Tag Archives: self-love

with loving eyes

belle3831Marc Vella, whose mission in life has been, for the past 20 years, to travel around the world with a baby grand piano, park it in the wildest of places, play, and then encourage others with absolutely no musical training to play, too, simply by connecting to their hearts. His message is one of love, and the importance of looking at everyone and everything with loving eyes. What a wonderfully crazy thing to do!

I think his message is exactly what we need most to learn, in every aspect of our lives. To look with loving eyes. This is, after all, simply an attitude applied from the inside-out… requiring only a change of perspective and resulting in the kind of non-judgemental acceptance that frees us from what separates us from ourselves and each other.

Apply this to body image issues and it’s a no-brainer, right? Maybe, maybe not, but changing our perspectives is a practice, not a pill. It struck me today that by chosing to take my own self-portraits to draw from,  (to avoid having someone else look at me through the camera lens) something could be missing. In many cases the photos taken by others seemed more gentle than mine, because the people closest to me who took the pictures (a few close girlfriends and my male partner) were ALREADY looking at me with love. So then the translation into a drawing was not so harsh, because I could already see the beauty in the photograph.

I suppose by starting out on my own it helped to break down the pride, the resistance, the need to APPEAR perfect. I have always had a complex about my weight, even when I was stick-thin I thought I could somehow be better. This drawing was done almost 6 years after the photograph was taken by a female friend of mine. I thought, at the time, that I was huge (good example of body dimorphic or dysmorphic disorder), as I had gone from being stick-thin due to anexoric behaviours to having a little meat on my bones because of eating more compulsively. But this extra weight, in my mind, made me unattractive. Since I didn’t get around to drawing this one until I was 25 pounds heavier, in hindsight, I can see how ridiculously off my vision was. From my new viewpoint, suddenly the “offensive overweight” picture had become the “when I was thin and lovely” picture”.

When I look at all the suffering going in the world, be it the devastation from natural disasters and wars in the less developed countries, to apparently healthy, young people around me dying of cancer or the many people chained to addictions or living, hungry, on city streets, it embarrasses me to be plagued with such a dis-ease as being obsessed with my looks, when in fact, I am healthy and beautiful!  Then again, if it pushes me to look at myself and all people with love rather than maintaining the separateness of the human condition that leads to loneliness and wars, perhaps it is not such a bad thing…

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there was a little girl with a curl on her forehead

cutieMy Dad used to love to chant this nursery rhyme to me, that ended with “when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid”!

But the shoe fit. I was that kind of kid, and I’ve since discovered that the crazy perfectionism that drives me is probably also what makes me horrid; it’s two sides of the same coin. But so what? We’re all dark and light, rainbow and shadow. And children are so beautiful, all of them, in their innocent  simplicity, no matter how much of a mess they can make, that’s how they learn. It’s when we turn into adults that we get complicated and confused and build complexes about our worthiness and our looks.

I often get stuck with my drawing practice, not too sure what to do next, and resisitant to repetition, so I decided to go back to the beginning by drawing myself as a child and by doing it the simplest way possible, just by looking back and forth between the photograph and my drawing until I felt it was finished. The proportions aren’t great, and the shading could be deepened, but so what, it felt good just to draw it. It brought me back to a perspective of acceptance, because I saw so much vulnerability and innocence in the child’s face that it opened my heart to find compassion for her/me. And, interestingly enough, as it lay on my desk next to a much more recent self-portrait, I could see that in spite of an almost 40-year span, it was the same person… the child is still there in the face of the adult.

It amazes me that I can be so cruel to myself sometimes. I would never do that to a child. But I guess I’m doing just that when I put myself down; the inner child is shrinking, cowering under the blind, cold control of the “rational” adult. Doing this drawing was a reminder of that… of the need to find in myself, and offer myself the gentle acceptance that a child needs, that all children and people need, to feel worthy and whole. Everyone deserves that, and in a perfect world, that kind of unconditionnality would be a given.