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I’m so excited to bring you something this February leading up to the start of the Be Your Own Beloved class on Valentine’s Day…a photo challenge!

Each day from February 1st-15th we’re going to take a selfie (or a photo in general if you’re easing towards taking selfies) inspired by the theme of the day.

You can see all the prompt below and join in each day taking a selfie of your choice. I encourage you not necessarily to try and plan it out, but instead to invite in the energy of the day’s focus and see what arises during your day as a moment you could tell your visual story and invite yourself into it in some way.

Or, come on over to my Instagram account at @viviennemcm each day where I’ll be sharing my response to each day’s prompt and giving some ideas and insight on how you might explore it!

As well, I’ll aslo be sharing the daily prompt over at the Be Your Own Beloved Instagram as well as featuring images of folks who are joining in!

If you’d like more inspiration to get you started on this journey, join the Photo Challenge mailing list (you’ll also receive my Be Your Own Beloved newsletters by signing up) and I’ll send you over a welcome post with more information about the 14 Days of Self-Compassion Photo Challenge as well as a free E-Book 30 Tips for Exploring Selfies (with Love) which contains 30 helpful tips to support you on your selfie path.

Join the 14 Days of Self-Compassion Photo Challenge Mailing List here to get your Free E-Book!

If you’re new to selfies but want to give it a try, you might want to get the Selfie Starter Guide where I answer all sorts of common questions that folks have when sparking the journey to see themselves with compassion through their camera!

Now without further ado, here are our themes for the 14 Days of Self-Compassion Photo Challenge! Keep watch on Instagram for some tips to get you started with our first theme on February 1st and be sure to use the hashtag #beyourownbeloved to share your response to the daily prompt!

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As well, be sure to check out the #beyourownbeloved hashtag on Instagram to get inspired by one another as we explore these prompts together throughout the first two weeks of February.

And this 14 Days of Self-Compassion is going to be a great warm up and way to dip our toes into selfies as a tool for self-compassion before the Be Your Own Beloved E-Course that begins on February 14th where we’ll dig even more into the process of using the camera as a tool to change how we see ourselves and I’ll guide you through the variety of kinds of selfies we can explore, tips for taking them and how the lens can help us reclaim how we see ourselves back from our inner critic. Come join in for Be Your Own Beloved as well as the free photo challenge!

I’ll see you over on Instagram where we’ll dig into the first challenge Feb 1st! Everyone is welcome by the way! Even if you’re not comfortable sharing your selfies publically yet (there’s no pressure to) you might invite a trusted friend to join you and text one another your daily selfies! Tag someone in the post that you’d like to invite to join you for the free challenge!

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toyoublog

Picture yourself this time next year. You are the same but so different. Because something you never thought possible has happened. Those critical thoughts that have followed you through your life have shifted.

They are not fully gone (they never do) but now, you hear a different voice, your own voice of compassion that believes in you. And you see your body differently, especially in photos. Rather than seeing someone where with elements that are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (depending on the day) you see well…yourself.

You put those ideas you had about body acceptance into action and here you are. You feel it.

You realize you finally just get to be yourself, not someone who is failing or succeeding at fitting any certain standard of beauty or worthiness. And you put your hand on your heart and take the deepest breath of your life.

Because you didn’t believe this was even possible. You couldn’t have pictured this a year ago. But it is here.

And it wasn’t always easy. You showed up in the prompts that kept arriving in your inbox. Some days you really didn’t want to pick up that camera and show up for yourself. And some days you didn’t. But you built resilience. You kept showing up. And slowly but surely it felt more peaceful to see your body in photos.

It was as though someone came and cleared the lens you were seeing yourself through, and they did…you did. And what you now see is yourself, awaiting you there saying “You were always enough. I’m so glad you see that now”.

And you do. You see it. You see yourself without the layers of expectation of what your body ‘should’ look like. A metaphorical weight has been lifted off your back.

This act of resiliency, of reclaiming your power back has created a ripple effect beyond the camera too. You are more visible in your own life. You are more present in your own body. You are showing up for yourself and your life in ways you couldn’t have imagined.

You feel this tingle of excitement because now that you know that what you thought was impossible, that you could see and treat your body with compassion, you wonder what else you believe that isn’t true. You wonder what other possibilities await. Because you always knew that you weren’t put on this planet to spend your life hating your body and you know now that all that time you spent focusing on your body hate now gets to be put towards something else. And you can’t wait to see what unfolds.

You have left a trail of old stories that no longer serve you behind you and your feel the excitement of possibility.

So you pick up your camera on this day, a year from now and look into the lens with love, step in front of the camera with ease. With gratitude. With deep pride in all the photos you took but not just cause they look amazing (which they do) but because they tell the story of the past you becoming the present you and they remind you that nothing is impossible.

That you truly are resilient and powerful and worthy.

And if you ever forget again, you have these images. To bring you back home to yourself. Again and again and again. To come home.

*

Today I’m standing between this past year and the one coming ahead. I’ve had the absolute honor of spending the past year guiding an incredible collection of folks through the Body Peace Program, which is a year-long program made up of a series of classes (with breaks/rest time in between) inviting you to explore and cultivate body acceptance through your camera. Oh, and take photos you’re deeply proud of too. That’s a fabulous side-effect of doing this work.

But here I stand this journey to a close and I’ve been thinking of the folks who joined this time last year and wanted to write them a love letter to remind them of how far they’ve come. And to write a love letter to the folks joining in right now for the 2017 session of Body Peace who are probably deeply nervous yet are feeling drawn to this program. To stand on the other end of 2017 with a trail of old stories left behind them. To stand on the other side of 2017 and look back just like the folks this year are, and realize you did what you thought was impossible. And in a way it’s a love letter to a part of myself too, the part of me that deeply believed for most of my life that these stories would be with me forever and while they had been left behind me before this year, I’ve been changed by this work too and feel a body neutrality I never thought possible.

So this is for you, a love letter for this time next year.

When you’ve rewritten your old stories into a new love letter to yourself, visible in the images you see before you. The story of you, re-written.

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conversation

We are all in conversation with ourselves about our bodies, aren’t we.

But for many of us it’s a one sided conversation where our inner critic leads the dialogue. So much so that we think it’s our own voice. But it’s not.

Often our voice has been silenced. Or we haven’t given ourselves permission to hear it, to dare to contradict our inner critic. Or we don’t know what else to say, our inner critic has been telling us one thing for so long, we can’t see the possibilities outside of it. Or at least that’s how it was for me.

Before I found the camera as a medium I remember feeling like I knew that I could change that conversation, even if I didn’t know what to say yet. But I needed a vessel for the conversation to happen. I needed a tool.

Little did I know that the camera could be that, would be that. I just thought a photo was a photo, and honestly…was a place where I felt the opposite of self-compassionate.

But it was. And I became the narrator of my own story and slowly began to hear my own voice again, loud and clear. And when we can hear our own voice, our own self-perception…our inner critics voice doesn’t hold the same power over us that it once did.

That’s the thing about this work…it might look from the outside like it’s all about getting good photos. That it’s all about our external self, how our body looks, how we are seen by others. But once you’re in it (whether it’s an arm’s length selfie, a reflection, a shadow selfie or a full body selfie) you get that it goes far beyond just the photo.

The photo is a doorway to this conversation. A place to find our own voice again even if at first all we can say is “I don’t know what to say to you dear body”.

But that’s how we invite ourselves back into the conversation. We begin. We get curious. We invite in compassion when we can and show up anyways when we can’t.

So yes, the Embody E-Course that is about to begin is about taking full body selfies, but it’s about so much more than that too. It’s about starting a conversation about our body, and inviting our own voice to be heard. It’s about not letting our inner critics voice define how we see ourselves in photos and inviting ourselves to be seen. It’s about YOU making space to recognize yourself in photos again and take images that feel empowered and embodied. 

Come spark this conversation with yourself. Class starts Tuesday but over the weekend you’ll get a pre-class PDF with tips for the technical side of taking our self-portraits. The activities themselves aren’t focused on the technical side, as that often keeps us in our heads and a pivotal part of this is conversation is inviting ourselves back into our body. Of course, alongside the technical support PDF I’m also available to help you with the technical side while class is in session!

Come join me for the Embody E-Course. We get started November 1st but I recommend joining in today or over the weekend so you can have time to explore the Pre-Class PDF before class starts.

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I remember the moment when I first got brave and put down my camera on my bag in the ravine near my home at the time. I set the timer and stepped into the frame.

And a rush of fear appeared along with a constant flow of questions:

“But what do I do now?”

“How should I move?”

“What should I do with my hands?

“How do I do this?”

The questions overwhelmed me and made me want to grab the camera and walk away.

But this time, I didn’t.

Because somehow, on this day, I really HEARD the questions. Heard what they were actually asking me.

How do YOU want to move?

How do YOU want to feel about your body?

How do YOU want this experience to go?

How do YOU want to treat yourself in this moment?

I remember it so acutely because it felt like for the first time, I was asking myself to be in charge of how I say, felt about and experienced my own body. I mean, it might sound like something we should all inherently be in touch with but for so many of us, we don’t feel in a place of personal power around our body.

We don’t feel like the narrator of our own story. We don’t feel like our bodies are inherently worthy. We don’t feel in charge of our own self-perception.

In that moment I felt, for the first time that I could narrate my own story. I felt the whisper of my own inherent worthiness and I felt like somehow (in what felt quite miraculous) that I had created a safe space…a bubble between the camera and I where I was in charge of my self-perception.

The fear shifted in that moment and it was the first time I remember hearing that other voice, the powerful one, the protective one that my inner critic had been shouting over for years. And it said this:

“Guess what…this space is yours to answer that question each and every time. For you to forget how you’ve been told to move, to stay still, to make yourself small. This is a space where you get to reclaim how you move, to find that feeling of embodiment that you lost all those years ago.”

I talk lots these days about starting a compassionate conversation with ourselves and in that moment, hearing that new empowered inner voice…the conversation changed.

But here’s the thing. It isn’t a scripted conversation. It may not go as we predict. And at first we might not be used to speaking up for ourselves in this way (I wasn’t) and it might take a bit to find our voice.

It’s now been years since that moment but the conversation continues. The more I step into the frame, the more the voice of compassion and I get to hang out. The more space I give it to be heard. The more time I give it to gently emerge from it’s hiding place. The louder it becomes.

Is the inner critic still there? Of course. But I now have a grounded inner voice to return to rather than having my inner critic as my only point of reference in how I saw myself.

And the questions still accompany the conversation. I still, each time, get to ask that question…how do I want to feel today? What is the story I want to embody? How do I want to move today? How can I stand in my power in this photo, in this moment?

It’s the questions that, for me, gave way to the answers.

I know the questions that come up when we take photos of ourselves are terrifying and vulnerable. I know they might want to make us grab the camera and not take any. But the act of taking our selfies become the medium for the questions to be heard through.

And the photos become the reminder of the answers we found that day.

The reminders of the story we are stepping into.

The voice we are cultivating (especially outside of our inner critics).

The body we are choosing to embody.

The story of our lives we get to choose to tell.

**If you’re interested in becoming the narrator of your own story, join me for the Embody E-Course this November where we explore inviting our whole body into the frame. Or if that’s feeling like too BIG of a stretch beyond your self-comfort zone. Join me for the 10 day Beloved Beginnings class (self-paced, available any time) or the February Session of the 30 day Be Your Own Beloved E-Course (community based online class)! **

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curisoityblog

I confess this is the season I struggle with the most.

When all the plants are returning to the earth. When the grey is near constant. I find myself picking up the camera a bit less and when I do, everything doesn’t look quite as radiant as every other season.

But this year I’m taking a different approach. I’m getting curious about fall and winter, in the same way I so easily do in other season. I’m getting curious about the places (like this one in the above image) that I don’t often photograph in the spring or summer as there are lotuses nearby that draw me in.

I’m looking for the unxpected, perspectives I haven’t seen before. 

That which I can’t predict or assume. That which I don’t know yet.

Even if I feel resistant to it. Even if I can’t imagine another perspective or assume my initial perception is the only possible outcome.  

Curiosity is at the heart of all the work I do but I don’t often give it the credit and voice it deserves because it’s always there woven into every photo, every selfie, every class I create. Maybe it’s when we find we aren’t feeling something that it’s importance becomes clearer than ever. So bring on the lens of curiosity…fall, I’m coming for you…

What could you approach with curiosity today? 

Perhaps the spot you are sitting right now, seeing it in a new way through the lens? Or maybe see the people around you with curiosity, being open to new ways we can relate to one another? Or maybe even how we see our bodies? Could you take a selfie today with curiosity and not assume what the outcome might be before you take it?

I wanted to share this to remind both you and myself that new perspectives await, often when we least expect them!

Here are a few more images from today’s curious photo walk in the garden.

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  • RachelOctober 22, 2016 - 4:56 pm

    The first and last photo of this series are incredible! I love the mysterious quality of the first photo and the more dramatic nature of the last photo.ReplyCancel

  • Alison MOctober 24, 2016 - 9:38 pm

    Beautiful images, Vivienne. Thank you for sharing them, and this lovely perspective. Be Curious. That will be my new motto for today…ReplyCancel

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