"My ability to love and to show love is something I have always considered to be one of my strongest characteristics. However, self-love has always felt like another thing altogether."


On our way up to the cottage one day, my friend Kale mentioned she was starting a new project: a website of naked people doing ordinary things that they loved. Without much hesitation, I was in! Sounds like fun. Sign me up. Then, the dread set in... people were going to see me naked... and not in that "after a few beers with the lights off" kind of a way. What had I done? Like many people, I have had a life long struggle with body acceptance, characterized by an eating disorder. I knew that this was either going to be a terrible experience, or a very poignant  one. I decided to glass half-full it and follow through on what I had agreed to do: get naked.


Deciding what to do for the photoshoot wasn't easy at first. There are so many things I love doing, but when it came down to it, an experience this personal deserved to take place during an activity that was personal. Meditation seemed like a natural choice. Joslyn Kilborn arrived at my house on a Sunday afternoon to take the photos. Probably the coolest thing about this experience was that I got to share it with Joslyn. She is one of my greatest friends, has supported and laughed with me over the years, and knew (probably better than most) what this stage of my life's journey meant. I felt as though it might be weird, having her there as I meditated...naked... but once the shorts came off, it was just like any other time we were hanging out and it all felt pretty natural. As I closed my eyes and began to focus on my breathing in an attempt to quiet the million thoughts I had running through my brain, I was struck. I don't know if I would call it an epiphany, a moment of clarity, or just the meandering thoughts of a crazy person, but I had a realization during that meditation.


Unconditional Love is one of the greatest gifts you can offer another person and my ability to love and to show love is something I have always considered to be one of my strongest characteristics. However, self-love has always felt like another thing altogether. If the body is a vessel for our spirit and I was so completely terrified and ashamed of mine, how could I possibly be giving love to the soul that was inside? It wasn't as though I was unfamiliar with this concept... Hell, I'm sure I've seen it written on a coaster next to a "Live Laugh Love" bath mat at the mall, but it is feeling it, knowing it, and applying it that is the difference. It was then that I realized, how can I possibly offer true unconditional love to anyone if I am not willing to first offer it to myself? I began to cry. I was so overcome. It was at this moment that, for the first time in a long time, I felt my mind begin to quiet as intentions and beliefs became clear. I prayed for loved ones and others whom I didn't know, I thanked God for flowing through me and giving me the opportunity to have this realization, and I forgave myself for years of self-doubt and judgment. As I opened my eyes, it was like I was waking up. I felt refreshed and alive, but most of all, I felt completely comfortable with being naked! I didn't just make peace with my body that day, I fell in love with it.


It's amazing the things you can learn when you just shut up and get naked.












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