Posts tagged self love
Fat and Uncomfortable

UNCOMFORTABLE, that's the description I hear most often when people come in to have their photograph taken. It's incredibly common to not like being in front of a camera. Whether it's because you feel fat, old, ugly, tired or what-have-you [insert your own reason here], having your portrait made can be unpleasant.

You are not alone. Based on my own experience with clients, I'd say 9 out of 10 people are uncomfortable having their photograph taken. Even I am uncomfortable in front of the camera. One of my biggest fears is looking fat in photos and not looking like the real me (whether that's looking too good or too bad - although I don't mind the "too good" as much). 

36915672_10209541574295917_7803197064132689920_n.jpg

Take this photograph, for instance. This is a VERY recent photograph and, oh my gosh, I HATE it. I look dopey, ghostly, have no jaw line and look chunkier than I feel I actually am. I have no eyebrows or eyes and I feel like a big pile of gross blah. I. Feel. Ugly.

My husband even, once I told him I really wanted to untag myself in the photo, said he contemplated untagging me because it's not how I look in real life. Like, it's a BAD, BAD photograph - and it's out there for the world to see, thanks to social media.

Now, I've had uncomplimentary photographs before and I've been working on being comfortable getting past my own vanity and appreciating the moment and the people I'm sharing the memory with. This latest picture is definitely testing my self-appreciation methods though. I'm attempting to be thankful for the humbling reminder to keep my vanity in check and always do my best to represent who my clients truly are. While I might look uglier in photos than I see myself, I am choosing to focus my attention on remembering that I love the people in this photograph and the time together this photo represents.

While there is little we can do about the quality of the photographs shared and tagged on social media by other people, any time you have photographs made with a photographer, you can always open a dialogue with them. I want to know your insecurities. I want to know which side is your favorite. I want to know what you are learning to like about yourself. I want to know all of these things so that I can be sensitive to where you are at and capture you in the best light, as the best representation of you.

It's natural and normal to feel uncomfortable in front of a camera. It is normal to have fears and insecurities; and, it is expected that, at a vulnerable time like when you're having your portrait made, your uncomfortable feelings may come out. Just remember you're not alone, your opinions about yourself matter and I'm going to do my best to photograph the most beautiful version of you.

I have a Secret
Quotes about Self Worth | Self Respect | Self Affirmations | Knowing your Value | Winston-Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern | Boutique portraits | fern | Nature | inspirational quotes for women | www.jasperandfern.com

I have a secret. I'm a recovering people pleaser. Yup. I used to bend over backwards and even circle back around to make people happy. I would constantly sacrifice myself and sacrifice my family. I wanted to make everyone happy and have everyone to like me.

I ruined myself being a "people pleaser." I also damaged my relationships that mattered. The people who were repeatedly taking from me weren't my true friends and family. These people may have seemed like friends before I realized what was truly happening, the lack of balance of give and take in our relationship, and my true friends and family suffered.

I learned my lesson the hard way when I put my family in a tight spot. I realized what I was doing to them. That I wasn't nurturing our relationships as I should because I was draining myself into other people, people who didn't care if I ran dry. I realized that it wasn't okay to allow my family to be treated that way and, therefore, it wasn't okay for me to be treated that way either. So, I quit the trait.

It's quite an adjustment, stepping away and setting boundaries. I've struggled with the guilt of saying "no." I feel ashamed and selfish and can get down on myself. Then, I remind myself to look at the situation from someone else's perspective. If I substitute someone in my place and play out the same scenario and come to the same conclusion that "no" is an okay answer, I can tell my self-doubting-insecurities that I'm not wrong. If it truly turns out to be a selfish situation, I change my attitude and my answer.

I use this same tactic of building my self respect and self value when it comes to people's approval of me. There are definitely people I desire to have approval from - family, friends and peers. That's just the people-pleaser nature in me. There have been times that I've questioned my value because someone else doesn't acknowledge it. I've let their "disapproval" swallow me and deter me.

My biggest realization? That's on me. It's my job to always do my best, no matter if it's noticed or acknowledged. It's my responsibility to know and build my worth. It's my responsibility to set boundaries, keep them and react properly when they are pushed.  Most importantly, it's my responsibility to harbor love in my heart, always, for others and myself.

So, you know that specific affirmation you're looking for from that one person or group? You don't need it. Would it be nice to have? Yes. Would you appreciate and treasure it? Of course. Would that affirmation make you any more valuable? NO. You are already valuable. If you're thinking about and seeking that affirmation it's because some part of you already knows and believes you deserve it. Don't rely on someone else to confirm your value. 

#embracingme

Uprooted

It was dark outside. The type of dark that hangs over you, not the peaceful dark that lulls you to sleep with a chorus of crickets. It was a darkness that seeped through the windows, a silence. I lay staring at the ceiling. My brain was white noise; my thoughts were there but I wasn't really participating with them. It had been a painful day.

When I was younger, if I wasn't at school or playing sports, I was traipsing around the woods until the sun went down, sometimes even after the sun was long gone. I'm pretty sure I spent most of my adolescence in the woods. The woods were my solace, my resting place. I would memorize the mushrooms along the paths I took and watch their lifespan from birth to completion. I knew where and when to find the family of deer that frequented the area I visited. I knew which patch of wheat held the most privacy to lay and watch their stalks sway and talk in the wind. I also knew which wheat patches to avoid when the geese began their nesting. I knew which trees were most comfortable to accompany me for my homework, or my favorite tree from whose limbs I could dangle my feet just over the surface of the rippling water and the one that had the most comfortable limbs for napping. I felt at peace in the woods; understood and safe even in the darkness of twilight. I knew which path I wanted to take based on the day, the weather and the sunlight. I memorized each turn, each step I needed to take to get where I was going or to go back home. I knew exactly where every divot, root and hole existed along my path and the trees were my guide.

As I lay staring at the ceiling, the darkness hovering, I placed my thoughts in the limbs of those trees. I replayed the sunset and worked on sending myself to sleep. *pop* *POP* Two deep bursts alerted my ears accompanied by a few slow, deep cracking noises. Then, *crack* .... and flurry of snapping and crackling that seemed to increase in pitch as smaller and smaller branches of the tree snapped in succession. Finally, amongst the highest pitch, a muffled thud as the tree met the earth. The silence broke.

I'd heard the sound of trees falling many times before, as both the homes I'd known were surrounded by woods. I'd walked past, climbed over and through the map of broken limbs of newly fallen trees on many occasions. Occasionally, a tree would fall across one of my usual paths. This was nothing new but I anticipated finding the tree that had fallen. When I came home from school the next day, I set out to do just that.

I began out on my typical route and then headed in the direction I believed to have heard the tree fall. As I walked, sweating from the hot summer day, I thought about how odd it was that a tree should fall with no wind. It must have been an old tree, relenting to it's age and rot, finally giving in. It didn't take me long to come across the tree. I stopped in my tracks.

There it was. My beautiful tree; it's deeply riveted bark splayed with splashes of colorful moss and beautifully textured lichen. It's strong thick trunk now lay across the ground, limbs crippled and shattered, fresh sap oozing from its wounds. The dampness of fresh dirt met my nostrils, so strong I could taste it in my mouth. My tree had been uprooted. It's roots mangled, snarled and broken as it had tried desperately to remain where it had been planted - a place that it's seed had once found as welcoming and nurturing now rejected it. I was angry and hurt. Out of all the trees, why did it have to be this one? I sat down amongst the broken limbs, fresh dirt and sap and cried. I felt like I'd lost a friend, like someone important to me had been ripped away without my permission and I could never change it; things would never go back to being the same. That day the forest and I shared a similarity that I did not yet understand. Our landscapes had both changed.

Fifteen years have passed and I haven't thought about that tree in a very long time. I've moved, gone to college, gotten married, started my own business and, in between the peaks, I've experienced loss, death, betrayal; I've experienced pain and I've caused it. I've been an active participant in this whole "life" experience. Then, today, almost out of the blue I thought about my tree. 

Last week I attended a class on "Native Ferns of North Carolina." I partially went because "Fern" is part of my business name and I was geeking about it but, I mainly went because I wanted to learn how to better care for my ferns and keep them healthy and luscious. I've been learning more about ferns, digging into their care, their growth, the different types of ferns, sporing patterns, personalities and this was a great opportunity to be a bit more hands on.

The speaker was a jovial woman who is passionate about plants and conservation. She made the rather scientific terminology sound appealing and relatable and, as she spoke, I kept having these moments of parallel. "Ferns are pioneers in disturbed habitats," she said. My brain went into max absorption mode as she continued, "fern seeds seek bare earth, such as where a tree has been uprooted." My mind flooded as she began to talk about how ferns are hearty and adaptive, that they hybridize in order to survive and can exist in a variety of habitats, from rainforests to deserts; that fern seeds need fungi and "gross" dirt to nourish their growth and can often be found growing amongst other decaying plants. There it was, plain as day, these fern patterns reflected in our human journeys. 

How often it is that we find ourselves uprooted, painfully removing portions of our life which no longer fit. Sometimes we realize what's bogging us down and impeding our growth and sometimes we don't. They can be habits, people, places, emotions, memories, experiences. Whether we decide to remove these hinderances or whether they are removed for us, once they are gone, the soil of our lives is ready for new growth. In our growth, we may make decisions that don't make sense to anyone but ourselves, like a tree falling without wind or age. We may walk away from people, friendships or jobs which will instigate people to view us differently. Most importantly, we will begin to view ourselves differently. Just like the roots and branches of my tree, this removal can be painful and disrupting but it's part of expanding and becoming the stronger, better versions of ourselves.

I skipped an important part of the story about my tree. You see, my relationship with that tree didn't end when I found it broken. I spent time with it as it decomposed, breaking down into the soil and giving room for life. I watched birds carry it's leaves and small twigs to make their nests. I watched mushrooms and fungus take root and thrive, weaving themselves through the deep rivets of the bark creating beautiful patterns and homes for little bugs and creatures. I even watched as a tiny forest of ferns made a home in the fresh, open earth where my tree's roots used to live. Until the day I uprooted and moved from that house, I watched the tree that had once supported me, held me safe as I slept, given me a new perspective to see beauty, and been my confidante transform from it's pain and become breathtakingly beautiful in a way I could never have seen if it hadn't have fallen first.

We have the strength to adapt to our situations and surroundings, to survive and fight to live. We can create growth in our landscapes - whether they are deserts or forests. We can take a dark, gross situation - all covered in fungi and death - and cultivate flourishing beauty. Whether we made the decision for removal or not, we have the opportunity to create new growth, sustain our surroundings and create something that is beautiful. This growth is painful but it will be peaceful as we begin to recognize our true potential - our most beautiful selves.

Embodying Love

Embody Love Movement was founded out of the inspiration from a group of a few young women who, together, found a passion for inspiring and empowering other girls and women to recognize their value and their potential. Their mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness, and contribute to meaningful change in the world.

The Embody Love Catalysts are a group of young women who have radically embraced their bodies and, therefore, themselves.  In 2011, the catalysts were the initial recipients of a workshop that included media literacy education, yoga, and self-acceptance exercises.  Each of them felt a personal transformation, and together, they dreamed up ways to share the experience with other girls and women. In collaboration with Dr. Melody Moore, they developed Embody Love Movement’s founding programs: the Inner Beauty Shop and the Mentorship Program for younger girls struggling with eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and depression. Through giving back in service of others, the Catalysts have found a greater purpose in their journey to self-love and self-acceptance.  They have brought the Embody Love Movement to schools, camps, and organizations in Dallas and on their college campuses.

Jasper & Fern's founder, Alyson, knows these struggles all too well. She has fought with self-esteem issues her whole life, struggled with bulimia during most of her adolescence and still battles depression. When Kristen Williams, owner of K10 Yoga, approached Alyson about bringing the Embody Love Movement to North Carolina, it was kismet. Built on love, support, grace and compassion Jasper & Fern, K10 Yoga and Embody Love are the perfect fit.

Want to make an impact? You can!
Embody Love Facilitator Training is coming to Winston the end of September!!

This workshop is going to be powerful. It’s not going to be something you can attend and simply absorb information. It’s going to move you. It’s going to grow your heart and it’s going to give you the skill set to make a deep impact on your loved ones and your community.
— Alyson, owner of Jasper & Fern



Give the gift of self love to yourself and other women and girls in the community. Become a facilitator for the Embody Love Movement! Celebrate inner beauty, commit to kindness, contribute to meaningful change in the world.

Note: You do not have to be a yoga teacher to complete this training and share this work. Email Kristen Williams for details and to register! K10yogas@gmail.com

Want to be updated on this event and other events offered at Jasper & Fern? Subscribe to our newsletter and join our online community.