Category Archives: Self Portraits

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Sometimes it can feel like we’re surrounded by images and visual media that tells us how our bodies ‘should’ look, how to feel about them and what is expected of us. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it!

But it doesn’t have to be. Reclaiming our power over the negative media imagery and replacing it with positive, reflective imagery was a pivotal piece of my own body love journey. It’s something that’s really important to me to spread the word about and encourage others to try too.

Not sure how to make that happen…well don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

This weekend I’m doing a 2-hour webinar with my fellow body-positive peer Victoria Welsby of BamPowLife on this very topic!

In the first hour of the webinar, Victoria will help you dismantle the negative media imagery that derails your body love journey and the ways diet culture permeates our daily life in this way. Once Victoria has helped you shake up how you see the imagery around you, I’m going to help you rebuild it again with positive, powerful imagery that has you feeling reflected and empowered. Of course, there will be some live selfie activities (cause why not jump in and try the tools in a community setting while everyone else is trying it too) and we’ll dig into how to feel more resilient around images.

Victoria and I are SO excited to share this webinar masterclass with you. I would love you to join us.

It’s called Bye Bye BS – Hello Body Love (Dismantling Negative Media Imagery and Rebuilding Photo Resiliency.

Yes indeed, in this two-hour webinar masterclass, you will be coached by two powerhouses in the body love industry and will learn how to tear down all of the negative media forces that lead you to question your worth and rebuild your confidence by learning to love your own self-image.

The details:

Reserve your spot in the webinar here!

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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.

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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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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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viviennepose



If you’ve been hanging out here with me for a while or join me on Instagram you’ve probably seen dozens of photos over the years where I’ve done this exact move.

When I find a quiet space to take a self-portrait it’s my go-to move, and while it’s ridiculously fun (as I’m sure you can tell by the fact I’m smiling in these shots) there’s a deeper meaning behind it for me.

When I started on my own personal self-portrait journey 10 years ago, I was just emerging from a depression. I had some realizations of the ways I was existing in my life that were keeping me small and deeply draining me. I was burning out and had to learn how to stop putting everyone else before myself.

During this low time one thing that happened was I started to notice the way people took up space. Now, by no means do I mean physically. It was about how we energetically claimed space. I felt like it became my own personal research project for quite a while, observing on the bus, in the city, gardeners at the local community garden, people at events.

Up to this point, I had tried to keep myself small energetically. To not try and annoy the people around me. But it wasn’t in my nature, just circumstance. I move my hands a lot when I talk, I can’t sit still.

I don’t know if anyone’s nature is the definition of ‘perfect’. I think we’re all trying to fit ourselves into a really small box.

But I had done it for a long time and I was exhausted.

I wanted to find out how I moved again, what my ‘nature’ was.

So I started asking myself questions inspired by what I had noticed about people claiming space. Sometimes it seemed like it was something learned or assumed, other times something reclaimed, a confidence, an empowered state of being.

I wanted to find my way to the later. Where I lived more unapologetically (rather than profusely apologetically). Where I didn’t come home after a day with people and question every word I said and have a constant vulnerability hangover. Where I didn’t question my right to space.

But I didn’t want to fit myself into another box either. For me this wasn’t about ‘perfection’. It was about connection. To be centred in myself again and in some ways for the first time.

These questions seemed like the answer and continue to be:

How would I move if for a moment, I forgot how one is ‘supposed’ to be?

What would happen if I didn’t contain my joy, myself?

What does confidence mean to me?

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Of course, my claiming space didn’t start like this, it really began with the tips of my toes and hands into the frame, claiming space with each photo. But when I started using the timer and stepping into the frame of a photo, especially when I’d find those quiet moments where it felt like no one could see me, where I could really dance like no one was watching, this is what I did.

And from the first time I did it, it felt invigorating and also like I’d found something that felt like me. That felt like the way that I’m supposed to move.

It felt expansive and at times was literally me claiming as much space as physically possible.

I’m also claiming space for joy.

For choosing how my body gets to move.

For choosing how I want to see and communicate with my body (and choosing a compassionate voice).

It is also a reclaiming. After feeling like a turtle hiding in her shell for a long time, finally finding her confidence to shed that hiding place and exist in the world without apology, I needed to remind myself of that right to claim space. So that’s why you see this pose so often, even all these years later.

It might look like a fun whimsical pose to do in a photo, but like with all of my whimsical photos, there is a deeper meaning behind it. It’s boldness is in response to feeling the opposite way. It’s playfulness is in response to how incredibly un-playful it is to try and exist for other people’s expectations.

There is another element to this claiming space too. It’s not just the photo itself but the act of taking it. Experiencing the fear or nervousness that comes and doing it anyways. That is the act of claiming space whether it’s your feet in the frame or your whole body.

That’s what changed me, that act of cultivating resilience. The more I pushed through that fear though the camera, the more I rooted back into my own personal power.

And that is what we’re digging into in the upcoming Claiming Space class. We’re going to get brave in our photos but not just to get bold images, but to cultivate that personal resilience, to get to walk away with photos that remind you of that “Wow…I did something I hadn’t believed I could” moment.

Come join me for Claiming Space. We get started oh so soon!postfooterclaimingspace

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