August 24, 2009

written on the body*

andrea_truth.jpg
Me, photo by Jen Gray, Manzanita, Oregon,Canon Digital Rebel XSi

One of the greatest gifts from my weekend away was being painted by the amazing Katherine Center. In addition to being a writer, she is also a painter, and brought her favorite brush with her for a special project: She would paint our bodies (our arms, our hands, our back, our chests) with whatever words we most needed to hear. The message could be directed at our bodies or simply our spirits. They could be individual words, a line of poetry, whatever was meaningful to us.

What unfolded was a surprisingly deep ritual. When it was my turn, I was surprised by how shy I felt. She asked me what word I wanted and I stuttered and stammered, resisting the word that kept coming to mind: lovable. Really? I thought. Does it have to be lovable? That's so pathetic and embarrassing...

Then I started to cry, and finally eeked the word out. Okay, lovable.

katherine_center_smile.jpg
Katherine Center, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

Katherine wrote it over and over across my arm, in big flowy cursive, in smaller printed type. I saw the word creep over my shoulder, and felt the tickle of her brush across my hand. The black paint seeped into my skin, and as those words seeped in, of course the truth of it seeped in too. It felt incredibly vulnerable, which made me want to cry once again.

Here is a collection of images from other Lovebombers that day. If you were to be painted, what words would you choose?

kelly_rae_brene_words.jpg
Kelly Rae Roberts and Brene Brown, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

you_are_the_one.jpg
Myriam, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

Posted on August 24, 2009 10:55 AM
Comments

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Posted by: Software at September 24, 2009 07:32 AM

Wow, I linked to you in a post today, because this touches me so deeply, deeply, deeply. When I was at a very bad low in my life, the urge to cut myself ran so fierce through me that I had to fight it with everything in me. I knew if I started I wouldn't be able to stop. The only way I knew how to counter it was to write over my wrists, a sort of talisman against the dark. I wrote Bible verses back then. To me, the words on the beautiful bodies of all these women are just as holy.

What would I write today? So many different words!
"I am my own delight" is right now my need.
I think this might become a ritual and a blessing every time it is done, whatever the choice of words.

Thank you so much for sharing your own touching experience!

Posted by: Pippa at September 18, 2009 08:25 AM

Hi :)

I'm just re-visiting some of your recent posts~ and must tell you that I find this photo of you *so*very*beautiful. Literally, I stared at it, looked into your eyes, and the words written on your earth suit...it warmed my heart and made me smile.

You inspire me, dear one.

I'm glad to "know" you :)

Thanks for shining your light in the world. And yes, YOU ARE LOVED!!!

Posted by: Nerdy Renegade at September 5, 2009 02:27 PM

This is so very beautiful and touching. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing it with us. I almost cried when I read it, but I'm all cried out. You wanting "lovable" is vibrating through me because that it exactly would I would pick at this point in my life. A little over a week ago, it might have been a different word, a different need within myself. Today, "lovable" is a definite fit.

Posted by: Sharon at September 4, 2009 04:04 PM

these comments and the pictures,the words written on these beautiful bodies - how is it that so many struggle to feel lovable................
one word that is a wish - painfree - ok I put two words together! my daughter as a young girl wrote and drew on her body frequently - it was her palette - I never would have been allowed to do something like that - can I allow myself to now? I hope so! I have 4 very meaningful tattoos on my body - but have never really written or drawn on myself! interesting. thank you for posting this!

Posted by: Kris at September 3, 2009 08:31 AM

these comments and the pictures,the words written on these beautiful bodies - how is it that so many struggle to feel lovable................
one word that is a wish - painfree - ok I put two words together! my daughter as a young girl wrote and drew on her body frequently - it was her palette - I never would have been allowed to do something like that - can I allow myself to now? I hope so! I have 4 very meaningful tattoos on my body - but have never really written or drawn on myself! interesting. thank you for posting this!

Posted by: Kris at September 3, 2009 08:31 AM

I am so deeply moved. My tears are warm as they slide down my cheek. Your "vulnerability" allowed all of this beauty to pour out of you and into the world. Look at these comments, look at what this ritual did, how it touched people...I am so inspired...tonight I will sit and think of what my words would be....some are clamouring to the surface now...thank you for this gift. You have inspired me to dig deeper, allow even more healing and live with a little more flair.

Posted by: Natasha at September 1, 2009 03:17 PM

I am so deeply moved. My tears are warm as they slide down my cheek. Your "vulnerability" allowed all of this beauty to pour out of you and into the world. Look at these comments, look at what this ritual did, how it touched people...I am so inspired...tonight I will sit and think of what my words would be....some are clamouring to the surface now...thank you for this gift. You have inspired me to dig deeper, allow even more healing and live with a little more flair.

Posted by: Natasha at September 1, 2009 03:16 PM

I think we all just want to be loveable....

Posted by: Jennifer at August 28, 2009 03:45 AM

I would like to recommend a book to you: "When things fall apart" by Pema Chodron. I'm reading it right now with great pleasure, and The Universe made me think about you.. Have a wonderful day!

Posted by: Marloes at August 28, 2009 01:49 AM

you women are inspiring. your lovebomb retreat is inspiring. I want to find something of my own that is like this. something to give me release and to grow in strength and love from.
thanks for the inspiration.
thank u.
kate

Posted by: kate at August 27, 2009 09:54 PM

You look so beautiful in that pic. I'm glad you found the courage to tell her what you most wanted in that moment. You are TOTALLY lovable by the way. :)

What a fun art project!!!

Posted by: Andi at August 27, 2009 07:11 PM

You mean apart from 'stupid'? I have drawn on myself before and i once wrote about a girl who wrote on herself in permanent marker ' because i want so much to pray sounds, that my hot mouth cannot find' because she fell in love with someone she shouldn't have. I think I'd write that.

Posted by: Em at August 27, 2009 08:20 AM

You are so brave. What an experience.

I cannot even think that deeply right now to identify a word.

Saw Ben today at TL. He did a little showoff dance for Scarlett.

Hope to see you soon!

Posted by: Whitney {RookieMoms.com} at August 26, 2009 08:44 PM

wow those photos totally choked me up.

I need to think about what I would write. Wonderful. thank you

Posted by: richele at August 26, 2009 01:59 PM

Wow, so inspiring. My word would be Believe. Nothing can stop you if you just believe.

Posted by: Alexa at August 26, 2009 11:48 AM

I just stopped by your blog for the first time today... what an incredible weekend. those words are beautiful. I'm honestly not sure what mine would be. maybe peace. thanks for sharing your amazing little trip with me.

Posted by: Rachel Anderson at August 26, 2009 08:38 AM

Andrea, you are a spirit mentor for me (I've never met you, can't claim to know you, but through your blog I've been constantly inspired, moved, and motivated). I love these words. I am Enough. Truth. Lovable. I'm going to keep them in my belly today as I go talk to my supervisor who I have a bad feeling is going to rip into me (she doesn't like me--I'm not like her and she doesn't seem to like people who don't share her worldview).

Posted by: Alison at August 26, 2009 07:58 AM

Wow. What an incredibly powerful ritual. I think my word would be calm. As the mother of a two year old, I sometimes struggle with keeping my cool. I would love to have a sense of calm about me at all times.

Posted by: Fun Mama - Deanna at August 26, 2009 07:48 AM

This is a great exercise for the soul....we sometimes forget how strong, lovable and valuable we are. Thanks Andrea!! And thanks for being SO GENUINE...you are a true superhero!!

BTW, you look radiant in that pic...love it!!!

xo glo

Posted by: glo at August 26, 2009 06:40 AM

Compassionate, understanding, joy...and mama (gosh - this one does make you sappy!)

What a beautiful idea!

Posted by: Val at August 25, 2009 07:28 PM

This post definitely brought tears to my eyes. I think what I most need to hear is I am worthy and loveable also. You are right those two words have me tearing up everytime.

Thank you.

Posted by: T at August 25, 2009 02:59 PM

Believe...boldly let go...be open...

Posted by: Anna-Marie Still at August 25, 2009 10:16 AM

I saw that lovable all up and down your arm from your first post about this glorious weekend...and well, I'd like that one too. :)

Posted by: Trisha at August 25, 2009 09:41 AM

lovely... tears welling up in my eyes.... my word, might be "able"
thank you for sharing

Posted by: Lucy at August 25, 2009 09:25 AM

GORGEOUS photo of you, by the way!! :) ~ M.

Posted by: Mariella at August 25, 2009 09:25 AM

lovely... tears welling up in my eyes.... my word, might be "able"
thank you for sharing

Posted by: Lucy at August 25, 2009 09:25 AM

wow...so powerful and I love the honesty in your writing! Let's see....what words would I chose? Hmmm....

Loved
Capable
Let go
Forgive Yourself
Powerful


xoxo, ~ M.

Posted by: Mariella at August 25, 2009 09:22 AM

lovely. thank you for sharing this.

Posted by: Bryna at August 25, 2009 09:11 AM

lovely. thank you for sharing this.

Posted by: Bryna at August 25, 2009 09:10 AM

The first word that came to me was "enough". And it made me want to cry.

Then i scrolled to the post below and saw it was someone elses choice too!

abs x

Posted by: abs at August 25, 2009 08:45 AM

What a great project for a women's group/retreat. Write those words on your body so they sink in and become part of you. So you believe them. And then there must be dancing, I think. :)

My word is believe. That's it. Just believe.

Posted by: rowena at August 25, 2009 08:04 AM

fierce
lover
healer
letting go
opening
accepting
compassion

Posted by: Karend at August 25, 2009 06:45 AM

fierce
lover
healer
letting go
opening
accepting
compassion

Posted by: Karend at August 25, 2009 06:44 AM

What an incredible experience to share with everyone. You *are* courageous! and you *are* lovable. Oh my, hugs to you for tapping the words out and posting them.

Posted by: Wendee at August 25, 2009 06:28 AM

wow, I am at the office on my lunch and have tears in my eyes reading this. What an amazing and liberating thing to do. i would have:
- 'perspective' (which i tend to lack!)
&
- 'let it go'

Posted by: Betsybeth at August 25, 2009 05:36 AM

wow, I am at the office on my lunch and have tears in my eyes reading this. What an amazing and liberating thing to do. i would have:
- 'perspective' (which i tend to lack!)
&
- 'let it go'

Posted by: Betsybeth at August 25, 2009 05:36 AM

wow, I am at the office on my lunch and have tears in my eyes reading this. What an amazing and liberating thing to do. i would have:
- 'perspective' (which i tend to lack!)
&
- 'let it go'

Posted by: Betsybeth at August 25, 2009 05:35 AM

I would have loved "TRUST".

Posted by: Marina at August 25, 2009 04:33 AM

This is so beautiful! I would choose "it's time now" because more and more I'm realizing that I can't/won't/don't want to put off my dreams any longer.

Posted by: Heidi at August 25, 2009 01:33 AM

What an amazing gift to give and be given.

I would choose "it's OK to truly be yourself" and "you are meant to share your unique gifts with the world"

Thanks for passing on the chance to write the words.

Posted by: Cathy at August 25, 2009 12:53 AM

"begin" - my dear friend gave me a ceramic egg with this word on it when i was pregnant with my first son 3.5 yrs ago and relocating overseas...now as my second son awaits his own arrival into the world (this week!) - this has become my mantra once more as i gather strength.

Posted by: sperlygirl at August 24, 2009 11:31 PM

Andrea, you are so lovable.

I would want: "brave"

Posted by: linda at August 24, 2009 10:24 PM

open, open, open.
as a reminder and mantra and truth.
it is so hard sometimes to remain open.

relax. and be present.

yep, those i the words i need to know.

you women are all so very beautiful.

Posted by: mamie at August 24, 2009 09:14 PM

words that I felt I should "wear" on my body:

I am enough
I am Lovable
I am doing it right
I don't need to prove anything
I can let the shame go it no longer serves me
It no longer serves me to act small.
I am beautiful
I am smart

Posted by: Catherine at August 24, 2009 08:25 PM

love this post, inspiring and empowering! thank you andrea. you are indeed lovable!
the word i would pick is "trust". learning to trust the process of life as it unfolds.

Posted by: alison at August 24, 2009 08:22 PM

mine would be worthy. i got told i was worthless for about twenty years. i would love to feel worthy.

Posted by: anonymous at August 24, 2009 07:56 PM

I am so blissed-out reading this post! Thank you! That was truly a perfect day.

xoxo!!!

Posted by: Katherine Center at August 24, 2009 06:33 PM

Had I chosen to pick, I would've picked "Beauty."

:)

Posted by: Chookooloonks at August 24, 2009 05:42 PM

I asked myself that question even before you asked it. i am still trying to figure out the word I would pick. joy resonates as well as content. yet not so content that i am not open. open for whatever is next.

Posted by: Denise at August 24, 2009 04:58 PM

These posts are all beautiful to me and sooo inspiring. I'm actually going away with a couple good friends in a few weeks and I'm at such a cross road in life right now that I feel like this week away is going to serve as a life focusing week. And the more I read your posts and see these pictures the more I think it can be.
Thanks so much.

As for my word, it would probably be free and/or gutsy. Two things I've longed for most in life.

Thanks again.

Posted by: Francesca at August 24, 2009 04:52 PM

you are 100% loveable. that is for sure.

Posted by: Lu at August 24, 2009 04:50 PM

I love this entire post. You are lovable. Yes you are!

Incidentally I had to say I read Katherine's novel, "The Bright Side of Disaster" and it was fantastic. It was dead on accurate and I appreciated that. As a divorced woman who has seen the reality of life's trials, I could finally relate to a female character who learns, falters, then recovers.

Posted by: Kristy at August 24, 2009 04:25 PM

i have been seeing y'alls pictures this week and have been moved by the words you individually chose. it's revealing and so empowering.
it got me thinking about what words i would want after seeing y'alls --- truth, joy or create your own joy, faith, hope anyway, endure, perservere, persist, YES....
i have been thinking for the past couple of years that if i got a tattoo it would be JOY or faith in a handwritten form.

Posted by: celisa at August 24, 2009 04:16 PM

So powerful. So great to see meaningful words on bodies. So beautiful.

Hmm, what would I ask to be painted... Hmmm... "Healthy, Fearless, Truth"

Posted by: Shelley Noble at August 24, 2009 04:09 PM

If I was really honest - powerful. I am filled with love, gratitude, and joy - but I am afraid often of their power.

Posted by: Jacqueline at August 24, 2009 02:48 PM

Honest. I always want to be honest.

Posted by: Dani at August 24, 2009 02:42 PM

That is beautiful. I don't know what I'd have painted on my body. Maybe "It matters." Maybe "gratitude."
And lovable. We all need to feel lovable but, man, is it vulnerable to say so.

Posted by: Samantha at August 24, 2009 02:19 PM