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A few weeks ago I was updating my ArtFire shop's bio and stopped to look at the photo I'd posted.  When did I start airbrushing my self??   I was kind of caught off guard even though I clearly was the one who played with that photo of myself (diffuse glow option, btw) until it finally gave a pretty younger photo of me.  It made me stop and ask myself - self, why are you hiding who you are?  When did this start?  Am I afraid people won't like me if they see the real me?

I've never been one to take a lot of time with my appearance.  I rarely wear make-up and I've never wanted a haircut that I had to fuss with or even blow dry.  I love cool clothes and shoes, but comfort is key.  Good genetics made it even easier to be this way.  I always considering myself a Katherine Hepburn or Jamie Lee Curtis kind of person, but here I was diffusing my skin tone and fuzzing out the imperfections.  But, let's face it we all hit that age where gravity and the aging process starts to make you look like someone you don't know.  One can only pluck stray white hairs in one's brows for so long before one starts having to draw them in! 

Staying out of photos so I don't have to wonder who that middle-aged woman standing next to my husband might be only means there's very little record of me living this wonderful life with him.  I've disappeared the last few years.

And yes, if you're sitting there wondering - does she see the connection??!  With trepidation, because this would mean emotional work, I am turning towards the inside and thinking about my relationships both personal and through cyberspace and whether those were as authentic as they could be.  Airbrushing everything to make it pretty is not really who I am.  Privacy, kindness and politeness are important to me, but I don't think being real means I start spilling secrets or lose civility.  Relationships I feel safe in bring out the closest to an authentic me, but those that are new or unsure I tread lightly and quietly.  I don't think I like expending the energy to tread lightly or worrying.Interestingly my gynecologist for the past 25 years of my life recommended a book to me last April. She'd read it and recommended it to her daughter so that her daughter would hopefully not take as long as she in "growing up."

I've always known she is brilliant and as my husband would say, swims in the best school of fish, but I realize now that the book she recommended that I've opened and read from time-to-time is very timely for this whole exploration of who I want to be the rest of my life.

At the risk of sounding very Oprahish: I recommend this book and am open to discuss as we both work through it. Isn't it funny how things start happening and appearing, or so it seems, when you're exploring new things?  I came across a fellow artist, Brandy Franklin, whose motto is "Let Your Freak Fly!"  She really does in her Weekly Confessionals in her blog.  I see her becoming more free of her past and true to her art as she lets go.

All of this led to a pinkie promise with a girlfriend, Kim Stevens, who has started a wonderful blog of her own:  Picking Poppies.  The promise to each other is that we will try to let our freak fly!  We're taking baby steps, because this is kind of scary stuff being vulnerable.  I know from experience that sometimes putting something out there that is very personal can be used against you.  There's trust and loss of control involved and I have issues with both.  In taking baby steps I found Brene Brown's blog via a friend's recommendation and have purchased her book The Gifts of Imperfection:  Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  The title alone got me excited!  I picked up one of her buttons, too as a reminder to me every day to learn to live my authentic life.

No, you didn't find a full page spread of me in my underwear, ala Jamie Lee, and I'm telling you NOT to hold your breath.  I will update my photo soon.

Comments

Awww, Janet I am just finally

Awww, Janet I am just finally sitting down to the computer to catch up and really enjoyed this post. Not because you mentioned me (LOL) but because this is something I think so many of us think about, and face, but certaintly don't always share with each other. I too sometimes (quite often) walk by a window and see my reflection but don't recognize the fluffier figure that looks back at me. I too have disappeared from pictures and only recently been trying to change that. Why do I judge myself in a way that I don't judge others? I have learned over the past few years to be kinder to myself, giving myself permission to let my freak fly! I have now had pink highlights for over a year now - I did it on a whim and haven't looked back.Beautiful entry Janet!!

thank you for this very

thank you for this very thoughtfull post I have been living as an "invisible woman" for the last few years.however today I had my long hair finally cut and styled. not for anyone else but for me- so that when I look in the mirror I smile and don't wonder who is looking back at me.

Kim - Back when I wasn't

Kim - Back when I wasn't invisible, after leaving high tech field, I put in bright blue highlights and had those for a few years. I guess it was sort of a rebellion and I'm sure "people talked." ; ) Felted - maybe hair's a first step? Congratulations on letting the "blanket" go! ("What Not to Wear" reference regarding hiding behind our long hair.) I bet that was difficult. How many years had you been growing it?Yes, why do we judge ourselves so harshly when we are so accepting of others?

You're safe with me. I think

You're safe with me. I think you look great!Kim has pink highlights? Hmm, I think teal blue for me. Not sure though. I decided if my husband is still telling me he thinks I look better than ever, I should listen to him and not to the critical part of myself.My freak flag is urging me to have more fun and less duty!later, Catherine

Thanks Catherine! Your hubby

Thanks Catherine! Your hubby and you are both right. Instead of prayer flags I'm thinking we all should create freak flags!

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