“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.
Category Archives: Jennifer
“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.
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:
“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.
In what way(s) are you wild? You might be wild about/for/like something or someone. Or maybe it’s not a question of how, but of when you are wild. Perhaps you don’t feel wild at all, but you’d like to. Now is the perfect time. The three of us invite you to play with the concept of being wild this month. Let the shifting weather patterns of October inspire you. Make the most of the Halloween season by donning a wild costume. There are so many ways to interpret this month’s prompt. Your wildness might look subdued or it might look stormy. Be natural. Be passionate. Be silly. Be free. Be who you are. Be who you want to be. There are no wrong answers here. Just show us your takes on being wild.
Please join us by posting your self-portraits on Instagram using the hashtags #sheisthreedotcom #sheiswild this month. We’re looking forward to seeing you there. As always, we’ll back here on the 14th, 21st, and 28th to share our quotes and the stories behind our photos. In the meantime, here is a little video we made just for you!
“She acknowledged the need to have fun.” ~Jennifer
It took a trip to kindergarten for me to remember how important it is to have fun. On my daughter’s first day of school, my husband and I (and the other kindergarten families) rode the bus with her. We met the teacher and we watched as the children hung their backpacks in their cubbies and found their names at the tables. As I stood in the back of the room observing, I learned a great deal.
Gone are the days of chalk and blackboard. The teacher used a Promethean board connected to her computer to project the lessons. With a stylus, she colored in various shapes on the interactive white board. She showed how scribbling with no effort was not acceptable. Then as she was carefully filling in another shape, she “accidentally” colored outside the lines. It’s okay if that happens sometimes, she explained, as long as you try your best.
In the back of my head, I knew I had to take a self-portrait for She is Three when we got home that day. Neither timing nor weather nor inspiration had lined up for me to do it during the days prior. But after we got off the bus that afternoon, I just wanted to relax. I wanted to do my best for the photo, but I didn’t want to stress out about staying inside the lines. It was a gorgeous sunny day, so I took my daughter and my son outside to play. As we were blowing bubbles near the zinnias, I thought about the kindergarten lesson again. Then I told myself to forget about composition, clothing, and location. Instead of going inside to get my DSLR, I snapped some photos with my iPhone while my children were playing right in front of me. Then I put the phone down and went back to enjoying the beauty of the zinnias, the simple joy of blowing bubbles, and the giggles of my little ones. Both my daughter and I colored outside the lines a bit that day, but we did our best and we had lots of fun.
There is so much to acknowledge on any given day. We have emotions, experiences, needs, and responsibilities that call for our attention constantly. It can be hard to acknowledge everything going on around us and within us. There are times when it’s easier to turn a blind eye or bury our heads in the sand, but that’s not what we aim to do here at She is Three. So we’re stepping out and acknowledging what is coming up in our days, our hours, even our minutes.
We invite you to come forward and acknowledge what is going on in your world this month. It doesn’t have to be neat and tidy. It does have to be you, however, just as you are right now. The truth is beautiful, and that’s what we want to see. We want you to see it in yourselves, too.
Please join us on Instagram by tagging your self-portraits #sheisthreedotcom #sheacknowledged (and feel free to post as often as you like)!
Do stop by here on the 14th, 21st, and 28th to read the quotes and stories behind our photos. For now, here’s a little peek into our process this month!
Are you ready?! August is already underway and we’re moving into a new phase of the year. The summer is starting to wind down and students will be heading back to school in a matter of weeks. We all seem to be getting ready for something this month, whether it is school-related or not. What kind of change are you ready for? What are you ready to do? What action are you ready to take? We invite you to use our August prompt as a launching pad as you think about where you are heading this month. Try using self-portraiture to answer these questions visually. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #sheisthreedotcom #sheisready so we can find you on Instagram! We love seeing you and featuring you there, too!
We will share the quotes and the written stories behind our photos here on the blog on the 14th, 21st, and 28th of this month. Do come back then to get the full scoop! In the meantime, here is a little video of each of us sharing some information from the locations where we shot our self-portraits.
“She embodied freedom amidst the flowers.” ~Jennifer
By now, it’s no secret that I love flowers. They are a part of my being. They are my attachment to the past, my link to everyday life, and the garland of dreams that connects me to the future. I feel a spark of inspiration when I see, touch, and smell flowers. I experience an amazing sense of liberation when I stand in a meadow blooming with Queen Anne’s lace, echinacea, aster, and cosmos.
Certain flowers remind me of life stages through which I have passed. To this day, lavender means freedom to me. Those spiky purple stalks take me back to my first summer study abroad and the lavender fields whizzing by the windows of the TGV as I traveled to the south of France. When it came time to go home, I filled my suitcase with dried lavender flowers in sachets of provencal fabric to give as souvenirs and to keep as fragrant reminders of my experiences.
In subsequent years, I would return to France for employment. Each trip was an adventure, sometimes frightening but always freeing. One summer I took a day trip to an island covered in lavender fields. Another summer, I stood in awe when thousands of lavender pots were placed in the Place des Vosges for a festival. Each time I returned to the US, my bags were bursting with lavender sachets and bottles of lavender oil.
Now that I am the mother of two small children, I don’t have much free time at all. And so, when I need a bit of solitude, I step outside. During the summer months, I am lured to our lavender bushes. They hum with the buzzing of bees and they sway ever so gently in the hot breeze. The majestic purple color and the pungent scent transport me to a time and place of freedom. They ground my physical self in the present, they conjure up fond memories of the past, and they ignite my imagination with thoughts of what is yet to come.
“When she noticed the difference, she knew the sacrifice was worth it.” ~Jennifer
For months, I was feeling sluggish. There were times when I truly needed to go at a snail’s pace. I accepted it, giving myself permission to do what my body needed. Rest was one of those physical needs. I started going to bed earlier, even when the kitchen was a mess, the mail (both paper and electronic) was piled up, and there wasn’t a clean pair of matching socks in the house. Once my children were tucked in (for the umpteenth time), I let my body sink into the mattress. I melted into a delicious sleep most nights, but still wasn’t ready to get up in the morning. There never seemed to be enough time in the day, so I’d forego my morning walk to catch up on laundry, pay bills, unload and reload the dishwasher, or address the messes that had accumulated.
Then one morning, I crumbled. The kids were bickering, the cats were fighting, and my husband and I were both tired, grumpy, and hungry. Somehow I ended up half screaming, half crying that I needed two hours every morning to go walk by myself. He and I both knew that wasn’t realistic. He understood the feeling, though, because he is much the same way. He suggested that I wake up even earlier (like he does) to guarantee enough time to get my exercise, my nature fix, and my solitude. Ugh. The mere thought of less sleep made me more tired.
The next morning, I tried it anyway. While my husband held down the fort, I walked and I wandered for ninety minutes. My feet hurt and I was parched, but it was fantastic otherwise. I listened to the songbirds as I moved. I worked up a sweat. I enjoyed the morning light and the soft breeze. I noticed some sparks within me reigniting, some synapses firing, some voids beginning to fill. Then I spent some time with my old friends, the lupines and the buttercups. Oh how I had missed the wonderful feeling of being surrounded by flowers. By the time I got home, I was relaxed, refreshed, and ready for the day ahead.
There were still plenty of challenges to face, but I was more patient, more present, and more optimistic that day. Even though I had given up some of my precious sleep time, I felt energized. I’ve been getting up early every single day since then, because when I noticed the difference, I knew the sacrifice was worth it.