#365feministselfie – Near end of year thoughts

This is one of the first times – outside of NaNoWriMo, I think – that I recall being actively engaged and regularly following through on a challenge. And this one has been interesting. I’ve been participating in the #365feministselfie hashtag over on Instagram since the beginning of the year. I’ve blogged (a few times) about it, but realized I have not followed up since the first month was completed. Whew.

This has been such a learning experience for me, to see my face popping up in a social media space, over and over again.

ImageI’ve learned to appreciate my curly hair and its wild ways (who knows how many times I’ve used the hashtag #curlyhairdontcare).
I’ve learned that I am allowed and able to be seen in ways that aren’t always SUPER DUPER happy.
I’ve learned that community looks differently and I have the option to dive in, sit out, OR something in between.
I’ve learned beauty covers so many facets of this life.
I’ve learned to see myself as I am in the moment, and allow that to be enough.
I’ve learned the power of scrolling through and seeing that I am more than I think and that all of me is Enough.
I’ve learned that there is value in seeing myself and breathing into the moments of “I LOOK LIKE THAT?”
I’ve learned a deep breath and pause is invaluable.
I’ve learned the beauty of the women participating.
I’ve learned the value of finding my own language to describe how I feel, and the value of not having to say anything.
I’ve learned about the ways people define their feminism and how much feminism is still needed.
I’ve learned that my “fun” side hasn’t left me, and that there is value in the goofy.
I’ve learned that I am enough, even though I don’t look like those in magazines or on TV. I am enough.
I’ve learned the power in owning my own image and learning to love this face and body of mine, as it is.

Here’s to the final month and a half of #365feministselfie!

#365feministselfie – One month in…

While I may not always be good with following through on challenges (or e-courses), I’m still trucking along on the #365feministselfie challenge for the year. I have been amazed at looking through the photos over on Instagram. It’s been amazing to see the reality of women’s experiences – both the highlights and the tough days.

imageOne of the things that struck me this week was how the selfie was able to catch sparks of something that I hadn’t recently had the chance to see… having the selfie allowed me to see myself from another angle. Don’t get me wrong – seeing myself daily has been hard. To acknowledge (and let go) of that voice in my head telling me that I am being narcissistic, selfish, blah blah blah. It’s been a challenge to notice it regularly. Because things, in general, have been hard. I’m finishing week 4 of school and feeling rundown (already… yes, already).

I know I’m stretched too thin. Sometimes, it’s been hard to be anything but glum in my selfies recently. But one of the selfies this week caught that little spark and showed it to me when I needed it. Even now, this is probably one of my favourite pictures from the year so far, because it captures something that hasn’t been a full fledged experience as of late. The camera was able to catch that joy-filled, kind of sassy, lighter, laughing Steph.

It was a needed reminder. One that keeps me trucking and reminding myself that I need to light that spark a little bit – in part through taking care of myself.

And somehow, it strikes me now, that taking care of myself also means showing up for myself  so that I can be reminded of other parts of myself… even when (especially when?) it’s hard.

Body image, mirrors, and #365feministselfie

I don’t know where I introduced to the article about #365feministself (here it is), but starting January 1, 2014, I began participating over at Instagram (@visibleandreal).

I’m not sure what compelled me. I’ve tried doing Project 365 a few times, documenting daily moments of my life. I typically would forget until the end of the day, so I got a lot of my feet under covers in bed. But, this? This scared the jeebies out of me, in part because I would be seeing my face, every day, for a year. And yet… that’s part of what compelled me to do it. To see the grays that filter through my hair. To see who I am, daily.

Because, honestly? I avoid mirrors. I avoid looking at myself in the mirror and hate having my picture taken. The words that go through my head when I catch sight of myself … it’s harsh. And even though I admonish friends and acquaintances “No negative self-talk!” when those things come out of their mouths, the internal chatter doesn’t get such a quick shut down from me.

Enter #365feministselfie – a reminder that it is a feminist stance to accept who I am and what I look like (as I am, in whatever moment), that I needn’t look a “certain” way (read: magazine beautiful). That I can appreciate who I am, as I am, just as I do for my friends and those I follow on Instagram.

And when I click the hashtag on Instagram and see all of these beautiful, real faces of women across IG, I appreciate it. I value the brave it takes to be seen, and realize this is part of unfolding – allowing myself to be seen.

How do you allow yourself to be seen?

smiling self
Unfolding into who I am, daily, through pictures. Will you allow yourself to be seen?

On finishing my first case presentation report…

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, sipping mint tea. I am surrounded by school books. From my first semester, from my most recent semester. I’m seeing how the things that I have been learning over the past four semesters are coming together to help me become this new facet of myself.

I’ve been trying to think of what it’s been like, this process of diving into my clinical experience.

For someone who likes to work with words, and finding that there are no words… it’s pretty awe-filled.

So, I’ll just say, I love the fact that my program brought me to the point where I have the DSM, a book of counseling theories, motivational interviewing, human development, and books on meditation all at the table, at the same time, for the same paper… pretty awesome.


Through the Glass Backwards: Snowflakes in the Lamplight

gas station snow“Oh crap,” I said, passing the turn I needed to take to go to the gas station. I just wanted to get home. But, when you drive more than 200 miles in five days, it’s a good idea to not get too low.

There were snowflakes coming down like spitballs, splat splat splat on the windshield. The road was shining, just washed pavement.

While we were navigating the traffic home, talking and focusing on not being hit or hitting someone else, we were so close to home. But, I sighed deeply and kept going. I pulled into the station and started pumping gas.

Deep breath in, the crispness of the air mingled with the chill of snow in the air.

The snowflakes came down of their own accord; they didn’t try to be another snowflake. They didn’t try to speed up or slow down. While the traffic and the din of city living was all around, I noticed the snowflakes as they passed in front of the lamplight. I noticed the swoosh of tires on wet roads, the sirens screaming to move out of the way.

I was reminded to be in the moment. Right then. Right there.

Nothing to change.

Through the Glass Backwards: Warm temperatures, a walk, and memories

Somehow, it was nearly 60 degrees at the end of January. I walked out wearing a black jacket, long sleeved shirt underneath. I stuffed my red and brown striped hat in my messenger bag and started walked. I headed to meet someone about a potential job, so there was tons of chatter in my head, what to do, say, how to act.

sunshineBut with sneakers on pavement, movement forward, I began to awaken to the world. Stark branches seemed confused against the blue sky, given the warm temperature. I searched limbs for buds. I walked past one brick apartment, hearing drumbeats through an open window. Taking an unfamiliar route, I off-roaded from the sidewalk through drying mud and past the white marble columns of a local church. I inhaled as I crossed the street, the scent of incense mixing with exhaust and a nearby restaurant, and I felt like I was walking the streets of Nancy again, walking home after a day of learning in a language that was not my own.

What language do I speak when my breath catches in my throat? When I see the sun through my camera lens and sparks of memory rise in my chest?

Through the Glass Backwards: Reading, integrating, and breathing

readingI’m not typically one to read the news. Our television is often black, silent. I swipe through national and international news stories at least once or twice a week, during a 15 minute timer set to play digitized harps after the time has passed. I know that I need to stay “up to date” and “in the know.” So much information, crashing through my brain. I feel like I’m sinking in the information. Even with 15 minutes, I don’t know what to do with it all.

I often joke that I’ve been educated within an inch of my life*. I’ve been taught to integrate my information, to do something with it. It’s one of the reasons I love pleasure reading; I don’t have to do anything with it.

Rebellion, terror, fear, discrimination of all kinds, killings, unhappiness, stressful working and living situations, natural disasters.

When I read the news, this is not for pleasure. It’s a way to connect with my world. But, I feel so lost, untethered, because I do not know what to do with the information. So much suffering, so much pain, so much hardship.

What do I do with this knowing? On good days, I remember to practice.


* Hat tip to Barbara Kingsolver, from whom I first read the line “educated within an inch of her life.” Though, for the life of me, I can’t find where it’s from.