This past December, my mother, sisters and I volunteered for Ballet West and assisted with the Sugar Plum Parties that took place on stage after the matinee performances of The Nutcracker.  The party was a fun way for kids and the young at heart to come on stage and see how the other half lives and included refreshments, a magician, a science table, and a photo-op with the dancers which we (obvi) took part of on more than one occasion..

Sugar Plum Photo.jpg

I was assigned to help with the photo portion, and over the course of the 5 different days I volunteered, I began to notice something; I noticed that the majority of adults faced with the prospect of getting their photo taken became flustered and uncomfortable.  Some of them flat out refused, some only acquiesced for their childs sake, and the rest made it verbally clear how much they 'hated' getting their photo taken by mumbling and groaning all the way up to the set.

As I observed this I became deeply saddened by how commonplace self-deprecation has become in our society, but the most disturbing aspect of this behavior was the message it was sending to the kids; the message that it's 'normal' to criticize yourself, to beat yourself up about the way you look, and to essentially 'hate' yourself.  If children are the future, what kind of future are we building with this message?

I was never officially taught how to love or accept myself and grew up with the belief that self-love was egotistical and vain.  And though my mother made it very clear to my sisters and I at a very young age that we were responsible for our own happiness, it's taken me 30 years of living and learning on this earth to fully understand and embody that concept.

2016 was a year of self-discovery for me, a year of digging deep (truth be told way deeper than I ever really wanted to go but only light can drive out the darkness am I right??) in order to find out for myself what it really means to be happy, and how to enjoy life fully.  And what that digging brought me to was the realization that I didn’t love myself, and I realized that if I didn’t have love for who I was and fully embrace and accept every mistake and glorious success I’ve ever experienced in life - then I would never be happy because I would always be searching for things outside of myself to 'show me love’ and ‘make me happy'.

In realizing this I made the connection that getting your photograph taken is an act of self-love; it is you, accepting yourself just as you are and loving every beauty and perceived 'flaw' wholly and deeply.  

It is this and this alone that has brought about a deep desire to help change the cultural perception of self-love from something seemingly shameful, to something that we COLLECTIVELY embrace, support and encourage.

As you may remember, I started a 'Shop Local' blog series last year, with Flight Boutique, in Park City, as my first feature.  I've since gotten to know and love the ladies that run the shop and in discussing my recent personal discoveries with them we made the connection that mindful shopping, as a means of personal expression, is an act of self-care. 

And so I've teamed up with Flight Boutique to offer free portraits next Saturday, February 4th at our pre-Valentines Day soiree.  Come and treat yourself to something nice, bring a loved one, and get your photo taken!

Wherever you are today, I hope you are enjoying your life.  

XXO,

Jen

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