Who knew my husbands 40th birthday gift would affect my personal self esteem?!

First off, I’m reverting to typed word for this blog…it feels like I can convey what I want to say better than via a vlog.  Partly too, I have many links I want to share so written works better.  Bear with me!  🙂


This past fall my HITGF crew members received an email from me about the key events that led to me growing my own self-esteem.  It would be event numero dos that I’ll be telling you about in more detail today.  But before I get into that, I want to set the stage a bit…


There are so many interwoven things I’ve learned this past year and I find it incredibly interesting how they have all intersected.  The universe has my back!  It’s been very apparent to me especially the last 8 weeks or so.  Amazing how life works!  Anyway…


In October I went to view the body image documentary called Embrace.  It was so powerful…and near and dear to my heart.  I’ve had body image hang-ups for decades…which I’ve finally started unraveling in the last 18 months or so.  I had figured out how to improve the health of my physical body, lost a lot of weight, and STILL didn’t like my body or myself very much.


It has taken a lot of internal mindset work to figure out how to get out of that pattern of self-loathing, but I’m proud to say I’m doing it.  The Embrace movie was so special for me because it proved our culture is adding to our troubles, and that for our health and sanity, we women need to let go of these ridiculous expectations and norms.


I’ve seen the film twice now and each time took notes on my phone during the movie.  I jotted specifically the things that hit my soul and I related to my own life.  I had forgotten some of what I wrote down during the first showing, but then during the second showing I realized I wrote one specific point again…nearly the same words I used when I wrote the note the first showing.   I figured if that spot in the movie spoke to me twice there was a reason.  And that reason was to (finally!) write a blog post that I’ve been mulling on for nearly 2 1/2 years!!


Here are the screen shots of the notes on my phone:

From the 10/23/16 showing

From the 12/5/16 showing


There is a topic in the movie where a photographer is interviewed.  She speaks about how doing a shoot of herself after having kids was huge for her self-esteem.  She then did a series of photos of other moms with their babies/kids and the response from those women was also one of feeling empowered and good about themselves.


It got me thinking about a photo shoot I did…


For my husband’s 40th birthday gift I decided I was going to give him an over-the-top gift.  Neither one of us is big party people, he wouldn’t have enjoyed a big surprise party, nor would I.  Instead, I decided I would have boudoir photos done for him!  Hugely scary and hugely exciting at the same time.  I knew I would surprise the hell out of him!


I have a very close friend who is a photographer and she does boudoir shoots.  I told her what I was thinking and she latched onto that idea like white on rice!  🙂  I had second thoughts and tried to back out, but she always reassured me about how fun it would be.  She helped me do some lingerie shopping, gave me some ideas for poses/what to wear, and also did my makeup for me as I wanted to feel a little more glamorous than my “daily life” look.


My friend and I planned an outing together for an afternoon and evening…this was my cover story to get out of the house!  What we really did was head to HotelRed in Madison and did the photo shoot…and it ended up being a fantastic experience!


I was nervous, but my friend was awesome!


She’s a goof and instead of it being quiet and weird, it was filled with laughter and was basically a day hanging out with a girlfriend.  We talked about our kids, our husbands, stuff that pisses us off, shows we like, books etc.  She didn’t use any fancy lighting…it was all natural light.  Some of the shots were more sexy and some were outright silly/funny.  (I’ve got a couple of me doing my best to mimic George from Seinfeld on the red velvet couch…remember that?!?  🙂  Needless to say these ones didn’t make the birthday gift photobook!)


A couple of weeks after the shoot was done we got together to view the proofs.  My friend was so excited to show these to me…she genuinely thought I looked amazing, was excited for me to see them, and EVEN MORE excited for me to give them to husband!

(Side note for another time…this friend is also one of the first to introduce me to the idea of sisterhood and being completely open with another female friend.  She doesn’t want to compete and tear down…she wants us all to lift each other up.  She is perfectly content and happy with who she is and every time I’m with her it rubs off on me.  I’ve learned a lot from her and she is the start of me lovin’ what I got!)



And I gotta admit, after looking at those photos…which weren’t airbrushed or modified…I felt pretty damn amazing!  This is one of the first times in my life I remember liking how I looked in photos.  Admittedly, it felt foreign and I had to resist the urge to nitpick a few of the shots.  But, for the most part, I LIKED how I looked.  I felt appealing, sexy even, and it had zero to do with anyone having to compliment me, see the photos, or even what my weight/size was.



I was blown away by this reaction in myself and knew I wanted to blog about it.  I had to wait though since the pictures were done about 6 weeks before my husband’s birthday.  By the time those 6 weeks had passed, I wasn’t so sure anymore about sharing my experience.  I don’t know why the hesitation set in, but it did.  But as I said above, the universe is weaving together for me all these events…apparently NOW was when I needed to blog about the boudoir session.


And ladies, let me just tell you how fun and amazing it was to give a photo book to my husband and watch his reaction!  It was priceless!!  Easily his favorite gift ever.  And he sees, too, what these photos did to plant a seed for me to feel better about myself.  He has encouraged me to write about this and share the experience with you.  He’s awesomecarrie_boudoir_050 that way!  🙂


Finally,  I hesitated including any of the photos from my boudoir shot as they are quite personal.  I ended up deciding I would include a couple of shots and here’s why I did:  I’m not ashamed of them…I’m not ashamed of how I look…I want you to see that a woman can feel good about her body and WHO she is even when she doesn’t fit the mold of what is considered attractive.

I’m not looking for compliments (likewise, I’m not looking for trolls to come out and say nasty things either!!)…remember these were taken with the purpose of showing my husband, not anyone else.  However, it turns out these photos are serving my larger purpose…I just needed to wait for it to show it itself.  My purpose is to lead by example:  if I can overcome and feel good about myself then you can, too!!


A few of things I’d like to leave you with:

  1.  By all means, do the work of getting your physical body healthy.  But don’t ignore the mindset part of the health equation while you’re at it.  Fixing the physical body will only get you so far.  How you think about you will lead you to greater satisfaction and contentment than chasing pounds lost ever will!!
  2. Do a photo shoot…of you and only you!!  Whether it be of you pregnant, post-partum with your babies, a boudoir shot for your significant other, or simply some treasured photos of you simply being yourself…Do. It!!  There is something that happens when you see yourself in photos taken through someone else’s eye.  Get a little raw, a little uncomfortable, and you will be amazed at the shift that happens on the inside.  It’s powerful and I think it can be a key to unlock so much for you!
  3. Go see Embrace!  If you have struggled with your body image, you NEED to see this and realize you aren’t alone, you aren’t flawed, you aren’t different or abnormal.  You are Ah-May-Zing…Just. As. You. Are!!  Here is a link to LarkSpur Collaborative Coaching on FB where you can find the event links to upcoming showings of Embrace in the Madison area.  Currently scheduled showings are:  January 11, February 8, and March 8.



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