I have accepted a self-portrait challenge and am surprised at the places it has taken me.
First place. My old self would have said that it is selfish to focus on me, my body, my image captured in a planned moment. Taking a portrait of me sounded too self-absorbed but now I see it as a path to awareness. There is a difference between selfishness and diving deep into the self to foster self-awareness. I choose to focus on the self as a path to listening, to being, to observing.
Second place. It is helping me to think differently about my body, the parts I like and dislike, and how the body is a great source of strength, healing, love, and wisdom. There is a bit of reclaiming that is going on (again--I have been here before). And lots of resistance (again) to cultural images of beauty and strength. I am much more than my physical legs, arms, heart, and head. In fact, the external landscape mirrors or rather points to a rich spiritual one.
Third place. I have a long distance to go before the road to self-acceptance is complete, but in the meantime, I am learning the power of self-observations and the way my body knows way more than I do about how life really works. If you are a woman, then you will understand that paying attention to how your own body cycles; looking, listening, journaling, and following the ways of your own internal landscape, both physically and intuitively, actually lead to the external landscape, the cycles of the seasons, the moon, the sun, and the tides. My body, then, your body too, are part of a greater landscape that often times seems chaotic and disordered but is richly patterned and whole.
Fourth place. The preparation that goes on inside of me as I think about the next portrait feels like I am walking to the wild, the wilderness, as I scan my mind, my ego, for those places free from society and culture. I want to see the outside from the inside differently. And I also want the outside (those wild places) to help me see the inside differently. A gaze of the camera calls into question all sorts of things for me. I normally want to capture my children or a beautiful landscape or a moment in time. Never, ever, would I have considered capturing my own beauty let alone thinking about the depth of that beauty, or even using the word beauty to describe anything about me!
Fifth place. A new perspective, a new energy of love is on my horizon and my greying hair, its wildness, its frizzyness, its untameness, is seeking a balance in a very chaotic existence.