera, this class will be a game-changer for you!

Find out more about the Be Your Own Beloved class here!

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I’m super excited to share that the Selfie Starter Guidebook is here! I really wanted to create something for those folks who might be drawn to this work of taking selfies and seeing ourselves with compassion, but aren’t sure where to begin. Or have lots of questions that feel like they are in the way of beginning. Or are nervous to take a class but an E-Book feels like a more comfortable place to begin!

The E-Book Covers topics like:

  • What is a Selfie
  • The Gear you Might Need (and my DIY approach)
  • How to take your Selfie (all those questions you might worry are ‘silly questions’ answered).
  • How to Hold or Prop Your Camera
  • Types of Selfies (and tips for taking each kind)
  • 3 Selfie Activities for you to Try
  • Playfulness and Experimentation
  • The importance of taking LOTS of photos (and having outtakes)
  • Indoor and Outdoor Selfie Location Ideas
  • Letting go of worries of what others might think
  • My favourite resources and posts for you to continue exploring though!

And even if you have taken one of the classes already, this E-Book can be a great companion for your journey if you’ve already taken the Beloved Beginnings or Be Your Own Beloved E-Courses and a reminder of some of the technical and selfie approaches you’ve explored in class (plus different prompts than you’ll find in those 2 classes).

Head on over here to get your Selfie Starter Guide!

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