Category Archives: Body Acceptance

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.

Januaryjanuary1january2january4january5january6january7january8january10
january12january13january14

February

feb1feb2feb3feb4feb5feb6feb7feb8feb9feb10

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March

march1march2march3march5march6march8march9march10

April

april1april2april3april4april6april8

May

may1may2may3may4may5may8may9may10may11may12may13may14

June

june2june3june4june5june6june7june8june9june10june11june12

July
july2july3july5july7july8july10july11july12.2july13july14july15july18

 

August

aug1.2

aug1.1
aug2aug4aug6aug7aug8aug9aug10

September

sept1sept2sept4sept5sept7.1
sept8sept9sept10

October

oct1oct2oct4oct5oct6

November

nov1nov3nov4nov7nov8nov9nov10nov11nov12nov13nov14nov15nov16nov17nov18

December

dec1dec2dec3dec4dec5dec6dec7dec8

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

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!

2 comments

Standing with the Questions

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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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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.

1 comment
  • 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

Finding Confidence through the Camera

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What does confidence look like through the camera lens?   

We know what we’re told confidence it’s ‘supposed’ to look like. We’re told it’s our goal, told what it looks like, what it wears, what it’s proportions are.

Or at least that’s what I thought. That’s what a lot of us think, even as we’re in the process of unlearning the expectations of what our body is ‘supposed to look like’. It felt like one of the remaining big expectations I had put on myself in my own body acceptance journey.

As though finding ‘confidence’ and taking photos that embody it was going to prove I crossed some body-love finish line.

And I believed that, until I tried to make it happen.

Until I chose ‘confidence’ as my word of the year a couple years ago. I don’t know if you do this practice, of choosing a word of the year and inviting it to permeate and inspire your year. I like to choose juicy words of the year. Ones that are going to shake up my world a bit and leave me thriving even more. Confidence was clearly going to be one of those. A success I’d reach in learning to love myself. A goal.

So I went out that year to discover my own confidence. What would it feel like? What would it look like? How would it change me? 

There were so many realizations that happened when I started to explore inviting in confidence through the camera and into my life as a whole and I’d love to share some of them with you today. I quickly realized that I was starting to equate ‘confidence’ with ‘perfection’ or feel like I was getting it right. It felt like one of those sticking points in my own body acceptance. To let go of ‘perfection’ as the goal and really learn to confidently walk the world in the skin I’m in.

But, much like any journey, it never quite goes as planned does it, and we find ourselves learning something completely different than we expected.

So there are 3 things I learned about what confidence looks like through the camera:

 

1.It looks different for everyone. 

There is no one way ‘confidence’ looks. I know it’s easy to think that’s not the case. Especially in the visual culture surrounding us ALL the time, including a lot of selfie culture. Confidence is supposed to look carefree, empowered, something we aspire to.

If I’m really honest with you, I sometimes find myself comparing myself to folks in the body positive world who rock bikini selfies or amazing shots in their bra and undies that make me stand up and give them an ovation. I get caught up in that whirlwind a lot, until I listen in to my way of finding confidence through the camera and remember that it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.

And because there is a different kind of confidence awaiting me if I listen in for it. I thought maybe someday it would be but now that I’m starting to see what confidence looks like to me, through my own self-portraits, I’ve let go of any specific type of photo as what I hold up as embodied confidence.

I see it in the incredible people I get to work with too. Confidence is putting your toes into the frame of your very first selfie. Or sometimes not wiping the tears away and looking directly into the lens. For some it’s showing a part of ourselves that we’ve been hiding from the camera for a very long time. It might be not retouching our photo or even using creativity as a tool to see our photos with more love.

Confidence doesn’t look one way. There is no one kind of selfie you need to take to embody confidence. There is just you, showing up for yourself with resilience and an openness to see yourself in a new way. That’s what confidence through the camera looks like to me.

 

2. It’s from within. It’s the feeling translated through your photo.  And it doesn’t have to be seen by others to exist.

Confidence comes from listening to your own inner voice and letting it be heard. Not just the external expectations. It’s empowered self-awareness. Yet, saying that, it can feel like something that we need to achieve doesn’t it.

Or maybe I should say, it’s about giving less of shit about what other people think and caring more about what you think outside of those external voices! This is definitely a practice where the camera can be so helpful. My experience in that year and every since was that confidence looked like ME looking back at me in the photo and the strengthening of that inner voice than counteracted my inner critic, even if at first it was only a whisper.

What I love about this is that we can translate that inner self-awareness externally. Through our clothes or style. Through our expressions and creative explorations through the camera. And like I mentioned in #1…it doesn’t look any certain way. It’s you, listening in for your story and letting it be heard. 

Oh, and there’s one more piece to this one. It doesn’t need to be heard by others to be valid. I know especially when talking about selfies it’s easy to let confidence be something we derive from other people’s responses, but what I found out in that year of confidence explorations was that I stopped putting the power in the hands of other people, and returned it to my own hands.

Confidence is being the narrator of your own story and telling it your way.

 

 

3. It’s a Process.

Confidence to me feels like a process of taking brave action, getting vulnerable and then finding resilience and slowly building ourselves up to a place where we stop being our own enemy and get on our own team.

Taking self-portraits, of course, can be a tool for cultivating that resilience. One of the questions I SO commonly get is “How does one get the confidence to start taking selfies?” and the truth is, if you keep the camera at bay waiting to be ‘ready’, the day isn’t going to come. Because like any tool we use for body-acceptance, the work awaits us on the way there. Not before we begin.

Confidence through the camera isn’t something we achieve. It’s not picture perfect or a ‘perfect picture’. It’s the process of letting go of external expectations and learning about our own and learning to claim space as our weird, awesome, fabulous, quirky selves!

So, if it’s a process, then…

What does confidence look like? It looks like you, right here right now.

Finding confidence through the camera lens doesn’t look like any one kind of photo. It doesn’t even look like anyone else’s photo you’ve seen before, because it is your story unfolding.

In the learning, in the process.

Confidence looks like listening in for the new stories that are going to rewrite the old ones.

Confidence looks like you, stepping into your own power, listening in for your own voice.

There is no right or wrong way to embody confidence through the camera, nor is it a finish line you need to cross someday.

Confidence looks like you and I, in the process of learning this all. 

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I’m so honoured to be sharing this post as a part of the Confidence Blog Carnival hosted by BamPowLife. It’s only Day 2 of the event where you’ll find each of these incredible folks (I know…some of my body-positive heroes too) and for the coming 10 days you’ll get to check out a blog post on the theme of Confidence from each of them!

Sarah Vance’s post went up yesterday and you definitely want to read it…she explores how Confidence feels (rather than looks)! And be sure to check out all these other amazing bloggers and their stories throughout the rest of the month!

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