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Entries in self portrait (20)



The Scots flew home on Saturday and when Ezra's naptime rolled around on Sunday I found myself surprised to be alone.  I had an assignment for the portrait class I am taking to shoot a portrait of someone I know using a flash. 

Assignment + solitude = selfie.

Self portraits give you an opportunity to see yourself as you are.  But by Sunday afternoon I had an idea about creating an image of myself as I'd like to be: shameless. 

This word has been bubbling up in me for the past several days, a call to cultivate this trait in myself.  But then the little voice that's a sucker for precision in language piped up, saying, but shamelessness is a bad thing!  I checked with the dictionary to confirm, and it turns out the little voice was right.  Merriam-Webster defines shameless as:

1: having no  shame : insensible to disgrace <a shameless braggart>
2: showing lack of shame <the shameless exploitation of the natives>

I watched Brene Brown's newest TED talk (you should clear 20 minutes out of your schedule RIGHT NOW to watch if you haven't yet, and if you haven't seen her first one on vulnerability, you should clear out another 20 minutes and watch that first) in which she describes shame as the voice in your head that says you're not good enough.

And then, if you manage to resist that one, it says who do you think you are?

You're not good enough.  Who do you think you are?

I have never thought of shame as my issue.  What do I have to be ashamed of, after all?  But this?  This you're not good enough, who do you think you are?  This is my loop.  So if this loop is what shame generates, I want out. 

I want to be able to bare myself to myself, the dreams, the fears, the lines in my skin.  I want to look myself in the eye.  I want to say to myself, to believe on a molecular level, I am enough.

Never mind the dictionary.  I want to be shameless.

Fruity Shots and Other Bad Habits

Let the record reflect that I did my taxes last night, February 22, 2012.  And since a tree doesn't make a sound in the year 2012 if it isn't recorded in social media, I mentioned it on Twitter.  To which my oldest friend replied, I'm surprised you didn't wait until April 15.

Last weekend I was complaining to Sarah about how behind I am at work.  Sarah, who signed up for the 8:30 section of Communications Law with me our senior year of college and then proceeded to spend most of the semester next to my empty chair.  Sarah, who invariably watched me sweat out a term paper in the waning hours before a deadline, if I couldn't charm my way into an extension.  Sarah, who regularly witnessed my propensity to put my boobs on the bar and bat my eyelashes just in time for free shots.  (Somewhere in Syracuse, a bartender is weeping at the realization that both I and the stale beer-smelling bar I haunted have moved on.)

The point is, I outgrew the fruity shots.  I outgrew the coquettish shtick.  I outgrew Communications Law (though probably by the skin of my teeth). 

But I'm still sporting this lamest of all lame character traits: procrastination.

You can't stand in line at the grocery story without a litany of suggestions about how to improve yourself.  Bikini Body In 10 Days!  5 Tips for a Flat Belly!  Never Have the "Bra...No-Bra?" Internal Debate Again!

But where is the Get Your Shit Together And Get It Done On Time headline?

Where is the Yeah, You're 38 and Every Cute Part of You Has Fallen or Grayed So Let's Dispense With The Game of Chicken?

Honestly I would rather share my weight or my debt-to-credit ratio here than this little nugget of shame, but I'm hoping that admitting I have a problem will help move me past it.

My name is Corinna, and I have a problem with self-discipline and procrastination.

Of course Ezra was up all night with an apparent ear infection and a bloody nose that left me looking like a mom out of a Stephen King novel.  So, um, yeah.  This whole productivity thing is probably going to have to wait until tomorrow.


Prop Love

Strange ideas come and go. Sequins and felt and needle and thread, so utterly foreign in my hands, occupied them for weeks, only to be forgotten when their intended unveiling rolled around.

This could mean:

This was a bad idea and I am being saved from humiliation.

Those hearts actually have another purpose.

I need to get better about making lists.

Abandoned props notwithstanding, my mind immediately started gathering other random objects. Strangely, I was carting around a yellow chair in the back of the station wagon. A wisp of an idea, wrapped in leather and suitably colorful. I ignored the nagging questions about does this make any sense? and What does it do? and Um, so what? and allowed myself to play, for the sheer silly joy of putting a yellow leather chair in the middle of a snowy bluff and dancing around with a remote shutter release.

I have no answers. Only a million questions and the intention to stop taking myself so damn seriously.


Breathing Practice

Sometimes it's embarrassing how long it takes me to notice the obvious. Even after I admitted in public that I skipped out on shooting a rare-ish celestial event (that happened right in front of me, when I was sitting there with all the appropriate gear) it didn't really occur to me that I should do something about this hunger for solitude.

You know, since I'm so busy and engaged with people in Very Important Ways all the time.

I was explaining all this to a friend Monday, and she challenged me invited me to commit to meditate for thirty minutes every day for thirty days. Just to see what happens. I recognize that a meditation challenge sounds like something of an oxymoron, but it had the ring of a good idea. As I thought about it I noticed, right, I need alone time.  I can make that happen.  I just have to decide to create the space for it.

I tested the hypothesis that this would be worth trading a half-hour of sleep for, and crept out of bed at 5:00am yesterday. It was nice, sitting there alone in the dark, even if the thing I noticed most of all is that my breath was shallow and uneven and I couldn't really moderate it the way I wanted. 



It's not as easy as it sounds.

I used to be very good at breathing, and I never realized it was the sort of thing you have to practice. But it was obvious as I sat there that I have forgotten how to breathe. That seems like a good thing to notice.


I'm going to try not to be too hard on myself.  I'm going to try to just show up for myself every day for a month, the way I show up for work, or for Ezra, or for meetings at school.  I'm going to try to remember how to breathe.  We'll see what comes.


A Revelation

Gratitude Project, day two.

It sounds a little ridiculous to say that I feel like I've been having a religious experience for the past month.  Maybe it would be easier for me to claim that if, you know, I believed in religion.  But yesterday it dawned on me that religion or no, something is working on me.  Lots of little threads of my life, half-learned truths and secret dreams seem to be stewing together into the vivid present in ways which have the potential to be strangely profound. 

Yesterday it dawned on me that all of this is possible because I found a way to give these personal truths a voice.  It occurred to me that any good thing that arises out of this awakening will be a result of this practice of being authentically engaged that I (quite unknowingly) set out on. 

Last week I wrote about the experience of seeing in photography.  That approach just feels right to me.  But yesterday I noticed the power of allowing yourself to be seen.  It's a choice, and not always an easy one.  There's intense vulnerability inherent in going naked into the world.  But there is also the opportunity to be recognized for who you really are or to attract exactly what you want.

It sounds so simple, so obvious, that I can't believe I'm only noticing it now.  But this was yesterday's revelation.  I am oh so grateful to be seen.