This session showed some of the greatest improvement. It had a rough start with a happy ending. Here's why: Every woman who stepped in the door expressed feelings of nervousness, and a great deal of these women had no clue what they were doing. Many took a while to warm up to each other and relax into chairs with a cup of coffee.
So, I decided to begin by asking what each woman planned to do for their photo and what their affirmation would be (thanks to Miss Rachel Marie for this idea after suggesting this at the beginning of her session!). <3 This question brought out a lot of nervous laughter, some I don't even know's, a few general ideas with no solid direction or affirmation to speak of, and even one person who decided she wasn't ready to participate.
Despite all of that, there was nothing we could do but begin. And begin we did, starting with the brave and lovely Rachel who graced us with her gracefulness.
"So far, The Body Project has given me courage and confidence. It's given me a safe, comfortable place to show how proud I am of my body, imperfections and all."
From that moment forward, the ladies rallied around each other and showed tremendous support toward, patience for, and teamwork with one another.
This next woman struggled to find a pose that truly fit what she was trying to convey, but we found it, and coincidentally enough, each image coincides with the progression of her story. Read that story and see the progression of images on Sunday's blog post. :)
"I once read somewhere that your body is the only place you HAVE to live in. Maybe it's not the nicest looking place to live... maybe it's missing some features, but one thing I know for sure is that I'd much rather live in it being happy as it is than being unhappy with what it isn't."
Then, there's this woman who didn't feel that her image spoke to her from a previous session she attended. If there's anything that kills me more, it's when someone doesn't feel content with their image. She was brave enough to come back and bare all, again, for shots that truly hit her soul, and mine, too! So happy we redid them. :)
"Since the beginning of the project, the idea alone really spoke to me, almost gave me the push to reach places in myself that I've been afraid to go. What I've found in the progress of this project is that it's really opened my eyes to how beautiful I am and how strong we all become when we come together as a team."
This next woman openly discussed her nerves, but threw her fears aside, embraced who she is, and rocked it!
"You know, I really didn't know what to think on my way here or how to act when I walked in the door, but today has been an amazing experience. Aside from how women get down on themselves, we also spend a great deal of time getting down on each other. In these few short hours, these amazing women have lifted me far beyond my normal confidence level."
I love what happened with this next woman. She came in to the session not feeling quite ready and shared that she was too nervous and didn't know what she wanted to do. Everyone allowed her the space to enjoy observing and respected her decision not to be photographed. As she started to warm up, I did a little nudging to see where she stood after she had seen others go, to which she responded with an idea and an affirmation. :) It was a beautiful moment.
"I loved the energy and strength I felt today."
This last woman came in with a rough plan, really wanting to go with the flow more than anything, but little do you all know, I'm going to get you to find that piece within yourself and bring it out! :) We found her piece, and she ended up walking away satisfied that her image said exactly what she couldn't find the words to say.
"My mind bounced all over for what to do and how I wanted to show myself and power to others. When I walked through the door today I was overwhelmed by nerves. The women I met were not only amazing but inspiring. I became more comfortable with each moment that passed. In the short time I had spent with these ladies, they all helped me get passed my nerves and capture my personality and message perfectly. This experience was nothing like I have done before. I feel even more confident in who I really am."
Each woman displayed so much courage in those moments of feeling lost, confused, and scared, and I cannot express enough how proud I am of the way these women treated each other.
I wanted to smack everyone's butt on their way out the door and say, "Good game!" ;)
After the session, there was a brief moment of silence where everyone took a deep breath, and then there was an outpouring of conversation and reflection. I took two topics away from those moments:
- the way women treat each other and ourselves (particularly in dealing with compliments)
- making choices based on fear rather than love
With regard to topic #1, are you the person who, after being complimented, says,:
a. "Oh, thanks, but I could never pull off what you do with your hair."
b. "Oh, I just rolled out of bed."
We live in a world that has somehow taught us that saying "Thank you" after being complimented means we're conceited. It's time to change that! Be proud of what you look like, whether it took two hours or you really did just roll out of bed.
And don't feel you HAVE to compliment someone because they complimented you. It makes it so much less genuine. Be kind to one another and be kind to yourself. Honor your outer beauty with a "Thank you" and your inner beauty will dance. No lie. It dances when you're kind to yourself and appreciative of others.
P.S. This video brushes on this topic in such a humorous way. (Thanks, Alex Pitsch, for posting!)
With regard to topic #2, you've probably heard it before, but I have to say it again.
Making choices based on fear instead of love is not honoring who you are or what you could be.
Think about the choices you make on a daily basis. How many times do you feel yourself tense as you make the choice to do or not do something? Think about how many times you feel elated, lifted, and light. Which one rules you?
Don't confuse fear with being scared. Sometimes, as we're making choices, we're scared or nervous, but often this is because we know we're growing and may not be entirely ready. Fear, on the other hand, often leads us to make choices that have negative consequences or not make choices at all because of what people might think or what we might have to let go of, thus stunting our growth.
Just remember that fears are based on limiting beliefs you have about yourself or that society has created for you. When you recognize that they are only beliefs, you can take a sledge hammer to those fears and use the rubble to lay a new path for yourself.
Remember, sometimes you just have to begin. Choose love. Always. <3
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