On My Heart · Selfie · Storytelling · Strength to Strength

Selfie On

Selfies have been around for a long time, my friends. You might recognize some of these incredible selfies. I thought I’d take the moment to set the stage with a little art history.

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Artists from left to right, top to bottom: Natalia Goncharova, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Durer, Fernado Botero, Mary Cassat, Leonardo DaVinci, Rembrant, Helene Schjerfbeck, Judith Leyster, Vincent VanGogh, Pablo Picasso

For centuries the “selfie” or “self portrait” has been used to express just that, a message about one’s self. I for one am fascinated by selfies. I love seeing them and often wonder what message is hidden behind the image. Maybe it’s the artist in me that thinks things like: “I wonder what she was feeling when she took that picture,” or “I wonder what this image is memorializing in his life,” or “She looks so beautiful today. I hope she feels it. I hope she feels valued and loved.” or “He always makes me laugh when he makes that face,” or “Look the way she is looking at her son!”

And then the soft, broken-hearted side of me sometimes takes deep sighs and thinks, “Oh, I’m so glad they captured that beautiful moment,” or “I imagine one day her children will love seeing their mother in this image,” or “What a powerful moment between a father and a son.”

When my son Mattie died, I went through Instagram and made a folder of every selfie I had ever taken with him. There were well over 100- just the ones I had taken on my phone. Not once did I plan it, my motive was not to flaunt my face or show off my hairstyle. I was capturing moments. They tell a story. A story I lived. Every image was important to me.

So I am here to shout TAKE YOUR SELFIES!! I’m watching! I love them. They move me! They make me laugh. They make me cry! Don’t stop!!

I asked my friends to share some selfies. I asked them to also share the story the picture tells, the emotion it evokes, or the memory it captures. And here are some of their very beautiful and very moving images.

They told me things like this:

“This is probably the first time I really smiled after Dalton passed away. I felt wrong for even thinking of smiling or laughing, like I wasn’t grieving if I wasn’t sad. Now after 18 months, I smile a lot and I also still cry a lot. I know for certain he would want me to be happy and live life fully just as he did for 21 years. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done or will do in my life is to keep going after losing him, but I have and I will do it. His strength runs through my veins and it will keep me going.”- Sherri

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“Me in all my boy mom glory. I’m proud of this picture because it’s proof that I can grieve one of my sons while also enjoying life with the other.”- Jessica

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“This is bad-ass-breaking free baldness! Years of pain and an addiction of self destruction that no one even knew existed. I’ve never in my life exposed the real me. Until I broke free from a life that had a hat for protection from a world and make-up to cover up. I am human and one day I will bully down the demon for good. I do not let my diseased addiction get in the way of living my life or life-ing it with my children.”- Tamara

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“I took this last Christmas. It was my first Christmas spent without my kids. The holiday schedule is set to switch every other year so I did gifts and had a special celebration the day before. I remember waking up and thinking about my emotions about all the changes that were taking place. That Xmas morning, I was able to take a deep breath, and focus on what I have gained through those changes. It is SO much more than what I once believed I had lost. I was able to choose to focus on that. I spent the day with a close friend and we pampered ourselves and watched Cinderella. We remembered to be kind and brave. It was definitely a Merry little Christmas.”-Nichelle

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They spoke incredible works and share their beauty and bravery with me.

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A real story behind every image. I wish I could share them all.

“This reminds me that even when I don’t feel good, or think I look good, my kids see their mom! Holding them close, raising them up, loving them, is what matters most!”- Karly

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“This selfie reminds me of when my husband gave me one of the best complements. Another husband asked if my husband was ever unpleased by all the colours I dyed my hair and how I dress for me in mind mostly not necessarily to please him. His response was, ‘Shala knows herself well and has her worth in who Christ says she is. She expresses this on the outside not only the inside. I love Shala for who she is and knowing the outside reflects her inside so well only makes me fall in love with her appearance deeper not less’.” -Shala

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“I love this photo because nothing in this life has been more important or more valued then mothering. Mothering my children has been the single most refining thing of my life. It’s taught me about pain, grief, and strength. But mainly love. It’s the closet to the love of God I think we as humans will ever know .”- Courtney

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“I feel beautiful and happy in this picture. It captures that twinkle in my eye and reminds me of how blessed I am. I feel very thankful to God when I look at this picture and think of all the amazing things He’s done for me.” -Amber

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Thank you for sharing your hearts with me. Stories about learning to take care of yourselves, treasuring a moment with a loved one, telling the world who you truly are, admitting your insecurities, sharing fear and pain, and celebrating life!

“This is meaningful to me because it reminds me I am strong enough to make it even through the toughest times. It is ok to cry but push through the tears and keep living and spending my days with this little guy helps me find a rainbow in the storm.”- Stephanie

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“Because sometimes when your hair is greasy, you haven’t washed your face in days and your pajamas are the only clothes you can manage to find, your baby boy thinks your look beautiful and wants to ‘shellfish wif you’.”- Stephanie

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“This picture reminds me that I am loved across the world. This gentleman wrote my name on a piece of paper and told me he would be praying for me.” – Charisa

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“This! I’m sitting on my dirty floor, with a sink full of dishes behind me, I haven’t showered…and I don’t care. I’m embracing my life and my girls and my health.” -Mary Beth

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“I don’t know why. Not much make up. Haven’t fixed my hair. But I like it.”

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“A selfie taken during my parents’ 5-month journey to eternity. It was the moment when I realized that I possessed the strength to be their rock. I can remember holding my mother’s hand and having long talks about life eternal and crossing over to the other side. Breathing with her as she battled lung disease. Witnessing her courage … And her grace. This photo represents the intimate awakening of Self, when I saw the same courage and grace within me.” -Michelle

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Selfie on my dear ones,

Capture the images that share your story, hide behind them a secret message that might be for you and you alone, shout from the roof tops that you are not taking one day for granted, laugh at yourself, celebrate your beauty and your strength, and be proud of who you are and who you are becoming.

You are so loved,

Tracie

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