A year ago I participated in an online self portrait class. The class was for woman only, we would receive weekly prompts and then go for it by turning our lens on ourselves and remembering that we are enough, we are worth it and we will not erase ourselves from the family photo albums. I was doing a personal 365 self portrait challenge (one self portrait a day, using my DSLR (no iphone), for an entire year). I had taken a month long class created by the same instructors, and loved it. I figured the year long class would help give me inspiration during my personal project but, little did I know the tribe I would gain along the way. I can honestly say that I can go to almost any state in the United States and have a friend or a contact. I could also travel a good portion of Europe and do the same. It’s really amazing to know I have a literal web of friendships simply from one class where we were asked to be brave enough to take photos of ourselves.
This spring, emails began to fly around the internets. Would anyone be up for a meet-up? A retreat of sorts? That’s all it took, one of the woman has a family house in Manzanita, OR and we figured out a weekend that would work for a gang of us. When you gather with a group of people that you haven’t met in person, it’s a huge leap. But one I was very excited to make.
These ladies had not only shared their self portrait journey with me and each other, but gave each other support and love through the screen. If you would have asked me 10 year ago if I would have virtual friends, I would have giggled. How can you connect with people simply by typing words? How can you make real friendships with people you only see in a static image on the screen? I am here to tell you that I feel incredibly connected to these woman. We might all be different ages and in different stages of our lives-marriages-child-rearing, but we have held space, giggled, cried and become true friends.
We gather that energy into a sweet little house. We piled into the living room and squeezed into one tiny kitchen (because we are all moms and we all want to help cook or make sure the dishes are done, even if there isn’t enough space to do so). It was incredible. One of the gals just kept looking at us and saying, “I JUST WANT TO PINCH you all, I can’t believe we are here, in 3D”! I loved watching each of these woman behind their cameras and light up inside when doing so.
I don’t really have all the words I want to be able to describe how important the weekend was to me. Since moving away from Reno I have felt a little lost without my lifelong friends nearby. I know it will take time to build friendships and roots here in Washington. But after getting together I feel the growth happening. Fours of them are just an hour or two away, and that helps so much.
Thank you each for being silly and wonderful ladies. Thank you to the creators of NowYou, Kristin and Meredith. And thank you to the 8 other woman who took a huge chance on the weekend and made it all happen.