Lately I've been contemplating what it feels like to be me. But I'm coming to understand what it takes to feel comfortable in my own skin: I need to know what myself feels like. And this awareness requires actually knowing my body as well as my internal thoughts, feelings, motivations, and desires.
All this provocative thought has actually stemmed in part from TLC's What Not to Wear - which I've come to enjoy not for its moral implications or theories on the totality of life, but because oddly enough it's helped me connect some other recent thoughts about what it means to be "myself." I've come to realize how often I am mean to myself - I punish my body. I tell myself unkind things, and I do so as an unconscious punishment for not measuring up to what I "should" be, based on my perceptions of loveliness or beauty or intelligence.
At 5'10" (since sixth grade) I have a set of standards in my head about what is acceptable for me, like what a shameful weight is for me; when I fail to meet my standard I start seeing the chubby little insecure girl I was growing up rather than the strong and beautiful woman I am today. In this mindset I miss all the lovely parts of myself: my curly hair, my color changing eyes, my strong legs, my hourglass shape. And when I ignore my total picture I pile on the punishment and disdain by only putting my hair in a pony tail, wearing clothes that don't fit (either too big, or too small), and generally feeling miserable.
I see myself in so many of the nominees on the show - not because I wear only rainbow stripes, or tween styles - but in my inability to see my beauty because my imperfections scream at me, so I cower and hide behind them. It seems what the hosts are trying to do is help people come out of hiding and embrace their full self, emphasizing what is great and working with everything else in a total-package approach.
One of the things I hear over and over again on this show is how crucial fit is to a person looking the way they feel (this goes both ways). They say nothing of size or talk about hidding "wrong shapes" under ponchos. They reinforce the idea that clothes are for the body - the body is not for the clothes. I think Jesus would agree (Matt. 6:25-34).
And while writing this post I found a quote from one of the hosts, Stacy London, on her own body journey: "I have been every size in my life. I’ve been smaller than a zero, up through a size 16. I’ve had lots of issues with body image and weight my whole life and it really took a great deal of work to recognize that at all those weights, no matter how I felt, I could still find a dress that made me feel...powerful."
It seems the issue is in the perception of value. As humans we find a lot of ways to undermine our value - a list of addictions come to mind. My weapon of choice is often related to my body. But I'm wondering if valuing myself looks less like shaming myself for not being a size 8 jean, and more like finding a pair of jeans that fit well, regardless of their size. What could be unleashed if I cared for my body through acceptance and wisdom, rather than shame and punishment?
I've photographed a lot of weddings in my career as a wedding photographer. And my favorite venues are the ones that combined a little bit of rustic with a lot of charm and lovely details. A while back, Riverside Farms - near Burlington, Vermont - contacted me to tell me a little about their farmhouse venues. As soon as I saw the images on their site and blog I was excited to share them with you! I know it's a season of a lot of proposals and engagements, so I wanted to offer you this gem of a venue as you're beginning your wedding planning for 2014.
Their space is rustic, creative, spacious, and unique. They offer several options for the ceremony, and their barn house receptions are gorgeous. And they have bride and groom's cabins for getting ready (emphasis on the word cabin - not a small room off to the side). Plus, they offer year bookings year round - their winter weddings look absolutely stunning!
If you'd like to see more of what farmhouse weddings can look like at Riverside Farms or their sister venue, Amee Farm Lodge, check out their blog and their Pinterest page. They have a lot of beautiful photography that will inspire you and help you imagine what your own wedding could look like in picturesque Vermont!
Next month I get to take a trip out there with Matt to view the venue myself - and I can't wait. Looking at all the photos it's going to be a romantic winter wonderland.
All images below taken from Riverside Farm blog.
When you're ready for more information, or to inquire about your date, contact the amazing staff here.
When I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 test a couple years ago one of my top five strengths showed up as Connector, which means I see how things and concepts relate. Due to my other strengths, input and learner, I collect resources, books, and information like nobody's business. So this week after hearing about upcoming books on vocation and discernment I began thinking how these concepts relate.
Along my journey these past few years trying to figure out who I am created to be the idea of vocation and discernment have come up often, and have proven helpful in my understanding of how I best journey with Jesus.
Helpful, but not efficient.
As a young adult I wanted to have the wisdom of Solomon, and the passion of David, which sounds a little contradictory to my internal family script. Emotions were viewed more as hinderances than helpful in decision making.
Yet, as I've grown I've learned by experience how necessary emotions or feelings are in decision making. Important not because of any truth they reveal, but crucial because they can be the keys to understanding our wants, desires, and responses to circumstances. It seems like more often, when choosing between two or more "good" options, the wise choice could be made in either direction. The point of discernment lies at the heart of what is leading you toward or away from any of the options. This is where emotion enters the decision making process.
Once you've vetted your options for clearly destructive choices, what you're left with is you and how you feel about your choices and options. At this point we can enter the desires and hesitations asking what is actually driving us. We can take a step back and ask: In this decision, am I being driven or drawn towards an option?
Taking time to examine our motives in our choice is scary. I can't say it always makes me feel good. Often I see the ickyness of my desire to be liked based off of how I present myself rather than who I am. But as I take time to consider what I am feeling, I am enabled to conciously choose. And that is a step into wisdom.