There is nothing better for the psyche than surprising yourself with your skills, abilities, and beauty. Since I started my naked selfie project, I have heard from many people who say that they are moved by this process. That taking the time to really look and celebrate their bodies has made a huge difference in their emotional and mental states.
Naked selfies change lives. It sounds funny, I know. The thing is, most of us are used to looking down at ourselves or looking in the mirror. It is a wholly different experience to intentionally set up a picture, to set the lighting, the angle, the tone of the picture. You are no longer an observer; within the act of the naked selfie, you become a participant.
Think of what that opens you up to. You see yourself, your body, in a whole different way. Today, one of the men I send selfies to responded that when he sees them, he is reminded of how much he loves my personality. That is because even though it is a picture of my body, the choices I make with the image tell a story. They narrate much more than the surface of my skin or the topography of my muscles.
From The Epic Selfie Manual:
"When you truly love and appreciate yourself, no matter what, you are better able to share yourself with people. When you judge yourself, doubt yourself, put yourself down for whatever reason, by definition, you are blind to your own beauty. You do not see how special you are. This is why the act of the naked selfie is so important, even if it is only for you. It is a way to get to know yourself better. It is a way to embrace and appreciate yourself. It is a way to celebrate the physcial wonder that is your body."
I recently received that quote in a text from a friend who has created and undertaken a challenge for himself: 100 naked selfies in 100 days. With his permission, I have posted the text conversation that occurred between us after he took his first breath-taking, life-changing naked selfie:
So...there it is. In a single moment, this man changed the way he saw himself. He got a glimpse of his strength, his courage, and his unique beauty. He challenged his beliefs about himself. He questioned his self-conscious thoughts and his doubts about one aspect of his body by celebrating it; by defining it in a beautifully brave way.
If you can celebrate the part of your body that you are most self-conscious about, what else can you call into question? What else can you find in the darkest corners of your life that might give you cause to celebrate? The possibilities are only limited by your desire. It makes the naked selfie the jumping-off point to an exploration of your life. If you can question what you think you look like and be surprised, if you can question the way that you think the world sees you, there is no end to what else you can question.
In the surprise you give yourself, you find that you will also surprise others; with your confidence, your grace, your joy over the part of you that you thought you had to hide.
So let me encourage you to go forth and question your fears, your doubts, your self-consciousness about your body. Take the chance. Take the risk. You are worth it.
Dude, come on. Just share it. Tweet, FB, email it to your peeps. Consider it a way to start a mind-bending, life altering conversation.
Being naked is easy. Posting pictures on the internet of your naked body is less easy, but still, not too hard. After thirty-plus days of doing this daily practice, I have realized that while this is a challenge, this is not what is truly challenging.
The true challenge in any life is to be yourself, unapologetically. The hard thing is to ask for what you want, to ask for help. To admit to your short comings. To demand respect.
Your naked body? That is not really you, that is the thing that covers you. Your mind, your heart, your dreams, desires and fears? Those are you.
It is hard to claim them though. It is not a destination, it is a constant practice, it is a constant gut check to speak for yourself.
Just yesterday I was telling a friend that as far as some of my colleagues are concerned, it is like I have no expertise in my job. Though I have years and years of experience, though I have proven myself over and over again in my various professions, to some people, it is like I am in fifth grade, incapable of making decisions or understanding complex problems. He asked me if I thought it was sexism. I have to admit, for a long time, I did. But after having the experience so often in my life, after having to deal with people who belittle or betray me for whatever reason, I have to say that in a certain way, the reason they do it is beside the point.
I have come to see that it doesn't matter what motivates people to do the things they do, even if it is disrespectful, abusive, or otherwise. Understanding the motivation of people who belittle me grants them too much of my energy. The question I have come to, and what I come to more and more, is what I do with that. And what I do with that has very much to do with who I am, who I work towards being every single day.
I work towards resilience. I work towards compassion. I work towards radical self-acceptance. These are my values, and the people who shit on me? They are my practice. They are the people who give me the work to do so that I might grow stronger, so that some day, I might not even notice their bullshit.
That is why I know that being naked is easy. Taking my clothes off and posing, coming up with phrases and words that express my point of view, this has become my practice in metaphors. Some day I hope to say that it is easy to deal with the people who belittle me. Some day I hope to say "people belittle me? Really?"
Today is not that day. But I work toward it. I work toward it by doing the hard thing; trying to grow beyond it. Recognizing it as OPP (Other People's Problems). Thinking, when I run into someone who treats me disrespectfully, that they must not know how awesome I am. That is what I do today to challenge myself. That is what I will do until I can say someday that this, like being naked, is easy.
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It is amazing how many more open relationship people (ORP) there seems to be in the world since I first started my open relationship journey in 2010. I go on Tinder now and there are so many more options for people who want to have sex for fun and personal growth.
As of this writing, I even have an open relationship mentor and several people I can go to when I need to talk about ORI, or, Open Relationship Issues.
I have also recognized a pattern and a problem that I think I can solve for ORP everywhere. A very common ORI prevalent among hetero open couples is that they all seem to be looking for a woman to share. A safe woman. A woman who will not cause havok in the open relationship in which she enters for fun and pleasure. I personally know several couples who are interested in bringing me in to their relationship because they know that I am safe, and I take this privelege very seriously. It is a great power that comes with great responsibility.
But I want to take this further. I want to help other couples get what they need without the unnecessary hassle of an unstable woman. I suggest a swapping or trading system. This system will provide couples with women who are already in relationships, thereby having the added bonus of providing peace of mind to those couples who want the fun and the pleasure, but none of the drama.
I am just spit balling here, so bare in mind I have not as of yet worked out the intricacies of this system: When a couple meets and has sex with a woman (who is half of another open relationship) they deem acceptable for fun and pleasure, the woman from that couple then goes with that playmate to meet her significant other to see if there can be a connection for fun and pleasure there as well.
I visualize an app, much like Tinder or OKC, where women can find and meet each other, and if they have chemistry and feel they can trust each other, they then go and meet their partners. This can also be a networking opportunity so that if you meet someone who doesn't necessarily float your boat, you can suggest another couple to her with whom you have had pleasant experiences.
In essence, this is a matriarchal system in which the women arrange the playdates and the men reap the benefits, very similar to almost every other social event in life. Think about it as another way for women to bond, talk about relationships, and provide a very special gift for the men in their lives.
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My mind is absolute mush this week. I have been working 12 to 14 hour days for the last five days and I am tired and I am weak and I have to work tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. And I am glad, I am thankful to the point of tears, that it is not earlier.
I have a job that I love. I get to work with people I trust, people I learn from. People who challenge me every day to be a better human. For the last four or five days we have joined together in the undertaking of a task that seemed, well, almost impossible. A task rife with opportunity for failure.
Things broke. It rained. Equipment was lost. Systems that we were sure would work, failed.
But we all pulled together and did what we could do. We were patient with each other. We gave each other the benefit of the doubt, and while I was working those long-ass shifts, I was energized, because I knew that the people around me were, are, worth it.
The reality, and this is the thing that I think about constantly, is that even though I have a job I LOVE, a job I feel that I am lucky to have, a job that has more closely matched my values and lifestyle choices than any other, I would still rather be doing something else entirely.
I wake at 5 on the days that I get to go into work at a reasonable hour and I write for an hour or two. Then, I go to work. I put in a good solid day. Then, I leave, and I come home, and I write, and I work on my website. I think of ten or twenty different quotes for my images. I think about different projects I can do, and ways I can inspire people to accept themselves more fully.
But I know that for eight hours a day, though I am lucky, I want to be even luckier. I want to be blessed. So that is why I push myself. And I know for sure deep down that I would rather be doing something else. Something else entirely.
BUT. I also know that if I wasn't doing this other thing around the sides and angles of my job, I would not do my job as well. I would be lackadaisical at work. I would not focus. I would arrive late. I would leave early. I would resent the hours that I had to spend NOT doing what I really want to do. I know that for certain, for sure, if I wasn't working my ass off doing what I really want to do in the periphery, I would resent the rest of my life for keeping me from it. All the while, it would be me doing the keeping from.
So I am saying, in my very long-winded way, that if you have a dream, and you cannot live it all day long, every day, do it a little each day. Then add a little more. And keep finding ways to add more of what you love into your day. Because even if you can only do what you really want to do in the edges and seams of your life, those edges and seams will infuse your whole life with meaning. The bits and pieces you pour your heart into will spill over and make everything else much much better.
Like everything else, it is a simple matter of choice. Your life is an interconnected, highly fluid, ever changing story, and everything in it informs everything else. So let your conscious choices, as opposed to your unconscious ones, be the informers. Let the effort you make to stretch, to grow, to reach for what you want, seep into the parts that are less than ideal. Let your desire to express yourself, your desire to fill your life with meaning, flow into every little bit of your life until it is all magic.
In the end, it is really not what you would rather be doing. Unless you do nothing at all about it.
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