I'm taking a quick break from my main recovery diaries today to talk a little about the amazing thing I did yesterday! It's been a very long time coming because I have really struggled to ever feel like I was ready to do it... but yesterday I did, and I am so happy with the outcome!
Yesterday, I got up and showered, and dressed into the softest, loosest clothing I could find, packed my sexiest underwear (and a few props) into a hold-all, and headed for a photographic studio for a Boudoir Photo Shoot.
Crikey, I hear you say, your recovery has gone well!!! You must be in amazing shape and feeling so body-confident to do that! But you would be wrong! Whilst my recovery is, indeed, progressing well, I am (was) absolutely nowhere near where I want to be with my body. I was at an all-time body-confidence low, carrying 2.5 stone more than I would normally carry, with some swelling still to recede around my tummy area, and with strap marks from a summer of sunshine. But the fact was that I would always put off booking such a shoot for some reason because I was never, ever happy with the way that I looked. So I (metaphorically, of course) donned my big girl pants and booked the session last month. It was time to shift my internal dialogue about the way that I looked!
Monday night, before the shoot, I woke at 1am with my mind whirring. I had a dawning realization which struck me deeply in the feels. I managed to doze back off after about an hour awake, but a piece of writing had formed itself within that hour, which I managed to dictate whilst I was getting dressed and ready to leave the house. Here is what I wrote:
Dear body.. with love
This body, this amazing body.
This body has carried me through over 50 years of my life.
This body has protected me from life’s bumps and scrapes.
This body has healed itself when I’ve injured it and fended off infections and illness.
This body has birthed a beautiful baby and nourished her through the first year of her life.
This body has carried that child whenever she got tired and hugged that child, whenever she was sad, hurt or weary.
This body has run countless marathons and ultramarathons through incredible, tough landscapes and repaired itself in the ensuing days.
This body has become an Ironman Triathlete and a Marathon Swimmer.
This body has had surgery and has had bits taken out and cut away.
In the last year alone this body has survived the rigours of natural peri-menopause, chemical menopause and surgical menopause and is still adjusting to the new hormone levels it has been assigned after having its womb, cervix and ovaries removed.
This body has gained and lost weight for so many reasons and is currently at almost its heaviest since pregnancy and yet still manages to do everything I ask of it every single day.
This body has been broken in so many ways and has managed to bounce back and still be the amazing body it is today.
And yet I have gaslighted this body its entire life.
I have told It that I will celebrate it when it is slim enough, when it is fast enough, when it is fit enough when it is strong enough when it is smooth enough, when it is tanned enough… when it has less fat… when it has less cellulite… when I have just lost those extra few pounds… when my abs are more visible, when my shoulders more defined.
I have put off doing what I am doing today for over 10 years in anticipation of my body being exactly what I want it to be, of it being enough… and those goal posts have constantly moved so that I was never ready … my body was never enough!
And yet the truth is my body is amazing.
My body is incredible.
My body is beautiful and sexy and well and truly enough.
My poor neglected body, today and going forward I want you to know that I love you and I appreciate you and all that you do for me every single day.
Thank you body I love you!
I shared this with Jane at Sammy Southall Photography when I arrived at my shoot, and she exalted that, yes!!!! This is what these photo shoots are all about. And that every woman should hear this message and realize that they too are beautiful and amazing JUST AS THEY ARE!
My shoot was incredible! I had my make-up done and spent 4 hours being photographed. It was, at the same time, both luxurious and exhausting! Holding some of the poses was a challenge, especially in high heels, as I don't normally wear any heels at all! But it didn't take long for me to start feeling very different about my body. I was relaxed in front of the camera and able to (and very much encouraged to) let a little sexiness shine through. I lost a lot of my baggage in that studio. I lost 10 years of aging, and 2.5 stone of weight. I lost the feeling of being broken. I lost inhibitions. But most of all I lost my critical inner voice. By the time the shoot was finished, before I had even seen the photographs, I felt sensuous, feminine, curvaceous, strong, valued and empowered. I had rediscovered a part of me that had slowly been eroding for years!
The photos are incredible. There are at least a handful which actually took my breath away! These weren't airbrushed images, nothing was false about them, they were all just me seen through the lens of a camera. They were nothing like the 'me' that I look at and criticize in the mirror every single day! I had to suspend my disbelief because I knew that those photographs had just been taken. Obviously, because of their nature, a lot of them are a little too risque for me to share publicly but Jane put my words together with a photo into the following piece, which I just had to share.
I truly believe that every woman should have a photo shoot like that at least every ten years! It is not vanity. It is not a frivolous expense. In a world that constantly bombards us with what we should aspire to, that constantly tells us we need more, it is an essential reminder of how beautiful we all are, just as we are. That we are more than enough. x x