Friday Feels: The Body Reconnect Tour Workshop

Hailey shares her experience at The Body Reconnect Tour, a workshop about exploring positive body image and self-acceptance through creativity and social connection.- DivineMrsDiva.com

I recently attended The Body Reconnect Tour Workshop in Portland, Oregon, hosted by art therapist and body image specialist Ashlee Bennett, and fat activist Dani Galvin.  These ladies came all the way from Australia to do a seven city tour of the USA with the goal of sharing "how to compassionately reconnect with your body by exploring positive body image, embodiment, creativity, self-acceptance, and social connection."

I've never participated in anything like this before, so I decided to take the leap.  And as fate would have it, this workshop was just a few days before my long-awaited boudoir photoshoot!  I took notes, I made friends, and I had a blast.  I thought Friday Feels would be a great opportunity to share about the experience and what I learned in the process.


Hailey shares her experience at The Body Reconnect Tour, a workshop about exploring positive body image and self-acceptance through creativity and social connection.- DivineMrsDiva.com

The first part of the workshop was some art therapy, playing with a block of clay to form whatever we wanted.  Ashlee gave us words of advice about forgetting everything we were taught about art.  As kids we are graded and critiqued and told that our art is good or bad.  That isn't what art is for.  She encouraged us to be beginners and childlike in our process as we just played with the clay.  As a perfectionist, this was a new way of thinking for me.  I want to be the best at everything from the very start, but that isn't reality.  Taking the pressure off the end result was new to me and extremely helpful.  Also, we were encouraged not to even think about an end result.  We were encouraged to enjoy the process and let what happened happen.  Often, we were reminded to step back and ask the clay what it wanted to be.  It sounds woo woo, but it was helpful in taking away this perfectionist mindset.

Ashlee led a meditation that was so calming before we started playing with clay for a few hours.  I LOVE arts and crafts, but I haven't made much time for myself to do them lately.  Recently, I bought new canvas and paints to start making time.  Art is definitely therapy for me and helps a lot with my anxiety.  I haven't played with clay since my pottery classes my senior year of high school, but so much came back to me as I worked with the medium.  I remembered how much I loved it.  I got lost in working on my chubby lady, and just had a great time.

At the end of our art time, it was awesome to take a look at everyone's finished pieces.  Even those who thought they possessed no creative bone in their bodies did a terrific job.  I really loved seeing all the perspectives and ideas represented in those pieces.

Hailey shares her experience at The Body Reconnect Tour, a workshop about exploring positive body image and self-acceptance through creativity and social connection.- DivineMrsDiva.com
My chubby clay lady.  She's in the process of drying out, and I hope to have her fired in a kiln.



Afterward, we all met in a circle to talk about feelings that came up while we worked with the clay.  Did it make us look at ourselves or our bodies differently?  Did we get emotional during the process?  Did working with the clay bring up any other feelings for us?

After a short break, we came back to our circle but had to sit with different people to mix things up.  Then we were asked to break into groups of four and tell each other why we decided to come to this workshop.  The people in my group all had different reasons and stories, but they were still relatable experiences and thoughts that connected us.  We moved back into our big circle and Dani led a discussion of different thoughts and ideas, while some folks shared their issues, problems, and asked for guidance.


For me, being around others with similar issues and larger bodies was so wonderful.  I felt we were all there showing up to be vulnerable and be seen, and I never felt judged.  When I felt like people saw me, it was about me as a person and not my body or what I look like.  For being in a group of strangers, a group of women, that felt really positive and uplifting.  It's really important to have a safe space of community and discussion.  It was comforting and confidence-boosting to be in a space with others I could relate to, with other representations of bodies and experiences similar to mine.  Afterward when I thought of what I took away from the experience, I was really moved.


So what did I learn?  I took a few notes of things that really struck a cord with me, and I want to share them with you.

  • Meet yourself where you are.

    • Sometimes we aren't ready to accept certain parts of ourselves, and that's okay.  Sometimes you aren't comfortable with your body or a circumstance in your life.  You can't push and you can't make something happen that isn't ready to happen.  You have to meet yourself where you are.  As someone who constantly looks at the end result and the finished product, I have a hard time just being where I am.  It can be easier for me to have compassion for others, but not for myself.

  • You look at yourself with a critic's eye, but that isn't you or your voice.  You look at other people with your true, compassionate adult self - who you really are.

    • This was said in response to someone's question about why they can't see the beauty in themselves that they see in other people with similar bodies to theirs.  This always makes me cry because when I started blogging, it was because I saw beauty in other people with bodies like mine but not in myself.  And the more I saw those bodies and looked at myself with that same compassion and love is when I decided I wanted to share that with the world and be another positive voice to help people like me.
    • I think this also makes me cry because my anxiety and depression likes to take turns telling me I am a piece of shit that everyone hates, and that I have no redeeming qualities.  But knowing that the true, compassionate me shows up time and time again to love and accept others and myself makes me sense a little easier the lies that anxiety and depression want me to believe.
    • The more you practice seeing that beauty in others, and in yourself, the easier it gets to see it.  I still have bad days, trust me.  While exhausting, the work and effort is worth it.  YOU are worth it.

  • Speaking of anxiety: Anxiety is you trying to keep yourself safe.  Not confronting your fears reinforces the anxious thoughts and keeps the cycle going.

    • This was probably the moment I realized I definitely need to look for a therapist and start going.  Not because I didn't think that already, but because I just lack so many tools to help myself all the time.  Like, maybe I am making it all harder than it needs to be and I don't have to keep suffering in silence.
    • And as someone who is trying to live their life pushing past comfort zones and fears and preconceived ideas of what I can and can't do, this is just another little push for me to keep going.

Before the night was done, I exchanged Instagram handles with new friends and took photos with Dani and Ashlee.  In the future, I'd love to attend more meet-ups with local folks that feel similar to this.  Even just once in a while, I think it would be a really positive thing.

Hailey shares her experience at The Body Reconnect Tour, a workshop about exploring positive body image and self-acceptance through creativity and social connection.- DivineMrsDiva.com
Hailey shares her experience at The Body Reconnect Tour, a workshop about exploring positive body image and self-acceptance through creativity and social connection.- DivineMrsDiva.com

I also wanted to share a couple posts from folks I met while I was there.  Hannah shared their feelings in a post on Instagram, so you can also see their photo with Dani and clay art!  And you can read Ardis' post about her experience here.




Have you ever attended an event like this?  Did you go to The Body Reconnect Tour in your city?  Do you have meet-ups with local like-minded people?



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