Have you ever glanced in the mirror and despised your reflection?
Have you ever felt not good enough? Unworthy? Unloved?
Have your ever wondered how to go on living?
Kyeli Smith has.
She has fought (and loved) her way back from the depths of darkness and depression. She is part "feisty mystic mermaid," after all. She's a "deep-sea diver of the soul."
I've long been a follower of Kyeli and her wife Pace on Instagram. Kyeli's body-love and self-love advocacy resonate deeply for me, as I've faced my own questions of enoughness. Kyeli's fearless (or fearing-but-brave-anyway) selfies ring with truth and power.
When I was planning our Beloved issue of The Phoenix Soul magazine, I immediately thought of Kyeli. She embodies both the struggle and the triumph in truly claiming ourselves as beloved . . . just as we are.
I'm honored to welcome Kyeli to our Truth Tribe. Her interview in Beloved is achingly beautiful, never shying away from pain but also quick to embrace joy.
Kyeli and I talked in depth about her selfie practice, something she's been developing since 2011.
In part, I said, "Many of your posts deal with body acceptance and fostering a healthy sense of self-worth. How has your selfie practice helped you love yourself more fiercely?"
Kyeli's selfie practice has allowed her to view herself through a lens of love. This is especially vital in a world that often attempts to silence voices like Kyeli's.
In 2014, Kyeli was struck by a car in a crosswalk. In addition to adapting to life with a cane and wheelchair, Kyeli has dealt with severe depression. Her photography has become a tremendous tool for healing.
I asked Kyeli what encouragement she'd offer TPS readers who feel stuck in their heart and/or body ache. Here's what she had to say:
Phoenix, I don't know what burdens weigh heavy on your shoulders today. I don't know if you are able to find light in your darkness, or see yourself with eyes of love yet.
I do know this: love is always, always the way through and out. Love is the key to transformation. And especially? Loving yourself--and letting yourself be loved--exactly as you are, here and now . . . in all your mess.
Let yourself be loved now.
Let love meet you right where you are.
Please. Do whatever it takes to begin to see yourself through eyes of love. Start small. Start now.
You aren't alone. We've got you.
with so much respect & awe,