Depth of Soul

Last week, I had the beautiful honor of sitting for an incredibly talented photographer friend, Nataraj of eyeDance Studio. We spent several hours in the studio, playing and changing and experimenting with a variety of accessories, clothing, and poses. We even swapped spots for a while, and I got behind the lens {where I am typically most comfortable} and shot Nataraj. It was such a gift to find freedom and comfort in a photo shoot.

But this post isn't really about a photo shoot. It's about what happened later, when Nataraj shared the images with me, and I saw this one:

There are very few photographs of myself that I can say I truly love. This is now one of them. I'm not sure what it is: if it's the pose, or the silk, or the light bouncing perfectly onto my skin.

Or if it's the look of complete trust in my eyes. If it's the moment just before speaking, or perhaps just after, caught in the purse of my lips. If it is the final acceptance of my round cheeks, which will always be this way, and will never have high pronounced cheekbones and hollow sides.

When I look at this woman, I see all of the emotions I am feeling these days. The fear, the sadness, the aching to split open and let it all flood out of me. I see a woman who has temporarily escaped the harshness of her world for silk and gauze and fancy lighting and the chance to be seen.

When I look at this photo, I see all of the wounds, the battle scars, the stories waiting to be told. I see the lies, lived and learned. I see the truths, protecting -- like chain mail -- the soft heart within. I see the years of self-hate slipping off, if only for a few hours, to let the radiance shine through.

I worried about seeing these images. I worried about sharing them here, because they have skin and flesh and bodies and, well, I wasn't sure how people might respond. After a conversation with my friend Teresa, though, I realized that my fear of retaliation or negativity was keeping me from being authentic. And I'm all about authentic. It was a good learning experience {and a swift kick in the arse}.

So here we are. This image, this moment captured, is me. It is me in my most raw and tender self. It is the me that sits at this at a computer every day, writing and dreaming and capturing moments in text. It is the me that dances, that sings, that stretches and plays. It is the me that is learning to let go and relax, to trust others as much {and often more} than I trust myself. What Nataraj caught, in this very simple moment, was my soul.

And to see her, to look into those eyes, is a gift I'll never lose. She brings me back to myself over and over and over again. And that, that is true beauty.