This photo shoot happened at Kim’s home and Golden Gate Park. And like every woman, Kim’s home’s is her own. Her living room has a beautiful corner bay window that beams in morning light. There’s also minimal furniture in her living room so that there’s plenty of room for her to dance on the pole she’s placed right in the bay window!
You may now think she’s quite the exhibitionist but this is not really the case… though it’s quite likely that the experience of this photo shoot is inspiring her to live in a more open way.
Kim and I have known each other for nearly ten years – through ups, downs, and all arounds – and I will tell you that Kim is a woman with courage and depth. What follows is her desire to share with you her experience – her desires, the fear she had to move through to say yes to this opportunity, her process of doing this, and the wonderful opening that followed.
There’s one thing she says here that speaks so much to me of why I love doing this – both photo shoots and providing women a platform to share their stories – and it’s this:
During this experience I felt like ONE woman being
vulnerable, while simultaneously feeling the strength from
the vulnerability of ALL women.
There is a very personal aspect to each of our experiences and stories and yet the deeper we go within ourselves, the more we tap into the collective. Doing this shifts us from feeling like isolated individuals to connected threads in a much greater tapestry. And when we share our experiences with each other, particularly the deeply felt ones, we amplify this process of connection. Enjoy!
What motivated you to do a photo shoot?
The first blog post Robin sent out featuring a photo shoot of a woman I knew I was going to do it! The woman was stunning. She was vulnerable. She was empowered. I wanted to go within and reveal hidden aspects of myself, as a reminder to myself that those qualities are still alive within me.
Was there something in particular you were seeking to examine or cultivate within yourself?
Hiding has been a big theme in my life. The hiding that comes from the belief of not being good enough – who am I to dream or dare to do things worthy of being seen? Having a photo or video taken of me, feels like standing up in front of 100 people. It’s terrifying. But, as strong as the urge to hide is within me, there’s an equally strong desire to be seen and accepted.
After more than a year of wanting to do a shoot with Robin, finally the time was right. I was surrendering to a shift and change in my life. I closed my business. I was ready to allow life to be a little more simple, lighter and joyful. I had spent a good dozen years welcoming all kinds of life experiences that were the polar opposite of simple, light and joyous! What a gift those stormy years ended up being; they brought me closer to knowing myself and ignited a strong desire to serve women in a deeper way. It was time to create space to fulfill my purpose – to empower and inspire women (and myself) to know their strength and beauty through the vulnerability of self-acceptance.
What did you experience while preparing? And, how did preparing help you clarify your intention?
For the past 17 years I’ve been an esthetician – I help people to look and feel beautiful in their skin. It’s a tricky business – selling the hope of a more youthful appearance, while at the same time encouraging women to love and honor their inherent beauty. Here I was, a woman committed to encouraging other women to embrace and accept the beauty that comes with their age, making an appointment for Botox and struggling with the fact that my 45 year old face was not going to look 25 in these photos! AND I’m in the skin care industry – I should look younger. Oh, and I could’ve made an effort to lose 5-10 pounds, but didn’t. You can hear the voice of my judgy inner-critic now, can’t you?
Given these sorts of inner voices, I experienced serious resistance during the whole process of preparing for this project. I was like a cat being put on a leash by its owner and taken for a walk – digging in those claws, stiffening the body and not wanting to budge. It was painful and silly! Identifying the qualities I wanted to see in the photos; pinning photos of these qualities on Pinterest; selecting clothing and location for my shoot. This is the part of the process women find fun (Robin tells me). I just felt myself going numb.
The qualities that were surfacing for me to explore in this shoot were:
Sensuality, Power and Joy
Yet I couldn’t get myself to pin a sensual photo of another woman on my Pinterest vision board. Doing that would be a declaration – I am willing to be vulnerable enough to see that quality in myself and expose it to someone else. How was I going to do this? I was blocked. This required backup, so I called a girlfriend. The perfect person who would sit with me, my decks of Goddess & Angel cards, my hidden insecurities and get me to start pinning photos on that vision board. And then took me into her enormous closet to play dress-up! This is what women do – lift up (and dress up) our sisters. I LOVE it.
What was your experience like during the photo shoot? Was anything surprising?
The day of the shoot came. Oh boy! As we were chatting before the shoot, Robin asked what I felt nervous about. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to let go. That this would be a missed opportunity. That I would hide. And honestly, knowing that Robin is one to always call me out when I’m behaving in a way that is so not serving the truth of my being, I was a wee bit nervous. This was going to be UNcomfortable, or so I thought.
Once I put on my first outfit, turned on the music, gravitated toward my pole and began to move, I was in my body and out of my head. Robin worked to keep me in that space, connected to myself, making the camera less scary. It was beautiful to see and feel her supporting me through the journey. She pulled me towards the lightness of my being. No pushing required. Robin was empowered, inspired and radiant as she worked her creative magic.
During this experience I felt like ONE woman being vulnerable,
while simultaneously feeling the strength from the vulnerability
of ALL women.
What impact has this experience & your photos had on you?
This photo shoot happened in the middle of an 8 week Goddess pole dance workshop I was taking. During the class that followed my photo shoot I felt a freedom and power in my “individual” dance that I had yet to feel.
For the first time I wasn’t looking for spaces to hide in my
movement and in the room. I looked my audience in the eyes,
engaging them in my experience.
I’ve been exploring the dance of sensual movement for the past 5 years and the whole time it’s been a struggle to be seen. I realize how isolated I’ve felt by putting so much energy into hiding.
This has been one of those life-changing experiences – the effects not really known in the moment. A shift has happened for me. And there’s much more to be transformed on this journey. Robin’s work is profound, deeply moving, transformative and even magical! I feel so honored and blessed to witness and be touched by her art and work. A beautiful gift I believe all women should experience. The deepest thank you Robin!