A History of Love – How to Empower Others Around You

September 3, 2015

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In part one, I shared my struggles with self-love and self-acceptance. But I also talked about the light at the end of the tunnel and coming out of a time of insecurity and hardship through the love and acceptance of others.

Now that’s not to say that we require the validation of others in order to love ourselves but to say that we can go through life alone oblivious and unaffected by others opinions is also unrealistic. That’s why I want to stress in this post just how much we are all responsible for lifting up others around us. Our words of encouragement, of kindness, of love, can make a difference in the way others see themselves and that is something we cannot neglect.

I hope that by sharing how others have loved me, nurtured my self confidence, and empowered me through their words and actions that you may feel encouraged to do the same for the people in your lives.

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One of the greatest positive influences in my life has been my fiancé. We’ve been together five and a half years now and he has been a constant source of support throughout. I can remember early on, carrying a lot of baggage with regards to my insecurities about my weight and my swollen leg as a result of lymphedema. He was one of the first people to celebrate me for me.

He was also the first person to scold me (lovingly, of course) for hiding my lymphedema rather than being open about it. He would even buy me skirts and shorts to encourage me to stop hiding behind clothes instead of using them to express my personal style and cheered me on whenever I would step out of my comfort zone. He has for a long time now reminded me to embrace my own unique beauty.

To all of you supporting others – sometimes it takes time and consistency to get someone to realize they are as beautiful as you think they are.
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On that note, something that has stuck with me is the first time Hannah photographed me for the blog. It was the dead of winter and we had at least three feet of snow on the ground. Still, I was self-conscious about my leg and the only way I could hide it was to wear a floor length maxi skirt. I am sure I looked ridiculous, and not necessarily because of my styling choices, but because I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.

I remember her looking at me and saying, “is this the message you want to send to others suffering with the same condition or struggling with their own insecurities?”

I must admit that I didn’t act on those words right away, but I did let them stew and with time I felt more and more compelled to act upon them and utilize the blog and fashion to empower rather than discourage people.


I am so grateful to have a friend that always pushes me to become a better person, even when it requires a little tough love. 

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_MG_5750_MG_6167During this shoot I had the pleasure of sharing the limelight with this handsome little guy, my photographer Nina’s baby boy. She is such a super mom that she can even shoot with him strapped to her. I couldn’t help but gaze at Nina’s little boy, Umi, throughout the shoot – he is responsible for getting all these genuine smiles out of me – and thought about how children are just the most beautiful works of art, our beautiful little miracles.

But somewhere along the way  we seem to think that we outgrow this beauty. There is a poignant video by Dove, called “Camera Shy,”  which illustrates this unfortunate reality. The video speaks to how we, especially women, start to become more and more camera shy as we age.

We go from prancing in front of the camera to throwing pillows at our photographers to avoid having our picture taken.

When Nina and I set out on this shoot I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and take photos that would capture another side of me. Now I know you must think that by this point I must love taking photos but that is simply not the case. Sometimes my buried insecurities rear their ugly heads when it comes to looking at myself in photos. I think we have all scrutinized ourselves in pictures and missed out on the valuable opportunity to appreciate ourselves as works of art.

I remember looking at this photo with Nina during the shoot and immediately cringing. Faced with a profile shot that clearly captured the bump on my nose my lifelong insecurity came brimming to the surface. As I was having this inner monologue Nina interrupted, and with the glow of an artist just overflowing with inspiration, began to compliment the unique beauty of the photo. Her expression and her words were so genuine and so full of conviction that I realized that she truly felt this way.

I thought to myself – boy I wish everyone could see themselves through her eyes, through the eyes of an artist. As I explored the grounds and the studio of Daniel Chester French that day this thought was reiterated again in my mind.

I wondered if only everyone had the opportunity to become a muse for one of his sculptures they could see themselves through his eyes – majestic, intriguing, and beautiful.
_MG_6063_MG_6084_MG_6469newwatermark_MG_5860_MG_5936I want to leave you with one last anecdote because I want you to grasp just how simple it can be to empower and encourage others.

When I started speaking openly about my leg on the blog and social media the outpouring of love and support was overwhelming. But perhaps most satisfying of all was hearing from other women suffering from lymphedema who were inspired by my story to stop hiding and start loving themselves.

Their comments on social media, simple as they were, really changed my perspective and made me feel such a great sense of pride and accomplishment that motivated me to finally truly accept my self – lymphedema and all.

If you are reading this, I hope you know how integral you are to my history of love. I am beyond grateful to have inspired you but know that you have inspired me all the more.


Special thank you goes out to Nina for helping me to capture this topic with such stunning photography. Check her out on Bluefly Lens for all of your photography needs, she does gorgeous wedding, portrait, and creative work.

Thank you to Chesterwood for allowing us to shoot at this amazing property. If you are ever in western Mass I highly recommend visiting Chesterwood. The breathtaking French inspired home, studio, original and modern sculptures will take your breath away and Stockbridge’s charming downtown area is well worth the drive.

To see more photos you can check out Nina’s blog post!

Ingredients:

Dress: Club Monaco

Necklace: Bauble Bar

Burgundy Heels: Zara

Anklet: Free People

Love,

Blog Signature Patricia

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