Another instalment of #whatmelissaactuallydoes - a hashtag I created in response to a question that used to fill me with DREAD. If you’ve followed me for some time, then you know that I’ve had a VERY interesting life path. From teenage fame to 15 years of songwriting, from branding identity to a 3-year secret obsession with online marketing, and then obviously photography (which I only started doing after a brief phase of modelling). Oh…. and shadow work. The very question we tend to start conversations with, used to make me want to cry… until I faced the shadows that were hiding underneath that trigger, of course. ;) . So what IS this shadow work, and how do I incorporate my experience in formal coaching into my less intrusive photo packages (hey, I’m #introvert-friendly, what can I say)? . Shadow work on a psychological/practical level involves facing parts of ourselves that we would rather not face - the stuff we’ve hidden in the shadows, so to speak. The 6 weeks of explorative workbooks prior to all my photo sessions cover every aspect of one’s shadow - from the emotions we repress, to the questions we avoid, and on a bigger scale - the sense of purpose that we may have buried in obligations and daily mental clutter. These workbooks ask questions and provide tools that enable you to be guided into your own shadows in a safe and gentle manner. The results depend on how deep you are willing to go, and how honest you are willing to get. You hold the key. . On an energetic level, shadow work is all about integrating the parts of ourselves that are “darker”, more shameful, and fear-driven. In essence, as an empath my shadow work is done during the photo sessions as well as our voice messages (introvert-friendly, remember?). My superpower is breaking down walls and reading shifts in people’s energy - and then pointing these out as a doorway to exploring WHY the subtle shift occurred. I tend to notice people’s mood and energy shifts before they do. Luckily for my friends, people now pay me to use this skill, as it gets annoying when you’re trying to watch a TV show and Melissa is staring at you asking why your energy just shifted. CONTINUED IN COMMENTS
So let’s say you’ve constantly been failing at a particular personal goal or routine. Look at the actual feeling that you’re aiming for, and create simpler steps towards that. In fact, choose the simplest baby step that you can think of. . For example, if you would like to lose or gain weight — look at that goal with honesty. Weight changes are a medium, a path — they aren’t the thing you really want. Perhaps what you really want is to feel attractive, or feel strong. So instead of choosing that rigorous diet or exercise that you know deep down you’ve somehow never managed to do every day — what’s something you CAN do without fail — right now — on a daily basis, that will help you feel attractive or strong? I can guarantee it isn’t that 1-month plan you had made that you’ve been failing at. . On my part, I understood that I clearly had been failing to go to the gym. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ll never be able to be that person who exercises for an hour every day. But during my lowest point, I needed to create a routine that matched my desired feelings — strength and balance. So I chose simple 5-minute routines that I could accomplish in my current state — instead of a massive plan that was doomed to fail. Perhaps we sometimes set ourselves up for failure, so that we can prove to ourselves that we aren’t enough. Our subconscious is tricky like that. . Maybe you’ll end up being that person who manages a rigorous routine one day. But until you find yourself there, for now it might just be a good idea to be honest with yourself and take baby steps towards the feeling you truly want to feel. You may just magically reach your earlier goals with ease — and a lot faster than you expected to.” . From my blog post (link in bio), “6 things I learned from severe burn-out”. If you need to reconnect your daily routine with the vision of where you want to be, and you’re ready to invest everything into celebrating who you are - that’s part of what I offer my clients. Drop me a message if you’d like to know more. :) . Image of a couple in #nairobi National Park (yes we got out of the car, I’m a terrible person. You’ll be happy to know that no humans were eaten).
Self-sabotage is a struggle, right? Well, not necessarily. . I recently read the Big Leap - which everyone should read - after taking the plunge and committing to 3 coaches in different areas (Shoutout to @ofspiritandbone, @shamecatankerson, and @bmymba for elevating my path). I realised that, despite all my shadow work experience and awareness, I had somehow missed out on embracing my biggest shadow: self-sabotage. Sure, I’ve done tonnes of inner work - but I still felt resentful and fearful towards my self-sabotage. . From the way I doubted wonderful men who appeared in my life, to the way I used to turn away from potential clients - I became aware that my self-sabotage patterns aren’t beasts to be despised, but simply akin to a parent who is doing their best with the little awareness they have. . Your subconscious is trying to protect you and keep you safe in the comfort zone. It’s trying to make sure you don’t get hurt. It’s just like a 7 year old trying to parent their baby brother - good intentions, but slightly misguided. . But if you are close to the situation, it can be hard to see what shadows are clouding your life without you realising it. It’s so easy to beat yourself up about self-sabotage, just like it’s easy to get at a child who meant no harm but ended up breaking something. . I highly recommend being more gentle with your inner child, reading the book I mentioned, and if you need help - finding someone who can help you see the shadows that you’ve become too used to, so you can reconnect with all of yourself, and celebrate who you are in the now. . You could do this alone, of course - all you need is within, I always say this - or, you can start a conversation with me to see how I can hold your hand through the process. You don’t have to be alone on this journey - you have lives to change, waves to make, and a story in you that is worth telling. Let me know if you’d like some help in reaching there - or wait until you’re “ready”. But just know this: I’ve never truly been ready when my life shifted for the better. “Ready” is often an excuse we make to avoid taking action. How much longer will you wait? . Image of @just_beryl 😍
Reconnecting with the Self also means reconnecting with our roots in a different way: reconnecting with the people who came before us. . When we find ourselves giving in to the weaknesses and patterns of our ancestors, when we allow ourselves to succumb instead of rise above - is it possible then, that we have failed our ancestors? . Your very existence is supposed to be a form of evolution; their sacrifices and losses existed for lessons that they then passed on to you. Allowing yourself to remain at the level of your ancestors is therefore not only an insult to yourself, but to every bit of pain that existed in order for you to celebrate the freedom and wisdom you possess today. . Let me not waste this lesson with elongated language: if you feel like you’ve lost who you are, try to connect with the patterns you saw in the family that raised you. Face the shadows that they ran away from. . Witness the patterns in yourself that hurt you as a child. Witness, take note, and shift. One day at a time, half a step forward will mean a mile if you stay true to the rhythm. . Be gentle with yourself. And if you need help reconnecting with yourself - your past, your present, and the most beautiful ideal vision of your future... drop me a message. Because that’s what I do. . Picture of the stunning @bysignemarie, magical dress by @boneandbuskcouture. Pic, obviously, by me.
I get a lot of questions asking me what I actually do (literally, that’s how it’s often phrased 🤭) - so I thought I’d hashtag a few posts with #whatmelissaactuallydoes so you can find a collection of posts explaining the different aspects of my work. . So, as many of you know - I photograph people. But what a lot of you DON’T know, is HOW I photograph them (my packages are less about the photos, and more about the internal transformation), who I photograph (mainly introverted entertainers and entrepreneurs), and why I do what I do (it’s got something to do with a ripple effect - helping impactful gentle people become more connected to themselves allows them to step into their power, and create change with their truth). . I’m so excited to share more with you over the coming days about those things, as well as a detailed look into the packages I offer. They’re not for everyone - but I hope you manage to find some value in this info, even if you never become a client. . Image of the beautiful @bysignemarie in Edinburgh, with styling and makeup (basically everything) by @boneandbuskcouture - photo obviously by me. ;)