What I Will (and Won’t) Teach you in Be Your Own Beloved

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I know when people hear about a class exploring selfies as a tool for self-compassion they often have a lot of preconceptions that come up, mainly because there are so many preconceptions around selfies. There are also so many ways I think we’re taught to use selfies in ways that actually don’t serve our self-worth. 

So I thought I’d share some of the things I will and won’t be teaching you in Be Your Own Beloved!

What I won’t teach you in Be Your Own Beloved:

  • How to take selfies from only flattering perspectives
  • How to make yourself look ‘smaller’ in photos
  • The angle everyone should be taking their selfie at for it to be ‘good’
  • Apps you can use to alter your face or body to look totally different
  • The parts of your body you should be showing and should be hiding in your selfies (because I don’t believe that of course).
  • The kinds of selfies that you ‘should’ be taking to go viral

And here’s why I won’t be teaching you these things…because society already does. They are what we are told in most ‘How to’ articles about selfies. I think we learn the answer to them everywhere we look these days and more importantly they re-enforce the idea that your body isn’t enough. 

Instead I want to teach you what the world hasn’t taught you through the lens. This class is a place where you give yourself permission to go outside of what you’re told and make space to feel SEEN (by yourself first and foremost).

I’ll be guiding you through the process of learning:

  • How to begin emerging into the lens gently (even if it feels vulnerable)
  • Different ways you can take a selfie outside of arm’s length photos
  • How to take selfies that feel like they tell YOUR story, not a story you feel like you should be telling.
  • How to make selfies a space for self-connection and personal truth telling
  • How to let go of expectations with yours photos and welcome in possibility
  • That you are inherently worthy, no matter what a photo looks like
  • How to claim space in your photo and give yourself permission to take the kinds of selfies you need to, to feel seen by YOU.
  • How ‘flattering’ angles just keep us in a box and if we approach ourselves with curiosity and kindness, we can see any angle with compassion (and that your photo doesn’t have to be ‘flattering’ to be worthy)
  • How to take a photo that you may not feel comfortable and use creativity to become more comfortable with it
  • That ‘good photos’ and ‘bad photos’ are boxes we put ourselves in that don’t serve us and we can break those boxes open
  • My favourite trick for finding light to let you shine in the moment (it’s super simple but whenever I teach this in person people’s jaws always drop because it makes ALL the difference).
  • That there is a person waiting for you in the photo asking to be seen and not have so many expectations placed on their worthiness
  • How we don’t have to get the perfect photo to be worthy. Nor does it have to be fancy or even take a lot of time. I’ll teach you how to let your simple selfie be enough (and some days you WILL have time to take more time with your photo). And that both are worthy photos.
  • How the practice of taking selfies can feel like coming home to ourselves and it’s not selfish to make this space for ourselves.

And I know, that’s a lot. But don’t worry…they come in really gentle activities that are beginner friendly and you don’t need photo experience or selfie experience to join in. Some of it I directly address in prompts and other things are what I’ve designed this class for you to experientially learn through the act of taking the photos (because being told an idea is one thing but experiencing it ourselves makes it even more powerful and life changing).

You also don’t have to be at any certain place with your selfie or body-compassion journey. Like I say in the welcome post I’ll send you once you sign up…all you need to do is show up for yourself each day with an open heart and willingness to experiment, explore and be open to possibility!

Come join me for Be Your Own Beloved! You can register here. I do want to mention that for the many years of offering this class I’ve been doing it 3-4 times per year but this year it’s just going to be twice so there will be a much longer wait for the next session than you might be used to. Just wanted to share that in case you don’t want to wait to start this exploration!

And of course, if any questions are arising about other things you’re wondering if you’ll learn in class don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments or use the contact form to connect with me. I’d love to hear from you.

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Join me for Outtake ReMake

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Did you know I’m offering a FREE 5 Day E-Course this week?

I wanted to do something special leading up to the start of the 30 Day Be Your Own Beloved E-Course in February, I wanted to share something I’ve made for you. It’s FREE and EVERYONE is welcome to join.

It’s called Outtake ReMake is an exploration of cultivating self-compassion through creativity and it’s all about taking our outtakes (or photos that don’t quite make the cut for some reason) and using creativity as a tool to make them into something we feel excited and empowered by. In this class I’ll also be spilling the beans about my 5 favourite ways to process photos and the apps I recommend using to do just that.

Outtake ReMake starts tomorrow and all you need to do to join is enter your email address on the Outtake ReMake Class page here!

Don’t feel seen by your #topnine2017? Choose your Own!

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You’re probably seeing lots of folks post their best 9 photos today as the year ends and we’re look back…and getting ready to move forward.

I’m all about tools for looking at our visual story so when I first heard about this tool a couple years ago, I was mighty excited. You can find the 2017 BestNine site here. It gathers together the nine most liked photos on your Instagram feed in the past year.

Except when I tried it a few years ago, I was surprised at what I saw. I was caught off guard at my reaction to it. It’s the one up top there on the left.

For saw that for someone who pretty much posts selfies, I was barely in my own top 9. That seemed so unexpected. There were lots of flower photos that folks liked but well, I’m not a flower photographer.

At first it actually really bothered me. Did people not want to see my selfies? Am I driving them crazy with all this talk of body acceptance and selfies when all they wanted was serene nature photos? Don’t worry, I know that’s not the case but just wanted to share my now internal dialogue at that moment (which of course is often fairly off base and reactionary).

Well, thankfully…I got over it and made my own best 9.

The lesson being of course, that we don’t have to define ourselves by other people’s likes and comments. Sure, it’s awesome when it does help us feel seen by others but we can’t define our worthy by that. We can’t only post what we think other people want to see. I actually see that happening in some ways in the body acceptance community which worry me (and honestly feel like diet culture imagery in a new form) but that’s something to rant about in another post!

All that to say that if you don’t feel seen in what other people are ‘liking’ the most…make your own.

Define your own visual story.

Create your own vision of your life, through your own lens.

Let yourself be seen by YOU first and foremost and prioritize that vision. 

When I talk about the concept of #takeyourselfieforyourself that’s what I mean. Make sure you’re clear on what YOU feel about your self and the images you share first. Share what makes YOU feel seen rather than trying to please everyone else and post what you think you ‘should’. Because when we let ourselves feel seen by ourselves first and foremost then likes and comments become a bonus rather than where we define our worth. 

And yes, the last few years of best nine photos were a good challenge for me in that case!

In a way I think it’s a good thing some years for us to have a different perception of ourselves than of what others want from us. It’s often where we wake up to our own needs, our own internal voice, our own self-definition. It can wake us up to where we feel missing in our own story and where we want to choose to narrate it differently.

My best nine this year…I LOVE and you can see it here. Mostly because it has lots of photos of my sweetheart and I as well as some other pivotal moments of the year like when I did a workshop and we all gave the camera the finger (fuck the patriarchy style) and I took that centre photo after. That one makes me smile big time!

I’m still going to make my own version too, though it will still include lots of those couple photos as that was a pretty pivotal and wonderful part of the year (yup, the be your own beloved lady is letting herself be someone else’s beloved again)!

So I want to challenge you, if you don’t dig your best nine of this or any year. Make your own. What are YOUR top nine images you shared in the past year. Which ones mean the most to you? Which ones allow you to feel seen in the way you are yearning to?

It might even be a powerful reflection practice to look at what people celebrate you sharing and whether that fits with what YOU want to share, how YOU feel seen, and what lights YOU up. And if you found that you weren’t in any photos on your top 9 because you’ve been avoiding the camera… and you’re waking up to the fact that it’s time to get back into your own visual story and let yourself be seen, come join me for the upcoming session of Be Your Own Beloved and I’ll help you re-emerge into visibility as we explore selfies as a tool for self-compassion!

If you have posted your best nine, I’d LOVE to see it whether it’s your own version or the websites version! If you’re on Instagram use the hashtag #beyourownbeloved (especially if you have selfies as a part of your mosiac this year) or share a link in the comments here so we can find you and see your look back at 2017!

2017 Selfies in Review

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It’s been a long time tradition of mine to do a year in review of the self-portraits I took in the past year. These days we can often do that by looking back at our Instagram feed, but I find that when I do this process at the end of the year, I ditch any pressure to pick images that others might like and really choose them for myself (though I try to do this all the time with social media too).

It’s really powerful to look back at the story the images tell together. To see the images you might have struggled with in the moment but wouldn’t leave out now because of the pivotal part of the story they tell.

Wanna try it? It can even be as simple as taking 2 minutes to look back at your Instagram or  or use this as a prompt for your own blog post and ponder things like:

Which ones feel like they tell the story of your year?

Which ones embody the ways you have grown/healed/changed throughout the year?

Which photos jump out at you?

What about this year feel important to be a part of the narrative you want to tell about this year (cause remember…we get to be the narrators of our own story)?

This year looks and felt quite different to me selfie wise, I think largely because I spent the year before and this year teaching the Body Peace Program. I’m grateful for the ways it has helped and changed folks who took part and it helped and changed me too as I was putting what I practice into action in an even deeper way than before.

There were some conscious things I was doing differently in my self-portraits and I definitely see that in these photos. Alongside the ways I usually like moving or standing in my selfies I challenged myself to step further out of my comfort zone and take a lot more selfies from angles that I was more unfamiliar with in my images.

I talk about how when we expand our comfort zone, our compassion grows to meet it and I most definitely felt that this year. The perspectives and images that I took photos from might be more ‘unflattering’ to someone else but to me they felt like I REALLY let myself see my body this year and the more I did, the more I didn’t react to these photos with any sort of critique. I can’t control what everyone else might think but I sure can control what I believe about my body and this year I chose to expand my own capacity to believe in my body and how I saw it.

In particular I felt like I had been taking photos that hid my belly. I took a LOT of sideways selfies this year as that’s the part of my body I wanted to invite in even more compassion for. And while I didn’t hide it so much, I wanted to see more of my chin, more of my arms, more of the signs of hitting 40, more unexpected and unfamiliar angles. I wanted to seek out the places I still struggled with seeing myself in images and make space for body compassion to sink in even deeper.

This became a practice. I’d catch myself taking the ‘usual’ perspective and challenge myself to go further. Some days I’d be up for it, others I wouldn’t. Sometimes the photos would REALLY challenge me (like the seated beach photo) but I’m glad they did because those are the ones that really changed me this year.

I started this year at a cabin I was renting with a friend and you’ll see lots of the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia in these photos. You’ll see the story of my love for my Vancouver Neighbourhood and Garden. I also fell in love and moved this year to Victoria, BC to be with my sweetheart so you’ll see that unique landscape and the process of connecting to place there as a theme in my images.

You can also check out previous years Selfies in Review Posts here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 (yes…I missed last year and I hope to go back and do it…which was why I wanted to make sure I got back to this practice this year).

And I’ve got to say this year might be my favourite year to look back on yet. Not because the pictures are fancier or ‘better’ because to a photographers eye they may not be. But that practice of getting more of our body, and SEEING our body from not just ‘flattering’ angles. Well, it works. Many of these photos are ones I didn’t post on Instagram at the time as I was doing the work of seeing them with compassion and took them for myself first and foremost (cause while it’s mighty powerful to share our images in our body acceptance process…they also don’t have to be seen and liked by others to be worthy…it’s okay to keep the process as a personal practice)!

So here is a look back at 2017 through my lens.

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january12january13january14

February

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March

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April

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May

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June

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July
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August

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September

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October

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November

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December

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Especially if you have started taking selfies this year…what about gifting yourself with doing a post like this?  Look back on each month of the year and pick your favourites or pick your top 12 of the year as a whole?

Why not gift yourself with this time even if you just look back on your year and acknowledge what happened, what has changed and how far you’ve come with stepping into the story of your life through your camera?

Or if you’re wondering how to make 2018 a year where you get your camera out more and step into your visual story…join me for the Be Your Own Beloved E-Course, or if selfies aren’t your thing join me for the new Re-Envision class (a rare non-selfie e-course) or if the idea of expanding your compassion towards yourself sounds like something you are drawn to, join the info list for the Body Acceptance Selfie Series 2018!

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Join a Be Your Own Beloved E-Course

2 comments
  • BrianaDecember 29, 2017 - 12:12 pm

    Brilliant work, Vivienne! I do feel inspired to reflect on my year based on my selfies. Thank you for the idea!
    Blessings to you,
    BrianaReplyCancel

  • RosarioJanuary 8, 2018 - 8:46 pm

    I wanted to make it to the bottom to say yeyyy!! your blog and pictures really, first showed me in a crude way how much do I hide from myself!!!!

    and secondly they really invited me, from the deepest of your heart to the deepest of my heart to dare to see me in all my ugly looks.Thank you so much!  As soon as I have the money I will for sure take your courses.Thank you for so much!ReplyCancel

Cultivating a Sense of Place through the Lens

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Finding a sense of place where I live is pivotal for me. I build a relationship with the pockets of nature I find in the city, the way the light falls, the way we as humans interact and nurture these spaces.

What about you? Does having a sense of place and engaging with the world around us play a part in your daily life too? Does the lens play a part in that? I know I’ve always been really engaged with the world around me visually but I do think that the lens deepens that and allows us too make it into a mindful practice, one that can deepen with time.

To me it’s always been as simple as slowing down and letting myself and the lens engage with the world in an inquisitive way.

It’s not about getting perfect photos (sometimes I don’t actually come back with any photos, it becomes more about just BEING). But the lens has a way of helping us give ourselves permission to slow down and take this time. To helping us open up our eyes. 

If you’ve seen my photos on Instagram or in my classes over the years, you’ve probably become familiar with some of the places that I take my selfies. They feel like characters in my visual story. They feel like companions on this healing path. Because they are.

The act of taking any selfie you’ve seen me share is rooted in cultivating and celebrating a relationship to place. And constantly letting it evolve. I love going on photo walks and discovering how the same place I’ve been going on photo walks for years can look anew, the way it can change.

I’ve been living in East Vancouver for the past 6 years and fell head over heels for that place. The community gardens I’d visit weekly. The way the light falls on the sidewalk by my house there. The gorgeous flowers that bloom each season. And, in the beautiful way that life takes turns, I also fell in love with someone who doesn’t live in this city. So, life is taking me to a new landscape (well, newish…I lived here over a decade ago) to the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Now, do know that I will be in Vancouver often for some photography work and I’m still most definitely booking photo sessions in Vancouver as well as Victoria. I’m considering myself a dual city-gal work (and friendship) wise!

But outside of work, is the daily photo & self-compassion practice that this is all rooted in. The act of going for these photo walks. And while I’ll miss the visuals, the smells, the light, the plants, the neighbourhood characters of my old neighbourhood and city, I’m excited to start that process of discovery anew.

I’m grateful to have landed in Victoria in a lovely loft home with my sweetheart mere minutes from the waters edge and a really lovely trail along the water, called the Songhees Walkway (as this part of Vancouver Island is traditional Songhees Nation Territory). Like the community garden in my old neighbourhood, the path is the place that’s drawing me in. Inviting me in with the rocky beaches, the morning light, the interactions with birds and otters, the intersection of human life and nature, the arbutus trees leaning over the path, the city perspectives in the background and the openness of the sky.

New characters in a new chapter of this continued, ever-evolving visual story.

Do you relate to this relationship to place? How does the camera play a part in finding your sense of home too? Who are the non-human characters in your visual story?

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1 comment
  • Renée LayberryNovember 6, 2017 - 9:49 am

    Your words and images resonate so deeply with me on many levels. Welcome to Victoria, and thank you for sharing your passion in this way! <3ReplyCancel

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