Creating Belly Art

DSC-500-2Yep. It’s art. Don’t you think?? What could be more artful than an implied nude of a beautiful woman celebrating what her body can do?

Such a beautiful and important thing to commemorate. Don’t let anyone fool you: just because every 2nd person can do it, and it’s gets done hundreds of times everyday doesn’t mean it isn’t the most incredible, amazing, crazy thing in the whole wide world. Maternity Boudoir-4Maternity Boudoir-8Maternity Boudoir-2Maternity Boudoir-11Makeover by AtHome Beauty.

Note to Self

Pittsburgh Personal Branding Headshot Photographer-9

Hi Self!

Just dropping a line to tell you how kickass you’ve been doing lately. I’m not sure the last time I said this, but you’re awesome, gorgeous, brilliant, funny, kind, the best friend a gal could have a fierce force to be reckoned with. Your smile lights up a room and your whip-smart sass brings people to their knees.

You keep trucking along because whatever it is you’re doing, it’s clearly working out beautifully. I’ll be here, cheering you on and doing cartwheels for you. When you’re feeling down or tired, lean on me. I’ll be the rock waiting for you to lay down on.

Just know that I love you, deeply and truthfully. I love your flaws, your good days and bad. I love your sense of humor, your eyes when you laugh, your wobbly bits and everything from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. All of those things you think you don’t like about yourself? Those are my favorite bits, so lay them down on me and I’ll be here to heal you.

Deeply and madly in love with you.

Sincerely,
MePittsburgh Personal Branding Headshot Photographer-8Makeover by AtHome Beauty.

Who is Responsible for You Liking Yourself?

Self Love = Self Care-1Let me answer that as clearly and compassionately as I can: your own damn self. That’s who.

Let me explain…

For a very long time I have been a collector of a certain type of woman in my studio and it has been such a blessing. All sarcasm and Ebeth-ism aside…I’m realizing my passion is women and I express that passion through photography. I always thought it was the other way around, but it turns out it was the complete opposite. Who would’ve ever guessed that??

So…here I am collecting these beautiful, engaging, brilliant women just overflowing with life and energy, but I see that so many of them share the exact same problem and they just don’t see it…

They are each asking someone close to them to fill them up, love them unconditionally, cherish their faults just as much as their strengths, find them to be exactly what they want and need in this life in every way, believe in them fully, and finally, to simply just love them for who they are, as they are.

But here is the thing: they are not willing to do even ONE of those things on that list for themselves. Not. One. They look in the mirror and sneer at that reflection. For every compliment they are paid they follow it up with some perceived fault of themselves. They go to bed at night counting every calorie while having a pretend fist fight with themselves and they wake up in the morning picking up right where they left off.

What’s more, I’m starting to see a trend happening whereupon women are starting to lay this responsibility on me. Now listen, do not get me wrong here. Nothing, and I mean nothing, gives me more joy than watching a woman walk into my studio as sure as she can be that she’s not going to like her photos and then hand her the box of tissues without her even having to ask as tears stream down her face because she just cannot believe how much she loves them, and herself. It never ever gets old for me.

However…

If someone was doing a street survey and walked up to you and asked you the question: “Who is responsible for you liking yourself?”, what answer would you give? Yesssssss……that’s right. Could you really choke out any other name, other than your own?? No. No you could not. And you know it. So why, then, are you walking around each day as if that answer is any other name other than your own??

And here’s the other thing–pay attention here. This is important. If you are waiting around for your partner to make you feel good about yourself and take on that daily responsibility to fulfill you in every way that has to do with your own healthy self-image….boy are you going to be madly disappointed. First, why would someone do that for you and when you won’t even do it for yourself? Second, do you do that for them? Do you believe it is your sole responsibility to do whatever it is you need to do to make sure that your partner is in love with their own self?

Let me say: if you have a partner that is actively trying to make you feel bad about yourself and does not lift you up in the ways they absolutely should then you have to do your own soul-searching as to why you are still there. I’m talking about 2 people that care for each other very deeply. But you have to know that no matter how much your partner, or anyone else, loves you it is simply not their responsibility to make you love yourself. And my dear dear beloved darlings: it is not my responsibility either.

You have to give something here. You have to see that if you do not ever take an active and participating role in your own healthy self-image, absolutely no one can do it for you. You will, without a doubt, spend the rest of your life living in a puddle of disappointment, disillusionment and dis-ease. Please don’t do this to yourself.

If you have now had your daily wake up call for taking responsibility for your own self love, acceptance and care then may I make a few suggestions? Please start some kind of daily meditation on affirmations of self love. Please take some time each day to sit in stillness and get to know yourself. Please write a list or journal entry on the many ways you cheated yourself and your partner by putting this burden upon them. Please talk to your partner about this soft spot for yourself and ask them how they feel about all of this. Please put some kind of plan of action into place allowing you to spend time doing things that will help you begin to heal and accept yourself.

After all, if you don’t do this, who will? What are you waiting for?Self Love = Self Care-3Self Love = Self Care-4Self Love = Self Care-6Self Love = Self Care-5Self Love = Self Care-2Makeover by AtHome Beauty.

Falling in Love with You

Remember Your Beauty-1Recently, I started doing something I never really did before. Or at least I never put a title on it. I’m not one for defining every little thing, but I think this really deserved to be set apart, lifted up high and given it’s due spotlight.

I began dating myself.

Yes, that’s right. I decided to take a closer look at my own relationship with myself and I decided that I needed to court myself, just as two lovers would when first getting to know each other. Think that’s silly? Read on…

Recently a friend of mine made the statement that she believes you have to recognize your Self is in a relationship with your Self. It’s truly such a simple thought, but one I had not really thought of so clearly before. So I began to really think about it and of course, she was right. It’s terribly difficult, as all relationships are, but I encourage you to look at your Self this way and see what comes up.

I recently posted these words on Facebook with a photo:

“Beginning a new relationship is so nerve-racking, yet so exciting. You take your time getting to know that person, through and through. You’ll find things you like, things you so desperately love and things you’re just not sure you can get on board with. You look forward to creating memories with this person and your biggest hope is that the love lasts for all time. I mean, you’re aware of the fact that there will be bumps in the road, but you’re hopeful that you will find a way to persevere in love, forgiveness, devotion and the innate desire to make it last forever. As you grow together, you’ll discover new and wonderful things. Sometimes the twists and turns will be too much and you won’t know how to navigate, winding up in knock down, drag out fights completely unsure of what will be left after the dust settles.

My hope for you is that you decide to stick it out. I hope that you remember that though you fight, disagree and even HATE each other at times, it’s worth it. It’s worth hanging onto the love, the beauty and the peace that sits right there, holding tight right back.

Be kind. Be respectful. Be patient. Be loving. Find the humor in all the seemingly painful moments and for the love of all things…hold on and never let go. Take care of each other, be there for each other and never ever, and I mean ever, give up. It’s simply too precious to throw it all away.

And so begins your journey…with your Self.”

With that being said, I decided to start treating myself to dates with myself. Here’s the thing: I loooooooove eating in restaurants by myself. When I shop, I want to shop alone. I love walking by myself, going to the movies by myself, traveling by myself. I’m not a leader. I’m not a follower. I am a loner. So I truly enjoy “alone time”. But the thing is, I decided to shift my perception of “alone time” to “self dating time”, and I kid you not, it has changed so many things. I am now so much more conscious of being more gentle and tender with myself, as you would on a lover’s date. I am so much more relaxed with myself and allow myself to indulge in things that you would do on a “special” date. I put time aside for my dates, just as I do for my own husband.

And here is the best part: the guilt I used to feel for not wanting anyone to interrupt my “me time” is gone. I now see this as an integral part of building my own happy, healthy and contented life. And you should too.

For far too long we women have been raised to believe our voice should be smaller, our opinions should be lighter and our needs should come last. And I bet you right now you are exhausted, run down, discontented and wish about 4,987,3822 times a day you could just take a break. At night you daydream about having an afternoon to yourself or even being able to just have a cup of coffee in the morning and actually be able to drink the whole thing while it’s warm!

Well I’m here not only to tell you that this is all possible, but to give you the permission you thought you didn’t have to simply start taking care of you. It doesn’t have to be grand (at first). It could be 30 minutes you set aside for a walk, flipping through a magazine, a cup of warm coffee through and through, an uninterrupted phone call with your bestie.

And right now you’re like “yeah right”. But hear this: if you believe you cannot get 30 minutes a day to yourself for just a moment’s peace and quiet, then you need 60 minutes. And hear this: if you cannot get that time it is because you have taught those around you to not value your time and voice. The good news? It’s reversible. Just as you gave those around you the power to eat all your time and space up, you can take it away. And listen–I know for single mamas this struggle is REAL. Just remember: they have to go to sleep sometime! Instead of using those first 30 minutes to clean up, pack lunches for tomorrow or get a bit of work done, sit down and indulge in that one show you wouldn’t tell anyone you watch for fear of total embarrassment. You deserve this more than anyone.

And before you email, message and yell at me about some woman’s situation that is the prime example of why “self time” is impossible, know that I am not being flippant or a know-it-all. Of course I know that there are just some situations where the difficulty or even desire or priority to make some “me time” is just crazy. I get it.

It’s a work in progress for me too and trust me, I’m not perfect at it to say the least. I had to set ground rules about being interrupted when at home working. It’s still a work in progress, BIG TIME. But both my husband and my daughter know if you interrupt me when I’m working, they get to own the reaction. I know it sounds harsh and this is why you’re having a problem with getting your own time: you’re too worried about being nice. Knock that shit off right now. I work A LOT. I mean…A LOT and that work brings in money, ergo, give me the respect and time I need to devote myself to my work. Treat me as if I am not home and in an office somewhere and you can’t see me. They are both starting to learn that if you give me the uninterrupted time I need to get my work done, when I’m not working I’m all yours. If you can’t give me the respect and time I need to get my shit done, then you don’t get the respect and time you need to spend with me, uninterrupted. Period.

So here’s your permission to set your own boundaries. Take yourself out to dinner, a movie and even a shopping spree. Don’t want to spend money? Make yourself a cup of coffee, go sit on your porch and cruise all the gossip sites on your phone while you relax and listen to birds. Take a magazine and go sit outside or on a busy street and people watch. Walk around the block, lock the bathroom door and try that new hairstyle you saw in Vogue, turn a closet into a “sanity nook” and pour yourself a glass of wine and throw a cushion down and drink up! And when you really want to get clever, make your husband and kids a “date night” of their own. Make a fancy gift certificate and present it with lavish effect and get them the hell out of the house for a day while you actually get to lay around your own home…alone. No husband to toss the kiddos at? Ask your bestie, neighbor, babysitter, mom/dad, sibling or whoever.

The point is: quit making yourself last. Gone are the days when mother martyrdom was the cool thing. How do I know that? Because tell me you don’t look up to women that actually do the stuff I’m talking about? I do. And when I post about taking a spa day with a friend, traveling alone, taking myself out to dinner or any activity that inspires an “Oh my gosh….what I would give to be able to do that for an afternoon…” I get COUNTLESS messages of “I wish!” and “I’m so jelly!” and “Someday I’m going to do that!” and all of those messages are followed up with reasons they all believe they can’t take a moment to themselves.

Yes. You. Can.

Hey, wanna go on a date??In Love with Me-1

 

 

 

I Can’t Fix “I Hate Myself” in Photoshop

So, this is a sort of “reblog” of a post I did back in 2014. Lately I have been running into SO MANY women that are beautiful inside and out and have mates and loved ones that wouldn’t even consider changing one tiny thing about them, yet they just cannot seem to quit picking out THE MOST insignificant “flaws” they see in themselves. These women that bless my studio have just about ruined their sessions with me because instead of seeing this gorgeous photo in its entirety, they only see the hair they think is out of place, the wrinkle under her eye, the completely non-existent fat in the arm. I watch as they drive themselves CRAZY throughout the entire shoot for the most insignificant things that absolutely no one but themselves can see.

Ladies: I give this post…

Now, take a moment and just breathe. Let me ask you this: what would happen if you treated anyone else in this whole wide world the way you treat yourself? Make the cycle stop right now. Because here’s the thing: whether it stops now or continues on for your whole life, you still have to wake up everyday and live that life. How you do it is up to you.

It has been a rough few weeks with you ladies (she says while scratching her head, one eyebrow raised). Lately I have had a rash of women that do not like themselves, fiercely, come in to get photographed. If I pointed out every single physical characteristic of myself that I believed were unpleasing to others I’d be here all day.

In fact, let’s just start with the face. Yes, ladies, that’s me. In all my glory. Unwashed hair, no makeup…lest you’re thinking: “What would she know?? She can Photoshop herself into Gisele Bundchen status if she wanted to!” Well here I am.photo-on-11-3-14-at-12-03-pm

So let’s see here. My eyes are too close together, I have bags under my eyes, I have a big overbite, blemishes on my chin, wrinkles on my forehead, crows feet, frizzy-ass hair, gray roots…and this is just the face gals. I don’t have time to run you through the body.

And even if I juuuuuust take a few moments and do this:dsc-501-2

I am still fully aware of what I really look like.

It is one of the most interesting things in the world to work with women. So many walks of life, so many trials, tribulations, celebrations, milestones…so much to commemorate. I get why you come to me. Whether it’s for you, for him…whatever: you come to me to feel beautiful and get proof that you are beautiful. I’m a girl. I know.

But I simply cannot Photoshop you into liking yourself.

We all have insecurities. I have a ton! I just went through a 5 year battle of just hating myself physically. And I had a good grip on things, I thought. I am not a 41 year old woman that wants to forever be 25. I know it’s impossible and I have no desire to botox my way into fighting the fact that I’m getting older. It’s just not for me. But what I finally realized was that I am actually fine looking at who I have become in the mirror; it was the perception I thought others had of me that was getting in the way. And listen, this doesn’t come from nowhere. We have each been in lots of situations where friends or loved ones thought they were doing us a favor by pointing out the things we want to hide the most (like my ass) so we can’t blame it all on the magazines. My husband, God love him, has made more than one “helpful” comment about my ass looking like a shelf. Why did he think he was actually being complimentary? Because he noticed I dropped a few pounds for whatever reason and thought I would be happy when he exclaimed “Hey! You lost your shelf butt!” But what it really made me think was: How long had I been walking past him with him thinking “Damn her ass is getting f-a-t. You could set a drink on that thing!” And yes, you may not believe this, but I have actually found out that some women that knew me when I was a size 4 have been just WAITING for me to get fat and, in fact, were disappointed when I either hadn’t gotten fat yet or wasn’t fat enough to make them feel better about themselves. No I am not kidding and it was so disappointing on so many levels. So when I hit 36 and the metabolism starting to snail to a turtle crawl it was devastating for me. We all go through it, I know.

But I had let my entire self worth become about my body. It was so predictable. It was so disappointing. I was so angry with myself for obsessing about something that was so insignificant. I was a size 4. I am now a size 8 on my top and an 10 on my bottom. **GASP!!!** How can I live with myself?!?

But then I hit a crossroad and everything changed. I realized I could turn left and spend the rest of my life predictably and boringly being the woman that obsesses over her weight, her ass, her wrinkles, her size 8 bottom and continue to live on the diet roller coaster and actively volunteer in the love/hate relationship of “Yay! I lost a pound! I rock!” and then “Boo! I gained a pound! I’m worthless!”. Or I could turn right and simply put, accept myself. And at that moment the only thing that mattered was what I thought about myself. And at that moment it hit me that, for some reason, I didn’t care what others opinions were of me. And then in the next moment, something beautiful happened:

The gap between what I thought I looked like (ugly, old and fat) and what I actually look like and what the world sees me as (normal, pretty and of average weight) closed.

Well, it didn’t close completely, but wow did it get a ton smaller. I don’t know why all of a sudden I accepted myself but I did. I am now accepting of who I am, I love myself and yes I could lose a few pounds but who the hell cares?? I realized I would MUCH rather eat the foods I like, while still making healthy choices of course, be active and healthy and enjoy my life rather than count calories/points and hate myself into an early grave (all while starving and eating ridiculous things like rice cakes…what in the name of all things big and small are those damn tasteless things anyway??) And you know what happened?

I lost weight. And then I put it back on, and I don’t give a shit.The funny thing is I still weigh just as much as I did when I was trying to starve myself into happiness. So poop on it: I chose to have a life and enjoy it while I can rather than starve it and be miserable. Join me…it’s so fun here. 

I know…that’s a lot of talk you didn’t ask for but I wanted you to know my journey so you know that when I say this it’s with love, understanding and empathy:

Quit picking corn out of chicken shit. Yes, I said it.

Please stop looking at a photo of yourself that I took and say “Oh my God…I’m so fat.” or “Wow where did those wrinkles come from”….my boobs look weird in that photo, my hair isn’t laying right, my waist looks fat there, my ass looks fat….etc etc and please stop doing the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” thing. It’s not that you did a bad job; I’m just that ugly/fat/hard to work with…etc etc. Just stop it. Quit looking at these photos and seeing these phantom “issues” you have with yourself because you know what? You are the ONLY one obsessing about it and the moral of the story is: obsessing will not change it. Quit obsessing over something you either will not or cannot change. Enough. ENOUGH!

If you hate yourself walking into my studio you will not like yourself in my photos. No amount of harassing yourself will change that. And no amount of Photoshopping a smaller waist, smaller ass, bigger boobs or whatever will change that for you.

So here is a gift from me to you.  I believe each of you self-haters will find this awesome TedTalk video quite  interesting. It’s only 15 minutes and please, take a moment and watch it. Not for me, for you.

So…tell me about yourself.

xoxo