Hello to the new me.
Hello to a new year of fresh beginnings.
“She said goodbye, remembering the past and looking to the future.” ~Jennifer
I’ve always felt physically and spiritually attuned to the four seasons. I love the cycles through which nature passes each year: the planting of a seed in spring, the growth and glory of summer, the golden harvest of autumn, the quiet dormancy of winter. There truly is a season for everything in this life. How appropriate that as I sit here writing my final She is Three post, it happens to be the winter solstice.
The house is finally quiet. All lights are out except for the glow of my laptop screen and a faint orange blur emanating from the last embers in the fireplace. It’s time to rest. The cycle is complete. My seed of an idea for a self-portraiture project exploring the three phases of womanhood was planted five years ago. It grew as did I. Every month I showed up, often struggling and always seeking. I acknowledged weaknesses and discovered hidden strengths. I gave and received loving support in this sacred circle of women. I also found light around me and within me…light I thought was either lost forever or unattainable to begin with.
The day I took my final self-portrait, I held three sprigs of rosemary for remembrance. At the same time, I faced forward, ready to move on. The last of the day’s sun shone behind me, illuminating my neck and highlighting my throat chakra.
Tonight I’m honoring the longest night of the year by mirroring nature’s process of slowing down. I’m sitting in stillness. I’m giving thanks for the brave and wonderful women who participated in this project over the years. I’m also saying goodbye as I remember the past and look to the future. I’m gratefully laying the seasons of She is Three to rest and preparing to welcome whatever journey comes next.
“She said goodbye.” ~Bella
I’ve been thinking about endings and how they are gateways to new beginnings. What a gift it was to receive the invitation to join She is Three from Deb and Jennifer. The idea of exploring topics through self-portraiture scared me to death, a sign that this was the next right step on my journey.
Goodbyes beg of us to pause and reflect. I have looked through all of my photos and outtakes from the three years of self-portraits I have taken for this project and I am in awe of what they reveal. I see a woman, at times strong and at other times she’s held together by a thread. I see in this woman sparks of joy married with tears of grief. I see her commitment to showing up even when she’s feeling resistant. She is constantly becoming her next best self.
Thank you for coming on this journey with us. It has been a pleasure to be a part of this project with you and alongside you. Goodbyes are gateways to new beginnings. I am standing in the doorway, saying goodbye to one great thing and welcoming the next.
With December here, it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2016. As this year draws to a close, so too does our five-year collaboration at She is Three. We have grown and learned deeply during this process; so much so that our journey here feels complete. While we’re sad to say goodbye to this project, we feel blessed to have had this sacred time to walk each other home.
Thank you for traveling along the road with us as we peeled back layer after layer of our lives as women. We hope you’ve felt inspired and empowered at some point along the way, connecting to the maiden, the mother, and the crone in each of you. If you’d like to join us for one last month together, tag your self-portraits #sheisthreedotcom #shesaidgoodbye on Instagram!
We’ll be back here to share the final stories behind our photos on the 14th, 21st, and 28th of December. Goodbye for now, ladies…
“She looked in the mirror with curious intention.” ~Deb
Some days are easier than others to peek around the corner into that raw reflection of YOUrself.
Sometimes I see the extra wrinkles and baggy eyes. Other days I see vibrant curiosity with a mischievous grin. Some days I see the curve of my strong shoulders who just sat with a friend, weeping about her life circumstances. And finally those days when all I see is my softening belly and jiggly thighs.
Yet I keep showing up. With camera in hand. With curious creativity to embrace these days of aging gracefully.
As I looked back on my archive of self-portraits, I discovered a surprising collection of shots involving mirrors.
They seem to add mystery to the photo I am creating.
Some offer a soft, dreamy vintage feeling, with crackly backgrounds, beveled edges and intricate frames.
Others are those moments in a public bathroom selfie shot.
And how about that one we all have in the car rearview mirror, right?
Technology today offers timers and front facing settings on our cameras and mobile phones.
But did you know that mirror self-portraits actually began in the early 1800s?
If you are as fascinated by this fact that I am, click here for some great examples.
I adore seeing all the different types of cameras!
If you are so inclined to join our self-portrait journey, we would love to find you with #shelookedinthemirror #sheisthreedotcom. And if you follow me on Instagram, come have a peek at my #debinthemirror for inspiration!
“She looked in the mirror and saw three.” ~Jennifer
In January of 2012, I got the inspiration to begin this project. It literally was a breath of air when I felt as though I were suffocating. I had no time or space of my own. I was sleep-deprived, angry, overwhelmed, confused. I had what I would call creative laryngitis. There was so much I desperately wanted to express, but I was voiceless. During those cold, dark days and nights, I yearned for a haven. I needed a place to go for support and release. I was struggling in my postpartum body. I hoped for a safe environment where I could work my way through the rocky terrain of being a new mother. I wished more than ever that my own mom were still alive.
I had made the passage from maiden to mother, but it was not an easy one. I missed much of my former independence. I wanted my body back. I loved my husband and knew what a beautiful blessing our daughter was, but something was still amiss. Ideas and emotions were boiling within me and rising to the surface. I needed the protective embrace of a women’s circle where I could be witnessed but not judged. That’s when I invited two creative souls to join me in exploring womanhood and its three phases: maiden, mother, crone.
I avoided looking in the mirror back then. When I did, I saw nothing but an exhausted mess staring back at me. The maiden was gone. I experienced none of the joy of my former self. I couldn’t find the earthly wisdom of the crone in the distance. I felt ruined, broken, sliced into pieces.
Almost five years have passed since then. I’m now the mother of two amazing children. I’m still tired and busy, which is to be expected. I’m still finding my way through womanhood, but I know I’m not alone. I’ve waded in the healing waters of this community. I’ve been seen. I’ve seen you. And now I see more than a broken woman when I look in the mirror. I recognize the joy of the maiden. I acknowledge the ever-changing middle path of the mother and how I shift along with it. And I know the wise woman is right by my side. I might not perceive her clearly, but she is always there, ready to step into the picture. She is me, and I am three.
“She looked in the mirror and felt acceptance.” ~Bella
I have struggled with my appearance. This is no secret. I’ve written about it multiple times over the years that I have been sharing my photos and words here. There has always been something that I have been searching for, the magical “thing” that will help me feel comfortable in my skin. And when I say I’ve searched for it, what I really mean is that I’ve tried to buy it or emulate it or adopt it as a new way to be, hoping all the while “this is it, this is going to be the thing that helps me feel whole, complete, and right.”
This has been quite a year for my family and I. My husband had triple bypass surgery last month. He is doing great at this point in his recovery process. The last three months of my life have revolved solely around doctors, testing, and praying he makes it through each day. It has also been a time of deep reflection of what really matters in this small amount of time this life consists of. I have emerged from this experience a stronger soul. I’m less reliant on finding that “thing” I was so convinced would make me happy. Today, I look in the mirror and feel gratitude for my health. Knowing that all my parts are healthy and work just as they should is the ultimate gift. There is nothing outside of me that I need to fill the well when just being alive and breathing is enough. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? How do you feel when you face your own reflection? Are there emotions that bubble up to the surface when you peer into your own eyes?
These are the concepts we’re investigating this month at She is Three. As the November days pass, we hope you’ll look in the mirror and try turning the camera on yourselves. It might not be easy, but it will be an opportunity to learn and grow. We gently invite you to share your self-portraits in our community pool on Instagram using the hashtags #sheisthreedotcom #shelookedinthemirror. Doing so is optional. Whether you choose to participate on Instagram or not, we hope our experiments in self-portraiture inspire you, encourage you, and remind you to see yourselves with kindness.
We’ll be back here on the Si3 blog to share our quotes and the stories behind our photos on the 14th, 21st, and 28th of November. Until then, here is a sneak peek from the three of us:
“I got a Gypsy Soul and I was born for leaving” ~ Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band ~
“She is wild about nature.” ~Jennifer
The meaning of wildness has come full circle for me. I feel a return happening; a return to the innocence and imagination of youth. I’m reconnecting with the little girl in me who saw life through a lens of magic. That little girl didn’t know darkness. She reveled in stories of fairies and unicorns. She felt the allure of the fiddleheads unfolding in the woods. She found enchantment amongst the daffodils. She was captivated by verdant patches of moss and silvery swaths of moonlight.
I’ve never thought of myself as wild before, but now I realize that I am. We all are in one way or another. I’m not reckless or riotous, but I am daring. I have a great sense of adventure, though my feats are much tamer since marriage and motherhood. And yet, it is in this phase of my life that I am recovering my true wildness. It is a wildness that was buried beneath years of dust and disillusionment. Mine is the wild heart of a girl who is deeply connected to nature. I’m fascinated with how the light plays off of everything around me. I’m in love with flowers. I’m wild about autumn, with its gleaming days and crisp nights. I’m downright amazed at all of the healing potential in this world. There is so much beauty out there, and I’m happiest when I take the time to soak it in.