learning to love yourself through a photo challenge.

february photo challenge 2014

 

 

february. the month of love. awww. and a new month for a new photo journey. woo hoo. now, i know that we all have mixed feelings about february and the holiday represented by flowers and chocolate and a little arrow-toting baby that creeps up on us every year. depending on our life’s circumstances, it can be the most beautiful, romantic day or the most heart-breaking, gut-wrenching day. for most of us, though, it’s probably somewhere in between the “high in the clouds” or “in the depths of hell” feelings.

well, this february, i’m being practical. i decided that, in the interest of learning to love others, we would focus on our selves. that’s right. i said it. this february it’s all about you. just to clarify, this is a strong belief that i have… the belief that we nurture our souls first, and then the love that we want to share with others, the ways that we want to make a difference in the world, will simply grow from our self love and self care. it makes sense, right? we have to learn to love and accept and appreciate ourselves before we can really put any true, real energy out there that is good for others.

so, for our february photo journey, we are gong to love ourselves. we are gonna combine selfies, body image, self-love, self-confidence, and acceptance all into one photo challenge.

and here’s how we’re gonna do it:

february photo challenge 2014

 now, i can hear your moans and groans from all the way over here. you don’t want to focus on yourself for 28 days. it’s embarrassing. it’s scary. it’s revealing.

it can be those things, yes. but, that’s why it’s called a photo challenge and a photo journey. because after challenging yourself to take this journey, there will be a transformation – or at least some lessons learned. so, while it is all of those things above, it is also these things: empowering. inspiring. freeing.

admittedly, we all have things that we don’t like about ourselves. things we wish we could physically change or are not satisfied with. and things we wish we could internally change. ways we want to grow. and we don’t want to capture these things in a photo, much less share them with the world through social media. and speaking of media – we get so many twisted, messed up, wrong messages about what it means to be beautiful. and we think we don’t measure up. we are scared to not be perfect. so, we do not want to take part in any photo challenges that focuses on ourselves for 28 whole days – putting all of our flaws and real-ness out there.

but, my friends, i say “let’s do it anyway!” let’s claim ourselves as the beloved, amazing, beautiful, unique people that we are. let’s show the world that we know that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, ages, and nationalities. and ultimately, beauty comes from within. how about it, my friends?let’s claim february 2014 as the month that we begin to learn to appreciate who we are – exactly as we are!

how to play:

the ways to participate are the same as always. but, if you’ve forgotten or if this is your first time participating, here are a few tips:
here’s a link to instagram so you can sign up & get started! click here to join in.

and if you want to become part of the bllphotoaday community, just follow me at @_belovelive_ on instagram. and use the hashtag #bllphotoaday when you post your IG photo. then, you’ll see everyone else’s photos too. and there are some amazing people taking part from all over the world. check ‘em out!

if you don’t have or don’t want instagram (which is totally fine!), then simply post your pics on facebook or on your blog. but, let me know, so i can follow along. i’ll do my best to spread the word that you are participating. however, the best way to create a photo journey community is actually on instagram. buuuuut, there is one more option… you can post your photos every day to belovelive’s facebook page! perhaps we can get that community growing as well! invite your FB friends to “like” belovelive’s page and then our community will spread even further & wider! think of all the inspiration! click here to go to belovelive’s page.

 are you in?! 

peace and love. xx

sensory overload. part 3.

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hi! it’s tuesday, so i’m a day late. but, oh well. i’ve been pretty busy on account of it’s not your ordinary week here in the states… it’s thanksgiving week!! and that means that the holiday season is officially starting and getting into full swing. christmas music will be playing in my home, in my car, and everywhere i go as of thursday evening after i’ve downed all my turkey and stuffing.

but, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. this post isn’t about what’s coming, it’s about what has been. what i’ve experienced in the past week that blew my mind and touched my heart. and i’ll have to say one thing about the week: it was definitely a social one! lots of people and lots of fun.

see: amazing, beautiful, gorgeous nature. my eyes feel like they just might explode out of my head. for real. i am forever pulling over to stop& take photos, certainly annoying all of the people behind me. oops.

taste: a bellini. my new favorite over the mimosa. i went to the battery park book exchange & champagne bar with a blogger friend and, instead of coffee, i had a bellini – champagne and peace. delicious! and a fabulous way to start the weekend.

touch: i thumbed through lots of books at a local bookstore, and of course ended up making some interesting purchases. hee hee. i just cannot resist books. even thought the stack beside my bed keeps getting higher and higher.

feel: right now, i am most definitely beginning to feel the holiday spirit, especially after going to a tree-lighting ceremony in the area. i’m also feeling so thankful for my family – my amazing, inspiring brother and wife. the two of them are so important to me, making my days, and this whole entire autumn, incredible, meaningful, and fun.

i cannot forget to mention the how i have felt since writing my posts on the United Methodist Church and LGBTQ issues. getting all of that out, processing my feelings and thoughts, and hearing your replies has, again, touched me very, very deeply. 

hear: the voices and laughter of making new friends at the second fika meet up that i hosted. it’s freaking amazing to meet other people and make connections. last wednesday, there were seven of us that gathered together for coffee. so much fun! on saturday, i also heard all of the noise and voices and music in a new pub that we visited with a new friend. it was an afternoon of feeling really alive and just enjoying the present moment.

smell: pumpkin cheesecake! i made some yesterday and my whole apartment smelled like the holidays. can’t wait to eat some on thursday.

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another amazing week has passed, and a new one stretches out in front of me. with all of the thanksgiving and christmas goodness that begins this week, i bet that i’ll have tons of photos next week. wishing you a lovely week, wherever you are, my friends.

peace & love. 

sensory overload.

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i did a few posts in the past where i reflected on my week/weekend through my six senses… what did i see, touch, feel, hear, taste, smell over the past few days? i really think that this is a good exercise, one that helps me to practice being present and appreciating what is around me. however, i’ve not been very faithful to it. it’s a bit like keeping a gratitude journal, you know, where you write down every day a few things that you are thankful for, teaching you the power of being grateful and recognizing the good, even in the middle of the bad. a very good practice, i believe.

the gratitude journal thing seems to be a pretty popular thing to during during the month of november, if you’re an american, because the season lends itself to giving thanks, what with thanksgiving being the 4th thursday of the month. it’s a great contrast to the commercialized, materialistic, super-charged season that begins the minute that the turkey is eaten up on thanksgiving.

you know, i’ve seen this year that you may not even be able to enjoy your turkey in peace, because the stores and shopping frenzy now begins on thanksgiving day. traditionally, black friday, the day after thanksgiving, is an insane day of deals & steals. but, this year, brown thursday is set to kick off the holiday shopping insanity. pure ridiculous greed and capitalism has now turned the one holiday that has been simple and real (at least in my lifetime & in my family) into a hyped up day of extra stress. now you’ve gotta cook that turkey for 3 hours, sit down with family, eat quickly, clean, up, and head out the door to be the first one in line at the stores.

if you’re that kind of person. but, guess what… i. am. not.

nope. i’ll still be spending my morning helping my mom prepare the meal, while simultaneously watching the macy’s thanksgiving day parade on tv. we’ll eat as slowly as possible, and then stretch out all afternoon, watching cheesy movies or the james bond/indiana jones marathon. then, we’ll pick at the leftovers for the rest of the day while we drink beer and wine. it’ll be cozy and relaxing and quiet. and i am totally going to soak all of it up, since i’ve been in sweden for the past three thanksgivings.

(though, i must admit, i am going to miss like crazy the cozy thanksgiving dinners lina and i have hosted for different people each year.)

but, i digress. like big time. oops. the whole gratitude thing got me off on the world’s biggest tangent.

but, about that, i will not be making daily Facebook status updates with the things for which i am grateful, throughout november, though i support those who do. instead, i am going to be thankful in a different way – through my photos and memories. and i’m going to see if i can do it for a whole year. gaaahh. i suck at these disciplined resolutions.

still, starting right now, right here, i am going to share the moments that have piqued my senses for the past few days… all in an effort to live in the present and to give thanks for this amazing, beautiful, sensory-filled world. there are days, moments, places, people that sometimes make me feel like i am about to explode – in a good way. it’s like it is so beautiful around me, or something so amazing is occurring, that i feel as if i might cry, giggle, or scream from how much it hurts. i think i use the word “hurt” to indicate the overwhelming awe that i experience; something so unbelievable, mysterious, and sacred that i cannot describe what i see, feel, hear, taste, or smell. usually, when those moments happen, i take a photo – in an insane effort to capture that moment. it’s nearly impossibly to express to someone else what that photo represents, but maybe, just maybe, someone will see that photo and feel something. as for me, when i revisit my photos, a memory is re-lived and an emotion is evoked.

so, welcome to me expressing myself and sharing the beauty of this world through my senses… here’s what i experienced over the weekend:

seeing: most of the leaves are now gone from the trees, and yet, everything is still so beautiful. have i never truly noticed the simple beauty of bare, silhouetted, winter trees? i also saw a volkswagen bug in weaverville (a little town just 10 minutes north of asheville) when i was there on friday working on one of my fika stories. the vw bug was for sale. i think i neeeeed it.

touch: after a very successful road trip to IKEA with my love & my bro, it was time to organize and put everything together. being a professional swedish person, my love built the IKEA furniture and i tore down the boxes. that’s fair, isn’t it?

taste: three words – chinese take-out!!

feel: when i made my little trip to weaverville, i decided something. it felt so amazing there: the people, the community, the close proximity to nature, the small-town charm, and the open-minded neighbors. i decided that, if and when, we move into a house, i want it to be here. it’s only 10 minutes to asheville, but it feels a world away – in the best possible sense. i felt at home here. it also feels freaking amazing these days to sit in the sunshine in short sleeves on my balcony in the middle of november. soaking up the rays, feeling calm & peace.

hear: friday night lina and i had dinner with a girl friend of ours and my brother. we ate in west asheville, a little bit of a funky and out-of-your-comfort-zone kinda place for our friend. but, she survived and you could hear us laughing all night long. the sounds of clinking glasses, giggles, conversations, and music filled my ears with happiness.

smell: as it is many days, my nose is blessed with a chance to smell some amazing coffee. but, on friday, it was extra special since i went to weaverville to finish up a story for the paper. i ordered a hazelnut mocha, which tasted amazing, but the whole time i was in the coffeehouse, the smell is what captured me. fresh, roasted, warm coffee brewing. mmm…

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stay tuned for next monday’s sensory overload post. i promise i will do my best to try to keep my discipline in check. pinky swear. how can i not? this world is too freaking amazing. and so are each one of you.

love & peace.