Exposed, Inside & Out

I wouldn’t normally re-post my border-line obsessive edits, especially given the whole “completely exposing myself” thing. But this is more of a revision than minor edits.

It seems I needed to push my comfort zones even further and strip off an additional layer (clearly not in the literal sense, as that wouldn’t be possible 😳).

So for those of you who didn’t immediately skip to the end of Warning, the Following Contains Nudity, you’ll probably catch the added reveal- one that I believe needs to be heard to expose the insidious, relentless impact shame can have on every aspect of our lives.

 

Warning: The Following Contains Nudity

Now that I have your attention, that’s actually not true. Nudity is anything but contained here.

Here’s a sneak peek of a little project I’m working on- an exposé if you will.

 * Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13


If you would have told me a year ago that a Boudoir photoshoot would be in my future, I would have launched into all the reasons why that would never happen. Actually, no, I would have asked you what a Boudoir photoshoot was. I honestly had no idea. 

I think the only way I would have considered it is if I was dating someone who wanted me to. Because really, why else would anyone want to share nude photos of themselves unless out of a desperate need for attention or vanity?

So clearly there’s been a dramatic shift in my perspective. There’s no boyfriend in the picture (literally and figuratively). And yes, I did it for attention, but more to be heard than seen. Because whether we like it or want to admit it, sometimes we have to be seen to be heard.

As far as vanity goes, that’s precisely why we’re here- to dismantle the assumption that our desire to exhibit our bodies comes from excessive pride or need or validation, versus a celebratory expression of our sexuality. More importantly, we need to sever the inextricable ties that still exist between our sexuality and shame.

* Note: I define sexuality as the array of characteristics our gender embodies, including, but not limited to, our sensuality, intellect, courage, empathy, resilience, creativity, intuition, and yes, our power.

This all started as a revelation I had while working on a women’s empowerment project. I would have previously thought this to be a contradiction- how can women be empowered when they are presenting themselves as sexual objects?

But I thought about what the word empowered means. To empower someone is to help them gain strength and confidence by reclaiming their rights and taking control of their lives.

So how are we objectifying ourselves if we decide, on our own volition, to honor the physical form we were born in? No, we are not our bodies. But our bodies are essential for becoming who we are. We can’t exactly work to expand our minds, cultivate our talents, find ways to challenge ourselves and overcome physical and mental hurdles if our heart stops beating.

But I don’t think anyone is arguing against honoring our bodies. It’s just when we choose to do so by showing our bodies that the celebration becomes problematic.

I realize this isn’t a new phenomenon. We have been enduring, resisting, and rejecting rules and restrictions imposed on our bodies for centuries. But even when the “collective we” acknowledge how antiquated this obsession with covering our bodies is, women are still being judged and shamed when they reveal “too much.” And let’s be honest, the majority of those doing the shaming is women.

So I ask you to ask yourself: if looking at these photos makes you uncomfortable, ashamed, or embarrassed, whether for me or just in general, why is that? Where does that come from?

I had to ask myself this question to realize that it was my shame about my sexuality that made me scrutinize the motivation of women posing or dressing in a “provocative” manner. It was my shit, not theirs.

Until relatively recently, my body was always a source of shame. I was either too provocative or too prudish. If I was too thin, I was competition. If I wasn’t “thin enough,” I was undesirable, and not just physically, but in every capacity. 

These beliefs were so entrenched at such an early age, the battle against my body started before I even hit puberty. When my body did start to change, it became an all-out war, and there was no escaping. I was attacked at home, at school, and by all the same messages every girl receives from the media and society as a whole.

This belief that my body defined me and how I used and expressed it was shameful– no matter what I did or didn’t do– destroyed my confidence, thwarted my potential, and obliterated my power.

It has taken me over three decades to realize that my sexuality was not my enemy, is not my enemy. It is, in fact, an untapped source of power.

So this is my declaration, for all of us to reclaim our power. Anyone who has been shamed, judged, humiliated, exploited or abused, we deserve to express ourselves fully, unabashedly, knowing we are invaluable, inside and out, and perfectly flawed.

We are all works of art- rich with texture, radiant colors, and an irresistible shape, all perfectly orchestrated to reveal the complexity of our minds and the depth of our spirits.

It’s time to own it.

No more hiding. No more self-loathing, playing small or resigning ourselves to saran wrap and spanks. It’s simply time to embrace our bodies- every curve, fold, and imperfection- be bold with our desire, demand pleasure as our inherent right, and stand our ground until it’s understood: SHE COME FIRST!!! (Men, for the love of women, PLEASE read this book!!!)

And we must eradicate the deeply entrenched belief that we can’t be smart and sexy, that we have to repress one to be the other. F*ck that.


Denny’s Magic

Initially, I was set on hiring a female photographer. But when I saw Denny Fenbers’ work, I was all in. His photos are works of art, which is exactly how he made me feel- like a muse inspiring creative expression, not an object being exploited by someone’s gaze.

There is something transformative that happens when we are completely exposed and liberated from the power we give our reflection. I was no longer reduced to my imperfections. I was the essence of the bold, playful, uninhibited girl I lost when I let my scars define me. And she felt stunning, almost ethereal, teasing the light and dancing with the shadows that shaped my silhouette.

It was a magical experience that can’t be stripped down to nudity or vanity. It was a chance to celebrate the qualities that make me beautiful that have nothing to do with my body- which I personally think is the least intriguing thing about me.

I’ll leave it at that for now and linger in the memory of my experience, mainly to distract myself from the sheer terror of releasing these photos into the ethers…

 Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
 – Maya Angelou

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Boudoir.Woman.Up.

Boudour.back.Revised

Texas

I truly believe that people come into our lives for a reason, at just the right time, to enrich us in some way- to steer us in the right direction, help us realize our potential and remind us to live and love fully.

But there are also times when these lessons are as painful as the reasons are unfathomable. And their messengers, more menacing than we thought humanly possible.

I might never understand why he came into my life and what lessons I was supposed to learn, but I do know this:

These messengers can try to strip us of our dignity, shatter our hearts, and reduce us to ashes.

But they will never steal our fire.

TEXAS

Texas II.png

 

 

2 A.M.

You laid on my chest,
Counting the beats,
While I counted yours.

Waiting,
Hoping you’d say,
See? They beat the same.

 

 

Naked Guise

You will not find poetry here
Here, no poet resides.

Just a collection of words
Infused with magic, (which cannot be defined)

Summoned by a gypsy soul
Hiding behind a naked guise.

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Follow @summoningmagic.com

Lucky #13, turtles & a timely perspective

Soooo, I’m moving again.

I can’t help but think there was a colossal mix-up during my incarnation, and I was actually supposed to be a turtle.

 

Why? Because this will be move #13 in 3 years and move #4 in the past nine months, which includes a 5-month stretch living out of a suitcase…in 3 different countries.

I fear I might have cursed myself with the whole gypsy association. If this is the case, I would like to clarify: what I meant was “a free-spirited, love to travel, always up for adventure” gypsy…not the perpetually displaced kind.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, well, I am. Because let’s be honest, moving is f*cking terrible. One of my favorite bloggers, mydangblog, summed it up perfectly:

Moving is bullsh*t. Everyone knows that. In fact, I can’t understand why people don’t just live in the same place until they die because moving is so horrible.

And just to make sure these moves were sufficiently terrible, I did most of them with virtually no help- one, on the hottest day of the year, another, in the pouring rain, and the most recent, minutes before the worst blizzard this year ensued.

One move, in particular, I believe #7, stands out as one of the more challenging. To add insult to injury (literally), I had conveniently torn a tendon in my ankle two weeks before. So, I hired Karl to help…Karl, with a “K”.

Karl was a friend of some random guy I met at a coffee shop. I was so grateful, I never asked if “said friend” was a guy or girl, which proved to be a good thing.

I’m the first one to declare that our gender is just as capable as men at performing most physically arduous tasks. But realistically, the average woman isn’t primed for hauling heavy furniture and boxes upstairs. And since women aren’t frequently recruited to help friends move, they aren’t necessarily good at it. And I’m here to tell you, there is an art to moving.

All to say, I was admittedly disappointed when *they showed up…and a bit worried. My concerns proved to be valid. In addition to having to haul the heaviest boxes myself and explain how to maneuver furniture around corners, there was an additional element that proved to complicate things further.

In an attempt to make the task at hand more bearable and boost morale, I tried to lighten things up a bit- crack a joke here and there, throw out the occasional affirmation, for example, “We’ve got this, girl.”

But I was getting the vibe that my cheerleading wasn’t working. This was confirmed about 30 minutes in when they turned around, mildly annoyed, and said something to the effect of…

Helper: Could you please stop calling me that?

Me: Wait, what? Oh god, what did I say?

Helper: I’m actually transitioning and no longer identify as a girl, so if you wouldn’t mind…”

Me: Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t…I mean, I couldn’t…I was just…

Awkward pause.

“Right, got it.”

I darted downstairs and slid into the bathroom. Seriously Brooke, could you have made that any more awkward? Just call her by her name…or do I say his name? Oh shit, I forgot what her name is. I mean his! Oh my god, I seriously can’t…

Within an hour, they announced they needed to go. I panicked. We had barely made a dent, and my ankle was twice its normal size at that point. I caved and called “E”.

Me: Um, so I hate to ask you to do this, but I’m kinda desperate. This girl, I mean, this friend of an acquaintance, was helping me, but she, shit, I mean, this person has an appointment that she. Oh my god, I seriously can’t…

E: (Laughing) Uh, you okay?

Me: Tears.

E. Oh, alright. I’ll be over in a bit.

I grabbed my checkbook.

Me: So what is your name again? I mean, I know what your name is, but how do you spell it, exactly?

Helper: Karl Adams, Karl with a K. But for now, just make it out to Carly Adams, Carly, with a C.

Me: Right, got it.

* This is not intended to disrespect anyone in transition AT ALL. After the fact, I did some research and the consensus seems to be that “they” is best when you are writing if you aren’t sure. In retrospect, I should have just asked, which upon further inquiry, seems to be what most everyone prefers. All to say, I’m so very sorry, Karl, wherever you are!

In contrast, my next move, or maybe it was the move after, had serious potential for a better outcome. I happened to meet a kind, extremely fit, very attractive Australian who offered to help- a seemingly fortuitous encounter that turned into a love story of sorts, just minus the happy ending.

So I opted to go solo my last move. A sore back and a few bruises seemed better than offending the shit out of someone or a broken heart.

I made it a little easier on myself this time, leaving all things too cumbersome in the ally for some stable homeowner or renter to enjoy. I have replaced them with versions I can manage by myself if necessary. And yes, this includes a desk and a dresser. (You can’t even wrap your head around what I’ve managed to haul up and down three flights of stairs.)

Moving usually makes the list as one of life’s most stressful events. Divorce is usually high up there too (check), death of a loved one (partial check, with a terrible twist), financial upheaval (check). Imprisonment is high on the list too, but to date, I have managed to avoid any run-ins with the law, for the most part, anyway.

But, I shall refrain from complaining further. I do still have my limbs, after all, and a roof over my head…most of the time. I mean “I have a roof over my head most of the time.” My limbs are hopefully here for the long haul…because I kinda need them to haul shit around, it seems.

be thankful.paradise

I try to keep reminding myself of this because I know it to be true; I’ve been on both sides.

When I was packing for the Congo, one of the essentials I was told to bring was a watch. Electricity was going to be a luxury, so if I couldn’t charge my phone, I wouldn’t know what time it was.

Why would one need to know what time it is in a remote village in the Congo? Well, there were chimps to be fed and an imposed curfew we were supposed to abide by for safety purposes. I admittedly regularly missed the latter, but I truly didn’t know what time it was…because I had misplaced my watch the first week I was there.

I wasn’t too upset about it. I’d only ever used it to time my track workouts, and I had my travel alarm, so the chimps wouldn’t go hungry.

So a month or so later, I was running with Rafael, one of the staff I had become friends with, and I noticed he was wearing my watch. I don’t think for a second that he stole it. I think I took it off when I was washing the chimps’ veggies and left it on the counter. That meant it was up for grabs, plain and simple.

As we were running, I realized the watch no longer worked. It was just a dirty, pastel green band with a blank screen. But Rafael was now one of the only people in the village who had a watch. It didn’t matter if it worked or not; he had a watch.

He did not, however, have running water or electricity in his home. And his home was what most would consider a shack, probably just one open room with dirt floors and a tin roof.

My point is, for most of us in the developed world, Rafael’s life seems tragic. But he was always smiling with a kind disposition and fun sense of humor. He had a job, which was extremely rare in the village. He had food to eat, albeit mostly beans and cassava. He had friends and a healthy family, all of his limbs, and a roof over his head. Most of these were a luxury there.

I know, a seemingly random tangent, but I think of these things when shit seems like it can’t get any worse. A) I make it a point to never say that because I’ve learned it definitely can, and B) I can focus on the shit that’s wrong or the shit that’s not. Unfortunately, the prior wins out more than I’d like.

So, here’s to lucky number #13 and the hope that a kind soul will swoop in and help a girl out. I promise I will commit your name to memory and keep the cheerleading to a minimum.

And if you are in fact, a kind, fit, attractive male, that’s great. Just no broken hearts, please. Cause, although I can’t give you the exact length of time (I misplaced my watch, you see), I know a good chunk of it has been wasted trying to move on…which I think we’ve established, I’d rather stop doing.

Besides, I’m simply not wired to be a turtle. I’m too impatient and tend to operate in 5th gear most of the time. And even if this is someone else’s paradise, it’s not mine, so I’d like to get things moving (or even just help moving), and time is of the essence.

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A Love Story of Sorts

In keeping with the theme this week, I’ll offer up a love story of sorts.

Okay, it’s not really a “love story”, in the traditional sense. But it is a story, and it does involve love.

In the romantic sense, love has proven itself to be a fickle companion. I’ve lost myself in it and also found myself. I’ve sworn it off completely, and then blindly plunged back in. I’ve felt it with a force as powerful as breath, and now find myself wondering if it even exists.

But I’m a romantic and seem to be incapable of giving up on it completely.

So Valentine’s Day. I admittedly get seduced by it all: a day dedicated solely to celebrating the person I love and being spoiled by the person who loves me. It’s a subject I believe worthy of its own holiday.

But I’m also acutely aware that this day can place loneliness and heartbreak at center stage, making the absence of the person we love as consuming as their presence used to be liberating.

That’s the side of it I was on, once again. There was no lover to spoil. And besides the sweet guy at the coffee shop, I wasn’t the object of anyone’s affection.

All to say, I expected to be in the same place I was last year: front and center.

I am, in fact, front and center, but not in the same place.

It feels more like equilibrium.

There was no huge revelation that occurred. I didn’t even realize anything had changed until the sweet boy at the coffee shop gave me a chocolate heart. It made me happy. And I didn’t want it to be from anyone else. And I was completely content with the fact that I had the whole day to myself. And there wasn’t anyone I was missing (not entirely true. I miss perhaps the true love of my life, my Biscuit, terribly but subject at hand.)

It seems I unknowingly declared a truce.

Despite the fact that I desperately wanted to move on, I kept looking back. I’ve recycled everything possible- memories, relationships, behaviors- all of which kept taking me back to the exact same place I was before…which was the last place I wanted to be.

This isn’t to say that my mind has completely stopped revisiting what’s lurking beneath the surface. But I finally understand its tactics. I can catch it now, reel it in and release what has clearly been sustaining my demons all along.

But there is admittedly one last relationship I’m trying to rekindle. It’s risky to be sure. It was extremely messy before and full-on destructive when we parted ways. But I really do believe it will be different this time.

I think she’s finally realized she had something special that she came really close to losing.

and-suddenly-she-found-herself-grateful.