Archive for September, 2011

re-picturing RELEASE

What do you need to release in your life right now?

Is there something in your life that you are holding on to, perhaps clinging to? Something that you want to or need to let go?

Release is something that Celina Wyss, the writer and photographer of Altered Muse and our contributor to Re-Picturing Women Wednesday this week, knows a lot about.

I first met Celina through her blog and was immediately struck by her adventurous spirit – she is constantly trying new things and reinventing herself through her words and blog. And yet, she does so by remaining authentic and true to herself. She also contributed a revealing, honest, and vulnerable guest post and self-portrait to re-picturing women last spring. However, I was lucky enough to actually meet Celina in Manzanita, Oregon last June (Woot!). Although I knew that Celina was an amazing photographer, writer, and creator (check out her blog to receive 40% off her swoon-worthy jewelry), meeting her in person showed me another side of Celina. She has a quiet strength about her. She sees the truths in other people and is continuing to discover and uncover the truths in herself. If you were to meet her, you would want to sit down, have a cup of tea (or a wine cooler), and just spend some time savoring her spirit. I hope that like me, you can connect with Celina through her insightful truths that she shares in response to my questions below.

Post by Celina Wyss and Sarah Gervais

Tell us your story of your body? Have their been challenges or struggles? What about opportunities or victories? Who are the heroes in your story? Who are the villains? If you could, would you change anything about your story?

I feel like the story of my body is constantly being rewritten. I’m still trying to find out what serves it best and how to help myself through the illness I have been struggling through. I’m coming into my 2nd year of doctor visits after visit with no official diagnosis. Before that there were other chapters and many other struggles. I am my biggest villain when I should be my biggest hero. My body carries many scars and many stories. I’m tired all of the time and tired of being tired. I’m ready to leave this chapter behind. If I could change one part of my story it would be to be kinder to myself and the changes that my body has went through. I would have liked to work harder at finding real solutions to the root causes of everything I was experiencing instead of being so quick to put an end to symptoms.

What is going on with your body right now? In the context of your story, are you in the midst of the action? Are you closing a chapter of your story? Beginning of a new chapter? Brainstorming an entirely new book?

I would like to think I am beginning a whole new book. I want my body to tell a story of how I found my way back to a healthy life. How I was able to discover the root to my illness and move forward. One step at a time I am working towards a happier, healthier life. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m ready to wear my scars with pride as if to say: “I made it. I am whole again.”

Why did you choose to participate in the re-picturing women project? Why is the word and/or body part you chose significant to you?

I chose Release because I feel it is a prominent theme in my life right now. Releasing past hurts, expectations and illness. I’m ready to let it all go and move on. The hands were a symbolic place to write it as that is where we physically hang on to so much just as we hang to too much inside as well.

As a creative person (writer, photographer, artist) do you think your body is connected to your creativity (e.g., writing, photography, etc.). If so, how?

When I am fatigued in anyway I feel like my creativity shuts down. If I am not taking care of my own needs through self care and self love then creating no longer becomes a priority. On the other hand, when I am relaxed and happy I feel like I can adequately express myself through pictures and words.

If you could share one truth you’ve learned about your body with girls, other women, or even men, what would you want them to know?

One truth I am just now starting to understand is how much pain and negative emotions latch onto our bodies. They can manifest themselves in many ways and numerous sorts of illnesses. All the more reason to release that which we cannot control, breathe, and move forward. My new mission statement is: Release past expectations, embrace the present moment and connect wholeheartedly with kindred spirits.

What do you need to release in your life right now?

 

re-picturing MANIFEST

Meet Elizabeth Grant Thomas, the author of Life In Pencil, a kindred spirit, and a member of my Tribe. Meeting Elizabeth for the first time was a most delightful experience. She was the same person that I had gotten to know through our mutual friend, Meghan Davidson, and through her blog. She was incredibly honest, thoughtful, well-spoken, and adventurous. But she was also funny. Really funny, actually. And incredibly candid; authenticity exuded every word she spoke – whether it was a humorous anecdote about her daughter or a serious recollection of a parenting frustration  – I felt like what I heard was what I got. Yet, Elizabeth was and is in a time of major transition. She recently became a mother and offers a refreshing perspective on how to “rewrite” our lives and live one day at a time through the words and images that she offers on her blog, and below. I feel incredibly grateful to have met her during this transition. She has generously shared her authentic experiences (the good, the bad, and the sleepless) of integrating her mother identity into her entire identity. A searching reader can garner many universal truths from her words. I hope that as she manifests her truths that she will give you the courage to manifest your truths as well. I know that she has done that for me.

Post by Elizabeth Grant Thomas and Sarah Gervais

What is going on with your body right now? In the context of your story, are you in the midst of the action? Are you closing a chapter of your story? Beginning of a new chapter? Brainstorming an entirely new book?

My body is in a major transition.  I gave birth to my daughter a little over a year ago, so between pregnancy and nursing I’ve been “sharing” my body with someone else for nearly two years!  Just before I became pregnant I worked really hard to lose about 20 pounds, then gained 30 when I was pregnant, and am back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, so my body has been on a rollercoaster ride.  When I look in my closet I see a wardrobe full of sizes that run the gamut, reflecting everywhere my body has been the past two years.

When do you feel most alive in your body?

I am the strongest I’ve ever been.  I do strength training twice a week at a local fitness studio, something I never thought I’d be interested in a million years, but which I just love.  Last week I started a “Couch to 5K” program; I am so not a runner, but am trying it out.  I also enjoy dancing – I used to take a number of dance classes every week, including samba – but lack the time with a little one in the house.  It’s something I hope to pick up again soon.

Why did you choose to participate in the re-picturing women project? Why is the word and/or body part you chose significant to you?

Having a baby has been the most transformative experience of my entire life.  I would go as far as to call it an “out of body” experience, although I’ve never been more aware of my body.  Seeing how my body grew to accommodate another living being, and then shifted back again, was a fascinating process.  But the emotional part of adjusting to life with a baby has been taxing.  I am in the process of “manifesting a new reality,” in mind, body and spirit.  Rather than bemoaning what I’ve lost, I’m trying to manifest a new way of living that accommodates my daughter.

What did it feel like to be photographed for the re-picturing women project? What did it feel like to look at the pictures of yourself?

With a background in the performing arts, I love to be photographed.  During our retreat, I think I was a willing subject more than once!  “Manifest” is a really strong and specific word for me; it connotes bringing something into being through effort and determination, not luck or fate.  I am not a photographer myself, so it was delightful to see how the lens captured me.

As a creative person (writer, photographer, artist) do you think your body is connected to your creativity (e.g., writing, photography, etc.). If so, how?

Writing is a very in-your-head affair.  When I am stuck, I will usually try to get into body.  Taking a walk is the greatest cure-all for writer’s block.  Because my creative time is limited, I compose a great deal in my head when I am taking my daily walk.

If you could share one truth you’ve learned about your body with girls, other women, or even men, what would you want them to know?

Much like life itself, nothing stays the same; I’ve watched my body expand and contract so many times.  One of the major themes that I write about is the idea of “rewriting life;” I think it’s our responsibility to understand that everything changes and to flow as best we can with that reality.

 

re-picturing MOMENTS

What do you need to do to reclaim the moment (and your life)?

re-picturing LISTENING TO YOUR HEART IS HARD

Listening to yourself is hard.

Once you get past focusing on what everyone else is saying and down to the real business of listening to your own voice, what should you do when it tells you conflicting things?

Perhaps you have put your nose to the grindstone with something you really want to do, something you need to do. Perhaps you’re training for a marathon, writing a book, or sticking to a budget. What do you do when your heart is tired, but your mind insists on marching on? What then?

Listening to yourself is hard.

And the truth is that we often don’t want to listen to ourselves, each moment of each day. We want to listen to our heart at the get-go and put our desires on cruise control and just speed along towards our destination. Unfortunately, however, listening to yourself involves reclaiming your own voice on a moment-to-moment basis and being flexible enough to break when some slow polk pulls out in front of you, fix the flat tire that inevitably results on any road trip, or to try a new route when the old one is under construction. You can’t take your authentic journey if you’re on autopilot the entire way.

Perhaps you need to take a break from your training plan to give your body much needed rest. Perhaps you need a day off from your writing schedule in order to think about the project from a broader perspective. Perhaps you need to afford yourself a simple little spurge that doesn’t cost much, but feels like a luxury (e.g., oven mitts from Pier One). These are needs, not wants.

This past weekend, I was supposed to be running 7 miles, but a pesky little knee injury has come back to haunt me. Step-by-step, I had to check in with my knee and change my stride in order to avoid the pain. After 6.5 miles, that familiar ache started to rear its ugly head, but I desperately wanted to keep going (I was so close). However, I listened to my body. I stopped, stretched, and walked (I hate walking on a run). Then I got back on the trail and ran the last half-mile home.

Sometimes the right thing is exactly what you want, but sometimes it’s not. However, I firmly believe that if you reach deep within yourself, you will find an answer for what you are to do (or not do) at this very moment. You may have to change course the next hour, minute, or second, but for that moment you’ll be OK. Even if it is the worst of times, if we check in with ourselves, we find that at any one moment we can be OK, good even.

What challenges have you had when listening to yourself?

My New Home!

Welcome! The Re-Picturing Women Project has found a new home here at sarahgervais.com. For those of you who traveled from my old blog site, I am excited to continue on our journey of using photography and words to re-picture the lives of (extra) ordinary women – from exercise and fashion to body image and social change. I am grateful that you are still along for the ride. Thank you. I will continue to share the voices of everyday women, the latest research, and my own challenges and triumphs on Re-Picturing Women Wednesdays. See you in a couple of days!

running toward your heart

 

 


re-picturing FLOW

Dear Friends,

As I’ve journeyed toward a more balanced version of me, listening carefully to what my heart is telling me every step along the way, I’ve noticed that when the going gets tough, I should sometimes get going and sometimes stop and take a break.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been banging my head against the wall and it’s starting to hurt. So, I’ve decided to sit this round out — to take a breather. Take a moment to realign my heart and mind, my body and soul. No worries…I will return next week. I’ve got interviews with several amazing ladies for the re-picturing women project in the pipeline and I can’t wait to share some fascinating new research about women and their bodies. Here are a few pictures that I took of wildflowers along a Colorado stream earlier this summer. They have been a gentle (and needed) reminder for me to surrender to the flow of the universe.

Sarah

Do you need to press on, take a break, make a u-turn? Are you resisting the flow of the universe?