So, when my best friend Kathie proposed a Facebook challenge, I shied away – at first. It was a challenge she'd accepted: to post 5 photos in which you feel beautiful. No way, I just hate having my picture taken, then looking at it even more, I thought. But so does Kathie and she doesn't ask me to do ridiculous things. Maybe I should reconsider. Maybe I could just look to see what I have and then decide whether I post or not.
So I looked. I had a few in mind and encountered a few surprises. Instead of struggling to find 5, I had to cut. What probably prompted my compliance was a photo of me and my husband taken a few weekends ago by my daughter at a wedding. I had been struggling with IBS and not feeling especially myself, though this wedding in Iowa and being with family lifted me above the physical plane and back into a wonderfully loving childhood. And I really liked the way I looked in that photo at 55 years old and not, exactly my perfect self. Sometimes we only want to show our best selves and hold out for only that. I am learning that's not living life fully.
Two of the five photos I took of myself, playing when no one was looking. I didn't have to perform or feel judged (not that anyone actually was). I just experimented to see what would happen. I felt and looked not only natural but could see my inner self shining through. The one I always feel but am not certain shows externally.
As a twin, people always compared us, then I began to compare myself and often didn't measure up. I am learning to undo that negative practice and hoping I emulate that for my daughters. I could recount numerous times I felt less than, but I prefer to remember the times I felt fully present and accepted or didn't care. One of those times is still a shocker to me. In college, I was a little sis for a fraternity. It was a lively social life and a wonderful place where all types of people were accepted. On some level I sensed that when I said yes to the invitation to join. It was such an amazing group of guys and girls: nerds and jocks, artists and physicists, partiers and serious business majors, straight and gay. We worked hard, played hard and grew up together. Many of us still keep in touch. When I was voted little sis president my junior year, I was very honored That spring, I was also named the fraternity sweetheart and pleasantly shocked. I am not the typical sweetheart, at least I didn't' think so. It was a boost of self esteem for which I was extremely grateful. This time I felt I was being seen inside and out by people whom I loved – and trusted.
Of course none of this ran through my mind as I began selecting photos for the Facebeook challenge. I knew the wedding photo and one I took a few years ago with my art would by in my top 5. And then I remembered another favorite: me in Venice with a group of Italian kids on a scavenger hunt. I so felt in my element with them and my husband snapped a photo I cherish. Two others hadn't been on my radar until I began to comb through iPhoto. One was another playful experiment with my new phone in my studio and and the last of me lounging on the balcony of a cliff house in Santorini, the Aegean Sea and strong Greek sun shimmering in the background. Beautiful surroundings can permeate us.
Ok, I thought, I can live with these and without over thinking it, I posted. Just for myself. Then something magical began to happen. People starting liking the photos and post some lovely comments and I knew, once again as I did in college, that others do see me inside and out. Maybe it's time I should as well.
This challenge from my dear friend has helped me see my beauty. Thank you Kathie and each friend who has helped me really see myself.
• When have I been challenged and responded?
• How do those we love often mirror what we also need?
• When have I surprised myself?
• When have I felt truly seen?
• To what depth do I know how Spirit sees me?
request, I thought
so very Facebook,
the part I detest
and yet the
person who asked
is none of those and
would not ask me
for times I felt
and there were
more than I
I winnowed them
to what I felt
caught my spirit
best and ...
this look in the
mirror has not
me see on the
outside what I
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