Breathing Easier

This project is finally starting to feel like it has reached the home-stretch phase. I really am almost done. For the sake of posterity I thought I’d look back at the beginning of this project as a reminder and refresher. These are the dominant lines I found in the original post from Jan. 22nd:

  • Two years after my 30-day foray into self-portraiture as self-therapy, I’m still practicing.
  • They represent the therapeutic process.
  • No goal. No reward. And as you can tell, very little structure.

When I first started I posted the weekly collage on Facebook. The dailies, out-takes, and bonus portraits were posted on Instagram. The slideshows were always deposited here. As the project moved along I broke up with Facebook, Instagram followed soon thereafter, and now the only place you can find my images are here or stored on Flickr. The whole point was to practice self-love in a creative way with a daily ritual; an expression of compassionate self-regard for every day of life during 2016; a wellness practice not simply centered around self-acceptance (although that’s always an important component) but self-commitment and self-support. I had to show up for Me consistently and be engaged, focused, and fully present in order to pull this off.

I’ve been prepping a grand finale post for December 31st. I went back and pulled together every shot I took for this project and grouped them in mosaics by month so they could be viewed as one collection. It’s fun to see how it changed as I went along. You can watch my hair get longer. The same good ole Mary Janes show up month after month. Old glasses. New glasses. No glasses. I lost some of the weight I put on last racing season. It all went from sweaty running selfies to bare-faced mornings to fancy effects to cryptic shots of the back of my head. I quickly got tired of posting captions on them, then months later started again out of nowhere. The conspicuous disappearance of the FitBit (it died). Guest appearances by dog, cat, husband, nephew, brother, and Kristen. It’s a hoot to look at them chronologically.

And then there are the things not shown in the images that changed as well. At a certain point I stopped calling them selfies. I renamed them TINAS; This Is Not A Selfie. Some weeks I had little to say, other weeks I couldn’t seem to shut up. I loved it. I hated it. I struggled with it. I mastered it at times. On the days I couldn’t take any photos I had to make up for it with multiples but for the last 315 days I had to produce at least one image. In just eight short weeks it will be 366. That’s a whole lotta self-love, folks.

Two double exposures this week. The rest are all just fancy filters or a happy accident like the fireside hand-warmer turning out so spooky and the bicep bulge in the black and white head shot. The hand reaching for the curtain shows authentic bruises from playing baseball in the back yard with the Chef. The ankle grab was a failed Yoga In A Dress pose. Forward folds in a dress end up mooning the camera–just a helpful tip.

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All in all I’m proud of myself for seeing this through. As I mentioned before I suspect I’m going to need a long break from self-portraits–a year off sounds perfect. Perhaps I’ll go back to shooting regular photography (dogs, flowers, cups of steaming coffee) or get Peaco back in action just for fun. Fun is critical to wellness, friends. Adults need recess just like kids do. Play time is good for the brain, good for the nervous system, good for immunity. For all the serious stuff we practice we also need some goof-off stuff for general emotional maintenance. I get preachy and picky and hyper-focused as a result of trying to keep this blog oriented to wellness instead of becoming a personal diary. It’s easy to forget that play and laughter and fun are vitamins for the soul too.

Perhaps this will be my word of the year for 2017–Play.  Knowing me I’ll find some way to work at it though and dream up some new challenge. Or maybe that will be my challenge; to resist creating any new work for myself. Maybe for a change I’ll let the work come to me, let it hang out for a while, and then let it move on without installing any parameters. More to come on that, I’m sure. For now, another week of this work finished. I’m counting down 51 days to freedom.

— Ally Goggler


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