On the second last day on my trip in Cuba, the rain came down and it reminded me of how water cleanses everything both physically and metaphorically. It was a good representation of how being in Cuba cleansed my soul once again.
As a body confident photographer, writer and coach, I try my best to "walk the walk" when it comes to owning the body I have and loving and accepting my unique beauty. But it's not always easy, especially when you are spending all day at the pool or by the ocean when everyone is in bathing suits 99 per cent of the time. Although normally I do pretty well on the confidence front, a felt oddly uncomfortable and self-conscious about my body. This was interesting because men and women of all shapes and sizes were wearing a variety of small bathing suits, no matter their body type or physique. One would think that a body confident advocate would be in some sort of body empowerment heaven but the surprising thing was, the more everyone rocked the bodies they had no matter what, the more self-conscious I became about my own. I remember posing for pictures with my husband and trying to hide my voluptuous chest. "All these people are way more confident than you and they can pull it off and you can't", my ego bellowed loud and clear. I felt like everyone was starring at me with judging eyes. So I continued to hide but at the same time trying really hard to break free from my lack of body confidence.
I got up to go to the bar, wearing a supposedly 'fashion forward' and slightly loud high wasted bikini that my niece assures me is the "height of fashion". As I walked up to get a drink, a woman about my age approached me: "where did you get your bathing suit?" She asked..." I really like it! I have one just like it and I was unsure whether or not I could wear it but looking at you in yours, I feel like I could pull it off". I answered her and we had a conversation about it. She thanked me for giving her confidence to try something new.
That morning, as I watched the rain fall down and thought of that experience with this woman, I realized something: the only person who is certainly judging me with harsh and critical eyes is myself. I don't know what people are thinking and I believe for the most part I hyper focused on everyone else, rather unfairly to myself and to them as well. Even though I am an advocate for body empowerment and made the decision to make it my life's work, doesn't mean I'm immune to my own ego and it's judgement. I must continue to choose to surrender my fears and release them everyday. Letting in love and releasing fear is a choice I must make over and over again. Like the rain cleanses the earth, I too must cleanse my heart and soul through surrendering my fears and showering myself with love, one day at a time.