Stepping Into the Comfort Zone
Last night I had an amazing experience of getting a glimpse into an intimate, life changing experience. “On the Couch with Just As I Am” was an evening at the Gas Station Theatre in Osborne Village that provided the creators and participants an opportunity to talk about this project. “Just As I Am” is a collection of nude photos of everyday people who chose to offer their perspectives of who they really are, without the armour of clothing. The creators are partners in life and business Rodney and Sonya Braun of Eve Studios here in Winnipeg. To read the details of the project and to hear the stories of the participants, go to their website http://www.justasiam.ca/index2.php
What was most interesting to me was that I got a real sense of how powerful this experience was for those who allowed themselves to be vulnerable. I knew somewhere in me that this kind of photo shoot could be life changing. These were the events that led me to last night. Back in October of 2010, I was preparing for my wedding and meeting with a photographer. At this same time, I was developing my ideas for adventure coaching. So I took this opportunity to say out loud, for the first time, my idea that one the adventures I wanted to offer women was to have professional photos taken of themselves, stepping out of whatever their comfort zone happened to be. It could be without make-up, it could be in a bathing suit, it could be topless, and yes, it could be nude.
When January 2010 came around, I did a number of information/focus group to explore adventure options with women. To me, adventure is really anything that is challenging, new, and takes you into new territory. Ideally, we all take part in adventures in each of our health areas, including physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. The ideas I pitched were a bike trip, skydiving, marathon, or winter camping for physical; a sweatlodge or day of silence in nature for spiritual; a cooking event or playwriting for mental; and a photo shoot for emotional. In truth, the only adventure idea that garnered any resistance was the photo shoot. There were head shakes and outright “no-ways” at the mere mention of “pictures”. I tossed out the idea to friends here and there, and some questioned my new “obsession” with nude.
My next exposure (pun intended) was in March at the Winnipeg RV and Camping Show, of all places. It was there that I learned about a clothing optional campground outside of Winnipeg and I had a long discussion with the owner about nudism. Even talking about nudity in a public venue was new but very intriguing to me. I began to explore my own issues with nudity and started to wonder if I would actually allow myself to be seen naked by other people and have a permanent record in the form of a photo. It was in this discussion that I was introduced to the “Just As I Am” project.
The “On The Couch” talk was not on my radar this week until the day before the event. It just felt like I had to go. What had the most impact for me on this night came from hearing directly from the participants. I had previously described this idea of “naked photos” as a chance and challenge to step out of one’s comfort zone and push the boundaries into a new adventure. What I learned from the participants was that it was a journey of stepping into the comfort zone and being completely accepting of oneselves “just as I am”.
So this idea remains on my list of adventures to offer. I don’t know how it looks yet and I don’t know who will be willing to join in. What I do know is that someday I will have a nude photo taken as a symbol of complete acceptance of myself.