“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: