Category Archives: Be Your Own Beloved

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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  • 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

The Words Underneath the Photo

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When you arrive at the garden just as it starts to rain but something draws you in.

Your feet lead you right to that flowering Camellia and you pick up a fallen blossom and take a photo. Knowing that you took nearly the same photo last year on an April Day, towards that same path, with rain falling in the background of that photo too.

And you take it all the same because these photos are like pinpoints in the visual map of your life. The kind that loops and cycles and brings you to the same points again to reflect on what has changed.

While you’re standing in the same place. In the same conditions, with a flower in your hand.

You are not the same and at the same time you are. You have answers you didn’t have then. Puzzle pieces now found and many left to find.

You think of how different (and also the same) things could be next year.

And you look forward to this future date with yourself. In the pouring rain, camera in one hand, camellia in the other.

I’ll meet you there.

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Sometimes the photos are the catalysts for the words to spill out too…if a photo you take today feels like it has more to say and you let the words spill out too…tag me in it or use the #beyourownbeloved hashtag and I’ll be on the lookout for it. I’d love to hear what #thewordsunderneaththephoto are for you today too.

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14 Days of Self-Compassion Photo Challenge

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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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Meeting the Season with Curiosity

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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

Into the Wild Unknown

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We sat on the beach for a while, chatting, with the thought of going in the ocean on our minds.

I assumed it would be incredibly cold, being mid-September and all. Painfully so. I imagined how hard it would be to get in the water, how I wouldn’t want to be in there, and how cold I’d be afterwards. I was assuming the worst.

But I was going to try, maybe even just wade in, if my friend wanted to.

The sun set further and the air temperature got colder, I felt further away from the possibility of getting in the water. The idea had passed in my mind and I’d convinced myself not to.

Until Danielle said “Let’s go for it”.

I still doubted the possibility that I would actually get in. But I was willing to go on the adventure and support her.

And really, what if it was okay? What if it might even feel nourishing?

We took only a few steps into the ocean when the first big wave hit. And then followed up by 2 more.

I literally howled with laughter. Doubled over with when not jumping gleefully over the next gigantic wave approaching. And they kept coming. Within 10 seconds I was soaking head to toe (forget wading in) and in a full on laughing fit.

It felt amazing. Not just the water (which wasn’t nearly as cold as I’d feared) but the waves and the laughter. I laughed because the idea I’d had of slowly wading in, at my own pace was well…really just being lovingly mocked by the ocean in these gigantic waves in the most beautiful way.

It felt utterly divine. Jumping in the waves like I did as a kid, howling with laughter with not a care in the world what anyone on shore (and yes, there were lots of sunset watching folks) might think.

You see, when I’m laughing I feel most inherently me, closest to my true self.

So this moment that I’d been fearing, theorizing how it would go, placing outcomes on.

Was completely out of my control. And magical. And beautiful. 

And invited me home to myself. 

 

Before we left, I put the camera on my bag and snapped a few selfies, arms wide to the sky.

The usual thoughts that would come with this moment arrived and were swiftly dealt with. Thoughts like “I wonder what people might be thinking about me right now” or  “Maybe this will look better if I put my hair down” or “I wish I had of worn my cooler bathing suit” came and left quickly because the ocean had just swooned me with it’s wildness and these things didn’t seem as important as that.

And I wanted to remember this.

Because the camera helps me cultivate this conversation with myself. It reminds me of what brings me home to myself. It invites me back into that moment, again and again. This one moment in the ongoing visual story of my own life.

Since that moment yesterday I’ve been thinking about the fear, the expectation, the choice to go into the water and the wonder of getting caught up in the joy of it all, realizing how it was so different than I expected and that the hardest part really was that first step in the water. It made me think of folks before they join me for Be Your Own Beloved.

It made me think specifically of folks who email right after they have signed up for the class sharing how utterly terrified they are (and by the way that is exactly who I create this work for…not for folks already comfortable with themselves in photos). Those emails I’m getting these days as the next Be Your own Beloved class gets started in October.

I know this work can feel scary.

I know the idea of cultivating a compassionate conversation with ourselves is hella vulnerable.

I know that often we come to it with whole list of expectations of ourselves and how it’s going to go, often defined by our past experiences with photos.

And then it’s almost always those same people who feel that fear but do it anyways, who write me after often just a few prompts or the first week and it’s though they are standing in that big wave with me, shocked at how playfully they are jumping in the waves, prepared for the white caps where you kind of need to brace yourself for the vulnerability and standing in that energy that I experienced in the laughter last night…knowing that it was far different than what they’d feared and far more nourishing (and fun) than they could have imagined. 

Feeling closer to their true selves than they have in ages.

Sometimes it’s the ocean that brings us home. Sometimes it’s the camera.

And it’s always worth taking that first step into the wild unknown.

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If you are interested in joining in for Be Your Own Beloved you can find out all the details here but also don’t hesitate to use the contact form to connect with me and ask any questions that are coming up. I’d love to hear from you.

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  • LeonSeptember 13, 2016 - 9:28 am

    This is such a beautiful, joy-filled story, Vivienne. And that photo is stunning. You already know how much I loved Be Your Own Beloved. I highly recommend it to anyone who feels drawn to it but is hesitating. Do it…you won’t be sorry. Love and hugs!ReplyCancel

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