Finding Your Peace

Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-1-2To you from me: you’ll only ever find the peace you’re looking for within yourself. No one can give it to you, define it for you or create it for you. You already have it. It’s already there waiting for you to tap into it and own it. It may seem shaken right at the times you need it the most, but it’s those moments it’s actually at its strongest.

Dig deep. You’ll find exactly what you’re looking for exactly when you need it the most.Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-4Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-1Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-3Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-2Makeover by AtHome Beauty.

Insert Glamour Here

Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-24That’s what this entire shoot was about. Straight up Hollywood Glamour. Michelle loved the 20’s so we did give it a bit of nod here and there. These 2 sets were a bit more of a super subtle nod, but the red dress in my previous post was a bit more apparent. We started off saying we were going to do 2 outfits, and then ended up with 5. But the dresses and gowns we had were just way too scrumptious not to use them all.

Michelle had a natural connection with the lens. She pretty much floated through the day and from what I can gather, had a pret-ty good time. I’m not sure who wouldn’t….hair, makeup, gowns, dresses and a day designed and directed just for you? Yep…sounds like a recipe for glamour to the max.

This was my 2nd favorite dress, the first being the pink one in my first post. The pink dress from my first post was seriously glamorous, sexy and Michelle just ooooooooozed confidence and sensuality. This glittery dress you see above was absolutely stunning, but just a touch more conservative, which I loved. Mac Duggal is my go-to for glamour. He simply knows how to get it right….

Sprinkle me in glitter and let me go!Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-22Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-20Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-21Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-13Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-9Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-11Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-12Makeover by AtHome Beauty.

Afternoon Cocktails with E: a Facebook Livecast Summer Series

InstaLivecastYou read that right! Starting May 17, I will be doing a Facebook Livecast every Thursday at 2pm. I’m so excited! If you’re a reader of my blog, then hopefully you’ve picked up my theme of self-love, self-worth and self-acceptance. Not surprisingly, my most popular blog posts are the ones that focus on these topics. I believe it’s because every woman can relate, and knowing we are not alone in our struggle to love ourselves is so comforting.

I was in my car, talking with my husband, John, about some of the stories I’ve been writing about on this blog. He can always hear in my voice how impassioned I am about women and our shared battles with self image. After relaying to him a story about my most recent client he said, “You should really do a podcast.” We’ve talked about this before and I’m so busy I just don’t even have an interest in it. But then he recommended a livecast on Facebook and for some reason that hit ok with me. I think because I am a visual person, although the thought of being live is a bit nerve-racking for me….

Then I got excited and BAM! Here we are. Some I will do alone, like the first one, while others will be with guests who have a story to share that I think my followers would really enjoy and connect with.

So what will we talk about? Well, no topic is off limits so we will talk about self care and love, lighter topics like hair and makeup tips, heavier topics like sexual assault and transgender issues. We will talk about our ongoing, inner brawl with ourselves over weight and the myth of perfectionism. We’ll talk about marriage, divorce, motherhood and tribe-hood. But one thing I want to make note of: the foundation of this livecast will be woman-centered with a focus on empowerment, self love, awareness, care, perception, image and love. I know that sounds all hippie and shit, but ladies….you and I both know we need it (she says exhausted due to years of just trying to survive). Yes–I will also talk about my photography, if anyone is interested, but more from a personal and intimate point of view than from a technical or business perspective. Oh…and lots of humor, you guys. You know I can’t do anything without being a total goof and laughing my face off. You’re welcome.

It is also my goal to provide real and tangible tasks that any woman listening can implement to begin that journey of self acceptance. My hope is that the stories will inspire you and the methods will motivate you to take real steps that will make those thoughts in your head become a bit more gentle to yourself.

Each livecast will be about 30 minutes and there will be time at the end to answer any questions. I hope you’ll join me each week.

Peace, love and lots of wine!

Your One Job in This Life is to Be You

Loving Your Beautiful Curves | Elizabeth Craig Photography-6“Comparing yourself to others is poison. Your one job in this life is to be you.” –India Arie

I was walking along, huffing and puffing, getting my daily walk in while listening to a podcast that was featuring India Arie. Goodness she is so….soulful. She made so many lovely statements during this podcast, but the statement above is the one that really caught me.

So I really started to think about it: how many times in a day do I compare myself to other women? Physically, mentally, humorously, professionally, financially…and then I caught my breath. I do this. A lot. Like…A LOT. Ew. Ewwwwwwww! I stopped mid-walk and a terrible layer of ick came over me. It was as if I could feel all the weight and layers of all the skin of other women I had compared myself to just laying on top of my own skin. There my beautiful body was, trying to gasp for air, get some attention from me…just a hint of recognition for what it has done for me for 44 years. It has walked so many miles, been with me through heartbreaks, a car accident or 2, anxiety and depression, walked me down the aisle, grew an alien being, I now call Ella, inside itself. It has listened to every horrible thing I’ve ever said to it and absorbed every scowling look of disappointment it sees every time I pass by a mirror. It has, all of my entire life, lived with the heavy burden of absolutely never being enough. It always needed to lose 5 more pounds (or 20 nowadays), its skin never smooth enough, the belly never flat enough, the boobs never big enough…it never looked like “her” body…whoever “her” was at the moment.

I realized in that moment what a truly horrifying friend I have been to my body all my life. I could just feel it screaming out to me, begging me to show it just the teeniest bit of love and acknowledgement for all that it had done for me, and all it will do for me for all of my days.

That day, I decided to start writing my body love notes. Real love notes… I tell my body how beautiful it is. I tell my body how grateful I am for her and that after all I’ve said to her, she still keeps me alive and trucking along. I run my hands on her skin, appreciating ever bump and divot. I even tell the part of my body I have always and forever had difficulties with, my tummy, that it is absolutely 100% perfect in every way, though the status quo and Cosmo may disagree. She is a miracle, a lifesaver and my best friend and no matter what anyone else says, she is the purest example of true beauty in all her ways.

This woman you see in these photos is a living example of that, and not because she’s a curvy woman. I’m not going to say “She’s so beautiful because she accepts herself as she is in a world that daily tells her she is not beautiful enough.” I’m saying it because, after working with women in all my ways over the last 13 years, I have come to realize that size doesn’t matter in your level of self-acceptance. This stunning woman is a living example of what beauty really is because she accepts herself. Period. I have had fitness coaches that honestly could not lose one more pound still find things about their body that drives them crazy (that was yesterday’s shoot). I have had size zeros a nervous wreck in my studio because they didn’t lose the extra 5 pounds they intended to for their session day. I’ve had curvy women love every wobbly bit, tall women shrink to make themselves shorter, short women revel in their petite-ness, thin women wish they could have a bigger bum, and women with big bums find that the most sexiest part of their body while others find their big bum the biggest nuisance of their existence.

The point is, there is no such thing as perfection.

This lovely gal knew this and this is why I chose her for this shoot. Her curves were so incredible, her legs went on for days and I could have literally just taken a bite out of every wobbly bit. She was so sexy, so confident and radiated love for herself. Does this mean she has no issues with her body? Absolutely not. But she had a level of intimacy and friendship with her body that just made you want to stare at her and try to absorb some of that just by standing next to her. She gets it.

This “accept yo-self” thing seems to be quite the theme for me lately in my blog posts and I want to share with you why. Pay attention here, this is important:

If you think you are the only woman that has an issue with some or all of your body, you are wrong. If you think you are alone in your self-loathing or just in the fact that you believe you need to do one more thing to get it right, you are wrong. We ALL struggle and the more we talk about it and share our struggles, the more we understand that we are all in the same boat. We are together in this. We are not alone. This is our tribe. We are a tribe. Tribes are made of warriors and miracle-makers.

Warriors and miracle-makers have no time for this bullshit. What we do have time for is supporting each other, loving each other, taking care of one another and joining together to make it our mission, as a tribe, to uplift, cheer on and otherwise be the biggest fans of each other.

So here is what I want you to start doing. I want you to find at least one woman every single day and pay her a compliment. I want you to make sure you put your cheerleader glasses on and look for that one woman in a day that you know could use a compliment. It could be a co-worker, your mother, a stranger on the street…I don’t care. The second thing I want you to start doing every single day is looking at yourself in the mirror and giving yourself at least one compliment a day. If you can’t do it while looking in the mirror, then do it when you’re driving, walking, cooking…whatever. I don’t care if you have to lie to yourself at first, just do it. I already practice the former and have for years and it makes me feel SO DAMN GOOD to get that surprised smile from a woman after I compliment her and she says Thank You in that shy but happy kind of “that just made my day” way. I just started doing the latter and it feels SO DAMN GOOD to get that from my own damn self.

I promise you, it will make a difference. It will. It will begin to rework your brain. It will begin to rework your body and yes, then your soul. I had a friend tell me once that if you have a negative thought about yourself, but can prove it wrong, that thought then becomes powerless.

Ladies: let’s start proving ourselves wrong. #putthefuckingbathingsuiton Who’s with me??

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