Folks who join in for Be Your Own Beloved often have this instinct to plan out their photos for each prompt. And while this can help some folks thrive, for lots of us it gets us stuck in our heads (and amps up our inner critic) rather than getting us activity involved in the experience of taking our selfie and the unexpected healing and discovery that can happen there.
I approach my own self-portraits really differently than that. People are often surprised to hear I pretty much never plan anything out. There have been times where I’ve tried to but I soon realized that healing didn’t await me there, but it did await me in the unexpected and the unplanned.
I just take my camera out and see where it leads me.
Today I had one of those moments that reminded me of why I think not planning out our selfies can be a really important part of the process.
I took a walk down to Jericho Beach and took photos in a bunch of different spots before being drawn to the beach. I spotted this place where some dried Queen Anne’s Lace lined a small path to the sand. I’ve always been drawn to these kinds of perspectives as it reminds me of the beach town my parents live in. I took some standing photos before deciding to sit in the reeds.
It was there that it happened. I sat down and was flashed back to being maybe 4 and going on these walks after our big extended family dinners at my Great-Grandparents farm. We’d head up the long farm road towards the forest and back and as I sat there I remembered happily trailing behind everyone else (cause I was the youngest at the time) and finding a spot to sit in the tall grass. I remember seeing how tall it was around me and feeling so happy there and in that childlike wonder.
I felt held by those reeds and peeking out to see my family ahead on the trail. I remember my Great Grandmothers dog waiting for me, doing her job of herding me back to the rest of the pack.
And today there it was, that childlike wonder bursting through into a smile on the face of almost 40 year old Vivienne, drawn to places even now where I could feel the bigness of the world around me and feel held by it once again.
That’s why I don’t plan out my photos.
Because my intuition will guide me to these places. Because telling our visual story isn’t just about the present day story. Sometimes it’s about reaching out through the lens to a younger version of ourselves or even reaching forward to our future self who will look back at this photo.
And I couldn’t have predicted this today. I couldn’t have planned that I’d be reaching back to one of the happiest times, the most treasured places in my life, surrounded (or trailing behind) some of my most beloved family.
We don’t have to know what photo it is we’re going to take.
The lens will lead us there.
All we need to do is show up.