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.